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The Essential Rumi

New Expanded Edition
By: ,
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Translated with commentary by
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Hardcover Book
June, 1995
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Banyen's Description: 

The Essential Rumi was the first definitive one-volume collection of Coleman Barks’s versions of Rumi. Now, this “wine-drenched,” spiritually intoxicating vintage has been expanded with 81 more poems (almost 100 pages more) that have never been published before, anywhere. The new edition also includes a helpful “Index of Titles and First Lines” and a new introduction.

Jalal-ud-Din Rumi was born in the year 1207 and until the age of 37 was a brilliant scholar and popular teacher. But his life changed forever when he met the powerful wandering dervish, Shams of Tabriz, of whom Rumi said, “What I had thought of before as God, I met today in a human being.” From this esoteric friendship and mentoring came a new height of spiritual illumination. When Shams disappeared, Rumi began his transformation from scholar to artist, and his poetry began to fly.

Today, the ecstatic poetry of Rumi is more popular than ever (he is the best-selling single poet in North America these days), and Coleman Barks, through his musical and magical translations, has been instrumental in bringing this exquisite treasure to readers. In this volume, Barks has gathered a heaping nutcart full of the essential poems of Rumi and stitched them together with playful energy and resonant evocation.

The Essential Rumi offers beautiful renderings of the primary poetry of Rumi to both devoted lovers and new readers alike. Poems about everything from bewilderment, emptiness, and silence to flirtation, elegance, and majesty are presented with love, humour, warmth, and tenderness. Coleman even includes a few delicious curry recipes.


It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue and get into fights.

The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole.

But down in that hole he finds something shining,

worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.

I took it as a sign to start singing,

falling up into the bowl of sky.

The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.

Nothing else to do.

Here’s the new rule: break the wineglass,

and fall toward the glassblower’s breath.

Coleman says, “Mystical poetry tries to reveal the apple orchard within the mist of language (Rumi’s image). I hope these translations do not thicken that fog: I hope they burn it off! I do love the apples that Rumi loves.”

These poems are not so much about anything as spoken from within something. Call it enlightenment, ecstatic love, spirit, soul, truth, the ocean of ilm (divine luminous wisdom)… Names do not matter. Some resonance of ocean resides in everyone. Rumi’s poetry can be felt as a salt breeze from that, traveling inland.

 Also by Coleman Barks is his second major volume of Rumi, a companion and continuation of this one, called The Soul of Rumi.






Publisher’s Description: 

From the premier interpreter of Rumi comes the first definitive one-volume collection of the enduringly popular spiritual poetry by the extraordinary thirteenth-century Sufi mystic.

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