Via Beth, this “Persian with Rumi” page with its small but excellent collection of bilingual quatrains, transliterated and with glossaries. (Minor annoyance: not only are the translations by A.J. Arberry fusty, they don’t even reproduce the AABA rhyme scheme; why?) A sample:

Ruba’ie #6
As the essence that is mine to the all pervading sea,
Turneth, all my atoms shine in sublime resplendency.
On the road of Love, behold! like a candle I do blaze,
That one moment may enfold all the moments of my days.

Ân-vaqt ke bahr-é kôll shavad zât marâ,
rûshan ghardad jamâl-é zarrât marâ.
z-ân mî-sûzam chô sham’a tâ dar rah-é éshq,
yek vaqt shavad jômleh-é awqât marâ.

Ân-vaqt = at the time
bahr = sea
shavad = became, happened
zât = essence
marâ = mine
rûshan ghardad = will be shined, will be enlightened
jamâl = charm, beauty
zarrât = atoms (plural form), zarreh (singular form).
mî-sûzam = I do blaze
sham’a = candle
éshq = love
yek vaqt = one moment
awqât = moments (plural form) for vaqt


  1. Just out of curiosity, why would you expect the translation to maintain the rhyme scheme? Wouldn’t a proper translation only be distorted by trying to do so?

  2. If you’re going for accuracy, of course you wouldn’t make it rhyme. But if you’re doing a rhyming translation like a good Victorian, why on earth not keep the original pattern? Ingenuity strained by having to find three rhymes instead of two?

  3. Ben Yackley says:

    As the essence of all that is mine
    Turns oceanward, it starts to shine
    My elements blaze
    With candle-like rays
    To capture this state for all time
    (trying my hand at poetry translation)

  4. Well, Arberry’s translation is the most literal available in English. I think the idea is that, with the Persian text right there on the page, readers need a crib more than a poetic equivalent. Granted, it takes a certain mindset to try and savor the rhythms and sounds of a poetic idiom across the barrier of an unfamiliar language.
    In fact, I’ve thought before that a good way into the heart of Rumi’s poetic manner is to use Arberry side-by-side with one of the new generation of translations (Barks, etc.). The new translations take a lot of liberties to “translate the poetry,” and you can learn a lot about Rumi’s style and idiom by observing how deeply they have mined the (often very simple, less florid and gushy) *words* of Rumi to convey the (“spiritual”) essence. I get the impression that Rumi has more poetic discipline and economy than the latest translations would have you think. (This makes him a more “difficult” poet.) I should cease this speculation, as I have zero *appreciation* of Persian poetics.
    Some people would say, (Rumi’s) poetry is what gets lost in (Arberry’s) translation. I am enough of an essentialist, I guess, to say that the more poetic translation can serve us by convincing us to go back and seek the latent poetry we *should* have been able to hear in the barren literal blocks of the more literal rendition.

  5. Saulo R. de Oliveira says:

    I Loved. Rumi´s Poetry is very sensitive and beatiful. But I would like to know where can I obtain editions of Rumi in persian and english and Al-Hallaj at arabian and english also.

  6. Ben Yackley – hats off, so much better than Arberry! Keep at it!

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