Rumi quotes in bold arabesque (orange).
Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, or just Rumi. I met his writing a couple of years ago. You can find a link to his poems on my sidebar. I had heard about him in Istanbul when we lived there in the late 1980s.
You picked up a handful of earth, I was in that handful.
Rumi was born in present day Afghanistan September 30, 1207. Apparently 2007 is the year of Rumi, celebrating his birth year 800 years ago. He died in Konya, Turkey, December 17, 1273. This carpet in our guest room is from Konya, where Rumi died and is buried.
Not until a person dissolves, can
he or she know what union is.
There is a descent into emptiness.
A lie will not change to truth
with just talking about it.
I’ve read that he’s the most popular poet in the U.S. (best selling). I find this surprising. I’m guessing 10 years ago not many had heard of him here. Is it surprising to you that an 800-year-old Persian poet is the most popular in the United States of America, more popular than Robert Frost or Maya Angelou? But if you pay attention to the boom in Eastern philosophy in this country, maybe it isn’t too surprising.
A lover wants only to be in love’s presence, an ocean whose depth will never be known.
Love’s work looks absurd, but trying to find a
meaning will hide it more. Silence.
And isn’t it a little ironic that a mystical Muslim is our poet, when our government has demonized Muslims? I am tired of being around such blindness. Oh, the beauty of poetry to bridge this gap.
Blessed is one who sees his weakness, and blessed is one who, when
he sees a flaw in someone
else, takes responsibility for it. Because, half of any person
is wrong and weak and off
the path. Half! The other half is dancing and swimming and
flying in the invisible joy.
Last night Coleman Barks, translator of Rumi in the volume I own, came to my University, and Inge and I went to hear him, and also to see the Whirling Dervishes after his reading.
Barks’ voice is deep and just a tad southern. (He was born in Tennessee and now lives in Atlanta.) For an hour and a half, he recited from memory or read Rumi on the mysteries and perplexities of love and life, accompanied by Glen Velez, drummer (please go to his link and see how amazing his playing is), and David Darling, cellist. Barks' strong voice supported by the beats of the drum and the pluck of the cello melded into a very easy-to-listen-to rhythmic cadence. Each artist alone would have forced my eyes closed in delight. But hearing the trio together, I simply sat in stunned bliss. Actually, it was a quartet, Rumi in the lead. Every moment the sunlight is totally empty and totally full.
Rumi asks, What is the heart? What is it to be a true human being? What is in the human exchange?
After Rumi’s death, the Mevlevi Sufi Order was founded, they are the Whirling Dervishes.
Following Barks’ reading, Velez’ drumming and Darling’s cello playing, two Whirling Dervishes whirled in a performance. Dervishes believe their ecstasy from union with God culminates in this dance.
I was a little troubled, even beforehand, by the prospect of watching this practice, because it felt as if I would be watching something intimate, and I wondered how this could be conjured for a show?
Be a clear and rational lunatic.
So mostly I just closed my eyes and listened to the Sufi musical foursome from Chicago play for the Dervishes. They too were earnest, and I appreciated their devotion, all of them.
The two dancers walked in ceremoniously, dressed in white gowns covered by black robes. It’s now time to live naked.
But the event for me was about listening to the words of a man who thought he
could find a way through fire, expressed through the artistry of three men whose gifts and skills match the depths of a poet’s words still alive after 800 years.You’ve been walking the ocean’s edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry. You
must dive naked under and deeper under, a thousand
times deeper! Love flows down. The ground
submits to the sky and suffers what comes. Tell
me, is the earth worse for giving in like that?