Photo: A wandering musician from Algeria; 1800s.
This place is a dream
only a sleeper considers it real
then death comes like dawn
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought
was your grief
A man goes to sleep in the town
where he has always lived
and he dreams
he's living in another town
in the dream he doesn't remember
the town he's sleeping in his bed in
he believes the reality
of the dream town
the world is that kind of sleep
Humankind is being led
along an evolving course,
through this migration
and though we seem
to be sleeping
there is an inner wakefulness,
that directs the dream
and that will eventually
startle us back
to the truth of
who we are
'Mystical Poems of Rumi'
By Rumi (Author), A. J. Arberry (Translator)
My verse resembles the bread of Egypt—night passes over it, and you cannot eat it any more.
Devour it the moment it is fresh, before the dust settles upon it.
Its place is the warm climate of the heart; in this world it dies of cold.
Like a fish it quivered for an instant on dry land, another moment and you see it is cold.
Even if you eat it imagining it is fresh, it is necessary to conjure up many images.
What you drink is really your own imagination; it is no old tale, my good man.
Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207–73), legendary Persian Muslim poet, theologian, and mystic, wrote poems acclaimed through the centuries for their powerful spiritual images and provocative content, which often described Rumi’s love for God in romantic or erotic terms. His vast body of work includes more than three thousand lyrics and odes. This volume includes four hundred poems selected by renowned Rumi scholar A. J. Arberry, who provides here one of the most comprehensive and adept English translations of this enigmatic genius. Mystical Poems is the definitive resource for anyone seeking an introduction to or an enriched understanding of one of the world’s greatest poets.
“Rumi is one of the world’s greatest lyrical poets in any language—as well as probably the most accessible and approachable representative of Islamic civilization for Western students.”
(James W. Morris, Oberlin College)