The poetry of Persian poet Al-Nawaz can still be heard at street corners in the towns of Khorasan. A new English translation by Engelbart Fitzwater of his lovelorn poetry can now be found in the neighbourhood Crossword's. Al-Nawaz lived almost four centuries ago in the dusty and disease ridden neighbourhoods of the cities of Khorasan, but his desires and unrequited passion still resonate today. One of the earliest known master of what was to become the 'ghazal', his keen insight sometimes is overshadowed by the unmitigated intensity of his unconnsummated love.
The target of his lustful affections, unfortunately, is lost to us in the mists of history. But the intensity of his feelings still live on in these ghazals, even though we can only speculate as to the identity of his muse.
It is my intention to serialize some extracts from the book here, to trace the growth of his poetry from the transparently obvious to the deep mysticism and unforced, unpretentious maturity of his later work.
So, to begin with, a simple offering:
Like an earnest field, I waited for a mass of grey
When only a twinkling of a drop would wash me away
The dull night and the silence, dear friend
Only your heartbeat keeps oblivion at bay
'Tis verse for the heart we recite, not holy writ
Things yet unwritten, one still has to say
Some things are born and crawl, others perish
You are the one that willingly lost his way
Gaze at the moon, 'Al-Nawaz', savour its contours
For she must set, night too gives in to day