I’ve been picking my way through The Forbidden Rumi for months, one or two poems before bed every few days. Finally I got so close to the end I had a Rumi binge and read the remaining two dozen or so poems to finish the book. The translation was done by Nevit O. Ergin, a Turkish born surgeon and original translator into English of all of Rumi’s 44,829 poems. Ergin has studied Sufism and Rumi since 1955. The Frobidden Rumi completes is translations of all things Rumi.

According to the book’s introduction, this last volume of Rumi’s poetry has always posed a bit of a problem. Not only do many of the poems break the rules of meter and phrasing but the content is also troublesome. Rumi frequently talks of being drunk and even though it is a divine drunkenness – drunk on God – drunk is still bad. In other poems Rumi remarks on the stupidity and prejudice of his neighbors and town that led to the murder of his mentor and beloved friend Shams. In still other poems he declares love is religion’s only precept, encourages people to be heretics in order to find the real truth of Islam, and declares Jews, Christians, Muslims and Zoroastrians are equal when dissolved into God.

I enjoyed the book but not as much as I have enjoyed other books of Rumi poems. I don’t know if it is the translator (the other books I’ve read have all been done by Coleman Barks who is a fantastic poet and translator) or if it is the poems themselves. Even so, there is plenty to love here though I wouldn’t recommend this be your first book of Rumi poetry if you have never read him before.

Here are two of the many wonderful poems in the collection to give you a little taste.

Choose Love

Because of the beloved
my heart is happy,
my soul illuminated.

From the beloved’s greenery
hundreds of blessed rivers
are flowing to the rose gardens.

In order to enter into your rose garden,
the soul makes peace with the thorns.

Choose love. Choose love.
Without this beautiful love,
life is nothing but a burden.

The Journey Starts Here

Don’t go off sightseeing.
The real journey is right here.
The great excursion starts
from exactly where you are.
You are the world.
You have everything you need.
You are the secret.
You are the wide opened.

Don’t look for the remedy for your troubles
outside yourself.
You are the medicine.
You are the cure for your own sorrow.