The poems and poetry of Rumi. Excerpts from various poems
Mistaking Lightning for the Sun – Rumi
By love what is bitter becomes sweet,
bits of copper turn to gold.
By love the dregs are made clear,
and pain begins to heal.
By love the dead come alive,
and a king becomes a slave.
This love, moreover, is the fruit of knowledge;
no fool will ever sit on the throne of love.
When did a lack of knowledge
ever give birth to this love?
No, ignorance only falls in love
with what is lifeless.
It thinks it sees in something lifeless
the appearance of the one it desires,
as if it heard the beloved whistle.
A lack of knowledge cannot discern;
it mistakes a flash of lightning for the sun.
Lightning is transient and faithless;
without clearness you will not know
the transient from the permanent.
Why is lightning said to laugh?
It is laughing at whoever
sets his heart upon its light.
The lights of the sky are feeble;
they are not like that light which is neither
of the East nor the West.
Regard that lightning as something which
taketh away the sight,
and regard the eternal light as a Helper.
To ride your horse on the foam of the sea,
to read your letter by the flash of lightning
is to fail, because of desire,
to see the end result.
It is to laugh
at your own mind and intelligence.
Intelligence, by its nature, sees the end;
it is your animal side that cannot see the end.
Intellignece overwhelmed by the flesh
becomes flesh; Jupiter checkmated by Saturn
Yet turn your gaze toward this bad luck,
and see the One that brought it to you.
Whoever witnesses this ebb and flow
penetrates from bad luck to good.
God continually turns you
from one state of feeling to another,
revealing truth by means of opposites…
So that you may have
the two wings of fear and hope;
for the bird with one wing is unable to fly…
This bodily world is deceptive,
except for one who has escaped desire.
If anyone lacks tinder,
let him set his rubbish ablaze with my fire.
Any Soul That Drank the Nectar
Any soul that drank the nectar of your passion was lifted.
From that water of life he is in a state of elation.
Death came, smelled me, and sensed your fragrance instead.
From then on, death lost all hope of me.
God gives the things of this earth
a certain color and variety and value,
causing childish folk to argue over it.
When a piece of dough is baked
in the shape of a camel or lion,
these children bite their fingers excitedly in their greed.
Both lion and camel turn to bread in the mouth,
but it’s futile to tell this to children.
Whispers of Love
Love whispers in my ear,
“Better to be a prey than a hunter.
Make yourself My fool.
Stop trying to be the sun and become a speck!
Dwell at My door and be homeless.
Don’t pretend to be a candle, be a moth,
so you may taste the savor of Life
and know the power hidden in serving.”
Be With Those Who Help Your Being
Be with those who help your being.
Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.
A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don’t try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when it’s too late for all you could become.
Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?
A Moment of Happiness
A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden’s beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Because I Cannot Sleep
Because I cannot sleep
I make music at night.
I am troubled by the one
whose face has the color of spring flowers.
I have neither sleep nor patience,
neither a good reputation nor disgrace.
A thousand robes of wisdom are gone.
All my good manners have moved a thousand miles away.
The heart and the mind are left angry with each other.
The stars and the moon are envious of each other.
Because of this alienation the physical universe
is getting tighter and tighter.
The moon says, ‘How long will I remain
suspended without a sun?’
Without Love’s jewel inside of me,
let the bazaar of my existence be destroyed stone by stone.
O Love, You who have been called by a thousand names,
You who know how to pour the wine
into the chalice of the body,
You who give culture to a thousand cultures,
You who are faceless but have a thousand faces,
O Love, You who shape the faces
of Turks, Europeans, and Zanzibaris,
give me a glass from Your bottle,
or a handful of being from Your Branch.
Remove the cork once more.
Then we’ll see a thousand chiefs prostrate themselves,
and a circle of ecstatic troubadours will play.
Then the addict will be freed of craving.
and will be resurrected,
and stand in awe till Judgement Day.
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