Kundalini Splendor

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Bibi Hayati--poem--"Is it the night of power?" 

Is it the night of power

By Bibi Hayati
(19th Century)

English version by Aliki Barnstone

Is it the night of power
Or only your hair?
Is it dawn
Or your face?

In the songbook of beauty
Is it a deathless first line
Or only a fragment
copied from your inky eyebrow?

Is it boxwood of the orchard
Or cypress of the rose garden?
The tuba tree of paradise, abundant with dates,
Or your standing beautifully straight?

Is it musk of a Chinese deer
Or scent of delicate rosewater?
The rose breathing in the wind
Or your perfume?

Is it scorching lightning
Or light from fire on Sana'i Mountain?
My hot sigh
Or your inner radiance?

Is it Mongolian musk
Or pure ambergris?
Is it your hyacinth curls
Or your braids?

Is it a glass of red wine at dawn
Or white magic?
Your drunken narcissus eye
Or your spell?

Is it the Garden of Eden
Or heaven on earth?
A mosque of the masters of the heart
Or a back alley?

Everyone faces a mosque of adobe and mud
When they pray.
The mosque of Hayati's soul
Turns to your face.

-- from The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry, Edited by Aliki Barnstone.  Bibi Hayati was a Sufi (female) poet who lived in what is now Iran in the early 1800's.

"While Hayati found a welcome for her ecstatic connection to God in Sufism, she waited until she had permission from her spiritual teacher to communicate her experience outside her immediate family in writing in these poems. She was initially reluctant because of her gender, Hayati’s spiritual master conferred on her the duty to write these ghazals that relate her mystical experience, because, according to him,  she had attained the status of manhood through her devotion to the Sufi path: “In the realm of love, sincerity and Sufism, you too are a man.  True manhood is courage.”
(above quote found on a site called "Voices of the Pearl."

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