Tuesday, May 17, 2005

aggressive intent

When I tug at your coat, it's not to fight.

When you mock my love, I feel no shame.

I live and cry for the sweet bond between us,

That bond where distance has no substance.

#375: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

I have been posting at FaithFreedom.org on a thread about Sufism and the following verse "from a collection of Rumi's quatrains" was put forth as evidence that he "wrote in his poetry of conquering Byzantium" and was therefore, like any other Muslim or Sufi, not to be trusted.
We will attack the king of Abyssinia and the Caesar of Rome,
And we will write our legend on the forehead of lions,
We are the metal that is used for an army, the size of Solomon's,
We won't become molded like a wax in anyone's palm except David's.

Although I interpreted the poem as a metaphor for opposing tyranny of any sort (with David referring to "the guy with the slingshot"), it still didn't seem characteristic of Rumi and I thought I'd try some of the words in it to see if he'd used those themes in any of the first lines available in the index that I search for a new quatrain each morning. I tried attack, king, Abyssinia, Caesar, Rome, lion, metal, army, Solomon, David, wax to no avail but among synonyms fight yielded today's verse which quite precisely denies that he means to fight. It really does seem like he's making his attitude quite clear here. He might try to change others' views by his tugging (perhaps a reference to a kind of Socratic goading) and he would no doubt be viewed as foolish (as in any culture) for believing that love is sufficient. His view sounds very close to that of Ghandi and Badshah Khan.

Rumi is convincing me that writing with aggressive intent is not practising love or non-violence. It's too easy for words to lead to actions. To be efficacious, words need to be firm and perhaps destructive of ideas or mindsets but not hurtful to the people who hold those ideas and mindsets. That's a difficult path to tread. I'm not sure I always get it right. I almost certainly don't always get it right!


Post a Comment

<< Home