If one His praise of me would learn

by Sa'di

English version by Edward B. Eastwick
Original Language Persian/Farsi

If one His praise of me would learn,
     What of the traceless can the tongueless tell?
     Lovers are killed by those they love so well;
No voices from the slain return.

-- from The Gulistan of Sadi: The Rose Garden, Translated by Edward B. Eastwick

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I love that line, "What of the traceless can the toungeless tell?"

There is actually a lot being said in these few lines, all circling around the wordlessness of true lovers of God. Why is it that lovers are "tongueless"? Why is it that lovers are "killed," and the voices of the "slain" don't return?

Sacred poetry often portrays death from an upside-down perspective in which death is sought with an enthusiasm that can, at times, sound almost suicidal. Without understanding of this imagery, it can sound as if every mystic and saint has some strange death wish.

In deep ecstasy, the sense of individuality, the sense of "I" thins and can completely disappear. Though you may still walk and breathe and talk, there is no "you" performing these actions. The separate identity, the ego, disappears, to be replaced by a vast, borderless sense of reality -- the "traceless." Suddenly, who you have always thought yourself to be vanishes and, in its place, stands a radiant presence whose boundaries are no longer perceived in terms of flesh or space.

It is this experience, this complete shedding of the limited body of the ego, that is the death so eagerly sought by mystics throughout time. This is what Saadi means by his statement, "Lovers are killed by those they love so well."

This same death of the ego leads to a space beyond words. With the small self no longer in the way of true perception, reality is finally perceived as a unified wholeness. The mind ceases to cut its perception of reality into manageable little pieces. Everything, absolutely everything is recognized as part of that single wholeness. And that's where words fail. Words can only ever apply to fragments of reality, particles of meaning. But in the lover's vision of Oneness, words are no longer big enough to contain what is witnessed.

What then can one say? Lover's fall silent. They are toungeless. In this sacred 'death,' one has no voice. Some mystics literally fall silent and cease to speak in awe of such Unity, while others may speak and write and sing... but inwardly they too are spacious, clear, silent. The use of words becomes at most a game, incapable of truly conveying the lover's awe and praise. One can only hope that this game of words and incomplete meanings will point the way for others, that they too may one day find themselves toungeless.

Nuff said...

Recommended Books: Sa'di

Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom The Gulistan of Sadi: The Rose Garden The Mystics of Islam

If one His praise