I have returned, like the new year (Rumi)
Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1375, from Rumi’s “Diwan-eShamsi” (“The Collection of Shams”), in a poetic translation fromNader Khalili, and in a literal translation from Prof. WilliamChittick:
i’ve come againlike a new yearto crash the gateof this old prison
i’ve come againto break the teeth and clawsof this man-eatingmonster we call life
i’ve come againto puncture theglory of the cosmoswho mercilesslydestroys humans
i am the falconhunting down the birdsof black omenbefore their flights
i gave my wordat the outset togive my lifewith no qualmsi pray to the Lordto break my backbefore i break my word
how do you dare tolet someone like meintoxicated with loveenter your house
you must know betterif i enteri’ll break all this anddestroy all that
if the sheriff arrivesi’ll throw the winein his faceif your gatekeeperpulls my handi’ll break his arm
if the heavens don’t go roundto my heart’s desirei’ll crush its wheels andpull out its roots
you have set upa colorful tablecalling it life andasked me to your feastbut punish me ifi enjoy myself
what tyranny is this
— Translation by Nader Khalili”Rumi, Fountain of Fire”Cal-Earth Press, 1994
I have returned, like the new year, to break thelocks of the prison and smash the claws and teeth of theseman-eating spheres.The seven waterless planets are devouring thecreatures of earth — I will throw water upon their fire and stilltheir winds.I have flown from the beginningless King like afalcon in order to kill the parrot-eating owls* of this ruinedmonastery.From the beginning I made a covenant tosacrifice my spirit to the King. May my spirit’s back be brokenshould I break my pledge and covenant!Today I am Asaf, Solomon’s vizier, sword andfirman in hand — I will break the necks of any who arearrogant before the King.If you see the garden of the rebelliousflourishing for a day or two, grieve not! For I will cut theirroots from a hidden direction.I will break nothing but injustice or the evil-intentioned tyrant — should anything have a mote of savor, thenI am an unbeliever should I break itWherever there is a polo ball, it is taken awayby the mallet of Oneness — if a ball does not roll down thefield. I will smash it with the blow of my mallet.I now reside in His banquet, for I saw that Hisintention is Gentleness. I became the least servant of His wayin order to break Satan’s legs.I was a single nugget, but when the Sultan’shand grasped hold of me, I became the mine — if you place mein the balance, I will break the scales.When you allow a ruined and drunken man likemyself into your house, do you not know at least this much: Iwill break this and break that?If the watchman shouts, “Hey!” I will pour acup of wine on his head; and if the doorman seizes hold ofme, I will break his arm.If the spheres do not rotate round my heart, Iwill pull them up by the roots; if the heavens act withvillainy, I will smash the turning heavens.Thou hast spread the tablecloth of Generosityand invited me to lunch — why doest Thou rebuke me when Ibreak the bread?No, no — I sit at the head of Thy table, I am thechief of Thy guests. I will pour a cup or two of wine upon theguests and break their shame.Oh Thou who inspirest my spirit with poetryfrom within! Should I refuse and remain silent, I fear I wouldbreak Thy command.If Shams-i Tabrizi should send me wine andmake me drunk, I would be free of cares and break down thepillars of the universe.
— Translation by William Chittick”The Sufi Path of Love”SUNY Press, Albany, 1984
*In Mowlana’s world view, there are two spheres: the seen and theunseen, perceived also as light and the dark, or God (King) andarrogant humans who mock and impersonate their Creator. He sharplydivides the world of matter from the world of spirit (or soul as theembodied spirit). The birds of the light, such as parrots, eagles andand falcons, are from the spirit world and are messengers of theBeloved. They fly during the day and thrive in the light of sun. Theowl, on the other hand, is from the world of darkness, cannottolerate light, and becomes blind from the light of the divine. So itis the enemy of the falcon, the nightingale and the parrot.
Compare this verse from the Mathnawi:
The spirit is the falcon, but bodily dispositions are crows. Thefalcon has received many wounds from crows and owls (M V: 842-843).