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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Meditation
By Sa’dī (c. 1213–1291)
 
From the ‘Garden of Perfume’: Text of K. H. Graf; Translation of Samuel Robinson

IN the name of the Lord, who created the soul; who gave to the tongue words of wisdom;  1
  The Lord, the Benevolent, the Sustainer, who generously accepteth excuses and forgiveth sins;  2
  The Mighty One, from whose door whoever turneth away will find Might at no other door;  3
  In whose court the most exalted monarchs must humble themselves as suppliants;  4
  Who is not quick to repress the arrogant, nor repulseth with violence those who sue for pardon;  5
  Who, when he is angry for some evil deed, if thou turnest to him again, writeth it amongst the things of the past;  6
  Who, when he beholdeth the sin, covereth it with the veil of his mercy; in the ocean of whose omniscience the universe is but a drop.  7
  If a son is at variance with a father, thou wilt immediately behold the father in the glow of passion;  8
  And if he doth not soon give him satisfaction, will drive him forth from his presence like a stranger.  9
  If the slave doth not bestir himself actively at his work, his master will deem him but of little value;  10
  Or if thou art not amiable amongst thy companions, thy companions will flee from thee to a mile’s distance;  11
  Or if a soldier deserteth his duty, his commander will speedily dismiss him from the service.  12
  But he who is Lord of the high and of the low shutteth not the door of his riches against even the rebellious.  13
  The expanse of the earth is the table of his people; and to his free banquet, friend and foe are alike welcome.  14
  If he hurried to involve him in trouble, who would be secure from the hand of his power?  15
  Independent in his essence of the judgment of any one of his creatures, his dominion is rich in the obedience of men and spirits.  16
  Every thing and every person must bow down to his mandate: the sons of Adam, and the bird, and the ant, and the worm.  17
  So broadly is the table of his bounty spread, that the vulture on the Caucasus receiveth his portion.  18
  Benevolent and beneficent, and the dispenser of blessings, he is the Lord of Creation, and knoweth every secret.  19
  This man he judgeth worthy of grandeur and a high destiny, for his kingdom is ancient, and his race is wealthy.  20
  On the head of one he setteth the diadem of fortune; another he bringeth down from a throne to the dust.  21
  On the head of one he placeth the crown of prosperity; another he clothes in the weeds of poverty.  22
  For his friend [Abraham] he turned fire into a bed of roses, and cast into the flames the host from the waters of the Nile.  23
  If he did that, it was marked with his favor; and if he did this, it was signed with his order.  24
  He throweth his veil over evil deeds, and hideth behind it his own benefits;  25
  If he unsheath his sword of power in wrath, the very Cherubim are dumb with terror;  26
  But if he giveth victuals from the table of his bounty, even the Evil One says: “I too shall have a portion.”  27
  In the court of his benignity and greatness the greatest must lay their greatness aside;  28
  But to such as are cast down he is nigh with his mercy, and he ever lendeth his ear to the prayer of the suppliant.  29
  By his prescience he foreseeth what hath not yet been; in his goodness he provideth for what hath not yet been spoken.  30
  By his power he is the keeper of the heights and the depths, and he is master of the Book of the Day of Account.  31
  No one’s back is strong enough to throw off obedience; nor is there room for any one to lay a finger on a letter.  32
  The Ancient Benefactor is still ever beneficent; by decree upon decree he fashioned the beautiful image in the womb.  33
  From east to west he set in motion sun and moon, and spread out the earth on the face of the waters.  34
  And though it trembleth sometimes and dreadeth its ruin, he hath nailed down the roots of the mountains to its skirts.  35
  He who hath imprinted its form upon the waters gave to the pearl its Peri-like semblance.  36
  He hid the ruby and the turquoise in the bosom of the stone, and hung the ruby-colored rose on the turquoise-tinted branches.  37
  Of one globule he maketh a pearl-white lily, and fashioneth another into the lofty cypress.  38
  From his knowledge not an atom lieth concealed; for the hidden and open are both to him but one.  39
  For the ant and for the serpent he hath alike provided its food; and for that which hath no hand, nor feet, nor strength.  40
  At his decree non-existence hath been embellished with existence, for no one knoweth but he how to change nonentity into being.  41
  So at one time he burieth an act in silence, and bringeth it forth again in the Plain of the Last Judgment.  42
  The universe is agreed in the acknowledgment of his Deity, but is confounded when it attempteth to investigate his Essence.  43
  Man cannot comprehend the extent of his majesty; the sight hath not penetrated to the limits of his excellence.  44
  The wing of bird hath not soared to the summits of his knowledge, nor the hand of intelligence touched the skirts of his attributes.  45
  In this whirlpool have been sunk a thousand vessels, of which not a single plank hath come to the shore.  46
  How many a night have I sat completely lost, till I have exclaimed in terror: “Up, and be doing.”  47
  Of the kingdoms of the earth the knowledge is attainable; but the knowledge of him with thy measure thou canst not attain.  48
  The bounds of his knowledge thy intellect cannot reach; nor can thy thoughts fathom the depths of his attributes.  49
  To equal Sohlan in eloquence is possible: but innumerable are they who have fallen exhausted in the race.  50
  To urge thy steed over every ground is impossible; and there are occasions on which thou must throw away thy shield.  51
  If the traveler is forbidden to penetrate to the secret place, he will find the door barred, and will have to return.  52
  To many a one at this banquet is offered the goblet, who findeth it to be but a stupefying drug.  53
  Let every one tremble who hath trusted himself to this ocean of blood, from which no one yet ever brought back his vessel.  54
  One falcon soareth up, but with bandaged eyes; another returneth, but with singed eyes and feathers.  55
  No one hath found his way to the treasure of Karūn; or if he hath found it, hath he brought anything back.  56
  Seekest thou to survey this country? as well mayest thou begin by hamstringing the horse on which thou wouldst return.  57
  Let each one look into the mirror of his own soul, and gradually it will acquire the same clearness.  58
  Perhaps the odor of love will inebriate thee, and seeking for a compact with the Divine, thou mayest thyself become divine.  59
  Proceed on the road of inquiry on foot, till thou reach the goal, and thence fly upwards on the pinions of affection.  60
  Truth will rend in twain the veils of illusion; yea, even the veil which concealeth the glory of God.  61
  But the courser of intellect can run no further. Astonishment tighteneth the reins, and exclaimeth, “STAND!”  62
 
 
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