With millions of copies of the 13th-century Sufi mystic poet’s work sold worldwide, this new book containing many first-time translations will find a ready audience. While the love poems resemble the erotic verse popularized by previous editors (“Again my eyes saw what no eyes have seen./ Again my master returned ecstatic and drunk”), several new poems stand out in their foregrounding of Rumi’s religious descent. “Why make a quibla of these questions and answers?/ Ask instead, the lesson of the silent ones, where is it?” one of the book’s many ghazals proposes, referring to the direction Muslims face in prayer. The Koran figures throughout: “Let me swear an oath on Osman’s holy book,/ The pearl of that beloved, gleaming in Damascus,” reminding contemporary readers of the centrality of Islam to Rumi’s worldview, even if, finally, what Gooch calls a “religion of love” carries the day: “Someone is snipped away, and I am sewn to another,/ Stitched together, forever, seamlessly.” Offering new insight into the poet’s spiritual life, these poems prove a valuable addition to Rumi’s oeuvre. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/13/2019 Release date: 09/10/2019 Genre: Poetry
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