The Ocean of the Soul: Man, the World, and God in the Stories of Farid Al-Din 'Attar

By Hellmut Ritter; John O'Kane | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
THE POET ON HIMSELF

If we examine the passages in ₿Aṭṭār's poetry where he talks about himself and gives expression to his own emotional attitude, it is clear that, to a great extent, the poet's basic mood is in agreement with what we have just been describing. His mood is predominantly sad, grief-stricken and pessimistic. He indulges in general lamentation, criticizes himself, maintains that he has senselessly wasted his life, complains about his "hybrid nature" when it comes to faith and action. With this alternate outbursts of an agnostic mood and utter hopelessness, even a sense of disgust with life. Similarly, one finds complaints about loneliness and other motifs such as criticism of his poetic activity which however he is unable to give up, and because of which he actually feels quite proud. All these motifs alternate with one another in a lively sequence.


1

I often said I belong to the people of "the inside". But like a fool I'm still stand-
ing outside before the door… We've flown on every wing a man can fly, we've
walked with every kind of walk a man can walk. One moment we were in the
wine-house with the drinker (rind), the next we placed our cheek against the door
of the idol's temple. One moment we girded ourselves with the belt of the Chris-
tians (tarsāyān), the next we sat in the cloister of the Magians (?tarsāyān)…
Sometimes we were drunk, sometimes sober… One time we rested our head
against our knee (meditating), the next we made noise with complete abandon…
Sometimes we existed, sometimes we didn't. At times we sowed, at times we
reaped "nothingness"… Now we've turned back without hope…

We received quite a few slaps of months and days, and drank many brimming
cups of poison. We talked a good deal but our heart found no peace. We travelled
far and wide, but the road had no end. But now we've spoken enough about our-
self, we've neglected action. (AN 13/9).

-151-

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