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Updated: Sep 12, 2023


Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī was a 13th century Persian poet and mystic whose poems are among the most popular in the modern world. Rumi's work has been a profound inspiration, teacher, & comfort for me. There depths of the soul that cannot be reached except through music & poetry. Rumi's poems reach the hidden depths of my soul like no other poems have.

The poems and excerpts below were translated & published by Coleman Barks, presented here without permission.

An Awkward Comparison

This physical world has no two things alike.

Every comparison is awkwardly rough.

You can put a lion next to a man,

but the placing is hazardous to both.

Say the body is like this lamp.

It has to have a wick and oil. Sleep and food.

If it doesn't get those, it will die,

and it's always burning those up, trying to die.

But where is the sun in this comparison?

It rises, and the lamp's light

mixes with the day.


which is the reality, cannot be understood

with lamp and sun images. The blurring

of a plural into a unity is wrong.

No image can describe

what of our fathers and mothers,

our grandfathers and grandmothers, remains.

Language does not touch the one

who lives in each of us.

Tattooing in Qazwin

In Qazwin, they have a custom of tattooing themselves

for good luck, with a blue ink, on the back

of the hand, the shoulder, wherever.

A certain man there goes to his barber

and asks to be given a powerful, heroic blue lion

on his shoulder blade. "And do it with flair!

I've got Leo ascending. I want plenty of blue."

But as soon as the needle starts pricking,

he howls,

"What are you doing?"

"The lion."

"Which limb did you start with?"

"I began with the tail."

"Well, leave out the tail. That lion's rump

is in a bad place for me. It cuts off my wind."

The barber continues, and immediately

the man yells out, "Oooooooo! Which part now?"

"The ear."

"Doc, let's do a lion with no ears this time."

The barber

shakes his head, and once more the needle,

and once more the wailing,

"Where are you now?"

"The belly."

"I like a lion without a belly."

The master lion-maker

stands for a long time with his fingers in his teeth.

Finally, he throws the needle down.

"No one has ever

been asked to do such a thing! To create a lion

without a tail or a head or a stomach.

God himself could not do it!"

Brother, stand the pain.

Escape the poison of your impulses.

The sky will bow to your beauty, if you do.

Learn to light the candle. Rise with the sun.

Turn away from the cave of your sleeping.

That way a thorn expands to a rose.

A particular glows with the universal.

What is it to praise?

Make yourself particles.

What is it to know someting of God?

Burn inside that presence. Burn up.

Copper melts in the healing elixir.

So melt your self in the mixture

that sustains existence.

You tighten two hands together,

determined not to give up saying 'I' and 'we.'

This tightening blocks you.

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