Gulistan of Saadi
On Love and Youth
In the year when Muhammad Khovarezm Shah concluded peace with the king of Khata to suit his
own purpose, I entered the cathedral mosque of Kashgar and saw an extremely handsome, graceful
boy as described in the simile:
Thy master has taught thee to coquet and to ravish hearts,
Instructed thee to oppose, to dally, to blame and to be severe.
A person of such figure, temper, stature and gait
I have not seen; perhaps he learnt these tricks from a fairy.
He was holding in his hand the introduction to Zamaksharni’s Arabic syntax and reciting: Zaid struck
Amru and was the injurer of Amru. I said: ‘Boy! Khovarezm and Khata have concluded peace, and the
quarrel between Zaid and Amru still subsists!’ He smiled and asked for my birthplace. I replied: ‘The
soil of Shiraz.’ He continued: ‘What rememberest thou of the compositions of Sa’di?’ I recited:
‘I am tired by a nahvi who makes a furious attack
Upon me, like Zaid in his opposition to Amru.
When Zaid submits he does not raise his head
And how can elevation subsist when submission is the regent?
He considered awhile and then said: ‘Most of his poetry current in this country is in the Persian
language. If thou wilt recite some, it will be more easily understood.’ Then I said:
‘When thy nature has enticed thee with syntax
It blotted out the form of intellect from our heart.
Alas, the hearts of lovers are captive in thy snare.
We are occupied with thee but thou with Amru and Zaid.’
The next morning, when I was about to depart, some people told him that I was Sa’di, whereon he
came running to me and politely expressed his regret that I had not revealed my identity before so that
he might have girded his loins to serve me in token of the gratitude due to the presence of a great man.
In spite of thy presence no voice came to say: I am he.
He also said: ‘What would it be if thou wert to spend in this country some days in repose that we
might derive advantage by serving thee?’ I replied: ‘I cannot on account of the following adventure
which occurred to me:
I beheld an illustrious man in a mountain region
Who had contentedly retired from the world into a cave.
Why, said I, comest thou not into the city
For once to relax the bonds of thy heart?
He replied: ‘Fairy-faced maidens are there.
When clay is plentiful, elephants will stumble.’
This I said. Then we kissed each other’s heads and faces and took leave of each other.
What profits it to kiss a friend’s face
And at the same time to take leave of him?
Thou wouldst say that he who parts from friends is an apple.
One half of his face is red and the other yellow.
If I die not of grief on the day of separation
Reckon me not faithful in friendship.