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Posts Tagged ‘Rumi’

I visited a bookstore on Sunday and did some random browsing and picked up some interesting books. The crown jewel among them was a collection of Jalaluddin Rumi’s poetry called ‘The Essential Rumi’ translated by Coleman Barks.

I browsed the book without any intention of buying it, but after reading a couple of random poems I couldn’t resist this treasure. I did some random reading while coming back home, and these are some of the gems I discovered.

Here are two poems which play with opposites and show us how paradoxes can be gentle and true and lovable.

Poem One

Come to the orchard in Spring.

There is light and wine, and sweethearts

In the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come, these do not matter.

If you do come, these do not matter.

Poem Two

When I am with you, we stay up all night.

When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!

And the difference between them.

I have read Urdu poems which are like this. Now after reading these two gems by Rumi, I feel that this 12th century genius was the fount of inspiration for later Urdu masters.

Here is another which is quite interesting.

Poem Three

Drunks fear the police,

but the police are drunk too.

People in this town love them both

like different chess pieces.

Here is a beautiful poem about existence as a burning candle. So beautiful!

Poem Four – A Just-Finishing Candle

A candle is made to become entirely flame.

In that annihilating moment

It has now shadow.

It is nothing but a tongue of light

describing a refuge.

Look at this

just-finishing candle stub

as someone who is finally safe

from virtue and vice,

the pride and the shame

we claim from those.

Here is a beautiful poem about how we touch each other and how we touch things and they touch back, without us really touching them and how this delicate thing brings happiness and joy.

Poem Five – Story Water

A story is like water

that you heat for your bath.

It takes messages between the fire

and your skin. It lets them meet,

and it cleans you!

Very few can sit down

in the middle of the fire itself

like a salamander or Abraham.

We need intermediaries.

A feeling of fullness comes,

but usually it takes some bread

to bring it.

Beauty surrounds us,

but usually we need to be walking

in a garden to know it.

The body itself is a screen

to shield and partially reveal

the light that’s blazing

inside your presence.

Water, stories, the body,

all the things we do, are mediums

that hide and show what’s hidden.

Study them,

and enjoy this being washed

with a secret we sometimes know,

and then not.

Here is a poem about acquired intelligence and the innate one.

Poem Six – Two Kinds of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence : one acquired,

as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts

from books and from what the teacher says,

collecting information from the traditional sciences

as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.

You get ranked ahead or behind others

in regard to your competence in retaining

information. You stroll with this intelligence

in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more

marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one

Already completed and preserved inside you.

A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness

in the center of the chest. This other intelligence

does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,

and it doesn’t move from outside to inside

through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead

from within you, moving out.

The lines – “You stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets” – hit me. Sometimes we find ourselves (and others) doing things which add stamps to our resume or which help us get certificates which we think are more important than the learning itself. It is amazing that Rumi wrote about it nearly eight hundred years ago. Some things never change 🙂

I read more poems opening the book at a different page at random, and they were all wonderful! I can’t remember the last time when nearly every poem that I read from a collection was beautiful, insightful and touched a deep chord in my heart.

Oh Rumi, you beauty!

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