The Daybook of Bishr the Barefoot
Abu Nasr, Bishr bin al-Harith, sought out debate and discussion and heard all that was said and so inclined to mysticism. And one day he was walking through the market when, taking fright at the people there, he removed his sandals and slipped them beneath his arms and set off running through the sunbaked stones and sand, and none could keep pace with him. This was in the year 227 AH.
When we lost our peace
with what Fate gave us
the rain stopped falling,
no tree sprung into leaf,
no fruits hung gleaming.
our eyes burst
into weeping. Grown restless
upon contentment’s broad mattress,
on the pillows a devil’s head lay,
a wicked hate, embracing me,
sharing my bed,
as though his horns were in my hand.
When we let slip the jewel of certainty
in the belly the unborn grew blighted
hair sprouted in the caverns of the eye
and the beard knotted
over the temples.
Generation of devils.
Generation of devils.
Take care that you do not listen
Take care that you do not see
Take care that you do not touch
Take care that you do not speak
Cease! and hang suspended
from silence’s cord tight-braided.
The well of speech is deep
but the palm is small.
Between the fingers and thumb of the hand
And because you do not know the meaning of words, for you fight me with words:
the word is a stone,
the word is a death,
and if words on words you build
and between these bring more to birth
then you shall see the world
as a hideous child
and wish for death.
I beg you,
A truth in the heart remains
hurting and crippling.
When the seas of speech run dry, no thought may sail
and no sail of surmise may unfurl over their salt waves
because what we come to is not what we seek
and what we make for is not what we meet.
Would it please you, my guest, if I offered you a seat
at my table, and you found only carrion meat?
You gifted us this anguish and these agonies
for You looked on us and we were not sweet
in Your eyes.
this world is plagued and cureless.
Were The Merciful fair
He would hasten our death towards us.
Almighty God. This world is fit for nothing.
Where is death? Where is death? Where is death?
My sheikh Bassam Al Din says,
“O man, be stoical.
Our world is lovelier than you recall.
You look down from the peak
of your love and you see
only its black wreck.”
And we went down to the marketplace, the sheikh and I.
The snake-man was striving to wind round the crane
and the fox-man was walking in between.
The crane-man’s throat was in the fox-man’s jaw,
the dog-man came to market to gouge fox’s eye
and trample on the snake-man’s head,
and the market shook to the leopard-man’s tread
who had come there to split dog’s belly with his claw
and suck out the marrow from the fox-man’s bones.
My sheikh Bassam Al Din,
Where is the man who is man?
And my sheikh Bassam Al Din says,
“His caravan shall be seen in the world one day.”
Good sheikh! Do you know
what day we live in now?
“This day of plague
is the eighth day
of the fifth week
in the thirteenth month.
Man who is man passed here years before
and went on his way and is known no more.
He dug in the gravel and down he did lay
and he covered himself over with agony.”