Who are our literary friends that we can still (re)turn to... after the great flood of youth 🌊
Austrian poet, Rilke, is one of the few old friends for me who renew themselves ; he grows with us, and reveals more of himself as we reach for him over the years.
I don’t know that I’d compare him to mystic poet Rumi —who needs to be read systematically, in context & in a reliable translation that does not erase his faith as a Muslim — although, of course, they belong to the same general territory...
It’s a question of passionate intensity, but also commitment, I suppose.
They are both quivering with tremendous yearning, but Rumi names the Beloved and surrenders, while Rilke lingers at the threshold, seeming to shy away from commitment...
I do think that, like Rumi, was a missionary of sorts (and, by association, I think of Kierkegaard who speaks of G_d recruiting imperfect types like himself for the secret police).
Yes, I see that Rilke might be a 'river bridge' that way — helping others cross over. But, I also wonder if, in rejecting Christianity and fashioning a religion out of poetry, Rilke succeeded in taking the ultimate spiritual leap and clearing the hurdle of himself...
[As for Rumi, this article is a good entry point regarding the disservice done him by some of his American popularizers/so-called translators: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-erasure-of-islam-from-the-poetry-of-rumi/amp ]
Insofar as getting closer to Rumi’s context, complexity and concerns, past the mere poet, I would recommend this fine translation of his masterwork, The Masnavi: https://www.amazon.com/Masnavi-Book-Oxford-Worlds-Classics/dp/0199552312
For those fond of behind-the-scene letters, this brings us closer to the mysterious mystical man in his infinite variety: https://www.amazon.com/Me-Rumi-Autobiography-Shams-I-Tabrizi/dp/1887752528/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544028446&sr=8-1&keywords=shams+chittick:
It is disconcerting that in this age, where religion has almost become a bad word, the spiritual roots that inspire artists are downplayed or removed altogether to make them more palatable to a suspicious or cynical audience. Especially, with Islam, of course, during this time of deep-seated Islamophobia.
One one level, you have a mystic, Muslim poet like Rumi being (one of) the best selling poets in the USA. On the other hand, a squeamishness or reluctance to recognize the faith he represents that dare not speak its name... Islam.
Yet, having thrown the luminous baby (faith) out with the dirty bath water (human interpretation) we still grope and ache for those lost Ideals & struggle to fill our G_d shaped hole with art, new age pastiche , philosophy, hedonism, etc...
Much to meditate upon (wordlessly) in this comparison.
Thanks, Hiveans, for allowing me think/feel out loud through these intimacies & sharing this marvelous journey 🙏🏼