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(Masnavi Book 5: 10) Description of the Crow

The reason why Khalíl (Abraham), on whom be peace, killed the crow, indicating (thereby) the subjugation of certain blameworYour and pernicious qualities in the disciple.

765. There is no end and completion to this discourse. O Friend of God, why didst you kill the crow? Because of the (Divine) command. What was the wisdom of the (Divine) command? A small part of the mysteries thereof must (now) be shown.
The cawing and noisy cry of the black crow is ever asking for (long) life in this world.
Like Ibs, it (the crow) besought the holy and incomparable God for bodily life till the Resurrection.
He (Iblís) said, Grant me a respite till the Day of Retribution.Would that he had said, “We repent, O our

770. Life without repentance is all agony of spirit: to be absent from God is present (instant) death. Life and deathboth these are sweet with (the presence of) God: without God the Water of Life is fire. Moreover, it was from the effect of the (Divine) curse that in such a Presence he was requesting (long) life. To crave of God aught other than God is (merely) the supposition of gain, and (in reality) it is entire loss; Especially (to desire) a life sunk in estrangement (from God) is to behave like a fox in the presence of the lion,

775. (Saying), Give me longer life that I may go farther back; grant me more time that I may become less.”
(The result is) that he (such an one) is a mark for the (Divine) curse: evil is that one who seeks to be accursed.
The goodly life is to nourish the spirit in nearness (to God); the crow's life is for the sake of eating dung. (The crow says), Give me more life that I may be ever eating dung: give me this always, for I am very evil-natured.”
Were it not that that foul-mouthed one is a dung-eater, he would say, “Deliver me from the nature of the


780. O you who have transmuted one clod of earth into gold, and another clod into the Father of mankind,
Your work is the transmutation of essences and (the showing of) munificence; my work is mistake and forgetfulness and error.
Transmute mistake and forgetfulness into knowledge: I am all choler, make me patience and forbearance. O you who makest nitrous earth to be bread, and O you who makest dead bread to be life,
O you who makest the distracted soul to be a Guide, and O you who makest the wayless wanderer to be a Prophet,

785. you makest a piece of earth to be heaven, you givest increase in the earth from the stars. Whosoever makes the Water of Life to consist of (the pleasures of) this world, death comes to him sooner than to the others.
The eye of the heart (the inward eye) that contemplated the (spiritual) firmament perceived that here (in the sensible world) is a continual alchemy.
The harmonious cohesion of the patched garment, (which is) the body, without being stitched (together), is
(owing to) the transmutation of essences and (to) an all-embracing elixir. From the day when you camest into existence, you wert fire or air or earth.

790. If you hadst remained in that condition, how should this (present) height have been reached by you?
The Transmuter did not leave you in your first (state of) existence: He established a better (state of)
existence in the place of that (former one);
And so on till (He gave you) a hundred thousand states of existence, one after the other, the second
(always) better than the beginning.
Regard (all change as derived) from the Transmuter, leave (ignore) the intermediaries, for by (regarding)
the intermediaries you wilt be come far from their Origin.
Wherever the intermediaries increase, union (with the Origin) is removed: (in proportion as) the intermediaries are less, the delight of (attaining to) union is greater.

795. By knowing the intermediaries your bewilderment (in God) is diminished: your bewilderment gives you admission to the (Divine) Presence.
You have gained these (successive) lives from (successive) deaths: why have you averted your face from dying in Him?
What loss was yours (what loss didst you suffer) from those deaths, that you have clung (so tenaciously) to
(this earthly) life, O rat?
Since your second (life) is better than your first, therefore seek to die (to the world), and worship the
O contumacious man, you have experienced a hundred thousand resurrections at every moment from the beginning of your existence until now:

800. From inanimateness (you didst move) unconsciously towards (vegetal) growth, and from (vegetal)
growth towards (animal) life and tribulation;
Again, towards reason and goodly discernments; again, towards (what lies) outside of these five (senses)
and six (directions).
These footprints are (extend) as far as the shore of the Ocean; then the footprints disappear in the Ocean; Because, from (Divine) precaution, the resting-places (appointed for the traveller) on the dry land are (like) villages and dwellings and caravanserays,
(While) on the contrary the resting-places of the Ocean, when its billows swell, have no floor or roof (to shelter the traveller) during (his) stay and detention.

805. These (Oceanic) stages have no visible beacon: these resting-places have neither sign nor name. Between every two resting-places Yonder there is (a distance) a hundred times as much as from the vegetal state to the Essential Spirit.
You have seen this life (to be implicit) in (previous) deaths: how, (then), art you (so) attached to the life of the body?

Come, O crow, give up this (animal) soul! Be a falcon, be self-sacrificing in the presence of the Divine transmutation.
Take the new and surrender the old, for every this year of yours is superior to three “last years.”

810. If you wilt not be lavish (of yourself) like the date-palm, (then) pile old rags on old rags and make a heap,
And offer the stinking and rotten old rags to every blind man.
He that has seen the new is not your customer: he is God's prey, he is not your captive.
(But) wherever is a flock of blind birds, they will gather around you, O brackish flood-water,
That (their) blindness may be increased by (your) brackish waters; for brackish water increases blindness.

815. Hence the worldly are blind of heart: they are drinkers of the brackish water of clay.
Continue to give brackish water and buy (the favour of) the blind in the world, since you have not the
Water of Life within you.
In such a (despicable) state (as has been described) you wouldst fain live and be remembered: in blackness of face (shame and opprobrium), like a negro, you art rejoicing.
The negro in (his) blackness is pleased (with himself), for he has (always) been a negro by birth and nature; (But) he that (even) for a day is beloved and beautiful, if he become black, will seek to repair (the misfortune).

820. When the bird that can fly remains (helpless) on the earth, it is in anguish and grief and lamentation;
(But) the domestic fowl walks complacently on the earth: it runs about picking grain and happy and bold, Because by nature it was (always) without (the power of) flight, while the other (bird) was (naturally) a flier and open-winged.

The Prophet, on whom be peace, said, Pity three (classes of men): the mighty man of a people who is abased, and the rich man of a people who is impoverished, and a learned man whom the ignorant make sport of.”

The Prophet said, Take pity on the soul of him who was rich and then became poor,
And on him who was mighty and became despised, or on one (who is) virtuous and learned (dwelling)
amongst the (people of) Mudar.”

825. The Prophet said, Show pity to these three classes (of men), (even) if ye are of (the hardness of)
rock and mountain:
(Namely), him who was made lowly after having been a chief, and the rich man, too, who became impecunious,
And, thirdly, the learned man who in this world becomes afflicted (by living amongst) the foolish; For to come (fall) from high to low estate is like the amputation of a limb from the body.
The limb that is cut off from the body becomes dead: (when) newly cut off, it moves, but not for long.

830. (Similarly) he who drank of the cup of Alast last year, this year he suffers the pain and headache (in consequence of having drunk),
While he who, like a dog, is by nature attached to the kennel how should he have the desire for (spiritual)
(Only) he that has sinned seeks to repent; (only) he that has lost the (right) way cries Alas!

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