A Story They Know

by Jelaluddin Rumi and Shams translated by John Moyne and Coleman Barks

It's time for us to join the line
of your madmen, all chained together.
Time to be totally free,
and estranged.
Time to give up our souls.
To set fire to structures
and run out in the street.
Time to ferment. How else
can we leave the world-vat
and go to the lip?
We must die to become
true human beings.
We must turn completely upside down
like a comb in the top
of a beautiful woman's hair.
Spread out your wings as a tree lifts
in the orchard. A seed scattered
on the road, a stone melting to
wax, a candle becoming moth.
On the chessboard, a king
is blessed again with its queen.
With our faces so close to the love-mirror,
we must not breathe, but change
to a cleared place where a building was
and feel the treasure hiding inside us.
With no beginning or end we live
in lovers as a story they know.
If you will be the key.
we'll be tumblers in the lock.

     Jelaluddin Rumi was a Persian Sufi poet, scholar, artist, and the
     inheritor of a long, learned line of theologians. He was 37 when he
     met Shams of Tabriz, an elusive warrior and wandering dervish. We
     do not know Shams' age at the time. He could have been 60 for all
     we know, when he encountered Rumi. What is certain is the month and
     year that they met in south-central Anatolia. The month was
     October, the year 1244. They became friends for life. Shams was
     murdered by people envious of their friendship, Rumi died in 1273.
     John Moyne is a Persian scholar and Emeritus Professor of
     Linguistics at the City University of New York. Coleman Barks is a
     poet and Associate Professor of English at the University of

     Image  Bill Murphy 2000-2018 All Rights Reserved