Monday, September 10, 2007

[Sunlight] "Shadow and light together" -- Ghazal 2155


Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 2155, from Rumi's Diwan-e
Shams, in a version by Coleman Barks, and in translation by A.J.


How does a part of the world leave the world?
How can wetness leave water?

Don't try to put out a fire
by throwing on more fire!
Don't wash a wound with blood!

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up.
Sometimes, it's in front!

Only full, overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow has been serving you!
What hurts you, blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.

I can explain this, but it would break
the glass cover on your heart,
and there's no fixing that.

You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

When from that tree, feathers and wings sprout
on you, be quieter than a dove.
Don't open your mouth for even a cooooooo.

When a frog slips into the water, the snake
cannot get it. Then the frog climbs back out
and croaks, and the snake moves toward him again.

Even if the frog learned to hiss, still the snake
would hear through the hiss the information
he needed, the frog voice underneath.

But if the frog could be completely silent,
then the snake would go back to sleeping,
and the frog could reach the barley.

The soul lives there in the silent breath.

And that grain of barley is such that,
when you put it in the ground,
it grows.
Are these enough words,
or shall I squeeze more juice from this?
Who am I, my friend?

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
Castle Books, 1997


Say, how shall a part of the world depart from the world? How
shall moisture escape from water, one leap from two?
No fire dies from another fire, my son; O my heart bleeding of
love, wash not my blood in blood.
However much I fled, my shadow did not leave me; shadow
must be in charge of me, even though I become as the thread of
a hair.
Only the sun has the power to drive away shadows, the sun
increases and diminishes them; seek this from the sun.
Though for two thousands years you are running in the back of
the shadow, in the end you will see that you are behind and the
shadow before.
Your sin has become your service, your pain your blessing,
your candle your darkness, your bounds seeking and questing.
I would explain this, only it would break the back of your
heart; when you break the glass of the heart, repairs are of no
You must have both shadow and light together; listen to me,
lay your head down and prostrate yourself before the tree of the
fear of God.*
When from the tree of His grace wings and feathers sprout
for you, be silent as a dove, do not open your mouth for cooing.
When a frog enters water, the snake cannot reach it; the frog
croaks and gives information so that the snake knows where
he is.
Even though the cunning frog should hiss like a snake, the
feeble frog-sound of his betrays the true voice.
If the frog were silent, the snake would be his prey: when it
retires into its corner, the barleycorn and grain become a treasure.
When the golden barleycorn has become a treasure, it does
not diminish in the earth; the barleycorn of the soul becomes a
treasure when it attains the treasure of Hu.
Shall I finish these words, or shall I squeeze them again?
Yours is the decree; what am I, O gracious king?

-- Ghazal (Ode) 2155, from Rumi's "Diwan-e Shams"
Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
University of Chicago Press, 1979

* I.e. "O you who believe! Fear God as He should be feared, and die
not except in a state of Islam." Qur'an 3: 102.


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