Monday, April 12, 2010

[Sunlight] The story of the King of Tirmid and the fool

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Sunlight offers Mathnawi, Volume VI, verses 2510-54, the story of
the King of Tirmid and the fool, as interpreted by Coleman Barks:

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The King of Tirmid
has urgent business in Samarcand.

He needs a courier to go there and return
in five days. He offers many rewards to anyone
who will make the journey -- horses, servants, gold,
and the robes of honor.
Dalqak, the court clown,
is out in the country when he hears of this.
He quickly mounts a horse and rides toward town.
He rides furiously. Two horses drop dead
of exhaustion under his whip.
He arrives
covered with dust at some ungodly hour,
demanding an audience with the king.

A panic sweeps the city. What calamity
could be so imminent that Dalqak, the buffoon,
should be so distraught? Everyone gathers
at the palace.
"An evil omen is upon us!"
"Something has been spilled on the rug
this time!"
The king himself is worried.
"What is it, Dalqak?"
Whenever anyone asks Dalqak
for particulars about anything, he first puts his finger
to his lips,
Shhhhh ...
Everyone gets very quiet.
Dalqak makes another gesture as though to say
he needs more time to catch his breath.

Another long wait. No one has ever seen Dalqak
like this. Usually, he's a constant stream
of new jokes. Usually, the king would be
laughing so hard he'd fall on the floor
holding his stomach. This quietness
is very odd and foreboding.
Everyone's worst fears
come up.
"The tyrant from Khwarism
is coming to kill us!"
"Dalqak, say what it is!"

"I was far from the court when I heard
that you needed a courier, someone who could go
to Samarcand and come back in five days."
"Yes!"
"I hurried here to tell you
that I will not be able to do it."
"What!"
"I don't have the stamina or the agility.
Don't expect me to be the one."
"This
is what you made such a commotion about,
that you won't do it?"
Dalqak is like those who pretend
to be on a brave spiritual path.
The bridgegroom's house
is in an uproar of preparation, making always ready
to receive the bride,
but the girl's family
knows nothing. Any message yet?
"No."
Letters have been written
and sent, but have any of them reached
the Friend? Has your inner lover read them?

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

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1 comment:

diipo said...

need to read this again!