Merchant and Parrot, translated by Ibrahim Gamard
Reading time: 7 minutes. Word count: 1300 words.
So far you have been reading translations by Whinfield (19th century) and Barks (20th century), who each translate Rumi according to the poetic expectations and liberty of their time. If you are interested in a more literal translation of Rumi, you can take a look at this version of "The Merchant and The Parrot" by Ibrahim Gamard. Gamard has even provided a transliteration of the Persian, spelling out the Persian sounds with Roman letters. You can now see that Rumi's poetry is indeed written in rhyming couplets!
har ghulâm-o har kanêzak-râ ze-jûd
goft bahr-é tô che âr-am? gô-î zûd
|1547 There (once) was a merchant. And he had a parrot, imprisoned in a cage-- a beautiful parrot.||
1547 bûd bâzargân-o
|(Now) when the merchant prepared for a journey (and) was about to travel to India,||chûn-ke bâzargân
safar-râ sâz kard
sôy-é hendostân shodan âghâz kard
|He spoke to each male and female slave (and asked), out of generosity, "What shall I bring (back) for you? Answer quickly!"||har ghulâm-o har kanêzak-râ
goft bahr-é tô che âr-am? gô-î zûd
|1550 Each one asked him for something wished, (and) that good man gave (his) promise to all.||1550 har yakê az way murâdê
jomla-râ wa`da be-dâd ân nêk-mard
|(Then) he said to the parrot, "What present from the journey do you want, so that I may bring it to you from the region of India."||goft TûTî-râ che
k-âr-am-at az khiTTa-yé hendôstân?
|The parrot answered him,"When you see the parrots there, explain my situation (and) say,||goft-ash ân TûTî
ke ân-jâ TûTiy-ân
chûn be-bîn-î, kon ze-Hâl-é man bayân
|"'The parrot so-and-so, who is yearning to see you, is in my prison by the decree of the heavens.||k-ân fulân TûTî
ke mushtâq-é shomâ-st
az qaZây-é âsmân dar Habs-é mâ-st
|"She sends you greetings of peace and wants justice, and desires a remedy and the path of right guidance.||bar shomâ kard ô salâm-o
w-az shomâ châra-w' rah-é irshâd khwâst
|1555 "She said, 'Is it proper that I, in (such a state of) yearning, should give (up my) life here (and) die in separation?||1555 goft mê-shây-ad
ke man dar ishtiyâq
jân deh-am în-jâ be-mîr-am dar firâq?
|"'Is it right that I (should be) in (such) strict bondage, while you (are) sometimes on the green grass (and) sometimes on the trees?||în rawâ bâsh-ad
ke man dar band-é sakht
gah shomâ bar sabza gâhê bar derakht?
|"'Is the faithfulness of (true) friends like this, (that) I (am) in prison and you (are) in the rose garden?'||în chon-în bâsh-ad
man dar-în Habs-o shomâ dar golestân?
1558 "O great ones, bring (to mind) the memory of this weeping bird, (by drinking) a dawn cup (of wine) among the grassy meadows!"
. . . . . . .
|1558 yâd âr-îd
ay meh-ân z-în morgh-é zâr
yak SabûHê dar meyân-é marghzâr
|1575 (Since) the story of the [ordinary] parrot of the soul is like this, where is one who is the [chosen] confidant of the birds?||1575 qiSSa-yé Tûtî-yé
jân z-în sân bow-ad
kô kasê k-ô maHram-é morgh-ân bow-ad
|Where is a bird (who is) helpless and without sin, and (yet) within him (is a) Solomon with (his entire) army?||kô yakê morghê
w-andarûn-é ô sulaymân bâ-sepâh
1577 When he cries out bitterly, (but) without gratitude or complaint, a clamor [to aid him] occurs in the seven heavens!
. . . . . . .
|1577 chûn be-nâl-ad zâr
oft-ad andar haft gardûn ghulghulah
|1586 The man of trade accepted this message (and agreed) that he would deliver the greeting from her to (her on) kind.||1586 mard-é bâzargân
paZêraft în payâm
k-ô rasân-ad sôy-é jens az way salâm
|When he reached the farthest regions of India, he saw some parrots in a wilderness.||chûn-ke tâ aqSây-é
dar bayâbân TûTî'yê chandê be-dîd
|He held back (his) mount (from going), then gave a shout: he delivered the greeting and returned that (which he had been given in) trust.||markab istânîd pas âwâz
ân salâm-o ân amânat bâz dâd
|Among those parrots, one parrot trembled greatly, fell, died, and stopped breathing.||TûTî'yê z-ân
TûTiy-ân larzîd bas
ôftâd-o mord-o be-g'sest-ash nafas
|1590 The merchant became sorry about telling (such) news, (and) he said, "I went in destruction of (that) animal.||1590 shod pashîmân khwâja
az goft-é khabar
goft raft-am dar halâk-é jânwar
|"Is this one, perhaps, a relative of that little parrot? (Or) was this, perhaps, (a case of) two bodies and one spirit?||în magar khêsh-ast bâ
în magar dô jism bûd-o rûH yak?
