One of those large ones, I have to say…
This is a convoluted entry… It walks across continents, opens doors, closes windows, summons spirits. The darkest days and longest nights takes this entry in like a secret lover up the back stairs. New pleasures, unknown territories and that sudden wonderful surprise in the dark…
This is a Winter’s Seance: the spirits are rising to greet you.
We are pleased to introduce you to psychedelic rock of The Asteriods Galaxy Tour… a dark story from Theophile Guatier, and poetry from the poetic father of Pakistan. You’ll find art from perhaps the least sung of the Spanish Surrealist, and quotes from Aldous Huxley.
Feed the artist please, they are hungry in their caves.
On The Menu:
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Around the Bend
Aldous Huxley Quotes
The Mummy’s Foot -Theophile Gautier
Poetry: The Divine Dance of Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Allama Muhammad Iqbal: A Biography
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – The Sun Ain’t Shining No More
Artist Remedios Varo
Remedios Varo Uranga (December 16 1908 – October 8, 1963) was a Spanish-Mexican, para-surrealist painter. She was born María de los Remedios Varo Uranga in Anglès, Girona, Spain in 1908. During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was largely influenced by the surrealist movement. She met her husband, the French surrealist poet Benjamin Peret, in Barcelona. She was forced into exile from Paris during the Nazi occupation of France and moved to Mexico City at the end of 1941. She initially considered Mexico a temporary haven, but would remain in Latin America for the rest of her life. She had an early abortion due to the economic realities of her life. Due to the abortion, she could not become pregnant again.
In Mexico she met native artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Her strongest ties were to other exiles and expatriates, notably the English painter Leonora Carrington and her great love, the French pilot and adventurer, Jean Nicolle. Her last major relationship was with Walter Gruen, an Austrian who had endured concentration camps before escaping Europe. Gruen believed fiercely in Varo, and gave her the support that allowed her to fully concentrate on her painting.
After 1949 Varo developed her remarkable mature style, which remains beautifully enigmatic and instantly recognizable. She often worked in oil on masonite panels she prepared herself. Although her colors have the blended resonance of the oil medium, her brushwork often involved many fine strokes of paint laid closely together – a technique more reminiscent of egg tempera. She died at the height of her career from a heart-attack in Mexico City in 1963.
Her work continues to achieve successful retrospectives at major sites in Mexico and the United States.
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – Around the Bend (Official Music Video)
Aldous Huxley Quotes:
“A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.”
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
“All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.”
“Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.”
“Good is a product of the ethical and spiritual artistry of individuals; it cannot be mass-produced.”
“Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.”
“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”
“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.”
“One of the many reasons for the bewildering and tragic character of human existence is the fact that social organization is at once necessary and fatal. Men are forever creating such organizations for their own convenience and forever finding themselves the victims of their home-made monsters.”
“The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.”
“What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.”
THE MUMMYS FOOT
I had entered, in an idle mood, the shop of one of those curiosity-venders, who are called marchands de bric-a-brac in that Parisian argot which is so perfectly unintelligible elsewhere in France.
You have doubtless glanced occasionally through the windows of some of these shops, which have become so numerous now that it is fashionable to buy antiquated furniture, and that every petty stock-broker thinks he must have his chambre au moyen age.
There is one thing there which clings alike to the shop of the dealer in old iron, the wareroom of the tapestry-maker, the laboratory of the chemist, and the studio of the painter:–in all those gloomy dens where a furtive daylight filters in through the window-shutters, the most manifestly ancient thing is dust;–the cobwebs are more authentic than the guimp laces; and the old pear-tree furniture on exhibition is actually younger than the mahogany which arrived but yesterday from America.
The warehouse of my bric-a-brac dealer was a veritable Capharnaum; all ages and all nations seemed to have made their rendezvous there; an Etruscan lamp of red clay stood upon a Boule cabinet, with ebony panels, brightly striped by lines of inlaid brass; a duchess of the court of Louis XV nonchalantly extended her fawn-like feet under a massive table of the time of Louis XIII with heavy spiral supports of oak, and carven designs of chimeras and foliage intermingled.
Upon the denticulated shelves of several sideboards glittered immense Japanese dishes with red and blue designs relieved by gilded hatching; side by side with enameled works by Bernard Palissy, representing serpents, frogs, and lizards in relief.
From disemboweled cabinets escaped cascades of silver-lustrous Chinese silks and waves of tinsel, which an oblique sunbeam shot through with luminous beads; while portraits of every era, in frames more or less tarnished, smiled through their yellow varnish.
