Monday, February 27, 2006

Thirty-three Tritinas: the complete version

Read the whole set of tritinas here.

Thirty-Three Tritinas

1. Al-Akhir, the After; Ar-Raqib, the Vigilant; Al-Mu’akhkhir, the One Who Puts His Creatures Behind

The storm blows itself out; there's quiet after.
You're worn from a long night of vigilance
fearing what walked in your footsteps, behind.

Look in a mirror. There's nothing behind
your shoulder. Only your own fear comes after
like a dog trained to too much vigilance.

There was a time you needed vigilance.
You had to watch before and behind
but that was then, and now is after.

After long vigilance, put fear behind.

2. Al-Maajid, the Glorious One; Ar-Razzaq, the Provider; Al-Hafiz, the Preserver

The apple blossoms are glorious;
think of all the fruit they'll provide
some to eat now, some to preserve.

The flowers themselves can't be preserved.
Time and sun will fade their glory
and flawed images are the best memory can provide.

But this moment is yours, provided
that you smell the blossoms, and preserve
not glory, but the memory of glory.

Glorious spring provides sweetness to preserve.

3. Al-Mu’id, the Restorer; An-Nafi, the Creator of the Good; Al-Hadi, the Guide

There's so much here that has to be restored--
we're trying to make it into something good.
This effort can't succeed unguided.

Seated in the heart, we find our guide,
surrounded by desolation unrestored,
quietly working away at doing good.

Every time we've tried to do something good,
it's been at the silent prompting of this guide.
Now let its voice be restored.

Restore what's good, and trust in your guide.

4. At-Tawwab, the Acceptor of Repentance; Al-Alim, the Knower of All; Al-Adl, the Just One

Acceptable repentance
is based on knowledge
not fear of justice.

But I can't help fearing justice
for I'm unable to repent
what I've done, and do not know...

It's not given us to know all
so we must trust in justice
and offer sincere repentance.

Repentance is accepted by a judge who knows all.

5. Al-Baqi, the One Who Remains; Al-Ba’ith, the Resurrector; Al-Mujib, the Responder to Prayer

It'll do you no good to remain
on your knees begging for resurrection.
That's not the purpose of prayer.

If you want people to remember you with kind prayers
go out and do some good that will remain
in the world. Don't be so concerned with resurrection.

Do we believe because we hope for resurrection?
Or is it just that we want someone to respond to our prayers?
If that's the reason, doubt will always remain.

The truth remains: Resurrection does not come in response to our prayers.

6. Al-Muqaddim, the One Who Puts His Creatures Ahead; Ash-Shahid, the Witness; Al-Mani, the Preventer

They very cleverly planned ahead
so that there should be no witnesses.
But your seeing was not prevented.

You couldn't have prevented
what they did; no-one sees that far ahead.
But now you're the only witness.

Do your best as a witness;
if God wills, it will prevent
the same thing from happening in times ahead.

You've been put forth as a witness to wrongs you couldn't prevent.

7. Al-Wajid, the One Who Forms; Al-Hamid, the Praised One; Al-Ghaffar, the Forgiving One

Pygmalion created a beautiful form.
Much infatuated, he fell to praising
but it remained cold and unforgiving.

Aphrodite, for once forgiving
let life flow into the stone form
for she counts all kinds of love as praise.

Give freely of your praise.
Even empty forms
may fill up with forgiveness.

Beyond form: give praise, and ask forgiveness.

8. Al-Batin, the Inner; Al-Hakam, the Judge; As-Sabur, the Patient One

If you are travelling the ways of the Inner
Kingdom, you may meet a blaming judge.
Be careful of him, he's not what you'd call patient.

Petitioners wait humbly and patiently
all day, hoping to be admitted to the inner
chamber for an audience with this judge.

Who could have appointed such an unfair judge?
But you will outlast him if you're patient.
He may put you in jail, but true freedom is inner.

