A poem by Rumi: “An Awkward Comparison”

[The formatting doesn’t hold. I’ll try to figure that out later. Also, I chose it randomly from a book of Rumi’s poems that I have. I might decode it later in another post. Enjoy]


“An Awkward Comparison”

This physical world has no two things alike.

Every comparison is awkwardly rough.

You can put a lion next to a man,

but the placing is hazardous to both.

Say the body is like this lamp.

It has to have a wick and oil. Sleep and food.

If it doesn’t get those, it will die,

and it’s always burning those up, trying to die.

But where is the sun in this comparison?

It rises, and the lamp’s light

mixes with the day.


which is the reality, cannot be understood

with lamp and sun images. The blurring

of a plural into a unity is wrong.

No image can describe

what of our fathers and mothers,

our grandfathers and grandmothers, remains.

Language does not touch the one

who lives in each of us.

There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,

as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts

from books and from what the teacher says,

collecting information from the traditional sciences

as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.

You get ranked ahead or behind others

in regard to your competence in retaining

information. You stroll with this intelligence

in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more

marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one

already completed and preserved inside you.

A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness

in the center of the chest. This other intelligence

does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,

and it doesn’t move from outside to inside

through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead

from within you, moving out.

A poem by Rumi: “An Awkward Comparison”

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