The striped breastplate of a damascened suit of Milanese armor glittered in one corner; Loves and Nymphs of porcelain; Chinese Grotesques, vases of celadon and crackle-ware; Saxon and old Souvres cups encumbered the shelves and nooks of the apartment.
The dealer followed me closely through the tortuous way contrived between the piles of furniture; warding off with his hands the hazardous sweep of my coat-skirts; watching my elbows with the uneasy attention of an antiquarian and a usurer.
It was a singular face that of the merchant:–an immense skull, polished like a knee, and surrounded by a thin aureole of white hair, which brought out the clear salmon tint of his complexion all the more strikingly, lent him a false aspect of patriarchal bonhomie, counteracted, however, by the scintillation of two little yellow eyes which trembled in their orbits like two louis-d’ or upon quicksilver. The curve of his nose presented an aquiline silhouette, which suggested the Oriental or Jewish type. His hands–thin, slender, full of nerves which projected like strings upon the finger-board of a violin, and armed with claws like those on the terminations of bats’ wings–shook with senile trembling; but those convulsively agitated hands became firmer than steel pincers or lobsters’ claws when they lifted any precious article–an onyx cup, a Venetian glass, or a dish of Bohemian crystal. This strange old man had an aspect so thoroughly rabbinical and cabalistic that he would have been burnt on the mere testimony of his face three centuries ago.
“Will you not buy something from me to-day, sir? Here is a Malay kreese with a blade undulating like flame: look at those grooves contrived for the blood to run along, those teeth set backwards so as to tear out the entrails in withdrawing the weapon–it is a fine character of ferocious arm, and will look well in your collection: this two-handed sword is very beautiful–it is the work of Josepe de la Hera; and this colichemarde, with its fenestrated guard–what a superb specimen of handicraft!”
“No; I have quite enough weapons and instruments of carnage;–I want a small figure, something which will suit me as a paper-weight; for I cannot endure those trumpery bronzes which the stationers sell, and which may be found on everybody’s desk.”
The old gnome foraged among his ancient wares, and finally arranged before me some antique bronzes–so-called, at least; fragments of malachite; little Hindoo or Chinese idols–a kind of poussah toys in jadestone, representing the incarnations of Brahma or Vishnoo, and wonderfully appropriate to the very undivine office of holding papers and letters in place.
I was hesitating between a porcelain dragon, all constellated with warts–its mouth formidable with bristling tusks and ranges of teeth–and an abominable little Mexican fetish, representing the god Zitziliputzili au naturel, when I caught sight of a charming foot, which I at first took for a fragment of some antique Venus.
It had those beautiful ruddy and tawny tints that lend to Florentine bronze that warm living look so much preferable to the gray-green aspect of common bronzes, which might easily be mistaken for statues in a state of putrefaction: satiny gleams played over its rounded forms, doubtless polished by the amorous kisses of twenty centuries; for it seemed a Corinthian bronze, a work of the best era of art–perhaps molded by Lysippus himself.
“That foot will be my choice,” I said to the merchant, who regarded me with an ironical and saturnine air, and held out the object desired that I might examine it more fully.
I was surprised at its lightness; it was not a foot of metal, but in sooth a foot of flesh–an embalmed foot–a mummy’s foot: on examining it still more closely the very grain of the skin, and the almost imperceptible lines impressed upon it by the texture of the bandages, became perceptible. The toes were slender and delicate, and terminated by perfectly formed nails, pure and transparent as agates; the great toe, slightly separated from the rest, afforded a happy contrast, in the antique style, to the position of the other toes, and lent it an aerial lightness–the grace of a bird’s foot;–the sole, scarcely streaked by a few almost imperceptible cross lines, afforded evidence that it had never touched the bare ground, and had only come in contact with the finest matting of Nile rushes, and the softest carpets of panther skin.
“Ha, ha!–you want the foot of the Princess Hermonthis,”–exclaimed the merchant, with a strange giggle, fixing his owlish eyes upon me–”ha, ha, ha!–for a paper-weight!–an original idea!–artistic idea! Old Pharaoh would certainly have been surprised had some one told him that the foot of his adored daughter would be used for a paper-weight after he had had a mountain of granite hollowed out as a receptacle for the triple coffin, painted and gilded–covered with hieroglyphics and beautiful paintings of the Judgment of Souls,”–continued the queer little merchant, half audibly, as though talking to himself!
“How much will you charge me for this mummy fragment?”
