For folks unfamiliar with Rumi, Haleh Liza's translation is the perfect introduction. Rumi was a Muslim poet in 13th cen. Persia, and his work has often been translated by westerners who struggled with the original language. Haleh's translation is vibrant and accessible, and through her skill with both languages, she offers readers a glimpse at the love Rumi held for his friend and teacher, Shams, which echoes through the centuries. Even as someone who doesn't usually enjoy poetry, this collection has served as a source of joy. I can't recommend it enough.
A vibrant selection of poems by thegreat Persian mystic with groundbreaking translations by an American poet of Persian descent.
Rumi’s poems were meant to induce a sense of ecstatic illumination and liberation in his audience, bringing its members to a condition of serenity, compassion, and oneness with the divine. They remain masterpieces of world literature to which readers in many languages continually return for inspiration and succor, as wellas aesthetic delight. This new translation by Haleh Liza Gafori preserves the intelligence and the drama of the poems, which are as full of individual character as they are of visionary wisdom.
Marilyn Hacker praises Gafori’s new translations of Rumi as “the work of someone who is at once an acute and enamored reader of the original Farsi text, a dedicated miner of context and backstory, and, best of all, a marvelous poet in English.”
About the Author
Rumi, Molana, Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Balkhy (1207–1273), was born in or near the city of Balkh, in present-day Afghanistan. Considered the greatest poet of the Persian language, Rumi’s major works are the Masnavi, a six-volume collection of mystical teachings in rhyming couplets, and the Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, a collection of lyric poetry dedicated to his spiritual mentor. He died and was buried in Konya.
Haleh Liza Gafori is a poet, translator, and musician of Persian descent born in New York City. Her poems have been published by Columbia University Press and Rattapallax. As a vocalist, she has performed at events such as David Byrne’s One Note at Carnegie Hall and Bonnaroo. She teaches workshops on Rumi’s poetry at universities and festivals across the country.
"In this eloquent, faithful translation of the popular 13th-century poet and mystic Rumi, Persian American poet and musician Gafori opens a fresh window on Rumi’s spiritual quest and his urgent invitation to readers to embrace a more enlightened existence. Ecstatic, spinning lines wind through mystical paradoxes—wordless speaker, footless runner, placeless place—toward a sense of wonder and oceanic love." —David Wright, Library Journal Book Review
"Translating a 13th-century Persian poet whose work is deeply rooted in Islamic theology and Qur’anic language, infused with mystical vision, and laced with heretical imagery, is not a project for the faint of heart. Many of Rumi’s recent English translators or 'para-translators,' have no knowledge of Persian, the work’s cultural context, or Islam. Many speakers of modern Persian lack the literary gifts to craft English poems of equivalent power. Despite all this, the core luminosity of Rumi’s work has shone through. It gives me great pleasure, and relief, to say that I think Haleh Liza Gafori’s translations are the closest an English translator has come to bringing it all together. . . . Gold is a perfect introduction to the illuminations in Rumi’s work, or an important addition to your Rumi bookshelf." —Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr., Hyperallergic
"Rumi, ancient and eternal. Magnetic in his eloquent devotion and his soulful intelligence. Majestic in his whirling silk robe and his defiant disdain for his culture’s worship of status. Volcanic with poetry. . . . A dazzling selection of his poetry, including some never previously alive in English, appears in Gold, newly translated and inspirited by poet and musician Haleh Liza Gafori." —Maria Popova, The Marginalian
"Whether you wolf it down in a single exuberant sitting like we did or parcel these poems out, one a day over 80 days, you can’t help but be caught up with what I think we can all agree by this point are timeless sentiments. . . We got an almighty kick out of Haleh Liza Gafori’s translation and reckon you will too." —Bookmunch
"Gold selects not from that sober, mature work but from the lyric reveries of Rumi’s metamorphosis, the fruit of altered states. . . . Rhythmic, intuitive arrangements revive the conditions in which this poetry came into being. . . . Far from new-age quietism, these poems urge the heart to be alert, amazed, to meet the 'sour world' awake." —Yasmine Seale, 4Columns
“Haleh Liza Gafori’s new translations of Rumi are the work of someone who is at once an acute and enamored reader of the original Farsi text, a dedicated miner of context and backstory, and, best of all, a marvelous poet in English.” —Marilyn Hacker, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets 2008-2014, author of Winter Numbers
“Haleh Liza Gafori’s Gold is everything Rumi was himself—sacred, profane, laugh out loud funny, deeply earnest, demotic, and yes, Persian. There’s a rich fluency here not just in idiom but in gesture, in spirit. It’s uncanny to encounter eight-hundred-year-old verse this urgent: ‘Misers rule. Generosity fades from memory. Still, your eyes see. Your heart is full.’ Gafori’s Rumi teaches me how to wander into mystery—‘humble as soil’—without galloping toward some hasty and inorganic conclusion: ‘A barren moon shines. A sour world smiles. What do I know but the light shining down?’ What a gift this is, what gold.” —Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Pilgrim Bell
“Haleh Liza Gafori’s energetic translation highlights the timelessness of Rumi’s work, delivering unforgettable phrases. Rumi’s introspective nature. . . cosmic vision. . . and deeply contemplative yet accessible poems star in this worthy translation.” —Publishers Weekly
“Haleh Liza Gafori’s ecstatic and piercing translation has lifted a veil, bringing Rumi closer into the quick of our present. Each poem is a divine invitation. Free your mind. Drown in love.” —V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of The Vagina Monologues and The Apology
“Rumi’s beautiful melding of wildness, insight and untrammeled joy has found a true, unerring voice in Haleh Liza Gafori, whose own fine abilities as a poet bring these hallowed Persian, poetic gifts anew into 21st century English.” —David Whyte, author of The Three Marriages and Consolations
“I have been longing for these translations of Rumi’s poems my whole life. Haleh Liza Gafori has taken Rumi’s original Farsi text and unleashed its fire. My soul soars reading each one. Sublime, clean, crisp, deep, luxurious, funny, soft, and kind, these translations are a great and graceful gift.” —Elizabeth Lesser, author of Broken Open and Cassandra Speaks, co-founder of Omega Institute
“These are the Rumi translations we’ve been waiting for! In Gold, translated by Persian-American poet/singer Haleh Liza Gafori, meanings and images hurtle us towards love and ecstasy, just as Rumi intended. You won’t read these words so much as dance with them. Hang on tight as they begin whirling. Unbuckle your seat belt as they take flight. Pure Gold!” —Bob Holman, author of The UnSpoken and Life Poem
“In clear, shimmering language, neither simplified nor obscurantist, Gafori renders the ecstatic core of Rumi’s vision in an American idiom that both honors the Islamic background of the poems and insists that what we mean by ‘surrender’ cannot be delimited by any psychology or religious tradition.” —Leonard Schwartz, author of The New Babel: Towards a Poetics of the Mid-East Crises