Saadi Shirazi

Sa'di] (1814-1291 / Iran

Introductory 05

My negligence and backwardness in diligent attendance at the royal court resemble the case of Barzachumihr, whose merits the sages of India were discussing but could at last not reproach him with anything except slowness of speech because he delayed long and his hearers were obliged to wait till he delivered himself of what he had to say. When Barzachumihr heard of this he said: ‘It is better for me to consider what to speak than to repent of what I have spoken.’

A trained orator, old, aged,
First meditates and then speaks.
Do not speak without consideration.
Speak well and if slow what matters it?
Deliberate and then begin to talk.
Say thyself enough before others say enough.
By speech a man is better than a brute
But a beast is better unless thou speakest properly.

How then could I venture to appear in the sight of the grandees of my lord, may his victory be glorious, who are an assembly of pious men and the centre of profound scholars? If I were to be led in the ardour of conversation to speak petulantly, I could produce only a trifling stock-in-trade in the noble presence but glass beads are not worth a barleycorn in the bazar of jewellers, a lamp does not shine in the presence of the sun, and a minaret looks low at the foot of Mount Alvend.

Who lifts up his neck with pretentions,
Foes hasten to him from every side.
Sa’di has fallen to be a hermit.
No one came to attack a fallen man.
First deliberation, then speech;
The foundation was laid first, then the wall.

I know bouquet-binding but not in the garden. I sell a sweetheart but not in Canaan. Loqman the philosopher, being asked from whom he had learnt wisdom, replied: ‘From the blind, who do not take a step before trying the place.’ First move about, then stir out.

Try thy virility first, then marry.
Though a cock may be brave in war
He strikes his claws in vain on a brazen falcon.
A cat is a lion in catching mice
But a mouse in combat with a tiger.

But, trusting in the liberal sentiments of the great, who shut their eyes to the faults of their inferiors and abstain from divulging the crimes of humble men, we have in this book recorded, by way of abridgment, some rare events, stories, poetry and accounts about ancient kings, spending a portion of our precious life in the task. This was the reason for composing the book Gulistan; and help is from Allah.

This well-arranged composition will remain for years,
When every atom of our dust is dispersed.
The intention of this design was that it should survive
Because I perceive no stability in my existence,
Unless one day a pious man compassionately
Utters a prayer for the works of dervishes.

The author, having deliberated upon the arrangement of the book, and the adornment of the chapters, deemed it suitable to curtail the diction of this beautiful garden and luxuriant grove and to make it resemble paradise, which also has eight entrances. The abridgment was made to avoid tediousness.

I The Manners of Kings
II On the Morals of Dervishes
III On the Excellence of Content
IV On the Advantages of Silence
V On Love and Youth
VI On Weakness and Old Age
VII On the Effects of Education
VIII On Rules for Conduct in Life

At a period when our time was pleasant
The Hejret was six hundred and fifty-six.
Our intention was advice and we gave it.
We recommended thee to God and departed.
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