ON LOVE AND YOUTH
Hasan Maimundi was asked that, as the Sultan Mahmud possesses so
many beautiful slaves, each of whom is a marvel in the world, how it
happens that he manifests towards none of them so much inclination and
love as to Iyaz, although he is not more handsome than the others.
He replied: ‘Whatever descends into the heart appears good to the
He whose murid’ the sultan is
If he does everything bad, it will be good.
But he whom the padshah throws away
Will not be cared for by anyone in the household.
If anyone looks with an unfavourable eye
Even the figure of Joseph will indicate ugliness
And if he looks with the eye of desire on a demon,
He will appear an angel, a cherub in his sigh].
It is said that a gentleman possessed a slave of exquisite beauty,
whom he regarded with love and affection. He nevertheless said to a
friend: ‘Would that this slave of mine, with all the beauty and good
qualities he possesses, had not a long and uncivil tongue!’ He
replied: ‘Brother, do not expect service, after professing friendship;
because when relations between lover and beloved come in, the
relations between master and servant are superseded’:
When a master with a fairy-faced slave
Begins to play and to laugh
What wonder if the latter coquets like the master
And the gentleman bears it like a slave?
A slave is to draw water and make bricks.
A pampered slave will strike with the fist.
I saw a religious man, who had fallen in love with a fellow to
such a degree that he had neither strength to remain patient nor to
bear the talk of the people but would not relinquish his attachment,
despite of the reproaches he suffered and the grief he bore, saying:
I shall not let go my hold of thy skirt
Even if thou strike me with a sharp sword.
After thee I have no refuge nor asylum.
To thee alone I shall flee if I flee.
I once reproached him, asking him what had become of his exquisite
intellect so that it had been overcome by his base proclivity. He
meditated a while and then said:
‘Wherever love has become sultan
Piety’s arm has no strength left.
How can a helpless fellow live purely
Who has sunk up to his neck in impurity?’
One had lost his heart and bidden farewell to his life because the
target which he aimed at was in a dangerous locality, portending
destruction and no chance promising a morsel easily coming to the
palate nor a bird falling into the trap.
When thy sweetheart’s eye has no regard for gold
Mud and gold are of equal value to thee.
I once advised him to abandon his aspiration to a fancy impossible
of realization because many persons are enslaved by the same passion
like himself, the feet of their hearts being in chains. He lamented
‘Tell my friends not to give me advice
Because my eyes are fixed on her wishes.
By the strength of fist and shoulders warriors
Slay enemies but sweethearts a friend.’
It is against the requirements of love to renounce affection to
our sweethearts for fear of losing our lives.
Thou who art a slave to thy selfishness
Art mendacious in the game of love.
If there be no way to reach the friend
Friendship demands to die in pursuit of it.
I rise as no other source is left to me
Though the foe may smite me with arrow and sword.
If chance serves me I shall take hold of her sleeve.
Or else I shall go and die on her threshold.
His friends, who considered his position, pitied his state, gave him
advice and at last confined him but all to no purpose.
Alas, that the physician should prescribe patience,
Whereas this greedy lust requires sugar.
Hast thou heard that the mistress secretly
Told him who had lost his heart:
‘As long as thou possessest thy own dignity,
What will mine amount to in thy eyes?’
It is related that the royal prince who was the object of his
affection had been informed to the effect that a good-natured and
sweet-spoken youth was constantly attending on the plain, uttering
graceful words; and strange tales having been heard of him, it
appeared that his heart is inflamed and that he has a touch of
insanity in his head. The boy knew that his heart had become
attached to him and that he had raised this dust of calamity.
Accordingly he galloped towards him. When the youth perceived the
prince approaching him, he we and said:
‘He who has slain me has come back again.
It seems his heart burns for him whom he has slain.’
Although he accosted the youth graciously, asking him whence he came
and what his occupation was, he was so plunged in the depths of the
ocean of love that he could not breathe:
If thou recitest the seven portions of the lesson by heart,
When thou art demented by love thou knowest not the A, B, C.
The prince said: ‘Why speakest thou not to me? I also belong to
the circle of dervishes; nay I am even in their service.’ In
consequence of the force of the friendly advances of his beloved, he
raised his head from the dashing waves of love and said:
‘It is a marvel that with thy existence mine remains
That when thou speakest words to me remain.’
Saying these words he uttered a shout and surrendered his life.
It would not be strange if he had been slain at his tent door
But it would be strange that if alive he should escape safe.
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.’
