Three poems by the great Persian scholar and poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207-1273) also known as Mawlana: versions of the originals, freely translated and reworked.
THE UNSEEN POWER
We are the flute, our music is all Thine;
We are the mountains echoing only Thee;
And movest to defeat or victory;
Lions emblazoned high on flags unfurled-
They wind invisible sweeps us through the world.
R A Nicholson, in Persian Poems: an anthology of verse translations
edited by A.J.Arberry, Everyman’s Library, 1972
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.
WHEN WE PRAY ALONE
We are brought thick desserts, and we rarely refuse them.
We worship devoutly when we’re with others.
Hours we sit, though we get up quickly
after a few minutes, when we pray alone.
We hurry down the gullet of our wantings.
But these qualities can change,
as minerals in the ground rise inside trees
and become tree, as a plant faces an animal
and enters the animal, so a human
can put down the heavy
body baggage and
From Rumi: selected poems; trans Coleman Barks Penguin, 1999 pp256-257