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Full text of "Flowers from Persian Poets"

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GENERAL INTRODUCTION. 



I. 

The vital persbtence of poetry b a kind of mirade ! A 
nation may not prize its bard while he lives, but after he b 
dead all the preservative forces are employed to perpetuate 
hb songs. The /iuui and Odyssey^ the ^neid^ the Kale- 
vaioy the NibelungenUidj the ShahrNameh^ become the chief 
glories, not alone of the country where they originate, but 
of the worid. Kings and emperors conquer and destroy, 
and then try to hand their £une to posterity by magnificent 
constructions. But their names are only names, their dties 
and palaces crumble, and thousands of years later some 
curious excavator finds at the bottom of the heap a clay 
tablet on which b a simple little verse which reveab the 
thought of an unknown poet or gives a glimpse of a van* 
bhed civilization. 

Of course, vast quantities of poems have perished, but 
that any of the epics or lyrics of antiquity should survive 
seems wonderful when one realizes the vicissitudes through 
which they have passed. Fire and rust and rain and the 
ignorance of men conspire to annihilate. The story b told 
that an unknown poet once offered to Abd- Allah ben Taher, 
Emir of Khorasan, a versified story. The bigoted prince 
tore the manuscript into tatters, declaring that there was 
no other poetry than the Koran, and that all else was £alse- 
hood and blasphemy. Hbtory b full of such instances. 
Thus the sand waste drowns out the fertile meadow. But we 
often see one solitary flower or grass-blade piercing through 
the arid soil. 

Poetry b really the most precioo s possession of men, and 
hbtory b not so much valued for its truth as for its grace. 

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viii Introduction. 

Only its poetical passages are prized. The quaint lege-^d 
that au-e found here and there in mediaeval chronicles, U, A 
Ing up the dreary banalities, are an implicit testimony .* 
the power of imagination. Herodotus was not so accural 
an historian as Thucydides, but we prefer his almost epi 
narration. The Odyssey outweighs them both. 

Genuine poetry, like gold, is universal and survives a] 
permutations. The Hebrew psalms, or their prototypes 
the canticles of the Akkads, lose little in beauty or majest 
translated into any language. While form makes a laig 
part of the beauty of poetry, yet poetry is more than form 
Homer in prose is more satisfiurtory than Homer in Englisl 
heioutteters. If the thought and the spirit are preserved 
the metre of a translation is of comparatively small con 
sequence. 

There is in literature something akin to exosmosb in phys 
ics. Just as two gases confined in contiguous receptacle 
tend to mingle, so great poems go from one language ^ 
another. Sooner or later this process must take place 
Everything good in Greek and Latin already exists in ever 
modem tongue. If we believe in Emerson, there is no neet 
of learning foreign languages : be found it more satisfactor 
to read their literatures in his own. 

This is especially true of the more difficult languages lik< 
Russian, Hungarian, Persian, and Arabic, which few hav« 
time to master. We must depend on translations. Orienta 
poetry has had two serious drawbacks: first, those tha 
dovote themselves to the languages in which these poem: 
are found are generally men of affidrs and not poets ; anc 
secondly, the thought and spirit as well as the form are sc 
alien and opposed to the practical, direct, and simple mine 
of the Westoner that his interpretation is often oidy a sho* 
into the air, a guess likely to go amiss. Words simple ir 
themselves, compounded form concepts of Bar diffsreni 
potentiality, just as charcoal and saltpetre put togethei 
make an explosive mixture. Thus in the Busian of SaM 



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Introduction. 



IX 






Doirius, Dara, Lord of Iran and Turan, is called far^ruhy 
Ti. orally glory-cheek, which being interpreted means divine. 
A 6lave is expressed by the words halqadar^gtuh (ring-in- 
ear.) It is not without significance that Greece in Persian 
is called Rome — Rum ! Not only words but whole sen- 
tences must be interpreted with liberal imagination. Thus 
when SaMi in his ghazel says, ^ If the sword is in thy hand, 
win the victory/^ he only means, Be a genuine poet if thou 
hast the skill. 

When a famine b spoken of, its effects on men are indi- 
cated thus : ^^ So lean a year was it that the full moon of 
men^s ^iices became a new moon.^ 

These difficulties, which are inherent, become intensified 
when the poet purposely mystifies and subtilizes. Wine 
no longer signifies wine, but the spirit ; no word has its 
normal meaning, and every line must have a gloss and a 
sophisticated interpretation. 

No wonder the direct Western mind finds itself puzzled 
over these complications. It is instructive to compare the 
earlier and later versions of an identical poem.- 

The grammar of Persian is as simple and bald as Eng- 
lish. Into its historical strata, allied indeed to English 
as even more closely to ancient Greek and Sanskrit, was 
injected a wonderful conglomerate of Arabic. Almost 
every Persian word has its Semitic equivalent and syno- 
n3rme9 giving a richness to the language analogous to what 
Chaucer found in the Normanized Saxon of his day. Arabic 
plurals are added to Iranian roots ; the fecundity of rhymes 
u vastly increased, so that in many poems there are com« 
mencement and mid-verse, as well as final, agreements, and, 
not content with masculine and feminine rhymes, the poet 
often carried the stress back four or five, or even six, syl- 
lables : as haryha baskad and karyha bashad- 

The Oriental delight in puns finds fi^quent expression, 
and the thought is still fiirther hidden from the unaided 
eye of the mind. 







X Introduction. 

These are a few of the reasons why the vast mass of 
Eastern poetry is such a dark continent of literature. It 
still waits and invites investigation by the well-equipped 
explorer. The popularity of Sohrab and Rtistenty of Sir 
Edwin Amold^s paraphrases, and especially Edward Fitz- 
gerald's free and easy translations, seems to indicate that 
the way has been prepared for a more general exploitation 
of this splendid field ; but the poet of sufficient learning has 
not as yet appeared. Meantime we must content ourselves 
with the efforts that have already been made. They are 
by different hands and of greatly differing merit The 
material is widely scattered, and to gather it together, to 
winnow out the best, requires judgment and literary skill. 
Those that read the selections that follow will decide foi 
themselves whether the poetry is or is not worthy ol 
preservation.^ 

II. 

Primitive Persian literature is scarcely more than a name 
There are a few arrowhead inscriptions carved in the solid 
rock. The Avesta written in old Baktrian, was taken b) 
the Parsee into India at the time of the Mohammedan con- 
quest. Nothing was known of its existence till the eigh- 
teenth century. The first manuscript was brought tc 
England in 1723 ; it was not translated into any European 
language until 1771. Even now scholars have scarcely 
ceased quarrelling over its interpretation. It is only a frag- 
ment of its former vastness, but this fragment contains many 
yasts or hymns, sonorous and majestic like the long Mihh 
Vast in which the virtues and powers of Mithra are extolled 
They are attributed to Zarathustra or Zoroaster himself. 

" We sacrifice unto the unifying, skiningy swift-horsea 
Sun^ sings the Khorshed Vast << When the Ught of the Sun 

1 The curious win note with what assiduity the Irish cuhiTate Per- 
The resemblance of the natfre name of Pertia, Eran, to the 
native name of Ireland, Erin, is significant. 



k 



IntroJuction. 



XI 



waxgs warmer, then up stand the heavenly Yasatas (or 
Good Gods), by hundreds and thousands^ they gather to- 
gether Us Glory ; they make its Glory pass down ; they pour 
its Glory upon the earth made by Ahura^for the increase 
of the world of holiness y for the increase of the creatures 
of holiness^ for the increase of the undying^ shining, swift' 
horsed Sun, 

'< And when the Sun rises up, then the earth made by 
Ahura becomes clean ; the waters of the wells become clean ; 
the waters of the sea become clean ; the standing waters 
become clean ; all the holy creatures, the creatures of the 
Good spirit, become cUanP 

The language of these yasts is different from that dialect 
in which the rest of the Avesta is composed ; its rhythmi* 
cai forms also differentiate it ; and the science of compara- 
tive philology has established its kinship with the language 
of the Cuneiform inscriptions left by Cyrus and the other 
Achemenidx, and with Sanskrit. But the enterprise of 
modem scholarship has not as yet succeeded in finding any 
roydl Persian library such as the explorers have found in 
Assyria. Persia, which has been called ** the highway of 
the human race," has been trodden under foot too many 
times by conquering armies to retain many vestiges of her 
indigenous literature. If Alexander the Great spared 
any of her secular books, they have long since perished. 
Whatever was saved exists only in permuted form in the 
legends and stories which later poets wove into their works. 
Even her history is legendary, and no one knows whether 
the so-called Pishdadian dynasty ever existed. 

It is quite possible that the book of Esther in the Bible 
may have been taken with slight changes by its unknown 
Hebrew author from some ancient apologue. The Cyro- 
padeia is a characteristic Persian romance, and some schol- 
ars are fain to believe that Xenophon may have heard it, or 
parts of it, during his celebrated expedition against the 
great king. 




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A 









Xll 



Introduction, 




The Shah-Natneh is a repository of tales and legends 
which Firdausi only revamped from antecedent sources. 
Hundreds of the short stories used by later poets to illus- 
trate their teachings may have been handed down from 
those £&r-off days. We may believe that similar conditions 
of fertility, wealth, and beauty such as brought forth in 
one era a multitude of singers, had similar results in ancient 
Eran. 

There is no trace of Persian literature from the time of 
the overthrow of the Achemenian kingdom by Alexander 
the Great, or during all the reign of the Parthian Arsa- 
cidae. In a.d. 226, Ardesher I. founded the new national 
djrnasty of the Sassanidae, whose official language was that 
''high piping Pehlevi,^ or Pahlavi, mentioned in Omar 
Khayyam. It had a special script, and is still preserved 
comparatively free from impurities, by the million and a 
half of Parsees in Bombay and the scattered remnants of 
the fire-worshippers in Yezd. They preserved naturally 
only the religious works of that epoch : a cosmogony and 
geography, theological treatises and a vision of the Fu- 
ture Life, compared by the curious with Dante^s Divine 
C^midy: the Book of Arda^ Son of Viraf. Every- 
thing else is lost ; the splendor and liberality of Chosroes 
the greatest of the Sassanian kings is but a name; its 
only relics exist in the works of later poets, just as the 
ruins of a temple may be built into a palace. Yet we 
know that Bahram-Gor,^ who reigned from 420 till 438, was 
fond of listening to popular ballads, one of which Firdausi 
has preserved. I n the time of Khuzrev Parvez, who reigned 
from 590 till 628, there were two rival poets, Barbed and 
Seighish (Sergius, a Greek ?), and Barbed, a native of 
Shiraz, was appointed poet laureate and used to delight 
the court with his graceful rhymes: some of these, or 
at least their titles, Firdausi also preserved. 

1 The Persians claim that he himself not only was a poet, but also 
invented rhyme. 



C 



Introduction. 



xui 



Professor Pizzi claims that the form of lyric verse called 
by the Arabs qasida or kasidoy in which there is always a 
eulogy of some prince, is the continuation or transforma- 
tion of the ancient Iranian hjrmn celebrating the gods and 
heroes and their doughty deeds : *^a far-off echo of other 
praises offered with equal enthusiasm to masters not frail 
but immortal" Surely in literature, as in Nature, no ele- 
ment is lost. 

For two hundred years after the Arabic conquest (in 
641), such Persian poets as have come down to our knowl- 
edge adopted Arabic as their medium of expression, and 
that curious modification of Persian began which gave the 
language its script and its ill-fitting grammar and its multi- 
tude of alien Semitic words. Thalebi, a native of Nisha- 
pur, wrote in 1038 a book in Arabic, entitled The Onfy 
Pearl of the Worlds giving a list of tlie poets that flour- 
ished during the first centuries after the Hijra. Stant 
nommum umbra. When the bigoted Khaliis ordered all 
Persian books to be burned, on the ground that the Koran 
was the only literature worth having, they could not destroy 
the spirit of a nation^s past. 



III. 

The vitality of a language is in proportion to its sim- 
plicity. As Latin gave way to the simpler idioms which it 
tried to supplant, or coalesced with them in still less com- 
plicated forms, so Arabic was ultimately replaced by Farsi 
or modem Persian. This was a natural outcome of the 
law that disintegrates great kingdoms. The genius of a 
conqueror like Alexander the Great or the Khalif Omar 
may be able for a time to make the wide and alien prov- 
inces cohere, but his successors fail. His children become 
rivals, and then the suppressed nationalities wake to revo- 
lution. Such was the case with the reign of the Khalifs 
of Damascus and Baghdad. Under the Samanian Shahs, 




Introduction. 



ii^ii 



who reigned during the tenth century (901-998), Persian 
again became a literary language. One of these kings, 
Nasr, had a reign of thirty years, and under him flourished 
the blind poet Rudaghi or Rudalct,^ who has been called 
the Father of Persian poetry. He was bom about 880 in 
the village of Rudag near Samarkand, and at the age of 
eight knew the Koran by heart and was already beginning 
10 improvise verses. Shah Nasr richly rewarded him, and 
he died at the age of seventy-four or possibly earlier. He 
put into verse the book of Kalila and Ditfma, which the 
Sassanian King Chosroes had brought from India. But 
that version is lost, and lost likewise are most of the mtUioD 
three hundred thousand distichs which he is said to have 
composed. A hundred books of poetry perished 1 

The few lines that have survived display vigor of expres- 
sion, freshness of imagery, and clearness of ideas- He was 
too prodigal of his praises of Nasr, whom he compares in 
power to Alexander the Great, and in wisdom to Plato, 
but he set the key for Persian verse : he sang the delights 
of the budding spring, the cruelty and pride of his absent 
mistress, the sleepless nights and the sorrows which she 
caused him. Wine also he sang and the pleasures of 
youth. His descriptions of his love are exquisite: her 
eyes like twin narcissus flowers blooming under the curve 
c^ the daric brows ; her silk-soft cheeks, her blacJi hair like 
a net to capture the heart ; he recalls so passionately the 
old days when joy was plentiful and money scarce ; when 
beautiAil-bosomed girls came to meet him and they drank 
the liro[Hd wine. What, compared to those happy days, 
are the glory and the bvor showered upon him by the 
glorious race of the Samanidae ? But the happy days of 
the sprightly, blade-eyed, Houri-like mudens is passed : the 
world is all illusion and vanity. Bring me wine, and then 
let what must come, cornel 

Rudaghi was not the only poet of that day. The 
■ Ferid ud-Din Muhammul Rudsghi. 



~5te 




Introduction. 



XV 



spring sun brings forth more than one violet from the 
same meadow. Abu Shukur of Balkh also complained of 
the misfortunes of love and harped or luted the beauty of 
his mistress. There was Shahid, also of Balkh, whose 
death Rudaghi bewailed in verse. He also saw in this 
world only misfortune and vanity; wisdom is the only 
pearl; death the only consolation for a ruined world. 

Daidki or Daqiqi, no one knows where bom, whether at 
Bukhara or at Samarkand or at Tus, or how long he lived, 
was commissioned by Nuh, the son of the Samanian Man- 
sur, to compose an epic version of the Book of Kings, 
He had made a beginning when he was killed by a slave, 
or page. Firdausi commemorated his character, his gen- 
tle spirit, and the death that came suddenly upon him, and 
incorporated in the Shah-Ndmeh the thousand lines or 
more in which the deeds of King Gushtasp are narrated. 
He too sang of spring and the breath of paradise breath- 
ing over the earth, young love writing its story on the 
desert sand, and the sweet roses. Four things he loved : 
the passionate pleading of the lute and the religion of 
Zerdusht (or iSoroaster) and sweet blood-hued wine and 
ruby lips. He too mourned in languishing strsun the night 
when his lips were widowed of his lovers. He would not 
wish to live if he must live without his mistress, the idol 
of his heart He loved moonlight nights when the world 
was bright and the verdure spread out over the meadow 
like a Greek vestment : ConUy let us drink wine and sing 
jocund songs I He yearned for change : just as water which 
stands too long in die pool grows stagnant, so he too long 
remaining in one place, however illustrious, waxes dis- 
contented. 

A poet of distinguished station was the Emir Agachi of 
Bukhara, governor of Bajran. He was a warrior as well as 
a philosopher. Chinese in its terseness is his £unous poem 
on the snowstorm : *' Look up at the sky and see the army 
of the snowflakes fly! Like white doves the hawks affray^ 



m 



E-* 



M 






i^ 




Introduction. 



xvu 



who was almost as much of a mocker as Omar. He 
satirizes the old men who would try to deceive death by 
dyeing their gray hairs ; and as he lies on his deathbed he 
finds no grain of comfort in the leech or the priest or the 
astrologer or the quack with their medicaments, prayers, 
horoscopes, and talismans. 

The few relics of these poets out of the enormous mass 
of verse which they composed, the unknown verse of others 
scarcely less known, the verse not known at all, make it 
probable that what is lost is no great loss. What poet lived 
in that half century between Rudaghi and Kisayi? Kisa3ri 
was bom at Merv in February, 952 ; in an el^;y written 
just before his death, he tells of his ambitions : to make 
songs and to enjoy all the good things of life. But instead 
he served like a mule, like a slave, and at the end what had 
he ? It is the old song : vanished youth, sweet joy of 
existence, beauty, £adr girls, and wine, all departed. In his 
old age, with his head which has the whiteness of milk, 
there is nothing left but the fear of death, which makes 
him tremble as disobedient schoolgirls shake with terror 
at the lash. It is said that in his last unhappy days he 
gave himself up to a religious life and to the acquisition 
of what he calls true riches. Yet, like the hermit in the 
old Spanish tale, he looked back with yearning eyes on 
the life which he had desired but had not obtained. His 
poems on the lotus and the rose are exquisite, and the invi- 
tation which the bulbul utters, *' Take thy true love by the 
hand in the eariy dawn and fly with him down into the 
garden,^ is an admirable example of Persian grace. 



m 



IV. 

It win be seen that there was no sudden flaring up of 
Persian poetry in the person of Firdausi. He was the 
greatest of all. Not only as an epic poet but as a Ijrric 
poet he surpassed all others: the poem in which he 







Cm 



cto 




Introduction^ 



XIX 



favors and honors from the Shah, one can easily believe 
that he earned his salary. He was praised and eulogized 
by this throng of hungry applicants, whatever envy they 
may have felt in their hearts, and more of their eulogies 
of him have come to us than of his own poetry. It is 
pleasant to believe that he had sufficient grace to recognize 
in Firdausi a greater man than himself, and that he magnani- 
mously renounced the commission of writing the Shah-' 
Nameh in his favor. He himself wrote in Persian verse 
the ancient tale of Vamik and Asra and two other long 
poems now lost; indeed his contribution to the l3rre of 
his day was no less than thirty thousand verses, of which 
now only two or three insignificant fragments remain. 

Persian poetry is generally considered as beginning with 
Abul lasim Mansur, sumamed Firdausi, the son of Fakhr 
ud-din Ahmed of Tus in Khorasan. His name of Fir- 
dausi is the same as the Greek Paradeisos, our paradbe, 
and may signify that he was the son of a gardener or a 
gardener himself, or that it was a poetical appellation, just 
as Omar may have been a tent-maker, and the Shaikh Farid 
ud-din Attar, a druggist. He is said to have been educated 
by his father, and to have been in the poetic art the pupil 
of Abu Nasr Asad ud-Din Ahmed Ibn Mansur, known as 
Asadi or Essedi. 

Various stories are told of his introduction to Mahmud. 
One of them is that Asadi, who was invited to try his hand 
at putting the old Book of Kings into the new Persian, 
turned it over ta his pupil. If, as it is said, the news had 
gone abroad that the great enterprbe was waiting the 
master hand, the presence of four hundred poets at Ghazni 
is easily explained. And also the obstacles which they 
put into Firdausi^s way before he had a chance to be heard. 
But when once Mahmud had listened to the story of 
Rustem and Isfendyar, he turned the ancient books over 
to the young poet, gave him a house in a garden, the 
inspiration of a beautiful young page who should supply 



»»»*»««^-* — ■' 



^3;-^&aa3^2g^5^aaQ^i 




Introduction. 



struggle of the Iranians against the Devi or Demons, by 
whom are meant a primitive people subjected by them, and 
against the Turanians, a barbaric and ferocious nation fix>m 
Northern Asia beyond the Oxus. This struggle became 
confused or entangled with the basic dualism of the reli- 
gion of Zarathustra, which always held up the eternal 
opposition between good and evil, light and darkness, truth 
and falsehood, life and death, t3rpified on the one hand in 
the beneficent creative god Ahura Mazda, or Ormuzd, and 
on the other, by the malign god AnraMainyu, or Ahriman. 
Not only gods, but demigods, and heroes, superhuman as 
well as common, took part in the epic struggle. 

The position of the early Iranians, between the snowclad 
mountains and the desert, may well have given birth to this 
religion of violent contrasts. Out of it grew the national 
epic, as from the German theogony arose the Nibelungen- 
lied. It was a marvellous conception, and deserves its 
Wagner to bring it also into the realm of music and the 
drama. Nothing is more interesting than the transforma- 
tion of the ingenious metal workers of ancient subjected 
populations through popular superstition into supernatural 
beings. Thus the palaces of King Jamshid and of Kai 
Kavus were the creation of the Devi ; these miraculous 
beings taught King Tamuras to write, and they flew through 
the sky carrying on their shoulders the throne of Jamshid. 
In the same way Hephaistos in Greece was a lame and dis- 
reputable god working in subterranean forges ; in the same 
way the Kobolds of the German legend dwelt in the bowels 
of the mountains and fabricated wondrous armor. Crimes 
and vices became personified in the forms of these Devi. 
Often they underwent grotesque transformations, as Fir- 
dausi conscientiously relates. Comparative mythology and 
comparative philology bind closely together the hidden 
elements of all the great epics: the same nature gods 
sq^pear in the yitdas and the Avestay in the Iliad 
and the Sagas, The Muse of history can disentangle 



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xxu 



Introduction. 



and interpret the secret history of our Aryan ancestors in 
the myths of the Shah-Nameh, 

Firdausi was not the only Persian poet to draw his 
inspiration from the Book of Kings: Abul Hasan Ah', 
the son of Firdausi's teacher Asadi, and abo known as 
Asadi, wrote the Ghershasp-Nameh or Book of Gher" 
shaspj which was an episode neglected by Firdausi. Still 
another imitative continuation or complement was the 
Sam-Natnek, or Book of Sam^ eleven thousand lines 
in length, describing the wars .of that hero in China, his 
loves with the beautiful Peri-dokht, daughter of the Chi- 
nese emperor and mother of Zal, and the discovery of the 
treasures of King Jamshid. The authorship of this work 
is not known, but is supposed to be of much later date. 
There are in manuscript still other epics belonging to the 
same cycle, and relating the exploits of Rustem^s sons, 
Gihau-ghir, Feramurz, and Sohrab. The pathetic story of 
Rustem and Sohrab also found many imitators, and Sohrab 
himself, if we may believe these unknown poets, had sev- 
eral sons whose g^lant deeds fill many weary lines. 



VI. 



It would take a volume to give even a hint at the con- 
tents of all the Persian poets, whose ghazels and rubaiyat 
(or quatrains), and kasidas and contrasts, fill the multi- 
tudinous manuscripts collected with patient zeal by so 
many Persian scribes. Von Hammer and Ethe and Pizzi 
have analyzed their works and published more or less faith- 
ful versions of their characteristic verses. There are hun- 
dreds of them, but the sacred number seven enumerates 
those that the Persians themselves and critics generally 
<:onsider the greatest. These, beside Firdausi, are Anvari, 
Nizami, Jalal ud-Din Rumi, SaMi, Hafiz, and Jami. These 
are the seven great stars of the Pleiades, though the astron- 



'^?^^^^^^^^ 



^^SSJ22?!!?3i 






Introduction. 



XXlll 



omer with his opera glass can find almost countless thou- 
sands twinkling in the literary firmament: Azraki and 
Amiq and Hanzalah and Humam-ud-Din and Is^arangi 
and Khusrev of Delhi, and Mahmud Ibn Abd ul-Kerim 
Ibn Yahya Shabisteri and others with equally long names 
from Abbas to Zagani. 

Of recent years the Western world has discovered in 
Abul Fath Umar Ibn Ibrahim Khayyami, known as Omar 
the Tent-Maker, one of the greatest and certainly now the 
most popular of the Persian Pleiads. He burned out into 
the first magnitude like Nova Persei, but has not £suled. 
In Persia he is scarcely known. An American woman, 
long resident in Paris, happened to know the Persian con- 
sul there, and recently showed to him Sibleigh^s French ver- 
sion of Fitzgerald. He had never heard of Omar Khayyam, 
was amazed at the proportions of the cult when it was 
explained to him, was delighted with the verses, and grate- 
fill to have been introduced to such a fascinating author of 
his own country. 

A large part of the verse attributed to Omar consists 
undoubtedly of spurious quatrains, imitations of the orig- 
inal being as fsLcile to maJce as imitations of his English 
understudy. Nor are the stories of his life founded on 
authentic documents.^ All the more remarkable, there- 
fore, is the distinctness of his personality, especially when 
one realizes that he touched no new chord ; it is the old 
strain of pessimism, with gleams of satiric humor tem- 
pered with liberality. Hb popularity may be partially 
explained by his comparative simplicity. There are few 
of the far-fetched conceits so characteristic of Oriental 
poetry. It is direct and therefore universal, and even 

^ Most that is known or fabled about him, including the recent 
discovery of references to him embodied in the article in Baron 
Rosen's testimonial Toluroe, has been woven into a romance of his 
life: Omar the Timi-Afaker, by Nathan HaskeU Dole, Boston, 
1898. 






1^ 



jfi'i; XXiv 



m 

Hi 



Infroductiott. 



those that are not inclined to accept his philosophy of life 
feel the spell of his graceful melaacholy, hia audacious 
iireverence for empty forms, and his frank enjoyment of 
present pleasure. Fascinating as Fitzgerald's English ver- 
sion is, its uniform measure and simplicity of rhyme give 
little idea of the varying rhythms and captivating compli- 
cited rhymes of the original Persian. Mr. John Payne has 
translated all of the verse attributed to him into measure 
purporting to represent the original, but such a tour de 



r 




\^SSf<i^^<^i><L^l>'<=<^7> -SaS- ^iS3?1^=^f^5£ 




Introduction. 



and took refuge in the mountains and in caverns ; but, on 
the day set, the sun rose cloudless and the breeze scarcely 
blew. Anvari took this defeat so completely to heart that 
he returned to Nishapur ; then to Balkh, where he died, 
either in 1 191 or 1 195. 

One of his best poems was written in behalf of Sanjar, 
when that prince was captured and imprisoned by a Turko- 
man horde that had overrun Khorasan. It was sent to 
Ahmed, son of Suleiman, at Samarkand, and resulted in 
Sanjar^s liberation. It has been called Tke Tears of 
Khorasan^ It begins with an exordium to the morning 
wind as it passes by Samarkand to bear to the sovereign 
king ^the plaint of Khurasania plunged in woe." It tells 
of the unhappy state of Khorasan and her people — a tale 
so grievous that it would tear the ears to hear it ; to see 
would suffuse the eyes with tears of blood. It begs the 
Prince of Sarmarkand to come and wreak vengeance on 
the cursed, turbulent Ghuzi. It gives a piteous descrip- 
tion of the excesses committed by these barbarians — the 
mosques converted into stables, the nobles reduced to serve 
as slaves, the ravished virgins, and the ruined homes. He 
begs him by that God who allows him to coin money, who 
has placed the diadem on his brow, to rescue from these ra- 
pacious, vile, and cruel Turkomans the heart of God's people. 

This poem was translated by Captain Fitzpatrick for the 
Asiatic Miscellany of 1785 ; but, like most Oriental poetry 
rendered into English at that time, is so hopelessly alien 
in form and spirit to the original that it is not worth citing. 
In hb last melancholy days, Anvari satirizes the poets that 
lie awake all night trying to describe sugary lips and curl- 
ing tresses. He himself had composed songs and satires, 
but as such work is unworthy of a man, he confesses the 
harm and violence his genius had done to others, and 
resolves to find the path of security in the religious life 
aloof from the world. One seeks in vain to find in English 
any adequate translation of Anvari's works. 




M. 



MvJ 






jii 







«/ 



XXVI 



Introduction. 



VII. 



If we had all of Nizami^s fivefold works,^ it would be in 
itself a sea of verse. Little is known of him except that 
he was bom in 1 141 in the mountainous region of Rum, 
and spent the larger part of his life at Ganja in Arran, 
where he died in 1201 or 1202. His tomb was still shown 
threescore years ago. His first work was the Makhzan 
ul'Asrar, or Treasury of Mysteries, composed in 1179. 
This was followed by four romantic poems of epic propor- 
tions : The Story of Khusrev and Shirina^ taken from 
ancient Persian history; the fEimous Bedouin love story 
of Majnun and Laili; the Haft Paikar or Seven Beau- 
ties^ in which he relates the adventures of the Sassanian 
King and Huntsman Bahfkm-Gor and his seven wives ; 
the Fortunes of Alexander or Book of Iskander {/skan- 
der-Nameh), an epic after the manner of Firdausi. It is 
said that he also published (in 11 88) a Divan, or collec- 
tion of ghazels and kasidas numbering twenty thousand 
verses. But most of these have perished. Nizami is rep- 
resented in this volume by extracts from Majnun and 
Laili, Sa^di says of him : — 

'* G^ne is Nisami, our exquisUi pearl, which Heaven m its hisidmess 
Formed oftktpwrest dew, formed for the gem of ike world! 
Calmly it shone in its brightness, but by the world unregarded, 
Heaven assuming its gift, laid it again in its shell,** 

and Hafiz writes : — 

^ 7^ ancient vault containeth nothing beneath it com" 
parable in beauty to the words of Nizami?'^ 

One might perhaps mention here the epic and lyric 
poet Khusrev of Delhi, who imitated Nizami in his mystic 
poem, the Matla ul-Anvar^ or Of the Stars, in hb Ayinab^ 
Iskander or Mirror of Alexander^ and in his Hasht 

1 Known in Persian as Pen; Ghet^ or 7%e Five J^eemtres; in 
Arabic simply as Khetmsa, or The Five, 








Introduction. 



xxvn 



Bihtsht or Eight Paradises, He boasted of having com- 
posed nearly a half million couplets. One of his quat- 
rains has a melancholy beauty : '^ / went to the grave- 
yard and wept bitterly for absent friends now the captives 
of non-existence. * Where are they^ I asked in sadness^ 
* those dear friends of my heart f ' And a voice from the 
grave softly replied: * Where are they f ' " 

Of Rumi, SaMii Haiiz, and Jami, this book speaks more 
fully, each in his proper place, and with abundant illustra- 
tions of their fomous verse. 

VIII. 

One cannot leave the subject of Persian poetry without 
a word regarding the mysticism which permeates it. To 
us who read poetry for poetry^s sake the mystic interpreta- 
tion is almost an impertinence. Just as we know that the 
Faerie Queene is a morality in verse, and Pilgrim's Progress 
is a morality in prose, but find all of our pleasure in them 
apart from the poet's and the preacher^s primary intent, 
so we resent the Sufistic reading of esoteric spiritual mean- 
ings into verse that b sufficient for us in its simple outward 
beauty. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid the bxX that most 
Persian l3nric poetry is double in its significance, and has 
been so interpreted. 

All Persian mysticism goes back to the philosophic con- 
ception of God : if one believes that God is the responsible 
source of all action, then logically there can be no sin, no 
difference between creeds ; man may say boldly as two of 
the earliest mystics, Hallaj and Bestam, said, ^ I am God,^* 
since light reflected is still light. Shabistari demands: 
'^ What are mosque, synagogue and monastery ? What 
value have they in presence of the genuine religion of the 
mind and the heart, free firom every bond of form?** So 
Omar Khayyam makes sport of the two and seventy sects. 
What is heresy to him? What is Islambm or sin or piety? 




XCvO^SO 





> is 



f4i 






f4 






xxviii Introduction. 

God alone is his goal. '^ He b a good fellow — all will 
be well,^ he says, in his boldly irreverent style. 

Love becomes then a mystic passion, signifying union 
, with God, and all the passionate utterances of the Persian 
poets are interpreted in a manner exactly analogous to the 
ecclesiastical explanation of the Song of Solomon, which in 
its outward form is certainly suggestive of anything but 
spirituality. ^ 

Suiism is a form of mysticism. The Sufis formed a body % 
of fanatic believers, living in monasteries or colleges under ^ 
the guidance of an acknowledged master, and devoting i 
their lives to philosophic study and to works of ascetic ti 
charity. The origin of the word is not surely known; '\ 
but some would derive it from the Greek Sophia, mean- ^ 
ing wisdom, for of course Greek philosophy made its Q 
way to Persia in very early days, and later neo-Platonic S 
and gnostic ideas attached themselves to Oriental jj 
thought. ( 

Abu Said, of Khorasan, who died in 1048, is said to have ^ 
established a rule for the mystics. But Abu Hashim, a I 
native of Kufa, who died at Damascus in 767, has the rep- 
utation of having established the first monastery, or, at 
least, to have belonged to it. The spread of mysticism in 
Persia is attributed, in no small measure, to the ancient 
inheritance of the people. The lofty teachings of the 
Avesta were rendered terrible to people by a ritual which 
was only equalled in its barbarity by the tabu of the South 
Pacific. Islam freed them from that unspeakable burden, 
but the lofty teachings still remained a holy memory. The 
fatalism which undoubtedly made beggary and vagabond- 
age an easy and welcome refuge for the lazy, found its \ 
loftiest expression in many of the Persian poets : in Ubu 
Said, Attar, Rumi, Sa'di, and Nasir. ^ 

The first of the mystic poets was Abu Said of Khora- 
san, who was bom in 967, and died in 1048. The accounts 
of his life declare that be was converted to asceticism by 



l! 



X 








XXIX 



Introduction, 



a crazy man named Lokman. Abu Said for seven years 
sat in one corner of a monastery, crying, << God ! God ! ^^ 
Thus he obtained the reputation of being a saint, and when 
he removed to the desert, people came on pilgrimages to 
him, and bought for twenty dinars the seeds of the tama- 
rind fruit from the tree under which he sat. He declared, 
wholly in the spirit of mediaeval ecdesiasticism, "the 
more a man knows of this world, the less he knows of 
God,^ a curious modification of Christ^s command to be 
like little children. When asked what the real life of a 
Sufi was, he replied, "To put from the body all thbu 
hast, give all that thou hast in thy hand, and care not 
whatever may be£dl.^ Love, according to him, was " the 
net of God, whereby he catches man.^ He was the friend 
of Abu Ali Ibn Sina or Avicenna, who said of him, " He 
sees all that I know.^ Of Abu Sina, he said, " He knows 
all that I see." His rubaiyat are passionate to a de- 
gree:— 

" Lei Rissvan angel of paradise have his splendor , let the 
angels have their praise^^ he sings, " let the guilty suffer in 
helly let the good enjoy paradise, let the Kings of China and 
Persia and Rum have this world, but we have our lovely 
ones, our lovely ones have us! " 

" On that day when thou shaU be my spouse, I shall not 
envy the blessed their delights in paradise. Without thee 
heaven were a desert ; with thee the desert were heaven.'" 

He sings of spending the long night with his idol, and no 
end of their sweet intercourse ensued: "What foult has 
the night?" he asks, " we had so much to say! " 

"/ said, ' For whom adornest thou thyself f ' *For my 
own pleasure,^ she replied, ^for 1 am the only one, I am 
love, I am the lover, I am the beautiful one, the mirror and 
the beauty which beholds itself therein.'' " 

^ Ah, thou whose brow is Hke the moon which beautifies 
all the world, thou whom to be with both night and day all 
hearts desire — if thou art sweet to any more than me, 




u^ 



,...«.....«.-■«. 



-Jv^Ts- 





^ y ». y ». ^ ^ y M^ ' M- 'T' -m .-w* T jn r j. ^ j r y ■ » j>. -»^rir 




h\r^M^3x^^£?^^^^3J5^^^^'S^R^:f^^ -a^5^al?^^»^^^ 



XXX 



Introduction, 



alas ! how full of woe am I! How unhappy all the rest 
if thou to them art what thou art to me!'*'' 

Here, as everywhere, the beloved one thus passionately 
adored is God. 

