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The Essential Rumi Publisher: HarperOne New Expanded Edition Paperback – 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • ASIN: B004TK2FJQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,339,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for anyone just beginning their study.
wordsmith1@hotmail.com
I really like Rumi and how he frames life, the human existence, God, Truth, Beauty, Love and all the other emotions and values.
Misbah Rashid
Coleman Barks with John Moyne have done a fine job in bringing the innermost feelings of Rumi.
Mr. M. Mitha

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books of poetry translations I've ever read. Barks has done a tremendous job of rendering Rumi into language that captures the poet's range: oblique to blunt, ethereal to earthy. While I can't comment on the accuracy of the translations, they work beautifully as English poetry -- and that, to me, is the crucial part. To Western readers, Rumi was a misty eminence of literary and religious history, and Barks has brought him to glorious, complex life.
One caution: although Rumi wrote intensely spiritual poetry, some of the "teaching tales" are pretty raunchy (after reading about the maidservant and the donkey, I'll never look at gourds the same way again!). Again, his poetry blends the divine and the human, heavenly love and earthly eroticism. While there are analogues in Western religious poetry (e.g., Teresa of Avila and the English 17th-century poet Richard Crashaw), this may be unsettling for some readers.
The hardbound edition, at least, is well done: the paper has a nice texture, the typography and page design enhance the text, and the cover is attractive (I haven't looked at the paperback). For me, the attractiveness of the book greatly enhanced the experience of reading it.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bill L. on July 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Once and for all may the publishers stop calling Barks a translator. He is in his own right a fine poet but he has not translated Rumi from Persian or any other language.

The latest book from Ibrahim Gamard, "The Quatrains of Rumi" gives a fine example of excellent translation and scholarship. Buy both Barks and Gamard and make your own decisions on this important matter.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Brad McBride on January 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonderful introduction to this very moving spiritual poetry. Rumi has an understanding of God and our relationship with Him that is unlike anything most people have ever experienced. His love and passion come across in this poetry, which has been beautifully translated by Coleman Barks. Mr. Barks has taken great lengths to group these poems into various sections that will allow a reader who is new to Rumi's poetry to see Rumi in a variety of ways. The book is not arranged chronologically or broken down into academic categories, but rather encompass larger topics ranging from bewilderment at God's presence to poems meant to teach. Each poem is carefully crafted to allow the thoughts of this master poet and mystic to shine. This is poetry of the first order. This book is the perfect introduction to Rumi or will complete the collection of any Rumi devotee.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Debbie A Chisolm on February 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The reading of this book has led me on many wonderful journeys. I found myself having to read slowly as the words were jumping from the lines, and I could spend hours journaling where they led. Love and lonliness, passion and pity, a hunger for God that both consoles and consumes, are all visited in this book. Read it slowly.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mr. on May 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I was first aquainted with Rumi and the delightful Coleman Barks at a Jungian retreat. Rumi takes you into his inner world and his relationship with the divine (objective divine) and the divine spark he sees in others (most notably his "beloved"). I've read that it is impossible to translate Rumi's original sing-song ancient Persian into modern English, but Barks certainly does an eloquent job (at least that's what my Persian friends tell me). If you would like to understand true depth psychology or understand the mysteries of love, this is the essential guide.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alex on November 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Coleman Barks and his publishers are guilty of false marketing: this book would accurately be described as a collection of Barks' poems "very loosely inspired by Rumi", rather than a collection of Rumi's poems "translated by Barks". These are not poems by Rumi. These are nothing like poems by Rumi.

What Barks has done is to read some translations of Rumi's poems. And then, taking those English renditions as a kind of vague source-material, he's written a collection of entirely new beatnik poems, with as tenuous a connection to the source material as one would expect from such a process.

In Barks' *interpretations*, every quality of Rumi that makes Rumi the poet that Rumi is - has been lost. Not a trace of Rumi's art remains (not his rhythm, his celebrated locutions, not his imagery, not his evocational use of the past-tense - not even his religious instructions).

As for Barks' poems, they're charming, albeit in the manner of a voluble American hippie, entertaining the tourists outside Haight Ashbury. In other words, they read like a cross between Robert Bly and Walt Whitman. There's also a lot Allen Ginsberg in there. It's not difficult to see why these poems are so popular in America - they are as American as American apple-pie. Buy this if you want an original and accessible collection of American beaknik poems. I enjoyed reading them. But if you want more authentic translations of Rumi, try A.J. Arberry (although be warned that the more authentic translations are a lot less accessible).

The poems are charming, and worth buying for their own sake, but they have nothing to do with Rumi.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I visited Konya, Turkey last year, I had only vaguely heard of Rumi. After seeing the impressive tomb and mausoleum dedicated to him in Konya, I was left with many questions. Who was Rumi? Why was he so important to so many Muslims? As a student of Asia, how could I not have been exposed to him earlier in my studies?
After I returned to the United States, I learned of Rumi's rising popularity in the West- much of that due to the translations of Coleman Barks. Eventually, I invested in this compilation and found myself intoxicated with the beauty and wisdom of Rumi's poetry.
Whether you like what Barks has done with Rumi or not, I personally am grateful to him for doing his best to expose the West to everything that Rumi has to offer.
This book occupies a permanent place on my nightstand. Trust me, given my high esteem for books, this is prime real estate!
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