Monday, May 23, 2005

The price of kissing

I saw you last night in the gathering,
but could not take you openly in my arms,

so I put my lips next to your cheek,
pretending to talk privately.
-- Rumi

Something Rumi relied on was that his beloved would know that he was pretending to talk for others' consumption, that others would not realise that he was simply wanting to be close to his beloved.

Because his beloved understood his heart, he didn't have to take into account that his beloved would also think he was talking privately, and would imagine for himself what the words he was talking were.

A difficulty in human relations is that often the person you are talking to believes more strongly in the words they have imagined than in the ones you are actually speaking.

Well, we do lie, and we know that we lie, so we are always looking for the lie that we think the other is telling. We cannot protest that we were not lying because the lie that is assumed is more suggestive than the all too often banal truth.

Naturally, Rumi's two loves -- Allah and Shams -- he trusted implicitly and both knew that he told them no lies. Both had far too much insight into him for it to be worth his while to be dishonest to them. His poetry is breathtakingly honest because it is written with them as his audience. (My poetry is also ferociously honest because I write for myself, and I too have too much self-knowledge to be able to lie.)

But even so, Rumi understood the fallibility of language, that his feelings could be quite apparent without resort to it. He was, after all, a sufi, and he knew that he could have ecstatic communication with his god without words (to put it another way, without a ritual as such).

I know this has not made much sense. I'm just wandering through some thoughts. I'm too stupid to keep quiet when the "world is too full to talk about". Sometimes you just don't have the words to express what you are wanting to, and I really am, despite appearances, just putting my lips against your cheek, and as Rumi said:

A great silence overcomes me,
and I wonder why I ever thought
to use language.


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