The Gulistan of Sa'di
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The Gulistan of Sa'di
Written 1258 A.C.E.
On the Excellence of Contentment
A Maghrabi supplicant said in Aleppo in the row of linen-drapers:
'Lords of wealth, if you were just and we contented, the trade of begging
would vanish from the world.'
O contentment, make me rich
For besides thee no other wealth exists.
Loqman selected the corner of patience.
Who has no patience has no wisdom.
Two sons of amirs were in Egypt, the one acquiring science, the
other accumulating wealth, till the former became the ullemma of the period
and the other the prince of Egypt; whereon the rich man looked with contempt
upon the faqih and said: 'I have reached the sultanate whilst thou hast
remained in poverty as before.' He replied: 'O brother, I am bound to be
grateful to the most high Creator for having obtained the inheritance of
prophets whilst thou hast attained the inheritance of Pharaoh and of Haman,
namely the kingdom of Egypt.'
I am that ant which is trodden under foot
Not that wasp, the pain of whose sting causes lament.
How shall I give due thanks for the blessing
That I do not possess the strength of injuring mankind?
I heard that a dervish, burning in the fire of poverty and sewing
patch upon patch, said to comfort his mind:
'We are contented with dry bread and a patched
For it is easier to bear the load of one's own trouble
than that of thanks to others.'
Someone said to him: 'Why sittest thou? A certain man in this town
possesses a benevolent nature, is liberal to all, has girded his loins
to serve the pious and is ready to comfort every heart. If he becomes aware
of thy case, he will consider it an obligation to comfort the mind of a
worthy person.' He replied: 'Hush! It is better to die of inanition than
to plead for one's necessities before any man.'
It is better to patch clothes and sit in the corner of
Than to write petitions for robes to gentlemen.
Verily it is equal to the punishment of hell
To go to paradise as a flunkey to one's neighbour.
One of the kings of Persia had sent an able physician to wait upon
the Mustafa, the benediction of Allah and peace be on him; and he remained
for some years in the Arab country without anyone coming to him to make
a trial of his ability or desiring to be treated by him. He went to the
Prophet, salutation to him, and complained that although he had been sent
to treat the companions, none of them had up to this time taken notice
of him or required the services incumbent upon him. The Apostle, salutation
to him, replied: 'It is a law with these people not to eat until appetite
overpowers them and when some of it yet remains they withdraw their hands
from food.' The doctor said: 'This is the cause of health', and kissing
the earth of service departed.
The sage begins to speak
Or points his fingers to the dish
When silence would be dangerous
Or abstinance would bring on death.
No doubt his wisdom is in speaking
And his eating bears the fruit of health.
A man often made vows of repentance but broke them again till one
of the sheikhs said to him: 'I think thou art in the habit of eating a
great deal and that thy power of restraining appetite is more slender than
a hair, whilst an appetite such as thou nourishest would rupture a chain
and a day may come when it will tear thee up.'
A man brought up a wolf's whelp.
When it was brought up it tore him up.
It is narrated in the life of Ardeshir Babekan that he asked an
Arab physician how much food he must consume daily. He replied: 'The weight
of one hundred dirhems will be enough.' The king queried: 'What strength
will this quantity give me?' He replied: 'This quantity will carry thee,
and whatever is more than that, thou wilt be the carrier of
Eating is for living and praying.
Thou thinkest living is for eating.
Two Khorasani dervishes travelled together. One of them, being
weak, broke his fast every second night whilst the other who was strong
consumed every day three meals. It happened that they were captured at
the gate of a town on suspicion of being spies; whereon each of them was
confined in a closet and the aperture of it walled up with mud bricks.
After two weeks it became known that they were guiltless. Accordingly the
doors were opened and the strong man was found to be dead whilst the weak
fellow had remained alive. The people were astonished but a sage averred
that the contrary would have been astonishing because one of them having
been voracious possessed no strength to suffer hunger and perished whilst
the other who was abstemious merely persevered in his habit and remained
When eating little has become the nature of a
He takes it easy when a calamity befalls him
But when the body becomes strong in affluence
He will die when a hardship overtakes him.
