Fall in Love the Rumi Way

Intimacy with other people and with the divine is more about friendship--and hard work--than romance.

BY: Interview with Coleman Barks


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The mass market-the greeting card industry, etc.-has picked up a lot of your Rumi translations. Are there poems that are underappreciated or undiscovered?

Well, a poem like 'Clear Being' has that sort of Zen sense of emptiness and clarity:

I honor those who try
to rid themselves of lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there

The harsh, severe Rumi [poems] may be the ones that have been neglected. He does the sweetness so well that when he scolds us...

We turn to the next page.

Right (laughs).

There's definitely great love and happiness in the poems, but sadness too.

Rumi says, "Try to be like a duck, with its joyful body paddling along in the loving water of the river. Just enjoy that" -that delight in buoyancy. There's a kind of happy ease.

But he says that grief is very important too. It's only someone who feels the disconnect, who's had some sense of being in this wholeness of holy, who has the longing to change and be somewhere different. He says "give me that longing." There's a mixture of fulfillment and grief. He doesn't neglect either one of these visions.

Another idea is thinking of all of creation as a garden, and watching it grow. We can't understand why all these things flourish and then die, but we can


it and enjoy it. That's what a human being is. We don't know how or why--the purposes of our songs and dances-but they


have one, and we just can't say it. We're like that duck--we can just ride it. We're good at that.

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