The ill-wishing eye, be it torn out
Sees only defects in his virtue.
But if thou possessest one virtue and seventy faults
A friend sees nothing except that virtue.
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
Pull him by the sleeve and extinguish the lamp.’
One who had for a considerable time not seen his friend asked him
where he had been and said he had been longing. He replied: ‘To be
longing is better than to be satisfied.’
Thou hast come late, O intoxicated idol,
We shall not soon let go thy skirt from the hand.
He who sees his sweetheart at long intervals
Is after all better off than if he sees too much of her.
When thou comest with friends to visit me
Although thou comest in peace thou art attacking.
If my sweetheart associates one moment with strangers
It wants but little and I die of jealousy.
She said smiling: ‘I am the lamp of the assembly, O Sa’di,
What is it to me if a moth kills itself?’
I remember how in former times I and another friend kept company
with each other like two almond kernels in one skin. Suddenly a
separation took place but after a time, when my companion returned, he
commenced to blame me for not having sent him a messenger during it. I
replied: ‘I thought it would be a pity that the eyes of a messenger
should be brightened by thy beauty and I deprived thereof.’
Tell my old friend not to give me advice with the tongue
Because even a sword will not compel me to repent.
I am jealous that anyone should see thee to satiety.
Again I say that no one will be satiated.
I knew a learned man who had fallen in love with someone but his
secret having fallen from the veil of concealment into publicity, he
endured abundant persecution and displayed boundless patience. I
said once to him by way of consolation: ‘I know thou entertainest no
worldly motive nor inclination for baseness. It is nevertheless
unbecoming the dignity of a scholar to expose himself to suspicions
and to bear the persecutions of mannerless persons.’ He replied: ‘O
friend, take off the hand of reproach from my skirt because I have
often meditated on the opinion which thou entertainest but have
found it easier to bear persecution for his sake than not to see
him; and philosophers have said that it is easier to accustom the
heart to strife, than to turn away the eye from seeing the beloved.
Who has his heart with a heart-ravisher
Has his beard in another’s hand.
A gazelle with a halter on the neck
Is not able to walk of its own accord.
If he, without whom one cannot abide,
Becomes insolent it must be endured.
I one day told him to beware of his friend
But I often asked pardon for that day.
A friend does not abandon a friend.
I submit my heart to what he wills.
Whether he kindly calls me to himself
Or drives me away in anger he knows best.
In the exuberance of youth, as it usually happens and as thou
knowest, I was on the closest terms of intimacy with a sweetheart
who had a melodious voice and a form beautiful like the moon just
He, the down of whose cheek drinks the water of immortality,
Whoever looks at his sugar lips eats sweetmeats.
I happened to notice something in his behaviour which was contrary
to nature and not approved of by me. Accordingly I gathered up my
skirt from him and, picking up the pieces of the chess-game of
‘Go and do as thou listest.
Thou hast not our head; follow thine.’
I heard him saying when he went away:
‘If the bat desires not union with the sun
The beauty of the sun will not decrease.’
Saying this, he departed and his distress took effect on me:
I lost the time of union and man is ignorant
Of the value of delightful life before adversity.
Return. Slay me. For to die in thy presence
Is more sweet than to live after thee.
Thanks be to the bounty of God, he returned some time afterwards but
his melodious voice had changed, his Joseph like beauty had faded,
on the apple of his skin dust had settled as upon a quince so that the
splendour of his beauty had departed. He wanted me to embrace him. I
complied and said:
‘On the day when thou hadst a beauteous incipient beard
Thou drovest him, who desired the sight, from thy sight.
Today thou camest to make peace with him
But hast exhibited Fathah and Zammah.
His fresh spring is gone and he has become yellow.
Bring not the kettle because our fire is extinguished.
How long wilt thou strut about, showing arrogance,
Imagining felicity which has elapsed?
Go to him who will purchase thee.
Coquet with him who asks for thee.
They said: “Verdure in the garden is pleasing.”
He knows it who utters these words.
Namely, heartfelt affection for that green line
Fascinates the hearts of lovers more and more.
Thy garden is a bed of leeks.
The more thou weedest it the more they grow.
Whether thou pluckest out thy beard or not
This happiness of youthful days must end.
Had I the power of life as thou of the beard
I would not let it end till resurrection-day.
I asked and said: What has befallen the beauty of thy face
That ants are crawling round the moon?
He replied, smiling: “I know not what is the matter
with my face.
