The mevlevi order of sufis (the ones who spin) were actually founded
by or inspired by a great poet, the Jalal Al-Din Rumi who is now so
popular in the somewhat iffy and generic-new-age-y translation of Coleman
Barks. Rumi's verse (which I gather is sung during the whirling ceremony, 
though my sources are a bit iffy), and sufi writings in general, are built
on a neoplatonic foundation, and some of the imagery (birds, the sun,
etc.) is shared in common with Eliot's Four Quartets.  

To try to haul the conversation back 'round to Eliot:  has anyone ever run
across Eliot expressing interest in Persian poetry?  It's a rather nice
fit with 4Q, with the themes of mystical 'remembering,' the death of the
self, and a path of unknowing leading to a direct union with the divine. 

There may be other possible tangential similarities--Rumi was inspired by
the memory of a Shams-i-Tabriz, a wandering dervish  and teacher who had
possibly been killed because of his connection with the poet,  and the
poetry directed that way looks quite a lot like love lyric: the
development of the analogy between mystical ecstasy and more mundane
sensuality is well-developed.

Has anyone heard of Eliot reading the sufis or Persians, other than the
Fitzgerald translation of Khayam?  It seems as if it might be right up his
alley, metaphysically, and he expressed a lot of interest at various
times in non-Western religion, having gone to some trouble to read
Patanjali, etc. in the original.

Steve Marsden

Texas A&M University

On Wed, 28 Mar 2001, Meyer Robert K GS-9 99 CES/CECT wrote:

> Yeah, the dizziness contributes to achieving a mystical ecstasy like the
> exercises of yoga or Tai Chi.  I'm sure there is a famous poem about
> dervishes but I can't remember the title (I'm guessing it was by Emerson).
> Robert
> 	-----Original Message-----
> 	From:	[log in to unmask] [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> 	Sent:	Wednesday, March 28, 2001 11:03 AM
> 	Subject:	OT dervishes
> 	I've been told that the dance is 
> 	actually religious (and cosmological), 
> 	pat