The Nostalgia of the Reed: Human Call for Return to the Origin

  July 19, 2021   Read time 3 min
The Nostalgia of the Reed: Human Call for Return to the Origin
Rumi's Spiritual Couplets are relating one single story, i.e. the story of the homelessness of the metamorphosed man. Rumi deems man to be a spiritually grounded creature. When this spiritual basis is lost or forgotten, the man would seek to return back to his origin. The magnificent story of the Reed relates this nostalgia.

(1) Listen to the reed how it tells a tale, complaining of separations Saying, “Ever since I was parted from the reed-bed, my lament hath caused man and woman to moan. I want a bosom torn by severance, that I may unfold (to such a one) the pain of love-desire. Every one who is left far from his source wishes back the time when he was united with it.

(5) In every company I uttered my wailful notes, I consorted with the unhappy and with them that rejoice. Every one became my friend from his own opinion; none sought out my secrets from within me. My secret is not far from my plaint, but ear and eye lack the light (whereby it should be apprehended). Body is not veiled from soul, nor soul from body, yet none is permitted to see the soul. This noise of the reed is fire, it is not wind: whoso hath not this fire, may he be naught!

(10) ’Tis the fire of Love that is in the reed, ’tis the fervour of Love that is in the wine. The reed is the comrade of every one who has been parted from a friend: its strains pierced our hearts. Who ever saw a poison and antidote like the reed? Who ever saw a sympathiser and a longing lover like the reed? The reed tells of the Way full of blood and recounts stories of the passion of Majnún. Only to the senseless is this sense confided: the tongue hath no customer save the ear.

(15) In our woe the days (of life) have become untimely: our days travel hand in hand with burning griefs. If our days are gone, let them go!—’tis no matter. Do Thou remain, for none is holy as Thou art! Whoever is not a fish becomes sated with His water; whoever is without daily bread finds the day long. None that is raw understands the state of the ripe: therefore my words must be brief. Farewell!

O son, burst thy chains and be free! How long wilt thou be a bondsman to silver and gold?

(20) If thou pour the sea into a pitcher, how much will it hold? One day's store. The pitcher, the eye of the covetous, never becomes full: the oyster-shell is not filled with pearls until it is contented. He (alone) whose garment is rent by a (mighty) love is purged of covetousness and all defect. Hail, O Love that bringest us good gain—thou that art the physician of all our ills, The remedy of our pride and vainglory, our Plato and our Galen!

(25) Through Love the earthly body soared to the skies: the mountain began to dance and became nimble. Love inspired Mount Sinai, O lover, (so that) Sinai (was made) drunken and Moses fell in a swoon. Were I joined to the lip of one in accord with me, I too, like the reed, would tell all that may be told; (But) whoever is parted from one who speaks his language becomes dumb, though he have a hundred songs. When the rose is gone and the garden faded, thou wilt hear no more the nightingale's story.

(30) The Beloved is all and the lover (but) a veil; the Beloved is living and the lover a dead thing. When Love hath no care for him, he is left as a bird without wings. Alas for him then! How should I have consciousness (of aught) before or behind when the light of my Beloved is not before me and behind? Love wills that this Word should be shown forth: if the mirror does not reflect, how is that? Dost thou know why the mirror (of thy soul) reflects nothing? Because the rust is not cleared from its face.