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Rumi's Rubaiyat
Translated by Zara Houshmand

Beginning in April 2000, I made a commitment to translate one of Rumi's quatrains each day for Jahanshah Javid chose the poems; it was part of my commitment that I would accept the choice, no matter how difficult, and do my best to create an equivalent poem in English.

I hoped in the process to improve my Persian and get closer to Rumi's heart; it's also probably the wisest thing I've ever done to grow as a poet myself. I'm grateful to Jahanshah for making this possible, and also to the many readers who have offered encouragement and corrections.

If you would like to be informed when the translations are published as a book, please send me an email:

Zara Houshmand
August, 2002

Original poems from Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi
Edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar (Tehran, Amir Kabir, 1988).

* The face she shows me is a little sour (#1795)
* You, who make all my hardship easy (#544)
* I asked you for one kiss, you gave me six (#1993)
* I'm not me, you're not you, and you're not me (#1976)
* I'm the wind, you're a leaf. How can you not tremble (#1958)
* How long will I keep burning in your flame? (#1957)
* I would shake the dust from my coat, and rise (#1925)
* If I was not so pitifully in love (#1923)
* If you don't heed my call and answer me (#1915)
* If you are loyal, keeper of secrets (#1913)
* You could string a hundred endless days together (#1901)
* Last night you left me and slept happily (#1897)
* I went to my love on a moment's thought (#1885)
* The lovely one whispers under her breath (#1873)
* God forbid I'd compare the moon to your face (#1845)
* You do bad deeds and hope to get back good (#1798)
* With a smile biting those two ruby lips (#1790)
* Look again, and see how much I need you (#1783)
* Oh, when you remind me of her door (#1693)
* If my head holds one thought wise and clear, it's you (#1690)
* The ravishing moon last night upon me shone (#1655)
* I asked, "Where is your home, beautiful moon?" (#1584)
* If you feel no desire for me, then say so (#1582)
* If they all leave me, my love, don't go (#1579)
* My moon, without you I wept like a cloud (#1556)
* My heart, if you can't take the sorrow, go (#1548)
* If I die in this war, this combat with you (#1501)
* Give me the gift to blend and bond with a friend (#1494)
* Throw greed, jealousy, hatred out of your heart (#1459)
* I've trod in your path until I'm downtrodden (#1444)
* Being alive is a trespass without you (#1397)
* I'm the source of such rot, such stupidity (#1388)
* The many sighs your loss has dragged from me (#1387)
* You're the road of love, and at the end, my home (#1369)
* At times we are hidden, at times revealed (#1325)
* I whispered an offer softly in the ear of your playful heart (#1303)
* I said to myself, "I'll go away for a while (#1292)
* However long your patience, I will shred it (#1287)
* Excuse me if my cries fill the sky (#1276)
* All our lives we'd seen each other's face (#1267)
* My heart delights in the garden of your face (#1259)
* All day, Saghi, I was drunk on you (#1251)
* The heart says, "Savor the garden's delight (#1232)
* My life is lost, my world is lost - all lost (#1159)
* Tonight, when love's sorrow is forever and ever (#1150)
* Today I'm going for a drunken stroll (#1146)
* A rare catch has come my way, what am I to do? (#1142)
* No punishment, no threat (#1141)
* I'm so close to you that I'm far apart (#1121)
* No way can I take back my heart from you (#1104)
* For a moment we paused in the human crowd (#1082)
* Where kindness is, who cares for peace or war? (#1077)
* My eyes? "I'll make a river flow there." So she said (#1047)
* If you have the strength, don't wear the cloth of love (#1029)
* That primrose gazed at me with languishing eyes (#1026)
* If love makes you thirst, never fear: you have wine (#989)
* My love, my life, you ask why I'm so hard (#980)
* My tongue is parched, though I've drunk myself senseless (#871)
* For love of you, my soul soars in the sky (#939)
* They say that heaven's a high paradise (#802)
* What is sadness, that settles like dust (#773)
