About this text

Introductory notes

Saib Tabrizi (c.1592-1676) was the son of Mirzā ʿAbd-al-Rahim, a successful merchant. His uncle, Shams-al-Din of Tabriz, had earned the title Shirin Qalam (‘Sweet Pen’) for his calligraphy. Saib’s family was evacuated from Tabriz by ʿAbbās I during Ottoman incursions and settled in Isfahan. Saib set off to the east in search of patronage in 1624-25. In Kabul, he made friends with the governor Mirzā Ahsan-Allāh Zafar Khan, also a poet who wrote under the penname Ahsan. Saib accompanied Zafar Khan when he was called to court to pledge his allegiance to Shāhjahān in 1628. Saib’s attempts to accompany his patron on his military campaigns in the Deccan were unsuccessful, however, as rigors of army life and the climate in Burhānpur did not suit him. When his father arrived in Agra to persuade him to return to Persia, Saib requested permission to depart, which was ultimately granted in 1632. Saib was a prolific poet, and during his 65-year literary career, he compiled one of the largest divāns in Persian literature, containing around 75,000 lines of poetry.


mā chun gohar ḥiṣarim dar ruy sakht khishim
az khushksāli gham nist āb-e- zulāl-e- mā rā


Like a pearl, we have fortified ours elves with a hard shell;
Our pure water is not afraid of scarcity of rain.


ḥāṣilash az rizq ghair az gardish-e- behoodeh nist
āsia har chand mustaghraq dar āb-o- dāneh ast.


Its benefit from earning livelihood is nothing but rotating aimlessly;
Although the spinning floor mill is replete with water and grain.


Luqmah chun uftād farbah rooh rā lāghar kunad
chun Huma az khwān-e- qismat ustukhwān mā rā bas ast.


Abundance of food weakens the soul;
For us, like the osprey, bones from the fate’s feast shall suffice.


barg-e-‘aish āmādah az faqr-o- qanā‘at shud marā
dast-e khud az harche shustam pāk , qismat shud marā.


I became affluent because of destitution and contentment;
To wash off hands from everything became my good fortune.


gham-e- rozi wa tawakkul nashawad bā ham jam‘a
bastan-e tosha darin rah be kamar zunnār ast.


Concern for livelihood and to be reliant in God cannot reside together;
On this path, to tie the tiffin around the waist is liking tying the thread of the Brahmans.


mi rasad rizq be andāzah-e- ḥājat ṣāib
bar ziyādat ṭalabān āb-o- giyā nimras ast.


O Saib, livelihood is given according to the need;
For those who wish for more, the water and the food (they get) is only half of what they desire.


nist ghair az khurdan-e- dil tang rozi ra naṣib
āsia be danah chu gardid khud rā mi khurad.


Destiny of those who lack livelihood is nothing but to gnaw at the heart;
Like the floor mill that eats upon itself when it rotates without the grain.


Chu dāgh-e- lālah sokhtah nānist roziyam
ān ham falak ba khoon-e jigar mi dehad mara


Like the black spot on the poppey flower,
we are destined to have as our livelihood a bread that has been burnt;
And that too is given after great difficulty


Tang mi sāzad bayābān rā ba rahrau kafsh tang
tangdasti az jahān bezār mi sāzad marā


A tight shoe makes the desert tiresome for the traveller,
Like wise, indigence has made me tired of this world


Bā tehi dasti tawān maghloob kardan nafs rā
asp-e-sarkash rā ba dast-e pur ‘anān natawān kashid


Poverty can overpower greed and desire;
An obstinate horse can be ridden only with empty hands


Bishtar arbāb-e- dunyā zar ba mun‘im mi dehand
āb-e- ein be ḥāṣilān yaksar ba daryā mi rawad


Mostly the worldly ones give money to the affluent;
This is a water that goes uselessly to the sea.


Ishtehā chu sokht dārad lazzat-e-murgh-e-kabāb
khwān-e- mā rā murgh-e- biryān gar nabāshad go mabāsh


To lose ones’ appetite,
Is as pleasurable as tasting the delicious ‘kabab’ of the chicken;
If there is no roasted chicken at our table, let it not be there.


Qanā‘at kun ba nān-e-khushk tā be ārzoo gardi
ke khwāhishhā-e- alwān hast ne‘amathā-e-alwān rā


Be content with dry bread;
Because variety of dishes creates variety of greed.

This text is an English-language translation of the original version:

This is a selection from the original text


abundance, grain, scarcity, water

Source text

Title: Diwan-e-Saib

Author: Saib Tabrizi

Editor(s): Md. Ehteshamuddin, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Publisher: Kitabkhana Milli

Publication date: 2016

Original compiled c.1620-1677

Place of publication: Tehran

Provenance/location: Original compiled c.1620-1677

Digital edition

Original author(s): Saib Tabrizi

Original editor(s): Md. Ehteshamuddin Institute of Persian Research, Aligarh Muslim University , Azarmi Dukht Safavi Institute of Persian Research, Aligarh Muslim University

Language: English


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > poetry

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.