Islamic and Friendship Studies at Oberlin College

Ibrahim Chaudhry Response Paper 5

The Poetry of Rumi

I found the poetry of Rumi to be an immaculate display of the power of love through the eloquence of his words. While poets scattered across history and various languages attempt to convey the nature of love, Rumi stands alone in depicting it in its true essence. 

If one is to evaluate the nature of love it may, perhaps, be deemed a practice of selfishness for one wishes to attain the beloved to satisfy his/her desires. Rumi, however in lines such as:

We are the flute, our music is all Thine[1]

Suggests that love-true love, that is the dissolution of ones desires and individuality. This serves as an essential ingredient to attain true love , as per Rumi, because there are no separate entities in love. Instead, a lover must be at one with beloved  and must attain that unison with their beloved or Beloved. It is only when the eradication of two entities occurs that one can attain the very desirable “nirvana” that lovers seek. Thus, this ability to separate love from selfishness and to be able to depict as a concept of devotion is what makes Rumi so much superior from other poets aiming to depict love.

The Portrayal of Rumi’s Poetry in Opera

The portrayal of Rumis poetry reveals several key insights. The first of these is the fact that Rumi’s poetry is so superior in what it illustrates and the way it does so that it crosses into western art forms. It depicts the universality of the knowledge that Rumi depicts and owing to this he is arguably a favorite of western individuals[2] and is the most translated writer even centuries after his death.[3]

The second aspect, reflected by Rumi’s portrayal in opera is the fact that art transcends cultural boundaries. Thus, poetry from an Iranian poet, Rumi, may be depicted in the form of opera. It reflects that art is powerful and may be used as a force for bettering relationships both on a micro and macro level such as political relations. For instance, several countries offer pieces of art as diplomatic gifts to different states and supranational bodies like the U.N..

 Idyll Poetry as a Poetic Genre

Idyll poetry by nature is similar to a narrative that aims at illustrating a particular concept in a simplistic and clear manner. Given the story-like manner of writing involved with this format of poetry it is tends to be longer than most poem in order to allow a sense of clarity for the reader and also to avoid a rushed style of writing.

It is different from the likes of didactic owing to the fact that its concern is only the single narrative it wishes to unveil. On the other types of poetry such as that of Saadi or Ferdowsi aim to communicate several deep concepts in a short span of words by using a multilayered approach towards their poetry.[4]

Consequently, it is apt to make the assertion that this format is “shepherdic”[5] considering that its simplicity makes it more accessible and hence attracts a wide range of readers. Another reason, this assertion can be made is on the grounds that the narrative style of it makes it form of entertainment for many and hence develops an appealing image.    

Take From The Idyll Poems Read

Reading Idyll poetry I picked up several key concepts. Primarily, I learned varying notions regarding love and hope. For instance let us take the example of the following few verses:

In life, but heaven removes the sting;

The world to come makes bliss secure-

The world to come, eternal, pure.

 What other solace for the human soul,

But everlasting rest-virtue’s unvarying goal![6]

Such verses suggest that one needn’t spend their time brooding in the miseries whilst drowning in the miseries this world, rather one should live each day more hopeful than the last. The basis of this is this is that irrespective of how pessimistic things may seem the world hereafter is something that one may look forward to. Consequently, it acts as a means to be hopeful even in the grimmest of circumstances. Such knowledgeable verses are useful for anyone and in any phase of life which allowed me to see that while stylistically different the idyll form of poetry is no less knowledgeable.

Memorising Hafez as well as The Practice of Calligraphy

The poetry of Hafez is in many ways knowledgeable which is what essentially made the task of memorizing this particular poets work such an interesting task. What makes Hafez so unknowledgeable is the different strata of meaning involved with his poetry. Consequently, the verses I memorized for the first year seminar came in handy when it came to understanding concepts in a number of other courses. Subsequently, I find it fair to make the assertion that  memorizing Hafez was not only useful, because it helped with my understanding different realms within knowledge such as politics but also because through the exercise I was allowed to see the true brilliance of Hafez. 

The versatility of his poetry is such that it may not be contained or be categorized under a certain genre or concept. Rather, it is deep and wise that one may seek not one but countless answers to various maters. Irrespective of whether those are matters world or of ones soul, Hafez holds the ability to resolve those matters in the very same verses. 

Secondly, calligraphy has also been a productive exercise for a number of reasons. Primarily, the reason for that is the fact that calligraphy allowed me to see how the concept of writing may in itself be an art form. This became visible through the fact that I, as well as my peers, had to make several efforts to try and perfect concepts such as curvature in alphabets like ب or to bring about consistency in the straightness of the letter alif ا‎. 

This notion was strengthened by the fact that everyones calligraphy had a personal touch to it making the practice greatly individualistic, just like any other work of art. Resultantly, I was able to understand how common and significant art was in our surroundings and in our everyday lives. 


[1] Arbery, A.J. 2005. Persian Poems: An Anthology of Verse Translations, 127. Tehran: Yasvoli.

[2] Jafar Mahalatti, Nov 11th, 2019

[3] Rishad Choudhry, Nov 1st, 2019

[4] Jafar Mahalatti, Nov 4th, 2019

[5] Jafar Mahalatti, Nov 18th, 2019

[6] Arbery, A.J. 2005. Persian Poems: An Anthology of Verse Translations, 59-160. Tehran: Yasvoli.

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