2 The Tale of Melon City (After Idries Shah) Idries Shah (16 June 1924–23 November 1996), also Sayyid Idris al-Hashimi an author in the Sufist tradition.Maintained spiritual teachings should be presented in forms and terms familiar in the community where they are to take root.Used stories and humor to great effect.Had a profound influence on several intellectuals.
3 About the poem.‘The Tale of Melon City’ runs like a folk tale. The city is called Melon City because its ruler is a melon. There is a curious tale about it. Once a fair and easygoing king ruled over a state. He got an arch built across the thoroughfare. As he passed under the low arch it struck his head and he lost his crown.
4 He thought it a disgrace and ordered the chief of builders to be hanged. The chief lay the blame on the workmen. The workmen were surprised. They said that the bricks were made of wrong size. So the masons were thought guilty. The masons shifted the blame on the architect. The architect put the blame at the king’s door as he amended his original plan.
5 The king sought a wise man’s counsel The king sought a wise man’s counsel. He held the arch guilty and ordered it to be hanged. A councillor objected to it as it had touched the king’s head. The people became restless. They wanted to see someone hanging. Only the king’s head could fit the noose. So he was hanged. It was now announced that the next man who passed
6 The city gate would choose the king. An idiot came The city gate would choose the king. An idiot came. He suggested ‘A Melon’. So melon was crowned the king. He was taken to throne. He was called melon king.
7 Humour and irony: Construction of curved structure/ king’s riding under low arch and losing crown. The way accused appeal to the king/ self defence of architect / holistic blame game/ selection criteria of the wisest man ..aged, toothless and intestine less / the process is quite ridiculous. Whimsical king/ his fickle mindedness.
8 In the city of which I sing There was a just and placid (easygoing) King.
9 The King proclaimed an arch should be Constructed, that triumphally (in a victorious manner)Would span (cover) the major thoroughfare (main road)To edify(enlighten/educate) spectators there.
10 The workmen went and built the thing. They did so since he was the King.
11 The King rode down the thoroughfare To edify spectators there.
12 Under the arch he lost his crown. The arch was built too low. A frown (facial expression of displeasure)Appeared upon his placid face.The King said, This is a disgrace.The chief of builders will be hanged.'The rope and gallows were arranged.
13 The chief of builders was led out. He passed the King. He gave a shout,‘O King, it was the workmen's fault''Oh!' said the King, and called a haltTo the proceedings. Being just(And placider now) he said, 'I mustHave all the workmen hanged instead.'
14 The workmen looked surprised, and said, ‘O King, you do not realiseThe bricks were made of the wrong size.'
15 'Summon the masons!' said the King. The masons stood there quivering.'It was the architect...', they said,
16 The architect was summoned. 'Well, architect,' said His Majesty.'I do ordain that you shall beHanged.' Said the architect, 'O King,You have forgotten one small thing.You made certain amendments toThe plans when I showed them to YOU'
17 The King heard this. The King saw red. In fact he nearly lost his head;But being a just and placid KingHe said, This is a tricky thing.I need some counsel. Bring to meThe wisest man in this country.'
18 The wisest man was found and brought, Nay, carried, to the Royal Court. He could not walk and could not see,So old (and therefore wise) was he -
19 But in a quavering voice he said, 'The culprit must be punished.Truly. the arch it was that banged (hit)The crown off, and it must be hanged'.
20 To the scaffold the arch was led When suddenly a Councillor said -'How can we hang so shamefullyWhat touched your head, Your Majesty?'
21 'True,' mused the King. By now the crowd, Restless, was muttering aloud.The King perceived their mood and trembledAnd said to all who were assembled -'Let us postpone considerationOf finer points like guilt. The nationWants a hanging. Hanged must beSomeone, and that immediately.'
22 The noose (rope/loop)was set up somewhat high. Each man was measured by and by.But only one man was so tallHe fitted. One man. That was all.He was the King. His MajestyWas therefore hanged by Royal Decree.
