Friday, December 31, 2010

Observe this precept whenever you can

Observe this precept whenever you can –
Never make friends with an elephant-man;
For an elephant-man has a pet to keep,
Eating and drinking, awake or asleep,
And if you are friendly one day you’ll see,
When the elephant-keeper comes to tea,
That, not in the least by chance or whim,
The elephant will accompany him.
Then as soon as the animal's through the door
You’ll notice cracks in the parlour floor,
And however much you may frown or stare
He’ll sit across-legged on an easy chair,
And swill your tea with his cumbrous trunk
Till you think ‘My Word, what a lot he’s drunk.’
And if you should offer a mild reproof
He’ll be up from your table and off with your roof…
In your sorrows you’ll only sink deeper and deeper
If you ever make friends with an elephant-keeper.

Sa'di, translated by John Bowen

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