A Short Poem about the Life of a Child, based on a Persian Verse

This is a short, four lined poem that encompasses a child’s life from birth till death. It seems sad, yet it’s really a wish for a happy life full of people who care for the child…

The Babe

On parent knees, a naked new-born child,
Weeping thou sat’st while all around thee smiled:
So live, that, sinking to thy life’s last sleep,
Calm thou may’st smile, while all around thee weep.

William Jones (1746-1794)

William Jones was a Persian scholar and linguist. He translated this poem from a Persian poem by an unknown author. This poem is sometimes called “The Babe”, sometimes “On Parent Knees”, and sometimes “Epigram”. An Epigram is a short, witty poem. It can also mean a paradoxical statement.

If anyone knows the original Persian version, please send me a copy at lisa@mamalisa.com and I’ll add it to this post.



This article was posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009 at 12:15 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, England, English, Iran, Languages, Mama Lisa, Persian, Poems, Poems about Children, Poems about Life, Poetry, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “A Short Poem about the Life of a Child, based on a Persian Verse”

  1. Maryam Says:

    at last, I found it! I’ve been searching for this once in awhile, and this time I found it!

    It’s not really a strong poem, kinda typical (cause we have lots of poems with the same theme) But i’m amused to see how the translator has done such a great job!

    وقتی که تو آمدی به دنیا عریان
    جمعی به تو خندان و تو بودی گریان
    کاری بکن ای دوست به وقت رفتن
    جمعی به تو گریان و تو باشی خندان!

    The translation is nicely done. each verse has nearly the same meaning as in Persian! but if you want, i can give you an exact translation :)

  2. Lisa Says:

    An exact translation would be great – thanks!

  3. Davood Says:

    here is the exact translation:

    When you came naked to this world
    A group were laughing and you were weeping
    Do something (Live in a way) O friend that when you go (die)
    A group weep for you, while you laugh

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