THE WORD : RUMI – A NEW TRANSLATIONby The Daily Eye News Desk September 9 2019, 1:33 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 5 secs
A great spiritual master and poet, Jalaluddin Rumi was born in Wakhsh (Tajikistan) in 1207 to a family of learned theologians. He founded the Mawlawi Sufi order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam. He was introduced into the mystical path by a wandering dervish, Shamsuddin of Tabriz. His love for and his bereavement at the death of Shams found their expression in a surge of music, dance and lyric poems, Divani-Shamsi-Tabrizi. He is also the author of the six-volume epic work, the Mathnawi, which has been referred to as the ‘Koran in Persian’.
Zuleika had a secret, every word
Or phrase she spoke in secret ways referred.
To her beloved Yusuf. If she said
“The moon is out tonight,” she meant instead
To say she loved him. When she said ‘Aloe’
Or ‘Spice’ or ‘bread’, her confidantes would know
That it was code for “Yusuf”; every phrase
A tribute to his beauty and his ways.
You could say, and by now you may have guessed,
That Zuleika lived a life that was obsessed
With Yusuf; she had turned the very gift
Of speech to magic, making meanings drift
And making words say what they never meant.
The blandest phrases turned to sentiment
And thoughts and praise of Yusuf. When she cursed
Aloud she meant she wanted time reversed
To once again the hour they last met
When parting made her words turn to regret.
His was the name that every morning burst
From her lips and quenched her every thirst
His name would warm Zuleika in the cold.
And just so, all believers should be told,
That when you seek salvation for your soul
You merge into the ocean of the whole
So lover and beloved are the same
Your Zuleika is merely Yusuf’s name.
And even though your linguist thinks it odd
All pronouncements are one – the word is ‘God’.
The syllable that permeates all things
Exploding stars and songs the robin sings.
Marked by lyrical beauty and spiritual insight, a deep understanding of human suffering that coexists with rapturous abandon, the poems of Jalaluddin Rumi continue to be relevant almost eight centuries after they were composed, with contemporary audiences finding new meanings in them.
Rumi's poems bring together the divine and the human, the mystical and the corporeal to create a vivid kaleidoscope of poetic images. While many recent 'translations' have sought to give Rumi's poetry a certain hippy sensibility, robbing it of its true essence, Farrukh Dhondy attempts to bring out the beauty and sensibility of the verses whilst imitating the meter of the original. Dhondy's translations provide a modern idiom to the poems, carefully keeping intact their religious context.
Farrukh Dhondy was born in 1944 in Pune. After graduating in physics from Wadia College, he won a scholarship to Cambridge to train as a quantum physicist, but ended up reading for a BA in English. He is the author of a number of books including East End at Your Feet (1977), Poona Company (1980), Bombay Duck (1990) and The Bikini Murders (2008). He has also written screenplays for film and television, including Split Wide Open (1999) and The Rising: The Ballad of Mangal Pandey (2005).
You can buy your copy of some of these poems from Rumi’s collection, which are transalted by Farrukh Dhondy here: https://www.amazon.in/Rumi-New-Translation-Farrukh-Dhondy/dp/9350290820
The ‘Alternative Entertainment’ page of The Daily Eye will come alive every week from now to captivate you with Farrukh Dhondy’s translations of Rumi’s poetry. We will publish one poem in this most contemporary version, every Monday for the next ten weeks.