* When your love and my joy conspire to spill my blood (#766)
* A lover's one who must drink, day and night (#757)
* There's talk in the halls of love's seminary (#680)
* Without your love, anyone with even the smallest heart (#667)
* When I grasp hold of your hair, I'm in hell (#664)
* The way that you spoke left me speechless (#648)
* Since the day I may join my beloved is nowhere in sight (#640)
* What good are your cries when her gaze is gone? (#639)
* The eye that even glances at that flower (#633)
* Listen only to what drunken lovers say (#630)
* How could the soul that holds your image (#627)
* One day your mind will finally wear out (#586)
* Forgive me, that I cannot sleep; forgive (#577)
* Gentle hearts, who scatter seeds of loyalty (#566)
* May grief and sadness come to the unfaithful heart (#537)
* He who set the world on fire in me (#490)
* I know, when my heart steps up to speak (#465)
* The harvest of my pain was its own peace and remed (#262)
* If you walk with your eyes closed, for sure you're lost (#254)
* You're so coupled to life, which lasts but a day (#223)
* My heart's pure essence is just this body's molded clay (#209)
* This burning in my chest comes of following her sect (#208)
* I went to my doctor, said, "Hey, Zein al-Din" (#1479)
* If you want victory, eternity (#109)
* Seek the science that unties for you this knot (#106)
* Why is your love such a wise teacher (#363)
* When I'm with you, your kindness keeps me awake (#36)
* My friend, my companion, I am bound to you (#25)
* Get up! Show some respect for her good name! (#1800)
* When there's no sign of hope in the desert (#1932)
* Longing for her, at times you tell sad tales (#1912)
* If you poked thorns into these streaming eyes (#1916)
* Until you made me sing, I was a monk (#1891)
* If ever again you pass my humble mound (#1483)
* All I've wanted from you is to want you (#1194)
* When I hear you sing, I become a joyful song (#1118)
* Wrap my secrets within your soul, and hide (#1392)
* By nature hard as stone, with a heart of steel (#1493)
* Love's intoxication, my disintegration (#1645)
* The sweet words we once spoke together (#1112)
* My heart will never seek another heart (#954)
* Any thief of a kiss can have your lips free (#1947)
* Curses fall from your lips, and the moon smiles (#691)
* If my heart's not on fire, then why all this smoke? (#370)
* Fear this murderous conflagration, this love that sets fires alight (#987)
* Seeking love, I see it winding in your curls (#1283)
* I'm not a bee, that flies away from smoke (#1248)
* Don't call the wise lover insane, or say (#1578)
* I set my heart on the path of calamity (#32)
* Show your face; we long to paint your image (#1372)
* He who's never tasted wine sleeps soundly (#485)
* There's joy in my heart: I have joined my lover tonight (#111)
* Over and over my lover torments my weary heart (#925)
* Deep thoughts and sadness dim and do not last (#85)
* That Turk, who gladdens my heart with her laugh (#1562)
* I'm a slave to her, and fear of her delights me (#418)
* We speak another language, not this tongue (#403)
* You can't get drunk on the wine of her eyes (#380)
* I am lost in God, and God is found in me (#422)
* They ask me 'Why are you in so much pain? (#401)
* Everyone has someone, a friend to love (#1987)
* My hard friend, you ask me for my heart and my gold (#1087)
* I swear on the heart that is humbled before her (#1042)
* The nightingale comes to the garden, no more the crow (#1055)
* When I die, bring my corpse to her (#64)
* On truth's path, wise is mad, insane is wise (#302)
* Don't even think, just let yourself dream (#84)
* Oh flowing tears, speak to my growing love (#17)
* My love is beautiful -- one of her faults (#325)
I said: 'You are the wine, and I the cup' (#1638)
* The day my soul sets out on heaven's path (#479)
* He came to me all angry, as if to say "Enough!" (#975)
* I've told you a hundred times my love, don't run away just anywhere (#958)
* No heart has ever softened yet among these hearts of stone (#955)
* Tell me, life of this world, does anyone exist but you? (#1545)
* I'm tangled, like the curls of my love's hair (#1210)
* All the waters of life are a drop in your pool (#177)
* Love is what gives joy to all creation (#762)
