Like many, I am fascinated by the Sufi teachings, and as an artist, by the whirling dervishes. The dance in general is one of my archetypal , arcane images in both my poetry and my art. It represents life stepping into rhythm and intoning the melodies of creation. The dance is the universe revolving upon itself in an eternal big bang of light, gasses, explosions and whirlpools of cascading stars. To me, all is engaged in the dance, life, death, birth and rebirth, joy and pain. The dance emerges out of the stillness of love and returns to the stillness of love and in between there is the beating heart of the universe weaving the songs of the immeasurable, the unutterable and the fathomless. The dervishes, as they wheel and revolve, according to interpretations, imitate the dance of the spheres round the supreme sphere representing the Throne. With one hand extended to heaven and the other hand extended to earth, the dervish summons the sanctity and beatitude of the creator to bless the earth. I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
Dance with me my friends for I wish to be that lost melody, that missing splendor, that ineffable fleeting essence. Dance with me for my heart is breaking.
When I painted this picture, I decided to put the dance of the dervishes where it belongd, amongst the stars.
Cosmic Dance, gauche and water colors on paper by ©Alisar Iram
WHERE DID We DANCE?
Where did we dance the dance of dances?
Where did I dance wrapped in a cloud of star dust,
The sun on my right, the moon on my left,
Mercury imparting visions of forms perfected,
Mars yielding the toned clamour of the clash of swords,
Jupiter communing omniscience, Saturn omnipotence?
Where did I dance rhythmically revolving with the revolving spheres
My eyes two galaxies, my hair threading the Milky Way,
With Venus, a crown, and the Pleiades, a circlet adorning the brow?
Where did I dance seeking the sphere of spheres
Within without, all embracing, all-encompassing,
The fountainhead, the matrix, the essence of all music?
And yet I danced, I danced with my right hand caressing the stars
My left hand touching to the earth, feeling the tree trunks,
Harvesting the myriad hews of flowers?
Tell me in what lost garden did I fall into step
With the majestic foot-falls of the cosmic dancers
Treading lightly, vibrantly upon the floors of the universe,
Unseen, yet ten thousand times seen, unheard, yet eternally heard,
Unfelt, yet penetrating the marrow, reddening the blood, stringing the sinews
Where did I dance, my beloved rising to meet me
Astride monumental shafts of cascading light,
Amidst the whirlpools of the cosmic wilds
And waste upon waste of star-studded universal meadows,
With meteorites and asteroids sliding off his hands
As his fingers plucked his strings, then paused, to pluck them again?
Where did we dance, in what forgotten age
In which lost kingdom, in which hidden Eden, the moment
The music died, the moment the light went out
Irrevocably lost because irretrievable
Yet only retrieved beyond this life, beyond this time,
Beyond this our city of the world?
Cosmic Dance 2. Gauche and water colours on paper by ©Alisar Iram