Rûmî's Poetry and the Soul's Perfume
by, 9th March 2010 at 08:44 AM (6929 Views)
A medieval Persian Sufi and poet of rapture, mad devotion, and mystical communion is Jalâluddîn Rûmî, who lived in the thirteenth century, and whose life was turned upside down and inside out by his meeting on 15 November 1244 with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi. For over four years, they shared a tumultuous emotional and spiritual relationship.
Shams had traveled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could "endure my company." A voice said to him, "What will you give in return?" Shams replied, "My head!" The voice then said, "The one you seek is Jalal ud-Din of Konya." On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. It is rumored that Shams was murdered with the connivance of Rumi's son, 'Ala' ud-Din; if so, Shams indeed gave his head for the privilege of mystical friendship. Rumi's love for, and his bereavement at the death of Shams found their expression in an outpouring [for more than ten years] of music, dance, and lyric poems, Divan-e Shams-e Tabriz. He himself went out searching for Shams and journeyed again to Damascus. There, he realized:The images of their relationship, and of the mystical nature of the soul's union with God are often couched in terms of perfume, aromas, and intoxication. One brief example:
Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself! [wikipedia "Rumi"]
A Smile and A GentlenessHis images include the lily, the rose, the pearl, and above all, the moon. The theme of his poetry is the all-consuming love, both human and divine, that Shams-e Tabrizi awoke in him. The perfume of which he speaks in his poems is the ecstasy of both those loves, indistinguishable to his heart and soul.
There is a smile and a gentleness
inside. When I learned the name
and address of that, I went to where
you sell perfume. I begged you not
to trouble me so with longing. Come
out and play! Flirt more naturally.
Teach me how to kiss. On the ground
a spread blanket, flame that's caught
and burning well, cumin seeds browning,
I am inside all of this with my soul.From Essential Rumi
interpreted by Coleman Barks
Rûmî never felt shame over the extravagant excesses of his love for either God or his friend. His gratitude for the blessing of this passionate devotion once awakened in his soul was boundless.
If you want to read more of Rûmî's poetry, look for contemporary English translations of his work by Coleman Barks. Barks really captures the rhapsodic nature of his verse. A warning, though: Even a small dose can be very potent for a sensitive soul.
I'll leave you with a transliteration of a Persian verse of Rûmî's (for the rhythm and flow of it), and a rendering into English:
Ey ziyân u ey ziyân u ey ziyân u ey ziyân
Hûshyârî dar miyân-e bî-khudân u bî-hushân
What a loss, loss, loss, loss it is
to remain sober among the intoxicated and the unconscious.
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