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Newsletter for April 2013
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Saladin's Begging Bowl
Of these two thousand "I" and "We" people, which am I?
Don't try to keep me from asking!
Listen, when I'm this out of control!
But don't put anything breakable in my way!
There is an original inside me.
What's here is a mirror for that, for you.
If you are joyful, I am.
If you grieve, or if you're bitter, or graceful,
I take on those qualities.
Like the shadow of a cypress tree in the meadow,
like the shadow of a rose, I live close to the rose.
If I separated myself from you,
I would turn entirely thorn.
Every second, I drink another cup of my own blood-wine.
Every instant, I break an empty cup against your door.
I reach out, wanting you to tear me open.
Saladin's generosity lights a candle in my chest.
Who am I then?
His empty begging bowl.
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
Harper San Francisco 1995
I wonder from these thousands of "me's",
which one am I?
Listen to my cry, do not drown my voice
I am completely filled with the thought of you.
Don't lay broken glass on my path
I will crush it into dust.
I am nothing, just a mirror in the palm of your hand,
reflecting your kindness, your sadness, your anger.
If you were a blade of grass or a tiny flower
I would pitch my tent in your shadow.
Only your presence revives my withered heart.
You are the candle that lights the whole world
and I am an empty vessel for your light.
Translation by Azima Melita Kolin
and Maryam Mafi
"Rumi: Hidden Music"
Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, 2001
Of these two thousand I's and we's I wonder, which one am I?
Give ear to my babble, do not lay your hand on my mouth.
Since I have gone out of control, do not put glass on my path,
for if you do I will stamp and break all that I find.
Because every moment my heart is confused with your fantasy,
if you are joyous I am joyful, if you are sorrowing I am sorrowful.
You give bitterness and I become bitter, you give grace and I
become all grace; with you it is pleasant, O my sugar-lipped,
You are the original-what person am I? A mirror in your
hand, whatever you show, that I become, I am a well proved
You are like the cypress of the meadow, I am like your
shadow; since I have become the shadow of the rose, I have
pitched my tent beside the rose.
If without you I break off a rose, it will become a thorn in my
hand, and if I am all thorn, through you I am all rose and
Every moment I drain a bloody beaker of the blood of my
heart; every instant I break my own pitcher against the saki's
Every second I reach out my hand towards the skirt of an idol,
that he may scratch my cheek, that he may rend my shirt.
The grace of Salah-i Dil u Din shone in the midst of my heart;
he is the heart's candle in the world; who am I? His bowl.
Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
The University of Chicago Press, 1968
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