There was a feast. The king was in his cups.
He saw a learned scholar walking by.
“Bring him in and give him some of this fine wine.”
Servants rushed out and brought the man to the king’s table,
but he was not receptive.
“I had rather drink poison! Take it away!”
He kept on with these loud refusals,
disturbing the atmosphere of the feast.
This is how it sometimes is at God’s table.
Someone who has heard about ecstatic love, but never tasted it,
disrupts the banquet.
He’s all fire and no light, all husk and no kernel.
The king gave orders,
“Cupbearer, do what you must.”
This is how your invisible guide acts, the chess champion across from you that always wins.
He cuffed the scholar’s head and said, “Taste!” and
“Again!” started singing and telling ridiculous jokes.
He joined the garden, snapping his fingers and swaying.
Soon, of course, he had to pee.
He went out, and there near the latrine was a beautiful woman,
one of the king’s harem. His mouth hung open.
He wanted her! Right then, he wanted her!
And she was not unwilling.
They fell to, on the ground. You’ve seen a baker rolling dough.
He kneads it gently at first,
The cup was drained, and the intellectual then more roughly.
He pounds it on the board. It softly groans under his palms.
Now he spreads it out and rolls it flat.
Then he bunches it, and rolls it all the way out again, thin.
Now he adds water and mixes it well. Now salt,
and a little more salt.
Now he shapes it delicately to its final shape and slides it into the oven,
which is already hot.
You remember breadmaking!
This is how your desire tangles with a desired one.
And it’s not just a metaphor for a man and a woman making love.
Warriors in battle do this too.
A great mutual embrace is always happening between the eternal
and what dies, between essence and accident.
The sport has different rules in every case,
but it’s basically the same, and remember,
the way you make love is the way God will be with you.
[From: Rumi the Book of Love Poems of Ecstasy and Longing;
Translated by Coleman Barks]