from The Golestan by Sa’di

I held in my hand a perfumed piece of clay
that came to me from a beloved’s hand.
I asked it, “Are you musk or ambergris?
Like fine wine, your smell intoxicates me.”

“I was,” it said, “a loathsome lump of clay
till someone set me down beside a rose.
Then my companion’s scent seeped into me.
Otherwise, I am only the earth I am.”

 

courtesy of my friend Richard Newman