Wordplay Wednesday: Rumi’s Greatest Love Poems


You might recall a choice debate over love and poetry between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth: I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!

Darcy: I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love.

Elizabeth: Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.

Would you agree with Elizabeth’s sentiments? Does love need to exist in its entirety before a poem can lend it any strength? Or might poetry on occasion drive and ignite love, as Darcy suggests?

We are inclined to believe the latter. Poetry can help us say what regular words cannot express, inspiring passion in the hearts of readers where there was previously only a placid love. And who better to ignite such depth of feeling than the great poet Rumi?

A Persian poet and Sufi mystic from the 13th century, Rumi’s work has transcended all barriers of time, space, religion, ethnicity and language. His portfolio is monumental, both in size and scope. But here we offer three of his most poignant love poems, for all the romantics out there.

Do You Love Me?

A lover asked his beloved,
Do you love yourself more
than you love me?

The beloved replied,
I have died to myself
and I live for you.

I’ve disappeared from myself
and my attributes.
I am present only for you.

I have forgotten all my learning,
but from knowing you
I have become a scholar.

I have lost all my strength,
but from your power
I am able.

If I love myself
I love you.
If I love you
I love myself.


Behind the Scenes

Is it your face
that adorns the garden?

Is it your fragrance
that intoxicates this garden?

Is it your spirit
that has made this brook
a river of wine?

Hundreds have looked for you
and died searching
in this garden
where you hide behind the scenes.

But this pain is not for those
who come as lovers.

You are easy to find here.

You are in the breeze
and in this river of wine.


Defeated by Love

The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon

So powerful
I fell to the ground

Your love
has made me sure

I am ready to forsake
this worldly life
and surrender
to the magnificence
of your Being

* * *

Do you have a favorite or original poem you would like showcased on Wordplay Wednesday? We’d love to share it! Email the poem to editor@intent.com, and we will feature it in the series. Click here to view past Wordplay Wednesdays.