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Robin and Linda Williams with Garrison Keillor and Richie Gorski on the synthesizer…


Across the Blue Mountains

One morning, one morning, one morning in May
I heard a married man to a young girl say
“Go dress you up, Pretty Katie, and come go with me
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny.

“I’ll buy you a horse, love, and saddle to ride
I’ll buy myself another to ride by your side
We’ll stop at every tavern we’ll drink when we’re dry
Across the Blue Mountains go my Katie and I

“Well, up spoke her mother, and angry was she then
“Sayin’ daughter, oh dear daughter, he’s a married man
And there’s young men aplenty more handsome than he
Let him take his own wife to the Allegheny”

“Oh mother, oh mother, he’s the man of my heart
And wouldn’t it be a dreadful thing if we should have to part
I’d envy every woman who I’d ever see
Go ‘cross the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny”

(Well the last time I saw him, he was saddled to ride
With Katie, his darling, right there by his side
A laughing and a singing and thankful to be free
To cross the Blue Mountain to the Allegheny)

We left before daybreak on a buckskin and roan
Past tall shivering pines where mockingbirds moan
Past dark cabin windows where eyes never see
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny




Past dark cabin windows where eyes never see
Across the Blue Mountains to the Allegheny




river rock collection spot near harrisonburg









My last travel in life with my husband was across these mountains to a new home together.

It lasted for another twenty-five years.  I am so glad we made the trip and took the chance.

We did it about the same time that this recording was made and I much remember going with him to hear Robin and Linda sing together in a lovely Virginia venue.

One of our many cherished memories.

Most of these photos were taken on our travels through the Allegheny Mountains and through the Shenandoah River area which is also captured here.  The first photo were taken in the Allegheny mountains in May and the two river pictures were taken of the Shenandoah, also in May.


March 8, 2012

The 13th-century Muslim mystic and poet Rumi has long shaped Muslims around the world and has now become popular in the West. Rumi created a new language of love within the Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism. We hear his poetry as we delve into his world and listen for its echoes in our own.



Transcript for Fatemeh Keshavarz — The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi
December 16, 2010

Krista Tippett, host: This hour, we enter the exuberant world of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian mystic and poet. Rumi’s poems are best-sellers in the West and he has long influenced Islamic thought and spirituality, though his Muslim identity is often lost in translation. With an Iranian-American poet and scholar, we’ll explore why that matters in our time. And we’ll hear the lyrical words Rumi put to the common human search for meaning. He understood searching and restlessness as a kind of arrival. He saw every form of human love as a mirror of the divine.

Mr. Soleyman Vaseghi: [Lines of Rumi poetry recited in Persian]

Ms. Fatemeh Keshavarz: [Translating] Wherever you are, whatever you do, be in love.

Ms. Tippett: From American Public Media, I’m Krista Tippett. Today on Being, “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.”

In his lifetime, the poet known in the West as Rumi was called Muhammad Jalal al-Din al-Balkhi al-Rumi. He was born in 1207 near the city of Balkh in what is now Afghanistan. When he was a child, his family fled Mongol invaders and settled in Konya in present-day Turkey. Rumi wrote in Persian, the literary and spiritual lingua franca of a civilization that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to India. To most of the people who read him today from Tajikistan to Iran, he is known as Mevlana or Mawlana, our master.

Rumi left behind a vast body of lyric poetry, metaphysical writings, lectures, and letters, which have influenced Persian, Urdu, and Turkish literature across the centuries. Rumi also inspired the whirling dervishes, ascetics who base their practices on Rumi, including the dancing meditation that was part of his spiritual life. And in the late 20th century, Rumi’s thought and poetry swept the United States in English translation. Lines from Rumi became widely quoted in diverse settings, lines such as “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” Those who enjoyed such words often knew little about the man behind them or his Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism.

My guest today, Fatemeh Keshavarz, calls Rumi a world-class thinker, relevant to our painfully compartmentalized world.

Ms. Keshavarz: One of the reasons why he addresses the issues that are of concern to us so much today is because he belongs to a tradition, the Sufi tradition or the mystical tradition within Islam, which has always been concerned with the way human beings view themselves and each other and are able to relate to each other.

Ms. Tippett: Fatemeh Keshavarz will be our guide as we explore some of the large themes of Rumi’s spirituality that may be only partially understood even as they echo in modern culture. I spoke with her in 2007. She is chair of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis. She is also a poet, and often sets Rumi’s words to music. She grew up speaking the Persian in which Rumi wrote, in the Iranian city of Shiraz.

Ms. Keshavarz: I grew up in a family in which people played chess, read poetry, or argued about poetry. That was basically — and only after I left Iran I realized that that’s probably not what everyone else does all the time. Yes.

Ms. Tippett: So in this landscape where poetry of all kinds, including poetry woven into religious sensibility, I mean, what did Rumi mean in that landscape? How was he part of the spiritual sensibility of that world you grew up in?

Ms. Keshavarz: Well, he was a voice that echoed something that was, on one level, very familiar, because a lot of other people had talked about it, but on another level, it was completely new because of the way he played with it, the way he made it his own game. And I mean game because playing is very serious for him. Laughing and playing are the most serious things in his poetry.

So for me, he came into the picture as someone who said, ‘OK, you’ve read the text. You know the words. You’ve looked at the history. Now, transcend all that. Put it aside and live it. Encounter it.’ If you ask me to think of a few words that, for me, describe his poetry, one of them is it’s an encounter. You come face to face with something. I never forget, I was once reading a ghazal that described as beautiful birds. You know, he said …

Ms. Tippett: The ghazals are odes, what we would translate as something a little bit different than a poem, right?

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. Ghazal is about eight to 10, 12 lines normally, although his could be much shorter or much longer. And the main theme is love and these are like flashes of ideas that come.

Ms. Tippett: OK.

