RUMI - 53 Secrets from the Tavern of Love: Poems from the Rubiayat of Mevlana Rumi (Islamic Encounter Series)

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9781940468006: RUMI - 53 Secrets from the Tavern of Love: Poems from the Rubiayat of Mevlana Rumi (Islamic Encounter Series)
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Rumi's poetry has been published in various English editions since the 19th century. And there has been no shortage of translators. Today, through the translations of Coleman Barks, he is the best-selling poet in the English language. The market for his poems is insatiable. He has a loyal following of English readers and serious devotees. Still, in English, Rumi’s poems have often been rendered into a literal and academic prose that is awkward and wooden or into a New-Age idiom that bears little relationship to the author’s original text or his context. Professors Amin Banani and Anthony A. Lee come to the rescue with a masterful translation that bridges the academic demand for fidelity to the original Persian text with a sensitive poetic translation that speaks to 21st-century readers.

The book has three sections: 1) a general introduction to Rumi's poetry, 2) translations of 53 short poems, and 3) a groundbreaking essay by Banani on the position of Rumi in Islamic poetry and in world literature.

The poems are presented as lessons on love. The reader is encouraged to treat them as koans to inspire spiritual contemplation.

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About the Author:

Amin Banani is an emeritus professor of history and Persian literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Mysticism and Poetry in Islam: The Heritage of Rumi and Persian Literature. He has pioneered the literary translation of contemporary Iranian poets. Anthony A. Lee lives in the Los Angeles area. He teaches African American history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at West Los Angeles College. He was awarded the Nat Turner Poetry Award (2003). He has received the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award (2005) and the Merton Institute’s ?Poetry of the Sacred" award (2012).

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Foreword

TRANSLATING RUMI

by Anthony A. Lee, Ph.D.

On Saturday, November 29, 1244 A.D. by our calendar, in the city of Konya in medieval Anatolia (now, southern Turkey), an event took place that would change the course of Islamic history, and eventually change the consciousness of humanity. Jalal al-Din Rumi, a Muslim cleric and legal scholar, fell in love. This was a strange and sudden, ecstatic, burning love that opened his heart and introduced new worlds to him. Even today, Sufi devotees around the world celebrate the legacy of that day in music and dance and poetry.

The focus of Rumi’s love was Shams-e Tabrizi (literally, Sun of Tabriz), a wanderer and fellow Muslim scholar. Legend tells us that this was almost love at first sight. In the marketplace of Konya, amid the cotton stalls, sugar vendors, and vegetable stands, Rumi rode through the street, surrounded by his students. Shams caught hold of the reins of his donkey and rudely challenged the master with two questions. Who was the greater mystic, Bayazid [a Sufi saint] or Muhammad?” Shams demanded.

What a strange question! Muhammad is greater than all the saints,” Rumi replied.

So, why is it then that Muhammad said to God, I didn’t know you as I should have,’ while Bayazid proclaimed, Glory be to me! How exalted is my Glory!” [that is, he claimed the station of God himself]?

Rumi explained that Muhammad was the greater of the two, because Bayazid could be filled to capacity by a single experience of divine blessings. He lost himself completely and was filled with God. Muhammad’s capacity was unlimited and could never be filled. His desire was endless, and he was always thirsty. With every moment he came closer to God, and then regretted his former distant state. For that reason he said, I have never known you as I should have.”

It is recorded that after this exchange of words, Rumi felt a window open at the top of his head and saw smoke rise to heaven. He cried out, fell to the ground, and lost consciousness for one hour. Shams, upon hearing these answers, realized that he was face to face with the object of his longing, the one he had prayed God to send him. When Rumi awoke, he took Shams’s hand, and the two of them returned to Rumi’s school together on foot. They secluded themselves for forty days, speaking to no one.

POEMS

Love

The candle inside your heart: Let it burn!
That gap keeps you from the Friend: Let it turn!
Hey! Don’t you know about pain and burning?
Love comes like that. It’s not something you learn.
You Are That

You’re looking for soul but you are the soul.
You’re searching for crumbs you are loaf and roll.
Learn this secret, then you’ll know: Whatever
you’re seeking you are that. You are the goal.

##

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