The Song of the Reed by Rumi
Translated by Ibrahim Gamard
* Note at the end of the poem
1. Listen to the reed (flute), how it is complaining!
It is telling about separations,
2. (Saying), “Ever since I was severed from the reed field,
men and women have lamented in (the presence of) my shrill cries.
3. “(But) I want a heart (which is) torn, torn from separation,
so that I may explain the pain of yearning.”
4. “Anyone one who has remained far from his roots,
seeks a return (to the) time of his union.
5. “I lamented in every gathering;
I associated with those in bad or happy circumstances.
6. “(But) everyone became my friend from his (own) opinion;
he did not seek my secrets from within me.
7. “My secret is not far from my lament,
but eyes and ears do not have the light (to sense it).
8. “The body is not hidden from the soul, nor the soul from the
body; but seeing the soul is not permitted.”
9. The reed’s cry is fire — it’s not wind!
Whoever doesn’t have this fire, may he be nothing!
10. It is the fire of Love that fell into the reed.
(And) it is the ferment of Love that fell into the wine.
11. The reed (is) the companion of anyone who was severed from a
friend; its melodies tore our veils.
12. Who has seen a poison and a remedy like the reed?
Who has seen a harmonious companion and a yearning friend like
13. The reed is telling the story of the path full of blood;
it is telling stories of Majnoon’s (crazed) love.
14. There is no confidant (of) this understanding except the
senseless! There is no purchaser of that tongue except the ear
[of the mystic.]
15. In our longing, the days became (like) evenings;
the days became fellow-travellers with burning fevers.
16. If the days have passed, tell (them to) go, (and) don’t worry.
(But) You remain! — O You, whom no one resembles in
17. Everyone becomes satiated by water, except the fish.
(And) everyone who is without daily food [finds that] his days
18. None (who is) “raw” can understand the state of the “ripe.”
Therefore, (this) speech must be shortened. So farewell!
19. O son, break the chains (and) be free!
How long will you be shackled to silver and gold?
20. If you pour the sea into a jug,
how much will it contain? (Just) one day’s portion.
21. The jug of the eye of the greedy will never be filled.
(And) as long as the oyster is not content, it will never be filled by
22. Anyone (whose) robe is torn from love,
becomes completely purified from greed and defect.
23. Be joyous! O our sweet melancholy Love!
O doctor of all our diseases!
24. O Medicine of our pride and vanity!
O you (are) our Plato and (our) Galen!
25. The earthly body went up to the heavens from Love!
The mountain began to dance and became agile!
26. O lover! Love became the soul of Mount Sinai!
Mount Sinai (became) drunk “and Moses fell down senseless”!
27. If I were joined with the lip of a harmonious companion,
I (too) would utter speeches like the reed!
28. (But) anyone who becomes separated from one of the same
tongue becomes without a tongue, even if he has a hundred
songs [to share].
29. When the rose has gone and the garden has passed away,
you will no longer hear from the nightingale (about) what
30. The Beloved is All, and the lover (is merely) a veil;
the Beloved is Living, and the lover (is merely) a corpse.
31. When Love has no concern for him,
he is left like a bird without wings. Misery for him!
32. How can I have awareness of before and behind,
when the Light of my Beloved is no (longer) before and behind?
33. Love wants these words to manifest.
(But) how is it that the mirror reveals nothing?
34. Do you know why your mirror reveals nothing?
Because the rust is not separated from its face!
* Rumi is not writing about the love of a man or woman, but love for the Divine. His poetry is often misinterpreted as being love for a human being, and this comes from many of the faulty translations out there. Many of the translators do not know Farsi, and use existing English translations and make it their own. Gamard is a reliable translator because he knows Farsi.
Rumi belonged to a Sufi order where the practice was to cleanse the heart of bad traits like greed, envy, arrogance, etc. By emptying out the bad and filling with the heart with good, sufis were able to live in peace with everything around them. They did not look at the flaws of the people around them, but concentrated on themselves. They never judged anyone except themselves. They also worked to live and help all human beings and nurture all plants and animals. By pleasing God, and purifying their hearts, and being merciful and compassionate to all living things, they attained peace and a high spiritual status with God.
Sufi orders are still in existence today although they are not as popular as they once were. They are often misunderstood including by many Muslims.