Social Media Book Tag

Social Media becomes more and more part of our everyday life whether we like it or not. Nowadays, it’s really hard to picture our lives without it or the Internet as a whole. A while, my friend Elena from posted her answers for the Social Media Book Tag which combines two things I enjoy: social networks and books, which were made to go hand in hand in my world. Without further ado, here are my answers to this fun little book tag. I forgot to mention that this tag was originally created by Faultydevices.

Twitter – Your favourite shortest book

Well, that’s a bit tricky because my favourite books are not so short, but I’m going to say La țigănci by Mircea Eliade, which is translated into English as With The Gypsy Girls. It’s a paranormal novella that has elements of magic realism and it’s basically the story of a poor piano teacher named Gavrilescu who lives a plain and unfulfilled artistic life, but deep inside he longs for adventure and he is drawn to a mysterious house where strange things happen and times flows differently. This is one of my favourite works of Romanian literature and I would recommend it to any bookworm out there because Eliade was a great writer.

Facebook – A book everybody pressured you into reading

Of all the recommendations I get from my family, friends and acquaintances, the book one of my mum’s friends insists that I should read is Isabel Allende’s The House of The Spirits. I would gladly read it if it weren’t for two reasons: I’m not very fond of family sagas in general and the second reason is that I read Zorro which is written by the same author and I didn’t like it because the story drags a lot and it was a painful read.

Tumblr – A book you read before it was cool

To be honest, I’m quite the opposite. I watch many book-tubers, so I know what’s cool or trendy, but I prefer to go my own way and read a book because I’m interested in it, not because everyone else reads it. There are a few popular books I would like to try, but they aren’t on my top priority list for now. I own enough books to keep me entertained for the following years and I’ve signed up to some author newsletters to be noticed about their newest releases.

MySpace – A book you don’t remember whether you liked or not

I don’t think such a thing ever happened to me. I might forget the name of the characters or parts of the plot, but I usually remember if I read a book or not, even if I hated it.

Instagram – A book that was so beautiful you had to Instagram it

I don’t have an Instagram account, but I like to look at other readers’ bookstagrams. For me, every book is beautiful in its own way, so I don’t have an answer for this one. However, I’m going to take photos of the books I own for my book reviews and other tags.

Youtube – A book you wish would be turned into a movie

I would like to see Lust, Money & Murder by Mike Wells turned into a blockbuster or into a TV/Netflix series because it’s an action-packed espionage thriller full of suspense, twists, criminals and a badass female Secret Service agent. What else can you ask for? Even the series has a resounding title begs to be printed on a movie poster or to appear in a movie trailer.

Goodreads – A book you recommend to everyone

Hmm. there are a few novels I love to death, but I’ll switch to poetry now and recommend The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks because his poems are spiritual, they make you question everything you did in life and you become aware that less is more. I know that this isn’t a book for everybody out there, but Rumi is my favourite poet of all time and it will be very difficult for anyone else to take his place.

Skype – A book with characters that you wish you could talk to instead of just reading about

Now this one is actually easy because I would like to meet any character from Effrosyni Moschoudi’s novels The Necklace of Goddess Athena and The Lady of the Pier which is actually a trilogy I’m currently reading.  I would like to meet and hang out with Phevos, Ksenia, Daphne or Manos because I’m obsessed with myths and Greek culture and civilisation. Plus, they are kind and hardworking youngsters from whom I have a lot to learn.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, like or share it with your friends and if you want to play along, feel free to leave a comment with your answers or if you already have an article or a video response, please leave the link to your blog or video below. I would be more than happy to take a look.

Review: Songs of Kabir by Rabindranath Tagore

Title: Songs of Kabir

Author Kabir

Genre: Poetry, Religion. Mysticism, Sufism, Spirituality

First Published in 1518

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2012

Publisher: Start Publishing LLC

Translator: Rabindranath Tagore

Introduction by Evelyn Underhill

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

For today’s second post, I’m going to review a poetry collection entitled Songs of Kabir, which is written by the Indian saint and mystic poet Kabir and it is translated into English by another famous Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore.

