Ring… Ring… Ring
The bells do Toll
But the missing beat is the one
Ringing in my heart.
My heart has become
Not a continent,*
Not the pasture of gazelles,**
No, not a temple or a mosque or a cathedral**
For it has become a galaxy,
Where love treads and threads,
Dyeing the stars with the splendour
Of the red rose.
Must the nightingale die
So that the rose might
Shine in the night of the universe ?
With the plaintive beat of the Sufi ney,
Yet the beat that is missing is ringing in my heart
Where the nightingale is singing its farewell.
This pain is but the thorns and briars of roses
And I was wounded but by a rose,
Says the nightingale singing clearer and gentler,
This pain is but for the rose.
This pain is but of the rose
The wild the beautiful red star,
Whispers the nightingale as it presses its soft breast
Closer and closer to the crimson glory of the rose.
I have stretched my soul across the universe
And plucked then plucked again,
Chants the nightingale while its melody rises to revolve
Round the whirling stars.
As the bell dies down,
As its song rings its final notes,
As the bells stop tolling
And the missed beat in my heart also stops stops,
The nightingale becomes the rose
Soul of its soul.
How would you know in the magnificent glow of red,
Which is the nightingale and which is the rose
Which is the wound and which is the rising sun?
* Reference to Jhne Donne. See below
** Referenced to Ibn Arabi. See below
The rose is a sacred symbol found throughout the mystical writings and poetry of many religions. There are many Sufi references to the rose, as symbolizing the Divine beloved, to whom the earthy lover might become a conduit, channeling divine love. The sacred and the profane, the heavenly and the earthly become indistinguishable. Ibn Arabi, the Sufi mystics and some great Persian poets used the image profusely in their poetry.
As for representing the human soul by a bird, it is found in myth and mystical literature all over the world. The old Arabians thought of the soul as an owl or a bird leaving the body from the head as death occurred. The image of the bird, as a metaphor for the soul yearning for the beloved, was repeatedly used in Arab and Islamic mysticism and poetry and in Persian literature. The nightingale, because of its haunting melodies, became the lover who is in love with the rose, the Divine. As poetry is always very complex and multi-layered, the image gains in profundity and meaning according to the poet‘s vision.
My two direct sources of inspiration in this poem are two great mystics of Islam and Christianity, the great Arab Medieval poet and mystic, Ibn Arabi ( 1156- 1240), and the great English Metaphysical poet, John Donne (1572-1631).
My heart has now become recipient to all images
As it has turned into the grazing fields where gazelles play,
And into the monasteries where the monks pray, …
For I have embraced the creed of love, wherever it fares;
Love is my religion and love is my faith. (Ibn Arabi)
The tolling of the bell in the poem is the bell tolling in Donne’s poem:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. (John Donne)