assorted poems in translation

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Ghazal 119

i don't need a companion who is nasty sad and sour the one who is like a grave dark depressing and bitter a sweetheart is a mirror a friend a delicious cake it isn't worth spending an hour with anyone else a companion who is in love only with the self has five distinct characters stone hearted unsure of every step lazy and disinterested keeping a poisonous face the more this companion waits around the more bitter everything will get just like a vinegar getting more sour with time enough is said about sour and bitter faces a heart filled with desire for sweetness and tender souls must not waste itself with unsavory matters Translated by Nader Khalili Rumi, Fountain of Fire Cal-Earth, September 1994

Ghazal 314

You who are not kept anxiously awake for love's sake, sleep on. In restless search for that river, we hurry along; you whose heart such anxiety has not disturbed, sleep on. Love's place is out beyond the many separate sects; since you love choosing and excluding, sleep on. Love's dawn cup is our sunrise, his dusk our supper; you whose longing is for sweets and whose passion is for supper, sleep on. In search of the philosopher's stone, we are melting like copper; you whose philosopher's stone is cushion and pillow, sleep on. I have abandoned hope for my brain and head; you who wish for a clear head and fresh brain, sleep on. I have torn speech like a tattered robe and let words go; you who are still dressed in your clothes, sleep on. Translated by Jack Marshall Arabian Nights Coffeehouse Press, October 1986

Ghazal 322

I have come so that, tugging your ear, I may draw you to me, unheart and unself you, plant you in my heart and soul. Rosebush, I have come a sweet springtide unto you, to seize you very gently in my embrace and squeeze you. I have come to adorn you in this worldly abode, to convey you above the skies like lovers' prayers. I have come because you stole a kiss from an idol fair; give it back with a glad heart, master, for I will seize you back. What is a mere rose? You are the All*, you are the speaker of the command "Say"*. If no one else knows you, since you are I, I know you. You are my soul and spirit, you are my Fatiha-chanter*, be- come altogether the Fatiha, so that I may chant you in my heart. You are my quarry and game, though you have sprung from the snare; return to the snare, and if you will not, I will drive you. The lion said to me, “You are a wonderous deer; be gone! Why do you run in my wake so swiftly? I will tear you to pieces.” Accept my blow, and advance like a hero's shield; give your ear to naught but the bowstring, that I may bend you like a bow. So many thousand stages there are from earth's bounds to man; I have brought you from city to city, I will not leave you by the roadside. Say nothing, froth not, do not raise the lid of the cauldron; simmer well, and be patient, for I am cooking you. No, for you are a lion's whelp hidden in a deer's body: I will cause you suddenly to transcend the deer's veil. You are my ball, and you run in the curved mallet of my decree; though I am making you to run, I am still running in your track. * A pun on the Persian “gul” (“rose”) and "kull” (“all”). * Say: Many passages of the Koran open with the word “say”. * Fatiha-chanter (Fâtiha-khwân): The “Fatiha” (“Opening”) is the first chapter of the Koran, containing praise of God and prayers for guidance. A cantor with an exceptional voice may chant this chapter in the course of an assembly of worship. (Additional clarification courtesy of Ibrahim Gamard and Anna Ghonim.) Translation by A.J. Arberry Mystical Poems of Rumi 1 The University of Chicago Press, 1968

Ghazal 586

He who seeks felicity* is one thing, the lover something else — he who loves his head has not the feet for Love. How should Love's two fire-filled eyes, drowned in the liver's blood, search for the heart's desire and the spirits' subsistence? The lover does not weep for his sorry state, nor does he rub his eyes from heartache: He wants to be worse each instant. He does not want a day of fortune, nor does he seek a night of ease — his heart stays concealed between night and day like dawn. The world has two nests: good fortune and affliction — by God's Holy Essence, the lover is outside them both! The ocean does not make him boil, for he is unparalleled pearl. His face has not come from the mine, even if it is yellow like gold. In love with the spirit's King, how should the heart seek a kingdom? Enraptured by His slender waist, how should the spirit seek a robe of honor? Should a phoenix enter the world, the lover would not seek its shadow, for he is drunk with love for that famous Phoenix. If the world should become all sugar, his heart would still lament like the reed; and if the Beloved should say "No!" he will still melt like sugar. I asked my Lord about Shams al-Din of Tabriz, whose permanent abode is Love: "Why should such a king go on a journey?" Translation by William C. Chittick The Sufi Path of Love SUNY Press Albany, 1984

