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Medieval Sourcebook:
Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207-1273):
Poems from the Divan-I Shams-I Tabriz, c. 1270 CE


I

The man of God is drunken without wine,
The man of God is full without meat.
The man of God is distraught and bewildered,
The man of God has no food or sleep.
The man of God is a king "neath dervish-cloak,
The man of God is a treasure in a ruin.
The man of God is not of air and earth,
The man of God is not of fire and water.
The man of God is a boundless sea,
The man of God rains pearls without a cloud.
The man of God has hundred moons and skies,
The man of God has hundred suns.
The man of God is made wise by the Truth,
The man of God is not learned from book.
The man of God is beyond infidelity and religion,
To the man of God right and wrong are alike.
The man of God has ridden away from Not-being,
The man of God is gloriously attended.
The man of God is concealed, Shamsi Din;
The man of God do you seek and find!

 
II

What is to be done, O Moslems? for I do not recognize myself.
I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Gabr [Magian], nor Moslem.
I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea;
I am not of Nature's mint, nor of the circling heavens.
I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire;
I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity.
I am not of India, nor of China, nor of Bulghar, nor of Saqsin;
I am not of the kingdom of 'Iraqain, nor of the country of Khurasan.
I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of Hell;
I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Rizwan.
My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless;
'Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call.

He is the first, He is the lest, He is the outward, He is the inward;
I know none other except "Ya Hu" [Yahweh] and "Ya man Hu" ["O He who is"].
I am intoxicated with Love's cup, the two worlds have passed out of my ken;
I have no business save carouse and revelry.
If once in my life I spent a moment without you,
From that time and from that hour I repent of my life.
If once in this world I win a moment with you,
I will trample on both worlds, I will dance in triumph for ever.
O Shamsi Tabriz, I am so drunken in this world,
That except of drunkenness and revelry I have no tale to tell.


III

No joy have I found in the two worlds apart from you, Beloved.
Many wonders I have seen: I have not seen a wonder like you.
They say that blazing fire is the infidel's portion:
I have seen none, save Abu Lahab, excluded from your fire.
Often have I laid the spiritual ear at the window of the heart:
I heard much discourse, but the lips I did not see.
Of a sudden you did lavish grace upon your servant:
I saw no cause for it but your infinite kindness.
O chosen Cup-bearer, O apple of mine eyes, the like of you
Ne'er appeared in Persia, nor in Arabia have I found it.
Pour out wine 'till I become a wanderer from myself;
For in selfhood and existence I have felt only fatigue.
O you who are milk and sugar, O you who are sun and moon,
O you who are mother and father, I have known no kin but you.
O indestructible Love, O divine Minstrel,
You are both stay and refuge: a name equal to you I have not found.
We are pieces of steel, and your love is the magnet:
You are the source of all aspiration, in myself I have seen none.
Silence, O brother! put learning and culture away:

  'Till you named culture, I knew no culture but you.

 
 
IV

Grasp the skirt of his favor, for on a sudden he will flee;
But draw him not, as an arrow, for he will flee from the bow.
What delusive forms does he take, what tricks does he invent!
If he is present in form, he will flee by the way of spirit.
Seek him in the sky, he shines in water, like the moon;
When you come into the water, he will flee to the sky.
Seek him in the placeless, he will sign you to place;
When you seek him in place, he will flee to the placeless.
As the arrow speeds from the bow, like the bird of your imagination,
Know that the Absolute will certainly flee from the Imaginary.
I will flee from this and that, not for weariness, but for fear
That my gracious Beauty will flee from this and that.
As the wind I am fleet of foot, from love of the rose I am like the zephyr;
The rose in dread of autumn will flee from the garden.
His name will flee, when it sees an attempt at speech,
So that you cannot even say, "Such an one will flee."
He will flee from you, so that if you limn his picture,
The picture will fly from the tablet, the impression will flee from the soul.

