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Heaven and Earth

Would there be elation and youth, the beloved and a chalice full;
Several flowers and a few friends in a mellow evening.
Passion be light and fire, and the heart a flaming tandoor;
I would gladly give up your heavens to embrace such a life.
I’d far prefer this gain because no color is at rest;
Each moment, each hue of life, is your time’s helpless slave;
And the mullah says, in paradise, time would be my slave –
If he were somehow undone, all my troubles would end.
If I find eternal youth, it would become a curse;
I cherish it now as its beauty is soon consumed.
An eternally full moon, an eternal sweet sixteen,
Eternal youth, a river of wine, is it a reward or hell?
I’d weep after this world, and yearn for the night’s crescent,
And remember everyday, the thin mist of eventide.
Sick of faithful houris, I’d seek a fickle beloved;
Man is a hunter by nature, and revels in hunting.
I would fast on revelry’s riverside,
And sulk after the cupbearer’s half-full chalice.
Anything eternal becomes a curse and a catastrophe;
It suits only you, this eternal beginning and end.
Man seeks in each new palace a new beloved;
Seeks red flowers in a wasteland, seeks lighting at night;
He’s lost in unending darkness, and blinded by perpetual light;
He is the child of change and cannot stay the same.
If you took him to heaven, this nature and this being,
He’ll soon be searing and weeping with sore eyes.
O lord of great bestowal, turn this world into heaven!
The formula is simple, comprising these three things –
As I’ve said before, a beloved, youth, and a chalice,
So that my silly head is amused from time to time;
And after this worldly death, endow me to the Mullah,
If the wretch would be appeased by mere dreams of houris.
Give me a houri here – lively, full, and fair –
A loving white candle, which burns and flames
In her glance myriad colors; in her nature myriad moods;
With manners such as spring – now sunshine, now rain;
Would she be under one skin, a harem of women;
Now brimming and vivacious, now quiet and retiring;
And in my tired heart, kindle restive flames,
Blazing like fire and dancing like a rill,
And with one impatient glance, intoxicate me so
As to leave everyone amazed and the cupbearer envious.
In place of those thousands give me one here;
Turn my eternal youth to a few years’ rejoicing;
If you cannot do this, lord, keep your fat houris;
I neither need them there nor miss them here.
Those fat and fair ones who yield without entreaty;
Wide and hungry eyes, wallowing in malmal.
Lord! My beloved lord! Just grant this one prayer,
Or else, your Ghani would pine away in love.

Translated from Pashto by Taimur Khan

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