Rumi Poem: The Song of the Reed

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English Translation of the Opening Song of the Masnavi. The song describes the lament of the Self separated from itself.

Listen to the reed flute tale, as it laments its pain of separation.

It says, ‘Ever since they have uprooted me from my reed-bed I have been crying

Also causing both woman and man to be moved, who have since wept along, my lament

I wish to repose my head on the breast of a longing heart – one that has been ripped away from their beloved, a heart torn to pieces, so that I may unburden my pain of this love.

For only one who has been afflicted knows my song,  only they would understand my sadness,

Anyone who has been cut from the source, wishes to reunite,

they long dearly to return to that blissfulness.

In many gatherings, I have uttered my wailful notes, the same lament.

I consort with the unhappy and those that rejoice.

Each sought me, befriended me but for their own reasons and opinions

Each according to his fancy became friendly to me.

Yet none sought out the secrets I held within.

Nor could they decipher the secrets behind the notes

My Body is not veiled from the Soul, nor soul from body, yet none can see the soul

For truly, the divine secrets are not separate from my cries

The eyes and ears lack the illumination of cognition

These secrets unlock to the heart, not for eyes or ears

The one who hears this is senseless. A tongue has but one customer, the ear.

The song of the reed consoles those such parted from their beloved,

The reed is a comfort to all estranged lovers. The notes tears away our veils

The song shares the tortuous bloody path

And recounts how Majnum, when separated from his beloved and Laila how his heart bled

To one who is joined to my lips and is in harmony with myself

I too like the reed would tell all that may be told

When the rose is gone (his beloved) and the garden faded (in Autumn)

You will no longer hear the nightingale’s song

But only those who are cooked in the fire of love will hear them

The sound from the reed is fire, not wind. Be that empty.

The love fire is one that inspires the flute. It is the ferment of love that completes the wine.

If you don’t have this fire, you might as well be dead

Oh, how can the uncooked know the majesty of the fire of love?

This reed is the friend of everyone who has been parted /separated

Who has ever seen a poison so bitter and antidote so sweet such as this. It is hurt and salve combining. Have you seen a more intimate companion and lover? That is the song of the reed.

Intimacy and longing for intimacy, one song.

All are satiated except a fish in water, and one who does not have his daily bread fails to pass his days easily.

If you meet the uncooked, the immature man don’t sing, don’t preach

the raw will not understand the state of the ripe

Instead listen to my advice: Say goodbye and leave


(the original verse was written by J. Rumi a Sufi from Iran) Translated mostly from Urdu to English. reviewed multiple versions in English as well.

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