“For your sake poets sequester themselves,
gather images to churn the mind,
journey forth, ripening with metaphor,
and all their lives they are so alone…
And painters paint their pictures only
that the world, so transient as you made it,
can be given back to you,
to last forever.
All becomes eternal. See: In the Mona Lisa
some woman has long since ripened like wine,
and the enduring feminine is held there
through all the ages.
Those who create are like you.
They long for the eternal.
They say, Stone, be forever!
And that means: be yours.
And lovers also gather your inheritance.
They are the poets of one brief hour.
They kiss an expressionless mouth into a smile
as if creating it anew, more beautiful.
Awakening desire, they make a place
where pain can enter;
that’s how growing happens.
They bring suffering along with their laughter,
and longings that had slept and now awaken
to weep in a stranger’s arms.
They let the riddles pile up and then they die
the way animals die, without making sense of it.
But maybe in those who come after,
their green life will ripen;
it’s then that you will inherit the love
to which they gave themselves so blindly, as in a sleep.
Thus the overflow from things
pours into you.
Just as a fountain’s higher basins
spill down like strands of loosened hair
into the lowest vessel,
so streams the fullness into you,
when things and thoughts cannot contain it.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
The “turn,” the moving meditation done by Mevlevi dervishes, originated with Rumi. The story goes that he was walking in the gold-smithing section of Konya when he heard a beautiful music in their hammering. He began turning in harmony with it, an ecstatic dance of surrender and yet with great centered discipline. He arrived at a place where ego dissolves and a resonance with universal soul comes in. Dervish literally means “doorway.” When what is communicated moves from presence to presence, darshan occurs, with language inside the seeing. When the gravitational pull gets even stronger, the two become one turning that is molecular and galactic and a spiritual remembering of the presence at the center of the universe. Turning is an image of how the dervish becomes an empty place where human and divine can meet. To approach the whole the part must become mad, by conventional standards at least. These ecstatic holy people, called matzubs in the sufi tradition, redefine this sort of madness as true health.
When he saw the dervishes in Cairo in 1910, Rainer Maria Rilke, the great spiritual poet of this century, said they turn was a form of kneeling. “It is so truly the mystery of kneeling of the deeply kneeling man. With Rumi the scale is shifted, for in following the peculiar weight and strength in his knees, he belongs to that world in which height is depth. This is the night of radiant depth unfolded.” December 17 is celebrated each year as Rumi’s Wedding Night, the night he died in 1273 and reached full union.
— Coleman Barks, Rumi, Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)