Say Nothing: Poems of Jalal al-Din Rumi in Persian and English (Hardcover) Review

Say Nothing: Poems of Jalal al-Din Rumi in Persian and EnglishThis small, handsome, bilingual volume of inspired verse by a Sufi icon and a giant of Persian literature, Muhammad Jalal al-Din Balkhi (known in the West as "Rumi" and in the East as "Maulana") is an excellent introduction to the poet and his poetry, written specifically for the 2007 celebration of the 800th anniversary of his birth and, generally, for the growing contemporary Western interest in Eastern literature.

Rumi's "Divan-e Kabir" ("Works") fills 10 volumes, while this book provides just an introductory selection of 44 poems/620 lines including rubaiyat (quatrains) and ghazals (longer poems of from 5 to 15 couplets) which alternate here.Skilled English translations and the clear, amply-spaced Farsi script of the original poems appear on facing pages.These bilingual page-spreads provide aesthetic, authentic, inspiring and useful texts for both English-speaking students of Persian literature and/or Farsi language and for Farsi-speaking students of poetry or English language.

Most readers will be interested in the poetry itself for its radically spiritual Sufi themes that contrast with the radical materialism of contemporary Western life.Rather than give commentary here, and in keeping with Rumi's emphasis on direct experience, I urge readers to buy or borrow the book and read it through or dip into it again and again to share Rumi's inspired quest for "something beyond your grasp,/ the wisdom beyond definition,/ hidden in the hearts of men of God."Poems are listed on the Contents pages by their opening lines:"Love is my only companion...," "Let Love, the Water of Life, flow in my veins...," "If you long to be purified...," "Seek the art of loosening knots...," "All that pure ruby wine...," "If a tree could move...," "We are from above...," "I am your friend...," etcetera.The end-of-couplet refrain, "Say nothing," in "I'm a slave of the Moon" on page 55 provides the title of the entire volume.

The front matter includes a useful 5-page commentary by a Sufi scholar at Boston College, the translator's 11-page discussion of her work of linguistic transposition, and a 14-page introduction to the lives of Rumi and his soul-mate in their search for transcendence, Shams of Tabriz. Back matter includes 24 pages of illuminating Notes for the poems, a bibliography of 15 "Suggestions for Further Reading," and a list of Primary Persian Sources.

If you read this little "vade mecum" you will surely want to travel much farther on the Sufi road with Rumi. "Hush!Enough chatter in the sea, about the pearls in His sea./ If you want to be a pearl diver, don't waste your breath."

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Product Description:
Translations of Rumi's poetry have been enthusiastically received by the English-speaking world. He speaks directly to the heart, allowing readers to feel that they know him intimately. And yet, the full flavor of his lightness and humor, his wordplay, and his Islamic references has often gone untranslated. Rumi's poetry is direct and immediate, but it's also measured, subtle, and nuanced in a way that earlier translations have seldom conveyed. It was, above all, a spoken poetry. Say Nothing captures the rich and varied tones of a mature voice that retains its youthful capacity for exaltation and revelation.This fully annotated, bilingual (Persian and English) editioncontains both short quatrains and longer ghazals, alternating forms that reflect the shifts in Rumi's moods and inspirations. Along with poems of ecstatic flight and equally ecstatic mourning, there are moments of terse commentary, challenging dialogs, and confrontational questioning. Extensive notes allow readers to delve more deeply into the multiple meanings of Rumi's words.

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