Nasir, the son of Khusrev, another of the mystic poets, 
was bom in Balkh in 1003. He was in the service of the 
Seljukian Prince Chakar-beg Daud; but, when he was 
about forty, he was admonished in a dream to go to Mecca. 
Then he travelled for seven years, and wrote a description 
of his adventures. He was also author of the m^'stic 
Rushanai Nameh or Book of Light, His acquaintance 
with the world opened his mind, and he was persecuted 
as a heretic ; consequently he returned to Yumgan in the 
province of Badakhshan, and lived there in solitude, vis- 
ited occasionally by the devout. He had a few ardent 
followers. There he died in 1088. The principal founda- 
tion of his teachings was the Greek injimction, ^' Know thy- 
self.^^ Only by self-knowledge can one know God. And 
he sings God^s praise and proclaims the vanity of all 
earthly things. Sufficient happiness for him is a garden, 
and if in that garden he has his friend, ^ then the Spring 
Roses bloom, and those roses have no thoms.^^ 

Still another of the minor mystic poets was Afzal-ud-Din 
Ibrahim Ibn Ali Shirvani, known as Khakani because he 
lived at the court of the Prince of Shirvan, Khakan Kabir 
Minochihr. He was born about 1040. He was dis- 
gusted with court life, and determined to retire from the 
world and to live like a dervish. But the Sultan would 
not hear to it. He therefore escaped from the court, but 
was captured, brought back, and confined for seven months 
in the castle of Shabran, where he had many Christians as 
his companions. During his confinement he composed a 
kasida full of bitter complaints, and speaking so freely of 
other religions that a friend of his wrote a commentary on it 
to remove the suspicion that Khakani was not a good Mo- 
hammedan. On his release, he remained for a time at courts 







5?^!S^ 



httroduction. 



XXXI 



but was at last permitted to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. 
He described his jouraey in a poem csdled, The Gifts of the 
Two Iraks, He went to Tabriz to the court of Toghrul 
Beg, the last of the Seljukian Turks, and died there in 
1 1 86^ or possibly 1193. Many of his poems have been 
preserved, and he is regarded as certainly one of the sweet- 
est lyric voices of Persia. What could be lovelier than 
his ghazel, which begins, **I do not seek to find the moon : 
thy face is moon enough for me!"^ Of course, with his 
yearning for the ascetic life, the Sufis find in his love poems 
also the mjrstic desire of uniting his soul with God^s. To 
him the meditations of the mystic life were preferable to 
the pleasures of the world. He, like all the East, believed 
the soul of man to be but an emanation from the essence 
of God, and his chief desire to be reabsorbed, as the bubble 
on the ocean breaks and fiUls back into the Infinite. 

Slightly eariier in time was the Shaikh Sanai, who wa^ 
bom at Ghazni about 11 18. He, like many of the other 
Persian poets, frequented the courts of the Ghasnavide 
kings and princes, and celebrated their deeds in his kasidas, 
but hb conscience was awakened when he overheard some 
one remark, ^ Sanai with his learning is ignorant of the 
purpose for which God created him; when he appears 
before his Maker and is asked what he has brought with 
him, he will be able only to show panegyrics on kings and 
princes — mortals like himself." The same critic, who was 
a crazy man, predicted that he would become blind. 

Sanai took these words to heart and devoted himself 
henceforth to the religious life, seeking instruction from 
the £unous Shaikh Abu Yusuf of Hamadan, whose college 
or cell was called the Ka^ba of Khorasan. It is said that 
when Bahram-Shah desired to marry him to his sister, he 
wrote a quatrain declaring that he was not a man for 
women, honors, or gold, but all he wished was to be a 



1 Abu'l-Maj'd Majdud Ibn Adam SanaL 



'^5r>2K^\^^ h^J^ ii^A-ii; -:(^- J^*.^:^ii^^.t' i2fe^i^^SSi£^'5«^ 








.*l 



XXXll 



Introduction. 



leader of religious men. His chief work bears the Arabic 
title of Hoitigat-ul'Haqiqat^ or Garden of Truths ded- 
icated to his would-be brother-in-law, Bahram-Shah of 
GhaznL It is divided into ten books and has been com- 
pared to Brunetto Latini^s Tesaro an enqrdopedic med- 
ley of all that was known in his day. One part praises the 
Koran, another declares the unity of God, another sings 
the glory of Mahomet, the prophet of All and his sons, 
mart3rrs for the faith ; others treat of human reason, of the 
excellence of knowledge, and the nature of love. The sixth 
part sets out to treat of the spirit of the universe, but the 
poet gets entangled in descriptions of spring and the beauty 
of the herbage, and the mystic doctrine still holds aloof. In 
the eighth he describes the stars and the marvels of the 
heavens; in the ninth he explains the nature of the union 
of the soul with God. And finally, in the tenth part, he 
accumulates all that he should have logically distributed 
through the other nine, and so extends it that it constitutes 
a third of the whole woric, which is composed of eleven 
thousand couplets. 

It is regarded as the pattern for the better known works 
of Attar and Rumi. 



IX. 



Enough has been said to show that the Persian litera- 
ture ofl^ a vast field for study. The present volumes 
contain selections from the seven principal poets of Persia ; 
they had naturally to be taken fi'om such translations as 
alreauiy exist in English, and are therefore of varying value 
as representing the originals. But assuredly enough of 
the light shines through the more or less translucent me- 
dium to give a pleasing idea of the wealth of poetry whidi 
the wonderful land of Persia inspired. Much of what is 
best b here gathered, and whether taken in its liberal or its 



' ■■ ■■— jr^ 



'A^^y' t^^'rjii^-- j^ '■r^^'^^^f^^-f^ dSiS^^Sf!'^^ ^ 



1 



&^<j>i-^<jt^><z<>i><-y^^^ 






Introduction, 



xxxiu 



esoteric meaning, will find a response in the hearts of those 
that love lofty ideas melodiously expressed.^ 

Nathan Haskell Dole. 
New York, April 27, 1901. 

1 Throughout the book accents have been purposely omitted. 
The question of the transliteration of Persian and Arabic words and 
names, many of which have consonantal values not existing in Eng- 
lish, is hopelessly discordant and confused. There is Muhammad, 
Mahomet. Mohsunmed; there is Koran and Qu'ran ; there b Omar 
and 'Umer ; there is Saadi and Sade and Sa'di ; there is rubayat and 
rub&l37ftt; there is Kaiam, Khayyam, Kheyam; there is Makka, 
and Mekka and Mecca; Caliph, and Khalif and Kaleef; Dervish 
and Darwesh, and there are dozens of others. Every scholar has 
had apparently his own scheme, and the less he really knew, and the 
more he wished the world to think he knew, the more he sophisti- 
cated his spellings with breathings and accents and marks of quan- 
tity. Except in text-books, such affectations are impertinences and 
repel the reader. But consistency is the last jewel to be discovered 
in the spelling of Oriental words. 






9m^»m »a^^»» ♦♦* ^^m*0*»m99m»mm ^*^»»**»»»»» y*_j 



FLOWERS FROM PERSIAN POETS. 



■•oJ»Co«- 




FIRDAUSI. 

Persian poetry b^ns in the tenth century with Fir- 
dausi, and practically ends in the fifteenth with Jami. 
The number of minor poets scattered through this time b 
legion ; indeed it has been well said that every Persian is 
bom with a song on his lips. But of the faimous poets 
there are seven preeminent, sometimes called '< The Persian 
Pleiades." 

Firdausi, although not the father of Persian poetry,^ yet 
stands as the Homer of the East. Of his life we know 
little. His real name was Abul Kasim. He was bom, 
according to Mohl,^ in the year loio a.d., at Shadab, a 
suburb of Tus, a city in Khorasan. He married at the age 
of twenty-eight, and lived to be over eighty. 

It is said that the boyish dream of this future Chaucer 
of Persia — as Miss Costello caUs him — was to have 
money enough to build a dike to keep the river which ran 
through his father^s grounds ' from overflowing its banks. 
This dream was realized, but not in the lifetime of Fir- 

1 Rudaki was the father of Persian poetry. 

3 Jules de Mohl, the great French authority. Atkinson places 
Firdausi's birth at about 950 A.D. ; Professor Pizzi, 940 A.D. 

* Firdausi's father is said to have been gardener for the Gov- 
ernor of Tus. According to some authorities, the name Firdausi, 
which is the Persian form for Paradise or Garden, was only the 
poetic takhallus assumed by the singer. 

I 




^^ 







Firdausi. 



garden near Ghazni, when they saw a stranger approach, 
and fearing that he would interrupt them, decided to rid 
themselves of him by telling him that no one not a poet 
was allowed to join their company. When Firdausi de- 
clared that he also was a poet^ they thus addressed him : 
^ Well, then, we will each make an extemporaneous verse, 
and if you are able to follow them up with promptitude and 
effect, you shall be admitted as our approved companion/^ 
Firdausi expressed his willingness to submit to this test, 
and Unsari thus began upon an apostrophe to a beautiful 
woman, making use of a word to which they knew of only 
two possible rhymes : — 

** The light of the moon in thy splendor would feuL'* 
Asjedi rained : — 

** The rose in the bloom of thy cheek would turn pale,*' 
Then Farrukhi : — 

** The glance of thine eye darts through dose-woven maiL'* 

It was now Firdausi's turn; and he said without a 
moments pause, but with admirable felicity : — 

*' Like the spear-thrusts of Ghiv, Poshen's armor assail." 

The poets were astonished at the readiness of the 
stranger ; and being totally ignorant of the story of Ghiv 
and Poshen, inquired of him from whence it was derived ; 
when Firdausi related to them the encounter as described 
in the Bustan-Nameh. Atkinson says that " they treated 
him with the greatest kindness and respect, and were so 
pleased with the power and genius he displayed on other 
subjects, that they recommended him to the patronage of 
Shah Mahmud.^^ Other authorities state that they were 
jealous of him and interposed obstacles in his way. How- 
ever it was, he was brought to the notice of Mahmud, who 
became so delighted with him that no honors seemed too 
great to bestow upon him. One legend has it that he 
gave to the young poet the surname of Firdausi, saying : 



i^l 



rrn x z ^xximw r r z-n 



CSC 





FirdausL 



S 




every me^ns to injure him with the Sultan. When 

lephant loaded with the promised payment reached 

usiy imagine his surprise to find the gold had been 

^i^ed into silver ! He was in a public bath at the time 

t the gift came, and was so enraged that he recklessly 

e away the whole amount, a third of which went to the 

who brought it. ^^ The Sultan shall know,^* said he, 

a.t I did not bestow the labor of thirty years on a work 

rewarded with dirhems^!" The Sultan was at first 

ajned of Hasan^s unworthy treatment of Firdausi, but 

clever and malicious minister, aided by jealous poets, 

that the Shah-N'ameh was heretical, and finally 

^^^mud sentenced Firdausi to be trampled to death by 

pbants. Firdausi happened to meet Mahmud in his 

en and improvised some verses in his honor, and was 

Y^^ — Joned. But he found it advisable to leave the city ; this 

^^ did at night and alone; but he left behind him the 

^^\lowing famous satire, the most bitter ever penned : — 

*' And thou wooldst hurl me underneath the tread 
Of the wild elephant, till I were dead I 
Dead! by that insult roused, I should become 
An elephant in power, and seal thy doom — 
Mahmud I if tear of man hath never awed 
Thy heart, at least tear thy Creator, God. 
Full many a warrior of illustrious worth, 
Full many of humble, of imperial birth ; 
Tur, Selim, Jemshid, Minuchihr the brave, 
Have died ; for nothing had the power to save 
These mighty monarchs from the common doom ; 
They died, but blest in memory still they bloom. 
Thus kings, too, perish — none on earth remain, 
Since all things human seek the dust again. 

O, had thy iather graced a kingly throne, 
Thy mother been ior royal virtues known, 
A different fate the poet then had shared, 
Honors and wealth had been his just reward ; 

1 Small silver pieces. 






* -.' 



»»•♦»> #^ y ■ 



SSQn»^^^( 



s^ 





Firdausi. 

hearing that he was at Baghdad, sent to the Calif demand- 
ing his return, but the poet finally sought refuge at Rustem- 
dar, where the governor offered him a certain amount of 
gold if he would cancel the Satire against Mahmud. This 
Firdausi consented to do, and then he returned to Tus, 
" /here his old teacher, Elssedi,^ still lived. 

In the meantime the Sultan had learned of hb minister's 
treachery, and had compelled him to pay back the sixty 
thousand pieces of gold he had kept Firdausi from receiv- 
ing. He also banished him from court forever. Regret 
at losing Firdausi, the greatest ornament of his court, 
and remorse for the treatment the poet had received at 
his hands so weighed on the Sultan, that he finally en- 
deavored to make reparation. Learning that Firdausi was 
living obscurely at Tus, he sent him the long-delayed pay- 
ment, together with camels loaded with princely gifts ; but 
too late ! The royal retinue met the funeral of the great 
poet at the dty gates. Firdausi's tomb was in a garden near 
the city of Tus, and was once eagerly visited by pilgrims. 

The money was paid to the poet's daughter, but she 
disdainfully refused it. However, relatives took it and 
built with it a bridge, the dreamed-of dike, and a house of 
refuge for travellers, all of which memorials are now 
gone. But his fame lives on, and even now cities and 
towns bear the names of the heroes from the Shah-Namehj 
which has lived through nine centuries. 

There are innumerable manuscript copies of this great 
work in Persian. These manuscripts are wonderfully 
beautiful. The scribes use Egyptian reeds and the black- 
est of ink which never loses its color. The favorite works 
of the poets are usually written on the finest of silky 
paper, powdered with gold or silver dust. The margins 
are richly illuminated and the whole perfumed with sandal- 
wood or some costly essence. The illuminated title pages 
are of elaborate design. 





k^JL 'r ^ ^ jL '^ M. ^t Jk* m^M 



^i^'^yr^^^^^^W4^^^^^ 



8 



Firdausi. 



Among the many episodes of this epic, among its 
dragons and its giant feats of valor, perhaps the most 
moving is the £imous poem of Sohrab, a poem made 
familiar to all English readers by Mr. Matthew Arnold. 

It was no idle boast of Firdausi^s when he said that he 

should write — 

"What no tide 
Shall ever wash away, what men 
Unborn shall read o'er ocean wide." 



SOHRAB.» 

O YE, who dwell in Youth's inviting bowers, 

Waste not, in useless joy, your fleeting hours, 

But rather let the tears of sorrow roll, 

And sad reflection fill the conscious soul. 

For many a jocund spring has passed away, 

And many a flower has blossomed, to decay ; 

And human life, still hastening to a close, 

Finds in the worthless dust its last repose. 

Still the vain world abounds in strife and hate. 

And sire and son provoke each other's fate ; 

And kindred blood by kindred hands is shed. 

And vengeance sleeps not — dies not, with the dead. 

All nature fades — the garden's treasures fall, 

Young bud, and citron ripe — all perish, alL 

And now a tale of sorrow must be told, 

A tale of tears, derived from Mubid old, 
And thus remembered. — 

With the dawn of day, 

1 Mr. James Atkinson's translation. 



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Rustem arose, and wandering took his way, 

Armed for the chase, where sloping to the sky, 

Turan's lone wilds in sullen grandeur lie ; 

There, to dispel his melancholy mood, 

He urged his matchless steed through glen and wood. 

Flushed with the noble game which met his view, 

He starts the wild-ass o'er the glistening dew ; 

And, oft exulting, sees his quivering dart. 

Plunge through the glossy skin, and pierce the 

heart. — 
Tired of the sport, at length, he sought the shade, 
Which near a stream embowering trees displayed, 
And with his arrow's point, a fire he raised, 
And thorns and grass before him quickly blazed. 
The severed parts upon a bough he cast. 
To catch the flames, and when the rich repast 
Was drest, with flesh and marrow, savory food. 
He quelled his hunger ; and the sparkling flood 
That murmured at his feet his thirst represt ; 
Then gentle sleep composed his limbs to rest. 

Meanwhile his horse, for speed and form renown'd, 
Ranged o'er the plain with flowery herbage crown'd, 
Encumbering arms no more his sides opprest. 
No folding mail confined his ample chest,^ 
Gallant and free, he left the Champion's side, 
And cropp'd the mead, or sought the cooling tide ; 
When lo I it chanced amid the woodland chase, 
A band of horsemen, rambling near the place, 



^ The annor called Burgustuwan almost corered the horse, and 
was usually made of leather and felt-cloth. 



it 




Bridle and mail across his shoulders hung.* 
Then looking round, with anxious eye, to meet, 
The broad impression of his charger's feet,* 
The track he hail'd, and following, onward prest, 
While grief and hope alternate filled his breast. 

O'er vale and wild-wood led, he soon descries, 
The regal city's shining turrets rise. 
And when the Champion's near approach is known, 
The usual homage waits him to the throne. 
The King, on foot, received his welcome guest 
With proffered friendship, and his coming blest : 
But Rustem frowned, and with resentment fired. 
Spoke of his wrongs, the plundered steed required. 
" I've traced his footsteps to your royal town. 
Here must he be, protected by your crown ; 
But if retained, if not from fetters freed. 
My vengeance shall o'ertake the felon-deed." 

" My honored guest ! " the wondering King replied, — 
" Shall Rustem's wants or wishes be denied ? 
But let not anger, headlong, fierce, and blind, 
O'ercloud the virtues of a generous mind. 

I In this hunting excursion he is completely armed, being supplied 
with spear, sword, shield, mace, bow and arrows. Like the knight- 
errants of after times, he seldom even slept unarmed. Single com- 
bat and the romantic enterprises of European chivalry may indeed 
be traced to the East Rustem was a most illustrious example of all 
that is pious, disinterested, and heroic The adventure now describ- 
ing is highly characteristic of a chivalrous age. 

< See the Story of the Horse in Zadig, which is doubtless of Ori- 
ental origin. In the upper parts of Hindustan, it is said that the 
people are exceedingly expert in discovering robbers by tracing the 
maiiu of their horses' feet These mounted robbers are called Kus- 
saks. The Russian Cossack is probably derived from the same word. 




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Firdausi. 



If still within the limits of my reign, 
The well-known courser shall be thine again : 
For Rakush never can remain concealed, 
No more than Rustem in the battle-field ! 
Then cease to nourish useless rage, and share 
With joyous heart my hospitable fare." 

The son of Zal now felt his wrath subdued, 
And glad sensations in his soul renewed. 
The ready herald by the King's command, 
Convened the Chiefs and Warriors of the land ; * 
And soon the banquet social glee restored, 
And China wine-cups glittered on the board ; 
And cheerful song, and music's magic power, 
And sparkling wine, beguiled the festive hour.' 
The dulcet draughts o'er Rustem's senses stole, 
And melting strains absorbed his softened soul. 
But when approached the period of repose. 
All, prompt and mindful, from the banquet rose ; 
A couch was spread well worthy such a guest, 
Perfumed with rose and musk ; and whilst at rest, 
In deep sound sleep, the wearied Champion lay. 
Forgot were all the sorrows of the way. 

Rustem meets Tahmineh. 

One watch had passed, and still sweet slumber shed 
Its magic power around the hero's head — 

1 Thus Alkinoos convenes the chiefs of Phaiakia in honor of 
Odysseus. 

^ The original gives to the singers black eyes and cheeks like 
roses. These women are generally known by the term Lulian, per- 



\ 







SohraK 



13 



When forth Tahmineh came^ — a damsel held 
An amber taper, which the gloom dispelled, 
And near his pillow stood ; in beauty bright, 
The monarch's daughter struck his wondering sight 
Clear as the moon, in glowing charms arrayed. 
Her winning eyes the light of heaven displayed ; 
Her cypress form entranced the gazer's view. 
Her waving curls, the heart, resistless, drew, 
Her eyebrows like the Archer's bended bow ; 
Her ringlets, snares ; her cheek, the rose's glow,* 
Mixed with the lily, — from her ear-tips hung 
Rings rich and glittering, star-like ; and her tongue, 
And lips, all sugared sweetness — pearls the while 
Sparkled within a mouth formed to beguile. 
Her presence dimmed the stars, and breathing round 
Fragrance and joy, she scarcely touched the ground,' 
So light her step, so graceful — every part 
Perfect, and suited to her spotless heart. 
Rustem, surprised, the gentle maid addressed. 



haps referring to their beauty, as Lulu signifies a pearl, a gem, a 
jewel ; though Lulu is also the name of a people or tribe of Persia. 
1 " Ensnaring ringlets." Thus Shakespeare : ~ 

" Here in her hairs, 
The painter plays the Spider — and hath woven 
A golden mesh to entrap the hearts of men. 
Faster than gnats in cobwebs. But her eyes I " 

Merchant op Venice, iii. a. 

s Beauty and fragrance are amongst the poets inseparable. The 
Persians exceed even the Greeks in their love of perfume, though 
Anacreon thought it so indispensable a part of beauty, that in direct- 
ing the Rhodian artist to paint the mistress of his heart, he wishes 
even her fragrance to be portrayed. 

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Firdausi. 




And asked what lovely stranger broke his rest. 
" What is thy name," he said, — " what dost thou seek 
Amidst the gloom of night ? Fair vision speak ! " 
" O thou," she softly sigh*d, " of matchless fame ! 
With pity hear, Tahmineh is my name ! 
The pangs of love my anxious heart employ. 
And flattering promise long-expected joy ; 
No curious eye has yet these features seen, 
My voice unheard, beyond the sacred screen.^ 
How often have I listened with amaze, 
To thy great deeds, enamoured of thy praise ; 
How oft from every tongue I've heard the strain. 
And thought of thee — and sighed, and sighed again. 
The ravenous eagle, hovering o'er his prey, 
Starts at thy gleaming sword and flies away : 
Thou art the slayer of the Demon brood, 
And the fierce monsters of the echoing wood. 
Where'er thy mace is seen, shrink back the bold. 
Thy javelin's flash all tremble to behold. 
Enchanted with the stories of thy fame. 
My fluttering heart responded to thy name ; 
And whilst their magic influence I felt. 
In prayer for thee devotedly I knelt ; 
And fervent vowed, thus powerful glory charms, 
No other spouse should bless my longing arms.^ 

1 As a proof of her innocence Tahmineh declares to Rustem, " No 
person has ever seen me out of my private chamber, or even heard 
the sound of my voice." 

s Josephus has recorded that the king's daughter betrayed the 
city of Saba, in Ethiopia, into the hands of Moses, having become 
enamoured of him by seeing from the walls the valor and bravery 



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15 



Indulgent heaven propitious to my prayer, 

Now brings thee hither to reward my care. 

Turan's dominions thou hast sought, alone, 

By m'ght, in darkness — thou, the mighty one ! 

O claim my hand, and grant my soul's desire ; 

Ask me in marriage of my royal sire ; 

Perhaps a boy our wedded love may crown, 

Whose strength like thine may gain the world's renown. 

Nay more — for Samengan will keep my word, — 

Rakush to thee again shall be restored." 

The damsel thus her ardent thought expressed^ 
And Rustem's heart beat joyous in his breast, 
Hearing her passion — not a word was lost. 
And Rakush safe, by him still valued most ; 
He called her near ; with graceful step she came. 
And marked with throbbing pulse his kindled flame. 

The Marruge. 

And now a Mubid, from the Champion-knight, 
Requests the royal sanction to the rite ; 
O'eijoyed, the King the honored suit approves, 
O'eijoyed to bless the doting child he loves. 
And happier still, in showering smiles around, 
To be allied to warrior so renowned. 
When the delighted father, doubly blest. 
Resigned his daughter to his glorious guest, 

which he displayed at the head of the Eg3rptian anny. Dido was 
won by the celebrity of iEneas. Kotzebue has drawn Elvira enam- 
oured of the fiune and glory of Pizarro. 

The lovely Desdemona affords another instance. 



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16 



Firdausi. 



The people shared the gladness which it gave, 

The union of the beauteous and the brave. 

To grace their nuptial day — both old and young, 

The hymeneal gratulations sung : 

" May this young moon bring happiness and joy, 

And every source of enmity destroy." 

The marriage-bower received the happy pair, 

And love and transport shower'd their blessings there. 

Ere from his lofty sphere the mom had thrown 
His glittering radiance, and in splendor shone, 
The mindful Champion, from his sinewy arm, 
His bracelet drew, the soul-ennobling charm ; 
And, as he held the wondrous gift with pride. 
He thus addressed his love-devoted bride I 

"Take this," he said, "and if, by gracious heaven, 
A daughter for thy solace should be given, 
Let it among her ringlets be displayed. 
And joy and honor will await the maid ; 
But should kind fate increase the nuptial joy, 
And make thee mother of a blooming boy, 
Around his arm this magic bracelet bind, 
To fire with virtuous deeds his ripening mind ; 
The strength of Sam will nerve his manly form, 
In temper mild, in valor like the storm ; 
His not the dastard fate to shrink, or turn 
From where the lions of the battle bum ; 
To him the soaring eagle from the sky 
Will stoop, the bravest yield to him, or fly ; 
Thus shall his bright career imperious claim 
The well-won honors of immortal fame ! " 




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Ardent he said, and kissed her eyes and face, 
And lingering held her in a fond embrace. 

When the bright sun his radiant brow displayed, 
And earth in all its loveliest hues arrayed, 
The Champion rose to leave his spouse's side. 
The warm affections of his weeping bride. 
For her, too soon the winged moments flew. 
Too soon, alas ! the parting hour she knew ; 
Clasped in his arms, with many a streaming tear. 
She tried, in vain, to win his deafen'd ear ; 
Still tried, ah fruitless struggle 1 to impart, 
The swelling anguish of her bursting heart. 

The father now with gratulations due 
Rustem approaches, and displays to view 
The fiery war-horse, — welcome as the light 
Of heaven, to one immersed in deepest night ; 
The Champion, wild with joy, fits on the rein, 
And girds the saddle on his back again ; 
Then mounts, and leaving sire and wife behind. 
Onward to Sistan rushes like the wind. 

But when returned to Zabul's friendly shade, 
None knew what joys the Warrior had delayed ; 
Still, fond remembrance, with endearing thought. 
Oft to his mind the scene of rapture brought. 



The Birth of Sohrab. 



When nine slow-circling months had roU'd away. 
Sweet-smiling pleasure hailed the brightening day^ 
A wondrous boy Tahmineh's tears supprest. 




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18 



Firdausi. 



And luird the sorrows of her heart to rest ; 
To him, predestined to be great and brave, 
The name Sohrab his tender mother gave ; 
And as he grew, amazed, the gathering throng. 
Viewed his large limbs, his sinews firm and strong ; 
His infant years no soft endearment claimed : 
Athletic sports his eager soul inflamed ; 
Broad at the chest and taper round the loins, 
Where to the rising hip the body joins j 
Hunter and wrestler ; and so great his speed, 
He could overtake, and hold the swiftest steed. 
His noble aspect, and majestic grace, 
Betrayed the offspring of a glorious race. 
How, with a mother's ever anxious love, 
Still to retain him near her heart she strove I 
For when the father's fond inquiry came. 
Cautious, she still concealed his birth and name. 
And feign'd a daughter bom, the evil fraught 
With misery to avert — but vain the thought ; 
Not many years had passed, with downy flight, 
Ere he, Tahmineh's wonder and delight. 
With glistening eye, and youthful ardor warm, 
Filled her foreboding bosom with alarm. 
" O now relieve my heart ! " he said, " declare. 
From whom I sprang and breathe the vital air. 
Since, from my childhood, I have ever been. 
Amidst my playmates of superior mien ; 
Should friend or foe demand my father's name, 
Let not my silence testify my shame ! 
If still concealed, you falter, still delay, 





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Sobrab. 



19 



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A mother's blood shall wash the crime away." 
This wrath forego," the mother answering cried| 
And joyful hear to whom thou art allied. 
A glorious line precedes thy destined birth, 
The mightiest heroes of the sons of earth. 
The deeds of Sam remotest realms admire, 
And Zal, and Rustem thy illustrious sire 1 " 

In private, then, she Rustem's letter placed 
Before his view, and brought with eager haste 
Three sparkling rubies, wedges three of gold. 
From Persia sent — " Behold," she said, " behold 
Thy father's gifts, will these thy doubts remove 
The cosdy pledges of paternal love ! 
Behold this bracelet charm, of sovereign power 
To baffle fate in danger's awful hour ; 
But thou must still the perilous secret keep, 
Nor ask the harvest of renown to reap ; 
For when, by this peculiar signet known. 
Thy glorious fother shall demand his son. 
Doomed from her only joy in life to part, 
O think what pangs will rend thy mother's heart ! — 
Seek not the fame which only teems with woe ; 
Afrasiyab is Rustem's deadliest foe ! 
And if by him discovered, him I dread. 
Revenge will M upon thy guiltless head." 

The youth replied : " In vain thy sighs and tears, 
The secret breathes and mocks thy idle fears. 
No human power can fate's decrees control, 
Or check the kindled ardor of my soul. 
Then why from me the bursting truth conceal? 




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Sobrab. 



21 



Fruitless, his brain with wild impatience bums. 
But when at length they bring the destined steed, 
From Rakush bred, of lightning's winged speed. 
Fleet, as the arrow from the bow-string flies. 
Fleet, as the eagle darting through the skies, 
Kejoiced he springs, and, with a nimble bound. 
Vaults in his seat, and wheels the courser round ; 
'^ With such a horse — thus mounted, what remains? 
Kaus, the Persian King, no longer reigns ! " 
High flushed he speaks — with youthful pride elate. 
Eager to crush the Monarch's glittering state ; 
He grasps his javelin with a hero's might. 
And pants with ardor for the field of fight. 

Soon o'er the realm his fame expanding spread. 
And gathering thousands hasten'd to his aid. 
His Grandsire, pleased, beheld the warrior-train 
Successive throng and darken all the plain ; 
And boimteously his treasures he supplied. 
Camels, and steeds, and gold. — In martial pride, 
Sohrab was seen — a Grecian helmet graced 
His brow — and costliest mail his limbs embraced* 

Afrasiyab's Scheme. 



Afrasiyab now hears with ardent joy. 
The bold ambition of the warrior-boy. 
Of him who, perfumed with the milky breath 
Of infiancy, was threatening war and death. 
And bursting sudden from his mother's side. 
Had laimched his bark upon the perilous tide* 




Firdausi. 



The insidious King sees well the tempting hour, 
Favorit^; his arms against the Persian power, 
And thence, in haste, the enterprise to share, 
Twelve thousand veterans selects with care ; 
To Human and Barman the charge consigns. 
And thus hb force with Samengan combines ; 
But treacherous first his martial chiefs he prest. 
To keep the secret fast within their bieast : — 
" For this bold youth must not his father know. 
Each must confit>nt the other as his foe, — 
Such is my vengeance t With unhallowed rage. 
Father and Son shall dreadful battle wage ! 
Unknown the youth shall Rustem's force withstand. 
And soon o'erwhelm the bulwark of the land. 
Rustem removed, the Persian throne is ours. 
An easy conquest to confederate powers ; 
And then, secured by some propitious snare, 
Sohrab himself our galling bonds shall wear. 
Or should the Son by Rustem's &lcbion bleed. 
The father's horror at that fatal deed, 
Will rend his soul, and midst his sacred grief, 
Kaus in vain will supplicate relief." 

The tutored Chiefs advance with speed, and bring 
Imperial presents to the future king ; 
In stately pomp the embassy proceeds ; 
Ten loaded camels, ten unrivalled steeds, 
A golden crown, and throne, whose jewels bright 
Gleam in the sun, and shed a sparkling light. 
A letter too the crafty tyrant sends. 
And firaudful thus the glorious aim commends. — 



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" If Persia's spoils invite thee to the fieid. 
Accept the aid my conquering legions yield ; 
Led by two Chiefe of valor and renown, 
Upon thy head to place the kingly crown." 

Elate with promised fame, the youth surveys 
The regal vest, the throne's irradiant blaze, 
The golden crown, the steeds, the sumptuous load 
Of ten strong camels, craftily bestowed ; 
Salutes the Chie&, and views on every side, * 
The lengthening ranks with various arms supplied. 
The march b^ns — the brazen drums resound,^ 
His moving thousands hide the trembling ground ; 
For Persia's verdant land he wields the spear. 
And blood and havoc mark his groaning rear.' 



SOHRAB MEETS HUJIR. 

To check the Invader's horror-spreading course, 
The barrier-fort opposed unequal force ; 
That fort whose walls, extending wide, contained 
The stay of Persia, men to battle trained. 
Soon as Hujir the dusky crowd descried. 
He on his own presumptuous arm relied, 
And left the fort ; in mail with shield and spear. 
Vaunting he spoke, — " What hostile force is here ? 

1 Kus is a tymbal, or laige brass drum, which is beat in the palaces 
or camps bf Eastern princes. 

* It appears throughout the Shcth-Nameh that whenerer any army 
was put in motion, the inhabitants and the country, whether hostile 
or friendly, were equally given up to plunder and devastation. 

'* EYer3rthing hi their progress was burnt and destroyed." 






".'. -v.-,"i; iV' L-jy-^.s. -v>- i"^^^-:^":P.jsv^ ; I 



Sobrab. 



25 



Trembling, for life, the craven boaster prayed. 
That mercy granted eased his coward mind, 
Though, dire disgrace, in captive bonds confined. 
And sent to Human, who amazed beheld 
How soon Sohrab his daring soul had quelled. 

A Warrior Maid. 

When Gurd-afrid, a peerless warrior-dame. 
Heard of the conflict, and the hero's shame. 
Groans heaved her breast, and tears of anger flowed. 
Her tulip cheek with deeper crimson glowed ; 
Speedful, in arms magnificent arrayed, 
A foaming palfrey bore the martial maid ; 
The burnished mail her tender limbs embraced. 
Beneath her helm her clustering locks she placed ; 
Poised in her hand an iron javelin gleamed. 
And o'er the ground its sparkling lustre streamed ; 
Accoutred thus in manly guise, no eye 
However piercing could her sex descry ; 
Now, like a lion, from the fort she bends. 
And midst the foe impetuously descends ; 
Fearless of soul, demands with haughty tone, 
The bravest chief, for warlike valor known, 
To try the chance of fight. In shining arms. 
Again Sohrab the glow of battle warms ; 
With scornful smiles, " Another deer I " he cries, 
" Come to my victor-toils, another prize ! " 
The damsel saw his noose insidious spread. 
And soon her arrows whizzed around his head ; 



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Sobrab. 

Then from his saddle thong — his noose he drew, 
And round her waist the twisted loop he threw, — 
** Now seek not to escape," he sharply said, 
** Such is the fate of war, unthinking maid ! 
And, as such beauty seldom swells our pride. 
Vain thy attempt to cast my toils aside." 

In this extreme, but one resource remained, 
Only one remedy her hope sustained, — 
Expert in wiles each siren-art she knew. 
And thence exposed her blooming &ce to view ; 
Raising her full black orbs, serenely bright. 
In all her charms she blazed before his sight ; ^ 
And thus addressed Sohrab. — " O warrior brave, 
Hear me, and thy imperilled honor save, 
These curling tresses seen by either host, 
A woman conquered, whence the glorious boast ? 
Thy startled troops will know, with inward grief, 
A woman's arm resists their towering chief. 
Better preserve a warrior's fidr renown, 
And let our struggle still remain unknown. 
For who with wanton folly would expose 
A helpless maid, to aggravate her woes ; 
The fort, the treasure, shall thy toils repay. 
The chief, and garrison, thy will obey, 
And thine the honors of this dreadful day." 

Raptured he gazed, her smiles resistless move 
The wildest transports of ungovemed love. 
Her &ce disclosed a paradise to view, 

1 Gurd-afrid, engaging Sohrab. is exactiy the Clorinda of Tasso 
engaging Tancred, in the third canto of Gerusalemme Liberator 




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28 



Firdausi* 




Eyes like the fawn, and cheeks of rosy hue — 
Thus vanquished, lost, unconscious of her aim, 
And only struggling with his amorous flame, 
He rode behind, as if compelled by fate, 
And heedless saw her gain the castle-gate. 

Safe with her friends, escaped from brand and spear. 
Smiling she stands, as if unknown to fear. 
— The father now, with tearfril pleasure wild. 
Clasps to his heart his fondly-foster'd child ; 
The crowding warriors round her eager bend. 
And grateful prayers to favoring heaven ascend. 

Now from the walls, she, with majestic air. 
Exclaims : " Thou warrior of Turan, forbear ! 
Why vex thy soul, and useless strife demand ! 
Go, and in peace enjoy thy native land." 

