Rumi: a Balkhi Homesick Balkhi Immigrant in Anatolia

It's universally known that in 13th century, Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi, better known in the West as Rumi, fled his birthplace, the northern city of Balkh in modern Afghanistan, which was back then a city of poets and scholars within the Khorasan Province of Eastern Persian Empire, and settled in Anatolia Province of Turkish Seljuk Empire, now part of modern Turkey; to escape the invading Mongol Army. As a young Persian refugee, Rumi had also gone through the traumatic and painful process of adaptation and assimilation- a process which is also so familiar to any refugee and immigrant of our days-, in trying hard to integrate into his newly adopted hometown, Konya in central Turkey where he lived the rest of his life and is currently buried

Throughout Rumi's poetic works, one can clearly read and grasp not only Rumi's sufferings from the crisis of identity, but also his never diminishing homesickness and nostalgic lamentations for being separated from his homeland. The nostalgic longing for "Back home" are masterfully presented by Rumi in his following poems. I hope my translations can capture the homesickness and nostalgia of a Persian immigrant in Anatolia, and his longing for a place he once called home.

In my humble capacity as a simple Rumi "Aficionado" who happens to speak Persian/Farsi, I'd like to make myself perfectly clear by stating that while some pseudo-nationalist Afghan, Iranian, and Turkish Rumi experts and scholars are, still after all these years, arguing and fighting over the nationality of Rumi, Maulana Jalaludin Balkhi Rumi belongs to humanity. No ifs and buts, and no pseudo-nationalistic intellectualization, Rumi is neither Afghan nor Iranian, nor Turkish; Rumi is universal, period.

To a child like me
who doesn't even know
his country and birthplace,
it doesn't make any difference
if my nanny is hired
in Istanbul or Yemen.

کودکی کو نشناسد وطن و مولود خویش
دایه خواهد چه ستنبول مرا چه یمن
حضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

None of this living like a stranger
None of this constant travelling
Let's all pack up and go back home.

چو نی درین غریبی چو نی درین سفر
برخیز تا رویم سوی دیار ماحضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

A century or so after Rumi had written the above poem, the great 14th century Persian Sufi poet, Hafiz Shirazi, heavily inspired by Rumi, also wrote these following similar verses:

Since I can't get to shine
with all this pain of
being a foreigner in exile,
I'd rather go to my own town
and become my hometown's mayor.

غم غریبی و غربت چو بر نمی‌تابم
به شهر خود روم و شهریار خود باشم
حافظ شیرازی

In the following poem, Rumi's mentioning of the"West" is in reference to Anatolia, or modern Turkey, being geographically situated to the west of modern Afghanistan, or Rumi's old hometown of Balkh in old Khorasan Province of Eastern Persian Empire. Rumi also mentions two western and northern Afghan cities of Herat (a Province in western part of Afghanistan, near the border of Iran), and Taloqan (Capital of Takhar Province in northern part of Afghanistan, near the border of Tajikistan). See the marked map above for those two locations mentioned by Rumi.

If the smell of that wine is released
from non-existence

and reaches the West,
even the holly men
of Herat and Taloqan
will become intoxicate.

گر بمغرب بوی آن می زعدم یابد گشاد
مست گردند زاهدان اندر هری و طالقان
حضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

Who's a Turk? Who's a Balkhi?
Who's an Ethiopian? Who's a Rumi?
Where did I come from?
Where did all this poetry come from?
Yet these poems still somehow
Get breathed into me.

ترکی کی بلخی کی زنگی کی رومی کی
من از کجا شعر ازکجا لیکن بمن در می دمد

حضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

I traveled all over,
going from one town to another,
but I couldn't find a town
like my own sweet hometown.

سفر کردم بهر شهری دویدم
چوشهر من دگر شهری ندیدم
حضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

At the beginning,
I didn't really appreciate my hometown.
Out of sheer ignorance,
I've been enduring so many exiles.

ندانستم زاول قدر شهرم
 زنادانی بسی غربت کشیدم
حضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

This game of suffering and enduring
is nothing but one's striving
to return to his/her origin and roots.
How many prophets haven't shed tears
over the love and nostalgia
for their homelands.

نیست بازی کشش جزو باصل کل خویش
چند پیغمبر بگریست پی حب وطن

حضرت مولانا جلال الدین بلخی رومی

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Thank you for visiting Maulana Rumi Online, a blog dedicated entirely to the life, works and teachings of Maulana Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi better known simply as Rumi here in our beloved America. Just as a memory refresher, all articles, e-books, images, links and reading materials listed in this Blog are solely for Educational purposes. This Blog is designed and maintained by yours truly, your comments, critiques or suggestions are quite welcome and greatly appreciated. As for my own Rumi Translations, you are welcome to copy and use them as long as it's not for commercial purposes. For best viewing, please try this Blog on Google Chrome Browser. This is a very long Blog though, so please make sure to use the Scroll To Top or Bottom Buttons at the left side, or Back To Top Button at the bottom right corner of your screen for smooth navigation. If you have any question, comment, critique or suggestion, please contact me by clicking the Contact Box embedded at the right middle corner. As Rumi would say, "Come, come, whoever you are, come back again.."!

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