Az Bágh-i-Iláhí (Hailing from the Godly Garden)

What follows is my provisional translation (in other words, not official or authorized; see here for more) of a Tablet of Baháʼuʼlláh, the original text of which appears in INBA 19:27–31. The translation is set to blank verse (iambic tetrameter).

The provisional translation also appears alongside the original text in this parallel table. 

* * * * *

Translator’s Introduction:

Keen students of Bahá’í history may be familiar with the work of Bahá’u’lláh called Az Bágh-i-Iláhí, cataloged in the “Partial Inventory of the Works of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith” with the ID number BH01007, through its inclusion in the “List of Bahá’u’lláh’s Best-Known Writings” featured in many of the volumes of Bahá’í World, or through this summary by Adib Taherzadeh:

Az-Bágh-i-Iláhí is an ode revealed not long before the Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh. It is one of His most joyous odes, composed in an exalted style. Each Persian verse is followed by one in Arabic, and the combination of the two creates a rich melody of unsurpassed beauty and enchantment. Its theme is the advent of the Promised Day of God, but to describe its contents is not an easy task, especially in the absence of an English translation.

In each and every line Bahá’u’lláh alludes to Himself and extols His own attributes. He unveils the splendours of His exalted station and, among other designations, refers to Himself as the Lord of all mankind, the Day-star of Truth, the Promise of all ages, the Youth of Paradise, the Quickener of men and the Essence of the Spirit of Truth. This poem is an eloquent description of Bahá’u’lláh’s stupendous station, the character of His Mission and the outpourings of His Revelation.

The chanting of this beautiful ode creates an atmosphere of ecstasy and joy. It moves the heart and evokes a feeling of awe and excitement within the soul. No wonder that the companions of Bahá’u’lláh in Baghdád, who chanted it in their gatherings, were carried away into the realms of spirit, completely oblivious of this world and all its peoples.

(The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, vol. 1, pp. 218–19)

Taherzadeh notes the absence of an English translation—and from the time he first wrote those words in 1974 to the present day, this ode had remained untranslated. It was only when I read the full Writing for the first time just a few days ago that I experienced the ecstasy he described and felt compelled to try my hand at a provisional rendering. I felt the structure of the original text best lent itself to iambic tetrameter in English, and that is the meter to which I have set the translation. It is, however, in blank verse, meaning there is no consistent terminal rhyme—only occasional instances, some of them half-rhymes, along with internal rhyming here and there—as I believed a conventional rhyme scheme would needlessly constrain the translation and that the content of the original ode itself was not all that amenable to one. My deepest thanks to Khazeh Fananapazir, Abir Majid, and Sen McGlinn for enriching the translation with their valuable suggestions.

Az Bágh-i-Iláhí is a masterclass in linguistic innovation for devotional purposes. It not only alternates between Arabic and Persian as Taherzadeh mentioned, but it also blends the two languages together in a wondrously inseparable mixture by pairing Arabic nouns with Persian adjectives and vice-versa (سهم مژگانی، سیف یزدانی، جگر حراقی). In addition to this, the work is filled with neologisms (رُنَن، رُبَب، کُئَس), as well as unconventional inflections (جُذَبٌ، مِلَحٌ، نُجُمٌ), unprecedented variations (ازلانی، روّاح، جگردوز), and irregular spellings (ابها، ابقا، شَسْت) of existing words. It must be noted here that there can be no room for doubt about these innovations; they come to us from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who transcribed the full Writing Himself and added all of the short vowel marks seen in the original-language typescript below. In the source text I consulted (INBA 19:27–31) to prepare that typescript, the handwritten reproduction of the Writing begins with a marginal note stating that it is based identically on that transcription by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and, to reinforce its accuracy, the reproduction ends with a brief confirmation: muqábilih shud (“It has been checked against the original”). I think these deviations from standard language actually make a kind of lyrical sense; there is a distinct musicality to them, and Taherzadeh does note that the companions of Bahá’u’lláh would chant this ode at their gatherings in Baghdád. The Writing ultimately concludes with some lines in prose that seem to discuss the nature of Bahá’u’lláh’s advent and the longevity of His Dispensation, and also enjoin the believers to teach the Cause with zeal and ecstasy.

