IN THE NAME
OF ALLAH THE MERCIFUL THE CLEMENT
Laudation to the God of
majesty and glory! Obedience to him is a cause of approach and
gratitude in increase of benefits. Every inhalation of the breath
prolongs life and every expiration of it gladdens our nature;
wherefore every breath confers two benefits and for every benefit
gratitude is due.
Words of the most high:
Be thankful, O family of David, and but few of my servants are
It is best to a worshipper
for his transgressions
To offer apologies at the
throne of God,
Although what is worthy
of his dignity
No one is able to accomplish.
The showers of his boundless
mercy have penetrated to every spot, and the banquet of his unstinted
liberality is spread out everywhere. He tears not the veil of
reputation of his worshippers even for grievous sins, and does
not withhold their daily allowance of bread for great crimes.
O bountiful One, who from
thy invisible treasury
Suppliest the Guebre and
the Christian with food,
How couldst thou disappoint
Whilst having regard for
He told the chamberlain
of the morning breeze to spread out the emerald carpet and, having
commanded the nurse of vernal clouds to cherish the daughters
of plants in the cradle of the earth, the trees donned the new
years robe and clothed their breast with the garment of
green foliage, whilst their offspring, the branches, adorned
their heads with blossoms at the approach of the season of the
roses. Also the juice of the cane became delicious honey by his
power, and the date a lofty tree by his care.
Cloud and wind, moon and
sun move in the sky
That thou mayest gain bread,
and not eat it unconcerned.
For thee all are revolving
It is against the requirements
of justice if thou obeyest not.
There is a tradition of
the prince of created beings, the paragon of existing things,
the mercy to the inhabitants of the world, the purest of mankind
and the completion of the revolving ages, Muhammad the elect,
upon whom be blessing and peace:
Intercessor, obeyed, prophet,
Bountiful, majestic, affable,
marked with the seal of God.
What danger is there to
the wall of the faithful with thee for a buttress?
What fear of the waves of
the sea has he whose pilot is Noah?
He attained exaltation by
He disspelled darkness by
Beauteous are all his qualities,
Benediction be on him and
on his family.
The tradition is that whenever
a sinful and distressed worshipper stretches forth the hand of
repentance with hopes of acceptance to the court of heaven, God
the most high does not notice him, whereon he continues to implore
mercy with supplications and tears and God the most holy says:
O my angels, verily I am ashamed of my servant and he has no
other lord besides myself. Accordingly I have fully pardoned
Those who attend permanently
at the temple of his glory confess
the imperfection of their
worship and say: We have not worshipped thee
according to the requirements
of thy worship; and those who describe
the splendour of his beauty
are rapt in amazement saying: We have
not known thee as thou oughtest
to be known.
If someone asks me for his
What shall I despairing
say of One who has no form?
The lovers have been slain
by the beloved.
No voice can come from the
One of the devout who had
deeply plunged his head into the cowl of meditation and had been
immersed in the ocean of visions, was asked, when he had come
out of that state, by one of his companions who had desired to
cheer him up: What beautiful gift hast thou brought us
from the garden in which thou hast been? He replied: I
intended to fill the skirts of my robe with roses, when I reached
the rose-tree, as presents for my friends but the perfume of
the flowers intoxicated me so much that I let go the hold of
O bird of the morning, learn
love from the moth
Because it burnt, lost its life, and found no voice.
These pretenders are ignorantly in search of Him,
Because he who obtained knowledge has not returned.
O thou who art above all
imaginations, conjectures, opinions and ideas,
Above anything people have said or we have heard or read,
The assembly is finished and life has reached its term
And we have, as at first, remained powerless in describing thee.
