Ahmad Shawqi


The Sultan's Companion

A Sultan once had a faithful companion
Always repeating verbatim
Whatever the Sultan said
At times, he may outdo the Sultan
In praising a thing that the latter happened to like
His Master saw and knew what was going on
He would hear the flattery but say nothing
Once, they both sat at the table for a meal
An eggplant dish was served
The Sultan helped himself generously to it, commenting:
Indeed, this is sweet to the palate
Just like honey
To this, the companion remarked:
The Sultan has spoken the truth
Honey doesn't even compare to eggplant
This the same vegetable that Avicenna praised
And exulted in verse by Galen
It heals a thousand and one maladies
It cools the chest and slakes the burning thirst
The Sultan said
However, it does have a bitter taste
And I never appreciated its effects
The companion commented:
Indeed it is bitter, and that's its only fault
That's why, my Lord, I could never stomach it
It was the cause of Hippocractes's death
And the poisonous potion
That Socrates drank from a cup
Here the Sultan looked at those assembled around him
And inquired of them saying:
How do you find his words
The companion said:
Pardon me, your majesty!
What I did was not incorrect
I am here to be the Sultan's companion
Not the companion of the eggplant;
A thing I have never before done

Translated by: Mahmoud Abbas Masoud

Submitted: Monday, October 28, 2013
Edited: Monday, October 28, 2013

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