Persian Poetics Presents:

Gulistān-i Sa‘dī - An Introduction

In every moment of life leaves a breath,

now that I look, few are left ‘till my death.

You were asleep while fifty years pass by,

five days are left, will you open your eye?

-Sa‘dī, Gulistān, Introduction (Dībācha)

Sa‘dī’s Gulistān (Flower Garden) is perhaps the most influential work of Persian prose. This collection of pleasant anecdotes helped earn Sa‘dī the nickname ‘afṣaḥ al-mutikallimūn’ (The Most Eloquent of Speakers).

The Gulistān was considered so eloquent that it set the standard for Persian education from the Balkans to the Bengal. For centuries students of all backgrounds learned Persian with this work, which help cement its place in the tradition.

Though Persian education has slowly faded, this work remains present in the Muslim mind. Many of Sa‘dī’s proverbs - both in Persian and in translation - are quoted by Muslims of all educational backgrounds from the Balkans to the Bengal.

The first page of the Gulistān.

A folio from a story read in class three.

Studying this valuable work will provide students an insight into the Turco-Indo-Persianate tradition that Sa‘dī’s work was once a centerpiece of. We will cover the entirety of the text.

Course Syllabus:

  1. Course Introduction

  2. Dībācha: Text Introduction

  3. Chapter 1: The Conduct of Kings

  4. Chapter 2: The Character of Dervishes

  5. Chapter 3: The Virtues of Contentment

  6. Chapter 4: The Benefits of Silence

  7. Chapter 5: On Love and Youth

  8. Chapter 6: Feebleness and Old Age

  9. Chapter 7: The Effect of Education

  10. Chapter 8: The Art of Conversation

A preview of the class:

This poetry arrangement will remain

years after the wind blows my grains away.

I desire for this work to long outlive

for in this existence, I’ll not long stay.

Perhaps one day a man of sympathy

will read this Gulistān and for me, pray.

-Sa‘dī, Gulistān, Introduction (Dībācha)