Your inner voice should not judge, but be patient.

9. Ar-Rashid, the Capable of Right Judgment; Al-Awwal, the Before; Al-Mumit, the Taker of Life

It's not our right to judge,
but there are times we have to act, before
taking counsel-- time wasted may cost someone's life.

It takes a lot to lead a good life
and calls on us to use our best judgement
and take into account everything that went before...

but events may overtake you before
you can take time to think about the meaning of life
and you have to act. Now! Jump! Snap judgement!

But judge rightly before you take a life.

10. Al-Mughni, the Enricher; Al-Mu’min, the Believer; Al-Barr, the Doer of Good

We'd all like to be a little richer.
Most of us don't believe
that'll come about through doing good.

But we still try to be good,
and sometimes find our lives enriched
unexpectedly and beyond belief...

and those who are strong in their belief
and dedicate themselves to God for good
such folk are incalculably rich.

The richness of our belief makes all things good.

11. Al-Wakil, the Trustee; Al-Qadir, the All Powerful; Al-Fattah, the Opener

Was it only lack of trust
or dependence on my own power
that kept the door from opening?

I knocked and knocked; it would not open.
I knew no-one I could trust
enough to put myself in his power.

In the end it was not power
that convinced me, but an open
heart that won my trust.

Trust is powerful, and makes ways stand open.

12. Al-Ghani, the Rich One; Al-Jabbar, the Compeller; Al-Muhsi, the Appraiser

Well, so you are very rich
(or at least, so you feel compelled
to tell me) in your own appraisal.

But, in completely honest appraisal
have you quite enough riches?
Isn't there some faint compulsion...

More! More! whispers the compulsion.
No matter how generously I'm appraised
I can never be sufficiently rich!

Such riches compel one to constant appraisal.

13. Al-Muqtadir, the Creator of All Power; Al-Muntaqim, the Avenger; Al-Qawi, the Strong One

The air crackles with electric power
and like a horde of armed avengers
comes a host of angels in all their strength.

They come to humble the strong.
They come to protect the powerless
and for the dead, claim vengeance.

In vain will they flee vengeance
these ones so confident in their strength
for the angels have overthrown their power.

Who else has power to take vengeance against the strong?

14. Al-Muqsit, the Equitable One; Az-Zahir, the Outer; Al-Quddus, the Holy One

This town proclaims all citizens are equal,
and-- at least to every outer
appearance-- the folk are quite holy.

I distrust this boast of holiness,
this grand show of equality,
suspecting it to be purely outer.

But if we wear these virtues outwardly,
perhaps they will train our hearts to holiness,
and we'll learn to live our claims of equitability.

Equitable life, the outer sign of holiness.

15. Al-Afu, the Forgiver; Al-Jami, the Gatherer; Al-Wahhab, the Giver, Bestower

Lear's injured pride would not forgive.
His weak understanding failed to gather
the love his plain-spoken daughter had to give.

Against all wise advice, he gave
himself into hands unkind and unforgiving.
In his broken heart, madness gathered.

Loyal hearts learned of his plight and gathered
to his aid, but all too late. Lear's last gift,
received from Cordelia's hands, was her forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not gathered, but given.

16. As-Salaam, the Peace, Salvation; Al-Aziz, the Victorious; Al-Karim, the Generous

The free folk worked hard for peace,
fearing in war they could not be victorious.
Whatever was demanded, they gave generously.

But came an end to their generosity
when they saw that poverty would end their peace,
turn them one on another, and leave their oppressors victorious.

Against all odds, the free folk seized victory.
They've made a treaty now, on terms fairly generous
trusting to so seal a lasting peace.

Peace secured, it behooves the victor to be generous.

17. Al-Wahid, the One; Al-Latif, the Subtle One; Al-Musawwir, the Detailer

Your design is good, but there's one
flaw I see-- it's subtle
but they say the devil's in the details.

