I marveled at an Ocean without shore,
and at a Shore that did not have an ocean;
And at a Morning Light without darkness,
and at a Night that was without daybreak;
And then a Sphere with no locality
known to either fool or learned scholar;
And at an azure Dome raised over the earth,
circulating 'round its center – Compulsion;
And at a rich Earth without o'er-arching vault
and no specific location, the Secret concealed...
I courted a Secret which existence did not alter;
for it was asked of me: “Has Thought enchanted you? ”
– To which I replied: “I have no power over that;
I counsel you: Be patient with it while you live.
But, truly, if Thought becomes established
in my mind, the embers kindle into flame,
And everything is given up to fire
the like of which was never seen before!”
And it was said to me: “He does not pluck a flower
who calls himself with courtesy ‘Freeborn’.”
“He who woos the belle femme in her boudoir, love-beguiled,
will never deem the bridal-price too high!”
From the Kitab 'Anqâ' mughrib, one of the earliest surviving works by Ibn 'Arabi. Read the whole poem.
In Mecca that Ibn al-ʿArabī became acquainted with a young girl of great beauty who, as a living embodiment of the eternal sophia (wisdom), was to play in his life a role much like that which Beatrice played for Dante. Her memories were eternalized by Ibn al-ʿArabī in a collection of love poems (Tarjumān al-ashwāq; “The Interpreter of Desires”), upon which he himself composed a mystical commentary.