Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Springtide is like the Messiah"


In ongoing celebration of the impending arrival of spring and
Nowrooz, today Sunlight offers Molana's Ghazal 2003, from the "Diwan-
e Shams-e Tabrizi", in a version by Coleman Barks, and in translation
by A.J. Arberry, with links to the Persian text and recitation:

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Everyone has eaten and fallen asleep. The house is empty.
We walk out to the garden to let the apple meet the peach,
to carry messages between rose and jasmine.

Spring is Christ,
raising martyred palms from their shrouds.
Their mouths open in gratitude, wanting to be kissed.
The glow of the rose and the tulip means a lamp
is inside. A leaf trembles, I tremble
in the wind-beauty like silk from Turkestan.
The censer fans into flame.

This wind is the Holy Spirit.
The trees are Mary.
Watch how husband and wife play subtle games with their hands.
Cloudy pearls from Aden are thrown across the lovers,
as is the marriage custom.

The scent of Joseph's shirt comes to Jacob.
A red carnelian of Yemeni laughter is heard
by Muhammed in Mecca.

We talk about this and that. There's no rest
except on these branching moments.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco 1995
(Reprinted from Barks' volume,
"These Branching Moments")

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All have eaten and fallen asleep, and the house has become
empty; it is time for us to saunter forth to the garden.
To draw the skirt of the apple towards the peach, to carry a
few words from the dewy rose to the jasmine.
Springtide is like the Messiah, it is an art, a spell, that the
plant-martyrs may arise from their winding-sheets.
Since those fair idols opened their mouths in gratitude, the
soul not attaining a kiss is drunk with the perfume of their
The glow on the cheeks of rose and tulip informs me that there
is a lamp hidden in this place under the screen.
The leaf trembles on the twig, and my heart is trembling; the
leaf trembles in the wind, my heart for the beauty of Kotan.*
The hand of the zephyr has fanned the censor till it taught
good manners to the children of the garden.
The breath of the Holy Spirit has encountered the trees of
Mary; see how husband and wife are playing with hands to-
gether [in joy].
The cloud, seeing the lovely ones beneath the canopy, scat-
tered over them jewels and pearls of Aden.*
Now that the red rose in joy has rent its shirt, the time has
come for the shirt to reach Jacob.*
Since the Yemeni carnelian of the Beloved's lips laughed, the
scent of God reaches Mohammad from Yemen.
We have spoken much at random, and our heart has not found
repose save upon the scattered tress of the King of the time.

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

* Kotan: Chinese Turkestan which was proverbially known for its
beautiful inhabitants.
* Scattering coins over the head of the bride is still done in the
* Jacob smelled from afar the perfume of Joseph's vest (Qur'an 12:94).

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The media:

~~Nowrooz Mobarak~~

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