Monday, January 25, 2010

[Sunlight] " Who is there who discovers the dawn" -- Ghazal 598


Sunlight presents Ode 598 - a poetic version Coleman Barks, a
poetic translation by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva, and a literal translation by A.J. Arberry:


Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings up
a flowing prophet? Or like Moses, goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and there's a gold ring.
Oman storms in to kill the Prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there's a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins.
Suddenly he's wealthy.

But don't be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you've grown,

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"These Branching Moments"
Copper Beech Press, 1988



O friend,
You came to see the Sun rise,
But instead you see us,
Whirling like a confusion of atoms -
Who could be so lucky?

Who comes to a lake for water
And sees the reflection of the moon?

Who, blind like Jacob,
Seeks his lost son,
And regains the light of his own eyes?

Who, parched with thirst,
Lowers a bucket into a well
And comes up with an ocean of nectar?
Who could be so lucky?

Who, like Moses, approaches a desert bush
And beholds the fire
of a hundred dawns?

Who, like Jesus, enters a house to avoid capture,
And discovers a passage to the other world?

Who, like Solomon, cuts open the stomach of a fish
And finds a golden ring?
Who could be so lucky?

An assassin rushes in to kill the Prophet
And stumbles upon a fortune.

An oyster, opens his mouth for a drop of water,
And discovers a shining pearl within himself.

A poor man, searches through a heap of garbage
And finds a magnificent treasure -
Who could be so lucky?

O friend,
Forget all your stories and fancy words.
Let friend and stranger look upon you
And see a flood of light! -
The door of heaven opening!
Let them be so lucky!

And what of those
Who walk toward Shamsuddin?
Their feet grow weary,
They fall to the ground in utter exhaustion
But then come the wings of His love,
Lifting them,

Who could be so lucky?

-- Poetic translation by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva*
A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi
Bantam Books, 1992

* Sunlight note: Star's presentations of these poems are usually
referred to as "versions," as his work is generally based on
translations he did not himself carry out. In this case, however, he
worked directly with the translator Shahram Shiva.


Morn-arising friends, who is there that discovers the dawn,
who discovers us dancing in confusion like atoms?
Who has the luck to come to the brink of a river to drink
water from that river, and to discover the reflection of the
Who is there that like Jacob from the shirt of Joseph seeks
the scent of his son, and instead discovers the light of his eyes?*
Or athirst like the bedouin casts a bucket into the well, and
in the bucket discovers a beauty like an ass-load of sugar?*
Or like Moses seeking fire, who seeks out a bush, comes to
gather the fire, and discovers a hundred dawns and sunrises?*
Jesus leaps into the house to escape from the foe; suddenly
from the house he discovers a passage to heaven.
Or like a Soloman he splits a fish, and in the belly of that
fish he discovers a ring of gold.
Sword in hand, "Umar comes intending to slay the Prophet;
he falls into God's snare, and discovers a kindly regard from
Or like Adham's son he drives towards a deer to make the
deer his prey, and instead discovers another prey.*
Or like a thirsty oyster shell he comes with gaping mouth to
take a drop of water into himself, and discovers a pearl within
Or a man foraging who turns towards desolations, and
suddenly in a desolation he discovers news of a treasure.
Traveller, have done with legends, so that intimate alike
and stranger may discover without your exposition the light of
Did We not open.*
Whoever strides sincerely towards Shams al-Din, though
his foot may grow weary, he will discover two wings from

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

* Koran 12:94
* Koran 12:19
*Koran 20:9-10
* See "Discourses of Rumi" 171.
* For the famous conversion of Ibrahim ibn Adham (d.160/776),
see E.I. II:433.
* "Did we not open": Koran 94:I.



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