unless God grants, no man grows rich.
If it is not written from all eternity, no disaster befalls any mortal’s head;
until the appointed time comes, no man dies.
The man who dies is not brought to life,
the soul which goes out does not come back, until the resurrection.
When a man has wealth as massive as the black mountain,
he piles it up and gathers it in and seeks more,
but he can eat no more than his portion.
Though the rivers rage and overflow, the sea is not filled.
God does not love the conceited;
prosperity does not abide in the vainglorious.
Though you take care of the son of a stranger he will not become your own son.
When he grows he will leave you and go, and never say
"I have seen you".
The lake cannot be a hill, the son-in-law cannot be a son.
Though you throw a bridle over the black ass’s head he does not become a mule;
though you dress a captive girl in a robe she does not become a lady.
Though the snow falls in huge flakes it does not last till summer;
the fleecy green grass does not last till autumn.
Worn cotton does not become cloth;
the old enemy does not become a friend.
If you do not mount the horse, the journey will not be done;
if you do not wield the pure black steel sword, the enemy will not turn back;
if a man does not spend his wealth, his fame will not go forth.
A daughter does not take advice except from her mother’s example;
a son. does not become hospitable except from his father’s example.
A son is all a father needs; he is one of his two eyes.
If a man has a lucky son he is an arrow in his quiver;
if he has an unlucky son he is a cinder on his hearth.
What should the son do if his father dies and no wealth remains?
But what profit in a father’s wealth if there be no luck on his head?
God save you, my Khan, from the evil of the unlucky.
When going over broken ground the unmanly cannot ride the Kazilik horse;
if he does ride him it were better that he did not.
Better that none should wield the pure sword which strikes and cuts
than that the unmanly should wield it.
To the warrior who knows how to wield it,
a club is better than arrow and sword.
The black tents to which no guest comes were better destroyed.
Better that the bitter grass the horses will not eat did not grow;
better that the bitter water man will not drink did not well forth.
Better that the loutish son who does not maintain the good name of his father
should never come down from his father’s loins;
if he falls into his mother’s womb, better that he be not born.
Best is the fortunate son when he maintains his father’s good name.
Better that there should be no falsehood in the world;
better that the truth should live thrice thirty years and ten.
May your life be full thrice thirty years and ten;
may God bring you no evil, may your felicity be perpetual, O my Khan!
Dede Korkut (10th century) Turkey
- Dede Korkut - if he did indeed live and write these tales (he may just be a legendary character) - was probably earlier than the above date, which is when they were first written down.
- From Part 13 of the Book of Dede Korkut
Source: From an essay by Babayeva Eleonora (translator not given)