Love plays its lute behind the screen

by Fakhruddin Iraqi

English version by William Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Love plays its lute behind the screen --
where is a lover to listen to its tune?

With every breath a new song,
each split second a new string plucked.

The world has spilled Love's secret --
when could music ever hold its tongue?

Every atom babbles the mystery --
Listen yourself, for I'm no tattletale!

-- from Fakhruddin Iraqi: Divine Flashes (Classics of Western Spirituality) , Translated by William Chittick / Translated by Nasr Seyyed Hossein

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I like the double meaning of this poem's first couplet:

Love plays its lute behind the screen --
where is a lover to listen to its tune?

On the one hand, Iraqi is chiding the world for not producing enough lovers of God. Love is eternally calling to us with its soft music "behind the screen" of reality, but few are actually listening; lovers can't be found.

On a deeper level, it is understood that the true lover has no substance, because he or she is utterly merged into the Beloved, God. So, even where there are lovers, there are no lovers found.

Whoever thinks Divine Love is just hypothetical, isn't really listening. "The world has spilled Love's secret --" "Every atom babbles the mystery --"

Listen yourself, for I'm no tattletale!



Recommended Books: Fakhruddin Iraqi

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Fakhruddin Iraqi: Divine Flashes (Classics of Western Spirituality) Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition





Love plays its lute