Sunday, July 17, 2005

beyond talk

If in love's seminary they debate

The line between love's ecstasy and theory,

Here no theologian's ruling will abide.

On love, their eminences' tongues are truly tied.

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

Search words: bird, twitter, chatter, chirp, talk

I slept in again, finally emerging to the call of birds twittering, chattering and chirping outside. Rumi didn't respond to this but it does all sound like human talk sometimes so I threw talk in for good measure and the resulting quatrain does indeed provide an image of people chatting fairly meaninglessly like twittering birds. This quatrain is another example of the translator, Zara Houshmand, producing a second version after the first had been used for creating the first-line index. As a result talk is found in her original version below but not in the final version appearing above.
There's talk in the halls of love's seminary
Of the line between love's pleasure and its theory.
On love, no theologian's expert ruling will abide.
On love, their eminences' tongues are truly tied.

Zara Houshmand: Love's secret

I think the English words, like seminary, theory, theologian, eminence, have proved too awkward to render a good poem in translation, making the result itself an example of words' failure. The futility of theological, philosophical, and scientific approaches to mystical love is better expressed by a modern poet below, to which I need add nothing more.
O sweet spontaneous

O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have

fingers of
purient philosophers pinched

, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded

beauty . how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive

to the incomparable
couch of death thy

thou answerest

them only with


-- e.e. cummings


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