Ms. Keshavarz: So I was reading one of those and he was describing these beautiful birds. You know, some can sing, some are colorful, and so forth. And I was, you know, enjoying the walk in the aviary. And he suddenly said, ‘Well, what kind of a bird are you?’ All of a sudden, I realized I can’t stay on the margins. You have to join in. And I think, in a way, the whirling is exactly a reflection of that. So he kind of comes into the tradition with all the intellectual legacy, but he says that’s not enough. You have to do something else with it. Face it, play with it, dance it, bring it into your everyday life.

Ms. Tippett: You know, something that strikes me, there are a lot of themes in his writing, in his poetry, that you might call ascetic. You know, he’s very aware of the limits of the physical …

Ms. Keshavarz: Sure, yeah.

Ms. Tippett: … and of the importance of the spiritual in that equation. And yet, there’s something incredibly sensual at the same time that, when you mention the whirling …

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: … the weeping of the whirling dervishes. There’s dance and music.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. I would say that it’s all on the same continuum of human experience. We are not divided into body and soul in a way, although he does talk about body and soul and there’s no question about the fact that the soul is exalted. Ultimately, the goal is to purify the soul and so on and so forth.

But we don’t have to think about the rest of ourselves as base or as not — in fact, it’s a tool. It’s a part of us that’s very important. He does say, in one verse, he says, “Love, whether of this kind or that kind,” and obviously, it’s either, you know, the kind of divine, spiritual, or the human-to-human love, “ultimately leads you to the same king.” The body is not an obstacle on the way of the soul. It’s a tool to be used for that journey.

Ms. Tippett: Rumi scholar and poet Fatemeh Keshavarz. After Rumi’s death, some of his followers founded the Mevlevi Order, commonly known as the community of the whirling dervishes.

Dervish is a Persian word, which described wandering Muslim ascetics of the medieval Persian Empire. Dervishes were and are Sufis, part of the Islamic mystical tradition that emerged as a spiritual renewal movement after the death of the Prophet Mohammed.

Rumi imprinted that movement with a vividly sensual and poetic practice of spirituality that has been provocative and controversial across the ages. He crafted some of his most religious ideas in the form of erotically toned love poetry, which seems at once addressed to Allah or God and to an earthly beloved. Rumi inspired the practice of the whirling dervishes by spinning around a column as he recited his poems.

Ms. Tippett: Something you wrote about whirling that was so gripping to me said, for Rumi, the whirling is one way to stay centered while moving.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. And, you know, and I do some speculation in my work. Does this have something to do with the fact that he traveled so young when he went all the way westward from the province of Khorasan to where is the city of Konya today, present-day Turkey? And the journey lasted about two years. He must have encountered so many different people and cultures and incidents. So it may have something to do with that.

But he’s certainly very appreciative of the ability to change your vantage point. You know, at some point, he says, in his discourses, he says, ‘If you don’t plow the earth, it’s going to get so hard nothing grows in it. You just plow the earth of yourself. You just get moving. And even don’t ask exactly what’s going to happen. You allow yourself to move around, and then you will see the benefit.’

Ms. Tippett: Is there also something in the whirling that strikes you as very compatible with Islamic theology in general, or with Sufi theology, that might not be apparent to an outsider?

Ms. Keshavarz: Well, I think you could say that everything in the universe is whirling, is quickened with the force of love. I mean, that fits with the Sufi theology. We are like planets. We have to appreciate that. And in order to appreciate that, you have to join the dance. But there are also — there are interpretations. We can now look at whirling and say things like, for example, one hand is pointed towards the sky and the other one to the earth. So that’s usually interpreted as bringing the heaven and the earth together, like staying connected with the two. Or the dervishes wear a black robe and a white robe underneath, and then they disrobe the black robe and they dance in their white. That’s interpreted as the shedding of the ego.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Ms. Keshavarz: But then the master standing in the center doesn’t have to do it because he supposedly has tamed his ego. But all of these things have been interpretations later, done of the activity of whirling. Beyond that, you know, to me, it comes across as something much broader and more universal than Islam or any other religion. It’s a kind of getting in tune with the moving earth.

Ms. Tippett: You’ve spoken a lot about love and love as the core of this spirituality. I think that, also, in the Persian culture in which you grew up and Rumi as well, there is a connection between love poetry and imagery of the beloved and lovers with religious ideas, which, again, you kind of have to introduce a Westerner into.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yeah. The imagery is very often almost identical with profane, you know, mundane love poetry. By this, I don’t mean to give any negative connotation to it, but love that is purely sensual and emotional, and human love. To me, I think it’s a statement by poets like Rumi and others like him that there isn’t really a boundary between the two. It’s the same thing. It’s the same human experience.

And, you know, there is another medieval Sufi, actually a bit later than Rumi, who says that you can’t look at the sun directly, but you can look at its reflection in the water. Now, our humanly experience of love is that reflection in the water of our senses. And it’s God’s way of teaching us and guiding us from this to the actual looking at the sun when you have gained the ability. I was just thinking of a particular ghazal.

Ms. Tippett: Yes, I wanted to ask you if you had anything you would read or recite, yes.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yeah, yeah. I think that that actually could help see how one would lead to the other, and actually the ambiguity between the two. It’s a source of great poetic force.

Ms. Tippett: And you mean, one and the other would be divine — human love and divine love?

Ms. Keshavarz: Human love and divine love, exactly.

Mr. Vaseghi: [Lines of Rumi poetry recited in Persian]

Ms. Keshavarz: [Translating] If anyone asks you about the houris, show your face, say, “Like this.” If anyone asks you about the moon, climb up on the roof, say, “Like this.” If anyone seeks a fairy, let them see your countenance. If anyone talks about the aroma of musk, untie your hair and say, “Like this.” If anyone asks, “How do the clouds uncover the moon?” Untie the front of your robe, knot by knot, say, “Like this.” If anyone asks, “How did Jesus raise the dead?” Kiss me on the lips, say, “Like this.” If anyone asks, “What are those killed by love like?” Direct him to me, say, “Like this.” If anyone kindly asks you how tall I am, show him your arched eyebrows, say, “Like this.”

