Joy is brief.
Sorrow and grief are endless.
The mind's an elephant,
Air and flame burn as one,
just as when the moth, its eye enchanted by light,
flies straight into the lamp,
and wing and fire flare together.
Who hasn't found
restful peace in a moment of pleasure?
So you brush aside the truth,
and chase the lies you hold so dear.
At the end of your days,
you feel the temptation, you covet joy,
even though old age and death
are close at hand.
The world's embroiled in illusion, error:
this is the process always in motion.
Man attains human birth:
why does he waste and destroy it?
Verse 1: alapai sukha dukha ahi ananta
Kabir Granthavali, ramaini 15; badi ashtapadi ramaini
April is National Poetry Month. Kabir (1398-1448), one of the greatest poet mystics of India, happens to be one of my favorite poets. Born a Muslim, Kabir lived during a time of great social, political and religious upheaval. At the axis of Islam and Hinduism, Yoga and Bhakti, Kabir's words were a bold and clever thread running through society's pomp and pretension.
I highly recommend The Weaver's Songs, by Kabir, translated by Vinay Dharwadker.