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73 73 “There Descended to You”: A Philosophical Allegory by Ibn Sīnā ِ ‫ع‬ � ّ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ت‬ �‫و‬�� ‫�ز‬ّ‫ع�ز‬ �‫ت‬ �� ُ ‫ت‬ �‫ا‬ ‫�ذ‬ ُ‫ء‬‫ق�ا‬ � � �‫ور‬�� ِ ‫ع‬ �‫ف‬ � � �‫ر‬ ‫أ‬� � ‫ل‬ � � ‫ا‬ ّ ‫ل‬�‫�ح‬ � ‫م‬ ‫ل‬ � ‫ا‬ ‫ن‬ �‫م‬� ‫ك‬��‫ي‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫�إ‬ ْ‫ت‬ �‫ط‬ �� �‫ب‬ �‫�ه‬ ِ ‫ع‬ �‫ق‬ � � �‫بر‬ ��‫ت‬ �‫�ت‬� ‫م‬ � ‫ل‬ �� ‫و‬�� ْ‫ت‬ �‫ر‬ ‫ف‬ ��‫س‬�� ‫ي‬ � � ‫ت‬ �‫ل‬� � ‫ا‬ ‫ي‬ � � ‫ه‬�‫و‬�� ٍ ‫ف‬ � � �‫ر‬‫ا‬�‫ع‬ � ِ‫ة‬ ��‫ل‬�� ْ‫�ق‬�ُ ‫م‬� ‫ل‬�‫ك‬� � ��‫ن‬ �‫ع‬ � ‫ة‬ ��‫ب‬ ��‫و‬� ‫ج‬ � � ‫ح‬ � ‫م‬� habaṭat ʾilayka mina l-maḥalli l-ʾarfaʿī warqāʾu dhātu taʿazzuzin wa-tamannuʿī maḥjūbatun ʿan kulli muqlati ʿārifin wa-hya llatī safarat wa-lam tatabarqaʿī246 Meter (al-kāmil): SSLSL SSLSL SSLSL / SSLSL SSLSL SSLSL (SS may be replaced by L). Ibn Sīnā or Avicenna (d. 428/1037) was a scholar of Persian descent who wrote most of his extremely influential medical and philosophical works in Arabic prose. Unlike most other philosophers writing in Arabic he had distinctly literary gifts. He wrote several allegorical tales on esoteric matters. His most famous poem is the following, an interpretation of the old Platonic idea of the human soul: it exists before birth, descends into a body, first longing back for the higher world but eventually returning reluctantly. It should be mentioned that one scholar, al-Sharīshī (d. 619/1222) believed that Ibn Sīnā could not have composed the poem, on the grounds that he did not believe in the existence of the individual soul before birth.247 There descended to you from the highest place an ash-colored dove, inapproachable, proud, One veiled from even every Knower’s eye,248 yet herself without burka or veil. She came to you with reluctance; she may well part from you reluctantly too, dismayed. Disdainful at first, ill at ease; but, going along, getting used to living so close to desolate wasteland, 74 74 74 74 Verse Forgetting, I think, her old haunts: sacred meadows and dwellings, unhappy to have been left behind. When joined to the D of Descent from the S of her Station in Dhāt al-Ajraʿ, She adhered to the H of Heavy and came to stay among waymarks and humble vestigial abodes.249 Now she cries, when she thinks of the homes of her meadows, her eyes full of tears unstinting, Cooing continuously on the dung-strewn remains, effaced by the four recurrent winds. The thick, coarse net has trapped her, a cage prevents her from reaching the highest regions, spacious and lush. But when it is nearly time to go to those grounds and departure is nigh, to that widest expanse, And she parts from all things left as allies of earth that are not to accompany her, She slumbers; the covers are raised; and she sees what will never be seen by slumbering eyes. And she starts to sing on the top of a lofty mount —and knowledge will raise all those not raised—. So why was she made to descend from that high, lofty place to the depth of the lowest abyss? If God in His wisdom has made her descend, that wisdom is hidden from even the cleverest mind. For if the descent had to be, so that she could hear what she had not yet heard, And return with the knowledge of both worlds’ secrets, the rents in her dress will never be mended. For Time has crossed her path, cut her off: her sun has set, never to rise again. She was like the lightning that flashed in the meadow, then vanished, as if it had never flared. 5 10 15 20 ...


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