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Saadi Shirazi

Poems by Shirazi Saadi


found 289 works
I saw at the palace-gate of Oglimish the son of a military officer
who was endued with marvellous intellect, sagacity, perception and
shrewdness; also the signs of future greatness manifested themselves
on his forehead whilst yet a small boy.
From his head intelligence caused
The star of greatness to shine...
I heard a padshah giving orders to kill a prisoner. The helpless
fellow began to insult the king on that occasion of despair, with
the tongue he had, and to use foul expressions according to the
saying:
Who washes his hands of life
Says whatever he has in his heart...
A band of Arab brigands having taken up their position on the top of
a mountain and closed the passage of caravans, the inhabitants of
the country were distressed by their stratagems and the troops of
the sultan foiled because the robbers, having obtained an inaccessible
spot on the summit of the mountain, thus had a refuge which they
made their habitation. The chiefs of that region held a consultation...
Saadi Shirazi
106 lines
It is related that, whilst some game was being roasted for Nushirvan the just during a hunting party, no salt could be found. Accordingly a boy was sent to an adjoining village to bring some. Nushirvan said: "Pay for the salt lest it should become a custom and the village be ruined." Having been asked what harm could arise from such a trifling demand, Nushirvan replied: "The foundation of oppression was small in the world but whoever came augmented it so that it reached its present magnitude."
If the king eats one apple from the garden of a subject
His slaves will pull him up the tree from the roots.
For five eggs which the sultan allows to be taken by force
The people belonging to his army will put a thousand fowls on the spit.
A tyrant does not remain in the world...
One of the kings of Khorasan had a vision in a dream of Sultan
Mahmud, one hundred years after his death. His whole person appeared
to have been dissolved and turned to dust, except his eyes, which were
revolving in their orbits and looking about. All the sages were unable
to give an interpretation, except a dervish who made his salutation
and said: 'He is still looking amazed how his kingdom belongs to...
When all the artifices of an enemy have failed he shakes the chain of friendship, and thereon performs acts of friendship which no enemy is able to do
It is narrated that a tyrant who purchased wood from dervishes forcibly gave it away to rich -people gratuitously. A pious man passing near said:
"Thou art a snake, stingest whom thou beholdest,
Or an owl; wherever thou sittest thou destroyest.
Although thy oppression may pass among us
It cannot pass with the Lord who knows all secrets.
Oppress not the denizens of the earth...
Laudation to the God of majesty and glory! Obedience to him is a cause of approach and gratitude in increase of benefits. Every inhalation of the breath prolongs life and every expiration of it gladdens our nature; wherefore every breath confers two benefits and for every benefit gratitude is due.
Whose hand and tongue is capable
To fulfil the obligations of thanks to him?
Words of the most high: Be thankful, O family of David, and but few of my servants are thankful.
It is best to a worshipper for his transgressions
To offer apologies at the throne of God...
A man had attained great excellence in the art of wrestling, who knew three hundred and sixty exquisite tricks and daily exhibited something new. He had a particular affection for the beauty of one of his pupils whom he taught three hundred and fifty-nine tricks, refraining to impart to him only one. At last the youth had attained such power and skill that no one was able to contend with him and he went so far as to say to the sultan: "I allow superiority to my teacher on account of his age and from gratitude for his instruction but my strength is not less than his and my skill equal." The king, who was not pleased with this want of good manners, ordered them to wrestle with each other and a spacious locality having been fixed upon, the pillars of state and courtiers of his majesty made their appearance. The youth made an onslaught like a mad elephant with an impulse which might have uprooted a mountain of brass from its place but the master, who knew that he was in strength superior to himself, attacked him with the rare trick he had reserved to himself and which the youth was unable to elude; whereon the master, lifting him up with his hands from the ground, raised him above his head and then threw him down. Shouts were raised by the spectators and the king ordered a robe of honour with other presents to be given to the teacher but reproached and blamed the youth for having attempted to cope with his instructor and succumbed. He replied: "My lord, he has not vanquished me by his strength but there was a slender part in the art of wrestling which he had withheld from me and had today thereby got the upper hand of me." The master said: "I had reserved it for such an occasion because wise men have said: “Do not give so much strength to thy friend that, if he becomes thy foe, he may injure thee.” Hast thou not heard what the man said who suffered molestation from one whom he had educated?
Either fidelity itself does not exist in this world
Or nobody practices it in our time.
No one had learnt archery from me
Without at last making a target of me
I have heard that a royal prince of short stature and mean presence,
whose brothers were tall and good-looking, once saw his father
glancing on him with aversion and contempt but he had the shrewdness
and penetration to guess the meaning and said: 'O father, a puny
intelligent fellow is better than a tall ignorant man, neither is
everything bigger in stature higher in price. A sheep is nice to eat...