* Remembering your scent, wherever I saw a flower (#1176)
* What can I do, my love? I'm in love with your face (#1342)
* You who live by the grace of this world's love (#1602)
* Get up! Let's go to the garden by moonlight (#1215)
* All his life, his heart went galloping after passion (#1101)
* Absolute joy has no room for sadness (#805)
* You're sitting beside the road that you seek (#1714)
* The suffering one to whom you offered solace (#1663)
* The king who pleaded mercy for all sins (#354)
* I wrote a poem that made my love angry (#795)
* My soul, will I tire of you? No, no, no (#1825)
* Will your pain submit to a cure? Never (#951)
* Drunk, I asked my teacher, "Please, I need to know (#1680)
* If you hope for a moment of peace in love (#673)
* Was such a drunk ever seen in the tavern of love (#684)
* My beloved could tear my skin away (#323)
* Each part of me displays my love for her (#248)
* The moment my eyes are flooded with tears (#100)
* The face she shows me is a little sour (#1795)
* Last night I spent with a goddess who dabbles with slaves like me (#967)
* We have no fear of arrows, or daggers (#1212)
* My heart is your student; it studies love (#353)
* I bring wine from my love, who lights my heart (#1307)
* You trap me in a hundred snares, bound tight (#1702)
* Sit for a while in my heart like a mystery; don't go (#1585)
* If I sigh, that won't make her happy (#371)
* Remembering your lips, I kiss the ruby on my ring (#1181)
* Come, treasure, home to these ancient ruins (#1019)
* Beside your love, your soul's jewel, find your seat (#234)
* The heart in me lives for the pain you cause (#327)
* The jealous birds complained to Solomon (#1006)
* Like friends united, it's a season blessed (#1636)
* The memory of you makes my heart pound
* Love for you came to my heart, and left again, happy (#362)
* Endless love without beginning made you sing (#1676)
* Rather fear our sweet union's memory. (#1673)
* No one solves this problem for me, shows me (#1460)
* Not for a moment, my heart, did you bow (#1731)
* When I fell into your love, and its pain (#603)
* She's gone--no one has ever been so good a friend (#1040)
* To be tangled, oh so briefly, in your love (#576)
* A heart that circles round the door of love (#1071)
* Today, as ever, I'm wasted with wine (#82)
* Luminous full moon, the bow of your brow (#903)
* When I boil in the fire of my self for a while (#1216)
* I've learned the perfect magic of your eyes (#1126)
* Your memory, sweet, is the source of my joy (#1573)
* Make peace with pain: I am your remedy (#1168)
* "So what?", says the charming flirt to accusing eyes (#1598)
* Naked, that love gallops off to the plains (#140)
* When I look at my lover, she blushes (#584)
* Your eye is the light, the eye of the storm (#1607)
* I hear the song of a drunk nightingale (#1122)
* Don't walk away, for I will pay your price (#1328)
* Heart, if you sit amongst thorns and don't choose (#1161)
* He is king who knows you, whatever you wear (#742)
* The scent of you will never leave my nose (#450)
* No way can I take back my heart from you (#1104)
* She smiles so, this beauty, that your hand reaches out (#1075)
* My mind is set on something quite other (#174)
* You opened my heart's door, sat down inside (#1726)
* Sadness to me is the happiest time (#1115)
* I've never seen a greener tree than you (#1893)
* You think that I am at my own command? (#1359)
* If I hold you in my heart, you'll turn into a thought (#1861)
* Don't shut my ears to the secret of life (#915)
* Even if the whole world were gripped by sadness (#374)
* My heart boils up, aspiring to your heat (#835)
* Pouring envy and greed from love's open sea (#1463)
* Last night, in private, I asked the wise old man (#1022)
* From the outside, you see lifeless faces (#1810)
* Yesterday, wealth was the light of our day (#1881)
* We fight with day for passing quick as day (#228)
* I'm content with this way: nonexistence (#1250)
* I asked, "What should I do?", He said, "That's it... (#1293)
* Sharing my secrets with you is no help at all (#971)
* I'm not a poet. I don't earn my bread (#1256)
* When my lost and wretched heart sees your face (#644)
* I will not tell the secret my Friend spoke (#347)