“Ah, the highest price I can get; for it is a superb piece: if I had the match of it you could not have it for less than five hundred francs;–the daughter of a Pharaoh! nothing is more rare.”
“Assuredly that is not a common article; but, still, how much do you want? In the first place let me warn you that all my wealth consists of just five louis: I can buy anything that costs five louis, but nothing dearer;–you might search my vest pockets and most secret drawers without even finding one poor–five-franc piece more.”
“Five louis for the foot of the Princess Hermonthis! that is very little, very little indeed; ’tis an authentic foot,” muttered the merchant, shaking his head, and imparting a peculiar rotary motion t
o his eyes.
“Well, take it, and I will give you the bandages into the bargain,” he added, wrapping the foot in an ancient damask rag–”very fine! real damask–Indian damask which has never been redyed; it is strong, and yet it is soft,” he mumbled, stroking the frayed tissue with his fingers, through the trade-acquired habit which moved him to praise even an object of so little value that he himself deemed it only worth the giving away.
He poured the gold coins into a sort of medi34val alms-purse hanging at his belt, repeating:
“The foot of the Princess Hermonthis, to be used for a paper-weight!”
Then turning his phosphorescent eyes upon me, he exclaimed in a voice strident as the crying of a cat which has swallowed a fish-bone:
“Old Pharaoh will not be well pleased; he loved his daughter–the dear man!”
“You speak as if you were a contemporary of his: you are old enough, goodness knows! but you do not date back to the Pyramids of Egypt,” I answered, laughingly, from the threshold. I went home, delighted with my acquisition.
With the idea of putting it to profitable use as soon as possible, I placed the foot of the divine Princess Hermonthis upon a heap of papers scribbled over with verses, in themselves an undecipherable mosaic work of erasures; articles freshly begun; letters forgotten, and posted in the table drawer instead of the letter-box–an error to which absent-minded people are peculiarly liable. The effect was charming, bizarre, and romantic.
Well satisfied with this embellishment, I went out with the gravity and price becoming one who feels that he has the ineffable advantage over all the passers-by whom he elbows, of possessing a piece of the Princess Hermonthis, daughter of Pharaoh.
I looked upon all who did not possess, like myself, a paper-weight so authentically Egyptian, as very ridiculous people; and it seemed to me that the proper occupation of every sensible man should consist in the mere fact of having a mummy’s foot upon his desk.
Happily I met some friends, whose presence distracted me in my infatuation with this new acquisition: I went to dinner with them; for I could not very well have dined with myself.
When I came back that evening, with my brain slightly confused by a few glasses of wine, a vague whiff of Oriental perfume delicately titillated my olfactory nerves: the heat of the room had warmed the natron, bitumen, and myrrh in which the paraschistes, who cut open the bodies of the dead, had bathed the corpse of the princess;–it was a perfume at once sweet and penetrating–a perfume that four thousand years had not been able to dissipate.
The Dream of Egypt was Eternity: her odors have the solidity of granite, and endure as long.
I soon drank deeply from the black cup of sleep: for a few hours all remained opaque to me; Oblivion and Nothingness inundated me with their somber waves.
Yet light gradually dawned upon the darkness of my mind; dreams commenced to touch me softly in their silent flight.
The eyes of my soul were opened; and I beheld my chamber as it actually was; I might have believed myself awake, but for a vague consciousness which assured me that I slept, and that something fantastic was about to take place.
The odor of the myrrh had augmented in intensity; and I felt a slight headache, which I very naturally attributed to several glasses of champagne that we had drunk to the unknown gods and our future fortunes.
I peered through my room with a feeling of expectation which I saw nothing to justify: every article of furniture was in its proper place; the lamp, softly shaded by its globe of ground crystal, burned upon its bracket; the water-color sketches shone under their Bohemian glass; the curtains hung down languidly; everything wore an aspect of tranquil slumber.
After a few moments, however, all this calm interior appeared to become disturbed; the woodwork cracked stealthily; the ash-covered log suddenly emitted a jet of blue flame; and the disks of the pateras seemed like great metallic eyes, watching, like myself, for the things which were about to happen.
My eyes accidentally fell upon the desk where I had placed the foot of the Princess Hermonthis.
Instead of remaining quiet–as behooved a foot which had been embalmed for four thousand years–it commenced to act in a nervous manner; contracted itself, and leaped over the papers like a startled frog;–one would have imagined that it had suddenly been brought into contact with a galvanic battery: I could distinctly hear the dry sound made by its little heel, hard as the hoof of a gazelle.
