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Hardcover The Essential Rumi Book

ISBN: 078580871X

ISBN13: 9780785808718

The Essential Rumi

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Book Overview

Ecstatic poems of renowned thirteenth century Sufi mystic and spiritual writer Jelalludin Rumi. Back in vogue after all these years, this new translation redefines these timeless poems.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Poetic enlightenment

Rumi (as he is known in the West), was known as Jelaluddin Balkhi by the Persians and Afghanis, from where he was born in 1207. Rumi means 'from Roman Anatolia', which is where his family fled to avoid the threat of Mongol armies. Being raised in a theological family, Rumi studied extensively in religion and poetry, until encountering Shams of Tabriz, a wandering mystic, with whom he formed the first of his intense, mystical friendships, so intense that it inspired jealously among Rumi's students and family. Shams eventually disappeared (most likely murdered because of the jealousy); Rumi formed later more mystical friendships, each with a different quality, which seemed essential for Rumi's creative output. Rumi was involved with the mystical tradition that continues to this day of the dervish (whirling dervishes are best known), and used it as a personal practice and as a teaching tool. This book has a deliberate task: 'The design of this book is meant to confuse scholars who would divide Rumi's poetry into the accepted categories.' Barks and Moyne have endeavoured to put together a unified picture that playfully spans the breadth of Rumi's imagination, without resorting to scholarly pigeon-holes and categorisations. 'All of which makes the point that these poems are not monumental in the Western sense of memorialising moments; they are not discrete entities but a fluid, continuously self-revising, self-interrupting medium.' Rumi created these poems as part of a constant, growing conversation with a dervish learning community. It flows from esoteric to mundane, from ecstatic to banal, incorporating music and movement at some points, and not at others, with the occasional batch of prose. 'Some go first, and others come long afterward. God blesses both and all in the line, and replaces what has been consumed, and provides for those who work the soil of helpfulness, and blesses Muhammad and Jesus and every other messenger and prophet. Amen, and may the Lord of all created beings bless you.' From the lofty sentiments... 'There's a strange frenzy in my head, of birds flying, each particle circulating on its own. Is the one I love everywhere?' ...to the simple observations... 'Drunks fear the police, but the police are drunks too. People in this town love them both like different chess pieces.' Some poems take very mystic frameworks, such as the Sohbet. There is no easy English translation of Sohbet, save that it comes close to meaning 'mystical conversation on mystical subjects'. These poems become mystically Socratic, by a series of questions and answers, very simple on the surface, yet leading down to the depths of meaning. In the middle of the night I cried out, "Who lives in this love I have?" You said, "I do, but I'm not here alone. Why are these other images with me?" Rumi also has an elegant series called the Solomon Poems, in which King Solomon is the embodiment of luminous divine wisdom, and the Queen of Sheba is the bodily so

Look right here for Rumi's essence

Don't let the one-star Spotlight Review above entitled "Look elsewhere for Rumi's essence (November 16, 1999)" drive you away from a great read. This book captures Rumi's essence like no other. And despite what that negative reviewer says, author and poet Coleman Barks is very well qualified to bring Rumi to a modern English audience. Consider these four points: 1) First, and most important, Barks loves Rumi; he loves Rumi's poetry; he loves that presence Rumi's poetry celebrates and explores. In his negative review, "A Customer" implies Sufi poetry employs some kind of mantric magic when he says that "their poems are actually precise and carefully constructed technical instruments designed to have very specific effects on the reader under the right circumstances." Please. Rumi himself makes plain throughout his works that the point of his poetry - and of Sufism - is not technique. The point is love: "Rub your eyes, and look again at love, with love." Rumi would have been the last person in the world to insist on strict adherence to technique, or compulsive literal translation. He was about soul, and transformation, and he said over and over again that the only real magic was love. That's the real essence of Rumi. And maybe Barks has been able to translate Rumi's poetry so effectively because he's coming from the heart and the soul, and not just the head. 2) Second, Barks is a well-known American poet in his own right, a retired professor of English at Georgia University. He's studied the life and work of Rumi intensively for over thirty years. And he was a personal student of the great Sufi teacher Bawa Muhaiyaddeen for many years, so he knows something about Sufism and Rumi's "path of love" from direct personal experience. 3) Third, while it is true that Barks does not read Rumi in the original Persian, his modern English versions of Rumi are based on the painstaking study of the best critical English editions of Rumi available, including those of Moyne, Arberry and Nicholson - and, if you want to know why Barks chose to go beyond these literal translations and create his own modern versions of Rumi in plain English, try reading a critical edition like Nicholson's: yes, it's a literal translation, and it's very scholarly, but it's almost unreadable. In fact, it's torture. Scholarship is important, but poetry should be a joy. 4) Finally, Barks must know something, because he just got an honorary doctorate from the Department of Persian Language and Literature at the University of Tehran for his translations of Rumi. (Here's the announcement: "The Diploma of Honorary Doctorate of the University of Tehran in the field of Persian Language and Literature will be granted to Professor Coleman Barks, Poet and Professor Emeritus of English, University of Georgia, USA, for translating the poetry of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, the great Iranian poet and philosopher at 10:00-12:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 at Ferdowsi Hall, Faculty of Literature a

