Monday, March 26, 2007

Poem of the Week 3/26/2007: What Excuses Have You to Offer

from Mystical Poems of Rumi

What excuses have you to offer, my heart, for so many shortcomings? Such constancy on the part of the Beloved, such unfaithfulness on your own!
So much generousity on your side, on yours such niggling contrariness! So many graces from him, so many faults committed by you!
Such envy, such evil imaginings and dark thoughts in your heart, such drawing, such tasting, such magnificence in him!
Why all this tasting? That your bitter soul may become sweet. Why all this drawing? That you may join the company of saints.
You are repentant of your sins, you have the name of God on your lips; in that moment he draws you on, so that he may deliver you alive.
You are fearful at last of your wrongdoings, you seek desperately a way to salvation; in that instant why do you not see him by your side who is putting such fear into your heart?
If he has bound up your eyes, you are like a pebble in his hand; now he rolls you along like this, now he tosses you in the air.
Now he plants in your nature a passion for silver and gold and women; now he implants in your soul the light of the form of Mustafa.
On this side drawing towards the lovely ones, on that side drawing you to the unlovely; amid these whirlpools the ship can only pass through or founder.
Offer up so many prayers, weep so sorely in the night season, that the echo may reach your ears from the sphere of the seven heavens.

Rumi 13th Century AD

I will offer a better gloss on this poem later. For now, a few notes of clarification. Rumi is a mystic poet writing in the Sufi tradition in Islam. When he talks of the Beloved, he doesn't write of a boyfriend or girlfriend, as we might think of it now, but of Allah or God. I am interested in this poem because it looks at the inconstancy of man as causing suffering, but that suffering itself is redemptive.

Also, I will hopefully post the belated poem of the week this Thursday or Friday.


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