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This review is from: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
True, Coleman Barks does not speak Persian or Arabic. And he is the first to admit that his is not a literal translation. Instead, Barks has worked with translations into Turkish, intended to preserve the spirit of Rumi's poetry, and in has aimed to do the same. In this, I feel he has had phenomenal success.
This collection truly transmits the power and energy of Rumi's inspiration- invoking Plato's image (in the Ion) of the magnet as the muse, and the poet as the first iron ring attached to the magnet, absorbing its force, and transmitting the same force to the audience further along the line. I think this book brings strengthens the current for the English speaking audience, and hence channels a greater amount of the inspiration which makes Rumi's poetry so remarkable.
Not one for stuffy academics, but this book will touch your soul if you open to it.