800th B-day of "Most read poet in America today"

Today is the 800th birthday of Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the great 13th century Persian poet, scholar, writer and sufi mystic (his students founded the still-going Mevlevi order of the Whirling Dervishes). According to the BBC he is the “most read poet in American today,” something due, unhappily, to a long line of newage (rhymes with sewage, as Nathaniel Tarn says) soporific translations that have turned Rumi’s work into Hallmark card tidbits of wishy washy pseudo-poesy and pseudo-wisdom. There is way more to the man and his work than our available English translations show. As Ulrich Holbein points out in a recent piece in the Frankfurter Rundschau:

Eurocentric literary history has no clue that the essay and digression, for whose invention Montaigne and Lawrence Sterne are celebrated, were already practiced audaciously by Rumi in his Masnavi [information on various abridged English versions – many dating back to the late 19th C – can be found here and online extracts here]: a mycelium- and mangrove-network of interwoven, laterally free-associating narrative threads… Rumi parables, rather than limping along like those of other metaphor creators, take off by tacking donkey tails to angel wings, and don’t dodge a crash: “A donkey, even if you fit it out with a hundred angel wings, will only ever fly back to its stable.” Which explains sufficiently why the reptilian brain will again and again outwit the cerebral cortex and it it not only today’s Sunnis, Shiites, Shahs and Imams who look totally unsublime, dogmatic, medieval, and archaic in comparison to Rumi… Even Maulana Eckhart looks narrow, dry, and conceptually confined next to Rumi, Angelus Silesius a bit chaste, naive, monochrome, x Nobel prize -winners and -minds deeply untalented, 365 catholic saints hopelessly unoriginal and 21 Christian heretics painfully orthodox. Here one of Rumi’s 1001 messages-in-a-bottle: “Your mind is small and you can lose even that little. A head without mind turns into a tail.”… Sufi-softie Rumi also polemics against the macho-society: “If this is supposed to constitute sexual intercourse, then the donkeys are winners; our spousal gang only relieves nature’s needs deep in our vulvas.”

This last quote is verse 3393 of volume 5 of the Masvani – rarely, if ever, found in our blighted, prude Victorian translations. Today, at a moment when Islamic intolerance and totalitarianism and its mirror image, Christian fundamentalist fascism, are locked in lethal combat, we are more than ever in need of an accurate, complete and unexpurgated translation of the works of Rumi.

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3 Responses

  1. Jonathan says:

    Most of the translations available are done by one Coleman Barks…

  2. Tom Zart says:


    Poets as a rule are high on adventure
    Like wondering bards or prophets today.
    Embracing hearts and minds with wisdom
    Casting through verse their visions at play.

    Poets have their dreams and their nightmares
    Of love, life, death, faith and war.
    They feel the pain and tragedy of others
    Even those they’ve never met before.

    They fan the flames of human compassion
    With their stories of the failings of man.
    Professing to follow a higher power
    As they recruit whomever they can.

    Poets are the bell ringers of the soul
    As they depict the past, the present and beyond.
    They sound their alarm of what lies ahead
    As the missteps of man live on.

    By Conservative Poet
    Tom Zart
    Most Published Poet
    On The Web

  3. Tom Zart says:


    Poetry blossomed long before Shakespeare, Milton or Poe.
    It thrived prior to Solomon and the languages of old.
    Poetry today offers itself more often in the form of music
    Then in sonnets and poems as the legends of life unfold.

    Man has his fear of loneliness, death and the hereafter
    As authors compose his doom, desperation and glory.
    All hear the words of both good and evil
    With too many that fall for the wrong story.

    The falsehoods of life find it hard to hide
    From the word of God’s poets and poems.
    Sharing their joy, frustration and sorrow
    By voice, Internet, radio, or books, in our homes.

    Poets and poems help man become more human
    As the storms of life proliferate their toll.
    Poets and poems were put here for a reason
    To help tame the savage that dwells in our soul.


    I’m God’s most humble poet
    Whose poems have meter and rhyme.
    Stories of love, faith, hate, honor and duty,
    Obedience, war, heroes, history and crime.

    I’ve performed my gift on T.V. and radio
    Before millions I’ve never met.
    Preached my praise of God and country
    With 333 poems on the net.

    Satan’s soldiers, shepherds and bards
    Spew forth their foulness and grief.
    They attack the joy and goodness of man
    Dishonoring life, family, country and belief.

    Prospering through work, love and conviction
    Enables us to remain whole and how we should be.
    Fortifying our soul with fulfillment of faith
    Lets our worst tribulations be shouldered by Thee.

