Seven and ten years had passed after seven hundred,
From the Flight, when lo, in the month Shawál*
35 A messenger of a thousand graces and virtues
Arrived at the behest of the men of Khorásan.
A great man, who in that country is famed*
For his varied learning as a fount of light,—
Whom all the men of Khorásan, great and small,
Pronounce to be better than all men of this age,—
Had written an epistle on the matter of mystery
Addressed to the masters of mystery.
Therein many difficult expressions
In use amongst the masters of indications,
40 Had been versified in the form of several questions,
A world of mystery in a few words.
When the messenger read that epistle, forthwith
The news was noised abroad by many mouths.
All the nobles present in that congregation,
Turned their eyes upon this durvesh.
One who was a man well versed in affairs,*
And who had heard these mysteries from me a hundred times,
Said to me, “Tell the answers off straightway,
“That the men of the world may profit thereby.”
45 I replied, “What need? for again and again
“Have I set forth these problems in treatises.”
“True,” said he, “but I hope to have from you
Answers in rhyme corresponding to these questions.”
Wherefore at his solicitation I began
An answer to that epistle in concise terms.
Forthwith, in that illustrious congregation,
I pronounced this discourse without hesitation or repetition.
Now, with their wonted favour and kindness,
They will pardon my shortcomings;
50 All know that this person in his whole life
Has never attempted to write poetry.
And though his talents be competent thereto,
He has rarely had to compose verse.
Though he has composed many works in prose,
He has never compiled a masnavi in verse.
Prosody and rhyme weigh not mysteries,*
The pearl of mystery is not held in all vessels.
Mystery cannot be compressed into letters,
The Red Sea is not contained in a jug.
55 Why should I, to whom even words are lacking,
Why should I take on myself a further burden?
This is not boasting, but it is by way of compliment
And of apology to the men of heart.
I take no reproach to myself for my poor poetry,
For no poet like 'Attar is born in a hundred centuries.
Were there a hundred worlds of mystery set forth in this wise,
They would be only one grain from 'Attar's shop,*
But all this have I written of my own experience,
And not plagiarized as a demon from angels.*
60 In short, I delivered the answers to the questions
Off hand, each to each, neither more nor less.
The messenger took the letter with reverence,
And departed again by the road that he came.
Again that noble was instant with me,
Saying, “Do me yet another favour,
“Expound these mysteries which you have spoken.
“Out of theory bring them into evidence.”*
I did not think it possible for me at that season
To treat thereof with the unction* of ecstasy,
65 For the explanation thereof in speech is impossible,*
The master of ecstasy alone knows what is ecstasy.
Nevertheless, according to the word of the teacher of the faith,
I rejected not the postulant of the faith,*
But to the end that these mysteries might be explained,
The parrot of my eloquence lifted up his voice.
By aid of heavenly grace and divine blessing
I spoke the whole discourse in a few hours.
When my heart craved of heaven a title for this book,
There came an answer to my heart, “It is our Rose Garden.”
70 Since heaven has named it “Rose Garden,”
May it enlighten the eyes of all souls.