February 16, 2020

What the parakeet said

The peacock minded the jasmine, lamenting the lengths his crime had driven him, when along came the parakeet, virginal and green, saying:
     "Fie on the peacock of the birds! The only good peacock is on a plate served. O fugitive peacock, outcast, reject! Your bad interior is betrayed by your conduct. But outer appearance is not that which God, Who sees into hearts, looks at.
     "How come you among us, the picture of a bride—when the meaning of the picture is a widow inside? Why not quit your parks and gardens and tend elsewhere to your distress, and shed your pride and fancy dress, that God might pardon your past offense? You were expelled from the Garden along with Adam, and shared his sorrow. So join him in repentance and the forgiveness that follows! You might make it back there. Adam will, in spite of his Antagonist's guile and envy and bile, return to the happy state he was forced out of, after reaping at the end of days what he sowed in their beginning.
     "Humanity, O peacock, is in my view the noblest of animate beings, on whom the Lord's honor and favor are impressed, and for whom He created everything in existence. And their talkative blue-eyed fellow am I! Fellowship with the blessed is no reason to cry.
     "Praise be to Him Whose hand holds the Good, for bringing together human and bird. I'm not a strong flyer, and I don't vie for power with humanity. But silence is praised in everyone but me."
     [Then the parakeet said (meter: majzū’ al-ramal):]

     Unseen, but Present in the secret.
          Breaker of the hard, and its Resetter.
     So great my dread of His reproach is
          that my heart is sent aflutter.
     What I boast of is the Beloved.
          You would out-boast me? Then step up.
     My quality is essential
          and a gemstone was my mold.
     I am the parakeet! I know how high
          my worth is when I'm sold.

From the Discourse of the Birds of Ibn al-Wardi