One of the philosophers forbade his son to eat much because repletion
keeps people ailing. The boy replied: 'O father, it is hunger that kills.
Hast thou not heard of the maxim of the ingenious that it is better to
die satiated than to bear hunger?' He rejoined: 'Be moderate. Eat and drink
but not to excess.'
Eat not so much that it comes up to thy mouth
Nor so little that from weakness thy soul comes
Although maintenance of life depends upon food
Victuals bring on disease when eaten to excess.
If thou eatest rose-confectionery without appetite it injures
But eating dry bread after a long fast is like rose-preserve.
A sick man having been asked what his heart desired replied: 'That
it may not desire anything.'
When the bowels are full and the belly pains
There is no use in all other things being right.
A grain dealer to whom Sufis were owing some money asked them for
it every day in the town of Waset and used harsh language towards them.
The companions had become weary of his reproaches but had no other remedy
than to bear them; and one of them who was a pious man remarked: 'It is
more easy to pacify a hungry stomach with promises of food than a grain
dealer with promises of money.'
It is preferable to be without the bounty of a
Than to bear the insults of the gate-keepers.
It is better to die wishing for meat
Than to endure the expostulations of butchers.
A brave warrior who had received a dreadful wound in the Tatar
war was informed that a certain merchant possessed a medicine which he
would probably not refuse to give if asked for; but it is related that
the said merchant was also well known for his avarice.
If instead of bread he had the sun in his table-cloth
No one could see daylight till the day of resurrection.
The warrior replied: 'If I ask for the medicine he will either
give it or refuse it and if he gives it maybe it will profit me, and maybe
not. At any rate the inconvenience of asking it from him is a lethal
Whatever thou obtainest by entreaties from base
Will profit thy body but injure thy soul.
And philosophers have said: 'If for instance the water of life
were to be exchanged for a good reputation, no wise man would purchase
it because it is preferable to die with honour than to live in
To eat coloquinth from the hand of a sweet-tempered
Is better than confectionery from the hand of an
One of the ullemma had many eaters to provide for and only a slender
income. This fact he communicated to a great man of whose character he
entertained a very favourable opinion but his expectations were disappointed
because the man made a wry face and averred that according to his opinion
applications from respectable persons for aid are unbecoming.
With a face made sad by misfortune, to a dear
Do not go because thou wilt embitter his life also.
For the needful for which thou appliest, go with a fresh
The man of joyful countenance will not be unsuccessful in
It is related that the great man augmented his stipend a little
but considerably diminished his familiarity towards him and when he perceived
after some days that it was not as usual, he recited:
'Evil is the food which the time of degradation
The kettle is indeed placed but the dignity is lowered.'
He increased my bread but diminished my honour.
Poverty is better than the degradation of asking.
A dervish wanted something and a man told him that a certain individual
possessed untold wealth who, if he were made aware of his want, would not
consider it proper to fail in supplying it forthwith. The dervish answering
that he had no acquaintance with him, the man proposed to show him the
house and when the dervish entered he caught sight of a person with hanging
lips and sitting morosely. He returned immediately and being asked what
he had done replied: 'I excused him from making me a present when I saw
Carry not thy necessity to a sour-faced fellow
Because his ill-humour will crush thy hopes.
If thou confidest thy heart's grief, tell it to
Whose face will comfort thee like ready cash.
A year of dearth set in at Alexandria so that even a dervish lost
the reins of patience from his hands, the pearls of heaven were withheld
from the earth and the lamentations of mankind ascended to the
There was no wild beast, fowl, fish or ant
Whose wailings prompted by distress had not reached the
For a wonder the heart-smoke of the people did not
To form clouds and the torrents of their tears rain.
In such a year there was an hermaphrodite. I owe it to my friends
not to describe him because it would be an abandonment of good manners,
especially in the presence of great men. On the other hand, it would likewise
be improper and in the way of negligence not to mention anything about
him because certain people would impute it to the ignorance of the narrator.
Accordingly I shall briefly describe him in the following two distichs
because a little indicates much and a handful is a sample of a donkey
If a Tatar slays that hermaphrodite
The Tatar must not be slain in return.
