Book Review: “Rumi: The Big Red Book”


Book information: New York : HarperOne, 2010. 492 pages. 25cm.

“You have been walking the ocean’s edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.
You must dive naked under and deeper under,
a thousand times deeper. Love flows down.”

My heart skipped a beat…

I did not expect Rumi’s poems to reach into my chest, grab hold of my heart, and nor do they let go during the entire evening, but linger over in my sweet dreams and envelop me with tidal waves of wondrous charm.  No matter we are meandering along the hiking path, or being at the top of the glitzy metropolis with his big red book, one thing is for sure.  His tender words mirrored the glorification of surrounding natural awe,  and melodic writing lines reflected serene beauty of descriptions and infinite passion towards the relationship bonds that stirred in my soul, creating an exquisite mosaic of in-depth expression bit by bit.  Flipping over this medieval literature is just like discovering a priceless treasure in the gigantic universe of creations.  I continue to be mesmerised by his masterfully lyrical verses in volumes, and magnetically thirst for his verses to satiate our appetite for soul-searching. 

“Something opens our wings.
Something makes boredom and hurt disappear.
Someone fills the cup in front of us.
We taste only sacredness.”
Rumi’s collection of these verses hook readers deep into their heart with all its sheer simplicity, expressing his pure emotion from the bottom of his gracious heart.  All his inspiring words have been tugging at my heartstrings, smoothing me as if gentle flow of kindness, love and understanding, trying to wash away any looming fear and emerging hesitations.  For centuries, his poetries placed multitudes of topics about peace, compassion, gratitude and friendship into his embrace, and enchanted people from different walks of life that transcend nationalities and ways of living.   As always, there is sense of humour and playfulness in  bold poetic adaptations mixed with the philosophical truth and his never-ending imagination, just like an unwavering flame that kept sparkling radiance.

How does a part of the world leave the world?
How can wetness leave water?

Do not try to put out a fire
by throwing on more fire.
Do not wash a wound with blood.

No matter how fast you run,
your shadow more than keeps up.
Sometimes it’s in front.

Only full, overhead sun
diminishes your shadow.

But that shadow has been serving you.
What hurts you blesses you.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.”

After his escape from Mongol invasion and settlement in Konya in the 13th century, Rumi’s encounter with Shams of Tabriz, who was his spiritual mentor offering rare insight of wild mystic, also became the main backdrop of this literary inspiration. After Sham’s disappearance, thousands of lyrical poems in the red book are in much honour to their precious bond of friendship, and also others that are faithfully dedicated to the prophet Muhammad and God.  Enlightened by the Islamic ideology of Sufism, Rumi eventually shed light on divine epiphany and spiritual awakening, and such mystical richness in the poems further extended his wholehearted respect  and devotion towards Muhammad and several religious images. 

“Spring is Christ, raising martyred plants from their shrouds.
Their mouths open in gratitude, wanting to be kissed.
The wind is the Holy Spirit.
The trees are Mary.
Watch how husband and wife play subtle games with their hands.
Cloudy pearls from Aden are thrown across the lovers,
as is the marriage customs.
The scent of Joseph’s shirt comes to Jacob.
A red carnelian of Yemeni laughter is heard
by Muhammad in Mecca.
We talked about this and that.
There is no rest except on these branching moments.”
Touched by Rumi’s life-affirming message of compassion and tolerance with a purified heart, I hold firm to my belief that he is the one endowed with tremendous wisdom and writing acumen from first to last.  Let poetries speak elegantly and touch everyone’s soul in all corners of the world under this joyous season.  Let yourself immerse in solitude and follow the footsteps of Rumi, explore his timeless masterpiece and savour his richly-sensual collection.  Nothing is much fascinating than grasping this timeless poetry in hand, or wrapped it with a beautiful bow as a gift for your dear ones, hoping them to embark on  their life journey in this brand new year.  May this coming 2017 bring you to your heart’s desire, to infinite love and inner peace as what Rumi stated, along with my showers of blessings. ♦
“Lovers, it is time for the taste of fire.
Let sadness and your fears of death sit in the corner and sulk.
The sky itself reels with love.
There is one being inside all of us, one peace.
Poet, let every words tremble in its wind bell.
Saddle the horse with great anticipation.
Flute notes are calling us into friendship.
Begin again.
Play the melody all the way through this time.”

11 thoughts on “Book Review: “Rumi: The Big Red Book”

  1. Rumi’s poetry is always fascinating. According to me, it’s an esoteric Universe in itself. Every time one reads Rumi, it is like discovering an earlier unknown facet of life, feelings, and existence.

    A beautifully penned tribute for the wonderful poet and mystic.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This book is my first encounter with Rumi in solitude. And, it was actually you who suggested Rumi’s poetry to me when I glanced over your comments with other bloggers about books in a post.

      Same as you, I am utterly intrigued by Rumi’s creations and immediately attached to his descriptions after flipping over the first few pages of the book. It smoothed my soul as I followed him towards his vast, magical universe in a relaxing pace, and he offered me an intellectual/literal feast to savour. Even in nowadays, as discussed with my penpals these days, Rumi could be acclaimed as the greatest poet in Islamic world and his writings were eventually adapted into the lyrics of an enjoyable Persian song.

      Last but not least, thank you for your valuable recommendations. Inspired by Rumi’s writing calibre, no wonder you also express your words beautifully.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That is awesome. I am happy that you have found Rumi’s writings, and trust me, his poetry is always relevant. Throughout the ages and in the present times, his verses gives a sense of calm and one can explore unknown facets of life. Feelings which we have within but are not aware of.

        Always, thank you for your kind words. I am sure you will enjoy reading his writings.

        And let me quote Rumi, “Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a refreshing start of the year to delve deep into Rumi’s writings again and again. Like a spiritual confidant, he poured out his kindness by infusing us with an eye-opening insight. I enjoy his creations much and yearn for reading another books of his creations as you do.


    1. Thank you for your comment. Same as you, I am also impressed by Rumi’s writing talent and his inspiration towards multifaceted life facts. All his poems smooth my soul and just colour my days with beautiful sentences.

      Liked by 1 person

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