Man has been thought superior to the swarm
Of ruminating cows, of witless foals
Who, crouching when the voice of thunder rolls,
Are banqueted upon a thunderstorm.
But shall the fearing eyes of humankind
Have peeped beyond the curtain and excel
The boldness of a wondering gazelle
Or of a bird imprisoned in the wind?
Ah! never may we hope to win release
Before we that unripeness overthrow,—
So must the corn in agitation grow
Before the sickle sings the songs of peace.
Lo! there are many ways and many traps
And many guides, and which of them is lord?
For verily Mahomet has the sword,
And he may have the truth—perhaps! perhaps!
Now this religion happens to prevail
Until by that religion overthrown,—
Because men dare not live with men alone,
But always with another fairy-tale.
Religion is a charming girl, I say;
But over this poor threshold will not pass,
For I may not unveil her, and alas!
The bridal gift I can’t afford to pay.
I have imagined that our welfare is
Required to rise triumphant from defeat;
And so the musk, which as the more you beat,
Gives ever more delightful fragrancies.
For as a gate of sorrow-land unbars
The region of unfaltering delight,
So may you gather from the fields of night
That harvest of diviner thought, the stars.
Send into banishment whatever blows
Across the waves of your tempestuous heart;
Let every wish save Allah’s wish depart,
And you will have ineffable repose.
My faith it is that all the wanton pack
Of living shall be—hush, poor heart!—withdrawn,
As even to the camel comes a dawn
Without a burden for his wounded back.
If there should be some truth in what they teach
Of unrelenting Monkar and Nakyr,
Before whose throne all buried men appear—
Then give me to the vultures, I beseech.
Some yellow sand all hunger shall assuage
And for my thirst no cloud have need to roll,
And ah! the drooping bird which is my soul
No longer shall be prisoned in the cage.