How long will he be like the bridge of Baghdad
With water flowing beneath and men on the back?
Such a man, a portion of whose eulogy thou hast now heard, possessed
in that year boundless wealth, bestowed silver and gold upon the needy
and laid out tables for travellers. A company of dervishes who were by
the presence of distress on the point of starvation were inclined to accept
of his hospitality and consulted me on the subject but I struck my head
back from assenting and replied:
A lion does not eat the half of which a dog
Although he may die of hunger in his lair.
Though getting rich in wealth and property like
A worthless man is to be considered of no account.
Hatim Tai, having been asked whether he had seen in the world anyone
of more exalted sentiments than himself, replied: 'Yes, one day I slaughtered
forty camels to entertain Arab amirs. I had occasion to go out on some
business into a corner of the desert, where I noticed a gatherer of briars,
who had accumulated a hillock of thistles, and I asked him why he had not
become a guest of Hatim since many people had come round to his banquet
but he replied:
"Who eats bread by the work of his own hand
Will not bear to be obliged to Hatim Tai."
Then I saw that his sentiments were more exalted than
Moses, to whom be salutation, beheld a dervish who had on account
of his nudity concealed himself in the sand exclaiming: 'O Moses, utter
a supplication to God the most high to give me an allowance because I am,
on account of my distress, on the point of starvation.' Moses accordingly
prayed and departed but returning a few days afterwards he saw that the
dervish was a prisoner and surrounded by a crowd of people. On asking for
the reason he was informed that the dervish had drunk wine, quarrelled,
slain a man and was to be executed in retaliation.
If the humble cat possessed wings
He would rob the world of every sparrow-egg.
It may happen that when a weak man obtains power
He arises and twists the hands of the weak.
And if Allah were to bestow abundance upon his servants, they would
certainly rebel upon earth.
What has made thee wade into danger, O fool,
Till thou hast perished. Would that the ant had not been able
When a base fellow obtains dignity, silver and
His head necessarily demands to be knocked.
Was not after all this maxim uttered by a sage?
'That ant is the best which possesses no wings.'
The heavenly father has plenty of honey but the son
a hot disease.
He who does not make thee rich
Knows better what is good for thee than thyself.
I noticed an Arab of the desert sitting in a company jewellers
at Bosrah and narrating stories to them. He said: 'I had once lost my road
in the desert and consumed all my provisions. I considered that I must
perish when I suddenly caught sight of a bag full of pearls and I shall
never forget the joy and ecstasy I felt on thinking they might be parched
grain nor the bitterness and despair when I discovered them to be
In a dry desert and among moving sand
It is the same to a thirsty man whether he has pearls or shells
When a man has no provisions and his strength is
It matters not whether his girdle is adorned with pearls
An Arab suffering in the desert from extreme thirst
'Would that before my death
I could one day enjoy my wish
That a river's waves might strike my knee
And I might fill my water-bag.'
In the same manner another traveller lost himself in an extensive
region having neither any strength nor food left but he possessed some
money and roamed about and the road leading him nowhere he perished from
exhaustion. Some people afterwards discovered his corpse with the money
in front of it and the following written on the ground:
If possessed of all the Ja'feri gold,
It will avail nothing to a hungry man.
To a poor man burnt in the desert
Boiled turnips are more valuable than pure silver.
I never lamented about the vicissitudes of time or complained of
the turns of fortune except on the occasion when I was barefooted and unable
to procure slippers. But when I entered the great mosque of Kufah with
a sore heart and beheld a man without feet I offered thanks to the bounty
of God, consoled myself for my want of shoes and recited:
'A roast fowl is to the sight of a satiated
Less valuable than a blade of fresh grass on the
And to him who has no means nor power
A burnt turnip is a roasted fowl.'
