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Rumi: We Eat Love Rasoul Shams Paintings by Setsuko Yoshida

A sandal wood burns in an unseen, mysterious realm. This love spread everywhere is the smoke of that incense. -Rumi Daily life has become clamorous. TV with its numerous channels, cell phones, email, internet, traffic, gossip, and so forth have occupied so much of our space and mind. Most people feel that they do not have the time or patience to add poetry to their already busy, noisy schedule. In his 2008 book Why Poetry Matters, Jay Parini writes that poetry is not a main feature in our entertainment, hobbies or routine readings. Nevertheless, good poetry can actually save us from the noise and stress of modern life because the reading or writing of poetry helps people to sit alone or with others in a friendly atmosphere, listen to the inner voice or of their own or others, and relax, meditate, explore, and enjoy. So poetry is not simply a mental occupation with words; it has practical applications in our lives and society. We do need poets and their creative works. Rumi is a case in point. It is heartening to see that the works of eminent poets like Shakespeare, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson, Mary Oliver, Rumi, and so forth still shine in our libraries, book stores and home shelves. What is particularly interesting about the popularity of Rumi is that he was a thirteenth-century mystic, not a poet by profession, who wrote not in English but in Persian, and lived not in the West but in what is today called the Middle East. So we will not see him in interviews or book signing events. Part of the reason why Rumi has become extremely popular is free-verse translations of his poems in modern American language. Coleman Barks has played a pioneering role in this genre. His book The Essential Rumi still remains a best-seller ever since it was www.1111mag.com

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