Saadi Shirazi

Sa'di] (1814-1291 / Iran

Ch 05 On Love And Youth Story 20

It is related that the qazi of Hamdan, having conceived affection towards a farrier-boy and the horseshoe of his heart being on fire, he sought for some time to meet him, roaming about and seeking for opportunities, according to the saying of chroniclers:

That straight tall cypress my eyes beheld
It robbed me of my heart and threw me down.
Those wanton eyes have taken my heart with a lasso.
If thou desirest to preserve thy heart shut thy eyes.

I was informed that the boy, who had heard something of the qazi’s passion, happening to meet him in a thoroughfare, manifested immense wrath, assailed the qazi with disrespectful and insulting words, snatched up a stone and left no injury untried. The qazi said to an ullemma of repute who happened to be of the same opinion with him:

‘Look at that sweetheart and his getting angry,
And that bitter knot of his sweet eyebrow.’
The Arab says: ‘A slap from a lover is a raisin.
A blow from the hand on the mouth
Is sweeter than eating bread with one’s own hand.

In the same way the boy’s impudence might be indicating kindness as padshahs utter hard words whilst they secretly wish for peace:

Grapes yet unripe are sour.
Wait two or three days, they will become sweet.

After saying these words he returned to his court of justice, where some respectable men connected with him kissed the ground of service and said: ‘With thy permission we shall, doing obeisance, speak some words to thee although they may be contrary to politeness because illustrious men have said:

It is not permissible to argue on every topic.
To find fault with great men is wrong.

‘But as in consequence of favours conferred by thy lordship in former times upon thy servants it would be a kind of treachery to withhold the opinion they entertain, they inform thee that the proper way is not to yield to thy inclinations concerning this boy but to fold up the carpet of lascivious desires because thy dignity as qazi is high and must not be polluted by a base crime. The companion thou hast seen is this, and our words thou hast heard are these:

One who has done many disreputable things
Cares nothing for the reputation of anyone.
Many a good name of fifty years
Was trodden under foot by one bad name.”

The qazi approved of the unanimous advice of his friends and appreciated their good opinion as well as their steadfast fidelity, saying that the view taken by his beloved friends on the arrangement of his case was perfectly right and their arguments admitting of no contradiction. Nevertheless:

Although love ceases in consequence of reproval
I heard that just men sometimes concoct falsehoods.
Blame me as much as thou listest
Because blackness cannot be washed off from a negro.
Nothing can blot out my remembrance of thee.
I am a snake with broken head and cannot turn.

These words he said and sent some persons to make inquiries about him, spending boundless money because it is said that whoever has gold in his hand possesses strength of arm and he who has no worldly goods has no friends in the whole world:

Whoever has seen gold droops his head,
Although he may be hard to bend like iron-backed scales.

In short, one night he obtained privacy but during that night the police obtained information that the qazi is spending the whole of it with wine in his hand and a sweetheart on his bosom, enjoying himself, not sleeping, and singing:

Has this cock perhaps not crowed at the proper time this night
And have the lovers not had their fill of embrace, and kiss
Whilst alas for only a moment the eye of confusion is asleep?
Remain awake that life may not elapse in vain
Till thou hearest the morning call from the Friday-mosque
Or the noise of kettle-drums on Atabek’s palace-gate.
Lips against lips like the cock’s eye
Are not to part at the crowing of a silly cock.

Whilst the qazi was in this state one of his dependants entered and said: ‘Arise and run as far as thy feet will carry thee because the envious have not only obtained a handle for vexation but have spoken the truth. We may, whilst the fire of confusion is yet burning low, perchance extinguish it with the water of stratagem but when it blazes up high it may destroy a world.’ The qazi, however, replied:

‘When the lion has his claws on the game
What boots it if a jackal makes his appearance?
Keep thy face on the face of the friend and leave
The foe to chew the back of his own hand in rage.’

The same night information was also brought to the king that in his realm such a wickedness had been perpetrated and he was asked what he thought of it. He replied: ‘I know that he is one of the most learned men, and I account him to be the paragon of our age. As it is possible that enemies have devised a plot against him, I give no credit to this accusation unless I obtain ocular evidence because philosophers have said:

He who grasps the sword in haste
Will repenting carry the back of his hand to his teeth and bite it.’

I heard that at dawn the king with some of his courtiers arrived at the pillow of the qazi, saw a lamp standing, the sweetheart sitting, the wine spilled, the goblet broken and the qazi plunged in the sleep of drunkenness, unaware of the realm of existence. The king awakened him gently and said: ‘Get up for the sun has risen.’ The qazi, who perceived the state of affairs, asked: ‘From what direction?’ The sultan was astonished and replied: ‘From the east as usual.’ The qazi exclaimed: ‘Praise be to Allah! The door of repentance is yet open because according to tradition the gate Of repentance will not be locked against worshippers till the sun rises in its setting place.’

These two things impelled me to sin:
My ill-luck and my imperfect understanding.
If thou givest me punishment I deserve it
And if thou forgivest pardon is better than revenge.

The king replied: ‘As thou knowest that thou must suffer capital punishment, it is of no use to repent. But their faith availed them not after they had beholden our vengeance.

‘What is the use to promise to forego thieving
When a lasso cannot be thrown up to the palace?
Say to the tall man: “Do not pluck the fruit”,
For he who is short cannot reach the branch.

‘For thee, who hast committed such wickedness, there is no way of escape.’ After the king had uttered these words, the men appointed for the execution took hold of him, whereon he said: ‘I have one word more to speak in the service of the sultan.’ The king, who heard him, asked: ‘What is it?’ And he recited:

‘Thou who shakest the sleeve of displeasure upon me
Expect not that I shall withdraw my hand from thy skirt.
If escape be impossible from this crime which I committed
I trust to the clemency which thou possessest.’

The king replied: ‘Thou hast adduced this wonderful sally and hast enounced a strange maxim but it is impossible according to reason and contrary to usage that thy accomplishments and eloquence should this day save thee from the punishment which I have decreed; and I consider it proper to throw thee headlong from the castle that others may take an example.’ He continued: ‘O lord of the world, I have been nourished by the bounty of this dynasty, and this crime was not committed only by me in the world. Throw another man headlong that I may take the example.’ The king burst out laughing, pardoned his crime and said to his dependents who desired the qazi to be slain:

‘Everyone of you who are bearers of your own faults
Ought not to blame others for their defects.’
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