A Poetic Feast from the Middle East

A Poetic Feast from the Middle East was designed by an anonymous designer, with all pieces on loan from a private collector. This table is sponsored by Jamison Door Company.

Come have a seat at this poetic feast and take up a pen from The Inkwell and write words on your heart as you are surrounded by the sound and the fragrance and the beauty before you. Each piece contributes in its own unique way to the symbology and significance of three Middle Eastern Poets- Hafiz, Rumi, and Kahlil Gibran, all of whom interweave the spiritual aspects of seemingly simple everyday objects such as roses, wine, pomegranates, musical instruments, and bread into their poems in a mystical way. Included as well in the visual feast is The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

Omar Khayyam was a Persian artist and scientist. He wrote about philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and more. He wrote Rubaiyat and was introduced to the English-speaking world in the 19th century by Edward Fitzgerald. His poetry addresses topics such as life, religion, and Sufi philosophy. In the century after Khayyam, Rumi worked in a similar style, offering sage advice and hopeful endings.



“Color your prayer rug with wine,” writes Hafiz, one of the most remarkable poets and mystical thinkers, known throughout the world for his imaginative illusions, for his unveiling of hypocrisy and for his limitless passion, which pours out in his verses through metaphors of love, perfume, and wine.

For someone who had such a big influence on Persian culture and throughout Arab and European literature, Hafiz remains an enigmatic figure. We know that he was born in Shiraz in 1315 as Shams Aldin Mohammad Shirazi and died around 1390, but everything between is filled with Legends and suggestions taken from his poetry. He was a contemporary of Dante, Chaucer, and Jan van Eyck and the major political events of his day—the Mongol invasions—left a deep imprint on his work and thinking.



The poet Rumi was born in 1207 in Bahlk – now Afghanistan – and died in 1273 in Konya, now in Turkey. This great Sufi mystic and poet is known for his lyrics and didactic epic Mas̄navī-yi Maʿnavī (“Spiritual Couplets”), which widely influenced mystical thought and literature during his time throughout the Muslim world.

Rumi’s father was a noted mystical theologian, author and teacher. Following a dispute in the town, the family moved from their home and traveled widely. In 1244, the decisive moment in Rumi’s life occurred when, in Konya, he met a wandering dervish, or holy man, who greatly influenced his way of being. After the murder of this beloved teacher his experience of love, longing, and loss turned Rumi into a poet. His poems, ghazals (about 30,000 verses), and a large number of rubaiyat, or quatrains, reflect the different stages of his love. His son wrote, “He found Shams, (his teacher) in himself, radiant like the Moon.” There seems to be a cause for the belief expressed by chroniclers that much of Rumi’s poetry was composed in a state of ecstasy induced by the music of the flute or the drums, the hammering of the goldsmiths in the towns where he lived, or the sound of the Watermill in Madorom where Rumi used to go with his disciples to enjoy nature. He found in nature the reflection of the radiant beauty of the Sun of Religion and felt flowers and birds partaking in his love. After completing his major work, the Masnavi, Rumi lived for a short while. He always remained a respected member of Konya society and his company was sought by the leading officials as well as by Christian monks.



Kahlil Gibran was born in 1883 in Bsharri, Lebanon which at the time was part of Syria and the Ottoman Empire. His father was a tax collector who was eventually imprisoned for embezzlement, and his mother, whose father was a clergyman in the Maronite Christian Church, was a seamstress. In 1885 Gibran emigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States where they settled in the large Syrian and Lebanese community in Boston, Massachusetts. It was there that young Gibran learned English and enrolled in art classes. His mother supported the family by sewing and by peddling linens.
In 1904, Gibran began publishing articles and had his first public exhibit of his drawings which were championed by the Boston photographer Fred Holland Day. It was Gibran’s artwork that attracted the attention of Mary Haskell, a headmistress, who became Gibran’s lifelong Patron paying for him to study art at the Academy Julian in Paris in 1908. While there, Gibran met the sculptor Auguste Rodin who reportedly once called him “the William Blake of the 20th century”.



Haskell continued to support Gibran and enabled his move to New York City in 1911, where he settled in a one-room apartment in Bohemian Greenwich Village. At lunch one day, Gibran met Alfred Knopf who would become his publisher. In 1923, Alfred Knopf published what would become Gibran’s most famous work, The Prophet. The book was not met with critical praise or early success. It sold 1,200 copies in its first year. However, the book later became a phenomenon and The Prophet has now sold more than 10 million copies making Gibran one of the best-selling poets in the world. Gibran died in New York City in 1931.