Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Call from the Unseen

A baby pigeon on the edge of the nest hears the call and begins his flight.
How can the soul of the seeker not fly when a message arrives saying,
"You have been trapped in life like a bird with no wings, 
in a cage with no doors or windows
come, come back to me!"
How can the soul not rip open its coverings, and soar to the sky.

What is the rope that pulls the soul from above?
What is the secret that opens the door?
The key is the flutter of the heart's wings and its endless longing.
When the door opens, walk on the path where abundance awaits you,
where everything old becomes new and never look back.
Drink from the hands of the wine bearer and you will be blessed
even in this life.

Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
Rumi: Hidden Music
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

 A baby pigeon stands on the edge of a nest all day.
Then he hears a whistle, Come to me.
How could he not fly toward that?
Wings tear through the body's robe when a letter arrives that says,
"You've flapped and fluttered against limits long enough.

You've been a bird without wings
in a house without doors or windows.

Compassion builds a door.
Restlessness cuts a key.

Ask. Step off into air like a baby pigeon.
Strut proudly into sunlight,
not looking back.

Take sips of this pure wine being poured.
Don't mind that you've been given a dirty cup."

  Version by Coleman Barks
"These Branching Moments,"
Copper Beech Press, 1988

This fledgling pigeon essayed the air and flew off 
when he heard a whistle and a call from the unseen.
When that Desire of all the world send a messenger saying,
"Come to Me," how should not the disciple's soul take flight?
How should it not fly upwards on discovering such pinions,
how should it not rend the body's robe on the arrival of such a missive?
What a moon it is that draws all these souls!
What a way is that secret way by which it drew!
Divine compassion sent a letter saying,
"Come back hither, for in this narrow cage your soul has fluttered much.
But in the house without doors you are like a bird without wings; 
so the fowl of the air does when it has fallen low*.
Restlessness opens to it the door of compassion at last;
beat your wings against door and roof – this is the key.
Until you call on Me, 
you do not know the way of returning
for by Our calling the way becomes manifest to the reason."
Whatever mounts up, if it be old it becomes new; 
whatever new descends here, through time it becomes threadbare.
Ho, strut proudly into the unseen, do not look back, 
in God's protection, for there all is profit and increase.
Ha, silent one, depart to the Saki of Being, 
who gave you His pure wine in this sullied cup.

  Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
The University of Chicago Press, 1968
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