Home > New Classics > Ten Discourses After Jalal al-Din Rumi

Ten Discourses After Jalal al-Din Rumi

May 12, 2010

by Alex Cigale

These words are for people in need of words.
The heaven and earth indeed are like words.
A hundred thousand wild beasts together
is man. God kneaded the clay forty days.
So long as you perceive pain and regret.

*

Water that recognizes water, clay’s
inclination towards clay. A fault in
your brother is a bigger fault in yourself,
disgust with yourself expressed at others.
All our desires are the desire for God.

*

The animal soul is your enemy.
Violence; in that fist are raisins. When
the prophet spilled blood he must have been wrong.
Your love for Lailah is like a drawn sword.
Intelligence and lust, that which is loved.

*

Endure the tyranny of women for
the sake of children. Life is a garment
to ward off the cold. Thus you must enter
this union, the prison of the body.
Look to the body you know within your life.

*

Speech is a piece of flesh. The hand can speak,
the world is the resurrection. Metaphors
are the forms of God come forth from the sea,
the recollections of the other world.
Neither to the beginning nor the end.

*

There is no more shameful occupation
than poetry. The heart is a free world.
I and there is nobody other than I.
Each day your love for work will grow greater.
Understanding of this is not understanding.

*

Many pens, one loftier than another.
The pens of God. Human activity,
the profit and the loss. The body too
is principle. Yet you know not your own self.
Each one of us has a Jesus inside.

*

Attention is respect. Mongrel affairs,
the body of prayer, supplication and
the unconscious memory of God. We
come into the world with a particular
task. The one thing, the task performed by man.

*

Scholar and prince, for such are the social
relations of a man of God. Like the
sun that turns stones into rubies your trade
is giving. We learn in order to give.
May you bring forth the living from the dead.

*

Thought without word, hidden. Why speak? The one
we have appointed only as a trial.
Them as many, man as one, a great trial.
The true friend of faith. Faith, the one true friend.
The human manifestations of God.


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Alex Cigale’s poems recently appeared in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, McSweeney’s, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving and St. Petersburg Review. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

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  1. May 13, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. Beautifully done. Lots of favourite lines.
    Today I take this verse into my day:

    “Speech is a piece of flesh. The hand can speak,
    the world is the resurrection. Metaphors
    are the forms of God come forth from the sea,
    the recollections of the other world.
    Neither to the beginning nor the end.”

    thanks
    daniela

  2. Peg
    May 15, 2010 at 12:53 am

    “in that fist are raisins” – how unexpected. how provocative.

    “Life is a garment
    to ward off the cold.” – this, too.

    “Each day your love for work will grow greater.” – o, may it be so. and yet not too much so.

    • July 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

      When Freud was asked for the secret to happiness, his reply was “Arbeit und leiben.” Work, for him, came first. Even love is a kind of work; all is soul work.

  3. JJS
    June 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Such attentiveness to Rumi while creating new turns: this is incense-language.

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