cover image Gold

Gold

Rumi, trans. from the Farsi by Haleh Liza Gafori. New York Review Books, $14.95

Thirteenth-century Persian mystic poet Rumi has long been a favorite among readers for his memorable, aphoristic verses on love and spirituality. Gafori’s energetic translation highlights the timelessness of Rumi’s work, the untitled poems delivering unforgettable phrases such as “Every religion has Love/ but Love has no religion,” and “Look at the earth and sky,/ pawned to existence,/ one blind, one blue.” Rumi’s introspective nature is revealed throughout: “Put mystery in the middle.// Where is the middle in the middle I am?// And this silver-tongued stream in me—/ when will it grow still enough to know/ the streaming stillness I am?” Elsewhere, his vision is cosmic, as when he asks, “Am I a star in the zodiac,/ cycling through houses of fortune and disaster,/ laughing in one, weeping in another?” Many of these entries offer advice to the reader (“Open your eyes to the four streams/ flowing through you—/ water, milk, honey, wine”). Rumi’s deeply contemplative yet accessible poems star in this worthy translation. (Mar.)