from The Song of Songs (The Holy Bible)
For the first 1500 years of Christianity, the Biblical book of ancient wedding songs, called The Song of Songs, was interpreted by Christian saints and theologians as a dialog between Christ and the soul. Christ is the beloved Bridegroom, and the soul is his lover, the mystical bride. The sensual union of bride and bridegroom was regarded by ancient poets as a sacramental sign, signifying the union experienced in deep contemplative prayer. This Biblical poetry of the Mystical Marriage reflects the same symbolism found in the spiritual poetry of India and Persia, the mystics of Hinduism and the Sufis of Islam.
The Beloved Speaks:
Your love is sweeter than wine,
and your name is perfume poured out.
The Lover Speaks:
A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse,
a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
A fountain of gardens, a well of flowing waters,
and streams from Lebanon.
The Beloved Speaks:
Let my beloved come into his garden
and eat his pleasant fruits.
I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine;
he feedeth among the lillies.
He brought me to the banqueting house
and his banner over me was love.
I sat down under his shadow
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
The Lover Speaks:
Thou art all fair my love, there is no spot in thee.
The joints of thy thighs are like jewels,
the work of a cunning workman's hands.
Thy stature is like to a palm tree,
and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
Until the day break and the shadows flee away,
I will get me to the mountains of myrrh
and the hills of frankincense.
I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine.
At night on my bed I longed for my only love.
I sought him, but did not find him...
I sleep, but my heart wakes.
Listen! My lover knocking:
"Open my sister, my friend,
my dove, my perfect one!
My hair is wet, drenched with the dew of night."
I rose to open to my love,
my fingers moist with myrrh,
sweet flowing myrrh on the door bolt.
I opened to my love, but he had slipped away.
I sought him everywhere, but could not find him.
I called to him, but he did not answer.
Swear to me, daughters of Jerusalem!
If you find him now, you must tell him:
I am in a fever of love...
Come, my beloved,
let is go out into the fields
and sleep all night among the flowering henna.
Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vine has budded,
if the blossoms have opened
and the pomegranate is in flower.
There I will give you my love.
Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.
By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,
Bird and wind.
My leaves sing.
I am earth, earth
All these lighted things
Grow from my heart.
A tall, spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.
When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!
I am earth, earth
My heart's love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
I am earth, earth
Out of my grass heart
Rises the bobwhite.
Out of my nameless weeds
His foolish worship.
Jnaneshwar (b. 1275, India)
I honor the God and Goddess,
eternal parents of the cosmos.
The lover out of boundless love
takes the form of the beloved.
Both are made of the same nectar,
and share the same food.
Out of supreme love
they swallow each other up with longing,
but separate again
for the joy of being two!
They sit in one place, petals of the same blossom,
covered in one garment of light.
From the beginning of time
they have been together like this,
reveling in divine love.
I am the difference between them,
which they have created to enjoy this world!
But with one glimpse of their intimacy
I merge back into the bliss of their union.
Without that God, there is no Goddess;
without that Goddess, there is no God.
How sweet the nectar of their love!
The entire universe is too small to contain them:
yet they dwell happily together
in my heart, and in
the tiniest particle of this world!
Jnanadeva, Chapter 1 of Amṛta Anubhāva, Experience of Bliss-Nectar
Out of pure emptiness
She gives rise to the entire world.
Everything depends on Her.
Yet She exists only because
Her form is the whole world,
It is the glory of God made manifest.
God Himself created Her form,
God Himself became that form.
Seeing Herself beautifully adorned,
She could not bear that He
Might have less then She.
And so She adorned Him
With every Name and Form in the universe.
Merged in unity
There was nothing to do.
So Shakti, the bringer of good fortune,
Created this world for the sake of divine play.
She reveals His splendor
By melting Herself and becoming everything;
And He glorifies Her,
By hiding Himself completely.
Out of His great love to see Her
He becomes the Seer of the universe.
If He could not watch Her play,
He would have no reason to exist.
To meet Her call
He takes on the form
Of the whole universe;
Without Her He remains naked.
He is so mysterious and subtle
That while apparent,
He cannot be seen.
It is by Her grace alone
That He comes into being.
She awakens Him,
And serves Him a feast
The size of the universe.
With great delight
He swallows up every dish
And also the one who serves Him.
While He is sleeping,
She gives birth to all that exists
And all that does not exist.
While She is sleeping,
He has no form at all.
He is hidden,
And cannot be found without Her.
For they are mirrors,
Each revealing the other.
Shiva enjoys His own bliss.
Though all the joy
Of the world belongs to Him,
There is no joy without Her.
She is His very form,
But Her radiance comes from Him.
Blending into one,
They enjoy the nectar of their own union.
Shiva and Shakti are one,
Like air and the wind,
Like gold and its luster.
Shiva and Shakti cannot be separated.
They are like musk and its fragrance,
Like fire and its heat.
In the light of the Sun
There is no difference between day and night
In the Light of the Supreme Truth
There is no difference between Shiva and Shakti.
Shiva and Shakti envy the Primordial Sound "Om"
because they are seen as two
while the sound Om is always regarded as one.
"I honor the union of Shiva and Shakti,
who devour this world of Name and Form
like a sweet dish.
All that remains is the One."
Embracing each other
they merge into One!
Radha's Longing for Krishna (Madhava)
Mahadeviyakka (12th C. India)
"On Her Decision to Stop Wearing Clothes"
Coins in the hand can be stolen,
but who can rob this body
of its own treasure?
The last thread of clothing
can be stripped away,
but who can peel off Emptiness -
pure Nakedness covering all?
