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I Cannot Live Without You

Selected Poems of Mirabai and Kabir

Illustrations by Sigrid Saga, translations by Keith Hill

Available to order from your favourite online store or bookshop.
Wild and passionate, Mirabai is India's greatest poet of devotion and love. Married at a young age, after her husband's premature death she dedicated her life to worshipping the flute-playing Krishna. It was a decision that led her parents-in-law to evict her from their home. Mirabai spent the rest of her life travelling from village to village, singing and dancing to celebrate her love of Krishna. The rapturous lyrics she wrote enthralled worshippers then and continue to be sung in India today.

Kabir was a controversial figure. An illiterate weaver, Kabir celebrated both Indian and Muslim spirituality, while criticising each religioní' blinkered believers. Yet his straight talking, his wit, and the continued relevance of his cutting insights, ensure his often knotty poems still resonate powerfully for contemporary readers.

Superbly translated into English-language poems that reflect their original imagery and forms, this collection shows why Mirabai and Kabir have enchanted devotees for five centuries. Their poems are accompanied by new versions of two of the key Upanishads that laid the foundations for Indian spirituality. These engaging versions will delight readers new to the work of two of India's greatest mystical poets, and surprise those already familiar with their playful profundity.
122 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 inches / 140 x 216 mm
ISBN Paperback: 978-0-9951333-3-4
ISBN Hardcover: 978-1-99-115705-8
ISBN Ebook: 978-0-9951333-4-1

“It’s been an eternity since I was hungry for God’s pure essence. I Cannot Live Without You reignites a deep passion to see the face of God, even knowing that God has no face. This book will renew your hunger for your sacred flame.” —Judith Hoch PhD, author of Prophecy on the River


Keith Hill is the award-winning author of The New Mysticism, The God Revolution and Striving To Be Human. This book is one of a series that presents classic spiritual texts reworked to inspire today's seekers.

Beloved, I cannot live without you.
I long for us to meet, yet what am I to do?

Bloomed lotus without water, night sky with no moon,
I’m a sad woman; lover, when will you return?

Anxious, anguished, I roam lost night and day.
Separation eats my heart, I cry out like one flayed.

Days I feel no hunger, nights I cannot sleep.
When I try to explain, I find my tongue won’t speak.

Yet what am I to say? Talking’s what strangers do.
Lover, come now and fill my being with you!

You own my soul, so why this tortuous absence?
Come to your captive and end this tearful sentence.

Mira has dedicated many lives to you.
She longs to kiss your feet—and prays you want that too!

I SHALL DANCE by Mirabai

I shall dance in the presence of Krishna, my lord.
Purely to please, my bare feet will caress the floor.

So solemn and enticing, I shan’t be ignored,
and as I turn, closer—to examine him—will I draw.

Yes, love’s tied bells to my ankles, tinkling, so small.
And who knows? Perhaps, as I dance, all my veils will fall.

What do I care for customs and the world’s joyless laws?
When he arrives, I shall silently close the door.

Yes, Mira will share her lover’s bed, embraced and warm.
They’ll laugh and sip love’s wine—she knows she won’t
be bored!


No competent gurus nor pupils I found,
just players of greedy games.
All sank in maya’s sea,
for they sailed boats made of stone.

If the guru is blind, naturally
his pupils are blind too,
and if blind lead the blind, falling
into a well is all they can do!

I say, cut off that guru’s beard whose
teaching doesn’t scythe doubt,
for not only does he sink but
he drags his pupils down.

An incompetent guru means
the pupil is incapable:
grasping pupil, profit-seeking guru,
and both are in trouble.

As rain seeks no payment for filling
reservoirs and streams,
so the guru infuses freely with
his endless qualities.

Without a competent guru
you’ll remain an illiterate fool.
Dress like a saint, inside you’re an idiot
begging from door to door.

Without a competent guru
you can’t climb wisdom’s heights.
Striding out to meet God,
you won’t manage twenty steps.

He’s no true guru who can’t cast
doubt from the mind:
to find God, we need
such a one as our guide.

The unknown lured me, I sought a guru,
he showed me the path.
Only by obeying his teaching did I
hit the required target.

If you’ve something within, play with it,
there’s no confusion—
two blind people trying to dance
fascinates no one.

Yet what can the guru do if the pupil
lacks that something?
Play the flute in lazy fools’ ears,
still they do nothing.

If you’re stupid, it doesn’t matter
who’s your guru, you’ll forget:
too ignorant to use one dhoti,
you won’t be offered a full set!