In his exploration of the relationship between Sufism and poetry, Hazrat Inayat Khan now begins to consider the Persian poets. The previous post is here.
At all times Persia has had great poets and it has been called ‘The Land of Poetry.’ This is because the Persian language is so well adapted to poetry and also because all Persian poetry contains a mystical touch. The literary value of the poetry only makes it poetry; but when a mystical value is added, then this makes the poetry prophecy.
The climate and atmosphere of Persia have also been most helpful to poetry, and the very imaginative nature of the people has made their poetry rich. At all times and in all countries, when the imagination has no scope for expansion, then poetry dies and materialism increases.
There is no poet in the world who is not a mystic. A poet is a mystic, whether consciously or unconsciously, for no one can write poetry without inspiration. When a poet touches the profound depths of the spirit, struck by some aspect of life, then he brings forth a poem, as a diver brings forth a pearl.
In this age of materialism and ever-growing commercialism, man seems to have lost the way of inspiration. During my travels I was asked by a well-known writer whether it is really true that there is such a thing as inspiration. This gave me an idea of how far nowadays some writers and poets are removed from inspiration. It is the materialism of the age that is responsible for this. If a person has a tendency towards poetry or music, then as soon as he begins writing something his first thought is, ‘Will it catch on, or not? What will be its practical value?’ Generally, what catches on is that which appeals to the average man. In this way, culture is going downward instead of upward.
When the soul of the poet is intoxicated by the beauty of nature and the harmony of life it is moved to dance, and the expression of the dance is poetry. The difference between inspired poetry and mechanical writing is as great as the difference between true and false. For many ages, the poets of Persia have left a wonderful treasure of thought for humanity. Jalaluddin Rumi has revealed in his Masnavi the mystery of profound revelation. In the East, his works are considered as sacred as holy scriptures. They have illuminated countless souls, and the study of his work can be considered to belong to the highest standard of culture.
To be continued…