Friday, January 13, 2006

keeping on going

So near, my delight, please don't go away;

Don't tire of me and leave me alone.

Destined for death, you were fruit of the vine;

Please don't turn back now that you've become wine.

#1555: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Search word: go

My first concern this morning was: "Rumi: Where am I going with this?" When I started out, there were 367 quatrains to work with and I'm aware that I'm now into the home run, with 101 remaining. I feel a need to plan ahead on what I'll do with all this: just stop when all of the Houshmand translations are done? start on other translations of the same collection? move on to the Mathnawi? try other Persian poets (like Khayyam)? When I first woke, I looked up at the small Taoist statue over my bedroom door. I studied the I Ching a great deal but that was many years ago. Is it worthwhile making those wider connections?

Rumi has answered me through some synchronous (coincidental) events. Through searching under go, I found him pleading to me not to go. He seems to be telling me that I've turned from grape juice into wine. And then, today's missive from the Yahoo group, Sunlight, is the following:

How will you know your real friends?
Pain is as dear to them as life.
A friend is like gold. Trouble is like fire.
Pure gold delights in the fire.

Mathnawi II:1458-1461, version by Camille and Kabir Helminski

I first came across the saying "True gold fears not the refiner's fire" through a friend studying Chinese who had translated it from an old Taoist saying. That was about 30 years ago. And here is Rumi saying the same thing. The idea occurs also in the Old Testament (Malachi 3:2) in what Christians perceive as a prophecy of the coming of Christ, "for he is like a refiner's fire".

Refining love's pining,
Turning grape into wine.
Purify and sanctify,
Make all my longing fine.

And the longing unwinds from my playful brain and lays out the path for me to travel every day, much like Leunig's whimsical character singing:

Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.

Here's a challenge for Bob or any other passerby: make me a four-line verse on one or all of these themes of fermentation, refinement, unravelment. Just for fun.


At Friday, 13 January, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

I'm not good at writing to a prompt, but we'll see. Hey, when you run out of Rumi, what about Hafiz?

At Friday, 13 January, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Hafiz is an option, yes, but he has a reputation for being more obscure, more difficult to translate. Still, I'll look into it and see if there is a good collection online.


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