On Weakness and Old Age
I was holding a disputation with a company of learned men in the Jamiah (cathedral) mosque of Damascus when a youth stepped among us, asking whether anyone knew Persian, whereon most of them pointed to me.
I asked him what the matter was and he said that an old man, aged one hundred and fifty years, was in the agony of death but saying something in Persian which nobody could understand and that if I were kindly to go and see him I might obtain the information whether he was perhaps desirous of making his last will. When I approached his pillow, he said:
دمى چند گفتم بر آرم به كام
دريغا كه بگرفت راه نفس
دريغا كه بر خوان الوان عمر
دمى خورده بوديم و گفتند: بس
'A while ago I said I shall take some rest
I interpreted these words in the Arabic language to the Damascenes and they were astonished that despite of his long life he regretted the termination of it so much.
I asked him how he felt and he replied: 'What shall I say?'
نديده اى كه چه سختى همى رسد به كسى
كه از دهانش به در مى كنند دندانى ؟
Hast thou not seen what misery he feels,
قياس كن كه چه حالت بود در آن ساعت
كه از وجود عزيزش بدر رود جانى
Consider what his state will be at the hour
I told him not to worry his imagination with the idea of death and not to allow a hallucination to obtain dominion over his nature because Greek Philosophers have said that:
although the constitution may be good no reliance is to be placed on its permanence and
although a malady may be perilous it does not imply a full indication of death.
I asked: 'If thou art willing, I shall call a physician to treat thee?'
He lifted his eyes and said, smiling:
دست بر هم زند طبيب ظريف
چون حرف بيند اوفتاده حريف
خواجه در بند نقش ايوان است
خانه از پاى بند ويران است
'The skilled doctor strikes his hands together
پيرمردى ز نزع مى ناليد
پيرزن صندلش همى ماليد
چون مخبط شد اعتدال مزاج
نه عزيمت اثر كند نه علاج
An aged man was lamenting in his last agony
One night, however, he informed her that luck had been friendly to her and the eye of fortune awake because she had become the companion of an old man who is ripe, educated, experienced in the world, of a quiet disposition, who had felt cold and warm, had tried good and bad, who knows the duties of companionship, is ready to fulfill the conditions of love, is benevolent, kind, good-natured and sweet-tongued.
تا توانم دلت به دست آرم
ور بيازاريم نيازارم
ور چو طوطى ، شكر بود خورشت
جان شيرين فداى پرورشت
As far as I am able I shall hold thy heart
Thou hast not fallen into the hands of a giddy youth, fun of whims, headstrong, fickle minded, running about every moment in search of another pleasure and entertaining another opinion, sleeping every night in another place and taking every day another friend.
Young men are joyous and of handsome countenance
وفادارى مدار از بلبلان ، چشم
كه هر دم بر گلى ديگر سرايند
Expect not faithfulness from
Contrary to aged men who spend their lives according to wisdom and propriety; not according to the impulses of folly and youth.
ز خود بهترى جوى و فرصت شمار
كه با چون خودى گم كنى روزگار
Find one better than thyself and consider it fortunate
The old man said: 'I continued in this strain, thinking that I had captivated her heart and that it had become my prey.'
She drew, however, a deep sigh from her grief-filled heart and said:
'All the words thou hast uttered, weighed in the scales of my understanding, are not equivalent to the maxim I once heard enounced in my tribe:
زن جوان را اگر تيري در پهلو نشيند ، به كه پيري
An arrow in the side of a young woman is better than an old man.'
زن كز بر مرد، بى رضا برخيزد
بس فتنه و جنگ از آن سرا برخيزد
When she perceived in the hands of her husband
'This fellow has a corpse with him
A woman who arises without satisfaction from a man
In short, there being no possibility of harmony, a separation at last took place. When the time of the lady's Idah (probationary period) had terminated, she was given in marriage to a young man who was violent, ill-humored and empty-handed.
She suffered much from his bad temper and tyrannical behavior, and experienced the miseries of penury. She nevertheless said:
'Praise be to Allah for having been delivered from that wretched torment, and attained this permanent blessing.'
