November 30, 2015

A letter for ‘Umar

No mortal [eye] ever beheld a letter like the one that came to me
      full of camphor, musk and ambergris.
Candied in black and yellow, the letter was redolent
      with blond-red musk imbued by a [smoky] censer.
It was written on a sheet of Quhistani [silk], and its tie-cord
     was bedolled with a limpid ruby. The seal upon it
was pressed in gold dust instead of clay, and the embossment 
     read: "I pledge to you my life and the lives of my whole family."
Inside, the greeting [said]: "To you from me,
     the long-distracted by my memory and pining for you."
And the address: "To one who is [no less] love-crazed,
     The heart of an infatuate [is here enclosed]."

A poem by ‘Umar ibn Abī Rabī‘a