Why Rumi is So Popular Now- Haleh Liza Gafori
Why Rumi is so Popular Now
This interview originally appeared:
Three poems by Rumi translated by Haleh Liza Gafori
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 water of life,
flow through our veins.
Let a Love-drunk mirror
steeped in the wine of dawn
You who pour the wine,
put the cup of oneness in my hand and let me drink from it
until I can’t imagine separation.
Love, you are the archer.
My mind is your prey.
Carry my heart
and make my existence your bullseye.
Open your eyes to the four streams
flowing through you—
water, milk, honey, wine.
Pay no attention to what gossips say.
They call the wide-eyed flower jasmine.
They call the wide-eyed flower a thorn.
The wide-eyed flower doesn’t care what they call it.
I adore that freedom. I bow to it.
Some say you worship fire.
Some say you follow scripture.
What do they know?
Labels blind and tear us apart.
Your eyes are not a vulture’s beak.
See through the Beloved’s eyes.
See one when your mind says two.
The angels adore your Love-drunk eyes.
and dismiss the vicious judge from the post you gave him.
Bow to a human
and greet the angel.
HALEH LIZA GAFORI
Haleh Liza Gafori is a translator, musician, poet, and educator born in New York City of Persian descent. Her book of translations, GOLD: Poems by Rumi, was released by New York Review Books/Penguin Random House in March of 2022.
Haleh grew up hearing recitations of Persian poetry and has maintained and deepened her connection with the work through singing and translating poetry by various Persian poets, including the 13th century mystic and sage Rumi. With ears tuned to contemporary American poetry as well as to the subtleties of the Persian text, cultural context, and array of meanings animating certain words, Haleh brings a welcome depth and precision to the translations.
Haleh teaches classes on Rumi’s poetry at universities, festivals, and institutions across the country. Weaving song, translation, and story, she has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center and the Bonnaroo Festival. A graduate of Stanford University, her own writings have been published by Columbia University Press and Literary Hub.