A king with some of his courtiers had during a hunting party and
in the winter season strayed far from inhabited places but when the night
set in he perceived the house of a dehqan and said: 'We shall spend the
night there to avoid the injury of the cold.' One of the veziers, however,
objected alleging that it was unworthy of the high dignity of a padshah
to take refuge in the house of a dehqan and that it would be best to pitch
tents and to light fires on the spot. The dehqan who had become aware of
what was taking place prepared some food he had ready in his house, offered
it, kissed the ground of service and said: 'The high dignity of the sultan
would not have been so much lowered, but the courtiers did not wish the
dignity of the dehqan to become high.' The king who was pleased with these
words moved for the night into the man's house and bestowed a dress of
honour upon him the next morning. When he accompanied the king a few paces
at the departure he was heard to say:
'Nothing was lost of the sultan's power and
By accepting the hospitality of a dehqan,
But the corner of the dehqan's cap reached the sun
When a sultan such as thou overshadowed his head.'
It is related that a sultan thus addressed a miserly beggar who
had accumulated great riches: 'It is evident that thou possessest boundless
wealth and we have an affair on hand in which thou canst aid us by way
of a loan. When the finances of the country are in a flourishing condition
it will be repaid.' The miser replied: 'It is not befitting the power and
dignity of a padshah to soil the hands of his noble aspirations with the
property of an individual like myself who has collected it grain by grain.'
The king replied: 'It does not matter because the money will be spent upon
infidels: The wicked women should be joined to the wicked
If the water of a Christian's well is impure
What matters it if thou washest a dead Jew therein?
They said: 'The lime-mortar is not clean.'
We replied: 'We shall plug therewith the privy holes."
I heard that he refused to comply with the behest of the king,
began to argue and to look insolently; whereon the king ordered the sum
in question to be released from his grasp by force and with a
If an affair cannot be accomplished with gentleness
He forsooth turns his head to impudence.
Who has no regard for himself
It is proper that no one should pay him any.
I met a trader who possessed one hundred and fifty camel loads
of merchandise with forty slaves and servants. One evening in the oasis
of Kish he took me into his apartment and taking all night no rest kept
up an incoherent gabble, saying: 'I have such and such a warehouse in Turkestan,
such and such goods in Hindostan; this is the title-deed of such and such
an estate and in this affair such and such a man is security.' He said:
'I intend to go to Alexandria because it has a good climate', and correcting
himself continued: 'No, because the African sea is boisterous. O Sa'di,
I have one journey more to undertake and after performing it I shall during
the rest of my life sit in a corner and enjoy contentment.' I asked: 'What
journey is that?' He replied: 'I shall carry Persian brimstone to China
because I heard that it fetched a high price. I shall also carry Chinese
porcelain to Rum and Rumi brocade to India and Indian steel to Aleppo,
convey glass-ware of Aleppo to Yemen, striped cloth of Yemen to Pares.
After that I shall abandon trading and shall sit down in a shop.' He had
talked so much of this nonsenses that no more strength remained in him
so he said: 'O Sa'di, do thou also tell me something of what thou hast
seen and heard.' I recited:
'Thou mayest have heard that in the plain of
Once a leader fell down from his beast of burden,
Saying: "The narrow eye of a wealthy man
Will be filled either by content or by the earth
of the tomb."'
I heard about a wealthy man who was as well known for his avarice
as Hatim Tai for his liberality. Outwardly he displayed the appearance
of wealth but inwardly his sordid nature was so dominant that he would
not for his life give a morsel of bread to anyone or bestow a scrap upon
the kitten of Abu Harirah or throw a bone to the dog of the companions
of the cave. In short, no one had seen the door of his house open or his
The dervish got nothing of his food except the
The fowl picked up the crumbs after his bread-dinner.
I heard that he was sailing in the Mediterranean with the pride
of Pharaoh in his head-according to the words of the most high, Until drowning
overtook him-when all of a sudden a contrary wind befell the ship, as it
What can thy heart do to thy distressed nature for the wind
It is not at all times suitable for a ship.
He uplifted the hands of supplication and began to lament in vain
but Allah the most high has commanded: When they sail in a ship they call
upon Allah, sincerely exhibiting unto him their religion.
Of what use is the hand of supplication to a needy
Which is uplifted to God in the time of prayer but in the
in the time of bounty?
Bestow comfort with gold and with silver
And thereby also profit thyself.
As this house of thine will remain,
Build it with a silver and a gold brick.
