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Withered Roses
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

How can my words describe you,
desire of the nightingale's heart?
The gentle morning breeze was your nativity,
the aromatic afternoon garden, a tray of perfumes.

My tears welled up like dew,
till in my abandoned heart your rune grew,
this dream-emblem of love:
this spray of withered roses.


Coal to Diamond
Allama Iqbal, after Nietzsche
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

My flesh is so vile, I am less than dust
while your brilliance out-blazes the mirror's heart.
My darkness defiles the chafing-dish
before my cremation; a miner's boot
tramples my cranium; I'm covered with ashes.

Do you know my existence's bleak essence?
Condensations of smoke, black clouds stillborn
from a single spark; while in feature and nature
starlike, your every facet's a splendor,
gleam of the King's crown, the scepter's jewel.

"Please, friend, be wise," the diamond replied,
"assume a gemlike dignity! Carbon must harden,
to fill one's ***** with radiance. Burn
because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.
Be adamant as stone, be diamond."


O, Colorful Rose!
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You are not troubled with solving enigmas
O, beautiful Rose! nor do you have sublime feelings in your heart

Though you ornament the assembly, still you flower apart
(In life's assembly I am not permitted such comforts)

In my garden I am the complete orchestra of longing
While your life is devoid of love's passionate warmth

To pluck you from the branch is not my custom
(I am not blinded by mere appearances)

O, colorful rose this hand is not your tormentor
(I am no callous flower picker!)

I am no intern to analyze you with scientific eyes
Like a lover, I see you with nightingales' eyes

Despite your innumerable tongues, you have chosen silence
What secrets, O Rose, lie concealed in your *****?

Like me you're a leaf from the garden of Ñër
Far from the garden I am, far from the garden we both are

You are content, but I am a scattered fragrance
Pierced by the sword of love in my quest

This turmoil within me might be a means of fulfillment
This torment, a source of illumination

My frailty might be the beginning of strength
My envy might mirror the cup of divination

My constant vigil is a world-illuminating candle
And teaches this steed, the human intellect, to gallop


Bright Rose
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

You cannot loosen the heart's knot;
perhaps you have no heart,
no share in the chaos

of this garden, where I yearn (for what?)
but harvest no roses.
Of what use to me is wisdom?

Having abandoned the garden,
you are at peace, while I remain anxious,
disconsolate in my terror.

Perhaps Jamshid's empty cup
foretold the future, but may wine
never satisfy my mouth,

till I find you in the mirror.

Jamshid's empty cup: Jamshid saw the reflection of future events in a wine cup.

by Allama Iqbāl
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A candle among roses
In the evening garden
A shooting star
A flash of the moon's gown
A spark of the sun's hem
In syncopated eclipse

Emissary of day
In night's dark kingdom
Unseen at home
Lucid in exile
Opposite of the moth
The firefly is light

The Age of Infancy
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The earth and sky remained unknown to me
The expanse of my mother's ***** was my only world

Her every movement communicated life's pleasures to me
Yet my own voice conveyed only meaningless words

During infancy's pain, if someone made me cry
The clank of the door-chain would comfort me

Oh! How I stared at the moon those long, lonely hours,
Regarding its silent journey through broken clouds

I would ask repeatedly about its mountains and its plains
Only to be surprised by some prudent lie

My eye was devoted to seeing, my lips to speech
My heart was inquisitiveness personified


by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

"Why didn't you make me immortal?"
Beauty asked God, perplexed.

God, vexed, replied: "The world is a fiction
fashioned from emptiness."

"You were born bright, ever-changing:
true beauty is transient, estranging."

The moon overheard their discord,
beamed it on to the morning star

who whispered dawn's clouds their dark secret
till the dew heard it all, formed a tear,

and drenched all the shivering rose petals
(now survived by the hardier nettles).


Excerpts from "The Tulip of Sinai"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation by Michael R. Burch


My heart is bright, from burning inwardly.
My eyes weep blood, for all the world to see.
Am I the fool, or is it only he
Who calls all Love mere wild insanity!


Love grants the garden soft breezes of May.
Love teaches the meadow sunflowers to be gay.
Love rockets bright rays even into the deep
So that fishes' schools can find their way.


Love reckons the price of eagles cheap.
Love surrenders pheasants to the falcons’ steep
Murderous dives. Our offended hearts weep
till suddenly, out of ambush, Love leaps!


Love paints the tulip petals’ hue.
Love stirs the spirit’s bitter rue.
And, should you could cleave this carrion of clay,
You would behold Love’s bloodshed too.


