Crunching Pearls

By: alexanderlewin

Oct 29 2015

Tags: , , ,

Category: Cinema, Music, Painting, Poetry

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Camera:Lumia 520

Border Stations

We make hands into feet,
we enter and cross the river.
We send armies into a fight,
then jump out of the world.

We sit on love’s horse and fly.
We break through form,
human definitions
scattered behind us on the road.

The first stage, a blood swamp,
our red feet slogging,
then the border station
where Majnun and Layla live.

Horses nervous.
Then the self with its legendary wealth.
That left, we are walking a beach
crunching pearls with every step.

Now the soul is flying straight like a moth
to the candleflame of Shams Tabriz.
We were always heading there.

Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
tr.Coleman Barks
from Rumi: The Big Red Book
HarperCollins 2010

crunching pearls (8)

When I first read this poem, the pearl-strewn beach image reminded me of the scene in Tarkovsky’s film “Ivan’s Childhood” with the horses and apples on the beach in Ivan’s dream sequence. Pure cinematic poetry. In fact, the more I look at the poem and dream sequence together, the more connections I find.

In his notes to this poem, Coleman Barks says, “Majnun and Layla are types of the star-crossed lovers, like Romeo and Juliet.  There are thousands of incidents in their story.  Rumi likes to tell of the time when Majnun got dizzy and confused just with meeting Layla’s dog in the street.”

On an incidental point, in ‘The Big Red Book’, the second line actually reads:  “We sic armies into a fight…”, which I am guessing is an editorial error.
I have replaced ‘sic’ with ‘send’, which makes more sense, obviously, but…Coleman may have meant to use another word, perhaps a more ambiguous one, which would explain the presence of ‘sic’.
If anyone bumps into Mr. Barks, get him to give me the good word and I shall afford it its rightful place in this fantastic poem!

crunching pearls (13)


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