The Drunkards And The Tavern – A Poem by Rumi

The Drunkards And The Tavern – A Poem by Rumi

I’m drunk and you’re insane,
who’s going to take us home?
How many times did they say,
“Drink just a little, only two or three at most?”
In this city no one I see is conscious;
one is worse off than the next,
frenzied and insane.
Dear one, come to the tavern of ruin
and experience the pleasures of the soul.
What happiness can there be apart
from this intimate conversation
with the Beloved, the soul of souls?
In every corner there are drunkards, arm in arm,
while the Server pours the wine
from a royal decanter to every particle of being.
You belong to the tavern: your income is wine,
and wine is all you ever buy.
Don’t give even a second away
to the concerns of the merely sober.
O lute player, are you more drunk, or am I?
In the presence of one as drunk as you, my magic is a myth.
When I went outside the house,
some drunk approached me,
and in his eyes I saw
hundreds of hidden gardens and sanctuaries.
Like a ship without an anchor,
he rocked this way and that.
Hundreds of intellectuals and wise men
could die from a taste of his yearning.
I asked, “Where are you from?”
He laughed and said, “O soul,
half of me is from Turkestan
and half from Farghana.
Half of me is water and mud, half heart and soul;
half of me is the ocean’s shore, half is all pearl.”
“Be my friend,” I pleaded,
“I’m one of your family.”
“I know the difference between family and outsiders.”
I’ve neither a heart nor a turban,
and here in this house of hangovers
my breast is filled with unspoken words.
Shall I try to explain or not?
Have I lived among the lame for so long
that I’ve begun to limp myself?
And yet no slap of pain could disturb
a drunkenness like this.
Listen, can you hear a wail
arising from the pillar of grief?
Shams al-Haqq of Tabriz, where are you now,
after all the mischief you’ve stirred in our hearts?

[Translated by K. Helminski, A. Godlas, and L. Saedian]