The Mouse and the Frog (part two)

Mathnawi VI: 2686-2713

The mouse insistied (upon), in (a state of) supplication
and humility, and sought a bond of union with the

2686 (The mouse) said, "O dear and kind-acting friend, I
have no rest for a moment without (seeing) your face.

"You are my light, means of livelihood, and strength
(during) the day. (And during) the night, you are my
tranquility, contentment, and sleep.

"If you would make me happy, it would be due to (your)
manly generosity: (if) you would remember me at the
(appointed) times and (also at) the not (appointed) times,
(it would be) from (your) nobility.

"O well-wishing (friend)! You have rationed union in
friendship (only for) the morning's stipend during the
(whole) night and day.

2690 "For me there are a hundred thousand intense desires to
drink within (my) belly.1 (And) every intense desire for
drink (is) connected with (a feeling of) insatiable

"O prince, you are independent of (any) need (to pay
attention) to my sorrows. (But) look upon this poor one and
offer the required charity for (your high) rank.3

"This ill-mannered poor one is unworthy (of your grace),
but your widespread kindness is greater than that

"Your widespread kindness is not (in need of) seeking
authorization. (For) the sun continues to shine upon

"There is never any loss to its light because of it. And
the dung becomes fuel because of (its resulting) dryness--

2695 "So that (when) dung goes into the bath-stove, it
becomes light and shines upon the door and walls of a bath

"It was an impurity; now it has become a decoration,5
since the sun recited that spell upon it.6

"The sun also makes the belly of the earth warm, until
the earth absorbs (any) remaining excrements.

"They become parts of earthy (matter), and vegetation
grows from it. In the same way, God erases sin and

"He does this to excrement, which is the worst (of
substances), (so) that He can make it (into) plants and
narcissus and jonquil (flowers).

2700 "Since (you can see) what God gives in (regard to)
reward and benefit to the jonquil (which is) pious in (its)

"If He gives such a robe (of honor) to the vile and
corrupt things, what will He give the pure and righteous in
(His) place of observation?8

"God gives them what "no eye has seen"9 (and) which
cannot be received by the tongue or in speech.

"Who are we in regard to this?10 O my friend! Come make
my day shining by means of (your) good character.

"Don't look at my ugliness or repulsiveness11-- since I
am full of poison12 like the mountain snake.

2705 "Oh (see) that I am ugly and all my qualities (are)
ugly. (But) since He planted me (to become) a thorn, I can
never be a rose.

"(So) give the spring-time beauty of the rose to the
thorn, (and) give the elegant beauty of the peacock to this

"In the perfection of ugliness, I am (at) the utmost
limit, (whereas) your kindness is at the utmost limit in
virtue and skill.

"O (you who are) the envy of the straight (and tall)
cypress tree! Relieve the need (desired) by this one
accomplished (in ugliness) from that one accomplished (in

"When I die, your kindness13 will weep for the sake of
(wishing) benevolence-- even though it is free of (any) need
(to do so).

2710 "It will sit at the edge of my grave (for a) long
(time) (and) tears will spring from its gentle eyes.

"It will mourn over my being deprived (of
attractiveness) (and) it will close (its) eyes from (the
sight of) my being oppressed (by ugliness).

"(But) grant a few of those kindnesses now (and) put in
my ear a ring14 (made) of those (gentle) words!

2713 "That which you will say to the dust of my (grave)--
scatter it (at this time)15 upon my awareness (so) full of

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of
Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1934 British translation)
Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
First published on "Sunlight" (, 11/1/01

Notes on the text, with line number:

1. (2690) belly: literally, "liver." Illness of the liver
was believed to cause "dropsy," or insatiable thirst (now
called a type of edema).

2. (2690) (a feeling of) insatiable appetite: "(It means)
an illness in which the sick person does not feel satisfied
with eating any amount (of food)." (Anqaravi, the famous
17th century Turkish commentator, translated here into
English from a Persian translation)

3. (2691) offer the required charity for (your high) rank:
the word used here is "zakât," one of the Five Pillars of
Islam-- and therefore a requirement (Qur'an 2:177, 277;
5:58). Once a year, those who have property and/or cash are
required to pay a small percentage (about 2.5%) to the poor.
This is considered as a "purification" of one's earnings, an
expression of gratitude to God for the bounties received,
and a blessing to the giver as well as the receiver.

