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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Rumi was born in Afghanistan in 1207, it was a time of tremendous political turmoil in the Near East. Paradoxically, it was also a time of "brilliant mystical awareness," writes translator Coleman Barks in The Soul of Rumi. This brilliance shines through in every passage, as Barks celebrates the ecstatic nature of Rumi's poetry. Barks (The Essential Rumi) has been given much credit for leading modern Westerners to this astounding poet. His sensitivity to the reader is evidenced in how he organizes the poetry according to themes. Since Rumi is often quoted at public gatherings, such as weddings and memorial services, this makes referencing especially easy. In the section entitled "When Friend Meets Friend," readers find the poem "The Soul's Friend":
The most living moment comes when those who love each other meet each other's eyes and in what flows between them then. To see your face in a crowd of others, or alone on a frightening street, I weep for that….
Barks offers a gracefully rendered introduction to each section, providing personal and historical background of the poetry. Elegantly designed and printed on cream-colored, heavy-stock paper, this is a delight for Rumi fans. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The Islamic mystical poet Rumi (1207- 1273) improvised the evocative poems which his followers wrote down. Translator Coleman Barks's The Essential Rumi won the Persian writer American fans, some of whom revere the poet as a religious guide. Now Barks is back with The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems. The giant volume includes part of Rumi's 64,000-line Masnavi, as well as many short poems and Barks's copious, informal, personal commentary.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060604522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060604523
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Whether you are new to Rumi or a devotee, whether you are a seeker of truth and wisdom, or you would simply enjoy a book of wonderful poetry, this is a book you should buy.
First if all, I should explain that I love Rumi and recite Rumi, and do it well enough, that listeners often ask me which book should be chosen. Since the publication of The Soul of Rumi, I find myself saying that if one were to choose two books that are the best of Rumi, the first is the Soul of Rumi, and the second is the Illuminated Rumi. Coleman Barks translations of Rumi have a spirit and beauty that truly reflect Rumi's vision and clarity. Coleman's accompanying dialogues give us a glimpse into Rumi, 13th century Turkey, and Shams, Rumi's mystical friend and teacher.
Coleman makes it easy to understand Rumi's poetry; not just as a translation from the 13 century, but for the wisdom and guidance it offers to all of us, living in the 21st century. The poems in the section on Human Grief were one of the ways I managed to get through this last September.
What is most wonderful for lovers of Rumi, is the order and sections that Coleman chose in this book. This presentation is a wonderful format to help the reader understand the passion and the soul of Rumi. The sections are divided into `wisdom categories' (my interpretation). The names of the sections communicate the viability of Rumi for today's important life questions. For example, "Living as Evidence", and "The Banquet - This is Enough was Always True", and "The Joke of Materialism". Some sections reflect Sufi concepts like Fana (Dissolving beyond doubt..) and Baqa (reentry into the world, " the Arabic word for living within, ...life lived with clarity and reason, ...the absorbing work of this day").
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jelaluddin Rumi has become familiar to Western readers who seek out ecstatic poetry, as more and more translations and commentaries are offered on perhaps this greatest of mystical writers. But as they say, it takes one to know one, and Coleman BarksÕ masterpiece is the obvious product of an attuned heart and poetic soul.
This volume is one of the clearest and most vibrant illustrations of the Ôwild heartÕ Rumi was and is. It is difficult to find superlatives which do justice to the beauty and towering vision this work contains. Every verse, every line seems to open, in some disarmingly simple way, vast new vistas of possibilities for the human spirit.
How good is this book? The highest accolade that can be given Barks is that his brief section introductions, frequently fodder in other volumes exploring Rumi, here are powerful and transformative in their own right. Each one sets up the following verses in a natural and seamless flow. BarksÕ light shines brightly, even in the rarefied company he keeps.
Get this volume and devour it. Then get another copy and give it to someone who is ready for the infinite freedom it open-handedly offers...
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Format: Paperback
It would be pointless for me to really try to "review" this book. I can only highly, emphatically recommend it. This book is the first introduction I've had to Rumi, and it's been an incredible literary experience for me. This book has really touched and inspired me. I've been reading it slowly over the last few months, digesting it bit by bit, because I wanted to savor it instead of rushing through it. One day in particular, I remember being in a foul mood, fed up with people and the world, and after reading a handful of Rumi's poems I felt peaceful and transformed. If you have any interest at all in spirituality or poetry, do yourself a favor and buy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
If there is only one book of Rumi you purchase, this should be it. But warning, the purchase may send you into a frenzy to learn and read more.
Barks' works as a translator here make poetry come alive, leap off the page and fly circles around your mind. A single poem can bring a person to great thoughts.
The book begins with a great introduction to Rumi's life, work, culture, spirituality, but Barks also includes some history of Sufi poetry. Then Barks divides the poetry into logical sections. Some involve community, others involve love, some love of God, peace between religions, inner life, work, home, playing... The range of catagories Barks creates represent human life in a wholeistic manner. They make Rumi's poetry easier to grasp, much more enjoyable, and center on the needs of all human beings. Barks also introduces each section (usually no more than a page). Barks' intros are concise, clear, and point toward key ideas in the most notable poems of each section.
This large collection of poetry is worth reading for a lifetime. Not to mention as Robert Bly asked of Barks years ago, Barks follows through in "releasing these translations from their cages."
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Format: Hardcover
The Soul of Rumi is Barks most sustained adaptations of Rumi to date. It should reach a wide audience and of special note is his translation of Book IV of the Masnavi, Rumi's masterpiece (and previously available only in Nicholson scholarly and stilted version). Barks has a way to make Rumi's rich imagery come alive in a natural American diction. In this volume Barks own natural voice is brought to the fore with acknowledgement of his own limitations and appreciation of the guidance he has found along the way, making this the most fulsome account of his own interpretations of the Persian poet.
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