Friday, September 02, 2005

a scent on the wind

I set my heart on the path of calamity;

Where you walk, I opened my heart wide.

Today the wind carried your scent to me;

So, to the wind, I gave my heart gratefully.

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

Search word: heart

This morning, I decided to stick with heart, especially in the sense of desire or longing (as against its other connotation as essence or centre). This verse seems to use heart in that sense. However, as usual with Rumi, there are complications and opposite viewpoints juxtaposed. We might normally think of the desiring heart as being also a directing heart: we follow our heart's desire, we go where our heart leads. In this verse, Rumi begins by directing his heart. The decision-maker within him pointed his desire in a particular direction. So Rumi's will is the active agent and his heart the passive receptacle of what is to come.

Of course, the giving and the receiving go together: Rumi opens his heart but then also gives it away in gratitude. Of course, pain and joy go together: Rumi speaks of calamity in totally ecstatic tones. Of course, the teacher and the student go together: Rumi expresses his great devotion for his lost teacher but he does so with such authority that he assumes the mantle of teacher in the telling. The past, the present, the future, these all coalesce as, right now, his verse carries his own scent to me. It's ironic that these love poems from one man to another should speak so eloquently to a woman many centuries later. It's additionally comic that she should find them especially comforting in her grief over the loss of a cat.


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