Bahá'í Epistolary

Friday, 6 July 2007

Poems of the Journey: Absent Beloved

I cannot describe or present this latest poem of the journey, the sigh of a fractured, if loving soul, which only utter Beauty and utter helplessness might explain.

Poems of the Journey: Absent Beloved

Absent Beloved

You see me immobile, straining to step into your court, unable even to fix my gaze upon your winged feet.

I fail utterly to rest upon invisibility, even when the visible has lost its power of conviction over my soul. Incapable to lure any longer my dreams, my hopes and expectations, it is still able to persuade, for moments upon accumulating moments, my full attention, the transient motions of my being, when all round me solidity presses its suit and promises in its all-surrounding embrace momentary escape from your absence's burning pain.

Desire overwhelms me, and all but undoes me. I can no longer tell what atom of this yearning is not you, for in your absence every shadow takes on your silhouette and torments my waking dreams. I call to you, with every tear and every smile (I can no longer tell them apart) while hope, exhausted, falters, and thirst images all round me a thousand empty mirages, which I readily discern as insubstantial, yet my unheeding, thirst-consumed limbs pursue in overwhelming need of respite, my will only at the very last imposing itself over this pointless career toward the emptiness of you, leaving my spirit not unscathed.

There is no part of me that has not sought you, no prayer left unsaid, no supplication unuttered, no tear unshed. There is no doctor, earthly or heavenly, to whom I have not turned to help me bear your absence, else draw it to a close. I have travelled the earth and joined every company, and also closed my eyes and sought you alone and quietly in the privacy of my habitation. I have sung to you songs of love where the wise gravely discourse; wept for you until more tears were impossible, yet keep on falling. I have kindled one hundred hearts in joy at your evocation - wounded hundreds more with the consequences of my majnun-like search of you.

I have sought you, beloved, from my youth, with all my innocence and vigour, and have aged prematurely upon reaching your door, and receiving your invitation, and hearing your most sweet voice, and smelling your exquisite perfume, and feeling your touch upon my skin - and discovering myself unable to respond, to step into your open chamber, cross your threshold, and join you, my love, my goal, my genesis, my all.

I know not what else to do, where else to go. You alone know the extent of my efforts. Only you can plumb the depths of my disappointment, the measure of my failure, the scale of my self-defeat, the accumulated grains of loneliness that add up to this desert of longing.

And yet, goal of my heart, perhaps your greatest miracle in me is that I am still far, very far from losing hope. Your tender, flashing eyes, even in the distance, even behind the luminous veil that hides your face, speak intimately to my heart such ravishing beauty and compassion, that I know, I know however far I seem destined to remain, yet you are nearer. I do not understand this statement of mine which my throbbing heart beats when I lift my gaze to yours. But what is the logic of words where beauty reigns?

Beloved one. You know my heart. You know my desperate, if not despairing need, and the exact limits of my strength.

Do not abandon me.

I know my undeserving. You know my sincerity, all there is of it.

I do not ask relief, best beloved - my tears and searing sighs are your kisses upon my neck - but only faithfulness. The strength to come to rest without distraction in your invisibility, rest fully, joyfully and undeviatingly, else be granted in my weakness a visible path to rest in you.

You know what is in me. I know only my desire to be yours without remnant or delay, and be granted the insight and ability to court you in deeds that destroy in triumphant celebration the lukewarm traces of mediocrity in love.

Whatever I am, I am yours. All else is my love for your mirrored image upon creation's troubled waters, and my unwise and self-destroying impatience with your absence. Even my failures in your path are signals of your conquest. Like Jami's Zuleika, if I slit my own hands while preparing the banquet, it is only because you just stepped into the room, and I lost my concentration.

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