Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The cup's smile

Walhydra has been a devotee of the 14th century Sufi poet Hafiz i-Shirazi ever since a decade ago when she first stumbled onto Daniel Ladinsky's marvelous English versions in The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz.

She can open to almost any of Hafiz's poems, and it's like getting a startlingly auspicious and uplifting card reading, an unlooked-for kiss from the Divine One, who is always described as the Friend or the Lover, always teasing the listener for feeling less worthy than the One knows her to be.

And always celebrating the blessedness of human incarnation—against all moralistic protests to the contrary.

Earlier on this Wednesday evening's shift at the library, struggling with burnout and depression, Walhydra was Googling at random for sites about "gay beauty" and hit upon just such a poem:

Ghazl No. 10 from the Divan of Hafiz

His mop of hair tangled, sweating, laughing and drunk,
Shirt torn, singing poems, flask in hand,
His eyes spoiling for a fight, his lips mouthing "Alas!"
Last night at midnight he came and sat by my pillow.
He bent his head to my ear and said, sadly,
"O, my ancient lover, are you sleeping?"

The seeker to whom they give such a cup at dawn
Is an infidel to love if he will not worship the wine.
O hermit, go and do not quibble with those who drink the dregs,
For on the eve of creation this was all they gave to us.
What he poured in our cup we drank,
Whether the mead of Heaven, or the wine of drunkenness.

The cup's smile and the wine boy's knotted curl
Have broken many vows of chastity, like that of Hafiz.
A variation on the interpretation of E.T. Gray, Jr., in
The Green Sea of Heaven, White Cloud Press, 1995.

What a sweet reminder, in the midst of Walhydra's spiritual stuckness, that there is delight hidden in all of the Divine One's work.

And so it is.

Bless├Ęd Be!

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