friday feast: let the beauty we love be what we do

~ This post especially for cloudscome at A Wrung Sponge, with love, hugs, and healing thoughts.

      photo by NBeuscher

Seems for most of my adult life, Rumi’s poetry was always there, gracing beautiful leather bound journals, appearing in a calligrapher’s hand, shared among friends whenever there was a need for comfort, inspiration, or spiritual guidance.

I remember seeing a PBS special about well-known Rumi translator, Coleman Barks, a long time ago. I ran out immediately and bought a couple of Rumi volumes, and from time to time, I go through them and marvel anew at all the wisdom, beauty, insight, and passion contained in his words.

I admit I don’t know much about Rumi’s life, just that he was born in Afghanistan and lived in Turkey. He left academia to write poetry after meeting wandering Dervish, Shams. It was their three and a half year mystical relationship that unearthed Rumi’s latent spirituality and fueled his intense devotion.

In Shams, Rumi saw a divine presence.

When Shams was murdered in 1248, Rumi’s grief and devotion manifested itself in an outpouring of music, dance, and lyrical poems — a huge body of work that today transcends and defies regional, religious, social, and ethnic boundaries.

According to Professor Majid M. Naini, Rumi’s life and transformation provide true testimony and proof that people of all religions and backgrounds can live together in peace and harmony. Rumi’s visions, words, and life teach us how to reach inner peace and happiness so we can finally stop the continual stream of hostility and hatred and achieve true, global peace and harmony.*

The primary theme in Rumi’s poetry is longing, which is basic to human existence. No matter what manner of spiritual practice we employ to alleviate this longing, we mortal beings will always seek communion and union with a higher power.

Poetry is one pathway we have towards spiritual growth and enlightenment. When we encounter a poem we truly love, we often say it “slayed us.” In the presence of truth, the ego dies, a part of us has fallen away. We feel uplifted, changed, renewed, sometimes validated and understood. The place where a poem is true is the place where soul and spiritual growth merges with form.

In Sufi circles they say, ‘There’s prayer, and a step up from that is meditation, and a step up from that is sohbet, or conversation.’ The Friendship of Rumi and Shams became a continuous conversation, in silence and words, presence talking to absence, existence to non-existence, periphery to center.**

Sohbet is receptivity, a profound listening, and the dignity of a reply. Also true, to some degree, of Poetry Friday.

Here is one of my favorite poems by Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273). I love the power of his inclusiveness — uniting each to each, and each of us with our own deepest spiritual selves:



I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark off a stone, a flickering in metal.

Both candle and the moth crazy around it.
Rose and nightingale lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being,
the circling galaxy,

the evolutionary intelligence,
the lift and the falling away.

What is and what isn’t. You
who know Jelaluddin. You

the One in all, say who
I am. Say I am You.

~ translated from the Persian by John Moyne and Coleman Barks, in SAY I AM YOU: RUMI (Maypop, 1994).

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Wild Rose Reader.


**from the Moyne and Barks Introduction


32 thoughts on “friday feast: let the beauty we love be what we do

  1. I’m a humble fan of Rumi’s works. I love how he invites his readers to community, to share our views with one another. This poem, in a more eloquent way than I could ever, suggests that we are all part of the all-knowing, all-seeing “I.”


  2. So true. And because we are all part of one community, everything we do affects the whole. I can’t help but think of the Wall Street greed — their selfish acts have resulted in major catastrophe for everyone else.


  3. I love this post. And I’d never read that one, so thank you.

    You had me at the post’s very title.



  4. What a beautiful photograph.

    That’s an interesting line about the trained parrot in the tree. Why trained, I wonder. So it can speak?


  5. Oh jama, you are a dear. I am tearing up here. Your photos on this post are so lovely and so comforting! I first heard Rumi in that same Coleman Barks PBS show, and ran right out and bought the Complete Works of Rumi translated by Barks. This poem is so wonderful. I particularly love these lines:

    “Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
    I am also the coral reef they founder on.

    I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
    Silence, thought, and voice.

    The musical air coming through a flute,
    a spark off a stone, a flickering in metal.

    Both candle and the moth crazy around it.
    Rose and nightingale lost in the fragrance.”

    I find them so comforting. Whatever happens, it is what it is. I am content to be part of it.


  6. I think the tree = silence, the parrot’s training = thought, the speaking parrot= voice. Or the parrot being up in the branches = his/her own particular voice apart from the one who trained him/her?


  7. That show was on so long ago, I was sure I was the only one who remembered it — but then, you, of all people — I should have known!! Amazing how we were both motivated to purchase some Rumi poetry of our own.

    Rumi is indeed very calming and comforting. Especially good when craziness abounds all around you.


  8. says:

    Even the title of the post is gorgeous.

    How I love the sentiment — “You, the one in all, say who I am.” That is …making me want to cry, actually. Rumi is so gorgeous, and I listen hard when I read it, trying to see further into meanings. Thank you, I’d not read this one.


  9. “When we encounter a poem we truly love, we often say it “slayed us.” In the presence of truth, the ego dies, a part of us has fallen away.”

    I’d never thought of reading poetry as “slaying” before, but now, I completely will. This post and poem are worth returning to, over and over.


  10. Good writing makes me die a little — a good kind of death. A reader gives oneself over to a poem or story, and merges with it. In the mind and heart, we are one. Rumi continues to tease my thoughts; definitely part of my ‘breaking free’ goal this year.


  11. I saw Barks read a bunch of Rumi at the Dodge Festival, years ago. He is a warm bear of a man and the poems so exquisite. I just remember feeling surrounded by love…


  12. I’ve only recently (through cloudscome’s pf posts) stumbled across Rumi. This post both satisfies some of my curiosity — and inspires more!

    Could the tree simply be a haven for the parrot — a place where the parrot (or the self) doesn’t have to perform according to its training?



  13. What beautiful photos with the poem. Thanks for sharing, I hadn’t read any of Rumi before!
    Kelly Polark


  14. I’d recommend THE ESSENTIAL RUMI (Harper), translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne. I got my copy awhile ago, so I don’t know if this particular volume is still in print. You may have to search used bookstores for it. There are probably other collections just as good, though, since he’s as popular as ever all over the world.


  15. The picture of the bowl with the steam is a gorgeous! Did you take it yourself?
    Poem is beautiful as well.
    -Grace Lin


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