1592 "Why did I do this? Why did I deliver the message (and) burn up the helpless (creature) by means of this crude speech?"
. . . . . . .
|1592 în cherâ kard-am,
cherâ dâd-am payâm
sôkht-am bêchâra-râ z-în goft-é khâm
|1649 The merchant finished his trading (and) returned to (his) home, satisfying (the best hopes of his) friends.||1649 kard bâzargân tijârat-râ
bâz âm-ad sôy-é manzil dôst-kâm
|1650 He brought a present to each male slave (and) gave a share to each female slave.||1650 har ghulâmê-râ
har kanêzak-râ be-bakhshîd ô neshân
|The parrot said, "Where is (this) slave's present? Tell what you saw and said!"||goft TûTî armaghân-é
ân-che dîd-î w-ân-che goft-î bâz gô
|(The merchant) replied, "No. I am myself (very) sorry about that, (and am) chewing my hands and biting (my) fingers (over it).||goft nah, man khwad pashîmân-am
dast-é khwad khâyân-o angoshtân gazân
|"Why did I foolishly bring (such) a crude message out of ignorance and thoughtlessness?"||man cherâ payghâm-é
khâmê az gezâf
bord-am az bê-dâneshî-wo az neshâf?
|(The parrot) said, "O master, why are you (so) regretful? What is it that calls for (all) this anger and sorrow?"||goft ay khwâja pashîmân-î
chîst ân k-în khashm-o gham-râ muqtaZî-st?
|1655 He replied, "I told your complaints to a group of your fellow parrots.||1655 goft goft-am ân shikâyat-hây-é
bâ gorôhê TûTiy-ân ham-tây-é tô
|"That one parrot-- her heart broke from getting wind of your pain, and she trembled and died.||
ân yakê TûTî
ze-dard-at bôy bord
1657 "I became regretful (and thought), 'Why was (the use of) saying this?' But since I had (already) spoken, what was the benefit of remorse?"
. . . . . . .
|1657 man pashîmân gasht-am,
în goftan che bûd
lêk chûn goft-am, pashîmânî che sûd?
|1691 When she heard about what that parrot did, she then trembled, fell, and became cold.||1691 chûn shenîd ân
morgh k-ân TûTî che kard
pas be-larzîd, ôftâd-o gasht sard
|When the master saw her fallen like this, he jumped up and hurled (his) cap on the ground.||
khwâja chûn dîd-ash fotâda
(And) when the master saw her with this appearance and condition, he leaped up and tore the upper front (of his robe).
|chûn ba-d-în rang-o ba-d-în
khwâja bar jast-o gorîbân-râ darîd
|He said, "O beautiful and sweet-crying parrot, what happened to you? Why did you become like this?||goft ay TûTîy-é
în che bûd-at în cherâ gasht-î chon-în?
|1695 "Oh what sorrow! My sweet-sounding bird! Oh what misery! My close companion and confidant!||1675 ay darîghâ morg-é
ay darîghâ ham-dam-o ham-râz-é man
|"Oh what regret! My sweet-singing bird! The wine of (my) spirit, (my) garden, and my sweet basil!||ay darîghâ morgh-é
râH-é rûH-o rawZa-wo rayHân-é man
|"If Solomon (could have) had a bird like you, he never would have become occupied with (all) those (other) birds.||gar sulaymân-râ chon-în
kay khwad ô mushghûl-é ân morgh-ân shod-y?
|"Oh what a pity! The bird which I got (so) cheaply! (Yet how) quickly I turned my face away from her face!||ay darîghâ morgh k-ârzân
zûd rôy az rôy-é ô bar tâft-am
|"O tongue! You are a great injury to mankind! (But) since you are talking, what can I say to you?||ay zabân tô bas zeyân-î
chûn tô-î gôyâ, che gôy-am man to-râ?
|1700 "O tongue! You are both the fire and the harvest stack. How long will you set fire to this harvest stack?||1700 ay zabân ham âtesh-o
chand în âtesh dar-în kherman zan-î?
1701 "(My) soul is lamenting in secret because of you, even though it keeps doing everything you tell it (to do)."