So the whole ghazal is a description of the physical beauty of the beloved, but at the same time, it’s a fairly long poem. At the end, it leads us to blind with envy the one who says, “How can a human being reach God?” Give each of us a candle of purity, say, “Like this.” In the end, human beings can get to that candle of purity and reach God, and all human beings can do that.

Ms. Tippett: It is also an act of pointing at what is now, right? What is physical and human, as you say, as the only way we have of imagining.

Ms. Keshavarz: Exactly. Exactly. There’s a famous Sufi tale that this young disciple who approached the master to enter the order day after day. And finally, the master said, “Have you ever fallen in love with a woman?” He said, “No, not yet. I’m only 18.” He said, “Well, go try that first.”

Ms. Tippett: Rumi scholar Fatemeh Keshavarz. We’ve selected more of Rumi’s poems for you to hear and read on our website,, along with images and explanations of the whirling dervishes.

I’m Krista Tippett, on Being — conversation about meaning, faith, ethics, and ideas. Today, “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.” We’re dipping into the spiritual background of the 13th-century Muslim mystic whose poetry is celebrated by an array of modern readers.

In the “Song of the Reed,” Rumi reflects on the human spirit through the metaphor of the ancient reed flute or ney that is popular in Middle Eastern music. This poem opened the Masnavi, Rumi’s compendium of rhyming couplets that explored Sufi theology and the spiritual journey.

Ms. Keshavarz: [Reciting] Listen to the story told by the reed of being separated. Since I was cut from the reed bed, I have made this crying sound. Anyone apart from someone he loves understands what I say. Anyone pulled from a source longs to go back. At any gathering, I’m there, mingling and laughing and grieving — a friend to each, but few will hear the secrets hidden within the notes. No ears for that. Body flowing out of spirit, spirit out from body, no concealing that mixing. But it’s not given us to see, so the reed flute is fire, not wind. Leave that empty.

Ms. Tippett: There’s a theme that is part of that, that runs all the way through, about separation and longing as part of — well, not just the spiritual life, but being human, and also a kind of sense that the separation and the longing themselves are a kind of arrival.

Ms. Keshavarz: On one level, you have to get on the road. You have to get started. You know, just like the earth that, you know, have to plow the earth, you have to get moving. On another level, time and again, he reminds us that the destination is the journey itself. So there isn’t a point where you say, ‘OK, I’m here, I’ve reached, I’m done, I’m perfect. I don’t need to do anything anymore.’ In the incompleteness of that, the need to move forward is inherent in that incompleteness, in the process of going forward, that you make yourself better and better and you, in a way, never reach. So the separation is the powerful force that keeps you going. If you ever felt that, ‘I have arrived, I’ve reached, this is it,’ then you wouldn’t go any further.

Ms. Tippett: You know, and I think it is counterintuitive in our culture — not that we necessarily think this through very often, but we think of desires and longings as something that we need to find something to meet, right?

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, yes.

Ms. Tippett: And …

Ms. Keshavarz: And we want to meet it really fast and perfect. Yes.

Ms. Tippett: Yes, because, somehow, the feeling of longing and separation from whatever it is, especially if we don’t know what it is we want, that that is unsatisfying and there’s something wrong with that.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: And yet, what Rumi is saying is that, you know, the longing itself is redemptive and is progress, kind of.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, and the longing itself — and also not to understand exactly what that longing is in itself is very productive. I think one idea or major concept that the Sufi tradition and Rumi in particular have to contribute to our current culture is value in perplexity, the fact that not knowing is a source of learning, something that propels us forward into finding out. Longing, perplexity, these are all very valuable things. We want to unravel things and get answers and be done, but as far as he’s concerned, it’s a continual process. We can’t be done, and that’s good.

Ms. Tippett: I also have a feeling that Rumi is saying we also, though, at the same time need to be intentional about what we choose to be perplexed by. Does that make sense? I mean, there’s this poem: “Stay bewildered in God and only that. Those of you who are scattered, simplify your worrying lives. There is one righteousness. Water the fruit trees and don’t water the thorns. Be generous to what nurtures the spirit and God’s luminous reason-light. Don’t honor what causes dysentery and knotted-up tumors. Don’t feed both sides of yourself equally. The spirit and the body carry different loads and require different attentions.”

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. Yes. I think the energy can’t go in all directions completely uncontrolled. And you have to choose because we have one life. You have to spend it wisely. So absolutely, he would say choose, be selective, recognize your own value. At another point, he says, ‘You are an astrolabe to God, you know? Don’t use yourself for things that are not worthwhile.’ But I want to linger a little bit on that idea of being scattered because that’s a key concept in Sufi thought.

Ms. Tippett: OK.

Ms. Keshavarz: And actually it’s something that the Buddhists also talk about a lot. And that is our mind just jumps from one thing to the other. And, you know, the Sufis call it the onrush of ideas into our minds. And in some ways, if we allow it, it takes us over, you know? You know, what am I going to do about that credit card? You know, how am I going to …

Ms. Tippett: Right, right.

Ms. Keshavarz: You know, what do I do about this student’s paper? And, you know, whatever else is you are — that you’re concerned with — my family, my kids, my future. So it all invades your life. And so in a way, you’re pulled in all directions. You’re scattered. So one of the purposes of his poetry and one of the concepts the Sufis talk about is to collect that scatteredness.

Ms. Tippett: Rumi scholar Fatemeh Keshavarz. Here is one of Rumi’s ghazals, which she translated and recites with the Lian Ensemble, a group that often sets Rumi’s words to Persian music.

