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Sa'di - A True Persian Heritage

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran


Two wonderful books on Sadi the Master of Prose and Poetry by Dr Homa Katouzian


When we got married last year, for my dowry I asked for five roses and a complete book of Sadi.  Since childhood, listening to radio on Friday nights to a program called Moshaere,[1] I became familiar with poetry, poems and poets.  It was then that I was introduced to Sadi and ever since I have enjoyed his works, especially later when we read some of his work at school.  I have always found him understandable, delightful and enjoyable.  This is a contrast to my understanding of Hafez, whose great work has always remained a complete puzzle to me.


Sa‘di tomb in Shiraz

I love Sadi’s lyrical, simple, mystical, sweet and compassionate poetry.  For me there never has been any other poet; I love the depth of his simple words whether in poem or prose.  For those like me, Sadi is a great Persian heritage and a national gem and I do hope that his true place in Iran and in the world is to be found.



His poetry in Bustan - his book on moral virtues and mysticism, as well as his stories in his better known book  Golestan, the book of practical wisdom, in Dr Katouzians words, raise virtually every major issue faced by humankind through stories, anecdotes and maxims which are at once enlightening, witty and entertaining. [2]  In these books as well as his many ghazal [3]  and qasideh[4] we can find a man who shares with his readers his wisdom, his laughs and his sadness from his travels.  He reminds you how he has suffered and learned and has understood human needs, hopes and pains in life and in love.



Although he lived in the 13th century and lived nearly to the age of 100, his words and pearls of wisdom are as interesting and relevant, authoritative and astute today as they must have been then and ever since.  Dr Katouzian describes his works as having the quality of brevity combined with fluency and elegance... [5].


I was delighted to learn that Dr Homa Katouzian, a research fellow at the Iran Heritage Foundation, Oxford University and the head of Iranian Studies, Middle East Centre, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, has brought out two books about him.  One is in English titled:  Sa‘di The Poet of Life, Love and Compassion and is published by Oneworld Publications (

ISBN  10:1-85168-473-5 & ISBN 13:978-1-85168-473-1



The other book is in Persian and is a collection of twenty articles written by Dr Katouzian which have been brought together in one book for those, like me, who love Sadi to read, learn and enjoy.   This is called Shaer Ashgh va Zendeghi and is published by Nashr-e-Markazand under ISBN: 964-305-894-8


Nashr-e-Markaz may be contacted at:, P.O.Box 14155-5541 Tehran/Iran, Telephone Tehran 88965169


[1] On this radio program guests competed with poems from different poets and it was the rule that the next person had to start his/her poem with the last letter of the previous contestant’s poem. It was great learning and a joyful experience

[2] Sadi  The Poet of Life, Love and Compassion  p31


[3] love songs and lyrics for the beloved in both human and mystical love, divided into 4 categories ibid p33

[4] a long poem – more than 16 couplets

[5] ibid p30

... Payvand News - 10/25/06 ... --

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