I became rather discontented with my acquisition, inasmuch as I wished my paper-weights to be of a sedentary disposition, and thought it very unnatural that feet should walk about without legs; and I commenced to experience a feeling closely akin to fear.
Suddenly I saw the folds of my bed-curtain stir; and heard a bumping sound, like that caused by some person hopping on one foot across the floor. I must confess I became alternately hot and cold; that I felt a strange wind chill my back; and that my suddenly rising hair caused my nightcap to execute a leap of several yards.
The bed-curtains opened and I beheld the strangest figure imaginable before me.
It was a young girl of a very deep coffee-brown complexion, like the bayadere Amani, and possessing the purest Egyptian type of perfect beauty: her eyes were almond-shaped and oblique, with eyebrows so black that they seemed blue; her nose was exquisitely chiseled, almost Greek in its delicacy of outline; and she might indeed have been taken for a Corinthian statue of bronze, but for the prominence of her cheek-bones and the slightly African fulness of her lips, which compelled one to recognize her as belonging beyond all doubt to the hieroglyphic race which dwelt upon the banks of the Nile.
Her arms, slender and spindle-shaped, like those of very young girls, were encircled by a peculiar kind of metal bands and bracelets of glass beads; her hair was all twisted into little cords; and she wore upon her bosom a little idol-figure of green paste, bearing a whip with seven lashes, which proved it to be an image of Isis: her brow was adorned with a shining plate of gold; and a few traces of paint relieved the coppery tint of her cheeks.
As for her costume, it was very odd indeed. Fancy a pagne or skirt all formed of little strips of material bedizened with red and black hieroglyphics, stiffened with bitumen, and apparrently belonging to a freshly unbandaged mummy.
In one of those sudden flights of thought so common in dreams I heard the hoarse falsetto of the bric-a-brac dealer, repeating like a monotonous refrain the phrase he had uttered in his shop with so enigmatical an intonation:
“Old Pharaoh will not be well pleased: he loved his daughter, the dear man!”
One strange circumstance, which was not at all calculated to restore my equanimity, was that the apparition had but one foot; the other was broken off at the ankle!
She approached the table where the foot was starting and fidgeting about more than ever, and there supported herself upon the edge of the desk. I saw her eyes fill with pearly-gleaming tears.
Although she had not as yet spoken, I fully comprehended the thoughts which agitated her: she looked at her foot–it was indeed her own–with an exquisitely graceful expression of coquettish sadness; but the foot leaped and ran hither and thither, as though impelled on steel springs.
Twice or thrice she extended her hand to seize it, but could not succeed.
Then commenced between the Princess Hermonthis and her foot–which appeared to be endowed with a special life of its own–a very fantastic dialogue in a most ancient Coptic tongue, such as might have been spoken thirty centuries ago in the syrinxes of the land of Ser: luckily, I understood Coptic perfectly well that night.
The Princess Herm
onthis cried, in a voice sweet and vibrant as the tones of a crystal bell:
“Well, my dear little foot, you always flee from me; yet I always took good care of you. I bathed you with perfumed water in a bowl of alabaster; I smoothed your heel with pumice-stone mixed with palm oil; your nails were cut with golden scissors and polished with a hippopotamus tooth; I was careful to select tatbebs for you, painted and embroidered and turned up at the toes, which were the envy of all the young girls in Egypt: you wore on your great toe rings bearing the device of the sacred Scarab34us; and you supported one of the lightest bodies that a lazy foot could sustain.”
The foot replied, in a pouting and chagrined tone:
“You know well that I do not belong to myself any longer;–I have been bought and paid for; the old merchant knew what he was about; he bore you a grudge for having refused to espouse him;–this is an ill turn which he has done you. The Arab who violated your royal coffin in the subterranean pit of the necropolis of Thebes was sent thither by him: he desired to prevent you from being present at the reunion of the shadowy nations in the cities below. Have you five pieces of gold for my ransom?”
“Alas, no!–my jewels, my rings, my purses of gold and silver, they were all stolen from me,” answered the Princess Hermonthis, with a sob.
“Princess,” I then exclaimed, “I never retained anybody’s foot unjustly;–even though you have not got the five louis which it cost me, I present it to you gladly: I should feel unutterably wretched to think that I were the cause of so amiable a person as the Princess Hermonthis being lame.”
I delivered this discourse in a royally gallant, troubadour tone, which must have astonished the beautiful Egyptian girl.
She turned a look of deepest gratitude upon me; and her eyes shone with bluish gleams of light.