Mr. Houman Pourmehdi: [Lines of Rumi poetry recited in Persian]

Ms. Keshavarz: [Translating] When pain arrives side by side with your love, I promise not to flee. When you ask me for my life, I promise not to fight. I’m holding a cup in my hand, but God, if you do not come till the end of time, I promise not to pour out the wine nor to drink a sip. Your bright face is my day. Your dark curls bring the night. If you do not let me near you, I promise not to go to sleep nor rise. Your magnificence has made me a wonder. Your charm has taught me the way of love. I am the progeny of Abraham. I’ll find my way through fire.

Ms. Tippett: What do you hear in that? What do you reflect on in that?

Ms. Keshavarz: It’s about steadfastness, about staying centered and keeping your eye on the goal, but at the same time, very much being in love and allowing the ecstasy of love take over. You see, he is very aware of the fact that, as human beings, we are limited. We have our limits. We just are not able to do everything that we desire to do. Our rationality is there; it’s very helpful. It does its job in questioning things and showing the way, but that has its limits too. What opens the way beyond that is love. What enables us to feel the pain and still go forth in the face of all of that is experiencing that love. And if you look at our lives, you know, people who produce great works of art, who are creative, who do something that goes beyond day-to-day activities, have that kind of steadfastness, that kind of devotion that lets them go through. What I see in that poem is that I promise to have that, but that comes from you. It’s your magnificence, your love that gives me that energy, that power to stay, and I promise to hold onto it.

Ms. Tippett: And “you” is the beloved, is God, is Allah.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, and that’s where the ambiguity comes in, of course, because you should be able to relate to it as a human being in love with another human being. That would be your entry into the poem.

Ms. Tippett: It’s also probably important to note that Rumi had a great turning point with a friendship, with Shams, a Sufi master. I think it is actually helpful that the love relationship, out of which Rumi drew so many of his analogies, you know, is not a romantic love relationship. And what you’re saying to me is that love is the core, but to think about the many forms that love takes in our lives. I mean, there’s also the passionate love that we have for our children.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, and so they are a blessing and they all have their own place. And in the end, we don’t replace them with the divine. It’s like warming up, in a way. It’s like getting you ready for a major exercise, a physical activity. You warm up gradually. You get yourself to a state where you can do it, test your abilities, see your problems and issues, ask your questions, quarrel with yourself, and get ready for it. And I think all these forms of experience of attachment with other human beings are various ways of experiencing that.

Ms. Tippett: In 2007, we won a Peabody Award for this production on Rumi. Our website is an extension of the show. At, you can listen to full versions of the music and poetry you’ve just heard — recited in lush Persian and in English. Also, across the years many listeners have written to us about how Rumi’s ideas and words live on, resonating with their interior worlds today. How have Rumi’s words spoken to you? What in his spirituality surprises or draws you in? Share your story at

And I encourage you subscribe to our e-mail updates. They bring you previews of each week’s show, my personal journal on each week’s ideas, and the most popular posts from our blog — including right now a series about the Advent season. Subscribe by clicking the “Updates” button on our home page —

Coming up, how Rumi might speak to the spirit of Islam, past and present.

I’m Krista Tippett. This program comes to you from American Public Media.


Ms. Tippett: I’m Krista Tippett. Today on Being, “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi,” the 13th-century Persian poet and mystic.

In recent years, English translations of Rumi’s poetry by the American poet Coleman Barks have sold more than half a million copies in the U.S. Rumi has been the subject of creative work by contemporary artists from composer Philip Glass to pop icon Madonna.

But such popular renditions of Rumi often give little hint of his Islamic identity. He was the son of a Muslim teacher, born in the center of Persian Islamic civilization. He spent time as the head of a madrassa, religious schools, which were also designed as centers of great learning in the sciences and philosophy. Rumi’s themes of separation and longing come straight from the heart of Islamic theology. There is no idea of original sin, but rather of a human tendency to forget and thus become separated from Allah or God. Islam imagines faith as zikr or remembrance of a knowledge that is embedded in human beings. My guest, Fatemeh Keshavarz, finds resonance in Rumi for the deepest challenges before the world and Islam today.

Ms. Tippett: I’d like to talk about Rumi’s Islamic grounding and identity.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, yes.

Ms. Tippett: That gets lost in 21st-century translations.

Ms. Keshavarz: Absolutely. I agree.

Ms. Tippett: Coleman Barks’ translations are the ones that many people have read, that became popularized, and …

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes, yes.

Ms. Tippett: I was reading his introduction to The Essential Rumi. You know, he suggested that with a mystical writer like this, you know, he suggested that placing this person in historical and cultural context is simply not a central task. And he wrote, “My more grandiose project is to free his text into its essence.”

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. I think one thing that Coleman Barks has done, he has written Rumi’s ideas in the American poetic idiom. He’s made it accessible …

Ms. Tippett: OK.

Ms. Keshavarz: … to the broad readership, and that should definitely be valued. And, you know, don’t hear me saying anything else on that. But I don’t think you can free people from the context in which they live. And I don’t think even if you try to do that, that that serves a useful purpose. I don’t see Rumi as detached from the Islamic context at all. In fact, I see his work as utterly and completely immersed in the Islamic tradition. I tell you, it would be hard to read a single ghazal, not even the Masnavi, which is expressly a work with theological and mystical intentions. But even a ghazal, it would be hard to read a ghazal and not find quite a few allusions to Qur’anic verses, to sayings of the prophet, to practices in the Muslim world, so I don’t think we need to separate him from his Islamic context.

The way first I visualize this myself is that he goes through the religion, he lives it, absorbs it, and uses it in his way. So in the process, he subverts a lot of things. He changes a lot of things, reinterprets a lot of things, but he does not step outside of it. He lives in it. Let me give you an example.

Ms. Tippett: Good.

