Saturday, June 17, 2006

May 2006 - Part II


The Beloved has blocked every escape

Friends, the Beloved has blocked every escape:
we are lame deer and He a prowling lion.
Cornered by a fierce and bloodthirsty lion
what is there to do but surrender?
This Beloved, like the sun, neither sleeps nor eats:
He makes souls sleepless and hungry,
saying, "Come, be Me, or one with Me in nature,
so when I unveil Myself, you may behold My Face.
And if you had not beheld it,
how would you have become so distraught?
You were earth, and now
you long to be quickened with spiritual life."
Already the Beloved has bestowed gifts
from that world of spacelessness,
otherwise why would your spiritual eye keep gazing there?


Ay rafiqân râh-hâ-râ bast Yâr
âhu-ye langim va U shir-e shekâr
Joz keh taslim o rezâ ku châreh-'i
dar kaff-e shir-e nari khun khvâreh-'i
U na-dârad khvâb o khvor chon âftâb
ruh-hâ-râ mi konad bi khvord o khvâb
Keh "Biyâ Man bâsh yâ ham ham khu-ye Man
tâ be-bini dar tajalli Ru-ye Man
Var na-didi chon chonin shaydâ shodi
khâk budi tâleb-e ehyâ shodi"
Gar ze bi suyet na-dâdast U `alaf
cheshm-e jânet chon be-mândast ân taraf

-- Mathnawi VI: 576-581
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance
Threshold Books, 1996
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Mona

The Persian image:

The Persian recitation:



A Walking Fire

Today, now, this is when
we can meet the Friend,

now, as the sun comes up.
The Beloved, who yesterday

was so distant, today is
kind and bringing food.

Someone who knows this
one and isn't demolished

completely and reborn, that
someone is made of marble,

not blood and bone and brain
and eyes and hair. Gabriel

knocks on the Friend's door.
"Who is it?" "Your servant."

"Who came with you?" "Your
love." "Where?" "In my

arms." But the whole world
is in love with me. What

you've brought is a common
thing. Go away." Now Shams

comes along, a walking fire
beyond anything I can say.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 448
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

The Persian image:

The Persian recitation:



Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal 3019, from the Diwan-e Shams,
in a version by Coleman Barks, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

Dissolver of Sugar

Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me, if this is the time.
Do it gently with a touch of a hand, or a look.
Every morning I wait at dawn; that's when it's happened before.
Or do it suddenly like an execution.
How else can I get ready for death?
You breathe without a body like a spark.
You grieve, and I begin to feel lighter.
You keep me away with your arm,
but the keeping away is pulling me in.

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


You who slay like sugar the lovers, slay my soul sweetly this
moment, if you are slaying.
To slay sweetly and gently is the property of your hand,
because you slay with a glance he who seeks a glance.
Every morning continuously I am waiting, waiting, because
you generally slay me at dawn.
Your cruelty to us is candy; do not close the way to assistance.
Is it not the case that at the end you will slay me in front of the gate?
You whose breath is without a belly, you whose sorrow repels
sorrow, you who slay us in a breath like a spark,
Every moment you proffer another repulse like a shield; you
have abandoned the sword and are slaying with the shield.

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

The Persian image:

The English image:

The Persian recitation:



Apparent imperfection

A disciple is like a new moon,
in reality no different than the full moon:
its apparent imperfection is a sign of gradual increase.
Night by night the new moon gives a lesson in gradualness:
with deliberation it says, "O hasty one,
only step by step can one ascend to the roof."
A skillful cook lets the pot boil slowly;
the stew boiled in a mad hurry is of no use.

-- Mathnawi VI:1208-1212
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
“Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance”
Threshold Books, 1996

The Persian image:

The Persian recitation:

The Persian interpretation:



"Love has made me Solomon”


Though the eye of intellect and competence see
me as mad, I have many arts in the circle of lovers.
Love has made me Solomon and my tongue
Asaf* -- how should I be tied to all these remedies and
Like Abraham, I never turn away from the
Kaaba -- I reside in the Kaaba, I am its pillar.*
A thousand Rustams* cannot approach me -- why
should I be subject to the effeminate ego?
I take the bloody sword in hand -- I am a martyr
to Love in the midst of my own blood.
In this plain, I am the All-Merciful's nightingale.
Seek not my limits and border -- I have no limits.
Shams-i Tabrizi has nurtured me through love --
I am greater than the Holy Spirit and the Cherubim.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 1747
Translation by Professor William Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

*"Asaf" -- King Solomon's vizier, or counselor -- Sunlight Ed.
*"Pillar" -- according to traditon, Abraham built the Kaaba and resided there
for some time. -- Note by Chittick
*"Rustam" -- variously spelled "Rostam" -- legendary warrior king, one of the
subjects of the epic "Book of Kings" ("Shah Nameh") -- Sunlight Ed.