She took her foot–which surrendered itself willingly this time–like a woman about to put on her little shoe, and adjusted it to her leg with much skill.
This operation over, she took a few steps about the room, as though to assure herself that she was really no longer lame.
“Ah, how pleased my father will be!–he who was so unhappy because of my mutilation, and who from the moment of my birth set a whole nation at work to hollow me out a tomb so deep that he might preserve me intact until that last day, when souls must be weighed in the balance of Amenthi! Come with me to my father;–he will receive you kindly; for you have given me back my foot.”
I thought this proposition natural enough. I arrayed myself in a dressing-gown of large-flowered pattern, which lent me a very Pharaonic aspect; hurriedly put on a pair of Turkish slippers, and informed the Princess Hermonthis that I was ready to follow her.
Before starting, Hermonthis took from her neck the little idol of green paste, and laid it on the scattered sheets of paper which covered the table.
“It is only fair,” she observed smilingly, “that I should replace your paper-weight.”
She gave me her hand, which felt soft and cold, like the skin of a serpent; and we departed.
We passed for some time with the velocity of an arrow through a fluid and grayish expanse, in which half-formed silhouettes flitted swiftly by us, to right and left.
For an instant we saw only sky and sea.
A few moments later obelisks commenced to tower in the distance: pylons and vast flights of steps guarded by sphinxes became clearly outlined against the horizon.
We had reached our destination. The princess conducted me to the mountain of rose-colored granite, in the face of which appeared an opening so narrow and low that it would have been difficult to distinguish it from the fissures in the rock, had not its location been marked by two stel34 wrought with sculptures.
Hermonthis kindled a torch, and led the way before me.
We traversed corridors hewn through the living rock: their walls, covered with hieroglyphics and paintings of allegorical processions, might well have occupied thousands of arms for thousands of years in their formation;–these corridors, of interminable length, opened into square chambers, in the midst of which pits had been contrived, through which we descended by cramp-irons or spiral stairways;–these pits again conducted us into other chambers, opening into other corridors, likewise decorated with painted sparrow-hawks, serpents coiled in circles, the symbols of the tau and pedum–prodigious works of art which no living eye can ever examine–interminable legends of granite which only the dead have time to read through all eternity.
At last we found ourselves in a hall so vast, so enormous, so immeasurable, that the eye could not reach its limits; files of monstrous columns streatched far out of sight on every side, between which twinkled livid stars of yellowish flame;–points of light which revealed further depths incalculable in the darkness beyond.
The Princess Hermonthis still held my hand, and graciously saluted the mummies of her acquaintance.
My eyes became accustomed to the dim twilight, and objects became discernible.
I beheld the kings of the subterranean races seated upon thrones–grand old men, though dry, withered, wrinkled like parchment, and blackened with naphtha and bitumen–all wearing pshents of gold, and breastplaces and gorgets glittering with precious stones; their eyes immovably fixed like the eyes of sphinxes, and their long beards whitened by the snow of centuries. Behind them stood their peoples, in the stiff and constrained posture enjoined by Egyptian art, all eternally preserving the attitude prescribed by the hieratic code. Behind these nations, the cats, ibises, and crocodiles contemporary with them–rendered monstrous of aspect by their swathing bands–mewed, flapped their wings, or extended their jaws in a saurian giggle.
All the Pharaohs were there–Cheops, Chephrenes, Psammetichus, Sesostris, Amenotaph–all the dark rulers of the pyramids and syrinxes–on yet higher thrones sat Chronos and Xixouthros–who was contemporary with the deluge; and Tubal Cain, who reigned before it.
The beard of King Xixouthros had grown seven times around the granite table, upon which he leaned, lost in deep reverie–and buried in dreams.
Further back, through a dusty cloud, I beheld dimly the seventy-two pre-Adamite Kings, with their seventy-two peoples–forever passed away.
After permitting me to gaze upon this bewildering spectacle a few moments, the Princess Hermonthis presented me to her father Pharaoh, who favored me with a most gracious nod.
“I have found my foot again!–I have found my foot!” cried the Princess, clapping her little hands together with every sign of frantic joy: “it was this gentleman who restored it to me.”
The races of Kemi, the races of Nahasi–all the black, bronzed, and copper-colored nations repeated in chorus:
“The Princess Hermonthis has found her foot again!”
Even Xixouthros himself was visibly affected.
He raised his heavy eyelids, stroked his mustache with his fingers, and turned upon me a glance weighty with centuries.
