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I turn to right and left, in all the earth

I see no signs of justice, sense or worth:

A man does evil deeds, and all his days

Are filled with luck and universal praise;

Another's good in all he does - he dies

A wretched, broken man whom all despise.


When the sword of sixty comes nigh his head

give a man no wine, for he is drunk with years.

Age claps a stick in my bridle-hand:

substance spent, health broken,

forgotten the skill to swerve aside from the joust

with the spearhead grazing my eyelashes.

The sentinel perched on the hill top

cannot see the countless army he used to see there:

the black summit's deep in snow

and its lord himself sinning against the army.

He was proud of his two swift couriers:

lo! sixty ruffians have put them in chains.

The singer is weary of his broken voice,

one drone for the bulbul alike and the lion's grousing.

Alas for flowery, musky sappy thirty

and the sharp Persian sword!

The pheasant strutting about the briar,

pomegranate-blossom and cypress sprig!

Since I raised my glass to fifty-eight

I have toasted only the bier and the burial-ground.

I ask the just Creator

so much refuge from Time

that a tale of mine may remain in the world

from this famous book of the ancients

and they who speak of such matters weighing their words

think of that only when they think of me.

Alas for Youth

Much have I labored, much read o'er

Of Arabic and Persian lore,

Collecting tales unknown and known;

Now two and sixty years are flown.

Regret, and deeper woe of sin,

'Tis all that youth has ended in,

And I with mournful thoughts rehearse

Bu Táhir Khusrawáni's verse:

"I mind me of my youth and sigh,

Alas for youth, for youth gone by!

translated by R. A. Nicholson

The Death of Yazdagird
Fear Him, the Lord, the Maker of the world,

For He created throne and crown and signet.

Defame not thine own person wantonly

Because ere long such things will rise against thee.

Know that whoever speaketh not the truth

To thee is thy soul's foe. Now thou art sick

While I am as the leech, a leech that waileth,

And sheddeth drops of blood. Thou art thyself

Less than the slave of slaves. Be not ambitious

In thy heart's thoughts. Leave strife to holy God,

And seek in honour's way the throne of greatness."
The archmages all, till the world gloomed and moon

Succeeded sun, warned that vindictive man,

Who was not one hair better for their talk,

And said when night came: "Ye must leave me now

O sages! I will ponder this tonight,

And take all kinds of wisdom to my breast.

We will call twenty wise men from the host

That we may well need not to deplore this ill.