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Solid Sufi (ecstatic religious) poetry
on August 17, 2000
Birdsong contains 53 short poems that are reworkings of the translation by A. J. Arberry, a major scholar of Sufism.
Not all of the poems have any direct relationship to birds, rather the birdsong of the title refers to a common metaphor in mystic traditions e.g. The Conference of the Birds, a major Sufi work.
Barks, as usual, provides excellent translations; he truly makes the poetry of Rumi accessible to the average reader (as compared to some scholarly translations that are precise but no longer poetry or that require technical vocabulary).
His selection of poems is also excellent; they are poems that encourage meditative thought. An example: "Stars burn clear / all night till dawn. / Do that yourself, and a spring / will rise in the dark with water / your deepest thirst is for. "