What I understood from Evelyn Underhill’s presentation of Kabir’s life and poems is that Kabir was the Muslim disciple of the Hindu ascetic Râmânanda, who wanted to reconcile the Islamic mysticism of the Persian poets Attar, Saadi, Jalaladin Rumi and Hafez with traditional Hinduism. Many aspects of Kabir’s life are unclear and contradictory, but what you need to know is that he is recognised as a saint, both by the Sufis and the Hindus, the two beliefs that strongly influence his poetic work. However, some scholars say that Kabir’s poems also have traces of Jewish and Hellenistic Christian thought, but not everyone agrees with this theory, even though there are poems which reminded me of the Biblical Song of Solomon, with its famous metaphor of the bride and the Bridegroom.

According to both Hindu and Islamic ecclesiastical authorities, “Kabir was plainly a heretic, and his frank dislikes of all institutional religion, all external observance (…) completed, so far as ecclesiastical opinion was concerned, his reputation as a dangerous man” (Loc.66-67). Perhaps Kabir was seen as a heretic because he thought that between the soul and God intermediaries like priests, rituals or temples were unnecessary substitutes for the real faith. Therefore, the religion he believed in was more accessible to the poor than to the sages who were educated in the spirit of Islam or Hinduism.

Because of this type of direct bond with God, Kabir was constantly persecuted by religious authorities. Legend has it that Brahmans sent a courtesan to tempt Kabir, but she ended up a convert like Mary Magdalene “by her sudden encounter with the initiate of a higher love”. (Loc. 78). In another episode of his life, Kabir was banished from his hometown by Emperor Sikandar Lodi, in order to maintain the peace in Benares.

Kabir’s poems are truly fascinating because they form an interesting combination between Sufism and Hinduism. In this poetry collection you will find the well-known  mystic metaphors depicting the transcendental bond between the mystic and God (the guru and the disciple, the Bridegroom and the bride, the Lord and the slave), the ecstasy or the longing for the presence of the Divine Teacher, Comrade or Fakir to whose feet the lover bows obediently.

But here the Lord is Brahma, who reveals Himself through Unstruck Music of the Universe, which can be heard only by illuminated mystics like Kabir, who detached himself from his ego, in order to let Love fill his heart. He found the Truth and realised that both material and spiritual world are as one because God is within everything and everything is within God. Therefore, Kabir’s Union with the Supreme Spirit is made through Love and not through Knowledge. As well as in Rumi’s poems, we find the recurrent theme of the ecstatic dance, but here, instead of the Whirling Dervishes, we have the Eternal Swing of the Universe which is “held by the cords of love” (Loc.161).

The poems are written in vernacular Hindi rather than in the literary tongue of the ecclesiastical class, they contain simple metaphors and symbols drawn from everyday life (e.g. the bird, the pilgrim, the weaver). As in the Persian poets’ mystic works, we find that Kabir’s name is placed towards the end of the poems, which symbolises a kind of signature of the poet in Medieval Middle-Eastern poetry, a period when copyright laws weren’t invented yet.

I found a few editing mistakes here and there, but they don’t alter the reading and comprehension of the text very much. I hope that you enjoyed my review of the Songs of Kabir. For more book reviews and other literary and non-literary topics, don’t forget to like my facebook page or subscribe to the newsletter. Until next time!

Recenzie: Poeme persane de Otto Stark

Titlu: Poeme persane

Autori: Baba Taher, Omar Khayyam, Saadi, Jalaladin Rumi, Șabestari și Hafez

Gen: Poezie, Religie, Misticism, Spiritualitate

Anul apariției: 2014

Editura Herald

Colecția: PRINCEPS

Traducător: Otto Stark

Prefața: George Grigore

Rating: 3,5/5 stele

Dacă tot am citit Iubirea a spus, tradusă în limba română de Simona Trandafir, și The Essential Rumi, tradusă în limba engleză de către poetul americam Coleman Barks, m-am gândit să continui această incursiune în poezia orientală/sufită cu volumul Poeme persane, tradus și adnotat de Otto Stark, carte apărută la Editura Herald în anul 2014. Colecția este prefațată de George Grigore, care îl omagiază pe traducător pentru iscusința prin care redă aproape cu fidelitate creațiile celor mai importanți poeți persani (Baba Taher, Omar Khayyam, Saadi, Jalaladin Rumi, Șabestari și Hafez) fără a știrbi frumusețea și fără a strica prozodia și structura gramaticală originală.

