Posts Tagged ‘Rumi’

Short Poems by Rumi


Late, by myself, in the boat of myself,
no light and no land anywhere,
cloudcover thick. I try to stay
just above the surface, yet I’m already under
and living within the ocean.


For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


Come to the orchard in the spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts and pomegranate flowers.
If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.


For a while we lived with people,
but we saw no sign in them of the faithfulness we wanted.
It’s better to hide completely within
as water hides in metal, as fire hides in rock.


In pain, I breathe easier.
The scared child is running from the house, screaming.
I hear the gentleness.
Under nine layers of illusion, whatever the light,
on the face of any object, in the ground itself,
I see your face.


The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

Open Secret: Versions of Rumi
trans. John Moyne and Coleman Barks

“The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question”


Read Full Post »

It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue
and get into fights.
The lover is just as bad: he falls into a hole.
But down in that hole he finds something shining,
worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.
I took it as a sign to start singing,
falling up into the bowl of sky.
The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.
Nothing else to do.

Here’s the new rule: break the wineglass,
and fall toward the Glassblower’s breath.

Open Secret: Versions of Rumi
trans. John Moyne and Coleman Barks


Read Full Post »

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

what was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugar cane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that’s happening here.

The great warehouse stores open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

translated by Coleman Barks

Read Full Post »

Finding Kabir

Rumi came to me late in life, even though I heard his famous name when I was younger. Once I started reading Rumi, I couldn’t stop because his verses are beautiful, lyrical, and infused with a profound awareness of divine love. Kabir is like that, too, I see now as I read translations of his poetry by Robert Bly.

Robert Bly captivated my imagination with one of his many books, this one a collection of poems he’s translated, The Winged Energy of Delight. His skill as a poetic translator is undeniable, and I always find myself deeply enjoying Bly’s deft word choices and flowing lines. His work with Kabir’s poetry is simply marvelous.

Here is a poem about a flute, and as a flutist, it calls to me:

“I know the sound of the ecstatic flute
but I don’t know whose flute it is.

A lamp burns and has neither wick nor oil.

A lily pad blossoms and is not attached to the bottom!

When one flower opens, ordinarily dozens open.

The moon bird’s head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon,
and when the next rain will come is all that the rain bird thinks of.

Who is it we spend our entire life loving?”

trans. Robert Bly
Kabir: Ecstatic Poems (2004)

In another place, Kabir writes, “As the river gives itself into the ocean, what is inside me moves inside you.”

Read Full Post »

I was happy enough to stay still
inside the pearl inside the shell,

but the hurricane of experience
lashed me out of hiding and made me

a wave moving into shore, saying loudly
the ocean’s secret as I went, and then

spent there, I slept like fog against
the cliff, another stillness.


I used to have fiery intensity
and a flowing sweetness.

The waters were illusion.
The flames, made of snow.

Was I dreaming then?
Am I awake now?


I run around looking for the Friend.
My life is almost over,
but I’m still asleep!

When it happens, if it happens,
that I meet the Friend,
will I get the lost years back?


We search the world for the great untying
of what was wed to us with birth
and gets undone at dying.

We sleep beside a stream, thirsty.
Cursed and unlucky his whole life,

an old man finishes up in a niche
of a ruin, inches from the treasure!


There is a desert
I long to be walking,
a wide emptiness:

peace beyond any
understanding of it.

trans. Coleman Barks
in Birdsong (1993)

Read Full Post »

“The dictionaries have no entry for the sort of love we praise.
If you can define a road, it’s not the Lover’s road.”

“Love cuts a lot of arguments short.”

“Every bit of dust climbs toward the Secret One like a sapling.
It climbs and says nothing, and that silence is a wild praise of the Secret One.”

“How marvelous is that garden where pears and apples … are arriving even in winter. Those apples grow from the Gift, and they sink back into the Gift. It must be that they are coming from the garden to the garden.”

“Everyone near a saint gets drunk with God.”

13th c.

Read Full Post »