I was recently introduced to the Persian Sufi poet Rumi by a poet who is also a life coach. So, to get my mind off getting lost yesterday and to set the tone for a productive and imaginative day, here are some Rumi poems. Did you know that Rumi is apparently the most widely-read poet in the world (including the United States)? Not bad for a Muslim who would have turned 800 years old last year.
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The Worm’s Waking
This is how a human can change:
there’s a worm addicted to eating
Suddenly, he wakes up,
call it grace, whatever, something
wakes him, and he’s no longer
He’s the entire vineyard,
and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that doesn’t need
I’m not entirely convinced by that one. For me, there’s a bit of denial there. It’s as if it’s not cool to be a needy, devouring worm so, in a leap of mental dexterity, the poet imagines that he’s the entire vineyard. But I also like the idea of looking beyond yourself and seeing the whole, so that life is not just about your needs and desires.
Desire and the importance of failing
A window opens.
A curtain pulls back.
The lamps of lovers connect, not at their ceramic bases,
but in their lightedness.
No lover wants union with the Beloved
without the Beloved also wanting the lover.
Love makes the lover weak, while the Beloved gets strong.
Lightning from here strikes there.
When you begin to love God, God is loving you.
A clapping sound does not come from one hand.
The thirsty man calls out,
“Delicious water, where are you?” while the water moans,
“Where is the water-drinker?”
The thirst in our souls
is the attraction put out by the Water itself.
We belong to It, and It to us.
Disease comes, and the organs fall out of harmony.
We’re like the four different birds,
that each had one leg tied in with the other birds.
A flopping bouquet of birds!
Death releases the binding, and they fly off,
but before that, their pulling is our pain.
Consider how the soul must be, in the midst of these tensions,
feeling its own exalted pull.