Stem he rejoins : " Thou beauteous tyrant ! say. 
Though crown'd with charms, devoted to betray. 
When these proud walls, in dust and ruins laid. 
Yield no defence, and thou a captive maid, 
Will not repentance through thy bosom dart. 
And sorrow soften that disdainful heart?" 

Quick she replied : " O'er Persia's fertile fields 
The savage Turk in vain his falchion wields ; 
When King Kaus this bold invasion hears. 
And mighty Rustem clad in arms appears ! 
Destruction wide will glut the slippery plain, 
And not one man of all thy host remain. 
Alas ! that bravery, high as thine, should meet 
Amidst such promise, with a sure defeat. 
But not a gleam of hope remains for thee, 



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Thy wondrous valor cannot keep thee free. 
Avert the fate which o'er thy head impends, 
Return, return, and save thy martial friends ! " 

Thus to be scorned, defrauded of his prey. 
With victory in his grasp — to lose the day I 
Shame and revenge alternate filled his mind ; 
The suburb-town to pillage he consigned, 
And devastation — not a dwelling spared ; 
The very owl was from her covert scared ; 
Then thus : " Though luckless in my aim to-day, 
To-morrow shall behold a sterner fray ; 
This fort, in ashes, scattered o'er the plain." 
He ceased — and turned toward his troops again ; 
There, at a distance from the hostile power. 
He brooding waits the slaughter-breathing hour. 

Meanwhile the sire of Gurd-afrid, who now 
Governed the fort, and feared the warrior's vow ; 
Mournful and pale, with gathering woes opprest. 
His distant Monarch trembling thus addrest. 
But first invoked the heavenly power to shed 
Its choicest blessings o'er his royal head. 
^' Against our realm with numerous foot and horse, 
A stripling warrior holds his ruthless course. 
His lion-breast unequalled strength betrays. 
And o'er his mien the sun's effulgence plays : 
Sohrab his name ; like Sam Suwar he shows. 
Or Rustem terrible amidst his foes. 
The bold Hujir lies vanquished on the plain. 
And drags a captive's ignominious chain ; 
Myriads of troops besiege our tottering wall, 




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30 



Firdausi. 




And vain the effort to suspend its fall. 
Haste, arm for fight, this Tartar-power withstand, 
Let sweeping Vengeance lift her flickering brand ; 
Rustem alone may stem the roaring wave. 
And, prompt as bold, his groaning country save. 
Meanwhile in flight we place our only trust. 
Ere the proud ramparts crumble in the dust." 

Swift flies the messenger through secret ways, 
And to the King the dreadful tale conveys, 
Then passed, unseen, in night's concealing shade. 
The mournful heroes and the warrior maid. 

SoHRAB Loves. 

Soon as the sun with vivifying ray, 
Gleams o'er the landscape, and renews the day; 
The flaming troops the lofty walls surround, 
With thundering crash the bursting gates resound. 
Already are the captives bound, in thought. 
And like a herd before the conqueror brought ; 
Sohrab, terrific o'er the ruin, views 
His hopes deceived, but restless still pursues. 
An empty fortress mocks his searching eye. 
No steel-clad chiefs his burning wrath defy ; 
No warrior- maid reviving passions warms, 
And soothes his soul with fondly valued charms. 
Deep in his breast he feels the amorous smart. 
And hugs her image closer to his heart 
" Alas ! that Fate should thus invidious shroud 
The moon's soft radiance in a gloomy cloud ; 




I 




Sobrab. 



31 



Should to my eyes such winning grace display^ 
Then snatch the enchanter of my soul away ! 
A beauteous roe my toils enclosed in vain, 
Now I, her victim, drag the captive's chain ; 
Strange the effects that from her charms proceed, 
I gave the wound, and I afflicted bleed ! 
Vanquished by her, I mourn the luckless strife ; 
Dark, dark, and bitter, frowns my mom of life. 
A fair unknown my tortured bosom rends. 
Withers each joy, and every hope suspends." 
Impassioned thus Sohrab in secret sighed. 
And sought, in vain, o'ermastering grief to hide. 
Can the heart bleed and throb from day to day. 
And yet no trace its inmost pangs betray? 
Love scorns control, and prompts the laboring sigh, 
Pales the red lip, and dims the lucid eye ; 
His look alarmed the stem Turanian Chief, 
Closely he mark'd his heart-corroding grief; ^ 
And though he knew not that the martial dame, 
Had in his bosom lit the tender flame ; 
Full well he knew such deep repinings prove, 
The hapless thraldom of disastrous love. 
Full well he knew some idol's musky hair. 
Had to his youthful heart become a snare. 
But still unnoted was the gushing tear, 
Till haply he had gained his private ear : — 
** In ancient times, no hero known to fame, 



1 Literally, Human was not at first aware that Sohrab was 
wounded in the liver. In this organ Oriental as well as the 
Greek and Roman poets place the residence of love. 







!{^| 32 Firdausi. 



J I »"" *< I 



Not dead to glory, e'er indulged the flame ; 
^^^1 Though beauty's smiles might charm a fleeting hour. 



U 



^yf The hearty unsway'd, repelled their lasting power. 
^§ A warrior Chief to trembling love a prey? 






m 



What ! weep for woman one inglorious day? 



m — -, -- 

5^.^| Canst thou for love's effeminate control. 



yjj^l Barter the glory of a warrior's soul? 

Although a hundred damsels might be gained, 
The hero's heart shall still be free, unchained. 
/V| Thou art our leader, and thy place the field 

Where soldiers love to fight with spear and shield ; 
And what hast thou to do with tears and smiles, 
The silly victim to a woman's wiles? 
Our progress, mark ! from far Turan we came, 
Through seas of blood to gain immortal fame ; 
And wilt thou now the tempting conquest shun. 
When our brave arms this Barrier- fort have won? 
Why linger here, and trickling sorrows shed, 
Till mighty Kaus thunders o'er thy head ! 
Till Tus, and Giw, and Gudarz, and Bahram, 
And Rustem brave, Feramurz, and Reham, 
ShaU aid the war ! A great emprise is thine. 
At once, then, every other thought resign ; 
For know the task which first inspired thy zeal. 
Transcends in glory all that love can feeL 
Rise, lead the war, prodigious toils require 
Unyielding strength, and unextinguished fire ; 
Pursue the triumph with tempestuous rage. 
Against the world in glorious strife engage. 
And when an empire sinks beneath thy sway. 




1^ 



i 




Sobrab. 

(O quickly may we hail the prosperous day,) 
The fickle sex will then with blooming charms, 
Adoring throng to bless thy circling arms ! " 

Sohrab's Vow. 

Human's warm speech, the spirit-stirring theme, 
Awoke Sohrab from his inglorious dream. 
No more the tear his faded cheek bedewed, 
Again ambition all his hopes renewed : 
Swell'd his bold heart with unforgotten zeal, 
The noble wrath which heroes only feel ; 
Fiercely he vowed at one tremendous stroke. 
To bow the world beneath the tyrant's yoke ! 
" Afrasiyab," he cried, " shall reign alone. 
The mighty lord of Persia's gorgeous throne ! " 

Burning, himself, to rule this nether sphere, 
These welcome tidings charmed the despot's ear. 
Meantime Kaus, this dire invasion known. 
Had called his chie& around his ivory throne : 
There stood Gurgin, and Bahram, and Gushwad, 
And Tus, and Giw, and Gudarz, and Ferhad ; 
To them he read the melancholy tale, 
Gust'hem had written of the rising bale ; 
Besought their aid and prudent choice, to form 
Some sure defence against the threatening storm. 
With one consent they urge the strong request. 
To summon Rustem from his rural rest. — 
Instant a warrior-delegate they send, 
And thus the King invites his patriot-friend, 











■* X»B-J-* Jh.V«-« » • M . -KT-H-V-AI 



Ms^ 



rj» »* ■ ATI 



lK>" 



>-'*^' -'- '"-"• • ^ VS. y. ^Jtrv u>\> 1.. ^ Vl^:^^^'v^r.^^^^^v:^^^^-q 



34 Firdausi. 

" To thee all praise, whose mighty arm alone. 
Preserves the glory of the Persian throne ! 
Lo ! Tartar hordes our happy realms invade ; 
The tottering state requires thy powerful aid ; 
A youthful Champion leads the ruthless host. 
His savage country's widely rumored boast. 
The Barrier-fortress sinks beneath his sway, 
Hujir is vanquish ed, ruin tracks his way ; 
Strong as a raging elephant in fight, 
No arm but thine can match his furious might 
Mazinderan thy conquering prowess knew ; 
The Demon-king thy trenchant falchion slew ; 
The rolling heavens, abashed with fear, behold 
Thy biting sword, thy mace adorned with gold ! ^ 
Fly to the succor of a King distrest, 
Proud of thy love, with thy protection blest. 
When o'er the nation dread misfortunes lower, 
Thou art the refuge, thou the saving power. 
The chiefs assembled claim thy patriot vows, 
Give to thy glory all that life allows ; 
And while no whisper breathes the direful tale, 
O, let thy Monarch's anxious prayers prevail." 

Closing the fragrant page ' o'ercome with dread, 

1 *' Thy mace makes the Sun weep, and thy sword inflames the 
Stars." (Lit the planet Venus.) Although tliis is a strong hypei^ 
bole, there are numberless parallel passages containing equally 
extravagant personification in our own poets. 

3 The paper upon which the letters of royal and distinguished 
personages in the East are written is usually perfumed, and covered 
with curious devices in gold. This was scented with amber. The 
degree of embellishment is generally regulated according to the 
rank of the party. 




F- ■♦t F »»■^ # T F» :#■ I-MmM 




fci'»*»»yjiwaw»Tgai^w?--— ^~~— ~^— 






1 




Sobrab. 

The afflicted King to Giw, the warrior, said : — 
'' Go, bind the saddle on thy fleetest horse, 
Outstrip the tempest in thy rapid course, 
To Rustem swift his country's woes convey. 
Too true art thou to linger on the way ; 
Speed, day and night — and not one instant wait, 
Whatever hour may bring thee to his gate." 

Rustem Warned. 

Followed no pause — to Giw enough was said. 
Nor rest, nor taste of food, his speed delayed. 
And when arrived where Zabul bowers exhale 
Ambrosial sweets and scent the balmy gale, 
The sentinel's loud voice in Rustem's ear, 
Announced a messenger from Persia, near ; 
The Chief himself amidst his warriors stood, 
Dispensing honors to the brave and good, 
And soon as Giw had joined the martial ring, 
(The sacred envoy of the Persian King,) 
He, with becoming loyalty inspired, 
Asked what the monarch, what the state, required ; 
But Giw, apart, his secret mission told, — 
The written page was speedily unrolled. 

Struck with amazement, Rustem — ''Now on earth 
A warrior-knight of Sam's excelling worth? 
Whence comes this hero of the prosperous star? 
I know no Turk renowned, like him, in war ; 
He bears the port of Rustem too, 'tis said. 
Like Sam, like Nariman, a warrior bred ! 
He cannot be my son, unknown to me ; 




^^ 




iwm.wmwmwaLmjarmi 



isao 



Bf-3v^^^i^:^1E^&ii:SS^^^^3EESi^SS^^SS 



56 



Firdausi. 



Reason forbids the thought — it cannot be ! 

At Samengan, where once affection smiled. 

To me Tahmineh bore her only child. 

That was a daughter ? " Pondering thus he spoke. 

And then aloud — "Why fear the invader's yoke? 

Why trembling shrink, by coward thoughts dismayed. 

Must we not all in dust, at length, be laid? 

But come, to Nirum's palace, haste with me. 

And there partake the feast — from sorrow free ; 

Breathe, but awhile — ere we our toils renew. 

And moisten the parched lip with needful dew. 

Let plans of war another day decide, 

We soon shall quell this youthful hero's pride. 

The force of fire soon flutters and deca]rs 

When ocean, swelled by storms, its wrath di8pla]rs. 

What danger threatens ! whence the dastard fear ! 

Rest, and at leisure share a warrior's cheer." 

In vain the Envoy prest the Monarch's grief; 
The matchless prowess of the stripling chief; 
How brave Hujir had felt his furious hand ; 
What thickening woes beset the shuddering land. 
But Rustem, still, delayed the parting day. 
And mirth and feasting rolled the hours away ; 
Mom following mom beheld the banquet bright. 
Music and wine prolonged the genial rite ; 
Rapt by the witchery of the melting strain. 
No thought of Kaus touch'd his swimming brain.^ 

1 Four days were consumed in unintemipted feasting. Thte 
seems to hare been an ancient practice prerious to the commence- 
ment of any important undertAking. or at setting out on a journey. 




aE3 



I 




Sobrab. 

The trumpet's clang, on fragrant breezes borne. 
Now loud salutes the fifth revolving mom ; 
The softer tones which charmed the jocund feast. 
And all the noise of revelry, had ceased, 
The generous horse, with rich embroidery deckt, 
Whose gilded trappings sparkling light reflect, 
Bears with majestic port the Champion brave, 
And high in air the victor-banners wave. 
Prompt at the martial call, Zuara leads 
His veteran troops from Zabul's verdant meads.^ 



Kaus Enraged. 

Ere Rustem had approached his journey's end, 
Tus, Gudarz, Gushwad, met their champion-friend. 
With customary honors ; pleased to bring 
The shield of Persia to the anxious King. 
But foaming wrath the senseless monarch swayed ; 
His friendship scorned, his mandate disobeyed, 
Beneath dark brows o'ershadowing deep, his eye 
Red gleaming shone, like lightning through the sky ; 
And when the warriors met his sullen view, 
Frowning revenge, still more enraged he grew : — 
Loud to the Envoy thus he fiercely cried : — 
" Since Rustem has my royal power defied. 
Had I a sword, this instant should his head 
Roll on the ground ; but let him now be led 

^ Zuara, it will be remembered, was the brother of Rustem, and 
had the immediate superintendence of the Zabul troops. 






rffnTmsenTrr,) 




^^<J^ 



^?^ t:^?^ -Sl^^f^c^ 'i:j>^^:^^^ T^^Sr 



i 



t 

i 



UJU^ 



•TTTT-y 



39 



Sobrab. 

Go, seize the plunderers growling o'er their prey ! 
Wherefore to others give the base command ? 
Go, break him on the tree with thine own hand. 
Know, thou hast roused a warrior, great and free. 
Who never bends to tyrant Kings like thee I 
Was not this untired arm triumphant seen, 
In Misser, Rum, Mazinderan, and Chin ! 
And must I shrink at thy imperious nod ! 
Slave to no Prince, I only bow to God. 
Whatever wrath from thee, proud King ! may fall. 
For thee I fought, and I deserve it all. 
The regal sceptre might have graced my hand, 
I kept the laws, and scorned supreme command. 
When Kai-kobad on Alberz mountain strayed, 
I drew him thence, and gave a warrior's aid ; 
Placed on his brows the long-contested crown. 
Worn by his sires, by sacred right his own ; 
Strong in the cause, my conquering arms prevailed. 
Wouldst thou have reign'd had Rustem's valor failed ? 
When the White demon raged in battle-fray, 
Wouldst thou have lived had Rustem lost the day? ** 
Then to his friends : " Be wise, and shun your fate. 
Fly the wide ruin which overwhelms the state ; 
The conqueror comes — the scourge of great and small. 
And vultures, following fast, will gorge on all. 
Persia no more its injured Chief shall view " — 
He said, and sternly from the court withdrew. 

The warriors now, with sad forebodings wrung, 
Tom from that hope to which they proudly clung, 
On Gudarz rest, to soothe with genUe sway, 



uuu 



i.-.-iiLL 



■f 
i 



|!^gJIC«^3C'^ 



Sobrab. 



Kaus Relents. 



41 



Kaus, relenting, heard with anxious ear. 
And groundless wrath gave place to shame and fear ; 
" Go then," he cried, "his generous aid implore, 
And to your King the mighty Chief restore I " 

When Gudarz rose, and seized his courser's rein, 
A crowd of heroes followed in his train. 
To Rustem, now (respectful homage paid). 
The royal prayer he anxious thus conveyed. 
" The King, repentant, seeks thy aid again, 
Grieved to the heart that he has given thee pain ; 
But though his anger was unjust and strong. 
Thy country still is guiltless of the wrong, 
And, therefore, why abandoned thus by thee? 
Thy help the King himself implores through me." 
Rustem rejoined : " Unworthy the pretence. 
And scorn and insult all my recompense? 
Must I be galled by his capricious mood? 
I, who have still his firmest champion stood? 
But all is past, to heaven alone resigned. 
No human cares shall more disturb my mind ! " 
Then Gudarz thus (consummate art inspired 
His prudent tongue, with all that zeal requu-ed) ; 
" When Rustem dreads Sohrab's resistless power. 
Well may inferiors fly the trying hour 1 

Gndarx was one of (he greatest generals of Persia ; be conquered 
Judea, and took Jerusalem under the reign of Lohurasp, of the first 
dynasty of Persia, and sustained many wars against Afrasiyab under 
the Kings of the second dynasty. He was the faXhtr of Giw, who is 
also celebrated for his valor in the following reigns. 



II 

m 



m 



i 




:ig^5^?^SSg^g^C^gfe^)»^5wfe^ ^^^ 



42 



Firdausi. 



The dire suspicion now pervades us all, 
Thus, unavenged, shall beauteous Persia fall ! 
Yet, generous still, avert the lasting shame, 
O, still preserve thy country's glorious feme ! 
Or wilt thou, deaf to all our fears excite. 
Forsake thy friends, and shun the pending fight? 
And worse, O grief ! in thy declining days. 
Forfeit the honors of thy country's praise?" 
This artful censure set his soul on fire. 
But patriot firmness calm'd his burning ire ; 
And thus he said : '' Inured to war's alarms. 
Did ever Rustem shun the din of arms? 
Though frowns from Kaus I disdain to bear. 
My threatened country claims a warrior's care." 
He ceased, and prudent joined the circling throng, 
And in the public good forgot the private wrong. 

From far the King the generous Champion viewed, 
And rising mildly thus his speech pursued : — 
'^ Since various tempers govern all mankind. 
Me, nature fashioned of a froward mind ; ^ 
And what the heavens spontaneously bestow. 
Sown by their bounty must forever grow. 
The fit of wrath which burst within me, soon 
Shrunk up my heart as thin as the new moon ; ' 

1 Kaus. in acknowledging the violence of his disposition, uses a 
singular phrase : ** When you departed in anger, O Champion ! I 
repented; ashisftUinto my month** A similar metaphor is used in 
Hindustani : If a person &lls under the displeasure of his friend, he 
says. " Ashes have fiUIen into my meat ; " meaning that his happi- 
ness is gone. 

*This is one of Firdausi's fovorite similes. 

" My heart became as slender as the new mooiu** 




it 



i 




^ii^— ^— w 




•*'••• •^•*** 



Sohrab. 



43 



Ebe had I deemed thee still my army's boast. 
Source of my regal power, beloved the most, 
Unequalled. Every day, remembering thee, 
I drain the wine cup, thou art all to roe ; 
I wished thee to perform that lofty part, 
Claimed by thy valor, sanctioned by my heart ; 
Hence thy delay my better thoughts siipprest, 
And boisterous passions revelled in my breast ; 
But when I saw thee from my Court retire 
In wrath, repentance quenched my burning ire. 
O, let me now my keen contrition prove. 
Again enjoy thy fellowship and love : 
And while to thee my gratitude is known. 
Still be the pride and glory of my throne." 

Rustem, thus answering, said : ''Thou art the King, 
Source of command, pure honor's sacred spring ; 
And here I stand to follow thy behest. 
Obedient ever — be thy will expressed, 
And services required — Old age shall see 
My loins still bound in fealty to thee." 

To this the King : " Rejoice we then to-day, 
And on the morrow marshal our array." 
The monarch quick commands the feast of joy. 
And social cares his buoyant mind employ. 
Within a bower, beside a crystal spring,* 



I The beautiful arbors referred to in the text are often included 
within the walls of Eastern palaces. They are fiuicifully fitted up. 
and supplied with reservoirs, fountains, and flower trees. These 
romantic garden pavilions are called " kiosks " in Turkey, and are 
generally situated upon an eminence near a running stream. 



S^> 







■^ i^^^i-.; -3^^S^^:a^iti -^J^.-- li^^-yir^^^^^J!^! 



44 



Firdausu 




Where opening flowers, refreshing odors fling, 
Cheerful he sits, and forras the banquet scene, 
In regal splendor on the crowded green ; 
And as around he greets his valiant bands, 
Showers golden presents from his bounteous hands ; ^ 
Voluptuous damsels trill the sportive lay, 
Whose sparkling glances beam celestial day ; 
Filled with delight the heroes closer join, 
And quaff till midnight cups of generous wine. 

Soon as the Sun had pierced the veil of night. 
And o*er the prospect shed his earliest light, 
Kaus, impatient, bids the clarions sound, 
The sprightly notes from hills and rocks rebound ; 
His treasure gates are opened : and to all 
A largess given ; obedient to the call. 
His subjects gathering crowd the mountain's brow, 
And following thousands shade the vales below ; 
With shields, in armor, numerous legends bend ; 
And troops of horse the threatening lines extend. 
Beneath the tread of heroes fierce and strong. 
By war's tumultuous fury borne along. 
The firm earth shook : the dust, in eddies driven, 
Whirled high in air, obscured the face of heaven ; 



j 



1 Milton alludes to the custom in Paradise Lost: — 

** Where the goigeous East with richest hand 
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold." 

In the note on thb passage by Warburton, it is said to have been an 
Eastern ceremony, at the coronation of their kings, to powder them 
with gold-dust and seed-pearL The expression in Firdausi is, " he 
showered or scattered gems." It was usual at festivals, and the 
custom still exists, to throw money amongst the people. 




ilil 



Sobrab. 



45 



Nor earth, nor sky appeared — all, seeming lost, 
And swallowed up by that wide-spreading host. 
The steely armor glittered o'er the fields, 
And lightnings flashed from gold emblazoned shields ; 
Thou wouldst have said the clouds had burst in showers 
Of sparkling amber o'er the martial powers. 
Thus, close embodied, they pursued their way. 
And reached the Barrier-fort in terrible array. 



The Spy. 

The legions of Turan, with dread surprise. 
Saw o'er the plain successive myriads rise ; 
And showed them to Sohrab ; he, mounting high 
The fort, surveyed them with a fearless eye ; 
To Human, who, with withering terror pale. 
Had marked their progress through the distant vale. 
He pointed out the sight, and ardent said : — 
*' Dispel these woe-fraught broodings from thy head. 
I wage the war, Afrasiyab ! for thee, 
And make this desert seem a rolling sea." 
Thus, while amazement every bosom quelled, 
Sohrab, unmoved, the coming storm beheld, 
And boldly gazing on the camp around. 
Raised high the cup with wine nectareous crowned : 
O'er him no dreams of woe insidious stole. 
No thought but joy engaged his ardent soul. 

The Persian legions had restrained their course, 
Tents and pavilions, countless foot and horse. 
Clothed all the spacious plain, and gleaming threw 



m 



M 



H^' 



&. 






FirJausi. 
a the aazer's view. 







^^BE^^^m 



suss 



:iisi 



Sobrab. 

And, all elate, were chanting his renown. 
Closely concealed, the gay and splendid scene, 
Rustem contemplates with astonished mien ; 
When Zind, retiring, marks the listener nigh, 
Watching the festal train with curious eye ; 
And well he knew, amongst his Tartar host, 
Such towering stature not a Chief could boast — 
"What spy is here, close shrouded by the night? 
Art thou afraid to face the beams of light?'' 
But scarcely from his lips these words had past. 
Ere, felled to earth, he groaning breathed his last ; 
Unseen he perished, fate decreed the blow. 
To add fresh keenness to a parent's woe. 

Meantime Sohrab, perceiving the delay 
In Zind's return, looked round him with dismay ; 
The seat still vacant — but the bitter truth. 
Full soon was known to the distracted youth ; 
Full soon he found that Zinda-ruzm was gone. 
His day of feasting and of glory done ; 
Speedful toward the fatal spot he ran. 
Where slept in bloody vest the slaughtered man. 

The lighted torches now displayed the dead, 
Stiff on the ground his graceful limbs were spread ; 
Sad sight to him who knew his guardian care. 
Now doomed a kinsman's early loss to bear ; 
Anguish and rage devour his breast by turns. 
He vows revenge, then o'er the warrior mourns : 
And thus exclaims to each afflicted Chief : — 
" No time, to-night, my friends, for useless grief; 
The ravenous wolf has watched his helpless prey, 



47 




4 



-if->3Hfc> 



Sobrab* 



49 



Sohrab in mail his nervous limbs attired, 
For dreadful wrath his soul to vengeance fired; 
With anxious haste he bent the yielding cord, 
Ring within ring, more fatal than the sword ; 
Around his brow a regal helm he bound ; 
His dappled steed impatient stampt the ground. 
Thus armed, ascending where the eye could trace 
The hostile force, and mark each leader's place, 
He called Hujir, the captive Chief addressed, 
And anxious thus, his soul's desire expressed : 
** A prisoner thou, if freedom's voice can charm. 
And dungeon darkness fill thee with alarm. 
That fi-eedom merit, shun severest woe. 
And truly answer what I ask to know ! 
If rigid truth thy ready speech attend, 
Honors and wealth shall dignify my friend." 

" Obedient to thy wish," Hujir replied : 
^' Truth thou shalt hear, whatever chance betide; 
For what on earth to praise has better claim? 
Falsehood but leads to sorrow and to shame ! " 

'* Then say, what heroes lead the adverse host, 
Where they command, what dignities they boast ; 
Say, where does Kaus hold his kingly state,^ 
Where Tus, and Gudarz, on his bidding wait ; 
Giw, Gust'hem, and Bahram — all known to thee. 
And where is mighty Rustem, where is he? 
Look round with care, their names and power display. 
Or instant death shall end thy vital day." 

1 Similar descriptions of chiefe and encampments are common 
amongst the epic poets of the West. 



1 








50 



Firdausi. 



u 



Where yonder splendid tapestries extend/ 
And o*er pavilions bright infolding bend, 
A throne triumphal shines with sapphire rays^ 
And golden suns upon the banners blaze ; 
Full in the centre of the hosts — and round 
The tent a hundred elephants are bound, 
As if, in pomp, he mocked the power of fete ; 
There royal Kaus holds his kingly state. 

" In yonder tent which numerous guards protect. 
Where front and rear illustrious Chiefe collect ; 
Where horsemen wheeling seem prepared for fight, 
Their golden armor glittering in the light ; 
Tus lifts his banners, decked with royal pride, 
Feared by the brave, the soldier's friend and guide.* 

** That crimson tent where spearmen frowning stand. 
And steel-clad veterans form a threatening band. 
Holds mighty Gudarz, famed for martial fire. 
Of eighty valiant sons the valiant sire ; 
Yet strong in arms, he shuns inglorious ease, 
His lion-banners floating in the breeze." 

*' But mark, that green pavilion ; girt around 
By Persian nobles, speaks the Chief renowned ; 
Fierce on the standard, worked with curious art, 
A hideous dragon writhing seems to start ; 



1 The tents and pavilions of Eastern princes were exceedingly 
magnificent ; they were often made of silks and velvets, and orna- 
mented with pearls and gold. The tent of Nadir Shah was made 
of scarlet and broadcloth, and lined with satin, richly figured over 
with precious stones. 

3 The banners were adorned with the figure of an elephant, to 
denote his royal descent. 





S^SS^S^Si 




^fV' 




Sobrab* 



51 



Throned in his tent the warrior's form is seen. 
Towering above the assembled host between !* 
A generous horse before him snorts and neighs, 
The trembling earth the echoing sound conveys. 
Like him no Champion ever met my eyes, 
No horse like that for majesty and size ; 
What Chief illustrious bears a port so high ? 
Mark, how his standard flickers through the sky !" 

Thus ardent sxx>ke Sohrab. Hujir dismayed. 
Paused ere reply the dangerous truth betrayed. 
Trembling for Rustem's life the captive groaned ; 
Basely his country's glorious boast disowned. 
And said the Chief from distant China came — 
Sohrab abrupt demands the hero's name ; 
The name unknown, grief wrings his aching heart, 
And yearning anguish speeds her venomed dart; 
To him his mother gave the tokens true, 
He sees them all, and all but mock his view. 
When gloomy fate descends in evil hour. 
Can human wisdom bribe her favoring power? 
Yet, gathering hope, again with restless mien 
He marks the Chiefs who crowd the warlike scene. 

V Where numerous heroes, horse and foot, appear. 
And brazen trumpets thrill the listening ear, 
Behold the proud pavilion of the brave ! 
With wolves embossed the silken banners wave. 

1 Thus in Homer : — 

" The king of kings majestically tall, 
Towers o'er his armies and outshines them alL" 

Pope, /Had, ii., 483. 





t^J 



52 



Firdausi. 




The throne's bright gems with radiant lustre glow, 
Slaves ranked around with duteous homage bow. 
What mighty Chieftain rules his cohorts there? 
His name and lineage, free from guile, declare ! " 

** Giw, son of Gudarz, long a glorious name, 
Whose prowess even transcends his father's fame." * 

" Mark yonder tent of pure and dazzling white. 
Whose rich brocade reflects a quivering light ; 
An ebon seat surmounts the ivory throne ; 
There frowns in state a warrior of renown. 
The crowding slaves his awful nod obey. 
And silver moons around his banners play ; 
What Chief, or Prince, has grasped the hostile sword? " 
" Fraburz, the son of Persia's mighty lord." 

Again : ''These standards shew one champion more, 
Upon their centre flames the savage boar ; ' 
The safiron-hued pavilion bright ascends. 
Whence many a fold of tasselled fringe depends ; 
Who there presides?" 

** Guraz, from heroes sprung, 
Whose praise exceeds the power of mortal tongue." 

Thus, anxious, he explored the crowded field, 
Nor once the secret of his birth revealed ; ' 

1 The text says that be was abo the son-in-law of Rustem. 

* The word Gurax signifies a wild boar, but this acceptation is not 
very accordant to Mussulman notions, and consequently it is not 
supposed, by the orthodox, to have that meaning in the text. It is 
curious that the name of the warrior, Guraz, should correspond 
with the bearings on the standard. This frequently obtains in the 
heraldry of Europe. 

< Firdausi considers this to be destiny 1 It would have been 
natural in Sohrab to have gloried in the fiame of his fiither, but from 



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I 




Heaven willed it so. Pressed down by silent grief^ 
Surrounding objects promised no relief. 
This world to mortals still denies repose^ 
And life is still the scene of many woes. 
Again his eye, instinctive turned, descried 
The green pavilion, and the warrior's pride. 
Again he cries : " O tell his glorious name ; 
Yon gallant horse declares the hero's fame ! " 
But false Hujir the aspiring hope repelled, 
Crushed the fond wish, the soothing balm withheld, 
''And why should I conceal his name from thee? 
His name and title are unknown to me." 

Then thus Sohrab — '' In all that thou hast said. 
No sign of Rustem have thy words conveyed ; 
Thou sayest he leads the Persian host to arms. 
With him has battle lost its boisterous charms ? 
Of him no trace thy guiding hand has shewn ; 
Can power supreme remain unmarked, unknown? " 

" Perhaps returned to Zabul's verdant bowers, 
He undisturbed enjoys his peaceful hours. 
The vernal banquets may constrain his stay, 
And rural sports invite prolonged delay." 

" Ah ! say not thus ; the Champion of the world. 
Shrink from the kindling war with banners furled ! ^ 

an inevitable dispensation, his lips are here sealed on that subject ; 
and he inquires of Rustem as if he only wanted to single him out 
for the purpose of destroying him. The people of Persia are all 
fotalists. 

^ The continued anxiety and persevering filial duty of Sohrab are 
described with great success. The case is unparalleled. Sohrab is 
dark and mysterious, and, as Firdausi says in another place, the 
unconscious promoter of his own destruction. 



:> %^T<>^ <c J^ ':Sj?i4^ r^^S 







I 1 



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tKI 



54 



Firdausi. 




It cannot be ! Say where his lightnings dart. 

Shew me the warrior, all thou know'st impart ; 

Treasures imcounted shall be thy reward, 

Death changed to life, my friendship more than shared 

Dost thou not know what, in the royal ear. 

The Mubid said — befitting Kings to hear? 

* Untold, a secret is a jewel bright, 

Yet profitless whilst hidden from the light ; 

But when revealed, in words distinctly given. 

It shines refulgent as the sun through heaven.' " 

To him, Hujir evasive thus replies : — 
" Through all the extended earth his glory flies ! 
Wherever dangers round the nation close, 
Rustem approaches, and repels its foes ; 
And shouldst thou see him mix in mortal strife, 
Thou*dst think 'twere easier to escape with life 
From tiger fell, or demon — or the fold 
Of the chafed dragon, than his dreadful hold — 
When fiercest battle clothes the fields with fire. 
Before his rage embodied hosts retire ! " 

''And where didst thou encountering armies see? 
Why Rustem's praise so proudly urge to me? 
Let us but meet and thou shalt trembling know, 
How fierce that wrath which bids my bosom glow : 
If living flames express his boundless ire. 
Overwhelming waters quench consuming fire 1 
And deepest darkness, glooms of ten-fold night. 
Fly from the piercing beams of radiant light." 

Hujir shrunk back with undissembled dread, 
And thus communing with himself, he said : — 







1 




BBsaa 



Ejg^agBa«^ge^ 




Sobrab. 

** Shall I, regardless of my country, guide 
To Rustem's tent this furious homicide ? 
And witness there destruction to our host? 
The bulwark of the land forever lost ! 
^Vhat Chief can then the Tartar power restrain ! 
Kaus dethroned, the mighty Rustem slain ! 
Better a thousand deaths should lay me low, 
Than, living, yield such triumph to the foe. 
For in this struggle should my blood be shed. 
No foul dishonor can pursue me, dead ; 
No lasting shame my father's age oppress. 
Whom eighty sons of martial courage bless ! ^ 
They for their brother slain, incensed will rise, 
And pour their vengeance on my enemies." 
Then thus aloud : " Can idle words avail? 
Why still of Rustem urge the frequent tale? 
Why for the elephant-bodied hero ask? 

Thee, he will find, — no uncongenial task. 
Why seek pretences to destroy my life? 
Strike, for no Rustem views th* unequal strife I " 

Sohrab confused, with hopeless anguish mourned, 
Back from the lofty walls he quick returned, 
And stood amazed. 

The War Begins. 



Now war and vengeance claim, 
Collected thought and deeds of mighty name ; 

1 Hujir was the son of Qtidarz. A fiunily of the extent mentioned 
in the text is not of rare occuirence amongst the princes ot the 



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Sobrab* 



No prompt reply from Persian lip ensued, — 
Then rashing on, with demon-strength endued, 
Sohrab elate his javelin waved around, 
And hurled the bright pavilion to the ground ; 
With horror Kaus feels destruction nigh, 
And cries : " For Rustem's needful succor fly ! 
" This frantic Turk, triumphant on the plain, 
Withers the souls of all my warrior-train." 
That instant Tus the mighty Champion sought, 
And told the deeds the Tartar Chief had wrought ; 
" Tis ever thus, the brainless Monarch's due ! 
Shame and disaster still his steps pursue ! " 
This saying, from his tent he soon descried. 
The wild confrision spreading far and wide ; 
And saddled Rakush — whilst, in deep dismay, 
Girgin incessant cried : " Speed, speed, away." 
Reham bound on the mace, Tus promptly ran, 
And buckled on the broad Burgustuwan. 
Rustem, meanwhile, the thickening tumult hears 
And in his heart, untouched by human fears. 
Says : " What is this, that feeling seems to stun ! 
This battle must be led by Ahriman,^ 
The awftil day of doom must have begun." 
In haste he arms, and mounts his bounding steed, 
The growing rage demands redoubled speed ; 
The leopard's skin he o'er his shoulders throws, 
The regal girdle round his middle glows.' 

1 Abriman, a demon, the principle of evil. 

3 This girdle was the gift of the king, as a token of affection and 
gratitude. Jonathan gives to David, among other things, his girdle : 
" Because he loved him as his own souU" i Samuel xviii. 3, 4. 



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t'y> .-v^.^-i5«>-i£f^w^^^>S-r 



58 



Firdaust. 




m 



High wave his glorious banners ; broad revealed^ 
The pictured dragons glare along the field 
Bom by Zuara. When, surprised, he views 
Sohrab, endued with ample breast and thews. 
Like Sam Suwar, he beckons him apart ; 
The youth advances with a gallant heart, 
Willing to prove his adversary's might, 
By single combat to decide the fight ; 
And eagerly, " Together brought," he cries, 
'< Remote from us be foemen, and allies. 
And though at once by either host surveyed, 
Ours be the strife which asks no mortal aid." 

