Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing

Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060750503
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/18/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 116,350
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Coleman Barks is a renowned poet and the bestselling author of The Essential Rumi, Rumi: The Big Red Book, The Soul of Rumi, Rumi: The Book of Love, and The Drowned Book. He was prominently featured in both of Bill Moyers' PBS television series on poetry, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. He taught English and poetry at the University of Georgia for thirty years, and he now focuses on writing, readings, and performances.

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Rumi: The Book of Love
Poems of Ecstasy and Longing

1. Spontaneous Wandering

I take down my King James to look up the passage about love (charity) in 1 Corinthians 13. There is a tiny red ant living in Corinth. It walks to the top and along the gold edges. Spontaneous wandering is a favorite region of the heart. It may look like mindless drift, but it isn't. More the good Don and Sancho out for their inspired adventures, quixotic and panzaic. The ant is my teacher.

We see through a glass darkly, then face-to-face. A more polished mirror shows us who we truly are. The wandering of Rumi's poetry is a model for the soul's lovely motions. When thirst begins to look for water, water has already started out with a canteen, looking for thirst. Love feels like sliding along the eddies and currents of the tao.

Pir Vilayat Khan recently commented to me, "Your first Rumi volumes seemed very sexual." He's right. There is too much of that energy in the first work with Rumi I did, especially in some of the quatrains. I was very wet with such water at the time myself. I was thirty-nine. Now I'm sixty-five. Things change; nothing wrong with that. What's truly alive is always changing.

Gay lovers hear Rumi's poetry as gay. I don't agree, though I'm certainly guilty of previously loading Rumi's poetry with erotic fruit. I don't do that now. Rumi is way happier than sex and orgasms, his wandering more conscious and free. See "Imra'u 'l-Qays" in the next section. Rumi and Shams wander in that country.

Perhaps the purest wanderer of our time is Nanao, like Basho in his. Gary Snyder says about him,

This subtropical East China Sea carpenter and spear fisherman finds himself equally at home in the desert. So much so that on one occasion when an eminent traditional Buddhist priest boasted of his lineage, Nanao responded, "I need no lineage. I am desert rat." But for all his independence Nanao Sakaki carries the karma of Chungtzu, En-no-gyoja, Saigyo, Ikkyu, Basho, and Issa in his bindle. His work or play in the world is to pull out nails, free seized nuts, break loose the rusted, open up the shutters. You can put these poems in your shoes and walk a thousand miles.

Go with Muddy Feet

When you hear dirty story
wash your ears.
When you see ugly stuff
wash your eyes.
When you get bad thoughts
wash your mind.
and
Keep your feet muddy.
-- Nanao Sakaki

Excuse my wandering.
How can one be orderly with this?
It's like counting leaves in a garden,

along with the song notes of partridges,
and crows. Sometimes organization
and computation become absurd.

Five Things

I have five things to say,
five fingers to give into your grace.

First, when I was apart from you,
this world did not exist, nor any other.

Second, whatever I was looking for
was always you.

Third, why did I ever learn to count to three?

Fourth, my cornfield is burning!

Fifth, this finger stands for Rabia,
and this is for someone else.
Is there a difference?

Are these words or tears?
Is weeping speech?
What shall I do, my love?

So the lover speaks, and everyone around
begins to cry with him, laughing crazily,
moaning in the spreading union
of lover and beloved.

This is the true religion. All others
are thrown-away bandages beside it.

This is the sema of slavery and mastery
dancing together. This is not-being.

I know these dancers.
Day and night I sing their songs
in this phenomenal cage.

Rumi: The Book of Love
Poems of Ecstasy and Longing
. Copyright © by Coleman Barks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Roger Housden

“Another perfect gem from the master translator of Rumi’s poetry.”

Robert Bly

“It’s a mystery how heart can come into apparently simple English.”

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Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect people Rumi, definetely read it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Coleman Barks once again translates the words of Rumi with respect, good nature, a bit of humor, and a deep understanding of this 13th century mystic and poet. A renowned poet and something of a mystic himself, Coleman Barks leads us through his book as a constant and caring companion. He begins each chapter with his own touching stories, guidance, and expert explanations for the material he lays out. One simply cannot come away from this book without having some sincere appreciation for the devotion and dedication Coleman Barks has for another poet's words. In 'Rumi: The Book Of Love: poems of ecstasy and longing', we are led deep into the regions of the soul, where love is both Universal and Divine. It is a love that beckons us to shed our own image and concepts of ourselves, in exchange for a love that is so vast and joyful, its eloquence can only be experienced rather than explained. How can we know the divine qualities from within? If we only know through metaphors, It's like when children ask what sex feels like and you answer, 'Like candy, so sweet.' (88) Rumi seems to realize mankind is comprised of many faiths, and he mentions many of them with dignity and respect. Yet Rumi's own experience takes him beyond religion, even his own. He often exchanges the word 'God' with 'Friend', and refers to himself and others who have achieved his enlightened state as 'Lovers'. Rumi's words and sublime wisdom ring true for us, as he shares his knowledge of the God-Friend in a both Universal and personal message. We are extremely fortunate to have the poetry of this selfless and compassionate mystic reach us through the fragile, and often forgetful, span of time. Because through Rumi's poetry, we seem to hear our own soul's call and longing to gently open like a beautiful and fragrant flower, and laugh with a tender and colorful sweetness. There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of spirit on the body (33) ~Brian Douthit author of 'Perfectly Said: when words become art'