A Poem About Hard Work - Toil And Treasure

Toil and Treasure or in Farsi Ranj o Ganj

It is my favorite poem. A poem about hard work.

I learned it at the time when we lived in Iran, and my son started school at age 5. We put him earlier in school because we lived in a town far away from family, and the kids have been all the time only with me. I thought it would be better if he went to school and learned to know other kids and a better Farsi. Everybody told me he might not be able to make the first class because of the language, but it went very well, and I was able to learn to write and read with him. Some of the first poems he had to learn later were  “Toil and Treasure” by Mohammad-Taqi Bahar.

I love his poems; they are like guides for life. Hema’s post about hard work reminded me of this poem that always accompanied me.

Here it is; it is about hard work and how hard work will be a treasure for us in the end.

Ranj o Ganj” (Toil and Treasure)

Its author is Mohammad-Taqi Bahar (1886-1951). known as Malek al-Sho’ara (king of the poets), and perhaps
the greatest twentieth-century Iranian poet, writing before the advent of modernist poetry.

Farsi                                                                                    Translated

  “Ranj o Ganj,”                                                           “Toil and Treasure”           

Boro kar mikon magu chist kar                              Go, and work don’t say: “what is work!

keh sarmayeh-ye javdani- st kar                             for work is an eternal capital

negar ta keh dehqan-e dana cheh goft                   See what the wise Farmer said

beh farzandeg-an chun hami khast khoft.            to his sons at the time of his rest. ( deathbed )

keh: “Miras-e khod ra bedarid dust                        He said: “Love your inheritance well,

keh ganji ze pishinian andar ust.                            for in it a treasure is buried, hid by our ancestors.

Man an ra nadanestam andar koja-st                    I never knew where it was buried;

pajuhidan o yaftan ha shoma-st:                             to search and to find is yours to do.

cho shod mehregan keshtgah bar kanid                Come (Mehregan) autumn, plow the entire field,

hameh,ja-ye an zir o bala konid,                            turning it inside out everywhere;

nainanid nakandeh ja’i ze hagh                               Seek out that treasure wherever it may be.”

Pedar mord o puran beh ommid-e ganj                 toiled much in turning up the field;

bah gav ahan o bil kandand zud                              losing no time, with oxen and shovel, they dug

ham inja ham anja va harja keh bud.                     here and there, and whichever way they could.

Qaza ra dar an sal as an khub shokhm                   As fate would have it, that year, for that good tillage,

ze har tokhm bar khast haftad tokhm.                   from each seed sprang seventy seeds.

Nashod ganj payda vali ranjeshan                           No treasure was found, yet their toil did,

chon pedar goft shod ganjeshan.’                            as the father had said, turn out to be their treasure.)

The Treasure

So the sons of this farmer had the vision to find a treasure and worked very hard, and in the end, they really

gained a treasure, but it was maybe a bit different from what they thought. Hard work always brings a treasure

it does not have to be gold and silver.

There are more poems by Mohammad-Taqi Bahar, and one of them I only remember a part of it, but it too has a timeless wisdom.

I will write about it another time.

What do you think about this poem?

Do you like it?

I know there are similar poems in nearly every tradition.

Do you know one?

See also Persistence – A Poem About A Water Spring And Rock.