The Caravan

Ho! O Cupbearer, pass around and offer the bowl: [1]
For love at first appeared easy, but difficulties have occurred.

Hoping for the scented breeze of the musk-pod parting the forelock [2]
Craving for the twist of the musky curl, what blood befell the hearts!

In the resthouse of the Beloved, mine what ease and pleasure, whilst
Any moment the bell might scream: "Bind ye up the chattels" [3]

With wine, becolor the prayer-mat if the Pir of the Magians bid thee;
Since the traveler knows not the way and usage of the resthouses [4]

The dark night, and the fear of the wave, and the whirlpool so fearful.
The light-burdened ones of the shore, how know they our state? [5]

By following my own fancy, me to ill fame all my work brought:
Secret, how remaineth that great mystery whereof assemblies speak? [6]

Hafez! if thou desire the Divine Presence from It be not absent:  [7]
When thou visitest thy Beloved, abandon the world; and drop its wares.


Note: This is mostly an adaptation of Wilberforce-Clarkes translation brought to my attention by enrobe.

[1] This first verse is fully in Arabic while the second half in Farsi. And it is attributed to Kalif Yazid Bin Mo’awiah:

I am poisoned and without
Any antidote or the sorcerer

Overflow the goblet and serve
Oh you the one the cupbearer

I am poisoned & ill with the Divine Love and for this ailment there is no antidote or doctor (sorcerer), so O you the cupbearer pour abundantly more wine “since the essence of this poison is the antidote itself! (Sa’di)”.

[2] Parting the forelock hair means the pulling of the veils away to see the resplendent Face of the Divine Beloved. And craving for that Face, which never shows Itself, the hearts of the lovers (righteous) have been broken so many times in waiting. Here the locks and forehead and all that are Ishaarat (Paradigm & Hint) towards a beautiful face. These do not mean that God has hair and etc. According to Araqi’s Cipher:

1.    Forehead means Zohoor (Manifestation) of the Divine Secrets
2.    Long hair means to seek the Divine Beloved
3.    Curl/braid/twist of hair means Divine Beingness
4.    Wave of the hair means Divine Secrets

Again these are poetic innovations in order to describe the Divine Face they do not mean that the Lord has forehead or curls and etc.

Reference to Musk again is the odoriferous effulgence the lover smells and enlightened by which is emanated from the purification of the Self through meditations. Why perfume? Because the lover is immersed from all directions by this light and a particular direction cannot be discerned.

Therefore the verse means the pious in deep devotion and hardship of meditations and acts of worship hope for the scented breeze (that final meditation) that would part the veils of secrets for him to see a glance of the Beloved’s Face/Manifest.

[3] When you meditate or worship, constantly losing your focus and the is likened to a caravan that is in the resthouse of the Beloved, and at any moment’s notice you are asked to pack up and leave (lost focus) due to the needs or lusts of your existence. The term stage or resthouse are really the Caravan stop or the Farsi word Carvansarai.

[4] Pir (old sage) of Moqaan or Magian is the teacher of the Salek (Sufi traveler on the path of love). This term has nothing to do with the Magian simply in Farsi Sufism means old wise teacher. Hafiz says if your teacher told you to soak your prayer rug in wine, since wine is forbidden in Islam, do that without asking sine the old man has wisdom the Sufi student does not understand.

[5] Salek (Sufi traveler on the path of love) is horrified by the dangers on the path, like a person sinking into a whirlpool but the folk standing on the beech i.e. those normal non-spiritual folk with no worries about hereafter, are free from such burden of fright.

[6] In Sufism there is a practice which the Sufi is engrossed in his faults and history of wrong doings and sees not the people’s fault.

[7] Second verse is all in Arabic.

© 2004-2002,  Dara O. Shayda