Monday, June 24, 2013


I Wish This Tribe Would Learn Another Trade

Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam, Three Mughal Poets: Mir, Sauda, Mir Hasan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), pp. 52-53:
But in any case Sauda did not like the high moral tone. He knew that it was all too often the mark of people who could see failings only in other people, and never in themselves; and he left no one in any doubt about what he thought of such people:20
Pious severely censures me, I hear,
On evidence Abstemious supplied him.
Sauda will not resent that, never fear,
But I would just respectfully remind him:
    That which Abstemious saw fit to do
    For me, he very well may do for you.

I never understood what prompts a man
To ferret out the vices of his neighbours.
Surely a decent human being can
Find a much better object for his labours.
    The rosary was meant for other things
    Than counting up a fellow-creature's sins.

Suppose my every sin a deadly one—
Does that stop you living a life of piety?
I sin in my own way, involving none:
Does that in any way corrupt society?
    Does it require the strictures of the pious?
    Ask any normal person free from bias.

I wish this tribe would learn another trade;
But meanwhile let them heed this friendly warning:
I cannot spy; that's not the way I'm made:
I go to bed at night and sleep till morning.
    And yet I also know a thing or two;
    You'd best leave me alone: be off with you!
20 Kulliyāt, p. 355. Kalām, pp. 211-212. The translation represents a considerable abridgement of the original, but draws upon most of the stanzas.

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