. . . . . . .
|1701 dar nehân jân az
tô afghân mê-kon-ad
gar-che har che gôy-î-ash ân mê-kon-ad
|1815 The merchant, in (a state of) burning, and agony, and yearning, kept saying a hundred scattered and disturbed (things) such as this. . . . . . . .||1815 khwâja andar âtash-o
Sad parâkanda hamê goft în chon-în
|1825 After that, he threw her out of the cage. The little parrot flew to a high branch--||1825 ba`d az ân-ash az qafaS
TûTiy-ak parrîd tâ shâkh-é boland
|The dead parrot made such a (swift) flight, (it resembled) the sun when it charges forth, like a Turk, from the sky [and rises up at dawn].||TûTî-yé morda
chon-ân parwâz kard
k-âftâb az charkh torkî-tâz kard
|The merchant became bewildered by the bird's action. All of a sudden, (still) without understanding, he saw (that there were) secrets involving the bird.||khwâja Hayrân gasht andar
bê-khabar nâgah be-dîd asrâr-é morgh
|He raised his head and said, "O nightingale, share a portion (of wisdom) with us in explanation of the situation.||rôy bâlâ kard-o
goft ay `andalîb
az bayân-é Hâl khwad-mân deh naSîb
|"What did (that parrot) do so that you learned (something), prepared a trick, and burned us (with sorrow)?"||ô che kard ân-jâ
ke tô âmôkht-î
sâkht-î makrê-wo mâ-râ sôkht-î?
|1830 The parrot answered, "She gave me advice by her (very) action, meaning, 'Escape from (attachment to) elegance of voice and joyful expansion [of your breast in song].||1830 goft TûTî k-ô
ba-fa`l-am pand dâd
ke rahâ kon luTf-âwâz-o goshâd
|"'Because your voice is keeping you in shackles.' She herself acted dead for the sake of (sending me) this advice,||z-ân-ke âwâz-at
to-râ dar band kard
khwêshtan morda pay-é în pand kard
1832 "Meaning, 'O (you who) have become a singer to (both) commoners and the elite: become "dead" like me so that you may find deliverance!'"
. . . . . . .
|1832 ya`nî ay muTrib shoda
bâ `âm-o khâS
morda shaw chûn man ke tâ yâb-î khilâS
|1845 The parrot gave him one or two (pieces of) advice, full of (spiritual) discrimination. After that, he said to him the "salaam of parting."||1845 yak-dô pand-ash dâd
ba`d az ân goft-ash salâm-é al-firâq
|The merchant said to her, "Go in the protection of Allah. You have now shown me a new path."||khwâja goft-ash fî 'amâni
mar ma-râ aknûn nomûd-î râh-é naw
|The merchant (then) said to himself, "This is the advice for me: I will take her path, for this path is luminous.||khwâja bâ khwad goft
k-în pand-é man-ast
râh-é ô gîr-am ke în rah rôshan-ast
|"How should my soul be inferior to a parrot? The soul ought to (follow) such as this, for it is a (very) good track (indeed)!"||jân-é man kam-tar ze-TûTî
jân chon-în bây-ad ke nêkô-pay bow-ad
|The body resembles a cage. The body has become a thorn to the soul because of the deceptions of those (who are) inside and outside.||tan qafaS shakl-ast, tan shod khâr-é
dar ferîb-é dâkhil-ân-o khârij-ân
|1850 This one tells her,"I am your confidant," and that one tells her, "No, I am your companion."||1850 în-'sh gôy-ad man
shaw-am ham-râz-é tô
w-ân'sh gôy-ad nay man-am anbâz-é tô
|This one tells her, "There is none like you in existence with (such) beauty, and grace, goodness, and generosity."||în-'sh gôy-ad nêst
chûn tô dar wujûd
dar jamâl-o faZl-o dar iHsân-o jûd
|(And) that one tells her, "Both this world and the next are yours, (and) all our souls are the (eager) uninvited guests of your soul."||ân-'sh gôy-ad har dô
`âlam ân-é tô-st
jomla jân-hâ-mân Tufayl-é jân-é to-st
|When he sees the people drunk from (being with) him, he loses control of himself and goes (about full) of pride and arrogance.||ô cho bîn-ad khalq-râ
az takabbur mê-raw-ad az dast-é khwêsh
|1854 He doesn't know that the Devil has thrown thousands (just) like him into the river's water.||1854 ô na-dân-ad ke hazâr-ân-râ
dêw afkand-ast andar âb-é jô
|(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)|
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: From The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî [Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi. Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard. © Ibrahim Gamard [translation, footnotes, & transliteration]. Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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