Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Bringing up a Son
By Sa’dī (c. 1213–1291)
From ‘The Garden of Perfume’: Translation of H. Wilberforce Clarke

WHEN a boy has passed ten years of age,
Say: “Sit apart from those not unlawful” [to him in marriage].
It is not right to kindle a fire on cotton;
For while thou wink’st the eye, the house is burned.
When thou wishest that thy name may remain in place [of honor]        5
Teach the son wisdom and judgment.
When his skill and judgment are insufficient
Thou wilt die, and none of thy family will remain.
He endures severity for much time,—
The son whom the father tenderly cherishes.        10
Keep him wise and abstinent;
If thou lovest him, keep him not by endearing expressions.
Rebuke and instruct him in childhood;
Exercise promise and fear as to his good deeds.
For the young student, commendation and reward        15
[Are] better than the master’s reprimand and threatening.
Teach the one matured, hand-toil,
Even if, Kārūn-like, thou hast command as to wealth.
How knowest thou? The revolution of time
May cause him to wander in exile in the country.        20
Rely not on that resource which is;
For it may be that wealth may not remain in thy hand.
When for him there are the resources of trade,
How may he bear the hand of beggary before any one?
The purse of silver and gold reaches its limit;        25
The purse of the trader becomes not empty.
Know’st thou not how Sa’dī obtained his object?
He neither traversed the desert nor plowed the sea.
In childhood he suffered slaps from the great;
In matureness God gave him purity.        30
Whosoever places his neck [in submission] to order,
Not much time passes but he gives orders.
Every child who the violence of the teacher
Experiences not, will suffer the violence of time.
Keep the son good and cause ease to reach him        35
That his eyes [of expectation] may not remain on the hands of others.
Whosoever endured not grief for his son,
Another suffered grief and abused him.
Preserve him from the bad teacher,
For the unfortunate and road-lost one makes him like himself.
*        *        *        *        *
Suffer not regret as to the destruction and ruin [of a wicked son],
For the degenerate son dead before his father [is] best.

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