Sunday, December 10, 2006
Rumi's back on my radar!
So, I find that all of my school-work these days involves writing poems, reading poems, and writing about poems. I love it. Love it. Even during finals week. My study breaks consist of reading poems that are not assigned... So, while attempting my take-home Modern Poetry exam, I set aside Frost, Stein, H.D. & Co. in favor of a little quality time with Rumi. I love his poems. I love The Essential Rumi volume that sits on my bedside table even more. The translators, Coleman Barks and John Moyne, have grouped Rumi's works into incredibly artful and inspiring "chapters," each of which begins with an "introduction" I find as ellusive and elucidating as Rumi's works themselves. Just listen to this...
CHAPTER 10--ART AS FLIRTATION WITH SURRENDER: WANTING NEW SILK HARP STRINGS...
The design on the curtains is not what they conceal. Artists love shapes for enclosure, the chained cup beside the waterfall as a way of tasting the waterfall and maybe even the presence of someone meditating in the cave behind it. Forms keep splitting their chrysali, but the old harper wants one more set of silk strings. Some sufis have seen the beauties of art as something that can slow down soul growth. Art gives a teasing taste of surrender without full experience. Beautiful poetry can keep one on the verge of the oceanic annihilation in God. Rumi says, we've been walking in the surf holding our robes up, when we should be diving naked under, and deeper under.
All of this introduces a section of poems that I find especially tantilizing. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from the poem, "Chinese Art and Greek Art":
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.
Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
"I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way."
Are you jealous of the ocean's generosity?
Why would you refuse to give
this joy to anyone?
Fish don't hold the sacred liquid in cups!
They swim the huge fluid freedom.
(The questions being asked here are enough for me... They are enough. Is art the illusion? Or is art the freedom? Ah, Rumi... )