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Ch 03 On The Excellence Of Contentment Story 28

Sa di 1210 (Shiraz) – 1291 (Shiraz)



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 head
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 said:

As long as thou walkest about the shop or the house
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 world.’

A rich man is not a stranger in mountain, desert or solitude.
Wherever he goes he pitches a tent and makes a sleeping place;
Whilst he who is destitute of the goods of this world
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 everywhere
Although perhaps driven away in anger by father and mother.
I have seen a peacock feather in the leaves of the Quran.
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 it.’
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 draught!
Better than a handsome face is a pleasant voice.
The former is joy to the senses, the latter food for the soul.

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 trouble
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,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:58 min read
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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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