"Divan-e Shams is a masterpiece of wisdom and eloquence. It is often said that Rumi had attained the level of a "Perfect Master" and as such, he often dwelled in the spiritual realms that were rarely visited by others of this world. He attained heights that were attained by only a few before him or since..."
One of the oldest copies of Divan-e Shams in Farsi
Brief notes on Rumi's Divan-e Shams
"Divan-e Shams is a masterpiece of wisdom and eloquence. It is often said that Rumi had attained the level of a "Perfect Master" and as such, he often dwelled in the spiritual realms that were rarely visited by others of this world. He attained heights that were attained by only a few before him or since.
In Divan-e Shams, he has used many images from the mundane world. Images such as the wine and the wine bearer, the pearl and the ocean, the sun and the moon, the night and day, the caravan, pilgrimage and many more. However, he has always expressed spiritual wisdom of the highest level through this imagery.
While many other poets have a mystical vision and then try to express it in a graspable language, Rumi has never attempted to bring his visions to the level of the mundane. He has always expected, nay, demanded the reader to reach higher and higher in his or her own spiritual understanding, and then perhaps be able to appreciate what Rumi was saying. Perhaps this is why there are many layers to his poetry… not so much because of his writing, but because of our understanding. As we transcend in our understanding, we grasp more and more of what he conveyed to us.
Yet there is more. While many of the translations of Rumi’s poetry have tried to convey the immense wisdom contained therein, often they overlook the musical and artistic beauty that they contain. Particularly in Divan-e Shams, Rumi has created such level of beauty through the use and mastery of musical rhythm and rhyme, that the reader not only can appreciate its wisdom, but also reach levels of ecstasy and mystical energy that is seldom found in other poems or any translations of his poetry.
The mastery of rhyme and rhythm is such that he often creates a new vocabulary, using the same old words, yet creating new feelings that are associated with them. Furthermore, often he has such mastery of play on words and puns, or at other times he uses the same word with a different accent or vowel twice or even thrice in the same verse, with a different meaning each time. One cannot help but marvel at the linguistic mastery he displays.
In any case, the end result is the same… the experience of artistic beauty, musical genius, rhythm and ecstatic energy, all in conjunction with the mental understanding of the wisdom conveyed. This is as close as one can get to the mystical experience itself, without actually being there with Rumi. In other words, His presence pervades his poetry, and one cannot help but be touched by such powerful and loving presence.
In translation from Farsi to English, it is inevitable that much of the intricacies are lost. However, the present translations have attempted to retain some of the rhythm and rhyme as well as the imagery and the core message of each poem, though often in feeble ways, only to attempt to present a glimpse of his mastery.
The translations are far from creating the ecstasy that Rumi creates and communicates, but it is hoped that they will point the reader in the same direction. And perhaps by using his or her imagination, the reader can have a glimpse of how Rumi would provide glimpses of ecstasy and mystical experience. And hopefully this will pave the way for the reader to connect with Rumi’s all and ever-pervasive presence, and with time, be touched by that spirit."
Courtesy of: Rumi on Fire
The Meeting of Two Oceans
By Jonathan Star- excerpts from his outstanding book, Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved
O my soul, where can I find rest
but in the shimmering love of his heart?
Where can I see the pure light of the Sun
but in the eyes of my own Shams-e Tabriz?
SHAMS OF TABRIZ!
You're either the Light of God
or God Himself in human form.
There are several accounts of this historic meeting. One version says that during a lecture of Rumi's, Shams came in and dumped all of Rumi's books--0ne handwritten by his own father-into a pool of water. Rumi thought the books were destroyed, but Shams retrieved them, volume by volume, intact. Another version says that at a wave of Shams' hand, Rumi's books were engulfed in flames and burned to ashes. Shams then put his hand in the ashes and pulled out the books. (A story much like the first.) A third account says that Rumi was riding on a mule through a square in the center of Konya. A crowd of eager students walked by his feet. Suddenly a strange figure dressed in black fur approached Rumi, grabbed hold of his mule's bridle, and said: "0 scholar of infinite knowledge, who was greater, Muhammad or Bayazid of Bestam?" This seemed like an absurd question since, in all of Islam, Muhammad was held supreme among all the prophets. Rumi replied, "How can you ask such a question?-No one can compare with Muhammad." "0 then," Shams asked, "why did Muhammad say, 'We have not known Thee, 0 God, as thou should be known,' whereas Bayazid said, 'Glory unto me! I know the full glory of God'?"
