Maybe They’re Shy

Now the nightbirds will be singing
of the way we love each other.
Why should they sing about flowers
when they’ve seen us in the garden?

Maybe they’re shy. They can’t look at the face,
so they describe feet.
If they keep dividing love into pieces,
they’ll disappear altogether. We must be gentle
and explain it to them.

Think of a mountain so huge the Caucasus Range
is a tiny speck. Normal mountains
run toward her when she calls.
They listen in their cave-ears and echo back.
They turn upsidedown when they get close,
they’re so excited.

No more words. In the name of this place we
drink in with our breathing, stay quiet like a flower.
So the nightbirds will start singing.

Version by Coleman Barks
“Open Secret,”
Threshold Books, 1984

Abida Parveen sings “teray ishq nachaya..”

As I recited Bulleh Shah’s poetry this evening, a friend sent a link to another video of Abida Parveen singing Bulleh’s mystic poetry in her inimitable style. Lo and behold, I also found an online translation of the verse (see below after the video).

Here is a translation of the verse rendered in this video:

O Physician, come back! my life is ebbing away.
Compelled by love, I dance, I dance.

This love has set up camp inside me.
It is I, who filled the cup with this poison and drank it.
Come back right away, else, I will surely die.
Compelled by love, I dance, I dance.

The sun has set, its glow remains.
Grant me a sight of you again! I would die for it!
What a mistake I made, not going with you.
Compelled by love I dance, I dance.

Mother do not bar me from this love.
Whoever turns back unloaded boats that have left?
How foolish I was, not going with the boatman.
Compelled by love I dance, I dance.

Peacocks sing in the groves of love.
My beautiful beloved is my Ka’ba, my Qibla.
He injured me, then turned away.
Compelled by love I dance, I dance.

Bullhe Shah, I sit at Inayat’s door,
He clothed me in robes of green and red.
When I stamped my heel, I found him.
Compelled by love I dance, I dance.


For another version of Punjabi and English, please click here.