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(Masnavi Book 1: 34) The Arab of the Desert and his Wife




Story of the poor Arab of the desert and his wife's altercation with him because of (their) penury and poverty.

One night a Bedouin woman said to her husband—and she carried (her) talk beyond bounds—
“We are suffering all this poverty and hardship: all the world are (living) in happiness, we (alone) are unhappy.
We have no bread, our (only) condiment is anguish and envy: we have no jug, our (only) water is the tears (that flow) from our eyes.

2255. Our garment by day is the burning sunshine; at night our bed and coverlet is (made) of the moonbeams.
We fancy the disk of the moon is a disk (round cake) of bread and lift up our hands towards the sky.
The (poorest of the) poor feel shame at our poverty: day is turned to night (darkened) by our anxiety about our daily portion (of food).
Kinsfolk and strangers have come to flee from us in like fashion as Sámirí from men.
If I beg a handful of lentils from some one, he says to me, ‘Be silent, O death and plague!’

2260. The Arabs take pride in fighting and giving: thou amongst the Arabs art like a fault in writing.”
What fighting (can we do)? We are killed without fighting, we are made giddy (utterly distracted) by the sword of want.
What gifts (can we make)? We are continually in beggary, we are slitting the vein of (slaughtering) the gnat in the air.
If any guest arrive, if I am I (as sure as I am living) I will go for his tattered cloak when he falls asleep at night.

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