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Listen to the Reed Player

Listen to the mysteries of love from the Reed Player,

to the tale of love, full of burning and acceptance.

The melody of the reed is the tale of the Reed Player;

it is drunkenness and disgrace and the craziness of love. 

It is the Reed Player’s breath that brings forth the outcry of the reed;

His fire is ignited inside the reed.

Whatever the Reed Player recounts

the reed in turn relates by wailing.

Otherwise, the reed is but a piece of dry wood; 

its cry is not from suffering or agitation.

                    * * * * *

If your innermost ear hears its cry

you’ll come to know why it wails.

It tells you, “If every part of me is resonating, 

it is not from me; all sound, all strains are from Him.

For years I was a plain, leafless reed,

weak, luckless and uncreative.

Distant from Reality and caught up with appearances,

my soul was unaware of intimations and mysteries. 

Finally, I gave my heart, gambled away my soul,

and separated myself from all involvement with the self.

I had been a weed, but when I came to know 

His lips, I transformed into a reed.

I broke myself until union with Him welcomed me; 

what seemed like defeat was for me, in fact, a victory.

Stripped of everything, I learned the lessons of love;

I attuned myself to His love until I was burnt up.”

                    * * * * *

“My heart was not bound to love’s seven valleys; 

that is why they call me the reed of seven segments.

Once holes were scorched into my body,

His kiss brought forth from me a beautiful cry.

I was annihilated from self, then He breathed into me; 

that breath created my fervor.

Love became my faith, creed and practice.

Humble lovers became my intimates.

My clamor is the cry of love and good fortune —

it comes from the breath of the Reed Player, not from my self.” 

                    * * * * *

“Whoever comes to know the Beloved’s love

will be rendered restless by my tune.

He will break into song on hearing my call;

he will feel love and ecstasy on hearing my cry. 

My melody gladdens the depressed 

and revives the lover whose heart has died.

If you become my confidant

your heart and soul may breathe with me.”

“If you hear my song you will be full of joy 

and cease worrying about this and that.

I have no complaint about separation from the Beloved,

for I kiss Him madly on the lips!

How could a love-crazed lover ever complain

and tell the tale of his yearning for Him? 

Love is not tied to spiritual station and state;

no sincere lover is attached to these things.”

                    * * * * *

“Who am I without His breath and His windpipe? 

I am nothing; it is He Who is both reed player and reed. 

Whoever is annihilated becomes lost in Him,

turning into the purest wine in the heart’s vat.

My cry is the call of love and intimacy,

a joyful howl and a sorrow-free song.

Who am I to mention separation 

or to sing about lack of provisions?

Without the Reed Player’s lips I am silent;

this howl and this roar are from His breath.

I am content with whatever comes my way;

whatever happens to sting me is really a salve. 

If you see me as a reed, it is only an appearance;

I do not exist; all being is but a single Being.

From the One Being comes all this clamor of mine,

this spirit-expanding melody and warmth.

I have gambled away everything, both my existence and non-existence,

so as to settle at the source and in union with Being.

Although I am the reed player, the reed and the reed’s throat, 

He is the cup, the cupbearer and the wine; I am nothing.”

The reed has hundreds of discourses in its chest;

there are secrets and mysteries in the reed’s song.

The reed’s story is the refrain of being in love;

it tells of the way and the method of liberation. 

Whoever loses self-existence becomes a reed

and, like wine, becomes altogether intoxicating.

                    * * * * *

How long will you go on, Sufis, with your questioning?

Like a reed empty yourself of self

that you may be freed from the cloak of self-existence

and learn the mysteries of love.

Like the reed, on the feet of submission and contentment

pass out of the realm of “we” and “you.”

Shorn of heart and faith, like the love-crazed reed, 

let out the cry of the heart at the feet of the Beloved.

Fervor and drunkenness are our method and faith;

the practice of love is our age-old creed.

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