How fitting that Bahá’u’lláh should have revealed so revolutionary an ode so shortly before His public declaration. What better way to signalize the novelty entailed by His imminent Revelation, that all things are about to be made new, than by upending something as fundamental and well-established as language itself?

—Adib Masumian
24 October 2021

* * * * *

In My Name, the Most Effulgent, the All-Glorious

[1]

Hailing from the godly garden,
Invested with the Burning Bush,
That fresh and novel Youth is come!
Make haste, make haste![1]

[2]

This is the Ecstasy divine!
This is the Robe celestial!
This is the Raiment of the Lord!
With vast oceans of living waters,
And spirit-vivifying rivers,
That Lord of all mankind is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[3]

This is the cooling Draught of God!
This is the Merciful’s Bestowal!
This is the wholesome Ornament!
Descending from the lofty city,
With much allure and famous name,
That Joseph of Shíráz is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[4]

This is the Face transcending time!
This is the radiant Countenance!
This is the ancient Innovation!
With sword in hand and shaft in quiver,
That Slayer of the loving souls,
That Quickener of the loved is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[5]

This is the Blade enamoring![2]
This is the captivating Spear![3]
This is the curved bewitching Dart![4]
From out the veiling of the soul,
From out the city of God’s Presence,
With gifts and favors He is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[6]

This is the holy dazzling Light!
This is the Ancient all-preceding!
This is the Bounty all-predating!
From the supernal treasury,
That supremely deathless Essence,
Beneath the shade of clouds is come![5]
Make haste, make haste!

[7]

This is the Trove beyond measure!
This is the shell-embosomed Pearl!
This is the name-embracing Trait![6]
Armed with keen and cutting blades,
That dauntless Knight of the arena,
That Slayer of the loved is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[8]

This is the Throat so delicate![7]
This is the Breast of ample bounty!
This is a generous Sustenance!
Upon this Day of Resurrection,
That snow-white Fashioner of being,
That Glorious Revealer’s[8] come!
Make haste, make haste!

[9]

This is a God like ne’er before!
This is indeed the holy Lord!
This is delectable Sweetness!
With voice and message at the ready,
That mystery of God’s beauty,
His glory unalloyed is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[10]

This is the Bliss of brilliance!
This is the ancient Ecstasy!
This is the hidden Jubilation!
With the warbling of the dove,
With the rosebud of the spirit,
With bowl and cup in hand He’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[11]

This is the winsome Form of youth!
This is the heavenly Decree!
This is enraptured coquetry!
With a world-devouring fire,
With a heart-rending secret,
From placeless[9] dayspring He is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[12]

This is the Dance of wonderment!
This is the Heart riddled with holes!
This is the Soul consumed with flames!
Alighting from the kingly arm,
Accompanied by drums and tents,
That hunting Falcon now is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[13]

This is the Bird of Paradise!
This is Ascension raining down!
This is the lush and verdant Leaf!
The Object of the world’s desire,
At once a man and worshipped God,
With ceaseless ebullition’s[10] come!
Make haste, make haste!

[14]

This is Decree in flesh and bone!
This is the Frame that well ordains!
This is the Body bubbling over![11]
That Essence of the godly Spirit,
Trumpeting, “I am the Truth!”,[12]
Like one who breaks idols is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[15]

This is the sound of Syriac![13]
This is the ringing tone of Hebrew![14]
This is the pitch of Arabic![15]
With curls disheveled here and there,
With locks comely and serpentine,
Inspired and merciful He’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[16]

This is the preexistent Pardon!
This is the all-effulgent Grace!
This is the most exalted Gift!
That lofty Spirit quintessential,
Setting fire to all likeness,
Like rushing lions He is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[17]

This is the Burning of the souls!
This is the Knowledge of the conscience!
This is the Pen that’s serpent-like!
Like unto radiant morn divine,
Piercing the pall of darksome night,
That everlasting Face is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[18]

This is the splendid Eastern Sun!
This is the Moon of inner meaning!
This is the Star so well adorned!
A single strand of His black hair,
The faintest hint of His fragrance,
Have graced our senses with their scents!
Make haste, make haste!