 
 
V

A beauty that all night long teaches love-tricks to Venus and the moon,
Whose two eyes by their witchery seal up the two eyes of heaven.
Look to your hearts! I, whate'er betide, O Moslems,
Am so mingled with him that no heart is mingled with me.
I was born of his love at the first, I gave him my heart at the last;
When the fruit springs from the bough, on that bough it hangs.
The tip of his curl is saying, "Ho! betake you to rope-dancing."
The cheek of his candle is saying, "Where is a moth that it may burn?"
For the sake of dancing on that rope, O heart, make haste, become a hoop;
Cast yourself on the flame, when his candle is lit.
You will never more endure without the flame, when you have known the rapture of burning;
If the water of life should come to you, it would not stir you from the flame.

 
 
VI

David said: "O Lord, since you have no need of us,
Say, then, what wisdom was there in creating the two worlds?"
God said to him: "O temporal man, I was a hidden treasure;
I sought that that treasure of loving kindness and bounty should be revealed.
I displayed a mirror---its face the heart, its back the world---
Its back is better than its face---if the face is unknown to you."
When straw is mixed with clay, how should the mirror be successful?
When you part the straw from the clay, the mirror becomes clear.
Grape-juice does not turn to wine, unless it ferment awhile in the jar;
Would you have your heart grow bright, you must take a little trouble.
The soul which issued forth from the body---my king said to it:

  "You are come even as you went: where are the traces of my benefactions?"

'Tis notorious that copper by alchemy becomes gold:
Our copper has been transmuted by this rare alchemy.
From God's grace this sun wants no crown or robe:
He is cap to a hundred bald men and cloak to ten naked.
Child, Jesus sate on an ass for humility's sake:
How else should the zephyr ride on the back of an ass?
O spirit, make your head in search and seeking like the water of a stream,
And O reason, to gain eternal life tread everlastingly the way of death.
Keep God in remembrance 'till self is forgotten,
That you may be lost in the Called, without distraction of caller and call.

 
 
VII

You I choose, of all the world, alone;
Will you suffer me to sit in grief?
My heart is as a pen in your hand,
You are the cause if I am glad or melancholy.
Save what you will, what will have I?
Save what you show, what do I see?
You make grow out of me now a thorn and now a rose;
Now I smell roses and now pull thorns.
If you keep me that, that I am;
If you would have me this, I am this.
In the vessel where you give color to the soul
Who am I, what is my love and hate?
You were first, and last you shall be;
Make my last better than my first.
When you are hidden, I am of the infidels;
When you are manifest, I am of the faithful.
I have nothing, except you have bestowed it;
What do you seek from my bosom and sleeve?

 
 
VIII

When my bier moves on the day of death,
Think not my heart is in this world.
Do not weep for me and cry "Woe, woe!"
You will fall in the devil's snare: that is woe.
When you see my hearse, cry not "Parted, parted!"
Union and meeting are mine in that hour.
If you commit me to the grave, say not "Farewell, farewell!"
For the grave is a curtain hiding the communion of Paradise.
After beholding descent, consider resurrection;
Why should setting be injurious to the sun and moon?
To you it seems a setting, but 'tis a rising;
Tho' the vault seems a prison, 'tis the release of the soul.
What seed went down into the earth but it grew?
Why this doubt of yours as regards the seed of man?
What bucket was lowered but it came out brimful?
Why should the Joseph of the spirit complain of the well?
Shut your mouth on this side and open it beyond,
For in placeless air will be your triumphal song.


Source.

From: Reynold A. Nicholson, ed., Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz, (London: Cambridge University Press, 1898), pp. 15-17, 81-85, 95-97, 121-131; reprinted without alteration in reprinted without alteration in The Islamic World, William H. McNeil & Marilyn Robinson Waldman, eds., (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 241-247

Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Cal. State Fullerton. The text has been modernized by Prof. Arkenberg.


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

© Paul Halsall,  September 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu