The Man Who Drummed at Midnight / Rumi

rumiA Minstrel was drumming outside a palace at midnight, announcing the meal that was normally taken at daybreak during Ramadan. While he beat his drum vigorously in the middle of the night, another man came to him and asked why he would make such a din in the middle of the night, and also whether he had considered if there was anyone in the palace in the first place.

Why are you trifling your time away?

Beating your drum for the sake of an ear,

Where is the ear?

Announcing your presence for intelligent souls,

Where is the intelligent soul?

The drummer answered that although in his opinion it was midnight, in the drummer’s view the dawn of delight was near at hand, every defeat had been turned to victory, and all nights turned into days.

To you the water of the river Nile is blood,

To me it’s water, noble friend.

That object there may seem to you

A block of iron or stone, but not to David,

Great prophet he,

it’s soft as wax and malleable too.

To you the mountain’s greatly solid,

To David it’s a song of songs.

To you the ground’s as still as still,

To Ahmed it’s quite filled with prayer.

To you the Mosque’s gold pillar’s dead,

To Ahmed it’s a lover bleeding.

You tell me that there’s no one in the house that I beat my drum to. But I know the spirit that lies in there. All the Mosques that worthy pilgrimages are made to-are they empty too, or are they filled with the spirit of the Lord of the House of God?. Many a house that is filled with throngs of people is empty because it is empty of the spirit.

The scent of this house is filled with God,

A banquet of the soul, its dust and elixir of life.

I’ll strike my copper

till treble and bass rebound everlasting,

Scattering pearls and lavish with bounty,

For God is my best customer

*The Illustrated Rumi. Translated by Philip Dunn, Manuela Dunn Mascetti, and R.A. Nicholson