Sadi's Scroll of Wisdomby Sadi, Arthur N. Wollaston
Abu-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Din bin Abdallah Shirazi better known by his pen-name as Saʿdi or, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources. He is recognized for the quality of his writings, and the depth of his social and… See more details below
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Abu-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Din bin Abdallah Shirazi better known by his pen-name as Saʿdi or, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources. He is recognized for the quality of his writings, and the depth of his social and moral thoughts.
His best known works are Bustan ("The Orchard") completed in 1257 and Gulistan ("The Rose Garden") in 1258. Bustan is entirely in verse and consists of stories illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims (justice, liberality, modesty, contentment) and reflections on the behavior of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Gulistan is mainly in prose and contains stories and personal anecdotes. The text is a variety of short poems, advice, and humorous reflections. Saadi demonstrates a profound awareness of the absurdity of human existence.
Saadi is also remembered as a panegyrist and lyricist, the author of a number of odes portraying human experience, and also of particular odes such as the lament on the fall of Baghdad after the Mongol invasion in 1258. His lyrics are found in Ghazaliyat ("Lyrics") and his odes in Qasa'id ("Odes"). He is also known for a number of works in Arabic.
Alexander Pushkin, one of Russia's most celebrated poets, quotes Saadi in his masterpiece Eugene Onegin: As Saadi sang in earlier ages,"some are far distant, some are dead".
Saadi distinguished between the spiritual and the practical or mundane aspects of life. In his Bustan, spiritual Saadi uses the mundane world as a spring board to propel himself beyond the earthly realms. The images in Bustan are delicate in nature and soothing. In the Gulistan, on the other hand, mundane Saadi lowers the spiritual to touch the heart of his fellow wayfarers. Here the images are graphic and, thanks to Saadi's dexterity, remain concrete in the reader's mind. Realistically, there is a ring of truth in the division. The Sheikh preaching in the Khanqah experiences a totally different world than the merchant passing through a town. Saadi embodies both the Sufi Sheikh and the traveling merchant. As he himself puts it, two almond kernels in the same shell. Saadi's prose style described as "simple but impossible to imitate".
The clouds, the wind, the moon, and the sun,
For your comfort, and at your behest, run;
They toil continuously for your satisfaction,
Should not you halt, monitor your action?
Saadi is well known for his aphorisms, the most famous of which, Bani Adam, calls for breaking all barriers:
The poem is translated by M. Aryanpoor as:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you've no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain!
by H. Vahid Dastjerdi as:
Adam's sons are body limbs, to say;
For they're created of the same clay.
Should one organ be troubled by pain,
Others would suffer severe strain.
Thou, careless of people's suffering,
Deserve not the name, "human being".
the last translation by Dr. Iraj Bashiri:
Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcern'd with Others' Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.
U.S. President Barack Obama quoted Saadi's Gulistan in a videotaped Nowruz (New Year's) greeting to the Iranian people in March 2009: "There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences. But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: 'The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence."
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