Though I haven’t read much in the last few weeks, I did reopen my Rumi book this morning. I had shelved it in my newly rearranged library and left it there – unread – for some time. Poetry books are nice in that you can stop reading a book of poetry, but when you pick it back up, it’s like you never closed the cover. I didn’t realize I only had a few poems left and a selection called “Two Discourses”.
Rumi was very hard for me to read. Sometimes, I fully understood the meaning of his poems, and sometimes I just didn’t. I think part of what makes Rumi hard to read is the difference in language and culture. Something is lost when a poem has to be translated. The author’s original words and phrases don’t seem to make sense in English, and culture is also a large part of that disconnect. Rumi was Persian, Islamic, and lived centuries ago. I am American, Christian, and quite modern. I don’t fully understand Rumi’s culture, just as he might find mine confusing. But it was still good for me to read outside of my comfort zone. It is part of growing and learning. Perhaps one day, a year or two from now, I will return to my book of Rumi and find that I love more of his works because I have matured in my knowledge. I hope so.
I encourage you to try reading some of Rumi’s poems. You can start with the ones I posted here. He isn’t always hard to understand, and it will be good for you to stretch yourself by reading something hard. If not Rumi, maybe something else. Do you have a book on your shelf you keep meaning to read, but you think is too big or too old or too hard? Now is the time to start it. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to finish. Enjoy the journey. You may come away from it, like I have from Rumi, with a feeling of accomplishment because you have done the hard thing. Happy Reading!