Thursday, March 02, 2006

having a heart

No way can I take back my heart from you;

Better then surrender it unto

Your passion, ease your aching love - if not,

What use is it, why even have a heart?

#1104: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Key word: take

Today, yet again, I've discovered Rumi unable to get his heart back. This translation has an awkward feel: it's not usual for a statement or idea to travel across two lines as happens at the second and third lines. It's common, of course, in modern poetry, just not in a 13th century Sufi quatrain. In addition, the "you" in the first line relates to the beloved while the "your aching love" in the third relates to the lover. The voice in the first line is answered by a different voice in the following three lines. This is not a common device in Rumi (unless I have simply failed to notice it until now).

This verse is the fourth, in recent times, that I can associate with Fromm's idea of the contrast between the "having" and the "being" modes of existence. A fifth verse, commented on much earlier, is at the source of life and I will repeat it below, so that these related pieces will stay closer together.

All souls alive have souls; not so soul itself.
There's bread to suit all men, but what feeds bread?
You can shift and make do for any good thing
In life except for the source of life itself.

And I'll leave it at that, for now.


At Friday, 03 March, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

It seems the Being and Having book by Fromm has made quite an impression on you. You've motivated me to think about getting it.

At Friday, 03 March, 2006, Blogger Arizona said...

Yes, and I'm only about halfway through it ...


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