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  Classic Literature: Iran
The Story of The Mice and Cat


Obeid Zakani








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Rendered to English Verse by: Abbas Aryanpur Kashani, 1970
Publication No. 8 of the college of Translation, Tehran, Iran

If you are learned, Wise, and real smart,
Heed to “The Mice and Cat” with your heart.

I’ll tell you a story full of wonder,
Whose meaning you should carefully ponder.

Oh my leaned son, wise and clever guy,
Into the story of Mice and Cat do pry.

From the story of the Mice and Cat in verse,
Deduct rightly perls of wisdom to terse.

In the old days in Kerman lived a cat,
Fierce as dragon, fit and fat.

His belly as drum, his chest as iron mail,
With claws of leopard, and lion’s tail

His ferocious roar invoked horror and fright,
Even fierce tigers were scared of his sight.

When he approached a table in this way,
Near him, the lion did not dare stay.

He stepped into a wine cellar one day,
Seeking therein some mice to catch for prey.

Behind the wine barrel ambushed the cat,
As a rubber he did for mice or rat.

A mouse jumped out joyously and did prance,
At the wine barrel it began dance.

He put his head at the barrel and drank,
Was soon tipsy and as lion did prank.

“The Cat,” he said, “I will behead and kill,
“His large carcass with straw I will fill.”

“A dirty dog, I consider the cat,
How can he dare to face me in combat?”

Calmly the cat listened to all his boasts,
His teeth and claws, he cthen sharpened the most.

Suddenly, he jumped and brought the mouse to bay,
As a ferocious tiger he caught his prey.

The mouse began to supplicate and say;
“Forgive my sins and ransom me today.”

“I was tipsy and could not keep my tongue,
All that drunkards state, are no doubt wrong.”

The cat replied: “Nonsense! I am so wise!
All your sayings are but deceits and lies.”

“I heard your words accusing me of crime,
With dirty words you cursed me all the time.”

He then killed him and enjoyed him for meal,
Then went to mosque and thus he prayed with zeal.

He washed his hands and purified his face,
And as a saint recited words of grace.

“I repent of my sin, O mighty Lord,
No more will I kill mice; I keep my word.”

“Six pounds of bread as ransom I will give,
O Lord, my ferocious bloodshed forgive.”

As penitent sinner he asked for grace,
Tears of repentance ran down on his face.

A mouse behind the pulpit heard the chat,
To the mice he ran and told about the cat.

“Good news, the cat repented of his deed,
A godly saint he has become indeed.”

“I saw with my own eyes, the pious cat,
Praying and weeping in the mosque he sat.”

Hearing the news, were filled with joy the mice,
They thanked God that the cat gave up the vice.

Seven leaders then stood up, with joy,
VIP’s they were, each acting as envoy.

Worthy presents they carried to the cat,
Who cunningly reflected as he sat.

One took in hand a bottle full of wine,
Another carried barbecued lamb so fine.

One took a tray full of raisins sweet,
Another with dates went forth the cat to meet.

One took a tray full of butter and cheese,
With yogurt ‘n’ bread one tried the cat to please.

One took a tray full of delicious rice,
And a jar of lime-juice seasoned with spice.

In this manner did the leaders appear,
With good wishes and sentiments sincere.

With humility they all began to say:
“We’re ready to shed our blood on your way.”

“We offer you these gifts – meagre and small,
Bestow us as honour, accept them all.”

The cat heard’em, then said with pleasure,
“Truly the Lord feeds us from his treasure!”

“I have spent many a hungry day,
But now there is plenty on which to prey.”

“So many days I have spent in need,
Blessed is the almighty Lord indeed!”

“Whosoever is modest and upright,
Will get plenty of daily bread in sight.”

“Dear ones, come near,” he then went on to say,
“From a friend you should never keep away!”

The mice went near, homage to him to make,
From fear their bodies as willows did shake.

The cat then jumped on the mice in surprise,
As a battle-field warrior brave and wise.

