The Necessary Foil
by Jalālu’l-Dīn Rūmī
Privation and defect, wherever seen,
Are mirrors of the beauty of all that is.
The bone-setter, where should he try his skill
But on the broken limb? The tailor where?
Not, surely on the well-cut finished coat.
Were no base copper in the crucible,
How could the alchemist his craft display?
[Mathnawī I, 3201]
English translation by Reynold A. Nicholson
Taken from Selected Poems of Rūmī, published by Dover in 2001
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