When the great Persian poet Rumi met Shams, his spiritual teacher, the soul-shattering and soul-making encounter and the friendship and ultimate loss that followed became the stuff of poetic legend. In this collection of work culled from the much longer book colloquially referred to as "The Shams," popular Rumi translator Barks focuses on ravishing poems of love and loss that can be read as sexual, relational, spiritual, or all three, for in the context of Rumi's embracing philosophy, soul and body and emotion are not separate but parts of the great mystery of earthly life, a question whose answer is love. Here are some of the most beautiful love lyrics ever spoken (Rumi composed orally rather than in writing), direct and passionate and profound: "out of eternity / I turned my face to you, and into / eternity / we have been in / love that long." Barks' translations are justly famous for their bell-like clarity and sharp simplicity. A highly desirable book, in all senses of desire
. Patricia Monaghan
From Kirkus Reviews
The Glance ($18.00; Oct.; 112 pp.; 0-670-88755-2): A new translation of a cycle of ancient poems written by the great 13th- century Sufi scholar. Rumi is most widely known in the West for his love poetry, which has enjoyed a tremendous popular revival in the last few years. Here, he works within the framework of the ghazal, a Persian poem closest in form to the English sonnet, and attempts to convey some sense of the wonder he felt at his friendship with Shams of Tabriz, an itinerant dervish he met in 1244. Almost at first sight, an intense bond sprang up between the two, each acknowledging the other as soulmate and guide, in the tradition of Dante and Beatrice. Their relations centered in the spiritual life, with Tabriz introducing Rumi to ecstatic dancing and meditations of the dervishes, though Rumi described the friendship in almost erotic termsI see my beauty in you. I become / a mirror that cannot close its eyes / to your longing...that convey the intensity of his feeling. Barkss translation is fluid and clear, further strengthening his reputation as one of the foremost Rumi experts writing in English today. (Viking also plans to offer a CD version in October that will feature 12 of Rumis poems enhanced with music.) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.