Ms. Keshavarz: You know that in his discourses — I try not to use the word sermons because sermon brings such a specific connotation that’s probably not there. But the discourses are when Rumi is sitting in a local mosque, in a local gathering, talking to people. It’s very interactive, it’s very informal, and he kind of steps down the pulpit in a way and reaches out to the people and it’s very poetic even though it’s in prose. And he didn’t write it down; his students and, you know, people around him took it down. On one of these occasions, he quotes a Qur’anic verse, if I might quote the Arabic, is [recites Qur’anic verse in Arabic]. “We” — this is the royal we, God — “we sent down the zikr and we will be its protector.” Now, the word zikr in Arabic means remembrance. And traditionally, the commentators have defined the word zikr as the Qur’an itself, and they have good reason to do so because elsewhere in the Qur’an, the Qur’an refers to itself as zikr and remembrance, in part because humanity is described as forgetful, so the Qur’an is a way of remembering.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Ms. Keshavarz: Now, he says the commentators have said that this verse refers to the Qur’an itself, that God says, “We have given you the Qur’an, and we are, that I am the protector of it.” And he said [foreign language spoken]. That’s fine. [Foreign language spoken], but there is this interpretation, too, that God says [foreign language spoken]. “We have put in you a desire and a quest, and I, God, am the protector of that desire.” That’s a very different interpretation. First of all, it opens it immediately to all humanity.

Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm. I think that there is something in Rumi’s writing which is so large, so generous.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: I don’t like the word universal because, I think, in some ways, it waters things down.

Ms. Keshavarz: I agree with you. Generous is a very good — yes, yes, yeah.

Ms. Tippett: But it’s easy to read this and also, I think, people from many different religious traditions can read this poetry or his discourses, or people who are not people of faith can read it and feel themselves addressed and feel their spiritual lives addressed.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes. Yes. And I think sometimes people feel that if they take away or overlook the Islamic flavor of it, maybe that makes him more accessible, more theirs. I think generosity and openness is a very good way of putting it. If you’re not rooted in the specific and in the small, in the local, you can never see the broader vision. You have to love a tradition and to be completely immersed in it before you can subvert it and transcend it.

Ms. Tippett: Before you can subvert it from the inside.

Ms. Keshavarz: Exactly. And you have to love it for you to think that ‘I want to open it up. I want to make it better, and then go forward with it.’ And, you know, you can’t break laws in an acceptable way unless you know them really well and practice them with tradition. That’s the only time. And that’s what I think he does. He’s so well rooted in the Islamic tradition, so completely aware of the nuances, that he says, you know, ‘Hey guys, we can open it up here. Look. Look at this. This is what you always thought, but now look one step beyond.’ And he can do that precisely because he’s rooted in the tradition.

Ms. Tippett: And I think it’s true also that around the same time that Rumi was entering popular imaginations by way of poetry, there were images of Islam suddenly in the news in this post-9/11 world, which were so very different from that.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: I mean — and, you know, you’ve written that Rumi is “a true child of an adventurous and cosmopolitan Islam.” And, you know, those are not two words that you would associate with headline Islam that we’ve had these past years.

Ms. Keshavarz: I’m actually, you know, really glad you bring this up because, I think, one thing that’s desperately needed at this point, to show the adventureness, the surprise, the play, the aspects of his work that now are not normally associated with that part of the world. You kind of think that, you know, people just — it’s all religion, and it’s religion followed in a fairly institutionalized and stylized and, you know, planned form. Not at all. I mean, he’s playing with it all the time. So I think another contribution he could do for us right now, exactly in this post-9/11 environment, is to bring out that side of the Muslim culture, that contribution to the world.

Ms. Tippett: I’m Krista Tippett, on Being — conversation about meaning, faith, ethics, and ideas. Today, “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi.”

Ironically, just as Rumi has been rediscovered in the U.S. and Western Europe, the Sufi brotherhood formed by his followers has been banned in periods of recent history in Turkey, where Rumi did most of his writing and where he’s buried. The whirling of the whirling dervishes, which Rumi first innovated as a form of dancing meditation, has been reduced, some say, to mere entertainment. I asked Fatemeh Keshavarz about Rumi’s legacy in Iran, where she grew up, the center of the Persian world of literature and culture to which Rumi also belonged.

Ms. Tippett: Is Rumi still as much alive in Iran now as when you were growing up? How does that look?

Ms. Keshavarz: Well, I tell you I can’t keep up with the books that are published in Iran about him. Yes, absolutely. You know, there’s this debate whether he was a Persian or a Turk or an Afghan, you know?

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Ms. Keshavarz: It is completely really irrelevant again. But for Iranians, he’s just such a household name. You will have, in your house, you will have the Qur’an, you will have the volume of poetry of Hafez, another great figure from the little bit later period, and the Masnavi of Rumi. And then depending, of course, like any other culture, you have people who more immersed in his work and more familiar. They know him at different levels obviously. But, yeah, I wouldn’t say that the interest in him has changed or lessened at all.

Ms. Tippett: I mean, I hear in my conversations that Islam in Iran is — there’s great intellectual discourse and study and, you know, that’s just not a story that we hear.

Ms. Keshavarz: Right.

Ms. Tippett: So I mean, I’m just curious, you know? This subversive, playful, cosmopolitan quality of — are those also part of the discourse in Iran?

Ms. Keshavarz: Absolutely. You know, I send out lists to my friends called “Windows on Iran” precisely for that. Just once a week, I send out information about Iran that they don’t get to see in the media. Like in the month of June, for example, there’s a book fair in Iran. You know how many people visited this past book fair in June in one week? Two million people visited the book fair.

Ms. Tippett: Oh, my God.

