The Inner Child
It is a rough path which Iqbal climbed up the hill.
Each poem in this portion is a step on that path.
After the first six steps, the next seven are marked “for
Children.” Even if you are a grown-up, Iqbal probably wants
you to get in touch with your inner child because each of these
steps offers a vision that may be seen best with the eyes of a child.
A Spider and the Fly
A spider tells three lies to the fly: he is a friend
from whom she shouldn’t stay away, his parlor is well-furnished
and she is very pretty. She refutes the first two but gets tempted
by the third and the spider devours her. By accepting the spider’s
illusion as her reality, the fly ceased to exist.
A Mountain and the Squirrel
(Adapted from Emerson)
Now the fly has grown up into a squirrel and has
overcome the personal insecurity that had turned out to be her
nemesis. She answers the mountain’s taunt about her smallness
by saying, “So what if I am not big like you: you are not
small like me either! Nothing is without purpose in this world
and nobody is bad in the Workshop of Providence.”
A Goat and the Cow
Growing up still further and becoming a goat, the
creature now learns to talk with maturity and defends the human
being against the bickering of a cow. She has recognized the special
status of the human being.
The Child's Prayer
The human being now appears as a child and makes
O Lord! My longing finds expression as a prayer:
may my life be like that of a candle!
May the darkness disappear from the world through
me and light spread everywhere by my shining.
May my homeland be adorned by me just as a flower
brings adornment to the garden!
O Sustainer! May my life be like that of a moth!
May I be in love with the lamp of knowledge, O Sustainer!
May it be my job to stand up for the poor and
to love the meek and the weak!
O my Allah! Protect me from the path of evil and
make me tread upon the way that is good.
(Adapted from William Cowper)
The soul is now a bird wailing on the Forbidden
Tree: knowledge has cast darkness and the bird cannot fly home.
Illumination granted through the prayer of the previous poem appears
as a glow-worm ready to show light on the path.
The Mother's Dream
The acquiring of this illumination is like a rebirth,
and therefore too unsettling for overly possessive parents. In
her dream, one such mother is confronted with the consequences
of her fear: she sees her child walking among the dead but while
everyone else is holding a light in their hands, the lamp of this
child has been put out by the mother’s tears.
The Bird's Lament
The illumined soul sees worldly attachments as a
prison and longs for returning to the heavenly garden from where
it was exiled when it fell into the trap, not unlike the fly beguiled
by the spider.
Most of the poems in this chapter were adapted
from Western poets. Does that make them less useful in
your search for Joseph of Iqbal and Rumi?
Can these poems be read as the development
of a single self?
Do these poems match the corresponding
items in other sets of seven, such as the dedicatory poem
to the King of Afghanistan?