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Open Heart Surgery: The Poetic Operation of Love in Rumi's 'Masnavi'

NOA Community Centre (Ferry Centre)
Summertown, Oxford

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The sign of being in love's an aching heart:
     there is no suffering like the suffering heart
The lover's suffering's like no other suffering:
     Love is the astrolabe of God's own mysteries.

Masnavi 1.109-110

In these two couplets Rumi touches on one of his central themes: the suffering heart as microcosm of divine mystery. In this lecture I shall try to show something of how and why the Masnavi has had such a strong attraction for his readers/listeners. I suggest that Rumi uses poetry in a unique way (though other poets have tried to imitate his style): he begins by capturing the imagination, quietening the intellect, and opening the eye of the heart. Dr Alan Williams will outline the method and outcome of this operation of Rumi's poetic artistry.

Alan Williams studied Classics and Oriental Studies at Queen's College Oxford, then did a PhD in Iranian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is currently Reader in Iranian Studies and Comparative Religion in the School of Arts Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester. He has published many articles and books on Iranian Studies, comparative religion and translation studies. His translation of Book One of Rumi's Masnavi came out last year: Spiritual Verses, Book One of the Masnavi of Jal„loddin Rumi (Penguin Classics, 2006).

£6.00 (Friends £3.00)