on April 6, 2004
I greatly enjoy the poetry of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi. His poems move me to action -- they put a smile on my face -- bring a sigh to my heart. I have at least half a dozen if not more books by the Mevlana.
Of all these books, this is perhaps one of my favourites. Many recent authors have taken to reinterpreting the Sufi Master; but I feel that in those works, the original author's message becomes intermixed with the translators'.
In this translation, the translator has attempted to keep close to the original intent and writing of the Mevlana, yet not getting into difficult English like earlier translations by R.A. Nicholson.
The result, to me at least, is a more powerful spiritual punch and deeper tug at one's heart-strings.
If you love the poetry of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, this is one book you should add to your collection, so at least you get a better feel of his voice.
Rumi was an incredibly prolific 13th century Persian poet and theologian whose writings continue to have world-wide appeal and resonance in our modern world. I was fortunate to receive this lovely book, and immediately began to read.
It was like drinking the coldest, most thirst-quenching water that goes immediately to the heart and soul. It was like diving into a refreshing ocean and finding pearls and sparkling treasures. Devoid of the kind of pretension, arcane language and obscure meaning that dull much poetry, it speaks with directness and immediacy, yet is astonishingly imaginative.
A perfect introductory collection, it is nicely edited, prefaced and largely translated by Rumi expert Kabir Helminski. Other translators are also included, such as Robert Bly, a poet whose work I enjoy and whose translations of the German poet Rilke I respect. It is both packed and compact, and it has a useful ribbon to mark your place. Whether you are a novice or a Rumi-ologist, you are sure to enjoy this book. It also makes lovely gift.
on November 28, 2008
In the West we hear little of the beauty and wisdom of Islamic tradition. Jalalud-din Rumi, the founder of the Mevleviyya Sufi Order, has at least become known to us by name, even if we see only distorted snippets of his poetry.
If you've heard the name or you've seen quotations you like and want to find out more, this book is the best place to start. (The paperback is sure to reappear.) The editor Kabir Helminski, the only Westerner to become a Master of the Mevleviyya Order, is uniquely placed to create an accessible Beginner's Guide that does at least something like justice to the whole Rumi.
Some excerpts come from Rumi's vast output of lyric poetry, often extemporised in a state of rapture. (Remember that in the original the poems rhyme throughout, are written in intricate Persian metres, and were meant to be sung, not spoken.)
Others come from Rumi's great work the "Masnavi". Nothing like it exists in the West: we'd have to get Chaucer, Shakespeare, St Teresa and William Blake to collaborate. It contains poetry, philosophy, spiritual guidance, but above all teaching stories. Muslims understood the complexity of the learning process about a thousand years before anybody in the West realised. Some things are too subtle to learn directly; and some the mind, with its ingrained habits and patterns, actively resists learning. A story can smuggle in a message that would be rejected in any other form.
The final source is a book called "Fîhî ma Fîhî", records of Rumi's day-to-day talk with people who came to see him. Here we see Rumi as he was: a devout practising Muslim, a professional expert on Muslim Sacred Law like his father before him.
If Buddhist spirituality can be austere and bleak, with Rumi we are in a world of light, beauty and flowers. 5 stars because this is an ideal introduction; but remember this is a teensy bouquet from Rumi's vast and crowded garden.
on November 2, 2012
I adore Rumi. I appreciate the work of Kabir Helminski. After reading a few poems, I get a sense of the voice of each translator, so that after reading the first 2 lines of any of these, I know who translated it. Some of these short verses are so ecstatic that they take my breath away and I have to put the book down and just let it in. This little book goes a long way. Ann C.
on February 21, 2014
As someone who is limited to reading Rumi in english, I know that transliteration from the original is very difficult, and I am appreciative of any efforts to illuminate the writings of this great teacher. That being said, in my reading, many of these poems seem flat, lacking the beauty, incisiveness, and spiritual depth of those translated by Coleman Barks (whose translations are also in this book, and sparkle in comparison).