From the daily Danish newspaper Information 22.05.2002 - www.information.dk
By Malene Grøndahl, translation: Ulla Ohsten Rasmussen.
Struck by Rumi
Two actors and four musicians were struck by the beauty of the Sufi poet Rumi’s texts and decided to pass on his message of love across time and belief.
It is no coincidence that the group ”Breath” in its press release writes ”we do not want to continue dwelling on fearful, narrow-minded hostile attitudes towards immigrant workers and refugees”. The group has chosen to dwell on a poet who in the Muslim world is known as the greatest writer of love poetry – a man who possessed anything but a narrow minded sense of reality.
His name was Rumi and he was Persian. Having wandered for a long period of time he settled in Konya, present day Turkey. Here he lived, praising God, until his death in 1273.
Rumi was a Sufi – an Islamic mystic – who through meditation, music, songs and prayers tried to get closer to God and eventually become part of God. His love did not only focus on God as a distant and abstract figure, but also on God as a power present in nature and in people meeting each other.
The relief in meeting Rumi’s poetry is precisely the group ”Breath’s" starting point and aim. Together they have developed a concert form whose main aim is to pass on Rumi’s message in a way so as to enable a modern Danish audience to understand and appreciate it.
In the concert poetry, recitation, music and funny sound effects, songs and drama interact between intense love and thoughtful sorrow. One moment the audience is introduced to the simple, short poem ”A strange passion is moving in my head. My heart has become a bird which searches in the sky. Every part of me goes in different directions. Is it really so that the one I love is everywhere”, presented in a hoarse, penetrating voice by the group’s talented singer, Hanne Raffnsøe.
The next moment the group presents a recitation of the gloomy poem ”A black sky hates the moon”, and after a staged (but most credible) row between Jens Mølgård and Birgitte Ohsten, the reconciling message ”Love is always here right now” follows, accompanied by electronic sounds of laughter.
At times the production may seem a bit too pompous and the sound effects distracting rather than widening ones understanding. But it is, altogether, a relief that Breath tackles a poet whose texts so far only are available in limited editions in Danish and whose cultural background, Persian Muslim, is not particularly esteemed these days. The Breath group has understood that Rumi’s poems have an eternal value and do not need a modern interpretation in order to have a relevant effect.
His poetry breaks barriers as far as time and belief is concerned and it is in no way irrelevant in a modern Danish context – even though his poems do not contain the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment (and probably would not do so if he had lived today).
The enjoyment of Rumi’s poems deals more with something as simple as curiosity than about the Age of Enlightenment
Rumi (1203-1273) was an Islamic Mystic, a Sufi. He gathered a big group of disciples in Konya in Turkey. After his death they formed the Sufi-order ”the dancing Dervish”. Every year around 17th December, Rumi’s day of death, he is commemorated with a festival with Dervish dancing and recitation in Konya. He wrote 25,000 texts of which only a fraction has been translated into Danish. The latest edition ”There is windows between people’s hearts – didactic history from Mathnawi” Munksgaard Publishers, 2002. Published earlier: ”The Merchant and the Parrot” Ørnen Publishers, 1989.