Perhaps it wears black as mourning for my beauty.”‘
I asked one of the people of Baghdad what he thought of beardless
youths. He replied: ‘There is no good in them for when one of them
is yet delicate and wanted he is insolent; but when he becomes rough
and is not wanted he is affable.’
When a beardless youth is beautiful and sweet
His speech is bitter, his temper hasty.
When his beard grows and he attains puberty
He associates with men and seeks affection.
One of the ullemma had been asked that, supposing one sits with a
moon-faced beauty in a private apartment, the doors being closed,
companions asleep, passion inflamed, and lust raging, as the Arab
says, the date is ripe and its guardian not forbidding, whether he
thought the power of abstinence would cause the man to remain in
safety. He replied: ‘If he remains in safety from the moon-faced
one, he will not remain safe from evil speakers.’
If a man escapes from his own bad lust
He will not escape from the bad suspicions of accusers.
It is proper to sit down to one’s own work
But it is impossible to bind the tongues of men.
A parrot, having been imprisoned in a cage with a crow, was vexed by
the sight and said: ‘What a loathsome aspect is this! What an odious
figure! What cursed object with rude habits! 0 crow of separation,
would that the distance of the east from the west were between us.’
Whoever beholds thee when he rises in the morning
The morn of a day of safety becomes evening to him.
An ill-omened one like thyself is fit to keep thee company
But where in the world is one like thee?
More strange still, the crow was similarly distressed by the
proximity of the parrot and, having become disgusted, was shouting ‘La
haul’, and lamenting the vicissitudes of time. He rubbed the claws
of sorrow against each other and said: ‘What ill-luck is this? What
base destiny and chameleonlike times? It was befitting my dignity to
strut about on a garden-wall in the society of another crow.
‘It is sufficient imprisonment for a devote
To be in the same stable with profligates.
‘What sin have I committed that I have already in this life, as a
punishment for it, fallen into the bonds of this calamity in company
with such a conceited, uncongenial and heedless fool?’
No one will approach the foot of the wall
Upon which they paint thy portrait.
If thy place were in paradise
Others would select. hell.
I have added this parable to let thee know that no matter how much a
learned man may hate an ignorant man the latter hates him equally.
A hermit was among profligates
When one of them, a Balkhi beauty, said:
‘If thou art tired of us sit not sour
For thou art thyself bitter in our midst.’
An assembly joined together like roses and tulips!
Thou art withered wood, growing in its midst,
Like a contrary wind and unpleasant frost,
Like snow inert, like ice bound fast.
I had a companion with whom I had travelled for years and eaten
salt. Boundless intimacy subsisted between us till at last he suffered
my mind to be grieved for the sake of some paltry gain and our
friendship closed. Despite of an this, however, mutual attachment of
heart still subsisted between us because I heard him one day
reciting in an assembly the following two distichs of my composition:
When my sweetheart enters sweetly smiling
She adds more salt to my bleeding wound.
How would it be if the tip of her curls fell into my hand
Like the sleeve of the bountiful into the hands of dervishes?
Some friends bore witness not so much to the gracefulness of these
verses as to the beauty of my conduct which they approved; and among
the rest, the said friend likewise added his share of praise,
regretting the loss of our former companionship and confessing his
fault so that his affection became known. Accordingly I sent the
following distichs and made peace:
Was not there a covenant of friendship between us?
Thou hast been cruel and not loving.
I once tied my heart to thee, disregarding the world.
Not knowing thou wouldst turn back so soon.
If thou yet desirest conciliation, return
Because thou wilt be more beloved than before.
The beautiful wife of a man died but her mother, a decrepit old hag,
remained in the house on account of the dowry. The man saw no means of
escaping from contact with her until a company of friends paid him a
visit of condolence and one of them asked him how he bore the loss
of his beloved. He replied: ‘It is not as painful not to see my wife
as to see the mother of my wife.’
The rose has been destroyed and the thorn remained.
The treasure has been taken and the serpent left.
It is better that one’s eye be fixed on a spear-head
Than that it should behold the face of an enemy.
It is incumbent to sever connection with a thousand friends
Rather than to behold a single foe.
