Who Says Words With My Mouth?*
by Rumi (circa 1250)
(Translated by Coleman Barks)
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?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
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.
This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
* Used with the kind permission of Coleman Barks. This poem and other Rumi poems can be found in The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks (Harper Collins 2004) and Rumi The Book of Love, Translations and Commentary by Coleman Barks (Harper Collins 2003).