A spent scent in a garden: hopes expire.
I know not what I seek, no, nor require.
But whether I am satisfied, or starved,
Still here I burn: a martyr to desire.


How long, my heart, will you be like the moth,
Infatuated with a bit of cloth
Or winking flame? Just once, my foolish heart,
Be fully consumed in yourself, or depart.


Excerpts from "Cordoba"
by Allama Iqbal
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Chain of day and night
Creator of events
Foundation of life and death
Two-toned silken thread
Weave of attributes
Pitch of future prospects
Chain of day and night
Sitting in judgment
Setting a value upon us
Whenever we're lacking
Death, your destiny
Death, my destiny
What else is reality?
The pulse of an age
Neither day nor night
All crafts vanish
Black and white blur
Annihilation, the end


And yet in this form
Hues of eternal life
Splendor of man's love
Love, life's foundation
Death has no claim on love
Love, the tide
Stemming the torrent
Love, the nameless eras
Love, Gabriel's breath
Love, the Prophet of God
Love, the Word of God
Love, the radiant rose
Love, the transcendent wine
Love, the goblet of kings
Love, life's music
Love, the passion for life
Love, the fire of life


O, Mosque of Cordoba
Born of love with no past
Color or mortar or stone
Lyre or song or speech
Man's passionate creation
A drop of blood turns
Stone to beating hearts
The heart's cry is joy
Illumination and melody
You brighten my heart
My song wells up in my breast
You draw man's heart
Into the presence of God
But the passion of love
For God is man's alone
I ignite man's passion
Though his sight is finite
His heart's more expansive than the sky
So what if God desires, rules?
He doesn't earn the pain!
I am an Indian infidel
Witness my fervor
In my heart, prayers
On my lips, blessings
Love is my flute
Love, my song
In my every bone
"God is God"


Witness of man's worth
Your glory mirrors his soul
Stone columns soar
Palms freshen Syrian sands
Sinai's roofs gleam
Gabriel crowns the minaret
A Muslim can never despair
Standing where Prophets once stood
His horizon infinite
Tigris, Danube, Nile flood his veins
Cup-bearer, stallion-rider
In love, a warrior
A sword's shadow his armor
"There is no god but God"


You reveal man's destiny
The ardor of his days
The dissolution of his nights
His submission
Is to God's hand
As is the believer's
Man prospers according to his deeds
He is clay and fire
Divine within
Free of both worlds
His ambition, small
His purpose, immense
Pure-hearted in peace and war
God's compass revolves
Around man's faith
Yet the world is illusion
The man of God is reason's horizon
The harvest of love
The fire of the ingathering
Heaven's passion

Keywords/Tags: Allama Iqbal, translation, Urdu, Pakistan, Pakistani, love, rose, nightingale, garden, heart, beauty, diamond, coal, firefly, Cordoba, mosque, God, soul, wine, music
Sappho's Lullaby
by Michael R. Burch

for Jeremy Michael Burch

Hushed yet melodic, the hills and the valleys
sleep unaware of the nightingale's call
as the dew-laden lilies lie
this is their night, the first night of fall.

Son, tonight, a woman awaits you;
she is more vibrant, more lovely than spring.
She'll meet you in moonlight,
soft and warm,
all alone...
then you'll know why the nightingale sings.

Just yesterday the stars were afire;
then how desire flashed through my veins!
But now I am older;
night has come,
I'm alone...
for you I will sing as the nightingale sings.

