Saturday, January 14, 2006

owls good and bad

He came to me all angry, as if to say "Enough!"

As if I feared the wrath of those in charge.

The heart of a bird that knows no cage

Is not afraid of anyone, so don't show me your rage.

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

I slept in this morning and have gone too far into the day to be able to relate to today's verse. It seems far away, alien even. I've been reading other Rumi verses by other translators and they feel especially unfamiliar. I'm beginning to realize that I might have been relating to Houshmand's own voice as it expresses itself through the translation. Rumi himself has many voices, many manifestations.

The following excerpt from a ghazal (or ode) in the Shams collection created a particular distancing, especially combined with the footnote provided by the Sunlight site that sent me the ode:

I have flown from the beginningless King like a falcon in order to kill the parrot-eating owls* of this ruined monastery.

* In Mowlana's world view, there are two spheres: the seen and the unseen, perceived also as light and the dark, or God (King) and arrogant humans who mock and impersonate their Creator. He sharply divides the world of matter from the world of spirit (or soul as the embodied spirit). The birds of the light, such as parrots, eagles and and falcons, are from the spirit world and are messengers of the Beloved. They fly during the day and thrive in the light of sun. The owl, on the other hand, is from the world of darkness, cannot tolerate light, and becomes blind from the light of the divine. So it is the enemy of the falcon, the nightingale and the parrot.

The full ghazal can be viewed here.

This is simply not the Rumi that I know and, since I feel an identification with the Greek goddess Athena and her companion owl, I cannot see this bird so negatively. For me, it is the superior bird precisely because it can see in the dark.

For now, I can but let this distance stand and see whether tomorrow might provide a bridge across this divide.

Athena and Owl

Athena and Her Owl



At Sunday, 15 January, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Turn out the light at night and you can see nothing through the window, but as time passes you can see the moonlight. I think there may well be a spiritual lesson in there.

At Sunday, 15 January, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Thanks, Bob, that's something to think on. Maybe moon-sight just requires a little patience and adjustment.


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