I'm a Cancer.
I'm not that into poetry.
Things to know about Cancers:
We're super emotional.
Some years ago I found myself in the lobby of a yoga studio flipping through a book of writings by 13th century Sufi poet Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi and thought, "hey... this is pretty good..."
Rumi's poems, even translated from their original Persian texts, nearly 800 years ago, are so mind-blowingly relatable. They are simple, they are short. The imagery is beautiful, but immediately understandable. They speak to the emotional experience, they speak to being human by expressing something so seemingly personal you'd think he could see into your soul.
Now, I've had a particularly emotional few months, and in trying to make sense of my emotions I turned to Rumi. I acquired a book of quatrains (four-liners) (through a noteworthy book-swap server, Paperback Swap that I would highly recommend to anyone who has books you'd be into getting rid of in exchange for new-to-you books that you want.)
Here are a few of my favorite poems... obviously these are all love poems because they spoke to my present experience. That is why I've clung to them over others. But there seem to be Rumi poems out there for just about every emotional experience you might be going through.
Burning with longing-fire,
wanting to sleep with my head on your doorsill,
my living is composed only of this trying
to be in your presence.
Love comes sailing through and I scream.
Love sits beside me like a private supply of itself.
Love puts away the instruments and takes off the silk robes.
Our nakedness together changes me completely.
I thought of you and threw
my glass of wine against the wall.
Now I'm neither drunk nor sober,
jumping up and down, completely mad.
I came and sat in front of you
as I would at an altar.
Every promise I made before
I broke when I saw you.
And a couple longer poems:
Mad with You
O incomparable Giver of life, cut reason loose at last!
Let it wander grey-eyed from vanity to vanity.
Shatter open my skull, pour in it the wine of madness!
Let me be mad, as You; mad with You, with us.
Beyond the sanity of fools is a burning desert
Where Your sun is whirling in every atom:
Beloved, drag me there, let me roast in Perfection!
The Arc of Your Mallet
Don’t go anywhere without me.
Let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
or on the ground, in this world or that world,
without my being in its happening.
Vision, see nothing I don’t see.
Language, say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon,
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.
I want to feel myself in you when you taste food,
in the arc of your mallet when you work,
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.
There’s nothing worse than to walk out along the street
without you. I don’t know where I’m going.
You’re the road and the knower of roads,
more than maps, more than love.
And a few non-love poems that struck a chord from my past:
You are cold, but you expect kindness.
What you do comes back in the same form.
God is compassionate, but if you plant barley,
don't expect to harvest wheat.
Every day, this pain. Either you're numb
or you don't understand love.
I write out my love story.
You see the writing, but you don't read it.
Courage: A gazelle turns
to face a pack of lions.
A building that stands on bedrock, stands.
Do you think my love will slump to the ground when you leave?
Then, a beautiful notebook full of blank pages and an intensely emotional week later, and I was writing my own Rumi-inspired poetry on the subway:
I am a compass,
Comprised of polarities.
Life is my melodrama,
and you are the Second Act.
They always say I feel too much.
Have they thought, perhaps, it is they who feel too little?
I overwhelm, I know.
But how can I see your lips without kissing them?
I am the most thoughtful lover you will ever know.
It is what my Maker meant for me,
when my soul was hewn
from the primordial stone.
Try as I might to maintain my stature,
when I spy the glistening of love
from the vestiges of my quarantine,
You will find me prostrate.
It makes a fool of me every time.
|A self portrait contour drawing from ages ago that I've always rather liked...|
May you all find the words that speak to you as profoundly and directly.