Death and the Gardener

Incident in a Rose Garden

A Persian Nobleman:

This morning, my gardener, deathly pale,
Rushed in for a moment to tell me his tale.

“While tending your rosebed and pruning with care,
I glanced o’er my shoulder and saw Death standing there.

Shaking with fear, to the woods I did flee,
But Death’s hand still beckoned, threatening me.

Master, O Master, pray lend me your steed.
To old Isfahan I must ride at full speed!”

His wish long since granted, ‘neath my cedars I strolled.
I too met the Reaper and my blood ran cold.

He stood there in silence, so I asked him to say
Why he’d threatened my gardener earlier that day.

Smiling he answered: “Your gardener took fright,
But it wasn’t my threat that prompted his flight.

It amazed me to meet in your garden the man
Whom I planned to fetch later in old Isfahan!”

Translation by Sheila McNab, 2007

Isfahan – Wikipedia


  1. Seems to be P.N. van Eyck’s poem De Tuinman En De Dood. Unless this famous Dutch poet from the last century (1887-1954) translated it that literally from an older, oriental source, which is very unlikely.

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