“By Oms, the dog of Hell, and Tmei, daughter of the Sun and of Truth! this is a brave and worthy lad!” exclaimed Pharaoh, pointing to me with his scepter, which was terminated with a lotus-flower.
“What recompense do you desire?”
Filled with that daring inspired by dreams in which nothing seems impossible, I asked him for the hand of the Princess Hermonthis;–the hand seemed to me a very proper antithetic recompense for the foot.
Pharaoh opened wide his great eyes of glass in astonishment at my witty request.
“What country do you come from? and what is your age?”
“I am a Frenchman; and I am twenty-
seven years old, venerable Pharaoh.”
“–Twenty-seven years old! and he wishes to espouse the Princess Hermonthis, who is thirty centuries old!” cried out at once all the Thrones and all the Circles of Nations.
Only Hermonthis herself did not seem to think my request unreasonable.
“If you were even only two thousand years old,” replied the ancient King, “I would willingly give you the Princess; but the disproportion is too great; and, besides, we must give our daughters husbands who will last well: you do not know how to preserve yourselves any longer; even those who died only fifteen centuries ago are already no more than a handful of dust;–behold! my flesh is solid as basalt; my bones are bars of steel!
“I shall be present on the last day of the world, with the same body and the same features which I had during my lifetime: my daughter Hermonthis will last longer than a statue of bronze.
“Then the last particles of your dust will have been scattered abroad by the winds; and even Isis herself, who was able to find the atoms of Osiris, would scarce be able to recompose your being.
“See how vigorous I yet remain, and how mighty is my grasp,” he added, shaking my hand in the English fashion with a strength that buried my rings in the flesh of my fingers.
He squeezed me so hard that I awoke, and found my friend Alfred shaking me by the arm to make me get up.
“O you everlasting sleeper!–must I have you carried out into the middle of the street, and fireworks exploded in your ears? It is after noon; don’t you recollect your promise to take me with you to see M. Aguado’s Spanish pictures?”
“God! I forgot all, all about it,” I answered, dressing myself hurriedly; “we will go there at once; I have the permit lying on my desk.”
I started to find it;–but fancy my astonishment when I beheld, instead of the mummy’s foot I had purchased the evening before, the little green paste idol left in its place by the Princess Hermonthis!
Poetry: The Divine Dance of Allama Muhammad Iqbal
The secret divine my ecstasy has taught (from Baal-i-Jibreel)
The secret divine my ecstasy has taught
I may convey if I have Gabriel’s breath.
What can these stars tell me of my fate?
They are lost themselves in the boundless firmament.
The total absorption of thought and vision is life,
Scattered thought is selfhood’s total death.
Pleasures of selfhood are a blessing of God,
Who makes me lose my awareness of myself.
With a pure heart, a noble aim, a poignant soul.
I care not for Solomon’s wealth or Plato’s thought.
The Prophet’s ‘Mairaj’ has taught me that heaven
Lies within the bounds of human reach.
This universe, perhaps, is yet incomplete,
For I hear repeated sounds of “Be, And It Was.”
Thy mind is ruled by the magic of the West,
Thy cure lies in the Fire of Rumi’s faith.
It is he who has given my eyes a blissful vision,
It is he who has blessed my soul with light.
To the Saqi (from Baal-i-Jibreel)
Look! What wonders the spring has wrought!
The river bank is a paradise!
Blossoming jasmine and hyacinth,
And violets, the envy of the skies!.
Rainbow colours transformed
Into a chorus of rapturous sounds,
And the harmony of flowers
The hillside is carnation-red;
In the languid haze, the air
Seems drunk with the beauty of life!
The brook, on the heights of the hill,
Dances to its own music.
The world is dizzy in a pageant of colour!
My rosy-cheeked Cup-bearer!
The voice of spring is the voice of life!
But the spring lasts not for ever;
So bring me the cup that tears all veils –
The wine that brightens life –
The wine that intoxicates the world –
The wine in which flows
The music of everlasting life,
The wine that reveals eternity’s secret.
Unveil the secrets, O Saqi.
Look! The world has changed apace!
New are the songs, and new is the music;
The West’s magic has dissolved;
The West’s magicians are bewildered;
Old politics has lost its game;
The world is tired of kings;
Gone are the days of the rich;
Gone is the jugglery of old;
Awake is China’s sleeping giant;
The Himalayas’ torrents are unleashed;
Sinai is riven;
Moses awaits the light divine.
The Muslim says that God is One
But his heart is Still a heathen:
Culture, sufism, rites and rthetoric,
All adore non- Arab idols;
The truth was lost in trifles,
And the nation was lost in conventions.
