Beyond ‘A Prayer’ is stretched out a well-conceived
floor plan of fifty-six poems. Varying in length, they are untitled
but numbered – like those tulips of Sinai in The Message of
Fifty-six is divisible by seven. As you divide these
poems into seven sets, the eight poems in each set become a corridor
depicting the corresponding stage of your journey. The fourth corridor
is supposed to give you Joseph, since he is to be found in the present
stage, which is the fourth in your journey.
Stage 1: Poems 1-8
A cup is formed of clay but where does the wine
Invisible to the worldly eyes, the Ultimate Reality
descends upon the Garden with morning breeze, mixes up with the
scent of the rose and wrestles with the bud. Iqbal prays, “O
Lord! Grant my voice to bring back life to the clay that has been
dead for a thousand years.”
Stage 2: Poems 9-16
Love feels more restless on the shore than in deep
Iqbal passes by the emperors indifferently, since
he is the harp of destiny. However, melodies can be heard only
as much as reason can play on it. An old dove hears the music
and remarks, “No one ever played the ancient song like this
Stage 3: Poems 17-24
The Beloved passes by and casts a glance at Iqbal,
who almost faints. A wine dealer tells him, “The tears you
held back last night are much better than any wine.”
Now Iqbal holds out a bitter-tasting antidote in
an earthenware cup but the followers of Plato and Aristotle, drinking
poison from two golden goblets, pay no attention.
Stage 4: Poems 25-32
A particle of dust aspires to shape destiny and
becomes heart. It washes itself clean of all images so that it
may acquire the wealth of meaning.
On the Day of Judgment, it sets up a pair of gigantic
scales and starts bargaining with the Almighty. In one scale it
places the purity of virtue and in the other, the ingenuity of
Stage 5: Poems 33-40
Spring is about to come and birds are chirping again.
The new human being feels sad due to the short span of human life.
Stage 6: Poems 41-48
The traveler seems to have arrived at the destination
but the tree of knowledge has not borne a thorn suitable for the
Stage 7: Poems 49-56
The soul is pitted against adverse times. It is
a river weeping among the mountains, recalling how it was hidden
in the Divine Life until it was cast out in order to become manifest.
Now life appears to be death and death life, unless the Ultimate
Reality unveils Itself.