Monday, May 04, 2009

[Sunlight] The Waterwheel -- Ghazal 359


Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 0359, from Rumi's "Diwan-e Shams", in an interpretive version by Coleman Barks, and in the translation by A.J. Arberry, upon which Barks based his interpretation:


"The Waterwheel"

In this river the soul is a waterwheel
that no matter how it's facing, water pours
through turning, re-turning to the river.

Even if you put your side
or your back to the river,
water still comes through.

A shadow can't ignore the sun
that all day creates and moves it!

The soul lives like a drop of mercury
in the palm of a palsied man.

Or say the soul is the moon,
that every thirty nights has two
so empty, in union, that it disappears.

The other twenty-eight nights it endures
different stages of separation,
wretched, but laughing.

Laughter is the way of lovers.
They live and die tickled,

and always fresh-faced, knowing
the return that's coming.

Don't question this! The answers
and your questions in response

will cause your eyes to see wrongly.
Live the laughing silence.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I am You"
Maypop, 1994


In this river the heart is like a ruined waterwheel; in which-
ever direction it turns, there is water before it;
And even if you turn your back to the water, the water runs
hurrying before you.
How shall the shadow save its soul from the sun, seeing that its
soul is in the hand of the sun?
If the shadow stretches forth its neck, the sun's face that in-
stant is shrouded.
Brave Sun, before which this sun in heaven quivers with fear
like quicksilver!
The moon is like quicksilver on a palsied palm-- one night
only, and for the rest it is poured forth;
In every thirty nights, two nights it is united and lean, for the
rest it endures separation, and separation is torture.*
Though it is wretched, it is fresh of face; laughter is the habit
and wont of lovers.
It lives laughing, and likewise dies laughing, for its return is to
laughing fortune.
Keep silent, for the faults of vision always come from question
and answer.

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

* The idea seems to be that the moon's occultation is during union
with the sun; the terms "united" and "separation" belong to the tech-
nical vocabulary of Sufism.




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