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Rumi: The Art of Loving Paperback – Import, 15 Mar 2012
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About the Author
About Translator: Rasoul Shams first learned of Rumi's poems in his Persian classes as a young boy growing up in Iran. The works of Rumi and other Persian poets have been his spiritual companions for over three decades. His life and education are rooted in both East and West. He is currently translating another Rumi anthology from the original sources.
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The book has three parts. Part One (Understanding Rumi) consists of two essays. The first essay is an informative biography of Rumi (A Messenger from the Sun) based on scholarly sources. The second essay is about Rumi's poetic thought (The Path of Love in the Ocean of Life). These two essays as well as the glossary of terms that come at the end of the book are very helpful materials to readers to better understand Rumi's poetry.
Part Two contains 144 short poems (four-lined poems or quatrains) which the translator has categorized under twelve chapters (each chapter having twelve quatrains): On the pain and joy of longing; The search; Who am I?; The beloved's face; Die to yourself; The art of living; Night secrets; Water of life; Fire of love; Unity and union; Peaceful mind; and Rumi on his life, poetry and death.
A very important feature of the book is that the translator has also given the Persian reading of these poems in Romanized letters; in this way, the interested reader can also recite the poem in the original rhythm and language. Coming from the pen of a Persian-speaking translator, the book offers more of Rumi's original poetry. In the Sources and Bibliography, the references to the original sources of the translated poems (from Rumi's Divan-i Shams) are recorded. To ensure that the quatrains are really from Rumi (and not the ones that were probably added later to some Rumi manuscripts), the translator has used two authentic sources: First, the scholarly edition of Divan-i Shams by the late Professor Furuzanfar (published in ten volumes by the University of Tehran Press); and the second the printed edition of the Konya manuscript (which is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Divan-i Shams and is kept at the Mevlana Museum or Rumi's Mausoleum in Turkey).
Part Three has twelve short stories from Rumi's life recorded by Ahmad Aflaki in the Manaqeb al-Arefin (a Persian book compiled shortly after Rumi's death). These stories portray Rumi as a sage (he apparently practiced his poetry and vision of love in his daily life).
Overall, this small volume is a nice package of research-based essays and scholarly information as well as a collection of delightful short poems from Rumi or Mawlana (Master) as he is known for centuries in his cultural homeland.
As Shams relates in the section of the book devoted to stories about Rumi's life, Rumi once recited this line over and over:
"In this market-place of drug sellers
Do not wander hither and thither like jobless people.
Go to a store which has real medicine, and stay there."
The quatrains presented in "Rumi: The Art of Loving" are such a store. Having read Rumi for more than three decades now, I'm ecstatic to discover new translations of such merit, and I eagerly await Rasoul Shams' versions of Rumi's longer teaching stories. Until they appear, this book will be one of my closest companions.
This book from Rasoul Shams recalls to mind a story recounted by another favorite author, also Persian. In his book 'Islamic Art and Spirituality', Seyyed Hossein Nasr relates that Sufi mystics often told their students humans and birds are the most closely related of all creatures; the biggest difference is that the wings of people are made of spirit. The poetry of Rumi reminds me of my wings. Dr. Shams has made a wonderful translation of this true master's work.