Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273)
English version by Coleman Barks
There’s hidden sweetness
in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.
If the soundbox is stuffed full
of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning
clean with fasting, every moment
a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes
you run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you’re full of food and drink,
Satan sits where your spirit should,
an ugly metal statue in place of the Kaaba.
When you fast, good habits gather
like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring.
Don’t give in to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have,
if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast,
like soldiers appearing out of the ground,
pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Expect to see it, when you fast,
this table spread with other food,
better than the broth of cabbages.”
― Rumi, The Illuminated Rumi