|Lovely, oh Lord, this fleeting world; but why|
Must the frank heart, the quick brain, droop and sigh?
|Though usury mingle somewhat with his godship,|
The white man is the world’s arch-deity;
|His asses graze in fields of rose and poppy:|
One wisp of hay to genius You deny;
|His Church abounds with roasts and ruby wines:|
Sermons and saws are all Your mosques supply.
|Your laws are just, but their expositors|
Bedevil the Koran, twist it awry;
|Your paradise no-one has seen: in Europe|
No village but with paradise can view.
|Long, long have my thoughts wandered about heaven;|
Now in the moon’s blind caverns let them sty!
|I, dowered by Nature with empyreal essence,|
Am dust—but not through dust does my way lie;
|Nor East, nor west my home, nor Samarkand,|
Nor Ispahan nor Delhi; in ecstasy,
|God-filled, I roam, speaking what truth I see—|
No fool for priests, nor yet of this age’s fry.
|My folk berate me, the stranger does not love me:|
Hemlock for sherbet I could never cry;
|How could a weigher of truth see Mount Damawand|
And think a common refuse-heap as high?
|In Nimrod’s fire faith’s silent witness, not|
Like mustard-seed in the grate, burned splutteringly—
|Blood warm, gaze keen, right-following, wrong-forswearing,|
In fetters free, prosperous in penury,
|In fair of foul untamed and light of heart—|
Who can steal laughter from a flower’s bright eye?
|—Will no one hush this too proud thing Iqbal|
Whose tongue God’s presence-chamber could not tie!
Translated by: V.G. Kiernan