Keywords/Tags: Sappho, lullaby, mother, mother and child, song, sing, singing, melancholic, hush, hushed, melodic, nightingale, lilies, night, fall, autumn, son, mother, lover, spring, moonlight, stars, flash, desire, pulse, veins, older, mature love, nurturing, calm, comforting
Shofi Ahmed Dec 2019
Ask not the rainbow
what did it paint first
the first light?
With its first splash
of colours on the rose
it begs in the eyeballs
of all the stars.
Listen to the nightingale
why it still cries?
to write
the diary
of a flower,  
of how the
pages were
as the
of her
mind the
for the
eyes of
a book
her private
where her
being had
came to the
and so
her heart,
the rest
In waves
as her
stroked her
her skin
was the
not fairer
than her
as a blue
sea with
the softer
of clouds,
her home
lyed within
the deepest
part of the
to the cafe,
her heart
wished to
sees beauty
In others
veiled to
the eyes,
she meditated
upon the light
waiting to be
sought, the
to touch
her palms,
fell as
she walked
through the
garden by
the moon,
with the
the poet
of love who
gazed upon
a symphony
of dew-beads
as stars,
as shrines
of memory,
as the night
lights of a
for only
as she
upon them,
with her
she sang,
“can I call
this love,
or the words
of falling rain?”
as she watched,
with the leaves,
and the gentle
dew, opening for
love letters
her lips
the petals,
and tears
fell from
her eyes,
and upon
the white
the night
the tears
the far
of an
love is
the rose
of suffering
and beauty,
and the one
whom has
known it
lives forever
as a home
for others,
the nightingale
sings as her
ink flowed as
upon her
where she
wandered, with
meditations upon
Monet arose
as lullabies
of a secret
songs of
and wisteria
than the
of fairies,
the small gifts of
precious wonders
she held with all
the curiosity
in her hands,
as she
to herself,
were these
lights, or
the few
her to
she reaches
the waters,
and the
fair form
the moonlit
where she
the truth
the tear
petals, the
moon sings
the symphony
for her, “are you
the one I have
been seeking?”
as it’s light
touches her
steps, she
returns to
her home,
and in her
she writes,
“to my lover,
I will remember
how we met
each other
as waves,
from the
lost, far
of the
we found
the shores
eyes, they had
sought themselves
to be lost in legions
of constellations
in the galaxies
of hearts,
with the stars
that waited
to be born,
the flecked
specks of light in
divinations of the
midnight hours,
and reminisced
the dappled
dreams of
colors and
musing, in
the cafe,
where our
the seas
into cups
of tea, and
the question
of metamorphosis
through words,
shifting time
through the
touching of
marble cups
and the colloquy
of our eyes, the
artistry in the
miracle of the
gentle, I walked
In flight with you,
as we shared the
unspoken stories
of our hearts
woven through
the rain,
under the
to your
where we
the paintings
of the night
skies as the
of us, the
by the
where I
her hands
then closed
the pages,
and her eyes
rested upon
the pillow,
and the
“O fair
you are
the one
Is loved, the
has sung to
you upon
It’s branch
near your
fairer is
you are
the gentle
one who
turns all
of what
you have
seen to
you love,
all is in
la fleur
de lune.
Shofi Ahmed Oct 2019
The night never runs dry
the full moon is super cool
so are the bubbling stars
on the banks of the sea rivers!
The next stop is starry fair
but there is a catch to hop up there.

You got to do that
meet the condition of the night:
Ambling like it down the full moon
with blindfolded eyes!

You can ask how long
but ask not why.
For the length of time
think of walking it away
until the nightingale chimes out
upon the rose bottoming out of the night.
And for not asking why
because the Moon in the dark
never loses its sway!
InkHarted Sep 2019
After the Rose had shattered like glass
painting the fragility of a gift untouched
his body begins to drown in dirt
and his feathers embrace the roots
his heart hath given to the colder winds
and his eyes kept open to see the dark
its beak still open for its last note still hung
in the air of glum and awe
but from a distance she heard the song unfinished
the angel who hears his sigh
she descends from duty to null this darkness
from one winged angel to another  
she kisses him from divine intention
she holds in her lips the elixir of hope
for one touch of love and whisper of hope
and the nightingale sings again.
love is all that matters and love always finds away
Shofi Ahmed Aug 2019
What will you do, should you do
If you are led pass to fly
far from the sight at the twilight?
Slip into a tucked away serene sky
Keeping your head held high
Sway free by posy astro ewers.
And as you please pick n fill them  
With your so exquisite star-flowers!
Then you may well fancy reaching out
to the Moon bubbling on the edge of the night.

If you then swing back at the day peep
Wake up listening to the nightingale singing
Now can you interpret what is it saying?

Or when all is in place something is missing?
lifeonLSD Nov 2018
It has been a while in time

-—However not out of reach

I was trying to climb highs

-—I’d dared not before dream

The whisper that followed

-—My every step into more sorrow

Softening with thy gentle hum

-—The less of the hollow i become

Not in view but within my range

-—I’ve settled a life within a place

Stiller, the quieter the strange

-—A hymn has me filled my gaze

Covering the eyes, i have them closed

-—For it’s in the heartbeat, ye old drum

The beat swung with wings that started to sing

—I thought i recognized the song

Laying still, bathed, i bask in your suns

—-I absorb thy lights and the winds blow in my back

All so i can let them move me as one
A visit from the nightingale
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