Mawlaví (Rumi), O dweller in my soul


The following is my translation into rhyming verse of a ghazal by Mawlavi, or Rumi, as he is known in the West, a man who is scarcely in need of introduction. Mawlavi’s poetry is often quoted by Baha’u’llah and his writings, most notably his sprawling Masnavi, remain inspiring works replete with moral and spiritual wealth.

The following ghazal could be seen as an ode to his muse Shams-e Tabriz, whose presence and sudden disappearance had a seminal influence on Mawlavi’s life and work. Mawlavi often saw human beings as reflections of divinity, and it seems that the mysterious figure of Shams-e Tabriz, for Mawlavi, was the quintessential example thereof.

View interlinear file with the original Persian


Ghazal 2,587 by Mawlavi

Translation by Joshua Hall

O Dweller in my soul, oh, whither hast thou winged thy flight?

Shut up in thine abode, or unto heaven didst alight?

When thou didst see my pact of heart-felt love, didst turn from love,

The pacts thereof, and as a bird thou flewest, but whither flown above?

Upon the soul didst gaze, and as the soul didst thou depart.

From world and men wert thou recluse, and from them thou didst part.

But oh, so soon! too soon! The blowing Western Wind art thou;

Gone with the wind art thou, like to the scent of florid bough.

But thou art not the zephyr, neither art the bird of air,

But Godly light; in light of God to home didst thou repair.

Thou master of this house, like unto candles at the eve,

For shame of this abode, to heaven’s vault didst take thy leave.

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