How are you?
I am really enamoured by this book. I have been reading it often, off and on like I read poetry books, when I want to pass time on the train or when I need some inspiration. The essence of this book can be summed up in a way, or rather I should say, the essence of this book is alluded to by this quote by Nietzsche
“What is great in man is that he is a bridge, and not a goal”.
This book was written in celebration of Rumi, a man who for the last few hundread years has been a bridge through his life and works for that which cannot be but into words but felt in the heart. This book contains a brief description of the trip taken by Messrs. Coleman Barks and Robert Bly to Iran to receive an honorary PhD and plaque of appreciation, respectively. In addition the book contains ninety new never before translated poems which are amazingly moving and touching. The details of the trip, the poems, the silence, they end in and the heart’s music they allude to are in a way, one swaying being.
The trip for both gentlemen is filled with bridges to the realms of the heart. The tomb of Hafez, a poem of Saadi, the people of Iran, and penultimately the Khajou bridge itself. This bridge has been described beautifully by Barks in with the following terms
“At night the Khajou brdge holds lighted niches and watersounds together, an auditory and visual multiplicity within unity. The bridge contains several layers of human interaction, which are not concealed from each other. The Khajou Bridge and the ghazals of Rumi are similar expressions of awareness, a commonplace where we rest within restlessness. The Khajou bridge is a humanmade shoal that people are drawn to, to enjoy the seasonal motion, to sit quietly in time. It is not a tavern, nor is it a school” The bridge serves for me at least a constant reminder of what in essence we each are; a bridge to a mystery unraveling at every moment.
The 90 poems themselves are quite moving, a few of which I have posted here already in these past posts:
1. Two Lovings : http://tinyurl.com/d6egv4
2. A Preposterous Guess: http://tinyurl.com/c875lv
3. A Mixed Breed Apple: http://tinyurl.com/d43uq8
Mr. Barks reminds of a few things that are quite poignant before we walks the bridge of Rumi’s words to get to that place describe by Rumi as such:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
One of the things I noticed right away reading through this book was the mention and talk of silence. Mr Barks remarks that Rumi devotes a lot of attention to silences, especially at the end of the ghazals. According to Barks, it is there that Rumi sends the words back into the silent mystery from whence they came. The closing lines of some of the poem are a link from the poem to the reader’s consciousness while going through the poem, which would explain their puissance when you really get into it. It is common literarily for the writter to put his pen name or name at the end of his Ghazal as can be seen in the case of Hafez. Not mentioning his name, or not signing the poem in a way is paying homage to the greater self which moves in silence. He never claims the poem to be his. They come from, and belong to another realm, beyond the grasp of our mind.
Rumi was once asked, ” Isnt it strange that you talk so much about silence”. He answere, “The radiant one inside me has never said a word.”
Over 5o0 ghazals close withthe mention of silence, or with the mention of Shams, the sun dawn, or some natural phenomenon the brings us to the depth of inspiration. The poems that really move me have been the ones ending with mention of Shams. I quote from Mr. Barks himself: ” The wild presence of Shams Tabriz, Rumi’s teacher and friend, cna make dee changes in the human psyche. Rumi’s poems offer the mystery of that presence to those listening and with it a transformation as gentle and profound as that of the sun’s coming up on a sleeping town.”
The noise of a waking town
fills my chest. Shams
is saying this.
I have really been moved by the book itself. It has been a bridge to peace,or rather the glimpses of The Friend I feel through these poems have carried me through really the tough times of the past few weeks and given my soul rest . Personally, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be moved by the beauty inherent to their own life that goes often times missing. If you want to take a bridge to the present, where beauty and union are in constant manifestation. Please pick up the book and keep it nearby.
In the meantime I would like to give you a sample of two poems that have touched me. One of them is called Music and Silence and is very fitting. the other is called Pure Silence.
I have come this time
to bury my thorns
to purify my life
to take up service again
in the garden.
I come weeping to these waters
to rise free of passion and belief.
Look at my face. These tears
are traces of you.
I will shorten this poem
because the rest of it
is being said in the world
within our eyes.
Do you know this silence?
It is not the same as in your room
when you have no one to talk to.
This is pure silence
Not the kind that happens
when living dogs are eating a dead one.
MUSIC AND SILENCE
Lovers, union is here,
the meeting we have wanted,
the fire, the joy.
Let sadness and any fear of death
leave the room.
The sun’s glory comes back.
Wind shakes our bells.
We are counters in your hand
passing easily through.
Were you to put words with this
we would not survive the song.