Since we slew that lecherous old man Hope one nostril
Breathes clearly, we have freed one wing of spirit’s kestrel.

Let us now do in Hope’s old woman Help that we may
Free the other wing and soar aloft on our way.

Because you can’t understand the Master’s sayings don’t arraign
Him before mind’s court of justice; he has at heart only your gain.

He has been back and forth over this road millions of times—
But being a poet he riddles his knowledge in rhymes.

Remember that the disciples of Bayazid were such goats
That in one night of doubt they all turned and cut their own throats.

For God’s sake don’t venture into this street where swings the axe of love
Unless you are either a lion man or a lady dove.

That, to date, our Master only allows us to dwell in dust
Is because of our shortcoming, we do not yet trust.


Not much use only having one wing free. We have to have helplessness as well to breathe free. Maybe the poem itself seems a bit of a riddle as we scratch our heads over how to have trust without hope.

Why ‘lecherous old man’? Because he desires, just as so much prayer and effort on the path petitions God to do something. Hope is another face of desire.

Divinity is within. The disciples of Bayazid tried to cut his throat for claiming to be God, but their own throats were cut.

We need the Master’s sharp axe to cut the throat of our self-love.

A kestrel is a small bird of prey but one of power and grace.

Baba speaks in mysteries, paradoxes and riddles to baffle the mind, and also to play the divine creative game as poet and maker. This is why the poem says ‘he riddles his knowledge in rhymes”. Love Street is a slaughterhouse of those without the great courage of submission. But the true axe of love is the reward for which we are not yet ready.

Thankyou Francis for memorably pointing this out.

» ghazal #122 »