Friday, March 28, 2008

[Sunlight] Devour my verse the moment it is fresh


Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 981, from Rumi's "Diwan-e
Shams", in a literal translation by Chittick, a poetic version by
Star, and a second literal by A.J. Arberry:


My poetry is like Egyptian bread: Night passes
and you cannot eat it.
Eat it while it is fresh, before the dust settles
on it!
Its place is in the tropics of the awareness - it
dies in this world because of the cold.
Like a fish, it flops a moment on dry ground. A
while later you see it lifeless.
If you eat it imagining it to be fresh, you will
have to paint many fantastic images.
You will devour your own imagination, not
these ancient words, oh man!

-- Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love - The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi"
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983


"The Bread of Egypt"

My poetry is like the bread of Egypt -
if one night passes
it will become stale.
Partake while it is still fresh,
before it dries out in the air.

My words rise in the warmth of the heart,
they fade in the cold of the world.
Like fish on dry land
they quiver for a moment, then die.

If you take in my words but do not digest them
you'll have to color every truth
with your own imaginings.

O man, you drink from an empty cup
while the precious wine gets poured
in the gutter.
You drink from the well of your own delusion
while spitting out
these sweet and ancient words.

If you eat stale bread
thinking that it's fresh,
all you'll get is a stomachache.

-- Version by Jonathan Star
"Rumi - In the Arms of the Beloved"
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997


My verse resembles the bread of Egypt - night passes over it,
and you cannot eat it any more.
Devour it the moment it is fresh, before the dust settles
upon it.
Its place is the warm climate of the heart; in this world it dies
of cold.
Like a fish it quivered for an instant on dry land, another
moment and you see it is cold.
Even if you eat it imagining it is fresh, it is necessary to
conjure up many images.
What you drink is really your own imagination; it is no old tale,
my good man.

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




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