Rumi’s Divan of Shems of Tabriz

I’ve glanced at other Rumi translations before, but this was the first time I really sat down with him and focused. Truly, there is great passion here, and occasional expressions of pure human longing. But something isn’t connecting for me. Frankly I enjoyed the biography of Rumi’s life and relation to Shems more than the odes themselves. My first instinct was to suspect the translation. I’ve felt the same gap with other Rumi I’ve seen, and perhaps something is inevitably lost from the original Arabic. Or perhaps it is Rumi himself, lost in the moment yet still unable to free himself from the coded sentiment of Sufi symbolism. If this is so then it fails as poetry, unable to convey a spontaneity which is encrypted in esoterica. Then again, the lack may be within myself; having never felt such depth of loss and longing, how could I possibly participate fully in such expressions? I intend to give him — and myself — more chances. [Rockport: Element]

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