A Chant of Mystics


From the Mist of Arcana we rise,
Through the Universe of Secrets we come,
And we enter the Tavern as Lovers,
Whose features are pale as the false dawn,
Whose statures are lean as the new moon.
Like unto a jar is the body,
And the soul in the jar
Is the silvery voice of the Fountain, 
Is the rose-scented breath of the Mountain,

         For your sake we have come
            In the shape of a jar from the Sea ; 
         For your sake we have come as Disgrace,
            But glory incarnate are we.
         For the sake of the world we dance
         O’er the flame, on the point of the lance.
            O, think us not mortal, for we
         Are the light on the foam of the sea. 

Of a truth, we are kin to the sun,
The infinite source of all splendors ;
We are one
With the world’s riddles and wonders.
But not of the world nor the sun is the breath
That lingers awhile in the regions of Death.
The dust on our sandals betrays us, we know—
We have travelled afar our devotion to show
To him who is waiting for us at the gate
Of the Garden of Union our longing to sate.

         We shall interpret the Truth, 
            We shall the Secret unveil ;
         For naked we come, like the dew,
            Like the zephyr, we come, and the gale :
         Naked, through thorn-bush and grass,
            We speak and we pass.
         Our garments were burned in the fire of the Mind,
         In the world where the Deaf still dispute with the 
We are the Truth,
        And into the world
        From the Universe of Secrets we’re hurled.
We are the Truth,
        And into the skies
        From the Mists of Arcana we rise. 


In the light of the day, in the stars of the night we 
The face of the Master, the feet of the Pilgrim of old ; 
In the sigh of the wind and the voice of the thunder
        we hear
The plaint of the bard and the rhapsodic chant of the 
       Without them, alas, we are dumb,
       Though not deaf to the flute and the drum.
         But the vision is true,
              Allahu, Allahu!
         They are garbed in blue,
              Allahu, Allahu!
         They are drenched with dew,
              Allahu, Allahu!

Hail, Sana’i the Moon of the Soul,
The Guide and the Road to the goal.
Hail, Attar the Vezier of Birds,
Who sing in his musk-scented words.
Hail, Arabi, the Tongue of the Truth,
The Eye of the Prophet, in sooth.
Hail, Rabi’a, the Heart of the Sphere,
Beloved of the bard and the seer ;
The Rosebud that rises to greet
The splendor beneath Allah’s feet. 
Hail, Gazzali, the Weaver of Light,
The maker of wings for the flight.
Hail, Hallaj, the Diver divine,
Whose pearls decorate every shrine, 
Whose blood was the pledge that his words,
I am Truth, shall fore’er be a sign.
To Jelal’ud-Din Rumi, all hail !
The Master who flung every veil
To the wind, who ne’er sober was seen,
Though ne’er to the tavern had been ; 
But ever—and often alone—
Was dancing before Allah’s throne.
Hail, Tabrizi, who nourished the Bard
With jasmine and myrtle and nard ;—
Who loafed and invited his soul
And would not write a word in his Scroll.
Hail, Fared, the love-stricken one,
The heart of the rhapsodic Sun ;
The soul of the Vineyard, the Press
That knew every vineyard’s caress :
The host of the Tavern divine—
The Saki, the Cup, and the Wine. 

        The vision is true,
           Allahu, Allahu!
        They are garbed in blue,
           Allahu, Allahu!
        They are drenched with dew,
           Allahu, Allahu!

        And casting the years from their folds and the
        From their bosoms, they leap in the circle of flame ; 
        They leap, with a flash of their limbs, to the dance
        In the tender caress of the Beautiful’s glance.
For only in rapture the face of Belovéd is seen
Through the mask of the spheres and the veils of
        existence terrene ;
And only the slaves of Devotion and Love have the feet
That dare to approach the enravishing glow of the 
Yea, hither we come as the flame of his rapturous fire,
And to the music of rebec and flute, in the dance, we


    Yea, Man is as near the Belovéd
    As far from the world he may be ;
    He is full of the beauty of Allah
    As he’s void of the Thou and the Me. 
    Life and the world we abandon 
    That the Life of the world we may see.
    O, come to the assembly of Lovers
    In the shade of the Tuba tree.
    O, come to the Banquet of Union
    And the taste of the ecstasy.
    O, come to the Tavern where nectar
    And wine are a-flow as the sea.
    For only the drunken are sober,
    And only the fettered are free.

Like the waves of the ocean we rise and we melt into 
That the Moon’s caravan might carry us back to our
Likes the motes in the sun-beam we dance in the dawn’s
That the sun might preserve us awhile from dust and
         decay ;
But the atoms of being, the motes in the Sun of his
Are aflame with desire to be where no night is nor day.

Like a child in the cradle whose mother must rock it
         to sleep,
    We rock to and fro that the child of our heart might
         be still;
Like the lonely palm, when the whirlwinds over it 
    We sigh and we chafe in our chains, and we bow to
         his will. 

