Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bishop Daniel’s Fables, XIX


(Persian, from Saadi’s ‘Gulistan’)

Two men embarked aboard a ship.
The exact nature of their trip
Our sources do not specify –
One was a king; the other – why,
The other was a poor ghulam,
A simple native of Ajam,
Which is a hilly, landlocked land,
If I correctly understand.
Once the good ship began to roll
Upon the waves, to rise and fall,
He started to bemoan his fate.
He never drank, he never ate,
But made a loud and piercing wail.
Some people from the royal train
Wanted to comfort him – in vain.
They threatened him – to no avail.
The king was very much annoyed
Because all remedies employed
Were of no use. He had no choice,
But had to hear the poor man’s voice
And to endure for the duration
Of the whole trip his lamentation,
The prospect being very dim
And disagreeable to him.
A wise man, who had been aboard,
Approached the king and said, “My lord,
WIth your permission I will try
And, maybe, make him stop to cry”.
The king replied: “It would be kind
Of you, if only you could find
A way to silence him”. And then
He had him taken by two men
By arms and legs, and then thrown out;
Just as the poor man was about
To drown and was in full despair,
He had him pulled in by the hair.
The poor ghulam, he did not drown,
But he decidedly calmed down.
The king, relieved, as if of pain
Said to the man, “Can you explain

To me the wisdom of this trick?
Is this a way to cure the sick?” –
“I will do this to please your lordship:
This man has never been aboard ship
And has, as you may plainly see,
Not even seen the ships at sea;
He did not understand, my lord,
The precious safety they afford.
But then, he also never had
Been drowning: so that now he’s glad
To be alive and safe abroad”.

+++

I hope, the people of this land
Will never fully understand,
Do justice to, appreciate
The safety that their ship of state
Is giving them, nor see the multitude
Of blessings they enjoy with proper gratitude
They’d know it fully if they did
Lose all of this – which God forbid!

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