Rustem, considerate, viewed him o'er and o'er. 
So wondrous graceful was the form he bore. 
And frankly said : " Experience flows with age, 
And many a foe has felt my conquering rage ; 
Much have I seen, superior strength and art 
Have borne my spear thro' many a demon's heart ; 
Only behold me on the battle plain. 
Wait till thou see'st this hand the war sustain. 
And if on thee should changeful fortune smile. 
Thou needst not fear the monster of the Nile ! * 
But soft compassion melts my soul to save, 
A youth so blooming with a mind so brave ! " 

The generous speech Sohrab attentive heard. 
His heart expanding glowed at every word : 
** One question answer, and in answering shew. 
That truth should ever from a warrior flow ; 

^ A crocodile in war, with Firdaosi, is a figure of great power and 
strength. 



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k'«.A wj^m ~i.r^^M.m ^:m» w.^'mm.TKMJi.A.Mi^wtrwmj 



Sobrab. 



59 



Art thou not Rustem, whose exploits sublime, 
Endear his name thro' every distant clime ? " 

^* I boast no station of exalted birth, 
No proud pretensions to distinguished worth ; 
To him inferior, no such powers are mine, 
No offspring I of Nirum's glorious line ! " ^ 

The prompt denial dampt his filial joy. 
All hope at once forsook the Warrior-boy, 
His opening day of pleasure, and the bloom 
Of cherished life, immersed in shadowy gloom. 
Perplexed with what his mother's words implied ; — 
A narrow space is now prepared, aside. 
For single combat. With disdainful glance 
Each boldly shakes his death- devoting lance. 
And rushes forward to the dubious fight ; 
Thoughts high and brave their burning souls excite ; 
Now sword to sword ; continuous strokes resound. 
Till glittering firagments strew the dusty ground. 
Each grasps his massive club with added force,* 
The folding mail is rent from either horse ; 
It seemed as if the fearful day of doom 
Had, clothed in all its withering terrors, come. 
Their shattered corselets yield defence no more — 
At length they breathe, defiled with dust and gore ; 
Their gasping throats with parching thirst are dry, 

1 It is difficult to account for this denial of his name, as there 
appears to be no equivalent cause. But ail the £unous heroes 
described m the ShaK-Nameh are as much distinguished for their 
address and cunning as their bravery. 

* The original is Umud, which appears to have been a weapon 
made of iron. Umud also signifies a column, a beam. 



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4v?:s^3g^3?;v^iE^y5]E^«^^ 



60 



Firdausi. 



Gloomy and fierce they roll the lowering eye, 
And fi-own defiance. Son and Father driven 
To mortal strife ! are these the ways of Heaven? 
The various swarms which boundless ocean breeds, 
The countless tribes which crop the flowery meads, 
All know their kind, but hapless man done 
Has no instinctive feeling for his own ! 
Compelled to pause, by every eye surveyed, 
Rustem, with shame, his wearied strength betrayed ; 
Foiled by a youth in battle's mid career, 
His groaning spirit almost sunk with fear ; 
Recovering strength, again they fiercely meet ; 
Again they struggle with redoubled heat ; 
With bended bows they furious now contend ; 
And feathered shafts in rattling showers descend ; 
Thick as autumnal leaves they strew the plain. 
Harmless their points, and all their fury vain. 
And now they seize each other's girdle-band ; 
Rustem, who, if he moved his iron hand. 
Could shake a mountain, and to whom a rock 
Seemed soft as wax, tried, with one mighty stroke. 
To hurl him thundering from his fiery steed. 
But Fate forbids the gallant youth should bleed ; 
Finding his wonted nerves relaxed, amazed 
That hand he drops which never had been raised 
Uncrowned with victory, even when demons fought. 
And pauses, wildered with despairing thought. 
Sohrab again springs with terrific grace, 
And lifts, from saddle-bow, his ponderous mace ; 
With gathered strength the quick-descending blow 



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Sobrab. 



61 



Wounds in its fall, and stuns the unwary foe ; 
Then thus contemptuous: ''All thy power is gone; 
Thy charger's strength exhausted as thy own ; 
Thy bleeding wounds with pity I behold ; 
O seek no more the combat of the bold ! " 

Rustem to this reproach made no reply, 
But stood confused — meanwhile, tumultuously 
The legions closed ; with soul-appalling force, 
Troop rushed on troop, overwhelming man and horse 
Sohrab, incensed, the Persian host engaged. 
Furious along the scattered lines he raged ; 
Fierce as a wolf he rode on every side, 
The thirsty earth with streaming gore was dyed. 
Midst the Turanians, then, the Champion sped. 
And like a tiger heaped the fields with dead. 
But when the Monarch's danger struck his thought, 
Returning swift, the stripling youth he sought ; 
Grieved to the soul, the mighty Champion viewed 
His hands and mail with Persian blood imbrued ; 
And thus exclaimed with lion-voice : " O say. 
Why with the Persians dost thou war to-day? 
Why not with me alone decide the fight, 
Thou'rt like a wolf that seek'st the fold by night." 

To this Sohrab his proud assent expressed — 
And Rustem, answering, thus the youth addressed. 
*' Night-shadows now are thickening o'er the plain. 
The morrow's sun must see our strife again ; 
In wrestling let us then exert our might ! " 
He said, and eve's last glimmer sunk in night. 

Thus as the skies a deeper gloom displayed, 



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ii:v-S^^2f.'^^^SI^S^31^\^^ 



62 



Firdausi. 



The stripling's life was hastening into shade ! 

The gallant heroes to their tents retired. 
The sweets of rest their wearied limbs required : 
Sohrab, delighted with his brave career, 
Describes the fight in Human's anxious ear : 
Tells how he forced unnumbered Chiefe to yield, 
And stood himself the victor of the field ! 
" But let the morrow's dawn," he cried, " arrive, 
And not one Persian shall the day survive; 
Meanwhile let wine its strengthening balm impart. 
And add new zeal to every drooping heart." 
The valiant Giw with Rustem pondering stood, 
And, sad, recalled the scene of death and blood ; 
Grief and amazement heaved the frequent sigh, 
And almost froze the crimson current dry. • 
Rustem, oppressed by Giw's desponding thought. 
Amidst his Chiefe the mournful Monarch sought ; 
To him he told Sohrab's tremendous sway. 
The dire misfortunes of this luckless day ; 
Told with what grasping force he tried, in vain, 
To hurl the wondrous stripling to the plain : 
" The whispering zephyr might as well aspire 
To shake a mountain — such his strength and fire» 
But night came on — and, by agreement, we 
Must meet again to-morrow — who shall be 
Victorious, Heaven knows only — for by Heaven, 
Victory or death to man is ever given." 
This said, the King, overwhelmed in deep despair. 
Passed the dread night in agony and prayer. 

The Champion, silent, joined his bands at rest. 



W'^MU^^^^^^^^i 




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♦••*"•••• **' 



Sobrab. 



65 



And spurned at length despondence from his breast 

Removed from all, he cheered Zuara*s heart, 

And nerved his soul to bear a trying part : — 

" Ere early morning gilds the ethereal plain, 

In martial order range my warrior-train ; 

And when I meet in all his glorious pride, 

This valiant Turk whom my late rage defied. 

Should misfortune's smiles my arduous task requite, 

Bring them to share the triumph of my might ; 

But should success the stripling's arm attend, 

And dire defeat and death my glories end. 

To their loved homes my brave associates guide ; 

Let bowery Zabul all their sorrows hide — 

Comfort my venerable father's heart ; 

In gentlest words my heavy fate impart. 

The dreadful tidings to my mother bear,^ 

And soothe her anguish with the tenderest care ; 

Say, that the will of righteous Heaven decreed. 

That thus in arms her mighty son should bleed. 

Enough of fame my various toils acquired. 

When warring demons, bathed in blood, expired. 

Were life prolonged a thousand lingering years. 

Death comes at last and ends our mortal fears ; 

Kirshasp, and Sam, and Nariman, the best 

And bravest heroes, who have ever blest 

This fleeting world, were not endued with power. 

To stay the march of fete one single hour ; 

The world for them possessed no fixed abode, 

1 In the East, peculiarly strong attachment to the mother 
universal. 



is 




"^m 





Firdausi. 



The path to death's cold regions must be trod ; 
Then, why lament the doom ordained for all ? 
Thus Jemshid fell, and thus must Rustem fall." 



i 



Rustem deceives Sohrab. 

When the bright dawn proclaimed the rising day, 
The warriors armed, impatient of delay ; 
But first Sohrab, his proud confederate nigh, 
Thus wistful spoke, as swelled the boding sigh — 
** Now, mark my great antagonist in arms ! 
His noble form my filial bosom warms ; 
My mother's tokens shine conspicuous here. 
And all the proofs my heart demands, appear ; 
Sure this is Rustem, whom my eyes engage ! 
Shall I, O grief! provoke my Father's rage? 
Offended Nature then would curse my name, 
And shuddering nations echo with my shame." 
He ceased, then Human : *' Vain, fantastic thought, 
Oft have I been where Persia's Champi6n fought ; 
And thou hast heard what wonders he performed. 
When, in his prime, Mazinderan was stormed ; 
That horse resembles Rustem's, it is true. 
But not so strong, nor beautiful to view." 

Sohrab now buckles on his war-attire. 
His heart all softness, and his brain all fire ; 
Around his lips such smiles benignant played. 
He seemed to greet a friend, as thus he said : — 
" Here let us sit together on the plain, 
Here, social sit, and from the fight refrain ; 





Ask we from heaven forgiveness of the past, 
And bind our souls in friendship that may last ; 
Ours be the feast — let us be warm and free, 
For powerful instinct draws me still to thee ; 
Fain would my heart in bland affection join. 
Then let thy generous ardor equal mine ; 
And kindly say, with whom I now contend — 
What name distinguished boasts my warrior-friend ! 
Thy name unfit for champion brave to hide. 
Thy name so long, long sought, and still denied ; 
Say, art thou Rustem, whom I burn to know ? 
Ingenuous say, and cease to be my foe ! " 

Sternly the mighty Champion cried, " Away, — 
Hence with thy wiles — now practised to delay ; 
The promised struggle, resolute, I claim. 
Then cease to move me to an act of shame." 
Sohrab rejoined — " Old man ! thou wilt not hear 
The words of prudence uttered in thine ear ; 
Then, Heaven ! look on." 

Preparing for the shock. 
Each binds his charger to a neighboring rock ; 
And girds his loins, and rubs his wrists, and tries 
Their suppleness and force, with angry eyes ; 
And now they meet — now rise, and now descend. 
And strong and fierce their sinewy arms extend ; 
Wrestling with all their strength they grasp and strain. 
And blood and sweat flow copious on the plain ; 
Like raging elephants they furious close ; 
Commutual wounds are given, and wrenching blows. 
Sohrab now claps his hands, and forward springs 




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66 




Firdausi. 



Impatiently, and round the Champion clings ; 
Seizes his girdle belt, with power to tear 
The very earth asunder ; in despair 
Rustem, defeated, feels his nerves give way, 
And thundering falls. Sohrab bestrides his prey : 
Grim as the lion, prowling through the wood. 
Upon a wild ass springs, and pants for blood. 
His lifted sword had lopt the gory head. 
But Rustem, quick, with crafty ardor said : — 
" One moment, hold ! what, are our laws unknown ? 
A Chief may fight till he is twice overthrown ; 
The second fall, his recreant blood is spilt, 
These are our laws, avoid the menaced guilt." 

Proud of his strength, and easily deceived. 
The wondering youth the artful tale believed ; 
Released his prey, and, wild as wind or wave. 
Neglecting all the prudence of the brave. 
Turned fh)ra the place, nor once the strife renewed. 
But bounded o'er the plain and other cares pursued, 
As if all memory of the war had died. 
All thoughts of him with whom his strength was tried. 

Human, confounded at the stripling's stay, 
Went forth, and heard the fortune of the day ; 
Amazed to find the mighty Rustem freed, 
With deepest grief he wailed the luckless deed. 
" What ! loose a raging lion from the snare, 
And let him growling hasten to his lair? 
Bethink thee well ; in war, from this unwise, 
This thoughtless act what countless woes may rise ; 
Never again suspend the final blow, 



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Nor trust the seeming weakness of a foe ! " ^ 

** Hence with complaint/' the dauntless youth replied. 

To-morrow's contest shall his fate decide." 

When Rustem was released, in altered mood 
He sought the coolness of the murmuring flood ; 
There quenched his thirst ; and bathed his limbs, and 

prayed, 
Beseeching Heaven to yield its strengthening aid. 
His pious prayer indulgent Heaven approved, 
And growing strength through all his sinews moved ; ' 
Such as erewhile his towering structure knew, 
When his bold arm unconquered demons slew* 
Yet in his mien no confidence appeared, 
No ardent hope his wounded spirits cheered. 

The Death of Sohrab. 



Again they met. A glow of youthful grace, 
Diffused its radiance o'er the stripling's &ce, 
And when he saw in renovated guise. 
The foe so lately mastered ; with surprise, 
He cried : " What ! rescued from my power, again 
Dost thou confront me on the battle plain? 
Or, dost thou, wearied, draw thy vital breath, 

1 Thus also Sa'di : " Knowest thou what Zal said to Rustem the 
Champion ? Never calculate upon the weakness or insignificance 
of an enemy." 

3 Rustem is as much distinguished for piety as bravery. Every 
success is attributed by him to the fiavor of Heaven. In the achieve- 
ment of his labors in the Heft-Khan, his devotion is constant, and 
he everywhere justly acknowledges that power and victory are derived 
from God alone. 





I ;i V vvv ^rvv^.^rss 5[^^£:i£Zig: 3J^^<^^. 



5' ^f 

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68 



Firdausi. 



And seek, from warrior bold, the shaft of death? 
Truth has no charms for thee, old man ; even now, 
Some further cheat may lurk upon thy brow ; 
Twice have I shewn thee mercy, twice thy age 
Hath been thy safety — twice it soothed my rage." 
Then mild the Champion : "Youth is proud and vain ! 
The idle boast a warrior would disdain ; 
This aged arm perhaps may not control, 
The wanton fury that inflames thy soul ! " 

Again, dismounting, each the other viewed 
With sullen glance, and swift the fight renewed ; 
Clenched front to front, again they tug and bend. 
Twist their broad limbs as every nerve would rend ; 
With rage convulsive Rustem grasps him round ; 
Bends his strong back, and hurls him to the ground ; 
Him, who had deemed the triumph all his own ; 
But dubious of his power to keep him down. 
Like lightning quick he gives the deadly thrust. 
And spurns the Stripling weltering in the dust 
— Thus as his blood that shining steel imbrues. 
Thine too shall flow, when Destiny pursues ; ^ 
For when she marks the victim of her power. 



1 The expression in the original is remarkable. " Assuredly, as 
thou hast thirsted for blood, Destiny will also thirst for thine, and 
thi vtry hairs upon thy body will become daggers to destroy thee.** 
This passage is quoted in the preface to the Shah Nameh, collated 
by order of Bayisunghur Khan, as the production of the poet Unsari. 
Unsari was one of the seven poets whom Mahmud appointed to give 
specimens of their powers in versifying the history of the kings of 
Persia. In compliment to Mahmud, perhaps Firdausi ingrafted 
them on his own poem, or more probably they have been inter- 
polated since. 



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Sobrab. 



7^: 

«1i 



69 



A thousand daggers speed the dying hour. 
Writhing with pain Sohrab in murmurs sighed — 
And thus to Rustem — " Vaunt not, in thy pride ; 
Upon myself this sorrow have I brought, 
Thou but the instrument of fate — which wrought 
My down^ ; thou art guiltless — guiltless quite ; 
O ! had I seen my father in the fight, 
My glorious father ! Life will soon be o'er, 
* And his great deeds enchant my soul no more I 
Of him my mother gave the mark and sign. 
For him I sought, and what an end is mine ) 
My only wish on earth, my constant sigh. 
Him to behold, and with that wish I die. 
But hope not to elude his piercing sight. 
In vain for thee the deepest glooms of night ; 
Couldst thou through Ocean's depths for refuge fly, 
Or midst the star-beams track the upper sky ! 
Rustem, with vengeance armed, will reach thee there, 
His soul the prey of anguish and despair." 

An icy horror chills the Champion's heart, 
His brain whirls round with agonizing smart ; 
O'er his wan cheek no gushing sorrows flow, 
Senseless he sinks beneath the weight of woe ; 
Relieved at length, with frenzied look, he cries : 
" Prove thou art mine, confirm my doubting eyes ! 
For I am Rustem ! " Piercing was the groan, 
Which burst from his torn heart — as wild and lone, 
He gazed upon him. Dire amazement shook 
The dying youth, and mournful thus he spoke : — 
" If thou art Rustem, cruel is thy part. 



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Sobrab. 



71 



To cause these groans and tears — what fatal fray ! 
If he be lost, if breathless on the ground, 
And this young warrior, with the conquest crowned — 
Then must I, humbled, from my kingdom torn. 
Wander like Jemshid, through the world forlorn." * 

The army roused, rushed o'er the dusty plain. 
Urged by the Monarch to revenge the slain ; 
Wild consternation saddened every face, 
Tus winged with horror sought the fatal place, 
And there beheld the agonizing sight, — 
The murderous end of that unnatural fight. 
Sohrab, still breathing, hears the shrill alarms, 
His gentle speech suspends the clang of arms : 
" My light of life now fluttering sinks in shade. 
Let vengeance sleep, and peaceful vows be made. 
Beseech the King to spare this Tartar host. 
For they are guiltless, all to them is lost ; 
I led them on, their souls with glory flred, 
While mad ambition all my thoughts inspired. 
In search of thee, the world before my eyes. 
War was my choice, and thou the sacred prize ; 
With thee^ my sire ! in virtuous league combined. 
No tyrant King should persecute mankind. 
That hope is past — the storm has ceased to rave — 
My ripening honors wither in the grave ; 
Then let no vengeance on my comrades fall. 
Mine was the guilt, and mine the sorrow, all ; 
How often have I sought thee — oft my mind 

1 Jemshid's glory and misfortunes are the constant theme of 
admiration and reflection amongst the poets of Persia. 



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-^1 72 Firdausi. 

Figured thee to my sight — o'eijoyed to find 
My mother's token ; disappointment came, 
When thou deniedst thy lineage and thy name ; 
Oh ! still o'er thee my soul impassioned hung, 
Still to my Father fond affection clung ! 
But fate, remorseless, all my hopes withstood, {^ 

And stained thy reeking hands in kindred blood." 
His faltering breath protracted speech denied : 
Still from his eyelids flowed a gushing tide ; 
Through Rustem's soul redoubled horror ran. 
Heartrending thoughts subdued the mighty man. 
And now, at last, with joy-illumined eye, 
The Zabul bands their glorious Chief descry ; 
But when they saw his pale and haggard look, jS 

Knew from what mournful cause he gazed and shook, \ 
With downcast mien they moaned and wept aloud ; 
While Rustem thus addressed the weeping crowd : 
" Here ends the war 1 let gentle peace succeed. 
Enough of death, I — I have done the deed ! " 
Then to his brother, groaning deep, he said : — 
" O what a curse upon a parent's head ! 
But go — and to the Tartar say — no more. 
Let war between us steep the earth with gore." 
Zuara flew and wildly spoke his grie^ 
To crafty Human, the Turanian Chief, 
Who, with dissembled sorrow, heard him tell 
The dismal tidings which he knew too well ; 
"And who," he said, " has caused these tears to flow? 
Who, but Hujir? He might have stayed the blow ; 
But when Sohrab his Father's banners sought, 




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Sobrab. 



73 



He still denied that here the Champion fought ; 
He spread the ruin, he the secret knew, 
Hence should his crime receive the vengeance due ! " 
Zuara, frantic, breathed in Rustem's ear, 
The treachery of the captive Chie^ Hujir ; 
Whose headless trunk had weltered on the strand ; 
But prayers and force withheld the lifted hand. 
Then to his dying son the Champion turned, 
Remorse more deep within his bosom burned ; 
A burst of frenzy fired his throbbing brain ; 
He clenched his sword, but found his fury vain; 
The Persian Chiefe the desperate act represt. 
And tried to calm the tumult in his breast : 
Thus Gudarz spoke : '' Alas ! wert thou to give 
Thyself a thousand wounds, and cease to live ; 
What would it be to him thou sorrowest o'er? 
It would not save one pang — then weep no more ; 
For if removed by death, O say, to whom 
Has ever been vouchsafed a different doom? 
All are the prey of death — the crowned, the low, 
And man, through life, the victim still of woe." 
Then Rustem : "Fly 1 and to the King relate. 
The pressing horrors which involve my fate ; 
And if the memory of my deeds e*er swayed 
His mind, O supplicate his generous aid ; 
A sovereign balm he has whose wondrous power, 
All wounds can heal, and fleeting life restore ; ^ 
Swift from his tent the potent medicine bring." 

^ The Hindus, in their books on medicine, talk of drugs for the 
recoTeiy of the dead ! 




$ 



K 







8 
74 Firdausi. 

— But mark the malice of the brainless King ! 

Hard as the flinty rock, he stem denies 

The healthful draught, and gloomy thus replies : — 

^'Can I forgive his foul and slanderous tongue? 
^1 The sharp disdain on me contemptuous flung? 
;i\ Scorned midst my army by a shameless boy, 
*^j| Who sought my throne, my sceptre to destroy ! 

Nothing but mischief from his heart can flow ; 

Is it, then, wise to cherish such a foe? 

The fool who warms his enemy to life, 
\M Only prepares for scenes of future strife.'* 
'J Gudarz, returning, told the hopeless tale — 

And thinking Rustem's presence might prevail, 
Y<\ The Champion rose, but ere he reached the throne, 

Sohrab had breathed the last expiring groan. 



Rustem's Grcef. 

Now keener anguish racked the fother's mind, 
Reft of his son, a murderer of his kind ; 
His guilty sword distained with filial gore, 
He beat his burning breast, his hair he tore ; 
The breathless corse before his shuddering view, 
A shower of ashes o'er his head he threw ; * 
" In my old age," he cried, " what have I done ? 
Why have I slain my son, my innocent son ! 

^ Scattering ashes over the head is a very ancient mode of ex- 
pressing grief. Thus a Samuel iii. 31 : ** And David said to Joab. 
and to all the people that were with him. Rend your clothes, and 
gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner." Also, xiii. 16 : 
** And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment" 




i 




Sobrab. 75 

Why o'er his splendid dawning did I roll 

The clouds of death, — and plunge my burthened soul 

In agony? My son ! from heroes sprung ; 

Better these hands were from my body wrung ; 

And solitude and darkness, deep and drear, 

Fold me from sight than hated linger here. 

But when his mother hears, with horror wild, 

That I have shed the life-blood of her child. 

So nobly brave, so dearly loved, in vain. 

How can her heart that rending shock sustain?" 

Now on a bier the Persian warriors place 
The breathless Youth, and shade his pallid face ; 
And turning from that fatal field away, 
Move toward the Champion's home in long array. 
Then Rustem, sick of martial pomp and show, 
Himself the spring of all this scene of woe. 
Doomed to the flames the pageantry he loved,^ 
Shield, spear, and mace, so oft in battle proved ; 
Now lost to all, encompassed by despair ; 
His bright pavilion crackling blazed in air ; 
The sparkling throne the ascending column fed ; 
In smoking fragments fell the golden bed ; 
The raging fire red glimmering died away, 
And all the Warrior's pride in dust and ashes lay. 

Kaus, the King, now joins the mournful Chief, 
And tries to soothe his deep and settled grief; 
For soon or late we yield our vital breath, 
And all our worldly troubles end in death ! 

1 I know nothing of the kind in any of our epic or dramatic 
poets superior to this fine burst of agonized feeling and remorse. 



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Firdausi. 



** When first I saw him, graceful in his might. 
He looked far other than a Tartar knight ; 
Wondering I gazed — now Destiny has thrown 
Him on thy sword — he fought, and he is gone ; 
And should even Heaven against the earth be hurled. 
Or fire inwrap in crackling flames the world. 
That which is past — we never can restore. 
His soul has travelled to some happier shore. 
Alas ! no good from sorrow canst thou reap, 
Then wherefore thus in gloom and misery weep ? " 

But Rustem's mighty woes disdained his aid, 
His heart was drowned in grief, and thus he said : — 
" Yes, he is gone ! to me forever lost ! 
O then protect his brave unguided host ; 
From war removed and this detested place. 
Let them, tmharmed, their mountain-wilds retrace ; 
Bid them secure my brother's will obey. 
The careful guardian of their weary way.* 
To where the Jihun's distant waters stray." 
To this the King : " My soul is sad to see 
Thy hopeless grief — but, since approved by thee. 
The war shall cease — though the Turanian brand 
Has spread dismay and terror through the land." 

The King, appeased, no more with vengeance burned. 
The Tartar legions to their homes returned ; 
The Persian warriors, gathering round the dead, 
Grovelled in dust, and tears of sorrow shed ; 
Then back to loved Iran their steps the monarch led. 

Li Zoara conducted the troops of Afrasijab across the Jihun. 
Rustem remained on the field of battle till his return. 



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But Rustem, midst his native bands, remained, 
And further rites of sacrifice maintained ; 
A thousand horses bled at his command, 
And the torn drums were scattered o'er the sand ; 
And now through Zabul's deep and bowery groves, 
In mournful pomp the sad procession moves. 
The mighty Chief on foot precedes the bier ; 
His Warrior-friends, in grief assembled near : 
The dismal cadence rose upon the gale. 
And Zal astonished heard the piercing wail ; 
He and his kindred joined the solemn train ; 
Hung round the bier and wondering viewed the slain. 
"There gaze, and weep ! " the sorrowing Father said, 
" For there, behold my glorious offspring dead ! " 
The hoary Sire shrunk backward with surprise, 
And tears of blood overflowed his aged eyes ; 
And now the Champion's rural palace gate 
Receives the funeral group in gloomy state ; 
Rudabeh loud bemoaned the Stripling's doom ; 
Sweet flower, all drooping in the hour of bloom. 
His tender youth in distant bowers had past, 
Sheltered at home he felt no withering blast ; 
In the soft prison of his mother's arms, 
Secure from danger and the world's alarms. 
O ruthless Fortune ! flushed with generous pride, 
He sought his sire, and thus unhappy, died. 

Rustem again the sacred bier unclosed ; 
Again Sohrab to public view exposed ; 



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Firdausi. 



Husbands, and wives, and warriors, old and young. 
Struck with amaze, around the body hung, 
With garments rent and loosely flowing hair ; 
Their shrieks and clamors fiUed the echoing air ; 
Frequent they cried : " Thus Sam the Champion slept ! 
Thus sleeps Sohrab ! *' Again they groaned, and wept. 

Now o*er the corpse a yellow robe is spread, 
The aloes bier is closed upon the dead ; 
And, to preserve the hapless hero's name. 
Fragrant and fresh, that his unblemished fame 
Might live and bloom through all succeeding days, 
A mound sepulchral on the spot they raise, 
Formed like a charger's hoof. 

In every ear 
The story has been told — and many a tear, 
Shed at the sad recital. Through Turan, 
Afrasiyab's wide realm, and Samengan, 
Deep sunk the tidings ; — nuptial bower, and bed. 
And all that promised happiness, had fled ! 

The Mother's Grief. 

But when Tahmineh heard this tale of woe, 
Think how a mother bore the mortal blow ! ^ 
Distracted, wild, she sprang from place to place ; 
With frenzied hands deformed her beauteous face ; 
The musky locks her polished temples crowned, 

1 It would appear that Human, on his return, sent to Tahmineh 
the war-horse, armor, and everything belonging to her unfortunate 
son. 






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79 



Furious she tore, and flung upon the ground ; 

Starting, in agony of grief, she gazed, — 

Her swimming eyes to Heaven imploring raised ; 

And groaning cried : '' Sole comfort of my life ! 

Doomed the sad victim of unnatural strife. 

Where art thou now with dust and blood defiled? 

Thou darling boy, my lost, my murdered child ! 

When thou wert gone — how, night and lingering day. 

Did thy fond mother watch the time away ; 

For hope still pictured all I wished to see, 

Thy father found, and thou returned to me, 

Ves — thou, exulting in thy father's Came 1 

And yet, nor sire nor son, nor tidings, came : 

How could I dream of this? ye met — but how? 

That noble aspect — that ingenuous brow. 

Moved not a nerve in him — ye met — to part, 

Alas ! the life-blood issuing from the heart. 

Short was the day which gave to me delight. 

Soon, soon, succeeds a long and dismal night ; 

On whom shall now devolve my tender care? 

Who, loved like thee, my bosom-sorrows share ? 

Whom shall I take to fill thy vacant place. 

To whom extend a mother's soft embrace? 

Sad &te ! for one so young, so foir, so brave, 

Seeking thy father thus to find a grave. 

These arms no more shall fold thee to my breast. 

No more with thee my soul be doubly blest ; 

No, drowned in blood thy lifeless body lies. 

Forever torn from tliese desiring eyes ; 

Friendless, alone, beneath a foreign sky. 






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Firdausi. 




Thy mail thy death-clothes — and thy father, by ; 
Why did not I conduct thee on the way, 
And point where Rustem's bright pavilion lay? 
Thou hadst the tokens — why didst thou withhold 
Those dear remembrances — that pledge of gold? 
Hadst thou the bracelet to his view restored, 
Thy precious blood had never stained his sword." 
The strong emotion choked her panting breath, 
Her veins seemed withered by the cold of death : 
The trembling matrons hastening round her mourned, 
With piercing cries, till fluttering life returned; 
Then gazing up, distraught, she wept again, 
And frantic, seeing midst her pitying train. 
The fevorite steed — now more than ever dear, 
The hoofs she kissed, and bathed with many a tear ; 
Clasping the mail Sohrab in battle wore, 
With burning lips she kissed it o'er and o'er ; 
His martial robes she in her arms comprest, 
And like an infant strained them to her breast ; 
The reins, and trappings, club, and spear, were brought, 
The sword, and shield, with which the Stripling fought, 
These she embraced with melancholy joy. 
In sad remembrance of her darling boy. 
And still she beat her face, and o'er them hung, 
As in a trance — or to them wildly clung — 
Day after day she thus indulged her grief, 
Night after night, disdaining all relief; 
At length worn out — from earthly anguish riven. 
The mother's spirit joined her child in Heaven. 



m 

¥f\. 







OMAR KHAYYAM. 



There is probably no Persian poet so well known to-day 
as this so-called Eastern Voltaire, and that he should here 
occupy the place usually assigned to Anwari simply demon- 
strates Omar^s own philosophy, that no one of us knows of 
how little importance we are after all. In spite, however, 
of thb phUosophy, Omar, in the last half-century, owing to 
Fitzgeiald^s matdiless translation, has been read from East 
to West. Even in the Rocky Mountains of America a 
frontiersman, bom and bred in that region, was heard ^ to 
quote the following verse : — 

" 'Tis but a Tent where takes his one day's rest 
A Sultan to the realm of Death addrest ; 

The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrash 
Strikes, and prepares it for another Guest" 

Ghias ud-Din Abul Fath^ Umar bin Ibrahim, better known- 
as Omar Khayyam, was bom at Naishapur, in Khorasan, 
somewhere between 1017 and 1050, and he certainly lived 
into the twelfth century. The only story of his boyhood 
is the following, which is probably legendary. 

Omar had two intimate school friends. These young 
men while studying at Naishapur each promised the other 
that if, in after years, any one of them became £unous he 
would share his prosperity with his less fortunate friends. 
Years rolled on. One of them did become femous. Nizam ul- 
Mulk becoming the Prime Minister to Sultan Alp Arslan ^ ; 

1 See the Hon. John Hay's speech before the Omar Khayyam 
Club of London, December 8, 1897. 

>" Alp Arslan was the son of Toghntl Beg the Tartar, who had 
wrested Persia from the feeble successor of Mahmud the Great and 

81 



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82 



Omar Kbayyam. 



and faithful to his promise he gave a government position 
to his friend Hasan ben Sabah, who later tried to supplant 
his benefactor, but was unsuccessful and was publicly dis- 
graced, after which he became the head of a set of Persian 
fanatics called Ismailians, who, under his evil chieftainship, 
were the terror of the early Crusaders. He was known as 
the ** Chief of the Assassins. ^^ Ultimately "one of the 
countless victims of the Assassin^s dagger was Nizam- 
ul-Mulk, the old schoolboy friend." And what was 
Nizam-ul-Mulk^s gift to Omar ? A pension that he might 
have solitude ; it was all the |>oet asked, solitude in which 
to devote his time to mathematics, astronomy, and poetry. 
His Arabic treatise on algebra has been translated into 
French, and Gibbon says of the calendar which he and 
seven of his mathematical contemporaries worked out, that 
it is a *' computation of time which surpasses the Julian and 
approaches the accuracy of the Gregorian style." Never 
theless, it never went into effect. 

Omar had the Oriental love for roses, — and he is 
reported to have said, **My tomb shall be in a spot 
where the north wind may scatter roses over it." And it 
was ; for one of his pupils tells us that ^ Years after, when 
I chanced to revisit Naishapur, I went to his final resting- 
place, and lo ! it was just outside a garden, and trees laden 
with fruit stretched their boughs over the garden wall, and 
dropped th^ir flowers upon his tomb, so that the stone was 
hidden under them." 

Omar took his takhallus, or poetical name, of Khayyam, 
which means tent-maker, from this trade, which he or his 
father is said to have at one time followed. Thb Persian 
custom of taking a takhallus is adopted by almost all of 
these poets, because they introduce their name into their 
ghazels or poems, usually toward the end ; and as the 



o- 



founded that Seljukian Dynasty which finally roused Eurq;>e into the 
Crusades." — Fitzgerald. 







I 



Omar Khayyam. 



83 



proper name seldom sounds well in verse they choose a 
desirable one. 

The Sufis, a sect two centuries old at this time, claim this 
philosopher as one of them, although during Omar's life- 
time they feared his ridicule and hated his honesty which 
scorned to disguise his doubts under their veil of mysticism. 
Indeed Omar says : * — 

*' If I myscU upon a looser Creed 
Have loosely strung the Jewel of Good deed, 
Let this one thing for my Atonement plead : 
That One for Two I never did mis-read." 

Still his countrymen find in his epigrammatic verses an 
esoteric meaning he never meant. The Sufis interpret 
their Persian poets very much as the Songs of Solomon 
have been interpreted by the Christians. But Omar's 
scepticism was real enough ; it belonged to the age of reli- 
gious darkness in which he lived. Christianity to him 
meant the Crusades. 

He, like Hafiz, sang of ^ woman, wine, and song,'' but he 
also pulled hard at the knotted threads of life which taught 
him this : — 

" And this I know : whether the One True Light 
Kindle to Love, or Wrath-consume me quite. 
One Flash of It within the Tavern caught 
Better than in the Temple lost outright." 

His idea of contentment we find in the following as 
rendered by Emerson: — 

*' On earth's wide thoroughfares below 
Two only men contented go : 
Who knows what's right and what's forbid, 
And he from whom is knowledge hid." 

Westerners seem almost jealous for this Oriental. They 
resent the fact that a narrow Eastern province should 

1 Bodleian Quatrain. 



^^^^Em^S'^^SSigag^Jg 



84 



Omar Khayyam. 



claim this astronotner-poet as belonging exclusively to 
itself ; they say he belongs to the worid ! 

Certainly reparation has been made to Omar and his 
famous translator, Fitzgerald, since the days when a dis- 
couraged bookseller in London threw the bulk of the first 
edition into a box outside his shop to sell for ^ a penny 
apiece.^ Here they were found by Rossetti and Swinburne, 
and now copies of this first edition cannot be bought for a 
hundred dollars. From such obscurity this Eastern singer 
has risen into a positive cult, with an Omar Khayyam 
Club in London, organized in 1892, and one recently started 
in Boston called the Omar Khayyam Club of America. 

When one glances at the list of translators of this Per- 
sian genius and also the different editions of his Rt^aiyat, 
one can apprehend how true it seems that — 

" There's not a sage but has gone mad for thee.** 




SELECTIONS FROM THE RUBAIYAT.* 

I. 

