Poems by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, thirteenth century Persian poet
Translated by Coleman Barks
Shadow and Light Source Both
How does a part of the world leave the world?
How does wetness leave water? Dont’ try to
put out fire by throwing on more fire! Don’t
wash a wound with blood. No matter how fast
you run, your shadow keeps up. Sometimes it’s
in front! Only full overhead sun diminishes
your shadow. But that shadow has been serving
you. What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is
your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.
I could explain this, but it will break the
glass cover on your heart, and there’s no
fixing that. You must have shadow and light
source both. Listen, and lay your head under
the tree of awe. When from that tree feathers
and wings sprout on you, be quieter than
a dove. Don’t even open your mouth for even a coo.
From Soul of Rumi
by Coleman Barks
Who Says Words With My Mouth?
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry, I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks
Essential Rumi and Soul of Rumi are available at Amazon.com
Photo: http://www.naturespicsonline.com / Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. / Mourning Dove, Cabin Lake Viewing Blinds, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon
For more poetry by Rumi, click here.