784. from The Conference of the Birds, by Farid ud-Din Attar

The hoopoe answered them: 'How can love thrive
In hearts impoverished and half alive?
"Beggars," you say—such niggling poverty
Will not encourage truth or charity
A man whose eyes love opens risks his soul—
His dancing breaks beyond the mind's control.
When long ago the Simorgh first appeared—
His face like sunlight when the clouds have cleared—
He cast unnumbered shadows on the earth,
On each one fixed his eyes, and each gave birth.
Thus we were born; the birds of every land
Are still his shadows—think, and understand.
If you had known this secret you would see
The link between yourselves and Majesty.
Do not reveal this truth, and God forfend
That you mistake for God Himself God's friend.
If you become that substance I propound,
You are not God, though in God you are drowned;
Those lost in Him are not the Deity—
This problem can be argued endlessly.
You are His shadow, and cannot be moved
By thoughts of life or death once this is proved.
If He had kept His majesty concealed,
No earthly shadow would have been revealed,
And where that shadow was directly cast
The race of birds sprang up before it passed.
Your heart is not a mirror bright and clear
If there the Simorgh's form does not appear;
No one can bear His beauty face to face,
And for this reason, of His perfect grace,
He makes a mirror in our hearts—look there
To see Him, search your hearts with anxious care.

(trans Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis)

Source:The Conference of the Birds

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