By Novid Shaid, 2011
Once there lived a lover from Baghdad
Who loved God so much it nearly turned him mad
If he did not settle his nerves quite soon
He would disintegrate into a fiery pool.
So he roamed the Baghdad streets until nightfall
The fire of love burning stronger than a fireball
He had to find some respite from his illuminations
A channel for relieving and expressing his elation.
It just so happened that this lover had a voice
So loud and free it made all around him rejoice
But he needed inspiration, not being a trained singer
He yearned to sing for God with beautiful style and vigour.
His search went on, the yearning intolerably bad
When one dawn he noticed the birdsong of Baghdad
And at this moment Love inspired him with love
It was the moment he’d been dreaming of.
While sitting by the banks of the flowing Tigris
He sat among some trees as the sun was rising
Suddenly this lover’s heart was tremendously lifted
Birdsong consumed the air, while along the Tigris drifted.
He saw a crested lark, migrating from Sheraz
Perched upon a branch singing with gravitas
The lover listened enrapt and spellbound
Imitating its melody he called it Nahawand.
Then singing for an absent friend or lover,
He heard a sighing Bul-Bul hailing from Basra
Its melancholic song echoed with the pain of separation
He called this one Saba and wept with trepidation.
A House Martin caught the lover’s gaze thereafter
Singing about the haunting mystery of the holy Kaaba
He felt the fear of God, prostrating as
he listened to the bird, its song he called Hijaz.
Some cheer descended which made the lover glad
Some chirping blackbirds from the forests of Jilan
Their rousing song put the lover’s heart at ease,
He called their song Bayat, Rasd and Ajami.
Then just before the lover ventured off
He heard a bird exulting in the glory of God
This swift from Nishapur, was on a journey, a true seeker
Inspired by its exultation he called its song Seeka.
And now with birdsong swirling round his head
The lover arose and saluted the birds of Baghdad
He sang their modes through days and through nights
And the people listened, imitating, lost in delight.