Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Carpe Diem #1174 silence

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. This month we are exploring the beauty of Persian poetry through reading poems of Rumi, Hafez (or Hafiz) and Saadi. We have read already wonderful poems, but the one for today is ... well I think this is a difficult poem to understand by Saadi, but maybe I just have to share it already now ...

Nothing is better for an ignorant man than silence, and if he were to consider it to be suitable, he would not be ignorant.
If thou possessest not the perfection of excellence
It is best to keep thy tongue within thy mouth.
Disgrace is brought on a man by his tongue.
A walnut, having no kernel, will be light.

A fool was trying to teach a donkey,
Spending all his time and efforts in the task.
A sage observed: "O ignorant man, what sayest thou?
Fear blame from the censorious in this vain attempt.
A brute cannot learn speech from thee.
Learn thou silence from a brute".

Who does not reflect what he is to answer
Will mostly speak improperly.
Come. Either arrange thy words like a wise man
Or remain sitting silent like a brute.
© Saadi (From: The Gulistan - Chapter 8 – Tr. Omar Ali-Shah (?))
Saadi in the Rose Garden (Gulistan)
After some research I found a complete translation of Saadi's "The Gulistan", I couldn't find a name of the translator (I think it is the translation done by Omar Ali-Shah), but it was a beautiful translation and a very rich book to read. Let me tell you a little bit background of "The Gulistan".
The Gulistan ("The Rose Garden") is a landmark of Persian literature, perhaps its single most influential work of prose. Written in 1258 CE, it is one of two major works of the Persian poet Saadi, considered one of the greatest medieval Persian poets. It is also one of his most popular books, and has proved deeply influential in the West as well as the East. The Gulistan is a collection of poems and stories, just as a rose-garden is a collection of roses. It is widely quoted as a source of wisdom. The well-known aphorism still frequently repeated in the western world, about being sad because one has no shoes until one meets the man who has no feet "whereupon I thanked Providence for its bounty to myself" is from the Gulistan.
The minimalist plots of the Gulistan's stories are expressed with precise language and psychological insight, creating a "poetry of ideas" with the concision of mathematical formulas. The book explores virtually every major issue faced by humankind, with both an optimistic and a subtly satirical tone. There is much advice for rulers, in this way coming within the mirror for princes genre. But as Eastwick comments in his introduction to the work,  there is a common saying in Persian, "Each word of Saadi has seventy-two meanings", and the stories, alongside their entertainment value and practical and moral dimension, frequently focus on the conduct of dervishes and are said to contain sufi teachings.
What to say about this poem? I think, after reading and re-reading, I think the essence of the poem is in the last lines:

"Who does not reflect what he is to answer / Will mostly speak improperly. / Come. Either arrange thy words like a wise man / Or remain sitting silent like a brute."

Or as we say here in The Netherlands "Bezint eer ge begint" (English: Think twice before you start)

I think this is the lesson of Saadi in this poem ... think twice before you react ... and I know what that means. I certainly know that I am not always that wise man ... there are situations in which I respond immediately and than afterwards I regret what I have said or done. But ... I think that's what makes me (us) human ... we are humans responding from our heart and not from our mind. That by the way makes us haiku poets too. We are in the moment, we are one with all and everything and we create our poems right from our heart.

I wasn't inspired enough, but I created the following haiku:

deep silence
sunbeams breaking through the water -
shadow of a willow

in deep silence
thoughts tumbling through my mind
(c) Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 20th at noon (CET). I will try to publish our new episode, our "weekend-meditation", a new "Namasté:, later on. For now ... have fun!

1 comment:

  1. For me the poem was very, very clear, even if probably with nicer flow in Persian. If I think of it as speaking to Persians, or Iranians, it makes me smile, and is perhaps directed to them culturally.