* Each day my lover comes again. She's drunk (#445)
* So far and high did my heart's bird fly (#817)
* "My eyes?" I asked. She said, "Look for me." (#912)
* Heart, in this hard time let me share secrets (#1406)
* It's morning. With my cup of wine in hand (#165)
* Lover of truth, this morning bring pure wine (#926)
* I've lost, then found, my thoughts a hundred times (#752)
* I'm mad; and if mad, then sleep is a sin (#336)
* All my heart speaks, openly or hidden (#701)
* O wine, you are king, just and good to all (#1709)
* This sorrow strains and filters your pure soul (#1399)
* A dervish must know pain's reality (#687)
* It's love that holds all eastern alchemy (#1576)
* Reason came forward to lecture the lovers (#367)
* Time will soon silence the clamor of bleating cries (#65)
* I closed my mouth and spoke to you in a hundred silent ways (#1303)
* That king who made me crazy, and with whom (#1532)
* The dew of love turned dust of man to mud (#521)
* Each day my heart drinks yet a new sweet draught (#845)
* It is treasure buried in earth, concealed (#1640)
* Tonight's a night of weakness, misery (#170)
* If I bring you to mind, you're there in my thoughts (#1992)
* She came to him and said, "You are my soul." (#1951)
* 'You are mad,' you said, 'a wandering fool.' (#1942)
* You're the kind that moves an angel to joy (#80)
* Wake up, my heart! The world is passing by (#594)
* You are water; we are all plants that drink (#1621)
* Today I'm going for a drunken stroll (#1146)
* At first, with endless kindness, he played his song upon me (#14)
* The messenger brings sad news (#775)
* We are drunk on the essence without even tasting the wine (#1319)
* Night falls; but me, I can't tell night from day (#956)
* Tell the night that it cannot claim our day (#232)
* All souls alive have souls; not so soul itself (#1450)
* The liquid that flows from my eyes like blood (#461)
* You've stripped me of all signs and name: a soul (#1812)
* If I wait, pain will come from missing you (#786)
* Those who flow like water, clear and simple (#504)
* I will break the cycle of kind and cruel (#1347)
* On a wild white steed, unbridled (#1355)
* My love, there's a path from your heart to mine (#185)
* Without your blessing, my heart would not have turned (#602)
* You've had your fill, not me. What's the remedy? (#273)
* My faith in God is this: her eyes, their cheer (#1316)
* My face was pale, my heart was overflowing (#543)
* If you wander far from lovers' shade (#1674)
* The friend to whom flower and thorn are one (#454)
* Each moment, moon, you beckon me to come (#1988)
* The names I gave her: wine; sometimes the cup (#1005)
* The tides will take my poetry and song (#593)
* My heart forever weaves tales of your spring (#694)
* Friend, in truth, you're the source of life's own life (#1736)
* Last night my beloved looked kindly at me (#334)
* When your love drives me crazy, that day (#720)
* God forbid your heart should find another home (#1095)
* In their quest for God they have turned away (#540)
* Who could be brought down once you've raised him high? (#1945)
* "Don't think you're above them," I told my heart (#1021)
* Penniless and ragged, we are happy (#1321)
* My soul is stubborn, drunken, and meddling (#1092)
* Don't take me for a stranger, I'm from here (#1178)
* I don't know what state you are in today (#1768)
* My beloved is not as lovers are (#288)
* Atom, escape from the sun if you can (#937)
* I'll hang your love in the nets of heaven (#1352)
* A thousand men want to be one with you (#412)
* Go away, logic, there's no thinker here (#199)
* So near, my delight, please don't go away (#1555)
* I seek a fire to burn away love's pain (#1133)
* Now that I can't touch the dust at your door (#1128)
* The whole world worries over your sweet face (#1400)
* My love, accept my service one more time (#1374)
* Inside my heart and outside, all is her (#173)
* She clapped her hands when she saw my state (#289)
* They say love finally is its own relief (#400)
* In the abbatoire of love, they only kill the choicest (#681)
* You, who make all my hardship easy (#544)
* I told my heart, if there's a chance to speak (#1434)
* When I tug at your coat, it's not to fight (#375)
