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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Some Rumi for my Son upon his Graduation

Seth, like his sister, Morgan, has attended the same college prep school since kindergarten - he and others will receive a "Crayons to Commencement" recognition this weekend. photo on right by Sommer Daniel


Hope you are having a terrific poetry Friday.

My household is hopping with graduation preparations for this weekend – events and incoming family and general hoopla. Our youngest, Seth, is about to become a high school alumnus on his way to college.

What would be a good poem to share with him here? Dr. Seuss’s OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO comes to mind, as does Frost’s “The Road Less Traveled,” of course. The Academy of American Poets has a list of appropriate poetic offerings for graduates here.

I’ve decided to borrow one from a THE ESSENTIAL RUMI that Seth recently received at a school honors program as co-president of the Honor Council. This is the New Expanded Edition of translations by Coleman Barks (2004, HarperCollins). Selected and presented by a teacher much beloved to our whole family, and one of the hands-down smartest (and most compassionate) folks I know, this book will be treasured by Seth, I’m sure.

Perhaps he’ll like this selection, which speaks to me:

TENDING TWO SHOPS

Don’t run around this world
looking for a hole to hide in.

There are wild beasts in every cave!
If you live with mice,
the cat claws will find you.

The only real rest comes
when you’re alone with God.

Live in the nowhere that you came from,
even though you have an address here.

That’s why you see things in two ways.
Sometimes you look at a person
and see a cynical snake.

Someone else sees a joyful lover,
And you’re both right!

Everyone is half and half,
like the black and white ox.

Jospeh looked ugly to his brothers,
and most handsome to his father.

You have eyes that see from that nowhere,
and eyes that judge distances,
how high and how low.

You own two shops
and you run back and forth.

Try to close the one that’s a fearful trap,
getting always smaller. Checkmate, this way.
Checkmate, that.

Keep open the shop
where you’re not selling fishhooks anymore.
You are the free-swimming fish.


Congratulations to all who are moving the proverbial tassel this season!

For more great poetry, visit Ed at Think Kid Think for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup. (And find out what Doritos could possibly have to do with the history of Poetry Friday....)

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