English version by Naeem Siddiqui
Original Language Urdu
Look! What wonders the spring has wrought!
The river bank is a paradise!
Blossoming jasmine and hyacinth,
And violets, the envy of the skies!.
Rainbow colours transformed
Into a chorus of rapturous sounds,
And the harmony of flowers
The hillside is carnation-red;
In the languid haze, the air
Seems drunk with the beauty of life!
The brook, on the heights of the hill,
Dances to its own music.
The world is dizzy in a pageant of colour!
My rosy-cheeked Cup-bearer!
The voice of spring is the voice of life!
But the spring lasts not for ever;
So bring me the cup that tears all veils —
The wine that brightens life —
The wine that intoxicates the world —
The wine in which flows
The music of everlasting life,
The wine that reveals eternity’s secret.
Unveil the secrets, O Saqi.
Look! The world has changed apace!
New are the songs, and new is the music;
The West’s magic has dissolved;
The West’s magicians are bewildered;
Old politics has lost its game;
The world is tired of kings;
Gone are the days of the rich;
Gone is the jugglery of old;
Awake is China’s sleeping giant;
The Himalayas’ torrents are unleashed;
Sinai is riven;
Moses awaits the light divine.
The Muslim says that God is One
But his heart is Still a heathen:
Culture, sufism, rites and rthetoric,
All adore non- Arab idols;
The truth was lost in trifles,
And the nation was lost in conventions.
The speaker’s rhetoric is enchanting,
But is devoid of passion;
It is clothed in logic neat,
But lost in a maze of words;
The sufi, unique in the love of truth,
Unique in the love of God,
Was lost in un-Islamic thought;
Was lost in the hierarchic quest;
The fire of love is extinguished,
And a Muslim is a heap of ashes,
O Saqi! Give me the old wine again!
Let the potent cup go round!
Let me soar on the wings of love;
Make my dust bright-pinioned;
Make wisdom free;
And make the young guide the old;
Thou it is that nourishest. this nation;
Thou it is that canst sustain it;
Urge them to move, to stir;
Give them Ali’s heart; give them Siddiq’s passion;
Let the same old love pierce their hearts;
Awaken in them a burning zeal;
Let the stars throw down their spears,
And let the earth’s dwellers tremble
Give the young a passion that consumes;
Give them my vision, my love of God;
Free my boat from the whirlpool’s grip,
And make it move forward-,
Reveal to me the secrets of life,
For thou knowest them all;
The treasures of a fakir like me
Are suffused, unsleeping eyes,
And secret yearnings of the heart-,
My anguished sighs at night,
My solitude in the world of men,
My hopes and my fears,
My quest untiring,
My nature an arena of thought
A mirror of the world.
My heart a battlefield of life,
With armies of suspicion,
And bastions of certitude;
With these treasures I am
More rich than the richest of all.
Let the young join my throng,
And let them find an anchor of hope.
The sea of life has its ebb and flow-,
In every atom’s heart is the pulse of life;
It manifests itself in the body,
As a flame conceals a wave of smoke;
Contact with the earth was harsh for it,
But it liked the labour;
It is in motion, and not in motion;
Tired of the elements’ shackles;
A unity, imprisoned by plurality;
But always unique, unequalled.
It has made this dome of myriad glass;
It has carved this pantheon.
It does not repeat its craft
For thou art not me, and I am not thou;
It has created the world of men,
And remains in solitude,
Its brightness is seen in the stars,
And in the lustre of pearls-,
To it belong the wildernesses,
The flowers and the thorns;
Mountains sometimes are shaken by its might;
It captures angels and nymphs;
It makes the eagle pounce on a prey,
And leave a blood-stained body.
Every atom throbs with life;
Rest is an illusion;
Life’s journey pauses not,
For every moment is a new glory;
Life, thou thinkest, is a mystery;
Life is a delight in eternal flight;
Life has seen many ups and downs;
It loves a journey, not a goal.
Movement is life’s being;
Movement is truth, pause is a mirage.
Life’s enjoyment is in perils,
In facing ups and downs;
In the world beyond
Life stalked for death,
But the impulse to procreate
Peopled the world of man and beast.
Flowers blossomed and dropped
From this tree of life.
Fools think life is ephemeral;
Life renews itself for ever —
Moving fast as a flash,
Moving to eternity in a breath;
Time, a chain of days and nights,
Is the ebb and flow of breath.
This flow of breath is like a sword,
Selfhood is its sharpness;
Selfhood is the secret of life;
It is the world’s awakening,
Selfhood is solitary, absorbed,
An ocean enclosed in a drop;
It shines in light and in darkness,
Existent in, but away from, thee and me.
The dawn of life behind it, eternity before,
It has no frontiers before, no frontiers behind.
Afloat on the river of time,
Bearing the buffets of the waves,
Changing the course of its quest,
Shifting its glance from time to time;
For it a hill is a grain of sand,
Mountains are shattered by its blows;
A journey is its beginning and end,
And this is the secret of its being.
It is the moon’s beam, the spark in the flint,
Colourless itself, though infused with colours,
No concern has it with the calculus of space,
With linear time’s limits, with the finitude of life.
It manifested itself in man’s essence of dust,
After an eternity of a strife to be born.
It is in thy heart that Selfhood has an abode,
As heaven has its abode in the cornea of thy eye.
To one who guards his Selfhood,
The living that demeans it, is poison;
He accepts only a living,
That keeps his self- esteem;
Keep away from royal pomp,
Keep thy Selfhood free;
Thou shouldst bow in prayer,
Not bow to a human being.
This myriad-coloured world,
Under the sentence of death,
This world of sight and sound,
I Where life means eating and drinking,
Is Selfhood’s initial stage; It is not thy abode, O traveller!
This dust-bowl is not the source of thy fire;
The world is for thee, not thou for the world.
Demolish this illusion of’ time and space;
Selfhood is the Tiger of God, the world is its prey;
The earth is its prey, the heavens are its prey;
Other worlds there are, still awaiting birth,
The earth-born are not the centre of all life;
They all await thy assault,
Thy cataclysmic thought and deed;
Days and nights revolve,
To reveal thy Selfhood to thee;
Thou art the architect of the world.
Words fail to convey the truth;
Truth is the mirror, words its shade;
Though the breath is a burning flame,
The flame has limited bounds.
‘If now I soar any farther,
The vision will sear my wings.’
English version by Naeem Siddiqui