The prolific collection of inspirational poetry written by the Persian mystic and dervish, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, more popularly known simply as Rumi, has been a source of joy and introspection for loyal followers since the early days of the 13th century

Born in 1207 in Khorasan, ancient middle Persia, the enduring universal appeal of Rumi’s poetry may be rooted in a philosophy which transcends the confinement of imposed boundaries in favor of the language of love, tolerance, goodness and the evolution of one’s soul.

Rumi’s works, most notably The Masnavi series, has been transposed into various formats and translated into many of the world’s languages. Notable English translators of Rumi’s work include Arthur John Arberry, John Moyne and Reynold A. Nicholson. More recently, Coleman Banks, who neither speaks or reads Persian, has nonetheless authored translations which have shined a light on Rumi’s work. The collective effort of these translations has resulted in Rumi being the most popular poet in the US.

The anniversary of Rumi’s death in mid-December of 1273 is still commemorated annually at the Sheb-i Arus celebration in Konya Turkey.

Please enjoy the sampling of contemporary Rumi translations by Coleman Banks in collaboration with John Moyne, A.J. Arberry and Reynold Nicholson featured below.

A Smile and a Gentleness

A Smile and a Gentleness-Rumi

There is a smile and a gentleness
inside. When I learned the name

and address of that, I went to where
you sell perfume. I begged you not

to trouble me so with longing. Come
out and play! Flirt more naturally.

Teach me how to kiss. On the ground
a spread blanket, flame that’s caught

and burning well, cumin seeds browning,
I am inside all of this with my soul.

As Translated by Coleman Banks in Essential Rumi

This We Have Now

This We Have Now-Rumi

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

As Translated by Coleman Banks in Essential Rumi

The Freshness

The Freshness-Rumi

When it’s cold and raining,
you are more beautiful.

And the snow brings me
even closer to your lips.

The inner secret, that which was never born,
you are that freshness, and I am with you now.

I can’t explain the goings,
or the comings. You enter suddenly,

and I am nowhere again.
Inside the majesty.

-As Translated by Coleman Barks in “Soul of Rumi”

Not Here

Not Here-Rumi

There’s courage involved if you want
to become truth. There is a broken-

open place in a lover. Where are
those qualities of bravery and sharp

compassion in this group? What’s the
use of old and frozen thought? I want

a howling hurt. This is not a treasury
where gold is stored; this is for copper.

We alchemists look for talent that
can heat up and change. Lukewarm

won’t do. Halfhearted holding back,
well-enough getting by? Not here.

As Translated by Coleman Barks in Soul of Rumi