The Lord Be Praised
“The lips of the one I love are my perpetual pleasures:
The Lord be praised, for my heart’s desire is attained.
O Fate, cherish my darling close to your breast:
Present now the golden wine-cup, now the rubies of those lips.
They talk scandal about us, and say we are drunks–
The silly old men, the elders lost in their error.
But we have done penance on the pious man’s behalf,
And ask God’s pardon for what the religious do.
O my dear, how can I speak of being apart from you?
The eyes know a hundred tears, and the soul has a hundred sighs.
I’d not have even an infidel suffer the torment your beauty has caused
To the cypress which envies your body, and the moon that’s outshone by your face.
Desire for you lips has stolen from Hafiz’ thought
His evening lectionary, and reciting the Book at dawn.
——Hafiz, translated from Persian by Peter Avery and John Heath-Stubbs
One day in the desert a bedouin
Looked up and saw a mirage shimmering
Ahead. Not water, but the splendor of
A dazzling girl.
In the thirsty, burning desert
among dry thorns, under a shadowless sun
He tried to reach her but instead
Of that marvelous love he found death.
In his immaterial, immortal sleep
He still saw the splendor of that girl
Shimmering ahead, an eternal mirage.
And in his endless dream he began to walk looking for her.”
—-Avedik Issahakian, translated from the Armenian by Diana Der Hovanessian
The beauty of poetry is that the words and images are never out of style. They can be thousands of years old and still have meaning and messages for the present time.