- Islamic poet of the 13th century. I was recently introduced to his
work through my Intro to Indian Religions class. He's got lots of good
stuff, but I especially like these (sorry for the Yahoo links):
- A Sleep and a Forgetting (Translation by Reynold Nicholson's
Rumi: Poet and Mystic)
One who has lived many years in a city, so soon as he goes
Beholds another city full of good and evil, and his own city vanishes
from his mind.
He does not say to himself, "This is a new city: I am a stranger
Nay, he thinks he has always lived in this city and was born and
bred in it.
What wonder, then, if the soul does not remember her ancient abode
Since she is wrapt in the slumber of this world, like a star covered
Especially as she has trodden so many cities and the dust that darkens
her vision is not yet swept away.
- Divine Beauty (I could not find a direct
Kings lick the earth whereof the fair are made.
For God hath mingled in the dusty earth
A draught of beauty from his choicest cup.
'Tis that, fond lover --- not these lips of clay ---
Thou art kissing with a hundred ecstasies.
Think, then, what it must be when undefiled!
Love of Woman - open to wide interpretation, but this brief
poem describes love in terms of human vs. animal qualities, ruling
and being ruled by one's wife.
Truth Within Us - pretty self-explanatory; describes the nature
of Truth as within, rather than outside of us.
Unregenerate - saints' describing heaven to us is like describing
the world we know to an embryo.
was an iconoclastic Indian philosopher of the 15th century. In fact,
much of his work criticizes both Islam and Hinduism, and emphasizes
the idea of a formless (nirguna) God. All of this (including
the poems below) is from John Stratton Hawley and Mark Juergensmeyer's
Songs of the Saints of India.
These are some parts of poems I found both funny and enlightening:
- Kabir: the instrument is still,
Its strings snapped.
What can the poor thing do?
It's player's no longer there.
- The true Master-
what can he do
When the pupil is inept?
Trying to awaken him is just
so much air
Blown through an unfingered flute.
- You slaughter living beings and call it religion:
Hey brother, what would irreligion be?
'Great Saint' - that's how you love to greet each other:
Who then would you call a murderer?
- Brother, if holding back your seed
Earned you a place in paradise,
Eunuchs would be the first to arrive.
- Hey Qazi,
What's that book you're preaching from?
And reading, reading - how many days?
Still, you haven't mastered one word.
- More Kabir poems (off this site):