(The Rose Garden)
Mosleh al-Din Saadi Shirazi
On Love and Youth
I remember that in my youth I was passing along a street when I beheld a moon-faced beauty. The season was that of the month of July, when the fierce heat dried up the moisture of the mouth, and the scorching wind consumed the marrow of the bones. Through the weakness of human nature I was unable to support the power of the sun, and involuntarily took shelter under the shade of a wall, waiting to see if any one would relieve me from the pain I suffered, owing to the ardour of the sun's rays, and cool my flame with water. All of a sudden, from the dark portico of a house, I beheld a bright form appear, of such beauty that the tongue of eloquence would fail in narrating her charms. She came forth as morn succeeding a dark night, or as the waters of life issuing from the gloom. She held in her hand a cup of snow-water, in which she had mixed sugar and the juice of the grape. I know not whether she had perfumed it with her own roses, or distilled into it some drops from the bloom of her countenance. In short, I took the cup from her fair hand, and drained its contents, and received new life.
Most blest that happy one whose gaze intense
On Decrepitude and Old Age
One day, in the pride of my youth, I had travelled hard, and at night stopped, much fatigued, at the foot of a mountain. An infirm old man, who followed the caravan, said to me, "Arise! This is not a place to slumber in." I replied, "How can I proceed, when I have not the power to stir a foot?" He rejoined, "Hast thou not heard that they have said, 'It is better to walk and rest, than to run and be oppressed?' "
Thou who wouldst reach the halting-place, haste not;
On the Effect of Education
A philosopher was advising his children as follows:
'Tis hard t' obey for those who have borne rule,
In Syria once commotions so arose
Learn what thy father knew, if thou wouldst hold
On the Manners of Kings
... They relate that once, during a hunting exhibition, they were preparing for Nushirwan the Just some game, as roast meat. There was no salt; and they dispatched a slave to a village to bring some. Nushirwan said, "Pay for the salt you take, in order that it may not become a custom, and the village be ruined." They said, "What harm will this little quantity do?" He replied, "The origin of injustice in the world was at first small, and everyone that came added to it, until it reached this magnitude."
On the Qualities of Derwishes
They asked Luqman, "of whom didst thou learn manners? He replied, "From the unmannerly. Whatever I saw them do which I disapproved of, that I abstained from doing."
Not e'en in jest a playful word is said,
A certain pious man in a dream beheld a king in paradise and a devotee in hell. He inquired, "What is the reason of the exaltation of one, and the cause of the degradation of the other? For I had imagined just the reverse." They said, "That king is now in paradise owing to his friendship for derwishes, and this recluse is in hell through frequenting the presence of kings."
On the Excellence of Contentment
An African mendicant, in the street of the mercers of Aleppo, said, "O wealthy sirs! if you had but justice and we contentment, the custom of begging would be banished from the world."
Contentment! do thou me enrich; for those
A thief said to a beggar, "Art thou not ashamed to hold out thy hand for the smallest particle of silver to
every contemptible fellow?"
"Better hold the hand for coin, though small,
On the Duties of Society
1) A dang is the sixth part of a dirham and is equal to about one penny.
Copyright© 2001 K. Kianush, Art Arena