Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mar 2006 - Part II

Mon Mar 13 , 2006

"Two Days of Silence"

This wonderful moment, the taste of
nothing, in the company of the poor

and the empty. Sit with Bistami, not
some fortune teller. There are more

than two holidays a year! We celebrate
a birthday and solstice every second.

Newborns, we need fresh bread! Life
grows from the dead, as the living get

led into death. Dry branches to the
fire: green limbs bend to the ground with

fruit; pleasure fills a mother's breast:
put your mouth there and suck. You

must. I've made many elegant speeches
to the assembly. Now it's time to

walk outside and be quiet. Shams draws
me to words, then two days of silence.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 858
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

Wed Mar 15 , 2006

Someone says, "I can't help feeding my family.
I have to work so hard to earn a living."
He can do without God, but not without food;
he can do without Religion,
but not without idols.
Where is one who'll say,
"If I eat bread without awareness of God,
I will choke."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hich châreh nist az qut-e `iyâl
az bon-e dandân konam kasb-e halâl
Cheh halâl ay gashteh az ahl-e zalâl
ghayr khun-e to na-mi-binam halâl
Az Khodâ chârehstesh va az lut ni
chârehsh ast az din va az tâghut ni
Man na-khvâham dar do `âlam be-negarist
tâ na-binam in do majles ân kist
Bi tamâshâ-ye sefat-hâ-ye Khodâ
gar khvoram nân dar golu mând merâ

-- Mathnawi II: 3071-3079
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

The image:

and the recitation:


Wed Mar 15 , 2006

Ghazal 2219, from Rumi's Diwan-e Shames,
in translations by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi, Nader
Khalili*, and Professor Franklin Lewis*:

I am the slave of that perfect Moon!
Don't talk to me of suffering, I don't want to hear.
Talk about light, joy and sweetness
and if you can't, keep silent!

Last night Love found me shouting, mad
and beyond myself, and said:
"I am here, why are you so worried and afraid?"
O Love, I am overwhelmed with fear.
"Be silent, let me whisper a secret in your ear,
just nod your head and don't say a word."

Oh how delicate, how subtle is the path of love!
This most precious Moon-like beauty appeared to me!

My heart, is this the Moon or my imagination?
"Be silent, it is not for you to understand
don't you see, you have been blessed."
But what is this, the face of an angel or a man?
"Be silent, what you see is beyond angels or men."
But what is it, tell me, or I will go out of my mind.
"Do not torment yourself, leave this house of illusions
and say no more."
O please, I begged, tell me, is this the face of God?

My heart nodded silently.

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


I'm loyal
to the image and beauty
of my beloved
please speak of that image only
and say no more

whenever you're with me
speak only about
the generosity of candles
the generosity of the sugarcane
and say no more

don't speak of any suffering
show me the treasure that waits
at the end of the road
if you're ignorant of the path
then say no more

last night I was in flame
my beloved saw me and said
"i'm here at last
don't tear your clothes
lament no more"

I begged my beloved
to understand my condition
to sense my fear
my love said "when i'm present
you must seek no more

I'll whisper the words
of secrets into your ear
and you must promise not to answer
just nod your head
and say no more

the face of a sweetheart
has penetrated your heart
the tenderness is all there is
your journey is the journey of love
sense it to the depth and say no more"

I asked if the face
belongs to a human
or that of an angel
"neither this nor that
sense it but say no more"

I said if you don't
identify this for me at once
my life will be shattered
"be shattered at once
but say no more

you're dwelling in
a house filled with
images and dreams
pack all your belongings
move out but say no more"

you're simply expressing
the experience of God
I said to the beloved
"yes this is the answer
but for God's sake say no more"

-- Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi -- Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1994


I serve that orb in heaven
say no word but Orb!
speak to me of nothing
but sweetness and light
Not of bother, but of treasure
and if you cannot find the words
don't bother.

Yesterday a craze came over me
Love saw, came up to me:
Here I am,
don't shout,
don't rip off your shirt,
hush, shh!

I spoke:
Love, I'm scared of that other thing
There is no other thing, say nothing!
I will whisper secrets in your ear
you just nod in asseveration
speak in semaphore

A nova, a celestial love
burst bright above the heartpath
so exquisite the quest of heart,
it cannot be expressed
I asked:
Heart, what orb is this?
heart intimated
beyond fathom
be quiet, forget!
Is this the face of man or angel?
Beyond men and angels

What is it? Tell me, I'm in a whirl
Whirl on, keep quiet!
You sit within this room
whose walls reflect
mere forms and suppositions
Get up, go out, move on,
keep quiet!
I said:
Heart, befather me,
for doesn't this match God's description?
Yes, my son, it does,
but do not tell.

-- Translation by Franklin D. Lewis
"Rumi -- Past and Present, East and West"
Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2006

The image:

the recitation:

Franklin Lewis' notes:

I have used "orb" throughout these translations to render what is
literally "moon" (mah, qamar). This is the shining face of the
beloved, beside which all other thoughts and images pale.
Unfortunately, in English, "moon face" does not have a very happy


*Nader Khalili -- see
*Franklin Lewis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Middle Eastern Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. A specialist
in Persian literature, his thesis on Sana'i won the 1995 Best
Dissertation of the Year Award from the Foundation for Iranian


Thu Mar 16 , 2006

God did not need the prophets,
but with majesty and grace
let His lightning Beauty strike.
Adam received from that light
his knowledge of God.
With that radiance
Abraham went fearlessly
into the fire.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

آn Khodâyi keh ferestâd anbiyâ
nah be-hâjat bal be-fazl o kebriyâ
آn sanâ barqi keh bar arvâh tâft
tâ keh آdam ma`refat ze ân nur yâft
Jân-e Ebrâhim az ân anvâr zhaft
bi hazar dar sho`leh-hâ-ye nâr raft

-- Mathnawi II: 906; 910; 913
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

The image:

and the recitation:

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