The Beloved’s Single Face
Let the ascetics sing of the garden of Paradise-
We who dwell in the true ecstasy can forget their vase-tamed bouquet.
In our hall of mirrors, the map of the one Face appears
As the sun’s splendor would spangle a world made of dew.
Hidden in this image is also its end,
As peasants’ lives harbor revolt and unthreshed corn sparks with fire.
Hidden in my silence are a thousand abandoned longings,
My words the darkened oil lamp on a stranger’s unspeaking grave.
Ghalib, the road of change is before you always,
The only line stitching this world’s scattered parts.
The world is no more than the Beloved’s single face,
In the desire of the One to know its own beauty, we exist.
Each place, each moment, sings its particular song of not-being and being.
Without reason, the clear glass equally mirrors wisdom and madness.
Those who claim knowledge are wrong; prayer just leads to trance,
Appearance and faith are mere lees in the Unknowing Wine.
Wherever the Footprint is found,
that handful of dust holds the oneness of worlds.
This earth, burnished by hearing the Name, is so certain of Love
That the sky bends unceasingly down, to greet its own light.
The colors of tulips and roses are not the same,
Yet in each we assent to the single Spring.
We turn our hands to the sketchbook only for Love,
Needing some pretext for meeting.
What sorry man drinks for pleasure?
Night and day, I raise oblivion’s glass.
In the hour of forgetfulness, the head lies by the wine-jar,
In the hour of prayer, the face turns to the Call.
Let me be clear: however the world’s goblet turns,
Those who know are always drunk on the wine of the Self.
Even at prayer, our eyes look inward,
If the gate to the holy is shut, we just turn away.
The One is only the One, everyone knows—
What mirroring icon could hold it face to face?
Held back unvoiced, grief bruises the heart,
Not reaching the river, a raindrop is swallowed by dust.
If a story brings only tears and not blood to the eyes,
It is simply a lovers’ tale.
Whoever cannot see the whole in every part plays at blind man’s bluff,
A wise man tastes the entire Tigris in every sip.
For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river—
Unbearable pain becomes its own cure.
Travel far enough into sorrow, tears turn to sighing,
In this way we learn how water can die into air.
When, after heavy rain, the storm clouds disperse,
Is it not that they’ve wept themselves clear to the end?
It’s the rose’s unfolding, Ghalib, that creates the desire to see
In every color and circumstance, may the eyes be open for what comes.
Sufi, 19th century