He captured five leading mice in this way,
Sheriffs and patriarchs they were, I should say.

Held one with his teeth and four with his claws,
As roaring lion held them with teeth and paws.

Two mice saved their lives from the cat’s attack,
To the mice with sad reports they went back.

They said, “How can we not lament and mourn,
When our dear ones are gone with hope forlorn?”

Five leading mice the cruel cat did kill,
With claws and teeth innocent blood did spill.

Of this calamity with hope forlorn,
They all wore black dress and began to mourn.

They rubbed mud on their heads, began to weep,
“Woe to our leaders,” they said in sorrow deep.

Unanimously they lifted their voice,
“Let’s go to the king, we’ve no other choice!”

“Before the king bitterly we’ll complain,
The cat’s tyranny we will explain.”

The king of mice sat on a throne so high,
Noticed the hosts of mice that soon came by.

With reverence they then bowed before their king,
Their worries so humbly to him did bring:

“The cat has oppressed us O’ mghty Lord,
We’d shed our blood, if you just say a word.”

“Once every year a mouse captured the cat,
But greedy is now that ferocious brat.”

“Although he has become a saint today,
Five mice he chooses every time to prey!”

Thus they exposed their worries to the king,
Who said: “Indeed we have to do something.”

“My vengeance from the cat sure I will take,
For posterity a good example I’ll make.”

A week later his army he did call,
three hundred thirty thousand, all in all.

They were all armed with sharp spears and bows,
Damascene daggers, and with piercing arrows.

Divisions of infantry moved along,
Flaunting their spears, they sang thas battle song.

Armies were collected from Khorassan,
From Resht city as well as from Guilan.

A wise vizier then thus addressed the king:
“You Majesty, let me just say one thing.”

“Dispatch an ambassador if you can,
To the rebellious cat in Kerman.”

“To the capital he must report outright,
Or be prepared for a ferocious fight.”

An experienced envoy then went away,
Toward Kerman this message to convey.

Wisely the envoy his mission did fulfill,
He informed the cat of the king’s mighty will.

“Beware, thus sayeth the king of the mice,
Surrender or you’ll have to0 pay price.”

“Come to the capital and homage pay,
Or be prepared for war – no other way!”

“Stop nonsense,” the cat burst out to say,
I won’t leave Kerman even for one day.”

But in secret he planned for a combat,
He gathered a large army of the cat.

Striped and lion-hunting cats he choose,
From Yezd, Isfahan and Kerman, they rose.

The cats were all armed and in good array,
To the battle field they then moved away.

Through salt desert the mice then did advance,
The cats through mountainous road took their chance.

In Fars desert two armies did meet,
Both fought for life lest they may face defeat.

The battle was bloody and losses high,
Soldiers of both armies ready to die.

Casualties of the two armies were great,
Their true number no one could estimate.

As a lion the cat made his attack,
The mice were forced to run away and back.

A brave mouse pursued the horse of the cat,
And turned him down in the heat of combat.

The mice shouted victoriously then,
“Capture the cat alive, O’ gallant men!”

The mice sounded victory drum with joy,
For the cat was in their hands as a toy.

The mice emperor on an elephant appeared,
His army for this victory all cheered.

The cat’s two hands were tied up very fast,
He has under heavy fetters at last.

“Put him on the gallows,” shouted the king,
This unlucky dirty, black-faced thing!”

The cat seeing the king of mice on the spot,
Burnt up with fury as a boiling pot.

He tore off his fetters with teeth and claws,
And as a fierce lion sat on his paws.

He caught the mice and hit them on the ground,
At the cat’s mercy themselves they soon found.

The mice army ran away from one side,
The king ran away and sought a place to hide.

The elephants and riders disappeared all,
The crown, the throne, treasure and audience hall.

The strange story is made O’ man,
For posterity by Obeid of Zakan.

Learn a lesson from this story O’ boy,
So that you may live in this world with joy.

Read between the lines my beloved son,
What’s meant by mice and cat, by way of fun.



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