It is narrated that he had poor relations in Egypt who became rich
by the remainder of his wealth, tearing up their old cloths and cutting
new ones of silk and of Damiari. During the same week I also beheld one
of them riding a fleet horse with a fairy-faced slave boy at his heels.
'Wah! If the dead man were to return
Among his kinsfolk and connections
The refunding of the inheritance would be more painful
To the heirs than the death of their relative.'
On account of the acquaintance which had formerly subsisted between
us, I pulled his sleeve, and said:
'Eat thou, O virtuous and good man,
What that mean fellow gathered and did not eat.'
A weak fisherman caught a strong fish in his net and not being
able to retain it the fish overcame him and pulled the net from his
A boy went to bring water from the torrent.
The torrent came and took the boy away.
The net brought every time a fish.
This time the fish went and carried off the net.
The other fishermen were sorry and blamed him for not being able
to retain such a fish which had fallen into his net. He replied: 'O brothers,
what can be done? My day was not lucky but the fish had yet one remaining.
'Moral: A fisherman cannot catch a fish in the Tigris without a day of
luck and a fish cannot die on dry ground without the decree of
A man whose hands and feet had been amputated killed a millipede
and a pious passer-by exclaimed: 'Praised be Allah! In spite of the thousand
feet he possessed he could not escape from a man without hands and feet
when his fate had overtaken him.'
When the life-taking foe comes in the rear
Fate ties the legs of a running man.
At the moment when the enemy has slowly arrived
It is useless to draw the Kayanian bow.
I have seen a fat fool, dressed in a costly robe, with a turban
of Egyptian linen on his head, riding on an Arab horse. Someone said: 'Sa'di,
what thinkest thou of this famous brocade upon this ignorant animal?' I
replied: 'It is like ugly characters scrawled with gold-water.'
Verily he is like an ass among men,
A calf, a body which is bleating.
This animal cannot be said to resemble a man
Except in his cloak, turban and outward adornment.
Examine all his property and belongings of his estate
Thou wilt find nothing lawful to take except his
If a noble man becomes impoverished imagine not
That his high worth will also decrease.
But if into a silver threshold golden nails are
By a Jew, think not that he will thereby become
A thief said to a mendicant: 'Art thou not ashamed to stretch out
thy hand for a grain of silver to every sordid fellow?' He
'To hold out the hand for a grain of silver
Is better than to get it cut off for one dane and a
It is related that an athlete had been reduced to the greatest
distress by adverse fortune. His throat being capacious and his hands unable
to fill it, he complained to his father and asked him for permission to
travel as he hoped to be hoped to be able to gain a livelihood by the strength
of his arm.
Excellence and skill are lost unless exhibited.
Lignum aloes is placed on fire and musk rubbed.
The father replied: 'My son, get rid of this vain idea and place
the feet of contentment under the skirt of safety because great men have
said that happiness does not consist in exertion and that the remedy against
want is in the moderation of desires.
No one can grasp the skirt of luck by force.
It is useless to put vasmah on a bald man's brow.
If thou hast two hundred accomplishments for each hair of thy
They will be of no use if fortune is unpropitious.
What can an athlete do with adverse luck?
The arm of luck is better than the arm of strength.
The son rejoined: 'Father, the advantages of travel are many, such
as recreation of the mind entailing profit, seeing of wonderful and hearing
of strange things, recreation in cities, associating with friends, acquisition
of dignity, rank, property, the power of discriminating among acquaintances
and gaining experience of the world, as the travellers in the Tariqat have
As long as thou walkest about the shop or the
Thou wilt never become a man, 0 raw fellow.
Go and travel in the world
Before that day when thou goest from the world.'
The father replied: 'My son, the advantages of travel such as thou
hast enumerated them are countless but they regard especially five classes
of men: firstly, a merchant who possesses in consequence of his wealth
and power graceful male and female slaves and quick-handed assistants,
alights every day in another town and every night in another place, has
recreation every moment and sometimes enjoys the delights of the
A rich man is not a stranger in mountain, desert or
Wherever he goes he pitches a tent and makes a sleeping
Whilst he who is destitute of the goods of this
Must be in his own country a stranger and unknown.
