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Each speck of matter did He constitute

A mirror, causing each one to reflect

The beauty of His Visage. From the roe

Flashed forth His Beauty, and the nightingale

Beholding it, loved madly. From that Light

The candle drew the lustre which beguiles

The moth to immolation. On the sun

His Beauty shone, and straightway from the wave

The lotus reared its head. Each shining lock

Of Leyla’s hair attracted Majnun’s heart

Because some ray divine reflected shone

In her fair face. ’Twas He to Shirin’s lips

Who lent that sweetness which has the power to steal

The heart from Parviz and from Ferhad life. —quoted in A Year Among the Persians (trans. E.G. Browne)


Mulla Nur al-Din ’Abd al-Rahman Jami (1414–1492) is considered one of the greatest Persian poets of all time and one of the last great Sufi poets. The author of about 87 books and countless letters, Jami wrote history, philosophy and theology, although he is best known in the West for his verse. Included in the larger work
Haft Awrang (“seven thrones”), Jami’s poem “Yusuf and Zulaykha” retells the story of Jacob’s son Joseph and Potiphar’s wife — as found in the Koran.

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