On February 5, I introduced Saleema, one of our workshop winners. I noted that Saleema was a winner in our Persona category. Today I’d like to share that winning poem with you, as well as a follow up poem she has since shared with us. In a Persona, the poet writes in the voice of another person or thing. As you’ll see below, Saleema really immersed herself in this challenge.
I choose Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi, a 13th century Sufi poet, as the voice for the assignment.
Following is a short clip about Rumi and his teacher Shams Tabrizi:
“Shams-i-Tabrīzī… is credited as the spiritual instructor of Mewlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhi, also known as Rumi. Shams is referenced with great reverence in Rumi’s poetic collection, Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrīzī (The Works of Shams of Tabriz).
According to contemporary Sufi tradition, Shams Tabrizi mysteriously disappeared. Some say he was killed by close disciples of Mewlānā Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi, who were jealous of the close relationship between Rumi and Shams. It is also said that Shams Tabrizi left Konya and died in Khoy, where he was buried. Sultan Walad, Rumi’s son, in his Walad-Nama mathnawi, just mentions that Shams mysteriously disappeared from Konya with no more specific details.
As the years passed, Rumi attributed more and more of his own poetry to Shams as a sign of love for his departed friend and master. In Rumi’s poetry Shams becomes a symbol of God’s love for mankind; Shams was a sun (“Shams” means “Sun” in Persian) shining the Light of God on Rumi.”
[Above Information is from Wikipedia]
Note: I used the speakers name (Jalāl ad-Dīn) at the end of the poem, because Sufi poets often mention their own names in their poetry.
The night we met the full moon winked
You etched your heart onto my soul
We whirled like the planets in the sky
Your wine washed my stumbling feet
Each spin swept a part of me away
The day you left my heart’s sun set
Heaviness haunted every breath
Your prayer carpet felt forlorn
Bereft I twirled, alone, undone
Your guidance quit
without a glance, a hint, a word
Yet, while I longed for your return
Piece by piece
my heart began to burn
Whispered words thundered
through my throbbing core
Would you raise me above the sky,
then hide a Sun that lights the way?
No! Shams would not abandon
what he loves
A mother caringly shares her breast
when she hears her hungry child cry
Neglect is not my Shams’ way
So, I will surrender to your whim
Let all think Jalāl ad-Dīn’s alone again
Like a possum I’ll play dead
while your songs ring louder than before
with words so clear they’ll shutter nights
in notes that tell of all you taught
The Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi
Takes me to untraveled heights
Where in the One, all reunite
Shams’ earthen form
Our Beloved’s ruse
Led Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi to Eternal Truth
By Saleema E. Giltinan 10-12-2012
The following poem was written as Sham’s answer to the poem written in Rumi’s voice (about Shams’ leaving).
NOTE: The dervish Shams-e Tabrizi had traveled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could “endure my company”.
A voice said to him, “What will you give in return?”
Shams replied, “My head!” The voice then said,
“The one you seek is Jalal ud-Din Rumi, of Konya.”
(Wikipedia/Mawlana and Shams by Sefik Can)
Al Noor: One of the 99 Name of Allah meaning Light, Enlightment
Al Mumeet: One of the 99 Names of Allah meaning “the bringer of death”.
The esoteric meaning of this Name is: The bringer of the first death,
the death to the world of illusion,
the death of the idea of separation and duality. Also known as “die before you die”.
Al Haqq: One of the 99 Names of Allah meaning “Truth, Reality”.
The Leaving (In Sham’s Voice)
by Saleema E. Giltinan (Copyright @ 12-12-2012)
Our yearning drew me back again
Al Noor revealed
We twirled, then rested
in Its sparks
Only you endured
Reveled in my
Mumit’s roasting pot…
too bright for foes
One birth, one death,
that’s all they know
Our friendship fueled
Only holy hands
caress Love’s fire
My ways softened
as they stung
you alone coddled
my striking tongue
Affinity plants fondness
in earthy ground
I watched the leaving
You began to soar
at last fulfilled
Then time asked me
to pay the price
a tumbled garnet gneiss
I turned to powder
in His hands
His breath sent me
where He willed
an ugly game
Al Haqq destroys
My absence lit
your cooking pot
You died before death
tied its knot
Now whirl my son
His Light is Mine
Our steps are One
Our paths entwined
Spin until we are no more!
Thank you again, Saleema, for really embracing this form, and for allowing us to share your work here.
Comments on: "Saleema and Persona poems" (6)
Thank you Sala. Intricately woven, vivid, bold, beautiful. We’re delighted you shared so much with us this month, and in our workshop. Please keep us in the loop with your future poems and publications. Terrific, Great posts, Mary.
Sala, a true artist with words. 🙂
Lovely, Sala. I feel warmth from your words. And the inspiration around your work taught me something new.
Thank you Mary, Michele, Kitty and Jen for your kind words and encouragement. Rumi and Shams are amazing poets in their own right, and it was an honor for me to be able to share a part of their story with you all. Thanks Mods for including Persona Poems in your poetry workshop assignments.
I’m thankful that YOU can ‘endure my company….I too have been searching…
Karen, you’re too funny! Thanks. 🙂