Richard Jeffrey Newman's Miscellany


Two passages from two different poems in Saadi’s Bustan that seem apt, given what’s going on right now in Iran. The versions are mine:

“Be vigilant! Protect the poor and needy;

the crown you wear you wear because of them.

The people are like roots, my son; the king,

the tree that needs the roots to give it strength.

As much as you are able, do not hurt them;

to do so is to dig up your own roots.”


“Perched high in a tree, a man chopped hard

at the base of the branch where he was sitting.

Looking up, the garden’s owner said,

‘He commits a crime against himself, not me.’

There’s wisdom in those words, if you will hear it:

Don’t use force to overthrow the weak.

If Heaven decides, a prince will be tomorrow

the beggar on whom you wouldn’t waste a barleycorn.”