Ghazal 838

if you pass your night and merge it with dawn for the sake of heart what do you think will happen if the entire world is covered with the blossoms you have labored to plant what do you think will happen if the elixir of life that has been hidden in the dark fills the desert and towns what do you think will happen if because of your generosity and love a few humans find their lives what do you think will happen if you pour an entire jar filled with joyous wine on the head of those already drunk what do you think will happen go my friend bestow your love even on your enemies if you touch their hearts what do you think will happen Translated by Nader Khalili Rumi, Fountain of Fire Cal-Earth, September 1994

Ghazal 947

don't go to sleep this night one night is worth a hundred thousand souls the night is generous it can give you a gift of the full moon it can bless your soul with endless treasure every night when you feel the world is unjust never ending grace descends from the sky to soothe your souls the night is not crowded like the day the night is filled with eternal love take this night tight in your arms as you hold a sweetheart remember the water of life is in the dark caverns don't be like a big fish stopping the life's flow by standing in the mouth of a creek even Mecca is adornedwith black clothes showing that the heavens are ready to grace the human soul even one prayer in the Mecca of a night is like a hundred no one can claim sleep can build a temple like this during a night the blessed prophet broke all the idols and God remained alone to give equally to all an endless love Translated by Nader Khalili Rumi, Fountain of Fire Cal-Earth, September 1994

Ghazal 2133

wake up, wake up this night is gone wake up abandon abandon even your dear self abandon there is an idiot in our market place selling a precious soul if you doubt my word get up this moment and head for the market now don’t listen to trickery don’t listen to the witches don’t wash blood with blood first turn yourself upside down empty yourself like a cup of wine then fill to the brim with the essence a voice is descending from the heavens a healer is coming if you desire healing let yourself fall ill let yourself fall ill Translated by Nader Khalili Rumi, Fountain of Fire Cal-Earth, September 1994

Ghazal 2309

you are drunk and i'm intoxicated no one is around showing us the way home again and again i told you drink less a cup or two i know in this city no one is sober one is worse than the other one is frenzied and the other gone mad come on my friend step into the tavern of ruins taste the sweetness of life in the company of another friend here you'll see at every corner someone intoxicated and the cup-bearer makes her rounds i went out of my house a drunkard came to me someone whose glance uncovered a hundred houses in paradise rocking and rolling he was a sail with no anchor but he was the envy of all those sober ones remaining on the shore where are you from i asked he smiled in mockery and said one half from the east one half from the west one half made of water and earth one half made of heart and soul one half staying at the shores and one half nesting in a pearl i begged take me as your friend i am your next of kin he said i recognize no kin among strangers i left my belongings and entered this tavern i only have a chest full of words but can't utter a single one Translated by Nader Khalili Rumi, Fountain of Fire Cal-Earth, September 1994

“Chinese Art and Greek Art”

