by Helen on December 2nd, 2009

I hope my friend Linda will forgive me if I steal something precious from her blog.

Actually, Linda shared this precious thing with me years ago. It’s a poem by Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet and mystic. Linda used to read this poem every morning when she woke up during the breakup of her marriage. It kept her going.

I was glad to see it recently on her blog. This poem is actually all over the Internet, but you just can’t ever get enough of Rumi, so no apologies.

(Note: The word “ruminate” comes from the Latin ruminare, to chew the cud; also, to muse, meditate, ponder, or reflect. If everybody in America meditated every day, would we be known as a rumi-nation?)

Sorry about that. I’m going to shut up and let Rumi (as triumphantly translated by Coleman Barks) speak truth and wisdom in your ear:


The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture, still,
treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Welcome difficulty.
Learn the alchemy True Human Beings know:
the moment you accept what troubles
you’ve been given, the door opens.

Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade.
Joke with torment brought by the Friend.

Sorrows are the rags of old clothes
and jackets that serve to cover,
and then are taken off. That undressing,
and the beautiful naked body underneath,
is the sweetness that comes after grief.


  1. Hey Helen,

    No problemo. It’s an inspiring poem and a wonderful translation (I’ve read others that just don’t cut it for me). I don’t mind the definition. It still applies to Rumi as far as I’m concerned. Maybe that’s how he got his name. He certainly did muse, meditate, ponder and reflect. We should check out some more of his work and write about it here. He deserves a lot more attention than he gets. His wisdom is timeless.

    This is a good time to plug The Illuminated Rumi translated by (who else?) Coleman Barks with delightfully imaginative illustrations by Michael Green.

    • Great minds think alike. I got out my Illuminated Rumi to copy the end of the poem, and once again experienced the physical beauty of the book itself. I’m going to ask Michael Green if he can send me a digital file of that page and then see if I can figure out how to post it on my blog. My blog needs color!

      My blog also needs music, so I’m going to try and put a link to Jack singing in a separate post. Let’s see if it works!