Stabbing the Eye
At the hands of eye and heart my screams aloud
Whatsoever the eye beholds the heart remembers time and time
Crafting a dagger its sharpened tip from steal [1]
Stabbing the eye so that the heart is finally freed
Jubilee are those with no love in their hearts [2]
For dear Beloved in their hearts have no love
Whomsoever is a lover fears nothing for their lives
The lover fears no shackles and dungeons at all
The years and the moons got used to Its suffering
Since even their own pain they could not heal [3]
The lover’s heart is a hungry wolf ferocious [4]
The wolf fears not the shepherd’s “hey hey”
O! Tulip farmers, plan no more tulips ever [5]
O! Gardeners, pull away both hands from flowers
If the promise of the flowers is what I have seen
Uproot the flowers and instead plant the thorn seeds


I think this is one the most beautiful poems of Sufism. A man so desperate not to look upon this life anymore, a man so pushed to free his heart is willing to make a dagger and kill his own eyes. The elegance of the expression the fierce emotional passion to do away with this world is superb.
[2] “Jubilee are those…” is the signature phrase of Baba Tahir. In this case I suspect in a sarcastic way he sees the un-lovers as the real happy people. They love no one and in their heart there is no love for Beloved either. Therefore their lives made banal, no pain and suffering. But he teaches a remarkable lesson: If you do not love any person e.g. a woman or a child, then there is no love of Beloved in your heart either. There is no such a person, recluse in a cave worshiping and meditating and only loves Allah and no one in this life he cares for. This way it is a fake. The real lover of Beloved is an intense passionate lover of his woman, his children and all around him.
[3] “The years and the moons” could have many meanings. It could mean, the lovers from previous verse, got used to the heartache of loving for years and years. Or “The years” mean the old wise people and “The moon” mean a splendid fine person, to mean that old wise sages and the fine people also got used to this pain and could not heal themselves.

[4] Baba Tahir tells us that a lover like a wolf is not afraid of the noises of a shepherd i.e. there is nothing that easily scares him away his love for Beloved. The shepherd could be a prison or war or hunger or illness or betrayal… Lover be brave.
[5] Flowers are the code word for “the life of this world”. This reference comes from the Koran [20:131]:
“Nor strain thine eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendor of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of thy Lord is better and more enduring.”
The Arabic word ‘Zahra’ means either radiant splendor or flower. The verse could read “the flower/blossom/blooming of the life of this world”. Why flower? Because it looks very pretty, you want to touch and smell it but very quickly it dies at your hands.
“Tulip Farmer” means a person working this life for material gain. The same for gardner.

Background: The beautiful singer Cesario Evora.

© 2003-2002,  Dara Shayda

Calligraphy by Abbas Mostofi Mamaleki