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The Essential Rumi

4.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  26,511 Ratings  ·  578 Reviews
No translator could do greater justice to the gorgeous simplicity of Rumi's poetry than Coleman Barks has done here. These exquisite renderings of the 13th-century Persian mystic's words into American free verse capture all the "inner searching, the delicacy, and simple groundedness" that characterize Rumi's poetry while remaining faithful to the images, tone, and spiritua ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published 1995 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1273)
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Erin Muir
Aug 28, 2007 Erin Muir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I keep a copy of the Essential Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks) with me, everywhere I go. My copy, given to me in 2001, has travelled the world with me. I read a poem a day, although sometimes it's a poem every other day. I discovered Rumi through a great book given to me by my mother: The Language of Life, a Companion Book to the Bill Moyers' PBS special about poets alive today... Coleman Barks, a premiere Rumi translator, was among the poets interviewed..... I first fell in love with this quattrain ...more
Mar 28, 2008 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, iran
I imagine that many will wonder why my opinion of this book is so low. The answer, mainly, is that Barks is not really translating Rumi here; instead he is improvising, creating his own versions of what he thinks Rumi is about, which often results in a deracinated version of Rumi's original work. My own experience in talking to Iranians, and others, who know Rumi's work in the original, often by heart, is that it is often impossible to find, using one of Barks' poems, the original from which Bar ...more
Jun 23, 2007 Mads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Miraculous. I learn something new every time I open this book. The image that sticks to mind if how we should try to emulate a reed flute and let God's breath flow through us. I've stopped being religious when I stopped going to church when I was 16 but reading Rumi's writings is probably the closest I am to religion right now.
Jan 07, 2009 claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is always by my bed--when I haven't returned it to the library again--because it gracefully and fiercely reminds me of what it means to be alive, to long for truth and love, to open my heart again and again even when the wind is blowing wickedly all around me.
This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.

This is a hard book for me to rate. It almost seems impossible, unbearable to only reward it with three stars. Parts of it gently touched my soul, and reading those few lines of pure beauty, almost felt revolutionary. Rumi is mostly known for his love poems, and I can clearly see why. There's a certain hint of unision and belonging in his great visions of love and he strings his words together in such a delicate serenity. I fell in love w
Dec 02, 2008 Kurt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I return to again and again. I play a game with this book, and, I admit it sounds ridiculous...I will concentrate on a problem or a situation, then open the book randomly to a page and start reading; something in the poem that I selected will have some relevance to the thought at hand. Of course, it has to do with my interpretation of the situation, but it always lends itself to deeper thought, or it will allow me to be able to gain some fresh insight into the problem. Basically, ...more
Jamie clare
Feb 24, 2012 Jamie clare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HM.. Who Says Words with my Mouth?

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Colin Kinlund
Jan 29, 2008 Colin Kinlund rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to quote some verses from this book, but each line was made more beautiful by the one before it, and the one before that, until I’d have to include the whole book. And yet somehow the reverse effect is also true, in which the entirety of the mystic and divine collected in these pages is reflected in every word. Rumi writes: “The study of this book will be painful to those who feel separate from God.” But to read any one of these poems is to erase that separation completely. You that lov ...more
A phenomenal read! This book of poetry by the gifted Coleman Barks has become one of my bibles of spirituality-- it is what I would call a one in a million read! I've added it to Thoreau's Walden and the holy books. The artistry and tapestry of language is unparalleled. The words of Rumi come alive under the care of Barks. It is impossible not to be moved by Rumi's words in this compilation.

If the universe could speak, this is what it would say.

Highly recommended!
Aug 15, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The has to be my second favorite book of poetry. Rumi was less of a poet I believe, and more a vessel of grace; the messages, parables, imagery, and lyrical quality of his work makes me think much of the Psalms. Coleman Barks' translations are exquisite. I've read many different translations of Rumi, and none are as strong, brilliant, and seem to breathe with love as his. It seems that Barks was specifically chosen to be spoken through by this 12th century Sufi. I had the great pleasure to meet ...more
May 25, 2008 Feral rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again, a translator brought the text alive for me. Barks is, himself, a poet and his translations are more like interpretations. I think it is the only way to go with translating poetry. The translator must essentially make a new poem in the new language for it to work. I became a Rumi-aholic, but rarely stray from Barks translations.
Feb 26, 2013 Radhika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rumi needs no introduction, no rating, no recommendation, no stars. He is above and beyond all of this – he is a constellation unto himself. He is THAT magnificent a magician. And his readers in English, me included, can’t just thank Coleman Barks enough for translating the beauty and spirit of his poetry brilliantly. I have read other translations of Rumi but those are mere translations – but Coleman Barks’ is Rumi. Quintessentially. And this particular collection is brimming with gems. His poe ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Iwona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Guest House"

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever come
Shweta Nigam
Aug 05, 2015 Shweta Nigam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rumi's writings are like a finger that again and again catches our attention by touching the deepest places in our hearts and pointing us in the direction of life.

This is a beautifully put together book of interpretations of translations of some of Rumi's work and offers a good introduction to Rumi's life. Rumi's words appear contemporary, and contain many wonderful thoughts, as well as his share of strange ones. Enlightenment is expressed in these poems.

If you haven't read Rumi, you will not r
Jun 09, 2008 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Maureen by: The Bawa
Shelves: poetry, sufism
Coleman Barks went to Philadelphia to visit The Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, a Sri Lankan Muslim sheik. The Bawa told him that his life's work would be translating the poems of Jelalludin Rumi. Barks took The Bawa's advice to heart, and started down the path that would find Barks becoming the truest, most inspired translator of Rumi's work. I have read many different translators' work, and none of them, not even Stephen MItchell, can begin to compare with Barks.