[19]

This is the brilliant Resurrection!
This is the promised Gathering!
This is the Bounty of the Lord!
From morn of God’s fidelity,
From dawn of His holy presence,
That Joy’s fulfilled all hopes and dreams!
Make haste, make haste!

[20]

This is the Youth born in Shíráz!
This is the Lantern in the niche!
This is the Shining of the lamp!
A hundred goblets in His hand,
A hundred snares beneath His thumb,
With utter charm and grace He’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[21]

This is the spreading Lote divine!
This is the magnetizing Tree!
This is the youthful Beckoning!
With His all-transcending digit,
His ruby finger of decree,
With exceeding joy He’s come—
With flowing speech and utterance,
With total rapture He is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[22]

This is the Wine of nourishment!
This is the joy-inducing Drink!
This is the Movement of the spirit!
That lordly Flame which shines so bright,
That Fire on the mountaintop,[16]
Equipped with cold and peace is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[23]

This is indeed delightful Sweetness!
This is the most refulgent Veil!
This is the God of night journeys!
That One concealed yet manifest,
That One hidden yet visible,
From square to rooftop He is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[24]

This is the wondrous Eventide!
This is the Brow that bends with grace!
This is the Spirit set aflame!
From His breath is Christ revived,
And Moses wounded from His sorrow,
For now that Perfect Sun is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[25]

This is the Breath benevolent!
This is the life-instilling Soul!
This is the perfect Word of God!
That Emperor Who wears the crown,
With “I am God!” etched on its face,
Like night[17] to day that Ruler’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[26]

This is the Crown[18] munificent!
This is the Morn of flashing light!
This is the Glory which creates!
From out the veil of sanctity,
From out the covering of communion,
That soothing Companion is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[27]

This is the maiden’s comely Face!
This is the gleaming crystal Chalice!
This is the captivating Eye!
Dancing to the holy rhythm,
With glorifying coquetry,
With everlasting cup He’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[28]

This is the Bird of Paradise!
This is the peacock’s strident Cry!
This is the Pealing of the bell!
Within that land of the divine,
With stature tall and heavenly,
With gait most elegant He’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[29]

This is the Fowl of inspiration!
This is a Tiding to relish!
This is the plainly written Line!
Tempered with celestial essence,
That Sword fashioned by God Himself,
From out its holy sheath is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[30]

This is the all-subduing Blade!
This is the pardoning Rebuke!
This is the most compelling Force!
From flower-beds of mysteries,
From the field into the snare,
That Bird of rosy meadow’s come!
Make haste, make haste!

[31]

This is the overpowering Joy!
This is the Sign of God Himself!
This is none other than His Breath!
Bringing death unto the veiled,
Inflicting pain upon the torpid,
That mighty King of days is come—
That perfect Treasure, famed Unseen,
Despite the hearts of beasts is come!
Make haste, make haste!

[32]

This is the Grandeur of the Sovereign!
This is the self-effacing Star!
This is the Flame that’s blazing forth!

With the celestial breath, that divine Fire was breathed into manifold centuries, and with the crimson blood of the lovers, the everlasting Heaven was made manifest. Thereafter, with the Spirit of the Lord, a myriad eras dawned forth, emerging with the black curls of the Beloved. Innumerably, incalculably, He circled round the cynosure of nearness unto the Most Beauteous, and traveled the path to the sanctuary of the All-Glorious, till He had the honor of appearing through mention in this Tablet—and in the forms of holy spirits, out of divine love, with lowliness and humility, standing and sitting, He was made evident through the body of written words that constitute the perspicuous verses.

