Three Love Poems by Rumi, Translated by Haleh Liza Gafori

15 March, 2022
“My For­giv­en Game Of Love,” mixed media on can­vas, 180 x 200 cm (2019) and “To Con­quer Love,” mixed media on can­vas, 200 x 200 cm (2019) by Roshanak Aminelahi (cour­tesy of the artist).

 

Three poems excerpt­ed from the col­lec­tion, GOLD, fea­tur­ing new trans­la­tions of poems by Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥam­mad Rūmī or sim­ply, Rumi, the 13th cen­tu­ry sage and mystic.

GOLD is avail­able from Pen­guin­Ran­dom­House, pub­lished by NYRB Books.

 

 

You Found Me

You found me once again,
you thief of hearts. In drunk­en ecstasy,
you searched the bazaar and found me.

Even through sleepy-lid­ded, Love-drunk eyes,
you spot­ted me. I ran to the tavern.
You found me.

Why do I run when no one can escape you?
Why hide when you’ve found me a hun­dred times?

I thought I could lose you in a crowd of people.
But you find me even in crowds of secrets,
even behind my own masks.

What a bless­ing to be sought and found by your eyes.
What luck to be caught in your twists and turns—

lov­ing seer, per­sis­tent seer,
tow­er­ing cypress of count­less gardens,

I was pulling a thorn from my foot
when you found me.

You show­ered me with flowers
from your fer­tile beds.

Dear nightin­gale,
your melodies opened my ears.

Like a ladle want­i­ng its fill of light,
I plunged into the moon’s halo.

At the bot­tom of that bot­tom­less pot, you found me.

Like a deer flee­ing a lion, I ran through the desert.
Deep in the moun­tains, you found me.

Wound­ed, I shed my blood on every path.
You fol­lowed the drops and found me.

I was a hooked fish writhing in the waves.
At the end of the line, you found me.

You roam the skies and catch gal­lop­ing deer.

With all that skill and patience,
you found me.

The moment you found me,
you gave me a cup brim­ming with Love’s wine,
heavy enough to match the weight on my soul.

Every sip light­ened it.
Every sip, a balm.
I drank till empty.
My soul took flight.

I have no mind, no ear, no tongue today.
The source of thought and word found me.

 


 

Let’s Love Each Other

Let’s love each other,
let’s cher­ish each oth­er, my friend,
before we lose each other.

You’ll long for me when I’m gone.
You’ll make a truce with me.
So why put me on tri­al while I’m alive?

Why adore the dead but bat­tle the living?

You’ll kiss the head­stone of my grave.
Look, I’m lying here still as a corpse,
dead as a stone. Kiss my face instead!

 


 

The Moment You Left Me

The moment you left me,
sweet­ness was stolen from my tongue.
I turned to wax, burned like a candle
all night, scorched by fire, 
no honey.

No way to reach you,
no way to touch your beauty.

My body lies here in ruins.
My soul, a night owl.

 

ecstatic poetryIranlovePersian poetryRumi

Haleh Liza Gafori is a translator, vocalist, poet, and educator born in New York City of Iranian descent. She grew up hearing recitations of Persian poetry and has maintained and deepened her connection through singing and translating the poetry of various Persian poets for well over a decade. Gafori received her BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and her MFA in creative writing from CCNY where she completed a thesis of original poems as well as translations of the Persian poets such as Sohrap Sepehri and Omran Salahi, for which she received an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Goodman Grant for Poetry. For the poetry journal Rattapallax, Gafori served as a guest editor for a section on New Persian Poetry. Gafori’s own poems have been published by Columbia University Press and Rattapallax.