My eyes see nothing without your beauty

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dedication: To lovers between material reality and the plane of imagination 

The following poem was sent to me by one of my elders the summer of 2016. The verses are from the poem by the Damascene Ottoman Sufi ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī (d. 1731). 

Like so much medieval Arabic devotional poetry, the poem lives on in song and recitation. To my knowledge, this poem has not been previously translated in English. I have included my attempt at an original English translation beside the Arabic text below. 

The first translation is of the form of the poem as I first encountered it in a text message. Another elder pointed out that the text differs from the version she is familiar with, including the additional “wāw” added at the end of the verses for vocalization in the first text. I have translated this version as well. 

My eyes see nothing without your beauty
Without you, my mind ponders nothing else
You fill my thoughts above all creation
By your love, I die and I am resurrected
My lord, my heart holds fast to you
I could never bear even an hour apart from you
But you left, so my solace also vanished
And upon your distance, life became wretched

Yet God is greater than that which decreed separation

Should you leave me, to whom shall I turn?

When I advised my heart patience, it rebuked me,”No patience for me! No patience for me!  I shall not be!”

 

If I sleep, you are with me in my dreams

And in my waking state, it is you that I see

There is no difference between me and my imagining you

If you should vanish, so would I; And should you be present, so would I

For in reality, the two of us are one

Except that I am of the lowest and you are majestic

And I hope that perhaps your kindness would restore me

From my diminished dignity and wretchedness.

The final inscription at the bottom of the image reads,

Pray upon him and rejoice. May prayers and peace be upon him.”

—————————————————————

On the other hand, here is another version of the poem written byʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī. I have included my English translation below the Arabic text.

My eyes see nothing other than your beauty
Without you, my mind ponders nothing else 
You fill my thoughts above all creation
By your love, I die and I am resurrected
Oh Lord, my heart holds fast to you
I could never bear even an hour apart from you
If I sleep, You are in my dreams with me
And should I awake, it is you that I see
There is no difference between me and my vision of you
If you should vanish, so would I; And should you be present, I would be, too
For in reality, the two of us are one
Except that I am of the lowest and you are majestic

And I hope that perhaps your kindness would restore me 
For I took flight from my own dignity and became most wretched.
How perfect you are, my lord, the Master of creation
Indeed I seek, by your glory, your succor
And I have made my means to you a master
Whom You have sent with truth to make your Way manifest
He is the Prophet — Muhammad — above all of creation
Your prayers upon him shall never cease

2 thoughts on “My eyes see nothing without your beauty

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