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Ch 03 On The Excellence Of Contentment Story 14

Sa di 1210 (Shiraz) – 1291 (Shiraz)



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 firmament.

There was no wild beast, fowl, fish or ant
Whose wailings prompted by distress had not reached the sky.
For a wonder the heart-smoke of the people did not condense
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 load.

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 consumed
Although he may die of hunger in his lair.
Though getting rich in wealth and property like Feridun
A worthless man is to be considered of no account.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Sa di

Saadi Shirazi was a major Persian poet and prose write of the medieval period. more…

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