În majoritatea poemelor din acest volum este prezentă tema beției sau a vinului, care trebuie înțeleasă metaforic, deoarece are o legătură strânsă cu sufismul și reprezintă „acea înaltă expresie a sufletelor îmbătate de dragoste divină” (p. 5) pentru că vinul este considerat în Coran o „băutură paradisiacă” și consumarea lui este interzisă în Islam. Mai mult, reminiscențe ale venerării vinului numit Haoma, asemănător cu ambrozia grecilor sau cu Soma indienilor, s-au păstrat în misticism cu modificările de rigoare aduse de religia islamică. Însă beția spirituală nu este singura temă comună a acestor poezii, ci și dragostea dintre privighetoare și trandafir, care reprezintă iubirea pătimașă a privighetorii neîmpărtășită de trandafir. Însă pentru a înțelege mai bine legenda, schimbați genurile celor doi protagoniști, deoarece, în limba persană, privighetoarea este de gen masculin, iar trandafirul de gen feminin.

Înainte de fiecare secțiune veți găsi o scurtă prezentare a fiecărui poet, câteva date biografice, lucrările importante care i-au făcut cunoscuți în spațiul oriental și chiar european, poeziile cu formă fixă specifice acestei zone culturale (rubaiul și gazelul), stilul și temele abordate de către poeți și, nu în ultimul rând, volumele din care traducătorul a selectat un anumit număr de poezii pentru a închega această colecție. Apoi, la sfârșitul cărții, veți găsi notele referitoare la simbolurile sufite, citatele din Coran, personajele din legendele persane ș.a.

Deși am găsit numeroase informații interesante, poemele, prin abundența metaforelor și a arhaismelor, m-au făcut să hoinăresc cu gândul într-o lume orientală liniștită, unde poeții meditau la viața trecătoare a Omului. Nu pot spune că mi-a plăcut întotdeauna stilul sau traducerea anumitor poeme. Nu spun că nu a fost o traducere bună, dar unele rubaiate ale lui Omar Khayyam mi s-au părut repetitive, iar la poeziile lui Rumi nu am simțit acea esență spirituală pe care o au în volumele menționate la începutul recenziei.

Poezia lui Rumi este aparent simplă, în ciuda simbolurilor brodate în versurile ei sau a mesajelor înțelepte pe care le propagă. În rest, poeziile sunt foarte frumoase și uneori triste, însă Kayyam și Hafez încearcă să alunge tristețea prin vizitele la cârciumă sau la iubita cu zulufi parfumați și buze roșii ca vinul. Ceea ce m-a amuzat la acești doi poeți este faptul că dacă nu aș fi știu că poeziile lor au caracter metaforic și mistic, aș fi crezut că sunt cântece de pahar din Persia medievală, unde omul trebuia să se împace cu gândul trecerii timpului și cu deșertăciunea și să petreacă pentru a face în ciudă sorții.

Chiar dacă n-am fost pe deplin încântată de acest volum, sunt sigură că sunt persoane cărora le va plăcea să redescopere acești poeți persani și lucrările lor mistice. În încheiere am ales un rubai al lui Omar Khayyam care ilustrează cel mai bine efemeritatea vieții fiecăruia dintre noi:

„Mă tot uitam la un olar cu silă,

cum frământa sub tălpi un boț de-argilă,

și-argila îi spunea pe glasul ei:

Și eu am fost ca tine, fie-ți milă!” (Rubai 211,  p. 56)


Recenzie: Iubirea a spus… de Jalaladin Rumi

Titlu: Iubirea a spus…

Author: Jalaladin Rumi

Gen: Poezie, Religie, Misticism, Spiritualitate

Anul apariției: 2003

Editura Kamala

Traducător: Simona Trandafir

Rating: 5/5 stele

Această colecție de poezii persane, create de maestrul sufit Jalaladin Rumi și traduse în limba română de către Simona Trandafir, a reprezentat o adevărată surpriză pentru mine, deoarece inițial aveam vaga impresie că voi găsi printre paginile acestei cărți poezii de dragoste. Însă nu a fost tocmai cum mi-am imaginat, ci cu mult mai bine. Creațiile lirice din acest volum sunt declarații de iubire închinate lui Dumnezeu și ele se încadrează astfel în categoria poeziei mistice.

