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Ch 05 On Love And Youth Story 17

Sa di 1210 (Shiraz) – 1291 (Shiraz)



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.

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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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