Quatrain 46

اجرام که ساکنان این ایوانند

اسباب تردد خردمندانند

هان تا سررشتۀ خرد گم نکنی

کانان که مدبرند سرگردانند ِ

Dashti, quatrain 7, p, 245


ajraam ke saakenaan-e in ayvaanand
asbaab-e taraddod-e kheradmandaanand
haan taa sar-e reshte-ye kherad gom nakoni
kaanaan ke modabberand sar gardaanand

The heavenly spheres which in this domain reside,

Have bewildered the wise, thinking far and wide;

Behold and don't lose the trail of wisdom,

For the price of wisdom is to reel to every side.

Aminrazavi, 188


The stars, who dwell on heaven's exalted stage,

Mock the prognosticators of our age;

Take heed, hold fast the rope of mother wit,

Those augurs all mistrust their own presage.

Whinfield, quatrain 214

Translation & Discussion of the quatrain: This quatrain first appeared under my weblog Quatrain 34, without discussion (see also quatrain 44). I find that I read more into this quatrain than what is there, perhaps with justification, although I resist the temptation to shape certain quatrains to my sense of meaning. The quatrain says:

  • study of the universe has the potential for leading the wise astray
  • remember to hold on to wisdom -- don't set aside sound principles of investigation
  • those who manage information do go astray

The last point seems to be supported by Aminrazavi in his translation: For the price of wisdom is to reel from side to side. And Whinfield (as he said "a hit at the astrologers"): Those augurs all mistrust their own presage. I think, however, that the speaker here is referring to those who manage (modabber) incorrect data; this is not simply a statement that all the information-controllers or "the wise" go astray. Avery and Heath-Stubbs (quatrain 9) translate modabber as Powers That Be. Their final line reads: Since the Powers That Be themselves are in a spin. Who are these "Powers That Be"? The speaker in my opinion is saying:

  • knowledge-speculators (kheradmandaan), hem and haw, go back and forth and waver in their pursuit of knowledge and are indecisive in their findings (taraddod-e kheradmandaanand). The reference here is to astronomical pursuits, but other "bodies" of knowledge could also apply
  • these kheradmandaan have lost the place, have lost the thread of knowledge; they have set aside fundamental principles so that they will fail to see all sides of the problems they explore and the arguments contained within the problems (sar-e reshte-ye kherad gom...)
  • they have gone astray/are bewildered because they spend their time managing (modabberand) the bits and pieces, the "loose ends" as it were, the scattered threads of knowledge.

In his chapter "Khayyam and Sufism," Aminrazavi (135-136) summarizes from Khayyaam's On the Knowledge of the Universal Principles of Existence (Risâlah dar ‘ilm kulliyât-i wujûd) several categories of "seekers of the truth." One type (item 2, 135-136) is that of "Philosophers and sages who have relied on discursive reasoning to know the principles of logic ... they ... have not remained faithful to the conditions of logic and have become helpless with it."
Here is the line-by-line translation: 1. The heavenly bodies which are inhabitants of this sky -- ایوان/ayvaan is "sky" here, "heavenly palace"; by ajraam (the plural of jerm) the poet refers to the heavenly bodies, the ajraam-e aasmaani 2. Are suitable subjects for the indecision of the wise/pundits/philosophers -- asbaab- here "furnishing the resources" so it seems to me; just a statement of fact and I believe, a statement without bias -- that is, other scientific pursuits may well be asbaab-e taraddod 3. Careful not to lose the source of the thread of wisdom/careful not to lose the foundation of wisdom 4. Since those who are managing (bits and pieces of wisdom, having lost the thread of wisdom) go astray/are at loose ends

The stars and planets in the skies

allow the wise to fantasize;

hold on to Wisdom as your guide

schemers suffer schematicide.

modabber here has a negative connotation which supports the notion of "managers in error"-- maybe even schemers but not all of the kheradmand are of this type. Or maybe, after all, our speaker is saying "you know how it is with managers, they get baffled, confused, bewildered." I also see from Anvari (farhang-e bozorg-e sokhan) that modabberaan (= modabberann-e falak), refers to those planetary "stewards of the sky" -- the group of seven spheres. Could our earthly stewards who go astray be themselves "in orbit?"