The sun has cast on wall and roof his net of burning light, 
The lordly day fills high the cup to speed the parting 

night; 
** Wake ! " cries in silver accents the herald of the dawn ; 
^' Arise and drink I the darkness flies — the morning rises 

bright." 

3. 

The rosy dawn shines through the tavern door. 
And cries, *^ Wake ! slumbering reveller, and pour ! 



1 Anonymous, but accredited to E. A. Johnson. 




I 







Rubaiyat. 85 

For-ere my sands of life be all run out, 

I fain would fill my jars with wine once more." 



To-monow rank and Came for none may be. 

So for to-day thy weary soul set free ; 

Drink with me, love, once more beneath the moon ; 

She oft may shine again, but not on thee and me. 



If wine and song there be to give thee soul-entrancing 

bliss. 
If there be spots where verdant fields and purling brook- ^ 

lets kiss. 
Ask thou no more from Providence, nor turn thee in 

despair; 
If there be any paradise for man, 'tis even this. 



/ 



Thy ruby lip pours fragrance unto mine, 
Thine eye's deep chalice bids me drink thy soul ; 
As yonder crystal goblet brims with wine, 
So in thy tear the heart's fiill tide doth roll. 

6. 

What reck we that our sands runout in Balkh or Babylon, 
Or bitter be the draught or sweet, so once the draught 

is done. 
Drink then thy wine with me, for many a silver moon 
Shan wax and wane when thou and I are gone. 




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Omar Khayyam. 




To those who know the truth, what choice of foul or £ur 
Where lovers rest ; though 'twere in Hell, for them 'tis 

Heaven there. 
What recks the Dervish that he wears sackcloth or satin 

sheen, 
Or lovers that beneath their heads be rocks or pillows 

fair. 

8. 

O Love ! chief record of the realms of truth, 
The chiefest couplet in the ode of youth ! 
Oh, thou who knowest not the world of love, 
Learn this, that life is love, and love is ruth. 



Though with the rose and rosy wine I dwell, 
Yet time to me no tale of joy doth tell ; 
My days have brought no sign of hopes fulfilled ; 
Tis past ! the phantoms fly, and breaks the spell. 

'lO. 

Though sweet the rose, yet sorely wounds the thorn ; 
Though deep we drink to-night, we rue the mom ; 
And though a thousand years were granted, say. 
Were it not hard to wait the last day's dawn? 



9) 

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Rubaiyat. 



So yesterday from our two lives has passed and is a 

dream; 
And while I live, these to my soul shall bring nor hope, 

nor dread, 
The morrow that may never come, the yesterday that 

fled. 

12. 

Oh, joy in solitude ! of thee well may the poet sing ; 
Woe worth the heart that owns no soil wherein that 

flower may spring ; 
For when wassail sinks in wailing and traitor friends are 

gone, 
Proudly through vacant hall the sturdy wanderer's step 

shall ring. 

13- 

If grief be the companion of thy heart. 

Brood not o'er thine own sorrows and their smart ; 

Behold another's woe, and learn thereby 

How small thine own, and comfort thy sad heart. 

14. 

Oh, swiftly came the winter wind, and swiftly hurried 

past; 
So madly sought my longing soul the rest she found at 

last; 
Now faint and weak as weakness' self, she waits but for 

the end ; 
The bowl is broke, the wine remains, but on the ground 

is cast. 



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Rubaiyat. 

Yet never heard men say " The traveller 
Who passed this way has now letumed ag; 



Lo, blood ofmen slain by the stroke ordoi 
Lo, dust of men strewn on the face of cart 
Oh, take what life may give of youth and i 
Full many an opening bud shall never blo( 



Drink I for thou soon shalt sleep within thi 
Nor Mend nor foe shall break the eternal 
Beware I and tell to none his secret dark, ' 
The faded rose may never hope to bloom. 



Fill high the cup though ache the weaiy b 
Fill with the wine that doth with life eodo^ 
For Ufe is but a tale by watch-fire told. 
Haste thee ! the fire bums low — the nighi 



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NIZAMI. 

NiZAMi,^ the first great romantic poet of Persia, was 
born 1 141 A.D. atGanja in Arran, now the Russian town 
of Elizabethpol. His life was devoted to asceticism, 
mainly due to the religious atmosphere of Ganja, the 
inhabitants of which were Sunnites, who allowed no one 
to remain in their city who was not of their faith. As a 
recluse Nizami had the reputation for the most rigid sanc- 
tity. Ata Beg wished to test the piety of this poet, so 
with great display he visited him in his humble retreat, 
hoping by such magnificence to tempt Nizami to return 
with him to court. But it was a fruitless journey, and Ata 
Beg returned filled with the most profound veneration for 
this really sincere poet. 

Nizami, whose poetical genius has been ranked next to 
that of Firdausi, did not publish his first work until he 
was nearly forty years old. This work was called The 
Storehouse of Mysteries^ and was a result of his medita- 
tions on God and man. Following this, appeared the 
Khosru and Shirin^ a Persian romance with historical 
foundation. In appreciation of his genius he is said to 
have received an estate consisting of fourteen villages. 
His Divan, supposed to have consisted of twenty thou- 
sand verses, came out about 1188, followed by the famous 
love story of Laili and Afajnun, which he is said to have 
written in four months, and which shows his remarkable 
power in depicting human passions. Reading Firdausi's 
Shah'Nameh gave him the idea of writing his Alex- 
ander Book, an epic divided into two parts, showing 
Alexander, first as conqueror, and second as prophet, 

A Nizam-ud-din Abu Muhammad Ilyas ben Yusuf. 

90 



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Laiti and Majnun. 



91 



philosopher, and traveller. In his last book, the Seven 
Fair Faces, he returned to romantic fiction ; for this book 
consists of seven stories told to the Sassanian king, Bah- 
ram Gor, by his seven favorite wives. These works to- 
gether form the Five Treasures of Nizami, 

The poet's masterpiece is the famous Bedouin love 
. story of LmiU and Majnun, which is so frequently com- 
Spared to Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, and is the Romeo and 
Juliet of the East. France has its Abelard and Eloise, 
Italy its Petrarch and Laura, and Persia and Arabia have 
this pure, pathetic romance, — a romance which the Ori- 
entals consider the personification of ^thful love. 

If he had been a Sufi, we should say that Lxiili and Maj- 
nun might be meant to depict the passion of the soul in 
its progress to eternity, or to represent the "reciprocal 
affection of the body and the soul.^^ ^ 

According to one admirer, the character of the poet 
justifies any spiritual interpretation of this poem, and it is 
a well-known fact that in the Afasnavi and Odes of Hafiz 
the names of Laili and Majnun seem to be used for the 
Omnipresent Spirit of God.* 

SaMi has written of Nizami^s genius, and Hafiz says of 



him: — 



" Not all the treasured store of ancient days 
Can equal the sweetness of Nizami's lays.' 



THE LOVES OF LAILI AND MAJNUN.' 

I. 

Saki/ thou know'st I worship wine ; 
Let that delicious cup be mine. 

1 Horace Hayman Wilson, late Sanskrit scholar at Oxford. 

• Sir William Jones. 

» Translated by Mr. James Atkinson. 

4 Saki, cup-bearer. 



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Wine 1 pure and limpid as my tears, 

Dispeller of a lover's fears ; 

With thee inspired, with thee made bold, 

'Midst combat fierce my post I hold ; 

With thee inspired, I touch the string. 

And, rapt, of love and pleasure sing. 

Thou art a lion, seeking prey. 

Along the glades where wild deer stray ; 

And like a lion I would roam, 

To bring the joys I seek for home ; 

With wine, life's dearest, sweetest treasure, 

I feel the thrill of every pleasure : 

— Bring, Saki, bring thy ruby now ; 
Its lustre sparkles on thy brow. 
And, flashing with a tremulous light, 
Has made thy laughing eyes more bright 
Bring, bring the liquid gem, and see 

Its power, its wondrous power, in me. 

— No ancestors have I to boast ; 
The trace of my descent is lost. 
From Adam what do I inherit? 
What but a sad and troubled spirit? 
For human life, from oldest time, 

Is ever marked with guilt and crime ; 
And man, betrayer and betrayed. 
Lurks like a spider in the shade ; 
But wine still plays a magic part. 
Exalting high the drooping heart* 
Then, Saki, linger not, but give 
The blissful balm on which I live. 




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SPECIMEN OF THE PERSIAN WRITING KNOWN AS 

NASHK-TALIK 




Come, bring the juice of the purple vine, 

Bring, bring the musky-scented wine ; 

A draught of wine the memory clears, 

And wakens thoughts of other years. — 

When blushing dawn illumes the sky. 

Fill up a bumper, fill it high ! 

That wine which to the fevered lip, 

With anguish parched, when given to sip, 

Imparts a rapturous smile, and throws 

A veil ' o'er all distracting woes : 

That wine, the lamp which, night and day, 

Lights us along our weary way ; 

Which strews the path with fruit and flowers, 

And gilds with joy our fleeting hours ; 

And lifts the mind, now grown elate, 

To Jemshid's * glory, Jemshid's state. — 

But of the kingly race beware; 

lis not for thee their smiles to share : 

Smiles are deceitful, fire looks bright. 

And sheds a lucid, dazzling light ; 

But, though attractive, it is known 

That safety dwells in flight alone. 

The moth the taper's radiance tries. 

But 'midst the flame in torment dies : 

And none lament that foolish pride 

Which seeks to be with kings allied. — 

Bring, bring the musky-scented wine ! 

1 The Nepenthe of Homer. 

< The story of Jemihid, one ol the early rulers of Persia, is finely 
told in the Skak-Namek, 




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Ni^amu 



The key of mirth ! it must be mine ; 
The key which opens wide the door 
Of rapture's rich and varied store ; 
Which makes the mounting spirits glad. 
And feel the pomp of Kai-Kobad. 
Wine o'er the temper casts a spell 
Of kindness indescribable : 
Then, since Fm in the drinking vein. 
Bring, bring the luscious wine again ! 
From the vintner bring a fresh supply. 
And let not the reveller's lips be dry. — 
Come, Said, thou art not old, nor lame ; 
Thou'dst not incur from a minstrel blame ; 
Let him wash from his heart the dust of sorrow ; 
And riot in social bliss till the morrow ; 
Let the sound of the goblet delight his ear, 
Like the music that breathes from Heaven's own 
sphere. 



n. 




Laiu. 




Mark, where instruction pours upon the mind 
The light of knowledge, simple or refined ; 
Shaikhs of each tribe have children there, and each 
Studies whatever the bearded sage can teach. 
Thence his attainments Kais ^ assiduous drew, 
And scattered pearls from lips of ruby hue ; 

1 Kais was the original name of the lover, afterward called 
Majnun, in consequence of the madness produced by his passion. 



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Lain and Majnun. 



95 



And there, of different tribe and gentle mien, 
A lovely maid of tender years was seen : 
Her mental powers an early bloom displayed ; 
Her graceful form in simple garb arrayed : 
Bright as the morn, her cypress shape, and eyes 
Dark as the stag's, were viewed with fond surprise ; 
And when her cheek this Arab moon revealed, 
A thousand hearts were won ; no pride, no shield, 
Could check her beauty's power, resistless grown, 
Given to enthrall and charm — but chiefly one. 
Her richly flowing locks were black as night. 
And Laili * she was called — that heart's delight : 
One single glance the nerves to frenzy wrought. 
One single glance bewildered every thought ; 
And, when o'er Kais affection's blushing rose 
Diffused its sweetness, from him fled repose : 
Tumultuous passion danced upon his brow ; 
He sought to woo her, but he knew not how : 
He gazed upon her cheek, and, as he gazed. 
Love's flaming taper more intensely blazed. 
Soon mutual pleasure warm'd each other's heart ; 
Ix)ve conquer'd both — they never dreamt to part ; 

1 Laili, in Arabic, signifies night ; the name, however, has been 
referred to her color, and she is accused of possessing no beauty 
but in the eyes of her lover, being short in stature, and dark in 
complexion. A poet is said to have addressed her, saying: "Art 
tAou the person for whom Kais lost his reason? I do not see that 
thou art so beautihil." " Silence 1 " she said, " iAou art not Majnun." 
Another observed to Majnun, " Laili is not surpassing in beauty ; 
what occasions this adoration? " " Thou dost not see Laili with my 
eyes ! " was his brief reply. According to Nizami and history, Laili 
not only existed in reality, but was exquisitely beautiful. 



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Andy while the rest were poring o'er their books, 
They pensive mused, and read each other's looks : 
While other schoolmates for distinction strove, 
And thought of fame, they only thought of love : 
While others various climes in books explored, 
Both idly sat — adorer and adored : 
Science for them had now no charms to boast; 
Learning for them had all its virtue lost : 
Their only taste was love, and love's sweet ties, 
And writing ghazels to each other's eyes. 

Yes, love triumphant came, engrossing all 

The fond luxuriant thoughts of youth and maid ; 
And, whilst subdued in that delicious thrall. 

Smiles and bright tears upon their features played. 
Then in soft converse did they pass the hours, — 

Their passion, like the season, fresh and fair ; 
Their opening path seemed decked with balmiest 
flowers, 

Their melting words as soft as summer air. 
Immersed in love so deep. 
They hoped suspicion would be lulled asleep. 

And none be conscious of their amorous state ; 
They hoped that none with prying eye. 
And gossip tongue invidiously. 

Might to the busy world its truth relate : 
And, thus possessed, they anxious thought 

Their passion would be kept unknown ; 
Wishing to seem what they were not, 

Though all observed their hearts were one. 



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, By worldly prudence uncontrolled, 
Their every glance their feelings told ; 
For true love never yet had skill 
To veil impassioned looks at will. 
When ringlets of a thousand curls, 
And ruby lips, and teeth of pearls, 
And dark eyes flashing quick and bright, 
Like lightning on the brow of night — 
When charms like these their power display, 
And steal the wildered heart away — 
Can man, dissembling, coldly seem 
Unmoved as by an idle dream ? 
Kais saw her beauty, saw her grace. 
The soft expression of her face ; 
And as he gazed, and gazed again, 
Distraction stung his burning brain : 
No rest he found by day or night — 
Laili forever in his sight. 
But, oh ! when separation came. 
More brightly glowed his ardent flame ; 
And she, with equal sorrow fraught. 
Bewailed the fate upon them brought. 
— He wandered wild through lane and street. 
With frantic step, as if to meet 
Something which still his search defied. 
Reckless of all that might betide. 
His bosom heaved with groans and sighs, 
Tears ever gushing from his eyes ; 
And still he struggled to conceal 
The anguish he was doomed to feel ; 



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99 



(ut vain the refuge — friendship's smile 
'ould not his love-lorn heart beguile : 
Lgain he hastened to that place remote. 

Where all he loved in life had gone : 

[e called her magic name, but she was not. 
Nor of her kindred, one, not one, 
[n that sequestered lonely spot : 

[e called a thousand times, but called in vain ; 

[one heeded, for none heard the strain ; 
<1 thence no fond reply that hapless youth could gain. 

ili hady with her kindred, been removed 
Among the Nijid mountains, where 
>he cherished still the thoughts of him she loved 
^nd her affection thus more deeply proved 
Amid that wild retreat. Kais sought her there ; 
mght her in rosy bower and silent glade, 
^"Where the tall palm trees flung refreshing shade. 
^He called upon her name again; 
^gain he called, alas ! in vain ; 
His voice unheard, though raised on every side ; 
Echo atone to his lament replied ; 
And Laili ! Laili ! rang ^ around. 
As if enamored of that magic sound, 
ejected and forlorn, fest-falling dew 
istened upon his cheeks of pallid hue 

1 Thus Shakespeare, in Tioelftk Night, i. 5: - 

*' Halloo 3roiir name to the reyert>eimte hills, 
And make the babbling gossip of the air 
Cryout.01iTia!" 



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Through grove and frowning glen he lonely strayed. 

And with his griefs the rocks were vocal made. 

Beautiful Laili ! had she gone forever? — 

Could he that thought support? oh, never, never ! 

Whilst deep emotion agonized his breast, 

He to the morning-breeze these words addressed : ^ 

*' Breeze of the mom ! so fresh and sweet, 

Wilt thou my blooming mistress greet ; 

And, nestling in her glossy hair, 

My tenderest thoughts, my love, declare? 

Wilt thou, while mid her tresses sporting, 

Their odorous balm, their perfume courting, 

Say to that soul-seducing maid. 

In grief how prostrate I am laid ! 

And gently whisper in her ear 

This message, with an accent clear : ^ 

* Thy form is ever in my sight, 

In thought by day, in dreams by night ; 

For one, in spirits sad and broken. 

That mole would be the happiest token ; 

That mole * which adds to every look 

A magic spell I cannot brook ; 

For he who sees thy melting charms. 

And does not feel his soul in arms. 

Bursting with passion, rapture, all 

That speak love's deepest, wildest thrall, 

1 The mole is regarded as an addidonal charm to beauty among 
Oriental writers. Thus Hafiz : " If that maid of Shiras would accept 
my hand, I would give for the black mole on her cheek the cides of 
Samarcand and Bokhara." See Vol. II. 344. 






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Laili and Majnun. 101 

Must be, as Kafs ' ice-summit, cold, 
And, haply, scarce of human mould. 
Let him, unmoved by channs like thine, 
His worthless life at once resign — 
Those lips are sugar, heavenly sweet ; 
O let but mine their pouting meet I 
The balsam of delight they shed ; 
Their radiant color ruby-red. 
The Evil eye has struck my heart. 
But thine in beauty sped the dart : 
Thus many a flower, of richest hue. 
Hath fallen and perished where it grew; 
Thy beauty is the sun in brightness, 
Thy form a Peri's self in lightness ; 
A treasure thou, which, poets say. 
The heavens would gladly steal away — 
Too good, too pure, on earth to stay I * " 



IV. 

Majnun goes to Mecca. 

As morning broke, the sun, with golden light. 
Eclipsed the twinkling stars of silvery white ; 
And Majnun, rising, eagerly pursued 
The path which wound to Laili*s solitude. 
Grieved to the heart; and, as he went along. 
His lips breathed softly some impassioned song; 
Some favorite lay, which tenderly expressed 

1 Kaf, the Caucasus. 



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102 



Ni{amu 



The present feeling of his anxious breast. 

In fancy soon her image he beheld ; 

No shadowy cloud her lucid beauty veiled ; 

He saw her fresh as rooming's scented air — 

Himself exhausted by incessant care : 

He saw her blooming as the blushing rose — 

Himself dejected by unnumbered woes : 

He saw her like an angel soft and Uand — 

Himself consuming like a lighted brand : 

Her ringlets flowing loosely to the ground, 

His ringlets, fetters by affection bound ; 

And still, all £siint with grief, he passed his days, 

Pouring his soul out in melodious lays. 



His friends, to whom his griefs are known, 
His altered aspect now bemoan ; 
Alarmed to hear the sufferer still 
In frantic mood unceasing flU 
The night-breeze with his plaintive woes ; 
For sorrow with indulgence grows. 
They try to soothe his wildered mind, 
Where reason once was seen enshrined ; 
His father, with a father's love, 
Sought his sad sorrows to remove, 
And gave him maxims full and clear. 
And counsel meet for youth to hear. 
But, though good counsel and advice 
May often lead to Paradise, 
When love has once the heart engrossed. 
All counsel, all advice is lost ; 



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Lain and Majnun. 103 

And weeping Majnun not a word 
Of his poor father's counsel heard. 
Ah ! when did prudence e'er control 
The frenzy of a love-lorn soul? 

Disconsolate the father now 
Behind the Harem-screen appears, 

Inquiring of his females how 
He best might dry the maniac's tears ; 

And what had drawn the sparkling moon 

Of intellect from him so soon. 

The answer of both old and young 

Was ready quivering on the tongue — 

" His fate is fixed — his eyes have seen 

The charms of his affection's queen 

In all their winning power displayed ; 

His heart a captive to that Arab maid. 

Then what relief canst thou supply? 

What to the bleeding lover, doomed to die? 

What but fulfilling his desires? 

And this a father's generous aid requires. 

See them united in the bands of love ; 

And that alone his frenzy will remove." 
These words (for woman's words convey 

A spell, converting night to day, 

Diffuse o'er troubled life a balm, 

And passion's fiercest fever calm) — 

These words relieve the father's heart. 

And comfort to his thoughts impart. 

Resolved at once, he now with speed 



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Marshals his followers, man and steed ; 
And» all assembled, bends his way 
To the damsel's home, without delay. 

Approaching, quick th' inquiry rose — 
"Come ye hither as friends or foes? 
Whatever may your errand be. 
That errand must be told to me ; 
For none, unless a sanctioned friend, 
Can pass the boundary I defend." 

This challenge touched Syd Omri's pride ; 
And yet he calmly thus replied : — 
** I come in friendship, and propose 
All future chance of feud to close." 
Then to the maiden's father said : — 
" The nuptial feast may now be spread : 
My son with thirsty heart has seen 
Thy fountain pure with margin green ; 
And every fountain, clear and bright, 
Gives to the thirsty heart delight 
That fountain he demands. With shame, 
Possessed of power, and wealth, and fame, 
I to his silly humor bend. 
And humbly seek his fate to blend 
With one inferior. Need I tell 
My own high lineage, known so well? 
If sympathy my heart incline. 
Or vengeance, still the means are mine. 
Treasure and arms can amply bear 



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La/Vi an^ Majnun. 105 

Me through the toils of desert-war ; 
Thou art the merchant, pedler-chief, 
I the buyer ; come, sell, — be brief ! 
If thou art wise, accept advice ; 
Sell, and receive a princely price !" 

The sire of Laili marked his haughty tone, 
But smoothly answered, — " Not on us alone 
Depends the nuptial union — but on Heaven, 
By which all power, and right, and truth are given* 
However just our reasoning may appear, 
We're still beset by endless error here ; 
And proffered friendship may perchance become 
The harbinger of strife and of the tomb ; 
Madness is neither sin nor crime, we know, 
But who'd be linked to madness or a foe ? 
Thy son is mad — his senses first restore ; 
In constant prayer the aid of Heaven impbre ; 
But while portentous gloom pervades his brain, 
Disturb me not with this vain suit again. 
The jewel, sense, no purchaser can buy. 
Nor treachery the place of sense supply. 
Thou hast my reasons — and this parley o'er. 
Keep them in mind, and trouble me no more ! ' 
Abashed, his very heartstrings torn. 
Thus to be met with scoff and scorn, 
Syd Omri to his followers turned. 
His cheek with kindled anger burned ; 
But, scorning more to do or say. 
Indignant homeward urged his way. 






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106 



And now for a disordered mind, 
What medicine can affection find? 
What magic power, what human skill. 
To rectify the erring will? 
— The necromancer's art they tried — 
Charms, philtres used, to win a bride. 
And make a father's heart relent, 
As if by Heaven in pity sent — 
Vain efforts all. They now address 
Kind words his mind to soothe and bless. 
And urge in his unwilling ear 
(Treason and death for him to hear). 
*' Another love, of nobler race. 
Unmatched in form, unmatched in grace ; 
All blandishments and fairy wiles ; 
Her every glance the heart beguiles ; 
An idol of transcendent worth, 
With charms eclipsing royal birth ; 
Whose balmy lips like rubies glow; 
Sugar and milk their sweetness show; 
Her words like softest music flow : 
Adorned in all the pride of spring. 
Her robes around rich odors fling ; 
Sparkling with gold and gems, she seems 
The bright perfection of a lover's dreams ; 
Then why, with such a prize at home. 
For charms inferior amid strangers roam ? 
Bid all unduteous thoughts depart. 
And wisely banish Laili from thy heart." 
When Majnun saw his hopes decay. 



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107 



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Their fairest blossoms fade away ; 
And friends and sire, who might have been 
Kind intercessors, rush between 
Him and the only wish that shed 
One ray of comfort romid his head 
(His fondly cherished Arab maid), 
He beat his hands, his garments tore. 
He cast his fetters on the floor 
In broken fragments, and in wrath 
Sought the dark wildernesses path ; 
And there he wept and sobbed aloud. 
Unwitnessed by the gazing crowd ; 
His eyes all tears, his soul all flame. 
Repeating still his Laili's name, 
And Laili ! Laili ! echoed round. 
Still dwelling on that rapturous sound. 
— In pilgrim-garb he reckless strayed, 
No covering on his feet or head ; 
And still, as memory touched his brain. 
He murmured some love-wildered strain : 
But still her name was ever on his tongue. 
And Laili ! Laili ! still through grove and forest rung. 

Sad inmate of the desert wild. 

His form and face with dust defiled; 

Exhausted with his griefs excess. 

He sat him down in weariness. 

** Estranged from friends," he weeping cried, 

" My homeward course is dark to me ; 
But, Laili, were I at thy side, 






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Ni[amu 



How blessed would thy poor lover be ! 
My kindred think of me with shame ; 
My friends they shudder at my name. 

That cup of wine I held, alas ! 

Dropped from my hand, is dashed in pieces ; 
And thus it is that, like the glass, 

Life's hope in one dark moment ceases. 
O ye who never felt distress, 

Never gay scenes of joy forsaking. 
Whose minds, at peace, no cares oppress. 

What know ye of a heart that's breaking ! " 
««««««« 
Worn out at length, he sank upon the ground. 
And there in tears the mournful youth is found 
By those who traced his wanderings : gently they 
Home to his sire the faded form convey : 
Syd Omri and his kinsmen round him moan. 
And, weeping wildly, make his griefe their own ; 
And, garrulous, recall to memory's eye 
The progress of his life from infancy — 
The flattering promise of his boyish days — 
And find the wreck of hope on which they gaze. 
They deemed that Mecca's sacred feme 
His reason would restore again ; 
That blessed boon to mortals given, 
The arc of earth, the arc of heaven; 
The holy Kaba where the prophet prayed. 
Where Zam-Zam's waters yield their saving aid* 
Tis now the season of the pilgrimage, 









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109 



And now assemble merchant, chieftain, sage, 
With vows and offerings, on that spot divine : 
Thousands and thousands throng the splendid shrine. 
And now, on that high purpose bent, await 
Syd Omri's camels, ready at his gate ; 
Around their necks the tinkling bells are hung, 
Rich-tasselled housings on their backs are flung. 
And Majnun, faint, and reckless what may be. 
Is on a litter placed — sad sight to see ! — 
And tenderly caressed, whilst borne along 
By the rough-moving camel, fleet and strong. 
The desert soon is passed, and Mecca's bright 
And glittering minarets rise upon the sight ; 
Where golden gifts, and sacrifice, and prayer. 
Secure the absolution sought for there. 
The father, entering that all-powerful shrine. 
Thus prays : " Have mercy, Heaven, on me and 

mine ! 
Oh, from my son this frenzied mood remove, 
And save him, save him frt>m the bane of love ! " 

Majnun at this, poor wayward child, 

Looked in his father's face and smiled ; 

And frankly said his life should prove 

The truth and holiness of love. 

" My heart is bound by beauty's spell. 

My love is indestructible. 

Am I to separate from my own. 

From her for whom I breathe alone ? 

What friend could wish me to resign 

A love so pure, so true as mine? 



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1 10 Ni^amu 

What though I like a taper burn, 
And almost to a shadow turn, 
I envy not the heart that's free — 
Love's soul-encu-cling chains for me ! " 

The love that springs from Heaven is blessed ; 
Unholy passions stain the rest ; 
That is not love : wild fancy's birth, 

Which lives on change, is constant never : 
But Majnun's love was not of earth, 

Glowing with heavenly truth forever ; 
An earthly object raised the flame, 
But 'twas from Heaven the inspiration came. 

In silent sorrow the aged sire 
Found all his cares were vain ; 

And back to his expecting tribe 

Addressed his steps again ; 
For Mecca had no power to cool 

The lover's burning brain ; 
No consolation, no relief 
For the old man's heart-consuming grief* 



v. 



MaJNUN returns HOBfE* 

Sweet Laili's kinsmen now describe 
To the proud chieftain of their tribe 
A youth amidst* the desert seen, 
In strange attire, of frantic mien ; 



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1^/7/ and Majnun. Ill 

His arms outstretched, his head all bare^ 

And floating loose his clustering hair : 

" In a distracted mood " — they say — 

"He wanders hither every day; 

And often, with fantastic bound. 

Dances, or prostrate hugs the ground ; 

Or, in a voice the soul to move, 

Warbles the melting songs of love ; 

Songs which, when breathed in tones so true^ 

A thousand hearts at once subdue. 

He speaks — and all who listen hear 

Words which they hold in memory dear ; 

And we and thine endure the shame. 

And Laili blushes at his name/' 

And now the chieftain, roused to wrath. 

Threatens to cross the maniac's path. 



But, haply, to prevent that barbarous deed, 
To Omri's palmy groves the tidings flew, 
And soon the father sends a chosen few 

To seek the lost one. Promptly they proceed 
O'er open plain and thicket deep. 
Embowering glen and rocky steep, 
Exploring with unwearied eye 
Wherever man might pass or lie, 
O'ercome by grief or death. In vain 
Their sight on every side they strain. 
No Majnun's voice, nor form, to cheer 
Their anxious hearts ; but far and near 
The yell of prowling beasts they hear. 



Mournful, they deem him lost or dead, 

And tears of bitterest anguish shed 

But he, the wanderer from his home, 

Found not from beasts a living tomb ; 

His passion's pure and holy flame 

Their native fierceness seemed to tame ; 

Tiger and ravenous wolf passed by him. 

The fell hyena came not nigh him ; 

As if, ferocity to quell. 

His form had been invisible, 

Or bore a life-protecting spell. 

Upon a fountain's emerald brink 

Majnun had stooped its lucid wave to drink ; 

And his despairing friends descried 

Him laid along that murmuring fountain's side, 

Wailing his sorrows still ; his feeble voice 

Dwelt, ever dwelt, upon his heart's sole choice. 

A wild emotion trembled in his eye, 

His bosom wrung with many a deep-drawn sigh ; 

And groans, and tears, and music's softest lay, 

Successive marked his melancholy day. 

— Now he is stretched along the burning sand, 

A stone his pillow — now, upraised his hand. 

He breathes a prayer for Laili, and again 

The desert echoes with some mournful strain. 

As wine deprives us of the sense we boast, 

So reason in love's maddening draughts is lost. 




Restored to home again, he dreads to meet 
His father's frowns, and bends to kiss his feet ; 




etc 

1^- 



I 



■ I II ■!! II 



t^S^SE 



Lain and Majnun. 



113 



Then, gazing wildly, rises up, and speaks, 

And in a piteous tone forgiveness seeks : — 

" Sad is my fate, o'ercast my youthful mom, 

My rose's leaves, my life's sweet buds are torn ; 

I sit in darkness, ashes o'er my head. 

To all the world's alluring pleasures dead ; 

For me what poor excuse can soothe thy mind ? 

Thou art my fiather still — O still be kind ! " 

Syd Omri his unchanged affection proved. 

And, folding to his breast the child he loved. 

Exclaimed : " My boy ! I grieve to mark 

Thy reason erring still, and dark : 

A fire consuming every thread 

Of which thy thrilling nerves are made. 

Sit down, and from thy eyesight tear 

The poisonous thorn tiiat rankles there : 

Tis best we should to mirth incline. 

But let it not be raised by wine : 

'Tis well desire should fill the breast ; 

Not such desire as breaks our rest. 

Remain not under griefs control, 

Nor taunt of foe which stings the soul ; 

Let wisdom every moment guide ; 

Error but swells affliction's tide ; 

What though thy love hath set thee all on fire, 

And thy heart bums with still unquenched desire, 

Despair not of a remedy ; 

From seedling springs the shady tree ; 

From hope continued follows gladness. 

Which dull despair had lost in sadness ; 



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114 




Associate with the wealthy, they 
Will show to glittering wealth the way ; 
A wanderer never gathers store, 
Be thou a wanderer now no more. 
Wealth opens every door, and gives 
Command, and homage still receives : 
Be patient, then, and patience will 
By slow degrees thy coffers fill. 
That river, rolling deep and broad, 
Once but a narrow streamlet flowed ; 
That lofty mountain, now in view. 
Its height from small beginnings drew. 
He who impatient hurries on. 
Hoping for gems, obtains a stone, 
Shrewdness and cunning gain the prize, 
While wisdom's self unprosperous lies : 
The fox of crafty, subtle mind 
Leaves the wolfs dulness far behind ; 
Be thou discreet, thy thoughts employ. 
The world's inviting pomp enjoy. — 
In search of wealth from day to day 
Love's useless passion dies away ; 
The sensual make disease their guest. 
And nourish scorpions in their breast 
And is thy heart so worthless grown. 
To be the cruel sport of one ? 
Keep it from woman's scathe, and still 
Obedient to thy own free will, 
And mindful of a parent's voice. 
Make him, and not thy foes, rejoice." 




Ni{ami. 



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Lain and Majnun. 



115 



MaJQun replied : " My father ! — father still ! — 
My power is gone ; I cannot change my will : 
The moral counsel thou hast given to me 
(To one who cannot from his bondage flee) 
Avails me nothing. Tis no choice of mine, 
But Fate's decree, that I should thus repine : 
Stand I alone? Look round, on every side 
Are broken hearts, by sternest fortune tried : 
Shadows are not self-made — the silver moon 
Is not self-stationed, but th' Almighty's boon* 
From the huge elephant's stupendous form. 
To that of the poor ant, the smallest worm. 
Through every grade of life, all power is given, 
All joy or anguish, by the Lord of Heaven. 
I sought not, I, misfortune — but it came ; 
I sought not fire, yet my heart is all flame : 
They ask me why I never laugh nor smile, 
Though laughter be no sign of sense the while. 
If I should laugh in merry mood, agape. 
Amidst my mirth some secret might escape. 
— A partridge seized an ant, resolved to kill 
The feeble creature with his homy bill ; 
When, laughing loud, the ant exclaimed — 'Alas ! 
A partridge thou ! and art thou such an ass? 
I'm but a gnat, and dost thou think to float 
A gnat's slight filmy texture down thy throat? ' 
The partridge laughed at this unusual sound. 
And, laughing, dropped the ant upon the ground. 
Thus he who idly laughs will always find 
Some grief succeed — 'tis so with all mankind. 



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116 



Ni^ami. 



The stupid partridge, laughing, drooped his crest, 

And by that folly lost what he possessed. 

— This poor old drudge, which bears its heavy load^ 

Must all life long endure the same rough road ; 

No joy for him, in mortal aid no trust, 

No rest till death consigns him to the dust." 

Here paused the youth, and wept ; and now 

The household smooth his furrowed brow, 

And with unceasing eagerness 

Seek to remove his soul's distress. 

But grief, corroding grief, allows no space 

For quiet thoughts ; his wounds break out anew ; 
His kindred every change of feature trace, 

And unavailing tears their cheeks bedew ; 
A deeper, keener anguish marks his face ; 
His faded form so haggard to the view ; 
Useless the task his sorrows to remove, 
For who can free the heart from love, unchanging love ? 

Few days had passed, when, frantic grown, 

He burst from his domestic prison. 
And in the desert wild, alone. 

Poured, like the morning bird, new risen, 
His ardent lay of love. Not long 
The mountains echoed with his song. 
Ere, drawn by sounds so sweet and clear, 
A crowd of listeners hovered near : 
They saw him, tall as cypress, stand, 
A rocky fragment in his hand ; 



-»V» — >JI- w ■• ^» » 







Laili and Majnun. 

purple sash his waist around, 
is legs with links of iron bound ; 
unencumbered was his gait ; 
'hey only showed his maniac state. 




"V^andering he reached a spot of ground, 
"^Vith palmy groves and poplars crowned ; 
-^^ lively scene it was to view, 
''XVhere flowers too bloomed, of every hue ; 
IKn wonder lost, he saw the axe applied 
'o fell a cypress tree — and thus he cried : 
^ Gardener ! did ever love thy heart control ? 
^as ever woman mistress of thy soul ? 
^^Vhen joy has thrilled through every glowing nerve, 
1st thou no wish that feeling to preserve ? 
^oes not a woman's love delight, entrance, 
every blessing fortune yields enhance ? 
"TThen stop that lifted hand, the stroke suspend, 
^Spare, spare the cypress tree, and be my friend ! 
^^nd why? Look there, and be forewarned by me, 
"^TTis Laili's form, all grace and majesty ; 
'"^Vouldst thou root up resemblance so complete, 
^^nd lay its branches withering at thy feet? 
"^^Vhat ! Laili's form? no ; spare the cypress tree; 
^H>et it remain, still beautiful and free ; 
""^es, let my prayers thy kindliest feelings move, 
^^nd save the graceful shape of her I love ! " 

The gardener dropped his axe, overcome with 
shame, 
d left the tree to bloom, and speak of Laili's fame. 




