Friday, November 26, 2004
Conference of the Birds, The Seven Cities of Love
One of the great masters of self uplifting from Persia is Farid Ud-Din Attar. Conference of the Birds is the English title of this part of the collection Haft Shahre Eshgh ( The seven Cities of Love ). It is available in the Penguin Classics Series, translated by Afkham Darandi and Dick Davis. They succeeded in giving the English text rhythm and a surprising openness and actuality. Of course all credits go to the master Attar himself too, for enriching the world with songs of such a great depth and vision.
The faithless Moslem and the faithful infidel
A Moslem fought an infidel one day
And as they fought requested time to pray.
He prayed and fought again - the infidel
Then asked for time to say his prayers as well;
He went aside to find a cleaner place
And there before his idol bowed his face.
The Moslem, when he saw hime kneel and bow,
Said: "Victory is mine if I strike now."
But as he raised his sword for that last stroke,
A warning voice from highhest heaven spoke:
"O vicious wretch - from head to foot deceit -
What promises are these, you faithless cheat?
His blade was sheathed when you asked him for time;
For you to strike him now would be a crime -
Have you not read in Our Koran the verse
'Fulfil your promises'? And will you curse
The word you gave? The infidel was true;
He kept his promises, and so should you.
You offer evil in return for good -
With others act as to yourself you would!
The infidel kept faith with you, and where
Is your fidelity, for all your prayer?
You are a Moslem, but false piety
Is less than this poor pagan's loyalty."
The Moslem heard this speech and went apart;
Sweat poured from him, remorse accused his heart.
The pagan saw him as if spellbound stand,
Tears in his eyes, his sword still in his hand,
And asked: "Why do you weep?" The man replied:
"My shame is not a matter that I can hide" -
He told him of the voice that he had heard
Reproaching him when he would break his word,
And ending said: "My tears anticipate
The fury of your vengeance and your hate."
But when the infidel had heard this tale,
His eyes were filled with tears, his face turned pale -
"God censures you for your disloyalty
And guides the life of His sworn enemy -
Can I continue to be faithless now?
I will burn my Gods, to Allah I will bow,
Expound His law! Too long my heart has lain
In darkness bound by superstition's chain."
What infidelity you give for love!
But I shall wait until the heavens above
Confront you with the actions you have done
And numbers them before you, one by one.
Posted at 05:33 pm by waterworld