Poate că unii dintre voi veți strâmba din nas la ideea de poezie mistică, dar de multe ori aparențele sunt înșelătoare, deoarece aceste poezii nu sunt greu de înțeles, iar eu nu le-am perceput ca încărcate de dogmă religioasă. Mai mult, dacă am elimina anumite referințe coranice din aceste poezii, am observa caracterul lor atemporal, care depășește sfera Islamului. Dacă până acum aveam o listă de poeți preferați, Rumi mi-a întors lumea cu susul în jos prin profunzimea versurilor, învățăturile despre importanța detașării față de lumea materială și de cea a plăcerilor, având ca scop pregătirea sufletului pentru mult așteptata și mult dorita întâlnire cu Preaiubitul. Dacă ar trebui să descriu senzația pe care o dau aceste poezii, aș spune că ele sunt ca o mână invizibilă care trece prin barierele trupului și îți mângâie sufletul cu o tandrețe nepământeană.

Despre acest poet persan voi mai vorbi și cu alte ocazii, însă tot trebuie să vă dau câteva informații biografice, de dragul cunoașterii. Jalaladin Balkhi/Rumi s-a născut în Balkh, Persia sau Afganistanul de astăzi, de unde a fugit împreună cu familia sa din cauza  invaziei mongole. S-a refugiat în Konya (Turcia) unde a devenit un maestru sufit respectat atât de musulmani, cât și de credincioșii celorlalte religii.

Cel mai important moment pentru desăvârșirea sa spirituală a fost întâlnirea cu dervișul rătăcitor Shams din Tabriz, care l-a inițiat pe Rumi în tainele iubirii mistice. Atât conversațiile, cât și dispariția neașteptată a acestui derviș din viața lui Rumi au avut un impact profund asupra celui din urmă. Maestrul sufit i-a dedicat lui Shams numeroase poeme, iar mai târziu a pus bazele ordinului Mevlevi sau Dervișii Rotitori. Cea mai cunoscută creație poetică a lui Rumi se intitulează Mathnawi, o lucrare vastă care însă nu a fost scrisă de mâna poetului, ci i-a  fost dictată discipolului său, Hussam Celebi,  în perioadele de transă.

Ținând cont că avem de a face cu un volum de poezii, nu pot să vă spun decât că această lucrare este împărțită pe teme rânduite în ordine alfabetică, de la aspirație până la zbor, o organizare firească, având drept scop înlesnirea citirii poeziilor. În plus, la sfârșitul cărții se găsește un glosar unde sunt explicate succint cele mai importante simboluri sufite precum: Preaiubitul, Îndrăgostitul, Arderea, Oceanul, Beția, Trandafirul etc.

Înainte de a încheia această recenzie, vă las un filmuleț pentru a vă familiariza cu poeziile lui Rumi, iar dacă vă interesează această temă, vă invit să citiți și recenzia mea scrisă în limba engleză despre The Essential Rumi, carte tradusă și prefațată de poetul american Coleman Barks.

Review: The Essential Rumi by Jalaladin Rumi and Coleman Barks

Title: The Essential Rumi

Author: Jalaladdin Rumi

Genre: Poetry, Religion. Mysticism, Sufism, Spirituality

First Published in 1995

Year of Publication of this Edition: 2004

Publisher: HarperCollins

Translator: Coleman Barks

Rating: 5/5 stars

For today’s review, I’m going to write about a mystic Persian poet I came across on Amazon, whose works are still read, sung and frequently quoted. Jalaladdin Muhammad Rumi was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic born in Balkh, modern day Afghanistan. During the Mongol Invasion, he was forced to flee with his family to Konya, in central Turkey. It was a peaceful and blooming cultural city, where Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in harmony.

