The Gardener and Death
A Persian nobleman:
This morning, white with fear, my gardener flees
Into my house: ‘Master, a moment please!
Out in the rose-beds, pruning shoots with care,
I looked behind me. Death was standing there.
I gave a start, and sought my getaway,
But glimpsed his hand that made as if to slay.
Master, your horse, and at full tilt I’ll ride,
Ere evening comes, in Isfahan I’ll hide!’ –
This afternoon – long since he off had set –
Amongst the cedars Death I also met.
‘Why’, I inquire, since he waits silently,
‘Did you my servant treat so threateningly?’
Smiling he said: ‘A threat caused in no wise
Your gardener to flee. I showed surprise
To find this morning still working here the man
I must this evening fetch in Isfahan.’
P.N. Van Eyck 1887-1954 – translation: John Irons
from 100 Dutch-Language Poems