Pearl Tomb of Saadi distinguished between the spiritual and the practical or mundane aspects of life. In his Bustan, for example, spiritual Saadi uses the mundane world as a spring board to propel himself beyond the earthly realms. The images in Bustan are delicate in nature and soothing. In the Gulistan, on the other hand, mundane Saadi lowers the spiritual to touch the heart of his fellow wayfarers. Here the images are graphic and, thanks to Saadi’s dexterity, remain concrete in the reader’s mind. Realistically, too, there is a ring of truth in the division. The Sheikh preaching in the Khanqah experiences a totally different world than the merchant passing through a town. The unique thing about Saadi is that he embodies both the Sufi Sheikh and the travelling merchant. They are, as he himself puts it, two almond kernels in the same shell.
Saadi’s prose style, described as “simple but impossible to imitate” flows quite naturally and effortlessly. Its simplicity, however, is grounded in a semantic web consisting of synonymy, homophony, and oxymoron buttressed by internal rhythm and external rhyme. Chief among these works is Goethe’s West-Oestlicher Divan. Andre du Ryer was the first European to present Saadi to the West, by means of a partial French translation of Gulistan in 1634. Adam Olearius followed soon with a complete translation of the Bustan and the Gulistan into German in 1654.
In his Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel wrote (on the Arts translated by Henry Paolucci, 2001, p. 155–157):
Pantheistic poetry has had, it must be said, a higher and freer development in the Islamic world, especially among the Persians … The full flowering of Persian poetry comes at the height of its complete transformation in speech and national character, through Mohammedanism … In later times, poetry of this order [Ferdowsi’s epic poetry] had a sequel in love epics of extraordinary tenderness and sweetness; but there followed also a turn toward the didactic, where, with a rich experience of life, the far-traveled Saadi was master before it submerged itself in the depths of the pantheistic mysticism taught and recommended in the extraordinary tales and legendary narrations of the great Jalal-ed-Din Rumi.
Alexander Pushkin, one of Russia’s most celebrated poets, quotes Saadi in his work Eugene Onegin, “as Saadi sang in earlier ages, ‘some are far distant, some are dead’.” Gulistan was an influence on the fables of Jean de La Fontaine. Benjamin Franklin also in one of his works, DLXXXVIII A parable on Persecution, quotes one of Bustan of Saadi’s parable, apparently without knowing the source. Ralph Waldo Emerson was also interested in Sadi’s writings, contributing to some translated editions himself. Emerson, who read Saadi only in translation, compared his writing to the Bible in terms of its wisdom and the beauty of its narrative.
The French physicist Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot’s third given name is from Saadi’s name. It was chosen by his father, Lazare Carnot.
U.S. President Barack Obama quoted the first two lines of this poem in his New Year’s greeting to the people of Iran on March 20, 2009, “But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: ‘The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.