Like the bird in the cage who pecks at his sugar and
So we, in the Cage of the world, to quiet our wings. 
But the vulgar will say that the dance of the palm ’s
         to the wind, 
And the bird to the sugar is singing—Alas! for the
We come for their sake in the shape of a jar from the 
         Sea ;
We are filled with the water that heals ; and though
         sealed, we are free. 

        Nor Crescent Nor Cross we adore ;
        Nor Budha nor Christ we implore ;
        Nor Muslem nor Jew we abhor :
                We are free. 

        We are not of Iran or of Ind,
        We are not of Arabia or Sind :
                We are free. 

        We are not of the East or the West ;
        No boundaries exist in our breast :
                We are free. 

         We are not made of dust or of dew ;
         We are not of the earth or the blue :
                We are free.

        We are not wrought of fire or of foam ;
        Nor the sun nor the sea is our home ;
        Nor the angel our kin nor the gnome :
                We are free.

Yea, beyond all the moons and the suns and the stars,
         in a place
Where no shadow of horizon is, nor of darkness a 
Where the Garden of God is a bloom on Love’s radiant
There is our temple, our home, and our own native
Yea, body and soul to the world and the sun do we 
And in the First Soul—the Soul of Belovéd—eternally


        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake !
          O Lovers, arise and prepare !
        The drum of departure we hear ;
          The Driver is come for the fare.
        The camels are ready ; their bells
          Are decking with silver the air.
        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake !
          O Lovers, arise and prepare!

        The nightingale sings on the branch
          To wake up the blossoms; the creek
        Whispers a word to the fern,
          Who follows, his favor to seek ;
        The tulip is begging to go
          With the zephyr who kisses her cheek ;
        The face of the Mist is a-glow,
          For Dawn mounts the Minaret to speak :
        Open the road is, and safe ;
          No gates and no sentries are there ;
        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake!
          O Lovers, arise and prepare!

        Each moment a spirit is sent
          With a message of mystery sealed ;
        Each moment a spirit goes forth
          That the mystery might be revealed.
        And whenever the Dawn opes his eyes,
          A blind one on the wayfare is healed ;
        Whenever a Lover appears,
          The Night drops her star-studded shield ;
        Whenever a Lover is slain,
          Blooms a flower in the world’s barley field.
        And always the pangs of departure
          Are wrought into torches that flare.
        Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake!
          O Lovers, arise and prepare.

Ere the saki was born, ere the vineyard existed,
    The cup, bright and brimful, enchanted our eyne ;
Ere the tavern was built, we revelled and trysted
    With the loved One and drank to his beauty divine.
We drink till we wander away from Self and Desire,—
We drink till in drunkenness we, on his bosom, expire. 
We have known long ago all the raptures of madness ;
    All the raptures of burning from childhood we know ;
In our soul is the soul of the Mother of gladness ;
    In our heart is the heart of the Father of woe.
Transported and smitten, we wander with ne’er a 
         complaint ;
Our story entrances the sinner, enraptures the saint. 

Transported and smitten and drunk, we are thought
         to be mad ;
   Self abandoned, unity-seeking, we’re the puzzle of 
         fools ;
For the madman’s madness is varied in art, and the 
   Piety-monger tickles his heart while he drools.
O, mind not the springs of our robe, they were loosed
         in the revel ;—
They snapped when we drank with the saint and
         danced with the devil. 

There is nothing that we would conceal in the seeking ;
    Our love is the sun and our passion its flame ;
To dance-hall or tavern, we come not a-sneaking ;
    For the right and the wrong of the world are the
And if you are a seeker, the blood of Hypocrisy shed ;
Nor be trammeled by Shame — take a poniard and cut
         off her head. 

        For your sake we have come
            In the shape of a jar from the Sea ;
        For your sake we have come as Disgrace.
            But glory incarnate are we.
        O think us not mortal, for we
            Are the light on the foam of the sea. 

Still higher our rank, though we come
    With the flute and drum. 
In the veils of the world do we come
    With the flute and the drum.
As vigilant warders we come
    With the flute and the drum.
To call you to the Tavern we come
    With the flute and the drum.


Perchance in our sleep we become unaware
    Of the circumstance strange of our birth ;
Perchance a hair
     Divides the heaven and the earth. 
But whether two worlds or a hundred, the loved One
           is all ;
    Only one do we seek, only One do we know,
        Only One do we hear, do we see, do we call.
We come as the heroes and slaves of the Mighty, the
           Dear ;
We come as the mind and the soul of the violet Sphere. 

What place have your meat and your bread 
Where we were first born, and first fed
   Through our eye and our ear ?
And now, without eyes we can see,
Without tongues we can speak,
   Without ears we can hear.
And when the clouds and the storms of the Mind
   Darken and shut out the skies,
We kindle the torch of the Heart,
   Which we give to the mighty and wise. 

For the heart is the bird of a world made holy by song ;
’T is the love-lorn and love-guided bulbul the owls
And when it wings all exultant its way over mountain
         and moor,
It dreads nor the depths nor the heights nor the
         transcending lure.