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118 



Niiamu 



VI. 



Laiu Writis. 



Laili in beauty, softness, grace, 
Surpassed the loveliest of her race ; 
She was a fresh and odorous flower. 
Plucked by a iairy from her bower ; 
With heart*delighting rosebuds blooming, 
The welcome breeze of spring perfruning. 
The killing witchery that lies 
In her soft, black, delicious eyes, 
When gathered in one amorous glance. 
Pierces the heart like sword or lance ; 
The prey that falls into her snare. 
For life must mourn and struggle there ; 
Her eyelash speaks a thousand blisses. 
Her lips of ruby ask for kisses ; 
Soft lips where sugar-sweetness dwells, 
Sweet as the bee-hive's honey-cells ; 
Her cheeks, so beautiftil and bright. 
Had stole the moon's reftilgent Ught; 
Her form the cypress tree expresses, 
And full and ripe invites caresses. 
With all these charms the heart to win, 
There was a cureless grief within — 
Yet none beheld her grief, or heard; 
She drooped like broken-winged bird. 
Her secret thoughts her love concealing. 
But, softly to the terrace stealing. 




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Z^f/i and Majnun. 

From mom to eve she gazed around, 
In hopes her Majnun might be found. 
Wandering in sight For she had none 
To sympathize with her — not one ! 
None to compassionate her woes — 
In dread of rivals, friends, and foes ; 
And though she smiled, her mind's distress 
Filled all her thoughts with bitterness ; 
The fire of absence on them preyed. 
But light nor smoke that fire betrayed ; 
Shut up within herself, she sate. 
Absorbed in grief, disconsolate ; 
Yet true love has resources still. 
Its soothing arts, and ever will ! 

Voices in guarded softness rose 

Upon her ever listening ear ; 
She heard her constant lover's woes. 

In melting strains, repeated near ; 

The sky, with gloomy clouds o'erspread. 
At length soft showers began to shed ; 
And what, before, destruction seemed, 
With rays of better promise gleamed. 

Voices of young and old she heard 
Beneath the harem-walls reciting 

Her Majnun's songs; each thrilling word 
Her almost broken heart delighting. 

Laili, with matchless charms of face, 
Was blessed with equal mental grace ; 



119 









. 



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120 



5l'!i 




Ni^amu 




With eloquence and taste refined ; 
And from the treasures of her mind 
She poured her fondest love's confession 
With faithful love's most warm expression ; 
Told all her hopes and sorrows o'er, 
Though told a thousand times before : 
The life-blood circling through her veins 
Recorded her affecting strains ; 
And as she wrote, with passion flushed, 
The glowing words with crimson blushed. 
And now the terrace she ascends 
In secret, o'er the rampart bends, 
And flings the record, with a sigh, 
To one that moment passing by : 
Unmarked the stranger gains the prize. 
And from the spot like lightning flies 
To where the lingering lover weeps unseen. 
— Starting upon his feet, with cheerful mien. 
He gazes, reads, devours the pleasing tale, 
And joy again illumes his features pale. 

Thus was resumed the soft exchange of thought ; 
Thus the return of tenderest feeling wrought : 
Each the same secret intercourse pursued, 
And mutual vows more ardently renewed ; 
And many a time between them went and came 
The fondest tokens of their deathless flame ; 
Now in hope's heaven, now in despair's abyss, 
And now enrapt in visionary bliss. 



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A train of daauels niby-lipped. 
Blooming like flowers of Samucaad, 
Obedient bowed to her command. 
She glittered like a moon among 
The beauties of the starry throng. 
With lovely forms as Houris bright, 
Or Peris glancing in the light; 
And now they reach an emerald spot. 
Beside a cool sequestered gio^ 
And soft recline beneath the shade, 
iii^p' By a delicious rose-bower made : 

\j\ 'l There, in soft converse, sport, and play, 

{ll^ll' The hours unnoted glide away; 

i|f -:l Bat Laili to the Bulbul tells 

'y^tl What secret grief her bosom swells, 

;Y-'\ Aod fancies, through the rustling leaves, 

Ih'^'l, She from the garden-breeze receives 

f[r' \\' The breathings of her own true love. 

Fond as the cooings of the dove. 



In that romantic neighborhood 
A grove of palms majestic Stood ; 
Never in Arab desert wild 
j|f^ [ A more enchanting prospect smiled; 

So fragrant, of so bright a hue, 
Not Irem richer verdure knew ; 
;!i''i!lj Not fountain half so clear, so sweet, 

S|'^!! As that which flowed at Laili's feet. 

^^^^[| The Grove of Palms her steps invites ; 

S[^l She strolls amid its varied scenes, 







Laili and Majnun. 

Its pleasant copses, evergreens, 
In which her wakened heart delights. 
Where'er the genial zephyr sighs, 
Lilies and roses near her rise : 
Awhile the prospect charms her sight, 
Awhile she feels her bosom light. 
Her eyes with pleasure beaming bright : 
But sadness o'er her spirit steals, 
And thoughts, too deep to hide, reveals : 
Beneath a cypress tree reclined, 
In secret thus she breathes her mind : — 
*' O faithful friend, and lover true. 
Still distant from thy Laili's view ; 
Still absent, still beyond her power 
To bring thee to her fragrant bower ; 
O noble youth, still thou art mine, 
And Laili, Laili still is thine ! " 

As thus she almost dreaming spoke, 
A voice reproachful her attention woke. 
^'What! hast thou banished prudence from 

mind? 
And shall success be given to one unkind ? 
Majnun on billows of despair is tossed, 
Laili has nothing of her pleasures lost ; 
Majnun has sorrow gnawing at his heart, 
Laili's blithe looks far other thoughts impart; 
Majnun the poison-thorn of grief endures, 
Laili, all wiles and softness, still allures ; 
Majnun her victim in a thousand ways, 
Laili in mirth and pastime spends her days ; 




thy 



»■» ■■»■!.■» , 



"s^.^xrj.^^vjsi^s^^a^^^^^^s;^; 




124 



Ni^ami. 



Majnun's unnumbered wounds his rest destroy, 
Laili exists but in the bowers of joy ; 
Majnun is bound by love's mysterious spell, 
Laili's bright cheeks of cheerful feelings tell ; 
Majnum his Laili's absence ever mourns, 
Laili's light mind to other objects turns." 

At this reproof tears flowed apace 

Down Laili's pale, dejected face ; 

But soon to her glad heart was known 

The trick, thus practised by her own 

Gay, watchful, ever-sportive train. 

Who long had watched, nor watched in vain ; 

And marked in her love's voice and look. 

Which never woman's glance mistook. 

Her mother too, with keener eye, 

Saw deeper through the mystery. 

Which Laili thought her story veiled, 

And oft that fatal choice bewailed ; 

But Laili still loved on ; the root 

Sprang up, and bore both bud and fruit ; 

And she believed her secret flower 

As safe as treasure in a guarded tower. 



vra. 

Majnun's Rival. 

That day on which she pensive strayed 
Amidst the Grove of Palms — that day 



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126 Ni{amu 



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The promise soothes his eager heart, 
He and his followers, pleased, depart. 



DC. 

The Battle for Laiu. 

Majnun, midst wild and solitude, 

His melancholy mood pursued ; '^ 

In sterner moments, loud he raved, 

The desert's burning noon-tide braved, 

Or, where refreshing shadows fell. 

Warbled of her he loved so well. 



4 



The Arab chief of that domain i 

Which now his wandering footsteps pressed^ 

Was honored for his bounteous reign — 3 

For ever succoring the distressed. 
Noufal his name — well known to wield, 

Victorious in the battle-field, I 

His glittering sword, and overthrow 2 

The robber-band or martial foe ; I 

Magnificent in pomp and state, J 

And wealthy as in valor great. i| 

One day the pleasures of the chase, 

The keen pursuit of bounding deer, 
Had brought the chieftain to that place 

Where Majnun stood, and, drawing near. 
The stranger's features sought to trace^ 




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Laili and Majnun. i: 

And the sad notes of grief to hear, 

Which, ere he saw the maniac's hce, 

Had, sorrow-laden, struck his ear. 

He now beheld that wasted frame. 

That head and mien o'ergrown with hair. 
That wild, wild look, which well might claim 

Brotherly kindred with despair. 
Dejected, miserable, borne 

By grief to life's last narrow verge. 
With wounded feet and vestment torn, 

Singing his own funereal dirge. 

Nou£U had traversed forest, copse, and glade. 
In anxious quest of game, and here he found 

Game — but what game ? — alas ! a human shade, 
So light, it scarcely seemed to touch the ground. 

Dismounting straight, he hears what woes 
Had marred the mournful youth's repose ; 
And kindly tries with gentle words 
To show what pleasures life affords ; 
And prove the uselessness, the folly. 
Of nursing grief and melancholy ; 
But worse, when men from reason flee, 
And willing steep their hearts in misery. 

The sympathy of generous minds 
Around the heart its influence winds, 
And, ever soothing, by degrees, 



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128 



Ni{ami. 

Restores its long-lost harmonies : 
Majnun, so long to love a prey, 
Death hastening on by swift decay, 
Began to feel that calming spell, 
That sweet delight, unspeakable, 
Which draws us from ourselves away. 



A change now gently o'er him came ; 

With trembling hand he took the cup. 
And drank, but drank in Laili's name, 

The life-restoring cordial up. 
His spirits rose ; refreshing food 

At Noufal's hospitable board 
Seemed to remove his wayward mood. 

So long endured, so long deplored. 

And Nou^ with delight surveyed 
The social joy his eyes betrayed. 
And heard his glowing strains of love, 
His murmurings like the turtle-dove. 
While thinking of his Arab maid. 
Changed from himself, his mind at rest. 
In customary robes he dressed ; 
A turban shades his forehead pale. 
No more is heard the lover's wail. 
But, jocund as the vintner's guest. 
He laughs and drinks with added zest ; 
His dungeon gloom exchanged for day. 
His cheeks a rosy tint display ; 
He revels midst the garden's sweets, 







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f^l'^f^^-j^yS^^S^^ 




t 



LaUi and Majnun. 

And still his lip the goblet meets : 

But so devoted, so unchanged his flame, 

Never without repeating Laiii's name. 



129 



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I. 



I 



9 
S 

S 

I 




In friendly converse, heart uniting heart, 

Noufal and Majnun hand in hand are seen ; 
And, from each other loathing to depart. 

Wander untired by fount and meadow green. 
But what is friendship to a soul 
Inured to more intense control? 
A zephyr breathing over flowers, 
Compared to when the tempest lours? 
A zephyr, friendship's gentler course ; 
A tempest, love's tumultuous force ; 
For friendship leaves a vacuum still, 
Which love, and love alone, can fill : 
So Majnun felt ; and Noufid tried. 
In vain, to fill that aching void : 
For, though the liquid sparkling red 
Still flowed, his friend thus sorrowing said t 
'^ My generous host, with plenty blessed, 
No boding cares thy thoughts molest ; 
Thy kindness many a charm hath given, 
But not one solace under heaven ; 
Without my love, in tears I languish, 
And not a voice to check my anguish ; 
like one of thirst about to die, 
And every fountain near him dry : 
Thirst is by water quenched, not treasure, 
Nor floods of wine, nor festive pleasure. 



i 




T 
i 




•TT-iyi 



Laili and Majnun. 



131 



Ready for battle. Spears and helmets ring. 

And brass-bound shields; loud twangs the archer's 

string; 
The field of conflict like the ocean roars, 
When the huge billows burst upon the shores. 
Arrows, like birds, on either foeman stood, 
Drinking with open beak the vital flood ; 
The shining daggers in the battle's heat 
Rolled many a head beneath the horses' feet ; 
And lightnings, hurled by death's unsparing hand, 
Spread consternation through the weeping land. 
Amidst the horrors of that fatal fight, 
Majnun appeared — a strange appalling sight ! 
Wildly he raved, confounding fiiend and foe. 
His garments half abandoned in his woe. 
And with a maniac stare reproachful cried — 
" Why combat thus when all are on ray side? " 
The foeman laughed — the uproar louder grew — 
No pause the brazen drums or trumpets knew ; 
The stoutest heart sank at the carnage wrought ; 
Swords blushed to see the numerous heads they 

smote. 
— Noufal with dragon-fierceness prowled around. 
And hurled opposing warriors to the ground : 
Whatever hero felt his ponderous gerz^ 
Was crushed, tho' steadfast as the Mount Elberz ; 



^Gen, a mace or club. Elberz is a celebrated mountain in 
Persia, and forms a favorite simile in the SkaM^Nameh of Flrdausi. 
The immovable firmness of his heroes is generally compared to the 
Mount Elberz. 



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132 



Ni{amu 



Upon whatever head his weapon fell, 
There was but one heartrending tale to tell. 
Like a mad elephant the foe he met ; 
With hostile blood his blade continued wet ; 
— Wearied at length, both tribes at once withdrew. 
Resolved with mom the combat to renew ; 
But Noufal's gallant friends had suffered most ; 
In one hour more the battle had been lost ; 
And thence assistance, ere the following dawn. 
From other warlike tribes was promptly drawn. 

The desert rang again. In front and rear 
Glittered bright sword and buckler, gerz and spear ; 
Again the struggle woke the echoes round. 
Swords clashed, and blood again made red the 

ground; 
The book of life, with dust and carnage stained. 
Was soon destroyed, and not a leaf remained. 
At last, the tribe of Laili's sire gave way. 
And Noufal won the hard-contested day ; 
Numbers lay bleeding of that conquered band. 
And died unsuccored on the burning sand. 

And now the elders of that tribe appear. 
Imploring the proud victor. " Chieftain, hear I 
The work of slaughter is complete ; 

Thou seest our power destroyed ; allow 
Us, wretched suppliants, at thy feet, 

Humbly to ask for mercy now. 
How many warriors press the plain, 
Khanjer and spear have laid them low ; 




1 



Lain and Majnun. 

At peace, behold our kinsmen slain. 
And thou art now without a foe. 

** Then pardon what of wrong has been : 
Let us retire, unharmed — unstayed — 

Far fix>m this sanguinary scene, 
And take thy prize — the Arab Maid," 

Then came the &ther, full of grief, and said — 
(Ashes and dust upon his hoary head,) 
** With thee, alas ! how useless to contend ! 
Thou art the conqueror, and to thee I bend. 
M^thout resentment now the vanquished view, 
Wounded and old, and broken-hearted too ; 
Reproach has fallen upon me, and has dared 
To call me Persian — that I disregard ; 
For I'm an Arab still, and scorn the sneer 
Of braggart fools, unused to shield and spear. 
But let that pass. I now, o'ercome, and weak. 
And prostrate, pardon from the victor seek : 
Thy slave am I, obedient to thy will. 
Ready thy sternest purpose to fulfil ; 
But if with Laili I consent to part. 
Wilt thou bk)t out all vengeance from thy heart? 
Then speak at once, and thy behest declare : 
I will not flinch, though it my soul may tear. 
My daughter shall be brought at thy command ; 
Let the red flames ascend from blazing brand. 
Waiting their victim, crackling in the air. 
And Laili duteously shall perish there. 



133 



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Lain and Majnun. 

surmed with khanjer, sword, and shield ; 
»«man and elder. Thus in vain 
has bedewed this thirsty plain." 



135 



len Majnun this conclusion hears, 
jes incensed to Noufal, and with tears 
ly exclaims : *' The dawn, my generous friend ! 

this day in happiness would end ; 
hou hast let the gazelle slip away, 
me defrauded of my beauteous prey, 
where Forat's^ bright stream rolls on, reclined, 
ching my wounds, hope soothed my tortured 
mind, 

gave me Laili ; now that hope is crossed, 
life's most valued charm forever lost." 



oufal with heavy heart now homeward bent 
way, and Majnun with him sorrowing went ; 
there again the pitying chieftain strove 
dm the withering pangs of hopeless love ; 
>less, with gentleness and tender care, 
wounded spirit sinking in despair : 
vain his efforts ; mountain, wood, and plain 
n heard the maniac's piercing woes again ; 
;aped from listening ear, and watchful eye, 
\t\y again in desert wild to lie. 

^The river Euphrates. The scene is laid in the country surround- 
rdad. 



/^ 




^^^i^i^^S&^^^iE^ife^^^^SS 



■^^^^^:t^^v 




Ni^amu 



X. 



Majnun saves a Deer, 

The minstrel strikes his soft guitar^ 

With sad forebodings pale ; 
And fills with song the balmy air. 

And thus resumes his tale : — 

The pensive bird, compelled to cower^ 
From day to day in Noufal's bower, 
Tired of the scene, with pinions light. 
Swift as the wind has urged its flight, 
And, far from Noufal's wide domain, 
EnjojTS its liberty again ; 
Pouring aloud its sad complaint 
In wildest mood without restraint 

And now remote from peopled town, 
Midst tangled forest, parched and brown, 
The maniac roams ; with double speed 
He goads along his snorting steed, 
Till, in a grove, a sportsman's snare 
Attracts his view, and, struggling there. 
Its knotted meshes ^t between. 
Some newly prisoned deer are seen ; 
And as the sportsman forward springs 
To seize on one, and promptly brings 
The fatal knife upon its neck. 
His hand receives a sudden check ; 



i 





Lain and Majnun. 

And looking upward, with surprise 

(A mounted chief before his eyes !), 

He stops — while thus exclaims the youth : 

" If e'er thy bosom throbbed with ruth, 

Forbear ! for 'tis a crime to spill 

A gazelle's blood — it bodeth ill ; 

Then set the pleading captive free ; 

For sweet is life and liberty. 

That heart must be as marble hard. 

And merciless as wolf or pard, 

Which clouds in death that large black eye, 

Beaming like Laili's, lovingly. 

The cruel stroke, my friend, withhold ; 

Its neck deserves a string of gold. 

Observe its slender limbs, the grace 

And winning meekness of its face. 

The musk-pod is its fatal dower, 

Like beauty, still the prey of power ; 

And for that fragrant gift thou'rt led 

The gende gazelle's blood to shed ! 

Oh, seek not gain by cruel deed, 

Nor let the innocent victim bleed." 

**But," cried the sportsman, " these are mine ; 

I cannot at my task repine : 

The sportsman's task ; 'tis free from blame, 

To watch and snare the forest game." 

Majnun, upon this stem reply. 

Alighted from his steed, and said — 
" Oh, let them live ! they must not die. 




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Lain and Majnun. 139 

Alas ! 'tis Laili's vanquished sire, 
Returning home, his heart on fire ; 
For though he has survived the blow. 
He keenly feels his overthrow. 

His tale is told : some Diw ^ or Ghoul 
Has palsied his intrepid soul, 
And held his arm by magic foul, 
Or potion from the enchanter's bowl ; 
Else had he driven, with easy hand. 
The miscreant Noufal from the land ; 
For when did ever braggart lord 
Fail, but when magic held his sword? 

Now, shielded by the harem screen. 
The sweet Narcissus sad is seen : 
Listening she hears, disconsolate. 
Her father's words, which seal her fate ; 
And what has Laili now to bear. 
But loneliness, reproach, despair, 
With no congenial spirit to impart 
One single solace to her bursting heart ! 

Meanwhile the spicy gale on every side 
Wafts the high vaunting of her beauty's pride 
Tlirough all the neighboring tribes, and more 
remote 

i"Div— demon, giant, devil, ghost, hobgoblin. The divs, 
genii, or giants, in Eastern mythology, are a race of malignant 
beings. The ghoul is an imaginary sylvan demon, of different 
shapes and colors, supposed to devour men and animals. Any- 
thing which suddenly attacks and destroys a man, or robs him 
of his senses."— Richardson. 



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140 



Niiatnu 



Her name is whispered and her favor sought. 

Suitors with various claims appear — the great. 

The rich, the powerful — all impatient wait 

To know for whom the father keeps that rare 

But tegile crystal with such watchful care. 

Her charms eclipse all others of her sex. 

Given to be loved, but rival hearts to vex ; 

For when the lamp of joy illumes her cheeks, 

The lover smiles, and yet his heart it breaks : 

The full-blown rose thus sheds its fragrance round ; . 

But there are thorns, not given to charm, but wound. 

Among the rest that stripling came. 

Who had before avowed his flame ; 

His cheerful aspect seemed to say, 

For him was fixed the nuptial-day. 

His offerings are magnificent ; 

Garments embroidered every fold, 
And rarest gems, to win consent, 

And carpets worked with silk and gold : 
Amber, and pearls, and rubies bright. 
And bags of musk, attract the sight ; 
And camels of unequalled speed. 
And ambling nags of purest breed ; — 
These (resting for a while) he sends 
Before him, and instructs his friends, 
With all the eloquence and power 
Persuasion brings in favoring hour, 
To magnify his worth, and prove 
That he alone deserves her love.^ 







i 





Laili and Majnun. 141 

** A youth of royal presence, Yemen's boast, 
fierce as a lion, mighty as a host ; 
Of boundless wealth, and valor's self, he wields 
[is conquering sword amid embattled fields, 
ye for blood? 'tis shed by his own hand, 
'all ye for gold? he scatters it like sand." 

nd when the flowers of speech their scent had shed, 
diffusing honors round the suitor's head ; 
'Scalting him to more than mortal worth, 

person manly, noble in his birth ; 
h^e sire of Laili seemed oppressed with thought, 
^ if with some repulsive feeling fraught ; 
^t promptly was the answer given — he soon 
screed the fate of Yemen's splendid moon; 

iddled the steed of his desire, in sooth, 

lung his own offspring in the dragon's mouth. 

3rthwith the nuptial pomp, the nuptial rites, 

Engage the chieftain's household — every square 
Jngs with the rattling drums whose noise excites 

[ore deafening clamor through the wide bazaar. 

he pipe and C3rmbal, shrill and loud, 
delight the gay assembled crowd ; 
.nd all is mirth and jollity, 

1th song, and dance, and revelry. 
;ut Laili mournful sits apart, 

ic shaft of misery through her heart ; 

id black portentous clouds are seen 

darkening her soft expressive mien ; 

[er bosom swells with heavy sighs, 



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142 



Niiami. 



Tears gush from those heart-winning eyes, 

Where Love's triumphant witchery lies. 

In blooming spring a withered lea^ 

She droops in agony of grief; 

Loving her own — her only one — 

Loving Majnun, and him alone ; 

All else from her affections gone ; 

And to be joined, in a moment's breath, 

To another ! — Death, and worse than death ! 

Soon as the sparkling stars of night 

Had disappeared, and floods of light 

Shed from the mom*s refulgent beam 

Empurpled Dijla's ' rolling stream. 

The bridegroom, joyous, rose to see 

The bride equipped as bride should be : 

The litter and the golden throne. 

Prepared for her to rest upon : 

But what avails the tenderest care, 

The fondest love, when dark despair 

And utter hatred fill the breast 

Of her to whom that fondness is addressed? 

Quickly her sharp disdain the bridegroom feels,* 

And from her scornful presence shrinks and reels : 

A solemn oath she takes, and cries. 

With frenzy flashing fh)m her eyes, — 

1 The river Tigris. 

* The original makes Laili rather Amaxonian at this juncture, 
which is not quite in keeping with the gentleness of her character. 
It says she struck him such a blow» that he fell down as if he were 
dead. 




it 



1 




Laili and Majnun. 






" Hopest thou I ever shall be thine? 
It is my father's will, not mine ! 
Rather than be that thing abhorred. 
My life-blood shall distain thy sword. 
Away ! nor longer seek to gain 
A heart foredoomed to endless pain ; 
A heart, no power of thine can move ; 
A bleeding heart, which scorns thy love ! " 

When Ibn Salam her frenzied look beheld. 
And heard her vows, his cherished hopes were quelled. 
He soon perceived what art had been employed, — 
All his bright visions faded and destroyed ; — 
And found, when love has turned a maiden's brain. 
Father and mother urge their power in vain. 



XII. 



Majnun hears of the Wedding. 

The Arab poets who rehearse 
Their legends in immortal verse. 
Say, when Majnun these tidings knew. 
More wild, more moody wild, he grew ; 
Raving through wood and mountain glen ; 
Flying still more the haunts of men. 

Sudden a perfume, grateful to the soul, 
O'er his awakened senses stole. 
He thought from Laili's fragrant couch it came. 
It filled with joy his wearied frame. 




Laili and Majnun. 145 

While in another's warm embrace^ 
No witness to thy own disgrace, 
Faithless, she wastes no thought on thee, 
Wrapped in her own felicity. 
Woman's desire is more intense 
Than man's — more exquisite her sense ; 
But, never blinded by her flame. 
Gain and fruition are her aim. 
A woman's love is selfish all ; 
Possessions, wealth, secure her fall. 
How many false and cruel prove. 
And not one fiuthful in her love ! 
A contradiction is her life ; 
Without, all peace ; within, all strife ; 
A dangerous friend, a fatal foe. 
Prime breeder * of a world of woe. 
When we are joyous, she is sad ; 
When deep in sorrow, she is glad. 
Such is the life a woman leads. 
And in her sorcery still succeeds." 

These words confused the lover's brain ; 
Fire ran through every swelling vein : 
Frantic he dashed his forehead on the ground, 



1 A/aii^'eAam, the calamity of the world. A common epithet 
applied in anger to the fait sex. Something in the spirit of 
Otway: — 

** Who lost Marc Antony the world ? a woman. 
Who was the cause of a long ten-years' war, 
And laid at last old Troy in ashes ? woman, 
Destntctiye, damnable, deceitful woman 1 *' 




«^ 



146 Ni{ami, 

And blood flowed trickling from the ghastly wound. 
" What added curse is this ? " he groaning said, — 
" Another tempest, roaring round my head ! " 



When ever did a bleeding heart 

Betray no sign of blighted reason ? 
Can the most skilful gardener's art 

Still keep his flowers or fruit in season? 
No ; hearts dissolved in grief give birth 
To madness, as the teeming earth 
Yields herbs ; and yet bewildered mind, 
To all but one bright object blind, 
Suffers no censure from the seer 
Who guides the faithful Moslem here. 
Love sanctifies the erring thought, 
And Heaven forgives the deed by frenzy wrought. 
" A rose, a lovely rose, I found, 
With thorns and briers compassed round ; 
And, struggling to possess that prize. 
The gardener in his wrath denies. 
Behold my heart, all torn and bleeding. 
Its pangs all other pangs exceeding : 
I see the leaves expand and bloom, 
I smell its exquisite perfume ; 
Its color, blushing in the light. 
Gives to my raptured soul delight : 
I weep beneath the cypress tree, 
And still the rose is not for me. 
Alas ! none hear, nor mark my moan ; 
Pride of my soul, my rose, is gone ! 



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Laili and Majnun. 



149 




Alas ! my passion glowed in every part ; 
line in thy tongue, but never in thy heart ; 
^^^ith thy new love hast thou so amorous grown? 
.nd am I worthless as a desert-stone? 
It is a word, a promise, oath, or pledge? 
^I^Mockery, which never can the heart engage. 
^V^hat was my garden's wealth but fruit and flowers? 
^^\nd all that wealth a raven now devours ; 
.^\nd what has been my constant care and toil, 
"Eut for another to prepare the spoil? 
"When first my soul was destined to be thine, 
T little thought that treasure to resign ; 
Think of thy broken vows, to what they tend ; 
Think of thy falsehood, and lament its end. 
^y doom is fixed ; my choice no longer free ; 
My martyr-life devoted still to thee ! " 



xm. 

Majnun's Father Dees. 

Meantime, the father mourned his wretched state^ 
Like Jacob o'er his Joseph's unknown fate ; 
No rest by day, no sleep by night ; 
Grief o'er him shed its withering blight ; 
Incessant yearnings wrung his heart, 

He sat in darkness, silent, lone : 
** Why did my child horn home depart? 

"Where has the hopeless wanderer gone?" 
Dreading that Death's relentless dart 




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Ni[ami. 



His best-loved had overthrown. 

Sudden he rose — despair gave force 
And vigor to his aged frame ; 

And, ahnost frantic with remorse, 
Gathering upon himself the Uame, 

He trod the maze of wood and wild, 

Seeking his poor forsaken child ; 

And when the day withdrew its light, 

He passed in cavern rude the night ; 

But never ceased his venturous quest -^ 

No peace for him — no strengthening rest 

In vain he paced the desert round, 

For not a trace of him was found. 

At length a herdsman, falling in his way, 

Described the spot where Majnun lay ; 

Craggy, and deep, and terrible to view. 

It seemed a grave all damp with noxious dew. 

Thither proceeding, by the stranger led, 

He finds with horror that sepulchral bed ; 

And, fearful of the worst, beholds the wreck 
Of Majnun, his once-lovely boy; — 

He sees a serpent winding round his neck, 
Playful, not destined to destroy : 
It stays but for a moment — all around. 
Limbs half-devoured, and bones, bestrew the groun' 
With cautious step descending, he surveys 
Th' unconscious youth, who meets his anxious gaze 
With a wild look which could not recognize 

The tottering form before him : '^ Who art thou ? 
And what thy errand ? " The old man replies : — 



B<^?^i''':'?^S^S^^^?^?^^'/i'j^'^ 




SPECIMEN OF ARABIC KALLIGRAPHY 



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Laili and Majn 




'* I am thy father ! I have found thee now, 
After long search? " Embracing, both remained 
In deep compassionate sorrow, fondly strained 
Each to the other's bosom ; and when he, 
The maniac, had regained his memory. 
And beams of light burst through his 'nighted brain. 
And he beheld and knew his sire again, 
Joy sparkled in his faded eye awhile, 
And his parched lips seemed curled into a smile. 
The poor old father said, with feeble voice, 
*' Thou makest my heart both tremble and rejoice : 
The path o'er which thy feet are doomed to pass 
Show blades of swords, not harmless blades of grass ; 
And I would warn thee never more to roam ; 
Thy only safety is to stay at home. 
Dogs have a home, and thou hast none to boast : 
Art thou a man, to human comfort lost? 
If man thou art, then like a man appear. 
Or, if a demon, be a demon here. 
The ghoul, created to perplex the earth. 
Is still a ghoul, and answers to its birth ; 
But thou'rt a man ; and why, with human soul, 
Forget thy nature and become a ghoul? 
To-day if thou shouldst throw the reins aside. 
To-morrow thou mayst ask, and be denied. 
Soon shall I pass away, and be at rest ; 
No longer this frail world's unhappy guest. 
My day is mingling with the shades of night ; 
My life is losing all its wonted light 
Soul of thy father ! reinspired with grace, 






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152 



Ni^ami. 




Rise, and protect the honors of thy race, 
That, ere this frame be in the grave laid low, 
I may the guardian of my birthright know ; 
That, ere I die, to soothe a parent's grief. 
Thou mayst be hailed in thine own home the chief. 
Forbid it, Heaven, that, when my hour is past. 
My house and home should to the winds be cast ! 
That plundering strangers, with rapacious hand. 
Should waste my treasure and despoil my land ! 
And Heaven forbid, that both at once should faU, 
(My greatest dread), and thus extinguish all ! 
That when the summons reaches me to die. 
Thy death should also swell the funeral cry ! " 

These words sank deep in Majnun's breast: he 
seemed 
Altered in mood, as through his senses streamed 
The memory of his home, the fond regard 
Of his dear mother, and the joys he shared 
From her affection. Days and nights he tried 
To banish from his thoughts another's bride : 
Repentance came, and oft the strife renewed, 
But tyrant love that feeling soon subdued ; 
(Love, a wild elephant in might, which grows 
More powerful when opposed by friends or foes;) 
And the poor maniac thus his sire addressed : 
" Thy counsel, father, is the wisest, best ; 
And I would gladly to thy wish conform : 
But what am I ? a helpless wretch, a worm, 
Without the power to do what I approve. 
Enslaved, the victim of almighty love. 



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Laili and Majnun. 



153 



To me the world is swallowed up — I see 

Nothing but Laili — all is lost to me, 

Save her bright image — &ther, mother, home, 

All buried in impenetrable gloom, 

Beyond my feeling ; — yet I know thou'rt here. 

And I could weep ; — but what avails the tear, 

Even were it at a father's funeral shed? 

For human sorrows never reach the dead. 

Thou say'st the night of Death is on thee falling 1 

Then must I weep, thy fostering care recalling ; 

But I shall die in utter misery, 

And none be left in life to weep for me." 

Syd Omri, with unutterable grief. 
Gazed on his son, whose sorrows mocked relief; 
And, hopeless, wretched, every thought resigned 
That once was balm and comfort to his mind. 
Then, showering blessings o'er his offspring's head, 

Groaning, he parted from that dismal cave ; 
And, wrapt in deepest anguish, homeward sped ; 

But 'twas, alas 1 to his expected grave. 
Gently he sank, by age and grief oppressed. 
From this vain world to that endless rest. 
Vain world indeed I who ever rested here? 
The lustrous moon hath its eternal sphere ; 
But man, who in this mortal prison sighs. 
Appears like lightning, and like lightning flies* 

A pilgrim-step approached the wild retreat^ 
Where Majnun lingered in his rocky seat. 
And the sad tale was told. He fell 
Upon the earth insensible ; 



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154 Nt{ami. 







And, grovelling, with a frantic air, 
His bosom beat — he tore his hair, 
And never rested, night or day^ ^ 
;i^ij Till he had wandered fai away, 

[a* Reached the sad spot where peaceful lay 

His fiaither's bones, now crumbling with decay. 
His arms around the grave he flung. 



s And to the earth delirious clung ; 



lil*;: Grasping the ashes of the dead, 



I'V V He cast them o'er his prostrate head, 



And, with repentant tears, bedewed 
The holy relics round him strewed. 
Overwhelming was the sharpened sense 
II 'n Of his contrition, deep, intense ; 

And sickness wrapped his shattered frame 



;[ In a slow fever's parching flame : 



5>f • Still, ceaseless, 'twas his wont to rave 

Upon his father's sacred grave. 
uj; He felt the bitterness of fate ; 

:»''J He saw his folly now too late; 

\\,j'. And worlds would give again to share 

m Hi, generous fiUher-s consult care; 

gv;| For he had oft, in wanton guise, 

Contemned the counsels of the wise ; 
Had with a child's impatience burned. 
And scorn for sympathy returned ; 

\^[^A^, And now, like all of human mould, 

ll^l' When the indulgent heart is cold, 

Which would have sealed his happiness. 



1 1 fi §1 He mourns — but mourns his own distress ; 




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Lain and Majnun. 155 

For^ when the diamond blazed like day. 
He cast it recklessly away. 



XIV. 

Majnun seeks the Forest. 

Who's this that wanders near that palmy glade. 

Where the fresh breeze adds coolness to the shade ? 

Tis Majnun ; — he has left his father's tomb, 

Again mid rocks and scorching plains to roam, 

Unmindful of the sun's meridian heat, 

Or the damp dewy night, with unshod feet ; 

Unmindful of the forest's savage brood, 

Howling on every side in quest of blood ; 

No dread has he from aught of earth or air. 

From den or eyry, calm in his despair : 

He seems to court new perils, and can view 

With unblenched visage scenes of darkest hue ; 

Yet is he gentle, and his gracious mien 

Checks the extended claw, where blood has been ; ' 

For tiger, wolf, and panther gather round 

The maniac as their king, and lick the ground ; 

Fox and hyena fierce their snarling cease ; 

Lion and fawn familiar meet in peace ; 

Vulture and soaring eagle, on the wing. 

Around his place of rest their shadows fling ; 

Like Suliman,^ o'er all extends his reign ; 

1 No name is more famous in the East than Solomon. Omnipo- 
tence is said to have placed under his obedience not only mankind, 
but animals. The birds were his constant attendants, screening him 
like a canopy from the inclemencies of the weather. 






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1 56 Ni{amu 

His pillow is the lion*s shaggy mane ; 
The wily leopard, on the herbage spread, 
Forms like a carpet his romantic bed ; 
And lynx and wolf, in harmony combined, 
Frisk o*er the sward and gambol with the hind* 
All pay their homage with respect profound, 
As if in circles of enchantment bound. 



Among the rest, one little fawn 

Skipped nimbly o'er the flowery lawn ; 

And, beautifully delicate, 

Sprang where th' admiring maniac sate : 

So soft, so meek, so sweetly mild. 