Secondly, a scholar, who is for the pleasantness of his speech,
the power of his eloquence and the fund of his instruction, waited upon
and honoured wherever he goes.
The presence of a learned man is like pure gold
Whose power and price is known wherever he goes.
An ignorant fellow of noble descent resembles Shahrua,
Which nobody accepts in a foreign country.
Thirdly, handsome fellows with whom the souls of pious men are
inclined to commingle because it has been said that a little beauty is
better than much wealth. An attractive face is also said to be a slave
to despondent hearts and the key to locked doors, wherefore the society
of such a person is everywhere known to be very acceptable:
A beautiful person meets with honour and respect
Although perhaps driven away in anger by father and
I have seen a peacock feather in the leaves of the
I said: 'I see thy position is higher than thy deserts.'
It said: 'Hush, whoever is endowed with beauty,
Wherever he places his foot, hands are held out to receive
When a boy is symmetrical and heart-robbing
It matters not if his father disowns him.
He is a jewel which must not remain in a shell.
A precious pearl everyone desires to buy.
Fourthly, one with a sweet voice, who retains, with a David-like
throat, water from flowing and birds from soaring. By means of this talent
he holds the hearts of people captive and religious men are delighted to
associate with him.
My audition is intent on the beautiful melody.
Who is that performing on the double chord?
How pleasant is the gentle and melancholy lay
To the ear of the boon companions who quaff the morning
Better than a handsome face is a pleasant voice.
The former is joy to the senses, the latter food for the
Fifthly, the artisan, who gains a sufficient livelihood by the
strength of his arm, so that his reputation is not lost in struggling for
bread; as wise men have said:
If he goes abroad from his own town
The patcher of clothes meets with no bardship or
But if the government falls into ruin
The king of Nimruz will go to bed hungry.
The qualities which I have explained, 0 my son, are in a journey
the occasion of satisfaction to the mind, stimulants to a happy life but
he, who possesses none of them, goes with idle fancies into the world and
no one will ever hear anything about his name and fame.
He whom the turning world is to afflict
Will be guided by the times against his aim.
A pigeon destined not to see its nest again
Will be carried by fate towards the grain and net.
The son asked: 'O father, how can I act contrary to the injunctions
of the wise, who have said, that although food is distributed by predestination
the acquisition of it depends upon exertion and that, although a calamity
may be decreed by fate, it is incumbent on men to show the gates by which
it may enter?
'Although daily food may come unawares
It is reasonable to seek it out of doors
And though no one dies without the decree of fate
Thou must not rush into the jaws of a dragon.
'As I am at present able to cope with a mad elephant and to wrestle
with a furious lion, it is proper, O father, that I should travel abroad
because I have no longer the endurance to suffer misery.
'When a man has fallen from his place and station
Why should he eat more grief? All the horizons are his
At night every rich man goes to an inn.
The dervish has his inn where the night overtakes
After saying this, he asked for the good wishes of his father,
took leave of him, departed and said to himself:
'A skilful man, when his luck does not favour
Goes to a place where people know not his name.'
He reached the banks of a water, the force of which was such that
it knocked stones against each other and its roaring was heard to a farsang's
A dreadful water, in which even aquatic birds were not
The smallest wave would whirl off a millstone from its
He beheld a crowd of people, every person sitting with a coin of
money at the crossing-place, intent on a passage. The youth's hands of
payment being tied, he opened the tongue of laudation and although he supplicated
the people greatly, they paid no attention and said:
'No violence can be done to anyone without money
But if thou hast money thou hast no need of force.'
An unkind boatman laughed at him and said:
'If thou hast no money thou canst not cross the river by
What boots the strength of ten men? Bring the money for
The young man's heart was irritated by the insult of the boatman
and longed to take vengeance upon him. The boat had, however, started;
accordingly he shouted: 'If thou wilt be satisfied with the robe I am wearing,
I shall not grudge giving it to thee.' The boatman was greedy and turned
the vessel back.
Desire sews up the vision of a shrewd man.
Greediness brings fowl and fish into the snare.
