One of the most famous poets of all time, Rumi poetry is a category in and of itself. Learn more about who Rumi was and how his words continue to influence today’s literary world.
History of Rumi
While most know Rumi by his single-word moniker, his full name was Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmīm, and he was also known as Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī. Some also knew Rumi by the single word Mevlevî/Mawlawī. Born in 1207 in what is known as Afghanistan, Rumi produced poetry throughout his 66 years that stood the test of time. His poems have been translated into countless languages worldwide, and in many areas, he’s considered the most famous poet of all time.
While most of the author’s work is written in the Persian language, he also wrote in Greek, Arabic, Turkish, and Konya. Many of Rumi’s poems are read in their original form in Iran and other Persian-speaking areas. Translations of Rumi’s work are most popular in South Asia, the United States, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. Rumi’s poetry has heavily influenced literature in many other areas of the world.
Rumi came from a family of Islamic preachers and was influenced by his father. Following his family’s emigration to Baghdad, Rumi performed the Mecca pilgrimage after meeting Sufis and scholars on his travels. After completing his pilgrimage, he traveled to Damascus, where he spent four years meeting with scholars and working to find his life’s path. While in Damascus, he met Shams-e Tabrizi in 1244.
Legend has it that Shams traveled searching for a friend, and when he met Rumi, the two developed a deep, lasting bond. He agreed to the gods to give “his head” in exchange for a friend. Four years after Shams and Rumi met, Shams met his death at the hands of ‘Ala’ ud-Din, Rumi’s son. Many of Rumi’s works are based on his grief for his lost friend.
Most Famous Rumi Poem
Rumi’s most well-known works differ by region and time period. Still, many literary experts agree that Masnavi, a six-volume series referred to by many as “The Koran in Persian,” is Rumi’s most famous poem.
The series is about 50,000 lines long and teaches Sufis how to find love in God. Throughout the text, Rumi muses on the meaning of life and happiness, teaching Sufis how to find purpose in their lives while continuing to serve God and love others.
Masnavi offers readers several points of view, making it more likely that they’ll come across a perspective that makes sense for them. There is no particular plot throughout the series. Instead, Rumi offers several stories and scenes that work to bring the reader closer to their higher power.
About Rumi Poetry
Rumi’s poetry explores themes of love, life, religion, spirituality, and the belief that no human being is perfect–that all humans need to find their purpose in a higher power and that it can take some time and work to figure out exactly how that plays out in real life.
Rumi’s poetry has a timeless quality, as it explores themes that have not changed throughout history and remain pertinent to human life today. As a result, Rumi’s words are often read at weddings and funerals alike, as they present poignant ideas about how people interact with one another both on Earth and in the afterlife.
The Influence of Rumi
While many literary experts agree that Rumi is best known for Masnavi, he’s also famous for his poems on love and death. In addition to his written works, Rumi is known for his ongoing influence on the literary world. Nearly a thousand years after his life, poets and authors today still turn to Rumi for inspiration and clarity.
Here, we’ll explore Rumi’s top poems, learn more about his poetic style, and delve into how the famous poet influenced literature today.
Examples of Rumi’s Poems
Rumi’s poems tout his knowledge and views as a mystic, often touching on timeless thoughts such as life, love, eternity, and forgiveness. In addition, Rumi’s work shows his ability to serve as a theologian, Persian poet, Sufi mystic, and more. Six of Rumi’s post popular poems (translated into English) are listed and quoted below.
1. I am Thine and Thou Art Mine
Eternal Life is gained
by utter abandonment of one’s own life.
When God appears to His ardent lover,
the lover is absorbed in Him, and not so much as a hair of the lover remains.
True lovers are as shadows,
and when the sun shines in glory the shadows vanish away
Rumi’s thoughts on eternity comforted many during his time and continue to bring comfort to both people of Islam and other faiths today. Rumi shares how vanishing from the Earth is not a harmful process in this poem. Instead, the process can be viewed as a re-absorption by God. Rather than the image of a person dissolving away after death, Rumi presents the image of someone being welcomed back into God’s environment, one hair at a time.
2. A Prayer
Pray in this wise and allay your difficulties:
“Give us good in the house of our present world,
And give us good in the house of our next world.
Persia-born Rumi shares his views on life after death regularly, and many of his poems take the form of prayers. Reciting or reading Rumi’s prayer-centered poems has helped readers feel close to their higher power, whether they study the Bible, the Quran, or another religious text.
3. Love Sounds the Music of the Spheres
The world is God’s pure mirror clear,
To eyes when free from clouds within.
With Love’s own eyes the Mirror view,
And there see God to self akin.
Rumi shared how he found beauty all around him and found the world an extension of all that God has to offer. The poet often shared how the world’s beauty could be found anywhere if only people would take the time to look around and appreciate it. Rumi encourages readers to search around them for the little things that make life beautiful, all while remembering that we are surrounded by God’s work and need to appreciate how our world mirrors his.
4. Thou and I
Joyful, and secure from foolish babble, thou and I.
All the bright plumed birds of heaven will devour their hearts with envy
In the place where we shall laugh in such a fashion, thou and I.
This is the greatest wonder, that thou and I, sitting here in the same nook,
Are at this moment both in Iraq and Khorasan, thou and I.
Love-based poems were a favorite of Rumi, and he often touched on how the little things are often what make a relationship great. For example, rather than talking about large, extravagant gestures, Rumi discusses how small gestures make a relationship worthwhile. Here, Rumi also touches on how simply sitting with a loved one can be more exciting than seemingly more engaging experiences and how this feeling with a loved one can be challenging for outsiders to understand.
5. The Gifts of the Beloved
Where will you find one more liberal than God?
He buys the worthless rubbish which is your wealth,
He pays you the Light that illumines your heart.
Forgiveness is a complex topic for many. Rumi often discussed how God’s liberal attitude toward forgiveness (found in many religious texts) could serve as an example for people to forgive others without holding grudges or resentment against them. In both the Koran and the Bible, God is presented as a loving, non-violent figure. Rumi wanted people to realize that they were not above God, and if God found the ability to forgive people who were always learning and doing wrong, people could also find it in their hearts to forgive others who have wronged them.
6. The Silence of Love
When we fall in Love we are ashamed of our words.
Explanation by the tongue makes most things clear,
But Love unexplained is better.
Any human being who has been in Love has experienced the difficulty, nervousness, and anxiety that can come with expressing the way you feel to your object of affection. It can be challenging to put Love into prose, and often, we feel that we fall short of expressing ourselves when we try. Rumi discusses how sometimes, silence in Love is just as expressive as words.
FAQs About Rumi Poetry
Why is Rumi poetry so popular?
There are many reasons Rumi’s poetry remains popular after 800 years. Some point to the fact
that his poetry is incredibly accessible, reaching a wide range of readers using familiar and
relatable concepts to convey his message. Others point to the fact that his work invites the
reader to grow and change in positive ways, without judgement or criticism and through
How did Rumi write his poetry?
Rumi wrote Rubiyat, or four line Quatrains. He wrote at least 2,000 of these poems, although he
also wrote couplets in his six-volume epic entitled ‘The Masnavi’. As for his process, he often
incorporated music and dance into his poetry and has been said to have whirled around the
room while he meditated, having his poetry spoken aloud and dictated.
Is Rumi Poetry public domain?
Rumi poetry is still under copyright, despite creative works typically entering public domain after
70 years. The reasons for this are complex, although one reason seems to be that the various
English language translations of Rumi from the original Persian are still relatively new, and as
such are still owned by the creators of various collections of his work.
To learn more, check out our round-up of top 10 metaphor poems to enjoy.
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