Wednesday, August 10, 2005

death and passion

All its life heart galloped after passion

Until softly it came into soul's inner court.

In the end it left, its life burnt clean away.

Be fair, though: heart came prepared to give it all away.

#1101: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search words: resurrect, revive, myth, death, life

All his life, his heart went galloping after passion
Until he came softly to the inner courts of the soul.
In the end he left again. Pure soul burned out that day.
Be fair, though, he came with good intentions, just to play.

alternative translation source

I've been reading John Shelby Spong on the Resurrection: Myth or Reality? and this theme of dying and being revived is buzzing inside my brain. Rumi rarely speaks of death: life, like love, is a favourite word. Among many verses on offer I chose this one because I also listened last night to a splendid rendition of Beethoven's Appassionata. A well loved and oft heard piece like this needs new interpretations to stay alive. Last night's performance by Lilya Zilberstein (recorded last year at the Schwetzingen Beethoven Project) did achieve just that. One critic of the Appassionata has said: "Here the human soul asked mighty questions of its God and had its reply." There is certainly a sense of that both in the music and also in Spong's book (which I hope to write more on later).

This verse of Rumi's has two translation versions from Zara Houshmand which vary in more than mere detail. As I read one and then the other, I feel little resonance there and I end up confused but at a loss to choose one version to focus on. I suspect that where passion is spent then words fail and that God's reply to Beethoven was silence, the deep silence of pure being that lies at the centre of the soul and also encircles it protectively. It just is, it just is.

And that's it.


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