Saadi Shirazi

(1814-1291 / Iran)

Ch 01 Manner Of Kings Story 01 - Poem by Saadi Shirazi

I heard a padshah giving orders to kill a prisoner. The helpless
fellow began to insult the king on that occasion of despair, with
the tongue he had, and to use foul expressions according to the

Who washes his hands of life
Says whatever he has in his heart.

When a man is in despair his tongue becomes long and he is like a
vanquished cat assailing a dog.

In time of need, when flight is no more possible,
The hand grasps the point of the sharp sword.

When the king asked what he was saying, a good-natured vezier
replied: 'My lord, he says: Those who bridle their anger and forgive
men; for Allah loveth the beneficent.'
The king, moved with pity, forbore taking his life but another
vezier, the antagonist of the former, said: 'Men of our rank ought
to speak nothing but the truth in the presence of padshahs. This
fellow has insulted the king and spoken unbecomingly.' The king, being
displeased with these words, said: 'That lie was more acceptable to me
than this truth thou hast uttered because the former proceeded from
a conciliatory disposition and the latter from malignity; and wise men
have said: "A falsehood resulting in conciliation is better than a
truth producing trouble."'

He whom the shah follows in what he says,
It is a pity if he speaks anything but what is good.

The following inscription was upon the portico of the hall of

O brother, the world remains with no one.
Bind the heart to the Creator, it is enough.
Rely not upon possessions and this world
Because it has cherished many like thee and slain them.
When the pure soul is about to depart,
What boots it if one dies on a throne or on the ground?

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Read poems about / on: despair, truth, cat, anger, dog, brother, world, heart, life

Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004

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