O pilgrim who visit the Holy Land
I’ll show you heaven in a grain of sand
Are you hooked already? You might have read many such snippets on Instagram and Pinterest. You might have even heard the poet’s name – Rumi.
Jalaluddin Rumi was a spiritual master and poet who lived in 13th Century Tajikistan. His poetry has influenced literature in the region and now through some great translations, continue to inspire us.
Farrukh Dhondy has translated some of them into a series of two books.
I fell for the cover first of all, and the inside pages did not disappoint either. The poems are good…some are great.
Dance when the bowl of soul is shattered
Dance when you’ve nudged the blindfold off
Dance when the battle was all that mattered
Dance though the world stands by to scoff!
The poems have a musical way to lure you in. These are not meant to be read in a single sitting. Instead read, and re-read at leisure, savouring each one separately, one at a time.
Although the theme is a connection with God, as an atheist I still enjoyed reading the sentiment relating it to spirituality or even just as a plain old love poem. Some of them are presented as musings on life and how to live it holistically.
Envy is a poison,
An illogical distress,
The fact that your neighbor has more,
Doesn’t mean that you have less.
Many translated versions of Rumi have been published and praised. The most popular ones hardly bear resemblance to the originals. They have been heavily diluted to be commercially acceptable to a Western audience. Almost all of them remove his Muslim identity which was the central theme of his poetry.
The New Yorker has a brilliant piece that explains this in detail. The article also suggests some well-researched translations that you could read, like the one by Jawid Mojaddedi.
I did not want to delve too deep into the history and poetic devices of Rumi and Sufism so I found these books by Farrukh Dhondy to be perfect for my palette.
Remember Haji wherever you roam
His love will have to make your heart his home.
Verdict: Must-Read for poetry fans
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