Look right here for Rumi's essence

This review was originally written as a response to a one-star Spotlight Review entitled "Look elsewhere for Rumi's essence", which criticized Barks' versions of Rumi as inauthentic because they are not precisely literal; that negative review has since been removed. But what I said then still goes: Don't let the negative reviews drive you away from a great read. This book captures Rumi's essence like no other. And despite what the critics think, Coleman Barks is very well qualified to bring Rumi to a modern English audience. Consider these four points: 1) First, and most important, Barks loves Rumi; he loves Rumi's poetry; he loves that Presence Rumi's poetry celebrates and explores. In the original criticism, the reviewer implied Sufi poetry employs some kind of mantric magic when he said that "their poems are actually precise and carefully constructed technical instruments designed to have very specific effects on the reader under the right circumstances." Please. Rumi himself makes plain throughout his works that the point of his poetry - and of Sufism - is not technique. The point is love: "Rub your eyes, and look again at love, with love." Rumi would have been the last person in the world to insist on strict adherence to technique, or compulsive literal translation. He was about soul, and transformation, and he said over and over again that the only real magic was love. That's the real essence of Rumi. And maybe Barks has been able to translate Rumi's poetry so effectively because he's coming from the heart and the soul, and not just the head. 2) Second, Barks is a well-known American poet in his own right, a retired professor of English at Georgia University. He's studied the life and work of Rumi intensively for over thirty years. And he was a personal student of the great Sufi teacher Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, so he knows something about Sufism and Rumi's "path of love" from direct personal experience. 3) Third, while it is true that Barks does not read Rumi in the original Persian, his modern English versions of Rumi are based on the painstaking study of the best critical English editions of Rumi available, including those of Moyne, Arberry and Nicholson - and if you want to know why Barks chose to go beyond these literal translations and create his own modern versions of Rumi in plain English, try reading a critical edition like Nicholson's - yes, it's a literal translation, and it's very scholarly, but it's almost unreadable. In fact, it's torture. Scholarship is important, but poetry should be a joy. 4) Finally, Barks must know something, because he just got an honorary doctorate from the Department of Persian Language and Literature at the University of Tehran for his translations of Rumi. (Here's the announcement: "The Diploma of Honorary Doctorate of the University of Tehran in the field of Persian Language and Literature will be granted to Professor Coleman Barks, Poet and Professor Emeritus of English, University of Georgia, USA,

Poetic Enlightenment

Rumi (as he is known in the West), was known as Jelaluddin Balkhi by the Persians and Afghanis, from where he was born in 1207. Rumi means 'from Roman Anatolia', which is where his family fled to avoid the threat of Mongol armies. Being raised in a theological family, Rumi studied extensively in religion and poetry, until encountering Shams of Tabriz, a wandering mystic, with whom he formed the first of his intense, mystical friendships, so intense that it inspired jealously among Rumi's students and family. Shams eventually disappeared (most likely murdered because of the jealousy); Rumi formed later more mystical friendships, each with a different quality, which seemed essential for Rumi's creative output. Rumi was involved with the mystical tradition that continues to this day of the dervish (whirling dervishes are best known), and used it as a personal practice and as a teaching tool.This book has a deliberate task: 'The design of this book is meant to confuse scholars who would divide Rumi's poetry into the accepted categories.' Barks and Moyne have endeavoured to put together a unified picture that playfully spans the breadth of Rumi's imagination, without resorting to scholarly pigeon-holes and categorisations. 'All of which makes the point that these poems are not monumental in the Western sense of memorialising moments; they are not discrete entities but a fluid, continuously self-revising, self-interrupting medium.'Rumi created these poems as part of a constant, growing conversation with a dervish learning community. It flows from esoteric to mundane, from ecstatic to banal, incorporating music and movement at some points, and not at others, with the occasional batch of prose. 'Some go first, and others come long afterward. God blesses both and all in the line, and replaces what has been consumed, and provides for those who work the soil of helpfulness, and blesses Muhammad and Jesus and every other messenger and prophet. Amen, and may the Lord of all created beings bless you.'From the lofty sentiments...'There's a strange frenzy in my head,of birds flying,each particle circulating on its own.Is the one I love everywhere?'...to the simple observations...'Drunks fear the police,but the police are drunks too.People in this town love them bothlike different chess pieces.'Some poems take very mystic frameworks, such as the Sohbet. There is no easy English translation of Sohbet, save that it comes close to meaning 'mystical conversation on mystical subjects'. These poems become mystically Socratic, by a series of questions and answers, very simple on the surface, yet leading down to the depths of meaning. In the middle of the nightI cried out,"Who lives in this loveI have?"You said, "I do, but I'm not herealone. Why are these other imageswith me?"Rumi also has an elegant series called the Solomon Poems, in which King Solomon is the embodiment of luminous divine wisdom, and the Queen of Sheba is the bodily soul. This sets up a dynamic tension

Quite frankly, the most beautiful book I have ever read.

At the risk of cliche, if you only buy a single book this year, please do yourself a favor and make it "The Essential Rumi." Rumi is for Americans who think that Islam is all about harems and terrorists. A sultry serenade to God, Rumi's poetry explodes in the soul with a beautiful force that tears down the wall between the individual and the Divine. Jelaluddin Rumi was a 13th Century Sufi mystic, the founder of the so-called "whirling dervishes", whose inner exploration allowed him to attain a rare level of enlightenment and connection with God. His poems resonate with truth and wisdom so earnest that it is impossible not to be swept away on a tide of pure spiritual longing and fulfillment. This is a book for anyone who loves poetry, religion, God, or love. And if you don't love these things now, you will by the time you finish "The Essential Rumi."
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