The speaker’s rhetoric is enchanting,
But is devoid of passion;
It is clothed in logic neat,
But lost in a maze of words;
The sufi, unique in the love of truth,
Unique in the love of God,
Was lost in un-Islamic thought;
Was lost in the hierarchic quest;
The fire of love is extinguished,
And a Muslim is a heap of ashes,
O Saqi! Give me the old wine again!
Let the potent cup go round!
Let me soar on the wings of love;
Make my dust bright-pinioned;
Make wisdom free;
And make the young guide the old;
Thou it is that nourishest. this nation;
Thou it is that canst sustain it;
Urge them to move, to stir;
Give them Ali’s heart; give them Siddiq’s passion;
Let the same old love pierce their hearts;
Awaken in them a burning zeal;
Let the stars throw down their spears,
And let the earth’s dwellers tremble
Give the young a passion that consumes;
Give them my vision, my love of God;
Free my boat from the whirlpool’s grip,
And make it move forward-,
Reveal to me the secrets of life,
For thou knowest them all;
The treasures of a fakir like me
Are suffused, unsleeping eyes,
And secret yearnings of the heart-,
My anguished sighs at night,
My solitude in the world of men,
My hopes and my fears,
My quest untiring,
My nature an arena of thought
A mirror of the world.
My heart a battlefield of life,
With armies of suspicion,
And bastions of certitude;
With these treasures I am
More rich than the richest of all.
Let the young join my throng,
And let them find an anchor of hope.
The sea of life has its ebb and flow-,
In every atom’s heart is the pulse of life;
It manifests itself in the body,
As a flame conceals a wave of smoke;
Contact with the earth was harsh for it,
But it liked the labour;
It is in motion, and not in motion;
Tired of the elements’ shackles;
A unity, imprisoned by plurality;
But always unique, unequalled.
It has made this dome of myriad glass;
It has carved this pantheon.
It does not repeat its craft
For thou art not me, and I am not thou;
It has created the world of men,
And remains in solitude,
Its brightness is seen in the stars,
And in the lustre of pearls-,
To it belong the wildernesses,
The flowers and the thorns;
Mountains sometimes are shaken by its might;
It captures angels and nymphs;
It makes the eagle pounce on a prey,
And leave a blood-stained body.
Every atom throbs with life;
Rest is an illusion;
Life’s journey pauses not,
For every moment is a new glory;
Life, thou thinkest, is a mystery;
Life is a delight in eternal flight;
Life has seen many ups and downs;
It loves a journey, not a goal.
Movement is life’s being;
Movement is truth, pause is a mirage.
Life’s enjoyment is in perils,
In facing ups and downs;
In the world beyond
Life stalked for death,
But the impulse to procreate
Peopled the world of man and beast.
Flowers blossomed and dropped
From this tree of life.
Fools think life is ephemeral;
Life renews itself for ever –
Moving fast as a flash,
Moving to eternity in a breath;
Time, a chain of days and nights,
Is the ebb and flow of breath.
This flow of breath is like a sword,
Selfhood is its sharpness;
Selfhood is the secret of life;
It is the world’s awakening,
Selfhood is solitary, absorbed,
An ocean enclosed in a drop;
It shines in light and in darkness,
Existent in, but away from, thee and me.
The dawn of life behind it, eternity before,
It has no frontiers before, no frontiers behind.
Afloat on the river of time,
Bearing the buffets of the waves,
Changing the course of its quest,
Shifting its glance from time to time;
For it a hill is a grain of sand,
Mountains are shattered by its blows;
A journey is its beginning and end,
And this is the secret of its being.
It is the moon’s beam, the spark in the flint,
Colourless itself, though infused with colours,
No concern has it with the calculus of space,
With linear time’s limits, with the finitude of life.
It manifested itself in man’s essence of dust,
After an eternity of a strife to be born.
It is in thy heart that Selfhood has an abode,
As heaven has its abode in the cornea of thy eye.
To one who guards his Selfhood,
The living that demeans it, is poison;
He accepts only a living,
That keeps his self- esteem;
Keep away from royal pomp,
Keep thy Selfhood free;
Thou shouldst bow in prayer,
Not bow to a human being.
This myriad-coloured world,
Under the sentence of death,
This world of sight and sound,
I Where life means eating and drinking,
Is Selfhood’s initial stage; It is not thy abode, O traveller!
This dust-bowl is not the source of thy fire;
The world is for thee, not thou for the world.
