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The Secrets of the Self, by Muhammad Iqbal, tr. by Reynold A. Nicholson, [1920], at

p. 100


Story of the bird that was faint with thirst.

1145 A bird was faint with thirst,
The breath in his body was heaving like waves of smoke.
He saw a diamond in the garden:
Thirst created a vision of water.
Deceived by the sunbright stone
1150 The foolish bird fancied that it was water.
He got no moisture from the gem:
He pecked it with his beak, but it did not wet his palate.
"O thrall of vain desire," said the diamond,

p. 101

"Thou hast sharpened thy greedy beak on me;
But I am not a dewdrop, I give no drink, 1155
I do not live for the sake of others.
Wouldst thou hurt me? Thou art mad!
A life that reveals the Self is strange to thee.
My water will shiver the beaks of birds
And break the jewel of man's life." 1 1160
The bird won not his heart's wish from the diamond
And turned away from the sparkling stone.
Disappointment swelled in his breast,
The song in his throat became a wail.
Upon a rose-twig a drop of dew 1165
Gleamed like the tear in a nightingale's eye:
All its glitter was owing to the sun,
It was trembling in fear of the sun

p. 102

A restless sky-born star
1170 That had stopped for a moment, from desire to be seen;
Oft deceived by bud and flower,
It had gained nothing from Life.
There it hung, ready to drop,
Like a tear on the eyelashes of a lover who hath lost his heart.
1175 The sorely distressed bird hopped under the rose-bush,
The dewdrop trickled into his mouth.
O thou that wouldst deliver thy soul from enemies,
I ask thee—"Art thou a drop of water or a gem?"
When the bird melted in the fire of thirst,
1190 It appropriated the life of another.
The drop was not solid and gem-like;
The diamond had a being, the drop had none.
Never for an instant neglect Self-preservation:

p. 103

Be a diamond, not a dewdrop!
Be massive in nature, like mountains, 1185
And bear on thy crest a hundred clouds laden with floods of rain!
Save thyself by affirmation of Self,
Compress thy quicksilver into silver ore!
Produce a melody from the string of Self,
Make manifest the secrets of Self! 1190


101:1 I.e. if he swallow a diamond, he will die.

Next: XIII. Story of the Diamond and the Coal