A Poem a Day: Blazing Persian Devotion

Today’s selection is from the Persian poet Sanai. Rumi acknowledged Sanai and Attar as his two primary inspirations, saying, “Attar is the soul and Sanai its two eyes, I came after Sanai and Attar.” (1)

This poem is a ghazal, an ancient poetic form originating from Arabic verse. What struck me about this poem is that it tells a different story of Lucifer, the Morning Star. This story is more beautiful, more anguished; unlike the conventional Western telling, which has Lucifer fall from grace after rebelling against God out of arrogance and ambition, in this version, the “blazing one” refuses to bow down to Adam, God’s creation, even at God’s command…because he has already sworn he will bow down to no one else but God. He loves God so much, he accepts his eternal exile from the object of his devotion, and is cast out.

The original Persian has been translated by Franklin Lewis:

“Ghazal 129”

With him my heart was

uniquely

affectionate and solicitous

The Simorgh of love

nested in my heart

A host of angels

gathered at my doorstep

My grandeur touched

the very threshold

of God’s great throne.

In my path He set

His hidden trap of deception

Adam was the bait in the center of that hoop.

He wished to make me a target of damnation;

–He doeth what He willeth—

The mortal, Adam, was merely a pretext.

I was the preceptor

of the angelic realm

in the skies

My hopes for the highest plane of paradise

were immortal.

For seven hundred thousand years

I was obedient

thousands upon thousands of treasures

I amassed

of my obedience.

In the Tablet I read

that one would be damned–

I believed it could be anyone

but never

suspected myself:

Man is composed of earth

and I of His unadulterated light;

“I am peerless,” I said.

But He was the Peerless.

The heavenly angels, they said:

“You’ve not bowed in prayer.”

How could I? it would have been

interposing between

Him

and

me.

My friend! come then

and do not rely so on your obedience,

for that verse was revealed

for the understanding

of all people

at all times.

When finally

I realized

the destined words

had been pronounced

on me

one hundred springs

poured forth

from each of my eyes.

You who are wise in love!

in this

there is no sin

upon me;

That they entered His presence

was not without His will.

Gustave Dore's engraving from Milton's Paradise Lost, the Fallen Angel

Gustave Dore’s engraving from Milton’s Paradise Lost, the Fallen Angel

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This entry was posted in Iran, Literature, National Poetry Month. Bookmark the permalink.

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