Excerpts from Masnavi Rumi


"The Song of the Reed" 
(Masnavi, Book 1: Lines 1-34)
1. Listen to the reed and the tale it tells, how it sings of separation: 2. Ever since they cut me from the reed bed, my wail has caused men and women to weep. 3. I want a heart that is torn open with longing so that I might share the pain of this love. 4. Whoever has been parted from his source longs to return to that state of union. 5. At every gathering I play my lament. I'm a friend to both happy and sad. 6. Each befriended me for his own reasons, yet none searched out the secrets I contain. 7. My secret is not different than my lament, yet this is not for the senses to perceive. 8. The body is not hidden from the soul, nor is the soul hidden from the body, and yet the soul is not for everyone to see. 9. This flute is played with fire, not with wind, and without this fire you would not exist. 10. It is the fire of love that inspires the flute. It is the ferment of love that completes the wine. 11. The reed is a comfort to all estranged lovers. Its music tears our veils away. 12. Have you ever seen a poison or antidote like the reed? Have you seen a more intimate companion and lover? 13. It sings of the path of blood; it relates the passion of Majnun. 14. Only to the senseless is this sense confided. Does the tongue have any patron but the ear? 15. Our days grow more unseasonable, these days which mix with grief and pain. . . 16. but if the days that remain are few, let them go; it doesn't matter. But You, You remain, for nothing is as pure as You are. 17. All but the fish quickly have their fill of His water, and the day is long without His daily bread. 18. The raw do not understand the state of the ripe, and so my words will be brief. 19. Break your bonds, be free, my child! How long will silver and gold enslave you? 20. If you pour the whole sea into a jug, will it hold more than one day's store. 21. The greedy eye, like the jug, is never filled. Until content, the oyster holds no pearl. 22. Only one who has been undressed by Love is free of defect and desire. 23. O Gladness, O Love, our partner in trade, healer of all our ills, 24. Our Plato and Galen, remedy for our pride and our vanity. 25. With love this earthly body could soar in the air; the mountain could arise and nimbly dance. 26. Love gave life to Mount Sinai, O lover. Sinai was drunk; Moses lost consciousness. 27. Pressed to the lips of one in harmony with myself, I might also tell all that can be told; 28. but without a common tongue, I am dumb, even if I have a hundred songs to sing. 29. When the rose is gone and the garden faded, you will no longer hear the nightingale's song. 30. The Beloved is all; the lover just a veil. The Beloved is living; the lover a dead thing. 31. If Love withholds its strengthening care, the lover is left like a bird without wings. 32. How will I be awake and aware if the light of the Beloved is absent? 33. Love wills that this Word be brought forth. 34. If you find the mirror of the heart dull, the rust has not been cleared from its face. 35. O friends, listen to this tale, the marrow of our inward state. --Version by Kabir Helminski. From "The Rumi Collection: An Anthology of Translations and Versions of Jalaluddin Rumi"(Putney, Vermont: Threshold Books, 1998), pp. 145-46. This is a revision of earlier versions ("Love is A Stranger," 1993,pp. 50-52; "Ruins of the Heart," 1981, pp. 19-20).
"Peace and War In The Illusory Material
World(Masnavi, Book 1: Lines 70-71)

70 Within the spirit,1 imagined forms are as nothing -- (yet)
witness an (entire) world going on (based) upon something
imaginary!

71 (Witness how) their peace and their war (is based) upon
something imaginary, and (how) their pride and their shame
(derives) from something imaginary.
"He Is Abiding Peacefully"
(Masnavi, Book 1: Lines 988-989)

988 When the breeze of (spiritual) poverty1 is 
(blowing) within(someone), he is abiding peacefully
 upon the surface of the world.

989 Even though this entire world is his kingdom,
2 (such a)kingdom is (as) nothing in the eye of
 his heart.

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets
 of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi. 
 Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard 
 (with gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1926 
 British translation)
"We Are In His Hands In 
Anger And In Peace"
(Masnavi, Book 1: Lines 1510-1513)

1510 If we come to (a state of) ignorance, that is
 His prison. And if we come to (a state of) knowledge,
that is His (lofty) balcony.

If we come to (a state of) sleep, we are His drowsy
-drunken ones.
And if we come to (a state of) wakeful alertness, we 
are in His
Hands.

If we come to (a state of) weeping, we are His cloud 
full of glistening (raindrops).1 And if we come to
(a state of)laughing,2 we are His lightning in that
 moment.

1513 If we come to (a state of) anger and battle, it 
is the reflection
of His Wrath.3 And if we come to (a state of) peace 
and pardon, it
is the reflection of His Love.4

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets
 of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
  Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard