Goethe’s Tribute to the Prophet - The Stream of Life


This poem entitled “Ju-e Aab” is a free rendering (Payaam-i-Mashriq) by Allama Iqbal of Goethe’s German poem “Mahomets Gesang” written in honor of our beloved Prophet (s) in the years 1772/73.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe is considered one of the most important figures in German poetry. Various authors have noted Goethe's interest in Islam. At the age of 70 Goethe writes (Notes and Essays to the Divan, WA I, 17, 153) that he intends "to celebrate respectfully that night when the Prophet was given the Koran completely from above" He also wrote: "No one may wonder about the great efficiency of the Book. That is why it has been declared as un-created by real admirers" and added to it: "This book will eternally remain highly efficacious/effective" (WA I, 7, 35/36)

The entire poem is full of similes, metaphors, and suggestiveness. The “stream of life” refers to the life of the Prophet (s). Infinite Ocean refers to the Quran’s universal values. Fairyland, narcissus, tulip, rose, etc., refer to all the worldly attractions that try to derail humans from the Quran’s straight and balanced path – Siratul Mustaqeem. Mountains, valleys, desert-planes, meadows, palaces and ramparts refer to signs of human inequalities in wrong systems of life.

Here is a free rendering of Ju-e Aab in English.

Behold how deeply engrossed the stream of life moves onward?
Slashing through meadows, it moves like the Milky Way galaxy!

It was sound asleep in the cradle of the heavenly clouds;
And it opened its curious eyes in the lap of the mountains!

Its graceful motion strikes music from pebbles on its way;
Its forehead shining like white pearl and spotless mirror!

Towards the infinite ocean how fully engrossed it steadily flows;
Absorbed unto itself and completely focused on its goal, it flows.

In its path, spring created a heavenly fairyland to entice it;
Narcissus, tulip, and jasmine bloomed to attract its attention.

The rose tempted it and said: Stay with us here for a while;
And the rosebud laughed and pulled its cover amorously.

Completely unmindful of green-robed beauty merchants,
It passed through desert; and it rent asunder mountains.

Towards the infinite ocean how fully engrossed it steadily flows;
Absorbed unto itself and completely focused on its goal, it flows.

A hundred brooks from plains and meadows, from vales and dales;
Joining it, and said: “O thou for whom the earth is a wide expanse!

“Stricken with drought, we have fallen by the way;
Protect us from the pillage of the sandy waste!”

It opened its breast to the winds of the East and the West;
Pulling the weak and wailing fellow-travelers, on its way!

Towards the infinite ocean how fully engrossed it flows;
Carrying a hundred thousand unique shining pearls, it flows.

The surging river flowed with vigor, over dams and barriers;
It pushed through the narrow gorges of valleys, hills, and dales.

Whether low or high, it levelled all in its path by it powerful force;
Flattening king’s palaces and ramparts; fields, and orchards alike!

Passionate and fierce, eager and heart-warming; it boldly journeys onward;
Creating fresh new human period of glory, bypassing old decadent world!

Towards the infinite ocean how fully engrossed it steadily flows;
Absorbed unto itself and completely focused on its goal, it flows.


Related posts from similar topics:


Disclaimer

No Comments