The Persian image:

The English image:

The Persian recitation:



Every enemy is a remedy

The servant complains to God of pain:
in a hundred ways he moans.
God says, "But after all, grief and pain
have caused you to act rightly and humbly call on Me;
complain instead of the bounty that befalls you
and takes you far from My door."
In reality every enemy of yours is your remedy:
he is an elixir, a gift, and one that seeks to win your heart;
for you flee from him into solitude
imploring God's help.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bandeh mi nâlad be-Haqq az dard o nish
sad shekâyat mi konad az ranj-e khvish
Haqq hami guyad keh "kher ranj o dard
mar torâ lâbeh konân va râst kard
In geleh zân ne`mati kon ket zanad
az dar-e Mâ dur va matrudet konad"
Dar haqiqat har `adu dâru-ye tost
kimiyâ o nâfe` o delju-ye tost
keh azu andar gorizi dar khalâ
este`ânat juyi az lotf-e Khodâ

-- Mathnawi IV: 91-95
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

The Persian image:

The Persian recitation:



"In the sea there is no partnership"

Sunlight presents Mathnawi VI, verses 2028-2041, in a
poetic version by Coleman Barks, and in literal translation by
R.A. Nicholson:

Dive into the Ocean. You're caught in your own
pretentious beard like something you didn't eat.
You're not garbage! Pearls want to be like you.
You should be with them where waves and fish
and pearls and seaweed and wind are all one.
No linking, no hierarchy, no distinctions,
no perplexed wondering, no speech.
Beyond describing.

Either stay here and talk
or go there and be silent.
Or do both by turns.
With those who see double, talk double talk.
Make noise, beat a drum, think of metaphors!
With Friends, say only mystery.
Near roses, sing.

With deceptive people, cover the jar and shield it.
But be calm with those in duality.
Speak sweetly and reasonably
Patience polishes and purifies.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
from "Sheikh Kharranqani and His Wretched Wife"
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995


Go to the Sea of whose fish thou art born: how has thou
fallen, like rubbish, into the beard?
Thou art not rubbish – far be it from thee! Thou art an
object of envy to the pearl: thou hast the best right (to dwell)
amidst the waves and the sea.
‘Tis the Sea of Unity: there is no fellow or consort: its pearls
and fishes are not other than its waves.
Oh, absurd, absurd to make (aught) its partner. Far be it from
that Sea and its pure waves!
In the Sea there is no partnership or perplexity; but what can
I say to him that sees double? Nothing, nothing.
Since we are the mates of those who see double, O idolater,
‘tis necessary to speak in the fashion of him who attributes a
partner (to God).
That Unity is beyond description and condition: nothing
comes into the arena (domain) of speech except duality.
Either, like the double-seeing man, drink in (absorb and be
satisfied with) this duality, or close your mouth and be very
Or (do both) in turns, now silence, now speech; (in the com-
pany of the uninitiated) beat the drum like him that sees double,
and peace (be with you)!
When you see a confidant, declare the mystery of the Spirit:
(if) you see the rose, sing loud like nightingales.
(But) when you see (one who resembles) a water-skin full of
deceit and falsehood, shut your lips and make yourself like a
(dry-lipped) jar;
(For) he is an enemy to the water (of spiritual life): in his
presence do not move (your lips), else the stone of his ignorance
breaks the jar.
Patiently endure the punishments inflicted by the ignorant
man; give him fair words and dissemble (towards him) with the
reason that is divinely inspired.
Patience (shown) to the unworthy is the means of polishing
(purifying) the worthy: wherever a heart exists, patience purifies it.

-- Translation by Reynold A. Nicholson
The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"

The Persian image:

The Persian recitation:

The Persian interpretation:



Every moment the world is renewed

Here, Sunlight brings an offering the Mathnawi, Book I, verses
1145-1149, in an interpretive version by Professor Coleman Barks, and
in the translation by Professor Reynold Nicholson, upon which Barks
based his version:

"The Moment"

In every instant there’s dying and coming back around.
Muhammad said, This world

is a moment, a pouring that refreshes and renews itself so
rapidly it seems continuous,

as a burning stick taken from the fire looks like a golden
wire when you swirl

it in the air, so we feel duration as a string of sparks."