The Prophet said, “There are some who see Me by the same Light in which I am seeing them. Our natures are ONE. Without reference to any strands of lineage, without reference to texts or traditions, we drink the Life-Water together.” Here's a story about that hidden mystery: The Chinese and the Greeks were arguing as to who were the better artists. The King said, “We'll settle this matter with a debate.” The Chinese began talking, but the Greeks wouldn't say anything. They left. The Chinese suggested then that they each be given a room to work on with their artistry, two rooms facing each other and divided by a curtain. The Chinese asked the King for a hundred colors, all the variations, and each morning they came to where the dyes were kept and took them all. The Greeks took no colors. “They're not part of our work,” They went to their room and began cleaning and polishing the walls. All day every day they made those walls as pure and clear as an open sky. There is a way that leads from all-colors to colorlessness. Know that the magnificent variety of the clouds and the weather comes from the total simplicity of the sun and the moon. The Chinese finished, and they were so happy. They beat the drums in the joy of completion. The King entered their room, astonished by the gorgeous color and detail. The Greeks then pulled the curtain dividing the rooms. The Chinese figures and images shimmeringly reflected on the clear Greek walls. They lived there, even more beautifully, and always changing in the light. The Greek art is the Sufi way. They don't study books of philosophical thought. They make their loving clearer and clearer. No wantings, no anger. In that purity they receive and reflect the images of every moment, from here, from the stars, from the void. They take them in as though they were seeing with the Lighted Clarity that sees them. Mathnawi, I, 3462-3485, 3499 Coleman Barks Delicious Laughter Maypop, June 1990 (Based on Nicholson's translation of the Mathnawi, IV, 2683-2696.)

“Keep Searching”

Even though you're not equipped, keep searching: equipment isn't necessary on the way to the Lord. Whoever you see engaged in search, become her friend and cast your head in front of her, for choosing to be a neighbor of seekers, you become one yourself; protected by conquerors, you will yourself learn to conquer. If an ant seeks the rank of Solomon, don't smile contemptuously upon its quest. Everything you possess of skill, and wealth and handicraft, wasn't it first merely a thought and a quest? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Garcheh âlat nistet to mi talab nist âlat hâjat andar râh-e Rabb Harke-râ bini talab-gâr ay pesar yâr-e u shaw pish-e u andâz sar Kaz jevâr-e tâlebân tâleb shavi vaz zelâl-e ghâlebân ghâleb shavi Gar yeki muri Solaymân be-jost ma-negar andar jostan-e u sost sost Harcheh dâri to ze mâl o pisheh-'i nah talab bud avval va andisheh-'i? Mathnawi III: 1445-1449 Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance Threshold Books, 1996 (Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

“The Window of My Soul”

During prayer I am accustomed to turn to God like this and recall the meaning of the words of the Tradition, “the delight felt in the ritual prayer.”* The window of my soul opens, and from the purity of the unseen world, the book of God comes to me straight. The book, the rain of divine grace, and the light are falling into my house through a window from my real and original source. The house without a window is hell; to make a window is the essence of true religion. Don't thrust your ax upon every thicket; come, use your ax to cut open a window. *The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing upon him) is said to have mentioned this as one of the three things he loved best in the world. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Khuy dâram dar namâz ân eltefât ma`nâ “qurrat `ayni fi al-salât”* Rawzan-e jânam goshâdast az safâ mi resad bi vâseteh nâmeh-ye Khodâ Nameh o bârân o nur az rawzanam mi fotad dar khâneh-'am az ma`denam Duzakhast ân khâneh k-ân bi rawzanast asl-e din ay bandeh rawzan kardanast Tisheh har bisheh kam zan biyâ tisheh zan dar kandan rawzan halâ Mathnawi III: 2401-2405 Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance Threshold Books, 1996 (Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

“The Many Wines”

God has given us a dark wine so potent that, drinking it, we leave the two worlds. God has put into the form of hashish a power to deliver the taster from self-consciousness. God has made sleep so that it erases every thought. God made Majnun love Layla so much that just her dog would cause confusion in him. There are thousands of wines that can take over our minds. Don't think all ecstacies are the same! Jesus was lost in his love for God. His donkey was drunk with barley. Drink from the presence of saints, not from those other jars. Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. Be a connoisseur, and taste with caution. Any wine will get you high. Judge like a king, and choose the purest, the ones unadulterated with fear, or some urgency about "what's needed." Drink the wine that moves you as a camel moves when it's been untied, and is just ambling about. Coleman Barks One-Handed Basket Weaving Maypop, October 1992 (Based on Nicholson's translation of the Mathnawi, IV, 2683-2696.)

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