What Was Told, That
by Jalalu'l-din Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks
What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.
What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was
whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever
was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them
so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is
being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.
The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,
in love with the one to whom every that belongs!
From The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems, translated by Coleman Barks, published by HarperCollins.
Did you happen to hear about Agrippa, the self-destructive poem from 1992? It came back in the news last month because, for its 16th anniversary, a group at the University of Maryland re-released the poem. How did it self-destruct the first time around? It was originally released on a disk that was programmed to erase itself after a single use. It was also published in a book whose pages were treated with chemicals that made the words fade after exposure to light. You can find more about Agrippa, A book of the dead, here.