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"The Soul of Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 2001

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Every moment the world is renewed, and we are unaware of
its being renewed whilst it remains (the same in appearance).
Life is ever arriving anew, like the stream, though in the body
it has the semblance of continuity.
From its swiftness it appears continuous, like the spark which
thou whirlest rapidly with thy hand.
If thou whirl a firebrand with dexterity, it appears to the
sight as a very long (line of) fire.
The swift motion produced by the action of God presents
this length of duration (Time) as (a phenomenon arising) from
the rapidity of Divine action.
Even if the seeker of this mystery is an exceedingly learned
man, (say to him), "Lo, Husamu'ddin, who is a sublime book
(where you will find the mystery revealed)."

-- Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"

The image:

The Persian recitation:

A Persian interpretation:



The fire that iron or gold needs—
would it be good for fresh quinces and apples?
The apple and quince are just slightly raw;
unlike iron, they need only a gentle heat.
But gentle flames are not enough for iron;
it eagerly draws to itself the fiery dragon’s breath.
That iron is the dervish who bears hardship:
under the hammer and fire, he happily glows red.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Âteshi kâ salâh-e âhan yâ zarast
ki salâh-e âbi o sib-e tarast
Sib o âbi khâmi’i dârad khafif
nah cho âhan tâbeshi khvâhad latif
Layk âhan-râ latif ân sho`le-hâst
ku jazub-e tâbesh ân azhdahâst
Hast ân âhan faqir-e sakht-kash
zir-e potak o âtesh ast u sorkh o khvosh

-- Mathnawi II: 827-830
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The image:

The Persian recitation:

A Persian interpretation:



Sunlight presents Ghazal 1634 , in a poetic version by Jonathan Star and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

"This Will Not Win Him"

Reason says,
I will win him with my eloquence.

Love says,
I will win him with my silence.

Soul says,
How can I ever win him
When all I have is already his?

He does not want, he does not worry,
He does not seek a sublime state of euphoria –
How then can I win him
With sweet wine or gold? . . .

He is not bound by the senses –
How then can I win him
With all the riches of China?

He is an angel,
Though he appears in the form of a man.
Even angels cannot fly in his presence –
How then can I win him
By assuming a heavenly form?

He flies on the wings of God,
His food is pure light –
How then can I win him
With a loaf of baked bread?

He is neither a merchant, nor a tradesman –
How then can I win him
With a plan of great profit?

He is not blind, nor easily fooled –
How then can I win him
By lying in bed as if gravely ill?

I will go mad, pull out my hair,
Grind my face in the dirt –
How will this win him?

He sees everything –
how can I ever fool him?

He is not a seeker of fame,
A prince addicted to the praise of poets –
How then can I win him
With flowing rhymes and poetic verses?

The glory of his unseen form
Fills the whole universe
How then can I win him
With a mere promise of paradise?

I may cover the earth with roses,
I may fill the ocean with tears,
I may shake the heavens with praises –
none of this will win him.

There is only one way to win him,
this Beloved of mine –

Become his.

-- Version by Jonathan Star
"A Garden Beyond Paradise"
Bantam Books, 1992


Reason says, I will beguile him with the tongue;" Love
says, "Be silent. I will beguile him with the soul."
The soul says to the heart, "Go, do not laugh at me
and yourself. What is there that is not his, that I may
beguile him thereby?"
He is not sorrowful and anxious and seeking oblivion
that I may beguile him with wine and a heavy measure.
The arrow of his glance needs not a bow that I should
beguile the shaft of his gaze with a bow.
He is not prisoner of the world, fettered to this world
of earth, that I should beguile him with gold of the
kingdom of the world.
He is an angel, though in form he is a man; he is not
lustful that I should beguile him with women.
Angels start away from the house wherein this form
is, so how should I beguile him with such a form and
He does not take a flock of horses, since he flies on wings;
his food is light, so how should I beguile him with bread?
He is not a merchant and trafficker in the market of the
world that I should beguile him with enchantment of gain
and loss.
He is not veiled that I should make myself out sick and
utter sighs, to beguile him with lamentation.
I will bind my head and bow my head, for I have got out
of hand; I will not beguile his compassion with sickness or
Hair by hair he sees my crookedness and feigning; what’s
hidden from him that I should beguile him with anything
He is not a seeker of fame, a prince addicted to poets,
that I should beguile him with verses and lyrics and
flowing poetry.
The glory of the unseen form is too great for me to
beguile it with blessing or Paradise.
Shams-e Tabriz, who is his chosen and beloved – perchance
I will beguile him with this same pole of the age.

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

The image:

The Persian recitation:


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