Championed by the likes of Madonna, Donna Karan, and Deepak Chopra, Rumi has won such a following in this country that a few years ago he was proclaimed our bestselling poet. But translations that have popularized the work of this thirteenth-century Sufi mystic have also strayed from its essence. In this new translation, Farrukh Dhondy seeks to recover both the lyrical beauty and the spiritual essence of the original verse. In poems of love and devotion, rapture and suffering, loss and yearning for oneness, Dhondy has rediscovered the Islamic mystic of spiritual awakening whose quest is the key to his universal appeal. Here is at once a great poet of love, both human and divine, and the authentic voice of a moderate Islam—a voice that can resonate in today’s turbulent, fundamentalist times.
With millions of copies of the 13th-century Sufi mystic poet's work sold worldwide, this new book containing many first-time translations will find a ready audience. While the love poems resemble the erotic verse popularized by previous editors ("Again my eyes saw what no eyes have seen./ Again my master returned ecstatic and drunk"), several new poems stand out in their foregrounding of Rumi's religious descent. "Why make a quibla of these questions and answers?/ Ask instead, the lesson of the silent ones, where is it?" one of the book's many ghazals proposes, referring to the direction Muslims face in prayer. The Koran figures throughout: "Let me swear an oath on Osman's holy book,/ The pearl of that beloved, gleaming in Damascus," reminding contemporary readers of the centrality of Islam to Rumi's worldview, even if, finally, what Gooch calls a "religion of love" carries the day: "Someone is snipped away, and I am sewn to another,/ Stitched together, forever, seamlessly." Offering new insight into the poet's spiritual life, these poems prove a valuable addition to Rumi's oeuvre.