Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Don't Mind That You've Been Given a Dirty Cup"

by Troy Chapman

(published March 04)

The first I ever heard of Rumi was a little piece of a poem picked up on a greeting card: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field/I’ll meet you there.”

The words resonated in my spirit. It wasn’t until later that I was able to read the rest of the poem:

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about
ideas, language even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.

My big introduction to him was a beautiful gift from Maryann, The Illuminated Rumi. It’s my favorite book and every time I open it my response is the same as it was the first time I saw his work: “I love this guy.” He speaks across time, across culture, across religious lines and goes straight for the soul. Here’s another gem:

It’s the old rule that drunks
have to argue
and get into fights
the lover is just as bad
he falls into a hole
but down in that hole he finds
something shining
worth more than any amount
of money or power
last night the moon came
dropping her clothes
in the street
I took it as a sign to start singing
falling up into the bowl of the sky
the bowl breaks
everywhere is falling
nothing else to do
here’s the new rule: break
the wineglass
and fall toward
the wineblower’s

And another:
Late by myself in the
boat of myself
no light and no land
cloudcover thick
I try to stay just above the surface
yet I’m already under
and living
the ocean.

Those who don’t feel this love
pulling them like a river
those who don’t drink dawn
like a cup of springwater
or take in sunset like supper
those who don’t want to change
let them sleep
this love is beyond the study of theology
that old trickery and hypocrisy
if you want to improve your mind that way sleep on
I’ve given up on my brain
I’ve torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away
if you’re not completely naked
wrap your beautiful robe of words around you
and sleep.

And finally, said in the way only Rumi could say it:
Step off proudly into the sunlight
not looking back
take sips of this pure wine being poured
don’t mind that you’ve been given a dirty cup.

What’s the point? None but to introduce you to a friend. I close with his advice: “Let the beauty we love be what we do.”

See “The Essential Rumi” Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, Harper-Collins, 1995


“The Illuminated Rumi” Translations and commentary by Coleman Barks; illuminations by Michael Green, Broadway, 1997