Monday, 5 September 2011

How Should the Cage-Bird Know About the Rumi

My being is but a goblet in the Beloved's hand
- look at my eyes, if you do not believe it.
I am like a goblet,
heart full of blood and body slender,
in the hand of Love,
which is neither pale nor lean nor slender.

This Love consumes nothing but Moslem blood;
come, I will tell it in your ear - amazing, it is not an infidel.
A thousand forms like Adam and Eve are born;
the world is full of His image, but He is not endowed with form.

He knows what is salutary for the desert sand-grain and the drop of the ocean,
and brings replenishment, for His knowledge is not deaf.
Every moment He binds and releases our hearts;
why should the heart not know Him by His actions,
if it is not an ass?

Through being bound and released by the hand of the ass-driver
the ass has become a gnostic,
and knows that he is, and none beside;
Seeing him, it moves its head and ear assishly;
it recognizes his call, for it is not disguised.

From his hand it has consumed sweet provender and water - amazing!
Do you not receive such provision from God?
A thousand times He has fettered you in pain,
and you have cried out;
why do you disapprove?

God is not constrained to release you.
Like the infidel you bow your head only in time of affliction;
not worth half a grain is the head that belongs not yonder.
A thousand spiritual forms are flying in the air like Ja'far-iTaiyar,
although they are not Ja'far;

But how should the cage-bird know about the air?
It supposes gloomily, "I have no wings.
Every moment it puts its head out of the fissure of the cage;
there is room for its head,
but not its body,
for the head is not the whole.

The fissure of your five senses is the fissure of that cage;
you see a thousand prospects,
but there is no way to the prospect.
Your body is dry tinder,
and that vision is fire;
when you look well into the matter,
all is nothing but flame.

Not tinder it is,
for it has become fire in burning;
know that the tinder is light, although it is not shining.
For the sake of the ears of those who shall come after me I speak and set down;
our life is not postponed;
For Love has seized them by the ear
and is bringing them by secret ways where reason is no guide.

Muhammad's eye has closed in sleep,
and the rebeck has become feeble;
sleep not - these words are a treasure of gold,
even if they are not gold in truth.

Mankind are stars, and Shams-i Tabrizi is the sun;
which star is there that is not illumined by his sun?

~ Rumi
Poem by Jalal al din Rumi, Poem #56 translated in "Jalal al din Rumi - Mystical Poems of Rumi" translated from the Persian by A.J. Arberry.
Art by © Misty R. Lemons -

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