The nail in the horseshoe was a detail.
The camel's nose in the tent, another one
(as an example, I grant it lacks subtlety).

A crack in a dam can be most subtle.
Even the most detailed
examination might not find one...

then disaster strikes, because of one subtle detail.

18. As-Samad, the Receiver of Requests; Al-Basir, the Seer; Al-Qayyum, the Eternal Caretaker

My dear, I understand your request.
Like all young folk, you want to see
the world, away from your parents' care.

These years you've been under our care
we've tried to honor your every request
within reason, so far as we could see.

But at last the time has come, I see
when you must make your way, and take care
of your own affairs-- but honor one last request.

Our only request: see that you take good care.

19. As-Sami, the Hearer; Ar-Rafi, the Exalter; Al-Khafid, the Abaser

Alone on a grassy hill, I heard
the music of meadowlarks, an exaltation!
I fell to the earth in joyful abasement.

They soared so far above all that is base,
the sweetest music I have ever heard
joyful, brilliant and exalted.

Time passes and the exaltation
fades-- but always at my heart's base
the music remains for me to hear.

The hearing heart may be exalted, no matter how base.

20. Al-Qabid, the Constrictor; Al-Badi, the Originator; Al-Ali, the Highest

You struggle through a narrow and constricted
pass, a gorge where the river originates,
the only path to the distant beckoning heights.

And there upon the dizzying height
where the thin air makes your chest constrict
--suddenly you understand your origins.

You hadn't come seeking your origins.
But you found them in the view from on high,
limitless, unconstricted.

Flesh constricts the soul from its original height.

21. Al-Muqit, the Watcher Over; Al-Qahhar, the Destroyer; Al-Majiyd, the Majestic One

Watch, if ever you are flying over
the western mountains, for marks of destruction:
bare earth, where giant firs towered majestic.

These mountains, serene in their majesty
since ancient times have watched over
the forests now destroyed.

And now in the wake of wanton destruction,
the mountains are disrobed of majesty.
Watch; bare mud and ash cover them over.

Can you bear to watch the destruction of such majesty?

22. Al-Waali, the Governor; Al-Khabir, the Aware; Al-Hasib, the One Who Keeps Accounts and Measures All Things

There was a man, high-placed in the government.
A good man as things go-- but unaware
he'd hired a crook as his office's accountant.

This man was trusted with the most sensitive accounts
and was ruled by terrible greed, ungoverned
by either caution or moral awareness.

Long story short-- before anyone was aware
great sums of money had gone, unaccountably.
It forced the resignation of the governor.

If you would govern, be aware you are accountable.

23. Al-Wali, the Protecting Friend; Al-Kabir, the Greatest; Al-Ahad, the Unique

This is how it is, to find a friend:
You are alone on the shores of a great
sea, and suffer for your uniqueness.

Yet every seashell at your feet is unique
and any wandering soul may become your friend
and sing you echoes of the ocean's greatness.

Human souls, both small and great
each one marvelous and unique.
And yet we take them for granted, our friends.

Your friendships are treasures both great and unique.

24. Al-Halim, the Soft One; Al-Jalil, the Mighty; Al-Bari, the Shaper

Twilight cloaks the savannah. Soft
shadows gather; watch, and you might
see the grass ripple round a passing shape.

In the darkness, fear creates many shapes.
Imagined terrors follow the softest
sounds; the least known, the mightiest.

But what passes there, silent and mighty
hidden by dusk, a half-guessed shape
with tremendous footfalls, inaudibly soft?

In soft dust, mighty tracks appear; we know their shape.

25. Ar-Rahim, the Most Compassionate; Al-Mu'izz, the Bestower of Honors; Al-Basit, the Reliever, Expander

A certain judge was lacking in compassion.
He didn't care to offer sufferers relief,
though all the verdicts he gave were honorable.

When he suffered some accidental dishonor,
no-one showed him much compassion
and even honest folk were relieved.