I remember having in the days of my youth passed through a street,
intending to see a moon-faced beauty. It was in Temuz, whose heat
dried up the saliva in the mouth and whose simum boiled the marrow
in my bones. My weak human nature being unable to endure the scorching
sun, I took refuge in the shadow of a wall, wishing someone might
relieve me from the summer heat and quench my fire with some water;
and lo, all of a sudden, from the darkness of the porch of a house a
light shone forth, namely a beauty, the grace of which the tongue of
eloquence is unable to describe. She came out like the rising dawn
after an obscure night or the water of immortality gushing from a dark
cavern, carrying in her hand a bowl of snow-water, into which sugar
had been poured and essence of roses mixed. I knew not whether she had
perfumed it with rose-water or whether a few drops from her rosy
face had fallen into it. In short, I took the beverage from her
beautiful hands, drank it and began to live again.
The thirst of my heart cannot be quenched
By sipping limpid water even if I drink oceans of it.
Blessed is the man of happy destiny whose eye
Alights every morning on such a countenance.
One drunk of wine awakens at midnight,
One drunk of the cupbearer on the morn of resurrection.
In the year when Muhammad Khovarezm Shah concluded peace with the
king of Khata to suit his own purpose, I entered the cathedral
mosque of Kashgar and saw an extremely handsome, graceful boy as
described in the simile:
Thy master has taught thee to coquet and to ravish hearts,
Instructed thee to oppose, to dally, to blame and to be severe.
A person of such figure, temper, stature and gait
I have not seen; perhaps he learnt these tricks from a fairy.
He was holding in his hand the introduction to Zamaksharni’s
Arabic syntax and reciting: Zaid struck Amru and was the injurer of
Amru. I said: ‘Boy! Khovarezm and Khata have concluded peace, and
the quarrel between Zaid and Amru still subsists!’ He smiled and asked
for my birthplace. I replied: ‘The soil of Shiraz.’ He continued:
‘What rememberest thou of the compositions of Sa’di?’ I recited:
‘I am tired by a nahvi who makes a furious attack
Upon me, like Zaid in his opposition to Amru.
When Zaid submits he does not raise his head
And how can elevation subsist when submission is the regent?
He considered awhile and then said: ‘Most of his poetry current in
this country is in the Persian language. If thou wilt recite some,
it will be more easily understood.’ Then I said:
‘When thy nature has enticed thee with syntax
It blotted out the form of intellect from our heart.
Alas, the hearts of lovers are captive in thy snare.
We are occupied with thee but thou with Amru and Zaid.’
The next morning, when I was about to depart, some people told him
that I was Sa’di, whereon he came running to me and politely expressed
his regret that I had not revealed my identity before so that he might
have girded his loins to serve me in token of the gratitude due to the
presence of a great man.
In spite of thy presence no voice came to say: I am he.
He also said: ‘What would it be if thou wert to spend in this
country some days in repose that we might derive advantage by
serving thee?’ I replied: ‘I cannot on account of the following
adventure which occurred to me:
I beheld an illustrious man in a mountain region
Who had contentedly retired from the world into a cave.
Why, said I, comest thou not into the city
For once to relax the bonds of thy heart?
He replied: ‘Fairy-faced maidens are there.
When clay is plentiful, elephants will stumble.’
This I said. Then we kissed each other’s heads and faces and took
leave of each other.
What profits it to kiss a friend’s face
And at the same time to take leave of him?
Thou wouldst say that he who parts from friends is an apple.
One half of his face is red and the other yellow.
If I die not of grief on the day of separation
Reckon me not faithful in friendship.
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 lamentations.
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.
I replied: ‘What thou hast said resembles my case because, when I
was young, my intimacy with a young man and my friendship for him were
such that his beauty was the Qiblah of my eye and the chief joy of
my life union with him’:
Perhaps an angel in heaven but no mortal
Can be on earth equal in beauty of form to him.
I swear by the amity, after which companionship is illicit,
No human sperm will ever become a man like him.
All of a sudden the foot of his life sank into the mire of
non-existence. The smoke of separation arose from his family. I kept
him company on his grave for many days and one of my compositions on
his loss is as follows:
Would that on the day when the thorn of fate entered thy foot
The hand of heaven had struck a sword on my head;
So that this day my eye could not see the world without thee.
Here I am on thy grave, would that it were over my head.
He who could take neither rest nor sleep
Before he had first scattered roses and narcissi.
The turns of heaven have strewn the roses of his face.
Thorns and brambles are growing on his tomb.
After separation from him I resolved and firmly determined to fold
up the carpet of pleasure during the rest of my life and to retire
from mixing in society:
Last night I strutted about like a peacock in the garden of union
But today, through separation from my friend, I twist my head like
The profit of the sea would be good if there were no fear of waves.
