Tarjumān al-ashwāq

The Interpreter of Ardent Desires

Poem 6 (translated by Michael Sells)

One of Ibn ʿArabi's most celebrated collection of poems, based on the style of the pre-Islamic Arabic qaṣīda. Comprising a total of 61 poems, the Tarjumān was composed in Mecca on honour of the lady Niẓām, and attracted such attention due to its content that in 611/1215 in Aleppo at the request of his disciples Ibn Sawdakīn and al-Ḥabashī, the author wrote a commentary on it (al-Dhakhāʾir al-aʿlāq) to explain the esoteric meaning of the verses.

Poem 6 (translated by Michael Sells)


The friends we treasured are gone and with them our patience

      gone and they had been alive in the black core of the heart


I asked where the riders halted and knelt their camels

      Amid the scent of absinthe, they said, and moringa blossoms


I told the wind to track them down

      in the shade of the thicket where the wings of their tents were spread


To bring them greetings from the brother of grief

When the tribe scattered his heart was torn.