Abū-Muhammad Shīrāzī, better known by his pen name Saadi, also known as Saadi of Shiraz, was a major Persian poet and prose writer of the medieval period. He is recognized for the quality of his writings and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts.
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Famous Saadi Shirazi Poems
Ch 02 The Morals Of Dervishes Story 20
Despite the abundant admonitions of the most illustrious Sheikh Abulfaraj Ben Juzi to shun musical entertainments and to prefer solitude and retirement, the budding of my youth overcame me, my sensual desires were excited so that, unable to resist them, I walked some steps contrary to the opinion of my tutor, enjoying myself in musical amusements and convivial meetings. When the advice of my sheikh occurred to my mind, I said:
‘If the qazi were sitting with us, he would clap his hands.
If the muhtasib were bibbing wine, he would excuse a drunkard.’
Thus I lived till I paid one night a visit to an assembly of people in which I saw a musician.
Thou wouldst have said he is tearing up the vital artery with his fiddle-bow.
His voice was more unpleasant than the wailing of one who lost his father.
The audience now stopped their ears with their fingers, and now put them on their lips to silence him. We became ecstatic by the sounds of pleasing songs but thou art such a singer that when thou art silent we are pleased.
No one feels pleased by thy performance
Except at the time of departure when thou pleasest.
When that harper began to sing
I said to the host: ‘For God’s sake
Put mercury in my ear that I may not hear
Or open the door that I may go away.’
In short, I tried to please my friends and succeeded after a considerable struggle in spending the whole night there.
The muezzin shouted the call to prayers out of time,
Not knowing how much of the night had elapsed.
Ask the length of the night from my eyelids
For sleep did not enter my eyes one moment.
In the morning I took my turban from my head, with one dinar from my belt by way of gratification, and placed them before the musician whom I embraced and thanked. My friends who saw that my appreciation of his merits was unusual attributed it to the levity of my intellect and laughed secretly. One of them, however, lengthened out his tongue of objection and began to reproach me, saying that I had committed an act repugnant to intelligent men by bestowing a portion of my professional dress upon a musician who had all his life not a dirhem laid upon the palm of his hand nor filings of silver or of gold placed on his drum.
A musician! Far be he from this happy abode.
No one ever saw him twice in the same place.
As soon as the shout rose from his mouth
The hair on the bodies of the people stood on end.
The fowls of the house, terrified by him, flew away
Whilst he distracted our senses and tore his throat.
I said: ‘It will be proper to shorten the tongue of objection because his talent has become evident to me.’ He then asked me to explain the quality of it in order to inform the company so that all might apologize for the jokes they had cracked about me. I replied: ‘Although my sheikh had often told me to abandon musical entertainments and had given me abundant advice, I did not mind it. This night my propitious horoscope and my august luck have guided me to this place where I have, on hearing the performance of this musician, repented and vowed never again to attend at singing and convivial parties.’
A pleasant voice, from a sweet palate, mouth and lips,
Whether employed in singing or not, enchants the heart
But the melodies of lovers of Isfahan or of the Hejaz
From the windpipe of a bad singer are not nice.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 82
Two men died, bearing away their grief. One had possessed wealth and not enjoyed it, the other knowledge and not practised it.
No one sees an excellent but avaricious man
Without publishing his defect
But if a liberal man has a hundred faults
His generosity covers his imperfections.
The book of the Gulistan has been completed, and Allah had been invoked for aid! By the grace of the Almighty, may his name be honoured, throughout the work the custom of authors to insert verses from ancient writers by way of loan, has not been followed.
To adorn oneself with one’s own rag
Is better than to ask for the loan of a robe.
Most of the utterances of Sa’di being exhilarant and mixed with pleasantry, shortsighted persons have on this account lengthened the tongue of blame, alleging that it is not the part of intelligent men to spend in vain the kernel of their brain, and to eat without profit the smoke of the lamp; it is, however, not concealed from enlightened men, who are able to discern the tendency of words, that pearls of curative admonition are strung upon the thread of explanation, and that the bitter medicine of advice is commingled with the honey of wit, in order that the reader’s mind should not be fatigued, and thereby excluded from the benefit of acceptance; and praise be to the Lord of both worlds.
We gave advice in its proper place
Spending a lifetime in the task.
If it should not touch anyone’s ear of desire
The messenger told his tale; it is enough.
O thou who lookest into it, ask Allah to have mercy
On the author and to pardon the owner of it.
Ask for thyself whatever benefit thou mayest desire,
And after that pardon for the writer of it.
If I had on the day of resurrection an opportunity
Near the Compassionate one I should say: ‘O Lord,
I am the sinner and thou the beneficent master,
For all the ill I have done I crave for thy bounty.’
Gratitude is due from me to God that this book is ended before my life has reached its termination.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Story 01
A dervish prayed thus: ‘O Lord, have mercy upon the wicked, because thou hast already had mercy upon good men by creating them to be good.’
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 81
A sage was asked: ‘Of so many notable, high and fertile trees which God the most high has created, not one is called free, except the cypress, which bears no fruit. What is the reason of this?’ He replied: ‘Every tree has its appropriate season of fruit, so that it is sometimes flourishing therewith, and looks sometimes withered by its absence; with the cypress, however, neither is the case, it being fresh at all times, and this is the quality of those who are free.’
