I waited for you across long seas, some trace
I sought, of your will in forming the world’s face.
I sought you in the love of lovers, but they
Had turned away from memory of your grace.
I sought you in the things of nature, but they
Competed in cruelty, mindless of their place.
I sought you in the smiles of friends, but they
Competed with me, age stiffening their pace.
I sought you in enduring love of family,
In ties of blood, in the firm moorings of race.
I sought you in me, emptying in your embrace.
Nowhere, nowhere is where I found your face.
Wide are the avenues leading to hell,
On which we stroll, laughing to each other,
Each clasping his wares, unwilling to sell
His dreams of now for sake of another
World, no matter what we say we believe.
If we truly believed that God was there
We would sell all we had, without reprieve,
And give all to the poor, without a care.
But we live like kings as poor children die,
We turn away from grief except in prayer;
Our charity is for us, to stay high
Above the reach of conscience, betrayer
Of our peace. We love our heaven here so well,
We scarcely see it as the slope of Hell.
I will in silence hold you to my heart,
You whose face will forever be held far;
I will seek you within myself: you are
Always there, from where I must always part.
I know you, lost in silence, are broken:
Reconciled with worlds of loss, without love;
Love between us can never be spoken,
No release for us, below or above.
Let us then in silence lay down our dream;
Let us forget we knew one another;
No other life will lift us from this life’s scheme,
Love has gone from us: we are its Other.
Let our paths diverge, as if wrought by art:
Let us in silence wrest love from our heart.
(On the marriage of Vaseema and Luis)
Who dreamed of purple Caesars, empires gone;
The ruined treasures of Ctesiphon;
Persian versions of our past in verse and song;
Fountained avenues of Bukhara, which shone.
Who dreamed that the fountain and the rose;
The nightingale, couch, and night of love’s throes;
Who dreamed that these long drowsing pasts
Could wake into song? What fate dreams, who knows?
Who dreamed that dreams could bring your waking smile,
Bearer of sunrise, to my long trial;
From beneath ruins and sleeping columns,
Unwritten in me, in my long exile.
Who dreamed your eyes: bearers of silent streams,
Still music, beneath the noise of what seems;
Mirrors of treasure, hidden until now,
Bringing me to love, love deeper than dreams.
It is the language of poets and of kings
Which awakens on your breath, speaking things
Unheard in my world, unsung in verse or rhyme:
I hear from afar the whispered longings
Of an ancient time: Bukhara, Samarqand,
Voices waking now in the voice that rings
In my dreaming ears. I am now waking
To my own past, to the music that brings
Your smile to my dreaming eyes. Our love sings
In self-knowing, soaring on ancient wings.
(Translated from the Urdu of Siddiqua Shabnam)
Far, far from red flowers, and roses blushing near,
Far, far from jasmine and stalk, lush in green each year;
Far, far from your garden is our journey;
We are fated forever to go from here.
Far, far must I stay from my land, my home:
Each morning falls on me like night’s blackness here.
Far, far from the soil of Deccan, my lost earth,
Spring falls like the dying red of Autumn here.
Stylish Shabnam has found a new voice to wear:
Far, far from the voices long past, yet near.