KABIR: ECSTATIC FLUTE
I know the sound of the ecstatic flute,
But I don’t know whose flute it is.
A lamp burns and has neither wick nor oil.
A lily pad blossoms and is not attached to the bottom!
Where one flower opens, ordinarily dozens open.
The moon bird’s head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon,
And when the next rain will come is all that the rain bird thinks of.
Who is it we spend our entire life loving?
Kabir Ecstatic poems Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1992 (The English translations are free enough for Robert Bly to call them ‘versions by Robert Bly’. There is an earlier set of translations published by MacMillan in New York in 1915 by Rabindranath Tagore assisted by Evelyn Underhill under the title Songs of Kabir. Whilst I don’t follow Bly in calling the English of the earlier work “useless”, I do find that Bly’s interpretation has more passion and power. The Bly work includes an insightful afterword Kabir and the transcendental Bly by John Stratton Hawley).