With this one simple question--and with the piercing gaze of Shams' eyes-Rumi's entire view of reality changed. The question was merely an excuse. Shams' imparting of an inner awakening is what shattered Rumi's world. The truths and assumptions upon which Rumi based his whole life crumbled. This same story is told symbolically in the first two accounts, whereby Rumi's books-representing all his acquired intellectual knowledge, including the knowledge given to him by his father-are destroyed, and then miraculously retrieved or "resurrected" by Shams. The books coming from the ashes, created anew by Shams, represent the replacing of Rumi's book-learned knowledge (and his lofty regard for such knowledge) with divine knowledge and the direct experience of God.
According to an embellished version of this third account, after Shams' question, Rumi entered a mystical state of ego annihilation that the Sufis call fana. When he regained consciousness, he looked at Shams with utter amazement, realizing that this was no ordinary darvish, but the Beloved himself in human form.
From that moment on, Rumi's life was never again the same. He took Shams to live in his home and the two men were inseparable; they spent hours a day together, sometimes isolating themselves for long periods to pray and fast in divine communion with God. About this meeting, Rumi's son Sultan Walad wrote: "After meeting Shams, my father danced all day and sang all night. He had been a scholar--he became a poet. He had been an ascetic-he became drunk with love.
Without Shams, Rumi found himself in a state of utter and incurable despair; and his whole life thereafter became one of longing and divine remembrance. Rumi's emptiness was that of a person who has just lost a husband or a wife, or a dear friend. Rumi's story shows us that the longing and emptiness we feel for a lost loved one is only a reflection, a hologram, of the longing we feel for God; it is the longing we feel to become whole again, the longing to return to the root from which we were cut. (Rumi uses the metaphor of a reed cut from a reed bed and then made into a flute-which becomes a symbol of a human separated from its source, the Beloved. And as the reed flute wails all day, telling about its separation from the reed bed, so Rumi wails all day telling about being separated from his Beloved.)
It was Shams' disappearance, however, that ignited the fire of longing within Rumi; and it was this very longing that brought him the glorious union with the Beloved. Years later Rumi wrote: "It is the burn of the heart that I want. It is this burning which is everything-more precious than a worldly empire-because it calls God secretly in the night."
Jesus raised the dead to life
But sacrificed his own life
You are the ever-eternal one
You are my Shams, you are my God.
Excerpts from 'Maqalat-e Shams-e Tabrizi - مقالات شمس تبریزی', literally 'Shams Tabrizi's Discourses' - translated into English by Professor William Chittick as: Me and Rumi: the Autobiography of Shams-i Tabrizi
"By Allah, seeing your face is a blessing!...Happy the one who finds Maulana! Who am I? One who found him. Happy am I! By Allah, I am deficient in knowing Maulana (Rumi). There is no hypocrisy or politesse or interpretation in these words; I am deficient in knowing him! Every day I realize something about his state and his deeds which I didn't know yesterday. I discover Maulana better, so I do not later grow confused.
Maulana has two ways of talking: one public and one heartfelt. As for the public one, the souls of all the saints and their collective spirit long to have found Maulana and sat with him. And as for the heartfelt one, devoid of hypocrisy, the spirit of the prophets long for it: "If only we had been in his time and been his companions and heard his words!" So don't you miss out now. Don't look to the first, but to this other thing, to which the spirit of the prophets looks with longing and regret.
Which arrow is it that strikes you? These words.
Which quiver do these arrows come from? From the world of the Real.
Whose bow do they fly from? God's...
