Translation:The Pasha and the Dervish

Fables  (1793)  by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian, translated from French by Wikisource
The Pasha and the Dervish

An Arab in Marseille told me quite long ago
How a Turkish pasha living in his country
To deliver one day a sealed casket did go
To the wisest dervish that there ever was in Araby.
"This casket," he said, "some rubies contains
And diamonds of a precious strain:
It is a gift that I should like to give
To the man that you judge
The maddest left on earth to live.
Seek and you shall find and do not your search fudge."
Furnished with his box our good recluse
Sets off around the world. But did he need
To go so far indeed?
Being spoiled for choice he could choose fast and loose:
People more and more mad from all parts to him flocked
To show themselves to his gaze shocked.
There was simply no truce
For men coveting the casket.
But a feeling inside him insisted: Don't ask it,
Lest generosity suffer abuse.
He knew there would be people more deserving.
Wandering from place to place he found his work disturbing.
Embarrassed by his message,
After a long passage,
Our man and his casket arrive one morning time
In the town of Constantine.
He finds the people celebrating Eid.
"What has happened here?" "Nothing," says an iman.
"Our Grand Vizier for the Sultan must succeed
By tying with silk ribbon yonder screed
In taking to the Prophet a firman.
The people always laugh at this sort of thing.
Their misery constrains them not to sing
And so our Emperor this pleasure them affords."
"Often?" "Yes." "That's good. Your new vizier's a lord?
Has he been named?" "He has and over there he goes."
The dervish this Grand Vizier knows,
Runs across the square, recognizes his friend.
"Well! There you are! You've come to the end
Of your travels. And the box?" "All through Asia I've roamed.
I've seen perfect madmen, yet dared not one select.
But for the box today I've found a home.
Deign, Grand Vizier, this casket to accept."

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