Only Breath by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks
Original Language Persian/Farsi & Turkish

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

— from The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

7 thoughts on “2023

    • Thank you Stefano for reaching out. These last 2 years, my communication has left much to be desired. But know, you and your family carry a permanent place in my mind and heart. L.

  1. What an emotional poem from a formless personae! The poem calls for peace and unity in the world, in such a way people recognise, respect and accept their religious, cultural, racial, regional, gender, socio-economic and political differences.
    The personae distances himself away from any of the organised religions, cultural affiliation and the world itself in order to point out the possible reasons for the world’s continued economic, social, political, religious, ecological and inter-tribal conflicts that undermine peace and stability in the world. The images that constitute the form of the poem signal the future direction and wilderness of our world; the danger of living and existence in the world of uncertainty, where people commit suicide and denounce their religious, political, cultural, bilogical and regional affiliation daily.
    Perhaps, the poet, through the personae, advocates the doctorines of “existentialism”. In between the lines of the poem, the poet questions the reasons for his existance and the need to disappear completely, as such he fashions himself into a formless shape verisimilitude to ghostly appearance in fantastic narratives. He is, however, a shadow of death; a ghostly figure, who moves with blowing wind – the wind of change in time and space.
    It may be a reminder that, with the ideological war between the Capitalist Allies and Communist Russia in Ukraine, China in Taiwan, Iran in Iran and North Korea on screen, the world – our only habitat – dances on the brinks of disappearing and nonexistence.

    • Dear Murtala, Firstly, to hear your clear voice…it has been so long…I am so happy to hear from you again. Thank you for your expression and analysis. Thank you for your voicing your thoughts and discussion. You offer us more to consider and delve deeper, going beyond the surface. My great discomfort of the world today are the walls people put up, as you pointed, ” religious, cultural, racial, regional, gender, socio-economic and political differences,” and we cease to approach our lives and the world at large that we are all human, the large issue of humanity not distraction and destruction there of.

      Thank you for your moving discussion. Thank you for your friendship all these years.
      Most sincerely,

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