Listening to Rumi at 12,000 Feet

I left Toronto’s Pearson International Airport this afternoon in a howling snow squall. The Beechcraft labored loudly as it climbed over Lake Ontario. When it finally broke out of the clouds into dazzling sunlight, I could hear again. On an Open Source podcast with Chris Lydon, I heard poet Rick Benjamin reciting this verse from Rumi:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

[From Poems of Rumi translated by Coleman Barks]

I felt as if I had crossed a threshold, and on the other side was poetry and light. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I resolved then to read more poems and listen to the breeze at dawn.

The interview with Rick Benjamin was a wonderful discussion of the place poetry holds in his life, his practice, and his teaching. He recited many poems from memory along the way. “Poets are such good teachers, and their learning catches you in ways that very few other things will,” Benjamin writes. “Making poetry is not worth doing if you aren’t trying to bring someone else along with you.”

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