In his own eyes, his shame was unrelieved.
He could not survive this injury to his honor--
even to himself, he offered no compassion.

A little compassion might have relieved the weight of his dishonor.

26. Al-Azim, the Magnificent One; Al-Matin, the Enduring One; Ad-Darr, the Creator of the Harmful

The night was brilliant, magnificent
with moonlight. We endured
the hard frost, the worst of winter's harm.

Frost would not bite, cold could not harm
in the presence of midnight magnificence.
Splendor feeds the soul and helps the body endure.

And after all-- speaking of endurance--
look to the ravaged moon, whose face has borne such harm
and yet faithfully reflects the sun's magnificence

the more magnificent, for having endured such harm.

27. Ar-Ra’uf, the Clement; Malik al Mulk, the Owner of All; Al-Malik, the Absolute Ruler

The weather of the soul is inclement
at this time; we apologize, and own
the inconvenience to be our fault, absolutely.

We try to give our visitors absolute
satisfaction. We appeal to you for clemency.
We strive to please-- can hardly call our souls our own.

Surely you've had such tempests in your own
hearts-- wrath, sorrow or absolute
despair-- no hope of clemency.

Be clement, for we own nothing absolutely.

28. Al-Hayy, the Alive One; Al-Wasi, the All Comprehending; An-Nur, the Self-Emitting Light

This is the journey of life:
from ignorance to comprehension
from darkness into light.

The world began with light
then it brought forth life
and then comprehension

and now it's our task to comprehend
the reasons behind light
the purposes of life.

Live, that you may comprehend light.

29. Al-Mubdi, the Originator; Al-Muta’ali, the Supreme One; Al-Muhaymin, the Guardian

We try so hard to be "original"
thereby asserting the supremacy
of "now" over the past and its guardians.

And those whose task it is to guard
our history, our customs and our origins
are looked on with supreme

contempt, swamped by the supremacy
of the modern and post-modern. "Old guard"
scornful appellation, twin to "unoriginal".

Neither originality nor tradition need be our supreme guardian.

30. Al-Mudhill, the Humiliator; Dhul Jalali Wal Ikram, the Lord of Majesty and Bounty; Al-Haqq, the Truth

We're told that a pauper, most humble
was mistaken for a prince and crowned His Majesty
--perhaps not history, but still truth.

Now this story, we're told, is true:
the mouse, tiny and humble
rescued the lion in his majesty.

Robes and trappings confer no majesty.
Such outward show can only be true
if it is graced with inward humility.

A humble heart gives majesty its truth.

31. Al-Ghafur, the Forgiver and Hider of Faults; Al-Warith, the Inheritor of All; Al-Hakim, the Wise

One who considered himself faultless
declared that he should inherit
the mantle of the wise.

The folk accepted his claim of wisdom,
overlooked his hidden faults,
and made him a judge of inheritances.

But the lawsuits to which he fell heir
were judged unfairly and unwisely
though he said it wasn't his fault.

Faultless wisdom is not inherited, but earned.

32. Ar-Rahman, the Most Merciful; Al-Muhyi, the Reviver; Al-Khaliq, the Creator

This winter past was merciless.
But now spring comes, and the earth revives
and life flows strong in God's creation.

Death and sleep are part of creation.
In the cold dark months, stillness is a mercy
after rest, a strong revival.

After doubt, faith is revived
by the living glory of creation.
We doubters pray for mercy

and find mercy amid the revival of creation.

33. Al-Mutakabbir. the Greatest; Al-Wadud, the Loving One; Ash-Shakur, the Thankful One

Of all the gifts we have, the greatest
are a heart, beloved and loving
and a soul, knowing and thankful.

Remember, though it may seem thankless:
of all our tasks, the greatest
is to give the world love.

Love; we all are loved
remember and be thankful!
So is the soul made great.

And for this great love, we give thanks.

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