“… the absolute unknowable appears as spring …” ~ Rumi
“We cannot say the beauty we inhabit, nor can we believe it. Inside everything that happens, there is a flow, a music where all the wantings mix. Who tuned this instrument, Rumi asks, where wind is one string and Shams’s eyes another? As creekwater animates the landscape it moves through, so the absolute, the unknowable, appears as fall begins. Signs come, and the more subtle essence is present, but also absent. Solomon controls the wind of our speaking. Something opens and closes inside our heart.
Silence, annihilation, absence. I go back where everything is nothing. What Shams Tabriz is now cannot be said. It is as though a star were growing on a low branch of an olive tree. There is a great spaciousness around where we are standing with David and Rabia and Jesus and Muhammad and Rinzai and Lao-tse. Everything drops away. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen once said, “God has no form, no shape, no color, no differences, no race, no religion, no country, no place, no name, neither beginning nor end. God is the grace that lives within all lives.” ~ Coleman Barks preamble for the chapter that contains the following Rumi poem.
The sound of hoofbeats leaving a monastery
where all is timed and measured:
you are that rider:
someone who does not care
very much about things
and results, illness or loss:
you are the soul inside
the soul that is always traveling.
Mind gathers bait.
The personality carries a grudge.
You weave cloth like the moon
leaving no trace on the road.
There is a learning community
where the names of God
are talked about and memorized,
and there is another residence
where meanings live.
You are on your way from
here to there, and don’t
claim you are not carrying gifts.
Your graceful manner gives
color and fragrance,
as creekwater animates
a landscape it moves through.
Hundreds of caravans sail into the sky.
You travel alone, by yourself, those caravans:
sun inside one dazzling mote,
the emperor’s serenity on nightwatch
as alert as his palace guard.
You enchant this visible place,
so that we imagine
you are going somewhere,
off to new country.
The absolute unknowable
appears as spring,
and disappears in fall.
not the essence signified.
How long will you be a shepherd
single-filing us in and out
of the human barn?
Will I ever see you as
you secretly are in silence?
This poem is an excerpt from Chapter 27, The Name That Cannot Be Spoken or Written which is from the book Rumi: The Big Red Book: The Great Masterpiece Celebrating Mystical Love and Friendship (see attribution below) … with the above preamble by the author, Coleman Barks, for the chapter and the poems within.
Coleman Barks has the amazing gift of translating the original Persian/Farsi text in a manner that resonates with the English speaking world … he took the ever present “freshness” that is alive in Rumi and expressed it in English – an incredible feat particularly when you discover that Coleman had never heard of Rumi prior to 1976 when Robert Bly handed him a Rumi translation and said “please release these poems from their cages!” … and …
As a result of Bly’s insightful genius in seeing Coleman’s literary gift, the English speaking world has been able, and continues, to relish Coleman’s accomplished brilliance as he brings Rumi’s “Divinely drunk madness” ever “closer” to so many of us, not just in the west but everywhere in the world.
Read, pause, reflect, … and relish!