** fridays event in london completely sold out. Maybe some returns on door. Check Crick Crack Club for details” ***
Been missing Coleman recently. I have my very favourite Rumi book of his: “Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion” right next to me on this early-morning desk with my coffee and mug and the cat wriggling round my leg telling me I have to feed her. Ok I have to feed her. A little black lion. Back in a minute. Back. This old computer I am using today has no comma button – as you will see.
The soul is that way in the body
a royal falcon put in with crows.
It sits here and endures what it must
like a great saint – like an Abu Bakr
in the city of Sabzawar.
This little book has a different kind of intensity to it. Tremendously compact – austere – wild even. Not likely to make it to a greetings card anytime soon. Coleman says: “The power of the appetites is in the lion – the power to control them or indulge them. The lion is also associated with the sun. The lion wants more light. Sometimes that means fasting sometimes feasting. The spirit-lion is the dawn presence – the one who calls out – announcing the next.”
I followed something of this in Snowy Tower: “the story of Parzival says that there is a lion in us: a lion who opens its vast jaws to the feasts of court – the intrigues of culture – the thin road of the pilgrim. The lion consumes emptiness and space with just the same vigour as it settles on fresh meat.”
Coleman again – for all of us: “the chief lion attribute is his authority. It is an authority over himself – and it is also an authority that comes from living close to a deep sense of self that he will not betray…”
The farmer went out late at night
to check his ox. He felt in the corner
and rubbed his hand along the flank of the lion
up the back – round the shoulder – and around
the chest to the other shoulder.
The lion thinks “If a light were lit
and this man could suddenly see
he would die of the discovery.
He’s stroking me so familiarly
because he thinks i’m his ox.
The greatest lion I know in any language is Mirabai. She’s gets to it:
To be born in a human body is rare
don’t throw away the rewards of your past deeds.
My beloved has come home with the rains
and the fire of longing is doused.
At the first thunderclap
even the peacocks open their tails with pleasure
Like lillies that blossom under the full moons light;
I open to him in this rain; every pore of my body
Mira’s separation and torment are over.
And she’s clear to her lord:
Be with me when I lie down; you promised me this
in an earlier life.
If you come anywhere near my house
I will close my sandalwood doors
and lock you in.
Mira’s lord is half-lion and half man.
She turns her life over to the midnight of his hair.
(versions Hirshfield and Bly)
copyright Martin Shaw 2015