The young and very self-satisfied poet ibn ‘Arabi, on his pilgrimage to Mecca, declaimed some verses he had written to his fellow pilgrims. One young critic immediately shouts out all the ways his love poems do injustice to love, to god, and to the poet himself. In attempting to respond to her earnest criticisms, ibn ‘Arabi fell desperately in love and produced this collection of poems on the subject of love, mystical, sensual, requited and un-, and especially that love which turns the world utterly on its head, panting and befuddled. A true classic in a new translation, with enough endnotes to grapple with all that is lost in the shift to modern English!— Daniel E
A masterpiece of Arabic love poetry in a new and complete English translationThe Translator of Desires, a collection of sixty-one love poems, is the lyric masterwork of Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi (1165-1240 CE), one of the most influential writers of classical Arabic and Islamic civilization. In this authoritative volume, Michael Sells presents the first complete English translation of this work in more than a century, complete with an introduction, commentary, and a new facing-page critical text of the original Arabic. While grounded in an expert command of the Arabic, this verse translation renders the poems into a natural, contemporary English that captures the stunning beauty and power of Ibn 'Arabi's poems in such lines as "A veiled gazelle's / an amazing sight, / her henna hinting, / eyelids signalling // A pasture between / breastbone and spine / Marvel, a garden / among the flames " The introduction puts the poems in the context of the Arabic love poetry tradition, Ibn 'Arabi's life and times, his mystical thought, and his "romance" with Niẓām, the young woman whom he presents as the inspiration for the volume-a relationship that has long fascinated readers. Other features, following the main text, include detailed notes and commentaries on each poem, translations of Ibn 'Arabi's important prefaces to the poems, a discussion of the sources used for the Arabic text, and a glossary. Bringing The Translator of Desires to life for contemporary English readers as never before, this promises to be the definitive volume of these fascinating and compelling poems for years to come.