'This being human is a guest house.'


The Guest House

by Rumi

The Guest House

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.

by Rumi

Taken from SELECTED POEMS by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks (Penguin Classics, 2004).


Poem as Friend to Yasmin

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The Guest Houseby Rumi


In this episode, Yasmin talks about the poem that has been a friend to her – ‘The Guest House' by Rumi.

We’re delighted to feature ‘The Guest House’ in this episode and would like to thank the poem's Translator, Coleman Barks for granting us permission to share the poem in this way. Discover more about him and his work here:


You can find ‘The Guest House’ in SELECTED POEMS by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks (Penguin Classics, 2004). Reproduced by permission of Coleman Barks.

Yasmin visited The Poetry Exchange at Manchester Central Library, as part of the celebrations of International Mother Languages Day in the city.

Many thanks to our partners Manchester Libraries, Archives Plus, The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature.


Yasmin Ali is the Founder and Editor in chief of Halcyon: a creative space aimed at empowering Muslim women. Discover more here:


She is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, Michael Shaeffer and Fiona Bennett.

Fiona reads the gift reading of 'The Guest House'.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.