Thursday, November 03, 2011

[Sunlight] Show me the ladder, that I may mount up to heaven


Here, Sunlight offers two renditions of Ghazal (Ode) 19 -- a
version by Coleman Barks, and the translation by A.J. Arberry,
upon which Barks based his version:


Any Chance Meeting

In every gathering, in any chance meeting
on the street, there is a shine,
an elegance rising up.

Today, I recognized that that jewel-like beauty
is the presence, our loving confusion,
the glow in which watery clay
gets brighter than fire,

the one we call the Friend.
I begged, "Is there a way into you,
a ladder?"
"Your head is the ladder.
Bring it down under your feet."

The mind, this globe of awareness,
is a starry universe that when
you push off from it with your foot,

a thousand new roads come clear, as you yourself
do at dawn, sailing through the light.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I am You"
Maypop, 1994


Today I beheld the beloved, that ornament of every affair;
he went off departing to heaven like the spirit of Mustafa.
The sun is put to shame by his countenance, heaven's sphere is
as confused as the heart; through his glow, water and clay are
more resplendent than fire.
I said, "Show me the ladder, that I may mount up to heaven."
He said, "Your head is the ladder; bring your head down under
your feet."
When you place your feet on your head, you will place your
feet on the head of the stairs; when you cleave through the air, set
your foot on the air, so, and come!
A hundred ways to heaven's air become manifest to you; you
go flying up to heaven every dawning like a prayer.

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
University of Chicago Press, 1991

Arberry's notes:

1. "Like the spirit of Mustafa": a reference to the famous mi'raj (Ascension) of Muhammad. The orthodox view was that his ascension was bodily, but Rumi is attracted by the double meaning of "ravan" ("departing" and "spirit").
2. "Confused": literally, "latticed"
3. "Your head is the ladder; bring your head down under your feet."
-- prostration in prayer, the subjection of reason to spirit.




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