MOSES AND THE SHEPHERD
Rumi’s Translation by Lewis
Moses, to his horror, heard one summer day
A benighted shepherd blasphemously pray:
‘Lord’, he said, ‘I would I know Thee, where Thou art,
That for Thee I might perform a servant’s part,
Comb Thy hair, and dust Thy shoes, and sweep Thy room,
Bring Thee every morning milk and honeycomb.’
Moses cried, ‘Blasphemer!’ Curb thy blatant speech!
Whom art thou addressing? Lord of all and each,
Allah the almighty? Thinkest thou He doth need
Thine officious folly? Wilt thou all bounds exceed?
Miscreant, have a care, lest thunderbolts should break
On our heads, and others perish for thy sake.
Without eyes He seeth, He heareth without ears,
Hath neither son nor partner through the endless years.
Space cannot contain Him, time He is above.
All the limits that He knows are Light and Love.’
‘Put to shame, the shepherd, his poor garment rent,
Went away disheartened, his ardour spent’.
‘Then spake God to Moses: ‘Why hast thou for Me
Driven away My servant, who goes heavily?
Not for severance it was, but for union
I commissioned thee to preach, O hasty one!’
‘Hatefullest of all things is to me divorce (of man from man),
And the worst of all ways is the way of force.
I made no creation, self to aggrandize,
But that creatures might with Me communion prize.
What though the childish tongue trip? ‘Tis the heart I see,
If it really loves Me in sincerity.’