Literary tranquilizers

Maintaining sanity, have some fun and enhance our survival and quality of our lives


Literary tranquilizers
by Ali A Parsa

I have coined this title for referring to my collection of the most potent, popular, brief and soothing words of wit and wisdom mainly Persian. My aim is to provide an alternative for ever-increasing trend in substance abuse or myriad of over-the counter or prescribed pills that are popped daily to cope with increasing stressful conditions associated with our 'modern' technological age.

The greatest advantage of literary tranquilizers are their virtually no cost  and lack of side effects provided that one gets addicted to them and loves them. Resorting to these should beat all other devastating addictions. It is up to all of us to protect and promote these cultural riches rather than underestimating their value and depending strictly on Western remedies, for we may discover that:

اب در کوزه و ماتشنه لبان میگر دیم    یار در خانه و ما گرد جهان میگردیم

Obviously this approach has been in use before the advent of various pills in practically all cultures including Western. Many great sages in old cultures such as Persian have, throughout centuries become more expert in soothing the body and souls of their fellow human beings in order to save them from the ravages of ruthless rulers. Those of us who are older-better referred to as the 'youths of yesteryears' know how Iranians even the illiterates memorized verses from our poets and philosophers and recited them in time of stress or in today's terminology for release of dopamine. I always wish our younger generations who are over-attracted to cultural imperialism would also experiment with some of their traditional remedies. Such remedies and how they work are just beginning to draw the attention of researchers under the general area of mind-body relationship.

As an advocate of our traditional school of thought I have spent much time to translate some of these literary and magical tranquilizing verses into English language and share them with my fellow Persian or global citizens in general.

Let us look at some of our major problems in America and the world and find out how the appropriate tranquilizers can help us to cope with them in order to maintain our sanity, have some fun and enhance our survival and quality of our lives. In this sample collection I mostly refer to Omar Khayyam simply as OK-that is another adjective I coined to describe this great man. Enjoy.

1. Futility of trying to instill rational thinking in hopelessly irrational people. O K:

انانکه بکار عقل در میکوشند     افسوس که جمله گاو نر میدوشند
آن به که لباس ابلهی درپوشند     کامروز به عقل تره می نفروشند

Expecting from life the perfection of school,
My friend, is like milking the bull.
Brace up for often in real life,
People ignore the golden rule!    

2. Getting even with ignorant and superstitious people. In this case, dealing with those who opposed astronomical principle espoused or devised by Omar Khayyam regarding spherical earth suspended in space with no attachment to any physical body, much less shifting on the horns of two bulls! A trully bull idea!OK :

گا ویست در آسمان و نامش پروین    گاو دگری نهفته در زیر زمین
چشم خردت گشای ای اهل یقین    زیرو زبر گاو مشتی خر بین

There's a bull in the sky called Parvin,
Another bull below with the Earth in-between.
Those believing in such nonsense,
Are the smartest asses I have seen.

3. Omar's unique recipe for avoiding hypocrisy and leading a virtuous life. OK:

پندی دهمت اگر بمن داری گوش    از بهر خدا جامه تزویر مپوش
عقبی همه ساعتست و دنیا یک دم   از بهر دمی ملک ابد را مفروش

I'll give you an advice if you lend me your ear,
Let being a hypocrite be your worst fear.
Be only what you are and speak the truth,
And in the eyes of God you'll be dear.

5. Dealing with double crossing 'relatives' by comparing them to 'true' friends. OK:

بیگانه اگر وفاکند خویش منست   ورخویش جفا کند بد اندیش منست
گر زهر موافقت کند تر یا قست    ور نوش مخالفت کند نیش منست

Strangers are relative if they befriend,
Relatives are strangers if they offend.
A poison is good medicine if it cures,
A medicine is a poison if it rends.

6. Equivalent of “Tell me the company you keep.” Saadi Shirazi:

گلی خوشبوی در  حمام  روزی   رسید از دست محبوبی بدستم
بدو گفتم  که مشکی  یا  عبیری    که  از  بوی  دلاویز  تو مستم
بگفتا   من   گلی   نا چیز   بودم      ولی  کم مدتی با هستمگل نشستم
کمال  همنشین در من  اثر کرد  وگرنه من همان خاکم که

At a Persian bath to my amazement one day,
I found a sweet-smelling shampoo made of clay.
I asked that otherwise “dirt” the secret of sweet fragrance,
“Association with rose petals,” I heard it say!

7. Recipe to defy exploitation and subjugation by being independent and self-sufficient. OK:

تا در تن توست استخوان ورگ و پی     از خانه تقدیر منه بیرون پی
گردن منه ار خصم بود رستم زال   منت مکش ار دوست بود حاتم طی

From now until your life ends,
On no one try to depend.
Don't bow before a strong tyrant,
Don't beg from the most generous friend.

8. On not spending more than we earn and avoiding Economic Meltdown! Saadi Shirazi:

چو دخلت نیست خرج اهسته تر کن   که میخوانند ملاحان سرودی
اگر باران بکوهستان  نبارد      به سالی دجله گردد خشک رودی

To spend more than you earn is wrong,
Listen to the age-old Sailor's Song.
If it doesn't rain on watershed one one year,
Tigris river won't be as deep or as long!

