Saadi Shirazi

(1814-1291 / Iran)

Ch 01 Manner of Kings Story 15 Poem by Saadi Shirazi


A vezier, who had been removed from his post, entered the circle of dervishes and the blessing of their society took such effect upon him that he became contented in his mind. When the king was again favourably disposed towards him and ordered him to resume his office, he refused and said: "Retirement is better than occupation."

Those who have sat down in the corner of safety
Have bound the teeth of dogs and tongues of men.
They tore the paper up and broke the pen
And are saved from the hands and tongues of slanderers.

The king said: "Verily we stand in need of a man of sufficient intelligence who is able to carry on the administration of the government." He replied: "It is a sign of sufficient intelligence not to engage in such matters."

The homa excels all other birds in nobility
Because it feeds on bones and injures no living thing.

A donkey, having been asked for what salary he had elected to attend upon the lion, replied: "That I may consume the remnants of his prey and live in safety from my enemies by taking refuge under his bravery." Being again asked that, as he had entered into the shadow of the lion’s protection and gratefully acknowledged his beneficence, why he had not joined the circle of intimacy so as to be accounted one of his favourite servants, he replied: "I am in the same way also not safe of his bravery."

Should a Guebre kindle fire a hundred years
If he falls one moment into it he will be burnt.

It may happen that a companion of his majesty the sultan receives gold and it is possible that he loses his head. Philosophers have said that it is necessary to be on guard of the fickle temper of padshahs because sometimes they are displeased with politeness and at others they bestow robes of honour for rudeness. It is also said that much jocularity is an accomplishment in courtiers but a fault in sages.

Abide thou by thy dignity and gravity.
Leave sport and jocularity to courtiers.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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