Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"Azaliya" (Pre-Eternal): A Poem by Qurrat'ul-'Ayn

Introductory note

The following below is my translation of one of Tahirih Qurrat'ul-'Ayn's longest surviving poems. The poem was originally addressed to Mirza Yahya Nuri Subh-i-Azal (the Dawn of Pre-Eternity) (d. 1912), the successor of the Bab and preeminent leader or Mirror (mir'at) of the Babi movement upon the execution of its founder for heresy in July 1850. The original was composed sometime during the period of her captivity in the capital Tehran specifically in the period between late 1850 to her own martyrdom in the summer of 1852. A copy of an autograph original exists amongst the Browne collection at Cambridge University, a facsimile of which was reproduced in MATERIALS FOR THE STUDY OF THE BABI RELIGION (1918), p. 344. The poem is a masnavi of the kind known as Saqi-Nameh (viz. invocations to the Wine-Bearer).

Instead of keeping the original rhyme in Persian, since it is nearly impossible to do this in translations, I have instead opted to translate in prose conveying the flow of concepts. The verses are numbered. I have also end-noted three verses with * + and #. Brackets [] indicate needed wording for the sake of consistency. A copy of the Persian text can be found below the endnotes.

Ya NUR

-------

(My translation, (c) 2004)

(Pre-Eternal)



1. هوالمحبوب

2. Come, Saqi*, O royal falcon victorious
And honor us with a cup of that reddish wine of the soul.

3. For I shall once more make an ornament from a wine goblet
Which will burn my firm footing, head to toe.

4. Come, O Saqi, give me a chalice of wine
So that the bitter pangs of yester may depart my heart.

5. Grant new life to the dead
And honor a cup to those dejected hearts.

6. Quality of a Samandar for I am in this fire
Sanctify it, O Saqi, this, my stuporless wine.

7. Cast now this veil from the moon's mien
Take it off and give a cup of wine.

8. From this chalice of my purity , you, make me drunk!
And disclose the theophany of that friend to my soul.

9. In the light like Moses I shall swoon away from myself
Leveling this mountain of the body as like Sinai.

10. I shall burn away my existence, all of it, from top to bottom
So that in my two worlds no trace is left.

11. O Saqi, bring wine to this associate of pain
For my pivot of the idols disheveled tress.

12. If I am intoxicated by that reddish wine of yester night
Bring me another goblet from yourself so that reason may return to my
head.

13. Since I have bound my heart to your curly lock, Saqi
I have been delivered from the fetters of two worlds.

14. From pre-eternity I had no creed or religion
Other than the sun of your affection, I had no sacred rite.

15. With my pre-eternal covenant I have grown resolved
From faith I will make your love my free choice.

16. In that I should have accepted your love
Give a cup, do not make me blameworthy.

17. Moment to moment sanctify my chalice of wine
As I am drowned in a sea of woe.

18. A chalice of wine for me shall not suffice
Me to you, Saqi, other than the embrace of your ocean.

19. So that in that ocean I may dive therein
Be annihilated and quit of myself.

20. From this Yemen of the heart I shall break the shell
And take out the pearl of the soul and lay it upon my palm.

21. Come, O Saqi, the world has become a new spring
The land has become an emerald and verdant.

22. It is spring and the flower-gardens have blossomed
Spread yourself out in the rose-garden!

23. The singer intones the secret of the river's lute
Bringing consolation to the heart torn lovers.

24. Cast off this vest, O Saqi
And place the heavenly tunic upon the body.

25. Ambergris from the curly lock of the houris+
Burning for you in the incense of scattering gold.

26. To the folk of heaven open the gate of delight
To the inhabitants of paradise disclose the theophany of your self.

27. From the preeminence of your service in the sublimity of eternity
Say thou that houri and youth shall inhabit the earth.

28. To the head to head joyous dancing of the rosy cheeked ones
This banquet shall become luminous like the moon.

29. The revolving Venus shall become clear in the mist
The clouds beholding the moon with Jupiter.

30. You, spread out over the earth!
As saith the angel in the empyrean firmament, ‘praise' !

31. To the created universe, O Saqi, give good tidings
For the eve of disconsolation attained the morning of delight.

32. Give the chalice of purity to the misfortunate ones
Lift up the invitation to the heart-torn lovers.

33. For the manifestation of the essence of eternity has come
The beauty of godhood has appeared.

34. To this happy news, if my self-sacrifice be worthy,
Fortunate is [he], the Supreme Lord , by this good tiding.

35. From the truly real his light has shown forth
His Sinai has enveloped the whole universe.

36. Place a chalice of wine in my hand right now!
So that in salutation to this king I may open my mouth.

37. If my laudation be not acceptable to him
What shall I sing? This is my habit.

38. From the aeons of eternity my obligation remained firmly fixed [on this]
For I was nursed on the milk of his love.

39. O king, what exposition should I make of your description?
The singer of your praise, existent creation of being and becoming.

