It is related that an old man, having married a girl, was sitting with her privately in an apartment adorned with roses, fixing his eyes and heart upon her. He did not sleep during long nights but spent them in telling her jokes and witty stories, hoping to gain her affection and to conquer her shyness. One night, however, he informed her that luck had been friendly to her and the eye of fortune awake because she had become the companion of an old man who is ripe, educated, experienced in the world, of a quiet disposition, who had felt cold and warm, had tried good and bad, who knows the diities of companionship, is ready to fulfil the conditions of love, is benevolent, kind, good-natured and sweet-tongued.
As far as I am able I shall hold thy heart
And if injured I shall not injure in return.
I was holding a disputation with a company of learned men in the cathedral mosque of Damascus when a youth stepped among us, asking whether anyone knew Persian, whereon most of them pointed to me. I asked him what the matter was and he said that an old man, aged one hundred and fifty years, was in the agony of death but saying something in Persian which nobody could understand and that if I were kindly to go and see him I might obtain the information whether he was perhaps desirous of making his last will. When I approached his pillow, he said:
‘A while ago I said I shall take some rest
But alas, the way of my breath is choked.
The son of a wealthy but avaricious old man, having fallen sick, his well-wishers advised him that it would be proper to get the whole Quran recited or else to offer a sacrifice. He meditated a while and then said: ‘It is preferable to read the Quran because the flock is at a distance.’ A holy man, who had heard this, afterwards remarked: ‘He selected the reading of the Quran because it is at the tip of the tongue but the money at the bottom of the heart.’
It is useful to bend the neck in prayers
If they are to be accompanied by almsgiving.
One day, in the pride of youth, I had travelled hard and arrived perfectly exhausted in the evening at the foot of an acclivity. A weak old man, who had likewise been following the caravan, came and asked me why I was sleeping, this not being the place for it. I replied: ‘How am I to travel, having lost the use of my feet?’ He said: ‘Hast thou not heard that it is better to walk gently and to halt now and then than to run and to become exhausted?’
O thou who desirest to reach the station
Take my advice and learn patience.
An old man, having been asked why he did not marry, replied that he could not be happy with an aged woman, and on being told that as he was a man of property, he might take a young one, he said: ‘I being an old man and unwilling to associate with an old woman, how could a young one conceive friendship for me who am aged?’
Let not a man of seventy years make love.
Thou art confessedly blind, kiss her and sleep.
I have heard that in these days a decrepit aged man
Took the fancy in his old head to get a spouse.
He married a beauteous little girl, Jewel by name,
When he had concealed his casket of jewels from the eyes of men
In the folly of youth I one day shouted at my mother who then sat down with a grieved heart in a corner and said, weeping: ‘Hast thou forgotten thy infancy that thou art harsh towards me?’
How sweetly said the old woman to her son
When she saw him overthrow a tiger, and elephant-bodied:
The active, graceful, smiling, sweet-tongued youth happened once to be in the circle of our assembly. His heart had been entered by no kind of grief and his lips were scarcely ever closed from laughter. After some time had elapsed, I accidentally met him again and I learned that he had married a wife and begotten children but I saw that the root of merriment had been cut and the roses of his countenance were withered. I asked him how he felt and what his circumstances were. He replied: ‘When I had obtained children I left off childishness.’
Where is youth when age has changed my ringlets?
And the change of time is a sufficient monitor.
I was in Diarbekr, the guest of an old man, who possessed abundant wealth and a beautiful son. One night he narrated to me that he had all his life no other son but this boy, telling me that in the locality people resorted to a certain tree in a valley to offer petitions and that he had during many nights prayed at the foot of the said tree, till the Almighty granted him this son. I overheard the boy whispering to his companion: ‘How good it would be if I knew where that tree is that I might pray for my father to die.’ Moral: The gentleman is delighted that his son is intelligent and the boy complains that his father is a dotard.
Years elapse without thy visiting
The tomb of thy father.