Al-Farid: Describe this wine!

We have sampled before the highly mystical poetry of Umar Ibn Al-Farid, with excerpts from his “Poem of the Sufi Way” here and here. These verses are from “The Wine Ode”,  an extended metaphor that is meant to lift us from the common experience of physical inebriation toward a glimpse of the ineffable intoxication of the spirit.

They say to me,
‘Describe this wine
For you know its qualities divine.’
And I say yes
I do have knowledge of this wine!

It’s clear, but not of water.
It’s weightless, soft, but not of air.
It’s luminous, but not of fire.
It’s a spirit without body!

Older tha all that was created,
Pre-eternal, before time it was,
In the long past,
When there was no shape or form.

Then from it all things were born;
And for some wise reckoning
It veiled itself from all
Who had no understanding.

And my soul loved it
And became one with it,
But did not mix or merge
As one substance with another.
Remaining separate, we converged.

The Wine Ode
Umar Ibn Al-Farid
Tr. Mahmood Jamal

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