Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a 13th century Persian sufi mystic poet, was born on the eastern edge of the Persian empire and resettled with his family in early adulthood to Turkey. Descended from a long line of theologians and scholars, he absorbed the teachings of such masters as Attar from an early age, quickly becoming a spiritual leader. A friendship with his greatest teacher, Shams-y-Tabriz, and this man’s subsequent departure after a few years, greatly influenced the outpouring of Rumi’s verse of longing for the beloved. Rumi’s writing continues to make an integral impact upon literary traditions throughout the world.
Roger Sedarat is the author of Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, which won Ohio UP’s Hollis Summers Open Book Competition, and Ghazal Games (Ohio UP, 2011). His translations of classical and modern Persian verse have appeared in World Literature Today, Drunken Boat, and Arroyo. His translated collection of the Iranian poet Nader Naderpour is forthcoming from Teneo Press. He teaches poetry and translation in the MFA Program at Queens College, City University of New York.
I’ve lost it all my life all lost—
the sky the earth, dear moon, all lost.
Don’t hand me wine. Pour it in my mouth.
(I’ve even lost the way to my mouth).