Side-by-Side Transltions of Rumi

For the Rumi and Hafez reading, I’ll have handouts of three poems by each poet: side-by-side translations into English. I’ll be using A. J. Arberry and Colman Barks for Rumi; Dick Davis and Robert Bly for Hafez. The books from which I’ve selected the poems are identified in my earlier post.

A very good read about the pros and cons of having different translations, read this article, “A Rumi of One’s Own,” at the Poetry Foundation website. Rachel Aviv discusses why some translations might be favored by modern Americans. Provocative.

Here is a selection of other internet resources for Rumi. Whew. It’s amazing.

This blog post offers some great side-by-side translations of some of Rumi’s poems. (There is also a nice selection of translations and context/background information on Rumi and Khayyam elsewhere in the website.)

This Yahoo Group has closed comments, but will still allow you to join over 4000 members to whose commentary you can them have access. Looks pretty intense.

This very cool index of Rumi translators includes only academic translators (does not include Coleman Barks or Robert Bly), but it does contain translations into many languages besides English, as well as a fascinating small selection of A. J. Arberry’s earliest translations (1949) alongside their Persian (Farsi) transliterations. Here’s an example (sorry for the crummy resolution — go to the site and check it out!!):

rumi with farsi transliteration

You can also peruse translations into English together with the Persian (in Arabic script). Here’s an example, again, badly snatched from the website. Translations by Shahriar Shahriari.

rumi in arabic

I found the Sufi dance image on several websites, all which attribute it elsewhere, but not to the original. Forgive me.

4 thoughts on “Side-by-Side Transltions of Rumi

  1. realnothings says:

    I don’t know if you will get this question, but if so I hope you’ll be able to answer!

    The question has to do with whether some popular lines that are often shared in English, REALLY give that same sense, 100%, in the original Rumi in Persian.
    The lines (that I love) from a poem (that I also love, though I believe it’s composed of stitched fragments of several Rumi poems) are these, from a poem called “What is Bounty without a Beggar”, found in Daniel Liebert’s RUMI: FRAGMENTS AND ECSTASIES. Here are the lines:
    The prayer of Moses was, “Lord, I am in need of Thee!”
    The Way of Moses is all hopelessness and need and it is the only way to God.
    From when you were an infant, when has hopelessness ever failed you?

    A frequently-quoted similar line says, “Your helplessness and need are the Way.”
    Are those LITERALLY from Rumi? So many of the “versions”…I don’t know if they’re the Vintage Wine from the (God-Realized) Master himself!
    Can you help me with this? (Or send me an email or name of someone who CAN?)

    Thanks, and best to you,
    Max Reif
    Walnut Creek, CA


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