The company of the rose would be sweet if there were no pain from
A king of the Arabs, having been informed of the relations
subsisting between Laila and Mejnun, with an account of the latter’s
insanity, to the effect that he had in spite of his great
accomplishments and eloquence, chosen to roam about in the desert
and to let go the reins of self-control from his hands; he ordered him
to be brought to his presence, and this having been done, he began
to reprove him and to ask him what defect he had discovered in the
nobility of the human soul that he adopted the habits of beasts and
abandoned the society of mankind. Mejnun replied:
‘Many friends have blamed me for loving her.
Will they not see her one day and understand my excuse?’
Would that those who are reproving me
Could see thy face, O ravisher of hearts,
That instead of a lemon in thy presence
They might heedlessly cut their hands.
That the truth may bear witness to the assertion: This is he for
whose sake ye blamed me.
The king expressed a wish to see the beauty of Laila in order to
ascertain the cause of so much distress. Accordingly he ordered her to
be searched for. The encampments of various Arab families having
been visited, she was found, conveyed to the king and led into the
courtyard of the palace. The king looked at her outward form for
some time and she appeared despicable in his sight because the meanest
handmaids of his harem excelled her in beauty and attractions. Mejnun,
who shrewdly understood the thoughts of the king, said: ‘It would have
been necessary to look from the window of Mejnun’s eye at the beauty
of Laila when the mystery of her aspect would have been revealed to
If the record of the glade which entered my ears
Had been heard by the leaves of the glade they would
have lamented with me.
O company of friends, say to him who is unconcerned
‘Would that thou knewest what is in a pining heart
Who are healthy have no pain from wounds.
I shall tell my grief to no one but a sympathizer.
It is useless to speak of bees to one
Who never in his life felt their sting.
As long as thy state is not like mine
My state will be but an idle tale to thee.
It is related that the qazi of Hamdan, having conceived affection
towards a farrier-boy and the horseshoe of his heart being on fire, he
sought for some time to meet him, roaming about and seeking for
opportunities, according to the saying of chroniclers:
That straight tall cypress my eyes beheld
It robbed me of my heart and threw me down.
Those wanton eyes have taken my heart with a lasso.
If thou desirest to preserve thy heart shut thy eyes.
I was informed that the boy, who had heard something of the qazi’s
passion, happening to meet him in a thoroughfare, manifested immense
wrath, assailed the qazi with disrespectful and insulting words,
snatched up a stone and left no injury untried. The qazi said to an
ullemma of repute who happened to be of the same opinion with him:
‘Look at that sweetheart and his getting angry,
And that bitter knot of his sweet eyebrow.’
The Arab says: ‘A slap from a lover is a raisin.
A blow from the hand on the mouth
Is sweeter than eating bread with one’s own hand.
In the same way the boy’s impudence might be indicating kindness
as padshahs utter hard words whilst they secretly wish for peace:
Grapes yet unripe are sour.
Wait two or three days, they will become sweet.
After saying these words he returned to his court of justice,
where some respectable men connected with him kissed the ground of
service and said: ‘With thy permission we shall, doing obeisance,
speak some words to thee although they may be contrary to politeness
because illustrious men have said:
It is not permissible to argue on every topic.
To find fault with great men is wrong.
‘But as in consequence of favours conferred by thy lordship in
former times upon thy servants it would be a kind of treachery to
withhold the opinion they entertain, they inform thee that the
proper way is not to yield to thy inclinations concerning this boy but
to fold up the carpet of lascivious desires because thy dignity as
qazi is high and must not be polluted by a base crime. The companion
thou hast seen is this, and our words thou hast heard are these:
One who has done many disreputable things
Cares nothing for the reputation of anyone.
Many a good name of fifty years
Was trodden under foot by one bad name.”
The qazi approved of the unanimous advice of his friends and
appreciated their good opinion as well as their steadfast fidelity,
saying that the view taken by his beloved friends on the arrangement
of his case was perfectly right and their arguments admitting of no
Although love ceases in consequence of reproval
I heard that just men sometimes concoct falsehoods.
Blame me as much as thou listest
Because blackness cannot be washed off from a negro.
Nothing can blot out my remembrance of thee.
I am a snake with broken head and cannot turn.
These words he said and sent some persons to make inquiries about
him, spending boundless money because it is said that whoever has gold
in his hand possesses strength of arm and he who has no worldly
goods has no friends in the whole world:
Whoever has seen gold droops his head,
Although he may be hard to bend like iron-backed scales.
