The Wondrous Maiden / Houri of Wonder (Hur-i 'Ujab)
The beauty of holiness has risen from behind her veil--
and that is a wondrous thing;
And spirits have fainted from the fire of their attraction,
and that is a wondrous affair.
Then they awoke and soared into the pavilions of sanctity at the throne of domes,
and that is a wondrous mystery.
Say: the houri of eternity removed the veil from her face--
exalted be the wondrous beauty of newness!
The lights of her visage shone from the earth to the clouds,
and that is a wondrous radiance.
She threw a glance like a shooting star,
and that is a wondrous glance.
By the fire of her countenance she burned up all names and designations,
and that is a wondrous deed.
She cast her gaze upon the people of earth and dust,
and that is a wondrous gaze.
Behold, the temples of existence quivered and then vanished,
and that is a wondrous death.
Then a black strand of hair appeared from her, an adornment for the soul in the gloom of hindrances,
and that is a wondrous hue.
The fragrance of scents and perfumes wafted from her,
and that is a wondrous musk.
In her right hand she holds red wine and in her left, kebab,
and that is a wondrous grace.
Her palm is dyed crimson with the blood of lovers,
and that is a wondrous thing.
She passed around the wine of life in jugs and cups,
and that is a wondrous fountain;
And sang of the beloved's name, strumming on lute and rebec,
and that is a wondrous song.
Then hearts melted from fire and blaze,
and that is a wondrous passion.
She bestowed the nourishment of beauty without measure,
and that is a wondrous food.
The sword of allusion struck at necks,
and that is a wondrous blow.
She smiled, and the pearls of her teeth were manifest,
and that is a wondrous gleam.
Then the hearts of those who understand cried out,
and that is a wondrous self-denial.
All those filled with pride and suspicion turned away from her,
and that is nothing but a wondrous opponent.
When she heard, she returned to her palace in grief and regret,
and that is a wondrous sorrow.
She went and returned, may her to and fro be exalted,
and this is a wondrous decree;
And she uttered within her soul a cry that annihilated existence and then was made to vanish,
and that is a wondrous grief.
She opened her lips for a river of advice and reproof to flow,
and that is a wondrous spring.
She said, "Do not reject me, people of the Book."
And that is a wondrous affair.
"Are you the people of guidance and are you the friends?"
And that is a wondrous falsehood.
She said, "We shall not return to you, my companions."
And that is a wondrous return.
"We shall conceal the mysteries of God that are in his scriptures."
And this matter is from the All-Glorious, the Giving.
"You shall not find me until the promised one appears on the Day of Return."
By my life, that is a wondrous abasement.
Translated by Juan Cole
Source: Baha'u'llah, Ad'iyyih-'i Hadrat-i Mahbub (Hofheim-Langenhain: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 153-158.
Gleanings CLI (Release yourselves, O nightingales)
Release yourselves, O nightingales of God, from the thorns and brambles of wretchedness and misery, and wing your flight to the rose-garden of unfading splendor. O My friends that dwell upon the dust! Haste forth unto your celestial habitation. Announce unto yourselves the joyful tidings: "He Who is the Best-Beloved is come! He hath crowned Himself with the glory of God's Revelation, and hath unlocked to the face of men the doors of His ancient Paradise." Let all eyes rejoice, and let every ear be gladdened, for now is the time to gaze on His beauty, 320 now is the fit time to hearken to His voice. Proclaim unto every longing lover: "Behold, your Well-Beloved hath come among men!" and to the messengers of the Monarch of love impart the tidings: "Lo, the Adored One hath appeared arrayed in the fullness of His glory!" O lovers of His beauty! Turn the anguish of your separation from Him into the joy of an everlasting reunion, and let the sweetness of His presence dissolve the bitterness of your remoteness from His court.
Behold how the manifold grace of God, which is being showered from the clouds of Divine glory, hath, in this day, encompassed the world. For whereas in days past every lover besought and searched after his Beloved, it is the Beloved Himself Who now is calling His lovers and is inviting them to attain His presence. Take heed lest ye forfeit so precious a favor; beware lest ye belittle so remarkable a token of His grace. Abandon not the incorruptible benefits, and be not content with that which perisheth. Lift up the veil that obscureth your vision, and dispel the darkness with which it is enveloped, that ye may gaze on the naked beauty of the Beloved's face, may behold that which no eye hath beheld, and hear that which no ear hath heard.
Hear Me, ye mortal birds! In the Rose Garden of changeless splendor a Flower hath begun to bloom, compared to which every other flower is but a thorn, and before the brightness of Whose glory the very 321 essence of beauty must pale and wither. Arise, therefore, and, with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, the full fervor of your will, and the concentrated efforts of your entire being, strive to attain the paradise of His presence, and endeavor to inhale the fragrance of the incorruptible Flower, to breathe the sweet savors of holiness, and to obtain a portion of this perfume of celestial glory. Whoso followeth this counsel will break his chains asunder, will taste the abandonment of enraptured love, will attain unto his heart's desire, and will surrender his soul into the hands of his Beloved. Bursting through his cage, he will, even as the bird of the spirit, wing his flight to his holy and everlasting nest.
Night hath succeeded day, and day hath succeeded night, and the hours and moments of your lives have come and gone, and yet none of you hath, for one instant, consented to detach himself from that which perisheth. Bestir yourselves, that the brief moments that are still yours may not be dissipated and lost. Even as the swiftness of lightning your days shall pass, and your bodies shall be laid to rest beneath a canopy of dust. What can ye then achieve? How can ye atone for your past failure?
The everlasting Candle shineth in its naked glory. Behold how it hath consumed every mortal veil. O ye moth-like lovers of His light! Brave every danger, and consecrate your souls to its consuming flame. O 322 ye that thirst after Him! Strip yourselves of every earthly affection, and hasten to embrace your Beloved. With a zest that none can equal make haste to attain unto Him. The Flower, thus far hidden from the sight of men, is unveiled to your eyes. In the open radiance of His glory He standeth before you. His voice summoneth all the holy and sanctified beings to come and be united with Him. Happy is he that turneth thereunto; well is it with him that hath attained, and gazed on the light of so wondrous a countenance.