Stay awake at night and then greet the dawn
As the moon does, whitening towards morn.
Be the pail of water drawn from the dark
Well knowing that into light you’ll embark.
Dance when the bowl of soul is shattered
Dance when you’ve nudged the blindfold off
Dance when the battle was all that mattered
Dance though the world stands by to scoff!
Is solitude more precious than
Is power over a nation
Better than to be free?
If confined in your room
You spend your time alone
You can study the imprint
Of the value that you own.
Tongues of Light
Candles exist to disappear in flames
And becoming nothing, they cast no shadows.
They are but tongues of light.
Aren’t we the same?
Regard the dwindling candle as a life
Coming to its end free of pride and shame,
Free from virtue, from vice and human strife.
The Sun is Love
The sun is love
And lovers, the specks of dust
Which around it circulate.
The wind is life
And the trees it sways, the dancers
For whom to its songs gestate
The fragrance dances on the morning breeze
Is it rose or musk sent to me to tease
My senses from my true love’s garden wild
These perfumes that both disturb and please?
Before our puny lives all go to hell
Arise, obey the summons of the bell
The caravan will carry her far away
And with her all that fragrance? Who can tell?
I Came Alive
I was once dead
But then I came alive
I once was full of tears
Now laughing, I survive.
Only when Love came to me
And embraced me in its whole
My eye was full of visions
And everlasting my soul.
Now my heart is like a lion’s
And like Venus, I shine bright.
Love said, ‘Take on this madness
Or get out of my sight!’
Love offered me its nectar
Insisting I must be drunk;
I drank in Love’s wide tavern
And was ecstatically sunk.
Surrendering to oblivion
I became an obedient tool
Drowning in Love’s proud splendour
I became rejoicing’s fool.
Love said I was a candle, A
light for the gathered folk.
Unaware of any brightness
I felt was scattered smoke.
Love called me a Sheikh and leader
And said I was the guide who’d pave
The path of love for all others;
I protested I was His slave.
He said, “You already have feathers
And can fly on your sprouted wings
And so, I don’t need to gift you these!”
How could I say I had none of these things?
This New Love as it came to my heart
Said, “I shall descend like rain
In grace and generosity
I’ll relieve you of human pain.”
Old Love whispered a persuasion,
Urging I stay close to her breast.
I promised her I’d obey her wish,
Her presence was where I’d rest.
The fountain of light that is the sun
Casts shadows on earth of the willow
When love’s shaft struck my heart and head,
I swooned and succumbed to the blow.
Love set this heart and soul aglow,
My heart was consumed by its magic.
It cast off its ragged garments
And began to weave a silk fabric.
Love transformed me from a swaggering
Slave, ass-driver and lowly thief
Into a generous, selfless being,
A king, a lord and chief
The sugar of Love brought me sweetness.
I reside in its embrace.
The earth gives thanks for the arching sky
And the light that descends from space.
Beyond the seven layers of heaven
We become the shining stars.
I was Venus and am now the moon
And all heaven’s brightness is ours.
When Yusuf emerged from the waters
Of the well, his beauty shone through;
Dissolve in that well, O Sufi,
Yusuf’s beauty is me and you!
Move silently on this chessboard,
Your powers by Him prescribed;
Destined to be happy and blissful
Once your vanity and ego have died.
Excerpted with permission from Rumi: A New Collection, selected and translated by Farrukh Dhondy, HarperCollins India.