These arrows will take you to the world of the Real. They are in the quiver there, but I can't shoot them. The arrows I shoot all go back into the quiver from where they come. There may be one fault in a man that conceals a thousand qualities, or one excellence that conceals a thousand faults. The little indicates much. Being the companion of the folk of this world is fire. There must be an Abraham if the fire is not going to burn. I have no business with the common folk of the world; I have not come for their sake. Those people who are guides for the world unto God, I put my finger on their pulse."
All above Rumi Ghazals/Odes from Divan-e Shams in a single PDF-File
Courtesy of: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online
This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
Do you think I know what I’m doing,
That for a moment, or even half a moment,
I know what verses will come from my mouth?
I am no more than a pen in a writer’s hand,
No more than a ball smacked around by a polo stick!
Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
To get a taste of how extraordinary Coleman Barks' Rumi translations are, and to what extent he has truly grasped Rumi's essence and Sufi mystical teachings, I highly recommend watching the following clip...If you're a Farsi-speaker, it's Coleman Barks' English version of Maulana's Ghazal/Ode # 132 from his Divan-e Kabir or Divan-e Shams Tabrizi:
مولانا - غزل ۱۳۲ از دیوان کبیر یا دیوان شمس تبریزی
روزها فکر من این است و همه شب سخنم
که چرا غافل از احوال دل خویشتنم
از کجا آمده ام آمدنم بهر چه بود
به کجا میروم آخر ننمایی وطنم
مانده ام سخت عجب کز چه سبب ساخت مرا
یا چه بوده است مراد وی از این ساختنم
آنچه از عالم عِلوی است من آن می گویم
رخت خود باز بر آنم که همانجا فکنم
مرغ باغ ملکوتم نِیم از عالم خاک
چند روزی قفسی ساخته اند از بدنم
کیست آن گوش که او می شنود آوازم
یا کدام است سخن می کند اندر دهنم
کیست در دیده که از دیده برون می نگرد
یا چه جان است نگویی که منش پیرهنم
تا به تحقیق مرا منزل و ره ننمایی
یک دم آرام نگیرم نفسی دم نزنم
می وصلم بچشان تا در زندان ابد
به یکی عربده مستانه به هم درشکنم
من به خود نامدم اینجا که به خود باز روم
آنکه آورد مرا باز برد تا وطنم
تو مپندار که من شعر به خود می گویم
تا که هشیارم و بیدار یکی دم نزنم
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
Shams Tabriz, if you would show your face to me again,
I could flee the imposition of this life.
Jewels from Rumi "translated" by Kabir & Camille Helminski
- Quick Journey into Realms of Rumi and Sufism
- Read Rumi's Works Online in English and Persian
- Read Rumi's Masnavi Manavi in English
- Must Read Books on Rumi & Sufism (online ebooks)
- Sufi Art: Rumi Calligraphy
- Rumi: An Introduction - by R.A. Nicholson
- Shams-i Tabriz (excellent site on Shams & Rumi)
- The Teachings of Shams of Tabriz
- Brief Biography of Shams Tabrizi
- Shams and Rumi: The Untold Story
- A Reply to Misunderstandings about Rumi and Shams
- Shams Tabrizi Esoteric Quotes
- The Conversations (Maqalat) of Shams of Tabriz
- Rumi, Shams, and Life of the Heart
- Shams and Rumi Relationship
- Interpreting Rumi in the Context of Cross-Cultural Studies
- Rumi, Shams and Shab-I Arus [Wedding Night or Night of Union with God]
- Persia’s Mystic: Rumi’s Divan
- An Insight into Rumi's Works
- Rumi's Poetry: The Play and Intersection of Human with Divine
- Meditations on the Diwan of Shams-i-Tabriz by Murshid Samuel L. Lewis
- Rumi Lovers Unite!
- Famous Love Quotes by Rumi
- Rumi: World figure or new age fad?
- Moving Colors And Shapes In Rumi's Lyric Poetry
- Rumiyat: A Guide to Reading Rumi
- Translating Rumi from Persian to English (forum)
- Rumi - Translations Compared
- Rumi the Reluctant Poet
- Rumi's Religion of Love