Demolish this illusion of’ time and space;
Selfhood is the Tiger of God, the world is its prey;
The earth is its prey, the heavens are its prey;
Other worlds there are, still awaiting birth,
The earth-born are not the centre of all life;
They all await thy assault,
Thy cataclysmic thought and deed;
Days and nights revolve,
To reveal thy Selfhood to thee;
Thou art the architect of the world.
Words fail to convey the truth;
Truth is the mirror, words its shade;
Though the breath is a burning flame,
The flame has limited bounds.
‘If now I soar any farther,
The vision will sear my wings.’
Selfhood can demolish the magic of this world; (from Baal-i-Jibreel)
Selfhood can demolish the magic of this world;
But our belief in The One is not comprehended by all.
Have a seer’s eye, and light will dawn on thee;
As a river and its waves cannot remain apart.
The light of God and knowledge are not in rivalry,
But so the pulpit believes, afraid of Hallaj’s rope.
Contentment is the shield for the pure and the noble
A shield in slavery, and a shield in power.
In the East the soul looks in vain for light;
In the West the light is a faded cloud of dust.
The fakirs who could shatter the power and pelf of kings
No longer tread this earth, in climes far or near.
The spirit of this age is brimful with negations,
And drained to the fast drop is the power of faith.
Muted is Europe’s lament on its crumbling pageant,
Muted by the delirious beats, the clangour of its music.
A sleepy ripple awaits, to swell into a wave
A wave that will swallow up monsters of the sea.
What is slavery but a loss of the sense of beauty?
What the free call beautiful, is beautiful indeed.
The present belongs to him who explores, in their depths,
The fathomless seas of time, to find the future’s pearl.
The alchemist of the West has turned stone into glass
But my alchemy has transmuted glass into flint
Pharaohs of today have stalked me in vain;
But I fear not; I am blessed with Moses’ wand.
The flame that can set afire a dark, sunless wood,
Will not be throttled by a straw afloat in the wind.
Love is self-awareness; love is self-knowledge;
Love cares not for the palaces and the power of kings.
I will not wonder if I reach even the moon and the stars,
For I have hitched my wagon to the star. of all stars.
First among the wise, last of the Prophets,
Who gave a speck of dust the brightness of the Mount.
He is the first and last in the eyes of love;
He is the Word of God. He is the Word of God.
Allama Muhammad Iqbal: A Biography
Muhammad Iqbal was born in Sialkot, Punjab, probably in 1877, although there is some uncertainty about the year of his birth. He graduated from Government College, Lahore, in 1899 with a master’s degree in philosophy. He taught there until 1905, while establishing his reputation as an Urdu poet. During this period his poetry expressed an ardent Indian nationalism, but a marked change came over his views between 1905 and 1908, when he was studying for his doctorate at Cambridge University, visiting German universities, and qualifying as a barrister.
The philosophies of Nietzsche and Bergson influenced Iqbal deeply, while he became extremely critical of Western civilization, which he regarded as decadent. He turned to Islam for inspiration and rejected nationalism as a disease of the West. He argued that Moslems must find their destiny through a pan-Islamic movement that ignored national boundaries. He also denounced the mystical trend of Indian Islam, blaming it for weakening the Moslem community and leading to its political downfall. These ideas found vigorous expression in the long poems Asrar-i-Khudi (The Secrets of the Self) in 1915 and Rumuz-i-Bekhudi (The Mysteries of Selflessness) in 1918. These were written in Persian, not Urdu, presumably to gain his ideas an audience in the Moslem world outside India.
Iqbal was knighted by the British in 1922, and his fame drew him increasingly into public life. Although he was not an active politician, he was elected to the Punjab legislature in 1926, and in 1930 he was made president of the Moslem League. By this time the dream of a pan-Islamic world no longer appealed to him. His statement in his presidential address that the “final destiny” of Indian Moslems was to have a “consolidated Northwest Indian Moslem state” is regarded as one of the earliest expressions of the idea of Pakistan.
Becoming convinced that Moslems were in danger from the Hindu majority if India should become independent, Iqbal gave his powerful support to Mohammad Ali Jinnah as the leader of India’s Moslems. In his last years Iqbal returned to Urdu as his poetic medium, publishing Bal-i-Jibril (Gabriel’s Wing) in 1935 and Zarb-i-Kalim (The Rod of Moses) in 1936. They have been criticized as lacking the energy and inspiration of his early work. He died in Lahore on April 21, 1938.
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – The Sun Ain’t Shining No More