MAJNUN (8th century)

Though without slumber,

I feign sleep

In the hope that a phantom of you

might find my phantom

And I sneak away among the tents

To tell my soul of you in secret and alone.
Patience ? But one night has passed -

Softly, my love, until nights fly by.

I see time and days fly by and come

to an end,

But your love grows increasingly.

The story of Layli and Madjnun is one of the most popular legends of the Middle East and Central Asia,.

Its original version dates back to around 7th Century AD, and can be found in Arabic literature. The Persian version written by the 12th Century poet Nizami (part of the set of stories known as the "Khamsa" ) is not just a classic love story, but a profound spiritual allegory. Folk versions of Layli and Madjnun have been told from North Africa to India, among Azerbaijanis, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Afghans, Tajiks, Kurds, Indians and Pakistanis.

Nizami, Abu Muhammad Ilyas ibn Yusef (c. 1141-1209)

Well-versed in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, jurisprudence, music, and the arts, Nizami incorporated the knowledge of his time into his poetry. His Khamsa (Quintet) consists of Makhzan al-Asrar (the Treasury of Mysteries) on esoteric subjects; Khusrau va Shirin (Khusrau and Shirin) on the power of love; Layla va Majnun (Leyli and Majnun) on the object of love; Haft Gunbad (Seven Princesses) on the many faces of love; and Eskandar Nama (The Romance of Alexander the Great) on knowledge and might. The beauty of the Khamsa of Nizami is unsurpassed in Persian literature.

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