Fools, while I dress
in the Jasmine Lord's morning light
I cannot be shamed.
What would you have me hide under silk
and the glitter of jewels?
Mirabai (b. 1498 India)
Mira left her royal home to become a wandering poet, in love with Lord Krishna.
No one knows my invisible life.
Pain and madness for Rama.
Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.
Meeting him, the dark healer,
is a world of hurt and joy!
I love the man who takes care of cows.
Cowherd and dancer.
My eyes are drunk,
worn out from making love
with him. We are one.
I am now his dark color.
People notice me, point fingers at me.
They see my desire,
since I'm walking about like a lunatic.
I'm wiped out, gone.
Yet no one knows I live with my prince,
the cowherd. The palace can't contain me.
I leave it behind.
I couldn't care less about gossip
or my royal name.
I'll be with him
in all his gardens.
* * *
I am mad with love
And no one understands my plight.
Only the wounded
Understand the agonies of the wounded
When the fire rages in the heart.
Only the jeweler knows the value of the jewel,
Not the one who lets it go.
In pain I wander from door to door,
But cannot find a doctor.
Says Mira: Harken, my Master,
Mira's pain will subside
When Shyam, the beautiful blue-eyed Lord,
comes to heal me.
* * *
Mira danced with ankle-bells on her feet.
People said Mira was mad;
My mother-in-law said I ruined the family reputation.
Rana sent me a cup of poison
and Mira drank it laughing.
I dedicated my body and soul at the feet of Hari,
my Beloved, Krishna.
I am thirsty for the nectar of his glance.
* * * *
Meher Baba, 2oth C. Indian Saint
Ever since I saw the Beloved's face,
ISLAMIC MYSTICAL POETRY
Rabia (she was one of the first Islamic Sufis, 8th C, Bhagdad)
"You are dawn: I am only a candle!"
Light will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage.
Little by little, You will turn into stars.
Little by little, You will turn into
The whole sweet, amorous Universe.
Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, booming new galaxy.
You will become so free
In a wonderful secret
And pure Love that flows
From a conscious, One-pointed, Infinite Light.
Even then, my dear, The Beloved will have fulfilled
Just a fraction, just a fraction!,
Of a promise He wrote upon your heart.
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient fertile plain
You hold the title to.
O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.
When your soul begins
To ever bloom and laugh
And spin in Eternal Ecstasy:
O little by little, You will turn into God!
* * * *
For no reason
I start skipping like a child.
I have learned so much from God
That I can no longer
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
A Buddhist, a Jew.
The Truth has shared so much of Itself
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even pure
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed me
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.
* * * *
The earth braces itself for the feet
of a lover of God
about to dance.
The sky becomes timid
when a saint starts waving his arms
for the sun, moon and planets
could all wind up
rolling on the floor.
My dear, the world and its laws
are such a minute part of existence,
should not all our suffering be like this:
Something just dropped
from an infant's palm,
sleeping against the breast
* * * *
If I've left the mosque for the tavern,
don't preach to me:
the ceremonies go on far too long,
and life is short!
Now its Spring:
the gentle breeze
will scatter seeds in the barren earth
and the old will become young again!
Minstrel, sing your melodies
for this feast of love.
No more chatter of the past or future:
* * * *
The real Love I always kept a secret,
all my words sung quietly at night,
outside her window.
And when She let me in,
I took a thousand oaths of silence.
But then She said,
O yes, God said:
"What the hell, Hafiz!
Why not give the whole world
* * * *
Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more deep.
Let it ferment and season you....
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,
my voice so tender,
my need for God
* * * *
I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:
Rumi (12th C. Creator of the Islamic Sufi tradition)
The way of love is not
a subtle argument.
The door there
Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they do it?
They fall, and falling,
they're given wings.
If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God’s fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image
about clouds gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings
of your robe.
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
When someone asks what it means
to "die for love," point
What is to be done, O Moslems? For I do not recognise myself.
I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr, nor Moslem.
I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea;
I am not of Nature’s mint, nor of the circling heaven.
I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire;
I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity.
I am not of India , nor of China , nor of Bulgaria , nor of Saqsin.
I am not of the kingdom of ’Iraqian, nor of the country of Khorasan
I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise , nor of Hell.
I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Rizwan.
My place is the Placeless; my trace is the Traceless;
’Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away; I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call.
He is the first, He is the last, He is the outward, He is the inward;
I am intoxicated with Love’s cup, the two worlds have passed out of my ken;
If once in my life I spent a moment without thee,
From that time and from that hour I repent of my life.
If once in this world I win a moment with thee,
I will trample on both worlds; I will dance in triumph forever.
Shall I tell you our secret?
We are charming thieves who steal hearts
and never fail because we are
the friends of the One.
The time for old preaching is over
we aim straight at the heart.
If the mind tries to sneak in and take over
we will string it up without delay.
We turn poison into medicine
and our sorrows into blessings.
All that was familiar,
our loved ones and ourselves
we had to leave behind.
Blessed is the poem that comes through me
but not of me because the sound of my own music
will drown the song of Love.
Grind yourself, strip yourself down
to blind loving silence;
stay there, until you see
you are gazing at the Light
with its own ageless eyes.
The grapes of my body and mind
can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit too, like grapes
to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze
and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood
and sobbing "I can bear no more anguish,
no more cruelty,"
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears:
"I am not working in ignorance.
You can deny me if you want,
you have every excuse.
But it is I who am
the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion
you reach Perfection,
You will never be done
praising my name!"