Love came

by Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

English version by Peter Lamborn Wilson and Nasrollah Pourjavady
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Love came
     flowed like blood
     beneath skin, through veins
emptied me of my self
     filled me
     with the Beloved
till every limb
     every organ was seized
     and occupied
till only
     my name remains.
     the rest is It.

-- from The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, Translated by Peter Lamborn Wilson / Translated by Nasrollah Pourjavady

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I really like the visceral start to this poem.

Love came
     flowed like blood
     beneath skin, through veins

It's so physical, even slightly disturbing. Sheikh Abu-Said Abil-Kheir wants to literally get under your skin with those opening lines.

But what is it that has taken over the very blood and organs of our body? Love.

When deep mystics speak of love, they aren't talking about vague and all-too-fleeting emotional states. When you are truly flooded by that foundational love -- let's capitalize it and call it Love -- there is something very tangible that is experienced. It is physical. The whole body at every level, "every limb / every organ", every cell, in fact, suddenly feels alive in a way previously unknown. There is a powerful sense of alignment, as if each cell was an iron filing exposed to a powerful magnet, all lining up harmoniously along hidden lines of force. Something alchemical is happening in the body.

till only
     my name remains.
     the rest is It.

And the small self, what we might call the ego-self, seems to fade away. Although you are emptied of that isolated sense of self, you aren't left empty. Instead, you are filled up, but with something much wider and all-embracing -- a sense of identity too open to be called "me." People may look at you and see the same face, call you by the same name, but those relate to the ego identity, when in truth only that loving presence remains, contentedly witnessing the world through your eyes.



Recommended Books: Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

Nobody, Son of Nobody: Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition The Mystics of Islam Under the Sufi's Cloak: Stories of Abu Said and His Mystical Teaching





Love came