Nicholson interpreted "charity to the poor" as a
metaphor, per his comment on another line in the Masnavi (I:
1795, which he translated, "Pay the tithe on Thy fair face,
O Beauteous One..."): "i.e. bestow on me who am a beggar to
Thy sovereign beauty the alms of Thy grace and love: tell
how my soul is purged of all but Thee'." (Commentary)

4. (2693) the sun continues to shine upon excrement: "(It
means), any faults, defects can never reach the pure light
(of the sun); injury and loss can't enter it." (Anqaravi,

5. (2696) It was an impurity; now it has become a
decoration: "Therefore, the (spiritual) training of those
cherished ones (of spiritual mastery), who are (like) the
Sun of Spiritual Reality, can make individuals of evil
nature and foul conduct worthy of the light of the fire of
love. Then they discover (their) worthiness of that (light
caused) by their being burned in the bathstove of austerity,
so that they are the 'decorations and ornaments of the bath'
of created beings.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)

6. (2696) since the sun recited that spell upon it:
Nicholson translated, "since the sun chanted that spell
(exerted that powerful influence) upon it."

7. (2698) God erases sin and corruption [yamHû 'l-'ilâhu
's-sayyi'ât]: this Arabic phrase contains Qur'anic words.
"God erases [yamHû 'llâh] what He Wills..." (13:39) "It
means, 'Just as dung becomes a piece of earth, and from it
pure and clean vegetation grows from it, God Most High also
changes the bad qualities of His servants into good
qualities-- as He said: 'For (in regard to) them, God will
change their sins [sâyyi'ât-ihim] into good. And God is the
Most-Forgiving, the Most-Compassionate.'" [= Qur'an 25: 70]
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

8. (2701) (His) place of observation [raSâd]: "i.e. in the
`álamu 'l-ghayb [= Unseen World], where God observes all the
actions of His creatures: cf. Qur. LXXXIX 13." [= "Truly,
your Lord is in a place of observation (mirSâd)."]
(Nicholson, Commentary)

9. (2702) what "no eye has seen": from a (non-Qur'anic)
"Divine saying" [hadîthu 'l-qudsî], "I have prepared for My
righteous servants that which no eye has seen and no ear has
heard, and which has not been imagined by the human heart."
Nicholson transliterated it (a`dadtu li-`ibádí 'l-sálihina
má lá `ayn-un ra'at wa-lá udhun-un sami`at wa-lá khatara
`alá qalbi bashar-in) and pointed out the similarity to I
Corinthians 2:9 [which combines Isaiah 64:3 ("No ear has
heard, no eye has seen") and Jeremiah 3:16 ("neither shall
it come to mind")] (Commentary) This is similar to a verse
in the Qur'an: "So no one can know what (blissful) delight
of the eyes is kept hidden for them [in Paradise] as a
reward for what (good deeds) they have done." (32:17)

10. (2703) Who are we in regard to this: "It means, 'We are
not worthy of all this grace and goodness (of Yours), and we
are (as) nothing (in Your Presence).'" (Anqaravi,

11. (2704) Don't look at my ugliness or repulsiveness: here,
Anqaravi quotes a Persian verse (which occurs in the "Bayâtî
Ayîn-é Sharîf," a musical composition for the Whirling
Prayer Ceremony [samâ`] by Dervish Kochak Mustafa Dede,
died, 1683; at the beginning of the First Selam): "Although
I am not worthy of Your Generosity, don't look upon me,
(but) look upon Your Own Kindness!" [har-chand na-y-am
lâyiq-é bakhshâyesh-é to/ bar man na-negar, bar karam-é
khwêsh negar]. (Commentary)

12. (2704) full of poison: some types of frogs have powerful
toxins in their skins.

13. (2709) your kindness: "The intended meaning of
'kindness' is the manifestation of Divine Grace, meaning the
saints and the (mystic) knowers [`âlim-ân]. And if its
meaning is addressed to someone lofty and noble, his
kindness has resembled (Divine) mercy toward a human being."
(Anqaravi, Commentary)

14. (2712) put in my ear a ring: slaves wore rings in their
ears to make their status known. The meaning here is, "Make
me the slave of of your kindness" (or, if interpreted as a
prayer to God, "the slave of Your Kindness").