    Moses, Samson, David, Solomon and Jonah
    All failed God in their own human way.
    He chose to forgive them and bless their powers
    So they might dwell in hearts of man today.

    Without God’s grace and glorious domain
    There’s no doubt all would soon cease to survive.
    Through purpose, morals and Christian conviction
    We are able to transform and keep hope alive.


    One of America’s most famous writers
    Was born in Boston, January of 1809.
    Both his parents were failing actors
    And his father was drunk most the time.

    In 1810 Edgar’s dad disappeared
    His mother died soon after.
    A childless couple took him in
    Raising him with love and laughter.

    Edgar had a Negro nurse
    Who brought him to her quarters.
    There he listened to ghost stories
    Far beyond earthly borders.

    The strange tales he later wrote
    May have come from her inspiration.
    The words she used to describe death
    Gave Poe his taste for sensation.

    The Allans moved to England
    Where Poe attended boarding schools.
    There’s no doubt his time spent there
    Sharpened his skills as tools.

    Returning to Richmond and back in school
    He began to compose new verse.
    Heavy debts forced him to leave college
    As his life took a turn for the worse.

    Poe caught a ride on a coal barge to Boston
    Where he was unable to find employment.
    A young printer agreed to publish his poems
    Giving him hope and enjoyment.

    Penniless, Poe enlisted in the army
    And was accepted to West Point in 29.
    Poe couldn’t stand not being a writer
    Self-imposing his dismissal from The Line.

    Afterward he became an editor and critic
    And married his cousin who was thirteen.
    Six years latter he discovered she was dying
    Suffering once more the unforeseen.

    He went through periods of insanity
    Caused by grieving and functional fall.
    He smoked opium and drank too much
    Till at his doorstep death would call.

    Edgar Allan Poe the master of verse
    Still lives in our hearts today
    Famous for The Raven and other great works
    May his soul rest in peace we pray.


    The prize jewels of any nation
    Are the philosophers of the heart.
    How they think is universal
    For it’s God who makes them so smart.

    Most poets tell the truth of life
    Though they may wrap it in beauty.
    It’s their passion, not their purpose
    To compose is but their duty.

    Poets have no reason to lie
    When the truth is always so clear.
    All that others say and do
    Is but food for the poet’s ear.

    One merit of a poet’s work
    Which most people can’t deny.
    They say more and in fewer words
    To illuminate you and I.

    God sent his poets down to earth
    With words of wisdom and of worth.
    That they might touch the souls of men
    And bring them back to Him again.


    A good poem paints a picture
    For both your heart and brain.
    It doesn’t need a second chance
    To make its meaning plain.

    A good poem is like the flower
    The lily or the rose.
    God plants it in a poet’s brain
    And there its beauty grows.

    A good poem like a cardinal
    Is pregnant with song
    You can’t help but hear its message
    As it sings what’s right or wrong.

    A good poem helps us remember
    What the joys of life are for
    It makes us want to love someone
    Till death comes knocking at our door.


    God has always had his poets
    Who He watches with love from space.
    But Satan has his poets too
    Who try to lead us from our grace.

    King Solomon was a poet
    Who spoke of love, life, death and war.
    That lips were like threads of scarlet
    And that breasts were roses and more.

    The wild birds sing and flowers bloom
    As clouds form figures in the sky.
    But only humans will write poems
    That shall last long after they die.

    The eldest sister of all arts
    Which some have called the devils wine.
    Poetry is but pure passion
    To stimulate the heart and mind.


    My reciting seemed to delight her
    Though for me it was love at first sight.
    When she found out I was a poet
    She asked, what kind do you write?

    Love poems, mostly, I told her
    While we walked alone in the park
    Love’s fever became even warmer
    As two shadows embraced in the dark

    I’ll always remember when first we met
    I whispered a poem in her ear.
    Ever since then how happy I’ve been
    And other women I’ve no need to be near.

    They say that poets are divine
    Though my wife would argue, that’s not true!
    For, whenever I lose my direction
    It’s she who tells me what to do.

    Where the city ends and the suburbs begin
    We’ve built our home beneath the sky.
    We’ll raise our babies with truth and love
    Till one or both of us die.

    A verse a day, I always say
    Helps keep lawyers from my door
    For when I’m paid for what I write
    My wife loves me a little more.


    Most poets have a bit of Solomon
    Shakespeare and Poe within.
    Constantly eager to share their visions
    Of love, life, joy and sin.

