This new volume of Rumi’s works, the first-ever English translation of his Arabic poems, will be exciting for the newcomer to Rumi’s verses as well as to readers already familiar with his mystical philosophy. The poems take the reader on a journey of spiritual exploration, ecstatic union, cruel rejection, and mystic reconciliation. Rumi reveals his soul and welcomes everyone to his spiritual feast. This dual-language volume opens a treasury of Rumi’s mystic thought and startling poetry. His verses pulsate with desire and longing, with sensuality, and with ecstatic celebration. Rumi found in his mystic poetry a vehicle for the expression of the endless spiritual bounties of love. He placed love at the center of his faith and doctrine, and he pronounced it to be the goal of his life and the only form of true worship. This collection is stunningly rendered in English by an award-winning poet and a distinguished translator of Arabic poetry.
About the Author
Nesreen Akhtarkhavari is the Director of Arabic Studies at DePaul University, where she teaches Arabic literature, translation, content Arabic courses, and language and culture pedagogy. Anthony A. Lee is a lecturer of history at UCLA and at West Los Angeles College, specializing in African American history, African history, and the African Diaspora in Iran.
Read an Excerpt
Love Is My Savior
The Arabic Poems of Rumi
By Nesreen Akhtarkhavari, Anthony A. Lee
Michigan State University PressCopyright © 2016 Nesreen Akhtarkhavari and Anthony A. Lee
All rights reserved.
Leave Behind Temptation
Let's Be Pure
Come on! Come on! Come on, now! Let's be pure.
Let's end our flirtation with temptation,
let your glance cleanse us of degradation,
return to the pure wine we drank when we
sat in congregation, the cups passed 'round
and offered up with no hesitation,
pure, cool, shimmering nectar of salvation.
We drank in secret — some days in the street.
Our wine's perfume was carried off so far
even the desert beasts yearned for its sweet.
But you're the key that opens up the jars
of that red flow, when friends sit at your feet.
There, every priceless thing becomes a lie.
There, drunk on wine and drunk on you, I lie.
I love and drink, and when I hate I die.
My friends, forgive me! My Lord, hear my cry!
I'm melting with desire and love's duty
for my Master — Just look at his beauty! —
my refuge from death and calamity.
May God bless any land where Shams may be!
God gave Tabriz the best of his bounty.
Rejoice in Silence
People, rejoice! His gate is open wide.
We are not alone — we're saved at his side.
People, rejoice! This is the day of grace!
Your lover holds the Holy Book in place.
Don't fret about the things that you have lost.
The full Moon rose! It scattered all that dross.
Camp here! Tie your camel at this station.
This is heaven past all calculation.
In love's shame, there is a secret silence,
the silence of fidelity. No words.
Be silent! Know the secret of silence.
Be patient! God guards his truth in silence.
Banner of Love
You, who still wave the banner of love high!
if you're not in love, you have missed your goal.
He calls! The breeze of love must find your soul.
Glory resurrected you, glory made you whole!
If you're not in love, life has passed you by.
The foundation of life is love's sweet cry.
On the face of the Beloved holy
verses lie. Blessed be he who will read them.
Destroyed by troubles, how you grieve and sigh ...
By God! Listen to my proclamation!
He knows who caused your mind's devastation.
From abasement, your soul will always rise.
You've abandoned all for love's enterprise.
Be still. God is your helper. He's the prize.
I Fell in Love with Angels
Now, I swear by those men who do not lie.
I fell in love with angels, and they with me.
They were mad with love, and so was I.
After that, I came, and they came with me.
I woke up. I took hold of God's bounty.
I took from them before they took from me.
I looked in my heart, learned God's mystery.
Blessed! Blessed be! those eyes that looked at me.
I would have died, but He sent His mercy.
I turned to flee, but then they followed me.
For fear of God, I will not say: That glance
of sin created me, created me!
Don't flee! Find Shams inside your soul, instead.
He pours out wine, gives us our daily bread.
He Stole My Heart!
Brother! See the Beauty who stole my heart! Stole it!
And don't you hear the voice that cleaned my soul? Cleaned it!
Aren't you the one looking for immortality
in music? Look up! He comes to you now. He comes!
See! The full Moon! Let your eyes drink their fill. Their fill!
I'm happy, just staring here, drunk on his beauty.
On his brow he brings us love, pride, and light. And light!
As if he filled my cup and gave me wine. Pure wine!
As if the brilliance of his face makes miracles.
His light flashed in my heart. I am made pure. Made pure!