OF THE PADSHAH OF ISLAM
(may Allah perpetuate
The good reputation of Sadi
which is current among the people, the renown of his eloquence
which has spread on the surface of the earth, the products of
his friendly pen which are consumed like sugar, and the scraps
of his literary compositions which are hawked about like bills
of exchange, cannot be ascribed to his virtue and perfection,
but the lord of the world, the axis of the revolving circle of
time, the vice-gerent of Solomon, protector of the followers
of the religion, His Majesty the Shahanshah Atabek Aazm
Muzaffaruddin Abu Bekr Ben Sad Ben Zanki-The shadow of
Allah on earth! O Lord, be pleased with him and with his kingdom-has
looked upon Sadi with a favourable eye, has praised him
greatly, and has shown him sincere affection so that all men,
gentle and simple, love him because the people follow the religion
of their king.
Because thou lookest upon
my humble person,
My merits are more celebrated
than those of the sun.
Although this slave may
possess all faults,
Every fault pleasing the
Sultan becomes a virtue.
A sweet-smelling piece of
clay, one day in the bath,
Came from the hand of a
beloved one to my hand.
I asked: Art thou
musk or ambergris?
Because thy delicious odour
It replied: I was
a despicable lump of day;
But for a while in the society
of a rose.
The perfection of my companion
took effect on me
And, if not, I am the same
earth which I am.
O Allah, favour the Musalmans
with the prolongation of his life, and with an augmentation of
his reward for his good qualities and deeds; exalt the dignities
of his friends and governors; annihilate those who are inimical
to him and wish him ill; for the sake of what is recorded in
the verses of the Quran. O Allah, give security protect his son.
Verily the world is happy
through him;may his happiness endure for ever
And may the Lord strengthen
him and with the banners of victory.
Thus the branch will flourish
of which he is the root
Because the beauty of the
earths plants depends on the virtue of the seed.
May God, whose name be exalted
and hallowed, keep in security and peace the pure country of
Shiraz until the time of the resurrection, under the authority
of righteous governors and by the exertions of practical scholars.
Knowest thou not why I in
Roamed about for a long
I went away from the distress
of the Turks because I saw
The world entangled like
the hair of negroes;
They were all human beings,
Like wolves sharp-clawed,
for shedding blood.
When I returned I saw the
country at rest,
The tigers having abandoned
the nature of tigers.
Within a man of good disposition
like an angel,
Without an army like bellicose
Thus it happened that first
The world full of confusion,
anxiety and distress;
Then it became as it is
in the days of the just Sultan
Atabek Abu Bekr Ben Sad
The country of Pares dreads
not the vicissitudes of time,
As long as one presides
over it like thee, the shadow of God.
Today no one can point out
on the surface of the earth,
A place like the threshold
of thy door, the asylum of comfort.
On thee is incumbent the
protection of the distressed and gratitude
Upon us and reward on God
the creator of the world,
As long as the world and
FOR COMPOSING THE GULISTAN
I was one night meditating
on the time which had elapsed, repenting of the life I had squandered
and perforating the stony mansion of my heart with adamantine
tears. 1 I uttered the following verses in conformity with the
state of mind:
Every moment a breath of
life is spent,
If I consider, not much
of it remains.
O thou, whose fifty years
have elapsed in sleep,
Wilt thou perhaps overtake
them in these five days?
Shame on him who has gone
and done no work.
The drum of departure was
beaten but he has not made his load.
Sweet sleep on the morning
Retains the pedestrian from
Whoever had come had built
a new edifice.
He departed and left the
place to another
And that other one concocted
the same futile schemes
And this edifice was not
completed by anyone.
Cherish not an inconstant
Such a traitor is not fit
As all the good and bad
must surely die,
He is happy who carries
off the ball of virtue.
Send provision for thy journey
to thy tomb.
Nobody will bring it after
thee; send it before.
Life is snow, the sun is
Little remains, but the
gentleman is slothful still.
O thou who hast gone empty
handed to the bazar,
I fear thou wilt not bring
a towel filled.
Who eats the corn he has
sown while it is yet green,
Must at harvest time glean
the ears of it.
Listen with all thy heart
to the advice of Sadi.
Such is the way; be a man
and travel on.
The capital of mans
life is his abdomen.
