All night he wept unceasingly beside
His friend, who lay inert upon the bed;
At dawn they found that he who watched
And lo! The sick man had been cured
A willow-branch reminds one that a youth
Can easily be bent towards the Truth;
Old reprobates a sterner fate require,
For they will straighten only in the
Observe this precept whenever you can –
Never make friends with an elephant-man;
For an elephant-man has a pet to keep,
Eating and drinking, awake or asleep,
And if you are friendly one day you’ll
When the elephant-keeper comes to tea,
That, not in the least by chance or
The elephant will accompany him.
Then as soon as the animals’ through the
You’ll notice cracks in the parlour
And however much you may frown or stare
He’ll sit across-legged on an easy
And swill your tea with his cumbrous
Till you think ‘My Word, what a lot he’s
And if you should offer a mild reproof
He’ll be up from your table and off with
In your sorrows you’ll only sink deeper
If you ever make friends with an
When choosing a mount
For a race or a hunt,
Or to ride at the Front,
Remember fat cattle
Get blown in a battle;
But a lean stringy horse
Will stand up round a Course,
And will never give in –
Although he’s too thin
You can back him to win.
The Bull to the Donkey one day said in
‘Do you think that your ears or my horns
are the best?’
The Ass to this sally replied: ‘Since a
My friends have described me as humble
But if I had horns ’twould no longer be
And I shudder to think what would happen
Gold can glitter strangely
When hewn in some deep mine;
Gold can buy you many things
Including warmth and wine;
But anyone amassing it
In honesty must own
There’s hardly any difference
’Twixt a nugget and a stone.
Whose wife is tender, wise, and true
In fact, Beloved, just like you,
Although he merits no such thing
Will live, as I do, like a King.
Aggrieved because I had no shoes
I shuffled down the street,
Till someone cried: ‘There stumping goes
A man who has no feet.’
Then was I instantly aware
That I from pain was free,
And thanked God, the Compassionate,
for all He’d given me.
Although the sun shines bright,
Though nothing stirs in sight,
When traversing the desert
Do not forget your gun.
Although the plain stretched wide,
Good men before have died,
Who failed to see a leopard
Curled sleeping in the sun.
Live always by your own unflinching
Dig deep, and sow and seed; do all you
To pay the debt you owe your country’s
Then you need not depend on any man.
A King who has no aptitude for war,
And finds the bred of idleness too
Is like a Pedagogue who hears afar
His pupils playing leapfrog in the
When raindrops from the heavens fall,
Tenderly and slow,
They nourish garden lawns – and make
The desert thistles grow.
The eyes o’erflow for what they most
Whereas my heart is scorched by
Both ways afflicted, whither can I turn?
In floods I perish, or in flames I burn.
When pure souls from their earthly
It matters not whereon their bodies lie,
On throne or floor;
For God is merciful – He ne’er forsakes
The true in heart; and to His Kingdom
The meek, the poor.
Straightforwardness becomes a man
As snow becomes a mountain,
Or as becomes the hush at dawn
The music of a fountain.
No man has ever yet got lost
Who in his heart would say:
‘In God alone I put my trust –
He maketh straight the way’.
O Nightingale, we bid you sing
Of Youth, and Hope, and Beauty,
As if to chant the praise of Spring
Were your appointed duty;
Too soon the Owl of Death will come
With sudden haunting cry,
Too soon we each must seek our home
In the cold earth to lie.
Patience, the lover cried,
A faded mantle wears;
Patience, the exile sighed,
Is bitter as our tears;
Sour is its root
Sa‘di to them replied –
But lo! How sweet the fruit
At last it bears.
(Extracted from ‘Poems from the