Study Guide

Beneath a Marble Sky What's Up With the Epigraph?

By John Shors

What's Up With the Epigraph?

The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere,
they're in each other all along.
—Rumi

What's up with the epigraph?

There's a reason why Rumi quotes pop up on Instagram all the time, plastered on top of photographs of people looking wistfully out into the sunset. He said some pretty sweet stuff, after all. We're not here to pop your inspiration bubble, but Shors has some pretty good reasons to quote the poet at the beginning of his book.

First, Rumi is currently considered one of the most popular poets in America, which is a pretty sweet deal for a 13th-century Persian mystical poet. Google search him. Go ahead. We'll wait…Good? Good.

Anyway, Rumi's not only super popular, but he's also one of the greatest literary artists of old Islamic world, where this novel takes place. He's Persian rather than Mughals, but the Mughals sure did know and love him, too.

Going a little deeper, the topic of these few lines is pretty apt, too. In Isa, Jahanara has found her love, but surprise, she didn't have to find him—he's been with her always, as she learns after he had died.

And, of course, let's not forget that the Taj Mahal itself is a huge symbol of the love one man (Shah Jahan) had for his wife (Mumtaz Mahal). The epigraph lets us know right away that we're going to be dealing with some heavy-duty luuurve, so, you know, get ready for that.