Examples of Poetry of Divine Love

  1. Sufi
  2. Troubadour
  3. Fedeli d'Amore


Ibn Al-‘Arabi (1165-1240)

They journeyed,
When the darkness of night
Had let down her curtain;
And I said to her:
"Pity a passionate lover,
Outcast and distraught,
Whom desires eagerly encompass,
And at whom
Speeding arrows are aimed
Wheresoever he bends his course."

She displayed her teeth
And lightening flashed,
And I knew not
Which of the twain rent the gloom.
And I said:
"Is it not enough for him
That I am in his heart,
And that he beholds me at every moment?
Is it not enough?"

    (tr. R. A. Nicholson)

Rumi (1207-1273)

Mathnavi I.109:

Love is longing and longing, the pain of being parted;
No illness is rich enough for the distress of the heart,
A lover's lament surpasses all other cries of pain.
Love is the royal threshold to God's mystery.
The carnival of small affections and polite attachments
Which litter and consume our passing time
Is no match to Love which pulses behind this play.
It's easy to talk endlessly about Love,
To live Love is to be seized by joy and bewilderment;
Love is not clear-minded, busy with images and argument.
Language is too precocious, too impudent, too sane
To stop the molten lava of Love which churns the blood,
This practicing energy burns the tongue to silence;
The knowing pen is disabled, servile paper
Shrivels in the fire of Love. Bald reason too is an ass
Explaining Love, deceived by spoilt lucidity.
Love is dangerous offering no consolation,
Only those who are ravaged by Love know Love,
The sun alone unveils the sun to those who have
The sense to receive the senseless and not turn away.
Cavernous shadows need the light to play but light
And light alone can lead you to the light alone.
Material shadows weigh down your vision with dross,
But the rising sun splits the ashen moon in empty half.
The outer sun is our daily miracle in timely
Birth and death, the inner sun
Dazzles the inner eye in a timeless space.
Our daily sun is but a working star in a galaxy of stars,
Our inner sun is One, the dancing nuance of eternal light.
You must be set alight by the inner sun,
You have to live your Love or else
You'll only end in words.

    (tr. R. Abdulla)

The Persian word for "sun" is "Shams," which is also the name of Rumi's beloved.

Divan 310:

The moon, O the moon has returned to me
This unique moon is no mere trafficker of light;
It is a creator of fire beyond water's power.
Look at my body's poor leaking shelter, regard
The proper element of my soul, Love has made
The one drunk and has dismantled the other.
When the landlord and my heart sit together
At table, my blood turns to wine, Love cooks
My heart for the feast. The eye is bestowed with
His image. Then I hear a voice cry out: "Like a baton
The cup is raised, the velvet wine is blushing with encores."
Suddenly, my hear is laid open, penetrated by Love
It sees Love's ocean; like a springing gazelle it leaps up
Dancing away to that waiting diamond sea, shouting:
"I can't stay, I must find the way. Come, come now
Follow me!" The sun appears and finds me here waiting
For Shams al-Din's radiant face, and all longing hearts are
Drawn to it like clouds rushing to the midsummer horizon.

    (tr. R. Abdulla)

The image of the heart in this poem may be compared to that in Dante's poem to the Fedeli d'Amore and in Guido's reply to him. See above on Shams' name.


William (Guilhem) of Poitou (1071-1127)

Joyous in love, I make my aim
forever deeper in Joy to be.
The perfect Joy's the goal for me:
so the most perfect lady I claim.
I've caught her eyes. All must exclaim:
the loveliest heard or seen is she.

You know I'd never base my fame
on brags. If ever we're to see
a flowering Joy, this Joy, burst free,
should bear such fruit no man can name,
lifting among the others a flame
that brightens in obscurity.

    (tr. J. Lindsay)

Fedeli d'Amore

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Dante to the Fedeli d'Amore:

To every heart which the sweet pain doth move,
  And unto which these words may now be brought
  For true interpretation and kind thought,
Be greeting in our Lord's name, which is Love.
Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,
  Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought,
  When Love was shown me with such terrors fraught
As may not carelessly be spoken of.
He seemed like one who is full of joy and had
  My heart within his hand, and on his arm
  My lady, with a mantle round her, slept;
Whom (having wakened her) anon he made
  To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.
  Then he went out; and as he went, he wept.

    (tr. D. G. Rossetti)

Compare the image of the heart in Rumi's Divan 310; see also Guido's reply.

Guido Cavalcanti (1250-1301)

XXXVII. Reply to Dante Alighieri:

Unto my thinking, thou beheld'st all worth,
  All joy, as much of good as man may know,
  If thou wert in his power who here below
Is honor's righteous lord throughout this earth.
Where evil dies, even there he has his birth,
  Whose justice out of pity's self doth grow.
  Softly to sleeping persons he will go,
And with no pain to them, their hearts draw forth.
Thy heart he took, as knowing well, alas!
  That Death had claimed thy lady for a prey:
    In fear whereof, he fed her with thy heart.
    But when he seemed in sorrow to depart,
  Sweet was they dream; for by that sign, I say,
Surely the opposite shall come to pass.

    (tr. D. G. Rossetti)

Compare the image of the heart in Dante's poem to the Fedeli d'Amore and also in Rumi's Divan 310.

IV. Who is she coming:

Who is she coming, whom all gaze upon,
  Who makes the air all tremulous with light,
And at whose side is Love himself? that none
  Dare speak, but each man's sighs are infinite.
  Ah me! how she looks round from left to right,
Let Love discourse: I may not speak thereon.
Lady she seems of such high benison
  As makes all others graceless in men's sight.
The honor which is hers cannot be said;
  To whom are subject all things virtuous,
    While all things beauteous own her deity.
Ne'er was the mind of man so nobly led,
  Nor yet was such redemption granted us
    That we should ever know her perfectly.

    (tr. D. G. Rossetti)

Cino da Pistoia (1270-1336)

Vanquished and weary was my soul in me,
  And my heart gasped after its much lament,
  When sleep at length the painful languor sent.
And, as I slept (and wept incessantly),–
Through the keen fixedness of memory
  Which I had cherished ere my tears were spent,
  I passed to a new trance of wonderment;
Wherein a visible spirit I could see,
Which caught me up, and bore me to a place
  Where my most gentle lady was alone;
    And still before us a fire seemed to move,
  Out of the which methought there came a moan
Uttering, "Grace, a little season, grace!
    I am of one that hath the wings of Love."

    (tr. D. G. Rossetti)

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Last updated 2001/3/31 14:10 PM