Don’t go back to sleep

I found this poem on the wall of the Denver Airport, just outside baggage claim, while I was on my way out after dropping off my sister for her flight back to Ohio. I stood there and read it twice through, the black letters stuck on the plain white wall, with people collecting their bags and waiting and moving all around me.

It’s a poem by the 13th century Persian Muslim poet named Rumi, who was also a jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic (according to Wikipedia). I find it particularly meaningful at this moment in life, and I think it’s a wonderful way to exit into whatever awaits you in the world outside the airport.

light through the clouds

Walker Ranch Loop, Colorado, 2013.


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.



pine by waterfall

Walker Ranch Loop, Colorado, 2013.


And, clearly, this poem is about hobbits, and is pretty much the entire plot line for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

“People are going back and forth across the doorsill where two worlds touch/ The door is round and open”– Obviously, this refers to when the dwarfs come to Bilbo’s hobbit hole to begin their quest.

“You must ask for what you really want”– when Thorin Oakenshield is reluctant to ask Elrond to read his map. Also when Bilbo finally comes to his senses and asks to come along with the dwarfs.

“Don’t go back to sleep”– telling Bilbo to sign the contract and go with the dwarfs and not to just stay asleep in his safe, cozy, boring hobbit hole. Movie quote: Bilbo- “I just need to sit quietly for a moment.” Gandalf- “You’ve been sitting quietly for far too long!”  Also could be a reference to when the dwarfs are sleeping in the mountains and are captured by the goblins.

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you”– sounds like something Gandalf would say. Something he actually does say: “Home is now behind you. The world is ahead.”


I saw the new Hobbit movie with my brother and sister just before I came out to Boulder, which is why I’ve hobbits on the brain. And on that note I think Radagast’s sled is awesome. I would totally put up with birds nesting in my hair and pooping down my face if it meant I had a sweet sled pulled by giant rabbits. As long as the birds weren’t American Robins, or turd birds as we call them (their scientific name is Turdis migratorius, hence turd, from Turdis). Those things are gross, and they make a huge runny mess all over the place when you’re trying to band them. Wrens would be ok, or a small family of warblers, or hummingbirds. Those are all cuter, smaller, and seem neater.


squirrel on flagstaff

Walker Ranch Loop, Colorado 2013.


I now suggest a listen to “Into the West,” sung by Annie Lennox, from the soundtrack of The Return of the King. I find it fits quite well with this poem, and is a very lovely song. One of my favorites, along with “Concerning Hobbits” on the soundtrack for The Fellowship of the Ring. Howard Shore is brilliant, and the soundtracks make excellent work/study music.

2 thoughts on “Don’t go back to sleep

  1. Rumi in a stall at Stapleton…my Persian friends would flip out. Not going to tell them. He is a national treasure to them. Great poem…how come I always see such nonsense scrawled on doors and walls of such venues?

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