The heart is a treasure of gold in the dust-pit of things;
’T is the rebec of love and of love forever it sing ;
’T is the pearl in the sea and the phare on the shore
         of the Mind ;
’T is the ear of the deaf and the all-seeing eye of the 

The heart is the maker of dreams, the alembic of
         power ;
’T is the gate to all beauty, the key to the ivory tower ;
’T is the crown of the Budha, the Christ, ’t is the
         sword of the Prophet ;
’T the flame in the temple of faith, and of reason,
         the flower. 

The heart is the last star that leaves in the wake of
         the Night,
And the first star that ushers Aurora’s pageant of light ;
’T is the first and the last ray of hope, the salvation
         of man ;
’T is our guide and our standard—the leader of our

         Hearken! the voice of our leader
             In the dawn’s stillness and glow ;
         Allahu, Allahu! We’re ready ! 
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go? 

         The hour of departure is come,
             The caravan ’s moving. Woh ho!
         We are bound for a country of wonder.
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         Wherever we stop on the way
             Is a feast for the heart, and a show ;
         Everywhere, too, is a tavern,
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         He who has led us thus far
             Will lead us still further, we know :
         He opens to us every gate, 
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         He is the magnet and we
             Are but pieces of steel: woh ho !
         Earthward the Magnet is moving!—
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         Sweet scents from the curl of his tresses
             Are a-float on the breezes that blow
         From the radiant peaks of the world :—
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

         As we fix our amorous gaze
             Upon him more amorous we grow :
         He moves in a soul-witching maze :—
             Sight-seeing with us, who will go?

Come ! but come empty of purse and empty of hand ;
    Who travel with us shall not hunger or thirst, nor
             shall need ;
For the stores of the Master are open in every land,
    And his Stewards, the Earth and the Sun, his wishes

         He is our need,
         Our staff and our creed ;
         Of our hope and despair,
         He’s the Sun and the Seed. 

Come, but come empty of heart and empty of mind ;
    Who travel with us shall not carry a thought or a 
         care ; 
For they who all things abandon, everything find, 
    And they who are drawn to the loved One, escape
         every snare. 

         He is our care,
         Our goal and our snare ;
         Of our grief and our joy, 
         The bequeather and heir. 


Grape-juice must ferment in the jar,
           Ere it turns into wine ;
So the heart, in the jar of Desire,
           To sparkle and shine.
Like the face of the mirror that ’s clear
           Of image and form,
So the heart must be free of e’en the shadows
           To reflect the divine.
O Brothers, our words are the petals
           Of the rose that eternally blooms
In the thornless rose-bush of the Soul
           Which his image assumes. 
O Brothers, our word is the truth,
           Our standard the guide ;
No Sufis are speaking, but he 
           In whom all things abide. 
Yes, his parrots are we, sugar-chewing
           And repeating his words evermore,
While the habitants rude of the world
           Camel-like thistles devour. 

             Sugar-chewing we come for your sake :
             Awake, O ye Pilgrims, awake!
             The cypress that once graced the grove,
             Is a-float on the river of Love. 

O Lovers, the Veil of the Secret he rends,
And like light drops of water, he gently descends. 
He walks on the face of the turbulent sea,
Driving before him the waves to their lee ;
Like a shepherd he calls, and his flock turned to foam,
Scurries and scampers, impatient for home.
A moment, alas !   When his face is revealed,
All the wounds of the world are miraculously healed.
A moment, alas !   When his light disappears,
The world is submerged in an ocean of tears.

             We are the light that is spun
             For the firefly and the sun ;
             We are the thread in the pearls
             Of the sea and the tear.

Make use of our pearls, and our foam, and our fire ;
    For your sake we have come as Disgrace from the 
         Sea ;—
For your sake we have come in the flesh of Desire,
    But glory and beauty incarnate are we. 
We are the flowers in his Garden, the lights in his Hall,
The sign on his Portal, but he, he is all,—he is all !

             The banquet, the host, and the guest,—
             The seeker, the sought, and the quest,—
                   All three,
                   Is he.
             The given, the taker, the giver,—
             Love, the beloved, the lover,—
                   All three,
                   Is he.

And we, to rejoin him, like torrents, escape through the 
         hills ;
No fetters, no walls can restrain us, no welfare, no ills.

             Hope is sighing,
             Faith is crying,
             Creeds are dying,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             A clap of thunder
             Rents asunder
             Man’s little Wonder,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Idols tumble
             In a jumble
             Temples crumble,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Flames are sweeping ;
             Priests are reaping ;
             Kings are weeping,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Ashes cumber
             Flame and ember,
             Who remember—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Night is crawling,
             Stars are falling,
             Souls are calling—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Orbs are winging, 
             And of him singing,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Clove and nard, in
             His first garden,
             Wait his pardon,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             Every flower
             In his bower
             Is Love’s dower,—
                   Allah, Allah!

             His compassion
             And his passion
             Are our fashion,—
                   Allah, Allah!

Whirl, whirl, whirl,
Till the world is the size of a pearl.
Dance, dance, dance,
Till the world’s like the point of a lance. 
Soar, soar, soar,
Till the world is no more. 

From A Chant of Mystics (James T. White & Co., 1921) by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.