So shy, so innocently wild, 

And, ever playful in his sight, 

The fondling grew his great delight ; 

He loved its pleasing form to trace. 

And kiss its full black eyes and face, 

Thinking of Laili all the while ; 

For fantasies the heart beguile ; 

And, with th' illusive dream impressed, 

He hugged the favorite to his breast : 

With his own hand the fawn he fed, 

And choicest herbs before it spread ; 

And all the beasts assembled there 

Partook of his indulgent care. 

And, day and night, they, unconstrained^ 

In wondrous harmony remained. 

And thus throughout the world, we find 

Mid brutes, as well as humankind. 







Si 



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Lain and Majnun. 

A liberal hand, a friendly voice, 
Bids e'en the savage heart rejoice. 
There is a curious story told 
Of a despotic king of old, 
Which proves ferocious beasts endued 
With a deep sense of gratitude. 
The king had in his palace bounds 
A den of man-devouring hounds ; 
And all on whom his anger fell 
Were cast into that dreadful cell. 
Among the courtiers there was one, 
For wisdom, wit, and shrewdness known. 
Long in the royal household nursed. 
But still he always feared the worst. 
Thinking the fatal day might come 
For him to share an equal doom ; 
And therefore, by a dexterous scheme, 
His life endeavored to redeem. 
Unseen, by night, he often stood 
And fed the hounds with savory food ; 
And well their bounteous fnend they knew 
And in their hearts attachment grew ; 
When, just as he, prophetic, thought, 
The king his death unfeeling sought ; 
Sternly his good old courtier blamed. 
And to the ravenous dogs condemned. 
Twas night when in the den he cast 
His victim for a dog's repast : 
Next mom, unshamed by such a deed 
(Dooming the innocent to bleed), 



157 



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158 




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He sent a page to look for him. 

Torn, he expected, limb from limb : 

The wondering keeper, who obeyed 

The king, and not a trice delayed, 

Now, hastening to the presence, cried : — 

" O king ! his virtue has been tried ; 

He bears an angel's blessed charm. 

And God protects his life from harm : 

Untouched, though fettered fast, I found him. 

The dogs all fondly fawning round him ! " 

The king was struck with wonderment 

At this miraculous event ; 

And seeing, in that horrid cell. 

The guihless courtier safe and well, 

He asked, with tears profusely shed. 

By what strange spell he was not dead? 

'^ No juggling words had I to say ; 

I fed the bloodhounds every day ; 

And thence their gratitude arose. 

Which saved me from my cruel foes. 

But I have served thee many a year, 

And for it thou hast sent me here ! 

A dog has feeling — thou hast none— 

A dog is thankful for a bone ; 

But thou, with hands in blood imbrued. 

Hast not one spark of gratitude." 

Abashed the despot saw his crimes. 

And changed his frightful course betimes. 



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Lain and Majnun 



XV. 

Correspondence. 

Sweet slumber had diflused the charm of rest 

Through the poor maniac's agitated breast. 

And as the mom, magnificently bright, 

Poured o'er the cloudless sky its purple light, 

The smiling presage ^ of a prosperous day. 

He rose refreshed, and hailed the heavenly ray. 

Graceful he stood amidst the varied herd, 

And, warmed with hope, his orisons preferred ; 

When suddenly a horseman met his view. 

Who, as it seemed, the wandering lover knew. 

" Romantic youth ! I see the timorous deer 

And the fierce lion meet in concord here. 

And thou the monarch — strange 1 but mark ! I bear 

A secret tale of one, so loved, so fair, 

What wouldst thou feel, did I her name declare ? 

What is the cypress to her form divine? 

What is the perfume from a martyr's shrine? 

What, should that idol's fate be mixed with thine? 

Her ringlets twisted like the graceful Jim,* 

Her shape an Alif, and her mouth a Mim ; 

Her eyes like two Narcissuses, that grow 

^ Literally, on that day he rose up on the right-hand side ; a sign 
that his fortune would be auspicious. 

^ To make this Persian conceit, of not unfrequent occurrence, 
understood, it may be enough to say the letter Jim, of the Persian 
as well as Arabic alphabet, is formed something like the capital T 
of the German text; the Alif, like our number One in writing; and 
the Arabic letter Mim, a small horizontal oval. 






[f,^^^^^^^ 



160 



Ni{ami. 



Where the pure waters of a fountain flow ; 

Her eyebrows, joined, a double arch express ; 

Her beauteous cheeks an angel might caress. 

But what can I of such perfection say? 

How to the blind Creation's charms portray? 

I saw her weep — the tear-drops glistening fell 

In showers from eyes which their own tale could tell ; 

And yet I asked for whom she wept and mourned — 

For one untrue, or one to dust returned? 

Opening her ruby lips, she softly said : — 

* My heart ' is desolate — my joys are fled ; 

I once was Laili — need I more reveal? 

Worse than a thousand maniacs now I feel : 

More wild than that dark star which rules my &te. 

More mad than Majnun's my distracted state. 

If that dark spirit thou shouldst haply And — 

That mournful wreck of an enlightened mind — 

How wilt thou recognize him? By that sad 

Disordered aspect, oft pronounced as mad ; 

By that unutterable grief which preys 

Upon his heart ; that melancholy gaze, 

Which has no sense of outward things ; that love 

So pure, an emanation from above. 

O that I could escape this wretched thrall. 

And leave, forever leave, my Other's hall ! 

But go, and seek the wanderer ; — glen and cave 

Patient explore — his refuge, or his grave : 

Find him ; and, faithful, with unwearied feet 

^ The original runs, Salt is thrown upon my heart, expressive of 
anguish. 










i 




Laili and Majnun. 



161 



Return, and tell me his forlorn retreat* 
Silent I heard her earnest prayer ; 
Marked her desponding voice and air ; 
And while she still, in tenderest mood, 
Bedewed with tears, before me stood, 
The story of thy woes, which long 
Had been the theme of many a song, 
Familiar to the country round, 
I sang, and deep affection found ; 
So deep, that, sigh succeeding sigh. 
She trembled in her agony. 
And, senseless, sank upon the ground, 
Where pale and motionless she lay 
As if her life had ebbed away. 
But soon as that dread swoon was o'er, 

And sobs and tears relieved her heart ; 
Again she pressed me to restore 

Him she adored — ' If kind thou art, 
And kind thou must be to a wretch forlorn, 

I feel thou wouldst not play a traitor's part ; 
Thou canst not view my misery with scorn. 
Alas ! though I may seem to him untrue, 
Pity is still to woman's sorrows due.' 






" Her rosy fingers press 

The written tale of her distress ; 

And, raising to her ruby mouth 

That passionate record of her truth, 

Kissed it a thousand times, and shed 

A flood of tears, whilst mournfully she said — 




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Laili and Majnun. 

That truth and love remain^ the gift of Heaven. 

Though far from thee — a wife against my will, 

I am thine own affianced partner still : 

Still single — still, in purity and faith, 

Thine own unchanged — unchangeable in death* 

Thou'rt all the world to me — the very earth 

Thou tread'st on is to me of matchless worth ; 

Yet in a different sphere my race is run ; 

I am the moon, and thou the radiant sun : 

By destiny thus sundered — how can I 

Merit reproach, who at thy feet would die ! 

Since thus divided, pity thou my lot, 

With all thy vows and raptures unforgot ; 

Life's sweetest flowerets, in their brightest bloom. 

Turned to the bitterness of fell Zikum'^ * 

Yes, Majnun wept and shook ; and now 
What answer could he frame, and how? 
A wanderer, destitute — no reed. 
No tablets, to supply his need — 
But Laili's messenger had brought 
The means — and thus the maniac wrote : — 
" To Him who formed the starry throne 
Of heaven, and rules the world alone ; 
Who, in the dark m)rsterious mine, 
Maketh the unseen diamond shine ; 
Who thus on human life bestows 
The gem which in devotion gbws ; 

1 An infernal tree, mentioned in the Koran, the fruit of which 
supposed to be the heads of devils. 



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To Him be gratitude and praise, 

The constant theme of Moslem lap ! 

— A burning heart, in sorrow deep, 

What can it do but sigh and weep? 

And what can this memorial bear 

To thee, but wailings of despair? 

I am the dust beneath thy feet, 

Though destined never more to meet 

Thy beauty is my Kaba shrine. 

The arc of heaven, forever mine ; 

Garden of Irem — hid from me, 

The Paradise I must not see ; 

Yet thou hast quenched my genial light ; 

My day is now like blackest night 

With fondness on thy flattering tongue 

Thou smilest, and my heart is wrung ; 

For those whose tongues are gentlest found 

Are wont to give the deadliest wound. 

The lily's petals oft appear 

As fatal as the sword or spear. 

She, whom 'twas rapture to behold, 

Could she be basely bought and sold? 

Couldst thou to me thy promise break. 

And spurn me for another's sake? 

Acting a bland deceiver's part, 

And solacing another's heart ! 

But, peace ! — no more of thoughts so sad, 

Or I shall grow intensely mad ; 

I yearn no more those lips to press ; — 

But is the joy of memory less? 




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Lain and Majnun. 165 

The morning breeze thy fragrance brings ; 
And up my heart exulting springs'; 
Still more when I reflecting see 
How once the cup was filled by thee. 
O Heaven ! how rapturous to receive 
That which forbids the heart to grieve ; 
To sit with thee in amorous play, 
And quaff the ruby every day ; 
To kiss those lips, all honey-dew, 
Of liquid bright cornelian hue ! 
Oh ! could I kiss them once again ! 
The fancy fires my wildered brain. 
— Need I the painter's art to trace 
The lineaments of thy angel face ? 
No — they're indelibly impressed 
Within my ever faithful breast. 
Tis ours, divided, to deplore 
Scenes we can never witness more ; 
But, though on earth denied to rest. 
Shall we not both in heaven be blessed ! " 

Maj nun's distracted state was not unknown 
Where to the wretched kindness could be shown ; 
— A wealthy chieflain (Selim was his name). 
Whose generous deeds had won the world's acclaim ; 
Whose heart was still on others' woes engaged — 
He healed their wounds, their anguish he assuaged ; 
Raiment and various food had oft supplied, 
Where'er the love-lorn wanderer might abide. 
Motmted upon his rapid steed, one day, 




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Lain and Majnun. 

The beasts around enjoyed the banquetry ; 

And if I sought on living thing to feed, 

Burds might be caught ; but I detest the deed ; 

And he who is contented grass to eat. 

Defies the world — the world is at his feet ; 

For what can pomp, and wealth, and feasts avail? 

I live on grass : — but hear the Zahid's tale. 



167 



'' In ancient times a king, they say. 
Through a wild forest took his way ; 
And marking, as along he rode, 
A Zahid's desolate abode. 
Asked his attendants if they knew 
What the Recluse was wont to do ; 
What was his food, and where he slept. 
And why remote from man he kept. — 
A courtier to the Zahid ran. 
And soon brought forth that holy man ; — 
' And wherefore dost thou pass thy da3rs 
Shunning the world's inviting ways. 
Choosing this dismal wretched hole. 
Grave of the body and the soul? ' 
— ' I have no friends to love me — none ; 
No power, except to live alone.' 
Then, where his fawns in quiet fed. 
Took up some blades of grass, and said : — 
* This is my food — this, want supplies ! ' 
The courtier looked with scornful eyes, 
And answered : * Taste but royal food. 
And thou'lt not fancy grass so good.' 



TT X J TTTIJ T ; - . 







38 Ni{amu 

* Indeed ! ' the Zahid said, and smiled^ 

' That is a sad mistake, my child ! 

Worldlings are still to luxury prone ; 

To thee its sweetness is unknown ; 

Stranger to such delicious fare, 

No doubt thou'rt charmed with food more rare ; ' 

— Soon as this speech the monarch heard, 

Noting, attentive, every word. 

And wondering such a seer to meet. 

Fell at the pious Zahid's feet, 

And kissed the greensward, as he knelt 

Where that contented hermit dwelt." 

XVL 

Majnun's Mother Dies, 

O'er Majnun's spirit, long in darkness cast, 
A fitful gleam of homeward feeling passed ; 
And now he asks for friends he once preferred. 
Asks for his mother, broken-winged bird ; 
And wishes e'en to visit home again — 
As if the maddening fire had left his brain. 
Selim at this brief glimpse of reason caught. 
And to his mother's distant mansion brought 
Without delay the wanderer. Deep her grief 
To see how withered was that verdant leaf t— 
To see the red rose faded from his cheek, 
His eye so altered, and his frame so weak ; 
From head to foot she kisses him, and weeps ; 
His hair, all matted, in her tears she steeps. 





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•*•**'**• "* V 



Laili and Majnun. 



169 



And clasps him fondly to her beating heart, 

As if she never from her boy would part : — 

" My darling child ! the love-game thou hast played 

Has thus, alas ! reduced thee to a shade ; 

In that encounter sad of mortal scathe 

Thou graspedst the two-edged scimiter of death. 

Thy father gone, his troubles all are past. 

Heartbroken man ! and I shall follow fisist. 

Arise ! and enter thy own mansion here ; 

Come, 'tis thy own sweet home, and doubly dear — 

Thy nest ] — and birds, though distant in their flight, 

Alwa3rs return to their own nests at night. 

While yet an infant in thy cradle-bed, 

I watched thy slumber, pillowed thy sweet head ; 

And canst thou now that mother's fondness see, 

And mark without remorse her love for thee? 

Refuse the joy thy presence can impart, 

And cast a shadow o'er her drooping heart ? " 

A cloud again obscured the orb of day — 
Again his wavering intellect gave way ; 
" Mother, there is no hope — the time is past; 
With gloom eternal is my fate o'ercast ; 
No fault of mine — no crime, to press me down — 
But all my countless woes to thee are known ; 
Like a poor bird within its cage immured. 
My soul has long this prison-life endured. 
Ask me not, mother, to remain at home ; 
For there, to me, no peace can ever come. 
Oh, better will it be for me to stray 
Mid mountain-glens, and herd with beasts of prey. 




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170 



Niiami. 



Than linger on a spot where human care 

Only augments my misery and despair." 

He ceased and kissed his mother's feet, and fled 

Precipitate along the path which led 

To the wild mountains. Dreadful was the stroke ! 

The mother's heart, like the old father's, broke ; 

In Death's cold ocean, wave follows wave ; 

And thus she followed to the silent grave. 

SeUm again the maniac's haunts explored, 
Again supplied his frugal board. 
And, with a mournful voice, the tale revealed — 
Father and mother gone, 
Himself now left alone. 
Sole heir — his doom of desolation sealed — 
He beat his brows, and from his eyes 
Fell tears of blood ; his piercing cries 
Rang through the forest, and again. 
Pouring the saddest, wildest strain. 
He hastened from his gloomy cave. 
To weep upon his mother's grave. 
But when that paroxysm of grief— 
That agony intense, but brief — 
Had, like a whirlwind, passed away, 

And left him in a milder mood. 
To love and Laili still a prey. 

He trod again his mountain solitude : 
For what to him was hoarded store. 
The wealth of parents now no more? 
Had he not long, ill-fated one ! 
Abandoned all for love alone? 









Laili meanwhile had read and seen 

What Majnun's thoughts had ever been ; 

And though her plighted faith seemed broken, 

From him she held the tenderest token : 

Deep in her heart, a thousand woes 

Disturbed her days' and nights* repose : 

A serpent at its very core, 

Writhing and gnawing evermore ; 

And no relief — a prison-room 

Being now the lovely sufferer's doom. 

— Fate * looked at last with favoring eye j 

The night was dark, no watchman nigh ; 

And she had gained the outer gate. 

Where, shrouded, unobserved, she sate. 

Gazing on every side to find 

Some friend to calm her troubled mind; 

When, welcome as a cherished guest, 

A holy seer her vision blessed, 

Who, ever, like an angel, strove 

The heart's deep anguish to remove ; 

Who lived to succor the distressed. 

To soothe and stanch the bleeding breast : 

To him she spake : " In pity hear, 

A wretch distraught with love and fear ! 

1 Literally* The day on which her food was not infested with 
A day free from misfortune or annoyance. 



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172 



Niiami 



Know'st thou the youth^ of peerless gmct, 
Who mingles with the forest race, 
Savage or tame, and fills the air, 
Alas ! for me, with his despair? " 

— " Yes, lovely moon ! " he answered, — " well I know 
That hapless wanderer, and his cureless woe ; 

Laili still on his tongue, the Arab maid 
He ceaseless seeks through every bower and glade, 
Unconscious of the world, its bloom or blight, 
Laili alone forever in his sight." 

The Arab maiden wept, and cried : " No more ! 
I am the cause, and I his loss deplore ; 
Both have our sorrows, both are doomed to feel 
The wounds of absence, which will never heal ; 
For me he roams through desert wild and drear, 
While Fate condemns me to be fettered here ! " 

— Then from her ear a lustrous gem she drew. 
Which, having kissed, she to the hermit threw — 
And said : " Forbid it I should ask in vain ! 

Let those fond eyes behold his face again ! 
But caution must control the zeal you show : 
Some signal must be given, that I may know 
When he is nigh — some stanzas of his own 
Warbled beneath my casement, where, alone, 
I sit and watch — for secret must we be. 
Or all is lost to Majnun and to me ! " 

— Within his girdle-fold the smiling saint 
Placed the rich gem, and on his errand went 
But did no obstacle his task oppose? 

A thousand, daily, in his progress rose : 



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Lain and Majnun. 



Where'er his arduous course he anxious urged. 

Perplexing paths in various lines diverged ; 

Through tangled glens, the ground with creepers spread, 

Meshes of shadowy branches o'er his head. 

Now a wide plain before him — mountains gray, 

And now an emerald greensward cheered his way : 

At last upon a hillock's shady side. 

The long-sought love-sick wanderer he descried. 

By forest beasts surrounded, — in a ring. 

Like guards appointed to protect their king. 

Majnun perceived him, and with upraised hand 

Made his wild followers at a distance stand ; 

And then the seer approached — his homage paid «» 

*' O thou, unmatched in love ! " he kindly said, 

*' Laili, the world and beauty's queen. 

Who long has thy adorer been ; 

And many a year has run its race, 

Since she has seen that pensive face-* 

Since she has heard that tuneful voice 

Which ever made her heart rejoice : 

And now, at her command, I bear 

Her earnest, almost d3dng, prayer. 

She longs to see thee once again. 

To sit with thee and soothe thy pain ; 

To feel, on pleasure's downy wings, 

The joy a lover's presence brings. 

And wilt thou not, with equal glee. 

Behold thjrself from bondage free? 

The Grove of Palms thy feet must trace. 

Near Laili's rural dwelling-place. 



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174 



Ni{ami. 



That is the promised spot ; and thou 
Wilt there receive both pledge and vow, 
And sing, with voice subdued and clear. 
Thy sweetest ghazel in her ear." 
Majnun uprose with joyous look, 
And for his guide the hermit took : 
And, passing quick the space between. 
Arrived at that romantic scene 
Where the majestic palms displayed 
A cool, refreshing depth of shade ; 
And there the tribes of wood and plain. 
Which formed the wanderer's vassal-train, 
Promptly as human retinue, 
To an adjoining copse withdrew. 

The seer, advancing with a cautious pace. 

To the pavilion of that angel face — 

That star of beauty — that sweet silvery moon — 

Whispered the presence of her own Majnun. 

But woman's mind can from its purpose range. 

And seem to change, without the power to change ; 

And thus she said : "Alas ! it cannot be : 

I must not meet him : such is Fate's decree ; 

The lamp thus lit, Love's temple to illume, 

Will not enlighten, but the heart consume ; 

For I am wedded — to another given — 

This worthless dust still in the view of Heaven ; 

And though compelled — let others bear the blame ! — 

I was not bom to sacrifice my fame. 

Prudence forbids such perils should be mine ; 







Lain and Majnun. 



Rather forever let me here repine ; 
But faithful still, with his melodious tongue 
How often have the sweetest echoes rung? 
Yes, faithful still, he may upon mine ear 
Chant the rich numbers which I love to hear : 
Let him with nectar fill his luscious cup, 
And, still adoring, I will drink it up." 
Prostrate, in tears, upon a fountain's side. 
The saint found Majnun, who impatient cried — 
*' What is this amber incense round me flying ? 
Is it the breath of spring o'er rosebuds sighing? 
No — not the fragrance of the early spring — 
Laili's sweet locks alone such odors fling ! 
So powerful is the impulse they impart. 
They fill with dying ecstasy my heart" 

The saint, well-taught in love's mysterious lore, 
Knew what it was the absent to deplore ; 
But said : " Thou canst not hope that she. 
Unsought, unasked, will come to thee ! 
Woman demands a warmer suit. 
And none her sacred power dispute." 

" Upbraid me not with maxim old — 
Think'st thou that Majnun's suit is cold 
When, from the very scent, I feel 
Intoxication o'er me steal? 
Must I the real bliss decline 
And never taste the luscious wine ? " 
So saying, seated in that palmy grove. 
To Laili thus he breathed his lay of love. 



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176 



Ni^ami. 




"O whither art thou gone? 

And where am I ? — alone ! 
Forsaken, lost — and what remains? 
Life only creeping through my veins ; 
And yet that life is not my own, 
But thine ; — I only breathe to moan : 
A thing of memory, to deplore 
The past, since hope can smile no more. 
Familiar to the pangs which scorn relief. 
Grief* smiles upon me, and I smile on grief. 
Grief makes thee dearer still ; for grief and thee 
Seem of each other bom. Grief paints to me 
Thy matchless beauty : — without grief, no thought 
Of thy perfections to my mind is brought 
O Heaven ! that ever we were doomed to part ! — 
We are but one — two bodies, and one heart. 
As summer clouds with rain the meadows greet, 
Majnun dissolves in sorrow at thy feet ; 
Whilst thy soft cheeks lend beauty to the sky, 
Majnun, alas ! is taught by them to die. 
The bulbul ' o'er thy roses joyous stoops ; 
Majnun, from thee disjoined, divided, droops ; 
And whilst the world devotes itself to strife, 
Majnun would sacrifice to thee his life. 
O that kind fortune would our joys approve, 
And yield the blessings of successful love ! 
The gorgeous moon, with her pellucid light, 

1 Shakespeare has something like tfiis personificatioti of grief in 
JCit^ John, iii. 

< The bulbul is the nightingale. 



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Lain and Majnun. 



177 



Converting into dazzling day the night ; 

And we together seated, ear to ear, 

The sparkling wine, our beverage, ever near ; 

I playing with those ringlets, which descend 

In magic curls, and o'er thy shoulders bend ; 

Thou, with those dark and love-enkindling eyes, 

In which the living spell of witchery lies. 

Gazing in fondness on me. That sweet lip ! 

I see it the rich wine enamoured sip : 

I see us both — what happiness ! and none 

To drive the sovereign pleasure from his throne ; 

Nor shame, nor fear, to crush affection's flower, 

Happy, unseen, in that sequestered bower. 

— But bring me wine ! this bright illusion stay ! 

Wine ! wine ! keep sad realities away ! 

Wine, Saki, wine ! the house without a light 

Is but a prison, odious to the sight ; 

For broken hearts, immured in gloom like mine, 

Are dungeon-dark, unblessed with light or wine ; 

O God ! preserve me from this endless night ! 

Give me one day of joy — one moment of delight I " 

Then, strangely moved, he wildly closed his lay, 
Sprung on his feet, and sudden burst away ; 
And Laili, who had heard him, deeply mourned, 
And, sad, to her secluded home returned. 






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xvra. 




Love. 

Through many a town and bower had spread 

The maniac's tale — all anxious read 

In Bagdad and (ar-distant plains 

The mournful lover's amorous strains ; 

And every heart, which had been wrung 

With withered hopes, in pity hung 

0*er sorrows which to madness drove — 

The very martyrdom of love. 

And all aspired to seek the cave 

Which hourly might become his grave ; 

To find th' enduring man ; to view 

That prodigy — but seen by few — 

Of whom the world astonished spoke, 

As crushed beneath misfortune's yoke ; 

Whose truth and constancy excelled 

All that the world had e'er beheld. 

A gallant youth, who long had known 

The pangs of love, impatient rose, 
And on his camel, all alone, 

Sought for the man of many woes ; 
Anxious to be the first to see 
The man preeminent in misery ; 
And many a farsang ^ he had rode. 
Before he reached the lover's wild abode. 

1 A parasang, a league. 



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Laili and Majnun. 

Majnun beheld him from afar. 
And sent his vassals to their lair ; 
And welcome gave, and asked his name. 
And whence the hurrying stranger came. — 
** I come, my friend, to make thee glad ; 
I come from beautiful Bagdad. 
In that enchanting place I might 
Have lived in transport day and night ; 
But I have heard thy tender lays. 
Thy sorrows, which the world amaze ; 
And all that now remains for me 
Is, all life long, to dwell with thee. 
Thy tuneful strains such joy impart. 
Each word is treasured in my heart : 
In love, like thee, I weep and sigh — 
Let us together live — together die ! " 
Astonished at this strange desire, 

Laughing, the maniac thtis replies : — 
"Sir knight ! so soon does pleasure tire? 

And dost thou worldly pomp despise, 
And all that luxury can give. 
With me in wood and cave to live? 

" Mistaken youth ! what dost thou know 
Of broken hearts — of love like mine — 

That thou shouldst life's sweet joys forego, 
And every cheering hope resign ? 

I have companions, night and day ; 

But forest inmates — beasts of prey j 

Yet do I ask no other — none ; 



179 



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180 



Ni{am. 






rd rather live with them alone. 
What hast thou social seen in me, 
When demons from my presence flee, 
That thou wouldst brave the noontide heat, 

The dangers of the midnight air, 
Unsheltered, naked head and feet. 

To herd with one not worth thy care. 
Nor worth a thought? Beneath the scorching sun 
I thread the wild wood, and, when day is done. 
Lay myself down upon a beggar's throne — 
My canopy, the trees — my pillow, a rude stone. 
Houseless and poor, and oft with hunger pressed. 
How can I take a stranger for my guest? 
Whilst thou, surrounded by thy friends at home. 
Moved by no need, but by a whim to roam, 
Mayst pass thy hours in cheerfulness and glee, 
And never think of such a wretch as me ! " 
The gallant youth now placed in view 

Various refreshments he had thither brought — 
Sweet cakes and fruit — and from his pannier drew 

Heart-easing wine, his purpose to promote. 
To win the £givor of the moon-struck man ; 
And thus his brief but earnest speech began : — 
** Friend, share my meal in kindness, and allow 
A smile of joy to clear that frirrowed brow ! 
In bread is life ; it strengthens every part. 
And, whOe it strengthens, cheers the drooping heart." 
Majnun rejoined : ** The argument is just ; 
Without refreshment man descends to dust : 
Nerve, power, and strength from nourishment proceed ; 







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Z^//i j;2^ Majnun. 



181 



But this is not the nourishment I need.*' 
" Yet mortals change, whate'er their aim ; 
Nothing on earth remains the same ; 
I know thou canst not be unmoved ; 

Forever thus thou canst not be ; 
Perpetual change the heavens have proved ; 

And night and mom, successively, 
Attest its truth. That thou hast loved 

■ 

I know ; but thou mayst yet be free : 
The heavens are clothed in deepest gloom ; 
Black is the threatening day of doom ; 
The clouds fly off, the storm is past, 
No longer howls the scattering blast ; 
The heavens resume their wonted sheen. 
And brighter glows the varied scene : 
So grief devours the heart awhile ; 
So frowns are followed by a smile : 
Like thee was I enchanted, bound, 
Girt by love's galling fetters round ; 
But to the winds my grief I flung. 
And to my fate no longer clung. 
This fire of love, which bums so bright. 
What is it but a treacherous light? 
The type of youth ; — when that is o'er, 
The buming mountain flames no more ! " 
But Majnun spumed the traitor-thought, and said : 
'' Speak'st thou to me as one to feeling dead? 
I am myself the king of love ; and now 
Glory in my dominion : and wouldst thou 
Persuade me to abandon all that Heaven 




* 



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182 Niiami. 

Has, mid my suAinings, for my lolace given, 







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Lj//i a;2^ Majnun* 

And at this lovely hour 

The lonely Laili weeps 
Within her prison- tower 

And her sad record keeps — 

How many days, how many years, 

Her sorrows she has borne ! 
A lingering age of sighs and tears ; 

A night that has no mom : 
Yet in that guarded tower she lays her head, 
Shut like a gem within its stony bed. 
And who the warder of that place of sighs ? 
Her husband ! — he the dragon-watch supplies. 

What words are those which meet her anxious ear? 
Unusual sounds, tmusual sights appear ; 
Lamps flickering round, and wailings sad and low. 
Seem to proclaim some sudden burst of woe. 
Beneath her casement rings a wild lament ; 
Death-notes disturb the night ; the air is rent 
With clamorous voices ; every hope is fled ; 
He breathes no tonger — Ibn Salam is dead ! 
The fever's rage had nipped him in his bloom ; 
He sank unloved, unpitied, to the tomb. 

And Laili marks the moon ; a cloud 

Had stained its lucid £Eice ; 
The mournful token of a shroud, 
End of the humble and the proud, 

The grave their resting-place. 
And now to her the tale is told. 




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184 



Her husband's hand and heart are col<} : 

And must she mourn the death of one 

Whom she had loathed to look upon? 

In customary garb arrayed. 

The pomp of grief must be displayed — 

Dishevelled tresses, streaming eyes, 

The heart remaining in disguise — 

She seemed, distraction in her mien, 

To feel her loss, if loss had been ; 

But all the burning tears she shed 

Were for her own Majnun, not for the dead I 

The rose that hailed the purple mom, 
All glistening with the balmy dew. 

Looked still more lonely when the thorn 
Had been removed from where it grew. 

But Arab laws had still their claim 

Upon a virtuous widow's fame. 

And what destroyed all chance of blame? 

Two years to droop behind the screen ; 

Two years unseeing, and unseen ! 

No, not a glance in all that time, 

Kooming in life's luxurious prime, 

Was e'er allowed to womankind ; 

Since, but to household faces blind, 

She must at home her vigils keep, 

Her business still to groan and weep* 

And Laili weeps ; but who can tell 

What secrets may her bosom swell? 

The beauteous eyes in tears may swim, 



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Lain and Majnun. 185 

The heart may throb, but not for him 
Who in the grave unconscious sleeps — 
Alone for Majnun Laili weeps ! 
Accustomed hourly to rehearse 
Her distant lover's glowing verse, 
Framed like a spell to charm and bless, 
And soothe her heart's extreme distress. 
• «««««♦ 

'' O what a night ! a long and dreary night ! 
It is not night, but darkness without end ; 
Awful extinction of ethereal light, 
Companionless I sit, without one friend. 

'' Is the immortal source of light congealed ? 

Or has the dreadful day of judgment come? 
Nature's £giir form beneath a pall concealed ; 

Oh ! what a night of soul-destroying gloom ! 
Can the shrill wakener of the mom be dead ? 

Is the Mowazzin heedless of his trust ? 
Has the lone warder from his watch-tower fled. 

Or, weary of his task, returned to dust? 

" O God ! restore to me the joyous light 
Which first illumed my heart — the golden ray 
Of youthful love — that from this prison, night, 
I may escape and feel the bliss of day ! " 

Years, days, how slowly they roll on I 
And yet, how quickly life is gone ! 
The future soon becomes the past — 
Ceaseless the course of time. At last 




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186 Ni^amh 

The morning came; the king of day 

Arose in festival array, 

And Laili's night had passed away : 

Her mom of beauty o'er her hce, 

Shining, resumed its wonted grace ; 

And with soft step of £ury lightness 

She moved, a glittering moon in brightness. 

And what was now her highest aim? 

The impulse quivering through her frame ? 

Her secret tove, so long concealed. 

She now without a blush revealed. 

And first she called her faithful Zyd, 

On many a tender mission tried, 

In whom her heart could best confide : 

"To-day is not the day of hope, 

Which only gives to fancy scope ; 

It is the day our hopes completing, 

It is the lovers* day of meeting ! 

Rise up ! the worid is full of joy ; 

Rise up ! and serve thy mistress, boy ; 

Together, where the cypress grows, 

Place the red tulip and the rose ; 

And let the long-dissevered meet — 

Two lovers, in communion sweet." 



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Lain and Majnun. 187 



The Lovers Meet. 

They meet; but how? hearts long to joy unknown 
Know not what *tis to be, except alone ; 
Feeling intense had checked the power to speak ; 
Silent confusion sat upon each cheek ; 
Speechless with love unutterable, they 
Stood gazing at each other all the day. 
Thus when a chamber holds no golden store, 
No lock protects the ever open door ; 
But when rich hoards of gold become a lure, 
A lock is placed to keep that wealth secure ; 
So when the heart is full, the voice is bound — • 
For ready speech with grief is rarely found. 
Laili, with looks of love, was first who caught 
The soft expression of her bursting thought : 
** Alas ! " she said, as over him she hung, 
<' What wondrous grief is this that chains the tongue? 
The bulbul, famed for its mellifluous note. 
Without the rose can swell his tuneful throat ; 
And when in fragrant bowers the rose he sees, 
He warbles sweeter still his ecstasies. 
Thou art the bulbul of the bright parterre, 
And I the rose — why not thy love declare? 
Why, being absent, whilst unseen by thee. 
Arose to heaven thy voice and minstrelsy? 
And now, at length, when we are met, alone. 
Thy love has vanished, and thy voice is gone ! 
A gush of tears to Majnun gave relief: 



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188 




Niiami. 



Words came : "The misery mine, and mine the grief: 

The memory of those lips, so bahny sweet. 

Bound up my tongue^ which would their charms repeat 

When I, a £Ucon, through the woodlands Hew, 

The spotted partridge never met my view ; 

And now when Tm unequal to the flight. 

The long-sought beauteous bird has come in sight : 

The substance thou, in angel charms arrayed, 

And what am I ? I know not — but a shade ; 

Without thee nothing. Fancy would enthrone 

Us both together, melted into one ; 

And thus united to each other, we 

Are equal — equal in our constancy : 

Two bodies with one heart and soul the same ; 

Two tapers with one pure celestial flame ; 

Of the same essence formed, together joined, 

Two drops in one, each soul to each resigned." 

He paused, and with ineflable delight, 

Laili gazed on his glowing countenance. 
So long estranged and hidden from her sight. 

Now throbs his heart at every fondling glance : 
The fragrance of her ringlets which enwreath 
Her smooth round neck, her jasmine-scented breath, 
The sweet confession of her tremulous eyes, 
The ardent love which time and chance defies, 
The chin of dimpled sweetness, the soft cheek, 
The open ruby lips prepared to speak, 
Madden his finer feelings, and again 
A sudden tempest rushes through his brain ; 
Furious he gazes round him for a while. 



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Laili and Majnun. 



189 



Then looks at Laili with a ghastly smile ; 
Rends off his Jama-dress in frantic mood, 
Starts^ as with more than human force endued, 
And, shouting, hurries to the desert plain, 
Followed by all his savage vassal train. 



Laiu Dies. 

His love was chaste and pure as heaven : 

But by excess to madness driven. 

Visions of rapture filled his soul ; 

His thoughts sublime despised control ; 

A joy allied to joys above 

Was mingled with his dreamy love : 

O Majnun ! lost, forever gone ; 

The world is full of love, but none, 

None ever bowed at beauty's shrine 

With such a sinless soul as thine. 

In summer all is bright and gay ; 
In autumn verdure fiaides away, 
The trees assume a sickly hue, 
Unnourished by the fragrant dew ; 
The genial sap, through numerous rilb. 
From root and branch and leaf distils ; 
But, drying in the chilly air, 
The groves become despoiled and bare ; 
Sapless, the garden's flowery pride 



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'5^V 190 Ni^ami. 



« 1 









The winds disperse on every side, 
And all that sight and smell delighted 

r \ Is by the ruthless season blighted. 

s! J So Laili's summer hours have passed; 

' JKl And now she feels the autumnal blast ; 



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i;*^ \| Her bowers, her blooming bowers, assailed, 

J^.V' The perfume of the rose exhaled, 

\y\] Its withered leaves bestrew the ground, 

Sur' And desolation reigns around : 

^' "• ; For from the moment she beheld 

Her lover's mental state unveiled, 

Her heart no consolation knew. 

Deprived of hope's refreshing dew. 

