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Introduction by Alison Marshall


The short poem, O Nightingales, is thought to have been written by Baha'u'llah between 1854 and 1856. These were the two years he lived in the mountains of Kurdistan.

In the first ten lines of the poem, Baha'u'llah announces to all those who are searching for their divine Beloved that their quest is at an end and they can now see him before them. But, in order to do this, they must first free their soul from the prison of the body and let it soar up to the spiritual world.

Baha'u'llah underlines just how easy it is to meet the great King of creation by pointing out that he walks the streets, his true greatness hidden by his ordinary appearance. Baha'u'llah likens the situation to the Old Testament story of Joseph, who lived in Egypt for many years without revealing his true identity to anyone.

Baha'u'llah explains that, up to now, he has been hidden behind the "Mount Qaf of immortality". In Iranian Sufism, Mount Qaf refers to the cosmic mountain that our soul climbs in order to journey from the physical world to our heavenly home.[1] But now the King has come to the physical world to meet us and is no longer hidden behind that mountain.

Baha'u'llah likens the Beloved's presence to a sun that extinguishes night. His perfume causes the lovers in the bazaar to scatter, and the beauty of his ruby lips causes the world to smell like sweets. When people taste his wine, they abandon reason and hurry away to drink as much wine as they can.

[1] Henry Corbin: The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism (New York: Omega Publications, 1994) p 43.

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