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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Jāmī (1414–1492)

From ‘Joseph and Zulīkhā’: Translation of Samuel Robinson

IN that solitude in which Being is without a mark,

The universe still lay hidden in the treasure-house of non-existence;

Whilst its substance had not yet taken the form of duality,

And was far from speech and talk, from “We” and “Ye,”—

Beauty was free from the shackles of form,

And by its own light alone was it visible to itself;

It was a lovely bride behind the veil of her nuptial chamber,

Her vesture unsullied by a suspicion of a speck.

There was no mirror to reflect back its countenance,

Nor had ever comb passed a hand through its ringlets;

No breeze had ever ruffled a lock of its tresses;

Its eye had never been touched by a grain of surma dust;

No nightingale had yet nestled under the shade of his rose;

No rose had put yet on her adornment of verdure;

Its cheek was not yet embellished by mole or down,

And no eye had yet beheld it even in imagination;

Its voice of endearment was with itself alone,

And with itself was played its game of affection.

But wherever the power of Beauty exists,

Beauty is angered to be hidden by a veil.

A lovely face will not endure concealment:

Bar but the door, it will escape by the window!

Behold the tulip on the mountain-top,

How smilingly it comes forth in the vernal season;

It shoots out of the earth thro’ every cleft of the rock,

And forces itself into notice by its own loveliness.

When a feeling of Beauty once falls upon the sight,

And strangely threads itself on the tie of sensation,

It can never again pass away from the fancy;

It insists henceforth on being heard or spoken of.

Wherever is the Beautiful, this is its law,

Imposed by the action of the Eternal Beauty;

Coming from the realms of the Holy, here it pitched its station,

And revealed itself in every quarter and to every spirit.

In every mirror is reflected its face,

In every place is heard its conversation and language;

And all the holy who are seeking the Holy,

Exclaim in ecstasy, “O thou Holy One!”

And from all the divers in this celestial ocean

Rises the shout, “Glory to the Lord of Angels!”

From its brightness a beam fell upon the Rose,

And from the Rose came its melody into the soul of the Nightingale;

From its fire the Taper kindled up its cheek,

And forthwith a hundred Moths were burnt in every chamber;

From its light a spark set on fire the sun,

And straightway the Nile-lily raised its head from the water.

By its countenance Laila arrayed her own,

And Mejnun’s passion was inflamed by every hair;

The mouth of Shirin opened its sugared lip,

And stole the heart of Parviz and the soul of Ferhad;

The Moon of Canaan raised its head from its breast,

And bore away reason from the brain of Zulīkhā.

Yes!—Beauty unveils its countenance in the private chamber,

Even when hid behind the veil from earthly lovers;

Of every veil which thou seest it is the veil-holder,

’Tis its decree which carries every heart into bondage;

In its love only has the heart its life;

In its love only has the soul its felicity.

The heart of every one who is enamored with the lovely

Is inspired by its love, whether he knows it or not.

Beware that thou fall into no error as to Beauty:

Love we must, when it shows forth its charms;

For as each thing is fair, so it is worthy of love:

It is the stem whence comes the object;

Thou art the mirror, it brings thee the image;

Thou art hid by a veil, it shows itself openly;

When thou lookest on Beauty, it is the mirror also,

For it is not only the treasure, but the treasure-house too.

We have in this matter no right to intermeddle—thou and I;

Our opinions about it are but vain fancies!

Be silent!—for this is a tale which has no ending;

Its language is one which has no interpreter.

Better for us that our business be love,

For without its converse we are nothing—nothing!