Monday, September 26, 2011

[Sunlight] Flee to the grace of God -- Ghazal 2894


Today, Sunlight offers Molana Rumi's Ghazal (Ode) 2894, in a
version by Coleman Barks, and in the translation by A.J. Arberry,
upon which Barks based his interpretive version:


It's a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?

Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you're equal portions
clay and water, thick mud.

Abraham learned how the sun
and the moon and the stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore.
You're trying to live your life in open scaffolding.
Say Bismillah, In the name of God,
as the priest does with a knife
when he offers an animal.
"Bismillah" your old self to find your real name.

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


With such a gait, when will you reach the station? With such
a habit, how will you gain the goal?
You are very heavy of soul and camel-hearted; when will you
arrive among the nimble-spirited?*
With such grossness how will you be modest? with such a
joining [attachment for the world], how will you reach the one
who enjoys the union?
Since there is no broadness in the mind, how will you achieve
the society of the difficult secret?*
You are like water left in this clay; so how will you attain the
pure water and clay?
Disregard the sun and moon like Abraham, else how will you
attain the perfect sun?*
Since you are weak, go, flee to the grace of God, for without
the Gracious how will you attain the excellence?
Without the tender care of that sea of loving kindness, how
will you reach the shore of such a wave?
Without the Boraq* of love and the labor of Gabriel how will
you like Mohammad attain all the stages?
You take shelter in those who are without shelter; how will
you attain the shelter of the welcoming king?
Before besmellah sacrifice yourself utterly; else, when you lie
dead, how will you attain the Name of God?*

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
University of Chicago Press, 1979

* "Camel-hearted" is a cowardly person or someone who holds a grudge long in his heart.
* Arberry had: "Since there is no opening in your head..."
* Qur'an 6: 76-7: "When the night covered him [Abraham], he saw a star; he said: 'This is my Lord.' But when it set, he said, 'Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.' When he saw the sun rising in splendor, he said: 'This is my Lord, who is the greatest of all.' But when the sun set, he said: 'O my people! I am now free from your guilt of giving partners to God."
* Boraq is the legendary steed of Mohammad which carried him to his ascension.
* Besmellah al-rahman al-rahim (in the name of God, most gracious, most merciful) is repeated in the beginning of every chapter of the Qur'an. Also it is mentioned when a bird or animal is slaughtered.




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