Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 423, 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 version:
The Source of Joy
No one knows what makes the soul
wake up so happy!
Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil
from the face of God.
A thousand new moons appear.
Roses open laughing.
Hearts become perfect rubies
like those from Badakshan.
The body turns entirely spirit.
Leaves become branches in the wind!
Why is it now so easy to surrender,
even for those already surrendered?
There's no answer to any of this.
No one knows the source of joy.
A poet breathes into a reed flute,
and the tip of every hair makes music.
Shams sails down clods of dirt from the roof,
and we take jobs as doorkeepers for him.
-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I am You"
Has perchance this instant the tip of that tress become
scattered? For such a Tartar musk has become amber-diffusing.
Has perchance the dawn breeze lifted the veil from His
face? For thousands of unseen moons have begun to shine.
Is there any soul which is not happy through His sweet
perfume? Though the soul has no clue as to the source of its
Many a happy rose is laughing through the breath of God,
yet every soul does not know whence it has become laughing.
How fairly the sun of His cheek has shone today, through
which thousands of hearts have become rubies of Badakhshan.*
Yet why should not the lover set his heart upon Him
through whose grace the body has become wholly soul?
Did the heart perchance one morning behold Him as He
is, so that from that vision of Him it has today become after
Ever since the heart beheld that peri-born beauty of
mine, it has taken the glass into its hand and become an
If His sweet breeze blows upon the tree of the body, how
a-tremble two hundred leaves and two hundred branches have
If there is not an immortal soul for every one slain by
Him, why has it become so easy for the lover to yield up his
Even the aware ones are unaware of His life and activities,
for His life and activities have become their veil.
If the minstrel of Love has not breathed upon the reed of
a heart, why has every tip of the hair become lamenting like
the reed pipe?
If Shams-I Tabriz does not fling clods from the roof
against the heart, then why have the souls become as it were
-- Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
The University of Chicago Press, 1968
*Badakhshan in Central Asia was famous for its rubies.
*Cf. the story of Dhul-Nun in Math. II:1386-1460.
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