9. On substituting Love of Life for abuse of alcoholic drinks. Saadi Shirazi:

مستی خمرش نشود ارزو  هرکه چو سعدی شود از عشق مست

Love of life is the biggest obsession of mine,
A state of being that is truly divine.
Whoever reaches this heavenly high,
Would never trade it with beer or wine.

10. Once again preference of a wise enemy over a stupid friend. OK:

با مردم اصل و پاک و عاقا آمیز    وزنادانان هزار فرسنگ گریز
گر زهر دهد تو راخرد مند بنوش    ور نوش رسد زدست نا اهل بریز

Associate with the wise as much as you can,
Run away from the stupid as fast as you can run.
Refuse sherbet from the stupid,,
Accept poison from a wise man.

11. Equating good fried to Heaven and bad friend to Hell. OK:

جانم بفدای آنکه او اهل بود   سر در قدمش اگر نهی سهل بود   
خواهی که بدانی بیقین دوزخ را    دوزخ بجهان صحبت نا اهل بود

I'll give my life for a friend that is true,
And regret that this is all I cando.
For, to me , Hell is nothing but to be,
With a stupid with no virtue.

12. Ridiculing an ignorant and arrogant authority by appealing to God. OK:

ای چرخ ز گردش تو خرسند نیم
ازادم کن که لایق بند نیم
گر میل تو با بیخردو نادان است
من نیز چنین اهل و خرد مند نیم

Ignorant in a high position, to the wise,
It doesn't constitute a surprise.
because in the septic tank of life,
The bigger the chunks, the higher they rise!

13. On the importance of being selfless and becoming One with the society. OK:

An unhappy raindrop said, Look at me,
I'm not even the size of a pea.
As it fell into the sea, shouted with glee,
Look everyone, I AM the sea!

دل گفت که ما چو قطره مسکینیم
درعمر کجا کنار دریا بینیم
ان قطره که این گفت چو دردر یا شد
فریاد بر اورد که ما خود اینیم

14.    Power of living an exemplary life particularly by the rulers. Saadi Shirazi:

If a king while strolling care-free,
Happens to pick an apple from a subject's tree,
The king's men will uproot the whole orchard,
And eat all the apples in a binge and spree!

اگر ز باغ رعیت ملک خورد سیبی
بر اورند غلامان او درخت از بیخ

An added beauty of these cultural recipes is to know that our ancestors faced the same basic problems some 800 to 900 years ago as we do today and perhaps even more! The final message is that we should not be a bunch of quitters and withdraw from our society. We should rather enjoy life, hope for the best while preparing for the worst that may be yet to come. In other words,

مشگلی نیست که اسان نشود  
مردباید که هراسان نشود

English translations are all mine and most of them appear in my book, Rediscovery of Hakim Omar Khayyam that can be accessed by simple googling. I have tried to make the verses contemporary and more importantly with rhyme which makes them vastly different from other translations, particularly from the Western ones with archaic English.

لطفا توجه فرمایید که ترجمه های انگیسی از خودم میباشد که از مشخصات ان تشابهات مدرن و رعایت قافیه یابیست که این ترجمه هارا با ترجمه های دیگر و مخصوصا از ترجمه های غربی و انگیسی قدیمی مجزا میسازد

Please see my website:


Recently by Ali A ParsaCommentsDate
Four types of lies
Jan 15, 2012
گریختن عیسی مسیح برفراز کوه ازاحمقان
Dec 24, 2011
Facts vs. Fiction Again!
Dec 21, 2011
more from Ali A Parsa
Ali A Parsa

Ramin Tork

by Ali A Parsa on

Ramin jaan,

Thanks for your comment. All comments here were great words of encouragement in the way of helping me to do my share in make a difference in our increasingly chaotic world. And of course positive words from a person of your caliber with the mastery of so many issues has its unique value in energizing me to do more. Thanks again. May this new year bring us more enlightening pieces from all contributors to this site.




Ali Jaan,

by ramintork on

I was impressed the first time that I read this article but reading it the second time I find it even more impressive.

The collection of poems in this article are some of my favourites. The one from Saadi specially.

Dorood bar to, and Thank you for making such an effort in producing a good article.


Ari Siletz

Clever modernization

by Ari Siletz on

A difficult task brilliantly accomplished. Thank you.

Ali A Parsa

Thank you Irandokht, Mubarak and Soori!

by Ali A Parsa on

I could not resist to thank you for your thoughtfulness and appreciation of my work. All of you have been among those whose writings have inspired me and made this site worth reading.  My only wish is that we that we will have more contribtors like you.



Great article

by IRANdokht on

I especially enjoyed your translations and read them a couple of times, even referred them to friends... 

I just noticed that I never did say thank you...

So: Thank you so much for this wonderful work. Nicely done!



Thanks Alot

by bu Mubarak (not verified) on

Those were great and are! great. Thanks for the translation. Loved the one about the septic tank and poop lol....


Very great

by Souri on

Thank you Ali agha, for this great insightful research. your article is like a ship for serenity in this ocean of atrocity, animosity and complication we called it our world. I really enjoyed this research and your syntheses.

Thanks a lot and more power to you.