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Day 08 – Your favorite work in translation

…Damn, this meme is going to take me a lot more than 30 days. 🙂

Well, this will be easier to answer: I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read a huge amount of translated works, so I won’t have that many to choose from.

And even then, it’s not really much of a choice: I knew the answer to this one as soon as I read the question. It would definitely have to be  The Essential Rumi, poems translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne. I discovered Rumi in college, that wonderful four year period of partying, marathon studying, sleeplessness and finding yourself when transcendental poetry is –IMO– likeliest to smack you right in the frontal lobe. I picked it up at the end of my freshman year while trolling our teeny-tiny university bookstore (soon to be replaced with giant-ostentatious-two-story-spiral-staircase university bookstore)  for the latest C.J. Cherryh book. I’m not sure exactly what drew me to it — the cover is pretty bland, and I’d never heard the name–  but in any case I picked it up, read:

Come to the orchard in Spring
There is light and wine, and sweethearts in the pomegranate flowers
If you do not come, these do not matter
If you do come, these do not matter.

…and spent about 20 minutes sitting on the floor between the shelves, turning pages.

Plenty of the poems are hard to make sense of, and many of them have cultural references I’ll likely never get, but still: the man was a true ecstatic, and it comes across in every word.