From Publishers Weekly
The Sufi mystic Rumi has sold more than half a million volumes of his poetry-no small feat, considering that he lived in the 13th century. In this collection, poet Coleman Barks offers a funny, iconoclastic preface in which he attempts to tease out the reasons for Rumi's contemporary renaissance. He also warns readers that what follows will not be a pretty, happy book of love poetry: "This is not Norman Vincent Peale urging cheerfulness, conventional morality, and soft-focus, white-light, feel-good...New Age tantric energy exchange. This is giving your life to the one within that you know as LORD, which is a totally private matter." Rumi, he writes, is not the stuff of greeting cards. The poetry, accessibly translated and arranged by Barks, is organized by loose themes such as love's discipline, the new life with the beloved, "sudden wholeness," and love's excess.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Coleman Barks begins the preface of his gazillionth book of Rumi translations by saying, "I have sold too many books." Maybe so, but he hasn't tired of translating and retranslating Rumi. And people never seem to tire of reading the great Sufi mystic. Here, Barks delves into Rumi's take on love, retranslating dozens of poems he first adapted for The Essential Rumi
(1995) and offering a few new translations. Rumi's love was, of course, about a great deal more than romance. Seeking annihilation in the Divine, Rumi basked in many forms of divine love, from his passionate (and, some argue, homoerotic) love for his teacher Shams to a reverence for the natural world. Barks has been criticized for basing his reworkings of Rumi on English translations instead of the original texts, but the two poets together are clearly a magical combination. Rumi's copious metaphorical expressions of love and the importance of unifying with it make wonderful reading. If Barks' versions are fast and loose, they are also, like Rumi himself, beautiful and accessible. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved