Fakhruddin Iraqi: Jump Free

Here is a fragment of a longer poem by Fakhruddin Iraqi.  For more about this thirteenth century Persian mystic, see this earlier post. Iraqi spoke these lines after attentively caring for a drunk who had stumbled into his prayer space and disturbed his meditations, but he is not eulogising the effects of alcohol.  In Sufi poetry the imagery of the tavern, the cup of wine, and drunkenness typically points to the state of ecstasy, when the self is forgotten in the intoxication of the divine presence.  

As long as you cannot jump free of your own embrace
your worship is bound to a temple of devilish idols.

Pawn your soul at the tavern to buy one sip
but do not try to trade on piety–the coin is debased.

How long will you stand dry-lipped on the shore of desire?
Hurl yourself–now!–into the infinite sea

that the traceless ocean may wash away all trace
and the shark of ecstasy swallow you in one bite.

When Iraqi is drowned he’ll find eternal life
and behold the secret of the Unseen in the world of the Witness.

Tr. William C. Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson

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