Last evening there was a crescent moon telling me
Of the time of fullness, of perfect poverty,

When I will no longer be a dust dweller in Love Street,
But dust itself kissing, oh, so lightly, my Beloved’s feet.

Then the wineshop keeper, seemingly knowing my desire,
Had me called, and gave me wine which lit in my heart love’s fire

Then ordered the musicians to tune their drums and strings,
And poured wine for all; and the bird of song took wings.

So we spent the night—I, at last, the seeker who no more seeks.
And now over the house-tops steps the girl with the rosy cheeks.

The morning breeze bears the scent of honeycomb and bark;
From the ocean’s rim shoots up the sun’s first burning spark.

In a fly’s wing-space I see the world I left, the world of pain—
And I brush his hand with my lips as he fills my glass again.


A poem that skilfully defeats our expectations.

We expect the full moon to stand for fullness, but not for ‘poverty’. Of course the fullness of light comes with emptiness of self.

We think the dweller in Love Street will be aiming for admission to the tavern but he desires to become dust itself.

It is this becoming dust that enables the tavern keeper to pour the wine that produces the beauty of vision the poet shares with us.

The figure of the fly’s wing space and the gesture of brushing the lips with the hand are totally unexpected but are so convincing and arresting!

The poet conveys a flavour of meeting the Beloved through sensory imagery of beauty and delicacy. Who would not want to share such a dawn?

The vision in the previous poem seemed so unrealisable but this vision can surely lie within our grasp.

» ghazal #81 »