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Recorded in October 2019. Rumi was born in 1207, and died in 1273. The translation, by R. A. Nicholson, the greatest Rumi scholar in the English language, was made in 1898. The poem is taken from the Diwani Shamsi Tabriz, a collection of 3,229 lyric poems (called “ghazals”) which is considered one of the greatest works of Persian literature. A diwan is a collection of poems; Shams-i-Tabrizi was the spiritual teacher and friend of the poet, in whose honour the work was named. It is poem 48 in Nicholson’s collection of Selected Poems; in the original, it is ghazal number 3051.
A commentary on a few points that may potentially be obscure:
“Thou wert a favourite falcon, kept in captivity by an old woman.”—Nicholson informs us that a story of a “white falcon, whose beak and claws were cut by a vile old woman,” is related in the Masnavi. With respect to the falcon-drum, he says: “When the huntsman wishes to call his bird back, he beats a drum: the hawk, having an affection for the drum, returns speedily.” He adds that, according to Kaempfer, “it is carried by kings and nobles on the left side of their saddles.” The beater of the drum, then, seems to be God; the old woman, the evil of this world.
“Thou wert a love-lorn nightingale among owls.”—The owl is a major predator of the nightingale. Hence the owls, I presume, represent the ills of this life; the rose-garden, the world hereafter and refuge with God. Presumably Rumi likens the subject of this poem to a nightingale because of his beauty of soul, since the nightingale is renowned for its beauty of song; calls it love-lorn, as a metaphor for yearning to be with God.
“The tavern of Eternity.”—Meaning God.
“The world gave thee false clues, like a ghoul.”—A ghoul is the Arabic and Persian word for a kind of demon.
“Since thou art now the sun, why dost thou wear a tiara?”—Presumably, he who enjoys eternal bliss, has no need of earthly power. “Why seek a girdle, since thou art gone from the middle?”—Nicholson explains that “to be gone from the middle” is a Persian idiom meaning “to die,” and that it is analogous with the Latin phrase “e media abire.”
“I have heard that thou art gazing with distorted eyes upon thy soul,” etc.—Nicholson: “You look back with regret on the life of your individual soul, which is now exalted above life.”
“Since thou hast taken refuge with so loving a friend.”—Nicholson: “The soul, waking from the dark night of the world, enjoys eternal day in the bosom of God.”
|Category||Arts & Literature|
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