Today, Sunlight offers verses from the Mathnawi, in an interpretive version by Professor Coleman Barks, and in the translation by Professor Nicholson, upon which Professor Barks based his version:
The Water You Want
Someone may be clairvoyant, able to see
the future, and yet have very little wisdom.
Like the man who saw water in his dream,
and began leading everyone toward the mirage.
"I am the one with heart-vision.
I've torn open the veil."
So they set out with him inside the dream,
while he is actually sleeping beside a river
of pure water. Any search moves away from
the spot where the object of the quest is.
Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way.
Maybe some traveler will wake you.
Give up subtle thinking,
the twofold, threefold
multiplication of mistakes.
Listen to the sound of waves
There you are,
dreaming your thirst,
when the water you want
is inside the big vein on your neck.
-- Mathnavi IV: 3226-3241
Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I Am You"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The eye and spirit that sees (only) the transient falls on its face
continually wherever it goes.
A far-seeing man who lacks knowledge may see far, just as
(one has)far sight in dreams.
You are asleep with parched lips on the bank of the river, and (in
your dream) are running in search of water towards the mirage.
You see the mirage far away and run (towards it): you become in love with
your own sight.
In the dream you boast to your friends, saying, "I am the one
whose heart possesses vision, and (I am) the one that rends the veil.
Lo, I see water yonder: hark, make haste that we may go
there" – and it is (only) the mirage.
At every step you hurry farther away from the water, whilst
you keep running on towards the perilous mirage.
Your very setting-out has become the barrier (which prevents you) from
(seeing) this that has come close to you.
Oh, many a one sets out to some place from the spot where the object of
his quest is (to be found).
The (far) sight and boasting of the sleeper is of no avail; it is
naught but a phantasy: hold aloof from it.
Thou art sleepy, but anyhow sleep on the Way (i.e., do not abandon the
Way and sleep elsewhere): for God's sake, for God's sake, sleep on the Way
That perchance a Traveller (on the Way) may attach himself to thee and
tear thee from the phantasies of slumber.
(Even) is the sleeper's thought become (subtle) as a hair, he
will not find the way to the Abode by the subtlety.
Whether the sleeper's thought is twofold or threefold, still it is error
on error on error.
The waves are beating upon him without restraint, (whilst) he asleep is
running in the long wilderness.
The sleeper dreams of the sore pangs of thirst, (whilst) the water is
nearer unto him than the neck-vein.
-- Mathnawi IV: 3226-3241
Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"
Archive for Sunlight can be accessed at:
To subscribe, please send an email to : firstname.lastname@example.org
To unsubscribe, please send an email to: email@example.com
Yahoo! Groups Links
<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:
<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional
<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)
<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: