Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thousand and One Nights - 26

The Fisherman and the Genie

Then he threw out the jar and wrung out and cleansed his net: after which he asked pardon of God the Most High and returning to the sea a third time, cast the net. He waited till it had settled down, then pulled it up and found in it potsherds and bones and broken bottles: whereat he was exceeding wroth and wept and recited the following verses:

Fortune's with God: thou mayst not win to bind or set it free:
Nor letter-lore nor any skill can bring good hap to thee.
Fortune, indeed, and benefits by Fate are lotted out: One
country's blest with fertile fields, whilst others sterile
The shifts of evil chance cast down full many a man of worth And
those, that merit not, uplift to be of high degree.
So come to me, O Death! for life is worthless verily; When
falcons humbled to the dust and geese on high we see.
'Tis little wonder if thou find the noble-minded poor, What while
the loser by main force usurps his sovranty.
One bird will traverse all the earth and fly from East to West:
Another hath his every wish although no step stir he.

Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Illiad by Homer.

More About This Book

From the Arab world: these stories date back to the Middle Ages.

Picture: Queen Scheherazade tells her stories to King Shahryār.

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