Rumi: The Snake of Lust



Lust is that snake; How say you it is dead?
It is only frozen by the pangs of winter.
Beware, keep that snake in the frost of humiliation,
Draw it not forth into the sunshine of Iraq!
So long as that snake is frozen, it is well;
When it finds release from frost you become its prey.
Conquer it and save yourself from being conquered,
Pity it not, it is not one who bears affection.
For that warmth of the sun kindles its lust,
And that bat of vileness flaps its wings.
Slay it in sacred war and combat,
Like a valiant man will God requite you with union.
When that man cherished that snake,
That stubborn brute was happy in the luxury of warmth;
And of necessity worked destruction, O friend;
Yea, many more mischiefs than I have told.
If you wish to keep that snake tied up
Without trouble, be faithful, be faithful!

By Rumi (1207-1273) trans. E.H. Whinfield

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