Jokes from the Mathnawi
Reading time: 2 minutes. Word count: 300 words.
A GRAMMARIAN once embarked in a boat. Turning to the boatman with a self-satisfied air he asked him: ‘Have you ever studied grammar?’
‘No,’ replied the boatman.
‘Then half your life has gone to waste,’ the grammarian said.
The boatman thereupon felt very depressed, but he answered him nothing for the moment. Presently the wind tossed the boat into a whirlpool. The boatman shouted to the grammarian: ‘Do you know how to swim?’
‘No’ the grammarian replied, ‘my well-spoken, handsome fellow’.
‘In that case, grammarian,’ the boatman remarked, ‘the whole of your life has gone to waste, for the boat is sinking in these whirlpools.’
You may be the greatest scholar in the world in your time, but consider, my friend, how the world passes away - and time!
THE prince of Tirmidh said one night to his court-jester Dalqak, 'You have taken to wife a harlot in your haste. You should have mentioned the matter to me, then we might have married you to a respectable woman'.
'I have already married nine respectable and virtuous women,' said the jester. 'They all became harlots, and I wasted away with grief. Now I have taken this harlot not knowing her previously so as to see how this one would turn out in the end. I have tried good sense often enough already; hence forward I intend to cultivate madness!'
Lest safety go, and live dangerously; forsake good repute, be notorious and a scandal.
I have made trial of provident good sense; hereafter I am going to make myself mad.
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Source: Tales from Masnavi, Jalal al-Din Rumi, translated by A.J. Arberry (1961). Weblink.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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