You Sang of Love
You Sang of Love, So We Came
This morning, you sang of love, so we came.
Jealous, wild bucks blocked our way. But we came.
The maidens in your court — so shy. They made
sweet love. They stole our hearts; we did the same.
We felt desire. Our friends warned us to be
afraid of love. We heard, but felt no shame.
Like stars, we saw your full moon in the sky,
then hid ourselves behind your light. We came.
Moon! Our guide! On that Holy Day you said
the prayer. In lines behind, we did the same.
Stunned by the beauty of Joseph, I woke.
My hands were full — blood-red wine in two cups.
Without a mouth, I drank. With no soul,
I found bliss. With no head, I was proud. No feet,
I walked. Without a nose, I smelled perfume.
With no mind — suddenly — I understood.
Then, with no mouth, I laughed. No eyes, I cried.
God bless the place I found my beloved!
when he lit the flash of our reunion,
where he watered that garden, as we watched,
finding peace and joy in our communion,
where we stood, then sat — gulped strong wine till we
disappeared. We came back all confusion.
That day, we pulled down a branch of glory,
spilled seeds of love — ecstasy's diffusion.
We got so drunk, we won a victory!
We found ourselves here among God's chosen.
The Price of Love
The Truth walked in, and love fell all around.
Love found us. We died. So, we settled down.
Drunk and so full of pride! Shamed when sober!
The price of love is peace and calm! Tempted,
we fell. We died. He cared for me, he gave
me drink, he ravaged me, he cherished me.
He came from nowhere. He called me. I came.
Lover! Savior! My Path! My Elixir!
You gave me a cup. I passed it around.
What you said was true: love's blessings astound.
From behind, you rose, you filled me. I'm bound.
He knocked, poured a cup. I woke up! We built
intoxication as our foundation.
We saw shy women. Such fascination!
Lanterns in the dark. Stunned adoration!
We stared, grateful. Pure intoxication!
Still drunk, we carried on, found our reward.
We returned with wealth, with culture, and adorned
with elation. To every passerby,
we confessed our blessed revelation.
You! who make the full moon stand ashamed,
come here and shine your brightest light on me.
You! who pour out nectar for the soul.
Come here! Make me as drunk as drunk can be.
Don't stop! More! Give me all the wine I claim,
till you and I two drunken brothers be,
back and forth, vying over ecstasy.
Now, I'm so drunk I can't recall your name
or find your face. I'm filled with mystery,
wine that saves me from spite and misery.
This eye shed tears when you left me again.
This eye stayed dry, held back its tears again.
So, I taught that dry miser a lesson.
I kept it shut when I saw you again.
He's Never Bored with Love
Yes! My soul will be sacrificed for you!
You are the full moon. You rise, and you shine.
Praised and glorified be God for that shine!
You invaded my soul, doubled my life.
Then, you left — with that noble pride of thine.
Today, I pray to you in secret, or
I shout out loud these mad love dreams of mine.
Life tears me to pieces, and still I shout:
Pierce through these veils! Let me drink your love's wine!
Centuries of loving, and he's never
bored with love. Never will his love decline.
My lover is a whale, and my desire
pure water — an ocean — with no end time.
Can a whale grow bored in a pure ocean?
What Happened to Me?
He shook my core! My soul saw such beauty!
Thirst! Desire! I said: "What happened to me?"
I tasted the wine of love, you see.
And now free, I soared to love's horizon.
I left my burden there, drowning in love.
A blind man can look up and see my love.
No Moon like him in this world or the next.
There's nothing more than this. See: I'm in love.
I never wanted wealth, but now I'm hexed.
Now, I search for gold on any pretext
to shower him with riches, just for love.
The ship of love sails from eternity —
Praised be! — on the sea of his great glory.
With just a glance, my Soulmate murdered me
when I counted his virtues and blessings.
I lay dying. Maidens of love saved me —
saved my spirit — saved me from misery.
My soul! I love his mighty chest. Praise him!
— though every praise is but a mockery.
I have no hope of seeing him again.
His virtues, recited from the Secret
Tablet — Praise him! — restored my troubled soul.
I remember our union in times past.
So clear, I see no death when I see him.
Desire left me. It became a pearl.
My heart grows heavy as I wear that pearl,
as a princess in the pain of labor,
who dies in her travail — jewels won't save her!
But my Master showed me every kindness.
My soul, a fertile field, begs him to come.
Master, Beloved, perfect in all things!
Shams ud-Din, Master! Dreams of life he brings.
My Master found me dead and in disgrace.
I honored him and rose from that bad place.
