The Kasidah – Sufi References

Sir Richard Burton’s poem The Kasidah has several references to Sufi classical texts:

This gloomy night, these grisly waves,

these winds and whirlpools loud and dread:

What reck they of our wretched plight

who Safetys shore so lightly tread?

Thus quoth the Bard of Love and Wine,

whose dream of Heaven neer could rise

Beyond the brimming Kausar-cup

and Houris with the white-black eyes;

This is attributed in the published text to Hafiz of Shiraz

Ah me! my race of threescore years

is short, but long enough to pall

My sense with joyless joys as these,

with Love and Houris, Wine and all.

Another boasts he would divorce

old barren Reason from his bed,

And wed the Vine-maid in her stead;

fools who believe a word he said!

Attributed to Omar Khayyam

Mansûr was wise, but wiser they

who smote him with the hurlèd stones;

And, though his blood a witness bore,

no wisdom-might could mend his bones.

Referring to Mansur stoned to death for crying ‘I am the Truth’

You changeful finite Creatures strain

(rejoins the Drawer of the Wine)

The dizzy depths of Infinite Power

to fathom with your foot of twine;

The Soofi 

They change with place, they shift with race;

and, in the veriest span of Time,

Each Vice has worn a Virtues crown;

all Good was banned as Sin or Crime:

Like ravelled skeins they cross and twine,

while this with that connects and blends;

And only Khizr his eye shall see

where one begins, where other ends:

Khidr (Khizr) – mysterious figure in Sufi literature

You all are right, you all are wrong,

we hear the careless Soofi say,

For each believes his glimmering lamp

to be the gorgeous light of day.