You the dawn and I
the candle of the night retreat!
Smile as you watch me
surrender my soul

Your hair has stained my heart
so deep, my tomb
will be a bed of violets
when I pass away

I open my eye to you
on the threshold of hope
that you’ll give me one more glance
as you cast me from your vision

Can’t thank you enough,
sorrows, bless you!
When I was alone
you were by my side

I am the slave of the pupil
of my eye. From an obsidian heart,
while I count the wounds of love,
it launches a thousand tears

This idol of ours displays her splendor
to every gaze, but the look
I cast from every side
nobody sees

If she like the breeze slips longing
past the grave of Hafez,
from the heart of the chamber
I’ll tear the shroud

– Hafez

translated by Michael Sells




How many a weapon-shrouded warrior,
     whose approach is ruin,
inexperienced in fleeing
     or surrender,

                          Have my hands awarded
                     the quick thrust
                          of a tempered, well-joined,
                     straightened spear,

Gashing him open,
     the gurgling of his wound
guiding through the darkness
     hunger-worn wolves in search of prey.

                          I split through his breastplate
                     with a hard, cold blade—
                          the spear tip holds inviolate
                     no stout-hearted brave—

and left him carrion
     to be torn apart,
skull to wrist
     by rustling predators.

– excerpt from the Mu’allaqa of ‘Antara

translated by Michael Sells




  • durationpress/seedings-5_antarah_Did_poetry_die? [pdf]