A fried gave this book to me as a gift, knowing my interest in Mowlana Rumi's poems.
I usually don't bother with English interpretations/translations of Mowlana's work. I had perused Arberry's and had to put it down in disgust over his superficial attempt to co-opt this man into the religious realm. Arberry's influence being what it was, and as it remains, it is a real disservice to those scholars who can't read Persian well enough to appreciate Mowlana first hand.
This book goes even further. Not only the interpretations are not close, most the word plays and double entendre are lost, the author moves verses and above all, he adds verses where there are none! I consider this a misguided presentation of the few poems he has selected. After reading a few, I decided to check them against the originals. This is what I found.
Gazal number 2045, (Cowan's 37) has a final verse about Shams which doesn't exist. Its crudeness prompted to check my two copies of the divan and the version on ganjoor.org. None have this weird verse.
Samething with Gazal number 2395 (Cowan's 41). No final verse, noting about Shams (Sun) as he has glibly made up.
I have shut the book. It is a disgrace. I looked at three poems, two of them have been appended with the interpreters own imagination.
The question is motivation. Why are these translators presenting Mowlana's work like that of mindless "new age" person? To anyone who understands Persian, these are works of inquiry into psychology and perception using ones own experiences as the singular source. So what is the reason behind all the "spiritualism" painted on Mowlana by western scholars, and I use that word in its loosest sense.
A. J. Arberry's interpretations were over the top in religiosity and mindless spiritualism. Cowan's attempts seems to be to further such denigration by pretending that the poems are about earthly love.
In my reading, of tes of times per poem, his poem are neither religious, nor spiritual or ecstatic. A direct reading of this man's work shows a very clear headed man of exquisite sensitivity questioning every feeling he perceives and every inspiration that surprises him, the incongruity of his feeling and anything that people assume to be external to it, he is wondering about his source of inspiration, not outside, but in his own brain, as he very clearly says in several of his poems, that it is all in his brain. He doesn't even use the word mind, but he clearly says brain, they physical thing in his skull.
I would not recommend either of the translations/interpretations mentioned here. I have no idea where one can find a clearheaded one. I pity scholars, students and poetry lovers who need an accessible translation/interpretation. This man's work was centuries ahead of itself, he is delving into and analyzing his creativity and perception in ways that hard neuroscience is just getting to do.
There is much that can be learned from Mowlana in terms of the relationship between an artists creative unconscious and his conscious, lost self. These translations are full of sugar and no substance. If you want to enjoy it the level of a Madona song, well, then maybe they work.