Thus, the birds of the Throne who seek the destinations of holy ascensions must chant with rapturous song, that all the peoples of the earth may be imbued with an undying spirit, an eternal life, and a perpetual existence. Perchance the drops of fire may, by the leave of God as ever, be sprinkled upon the breasts of the righteous.

================

[1] This meaning of های های has been noted by Dehkhoda (here) and Steingass (here). It may alternatively (or additionally) be read as a cry of jubilation, such as “Rejoice, rejoice!”

[2] Probably a subtle reference to the eyebrows of Bahá’u’lláh.

[3] Possibly another subtle reference to the eyebrows of Bahá’u’lláh.

[4] An explicit reference to the eyelashes (مژگان) of Bahá’u’lláh.

[5] Refer to Qur’án 2:210 and the many Biblical references to the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.

[6] Which is to say that Bahá’u’lláh’s defining “attribute” of glory is one that embraces (or encompasses) all others. The word اسمائی may alternatively be read as a derivation of اسمی , the elative form of سموّ , meaning “lofty,” which would give this line the meaning of, “This is the highest Attribute!”

[7] My choice of “Throat so delicate” here assumes that its corresponding original, جید حضرانی , should be read as jídun ḥaḍaraní, with jíd meaning “throat” (as opposed to jayd, meaning “good”) and ḥaḍaraní pertaining to civilization in contradistinction to nomadism (as opposed to ḥadraní, signifying “presence”). The imagery used in this rendering is reminiscent of this passage from a prayer of Bahá’u’lláh: “The throat Thou didst accustom to the touch of silk Thou hast, in the end, clasped with strong chains . . .”

[8] My choice of “revealer” here assumes that its corresponding original, مظهر , should be read as muẓhir, consistent with the preceding موجد . A less likely possibility is that it reads maẓhar, meaning “manifestation.”

[9] My choice of “placeless” here assumes that its corresponding original, لام , is an abbreviation of لا مکان, meaning “placeless.” The phrase مشرق لا مکان occurs in The Hidden Words – from the Persian, no. 28. Alternatively, لام might be read as an abbreviation of the Quranic phrase لن ترانی (“Thou shalt never see Me”), which God says to Moses on Mount Sinai (Qur’án 7:143), consistent with this ode’s overarching theme of emergence from concealment.

[10] I have chosen “ebullition,” noted by Steingass (here), over the more obvious choice of “army” for جيش , as that meaning made no sense to me in this context, whereas “ceaseless overflow” might refer to the perpetual stream of divine revelation from the Manifestations of God or the agitation it always provokes in the world.

[11] See the preceding note on my interpretation of جیش as “bubbling over” rather than “army.”

[12] Originally انا الحقّ , a heretical exclamation of the Sufi mystic and martyr Manṣúr al-Ḥallaj (d. 922) for which it is often thought he was put to death.

[13] A reference to the Christian dispensation.

[14] A reference to the Mosaic dispensation.

[15] A reference to the Islamic dispensation, the original word translated as “Arabic” being فرقانی , signifying the Qur’án.

[16] The original for “mountaintop” being فارانی , a reference to Mount Paran, another name for Mount Sinai; refer to Deuteronomy 1:1 & 33:2 and Habakkuk 3:3. In the Islamic tradition, Mount Paran is where God made the covenant of Alast with all creation; Bahá’u’lláh Himself alludes to this in The Hidden Words – from the Persian, no. 71.

[17] My choice of “night” here assumes that its corresponding original, شام , has that meaning in this context. Another possibility is that it refers to the historical region of Syria.

[18] My choice of “crown” here assumes that its corresponding original, تیج , is a variant of تاج , which has that meaning here, as if to symbolize the king wearing it (Bahá’u’lláh). A less likely alternative is that this word is a variant of تژ , which according to Mu‘ín (here) and ‘Amíd (here) can have the meaning of “sprout.” Steingass also corroborates this meaning (here). Yet another alternative, noted by Dehkhoda (here), is that the word means “arrow.”

