*see commentary in verse on these lines
The first eighteen couplets of the great Masnevi of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi
provided the inspiration for the following tribute, which is neither a translation nor
interpretation of the Persian original. I am indebted mostly to R.A. Nicholson for
his scholarly prose translation but have primarily tried to let the ‘sense’ of the
poem speak for itself albeit in rhyming English. The ‘sound sense’ of the original
Persian has nevertheless been much in my mind. If Mevlana accepts it I will feel
that is justification enough for the exercise.
In the latter part of the verses it seemed to me that Mevlana was making
reference to his relationship with his beloved Shams and I have allowed that to
come through. I have no idea whether there is any scholarly justification for this,
or indeed for any of the sense I have made of the various couplets, nevertheless
I found a certain mystical trueness in it which I have tried to convey. This
apologia should be briefer than the verses – so here they are.
The Ney's Call
audio version allow time for download
Hear a story, in its sounds, of the Ney’s
Need for its home-grounds; it says -
“In every man and woman’s heart
My separation a longing need does start,
I seek one so emptied by my cry,
My pain becomes ecstatic sigh.
Manifest in each soul’s becoming,
Is the desire for its homecoming.
My song in sorrow and in joy, finds
A response in all kinds of minds;
Each one formed its own view,
None sought in me what is true.
My secret is clearly manifest within,
But to find it eye and ear cannot begin.
The outer senses perceive themselves alone,
The light within by them cannot be known.”
This air of the reed, it is really fire,
To know this, let self existence expire.
This fire is love’s spirit, in sound;*
Loves passion, in love’s wine is found.
A loved one lost – then the heart’s veil parted,
Once the the reed’s piercing call it started.
Whoever saw anything like the reed?
A poison and a cure;
Whoever saw passion in a lover’s need,
So desperate or pure?
It speaks of the lover’s way; heart drenched in blood.
It speaks of Majnun’s way; of intense lover hood.
Only the one not by senses bound,
Can hear its sentences, in its sound.
Those days have long departed,
Leaving behind the broken hearted.
Well let them go; if you remain,
We will not ever be parted again.
A little must suffice he who, in the sea,
Knows not swimming;
Or he who, from the table of divinity,
Eats not when fasting.
Rawness knows not ripeness – no harm;
It means I must be brief – as-salaam!
I am grateful to Karavan Carpet shop, Konya for allowing me to make a copy of the remarkable
painting of Mevlana the original of which is in the Museum. in Konya. I am not aware at this time
of the painter's identity - I am not sure he was when he made such an inspired work. I am grateful
also to Abdullah Cagdas for his assistance in obtaining a copy.