Where was I?

“I may be a wine-guzzling drunk, but I owe nothing to anyone; I know what I am.

There is no one more skilled in drunken love-making than Sarkhosh;

I flee from religion and love, I leave my good name and honor in the dust.”

That’s a line from Sarkhosh. It’s a charming poem and charm is what was missing when I finished translating it. The content is often so formulaic that much of the enjoyment comes from rhyme and meter. Still, I liked the defiant, almost blasphemous, tone of the finale. He’s casting himself as the rend, a drunken profligate (or what my dictionary refers to as “a slyboots.” I can’t top that). The sufis described themselves as such to accentuate the contrast between their outward acts and their inward piety. Their mystical union with Allah divorced them from earthly concerns. When it’s done well, the line between mystical fervor and an actual love of debauchery is blurry at best.

Back on the earthly plane, my search for more Sarkhosh info proceeds at a glacial pace, but recently left in its wake an information hummock (and that’s it for that metaphor). Sarkhosh had a son whose name escapes me, something Sarkhosh, who eventually moved to Australia where he published a small book of poetry. So I looked that up and discovered that while the library had it, it didn’t exist. That is, the call number which had been assigned to it did not jive with what was actually on the shelf. So I looked where it should have been and there it was. But now I was curious; why did the record in the computer have the wrong call number? Checking further, it seems that, according to the catalog, there was a whole slew of books which had non-existent call numbers. When the computer fails, we turn to the aging card catalogs out in the hall. There they were, just as in the computer catalog, but each card had a red check mark on it.

What could it mean!?!?!

Well, I don’t know. That’s about the time my curiosity lagged and my actual job intruded. Still, I’ll get back to figuring it out eventually. We can’t let lost books linger in some literary limbo. So tune in next time for the thrilling conclusion, when we hear Matt exclaim…

“Oh, there they are.”

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About M.C. Smith

translatingpersian@gmail.com View all posts by M.C. Smith

One response to “Where was I?

  • Melissa Hart

    I love this line: “the line between mystical fervor and an actual love of debauchery is blurry at best.”

    Reminds me of my ancestor John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester, and his debauched, fervent verses.

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