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As part of a larger translation and analyses project of Jalaluddin Rumi’s (1207-1273 CE) multilingual poems, this paper will discuss the formal elements of close to one hundred poems, about a thousand verses, in Rumi’s Diwan, better known as the Diwan-i-Shams. Muslim literary critics termed such multilingual poetic compositions mulamma’at, whereas Western literary critical works label them macaronic. Rumi’s mulamma’at embody a composite of Arabic, Persian, some Turkish and Greek, a couple of Armenian phrases, a few Mongolian locutions, old Persian phrases from the Khurāsānī dialects, and various Arabic and Persian colloquialisms, mixed together in single poems. These do not include the hundreds, even thousands, of quotations from, and allusions to the Qurʾān, as well as to the sayings of the Prophet Muḥammad, the Ḥadīth. I will demonstrate the formal features of some of these poems through visual representations. Closer attention to the linguistic and formal aspects of these poems will also open doors to questions of intentionality and purpose within what appears to be a largely spontaneous demonstration of virtuosity that sometimes may seem to end up muddled. A discussion of the formal elements should not only assist in developing an appreciation of the considerable skill required in crafting a successful multilingual poem, but also allow us to probe deeper into the possible reasons for such multilingual compositions. I propose to read these multilingual poems as a highly unique and generative form of apophatic discourse, which linguistically and visually perform the very negation.
Religious Studies/Theology
Geographic Area
All Middle East
Islamic World
Ottoman Empire
Sub Area