Tuesday, August 1, 2017

You have to feel the fire yourself

As much as I love the Sufi poets, I'm not very well-read as my brain simply can't take in more than a just little poetry at any given time. But maybe that lets me love a single poem a little bit more. Here is a small salty, bitter, sweet and sour poem from Rumi (1207-1273) that I really love right now. 

As always, take it with an extra grain of salt, as this is merely my very subtle reworking of Coleman Barks' 2001 reworking ("Sour, Doughy, Numb, and Raw") of translations by John Moyne, Arthur J. Arberry, and others from the original Persian. My hope was to try to get a little closer in English to what I felt was the heart of the theme.

Holi Festival of Colours

If we're not together in the heart,
what's the point? When body

and soul aren't dancing, there's
no pleasure in wearing colorful

clothes. What good are cooking
pans when there's no food in the

house? In this world full of fresh
bread, amber and musk—such an

array of fragrances—what are they
to someone with no sense of smell?

If you stay away from fire, you'll stay
sour, doughy, numb and raw. You may

have lovely, just-baked loaves all
around you, but those friends can't

help. You have to feel the oven's fire
yourself, crust to core. I would never

have known the truth of what love is
had I never felt this boundless longing.

Anything done to excess becomes boring,
except this overflow that moves toward you.