The Translator of Desires
Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi
A masterpiece of Arabic love poetry in a new and complete English translation
The Translator of Desires, a collection of sixty-one love poems, is the lyric masterwork of Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi (1165–1240 CE), one of the most influential writers of classical Arabic and Islamic civilization. In this authoritative volume, Michael Sells presents the first complete English translation of this work in more than a century, complete with an introduction, commentary, and a new facing-page critical text of the original Arabic. While grounded in an expert command of the Arabic, this verse translation renders the poems into a natural, contemporary English that captures the stunning beauty and power of Ibn ‘Arabi’s poems in such lines as “A veiled gazelle’s / an amazing sight, / her henna hinting, / eyelids signalling // A pasture between / breastbone and spine / Marvel, a garden / among the flames!”
The introduction puts the poems in the context of the Arabic love poetry tradition, Ibn ‘Arabi’s life and times, his mystical thought, and his “romance” with Niẓām, the young woman whom he presents as the inspiration for the volume—a relationship that has long fascinated readers. Other features, following the main text, include detailed notes and commentaries on each poem, translations of Ibn ‘Arabi’s important prefaces to the poems, a discussion of the sources used for the Arabic text, and a glossary.
Bringing The Translator of Desires to life for contemporary English readers as never before, this promises to be the definitive volume of these fascinating and compelling poems for years to come.