The Best Rumi Quotes
Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī (commonly known in English as “Rumi”) was a Persian poet who lived from 1207-1273. His verse is lively and inventive, merging ecstatic experience, reverence, humor, and more.
It’s worth noting that the bestselling English-language versions of his poetry from Coleman Barks lean toward being interpretations rather than translations, as they don’t directly come from the original Persian. Still, as Persian scholar and translator Jawid Mojaddedi writes, “While many will point out that Coleman Barks cannot read Rumi’s poetry in the original Persian, he does take his task very seriously by using the most literal academic translations available as his source texts. As a result, it is rarely difficult to identify the original Persian poem from his translations.”
With that in mind, here are some passages from Coleman, as well as passages from Mojaddedi, who uses couplets, just as Rumi did.
“I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?”
“Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn’t matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come.”
“An ant hurries along a threshing floor
with its wheat grain,
moving between huge sacks of wheat,
not knowing the abundance all around.
It thinks its one grain is all there is to love.”
“In your light I learn to love
In your beauty, how to make poems’
you dance inside my chest
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes the art.”
“Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.
Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, “The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.
At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.”
You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Listen to the answer.
There is no “other world.”
I only know what I’ve experienced.
You must be hallucinating.”
“Being a lover means your heart must ache,
No sickness hurts as much as when hearts break,
The lover’s ailment’s totally unique,
Love is the astrolabe of all we seek,
Whether you feel divine or earthly love,
Ultimately we’re destined for above.
To capture love whatever words I say
Make me ashamed when love arrives my way,
While explanation sometimes makes things clear
True love through silence only one can hear.”
“All hidden things by opposites are known”