Thursday, April 12, 2012

[Sunlight] I was dead; I became alive - Ghazal 1393


Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1393, in versions by Coleman
Barks and Jonathan Star, and in translations by Nader Khalili and
A.J. Arberry:


"Sublime Generosity"

I was dead, then alive.
Weeping, then laughing.

The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.

He said, "You're not mad enough.
You don't belong in this house."

I went wild and had to be tied up.
He said, "Still not wild enough
to stay with us!"

I broke through another layer
into joyfulness.

He said, "It's not enough."
I died.

He said, "You're a clever little man,
full of fantasy and doubting."

I plucked out my feathers and became a fool.
He said, "Now you're the candle
for this assembly."

But I'm no candle. Look!
I'm scattered smoke.

He said, "You are the sheikh, the guide."
But I'm not a teacher, I have no power.

He said, "You already have wings.
I cannot give you wings."

But I wanted his wings.
I felt like some flightless chicken.

Then new events said to me,
"Don't move. A sublime generosity is
coming toward you."

And old love said, "Stay with me."

I said, "I will."

You are the fountain of the sun's light.
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.

The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say "Thank you, thank you."

Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
changes into the moon and then the whole nightsky.

This comes of smiling back
at your smile.

The chess master says nothing,
other than moving the silent chess piece.

That I am part of the ploys
of this game makes me
amazingly happy.

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


"My King"

I was dead and now I am alive.
I was in tears and now I am laughing.
The power of love swept over my soul
and now I am that eternal power.

My eyes are content.
My soul is fulfilled.
My heart is roaring.
My face glows like Venus.

He said, "But you are not mad with love.
You don't belong in this house."
I went and became mad.
I put chains round my neck.

He said, "But you are not drunk with love.
You don't belong at this party."
I went and became drunk.
I rolled on the floor with joy.

He said, "But you have not tasted the sweetness of death."
I sipped the wine of death
and fell before His life-giving face.

He said, "But you are a worldly man,
you have so many clever questions."
I went and became a fool,
babbling at every street-corner. . . .

He said, "Now you are a candle.
Everyone in the gathering has turned toward you."

"No, I don't belong here.
I am not a candle,
I am a wisp of smoke."

He said, "You are a Shaykh and a Master,
A guide of lost souls."

"No, I am not a Shaykh nor a guide,
I am slave to your every word."

He said, "You can fly.
Why should I give you feathers and wings?"

"For "your" feathers and wings
I would clip my own
and crawl upon the ground. . . ."

You are the majestic fountain of the Sun
that pours upon my head.
I am the shadow of a willow tree
bent over and melting.

When my heart was warmed by your radiant Sun
I took off my torn clothes
and put on fine silk.
My soul was once a slave and a donkey-driver,
Now it swaggers down the street
like a kingly lord.

The knowledge of you has lifted me up,
Now I am a star shining above the seventh heaven.
I was a glitter in the night sky,
Now I am the Moon and the two hundred folds of heaven.
I was Joseph at the bottom of a well,
Now I am Joseph the King!

O famous Moon, shine on me.
A ray of your light
would turn my world into a rosegarden.

Now I will move in silence,
Like a chess piece,
Watching as my whole life
revolves around
the position of my King.

-- Version by Jonathan Star
"Rumi - In the Arms of the Beloved"
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997


i was dead
i came alive
i was tears
i became laughter

all because of love
when it arrived
my temporal life
from then on
changed to eternal

love said to me
you are not
crazy enough
you don't
fit this house

i went and
became crazy
crazy enough
to be in chains

love said
you are not
intoxicated enough
you don't
fit the group

i went and
got drunk
drunk enough
to overflow
with light-headedness

love said
you are still
too clever
filled with
imagination and skepticism

i went and
became gullible
and in fright
pulled away
from it all

love said
you are a candle
attracting everyone
gathering every one
around you

i am no more
a candle spreading light
i gather no more crowds
and like smoke
i am all scattered now

love said
you are a teacher
you are a head
and for everyone
you are a leader

i am no more
not a teacher
not a leader
just a servant
to your wishes

love said
you already have
your own wings
i will not give you
more feathers

and then my heart
pulled itself apart
and filled to the brim
with a new light
overflowed with fresh life

now even the heavens
are thankful that
because of love
i have become
the giver of light

-- Translation by Nader Khalili,
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1994


I was dead, I became alive; I was weeping, I became laughing;
the power of love came, and I became everlasting power.
My eye is satiated, my soul is bold, I have the heart of a lion, I
have become shining Venus.
He said, "You are not mad, you are not appropriate to this
house"; I went and became mad, I became bound in shackles.
He said, "You are not intoxicated; go, for you belong not to
this party"; I went and became intoxicated, I became overflowing
with joy.
He said, "You are not slain, you are not drenched in joy";
before his life-giving face I became slain and cast down.
He said, "You are a clever little man, drunk with fancy and
doubt"; I became a fool, I became straightened, I became
plucked up out of all.
He said, "You have become a candle, the qibla of this assem-
bly"; I am not of assembly, I am not candle, I have become
scattered smoke.
He said, "You are shaikh and headman, you are leader and
guide"; I am not shaikh, I am not leader, I have become slave
to your command.
He said, "You have pinions and wings, I will not give you
wings and pinions"; in desire for his pinions and wings I became
wingless and impotent*.
New fortune said to me, "Go not on the way, do not become
pained, for out of grace and generosity I am now coming to you."
Old love said to me, "Do not move from my breast"; I said,
"Yes, I will not, I am at rest and remain."
You are the fountain of the sun, I am the shadow of the
willow; when You strike my head, I become low and melting.
My heart felt the glow of the soul, my heart opened and split,
my heart wove a new satin, I became enemy of this ragged one.
The form of the soul at dawn swaggered insolently; I was a
slave and an ass-driver, I became king and lord.
Your paper gives thanks for your limitless sugar, for it came
into my embrace, and I dwelt in it.
My darkling earth gives thanks for my bent sky and sphere,
for through its gaze and circling I became light-receiving.
The sphere of heaven gives thanks for king and kingdom and
angel, for through his generosity and bounty I have become
bright and bountiful.
The gnostic of God gives thanks that we have outraced all;
above the seven layers* I have become a shining star.
I was Venus, I became the moon, I became the two hundred-
fold sky; I was Joseph, henceforth I have become the waxing
Famous moon, I am yours, look upon me and yourself, for
from the trace of your smile I have become a smiling rosegarden.
Move silently like a chessman, yourself all tongue, for through
the face* of the king of the world I have become happy and

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
University of Chicago Press, 1968, 1991

* "Impotent": i.e. "plucked clean of feathers."
* "The seven layers": the seven heavens.
* Joseph, after coming up from the well, waxed in beauty and
* "The face": a pun on "rukh", which also means "rook".




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