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Rumi: poet

Updated on May 21, 2012

One of my favorite poets is Rumi, the great Sufi poet of the thirteenth century. He has become much better known in the West during the last twenty years through the translating efforts of Coleman Barks. Barks himself is a recognized poet in his own right. His sensitive translations of Rumi into modern English are remarkable. Barks has helped to illuminate for us one of the great poets of all time.The two images below were purchased in the old covered market in Istanbul. They are leaves from 19th century books written in Farsi I have been told. I particularly like the first one in which the sufis appear to be dancing right off the page, a depiction of spiritual liberty.

If you are westener like me, i.e. an inheritor of western, European culture, you are likely coming to the end of your patience or tolerance with reference to Islam. Rumi helps me to keep that door open. If Islam had taken Rumi's great path of tolerance and spiritual liberty, it would be a much greater religion and less likely to be spawning bomb-throwers. Rumi's spiritual vision is immediately recognizable as universal and profoundly positive. Personally I can't say the same of the Qu'ran which seems pinched and xenophobic by comparison. Both Muhammad and Rumi wrote in a spontaneous and inspired manner, but in my opinion, Rumi achieves far greater spiritual insight.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn't make any sense.


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 ecstasies

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 about when it's been untied,

and is just ambling about.

Where Everything is Music

Where Everything is Music

Don't worry about saving these songs!

And if one of our instruments breaks,

it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place

where everything is music

The strumming and the flute notes

rise into the atmosphere,

and even if the whole world's harp

should burn up, there will still be

hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.

We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.

The graceful movements come from a pearl

somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge

of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive

from a slow and powerful root

that we can't see.

Stop the words now.

Open the window in the center of your chest,

and let the spirits fly in and out.


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    • barranca profile image

      barranca 6 years ago

      Multiman, Thanks for your comments. I have read a bit of Tagore. I will need to revisit him and read more to make a valid comparison.

    • profile image

      Multiman 6 years ago

      Found it, thi is what it says on one website I went to;

      Tagore, Rabindranath (1861-1941), Indian poet, philosopher, and Nobel laureate, was born in Calcutta, into a wealthy family. He began to write poetry as a child; his first book appeared when he was 17 years old. After a brief stay in England (1878) to study law, he returned to India, where he rapidly became the most important and popular author of the colonial era, writing poetry, short stories, novels, and plays. He composed several hundred popular songs and in 1929 also began painting.

      Tagore wrote primarily in Bengali, but translated many of his works into English himself. He was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in literature, and in 1915 he was knighted by the British king George V. Tagore renounced his knighthood in 1919 following the Amritsar massacre of 400 Indian demonstrators by British troops. His famous works were 'Balaka' , 'Sonar Tari', 'Chitali', and 'Gitanjali' etc. His selected poems 'Sanchaita', and selected short stories 'Galpagucha' were published in India 1966. Two of his songs are national anthem of India and Bangladesh.

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      Multiman 6 years ago

      There is a noble laurette, the first poet to receive that that was from a non-English speaking in India, whoes work is on a par I think with Rumi, problem is I cannot remmeber his name I will have to google it later tonight and share it with you.

    • barranca profile image

      barranca 6 years ago

      Hi Multiman, I agree. He may be the best spiritual poet of all time. When I read him, I feel like I am in touch with deep wisdom and the transcendent.

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      Multiman 6 years ago

      I love the love rumi puts inot his poems about spiritual realtionship.

    • barranca profile image

      barranca 8 years ago

      I agree; Rumi's voice and appeal is universal for all peoples at all times.

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      hakeem 8 years ago

      Rumi is a universal school for who wants to learn from

    • mohitmisra profile image

      mohitmisra 8 years ago from India

      Rumi is just awesome and 10 to 20 % of Mulsims call themselves Sufis.Colemen Barks has done a supernb job as its very difficult to translate poetry.

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 8 years ago from San Diego, California

      Yeah, Rumi is one of my up and coming favorites. I just wrote a hub that featured him, and hubpages linked yours as similar. So here I came. I like what you said about him. I'm really glad you like him as well :)

    • profile image

      IĆ°unn 9 years ago