Read an Excerpt
Selected Poems of Rumi
By REYNOLD A. NICHOLSON
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
THE SONG OF THE REED
Hearken to this Reed forlorn,
Breathing, even since 'twas torn
From its rushy bed, a strain
Of impassioned love and pain.
"The secret of my song, though near,
None can see and none can hear.
Oh, for a friend to know the sign
And mingle all his soul with mine!
'Tis the flame of Love that fired me,
'Tis the wine of Love inspired me.
Wouldst thou learn how lovers bleed,
Hearken, hearken to the Reed!"
'Tis said, the pipe and lute that charm our ears
Derive their melody from rolling spheres;
But Faith, o'erpassing speculation's bound,
Can see what sweetens every jangled sound.
We, who are parts of Adam, heard with him
The song of angels and of seraphim.
Our memory, though dull and sad, retains
Some echo still of those unearthly strains.
Oh, music is the meat of all who love,
Music uplifts the soul to realms above.
The ashes glow, the latent fires increase:
We listen and are fed with joy and peace.
LOVE IN ABSENCE
How should not I mourn, like night, without His day and the favour of His day-
His unsweetness is sweet to my soul: may my soul be sacrificed to the Beloved
who grieves my heart!
I am in love with grief and pain for the sake of pleasing my peerless King.
Tears shed for His sake are pearls, though people think they are tears.
I complain of the Soul of my soul, but in truth I am not complaining: I am only telling.
My heart says it is tormented by Him, and I have long been laughing at its poor
Do me right, O Glory of the righteous, O Thou Who art the dais, and I the threshold of Thy door!
Where are threshold and dais in reality? Where the Beloved is, where are "we" and "I"?
O Thou Whose soul is free from "we" and "I", O Thou Who art the essence of the
spirit in men and women,
When men and women become one, Thou art that One; when the units are wiped out,
lo, Thou art that Unity.
Thou didst contrive this "I" and "we" in order to play the game of worship with
That all "Fs" and "thou's" might become one soul and at last be submerged in the
"THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS"
Happy the moment when we are seated in the palace, thou and I,
With two forms and with two figures but with one soul, thou and I.
The colours of the grove and the voices of the birds will bestow Immortality
At the time when we shall come into the garden, thou and I.
The stars of Heaven will come to gaze upon us:
We shall show them the moon herself, thou and I.
Thou and I, individuals no more, shall be mingled in ecstasy,
Joyful and secure from foolish babble, thou and I.
All the bright-plumed birds of Heaven will devour their hearts with envy
In the place where we shall laugh in such a fashion, thou and I.
This is the greatest wonder, that thou and I, sitting here in the same nook,
Are at this moment both in 'Iraq and Khorasan, thou and I.
"A SLEEP AND A FORGETTING"
One who has lived many years in a city, so soon as he goes to sleep,
Beholds another city full of good and evil, and his own city vanishes from his mind.
He does not say to himself, "This is a new city: I am a stranger here";
Nay, he thinks he has always lived in this city and was born and bred in it.
What wonder, then, if the soul does not remember her ancient abode and birth-place,
Since she is wrapt in the slumber of this world, like a star covered by clouds?—
Especially as she has trodden so many cities and the dust that darkens her vision is not yet swept away.
THE GRIEF OF THE DEAD
The Prince of mankind (Mohammed) said truly that no one who has passed away from
Feels sorrow and regret for having died; nay, but he feels a hundred regrets for
having missed the opportunity,
Saying to himself, 'Why did I not make death my object—death which is the
store-house of all fortunes and riches,
And why, through seeing double, did I fasten my lifelong gaze upon those
phantoms that vanished at the fated hour?"
The grief of the dead is not on account of death; it is because they dwelt on
the phenomenal forms of existence And never perceived that all this foam is moved and fed by the Sea.
When the Sea has cast the foam-flakes on the shore, go to the graveyard and
Say to them, "Where is your swirling onrush now?" and hear them answer mutely,
"Ask this question of the Sea, not of us."
