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The Masnavi of Rumi, Book Two
A New English Translation with Explanatory Notes
Jalaloddin Rumi's Masnavi-ye Ma'navi, or 'Spiritual Couplets', composed in the 13th Century, is a monumental work of poetry in the Sufi tradition of Islamic mysticism. For centuries before his love poetry became a literary phenomenon in the West, Rumi's Masnavi had been revered in the Islamic world as its greatest mystical text. Drawing upon a vast array of characters, stories and fables, and deeply versed in spiritual teaching, it takes us on a profound and playful journey of discovery along the path of divine love, toward its ultimate goal of union with the source of all Truth.
In Book Two of the Masnavi, the second of six volumes, we travel with Rumi toward an understanding of the deeper truth and reality, beyond the limits of the self. Alan Williams's authoritative new translation is rendered in highly readable blank verse and includes the original Persian text for reference. True to the spirit of Rumi's poem, this new translation establishes the Masnavi as one of the world's great literary achievements for a global readership.
Translated with an introduction, notes and analysis by Alan Williams and including the Persian text edited by Mohammad Este'lami.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
In mid-thirteenth century, as the Mongol hordes were destroying the fabled city of Baghdad, in the small city of Konya to the northwest Rumi was erecting a world of mystical vision in words whose amazing architectonics and blinding beauty would prove hard to imagine and harder to grasp with any sense of immediacy. In Alan Williams' English translation of the Spiritual Couplets, we finally stand a chance not only to access that vision in all its inner glory and eternal grandeur, but ultimately to gain an immediate sense of its graceful relevance not just to our time but to all of humanity through the millennia. * Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, author of Recasting Persian Poetry * The Masnavi's new English translation is the publishing event of the year. At the hands of Alan Williams, Rumi's "cumulative polyphony" resembles a Shakespeare play where the poet speaks 'in one character after another . . .' This monumental poem's opening couplet, among the most captivating ever written, fills my heart with sadness every time I read it: "Listen to this reed as it is grieving, / it tells the story of our separations". Who could stop listening to this music after hearing these first notes? * Kaya Genc, author of The Lion and the Nightingale * 'Alan Williams has done full justice to a moving part of Rumi's spiritual masterpiece and readers will find themselves turning the page almost unconsciously, eager to discover what comes next... For the second time Williams' masterly translation, the detailed contents list, the deep scholarship, lightly worn, of the introduction and the notes, all combine to make this book a spectacular triumph.' * Carole Hillenbrand, Emeritus Professor, University of Edinburgh, UK * Alan Williams brings us an English version of that epic spiritual masterpiece which is both reliable and fluently readable. The Introduction provides an indispensable key to the Masnavi's sudden, bewildering shifts between multiple dramatic voices and perspectives, the distinctive feature which makes this poem, for every reader, "the mirror of our innermost state." * Professor James W. Morris, Boston College, USA * While maintaining the Persian flavour of Rumi's epic and lyric virtuosities, this superior translation by Alan Williams brings Rumi fully to life in English. Professor Williams combines his erudition and sophistication as a scholar with his poetic flair, to do justice to Rumi's sublime poetry for a modern readership. * Ali-Asghar Seyed-Ghorab, Associate Professor of Persian, Leiden University, The Netherlands *