Calligraphy “Rumi Poem A Great Wagon” 2018 Kaveh Adel Cartoonist
As I was gardening as we had our first warm up of this late spring in the Mid west United States I was also ruminating on Voltaire’s idea of Cultivating one’s own garden and Rumi’s translated poem of ideas meeting in a “field” beyond “wrong-doing” and “right-doing.” Tending one’s garden physically and spiritually is liberating yet time-consuming. In the mind one may encounters deserts where the bare will bear on one’s sanity. Yet, the opportunity for grounding and connection with inner workings of life, thoughts, emotions and beliefs is tremendous.
This brings me to Rumi’s Quatrain #395 that is less about meeting and more about introspection. The popular translation and thousands of memes saying “I meet you there” is not quite accurate according to my research.
Popular translation (by Coleman Barks),
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.”
The original poem in Persian,
از کفر و ز اسلام برون صحرائی است
ما را به میان آن فضا سودائی است
عارف چو بدان رسید سر را بنهد
نه کفر و نه اسلام و نه آنجا جائی است
The translation by scholars and a few alternative interpretations in parentheses,
(Out) Beyond Islam (faith) and unbelief (heresy/atheism) there is a ‘desert plain.’
For us, there is a ‘passion’ (melancholy/trade) in the midst of that expanse (space).
(The knower of God) (the Mystic) who reaches there will (prostrate in prayer) (lay his head on it/secret) ,
(For) there is neither Islam(faith) nor unbelief(heresy), nor any ‘where’ (in) that place.
The Anglicized version is packaged to fir popular beliefs and is nicer to look at. It fits a meme for today’s social media perfectly, yet I believe it oversimplifies the complexity of this wonderful poem.
It seems to me that true tending of our mind happens where we go to a place that is not a place, nor a preconceived ideology, nor a lack of any ideology and it is related to a bareness and vulnerability that comes with wrestling and trading our own thoughts and emotions….. possibly reaching a deeply personal understanding connected to oneself and disconnected from all else that ties ones freedom to be oneself.
I ventured into writing the actual poem in Persian in a mix of traditional Persian Calligraphy and design. The final result was melancholic, complex and harsh to say the least. Yet, believe it may have captured parts of Rumi’s message to his readers.
Here are some thoughts See the Calligraphy titled: “Rumi Poem A Great Wagon” By Cartoonist, Kaveh Adel on Facebook