THE CHILD AND THE CANDLE
This apparently simple poem is highly charged with sophisticated TaÅawwuf and so is very difficult to understand. It is based on the theories of Waédat al‑Wujëd" and Waédat al‑Shuhëd for which see Chapter 3 paragraph of the same name. The poem, which belongs to the pre-1905 period is based on the former as is apparent from part three. In the poem "Light” manifestation of God, and "Beauty" means the Existence of God. Consequently, I have written both these words in capitals.
O Child with moth-like nature , "How strange that
You keep gazing at the flame of the candle for hours
What is this movement, when you are in my lap?
Are you intending to embrace the light?
Though your tiny heart is surprised at this spectacle
But this is recognition of some object already seen!1
The candle is but a flame, you are the Light embodied
Ah! In this assembly that is manifest, you are concealed 2
It is not known why the Nature's hand made it manifest!
And concealed you in the dark soil's mantle
Your light has been concealed under the veil of Intellect! 3
The veil of Cognition is a mere mist to the wise eye!
What is called life really a mirage it is
A dream, a swoon, an ecstasy, oblivion it is
The Nature's assembly is the Beauty's boundless ocean
For the discerning eye every drop is the Beauty's storm
Beauty is in the frightening silence of the mountain
In shedding of sun's light, and in night's darkness
It is in the morning sky's mirror-like glitter
In the night's darkness and in the twilight's floridity
It is in the disappearing relics of the old magnificence
In the small child's effort to commence speaking
It is in the harmony of the denizens of the rose-garden
In the nest-building efforts of the tiny little birds
In the mountain stream, in the ocean's freedom is Beauty
In the city, the forest, the wilderness, the habitation is Beauty
The soul but longing for some lost object is
Or else why is it lamenting in wilderness like a bell ?
It is restless even in this general splendor of Beauty
Its life is like a fish out of water
1. This is the first hint in the poem that the candle's light is the same light as the Light of God seen by Man on the Primeval Day.
2. Allusion to the manifest glow of the candle in the transparent mantle of glass and the veiled Light of God in the opaque earthen mantle of human body.
Allusion to the vision of the Light of God. This and the remaining verses mean
that God and His Beauty is present in the multitudes of worldly objects
mentioned in those verses. He can be discerned by the discerning eye with the
help of Khudâ. The Holy Qur'«n also teaches us to understand God from the
objects of the universe and Man's own self, which is Khudâ. The power of
Khudâ distinguishes Man from and makes him superior to the rest of the
creation of God. However, Knowledge or Intellect conceals Khudâ and with
it the Light of God fades away from Man's eyes. This Light dawns only when Man
throws away the earthly mantle of Intellect and activates the Love of God.
‘All«mah Iqb«l's works are replete with this thought. However, a small sample is
(179) Love is complete Presence, Knowledge complete veil
Knowledge the obvious question, Love the veiled answer
(180) Love is
complete Faith! And Faith the gate's opening
Knowledge is a produce of the Book ! Love the Mother of the Book
(Appendix III, No. 32)