Story of a Soldier of Isfahan by 13th Century Persian Muslim Scholar "Sa'adi"


by Sa'adi

Persian Sipahi
In Isfahan I had a friend who was warlike, spirited, and shrewd. His hands and dagger were for ever stained with blood. The hearts of his enemies were consumed by fear of him; even the tigers stood in awe of him. In battle he was like a sparrow among locusts; in combat, sparrows and men were alike to him. Had he made an attack upon Faridun, he would not have given the latter time to draw his sword. Neither in bravery nor magnanimity had he an equal.  This warrior formed a liking for my company; but as I was not destined to remain in Isfahan, Fate transferred me from Iraq to Syria, in which holy land my staying was agreeable. After some time the desire for my home attracted me, so I returned to Iraq.  


One night, the memory of the Sipahi passed through my mind; the salt of his friendship opened the wounds of my gratitude, for I had eaten salt from his hand. To meet him, I. went to Isfahan, and inquired as to where he lived. I chanced upon him. He who had been a youth had become old; his form, once erect as an arrow, had become as a bow. Like a hoary mountain, his head was covered with snowy hair; Time had conquered him and twisted the wrist of his bravery. The pride of his strength had gone; the head of weakness was upon his knees, "O tiger-seizer!" I exclaimed, "what has made thee decrepit like an old fox?"  He laughed and said: "Since the day of the battle of Tartary, I have expelled the thoughts of fighting from my head. Then did I see the earth arrayed with spears like a forest of reeds. I raised like smoke the dust of conflict; but when Fortune does not favour, of what avail is fury? I am one who, in combat, could take with a spear a ring from the palm of the hand; but, as my star did not befriend me, they encircled me as with a ring. I seized the opportunity of flight, for only a fool strives with Fate. How could my helmet and cuirass aid me when my bright star favoured me not? When the key of victory is not in the hand, no one can break open the door of conquest with his arms.

"The enemy were a pack of leopards, and as strong as elephants. The heads of the heroes were encased in iron, as were also the hoofs of the horses. We urged on our Arab steeds like a cloud, and when the two armies encountered each other thou wouldst have said they had struck the sky down to the earth. From the 
Persian Sipahi (Sepoy)
raining of arrows, that descended like hail, the storm of death arose in every corner. Not one of our troops came out of the battle but his cuirass was soaked with blood. Not that our swords were blunt—it was the vengeance of stars of ill fortune. Overpowered, we surrendered, like a fish which, though protected by scales, is caught by the hook in the bait. Since Fortune averted her face, useless was our shield against the arrows of Fate."

Comments

Popular Posts