“Love does not threaten or forbid, love does not restrain our wonderous spirits or enact prohibitions. I think God loves boot-leggers- defiant poets who ferment the air as they sing and lift the corners of our mouths. Words about God should never bore becasuse God is the opposite of boring. And what we say about the Gorgeous One should make him appear a knockout. Whoever made the universe is a Wild Guy. I think only our ecstasies offer any real clue about Him.” Daniel Ladinsky
You may not realize that my first love is poetry and my favorite poetry of all is Persian poetry. While everyone else was applying senior year to normal jobs, I obsessively worked on my Fulbright application to study the work of Rudaki in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. I was a finalist, but cut in the final round.
My Persian tutor in Oxford required me to memorize a piece of poetry, the Turk of Shiraz[i]. She told me that if I was ever to return to England the first words I must utter before “hello” was this poem in perfect cadence and pronunciation. I really hope I get the chance one day. Reciting Persian poetry is a powerful way to win the heart of an Iranian, Tajik or Afghan. I found this to be true when I asked my proud Pashtoon tutor to retranslate this poem and his eyes lit up with excitement. A large smile beamed on his face as he read the words and soaked in the prose from his corner of the world.
Michael Hillman described this esteemed art-form,“ For over a thousand years, imaginative Persian literature has more directly and comprehensively than any other art medium reflected and nurtured distinctively Iranian cultural themes and orientations and has more than any other single indigenous phenomenon defined Iranian culture[ii]” The heritage of Persian literature is one of the finest in the world[iii]. Many works are known by popular culture in the way Americans would know Beatles songs or commercial jingles. J. Christy Wilson, who lived in Iran for most of his adult life remarked, “Very often an apt quotation from one of the masters may be recited, in perfect harmony with the occasion, by a man who is illiterate in the ordinary sense of the word… practically every Persian considers himself a poet [iv].”
I love the poetry of all mystics, specifically mystics from the 10/40 Window. Their words send chills right up and down my spine, and I can’t wait to be able to read more complicated poetry in their native language. One day.
The definition of Mysticism
This year I’ve been living my life to the tune of a collection of poems Irby picked up in Barnes and Noble one day, Love Poems to God. Many scholars are angry at this work, because it masquerades as a true translation of Hafiz, Rumi and Rabiya al Basri but really it’s Ladinsky’s poems inspired from these poet’s poems. I too was fooled at first, but if you read his introduction he does clearly say that he takes many artistic liberties in his translations.
Read some of the ebook by clicking here
One day Judge and I sat on the Ocoee River and read all of these works again and again. I never get sick of them and I know I will use the to communicate with women across the world one day, specifically the poem below.
Would you come if someone called you
by the wrong name?
I wept, because for years He didn’t enter my arms;
then one night, he told me a secret:
Perhaps the name you call God is
not really His, maybe its
just an alias.
I thought about this and came up with a pet name
for my Beloved I never mention
All I can say is-
-Rabiya al Basri
There’s a legend that Rabiya one day ran through the streets of Basra (modern day Iraq) “carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. When asked what she was doing, she said, “I want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to God. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of God.”
She sounds like my kind of girl.
After work today I am going to try and buy this book, In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord. If only I knew where a Barnes and Nobles was located.