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Last night I dreamed that angels stood without
The tavern door, and knocked in vain, and wept;
They took the clay of Adam, and, methought,
Moulded a cup therewith while all men slept.
Oh dwellers in the halls of Chastity!
You brought Love’s passionate red wine to me,
Down to the dust I am, your bright feet stept.
For Heaven’s self was all too weak, to bear
The burden of His love God laid on it,
He turned to seek a messenger elsewhere,
And in the Book of Fate my name was writ.
Between my Lord and me such concord lies.
As makes the Huris glad in Paradise,
With songs of praise through the green glades they flit.
A hundred dreams of Fancy’s garnered store
Assail me — Father Adam went astray
Tempted by one poor grain of corn! Wherefore
Absolve and pardon him that turns away
Though the soft breath of Truth reaches his ears,
For two-and-seventy Jangling creeds he hears,
And loud-voiced Fable calls him ceaselessly.
That, that is not the flame of Love’s true fire
Which makes the torchlight shadows dance in rings,
But where the radiance draws the moth’s desire
And send him forth with scorched and drooping wings.
The heart of one who dwells retired shall break,
Rememb’ring a black mole and a red cheek,
And his life ebb, sapped at its secret springs.
Yet since the earliest time that man has sought
To comb the locks of Speech, his goodly bride,
Not one, like Hafiz, from the face of Thought
Has torn the veil of Ignorance aside.
–Khw?ja Šams ud-D?n Muhammad H?fez-e Š?r?z? (H?fez) (????? ????????? ???? ???? ??????), The Divan (ca. 1370)(transl. Gertrud Bell 1897)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”