from The Book of the Lover and the Beloved

Translated by Eve Bonner

1. The lover asked his beloved if there remained anything in him still to be loved. And the beloved answered that he still had to love that by which his own love could be increased.

2. The paths along which the lover seeks his beloved are long, perilous, filled with worries, sighs, and tears, and lit up by love.

3. Many lovers gathered together to love one beloved who filled them with love. Each held as his own his beloved and his pleasant thoughts, which caused tribulations that were sweet to bear.

4. The lover wept, and said: "When will darkness leave the world, and the paths to hell cease to exist? When will water, which always flows downward, change its nature and flow upward? And when will the innocent outnumber the guilty?"

7. The beloved tested his lover to see if his love was perfect, asking him what was the difference between the presence and absence of his beloved. The lover replied, "As ignorance and forgetfulness differ from knowledge and remembrance."

8. The beloved asked the lover, "Can you remember any way in which I have rewarded you for wanting to love me?" "Yes," he answered, "by making no distinction between the pains and pleasures you accord me."

9. "Tell me, lover," said the beloved, "will you still be patient if I double your suffering?" "Yes, as long as you also double my love."

16. "Tell us, O singing bird, have you put yourself in the care of my beloved so that he may protect you from lack of love, and increase your love?" The bird replied, "And who is it who makes me sing, if not the lord of love, for whom lack of love is a dishonor?"

18. A question arose between the eyes and memory of the lover. His eyes claimed it was better to see the beloved than to remember him, but memory said that remembering brought tears to the eyes and made the heart burn with love.

19. The lover asked Understanding and Will which one was closer to his beloved. They both started running, and Understanding reached his beloved before Will.

21. Sighs and Tears came to be judged by the beloved, and asked him by which of them he felt more deeply loved. The beloved judged that sighs were closer to love, and tears to the eyes.

22. The lover came to drink from the fountain whose waters make those who do not love fall in love, and his suffering was doubled. The beloved then came to drink from the fountain so as to redouble the lover's love of him, and increase his suffering even more.

23. The lover was sick, and the beloved cared for him. He fed him from his merits, gave him to drink with love, put him to bed with patience, dressed him with humility, and gave him truth as his medicine.

25. They said to the lover, "Where are you going?" "I come from my beloved." "Where do you come from?" "I go to my beloved." "When will you return?" "I will be with my beloved." "How long will you be with your beloved?" "For as long as my thoughts remain on him."

26. The birds sang of the dawn, and the lover, who is the dawn, awoke. The birds ended their song, and the lover died in the dawn for his beloved.

30. The lover disobeyed his beloved, and the lover wept. The beloved came and died within the lover's cloak, so that the lover might regain what he had lost. And the gift he gave him was greater than that which he had lost.

35. "Tell me, O bird who sings of love to my beloved, why does he who has taken me as his servant torment me with love?" The bird answered, "If you did not suffer the pains of love, how else would you love your beloved?"

36. The lover followed the paths of his beloved absorbed in thought. He tripped and fell among the thorns, and it seemed to him that they were flowers and that he lay on a bed of love.