As soon as the young man's hand could reach the beard and collar
of the boatman, he immediately knocked him down and a comrade of the boatman,
who came from the vessel to rescue him, experienced the same rough treatment
and turned back. The rest of the people then thought proper to pacify the
young man and to condone his passage money.
When thou seest a quarrel be forbearing
Because gentlemen will shut the door of strife.
Use kindness when thou seest contention.
A sharp sword cannot cut soft silk.
By a sweet tongue, grace, and kindliness,
Thou wilt be able to lead an elephant by a hair.
Then the people fell at his feet, craving pardon for what had passed.
They impressed some hypocritical kisses upon his head and his eyes, received
him into the boat and started, progressing till they reached a pillar of
Yunani workmanship, standing in the water. The boatman said: 'The vessel
is in danger. Let one of you, who is the strongest, go to the pillar and
take the cable of the boat that we may save the vessel.' The young man,
in the pride of bravery which he had in his head, did not think of the
offended foe and did not mind the maxim of wise men who have said: 'If
thou hast given offence to one man and afterwards done him a hundred kindnesses,
do not be confident that he will not avenge himself for that one offence,
because although the head of a spear may come out, the memory of an offence
will remain in the heart.'
'How well,' said Yaktash to Khiltash,
'Hast thou scratched a foe? Do not think thou art
Be not unconcerned for thou wilt be afflicted
If by thy hand a heart has been afflicted.
Throw not a stone at the rampart of a fort
Because possibly a stone may come from the fort.
As soon as he had taken the rope of the boat on his arm, he climbed
to the top of the pillar, whereon the boatman snatched it from his grasp
and pushed the boat off. The helpless man was amazed and spent two days
in misery and distress. On the third, sleep took hold of his collar and
threw him into the water. After one night and day he was cast on the bank,
with some life still remaining in him. He began to eat leaves of trees
and to pull out roots of grass so that when he had gained a little strength,
he turned towards the desert and walked till thirst began to torment him.
He at last reached a well and saw people drinking water for a pashizi but
possessing none he asked for a coin and showed his destitute condition.
The people had, however, no mercy with him, whereon he began to insult
them but likewise ineffectually. Then he knocked down several men but was
at last overpowered, struck and wounded:
A swarm of gnats will overpower an elephant
Despite of all his virility and bravery.
When the little ants combine together
They tear the skin of a furious lion.
As a matter of necessity he lagged in the rear of the caravan,
which reached in the evening a locality very dangerous on account of thieves.
The people of the caravan trembled in all their limbs but he said: 'Fear
nothing because I alone am able to cope with fifty men and the other youths
of the caravan will aid me.' These boastful words comforted the heart of
the caravan-people, who became glad of his company and considered it incumbent
upon themselves to supply him with food and water. The fire of the young
man's stomach having blazed into flames and deprived his hands of the bridle
of endurance, hunger made him partake of some morsels of food and take
a few draughts of water, till the dev of his interior was set at rest and
he fell asleep. An experienced old fellow, who was in the caravan, said:
'O ye people, I am more afraid of this guard of yours than of the thieves
because there is a story that a stranger had accumulated some dirhems but
could not sleep in the house for fear of the Luris. Accordingly he invited
one of his friends to dispel the terrors of solitude by his company. He
spent several nights with him, till he became aware that he had money and
took it, going on a journey after spending it. When the people saw the
stranger naked and weeping the next morning, a man asked: "What is the
matter? Perhaps a thief has stolen those dirhems of mine?" He replied:
"No, by Allah. The guard has stolen them."'
I never sat secure from a serpent
Till I learnt what his custom was.
The wound from a foe's tooth is severe
Who appears to be a friend in the eyes of men.
'How do you know whether this man is not one of the band of thieves
and has followed us as a spy to inform his comrades on the proper occasion?
According to my opinion we ought to depart and let him sleep.' The youths
approved of the old man's advice and became suspicious of the athlete,
took up their baggage and departed, leaving him asleep. He knew this when
the sun shone upon his shoulders and perceived that the caravan had started.
He roamed about a great deal without finding the way and thirsty as well
as dismayed as he was, he sat down on the ground, with his heart ready
to perish, saying:
Who will speak to me after the yellow camels have
A stranger has no companion except a stranger.
