An American poet of Persian descent offers new translations of selected poems by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, the great 13th-century Persian mystic poet who is among the most widely read writers in the world.
Rhythmic, intuitive arrangements revive the conditions in which this poetry came into being. An early meaning of translation was the movement of a saint’s body from one place to another. Through these outbursts, these notes from the edge of sense...we are drawn into the dance. We hear 'the ruckus the muse makes' ... they speak of both heaven and earth. Mystical ideas are wrapped in the stock images of Persian love poetry—eyelashes, cupbearers, nightingales. Objects of everyday life become channels to the divine ... Coleman Barks, who since the 1980s has turned Rumi into America’s favorite guru, sought to 'free his text into its essence' by shaking the ghazals loose of their religious content, and sometimes altogether of their meaning. Gold steers between these rocks: here is a supple, intimate idiom still anchored to the sacred, a poetics of arousal that puts 'mystery in the middle' ... In the serene grandeur of these poems...there are traces of the Central Asian melting pot he left behind: Buddhist renunciation, Zoroastrian fire ... Beneath the gorgeous imagery, there are hard questions about how to live in times of crisis.
In Gold, Rumi speaks to our inner skeptics. Line by line, he tries to show us how love only helps and never hurts ... Gold, translated beautifully by Haleh Liza Gafori, fulfills the need for a careful, considerate rendition of Rumi in English ... Each poem here had to be cut from this endless cloth, reshuffled, styled with modern enjambments, and, finally, translated. Perhaps it’s more accurate to think of Gold not as a translation, but as a collaboration between two equal poets that spans centuries. And what music they make together. Gradually, these poems unearth a love-based philosophy for life ... In the original Farsi, these poems were ghazals, a poetic form wherein individual couplets are linked by a common refrain. Gafori doesn’t reproduce this form exactly, but she does capture its springy, mantric effect. In one poem, Rumi and Gafori create an oasis together ... Gold is filled with these revelatory moments. Often, it’s a single line that neatly ties together a poem like the final, central cog that gets a machine running. Poems build to a pitch, release, and leave perspective in their paths.
Gafori’s energetic translation highlights the timelessness of Rumi’s work, the untitled poems delivering unforgettable phrases ... Rumi’s introspective nature is revealed throughout ... Elsewhere, his vision is cosmic ... Many of these entries offer advice to the reader ... Rumi’s deeply contemplative yet accessible poems star in this worthy translation.