Coleman Barks has translated this splendiferous new volume of Rumi poems to celebrate the great mystic's 800th birthday. UNESCO has named 2007 the "Year of Rumi." Here you will find 90 poems, 83 of which have not been previously published. In the introduction, Barks talks traveling to Iran with fellow poet Robert Bly where Barks received an honorary doctorate in Persian language and literature from the University of Tehran. Pondering the Khajou Bridge in Isfahan, he comes to a deeper appreciation of Rumi as a bridge-builder between people, especially due to his love of all religions.
Barks sees in these poems an appreciation for music and the silence of the heart. Many of them bring us to a place where we can enter a fresh immersion in silence and its ample bounties. Another theme throughout the collection is love. In "New Blossoms," the poet notes:
"Your loving alertness is a lantern.
Keep it protected from wind
that makes it crazy."
How do you use your loving attention and how do you prevent it from leaking away? That is one of the special challenges of the spiritual path. In "The Wave of That Agreement," Rumi harkens back to our divine nature and challenges us to savor it in times of epiphany:
"Every second a voice of love
comes from every side.
Who needs to go sightseeing?
We came from a majesty,
and we go back there."
In "We Cannot Decide," Rumi salutes the only beauty that takes his breath away and leaves him speechless:
"There has never been beauty like yours.
Your face, your eyes, your presence.
We cannot decide which we love most,
your gracefulness or your generosity."
God's graces are numberless, and his traces are in all that he has generously bequeathed to us. Both gifts elicit surrender and adoration. These poems are cause enough to celebrate Rumi's 800th birthday!