Monday, January 18, 2010

The Mill


Rembrandt van Rijn, The Mill, 1645-1648

The heart is a wheatgrain. We are the mill
where this body is a millstone
and thought, the moving river.

The body asks the river why it runs on so.
The river says, Ask the miller who made
the millrace that directs my falling
that turns your stone.

The miller says, You that love bread,
if this turning were not happening,
what would you dip in your broth?

So a lot of questioning goes on
around the milling of wheat,
but what really is this breadmaking work?

Now let silence ask
about wheat and the river,
about the miller and the stone
and the taste of bread dipped in soup,
and this listening we do at the mill.


Coleman Barks' note: The mill is one of Rumi's images for the process whereby individual grains get crushed to make something less separate, more communally useful (bread). Thought (the riverwater) and the body (the millstone) are part of this work, as are the miller (creative intelligence) and the customer (desire), who wants a piece of bread for his soup.

* * *

Note on why I'm using a windmill instead of a watermill to illustrate this post (apart from having just noticed that in spite of loving Rembrand I didn't yet have a reference to him in my blog): thought rarely flows as fluidly and orderly as the waters of a river, its complexity is far more akin to that of the wind.

* * *

Thank you, Ruth, for sharing this wonderful Rumi with me!


Ruth said...

I love what Barks said:


Silence and listening is what we do.

Claudia said...

I'm going to have to start reading more Rumi, Ruth! :)

Ruth said...

A lot of his poems he dictated to a scribe. They just came to him. I like how his poems are rooted in earth.

Trulyfool said...

Rumi's poem's 'gut' is the last stanza where the worked-out metaphor gets undercut.

Are we not prepared for some explanatory, solemn, yada-yada about the universe -- and then have such allegorical 'sense' be slapped out of us?

Claudia said...

Absolutely, Trulyfool.

Peter said...

Wind or water - natural forces. Sometimes human or animal forces are needed, but the millstones must turn!
It was said that Rembrandt was born in a water mill, but this may not be true, but I think his family owned one or some. Did he ever paint one?
This gave me the opportunity learn something about Rumi, to me it was just a name (shame on me)!

rauf said...

Mill on the Floss was the best.

Never agreed with Rumi, had many arguments with him, imaginary of course, i am not a 800 year old ghost Claudia, please don't be afraid of me.

Now you think that something is seriously wrong with this guy !

Claudia said...

Peter, I looked for watermills painted by Rembrandt but didn't find any.

Claudia said...

rauf, you're not the only one to have arguments with ghosts. Nothing wrong with that I say while listening to "They're coming to take me away" by Napoleon XIV

Sara said...

Quite interesting your 'The Millstone', Claudia. I'll return, for sure.