Life & Death
look at love
how it tangles
with the one fallen in love
look at spirit
how it fuses with earth
giving it new life
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend
why talk about all
the known and the unknown
see how the unknown merges into the known
why think seperately
of this life and the next
when one is born from the last
look at your heart and tongue
one feels but deaf and dumb
the other speaks in words and signs
look at water and fire
earth and wind
enemies and friends all at once
the wolf and the lamb
the lion and the deer
far away yet together
look at the unity of this
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox
you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled just for you and me
be like sugarcane
sweet yet silent
don’t get mixed up with bitter words
my beloved grows
right out of my own heart
how much more union can there be
come on sweetheart
let’s adore one another
before there is no more
of you and me
a mirror tells the truth
look at your grim face
brighten up and cast away
your bitter smile
a generous friend
gives life for a friend
let’s rise above this
and be kind to one another
spite darkens friendships
why not cast away
malice from our heart
once you think of me
dead and gone
you will make up with me
you will miss me
you may even adore me
why be a worshiper of the dead
think of me as a goner
come and make up now
since you will come
and throw kisses
at my tombstone later
why not give them to me now
this is me
that same person
i may talk too much
but my heart is silence
what else can i do
i am condemned to live this life
i’ve come again
like a new year
to crash the gate
of this old prison
i’ve come again
to break the teeth and claws
of this man-eating
monster we call life
i’ve come again
to puncture the
glory of the cosmos
i am the falcon
hunting down the birds
of black omen
before their flights
i gave my word
at the outset to
give my life
with no qualms
i pray to the Lord
to break my back
before i break my word
how do you dare to
let someone like me
intoxicated with love
enter your house
you must know better
if i enter
i’ll break all this and
destroy all that
if the sheriff arrives
i’ll throw the wine
in his face
if your gatekeeper
pulls my hand
i’ll break his arm
if the heavens don’t go round
to my heart’s desire
i’ll crush its wheels and
pull out its roots
you have set up
a colourful table
calling it life and
asked me to your feast
but punish me if
i enjoy myself
what tyranny is this
you mustn’t be afraid of death
you’re a deathless soul
you can’t be kept in a dark grave
you’re filled with God’s glow
be happy with your beloved
you can’t find any better
the world will shimmer
because of the diamond you hold
when your heart is immersed
in this blissful love
you can easily endure
any bitter face around
in the absence of malice
there is nothing but
happiness and good times
don’t dwell in sorrow my friend
Translated by Nader Khalili “Rumi, Fountain of Fire”
Cal-Earth Press, 1994
I will be with you in the grave
on the night you leave behind
your shop and your family.
When you hear my soft voice
echoing in your tomb,
you will realise
that you were never hidden from my eyes.
I am the pure awareness within your heart,
with you during joy and celebration,
suffering and despair.
On that strange and fateful night
you will hear a familar voice —
you’ll be rescued from the fangs of snakes
and the searing sting of scorpions.
The euphoria of love will sweep over your grave;
it will bring wine and friends, candles and food.
When the light of realisation dawns,
shouting and upheaval
will rise up from the graves!
The dust of ages will be stirred
by the cities of ecstasy,
by the banging of drums,
by the clamor of revolt!
Dead bodies will tear off their shrouds
and stuff their ears in fright–
What use are the senses and the ears
before the blast of that Trumpet?
Look and you will see my form
whether you are looking at yourself
or toward that noise and confusion.
Don’t be blurry-eyed,
See me clearly-
See my beauty without the old eyes of delusion.
Don’t mistake me for this human form.
The soul is not obscured by forms.
Even if it were wrapped in a hundred folds of felt
the rays of the soul’s light
would still shine through.
Beat the drum,
Follow the minstrels of the city.
It’s a day of renewal
when every young man
walks boldly on the path of love.
Had everyone sought God
Instead of crumbs and copper coins
T’hey would not be sitting on the edge of the moat
in darkness and regret.
What kind of gossip-house
have you opened in our city?
Close your lips
and shine on the world
like loving sunlight.
Shine like the Sun of Tabriz rising in the East.
Shine like the star of victory.
Shine like the whole universe is yours!
translated by Jonathan Star
“Rumi – In the Arms of the Beloved”
HOW SHOULD THE SOUL not take wings
when from the Glory of God
It hears a sweet, kindly call:
“Why are you here, soul? Arise!”
How should a fish not leap fast
into the sea from dry land
When from the ocean so cool
the sound of the waves reaches its
How should the falcon not fly
back to his king from the hunt
When from the falconer’s drum
it hears to call: “Oh, come back”?
Why should not every Sufi
begin to dance atom-like
Around the Sun of duration
that saves from impermanence?
What graciousness and what beauty?
What life-bestowing! What grace!
