Jalal al-Din Rumi

Rumi: An 800th Birthday
Celebration with Robert Bly

Kresge Auditorium
Stanford University
Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007,
1 pm - 9 pm

Notes by Peter Y. Chou

Robert Bly
(born Dec. 23, 2006)



Tell me why it is we don't lift our voices these days
And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed
The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?

I say to myself: "Go on, cry. What's the sense
Of being an adult and having no voice? Cry out!
See who will answer! This is Call and Answer!
We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.

Have we agreed to so many wars that we can't
Escape from silence? If we don't lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.

How come we've listened to the great criers— Neruda,
Akhmatova, Thoreau, Frederick Douglas— and now
We're silent as sparrows in the little bushes?

Some masters say our life lasts only seven days.
Where are we in the week? Is it Thursday yet?
Hurry, cry now! Soon Sunday night will come.

The Insanity of Empire
Ally Press, St. Paul, MN, 2004, pp. 2-3
Bly interview


My poems resemble the bread of Egypt— one night
passes over it, and you can't eat it any more.

So gobble them down now, while they're still fresh,
before the dust of the world settles on them.

Where a poem belongs is here, in the warmth of the chest;
out in the world it dies of cold.

You've seen a fish— put him on dry land,
he quivers for a few minutes, and then is still.

And even if you eat my poems while they're still fresh,
you still have to bring forward many images yourself.

Actually, friend, what you're eating is your own imagination.
These poems are not just a bunch of old proverbs.


The drunkards are rolling in slowly, those who hold to wine are approaching.
The lovers come, singing, from the garden, the ones with brilliant eyes.

The I-don't-want-to-lives are leaving, and the I want-to-lives are arriving.
They have gold sewn into their clothes, sewn in for those who have none.

Those with ribs showing who have been grazing in the old pasture of love
are turning up fat and frisky.

The souls of pure teachers are arriving like rays of sunlight
from so far up to the ground-huggers.

How marvellous is that garden, where apples and pears, both for the
      sake of the two Marys,
are arriving even in winter.

Those apples grow from the Gift, and they sink back into the Gift.
It must be that they are coming from the garden to the garden.


I don't like it here, I want to go back.
According to the old Knowers
if you're absent from the one you love
even for one second that ruins the whole thing!

There must be someone ... just to find
one sign of the other world in this town
would be enough.

You know the great Chinese Simurgh bird
got caught in this net ...
And what can I do? I'm only a wren.

My desire-body, don't come
strolling over this way.
Sit where you are, that's a good place.

When you want dessert, you choose something rich.
In wine, you look for what is clear and firm.
What is the rest? The rest is mirages,
and blurry pictures, and milk mixed with water.
The rest is self-hatred, and mocking other people, and bombing.

So just be quiet and sit down.
The reason is— you are drunk,
and this is the edge of the roof.

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© Peter Y. Chou, Wisdom Portal
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (1-28-2007)