Poem of the Month: May

On March 21, World Poetry Day 2017, the International library introduced "Poem of the Month" on our multilingual webpages. Each month a new poem will be presented, in some of our web pages' eight languages.

The poem chosen for the month of May is a fragment from the six volume poem Masnavi-ye mánavi (Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning) by Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī. These are the 18 first couplets of the first volume:

1. Listen to this reed as it complains,
As it tells of separations in its strains:

2. Ever since I was torn from the land in which I grew
Men have been weeping to my piping, men and women, too.

3. I want a breast torn apart by parting
So I can tell it of the pain that accompanies my longing.

4. Whoever stays too long away from his own country
Searches for reunion, and his search is made daily.

5. I have been lamenting in all sorts of assembly.
I have been in bad as well as in good company.

6. Each imagines himself to have befriended me;
None have sought out the secrets within me.

7. My secret is not far from this lament you hear,
But it is something seen by neither eye nor ear.

8. The soul is not barred from the body, nor body from soul,
Yet no one is permitted to gaze upon the soul.

9. This blare and blast is not wind, it’s fire!
Let there be no one who is without this fire!

10. It is the fire of love that blows through the reed,
It is the boiling of love that ferments the mead.

11. The reed is companion to anyone who has lost a friend.
Its piercing whistle pierces through to the end.

12. Who has seen such a poison and such an antidote as the reed?
Who has seen such companionship and such longing as the reed?

13. None are privy to this consciousness but those who have
become unconscious.
The tongue has no other customer but the ear for its produce.

14. The reed tells of a blood-soaked road; it’s tale is gory.
Of the love of one possessed, the reed tells the story.

15. In my sorrow, how long it takes
The days to pass with my heartaches.

16. If those days are gone, let them go and be done with them.
You stay here with me, for you are pure like none of them.

17. For all except fishes, water will sate.
For all without bread, it seems to be late.

18. A seasoned state for the raw is all wrong,
Therefore my talk should be shortened: so-long!

                                              (Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī 1207-1273)
Translation: Muhammad Legenhausen 

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