He came from Tabriz, wearing robes of love,
and I — just dressed in light — threw off my clothes.
My prideful soul cried: "He chose me alone!"
Then it collapsed, from those words that he loathes.
You who scourged me! You who commanded me!
You are my Master. Have mercy on me!
You're the flower of virtue; you're my saint,
my sword of proofs! Have mercy on me!
You pour the best of wines, sweet in union,
bitter in separation. Have mercy!
Your light is in my heart, the most brilliant
star of the stars in the East. Have mercy!
I cried out to you from every valley;
I cried out so patiently. Have mercy!
I am your sacrifice each dawn. You bring
me victory. Lord! Have mercy on me!
Here is my heart, raving mad and in love!
I wait for you at daybreak. Have mercy!
Listen! The holy ones are telling me
that I must not sleep. Have mercy on me!
Love is my protector — full of meaning —
and for me that is enough. Have mercy!
This love is a place of wealth and power
where sleep is impossible. Have mercy!
Come, Let's Pray
We're All Drunk
Come by our place today! We are all drunk.
Our cups are full of wine, and we're all drunk.
The cup God gave us, it's running over.
Give thanks, give thanks — thanks for this charity!
Come by our place. It's a celebration!
Our longing now made plain for all to see.
Our lovers came to us in the dark of night —
in our hearts they left no shame, no anxiety.
"Each held in open palms a generous sea,"
and scattered jewels for us abundantly.
Come, Let's Pray!
You're offering me wine? So come, let's pray!
Come fill my cup with wine! It's dry today.
My body, the wine flask. Your face, my drink.
You're pure beauty, God's splendor on display!
Any lover who knows you for an hour
will die of longing when you go away.
Moon! My death in meeting you was sweet!
You're my high refuge from disaster's sway.
Whenever your love sang its melody,
the birds of my heart answered every note.
Your sacred trace is wine to drink for me.
My soul made pure and bright by your bounty.
People of Paradise! This is my word!
Come, drink this wine. Let my trumpet be heard!
Holy virgins, glowing with love, bent to
my passion, found my light. Day and night blurred.
The moon rose at midday, eclipsed the sun.
At my door with brilliant maids, he entered.
He stayed. A thousand moons circled round him,
sweetened the earth, lit up my dark center.
I'm drunk on moonlight. She gave graciously,
filled my desires, and took my gifts with her.
The Cupbearer Will Explain
My rich Master! You gave me riches first,
then gave me drink when I was full of thirst.
My brothers! Don't despair! You won't be cursed.
Don't forget him! No fear of tyranny.
I found my home in his homeland. Come see!
So, honor me. Get drunk! Come here and be
my companion. Radiant seeker! Come
naked and embrace me. In earthly clothes
you can't be saved or blessed with ecstasy.
Then let pure being worship pure being.
The holy souls came here with faith — from cups
of many colors drank truth and clarity.
Let the cupbearer explain the rest!
He is kind. Let us drink his charity.
My soul won the love of my Beloved.
When I saw all the wine cups passed around,
I stretched out my hand to touch the nectar,
and my heart glowed bright in the light it found.
I drank. My soul was filled. I lost my weight.
Then, lifted up, I flew above the ground.
The Moon rose in the sky, in its brightness.
Ashamed, wanting to hide, the sun went down.
He gave himself with generosity,
spoke words to no one else, nor turned around.
[Arabic Text Not Reproducible in ASCII].
Excerpted from Love Is My Savior by Nesreen Akhtarkhavari, Anthony A. Lee. Copyright © 2016 Nesreen Akhtarkhavari and Anthony A. Lee. Excerpted by permission of Michigan State University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Leave Behind Temptation
Let's Be Pure 3
Rejoice in Silence 5
Banner of Love 7
I Fell in Love with Angels 9
He Stole My Heart! 11
You Sang of Love
You Sang of Love, So We Came 15
The Price of Love 17
Drunken Brothers 19
This Eye 21
He's Never Bored with Love 23
What Happened to Me? 25
Have Mercy! 29
Come, Let's Pray
We're All Drunk 33
Come, Lets Pray! 35
Night Visitors 37
The Cupbearer Will Explain 39
Rising Moon 41
A Dream 47
Palace of Perfection 49
What Do You See? 51
Light of My Soul 53
Love Is My Savior 55
It Was a Celebration! 57
Come to My House 63
Glad Tidings! 65
Your Wine Lights the World 67
Peace Is the Path 69
Hidden Beauty 71
I Climbed to Heaven 73
Good News! 75
Judgment Day 77