Friday, December 16, 2005

staying awake

When I'm with you, your love keeps me awake.

When I'm not, I can't sleep for weeping.

Good God... I'm up all night both nights, awake,

But what a difference just your presence makes.

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

Search word: wake

I definitely did not want to wake up this morning. It's overcast and my bed felt especially cosy. However, the cat insisted that I get up. She was hungry and would take no kind of no for an answer.

According to a theory I've been developing, the numbering of these Rumi quatrains is not chronological but based on some editor's idea of what is worthy. This verse today is not saying much to me. Here am I awake when I'd rather be asleep and there is Rumi eternally awake and loving it.

I have finally found two verses translated/rendered by both Zara Houshmand and Coleman Barks. The first is #504, which I considered very early in this endeavour under the title "clear and simple". I'll give the Barks version below, followed by the Houshmand version.

Some souls flow like clear water.
They pour into our veins
and feel like wine.

I give into that. I fall flat.
We can sail this boat lying down!

Those who flow like water, clear and simple,
Flow like wine in us, through mind and vein.
I stretched out straight and let myself lie low,
A ship where straight and humble men may go.

In the same book (Say I Am You) I found a match for #185, also dealt with by me under "to rest content".

There's a path from me to you
I'm constantly looking for,

so I try to keep clear and still
as water does with the moon.

My love, there's a path from your heart to mine,
And my heart is aware how to find it;
For my heart now is pool, sweet and clear,
And it serves the moon as her mirror.

Given that these are originally quatrains, I do prefer that they stay that way. However, Barks does render the verses into more elegant forms. I guess that, at the end of the day, it's all good.


At Saturday, 17 December, 2005, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Translation is a tricky thing. The only thing I ever translated was some little thing by Rilke. I'm not sure where it is anymore.


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