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on January 2, 2001
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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on February 15, 2000
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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on May 1, 2001
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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on June 13, 2005
Poetry (especially religious poetry) is always difficult to translate. At one extreme a translation may be scholastically acurate but difficult to read and rather unpoetic. At another extreme the translator may focus on the poetry at the expense of the meaning and force rhymes that sound really stupid in English.

This translation avoids those pitfalls. It is beautiful, easy to read, and full of meaning. It never sounds like cheesy forced poetry or dry, dull scholasticism. This translation also never tells you how to interpret it, but allows you to bring Rumi's words in line with your own experiences.

But the true jem here is not Rumi's poetry itself but the introduction by philosophy professor Huston Smith. I have often found Smith's introductions to books more fascinating than the books themselves.
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Almost all the great religions have a mystical side, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism. Gnosticism, Khabalah, the Nagas within Hinduism, Vajrayana Buddhism, Sufism, the Eleusine Mysteries within ancient Greek religion, Hermetism (a fusion of western and eastern mysticism by the third century, A.D., philosopher, Iamblichus), Avesta, Taoism, Confucianism, and even Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry all had mystical sides.

Sufism is one of the mystical traditions within Islam, of which there are a number not well known in the west. Rumi is one of the greats in that tradition, and one of the few eastern poets I've read (such as Omar Khayam) and there is no doubt he is one of the greatest poets of all time, whether western or eastern. I enjoy Rumi's poems but have to agree with a reviewer that the translations may not be the best since the author admits he knew no Persian, and Sufis are quite definite on the point that their poems are very precise and even technical in their wording and phraseology. As I'm not an expert I'll leave the final opinion on this book to the experts and those more knowledgable than I. Fortunately, as there are other translations you should also try one of those and compare those renderings with this book. But whichever way you decide to go, Rumi should be essential reading for anyone wishing to expand their literary and intellectual horizons beyond the "usual suspects."
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on November 4, 2010
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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on October 27, 2012
I have several Rumi books, this is by the most comprehensive.....it is a MUST for anyone that loves Rumi. If your ever having a bad day, this book will inspire you to laugh, reflect, and feel your heart....I find that I read it thru in one sitting and it sustains me for days and years!!!!
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on May 19, 2007
As a huge poetry and literature fan, I couldn't pass up the chance to upgrade my penguin classics edition to this more comprehensive version of Rumi. Fraught with themes of life, love, lust, companionship, outlook, really any strata of emotional or human thought, this collection is a gem of Rumi's work. I am not one to dabble in qualifications or translating accuracy- I simply go with what feels right and this book felt beautifully right from beginning to end.
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on October 7, 2000
This book was my introduction to Rumi. I love it. But books have a way of eventually getting left on my bookshelf for too long, as this one did. Then, I bought the video, "Rumi, poet of the heart" and I am now reading Rumi again. In the video, you see Coleman Barkes and others in performance, and he explains the difficulties of tranlating and why he chose free verse rather than attempting the impossibility of duplicating Rumi's densely rhymed verse. When I watch this video I can't wait to meditate again and practice all its allied disciplines. But I'll warn you - if you watch the video you will want the book too so get them both. And what a price for such a beautiful book! Obviously, no one is getting rich off of this project.
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on November 23, 1998
Whether you're contemplating Rumi in a meadow or while stuck in traffic, his eloquence reaches across the centuries to move you.
I highly recommend this book for anyone just beginning their study. The introduction and accompanying editorial comments provide a starting point for personal perspective.
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