Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Discovering Rumi

The closest bookstore to my house here only has a couple of shelves of English literature in it, so my choices have been rather limited. I haven't had much time for reading anyway, but there are days when I go in and browse the books, hopeful that I'll find a hidden treasure. Mostly, the books are classic literature, like Oliver Twist, Little Women, or War and Peace; or the latest top sellers (the Twilight series). I was leaning toward buying Oliver Twist the last time I was in the bookstore, but then a section of Turkish lit translated into English caught my eye. For some reason I was drawn to Selected Poems by Rumi. I thumbed through the book and some of the prose popped out at me, so it was settled, I had to have it.

I've never been a fan of poetry. I've always thought it was too complicated to understand and I've never been willing to look for deeper meanings and such. I know it's a narrow view, but everyone can't like everything, you know? Even so, I've really enjoyed reading Rumi. He's inspired me. I went out and bought a sketchbook and some colored pencils, then I wrote some of my favorite passages on different pages and began drawing scenes to accompany the prose. I'd love to paint something wonderful that will remind me of these poems when I return to the United States.

After having read quite a bit of this book, I've come to the conclusion that maybe one needs to be in a certain mindset when approaching poetry. I think that is the reason I've been more open to it at this point in my life than I had been previously. If you haven't read Rumi, I highly recommend it. He was full of insight.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

You kiss a beautiful mouth,
and a key turns the lock of your fear.


Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.


Enough Words

How does a part of the world leave the world?
How can wetness leave water?

Don't try to put out a fire
by throwing on more fire!
Don't wash a wound with blood!

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up.
Sometimes, it's in front!

Only full, overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow has been serving you!
What hurts you, blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.

I can explain this, but it would break
the glass cover on your heart,
and there's no fixing that.

You must have shadow and light source both.
Listen, and lay your head under the tree of awe.

When from that tree, feathers and wings sprout
on you, be quieter than a dove.
Don't open your mouth for even a cooooooo.

When a frog slips into the water, the snake
cannot get it. Then the frog climbs back out
and croaks, and the snake moves toward him again.

Even if the frog learned to hiss, still the snake
would hear throughthe hiss the information
he needed, the frog voice underneath.

But if the frog could be completely silent,
then the snake would go back to sleeping,
and the frog could reach the barley.

The soul lives there in the silent breath.

And that grain of barley is such that,
when you put it in the ground,
it grows.

Are these enough words,
or shall I squeeze more juice from this?
Who am I, my friend?