He uses harshness towards strangers
Who has not himself been exiled enough.
The poor man was speaking thus whilst the son of a king who happened
to be in a hunting party, strayed far from the troops, was standing over
his head, listening. He looked at the figure of the athlete, saw that his
outward appearance was respectable but his condition miserable. He then
asked him whence he had come and how he had fallen into this place. The
athlete briefly informed him of what had taken place, whereon the royal
prince, moved by pity, presented him with a robe of honour and a large
sum of money and sent a confidential man to accompany him till he again
reached his native town. His father was glad to see him and expressed gratitude
at his safety. In the evening he narrated to his father what had befallen
him with the boat, mentioned the violence of the boatman, the harshness
of the rustics near the well and the treachery of the caravan people on
the road. The father replied: 'My son, have not I told thee at thy departure
that the brave hands of empty-handed persons are like the broken paw of
How well has that empty-handed fighter said:
'A grain of gold is better than fifty mann of strength.'
The son replied: 'O father, thou wilt certainly not obtain a treasure
except by trouble, wilt not overcome thy foe unless thou hazardest thy
life and wilt not gather a harvest unless thou scatterest seed. Perceivest
thou not how much comfort I gained at the cost of the small amount of trouble
I underwent and what a quantity of honey I have brought in return for the
sting I have suffered.
Although not more can be acquired than fate has
Negligence in striving to acquire is not commendable.
If a diver fears the crocodile's throat
He will never catch the pearl of great price.
The nether millstone is immovable, and therefore must bear a
What will a fierce lion devour at the bottom of his
What food does a fallen hawk obtain?
If thou desirest to catch game at home
Thou must have hands and feet like a spider.
The father said to his son: 'On this occasion heaven has been propitious
to thee and good luck helpful so that a royal person has met thee, has
been bountiful to thee and has thereby healed thy broken condition. Such
coincidences occur seldom and rare events cannot be reckoned
The hunter does not catch every time a jackal.
It may happen that some day a tiger devours him.
Thus it happened that one of the kings of Pares, who possessed
a ring with a costly beazle, once went out by way of diversion with some
intimate courtiers to the Masalla of Shiraz and ordered his ring to be
placed on the dome of Asad, promising to bestow the seal-ring upon any
person who could make an arrow pass through it. It happened that every
one of the four hundred archers in his service missed the ring, except
a little boy who was shooting arrows in sport at random and in every direction
from the flat roof of a monastery. The morning breeze caused his arrow
to pass through the ring, whereon he obtained not only the ring but also
a robe of honour and a present of money. It is related that the boy burnt
his bow and arrows and on being asked for the cause replied: 'That the
first splendour may be permanent.'
It sometimes happens that an enlightened sage
Is not successful in his plans.
Sometimes it happens that an ignorant child
By mistake hits the target with his arrow.
I heard that a dervish, sitting in a cave, had closed the doors
upon the face of the world, so that no regard for kings and rich persons
remained in the eyes of his desire.
Who opens to himself a door for begging
Will till he dies remain a needy fellow.
Abandon greediness and be a king
Because a neck without desire is high.
One of the kings of that region sent him the information that,
trusting in the good manners of the respected dervish, he hoped he would
partake of bread and salt with him. The sheikh agreed because it is according
to the sonna to accept an invitation. The next day the king paid him a
visit, the a'bid. leapt up, embraced him, caressed him and praised him.
After the monarch's departure the sheikh was asked by one of his companions
why he had, against his custom, paid so many attentions to the padshah,
the like of which he had never seen before. He replied: 'Hast thou not
heard that one of the pious said:
"In whose company thou hast been sitting
To do him service thou must necessarily rise.
Possibly an ear may during a lifetime
Not hear the sound of drum, lute or fife.
The eye may be without the sight of a garden.
The brain may be without the rose or nasrin.
If no feather pillow be at hand
Sleep may be had with a stone under the head
And if there be no sweetheart to sleep with
The hand may be placed on one's own bosom,
But this disreputable twisting belly
Cannot bear to exist without anything."'