Rūmī, born Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī (1207-1273), is the greatest Persian poet of love, and one of the greatest love-poets of all time, in any language.
Born in what is now western Afghanistan, Rūmī died and was buried in Turkey. He remains a revered literary figure in modern Iran, however; I am curious as to how this predominantly Shi'ite country reconciles itself with his mystical, sensual, Sufi outlook, suffused with physicality and emotion.
Rūmī is perhaps most famous for his (probably but not necessarily homoerotic) poetry addressed to Shams-i-Tabrīzī, collected in The Big Red Book (among other volumes), which celebrates their mystical love and friendship.
The following poem, translated (and freely, at that) by Coleman Barks, had me FLOORED.
Entitled Abraham and Isaac, it plays with the theme of love as blood-sacrifice (as a brief aside, this biblical theme, in particular, was often treated as homoerotic by European Renaissance and Baroque painters: see Caravaggio's paintings on the subject: Abraham bending Isaac over an altar and drawing a long sharp knife, etc). This may be the wrong interpretation of this particular poem, but personally I believe that Rūmī is doing something similar here. To me, it's pretty obvious that the "flame" reaching the "thicket" is a substitute for ejaculation. However, you can also read it mystically, .
The beloved arrives.
My roof and door become living tissue.
I have business in the city.
If you leave, I will not survive.
Give me one night.
Many people are in my care.
Their blood is my ascending planet.
I must follow that.
Taste my blood, I beg.
A rare offer. Do you know how it is for those with me?
To die seventy times and seventy times be born again.
The prophet Isaac is dust by the door.
Die. I will bring you back.
Do not flutter in my hand.
Do not wince at the knife blade.
Laugh as you are pulled from the garden
and plunged into powdered sugar.
You are Isaac. I am Abraham.
How could I hurt you? Love is a father.
The beloved leaves like a gust of wind.
Do not hurry, I call. Go slowly.
This is as slow as I can move.
No one has ever seen me when I hurry.
Be quiet now. The gray sky-horse is lame.
Flame reaches to the thicket.
Quieter. Save some for another day.
Absolutely.. His works are very popular here and most of them are available in translation in various Indian Languages. Beautiful verses.
Originally Posted by Liam
A breathtaking new selection of 100 of Rumi's love poems is being released in May 2012, "beautifully packaged and illustrated with Persian calligraphy." A welcome new translation of the Middle East's most popular and enduring poet.
Yes, I agree - Rumi without a doubt is part of the universal cultural heritage.
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