Besides his father’s and other Sufi poets’ theological and mystic writings, Rumi’s poems and other works were strongly influenced by Shams of Tabriz, a wandering dervish who became Rumi’s spiritual guide and through whom he achieved a deeper level of love for God. “They spent months together without any human needs, transported into a region of pure conversation” (Loc. 419). Rumi and Shams’ friendship stirred jealousy among the Persian teacher’s disciples and family, forcing Shams to disappear for a while from Konya.

During this time, Rumi started to write mystic poems or as Annemarie Schimmel puts it: “He turned into a poet, began to listen to music, and sang, whirling around, hour after hour” (Loc. 422). The second time Rumi and Shams met, the two men fell at each other’s feet that “no one knew who was lover and who the beloved” (Loc.424) – the relationship between the lover and the Beloved became a recurrent theme in Rumi’s poems. However, the reencounter didn’t last long, because Shams was called outside on a December night and never returned. His disappearance remains a mystery; he might have been murdered by a disciple with one of Rumi’s sons’ consent. Rumi’s desperate and useless search for Shams and his longing for his friend were materialised in a collection of odes (ghazals) and quatrains (rubaiyat) entitled Diwan-e Shams-e Tabriz /The Works of Shams of Tabriz.

The mystic poet was a well-known and respected spiritual leader of his time (he took the name of Mawlana or Our Master) because he founded the Mevlevi order or the Whirling Dervishes, whose unique ceremonies are called Sama. Through music and ecstatic dance, the Sufis ascend the mystic stages, which lead to their complete union with God. One of Rumi’s most important works is the Mathnawi, a vast poetic creation comprised of six books (26.000 verses), where the master teaches the disciples Sufi morals through mystic poetry and folk tales. The most remarkable thing about this lengthy work is that Rumi didn’t write it with his own hand, but he recited it continuously during the weeks or even months of ecstatic trance and it was written down by his scribe, Husam Chelebi.

The Essential Rumi is Coleman Barks’ selective translation from Rumi’s works, because “Rumi’s creativity was a continuous fountaining from beyond forms and the mind” (Loc. 444) and the twenty-eight divisions of the book are fluid and playful, as Barks himself writes. However, each section contains a Sufi symbol or poetic motif (the wine, desire-body, the sheikh, the turn etc.) and a few explanations before the series of poems begins. These literary creations contain Sufi wisdom and quotes from the Qur’an, which are interweaved with tales and fables, whose purpose is to teach the reader how harmful bodily desires and instincts (the animal-soul or the metaphor of the donkey) are and how important is the annihilation of the ego (one’s identity/personality must be dissolved) in order to become one with God.

The poems about instincts and desires are pretty graphic and their purpose is to show the ridiculous situations and wrongdoings caused by human lust, greed, envy or pride. However, my favourite part of this volume is the variety of metaphors about the relationship between soul, body and God. If the body is a donkey, God is the King or the Caliph, the Friend or Beloved to whom the lover must ascend to unite with Him, the flame through which the Sufi is cooked like a clay pot and so on.

Rumi uses biblical figures that appear in the Qur’an: Adam, Joseph, Moses and Jesus. King Solomon is also a metaphor for God, Queen of Sheba is the soul, but she doesn’t want to come to the king’s court without her impressive throne (the body). Jesus also appears in some poems, where He rides a donkey, “how the rational intellect/ should control the animal-soul./Let your spirit be strong like Jesus” (Loc. 3464). Though the relationship between the lover and the Beloved is spiritual, that doesn’t mean it is not intense or sensual. To exemplify, I’m going to recommend a video, in which many well-known people (including Madonna, Demi Moore, Deepak Chopra and Coleman Barks) read Rumi’s poems and the experience is enhanced by amazing music with Middle-Eastern inflexions.

Overall, mystic poetry wasn’t that hard to read, because Coleman Barks translated Rumi’s works into plain and colloquial English. The verses don’t have rhymes and the editorial explanations are like that well-trained guide that doesn’t let you get lost in the Persian poet’s divine wisdom. This is a book that makes you meditate on your soul and the nourishment it needs, especially in a materialistic world like ours. Also, his poems inspire you to appreciate more your family, friends and the small things that make your life beautiful.