If it be gradually emptied
there is no fear
But if it be so closed as
not to open
The heart may well despair
And if it be open so that
it cannot be closed,
Go and wash thy hands of
this worlds life.
Four contending rebellious
Harmonize but five days
with each other.
If one of these four becomes
Sweet life must abandon
Wherefore an intelligent
and perfect man
Sets not his heart upon
this worlds life.
After maturely considering
these sentiments, I thought proper to sit down in the mansion
of retirement to fold up the skirts of association, to wash my
tablets of heedless sayings and no more to indulge in senseless
To sit in a corner, like
one with a cut tongue, deaf and dumb,
Is better than a man who
has no command over his tongue.
I continued in this resolution
till a friend, who had been my companion in the camel-litter
of misery and my comrade in the closet of affection, entered
at the door, according to his old custom with playful gladness,
and spread out the surface of desire; but I would give him no
reply nor lift up my head from the knees of worship. He looked
at me aggrieved and said:
Now, while thou hast
the power of utterance,
Speak, O brother, with grace
Because tomorrow, when the
messenger of death arrives,
Thou wilt of necessity restrain
One of my connections informed
him how matters stood and told him that I had firmly determined
and was intent upon spending the rest of my life in continual
devotion and silence, advising him at the same time, in case
he should be able, to follow my example and to keep me company.
He replied: I swear by the great dignity of Allah and by
our old friendship that I shall not draw breath, nor budge one
step, unless he converses with me as formerly, and in his usual
way; because it is foolish to insult friends and easy to expiate
an oath. It is against propriety, and contrary to the opinions
of wise men that the Zulfiqar of Ali should remain in the
scabbard and the tongue of Sadi in his palate.
O intelligent man what is
the tongue in the mouth?
It is the key to the treasure-door
of a virtuous man.
When the door is closed
how can one know
Whether he is a seller of
jewels or a hawker?
Although intelligent men
consider silence civil,
It is better for thee to
speak at the proper time.
Two things betoken levity
of intellect: to remain mute
When it is proper to speak
and to talk when silence is required.
In short, I had not the
firmness to restrain my tongue from speaking to him, and did
not consider it polite to turn away my face from his conversation,
he being a congenial friend and sincerely affectionate.
I was under the necessity
of speaking and then went out by way of diversion in the vernal
season, when the traces of severe cold had disappeared and the
time of the dominion of roses had arrived:
Green garments were upon
Like holiday robes on contented
On the first of the month
The bulbuls were singing
on the pulpits of branches.
Upon the roses pearls of
dew had fallen,
on an angry sweethearts cheek.
I happened to spend the
night in a garden with one of my friends and we found it to be
a pleasant cheerful place with heart-ravishing entangled trees;
its ground seemed to be paved with small glass beads whilst,
from its vines, bunches like the Pleiads were suspended.
A garden the water of whose
river was limpid
A grove the melody of whose
birds was harmonious.
The former full of bright-coloured
The latter full of fruits
of various kinds;
The wind had in the shade
of its trees
Spread out a bed of all
kinds of flowers.
The next morning when the
intention of returning had prevailed over the opinion of tarrying,
I saw that my friend had in his skirt collected roses, sweet
basil, hyacinths and fragrant herbs with the determination to
carry them to town; whereon I said: Thou knowest that the
roses of the garden are perishable and the season passes away,
and philosophers have said: Whatever is not of long duration
is not to be cherished. He asked: Then what is to
be done? I replied: I may compose for the amusement
of those who look and for the instruction of those who are present
a book of a Rose Garden, a Gulistan, whose leaves cannot be touched
by the tyranny of autumnal blasts and the delight of whose spring
the vicissitudes of time will be unable to change into the inconstancy
Of what use will be a dish
of roses to thee?
Take a leaf from my rose-garden.
A flower endures but five
or six days
But this rose-garden is
After I had uttered these
words he threw away the flowers from his skirts, and attached
himself to mine, saying: When a generous fellow makes a
promise he keeps it.