* Reciting you, friend, I lose sight of you (#193)
* Grant him a cruel and faithless lover, Lord: (#1654)
* When your love began to fill up my heart (#606)
* They say love means crying out her name. Lies (#1058)
* A perfect love, a heart-thief, a beauty (#1099)
* I entered your garden, but not to gather (#895)
* I have lost heart, my sweet, but you have yours (#1959)
* Accept me, friend, and take my life away (#1408)
* You are all held captive behind this veil (#1651)
* He's fallen, King, no need for check and mate (#1415)
* Where do you come from, my bowed string's cry (#1712)
* Now is our time for traveling the earth (#1952)
* You pitched your moon-tent on the night (#1801)
* How thirsty I am to see you, God knows (#1649)
* You fall in love, my heart, and then you fret (#1902)
* Do you smile at the garden's kindness, my flower? (#1753)
* 'Don't!' she tells me, when I moan like Jacob (#1046)
* This open square does not exist, nor these (#1648)
* I told her, "Your love is driving me mad (#1639)
* This earthen body is the heavens' light (#75)
* Harmony itself creates our discord (#1361)
* Daily my head is filled with desire for your love (#952)
* I said I would take my heart back from you, but I can't (#1296)
* The moon rose high and I sunk very low (#1357)
* She made my night more splendid than the day (#1390)
* The simpler our hands and hearts, the more free (#899)
* She's come! She who never left us has come! (#927)
* I'll swallow the pain that bleeds from your love's wound (#1221)
* Saqi, I asked you for a simple wine (#904)
* There's another kind of calm in the congress of lovers (#314)
* Let your water flow, and you nurture the young tree (#1792)
* Your love stirs the oceans into reckless storms (#523)
* There's a friend who feeds me pleasure and kindness (#246)
* What riot flares in my constricted heart? (#212)
* I'm grasping your feet, but can't reach your hand (#239)
* A few flies are brawling over sugar (#243)
* As long as I live, this is my work and my trade (#267)
* Why so happy to laugh with your mouth shut? (#1781)
* Today's the day for boldness, tired heart (#432)
* By nightfall, dawn's memory has vanished (#551)
* I rush here and there in search of a friend (#1154)
* Not just her laugh and her face are lovely (#269)
* A nightingale with a beautiful voice (#1880)
* It's a waste to play music to the deaf (#1846)
* As long as I have my own cup of milk (#1220)
* Though distance has broken hope's own back (#438)
* When mankind gathers on that final day (#774)
* My love for you will surely be loyal (#671)
* I'm sad that as she binds me in this pain (#863)
* Your homeland was the heavens, but you thought (#1771)
* I am hungry, I am sated with joy (#1350)
* When first that beauty stole my love from me (#725)
* My heart wanted only a kiss from you (#388)
* I was drinking wine, mired in my distress (#1647)
* The moment you find a companion in joy (#1849)
* The stock of a man's wisdom is madness (#350)
* I am hungry, I am sated with joy (#1350)
* Hide the faults of others deep in the earth (#378)
* Look at her dark hair, her grace as she stands (#867)
* I'll go a hundred steps beyond reason (#754)
* I made a journey through the desert of your love (#1854)
* Delicate moon, who ripens the harvest of life (#1424)
* I want a trouble-maker for a lover (#862)
* Now that your lover has shown you her face (#1734)
* This blooming branch will bend with fruit one day (#1759)
* "I gave you my heart and my faith," I said (#1294)
* Love is the way and the path, our prophet (#57)
* I'm a grape, I roll under trampling feet (#1155)
* A thousand moon-flowers filled the garden (#660)
* Came spring, and the garden made me blossom (#1172)

Comment for The Iranian letters section

By Zara Houshmand

Houshmand's features


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* Rumi mausoleum, Konya




* Rumi books 


Rumi: The Life Teachings and Poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi
By Frankin D. Lewis

Rumi: Hidden Music
By Maryam Mafi

Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved
By Maryam Mafi

The Essential Rumi
American bestseller
By Coleman Barks (Translator)

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