This photo Copyright 2000 Shahrokh Galame

Photo of woman turning in the dance of the whirling dervishes: Laya Torkaman of the Paris-based dance troupe Nakissa. Photo obtained from Richard Shelquist, who describes this dancing and its effects at:

---Rumi Ruminations---

Rumi, Francis and

Courtly Love


Clare. A photo of a painting obtained from

Francis and the wolf.

A photo of a painting obtained from http://www.




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There is nothing simple or straightforward about translating Persian from the time of Rumi to present-day English. This somewhat technical page makes this quite clear by citing several authorities. It is enigmatic to me that my favorite translation of one Ode by Rumi is likely not as true to the intent of the original as versions that are not my favorite. Is a claim to inspiration by a translator acceptable?

It is astounding that here two lives came together and allowed both to reach ecstatic insights neither could nor would have gained along the paths they were following alone. Is this an example of inspiration obtained through Courtly Love's ideal?
Several sources are consulted to describe this relationship.
It is important, to me, to understand both the nature of this relationship and why it was so productive in Rumi's life. Without his relationship with this wild and untamed man, the world at large would not know Rumi today.

Inspirations from his writings in translation. This poet was the founder of the Sufi's order of "whirling dervishes," and dictated his poems while whirling in an ecstatic state. The results are remarkable in both their timelessness and universality. He is a Muslim with a Christian wife, born in what is now Afghanistan and lived in what is now Turkey, with a refreshing tolerance of non-Muslims and intolerance of insincere pretenders of all religions including his own. Some of Rumi ideas compare amazingly well with those of a 19th century Mormon leader.

Imagine my surprise while on a trip visiting a bookstore to find yet another book that contains insights into my favorite constelation of Medieval subjects: Saint Francis with insight into his function as an antidote to the Cathar heresy; and a good discussion of Courtly Love and its roots in Sufi philosophy and poetry. This book is "The Medieval Underworld," by Andrew McCall (Barnes & Noble, 1993), and has sections on the criminal as well as the heretical underworld, which is compared with the mystical movement of the time.

Why did reading books on Rumi and his poetry lead to a return to the life of Saint Francis which I focused on some years ago? It is all James Cowans' fault. After really liking his "A Troubadour's Testament," I read his book on Rumi's poetry, then moved to his book on Francis, and then to and through two more books. All of them are used to inform these webpages. James Cowan's book "Francis, A Saint's Way" is no ordinary biography, but combines introspective insights into an interpretation of Francis. It addresses several aspects of Francis' life that I found repulsive, but examines these issues in a new light, for me. Francis was writing a poem with his life, a unique poem that re- energized a particular religion, and influenced the world.

In years past I wrote a considerable amount on Courtly Love's ideal as a mechanism for stimulating human creativity. To my considerable surprise, Saint Francis may have been very aware of Courtly Love's ideal and may have 'practiced' its primary precept of love-at-a-distance willfully in his relationships with two women in particular whom he loved chastely but deeply. As discussed on the page linked above that looks into the relationship between Rumi and Shems, they exemplified this ideal also. It appears that when a soulmates breeze into ones life, even if the relationship so formed is only temporary, life is changed forever.

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