A great first meeting story. The year was 1244, when Rumi met Shams in a bazaar in Konya, Persia. Rumi was a young scholar, and Shams, about twenty years older, was a wandering free thinker. They got to discussing literature, and Shams challenged Rumi to find his own voice. Over the course of two years of traveling together, Rumi did just that, and produced sixty five thousand some verses. This book samples that work.
I first ran into his name whilst reading a book on the Silk Road and thought it unusual that despite not being a theologian per se, nor a warrior, nor a ruler, his travels were well-documented and he was obviously held in the highest esteem, landmark mausoleum and everything. So apparently I was sleeping on this guy, since even Madonna has sampled his poetry at the Hollywood Bowl. o.O
I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I loved this. It’s so joyous and open, more Walt Whitman-like than any theologian I know of. Here’s a couple of samples.
I’ve been short on courage,
but I have a heart of sunlight,
straight from the king’s hand.
I stir up laughter even in those who fear joy.
Crack open my shell. Steal my pearl.
I’ll still be laughing.
It’s the rookies who laugh only when they win.
Dear nightingale, I bow to your bright songs,
never the same twice.
Master of improvisation perched in a tree,
flowers delight you. You delight us.
How do we pass on the favor?
Shout-out to the translator, too (Haleh Liza Gafori). It doesn’t sound dated in the least.