It is narrated that an oppressor of the people, a soldier, hit the head of a pious man with a stone and that the dervish, having no means of taking vengeance, preserved the stone till the time arrived when the king became angry with that soldier, and imprisoned him in a well. Then the dervish made his appearance and dropped the stone upon his head. He asked: "Who art thou, and why hast thou hit my head with this stone?" The man replied: "I am the same person whom thou hast struck on the head with this stone on such and such a day." The soldier continued: "Where hast thou been all this time?" The dervish replied: "I was afraid of thy dignity but now when I beheld thee in the well I made use of the opportunity."’
When thou seest an unworthy man in good luck
Intelligent men have chosen submission.
If thou hast not a tearing sharp nail
It will be better not to contend with the wicked.
Who grasps with his fist one who has an arm of steel...
A king was subject to a terrible disease, the mention of which is not sanctioned by custom. The tribe of Yunani physicians agreed that this pain cannot be allayed except by means of the bile of a person endued with certain qualities. Orders having been issued to search for an individual of this kind, the son of a landholder was discovered to possess the qualities mentioned by the doctors. The king summoned the father and mother of the boy whose consent he obtained by giving them immense wealth. The qazi issued a judicial decree that it is permissible to shed the blood of one subject for the safety of the king and the executioner was ready to slay the boy who then looked heavenwards and smiled. The king asked: "What occasion for laughter is there in such a position?" The youth replied: "A son looks to the affection of his father and mother to bring his case before the qazi and to ask justice from the padshah. In the present instance, however, the father and mother have for the trash of this world surrendered my blood, the qazi has issued a decree to kill me, the sultan thinks he will recover his health only through my destruction and I see no other refuge besides God the most high."
To whom shall I complain against thy hand
If I am to seek justice also from thy hand?
The sultan became troubled at these words, tears rushed to his eyes and he said: "It is better for me to perish than to shed innocent blood." He kissed the head and eyes of the youth, presented him with boundless wealth and it is said that the king also recovered his health during that week.
I also remember the distich recited
By the elephant-driver on the bank of the Nile...
An Arab king was sick in his state of decrepitude so that all
hopes of life were cut off. A trooper entered the gate with the good
news that a certain fort had been conquered by the good luck of the
king, that the enemies had been captured and that the whole population
of the district had been reduced to obedience. The king heaved a
deep sigh and replied: 'This message is not for me but for my enemies...
Intellect may become captive to lust like a weak man in the hands of an artful woman.
Bid farewell to pleasure in a house
Where the shouting of a woman is loud
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 hand.
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 fate...
A schoolboy was so perfectly beautiful and sweet-voiced that the teacher, in accordance with human nature, conceived such an affection towards him that’ he often recited the following verses:
I am not so little occupied with thee, O heavenly face,
That remembrance of myself occurs to my mind.
From thy sight I am unable to withdraw my eyes
Although when I am opposite I may see that an arrow comes.
Once the boy said to him: ‘As thou strivest to direct my studies, direct also my behaviour. If thou perceivest anything reprovable in my conduct, although it may seem approvable to me, inform me thereof that I may endeavour to change it.’ He replied: ‘O boy, make that request to someone else because the eyes with which I look upon thee behold nothing but virtues...
Life is in the keeping of a single breath and the world is an existence between two annihilations. Those who sell the religion for the world ‘are asses’, they sell Joseph but what do ‘they buy’? Did I not command you, O sons of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan?
On the word of a foe thou hast broken faith with a friend.
See from whom thou hast cut thyself off and to whom united
A merchant, having suffered loss of a thousand dinars, enjoined his son not to reveal it to anyone. The boy said: ‘It is thy order and I shall not tell it but thou must inform me of the utility of this proceeding and of the propriety of concealment.’ He replied: ‘For fear the misfortune would be double; namely, the loss of the money and, secondly, the joy of neighbours at our loss.’
Reveal not thy grief to enemies
Because they will say ‘La haul’ but rejoice
I remember that one night a dear friend of mine entered when I jumped up in such a heedless way that the lamp was extinguished by my sleeve. A vision appeared in the night and by its appearance the darkness was illuminated.
I was amazed at my luck exclaiming whence this felicity?
He took a seat and began reproving me saying that when I beheld him I extinguished the lamp. I said: ‘I thought the sun had risen and wits have said:
When an ugly person comes before the lamp
Arise to him and pull him into the assembly
But if it be a sugar-smiled, sweet-lipped one...
A man in patched garments’ accompanied us in a caravan to the Hejaz and one of the Arab amirs presented him with a hundred dinars to spend upon his family but robbers of the Kufatcha tribe suddenly fell upon the caravan and robbed it clean of everything. The merchants began to wail and to cry, uttering vain shouts and amentations.
Whether thou implorest or complainest
The robber will not return the gold again.
The dervish alone had not lost his equanimity and showed no change. I asked: ‘Perhaps they have not taken thy money?’ He replied: ‘Yes, they have but I was not so much accustomed to that money that separation therefrom could grieve my heart’:
The heart must not be tied to any thing or person
Because to take off the heart is a difficult affair...
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