"What Jesus Runs Away From", a Poem by Rumi

On the occasion of the upcoming celebrations of Jesus' miraculous birth, I'd like to share, as a comparative poetic analysis, my 'Word for word/literal', and also the great American scholar of Rumi, Coleman Bark's translation of the same poem below. If you're a Farsi-speaker who speaks English, notice how so entirely different Professor Barks' translation reads. Starting from the title of the poem itself, Coleman Barks translates the title as: "What Jesus Runs Away From", but Rumi's complete original Persian title of the poem in his Masnavi reads: "The tale of Jesus, 'Peace be upon him', running away to the mountain from the fools".

As you will notice below, due to not speaking Persian, Professor Barks has cleverly decided to simply grasp the depth and meaning of Rumi's poems, as opposed to its 'word for word' translations. Professor Bark's controversial method has infuriated Persian speaking scholars who accuse him of twisting and corrupting Rumi's original words, in order to make them more appealing to American audience which has ultimately led to the so called 'Americanization of Rumi'. In my humble opinion, despite not speaking Persian, Professor Bark's translations are of enormous poetic beauty and contain genuine manifestations of Rumi's longing for shams, and the spontaneous outpouring of poetry. I'm of strong convictions that if Rumi were alive today, he would have initiated Coleman Barks as his most trusted disciple along the lines of Zarkob and Chalabi!

قصه گریختن عیسی علیه السلام فراز کوه از احمقان
دفتر سوم مثنوی معنوی _مولانا جلال الدین بلخی

عیسی مریم به کوهی می‌گریخت
شیرگویی خون او می‌خواست ریخت
آن یکی در پی دوید و گفت خیر
در پیت کس نیست چه گریزی چو طیر
با شتاب او آنچنان می‌تاخت جفت
کز شتاب خود جواب او نگفت
یک دو میدان در پی عیسی براند
پس بجد جد عیسی را بخواند
کز پی مرضات حق یک لحظه بیست
که مرا اندر گریزت مشکلیست
از کی این سو می‌گریزی ای کریم
نه پیت شیر و نه خصم و خوف و بیم
گفت از احمق گریزانم برو
می‌رهانم خویش را بندم مشو
گفت آخر آن مسیحا نه توی
که شود کور و کر از تو مستوی
گفت آری گفت آن شه نیستی
که فسون غیب را ماویستی
چون بخوانی آن فسون بر مرده‌ای
برجهد چون شیر صید آورده‌ای
گفت آری آن منم گفتا که تو
نه ز گل مرغان کنی ای خوب‌رو
گفت آری گفت پس ای روح پاک
هرچه خواهی می‌کنی از کیست باک
با چنین برهان که باشد در جهان
که نباشد مر ترا از بندگان
گفت عیسی که به ذات پاک حق
مبدع تن خالق جان در سبق
حرمت ذات و صفات پاک او
که بود گردون گریبان‌چاک او
کان فسون و اسم اعظم را که من
بر کر و بر کور خواندم شد حسن
بر که سنگین بخواندم شد شکاف
خرقه را بدرید بر خود تا بناف
برتن مرده بخواندم گشت حی
بر سر لاشی بخواندم گشت شی
خواندم آن را بر دل احمق بود
صد هزاران بار و درمانی نشد
سنگ خارا گشت و زان خو بر نگشت
ریگ شد کز وی نروید هیچ کشت
گفت حکمت چیست کنجا اسم حق
سود کرد اینجا نبود آن را سبق
آن همان رنجست و این رنجی چرا
او نشد این را و آن را شد دوا
گفت رنج احمقی قهر خداست
رنج و کوری نیست قهر آن ابتلاست
ابتلا رنجیست کان رحم آورد
احمقی رنجیست کان زخم آورد
آنچ داغ اوست مهر او کرده است
چاره‌ای بر وی نیارد برد دست
ز احمقان بگریز چون عیسی گریخت
صحبت احمق بسی خونها که ریخت
اندک اندک آب را دزدد هوا
دین چنین دزدد هم احمق از شما
گرمیت را دزدد و سردی دهد
همچو آن کو زیر کون سنگی نهد
آن گریز عیسی نه از بیم بود
آمنست او آن پی تعلیم بود
زمهریر ار پر کند آفاق را
چه غم آن خورشید با اشراق را

Here is my 'Word by word' or literal translation of first few verses of the above poem in comparison to Professor Bark's version making style of translation which follows:

Story of Jesus "Peace be upon him" running away to the mountain from the fools
By Rumi - Masnavi, Book # 3

Jesus son of Mary

was running away so fast towards a mountain

as if a lion would shed his blood.

Someone ran after him and said:

Stop running,
 there is no one chasing you,
why are you running away like a bird?

Jesus said nothing and kept on running fast.

Across two more fields,

as he couldn't get a response from Jesus,

the man reached Jesus and pleaded to him and his ancestors:
For God's sake, stop for a second!
It is hard for me to understand why you're running away.
Who are you running away from
O noble one,
If there is neither a lion,
nor an enemy, nor fear, nor danger
chasing after you?
Jesus responded:
I'm running away from the fools,
I'm saving myself from the ignorant ones,
don't block my way...

"What Jesus Runs Away From"

By Rumi

Translation by Coleman Barks
form 'The Essential Rumi'

The son of Mary, Jesus,
hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal
were chasing him.
Someone following him asks,
'Where are you going?
No one is after you.'
Jesus keeps on,
saying nothing,
across two more fields.
'Are you the one who says
words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?’
"I am."
'Did you not make the clay birds fly?'
'Who then could possibly cause you to run like this?'
Jesus slows his pace.
"I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that."
As little by little air steals water, so praise
Is dried up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change. Like cold stone you sit on,
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn't feel the sun.
Jesus wasn't running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.

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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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