How should the foam fly without the wave? How should the dust rise to the zenith
without the wind?
Since you have seen the dust, see the Wind; since you have seen the foam, see
the Ocean of Creative Energy.
Come, see it, for insight is the only thing in you that avails: the rest of you
is a piece of fat and flesh, a woof and warp (of bones and sinews).
Dissolve your whole body into Vision: become seeing, seeing, seeing!
One sight discerns but a yard or two of the road; another surveys the temporal
and spiritual worlds and beholds the Face of their King.
If any one were to say to the embryo in the womb, "Outside is a world well-ordered,
A pleasant earth, broad and long, wherein are a thousand delights and many
things to eat;
Mountains and seas and plains, fragrant orchards, gardens and sown fields,
A sky very lofty and full of light, sunshine and moonbeams and innumerable stars;
Its wonders are beyond description: why dost thou stay, drinking blood, in this
dungeon of filth and pain?"—
The embryo, being what it is, would turn away in utter disbelief; for the blind
have no imagination.
So, in this world, when the saints tell of a world without scent and hue,
None of the vulgar hearkens to them: sensual desire is a barrier huge and stout—
Even as the embryo's craving for the blood that nourishes it in its low abodes
Debarred it from the perception of the external world, since it knows no food
THE BURDEN OF EXISTENCE
From Thee first came this ebb and flow from within me; else, O Glorious One, my
sea was still.
Now, from the same source whence Thou broughtest this trouble on me, graciously
send me comfort!
O Thou Whose affliction makes men weak as women, show me the one path, do not
let me follow ten!
I am like a jaded camel: the saddle of free-will has sorely bruised my back
With its heavy panniers sagging from this side to that in turn.
Let the ill-balanced load drop from me, so that I may browse in the Meadow of Thy Bounty.
Hundreds of thousands of years I was flying to and fro involuntarily, like a
mote in the air.
If I have forgotten that time and state, yet the migration in sleep recalls it
to my memory.
At night I escape from this four-branched cross into the spacious pastures of
From the nurse, Sleep, I suck the milk of those bygone days of mine, O Lord.
All mortals are fleeing from their free-will and self-existence to their
They lay upon themselves the opprobrium of wine and minstrelsy in order that for
awhile they may be delivered from self-consciousness.
All know that this existence is a snare, that will and thought and memory are a hell.
THE SPIRIT OF THE SAINTS
There is a Water that flows down from Heaven
To cleanse the world of sin by grace Divine.
At last, its whole stock spent, its virtue gone,
Dark with pollution not its own, it speeds
Back to the Fountain of all purities;
Whence, freshly bathed, earthward it sweeps again,
Trailing a robe of glory bright and pure.
This Water is the Spirit of the Saints,
Which ever sheds, until itself is beggared,
God's balm on the sick soul; and then returns
To Him who made the purest light of Heaven.
THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT
Beyond the stars are Stars in which there is no combust nor sinister aspect,
Stars moving in other Heavens, not the seven heavens known to all,
Stars immanent in the radiance of the Light of God, neither joined to each other
Whoso hath his fortune from these Stars, his soul drives off and consumes the
God sprinkled His Light over all spirits, but only the blest held up their
skirts to receive it;
And, having gained that largesse of light, they turned their faces away from all
That which is of the sea is going to the sea: it is going to the place whence it came—
From the mountain the swift-rushing torrent, and from our body the soul whose
motion is inspired by love.
LOVE, THE HIEROPHANT
'Tis heart-ache lays the lover's passion bare:
No sickness with heart-sickness may compare.
Love is a malady apart, the sign
And astrolabe of mysteries Divine.
Whether of heavenly mould or earthly cast,
Love still doth lead us Yonder at the last.
Reason, explaining Love, can naught but flounder
Like ass in mire: Love is Love's own expounder.
Does not the sun himself the sun declare?
Behold him! All the proof thou seek'st is there.
Excerpted from Selected Poems of Rumi by REYNOLD A. NICHOLSON. Copyright © 2011 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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.