Ms. Keshavarz: You know, I send this out and then I get these messages, ‘Wow, this is happening in Iran?’ Or I send pictures. I just realized afterwards that our visual vocabulary has been affected. If we think of Iran, we only have certain visions of unfortunate moments in recent history that get repeated. And our language — Rumi is so aware of that. Language can take over our lives and make us not see things. He actually has a fabulous verse, he says [Persian spoken]. “Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world.” I mean this is the most sophisticated, philosophical approach to language. Now we talk of language as being constitutive of experience, but that’s exactly what he said. You know, ‘Get yourself a new language and then you will be able to see a new world.’ And that’s definitely what we need to do in relation to that part of the world and certainly with Iran, to see the dynamics. A tremendous amount is going on that we don’t get to hear about.

Mr. Vaseghi: [Lines of Rumi poetry recited in Persian]

Ms. Keshavarz: [Translating] To speak the same language is to share the same blood, to be related. To live with strangers is the life of captivity. Many are Hindus and Turks who share the same language. Many are Turks who may be alien to one another. The language of companionship is a unique one. To reach someone through the heart is other than reaching them through words. Besides words, allusions, and arguments, the heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak.

Ms. Tippett: You know, I can’t help but look at Rumi’s life and be struck by how the poles of culture and place in terms of, you know, where he moved and where he lived and settled, are all such important poles in our world today. There’s Afghanistan, there’s Turkey, which is somehow becoming symbolic of the struggle to define what is Western, right, what is not.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: There’s Persia, there’s Iran. Do you ever think about that, about Rumi’s legacy and where he came from and how that echoes in the world today?

Ms. Keshavarz: I consider myself tremendously lucky to be able to grow up with that language. But to tell you the truth, I think that all parts of the world have their own Rumis. I believe that we just need only to explore those traditions and look for them. So in a sense, I think he is just one other giant, you know, one other figure who is very important right now. I agree with you, it’s very important to read him, to look at the vision that he has for humanity, because it’s so healing, it’s so needed to correct some of our shortsightedness and, you know, some of the problems we have with not being able to see the larger picture. So in that sense, I agree with you. But I don’t know if I want to think of that part of the world as having any kind of monopoly on this.

Ms. Tippett: OK.

Ms. Keshavarz: I think, if anything, his vision is that all humanity is pregnant with God. You know, we all in various parts of worlds and traditions — we have people like him. We just have to find them.

Ms. Tippett: You ask a question in something you’ve written: “How is one to nurture this God buried like a ruin in the treasure of one’s being and let it permeate all of life?” How does your encounter with Rumi, your ongoing encounter with Rumi, how does it help you live with that question, answer that question in your life?

Ms. Keshavarz: You know, the most important tool he has, which is hope, is what we need to nurture in ourselves. And hope, the energy to move, the energy to go, to never think that this is not worth it or I am done, I am tired, that’s what he’s given me. I can read them for hours, I can teach them for hours. I can come back to it and be surprised again. The gift is a kind of whirling that keeps your life to be a constant move on the road, and then according to your abilities, what you can see, what you can hear, what you can cherish, you get your own rewards. You put it together. Again, you give birth to your own God. Life kind of comes to life with his words.

Ms. Tippett: With Rumi’s words.

Ms. Keshavarz: Yes.

Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm.

Ms. Keshavarz: And, you know, depending on where I am and who I am at that point and what I’m doing, I get something out of it. It actually has a fascinating verse. He says [Persian spoken], says, “I am fire. If you have doubts about that, bring your hands forth.” That’s the dramatic flair I was talking about, you know?

Ms. Tippett: Right, right.

Ms. Keshavarz: ‘Bring your hands forth. Touch me and I’ll tell you what I’m about.’

Ms. Tippett: Fatemeh Keshavarz is professor of Persian and Comparative Literature and chair of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis. Her books include: Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran.

This hour of radio is a celebration of Rumi’s lush and textured poetry — and it was a joy to produce. Read how other listeners have been nourished by Rumi, and tell us how Rumi’s lyrical voice has found expression in your life. Look for the “Share Your Story” link on this show’s website at While you’re there, you can download an MP3 of this show and my entire unedited conversation with Fatemeh Keshavarz.

In so many ways, Rumi models a language of hope that also embraces a full-blooded view of human life.

Here are some of Rumi’s poems, with a variety of readers of each one available through On Being….

Song of the Reed
The Promise
A Great Wagon
Like This
On God
On Language
On the World
On Love


View the Liän Ensemble with Fatemeh Keshavarz put the poetry of Rumi to music in this January 27, 2007 performance at a Stanford University event celebrating Rumi’s 800th birthday.


George Herbert 

The Call

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.

Antiphon (1)

Chorus: Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
My God and King.

The heav’ns are not too high,
His praise may thither flie:
The earth is not too low,
His praises there may grow.

Chorus: Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
My God and King.

The church with psalms must shout,
No doore can keep them out:
But above all, the heart
Must bear the longest part.

Chorus: Let all the world in ev’ry corner sing,
My God and King.

Love Bade Me Welcome

LOve bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltie of dust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d any thing.

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungratefull?  Ah my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.


RIse heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Without delayes,
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as his death calcined1 thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more, just.

Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The crosse taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.

Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or, since all musick is but three parts2 vied
And multiplied,
O let thy blessed Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.

I Got Me Flowers

I got me flowers to strew Thy way,
I got me boughs off many a tree;
But Thou wast up by break of day,
And brought’s Thy sweets along with Thee.
Yet though my flower be lost, they say
A heart can never come too late;
Teach it to sing Thy praise this day,
And then this day my life shall date.

The Sunne arising in the East,
Though he give light, & th’ East perfume;
If they should offer to contest
With thy arising, they presume.
Can there be any day but this,
Though many sunnes to shine endeavour?
We count three hundred, but we misse:
There is but one, and that one ever.


SWEET day, so cool, so calm, so bright!
The bridal of the earth and sky—
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night;
      For thou must die.
Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave          5
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
      And thou must die.
Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,   10
My music shows ye have your closes,
      And all must die.
Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season’d timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,   15
      Then chiefly lives.

