Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > Greek, Roman & Oriental
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vol. XV: Greek—Roman—Oriental
The Pots Criticize the Potter
By Omar Khayyám (1048–1131)
From “Quatrains” (Rubaiyat)

AS, under cover of departing day,
Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,
  Once more within the Potter’s house alone
I stood, surrounded by the shapes of clay.
Shapes of all sorts and sizes, great and small,        5
That stood along the floor and by the wall;
  And some loquacious vessels were, and some
Listened, perhaps, but never talked at all.
Said one among them: “Surely not in vain
My substance of the common earth was ta’en,        10
  And to this figure molded to be broke,
Or trampled back to shapeless earth again!”
Then said a second: “Ne’er a peevish boy
Would break the bowl from which he drank in joy;
  And He that with His hand the vessel made,        15
Will surely not in after-wrath destroy.”
After a momentary silence spake
Some vessel of a more ungainly make:
  “They sneer at me for leaning all awry;
What! did the hand, then, of the Potter shake?”        20
Whereat some one of the loquacious lot—
I think a Sufi pipkin—waking hot:
  “All this of Pot and Potter! Tell me, then,
Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”
“Why,” said another, “some there are who tell        25
Of One who threatens he will toss to hell
  The luckless Pots he marr’d in making! Pish!
He’s a good fellow, and ’twill all be well!”

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