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The poem 'The Song of the Reed' by Rumi includes the lines:

Hearken to this Reed forlorn,
Breathing, even since 'twas torn
From its rushy bed, a strain
Of impassioned love and pain.

(From Rumi, Poet and Mystic 1207–1273, translated by Reynold A. Nicholson.)

What is meant by "rushy bed"?

4

Reeds (typha, or reedmace) and rushes (bulrush) are often confused, although they belong to different botanical families. In particular, typha (reedmace) is often misnamed as bulrush. Since both plants grow in water, you will often see them intermixed in streams and along riverbanks. So, a "rushy bed" is simply a bed of bulrushes (or typha).

Note also that a reed is a rustic musical instrument. So the reed in the poem would be made from the stem of a bulrush (or more properly, reedmace or typha), taken from its rushy bed.

Typha, or reedmace (reedmace)
Typha, or reedmace (Wikipedia)

Bulrush
Bulrush (Wikipedia)

Reed (noun)

1.4 (literary) a rustic musical pipe made from a reed or from straw.
‘as if thy waves had only heard the shepherd's reed’

Oxford Online Dictionary

  • Thanks for this detailed explanation! – OcK Sep 22 '18 at 11:12
  • TL;DR: rushes ~ reeds. That seems to be what the OP wasn't realising. – Rand al'Thor Sep 22 '18 at 20:29
  • @Randal'Thor Old habits. Saying that rushes is another name for reeds wouldn't cut it on some forums. They demand proof. :( – Mick Sep 22 '18 at 21:51

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