“Where did the handsome beloved go?”

By Jalal al-Din Rumi
Translated by Brad Gooch, Maryam Mortaz

Where did the handsome beloved go?
I wonder, where did that tall, shapely cypress tree go?

He spread his light among us like a candle.
Where did he go? So strange, where did he go without me?

All day long my heart trembles like a leaf.
All alone at midnight, where did that beloved go?

Go to the road, and ask any passing traveler — 
That soul-stirring companion, where did he go?

Go to the garden, and ask the gardener — 
That tall, shapely rose stem, where did he go?

Go to the rooftop, and ask the watchman — 
That unique sultan, where did he go?

Like a madman, I search in the meadows!
That deer in the meadows, where did he go?

My tearful eyes overflow like a river — 
That pearl in the vast sea, where did he go?

All night long, I implore both moon and Venus — 
That lovely face, like a moon, where did he go?

If he is mine, why is he with others?
Since he’s not here, to what “there” did he go?

If his heart and soul are joined with God,
And he left this realm of earth and water, where did he go?

Tell me clearly, Shams of Tabriz,
Of whom it is said, “The sun never dies” — where did he go?
 

Translated from the Persian
  • Source: Poetry (November 2017)

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