15. (2713) scatter it (at this time): "Here the mouse is
represented as a sinner acknowledging his utter depravity
and fixing all his hopes on the boundlessness of Divine
grace. Cf. V 1835 sqq." (Nicholson, Commentary)

"Therefore, in this speech the intended meaning (is)
concerning the believer-- that believer of bad (practice of)
religion and ugly behavior who has (many) sins and
disobediences (toward God), and confesses his offenses and
presents his neediness, in the manner of an intimate prayer,
to the (Heavenly) Court of God Most High: 'O Most Merciful
of the merciful, Most Generous of the generous, and
Sustaining Lord of (all) the worlds! The additional
double-measure of Mercy and words of (Divine) Kindness which
You will utter after my death, and the benevolent and
generous things You will do for my sake after my being
buried-- scatter a little of those mercies, favors, and
kindnesses (right) now upon me (who am so) full of sorrow!--
so that my soul may find some tranquility and I may become
revived and living by means of Your Goodness and
Generosity.'" (Anqaravi, Commentary)


mubâligha-kardan-é mûsh dar lâba wa zârî wa wuSlat-jostan az
chaghz-é abî

2686 goft k-ây yâr-é `azîz-é mehr-kâr
man na-dâr-am bê-rokh-at yak-dam qarâr

rôz nûr-o maksab-o tâb-am tow-î
shab qarâr-o salwat-o khwâb-am tow-î

az murûwat bâsh-ad ar shâd-am kon-î
waqt-o bê-waqt az karam yâd-am kon-î

dar shab-ân-rôzî waZîfa-yé châsht-gâh
râtiba kard-î wiSâl, ay nêk-khwâh

2690 pânSad istisqâ-st-am andar jegar
bâ har istisqâ qarîn-é jû` 'ul-baqar

bê-neyâz-î az gham-é man, ay amîr
deh zakât-é jâh-o be-n'gar dar faqîr

în faqîr-é bê-adab nâ-dar-khwar-ast
lêk luTf-é `âm-é tô z-ân bar-tar-ast

în faqîr-é bê-adab nâ-dar-khwar-ast
lêk luTf-é `âm-é tô z-ân bar-tar-ast

mê-na-jôy-ad luTf-é `âm-é tô sanad
âftâbê bar HadaS-hâ mê-zan-ad

nûr-é ô-râ z-ân zeyânê nâ-boda
w-ân HadaS az khoshkiyê hîzam shoda

2695 tâ HadaS dar golkhanê shod nûr yâft
dar dar-o dêwâr-é Hammâmê be-tâft

bûd âlâyesh, shod ârâyesh konûn
chûn bar-ô bar-khwân-ad khworshêd ân fosûn

shams ham ma`da-yé zamîn-râ garm kard
tâ zamîn bâqî HadaS-hâ-râ be-khward

juzw-é khâkî gasht-o rost az way nabât
hâkaZâ yamHû 'l-'ilâhu 's-sayyi'ât

bâ HadaS ke bat-tarîn-ast în kon-ad
k-esh nabât-o narges-o nasrîn kon-ad

2700 tâ ba-nasrîn-é manâsik dar wafâ
Haq che bakhsh-ad dar jazâ-wo dar `aTâ

chûn khabîS-ân-râ chôn-în khul`at deh-ad
Tayyibîn-râ tâ che bakhsh-ad dar raSad?

ân deh-ad Haq-shân ke lâ `ayn-un ra'at
ke na-gonj-ad dar zabân-o dar lughat

mâ kay-êm în-râ? be-yâ ay yâr-é man
rôz-é man rôshan kon az khulq-é Hasan

ma-n'gar andar zeshtî-wo makrûhiy-am
ke ze por-zahrî chô mâr-é kôhiy-am

2705 ay ke man zesht-o khiSâl-am jumla zesht
chûn shaw-am gol? chûn ma-râ ô khâr-kesht

naw-bahâr-é Husn-é gol deh khâr-râ
zînat-é Tâwûs deh în mâr-râ

dar kamâl-é zeshtiy-am man muntahà
luTf-é tô dar faZl-o dar fan muntahà

Hâjat-é în muntahî z-ân muntahî
tô bar âr, ay Hasrat-é sarw-é sahî

chûn be-mîr-am faZl-é tô khwâh-ad gerîst
az karam, gar-che ze-hâjat ô barî-st

2710 bar sar-é gôr-am basê khwâh-ad neshast
khwâh-ad az chashm-é laTîf-ash ashk jast

nawHa khwâh-ad kard bar maHrûmiy-am
chashm khwâh-ad bast az maZlûmiy-am

andakê z-ân luTf-hâ aknûn be-kon
Halqa'yê dar gôsh-é man kon z-ân sokhon

2713 ân-ke khwâh-î goft tô bâ khâk-é man
bar feshân bar madrak-é gham-nâk-é man

(mathnawi meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)