When it comes to listing off my stress-relievers, I’m ashamed to admit that reading isn’t on my list for the time being. Given I’m an English major, a writing counselor, and a future teacher, I should be really ashamed. But my excuse rests on my schedule as a college student. If you see me reading, it’s not because I’m doing it for my own leisurely desires, but as forced assignments in my classes. It’s almost as if I’ve classically conditioned myself to automatically become stressed when I start reading – but I just can’t help it! I’m looking forward to the day where I can actually enjoy reading again (aka when I graduate).
But amidst my temporary inability to find tranquility within reading, there has been one constant poet that I can rely on to become lost in.
Rumi was a Persian poet who was born in 1207 and died in 1273. His capabilities as a literary master reflected in his works allowed him to be considered as one of the greatest Persian poets and even the best-selling poet in the United States. His works have been translated into various languages and his influence expands far beyond the Middle East.
His words flow like honey, no matter what translation. And his messages, although cryptic at times, always wrap me in this warmth I can’t really explain; I’ve never felt so passionate about any poet, let alone any writer other than Rumi. Many of his poems are short and easy to read, but it doesn’t mean it’s without impactful content or feeling. I specifically like his love poems: although he refers to God in some of his poems, I think anyone from any background can enjoy his poetry. Here is one example, taken from Hush, Don’t Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi, translated and edited by Shahram Shiva.
Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript of a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,
you are already that.
Another snippet of the poem, “Oh Beloved,” translated by rumi.org.uk:
Liberate my soul.
Fill me with your love and
release me from the two worlds.
If I set my heart on anything but you
let fire burn me from inside.
take away what I want.
Take away what I do.
Take away what I need.
Take away everything
that takes me from you.
These two poems are two of the many I can lose myself in. In my English classes, I’m taught to cut up and dissect literature in order to make sense of it, in order to understand it. But I don’t need to cut anything up when I read Rumi. And if you decide to read him, I urge you to just sit back and enjoy his poetry as a whole. How it makes you feel.