The Guest House

The Guest House
Translated by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, 
some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Jeladuddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)

Reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd

Jeladuddin Rumi
About The Guest House

This poem is included in the anthology Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2014). The anthology was edited by Dr Lesley Morrison, GP; Dr John Gillies, GP and Chair, Royal College of GPs in Scotland, Rev Ali Newell, and Lilias Fraser. A copy was given to all graduating doctors in Scotland in 2014. We are very grateful for the individual donations which funded the cost of this anthology, and to the Deans of the Scottish medical schools who made it possible to give the books to their graduating students.