It is impossible to study Sufism and not inc
Sarah Canavan
Sep 20, 2007 Sarah Canavan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Essential is a good word for the title of this anthology. This collection of Rumi's work is so complete. I usually skip around in poetry anthologies, but here the verses are organized into playful groupings that refer to one another subtlety but completely. I didn't expect to find myself reacting and relating to a Muslim poet from the 13th century the way that I did, but he transcends any barrier that would inhibit the relevance of his words.

Try to find the version with Huston Smith's introduct
May 09, 2012 Lon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection is my first introduction to Rumi's poetry, having been spellbound by an hour-long feature of the 13th century Sufi mystic's life on Krista Tippet's radio show, On Being. This body of poems is translated by the much-acclaimed Coleman Banks and I couldn't ask for more vigorous, modern lines.

On nearly every page a fresh, sometimes startling image seizes the imagination, blowing off the dust of the mind. Here's a typical example:

A reed flute has nine holes
and is a model of human co
Farnoosh Brock
Apr 13, 2013 Farnoosh Brock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Rumi. I am Persian and so was he, although the comparison stops there. Rumi was brilliant.

In September of 2012, I created a photographic gallery of Rumi quotations and used a few of the quotes from Coleman Bark's book with direct permission from the author - I thought it was so cool that he emailed me back and was gracious about it. This book has been sitting on my nightstand for months. I pick it up in between other books, read a page or two, let it sink and then go back to it a few nigh
Oct 04, 2008 Rauan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of my Goodfriends "Friends" has rated this book 2 stars and explains this by saying he thinks the translator has taken huge liberties with the original, Rumi, that is.

So, my rating's based on the book as it is and the belief that it's real (like you believe a movie's real....)

The danger of reading this sort of poetry (Whitman is another glaring example) is that you can so easily get caught up in the ecstasy of it. You can get drunk on it. And you can believe anything is possible. And you ca
Aug 07, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While some level the charge that the Barks translations lose something essential in the mix, the poetry presented here has an impressive immediacy that inspires on several levels. Read them along with other translations.
Feb 26, 2008 Terri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
I read Rumi's poetry constantly. It is comforting, brings peace to my soul and has constant great, practical advice for life's ups and downs. It's hard to believe these works were written centuries upon centuries ago.
Jun 05, 2011 Hiba rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Essential collection of love and mystical poems. I like to go through some parts over and over. And every time they give me the same magical impression of the first read.
Gregg Bell
Nov 25, 2013 Gregg Bell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

How would Rumi have dealt with technology? I'll tell you one thing--he wouldn't be any madder than I am right now. I just wrote a big, beautiful review of this book and as I scrolled down to check it this laptop decided to send it into cyberspace. But I am back to write it again. Technology and fate be damned!

Some writers are known for their style. Think Marcel Proust. (I read his 3,000 page novel "Remembrance of Things Past.") And Proust was a great stylist but honestly he had nothing to say. T

Jul 21, 2010 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home."

Coleman Barks was introduced to the poetry of Rumi by Robert Bly....with Bly saying "these poems need to be released from their cages." Since that time Barks has worked with literal translations of Rumi, transforming them into modern poetry. Rumi was a 13th century Persian mystic, as essential to the Muslim world as Shakespeare to the Western world. The poetry is remarkable: mystic
Dec 31, 2015 Sheida rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only have myself to blame for this one. I don't know what possessed me, self-proclaimed poetry hater, to read 416 pages of Persian poetry translated into English. (confession: I do know what possessed me though for the sake of my reputation lets not mention that I read this after Harry Styles was seen reading it). Overall, I understood a lot more than I do when I read the originals, I enjoyed a few parts of it and I highlighted quite a bit but at the end of the book I was left feeling slightly ...more
Monty Python
Oct 15, 2009 Monty Python rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was more than a little irritated at this book: I don't want Coleman Barks' interpretations of Rumi, I want Rumi's words. Barks doesn't understand Persian and didn't translate any of Rumi's work, but he takes existing translations of Rumi and reworks them. What Barks is doing is akin to a DJ mixing someone else's remix into their own DJ set, and then trying to pass that off as the original material. If you're going to practice that form of collage, don't market it as anything else; let the coll ...more
Irving Karchmar
Rumi is arguably the greatest poet of all time, even in translation; his Mathnawi, is considered the Persian Koran. Along with Homer and Dante, perhaps he encompasses the spiritual storytelling power of love, faith, joy and knowledge. Highly recommended for all.
Nicholas Whyte
Aug 06, 2011 Nicholas Whyte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a selection of poetry translated from the original Persian of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Balkhī, known as Mowlānā in Persian and Rūmī in the English-speaking world, whose followers founded the Mawlawī Sufi order, better known as the Whirling Dervishes, after his death. The poetry is expressive and profound, but also fairly easy to digest. Rūmī's basic philosophy is that one can find a path to the ineffable through meditation on love - his best one-liner
Nov 28, 2012 Salwa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can't understand Rumi's genius in one read. I find myself relating and understanding it more then the first every time I go back to it. It's more enjoyable when you open a random page and relate that poem to your life at that moment. Rumi brought me back to Islam and got me through hard times. I finally understood the difference between spirituality and religiousness.
I love how his poems are so open to interpretations and it can relate to anyone... but you have to learn about Rumi's personal
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Rumi's original? 4 80 Sep 04, 2013 12:30AM  
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Profile in Farsi: مولوی

Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: مولانا جلال الدین محمد رومی), also known as Mawlānā Jalāl-ad-Dīn Muhammad Balḫī (Persian: محمد بلخى) or Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi, but known to the English-speaking world simply as Rumi , was a 13th century Persian (Tādjīk) poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian. Rumi is a descriptive name meaning "the Roman" since he lived most pa
More about Rumi...

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“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” 2930 likes
“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?”
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