Beshno az ney chon hekaayat mikonad

Listen to the (ney) reed flute as it tells a tale 

Az jodaayee ha shekaayat mi-konad

Complaining of seperation 


Kaz neyestaan ta maraa bebrideh and

Ever since I was separated from the reed bed 

Dar nafiram mardo zan naalideh and

My lament has caused man and woman to moan 


Sineh khaaham sharheh sharheh az faraagh

I want a chest torn by severance 

Ta begooyam sharheh dardeh eshtiyaagh

So that I may unfold the pain of love desire


Har kasi ku door maand az asleh khish

Whoever remains far from where they belong 

Baz jooyad roozegareh vasleh khish

Should seek the day of reunion again


Man be har jamiyati naalaan shodam

In every company I uttered my wailful notes 

Jofteh bad haalaano khosh haalaan shodam

I consorted with the unhappy and happy 


Week 9: Sufi Piety II – The Ghazal (love lyric) and Mathnawi (narrative epic)

Medium: Spoken Word

Persian poetry puts to words the relationship between man and Creator. The masnawi is no different. It is a form of Persian narrative poetry that consists of rhyming couplets and a moral lesson. I  decided to recite the first ten lines of Rumi’s Ney-name that is a part of the Masnawi tradition. I used parts of another person’s performance of the poem (his song can be found here: as background music. Sufi poetry, like the Quran, is an oral tradition and is meant to be experienced by the listener and reciter. Its in saying the words out loud that one can understand their meaning and come closer to God. In this way, recitation and singing can be considered a devotional exercise the connects the performer and listener alike.

The story Rumi tells is of a reed separated from the reed-bed so that it can be formed into a flute. The reed flute bemoans his separation, and cries out. This separation alludes to the idea that people are separated from their origin, namely God, and now must suffer through the pain. The reed says “I want a chest torn by separation…/So that a I may unfold the pain of love desire.” Here you can see that it is through pain and separation that you can understand the depth of your love. Learning to love this way is important because Sufi mystics believe that love is the steed that can take you to the Divine. The choice of using a reed as the narrator is significant too. For a reed flute to produce music, it must first be hollowed out, in the same way that Sufis believe you must empty yourself of all egocentric tendencies before you can experience the divine. Only once the flute is hollow, can it produce music. The way music is produced is through someone blowing air into the flute, mimicking the act of God breathing life into his creation.

This poem is not just about the author, but it speaks for all of people who are separated from their origin, whether the origin be God or their home country or any place that they feel like they belong. My mother’s favorite line is “Whoever remains far from where they belong/Should seek the day of reunion again,” because it reminds her of how she was separated for years from her family because of the war in Afghanistan, and now is slowly starting to find forms of reunion, however small they may be. In this same way, Rumi’s end goal is for the flute to be returned to the redeemed, or for him to be returned to God.