by Hakim Sanai

English version by Coleman Barks
Original Language Persian/Farsi

When the path ignites a soul,
there's no remaining in place.

The foot touches ground,
but not for long.

The way where love tells its secret
stays always in motion,
and there is no you there, and no reason.

The rider urges his horse to gallop,
and so doing, throws himself
under the flying hooves.

In love-unity there's no old or new.
Everything is nothing.
God alone is.

For lovers the phenomena-veil is very transparent,
and the delicate tracings on it cannot
be explained with language.

Clouds burn off as the sun rises,
and the love-world floods with light.

But cloud-water can be obscuring,
as well as useful.

There is an affection that covers the glory,
rather than dissolving into it.

It's a subtle difference,
like the change in Persian
from the word "friendship"
to the word "work."

That happens with just a dot
above or below the third letter.

There is a seeing of the beauty
of union that doesn't actively work
for the inner conversation.

Your hand and feet must move,
as a stream streams, working
as its Self, to get to the ocean.
Then there's no more mention
of the search.

Being famous, or being a disgrace,
who's ahead or behind, these considerations
are rocks and clogged places
that slow you. Be as naked as a wheat grain
out of its husk and sleek as Adam.

Don't ask for anything other
than the presence.

Don't speak of a "you"
apart from That.

A full container cannot be more full.
Be whole, and nothing.

-- from The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia, with Lectures by Inayat Khan, Translated by Coleman Barks

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

What a wonderful poem on the spiritual path.

There is so much to contemplate in this poem, but one of my favorite verses is: "The rider urges his horse to gallop, / and so doing, throws himself / under the flying hooves."

That's a striking image, but disturbing. What does Sanai mean by this?

The horse we ride is our love for the Divine. Urging that horse to a gallop is to raise that love to a high passion through spiritual practice. The "self" that we must throw under the "flying hooves" of divine love is the ego-self, the false self that slices up reality, proclaiming, "I like this, this is mine. I dislike that, that has nothing to do with me."

When that petty self is courageously thrown beneath the driving of divine love, we are surprised to find that our true Self lives. That self is actually the one riding the horse, it is the horse, it is the path the horse streams along. That greater self is not separate from anything; it is a part of the Divine Beloved. This is what Sanai refers to when, at the end he tells us, "Don't speak of a 'you' / apart from That."

Recommended Books: Hakim Sanai

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi
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