A Woman’s Place

Parvin E’tesami
Persian
1907 – 1941

 

A home without a woman lacks amity and affection.
When one’s heart is cold, the soul is dead.

Providence has nowhere decreed in book or discourse.
that excellence is man’s, defect woman’s share.

In creation’s edifice woman has always been the pillar.
Who can build a house without a foundation?

If woman hadn’t shone like the sun above life’s mountain.
love’s jeweler in vain would seek for gems in the mine.

Woman was an angel the moment she showed her face.
How ironic, then, that Satan slanders the angel!

Plato and Socrates were great because the mothers
who nurtured them were themselves great.

Loghman was succored by his mother in the cradle
long before attendance at school made him a philosopher.

Whether heroes or mystics, ascetics or jurists,
they all were first pupils in her school.

How can a child with no mother learn to love?
A kingdom with no ruler offers no safety and order.

Do you want to know the duties of man and woman?
The wife is the ship, the husband the sailor.

When the captain is wise and the ship solidly built.
why should there be fear of maelstroms and tempests?

If disaster strikes on this sea of troubles.
both can rely on each other’s diligence and effort.

Today’s girls are tomorrow’s mothers.
On the mothers rests the greatness of the sons.

The clothes of good men would be all tattered,
if good women’s hands didn’t mend their holes.

Wherein lie man’s strength and sustenance? In his wife’s support.
What are woman’s riches? Love of her children.

A good wife is more than the lady of the house.
She is its physician and nurse, guardian and protector.

In times of felicity she is comrade and tender friend.
In times of adversity she shares the trouble and is helpmate.

An understanding wife frowns not in times of paucity.
A gentle husband fouls not his mouth with ugly words.

If life becomes restive like an unruly horse,
husband and wife assist each other in drawing the reins.

That man or woman succeeds to greatness
who gathers in fruits from the garden of knowledge.

In the world of arts and science are proffered attractive goods.
Let’s trade in that market.

A woman who neglects to buy the gems of education and learning
has sold the jewel of her precious life too cheaply.

Alive are only those who wear a robe of excellence;
dead are those whose worth is measured by their nakedness.

Providence provides us with countless books of ideas.
We tear them all apart in search of a title or slogan.

When schools were wisely opened, we behaved foolishly.
When the arts flourished, we hid ourselves.

If the Devil’s booth of selfishness and langor
is torn down, we are all lost.

Our time is spent in things like finding out
how much this one’s dress cost, how much that one’s shoes.

For our bodies we buy fanciful ornaments.
For our souls we tailor only coats of contempt.

We undermine the foundation of our spiritual building with conceit.
but build up new shops everywhere for our body’s sake.

This attitude betrays corruption, nor dignity.
This conduct represents abjection, not glory.

We do not grow wild like weeds on plains and river banks.
We are not little birds content with some seeds.

If we stick to wearing our own homespun, what matter to us
Whether others’ brocade has gone up in price or down.

Worn out cloth of our own manufacture is comelier
Than the silk produced by foreigners.

Is there any robe more precious than that of knowledge?
What brocade is prettier than that of learning?

Any clew spun by the spindle of wisdom
in the workshop of ambition turns into linen and silk.

Not by wearing earrings, necklaces, and coral bracelets
can a woman count herself a great lady.

What are colorful gold brocades and glittering ornaments good for,
if the face lacks the beauty of excellence?

The hands and neck of a good woman, O Parvin,
deserve the jewels of learning, not of color.

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