Wednesday, November 24, 2004
He said: 'Who is at the door?' Said I: 'Thy humble slave.'
He said: 'What business have you?' Said I: 'Lord, to greet thee.'
He said: 'How long will you push?' Said I: 'Till thou call.'
He said: 'How long will you glow?' Said I: 'Till resurrection.'
I laid claim to love, I took oaths
That for love I had lost sovereignty and power.
He said: 'A judge demands witness as regards a claim.'
Said I: 'Tears are my witness, paleness of face my evidence.'
He said: 'The witness is not valid; your eye is corrupt.'
Said I: 'By the majesty of thy justice they are just and clear of sin.'
He said: 'What do you intend?' Said I: 'Constancy and friendship.'
He said: 'What do you want of me?' Said I: 'Thy universal grace.'
He said: 'Who was your companion?' Said I: 'Thought of thee, O King.'
He said: 'Who called you here?' Said I: 'The odour of thy cup.'
He said: 'Where is it pleasantest?' Said I: 'The Emperor's palace.'
He said: 'What saw you there?' Said I: 'A hundred miracles.'
He said: 'Why is it desolate?' Said I: 'From fear of the brigand.'
He said: 'Who is the brigand?' Said I: 'This blame.'
He said: 'Where is it safe?' Said I: 'In abstinence and piety.'
He said: 'What is abstinence?' Said I: 'The path of salvation.'
He said: 'Where is calamity?' Said I: 'In the neighbourhood of thy love.'
He said: 'How fare you there?' Said I: 'In steadfastness.'
I gave you a long trial, but it availed me nothing;
Repentance lights on him who tests one tested already.
Peace! if I should utter forth his mystic sayings,
You would go beside yourself, neither door nor roof would restrain you.
A song from 'Selected Poems from The Divan~a~Shams~a Tabrizi of Jalaluddin Rumi' translated by R.A.Nicholson. This book is a re-issue by Ibex publishers (www.ibexpub.com) of the original publication about 100 years ago in 1898. It has 48 songs in it in English as well as Persian, and an extended collection of notes by the author that proove interesting reading.
Nicholson, also translated another great work by Jalalluddin Rumi: the Mathnawi. It took the English scholar a lifetime to translate it. He translated quite some Arabic literature too, but admitted that he was always drawn towards the continuation of translating the Mathnawi. Nicholson's translation of the Mathnawi is considered a standard. It was the first complete translation into English, and Nicholson is known for the depth he reached when diving into this ocean called Mathnawi. His writing captivates the reader's attention, even though we are reading the English translation, and not the original in Parsi. Not bad at all for an Englishman that never left Europe to visit Persia or the Middle East, to strike such a cord with such a collection of deep songs.
For more songs by Rumi in English translation, visit www.rumionfire.com or try to get a book by Nader Khalili, space architect and translator of the Songs of Rumi. (www.calearth.org)
Posted at 12:03 am by waterworld