On the same day I happened
to write two chapters, namely on polite society and the rules
of conversation, in a style acceptable to orators and instructive
to letter-writers. In short, some roses of the garden still remained
when the book of the Rose-garden was finished but it will in
reality be completed only after approbation in the court of the
Shah, who is the refuge of the world, the shadow of God, the
ray of his grace, the treasury of the age, the asylum of the
Faith, strengthened by heaven, aided against enemies, the arm
of the victorious government, the lamp of the resplendent religion,
the beauty of mankind, the boast of Islam, Sad son of Atabek
the great, the majestic Shahanshah, owner of the necks of nations,
lord of the kings of Arabia and Persia, the sultan of the land
and the sea, the heir of the kingdom of Solomon, Muzaffaruddin
Ibu Bekr, son of Sad Zanki, may Allah the most high perpetuate
the prosperity of them both and direct their inclinations to
every good thing.
Perused with a kind glance,
Adorned with approbation
by the sovereign,
It will be a Chinese picture-gallery
or design of the Arzank,
Hopes are entertained that
he will not be wearied
By these contents because
a Pose-garden is not a place of displeasure.
The more so as its august
preface is dedicated
To Sad Abu Bekr Sad
the son of Zanki.
THE GREAT AMIR FAKHRUDDIN BEN ABU BEKR, SON OF ABU NASSAR
Again, the bride of imagination
can for want of beauty not lift up her head nor raise her eyes
from the feet of bashfulness to appear in the assembly of persons
endowed with pulchritude, unless adorned with the ornaments of
approbation from the great Amir, who is learned, just, aided
by heaven, victorious, supporter of the throne of the Sultanate
and councillor in deliberations of the realm, refuge of the poor,
asylum of strangers, patron of learned men, lover of the pious,
glory of the dynasty of Pares, right hand of the kingdom, chief
of the nobles, boast of the monarchy and of the religion, succour
of Islam and of the Musalmans, buttress of kings and sultans,
Abu Bekr, son of Abu Nassar, may Allah prolong his life, augment
his dignity, enlighten his breast and increase his reward twofold,
because he enjoys the praise of all great men and is the embodiment
of every laudable quality.
Whoever reposes in the shadow
of his favour,
His sin is transmuted to
obedience and his foe into a friend.
Every attendant and follower
has an appointed duty and if, in the performance thereof, he
gives way to remissness and indolence, he is certainly called
to account and becomes subject to reproaches, except the tribe
of dervishes, from whom thanks are due for the benefits they
receive from great men as well as praises and prayers, all of
which duties are more suitably performed in their absence than
in their presence, because in the latter they look like ostentation
and in the former they are free from ceremony.
The back of the bent sky
became flat with joy,
When dame nature brought
forth a child like thee.
It is an instance of wisdom
if the Creator
Causes a servant to make
the general welfare his special duty.
He has found eternal happiness
who lived a good life,
Because, after his end,
good repute will keep his name alive.
No matter whether virtuous
men praise you or not
A lovely maid stands in
no need of a tire woman.
REMISSNESS IN SERVICE AND CAUSE FOR PREFERRING SOLITUDE
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
Do not speak without consideration.
Speak well and if slow what
Deliberate and then begin
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
Foes hasten to him from
Sadi has fallen to
be a hermit.
No one came to attack a
First deliberation, then
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,
Though a cock may be brave
He strikes his claws in
vain on a brazen falcon.
A cat is a lion in catching
But a mouse in combat with
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
This well-arranged composition
will remain for years,
When every atom of our dust
The intention of this design
was that it should survive
Because I perceive no stability
in my existence,
Unless one day a pious man
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
IV On the Advantages of
V On Love and Youth
VI On Weakness and Old Age
VII On the Effects of Education
VIII On Rules for Conduct
At a period when our time
The Hejret was six hundred
Our intention was advice
and we gave it.
We recommended thee to God