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

* * *