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The Tavern -- Jalaluddin Rumi

From Samarkand, the Silk Road crosses the Pamirs and heads through Afghanistan
into Persia...
(Poem #513) The Tavern
 All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
 Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
 I have no idea.
 My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
 And I intend to end up there.

 This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
 When I get back around to that place,
 I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
 I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
 The day is coming when I fly off,
 But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
 Who says words with my mouth?

 Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
 I cannot stop asking.
 If I could taste one sip of an answer,
 I could break out of this prison for drunks.
 I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
 Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

 This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
 I don't plan it.
 When I'm outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

 We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
 That's fine with us. Every morning
 We glow and in the evening we glow again.

 They say there's no future for us. They're right.
 Which is fine with us.
-- Jalaluddin Rumi
(Excerpted from The Essential Rumi, translations by Coleman Barks with John
Moyne, 1995).

A beautiful and subtle meditation - the utter simplicity of Rumi's words
enhances the power of his creation. It's said that Rumi's mystical quatrains
were composed in a state of exaltation; as Britannica puts it, "... a state of
ecstasy, induced by the music of the flute or the drum, the hammering of the
goldsmiths, or the sound of the water mill in Meram, where Rumi used to go with
his disciples to enjoy nature."



Today's poem shares more than just a title with Harivanshrai Bachchan's
wonderful 'Madhushala (The Tavern)', which you can read in Sameer Siruguri's
superb translation at poem #72

There's more about Rumi (and about Persian/Urdu poetry in general) in the
commentary accompanying 'Spring Giddiness', at poem #473

Previous stops along the Silk Road:
Li Po, 'About Tu Fu', poem #505
Christopher Marlowe, 'Lament for Zenocrate', poem #507
James Elroy Flecker, 'The Golden Road to Samarkand', poem #510


Rumi was the Emperor Akbar's favourite poet; Akbar, the greatest of the Great
Mughals, was a direct descendant of Timur. Yet another sign of the fundamental
interconnectedness of all things.

20 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anonymous said...

My father loved this poem...I loved my father.

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