Rumi’s short poems have seldom been translated into English. Here are 53 gems of love and wisdom that capture the longing of the human spirit for its Beloved. Caution: These verses explode upon reflection.
Rumi’s poetry has been published in various English editions since the nineteenth century. And there has been no shortage of translators. Today, through the translations of Coleman Barks, he is the best-selling poet in the English language. The market for his poems is insatiable. He has a loyal following of English readers and serious devotees. Still, in English, Rumi’s poems have often been rendered into a literal and academic prose that is awkward and wooden—or into a New-Age idiom that bears little relationship to the author’s original text or context. Profs. Banani and Lee come to the rescue with a masterful translation that bridges the academic demand for fidelity to the original Persian text with a sensitive poetic translation that speaks to 21st-century readers. The book has three sections: 1) a general introduction to Rumi’s poetry, 2) translations of 53 short poems, and 3) a groundbreaking essay by Dr. Banani on the position of Rumi in Islamic poetry and in world literature. The poems are presented as lessons on love. The reader is encouraged to treat them as koans to inspire spiritual contemplation.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
“What could be more exciting than to have the vast erudition of Amin Banani and the spiritual sensibility of Anthony A. Lee applied to bringing Rumi’s poetry into English? A tour de force that no one interested in the work of the great Persian Sufi master can afford to miss!”
–Juan Cole, Professor of Middle East History, University of Michigan, author of Engaging the Muslim World
“Rumi’s rubaiyat were almost certainly thrown off extempore and recorded by his disciples; in these clear, accurate, vivid, and often very beautiful versions we come as close as is possible in English to catching the evanescent moment of composition, the thought as it flickers from Rumi’s mind out into the world.”
–Richard Davis, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University; translator of The Conference of the Birds, and The Shahnameh
“The volume here features a collaboration between a master of Persian poetry and a distinguished English poet. These collaborations may well be the necessary model needed to come up with translations that are both faithful to the original and beautiful in the new language. Rumi lovers will no doubt appreciate this new collaboration.”
Omid Safi, Professor of Islamic thought, University of North Carolina, author of Progressive Muslims