In short, one night he obtained privacy but during that night the
police obtained information that the qazi is spending the whole of
it with wine in his hand and a sweetheart on his bosom, enjoying
himself, not sleeping, and singing:
Has this cock perhaps not crowed at the proper time this night
And have the lovers not had their fill of embrace, and kiss
Whilst alas for only a moment the eye of confusion is asleep?
Remain awake that life may not elapse in vain
Till thou hearest the morning call from the Friday-mosque
Or the noise of kettle-drums on Atabek’s palace-gate.
Lips against lips like the cock’s eye
Are not to part at the crowing of a silly cock.
Whilst the qazi was in this state one of his dependants entered
and said: ‘Arise and run as far as thy feet will carry thee because
the envious have not only obtained a handle for vexation but have
spoken the truth. We may, whilst the fire of confusion is yet
burning low, perchance extinguish it with the water of stratagem but
when it blazes up high it may destroy a world.’ The qazi, however,
‘When the lion has his claws on the game
What boots it if a jackal makes his appearance?
Keep thy face on the face of the friend and leave
The foe to chew the back of his own hand in rage.’
The same night information was also brought to the king that in
his realm such a wickedness had been perpetrated and he was asked what
he thought of it. He replied: ‘I know that he is one of the most
learned men, and I account him to be the paragon of our age. As it
is possible that enemies have devised a plot against him, I give no
credit to this accusation unless I obtain ocular evidence because
philosophers have said:
He who grasps the sword in haste
Will repenting carry the back of his hand to his teeth and bite it.’
I heard that at dawn the king with some of his courtiers arrived at
the pillow of the qazi, saw a lamp standing, the sweetheart sitting,
the wine spilled, the goblet broken and the qazi plunged in the
sleep of drunkenness, unaware of the realm of existence. The king
awakened him gently and said: ‘Get up for the sun has risen.’ The
qazi, who perceived the state of affairs, asked: ‘From what
direction?’ The sultan was astonished and replied: ‘From the east as
usual.’ The qazi exclaimed: ‘Praise be to Allah! The door of
repentance is yet open because according to tradition the gate Of
repentance will not be locked against worshippers till the sun rises
in its setting place.’
These two things impelled me to sin:
My ill-luck and my imperfect understanding.
If thou givest me punishment I deserve it
And if thou forgivest pardon is better than revenge.
The king replied: ‘As thou knowest that thou must suffer capital
punishment, it is of no use to repent. But their faith availed them
not after they had beholden our vengeance.
‘What is the use to promise to forego thieving
When a lasso cannot be thrown up to the palace?
Say to the tall man: “Do not pluck the fruit”,
For he who is short cannot reach the branch.
‘For thee, who hast committed such wickedness, there is no way of
escape.’ After the king had uttered these words, the men appointed for
the execution took hold of him, whereon he said: ‘I have one word more
to speak in the service of the sultan.’ The king, who heard him,
asked: ‘What is it?’ And he recited:
‘Thou who shakest the sleeve of displeasure upon me
Expect not that I shall withdraw my hand from thy skirt.
If escape be impossible from this crime which I committed
I trust to the clemency which thou possessest.’
The king replied: ‘Thou hast adduced this wonderful sally and hast
enounced a strange maxim but it is impossible according to reason
and contrary to usage that thy accomplishments and eloquence should
this day save thee from the punishment which I have decreed; and I
consider it proper to throw thee headlong from the castle that
others may take an example.’ He continued: ‘O lord of the world, I
have been nourished by the bounty of this dynasty, and this crime
was not committed only by me in the world. Throw another man
headlong that I may take the example.’ The king burst out laughing,
pardoned his crime and said to his dependents who desired the qazi
to be slain:
‘Everyone of you who are bearers of your own faults
Ought not to blame others for their defects.’
A virtuous and beauteous youth
Was pledged to a chaste maiden.
I read that in the great sea
They fell into a vortex together.
When a sailor came to take his hand,
Lest he might die in that condition,
He said in anguish from the waves:
‘Leave me. Take the hand of my love.’
Whilst saying this, he despaired of life.
In his agony he was heard to exclaim:
‘Learn not the tale of love from the wretch
Who forgets his beloved in distress.’
Thus the lives of the lovers terminated.
Learn from what has occurred that thou mayest know
Because Sa’di is of the ways and means of love affairs
Well aware in the Arabian city of Baghdad.
Tie thy heart to the heart-charmer thou possessest
And shut thy eye to all the rest of the world.
If Mejnun and Laila were to come to life again
They might indite a tale of love on this occurrence.