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Iranian Poetry 'Bani Adam' Inscribed On United Nations Building Entrance

Iranian poet Sa'adi, from the 13th century, is one of the major influential Persian poets of the medieval period. He is recognised in the literary world for the quality of his writing style and in the spiritual realm for the depth of his thoughts.

Sa'adi is best known for his works 'Gulistan' and 'Busan', poetry which emphasised a unity in mankind, an interdependence regardless of social barriers and labels. Many of his poems greatly impacted India, and had influence throughout central Asia.

Sa'adi's tomb in his hometown of Shiraz. Image: Mehdi Kavousian, flickr
One particular poem written eight centuries ago became a motto and decorates the gate of the United Nations building entrance. Bani Adam, the Children of Adam, is an aphorism calling for the breaking of all barriers and was quoted by president Obama in a meeting with Iranian leaders. You can look that up.
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In Persian:
بنی آدم اعضای یک پیکرند
که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار
دگر عضو ها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی
نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی

A simpler translation that I like:
The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,
You are unworthy to be called by the name of a Human.

"Bani Aadam `aazaye yek pigarand
Keh dar aafarinesh ze yek guharand

Cho `ozvi be dard aavarad rozigaar
Degar ozvahaa raa namaanad qaraar

To kaz mehnate digaraan bi ghami
Nashaayad ke naamat nahand Aadami"

Rhyming translations by M. Aryanpoor:
     Human beings are members of a whole,
     In creation of one essence and soul.
     If one member is afflicted with pain,
     Other members uneasy will remain.
     If you've no sympathy for human pain,
     The name of human you cannot retain!

Translation by H. Vahid Dastjerdi:
     Adam's sons are body limbs, to say;
     For they're created of the same clay.
     Should one organ be troubled by pain,
     Others would suffer severe strain.
     Thou, careless of people's suffering,
     Deserve not the name, "human being".

Translation by Dr. Iraj Bashiri:
     Of One Essence is the Human Race,
     Thusly has Creation put the Base.
     One Limb impacted is sufficient,
     For all Others to feel the Mace.
     The Unconcern'd with Others' Plight,
     Are but Brutes with Human Face.

Changes your perspective a little, doesn't it.

{United Nations}

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