Wednesday, September 28, 2005

feeling rotten

I'm the source of such rot, such stupidity,

That noone, because of me, lives happily.

I shout at everyone, and they shout at me;

I demand justice, but who gets it from me?

#1388: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: sour

This morning I woke in a bitter or sour mood, a mood of resentment or perhaps regret. Yesterday, things had not gone as planned and I felt pulled up, drawn to a premature halt, left suspended and abandoned by fate. (Two emails had been sent to the university where my son wants to study and both had bounced back with automatic replies, one person merely away but the other having left altogether.)

It is quite astonishing to find Rumi apparently so self-denigrating as he is in this quatrain. It frankly makes no sense to me. On this occasion, I can but ask if any reader can provide any information or insight that would help make sense of this verse. The only way that it does make some small sense to me is to see it as Rumi describing how others are complaining about his behaviour. It suggests he is making waves or causing some disturbance through his quiet poetry, here characterized as shouting. It's true that, despite its often contemplative mood, Rumi's poetry is quite revolutionary and hence quite confronting to conservatives.

The accusations (if such they are) closely resemble those levelled against Socrates: enough said, surely.


At Thursday, 29 September, 2005, Blogger none said...

Maybe he is describing one of his moods. He was, after all, a wealthy man with a household to run, not a poor ascetic. Perhaps he felt like a hypocrite for writing about beauty while being an ass to his subordinates, on occasion. The moral man is not perfect, just able to recognize his mistakes and seek to correct them.

At Thursday, 29 September, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

The last line I demand justice, but who gets it from me? probably refers to his role as a jurist. I'm sure you can also relate to this. The judicial system is not and never has been capable of delivering justice. I'm guessing that your awareness of this is what put you off the legal profession.

At Friday, 30 September, 2005, Blogger none said...

It's also a pure, poetic line that goes to the essence of things, like a swift arrow that hits the target. I am left deeply affected by it, as I am by all the quatrains you choose. We pray and ask for help in all our desperate moments, we rage against our creator (if there is one), but how do we do in positions of power? Are we always good to our pets, our children? Are we always attentive and patient and fair? Not me.

At Friday, 30 September, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

True, Renata, that's another interesting angle on that line. Given half the chance any one of us would abuse power. There are always small ways in which our imperfections and selfishness add to the pain of injustice in this world. It's a humbling thought.

It reminds me a lot of the Christian injunction: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Of course, once confronted like that, no one would do it.

It can't be easy being a human judge in a human court if you understand any of this at all.


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