A typescript of the complete original text of this Tablet, exactly how it appears in INBA 19:27–31 (including the short vowel marks) based on a transcript prepared by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself, appears below. 

﴿ بسمى البهىّ الابهى ﴾

از باغ الهى
با سدرۀ نارى
آن تازه غلام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا جُذَبٌ اللّهى
هذا خَلعٌ يزدانى
هذا قُمُصٌ ربّانى
با ابحر حيوانى
با کوثر روحانى
آن ربّ انام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا عِذَبٌ سبحانى
هذا لُطَفٌ رحمانى
هذا طُرَزٌ عذبانى
از مصر عمائى
آن يوسف شيرازى
با عشوه و نام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا وُجَهٌ ازلانى
هذا طُلَعٌ نورانى
هذا بِدَعٌ قَدمانى
آن قاتل عشّاقان
وان محيى محبوبان
با سيف سهام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا سُيَفٌ عشقانى
هذا رُمَحٌ غمزانى
هذا سُهَمٌ مژگانى
از خلف حجاب جان
وز شهر لقاى جانان
با بخشش و انعام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا لُمَعٌ قدسانى
هذا قِدَمٌ قدمانى
هذا کَرم بدّائى
آن جوهر ابقا
از مخزن اسما
با ظلّ غمام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا خُزَنٌ کنزانى
هذا لُئَلٌ صدفانى
هذا صِفَتٌ اسمائى
آن فارس ميدان
وان قاتل محبوبان
با تيغ و حسام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا جيدٌ حَضرانى
هذا صُدَرٌ الطافى
هذا عُذَبٌ احسانى
آن موجد بيضا
آن مظهر ابها
در روز قيام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا اُلُهٌ بدعانى
هذا رُبَبٌ قدسانى
هذا مِلَحٌ مزائى
آن سرّ جمال الله
وان صرف جلال الله
با صوت و پيام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا شغفٌ لمعانى
هذا جُذَبٌ قدمانى
هذا وله غِيُبانى
با رنّۀ ورقا
با غنچۀ رَوْحا
با کاسه و جام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا هُکَلٌ غِلُمانى
هذا حِکَمٌ سبحانى
هذا غُنَجٌ وَلُهانى
با نار جهانسوز
با راز جگردوز
از مشرق لام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا رُقَصٌ عجبانى
هذا کَبد شبّاکى
هذا جگر حراقى
آن باز شکارى
از ساعد سلطانى
با طبل و خيام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا طُيَرٌ رضوانى
هذا صُعَدٌ قطرانى
هذا وَرَقٌ خضرائى
هم مقصد مقصود عالم
هم مظهر معبود و آدم
با جيش مُدام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا قُدَرٌ عظمانى
هذا عَظَمٌ قدرانى
هذا جُيَشٌ ابدانى
آن جوهر روح حقّ
با صور اَنَا الحقّ
چون هادم اصنام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا رُنَنٌ سِرْيانى
هذا غُنَنٌ عِبْرانى
هذا لُحَنٌ فرقانى
با جعدۀ افشانى
با گيسوى ثعبانى
با رحمت و الهام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا غُفَرٌ ازالى
هذا کَرَمٌ بهّائى
هذا هَبَةٌ رفعانى
آن ساذج ارواح
وان محرق اشباح
با صولت ضرغام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا حُرَقٌ ارواحى
هذا عِلَمٌ وجدانى
هذا قِلم ثعبانى
آن وجهۀ باقى
چون صبح الهى
در شام ظلام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا شُمُسٌ شرّاقى