Easter Wings

Lord, Who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
                  Decaying more and more,
                       Till he became
                         Most poore:

                         With Thee
                       O let me rise,
                  As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne;
      And still with sicknesses and shame
                  Thou didst so punish sinne,
                       That I became
                         Most thinne.

                         With Thee
                       Let me combine,
                  And feel this day Thy victorie;
      For, if I imp my wing on Thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me. 


Sweet Peace, where dost thou dwell?  I humbly crave,
Let me once know.
I sought thee in a secret cave,
And ask’d, if Peace were there.
A hollow winde did seem to answer, No:
Go seek elsewhere.
I did; and going did a rainbow note:
Surely, thought I,
This is the lace of Peaces coat:
I will search out the matter.
But while I lookt, the clouds immediately
Did break and scatter.

Then went I to a garden, and did spy
A gallant flower,
The Crown Imperiall: sure, said I,
Peace at the root must dwell.
But when I digg’d, I saw a worm devoure
What show’d so well.
At length I met a rev’rend good old man,
Whom when of Peace
I did demand, he thus began:
There was a Prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who liv’d with good increase
Of flock and fold.

He sweetly liv’d; yet sweetnesse did not save
His life from foes.
But after death out of his grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat:
Which many wondring at, got some of those
To plant and set.
It prosper’d strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth:
For they that taste it do rehearse,
That vertue lies therein,
A secret vertue bringing peace and mirth
By flight of sinne.

Take of this grain, which in my garden grows,
And grows for you;
Make bread of it: and that repose
And peace, which ev’ry where
With so much earnestnesse you do pursue,
Is onely there.

Truly, Friend,
For ought I heare, our Master shows to you
More favour then you wot1 of. Mark the end.
The Font did onely, what was old, renew:
The Caldron suppled, what was grown too hard:
The Thorns did quicken, what was grown too dull:
All did but strive to mend, what you had marr’d.
Wherefore be cheer’d, and praise him to the full
Each day, each houre, each moment of the week,
Who fain would have you be new, tender, quick.

(from)Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert by John Drury -review

The Guardian Thursday 15 August 2013 09.01 EDT  Helen Cooper

Portrait of George Herbert

Master of simplicity … detail of Portrait of George Herbert in Bemerton by William Dyce (1806-1864). Photograph: DeAgostini/Getty Images

Giving equal weight to the man and his work, this is the perfect introduction to a parson-poet who has fallen out of fashion….

Herbert’s life does not superficially offer much for the biographer: no wars, no quarrels, a happy marriage, disengagement from the religious controversies of the day in favour of an unwavering adherence to the Church of England. What made him extraordinary in an age of colourful characters was the poetry, and that is accordingly at the centre of this book.

Alongside his narrative of outward events  (Drury)….offers a running commentary on a full half of the 173 poems that make up the 1633 collection, The Temple, many of them quoted in full, plus four of the Latin poems. Readers who are tempted into the book by its focus on the life will finish with something far richer than more conventional biographies offer.

George Herbert was born in 1593 to a minor branch of the aristocratic Herbert family, probably in Montgomery in mid-Wales. His father died when he was three, and a few years later his mother moved to London, where she ran a household distinguished for its hospitality towards intellectuals. John Donne addressed some poems to her, and was to preach her funeral sermon. George was sent to Westminster School at the time when the great preacher and linguist Lancelot Andrewes, ….a master of style, especially of the “terse and urgent” short clause. TS Eliot was an admirer…(and preached his mother’s funeral in 1627)

A distinguished career at Trinity College, Cambridge, culminated in Herbert’s appointment as university orator in 1620. The post required him to be the public face of the university, in charge of its formal Latin correspondence and orations., (but left much of the work to others)….perhaps because of his recurrent ill health, perhaps to try to resolve his increasingly urgent personal dilemma as to whether to pursue a career that would satisfy his worldly ambitions, or to enter the priesthood.

In 1629 he married (Jane Danvers and in 1630 took holy orders) and  accepted the living of Bemerton, close to Salisbury and the cathedral music that he loved…(and) died in his parsonage in 1633. (At Bemerton, George Herbert preached and wrote poetry; helped rebuild the church out of his own funds; he cared deeply for his parishoners. He came to be known as “Holy Mr. Herbert” around the countryside in the three years before his death.)

St. Peter's

A number of the poems recorded in the early Williams manuscript allow for an exploration of how Herbert’s poetry developed. His parents’ tomb invites the poem on “Church Monuments”; his own death is the context for a discussion of his magnificent “Death, thou wast once an uncouth hideous thing”, a skeleton whose skull he re-imagines as the eggshells that “fledged souls left behind”. An account of the annual liturgical cycle makes space for his poetry on Christmas, the Passion and Easter.

….”Love bade me welcome” – is a recurrent touchstone from the first page, but every chapter is given its share of his finest poems.

Herbert is at once a master of simplicity and extraordinarily complex. Many of the difficulties for modern readers come from unfamiliarity with matters that Herbert’s contemporaries took for granted, and Drury is expert at summarising the basics needed for understanding each poem. His commentary assumes little advance knowledge, and he rarely omits any essential information that some readers might need (one instance is the image of human flesh as “but the glass, which holds the dust / That measures all our time”: an hourglass, not an unwashed beer glass). Biblical, liturgical and classical references are explained, unfamiliar words are glossed, the processes of alchemy described, and the difference between an iamb and a trochee spelled out. The last, indeed, proves especially important: the poems show an exceptionally subtle mastery of rhythm within simple metrical frameworks, and Drury will not let us overlook either (though his discussion of Latin metrics is a little odd). The Complete Poetry that Drury is now editing for Penguin Classics should fill in the gaps and provide yet more riches.

A few decades ago, some knowledge of Herbert’s poetry was a standard element of cultural literacy. His insistence on both inward and outward spirituality is scarcely fashionable now, though even atheist readers find him deeply attractive….Herbert writes of love and spiritual dryness, and can positively look forward to the Day of Judgment as a time for the reuniting of friends.

