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Poetry for the Soul - Who Says Words With My Mouth - Rumi




Who Says Words With My Mouth?

All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.


This drunkenness began in some other tavern.When I get back around to that place,I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.The day is coming when I fly off, but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?


Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?I cannot stop asking.If I could taste one sip of an answer,I could break out of this prison for drunks.I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.


This poetry, I never know what I’m going to say.I don’t plan it.When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.


For this annotation, I have chosen this short poem, ‘Who says words with my mouth?’  by my favorite Rumi. 


Unlike most of the pieces I’ve read in the past, what struck me most about this one was how it was conveying one of the most common human problems in the simplest form of questioning. There can be many interpretations to what Rumi may be referring to here and I have decided to share my annotation of the context behind these rhythmic words. This poem to me explores the feelings of enlightenment one would experience during deep spiritual meditation, where you have surrendered yourself to presence and the worldly ruminations become white noise to your awakened self. The opening lines. ‘All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea.’ allows the reader to connect instantaneously with man's most complex yet common existential worries. Every individual reaches a point in their life, whether by intoxication, prayer or even melancholy, that they find themselves questioning the bigger why of the air we breathe and this poem opens on a note that encapsulates all of humanity in a matter of a few phrases. 


There is a beautiful connection made of ‘drunkenness’ to a free bird who is in deep contemplation, not completely free but simply aware and conscious of its past held captivity. ‘I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary. The day is coming when I fly off, but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice? Who says words with my mouth?’. These beautiful phrases speak volumes to me. The poet expresses how the voice of consciousness exists in this state, one that does not require to be spoken with the mouth; it is the mind speaking of the indifference it feels and the awareness of its inevitable return where this ‘drunkenness’ will vanish. 


This enlightenment is not one which is entirely positive. The poet expresses this awareness is in fact a prison as his long held questions remain unanswered. This state of knowing but not knowing fully, this “prison for drunks” is what the material world is. It is the constant shift of knowing but not knowing and the feeling we are getting somewhere and then realizing we are not sure where we were actually headed in the first place is the most common struggle of our life sentence. 


The poem ends on  the lines ‘When I am outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all’.  This refers to the situation where even if one could voice the matter of having many questions, he probably wouldn't be able to say it and would intentionally remain quiet. This also intensifies the stance that these questions are self-reflective and rhetoric, which signifies that the answers can only be answered by the enlightened, not by anyone else. They say in order to hear the divine word, you must quieten the chatter and seek inwards. 


This poem accentuates on the common human dispositions of uncertainty, lack of surrender and constantly seeking validation outside of your body and soul. Through this beautiful poem, Rumi is able to create this motivational shift in learning about our inner chamber and outer chamber of human experience thus finding a balance in the present moment.


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