هذا قُمُرٌ لمعانى
هذا نُجُمٌ طرزانى
يک موى ز گيسويش
يک بوى ز هندويش
از وى بمشام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا بُعَثٌ نوّارى
هذا حُشَرٌ ربّانى
هذا وُهَبٌ اللّهى
از صبح وفاى حقّ
از فجر لقاى حقّ
آن عیش بکام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا وَلَدٌ شيرازى
هذا سُرَجٌ مشکاتى
هذا بُرَقٌ مصباحى
صد جام بدستش
صد دام بشستش
با غمز تمام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا سُدَرٌ سدرانى
هذا شِجَرٌ غمزانى
هذا غمز فتانى
با اصبع لاهوتى
با انَمِل ياقوتى
با بطرى رام آمد
با نطق کلام آمد
با شور تمام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا شُرَبٌ نوشانى
هذا عُذَبٌ ولهانى
هذا حُرَکٌ روحانى
آن شعلۀ ربّانى
آن آتش فارانى
با برد و سلام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا مُلَحٌ بهّاجى
هذا سُتَرٌ وهّاجى
هذا اُلَهٌ معراجى
آن ظاهر مستور
آن غائب مشهود
از صحن ببام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا عُشَوٌ طرفانى
هذا حاجب قوسانى
هذا شُعَلٌ روحانى
عيسى ز دمش زنده
موسى ز غمش خسته
کان شمس تمام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا نُفَخٌ منّائى
هذا رُوَحٌ روّاحى
هذا کِلَمٌ تمامى
آن قيصر سبحانى با افسر شاهنشاهى
با تاج اَنَا اللّهى
چون صبح ز شام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا تيج وهّابى
هذا صُبَحٌ برّاقى
هذا جُلَلٌ خلّاقى
از خلف حجاب قدس
وز سَتْر نقاب اُنس
يار دلارام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا عُذَرٌ حورائى
هذا کُئَسٌ بلّارى
هذا عُيَنٌ غمّازى
با رقصۀ قدّوسى
با غمزۀ سبّوحى
با کوب مدام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا طَيُرٌ فردوسى
هذا شُهَقٌ طاوسى
هذا نُغَمٌ ناقوسى
در ارض الهى
آن سرو سمائى
با مشى و خرام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا طُوَرٌ الهامى
هذا خُبَرٌ ذوقانى
هذا سُطَرٌ سطرانى
آن سيف الهى
با جوهر يزدانى
بيرون ز نيام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا سُيَفٌ قهّارى
هذا عُتَبٌ غفّارى
هذا بطش جبّاری
آن بلبل گلزار
از گلشن اسرار
از دشت بدام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا طَرَبٌ جبّارى
هذا اثر ربانى
هذا نَفَسٌ رحمانى
محتجبان را مرگى
منجمدان را دردى
شاهنشه ايام آمد
آن کنز تمام آمد آن غيب بنام آمد
رغم دل انعام آمد
هاى هاى

هذا شُکَت سلطانى
هذا کُکَب محوانى
هذا لُهَبٌ شعلانی

آن نار الهى از نفس رحمانى قرنها دميده شد تا بلون دم عاشقان هواى صمدانى ظاهر گشت و بعد بروح ربّانى عهدها دميده شد تا بلون جُعد نگار مشهود گشت و لا يُعَدّ و لا يُحصى طائف حول کعبۀ قرب ذو الجمال و سالک سبيل حَرَم ذو الجلال شد تا بشرف ظهور در اين لوح مذکور آمد و بهياکل ارواح قدسى از عشق الهى بخضوع و خشوع و قيام و جلوس بهيئة کلمات مرقومه در آیات مشهوده مشهود گشت

پس بايد اطيار عرشى که قصد مقاصد معارج قدسى نمايند بوَلَه و آهنگى تلاوت نمايند که جميع مَن فى الملک را روح قِدَمى و حيات اَبَدى و زندگى دائمى بخشد لعلّ رشحات النّار على صدور الأبرار قد کان باذن الله مرشوشا