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Persian Poetry

SAADI, the poet

Sheikh Muslihu'd-Din known as Saadi lived about 1207- 1291. He was born in Shiraz. Unlike Hafez, he travelled for about 30 years of his life. He died in his hometown; his tomb is in Shiraz.

His father name was Abdullah who was descended from Ali (first Shiite Saint), the son- in- law of Prophet Muhammad. From his book Bustan (Kitchen Garden), one can learn that he lost his father when he was a child; and from Gulistan (Rose Garden) his mother lived to a later period of his life.

His life is divided into three parts. The first twenty five to thirty years of his life, he spent in different countries in educating himself and learning. He received his education at the Nizamiah College at Baghdad where he had a scholarship. From Gulistan, we can learn that Arabic was spoken with great purity at that time in Baghdad. Then, for thirty years he travelled widely from India in East to Syria in West making himself practically acquainted with things. He made his first pilgrimage to Mecca with his instructor in theology Abdul-Kabir Gilani. He repeated this pilgrimage not less than fourteen times. Finally, Sheikh Saadi returned to Shiraz and devoted the latter part of his life to writing books and to his students. Sadi was a disciple of Sheikh Shahabud-Din Sahrawardi.

His most famous masterpieces are: The Gulistan (Rose Garden) and The Bustan (Kitchen Garden). His tone in these two collections is more wry (kenayeh amiz), metaphorical and meant to be a means of teaching. His other work includes 1-6 Risalah or Treatise, Arabian Qasaids, Persian Qasaids, Marasi or Dirges, Mixed Poems, Persian and Arabic, Plain Ghazals, Rhetorical Ghazals, Fragments, Poems with recurring lines, Poems addressed to Shamsu'd-Din, Writings in earlier life and Writings in later life, Tetrastichs, and Distichs. Saadi is one of the wittiest writers of modern or ancient times. The beauty of Saadi's style is that it is simple yet elegant. Mir Saiyid Ali Mushtak called Saadi the "Nightingale of a Thousand Songs" meaning that Saadi displayed perfection of genius in every part of poetry.

There is this story that one day Saadi saw a man who was looking to buy his book. Saadi asked the man what the man likes about this writer? The man who didn't recognized Saadi said, "He's a funny man." Saadi was pleased with the man remark and gave his book for free to the man.

Saadi's work is translated by Ross who was an English military surgeon and a scholar in poetry. Saadi's work is translated into many western languages as well. His words are still commonly used in conversations by Iranians.


Saadi Poetry
Saadi Tomb

Saadi Books