Monday, January 08, 2007


Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 735, in a version by Coleman
Barks, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

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As elephants remember India
perfectly, as mind dissolves,

as song begins, as the glass

fills, wind rising, a roomful

of conversation, a sanctuary
of prostration, a bird lights

on my hand in this day born of
friends, this ocean covering

everything, all roads opening,
a person changing to kindness,

no one reasonable, religious
jargon forgotten, and Saladin

there raising his hand to bid
on the bedraggled boy Joseph.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
(based on a Nevit Ergin translation)
"The Soul of Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 2001

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Last night our elephant remembered India again, in frenzy
he was rending the veil of night till dawn.
Last night the flagons of the sakis were all overbrimming
- O may our life be like last night till the day of resurrection!
The wines were bubbling and the reasons were senseless on
account of him; may part and whole, thorn and rose by happy
because of his lovely face!
The cup-on-cup clamour of the drunkards mounted to
heaven; in our hands was the wine, and in our heads the wind.
Thousands of uproars fell upon the skies because of
these, there hundreds of thousands of Kai-Qubads were fallen pros-
The day of triumph and good fortune was contained in our
night; of the brethren of purity night suddenly gave birth to
such a day.
The sea broke into waves; heaven received a token of this
night, and in pride set that token on its head and face.
Whatever ways humanity had closed in darkness, the light
of divinity in compassion was opening up.
How should the sensible forms on account of that passion
remain in place? How should he remain in place who attains
this desire?
Begin life anew, Moslems! For the Beloved has converted
non-entity into being, and dispensed justice to the lovers.
Our Beloved henceforward holds the fallen to be pardon-
able, because wherever He is the saki no one remains on the
right course.
The surging of the sea of grace, Moslems, has wrecked the
pomp of personal effort and the programme of belief.
That grace is King Salah al-Din, for he is a Joseph whom the
Lord of Egypt himself must purchase at a great price.

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

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