City Portal

Good Poems

Two poems of darkness and light by Rumi


Why am I part of this disaster, this
mud hole for donkeys? Is this the place

where Jesus spoke? Surely not. A table
has been set, but we have not been served

sweet spring water yet. Evidently we came
here to be bound hand and foot. I ask

a flower, "How is it you are so wise so
young?" "With the first morning wind and

the first dew, I lost my innocence." I
follow the one who showed me the way. I

extend one hand up, and with the other I
touch the ground. A great branch leans

down from the sky. How long will I keep
talking of up and down? This is not my

home: silence, annihilation, absence!
I go back where everything is nothing.


If I flinched at every grief, I
would be an intelligent idiot. If

I were not the sun, I'd ebb and
like sadness. If you were not

my guide, I'd wander lost in Sanai.
there were no light, I'd keep

opening and closing the door. If
were no rose garden, where

would the morning breezes go? If
did not want music and laughter

and poetry, what would I say? If
were not medicine, I would look

sick and skinny. If there were no
limbs in the air, there would

be no wet roots. If no gifts were
, I'd grow arrogant and cruel.

If there were no way into God, I
not have lain in the grave of

this body so long. If there were no
from left to right, I could not

be swaying with the grasses. If
were no grace and no kindness,

conversation would be useless, and
we do would matter. Listen

to the new stories that begin every
. If light were not beginning

again in the east, I would not now
and walk out inside this dawn.

The Journey, by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their
melancholy was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.


The earth braces itself for the feet
Of a lover of God about to

The sky becomes very timid
When a great saint starts waving his arms
In joy.

For the sky knows its prized fixtures,
The sun, moon and planets
Could all wind up
Rolling so wild on the floor!

My dear, this world, its laws,
Our perceptions,
Are such a minute part of existence.

Should not all of our suffering and sadness
Be like this:

As just dropped from an infant's palm
That is asleep against the breast
Of God?

The earth braces itself for the feet of Hafiz,
The sky pulls a mirror fromits pocket
And is practicing looking

For the Beloved has at last
Opened His arms
And is inviting my heart to eternally

The day candle (sun) has forgotten the hour;
The whole world has gone joyously mad.

The Sun's sweet cheeks are blushing
In the middle of the night

Desiring the rampage of the feet
Of God's lovers.

-- Hafiz (trans. Daniel Ladinsky)