Ayû u Malâ-h.
(O Sailor!)

by Qudsia Holazada Ahmad [1948]
translated into English by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad and Qudsia Ahmad

O Sailor! Be kind to your sails, for you've tossed
    Your most beloved ship in the palm of the Fates;
The face of the moon with such black clouds is crossed,
    That through mists of the midnight no light penetrates.

O Sailor!  Sense now that the waters abound
    With the rumble of storms on the waves' swelling crest.
Death is thund'ring with deafening sound
    And your weary boat, floundering, craves for a rest.

O Sailor! Ask what is the meaning of life?
    O Sailor! Ask what is the meaning of death?
To what fire are we kindling and do souls feel strife
    And agony after the body's last breath?

O Sailor! The straits of infinite unknown
    Between  the  two shores, life and death, are  seen.
Know that their secrets have never been shown
    Except to the travelers who've crossed in-between.

O Sailor! Ask the many no longer alive
    "Is the Valley of Death one eternally deep?"
(Does the caravan answer where 'tis they arrive?)
    "Or is Death only a very long sleep?"

O Sailor! There's light on that distant dark shore,
    Glimmering there is the firm Rock of Hope;
Let fear and despair in your heart lie no more--
    Easily, gently, you must guide your boat.

O Sailor! Know lost is the sense of mankind,
    For in this and that one finds reason left out.
And questions, like shackles, do all our necks bind
    With numerous thoughts and confusion and doubt.

O Sailor! Between doubt and the Absolute
    Our senses are faltering under the storm.
Don't distinguish between them--a difference minute!--
    Admire the mystery of the world and its form.

O Sailor! The shadows of beauty aren't still,
    About your boat frolicking, bearing no care;
And the whole world with enchantment they fill,
    Flowering youth and content everywhere.

O Sailor! Within you youth's secret's confined,
    And so let your heart bear humanity's scars.
For if you should see a star falling you'll find
    Upon the horizon are more shining stars.

O Sailor! If Luna's pale light sets and dies,  
    No good lies in thinking of death as accursed.
Remember the sun o'er horizons shall rise;
    So seek the secrets of the universe.

O Sailor! Who ponders from lonely boat decks,
    Think of fresh flowers flourishing on the dead man's grave.
Is it there, the Lord's power with which He resurrects?--
    Does one page folding the way for another one pave?

O Sailor! Be kind to your sails so that they
    Will carry you safely over the seas;
And let them carry you any which way--
    In the raging wind or in the gentle breeze.

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