Thursday, January 31, 2013

The same Beloved, singing the same song...

No postmortems, please.
The world is immortal.
The world renews itself.
What about poems and songs --
Do they perish?
Maybe they only
Vanish awhile.
Maybe they go underground
To gather some other
Knowledge and come back
In another form:
New words, a new melody,
Yet somehow
The same beloved,
Singing the same song.

~ Gregory Orr ~
(Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Buy Me From My Words

"No Flag"

I used to want buyers for my words.
Now I wish someone would buy me away from words.

I've made a lot of charmingly profound images,
scenes with Abraham, and Abraham's father, Azar,
who was also famous for icons.

I'm so tired of what I've been doing.

Then one image without form came,
and I quit.

Look for someone else to tend the shop.
I'm out of the image-making business.

Finally I know the freedom
of madness.

A random image arrives. I scream,
"Get out!" It disintegrates.

Only love.
Only the holder the flag fits into,
and wind.
No flag. 

Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

"Buy Me From My Words"

Before now I wanted
to be paid for what I said,
but now I need you
to buy me from my words.
The idols I used to carve
charmed everyone. 
Now I'm drunk
on Abraham and tired of idols.
An idol with no color or scent
ended my whole career.
Find someone else for the job.
A happy madman without a thought,
I have swept the shop clean.
If something enters my mind,
I say, "Leave. You're a distraction."
Whatever is coarse and heavy, I destroy.
Who should be with Layla?
Someone who can be Majnun.
The man holding up this waving flag
actually belongs to the other side.

Version by Kabir Helminski
"Love is a Stranger"
Threshold Books, 1993

Before this I sought a purchaser for my discourse,
 and now I wish of you to buy me from my words.
I have carved idols enough to beguile every person; 
now I amdrunk with Abraham, I am sated with Azar.*
An idol without color and scent arrived; 
my hand was put out of action by him.
See another master for the shop of idol-making.
I have cleared the shop of myself, I have thrown away the idols;
having realized the worth of madness,
I have become free of thoughts.
If an image enters my heart I say,
"Depart, you who lead astray!
If it displays grossness, I destroy its composition.
Who is suitable for Leyli? He who becomes Majnun for her.
That man is at the foot of the flag whose soul is on the other side.*

Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
University of Chicago Press, 1991

Arberry's notes:
*Azar: the father of Abraham was a famous idol-maker.
*The love of Leyli and Majnun is proverbial in Islamic literatures.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Give Yourself A Kiss

Give yourself a kiss.

If you live in China, don't look

somewhere else, in Tibet, or Mongolia.

If you want to hold the beautiful one,

hold yourself to yourself.

When you kiss the Beloved,

touch your own lips with your own fingers.

The beauty of every woman and every man

is your own beauty.


The confusion of your hair

obscures that sometimes.

An artist comes to paint you

and stands with his mouth open.

Your love reveals your beauty,

but all covering would disappear

if only for a moment your holding-back

would sit before your generosity

and ask,

"Sir, who are you?"

At that,

Shams' life-changing face

gives you a wink.

  Version by Coleman Barks
"Like This"
Maypop, 1990

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Truth of Who We Are

"The Dream That Must Be Interpreted"

(credit : Une Hirondelle)

This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.

Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.

But there's a difference with this dream.
Everything cruel and unconscious
done in the illusion of the present world,
all that does not fade away
at the death-waking.

It stays,
and it must be interpreted.

All the mean laughing,
all the quick, sexual wanting,
those torn coats of Joseph,
they change into powerful wolves
that you must face.

The retaliation that sometimes comes now,
the swift, payback hit,
is just a boy's game
to what the other will be.

You know about circumcision here.
It's full castration there!

And this groggy time we live,
this is what it's like:
A man goes to sleep in the town
where he has always lived,
and he dreams he's living in another town.

In the dream, he doesn't remember
the town he's sleeping in his bed in.
He believes the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.

The dust of many crumbled cities
settles over us like a forgetful dose,
but we are older than those cities.

We began as a mineral.
We emerged into plant life,
and into the animal state,
and then into being human,
and always we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring
when we slightly recall
being green again.

That's how a young person
turns toward a teacher.
That's how a baby leans toward the breast,
without knowing the secret of its desire,
yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along
an evolving course, through
this migration of intelligences,
and though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness
that directs the dream,

and that will eventually startle us
back to the truth of who we are.

(credit : shadowness)
  Mathnawi IV, 3628-3652, 3654-3667
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

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