….The title comes from a recorded remark of his, that the memory of having helped a poor man with a fallen horse would supply him with a better “music at midnight” than the real thing that he made with his friends.

It isn’t easy to avoid hagiography in writing such a life (the earliest, Izaak Walton’s of 1670, for example), but Drury can at least let the poetry carry most of the weight. Ours is too cynical an age to believe in sanctity. Without ever saying so, this book is a reminder that it may be possible.

• Helen Cooper’s Shakespeare and the Medieval World is published by Arden Shakespeare.

See musical settings here.

And another recent posting regarding Herbert’s work/writings/pastoral style

George Herbert, the sacramental imagination and the catholic Anglican future

In the course of an excellent series reflecting on George Herbert, Mthr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes discusses George Herbert’s poem The Agony:

How can we measure the immeasurable? We can’t. The stock in trade questions of academic theology – what is sin, what is love, what did Jesus’ death accomplish – are not answered. We are simply presented with the image of Christ on the cross. And in doing so, Herbert is of course at his most profoundly theological. The poem’s construction itself communicates the fundamental Christian doctrine that God’s answer to all our questions is not words or theories, but to become incarnate as a human being and simply say: I am. Taste and see.

….”Who help one another see that which we do not readily see with our own eyes”.  The role of art and artist – and to be specific, on this day of Herbert’s commemoration, the role of poetry and poet – has a particular vocation in this regards.  Take Herbert’s Aaron.  What do we see when the priest at the altar?  We see frail – often very frail – flesh-and-blood, a bundle of contradictions and aspirations.  As for the priest, him- or herself, they are only too aware of this:

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest :
Poor priest ! thus am I drest.

Herbert, however, helps us see what we are not seeing – the sacramentality of priesthood, the gift in frail flesh-and-blood:

 Only another head
I have another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest :
In Him I am well drest.

Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e’en dead ;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in Him new drest.

So holy in my Head,
Perfect and light in my dear Breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come, people ;  Aaron’s drest.

What of the act of penitence?  What do we see? A form of therapy? Mindfulness?  Introspection? Herbert in The Altar, quite dramatically, brings us before what we do not initially see, the sacramentality of penitence, of penitence as gift which makes new:

A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant reares,
Made of a heart, and cemented with teares:
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workmans tool hath touch’d the same.
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow’r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of  my hard  heart
Meets in this frame,
To praise thy Name;
That, if I chance to hold my peace,

These stones to praise thee may not cease.
O let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctified this ALTAR to be thine.

Herbert’s gift of leading us to reflect upon and – to some extent – experience, to at least partially ‘taste and see’ the sacramental imagination was quite powerfully described by Threlfall-Holmes in a personal reference in the first of her articles on his poetry:

For Herbert, religion is never simply a set of dogmatic assertions, or a collection of cultural practices, as historical religion is sometimes caricatured. Nobody reading these poems can be left in any doubt as to Herbert’s emotional engagement with his subject matter. The question Herbert’s poetry raises is eternally contemporary. The poems don’t ask us “Is this true?” but “How do I feel about this?”

It is this question that slipped under my guard as a teenager. It was easy to dismiss the truth of the 20 impossible things that religion seemed to expect me to believe before breakfast. It was much harder to dismiss my own emotional reaction to these poems: the beauty, the yearning, the enticing danger. They left me with the sense that I was standing on a cliff, staring out to sea, hearing marvellous tales of lands beyond the horizon and wondering if they were, after all, just fairy tales or whether the intensity with which the tales were told was evidence that the teller had indeed seen a barely imagined kingdom.

Not every teenager or adult will read or respond to Herbert.  He does, however, show how it can be done, how the veil of the secular culture can be lifted in order that the glory and beauty of the Crucified and Risen One may be perceived, touched, tasted, felt: how secular postmoderns can be embraced by the sacramental imagination.

The 19th century catholic revival in Anglicanism was much less a product of the Tracts for the Times than it was the hymns of John Mason Neale and Christina Rossetti, the architecture of the Cambridge Camden Society, and the liturgical formation provided by Directorium Anglicanum. The future of catholic Anglicanism – our ability to engage in the new evangelisation – will be similarly dependent on whether we can nurture artists, poets, writers, musicians, singers, architects who can both enact and contribute to a liturgical culture and participate in a cultural engagement which brings the consumers and citizens of the 21st century to encounter and experience the Church’s sacramental imagination: the Word made flesh, wounded and crucified, risen and glorified, who calls us to participate in his Paschal Mystery.

Timeless Love
Tender Love
Joyful Love
Gentle love
Wondrous love
Love divine
You’re one half angel
One half mine
Softest love
Strongest love
Strangest love
Youngest love
Endless love
Love divine!
You’re one half angel
And you’re one half mine
Purest love
Precious love
Surest love
Blessed love
How can love shine so bright?
How can love be so right?
Timeless love
Tender love
Joyful love
Gentle love
Wondrous love
Love divine
You’re one half angel
And you’re one half mine
Timeless love
Tender love
Joyful love
Gentle love
Wondrous love
Love divine
You’re one half angel
And you’re one half mine

Brother, brother, brother
There’s too many of you dying
Mother, mother, mother
There’s far too many of you crying
Oh, we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today


Father, father, father
We don’t need to escalate
War is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
Oh we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today


Picket signs and picket lines
Don’t punish me with brutality
Oh speak to me, so you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
What’s going on

Mother, mother, mother, mother, mother
Who are they to say we’re wrong
Oh, who are they to judge us
Simply because our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
to bring some lovin’ here today


Oh, picket signs and picket lines
Don’t punish me with brutality
Oh, talk to me
So you can see
Oh, what’s going on
What’s going on
What’s going on
Oh, what’s going on…

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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October 2021



On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory