Saadi Shirazi

Sa'di] (1814-1291 / Iran

Ch 07 On The Effects Of Education Story 17

One year I travelled from Balkh with Damascenes and the road being full of danger on account of robbers, a young man accompanied us as an escort. He was expert with the shield and the bow, handled every weapon and so strong that ten men were not able to span his bow-string. Moreover the athletes of the face of the earth could not bend his back down to the ground. He was, however, rich, brought up in the shade, without experience in the world, the drum-sounds of warriors never having reached his ears nor the lightning of the swords of horsemen dazzled his eyes.

He had not fallen prisoner into the hands of a foe.
No shower of arrows had rained around him.

I happened to be running together with this youth, who threw down by the force of his arm every wall that came in his way, and pulled up by the strength of his fist every big tree he saw, exclaiming, boastingly:

Where is the elephant that he may see the shoulders of the heroes?
Where is the lion that he may see the fists of men?

On that occasion two Indians showed their heads from behind a rock, desirous to attack us. One of them had a club in his hand whilst the other showed a sling under his arm. I asked our youth what he was waiting for.

Show what thou hast of bravery and strength
For here is the foe, coming on his own feet to the grave.

I saw the arrow and bow falling from the hands of the young man and his bones trembling:

Not everyone who splits a hair with a cuirass-piercing arrow
Can, on the day of attack by warriors, extricate his feet.

We saw no other remedy but to abandon our baggage, arms and clothes, whereby we saved our lives.

Employ an experienced man in important affairs
Who is able to ensnare a fierce lion with his lasso.
A youth, though he may have a strong arm and elephant-body,
His joints will snap asunder for fear in contact with a foe.
The issue of a battle is known by a tried man before the contest
Like the solution of a legal question to a learned man.
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