Saturday, August 13, 2005

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds” - Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI

“Let me not to the marriage of true minds” - Shakespeare, Sonnet CXVI

LET me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,5
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love ’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;10
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Reflecting on this sonnet moves me to suggest that only God and His messengers, peace be upon all of them, are worthy of this kind of love.

    I say this *kind* of love because I am persuaded that Jane Austen had a good point when she wrote that "there are as many different kinds of love as there are moments in time"

    I think her notion of the *multiplicity* of loves may be reconciled with Shakespeare's notion of love as "an ever fixed mark" since I don't think her statement means to imply that love is necessarily relative.

    Or perhaps my interpretation is off and that IS what she means. If so, then her notion of love seems to be at odds with Shakespeare's notion of love.

    If they are both right, it would seem to me that Shakespeare is speaking of divine or celestial love [that is owed to God] and Austen is speaking of terrestrial love [that mortal beings may share amongst themselves].

    I don't know.

  3. Allahu Alim.

    I appreciate the Austin quote, shukran.

    ...Mawlana Rumi says, "All love, but His love is pain"...

  4. What a beautiful Rumi quotation. Can you direct me to where I can find it?

    I wonder what the word in Farsi is that has been translated "pain."

    Not all pain is "bad." Some pain is felt during the process of healing. Some pain is felt in disciplining the soul [riyadat-un-nafs]

    In "The Essential Rumi" Moyne and Barks interpret another passage from the Divan-e Shams Tabrizi where Rumi says: "Brother, stand the pain! Escape the poison of your impulses..."

    In a well authenticated hadith from al-Mustafa, sall Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, found in the Shifa of Qadi `Iyad, rahimuhullah, we find that the Prophet was made to love three things ["hubbiba ilayya ath-thalath]: fragrance, women, and his joy [lit. "the coolness of his eye"] was in the prayer.

  5. The quote was written on one of the months of the Longing for the Divine Calendar a few years ago...

    I'm sure you know the interesting thing about Coleman Barks is that he never actually knew any Farsi, but was an American poet that took Nicholson's translations of the Masnavi and popularized it...

  6. Yes, Barks has to be read with some caution. If you look at the introduction to "The Drowned Book," you get examples of how Barks re-works the literal translations of Farsi made by his partner John Moyne, who is a competent academic translator [his PhD work was in Farsi linguistics I think].

    When you examine the approach that Moyne and Barks take, I think it would be fair to admit that they are attempting to take the correct approach. The Mawlana's wisdom cannot be accessed merely by an academic translation. It requires interpretation and commentary by a master of the sciences of the heart. Moyne does the former rather competently and Barks tries to do the latter based on the wisdom imparted to him from his late master, Shaykh Bawa. There are passages that Barks works "magic" with in the English language.

    May God excuse their mistakes and reveal the wisdom of the Mawlana to the truthful.