How simple this business of love seemed to us at first!
Wine of kisses and pearls of tears—now blindness and thirst.

My face is bloodless because my once stout heart is choked with grief;
The dawn breeze that once brought news of your hair has become its thief.

Do whatever the Master tells you, though the law forbids;
God never intended law to be put under love as skids.

On this fearful voyage who is not thinking of home—
With the bell clanging and the decks awash with foam?

The ship shudders at the waves’ thud and lurches through the black night.
What can the fireside enjoyers ever know of our plight?

Through self-centeredness I have acquired nothing but shame;
My eyes smart with the smoke that smothers love’s clear, bright flame.

‘If you really desire the Beloved to be present,
Let the world go—and never for a moment be absent.’


Now we are back in the world of time, and the voyage to truth was never meant to be focussed on precious timeless moments but on the courage and endurance of the voyager as he persists in sailing towards his home goal.

How can we ever learn of our self-centredness if we do not experience all the vicissitudes it drags us through?

The more we keep the beloved as mindfulness the more we are tormented by the games our self-love plays, until that is we can reach a state when He alone is present. Until then the voyage becomes a shipwreck of our hopes and visions.

We know the truth of the last stanza but we are unable to live it. This is no easy voyage to authentic open awareness.

He can celebrate the voyage and also admit its pain. The poem comes from pain and even seems a bit incoherent. The ‘skids’ here means a brake, law holding back love. The dawn breeze would seem to be taking away news of the beloved rather than announcing it.

» ghazal #140 »