A.J. Arberry

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I become like a pen

Ghazal 2530 from the Diwan-e Shams, in a version by Coleman Barks, in translation by Annemarie Schimmel, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:
I become a pen in the Friend’s hand,
tonight writing “say,” tomorrow “ray.”
He trims the pen for fine calligraphy.
The pen says, “I am here, but who am I?”
He blackens the pen’s face.
He wipes it in his hair. He holds it upside down.
Now he begins to use it.
On one sheet he cancels everything.
On another he adds a dangerous conjunction.
The writing depends entirely on the scribe,
who knows how to split the head of the pen.
Galen knows what a patient needs.
The pen cannot speak for itself, or know what
to disapprove of in its own nature.
Whether I say “pen” or “flag”, it is with this wonderful
conscious unconsciousness: the mind unable to include
its own description, composing blindly.
Held in a hand, yet free.
— Version by Coleman Barks
(Based on the translation by A.J. Arberry)
“These Branching Moments”
Copper Beech Press, 1988 […]
February 27th, 2010|Personal, Poetry, Rumi, Sufi poetry, Sufism|3 Comments

He set the world aflame – Rumi

He set the world aflame,
And laid me on the same;
A hundred tongues of fire
Lapped round my pyre.

And when the blazing tide
Engulfed me, and I sighed,
Upon my mouth in haste
His hand He placed.

(translation by A.J. Arberry)



rumi & shams

Sometimes I wonder, sweetest love, if […]

October 1st, 2006|Rumi, Sufism and Sufi poetry, World Literature|10 Comments