40. You are the one who is the almighty creator of this world
O God, you are the peerless and the ariser.

41. I have become a passive patient, I call you God
Many gods have become your upright slaves.

42. The criers of "I am God" are your servants
The god makers are your apprentices.

43. By your command were the atoms of creation [brought forth]
You are the first point , we proceed [from] you.

44. Because the light of your beauty became evident
You have been called the fruit by the mercy of the lord of the Bayan.

45. The intention of tree is nothing else than fruit
A tree becomes manifest by its fruit.

46. Because of you the Bayan became complete
All the hidden secrets were seen in truth.

47. There is naught in your [whole] existence but the Bayan
May there remain no trace of faith in the world.

48. From you the cause of God has become exalted
The majesty of gods have become manifest.

49. You are the goal of religion in every age
[As] the theophany of preeminence of the aeon has proclaimed.

50. No seal [are you] that a last I should know you by
No principal [are you] that a first I should call you by.

51. In the universe you are the first of the last
You are manifest in the [very] atoms of the cosmos.

52. To each people has there turned a guide
The [point of the] worship [which] they indicate is you.

53. To a name of your names are they prostrated
The breadth of whose totality they are self-effaced and humbled [by].

54. Illumined by your light is church and sanctuary
You are [indeed] the manifestation of the essence of the face of the
ancient.

55. Where am I, and where your description, O honored one?
Since obliterating nothingness becomes [all] descriptions of the
essence of the ancient.

56. Everything is absolute idolatry, you are my mono-theity
You are [far] transcendent of my praises.

57. If I am an idolatrous heretic, it is from you
If am a sinning deviant, it is from you.

58. Sin has become the coquettish blandishment of the servants
And become the grace of forgiveness for the lord of sovereignty.

59. One cup with grace shall I sanctify
Which shall burn away all my idolatry, O honored one.

60. From the chalice of love honor me my wine
If the annihilation of my existence be my good fortune.

61. O that from the illumination of the beauty of [your divine] power
You burned the veils one by one.

62. Further, O all-powerful lord of the gates,
Nothing remains of any portion of any particle of any atom.

63. From the veils of the curtains of grandeur
By the stations of the coverings of limit.

64. O God, O creator, I burned
From the evils of divine gold [and silver].

65. O my lord, find from the excellences of existence
So that I may be ennobled by the attraction of being.

66. O beautiful one and O precious one of splendor
Illuminate the tablet by the fire of appearance.

67. Make the heart pure, O beloved of the gnostics
From that which negates certainty.

68. So that I may be exalted in the expanse of justice
From the resemblance of states other than emaciation.

69. O God, to me there was naught but you
Other than the twin bond there was no defender from the exterior.

70. O God, the truth of the king of kings [who is]
Reclining on the regal sofa of the excellences of the essences.

71. I have passed by from all the fetters of existence
Drunk and intoxicated by the proclamations of Alast #.

72. They saw the remitter of the fine and remitted the fine
That which they behooved they removed.

73. O God, their supreme design
Praise be to their exalted design.

74. Other than your pure face, O lord of existence,
The lofty expanses were annihilated by the vicissitudes.

75. From the inclining elevation and power of the Bayan
To the elevation of the expanses of the highest heights [of the
divine] abodes.

76. Therefore the highest dwelling in the expanded breast of sublimity
Are the totality of the particles [of existence] innovated by them.

77. O God, from these excellences of yours
They found the power of these splendors of yours .

78. But, O lord, I must roll in the dust of the furrows of the ground
Next to that particle that was essentialised by them.

79. Because they are the most excellent and most noble
Possessor of being, they are the most sublime and the most lofty.

80. O God, you have them [close] to yourself
You have them and you have them and you have them!

81. Their becoming, the station of no description
Their carrying off, to the abode of majesty.

82. You took away from them, and gave [them] your own state
Whatever was itself, it became that.

83. O God, I must purify myself
[And] let there be [the invocation of the] remembrance of holiness for
them.

84. Perchance your grace will show assistance
From my custom in these states of contemptibility.

85. When you take nothingness away from me, O beloved
You bring forth absolute existence from out of my pocket.

86. O God, the truth of these king of kings,
Repeatedly I [find myself] in the grades of these mean spirits.

87. O God, the truly real, lord of the worlds
O sincere beloved, [you are] the greatest of all exonerating forgivers!

--
Endnotes


* Wine bearer.