با اين همه جور و تندخويى
بارت بكشم كه خوبرويى
با تو مرا سوختن اندر عذاب
به كه شدن با دگرى در بهشت
Despite of all this violence and hasty nature
بوى پياز از دهن خوبروى
نغز برآيد كه گل از دست زشت
The smell of an onion from the mouth of a pretty face
A nice face and a gown of gold brocade,
One night he narrated to me that he had all his life no other son but this boy, telling me that in the locality people resorted to a certain tree in a valley to offer petitions and that he had during many nights prayed at the foot of the said tree, till the Almighty granted him this son.
I overheard the boy whispering to his companion: 'How good it would be if I knew where that tree is that I might pray for my father to die.'
Moral: The gentleman is delighted that his son is intelligent and the boy complains that his father is a dotard.
سالها بر تو بگذرد كه گذار
نكنى سوى تربت پدرت
تو به جاى پدر چه كردى ، خير؟
تا همان چشم دارى از پسرت
Years elapse without thy visiting
I replied: 'How am I to travel, having lost the use of my feet?'
He said: 'Hast thou not heard that it is better to walk gently and to halt now and then than to run and to become exhausted?'
اي كه مشتاق منزلى ، مشتاب
پند من كار بند و صبر آموز
اسب تازى دوتگ رود به شتاب
اشتر آهسته مى رود شب و روز
O thou who desirest to reach the station
After some time had elapsed, I accidentally met him again and I learned that he had married a wife and begotten children but I saw that the root of merriment had been cut and the roses of his countenance were withered. I asked him how he felt and what his circumstances were.
He replied: 'When I had obtained children I left off childishness.'
Where is youth when age has changed my ringlets?
چون پير شدى ز كودكى دست بدار
بازى و ظرافت به جوانان بگذار
When thou art old abstain from puerility.
طرب نوجوان ز پير مجوى
كه دگر نايد آب رفته به جوى
زرع را چون رسيد وقت درو
نخراميد چنانكه سبزه نو
Seek not a youth's hilarity in an old man
دور جوانى بشد از دست من
آه و دريغ آن ز من دلفروز
قوت سر چشمه شيرى گذشت
راضيم اكنون چو پنيرى به يوز
The period of youth has departed.
پيرزنى موى شيرى سيه كرده بود
گفتم : اى مامك ديرينه روز
موى به تلبيس سيه كرده ، گير
راست نخواهد شد اين پشت كوز
An old hag had dyed her hair black.
'Hast thou forgotten thy infancy that thou art harsh towards me?'
چه خوش گفت : زالى به فرزند خويش
چو ديدش پلنگ افكن و پيل تن
گر از خرديت ياد آمدى
كه بيچاره بودى در آغوش من
نكردى در اين روز بر من جفا
كه تو شير مردى و من پيرزن
How sweetly said the old woman to her son
He meditated a while and then said: 'It is preferable to read the Quran because the flock is at a distance.'
A holy man, who had heard this, afterwards remarked:
'He selected the reading of the Quran because it is at the tip of the tongue but the money at the bottom of the heart.'
دريغا گردن طاعت نهادن
گرش همره نبودى دست دادن
به دينارى چو خر در گل بمانند
ورالحمدى بخوانى ، صد بخوانند
It is useful to bend the neck in prayers
'I being an old man and unwilling to associate with an old woman, how could a young one conceive friendship for me who am aged?'
پرهفطاثله جوني مي كند
غشغ مقري ثخي و بوني چش روشت
زور بايد نه زر كه بانو را
گزرى دوست تر كه ده من گوشت
Let not a man of seventy years make love.
شنيده ام كه درين روزها كهن پيري
خيال بست به پيرانه سر گيرد جفت
بخواست دختركي خبروي ، گوهر نام
چو درج گوهرش از چشم مردمان بنهفت
I have heard that in these days a decrepit aged man
چنانكه رسم عروسي بود تماشا بود
ولي به حمله اول عصاي شيخ بخفت
كمان كشيد و نزد بر هدف كه نتوان دوخت
مگر به خامه فولاد ، جامه هنگفت
A spectacle took place as is customary in weddings.
به دوستان گله آغاز كرد و حجت ساخت
كه خان و مان من ، اين شوخ ديده پاك برفت
ميان شوهر و زن جنگ و فتنه خاست چنان
كه سر به شحنه و قاضي كشيد و سعدي گفت :
He complained to his friends and showed proofs
پس از خلافت و شنعت گناه دختر نيست
تو را كه دست بلرزد، گهر چه داني سفت
'After all this reproach and villainy the fault is not the girl's.