Monday, May 07, 2007

"I'd give my life for a sign of that Joseph"


Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 2779, in a version by Coleman Barks,
and in the translation by A.J. Arberry, upon which Barks based his

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Has anyone seen the boy who used to come here?
Round-faced troublemaker, quick to find a joke, slow
to be serious. Red shirt,
perfect coordination, sly,
strong muscles, with things always in this pocket: reed flute,
ivory pick, polished and ready for his talent.
You know that one.

Have you heard stories about him?
Pharaoh and the whole Egyptian world
collapsed for such a Joseph.
I'd gladly spend years getting word
of him, even third or fourth-hand.

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


Proclaim, O crier, at the head of every market, "Have you
seen, Muslims, a runaway slave?"
"A slave moonfaced, musk-scented, a troublemaker--swift of
pace in time of coquetry, in time of peace slow.
"A boy, ruby-robed, charming of countenance, sugar-sweet,
cypress-stature, saucy-eyed,acute, perfectly poised;
"In his bosom a rebec, in his hand a plucker; he plays a sweet
air, charming, well-seated.
"Does anyone have a fruit of the garden of his beauty? Or a
bunch of roses to smell from the rose bed of his loveliness?
"A Joseph by whose price the king of Egypt was bankrupted,
on every side heart-wounded ones like Jacob by his glance.
"I will give freely my sweet life as lawful to whomever brings
me a sign of him, or even a veiled hint."

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

The media:

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