    Some guzzle whiskey
    Some sip wine
    Some prefer cola
    And feel just fine.

    Some smoke pot
    Or suck cigarettes
    Some abuse drugs
    With lifetime regrets.

    Some attend church
    And sing of God
    While others make fun
    And call them odd.

    All have a purpose
    Which drives them to compose.
    All serve a master
    Who by free will, they chose.


    I never write a poem
    That doesn’t write itself.
    I catch a buzz and come alive
    Like a puppet off it’s shelf.

    Hearing many voices
    Whose words are never mine.
    My pen becomes a painter’s brush
    Forming visions on a line.

    I seem to be a better person
    When it’s time to sit down and write.
    A higher power guides my hand
    Sharing wisdom by day and night.

    People born to create
    Have no choice but to perform.
    It’s the rush of sharing their gift
    That elevates them from the norm.

    What would our world become
    Without intervention from above?
    Angry beings in a revolving cage
    With no sense of passion or love.


    Poetry is the lighthouse of life
    Guiding the lost from a stormy sea.
    Without it’s presence darkness prevails
    Keeping us from all we can be.

    Poems are used to convey passion
    By poets of both good and evil mood.
    Some are hateful others loving
    Sharing thoughts to be consumed as food.

    Verse can lead us to glory or doom
    As we partake with others within.
    Depicting our past, present and future
    With words of man’s grace or sin.

    People write poetry because they have no choice
    Answering to the call of their gift.
    Where some tend to pull their readers down
    Others compose to give them a lift.

    Always remember the power of poetry
    Is used by both heaven and hell.
    It’s up to us to choose our pleasure
    As poetry remains alive and well.


    Poetry consumed is where wisdom begins
    As we heed to the whispers of the heart.
    It’s easy to blame others for our dismay
    When from ignorance we refuse to part.

    Verse is a beacon of hope in the darkness
    To help us navigate the pitfalls of life.
    Far more tend to write it, than read it
    That’s why there’s endless conflict and strife.

    I write poems to help fuel the light
    By sharing what God has given me.
    With stories of love, life, war and more
    Where heroes pray on bended knee.


    Poetry is one of man’s oldest arts
    Practiced long before words of print.
    Every race had its masters of verse
    In caves, huts, cabins or tent.

    Stories in verse were handed down
    From one generation to another.
    The first told of love, war and more
    And how to survive each other.

    As man became more civilized
    He could not help but wonder within.
    Verse then took on a deeper meaning
    With stories of faith, superstition and sin.

    The act of reciting became in demand
    As verse began to advance
    Every tribe, city, town and village
    Had someone who gave words romance.

    Today’s poets are on the World Wide Web
    Though many seem spiritually ill.
    Thank heaven for all who still have God’s gift
    To compose, teach, comfort and fulfill.


    My favorite poet is God above
    Who gives Earth its rhythm and rhyme.
    Not pied pipers of misguided souls
    Who promote distrust, hatred and crime.

    Poetry is nature serenading in song
    The peaceful roar of the oceans waves.
    The wind through the trees and over the hills
    And the flowers in the fields by the graves.

    The sound of rain as it waters the thirsty
    The songs of children at play in the park.
    The far off rumble of trains or thunder
    As they pass through the night in the dark.

    The joy of our babies first words and steps
    The passion of life with its heroes and clowns.
    The on going struggle to survive our sins
    As we proliferate in hamlets and towns.

    My favorite poet is our Father of love
    Who was first to know us before birth.
    His poetry prolongs every thing we love
    As His deliverance gives life its worth.


    Words are the most powerful tools used by man
    As hearts and souls reach for one another.
    Sharing feelings of fear, wisdom and joy
    Or our love for a significant other.

    Where would we be without words
    Which inspire, unite and motivate.
    Songs, poems, stories, blogs, books
    Wars, religion, love, lust and hate.

    Jesus preached words to the multitudes
    And nourish their hunger within.
    The stories we tell portray our spirit
    As examples of weakness, triumph or sin.

    When we fail to control the rage of our thoughts
    What is easy to say becomes hard to forgive.
    Words are visions which portray our intent
    The better we communicate, the better we live.

    By Conservative Poet
    Tom Zart
    Most Published Poet
    On The Web


    You can hear all of Tom Zart’s 340 poems
    of love, war, faith and more 24-7 on web radio at


    Tom Zart ARCHIVES:

    Forums-War Poet Tom Zart : Veterans Today – News for U.S. Military …

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