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A Sampling of Rumi's Poems

This Great Love Inside Me

I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?

Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.

Trans./Compiled by Coleman Barks.
The Essential Rumi. Harper San Fransisco, 1997.


The Secret Turning

A secret turning in us
makes the universe turn.
Head unaware of feet,
and feet head. Neither cares.
They keep turning.

Compiled by Coleman Barks.

This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.
This is not
grief or joy.
Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.
Those come and go.
This is the presence
that doesn't.

Compiled by Coleman Barks.

The Day I've Died

The day I've died, my pall is moving on -
But do not think my heart is still on earth!
Don't weep and pity me: "Oh woe, how awful!"
You fall in devil's snare - woe, that is awful!
Don't cry "Woe, parted!" at my burial -
For me this is the time of joyful meeting!
Don't say "Farewell!" when I'm put in the grave -
A curtain is it for eternal bliss.
You saw "descending" - now look at the rising!
Is setting dangerous for sun and moon?
To you it looks like setting, but it's rising;
The coffin seems a jail, yet it means freedom.
Which seed fell in the earth that did not grow there?
Why do you doubt the fate of human seed?
What bucket came not filled from out the cistern?
Why should the Yusaf "Soul" then fear this well?
Close here your mouth and open it on that side.
So that your hymns may sound in Where- no-place!

Schimmel, Annemarie. Look! This Is Love: Poems of Rumi.
Boston, Mass.: Shambhala Publications, 1991.

I Was Dead

I was dead
I came alive
I was tears
I became laughter

all because of love
when it arrived
my temporal life
from then on
changed to eternal

love said to me
you are not
crazy enough
you don't
fit this house

I went and
became crazy
crazy enough
to be in chains

love said
you are not
intoxicated enough
you don't
fit the group

I went and
got drunk
drunk enough
to overflow
with light-headedness

love said
you are still
too clever
filled with
imagination and skepticism

I went and
became gullible
and in fright
pulled away
from it all

love said
you are a candle
attracting everyone
gathering every one
around you

I am no more
a candle spreading light
I gather no more crowds
and like smoke
I am all scattered now

love said
you are a teacher
you are a head
and for everyone
you are a leader

I am no more
not a teacher
not a leader
just a servant
to your wishes

love said
you already have
your own wings
I will not give you
more feathers

and then my heart
pulled itself apart
and filled to the brim
with a new light
overflowed with fresh life

now even the heavens
are thankful that
because of love
I have become
the giver of light

The Man Who Looked Back on His Way to Hell
by Jalal al-Din Rumi

The guardian angels who used to walk unseen before and
behind him have now become visible like policemen.
They drag him along, prodding him with goads, and crying,
" Begone, O Dog, to thy kennel!"
He looks back to toward the Holy Presence:
His tears fall like autumn rain.
A mere hope -- what has he but that?
Then from God in the Realm of Light comes the command --
"Say ye to him: 'O ne'er do well, destitute of merit
"Thou hast seen the black scroll of thy misdeeds.
What dost thou expect?
Why art thou tarrying in vain?"
He answers: "Lord thou knowest I am a hundred, hundred
times worse than Thou hast declared.
"But beyond my exertion and action, beyond good and evil
and faith and infidelity, beyond living righteously or
behaving disobediently -- I had a great hope of
thy lovingkindness.
"I turn again to that pure grace, I am not regarding my
own works. Thou gavest me my being as a robe of
honor: I have always relied on that munificence."
When he confesses his sins, God saith to the angels,
"Bring him back, for he never lost hope of Me.
"Like one who recks of naught, I will deliver him and
cancel all this trespasses.
"I will kindle such a fire of grace that the least spark thereof
concumes all sin and necessity and free will.
I will set fire to the tenement of Man and make its
thorns a bower of roses."

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