I Saw My Sweetheart

I saw my sweetheart wandering about the house; he had taken a rebec and was playing a melody.
With a plectrum like fire he was playing a sweet melody, drunken and dissolute and charming from the Magian wine.
He was invoking the saqi in the air of Iraq1; the wine was his object, the saqi was his excuse.
The moonfaced saqi pitcher in his hand, entered from a corner and set it in the middle.
He filled the first cup with that flaming wine; did you ever see water sending out flames?
He set it on his hand for the sake of the lovers, then prostrated and kissed the threshold.
My sweetheart seized it from him and quaffed the wine; flames from that wine went running over his face.
He was beholding his own beauty, and saying to the evil eye, “Never has there been, nor shall there come in this age, another like me.”

 

Translation by A. J. Arberry “Mystical Poems of Rumi 2”
The University of Chicago Press, 1991

 

1The air of Iraq is a Persian tune.