Poems by Annemarie Schimmel
“Make thirsty me, O friend, give me no water!
Let me so love that sleep flees from my door!”
Yes, sleep flees, if he sees the burning eyelids,
He would be drowned if he would cross the sea
of tears; he would be poisoned
if he should dare to drink
That potent wine which you
Poured in the gobler of my eyes:
Those eyes which once beheld your radians face
And try to mirror it on every tear…
…Those eyes which are a veil.
Make me more thirsty, friend, give me no water-
My thirst is proof that you are thirsty, too…
There are no birch trees in Konya
They grow further north
under the silvery sky
mirrored in brownish brooks
in the Sarmathian steppe
or in upstate New York…
But I know
that Maulana said:
Under the shade of your tresses
so lovely and so cool
my heart slept full of peace like
the dust beneath a tree…
Dust out of which
grass will grow
to praise your mildness
heather will grow
to sing your beauty
(taking its hue from my hood-stained tears)
dust which one day
will be covered by gold
when you, dervish-birch,
will shed your leaves
to attain perfect peace,
poverty, purity, love
Only your naked limbs stand there, on this silvery sky
and the wild grouse greet you
passing in winter nights into homelessness.
And I, the dust at your feet,
protect you , praying till spring…
weaves satin and brocade
from tears, O friend, to spread it
one day beneath your feet…
Only from tears, Maulana?
Forms the weft of the endless fabric of love.
With every breath I weave the brocade of your name,
Golden letters inscribed in the satin-robe of my blood.
O, what garments have I prepared for you,
taking the ruddy dawn and the fist green silk of spring,
star-embroidered velvet, and feather-light wool!
Every thought embellishes your name, O my friend,
Weaving into the fabric the turquoise domes of Iran,
Dyeing the yarn in the pearl-studded depth of the sea.
Every pulse bears the drum of primordial love
Every breath is the flute of impossible hope
Every goblet is filled with you
And I weave
ever new silken garments of words
only to hide you.
There were some unicorns
in the forest of yore.
Playful and white
they walked through the waning moon
in early dawn.
Lilies grew out of their steps.
But, dear, once you smiled at them
and they bowed at your feet,
melting like dew,
Nightingales Under the Snow,by Annemarie Schimmel, 1994.