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The Wight of the World (2018)

For string quartet and narrator

Based on text by Hafiz and Allen Ginsberg

Commissioned by Circadian Quartet

The weight of the world
       is love.
Under the burden
       of solitude,
under the burden
       of dissatisfaction 

       the weight,
the weight we carry
       is love. 

Who can deny?
       In dreams
it touches
       the body,
in thought
a miracle,
       in imagination
       till born
in human—
looks out of the heart
       burning with purity—
for the burden of life
       is love, 

but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
       at last,
must rest in the arms
       of love. 

No rest
       without love,
no sleep
       without dreams
of love—
       be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
       or machines,
the final wish
       is love
—cannot be bitter,
       cannot deny,
cannot withhold
       if denied: 

the weight is too heavy 

       —must give
for no return
       as thought
is given
       in solitude
in all the excellence
       of its excess. 

The warm bodies
       shine together
in the darkness,
       the hand moves
to the center
       of the flesh,
the skin trembles
       in happiness
and the soul comes
       joyful to the eye— 

yes, yes,
       that’s what
I wanted,
       I always wanted,
I always wanted,
       to return
to the body
       where I was born.

Come, boy, and pass the wine around 

love seemed a simple game When I encountered it…but then 

The difficulties came! In longing for the musky scent 

The breeze brings from her hair, 

Such blood wells up in lovers’ hearts, 

Such suffering, and despair… 

What can ensure my happiness, 

At love’s stage, in my heart? 

When every instant now the bell 

Cries, “Load up, to depart!” 

And if the wine-seller says wine 

Should dye your prayer-mat…dye it! 

Pilgrims should know each stage’s rule 

And seek to satisfy it. 

On this dark night, amidst these waves, 

The whirlpool’s fearsome roar, 

What can they know of our distress 

Who watch us from the shore? 

In all I’ve done, I’ve pleased myself, 

It’s ruined my good name – 

The secret’s out, and everywhere

Men talk about my shame. 

Don’t hide from Him you seek, Hafez; 

You cannot hope to find 

The One you’re longing for until 

You leave the world behind.


Hafez. Faces of Love (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (pp. 10-11). Penguin Publishing Group. 

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