Address to Himself.

Turn thy face, Jami, towards the acts of the ripened;
Proceed no further in those of the still immature!
For what is ripeness?—’Tis to become free;
To fall prostrate to the dust of self-negation.
Dost thou not see, in this rust-discoloured pavilion,
How the fruit in its immaturity sticketh to the branch?
When it changeth to ripeness, how it falleth of itself,
No longer wounded by the stones of mischief-seeking boys?
Take thy food at the table of the perfected,
Escape from the roughness of the stone-throwing unseasoned ones.
Tear-up by contentment avarice from its roots;
Break-off by trustfulness the bough of eager wishes.
Chuse thy dwelling in the city of good-intent;
Build thy nest in the sequestered abode of the Anka;*
Use not thy tongue in commendation of the weak,
And endure not for a loaf the ignominy of the base;
Turn away thy foot from the great ones of the kingdom,
And show to the strong-handed of the world the nape of thy neck.
See, how through the changes of the four seasons
The world revolveth ever in the self-same circle;
Behold how similar is the last spring to that of to-day,
Behold how the revolution of one autumn resembleth another;
And how between two summers and two winters
In this constitution of things discrimination is impossible!
I know not, wherefore on this round orb
This ever-repeated condition should make thee joyful;
For though in change is a mixture of enchantment,
Yet a restless change is wearisome to our nature.
Leave then that which damageth, and take thought for that which profiteth;
Turn thy face from thy being to when thou shalt cease to be;
Free thine inner soul from the business of the busy,
Cleanse it from the foul machinations of the Ghoul;*
Teach not the spell of love to ignoble minds,
Light not up the lamp for the eye blind as night.
Let thy spirit keep watch over inconsiderate words,
The condition of a wayfarer requireth watchfulness;
To a soul which walketh not in the path of vigilance,
The lengthening of a brief existence would be of no use.
The taper of life goeth out with a puff,
If but the exhalation of a sigh rise to the brain of the intellect.
Youth bringeth only darkness to thy dwelling,
Old age only illuminateth thy day of action!
The obscurity of blindness and distance is come to an end,
And a fringe of hoary hair hath brought with it the light:
In that obscurity thou never sawest thy desire accomplished,
Try to accomplish it in the rays of this light.
It may be that this desire may bring thee to a place
Whence thou mayest perceive a portion of the truth!
But what comeliness at last will white hairs give thee,
If they give thee not also a white countenance?*
If of that colour thou art at heart ashamed,
Go! dye them like the black-headed with indigo!
For old age on thine head is melting snow,
And thy tears like snow-water will pass away also.
Enter thou weeping on the path of supplication,
And with snow-water wash out the blackness of thy heart;
But knowest thou not how to wash out the blackness from thine heart;
I know not in truth how blackness can profit thee!
Throw away thy reed for it is held by a tremulous hand!
Tear the sheet for thou canst fill it only with vain babblings!
The lamp of thought hath lost its brightness,
The gardens of poesy are all unwatered;
I see not now in these once happy bounds
Aught in thine hand save a raven’s claw:*
Thinkest thou with this to strut about like the peacock?
Why seek escape from the dungeon which imprisoneth thee?
Freedom is to escape from delusion and conceit;
From the coupling of rhymes and the inditing of poems.
Where is Nizami?—Where his soul-alluring lays?
The delicate refinements of his subtle genius?
He hath now taken his place behind the veil,
And all save himself have remained outside it.*
Since he hath withdrawn himself we have received no portion,
Save from the mystic words which now he hath taken with him.
But no one understandeth those mystic words, save him who approacheth God;
Into whose sound heart hath entered the Divine.
But he hath escaped from these narrow bye-ways
To journey at large towards the sacred Temple,
And, terrified by the captives taken in the snare,
Reposeth under the skirts of the Throne itself.
In thine own side findest thou not such a heart,
What if thou wert to turn thy side away,
And lean it against that of some tried man,
And thou too take thy place in the circle of the tried!
Well said one whose heart was a treasure-house of wisdom,
“The season of fasting is the winning of bread.”
The aged woman oft faileth in piety,
Because her youthful blandishments were weakness and imperfection,
If thou art a true man take a heart in hand,
For with men of deeds this only is a deed:
Such a heart as that which I have above described,
And describing it bored a jewel and disclosed its secret.
Seek a thorough man on whom to lean thy side,
For this is indeed to take a heart in hand.