“Lovers find secret places inside this violent world”

“Lovers find secret places inside this violent world where they make transactions with beauty.” So said the Sufi poet Rumi, who was born 800 years ago this month in Persia. Rumi is the hottest-selling poet in America today, thanks in large part to the free verse translations of Coleman Barks. The translator discussed his process and recites several Rumi verses on a recent edition of On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Other guests on the radio show included James Morris, professor of theology at Boston College, and Fatemeh Keshavarz, chair of the department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis and author of Jasmines and Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran. Fatemeh Keshavarz recited this Rumi verse, which she may have been translating as she spoke:

You and the World

The world is a mountain.
Whatever you say, good or bad,
it will echo it back to you.
Don’t say “I sang nicely
and Mountain echoed an ugly voice.”


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