23 'Thank Goodness we found someone,' said The Ministers, 'for if instead We had not, the unruly townMight well have turned against the Crown'Long live the King!' the Ministers said.'Long live the King! The King is dead.'
24 They pondered the dilemma; then, Being practical-minded men, Sent out the heralds to proclaim(In His [former] Majesty's name):The next to pass the City GateWill choose the ruler of our state,As is our custom. This will beEnforced with due ceremony.'
25 A man passed by the City Gate. An idiot. The guards cried, 'Wait! Who is to be the King? Decide!''A melon,' the idiot replied.
26 This was his standard answer to All questions. (He liked melons.) 'You Are now our King,' the Ministers said,Crowning a melon. Then they led(Carried) the Melon to the throneAnd reverently set it down.
27 This happened years and years ago. When now you ask the people, 'So -Your King appears to be a melon.How did this happen?' they say, Well, onAccount of customary choice.If His Majesty rejoiceIn being a melon, that's OKWith us, for who are we to sayWhat he should be as long as heLeaves us in Peace and Liberty?'The principles of laissez faireSeem to be well-established there.
28 Questions.Question.1. Narrate ‘The Tale Of Melon City’ in your own words.Ans. ‘The Tale Of Melon City’ runs like a folk tale. The city is called Melon city because its ruler is melon. There is curious tale around it. Once a fair and gentle king ruled over a state. He got an arch built across the thoroughfare. As he passed under the low arch it struck his head and lost his
29 Continued.crown. He thought it a disgrace and ordered the chief of builders to be hanged. The chief lay the blame on the workmen. The workmen were surprised. They said that the bricks were made of wrong size. So the masons were thought guilty. The masons shifted the blame on the architect who put blame at the king’s door as he had amended
30 Continued.his original plan. It is a practical situation and the habit of the people to have blame game.The king sought a wise man’s counsel. He held the arch guilty and ordered to be hanged. A councillor objected to it as it had touched the king’s head. The people became restless.
31 Continued.They wanted to see someone hanging. Only the king’s head could fit the noose. So he hanged. It was now announced that the next man passed the city gate would choose the king. An idiot came. He suggested ‘A Melon’. So melon was crowned the king. He taken to the throne. He was called melon king.
32 Question2.Who was held responsible for the disgrace? What do know about the king?Ans. The chief of builders was held responsible for the disgrace and ordered to be hanged. The chief called it the workmen’s fault. The king ordered to have all the workmen hanged. The workmen looked surprised but they blamed the wrong
33 Continued.size of bricks for it. This shows the king’s fickle mindedness.
34 Question3.What argument did the architect advance in self defence? How did the king take it?Ans. The architect reminded the king that he had made certain amendments to the original plans of the architect. He suggested that it was the fault of the king himself. On hearing it, the king became so angry that he nearly lost his ability to act sensibly or calmly.
35 Question4.Comment upon the criteria of selection of the wisest man and the quality of counsel he offered.Ans. The king got confused and he sought the advice of the wisest man in the country. The criteria was the wisdom comes with grey hair. The old man they selected could not walk and see. He spoke in a trembling
36 Continued.voice. The advice he offered was absurd. A lifeless object can not be deprived of life by hanging it.
37 Question5 Why did the king succumb to public demand? Ans. The king noticed that the crowd of spectators had became restless and people were muttering aloud. He judged their mood. He trembled to think of the consequences if they were deprived of the fun of watching some one being hanged.
38 Continued.So, in order to save his skin, he ordered that someone be hanged immediately.
39 Continued. Question6.How was the new ruler of the state selected? Ans. The Ministers sent out messengers to declare that the next men to pass the city gate would choose the ruler of their state. An idiot happened to pass the gate. When asked to decide who was to be the king, he replied, ‘A melon’.
40 CONTINUED.This was his standard answer to all questions. The ministers declared that a melon would be their new ruler.
41 A PRESENTATION……Remember: Some people are born great, some upon greatness is thrust and some achieve greatness with their hard work.