Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi, popularly known as Rumi, was a 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic. He was also a nobleman and theologian who once met a dervish named Shams. The two years they spent together had a deep impact on Rumi, and he was transformed into a passionate seeker of love and truth. Rumi fell into a deep state of grief after the death of Shams and from that pain came almost 70,000 verses of poetry. These poems are collected in two epic books, Mathnawi and Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi. While it is near impossible to pick out a selection of his best and most meaningful work, we have nonetheless attempted to do so, and for your viewing pleasure, we have selected three famous Rumi love poems that exhibit the depth of Rumi’s love. Let’s seek truth and love with the passion of the great Rumi, shall we?
1. The Interest Without The Capital
We, as humans tend to objectify everything, but according to Rumi, a wise man (dervish) or a lover relates to the value of, and not the object in itself. Hence, he does not give importance to the object but to the essence of it. Just like a dervish who has the glimpse of the supreme reality and no longer needs material leads to sustain the relationship; a sincere lover is sustained by the knowledge of love without a specific object to peg the emotion on.
‘Lovers have nothing to do with existence; Lovers have the interest without the capital’. Wow! Beautiful, isn’t it? A lover is all about the feeling. He is all about ideas without the need for an idol. His love functions in nonexistence, too, not merely in material existence. So, the lover and love “are of one quality and one essence” just as nonexistence is without obvious quality.
2. The Ship Sunk in Love
Love, in this context is the loved one. ‘Should love’s heart rejoice unless I burn? For my heart is love’s dwelling.’ Rumi says the heart is the home of the loved one. Won’t the loved one be happy unless the lover’s heart burns? But if the loved ones do want to burn their own house (the heart), burn it by all means. Who will say it’s not permitted? Burn the heart completely. The heart brightens with fire. From this moment forward, the lover will make burning his aim for he is like a candle, burning only makes him brighter.
The lover says, abandon sleep for one night and go to the place of the sleepless. Look at all the lovers who are distraught in love. They only have one aim, to become one with their beloved, to die in union like moths. Brilliant! ‘Look upon this ship of God’s creatures’. Look upon the universe. You’ll see that it is submerged in love.
3. Cradle My Heart
Lying on the rooftop and thinking of the loved one, the lover saw a special star. Upon seeing the special star, he lays down on all fours (praying) and asks the star to take a message to the Sun of Tabriz (Shams) so that Shams can turn all the little celestial bodies in the dark sky into bright gold with his light.
The lover then opens his vest and shows the bright star all the self inflicted scars. He says his loved one appears to seek his blood by being distant: yet, he wants the bright star to bring him news of his loved one. As he waits, pacing back and forth like a rocking cradle, the love child in his heart calms down. He says to his beloved, ‘give milk to the infant of the heart’ but do so without stopping his movement because the movement is keeping the heart calm. ‘You have cared for hundreds; don’t let it stop with me now.’
After all, the place for the heart is the place of unity, where two souls merge. He asks, why does the beloved keep his confused heart distant? By now, he has gone speechless; his mood is parched and dry. For quenching, he asks the Saaqhi to give him the ‘narcissus wine’ so that he can lose himself in it.