Ode to Friday: Rumi

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“Has anyone seen the boy who used to come here?
Round-faced troublemaker, quick to find a joke, slow
to be serious. Red shirt,
perfect coordination, sly,
strong muscles, with things always in his pockets: reed flute,
ivory pick, polished and ready for his talent.
You know that one.

Have you heard stories about him?
Pharaoh and the whole Egyptian world
collapsed for such a Joseph.
I’d gladly spend years getting word
of him, even third or fourth-hand.”

~ Red Shirt, Rumi (Persian, 1207-1273), translated by Coleman Banks

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Image: Ronchamp chapel by Le Corbusier, photograph: Henning Thomsen

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10 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Rumi

  1. Beautiful, rich poem by Rumi, as always with some compelling mystery…the image works well, almost like something futuristic Rumi might have pondered over on his journeys…
    While the poem by Rumi is more wistful than tragic it does remind me of something I recently read by a Palestinian poet about the noisy, troublesome children he wishes would return.
    The more you read this poem the more it opens up like the sky in the photograph.
    Beautifully paired.

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    • I’m interested that you hear wistful in this poem. I didn’t hear that till you said it. I also hear possibility, that one boy in a red shirt with full pockets, could have Pharaoh collapse. PS. I’m going to go and read the story of Joseph’s coat of many colours again. x

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    • Ah, you got my favourite line, gladly hearing of him “even third or fourth-hand”. I would dearly love to be the author of that line. Also the red and ivory, and the tiny idiomatic syntax “you know that one”. Native English speakers don’t use this syntax and I’m always charmed when I hear it.

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  2. I keep re-reading this! Isn’t it amazing that a 13th century poet is so contemporary?

    I still see sea, but when I googled the chapel it is so beautiful in its entirety I was reminded of the west side of the church of St. Francis of Assissi in Taos,N.M. I have always been attracted to the sculptural quality of Southwest architecture. I especially liked the tiny strip of light running below the ceiling in the interior of the Ronchamp chapel.

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