Today, Sunlight offers two presentations of the verses from the
Mathnawi, Volume VI, lines 216 - 227 -- the first an interpretive
version by Coleman Barks, which Barks developed relying on Professor
Reynold Nicholson's translation; the second, Nicholson's classic,
I am part of the load
not rightly balanced.
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.
For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust-grains
floating and flying in the will of the air,
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep
I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time-and-space cross,
this waiting room.
I walk into a huge pasture.
I nurse the milk of millennia.
Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.
-- Version by Coleman Barks,
"We Are Three"
Let the ill-balanced load drop from me, that I may behold the
meadow of the pious.
(Then), like the Fellows of the Cave, I shall browse on the
orchard of Bounty ˆ not awake, nay, they are asleep.*
I shall recline on the right or on the left, I shall not roll save
involuntarily, like a ball,
Just as Thou, O Lord of the Judgement, turnest me over
either to the right or to the left.
Hundreds of thousands of years I was flying (to and fro)
involuntarily, like the motes in the air.
If I have forgotten that time and state, (yet) the migration in
sleep (to the spiritual world) recalls it to my memory.
(Every night) I escape from this four-branched cross and
spring away from this (confined) halting-place into the (spacious)
pasture of the spirit.
For the nurse, Sleep, I suck the milk of those bygone days
of mine, O Lord.
All the (people in the) world are fleeing from their free-will
and (self-) existence to their drunken (unconscious) side.
In order that for awhile they may be delivered from sobriety
(consciousness), they lay upon themselves the opprobrium of
wine and minstrelsy.
All know that this existence is a snare, that volitional thought
and memory are a hell.
They are fleeing from selfhood into selflessness either by
means of intoxication or by means of (some engrossing) occupa-
tion, O well-conducted man.
-- Translation by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Gibb Memorial Trust
* Qua'an, XVIII, 17, slightly altered.
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