Place not thy heart on what passes away; for the Tigris
Will flow after the Khalifs have passed away in Baghdad.
If thou art able, be liberal like the date tree,
And if thy hand cannot afford it, be liberal like the cypress.
Ch 03 On The Excellence Of Contentment Story 13
A dervish wanted something and a man told him that a certain individual possessed untold wealth who, if he were made aware of his want, would not consider it proper to fail in supplying it forthwith. The dervish answering that he had no acquaintance with him, the man proposed to show him the house and when the dervish entered he caught sight of a person with hanging lips and sitting morosely. He returned immediately and being asked what he had done replied: ‘I excused him from making me a present when I saw his face.’
Carry not thy necessity to a sour-faced fellow
Because his ill-humour will crush thy hopes.
If thou confidest thy heart’s grief, tell it to one
Whose face will comfort thee like ready cash.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Admonition 12
When thou perceivest that discord is in the army of the foe, be thou at ease; but if they are united, be apprehensive of thy own distress.
Go and sit in repose with thy friends
When thou seest war among the enemies;
But if thou perceivest that they all agree
Span thy bow and carry stones upon the rampart.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 53
Although a sultan’s garment of honour is dear yet one’s own old robe is more dear; and though the food of a great man may be delicious, the broken crumbs of one’s own sack are more delicious.
Vinegar by one’s own labour and vegetables
Are better than bread received as alms, and veal.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 59
I had a wound under my robe and a sheikh asked me daily how, but not where it is, and I learned that he refrained because it is not admissible to mention every member; and wise men have also said that whoever does not ponder his question will be grieved by the answer.
Until thou knowest thy words to be perfectly suitable
Thou must not open thy mouth in speech.
If thou speakest truth and remainest in captivity,
It is better than that thy mendacity deliver thee therefrom.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 68
How can he hear whose organ of audition has been created dull, and how can he avoid progressing upon whom the noose of happiness has been flung?
To the friends of God a dark night
Shines like the brilliant day.
This felicity is not by strength of arm
Unless God the giver bestows it.
To whom shall I complain of thee? There is no other judge
And there is no other hand superior to thine.
Whom thou guidest -no one can lead astray.
Whom thou castest off no one can guide.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 67
Fortunate men are admonished by the adventures and similes of those who have preceded them, before those who follow them can use the event as a proverb, like thieves who shorten their hands, lest their hands be cut off.
The bird does not go to the grain displayed
When it beholds another fowl in the trap.
Take advice by the misfortunes of others
That others may not take advice from thee.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 74
When a wise man encounters obstacles, he leaps away and casts anchor at the proper opportunity, for thus he will be in the former instance safe on shore, and in the latter he will enjoy himself.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 61
The noblest of beings is evidently man, and the meanest a dog, but intelligent persons agree that a grateful dog is better than an ungrateful man.
A dog never forgets a morsel received
Though thou throwest a stone at him a hundred times.
But if thou cherishest a base fellow a lifetime,
He will for a trifle suddenly fight with thee.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life
When God draws the sword of wrath, prophets and saints draw in their heads, but if he casts a look of grace, he converts wicked into virtuous men.
If at the resurrection he addresses us in anger
What chance of pardon will even prophets have?
Say: ‘Remove the veil from the face of mercy
Because sinners entertain hopes of pardon.’
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 60
Mendacity resembles a violent blow, the scar of which remains, though the wound may be healed. Seest thou not how the brothers of Joseph became noted for falsehood, and no trust in their veracity remained, as Allah the most high has said: Nay but ye yourselves have contrived the thing for your own sake.
One habitually speaking the truth
Is pardoned when he once makes a slip
But if he becomes noted for lying,
People do not believe him even when speaking truth.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 52
Regret will not leave the hearts of two persons and their feet of contention will not emerge from the mire: a merchant with a wrecked ship and a youth sitting with qalandars.
Dervishes will consider it licit to shed thy blood
If they can have no access to thy property.
Either associate not with a friend who dons the blue garb,
Or bid farewell to all thy property.
Either make no friends with elephant-keepers
Or build a house suitable for elephants.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 75
The gambler requires three sixes and only three aces turn up.
The pasture is a thousand times more pleasant than the racecourse
But the steed has not the bridle at its option.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 71
The Most High sees a fault and conceals it, and a neighbour sees it not, but shouts.
Let us take refuge with Allah.
If people knew our faults
No one could have rest from interference by others.
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 55
One of the requirements for society is to attend to the affairs of thy household and also at the house of God.
Tell thy tale according to thy hearer’s temper,
If thou knowest him to be biased to thee.
Every wise man who sits with Mejnun
Speaks of nothing but the story of Laila’s love
Ch 08 On Rules For Conduct In Life – Maxim 58
Who interrupts the conversation of others that they may know his excellence, they will become acquainted only with the degree of his folly.
An intelligent man will not give a reply
Unless he be asked a question.
Because though his words may be based on truth,
His claim to veracity may be deemed impossible.