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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Omar Khayyám (1048–1131)

The Pots Criticize the Potter

From “Quatrains” (Rubaiyat)

AS, under cover of departing day,

Slunk hunger-stricken Ramazan away,

Once more within the Potter’s house alone

I stood, surrounded by the shapes of clay.

Shapes of all sorts and sizes, great and small,

That stood along the floor and by the wall;

And some loquacious vessels were, and some

Listened, perhaps, but never talked at all.

Said one among them: “Surely not in vain

My substance of the common earth was ta’en,

And to this figure molded to be broke,

Or trampled back to shapeless earth again!”

Then said a second: “Ne’er a peevish boy

Would break the bowl from which he drank in joy;

And He that with His hand the vessel made,

Will surely not in after-wrath destroy.”

After a momentary silence spake

Some vessel of a more ungainly make:

“They sneer at me for leaning all awry;

What! did the hand, then, of the Potter shake?”

Whereat some one of the loquacious lot—

I think a Sufi pipkin—waking hot:

“All this of Pot and Potter! Tell me, then,

Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?”

“Why,” said another, “some there are who tell

Of One who threatens he will toss to hell

The luckless Pots he marr’d in making! Pish!

He’s a good fellow, and ’twill all be well!”