+ The holy female maidens of the Islamic heaven.

# The in illo tempore Pre-Eternal Day of the Covenant Of Love in pre-creation mentioned in the Qur'an whereby all-things in existence where asked by the Godhead, "Am I not your Lord" (alastu bi-rabbikum) and all-things answered, "yes, yes, we testify!" (bala, bala shahadna)!

Suhrawardi's GREAT HYMN TO THE SUN: Hurakhsh al-Kabir (trans.)


اللهم يا ربّي و يا الهى و اله كلّشئ

افعل بنا ما انت اهله و لا تكلنا الى انفسنا و لا الى احد سواك طرفة عين و ابسط لنا يا ربّ خير الدنيا و الآخرة و اصرف عنّا شّر الدنيا و الآخرة و استـُرنا و اخبرنا و انصرنا و طهّرنا و كمّلنا و علّمنا و اسعدنا بك يا خير مأمول و اكرم مسئول يا ارحم الراحمين

O God, O my Lord, O my God and the God of all things! Do with us as is worthy of Thee! And Leave us not to ourselves nor entrust us to anyone save Thee for even a twinkling of an eye! And spread out before us, O Lord, the good of this world and the hereafter, and avert us from the evil of this world and the hereafter! And sheild us and inform us and aid us and purify us and perfect us and teach us, and make us felicitous in Thee, O fairest hope and most beneficent answerer, O most compassionate mercifier!

-- Suhrawardi's concluding prayer in the *Kitab Hikmat al-Ishraq* (The Book of the Theosophia of Illumination), my translation.

---
Note

Hûrakhsh = Sol Splendidus , Resplendent Sun, i.e. the Sun in its active Archangelic theophanic modality, which the Avesta hails "as the most beautiful manifestation of Ohrmazd," the Godhead. Suhrawardî designates Hûrakhsh as the theurgy of the Archangel Shahrîvar (in the Avesta one of the Amahraspands known as Xshathra Vairya, "Desirable Reign,"precisely identified as "having the appearance of the Sun…") This translation below is from Henry Corbin's French in tome 2 of En islam iranien.

Blessed be the Most Luminous of beings endowed with life and thought, the Most Manifest of Persons, the Brightest of Stars. Hail to Thee! May the salutations and benedictions of the Godhead be upon Thee, Sublime Luminary, Most August of the moving stars; You who obey the One from Whom You originate; You Who are moved by the ardor of love for the Inaccessible Majesty of Your Creator. You are Hûrakhsh, the Most Powerful, Vanquisher of darkness, Prince of Heaven, Author of the Day, through the order of the Most High Godhead. You are the King of the Stars, Prince of Persons on High. You reign through the power of the obeyed divine force over the lights incarnated into bodies. You are the Body that dispenses Light, the Vanquisher, the Brilliant One, the Sage, the One surpassing in Excellence. You are the Most Magnificent of the offspring from the spiritual world through your incandescent splendors. You are the Caliph of the Light of Lights in the world of bodies, Who encircles You with a Light that culminates in Its victory. You are an Image of Its Grandeur, an exemplification of Its beauty, Its proof for the eyes of the faithful. Glory to the One who gives You Your Form and Your Light, Who has made You a Mover through ardent desire for It's Inaccessible Majesty and Who has enshrined You in the Fourth Heaven.

Oh Holy Father! I pray to You that You may pray to the One who displays the Splendor of Your thinking Soul to His Orient, who is Your Father, Your Cause, the object of Your Love and the Principle of Your movement, Whose Shadow and Theurgy (of the Archangel Shahrîvar) You are. Pray with Him to all Archangelic Lights, the immaterial Intelligences, that they may pray in their turn, in that form of prayer that belongs to the eternal world bereft of change and alteration, to the One who is their Father, their cause and the object of their Love; the Most August of Beings, of Primordial Birth, the Light closest to the Principle, Intelligence of the Universe (the Archangel Bahman). May He pray this same way to His God, the God of Gods, eternally subsisting Light of Lights, God of every Intelligence, of every Soul, of every ethereal and elementary body, simple or composed, the Necessary Being. May He pray Him to illuminate my soul with the brightness of the spiritual world, with theophanic knowledge and superior powers. May He pray Him to count me among those who have that nostalgia for Its Light and make me immune to all infirmities of soul and body, to make the faithful of the Light and the mystical Orient triumph. May It bless them and make them holy and us also, for ever and ever. Amen!