If anyone does without that, woe-
what err, what suffering!
Oh fly , of fly, O my soul-bird,
fly to your primordial home!
You have escaped from the cage now-
your wings are spread in the air.
Oh travel from brackish water
now to the fountain of life!
Return from the place of the sandals
now to the high seat of souls!
Go on! Go on! we are going,
and we are coming, O soul,
From this world of separation
to union, a world beyond worlds!
How long shall we here in the dust-world
like children fill our skirts
With earth and with stones without value,
with broken shards without worth?
Let’s take our hand from the dust grove,
let’s fly to the heavens’ high,
Let’s fly from our childish behaviour
and join the banquet of men!
Call out, O soul, to proclaim now
that you are rules and king!
You have the grace of the answer,
you know the question as well!
HE SAID: “Who’s knocking at my door?”
Said I: “Your humble servant!”
Said He: “What business have you got?”
Said I: “I came to greet You!”
Said He: “How long are you to push?”
Said I: “Until You’ll call me!”
Said He: “How long are you to boil?”
Said I: “Till resurrection!”
I claimed I was a lover true
and I took may oaths
That for the sake of love I lost
my kingdom and my wealth!
He said: “You make a claim – the judge
needs witness for your cause!”
Said I: “My witness is my tears,
my proof my yellow face!”
Said He: “The witness is corrupt,
your eye is wet and ill!”
Said I: “No, by Your eminence:
My eye is sinless clear!”
He said: “And what do you intend?”
Said I: “Just faithful friendships!”
Said He: “What do you want from me?”
Said I: “Your grace abundant!”
Said He: “Who travelled here with you?”
Said I: “Your dream and phantom!”
Said He: “And what led you to me?”
Said I: “Your goblet’s fragrance!”
Said He: “What is most pleasant, say?”
Said I: “The ruler’s presence!”
Said He: “What did you see there, friend?”
Said I: “A hundred wonders!”
Said He: “Why is it empty now?”
Said I: “From fear of brigands!”
Said He: “The brigand, who is that?”
Said I: “IT is the blaming!”
Said He: “And where is safety then?”
Said: “In renunciation.”
Said He: “Renunciation? That’s … ?”
Said I: “The path to safety!”
Said He: “And where is danger, then?”
Said I: “In Your love’s quarters!”
Said He: “And how do you fare there?”
Said I: “Steadfast and happy.”
I tested you and tested you,
but it availed to nothing –
Who tests the one who was once tried,
he will repent forever!
Be silent! If I’d utter here
the secrets fine he told me,
You would go out all of yourself,
no door nor roof could hold you!
OH HAPPY DAY when in you presence,
my ruler, I shall die!
When near the sugar-treasure melting
like sugar I shall die!
Out of my dust will grow a thousand
When in the shade of yonder cypress
in gardens I shall die.
And when you pour into my goblet
the bitter drink of death,
I’ll kiss the goblet full of joy, dear,
and drunken I shall die.
I may turn yellow like the autumn
when people speak of death,
Thanks to your smiling lip: like springtime
and smiling shall I die.
I have died many times, but your breath
made me alive again,
Should I die thus a hundred more times
I happily shall die!
A child that dies in mother’s bosom,
that’s how I am, my friend,
For in the bosom of His Mercy
and kindness, I shall die.
Say: Where would death be for the lovers?
Impossible is that!
For in the fountain of the Water
of Life – there I shall die!
translated by Annemarie Schimmel, ‘Look! This is Love’
Why cling to one life
till it is soiled and ragged?
The sun dies and dies
squandering a hundred lived
God has decreed life for you
and He will give
another and another and another
(translated by Daniel Liebert)
Mathnawi V. 411-414 (translated by Kabir Helminski)
The Rumi Collection, Edited by Kabir Helminski
At the twilight, a moon appeared in the sky;
Then it landed on earth to look at me.
Like a hawk stealing a bird at the time of prey;
That moon stole me and rushed back into the sky.
I looked at myself, I did not see me anymore;
For in that moon, my body turned as fine as soul.
The nine spheres disappeared in that moon;
The ship of my existence drowned in that sea.
Now sleeping, now awake, my hart is in constant fervour.
It is a covered saucepan, placed on fire.
O you! who have offered us from a cup a silencing wine;
Each moment a new tale is shouting to be told in silence.
In his wrath there are a hundred kindnesess, in his meanness a hundred generosities;
In his ignorance immeasurable gnosis, silently speaking like the mind.
The words of those whom you have silenced, cannot hear
but those whom you have made unconscious;
I am both silent and fermenting for you like the sea of Aden!
Translated by Fatemeh Keshavarz,
‘Reading Mystical Lyric: The Case of Jalal al-Din Rumi
University of South Carolina Press, 1998.