^ Ere that o'erwhelming misery came, 

Jn *•' Thoughts of new life upheld her frame : 

;;•>;,: Amidst her bitterest weeping and distress, 

*[ '<! Mid the dark broodings of her loneliness, 

t ^v. Though crushed her feelings, and the man she loved 

Ji U A wanderer of the forest, strangely moved, 

'il'^l Still was there hope, still was her mental gaze 

^ n Fixed on the expected joys of after-days. 

r... But now all hope had perished ! — she had seen 

5; y^ The frenzied workings of that noble mien : 

5[V'^ The fit delirious, the appalling start, 

iy^ And grief and terror seized her trembling heart. 

5?;^j No tears she sheds, but pines ^ away 

t*^ ■ -' 

^ fi| 1 Nizami is here rather undignified, but only, perhaps, according 



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to our European notions. Literally, That beautiful cypress tree 
became as thin as a toothpick 1 " As slender as the new moon " is 
the usual simile. 



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Lain and Majnun. 

In deep entire despair ; 
The worm has seized its destined prey^ 

The blight is on that face so fair, 
And fearful symptoms of a swift decay 
Come o'er her delicate frame, that in the strife 
She almost sinks beneath the load of life. 
Feeling the ebbing of the vital tide, 
She calls her weeping mother to her side. 
" Mother ! my hour is come, thou need'st no 

chide ; 
For now no longer can my heart conceal 
What once 'twas useless to reveal ; 
Yet, spite of thy affection, thou 
Mayst blame my fatal passion now. 
But I have in my rapture quaffed 
Poison in love's delicious draught ; 
And feel the agony which sears 
The soul, and dries the source of tears. 
O mother ! mother ! all I crave, 
When I am pillowed in my grave, 
Is that the anguish-stricken youth. 
Whose wondrous constancy and truth 
Blended our souls in one, may come 
And weep upon his Laili's tomb. 
Forbid him not ; but let him there 
Pour forth the flood of his despair, 
And no unhallowed step intrude 
Upon his sacred solitude. 
For he to me, my life, my stay, 
Was precious as the light of day. 



longer 



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192 Ni{amu 



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Amazing was his love, sublime, 

Which mocked the wonted power of time; 

And when thou seest him grovelling near, 

Wildly lamenting o'er my bier, 

Frown not, but kindly, soothingly relate 

Whatever thou knowest of my disastrous fate. 

Say to that woe-worn wanderer, — ' All is o'er ; 

Laili, thy own sad friend, is now no more ; 

From this world's heavy chains forever free. 

To thee her heart was given — she died for thee ! 

With love so blended was her life, so true 

That glowing love, no other joy she knew. 

No worldly cares her thoughts had e'er oppressed ; 

The love of thee alone disturbed her rest ; 

And in that love her gentle spirit passed, 

Breathing on thee her blessing to the last.' " 

The mournful mother gazed upon her child. 
Now voiceless — though her lips imploring smiled ; 
Saw the dread change, the sudden pause of breath — 
Her beauty settled in the trance of death ; ^ 
And, in the frenzy of her anguish, tore 
Her hoary locks, the 'broidered dress she wore ; 
Dissolved in tears, her wild and sorrowing cnes 
Brought down compassion from the weeping skies ; 

1 Richardson has observed, in the dissertation prefixed to his 
Arabic and Persian dictionary: "Dsring for love is considered 
among us as a mere poetic figure; and we certainly can support 
the reality by few examples ; but in Eastern countries it seems to be 
something more ; many words in the Arabic and Persian languages, 
which express love, implying also melancholy, madness, and death.' 
Majnun, for instance, signifies furious, frantic, mad. 



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Lain and Majnun. 

And so intense her grief, she shivering fell 

Prostrate upon the corse, insensible, 

And never, never rose again — the thread 

Of life was broke — both, clasped together, dead ! 




Majnun Dies. 

O world ! how treacherous thou art ! 
With angel form and demon's heart; 
A rosary of beads in hand. 
And, covertly, a trenchant brand. 
The rolling heavens with azure glow. 
But storms overwhelm our hopes below ; 
The ship is tossed upon the shore, 
The wanderer meets his friends no more ; 
On flowery field, or boisterous wave. 
Alike is found a yawning grave ; 
For formless, riding through the air, 
Devouring death is everywhere ; 
Khosru, and Kai-kobad, and Jum, 
Have all descended to the tomb ; 
And who, composed of mortal clay. 
The universal doom can stay? 
For this, in vain, have youth and age 
Pondered o'er learning's mystic page ; 
No human power can penetrate 
The mysteries of all-ruling fate ; 
Frail life is but a moment's breath ; 
The world, alas ! is full of death. 



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194 



Ni{amL 



How many wept that fair one, gone so soon ! 
How many wept o'er that departed moon ! — 
How many mourned with broken hearts for her ! 
How many bathed with tears her sepulchre ! 
Round her pure dust assembled old and young, 
And on the sod their fragrant offerings flung ; 
Hallowed the spot where amorous youth and maid 
In after-times their duteous homage paid. 

Again it was the task of faithful Zyd, 
Through far-extending plain and forest wide, 
To seek the man of many woes, and tell 
The fate of her, alas ! he loved so well. 
Loved, doted on, until his mind, overwrought 
Was crushed beneath intolerable thought 

— With bleeding heart he found his lone abode, 

Watering with tears the path on which he rode. 

And beating his sad breast, Majnun perceived 

His friend approach, and asked him why he grieved ; 

What withering sorrow on his cheek had preyed. 

And why in melancholy black ' arrayed. 

" Alas ! " he cried, " the hail has crushed my bowers ; 

A sudden storm has blighted all my flowers ; 

Thy cypress tree o'erthrown, the leaves are sear ; 

The moon has fallen from her lucid sphere ; 

Laili is dead ! " No sooner was the word 

Uttered, no sooner the dread tidings heard, 



1 Literally, Why hast thou put on a black upper-gannent ? 
usual mourning of Mohammedans is green. 



The 




Laili and Majnun. 



195 



Than Majnun, sudden as the lightning's stroke 

Sank on the ground, unconscious, with the shock, 

And there lay motionless, as if his life 

Had been extinguished in that mortal strife. 

But, soon recovering, he prepared to rise, 

Rewakened frenzy glaring in his eyes. 

And, starting on his feet, a hollow groan 

Burst from his heart. " Now, now, I am alone ! 

Why hast thou harrowing words like these expressed? 

Why hast thou plunged a dagger in my breast ? 

Away ! away 1 " The savage beasts around. 

In a wide circle crouched upon the ground. 

Wondering looked on, whilst furiously he rent 

His tattered garments, and his loud lament 

Rang through the echoing forest. Now he threads 

The jndzes of the shadowy wood, which spreads 

Perpetual gloom, and now emerges where 

Nor bower nor grove obstructs the fiery air ; 

Climbs to the mountain's brow, o'er hill and plain 

Urged quicker onward by his burning brain. 

Across the desert's arid boundary hies ; 

Zyd, like his shadow, following where he flies ; 

And when the tomb of Laili meets his view. 

Prostrate he falls, the ground his tears bedew ; 

Rolling distraught, he spreads his arm to clasp 

The sacred temple, writhing like an asp : 

Despair and horror swell his ceaseless moan, 

And still he clasps the monumental stone. 

" Alas ! " he cries — " No more shall I behold 

That angel face, that form of heavenly mould. 



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196 



Ni[ami. 



She was the rose I cherished — but a gust 

Of blighting wind has laid her in the dust. 

She was my favorite cypress, full of grace, 

But death has snatched her from her biding-place. 

The tyrant has deprived me of the flower 

I planted in my own sequestered bower ; 

The basil sweet, the choicest ever seen, 

Cruelly torn and scattered o'er the green. 

O beauteous flower I nipped by the winter's cold, 

Gone from a world thou never didst behold. 

O bower of joy I with blossoms fresh and fair, 

But doomed, alas I no ripened fruit to bear. 

Where shall I find thee now, in darkness shrouded ! 

Those eyes of liquid light forever clouded ! 

Where those carnation lips, that musky mole 

Upon thy cheek, that treasure of the soul ! 

Though hidden from my view those charms of thine, 

Still do they bloom in this fond heart of mine ; 

Though far removed from all I held so dear. 

Though all I loved on earth be buried here. 

Remembrance to the past enchantment gives, 

Memory, blest memory, in my heart still lives. 

Yes 1 thou hast quitted this contentious life, 

This scene of endless treachery and strife ; 

And I like thee shall soon my fetters burst, 

And quench in draughts of heavenly love my thirst : 

There, where angelic bliss can never cloy. 

We soon shall meet in everlasting joy ; 

The taper of our souls, more clear and bright, 

Will then be lustrous with immortal light ! " 





He ceased, and from the tomb to which he clung 
Suddenly to a distance wildly sprung, 
And, seated on his camel, took the way 
Leading to where his father's mansion lay ; 
His troop of vassal beasts, as usual, near, 
With still unchanged devotion, front and rear ; 
Yet, all unconscious, reckless where he went ; 
The sport of passion, on no purpose bent. 
He sped along, or stopped ; the woods and plains 
Resounding with his melancholy strains ; 
Such strains as from a broken spirit flow. 
The wailings of immitigable woe ; 
But the same frenzy which had frred his mind 
Strangely to leave his Laili's grave behind. 
Now drove him back, and with augmented grief, 
All sighs and tears, and hopeless of relief. 
He flings himself upon the tomb again. 
As if he there forever would remain 
Fatally mingled with the dust beneath, 
The yoimg, the pure, the beautiful in death. 
Closely he strained the marble to his breast, 
A thousand kisses eagerly impressed. 
And knocked his forehead in such desperate mood, 
The place around him was distained with blood. 

Alone, unseen ; his vassals keep remote 
Curious intruders from that sacred spot ; 
Alone, with wasted form and sombre eyes. 
Groaning in anguish he exhausted lies ; 
No more life's joys or miseries will he meet, 
Nothing to rouse him from this last retreat ; 



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198 



Ni{ami. 



Upon « sinkii^ gravestone he u Ukl, 
The gates AttaAj opening for the dead 1 

Selim, the generous, who had twice before 
Sought his romantic refuge, to implore 
The wanderer to renounce the lifc he led, 
And shun the ruin bunting o'er his head, 
Again explored the wilderness, again 
Crossed craggy rock, deep glen, and duity plain. 
To find his new abode. A month had passed 
Mid mountain wild, when, turning back, at last 
He spied the wretched sufferer alone. 
Stretched on the ground, his head upon a stone. 
Majnun, up-gazing, recognized his bee. 
And bade his growling followers give him place ; 
Then said : " Why art thou here again, »nce diou 
Left me in wrath? What are thy wishes now? 
I am a wretch bowed down with bitterest woe. 
Doomed the extremes of misery to know, 
AVhilst thou, in affluence bom, in pleasure nursed, 
Stranger to ills the direst and the worst. 
Can never join, unless in mockery. 
With one so lost to alt the world as me !" 
Selim replied : " Fain would I change thy will, 
And bear thee hence, — be thy companion still : 
Wealth shall be thine, and peace and social joy, 
And tranquil days, no sorrow to annoy ; 
And she for whom thy soul has yearned so long 
May yet be gained, and none shall do thee wrong." 
— Deeply he groaned, and wept : " No more, no more ! 
Speak not of her whose memory 1 adore ; 



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Lai7/ and Majnun. 



199 



She whom I loved, than life itself more dear, 
My friend, my angel bride, is buried here ! 
Dead ! — bat her spirit's now in heaven, whilst I 
Live, and am dead with grief — yet do not die. 
This is the fatal spot, my Laili's tomb, — 
This the lamented place of martyrdom. 
Here lies my life's sole treasure, life's sole trust ; 
All that was bright in beauty gone to dust !" 

Selim before him in amazement stood. 
Stricken with anguish, weeping tears of blood ; 
And consolation blandly tried to give. 
What consolation? Make his Laili live? 
His gentle words and looks were only found 
To aggravate the agonizing wound ; 
And weeks in fruitless sympathy had passed. 
But, patient still, he lingered to the last ; 
Then, with an anxious heart, of hope bereft. 
The melancholy spot, reluctant, left. 

The life of Majnun had received its blight ; 
His troubled day was closing Cast in night. 
Still weeping, bitter, bitter tears he shed, 
As grovelling in the dust his hands he spread 
In holy prayer. " O God ! Thy servant hear I 

And in Thy gracious mercy set him free 
From the afflictions which oppress him here. 

That, in the Prophet's name, he may return to Thee ! * ' 
Thus murmuring on the tomb he laid his head, 
And with a sigh his wearied spirit fled. 

And he, too, has performed his pilgrimage. 








200 Ni{ami. 

And who, existing on this earthly stage, 



ly But follows the same path? whate'er his claim 
[V I To virtue, honor, — worthy praise, or blame ; 
\l' So will he answer at the judgment throne, 
y^' Where secrets are unveiled, and all things known ; 

Where felon deeds of darkness meet the light. 

And goodness wears its crown with glory bright. 

Majnun, removed from this tumultuous scene, 

Which had to him unceasing misery been, 

y-r. ! At length slept on the couch his bride possessed, 

;^ I And, wakening, saw her mingled with the blessed. 

There still lay stretched his body, many a day. 

Protected by his taithfiil beasts of prey; 

Whose presence filled with terror all around, 
'^ , Who sought to know where Majnun might be found : 
^.j ' Listening they heard low murmurs on the breeze. 

Now loud and moumlul, like the hum of bees ; 
W I But still supposed him seated in his place. 

Watched by those sentinels of the savage race. 

— A year had passed, and still their watch they 
kept, 

As if their sovereign was not dead, but slept : 
C^ Some had been called away, and some had died — 
;^| At last the smouldering relics were descried ; 

And when the truth had caught the breath of fame, 
^ Assembled friends from every quarter came ; 

Weeping, they washed his bones, now silvery white, 

With ceaseless tears performed the flineral rite, 

And, opening the incumbent tablet wide, 

Mournfully laid him by his LaiU's side. 




-5i3i;^ 






Laili and Majnun. 



201 



One promise bound their fiaithful hearts — one bed 
Of cold, c61d earth united them when dead. 
Severed in life, how cruel was their doom ! 
Ne'er to be joined but in the silent tomb ! 

The minstrel's legend chronicle 
Which on their woes delights to dweU, 
Their matchless purity and faith. 
And how their dust was mixed in death. 
Tells how the sorrow-stricken Zyd 
Saw, in a dream, the beauteous bride, 
With Majnun, seated side by side. 
In meditation deep, one night. 
The other world flashed on his sight 
With endless vistas of delight — 
The world of spirits ; —^ as he lay 
Angels appeared in bright array, 
Circles of glory round them gleaming, 
Their eyes with holy rapture beaming ; 
He saw the ever verdant bowers, 
With golden fruit and blooming flowers ; 
The bulbul heard, their sweets among, 
Warbling his rich mellifluous song ; 
The ring-dove's murmuring, and the swell 
Of melody from harp and shell : 
He saw within a rosy glade. 
Beneath a palm's extensive shade, 
A throne, amazing to behold. 
Studded with glittering gems and gold ; 
Celestial carpets near it spread 



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202 



Close where a lucid streamlet strayed ; 
Upon that throne, in blissful state, 
The long-divided lovers sate, 
Resplendent with seraphic light : — 
They held a cup, with diamonds bright ; 
Their lips, by turns, with nectar wet. 
In pure ambrosial kisses met ; 
Sometimes to each their thoughts revealing, 
Each clasping each with tenderest feeling. 
— The dreamer who this vision saw 
Demanded, with becoming awe, 
What sacred names the happy pair 
In Irem-bowers were wont to bear. 
A voice replied : *' That sparkling moon 
Is Laili still — her friend, M^nun ; 
Deprived in your frail world of bliss. 
They reap their great reward in this ! " 

Zyd, wakening from his wondrous dream. 
Now dwelt upon the mystic theme. 
And told to all how faithful love 
Receives its recompense above. 

O ye, who thoughtlessly repose 
On what this flattering world bestows. 
Reflect how transient is your stay I 
How soon e'en sorrows fade away ! 
The pangs of grief the heart may wring 
In life, but Heaven removes the sting ; 
The worid to come makes bliss secure, — 
The world to come, eternal, pure. 










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203 



What other solace for the human soul, 

But everlasting rest — virtue's unvarying goal 1 

Saki ! Nizami's strain is sung ; 

The Persian poet's pearls arc strung ; 
Then fill again the goblet high ! 
Thou wouldst not ask the reveller why ? 
Fill to the love that changes never ! 
Fill to the love that lives forever ! 
That, purified by earthly woes. 
At last with bliss seraphic glows. 




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* • RUMI. 

Jelalu-'d-Din, thcyeat^t myst j ail poet of any a^e, was 
born at Balkh, in 1207 A.D., and was of an iHusmous de- 
scent. His mother was of a princely house; his father, 
Bahau-M-Din Veled, was a descendant of the Kalif Abu 
Bekr, and excited the jealousy of the Sultan,^ who made it 
so unpleasant for him that he left the city, taking with him 
his family, the youngest of whom was Jelalu-^d-Din, then 
five years old. At Naishapur they met the Suil saint, 
Attar, who predicted the child's future greatness. "He 
would,^^ he said, "kindle the fire of divine enthusiasm 
throughout the world,'' ^ for even as a child Rumi had 
visions and religious ecstasies. 

For years these fugitives travelled extensively through 
the East, and while in Larenda, in Asia Minor, then called 
Rum, Jelalu married. This was in 1226 a.d., and after 
visiting Samarcand and Constantinople, the family finally 
settled in Qonia, or Konia (the ancient Iconium of the 
New Testament). Konia is in the old Roman province 
of Galatia, hence Jelalu's name of Rumi, or the " Roman.'* 
Here the poet's father founded a college and here he died 
in 1 23 1. After his father's death, Rumi, already a great 
student under his father's careful tuition, studied at Aleppo 
and Damascus, where he acquired a well-deserved reputa- 
tion for learning. On his return to Konia he was pro- 
fessor of four different colleges, and received the title of 
Sultan-al-Ulema, or " Chief and Ruler of the Learned." 

Among his spiritual advisers was Shamsi-'d-Din of 



1 Sultan Muhammad, sumamed Kutb-ud-Din of Kharezm. 

2 Ouseley*s Persian Poets, 

204 






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A*'^ JR. LEN'.X *ND 




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Tabriz, who gained such an influence over the poet that 
Rumi adopted his name as his takhallus, or poetical nom 
de plume, under which he wrote hb Divan or lyrical 
odes. The people of Konia, disliking the somewhat ag- 
gressive characteristics of Shamsi, rose up against him, 
and in the riot which followed Rumi^s eldest son was killed ; 
and Shamsi must have been executed, for he was never 
seen again. These tragic events caused Rumi such mel- 
ancholy that he renounced the world and founded the 
famous order of Dervishes called the '< Maulavis.*^ This 
order was noted for its piety, mystic dances, and its music 
and songs, making use of such instruments as the flute, 
drum, tambourine ; and its members also wore a peculiar 
mourning costume. The Masnaviy Rumi^s great mystic 
poem, is said to have been written by him at the sugges- 
tion of an admiring disciple for the spiritual benefit of his 
order, whose cloisters are found throughout the Turkish 
Empire. 

Rumi died at Konia, December 17, 1273, and was buried 
in his £ather^s mausoleum at Konia. His son succeeded 
him as the head of the ^ Maulavis,^ the leadership of which 
has been kept in the poet^s family for six hundred years. 
The dying instructions of Rumi to his son were as 
follows : — 

''My testament is this : that ye be pious toward God, 
in private and in public; that ye eat little, sleep little, 
speak little ; — that ye depart from wickedness and sin ; 
that ye continue instant in fasting, and steadfast in vigi- 
lance ; that ye flee from carnal lusts with all your might ; 
that ye endure patiently the contumely of the world; 
that ye shun the company of the base and foolish, and 
consort with the noble-hearted and the pious. Verily the 
best man is he who doeth good to men, and the best 
speech is that which is short and guideth men aright. 
Praise be to God who k the Only God." 

These precepts were the basis of Rumi^s life, judging by 



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Rumi. 



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the nature of the work he left behind him. His Mas- 
navij upon which his literary £une rests, is composed of 
twenty-six thousand couplets arranged in six parts, or 
books, dealing with Sufi philosophy in a series of stories 
having spiritual maxims and interpretations ; certain parts 
of these have been compared to the Books of Proverbs, 
Ecclesiastes, and the Songs of Solomon. As Dante^s 
poem has been called the Dtvina^ so in India the Mas- 
navi is called the Ma^navi^ or ^ Spiritual ^* ; for it seems to 
have for its main object the teaching of the ** fatherhood 
of God "^ and the explanation of the origin of evil. These 
subjects are approached on the moral side through the 
principle of love ; believing that the more a man loves the 
more able he is to understand the divine purposes. 

The *' song of the reed *^ is thought to signify the soul^s 
love for God, and its longing to be reunited with Him. 
At all events it is the ke3mote of the celebrated Masnavi, 
Among the numerous forms to describe this union of God 
and man Rumi uses the following exquisite apologue: 
*' There came one and knocked at the door of the Beloved. 
And a voice answered and said, 'Who is there?* The 
lover- replied, Mt is I.* 'Go hence,* returned the voice, 
' there is no room within for thee and me.* Then came 
the lover a second time and knocked, and again the voice 
demanded, 'Who is there?* He answered, 'It is thou.* 
^ Enter,* said the voice, 'for I am within.*** 



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The Mastiavu 



207 



THE MASNAVI.* 

BOOK I. 

"Song or the Reed."* 

Hearken to the reed-flute, how it discourses 
When complaining of the pains of separation — 

" Ever since they tore me from my osier bed, 
My plaintive notes have moved men and women to tears. 
I burst my breast, striving to give vent to sighs. 
And to express the pangs of my yearning for my home. 
He who abides far away from his home 
Is ever longing for the day he shall return. 
My wailing is heard in every throng, 
In concert with them that rejoice and them that weep. 
Each interprets my notes in harmony with his own 

feelings, 
But not one fathoms the secrets of my heart. 
My secrets are not alien from my plaintive notes. 
Yet they are not manifest to the sensual ear. 
Body is not veiled from soul, neither soul from body, 
Yet no man hath ever seen a soul." 

This plaint of the flute is fire, not mere air. 
Let him who lacks this fire be accounted dead ! 
Tis the fire of love that inspires the flute,* 
Tis the ferment of love that possesses the wine. 

1 Translated by Mr. E. H. Whinfield. 
3 The late Professor Pdlroer so called it. 

< Love signifies the strong attraction that draws all creatures back 
to reunion with their creator. 






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Rum. 



The flute is the confidant of all unhappy lovers ; 
Yea, its strains lay bare my inmost secrets. 
Who hath seen a poison and an antidote like the flute ? 
Who hath seen a sympathetic consoler like the flute? 
The flute tells the tale of love's blood-stained path, 
It recounts the story of Majnun's love toils. 
None is privy to these feelings save one distracted, 
As ear inclines to the whispers of the tongue. 
Through grief my days are as labor and sorrow, 
My dajTS move on, hand in hand with anguish. 
Yet, though my days vanish thus, 'tis no matter. 
Do thou abide, O Incomparable Pure One ! * 

But all who are not flshes are soon tired of water ; 
And they who lack daily bread And the day very long ; 
So the ''Raw" comprehend not the state of the 

" Ripe ; " « 
Therefore it behooves me to shorten my discourse. 

Arise, O son ! burst thy bonds and be free ! 
How long wilt thou be captive to silver and gold? 
Though thou pour the ocean into thy pitcher. 
It can hold no more than one day's store. 
The pitcher of the desire of the covetous never fills. 
The oyster-shell fills not with pearls till it is content ; 
Only he whose garment is rent by the violence of love 
Is wholly pure from covetousness and sin. 

Hail to thee, then, O LOVE, sweet madness ! 



1 Self-annihilation leads to eternal life in God — the unhrenal 
Noumenon, by whom all phenomena subsist. 

S"Raw" and "Ripe" are terms for "Men of Externals" and 
" Men of heart " or Mystics. 




ce:: 







The Masnavi. 



209 



Thou who healest all our infirmities ! 

Who art the physician of our pride and self-conceit ! 

Who art our Plato and our Galen ! 

Love exalts our earthly bodies to heaven. 

And makes the very hills to dance with joy ! 

lover, 'twas love that gave life to Mount Sinai, 
When " it quaked, and Moses fell down in a swoon." * 
Did my Beloved only touch me with his lips, 

1 too, like the flute, would burst out in melody. 

But he who is parted from them that speak his tongue, 
Though he possess a hundred voices, is perforce dumb. 
When the rose has faded and the garden is withered. 
The song of the nightingale is no longer to be heard. 
The Beloved is all in all, the lover only veils Him ; * 
The Beloved is all that lives, the k)ver a dead thing. 
When the lover feels no longer Love's quickening, 
He becomes like a bird who has lost its wings. Alas ! 
How can I retain my senses about me, 
When the Beloved shows not the light of His counte- 
nance? 
Love desires that this secret should be revealed. 
For if a mirror reflects not, of what use is it? 
Knowest thou why thy mirror reflects not? 
Because the rust has not been scoured from its face. 
If it were purified from all rust and defilement, 
It would reflect the shining of the Sun of God. 

^ Allnding to the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Koran rii.. 139. 

SAU i^enomenal existences (man included) are but "veils" 
obscuring the face of the Divine Noumenon, the only real existence, 
and the moment His sustaining presence is withdrawn, they at once 
relapse into their original nothingness. 











210 



Rumi. 




'U 



O friends, yc have now heard this tale, 
Which sets forth the very essence of my case. 

Laiu and the Khalifa. 

The Khalifa said to Laili, " Art thou really she 
For whom Majnun lost his head and went distracted? 
Thou art not fairer than many other fair ones." 
She replied, " Be silent ; thou art no Majnun I " 

If thou hadst Majnun's eyes, 
The two worlds would be within thy view. 
Thou art in thy senses, but Majnun is beside himself. 
In love to be wide awake is treason. 
The more a man is awake, the more he sleeps (to love) ; 
His (critical) wakefulness is worse than slumbering. 

Our wakefulness fetters our spirits, 
Then our souls are a prey to divers whims, 
Thoughts of loss and gain and fears of misery. 
They retain not purity, nor dignity, nor lustre, 
Nor aspiration to soar heavenward. 
That one is really sleeping who hankers after each whim 
And holds parley with each &ncy. 

Omar and the Ambassador.^ 

The hare, having delivered his companions from the 
tyranny of the lion, in the manner just described, pro- 
ceeds to improve the occasion by exhorting them to 
engage in a greater and more arduous warfare, viz., 
the struggle against their inward enemy, the lusts of 

1 Story vi., Book i. 




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The Masnavi. 



211 



the flesh. He illustrates his meaning by the story of 
an ambassador who was sent by the Emperor of Rum 
to the Khalifa Omar. On approaching Medina this 
ambassador inquired for Omar's palace, and learned 
that Omar dwelt in no material palace, but in a spirit- 
ual tabernacle, only visible to purified hearts. At last 
he discerned Omar lying under a palm tree, and drew 
near to him in fear and awe. Omar received him 
kindly, and instructed him in the doctrine of the mys- 
tical union with God. The ambassador heard him 
gladly, and asked him two questions, first. How can 
souls descend from heaven to earth? and secondly. 
With what object are souls imprisoned in the bonds 
of flesh and blood? Omar responded, and the 
ambassador accepted his teaching, and became a 
pure-hearted Sufi. The hare urged his companions 
to abjure lust and pride, and to go and do likewise. 

God's Agency RECONaLED wrra Man's Freewill. 

The ambassador said, " O Commander of the faithful. 
How comes the soul down from above to earth? 
How can so noble a bird be confined in a cage?" 

He said, " God speaks words of power to souls, — 
To things of naught, without eyes or ears, 
And at these words they all spring into motion ; 
At His words of power these nothings arise quickly. 
And strong impulse urges them into existence. 
Again, he speaks other spells to these creatures, 
And swiftly drives them back again into not-being. 



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212 



Rumi. 



He speaks to the rose's ear, and causes it to Uoom ; 
He speaks to the tulip, and makes it blossom. 
He speaks a spell to body, and it becomes a soul; 
He speaks to the sun, and it becomes a fount of light 
Again, in its ear He whispers a word of power. 
And its face b darkened as by a hundred eclipses. 
What is it that God says to the ear of earth. 
That it attends thereto and rests steadfast? 
What is it that Speaker says to the cloud. 
That it pours forth rain-water like a water-skin? 

Whosoever is bewildered by wavering will. 
In his ear hath God whispered His riddle. 
That He may bind him on the horns of a dilemma ; 
For he says, "Shall I do this or its reverse?" 
Also from God comes the preference of one alternative ; 
Tis from God's impulsion that man chooses one of the 

two. 
If you desire sanity in this embarrassment, 
Stuff not the ear of your mind with cotton. 
Take the cotton of evil suggestions from the mind's 

ear, 
That the heavenly voice from above' may enter it. 
That you may understand that riddle of His, 
That you may be cognizant of that open secret. 
Then the mind's ear becomes the sensorium of 

inspiration ; 
For what is this Divine voice but the inward voice ? ' 

^ The leading principle of all mysticism is that, independently of 
sense and reason, man possesses an inward sense. or intuition, which 
conveys to him a Icnowledge of God by direct apprehension. 




I 




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The MasnavL 



213 



The spirit's eye and ear possess this sense, 

The eye and ear of reason and sense lack it. 

The word " compulsion " makes me impatient for love's 

sake; 
Tis he who loves not who is fettered by compulsion. 
This is close communion with God, not compulsion, 
The shining of the sun, and not a dark cloud. 
Or, if it be compulsion, 'tis not common compulsion, 
It is not the domination of wanton wilfulness. 
O son, they understand this compulsion 
For whom God opens the eyes of the inner man. 
Things hidden and things future are plain to them; 
To speak of the past seems to them despicable. 
They possess freewill and compulsion besides, 
As in oyster-shells raindrops become pearls. 
Outside the shell they are raindrops, great and small ; 
Inside they are precious pearls, big and little. 
These men also resemble the musk-deer's bag ; 
Outside it is blood, but inside pure musk ; 
Yet, say not that outside 'twas mere blood. 
Which on entering the bag becomes musk. 
Nor say that outside the alembic 'twas mere copper, 
And becomes gold inside, when mixed with elixir. 
In your freewill and compulsion are vain fancies, 
But in them they are the light of Almighty power. 
On the table bread is a mere lifeless thing, 
When taken into the body it is a life-giving spirit. 
This transmutation occurs not in the table's heart, 
'Tis soul effects this transmutation with water of life. 
Such is the power of the soul, O man of right views ! 








Rumi. 



At<-\ 



Oi 




^if'M 




214 



Then what is the power of the Soul of soub? (God). 

Bread is the food of the body, yet consider 

How can it be the food of the soul, O son? 

Flesh-bom man by force of soul 

Cleaves mountains with tunnels and mines. 

The might of Ferhad's soul cleft a hill ; 

The might of the SouFs soul cleaves the moon.^ 

If the heart opens the mouth of mystery's store, 

The soul springs up swiftly to highest heaven. 

If tongue discourses of hidden mjrsteries. 

It kindles a fire that consumes the world. 

Behold, then, God's action and man's action ; 
Know, action does belong to us ; this is evident. 
If no action proceeded from men. 
How could you say, "Why act ye thus?" 
The agency of God is the cause of our action. 
Our actions are the signs of God's agency ; 
Nevertheless our actions arc freely willed by us. 
Whence our recompense is either hell or " The Friend." 

The Vakil of the Prince or Bokhara.' 

The prince of Bokhara had a Vakil who, through 
fear of punishment for an offence he had committed, 
ran away and remained concealed in Kuhistan and the 
desert for the space of ten years. At the end of that 
time, being unable to endure absence from his lord 
and his home any longer, he determined to return to 



^ As a sign of the kst day. 
s Story xviL. Book iiL 



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Bokhara and throw himself at his lord's feet, and en- 
dure whatever punishment his lord might be pleased 
to inflict upon him. His friends did all they could 
to dissuade him, assuring him that the Prince's wrath 
was still hot against him, and that if he appeared at 
Bokhara he would be put to death, or at least impris- 
oned for the rest of his life. He replied, " O advisers, 
be silent, for the force of the love which is drawing me 
to Bokhara is stronger than the force of prudent coun- 
sels. When love pulls one way all the wisdom of Abu 
Haniia and Ash-Shafl'i is impotent to withstand it. 
If it shall please my lord to slay me, I will yield up 
my life without reluctance, for this life of estrange- 
ment from him which I am now leading is the same as 
death, and release from it will be eternal happiness. 
I will return to Bokhara and throw myself at my lord's 
feet, and say to him, ' Deal with me as thou wilt, for I 
can no longer bear absence from thee, and life or 
death at thy hands is all the same to me ! ' " Accord- 
ingly, he journeyed back to Bokhara, counting the 
very toils and discomforts of the road sweet and de- 
lightful, because they were steps in his homeward 
course. When he reached Bokhara his friends and 
relations all warned him not to show himself, as the 
Prince was still mindful of his offence and bent on 
punishing him ; but he replied to them as to his other 
advisers, that he was utterly regardless of his life, and 
was resolved to commit himself to his lord's good 
pleasure. He then went to the court and threw him- 
self at his lord's feet and swooned away. The Prince, 



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216 Rumi. 

■ceiag the strong affsctioD borne to him by his repeat- 
ant servant, conceived a similar affection toward him, 
and descended from his throne and giaciouilr nised 



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UU 



Tib^ Masnavi. 



217 



He made answer, " The city wherein my love dwells. 
In whatever nook my queen alights, 
Though it be as the eye of a needle, 'tis a wide plain ; 
Wherever her Yusuf-like face shines as a moon, 
Though it be the bottom of a well, 'tis Paradise. 
With thee, my love, hell itself were heaven. 
With thee a prison would be a rose-garden. 
With thee hell would be a mansion of delight. 
Without thee lilies and roses would be as flames of 
fire ! " 



The Answer of the Vakil to those who advised 
HIM not to court Death by yielding himself 
UP to HIS Lord. 



He said, '' I am a drawer of water ; water attracts me. 

Even though I know water may be my death. 

No drawer of water flees from water. 

Even though it may cause him a hundred deaths. 

Though it may make my hand and belly dropsical, 

My love for water will never be lessened ; 

I should say, when they asked me about my belly, 

' Would that the ocean might flow into it ! ' 

Though the bottle of my belly were burst with water. 

And though I should die, my death would be acceptable. 

Wheresoever I see one seeking water, 1 envy him. 

And cry, * Would I were in his place ! ' 

My hand is a tabor and my belly a drum. 

Like the rose I beat the drum of love of water. 



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218 



/if^mi. 



Like the earth or like a foetus I devour blood, 

Since I became a lover thb is my occupation. 

If that ' Faithful Spirit ' should shed my blood, 

I would drink it up drop by drop like the earth. 

At night I boil on the fire like a cooking-pot. 

From morn till eve I drink blood like the sand. 

It repents me that I planned a stratagem, 

And that I fled from before his wrath. 

Tell him to sate his wrath on my poor life, 

He is the ' Feast of Sacrifice,' and I his loving cow.^ 

The cow, whether it eats or sleeps. 

Thinks of naught but sacrificing itself. 

Know me to be that cow of Moses which gave its life. 

Each part of me gives life to the righteous. 

That cow of Moses was made a sacrifice. 

And its least part became a source of life. 

That murdered man leapt up from his deadness 

At the words, ' Strike the corpse with part of her.' * 

pious ones, slay the cow (of lust), 
If ye desire true life of soul and spirit ! 

I died as a mineral and arose a plant, 

1 died as a plant and rose again an animal.' 
I died as an animal and arose a man. 

Why then should I fear to become less by dying? 

1 The Id ul Azha, or the Feast of Sacrifices, held on the tenth day 
of the month Zul Hijja. It is also called " The Cow Festival" 

s This refers to Koran ii., 63. The cow was to be sacrificed in 
order that a murderer might be discovered by striking the corpse 
with a piece of her flesh. 

< /^., Earth losing its own form becomes vegetable, vegetable 
again perishes to feed and be transmuted into animal, and in like 
manner animal becomes man. 







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The Masnavi. 



I shall die once again as a man 

To rise an angel perfect from head to foot ! 

Again when I suffer dissolution as an angel, 

I shall become what passes the conception of man ! 

Let me then become non-existent, for non-existence 

Sings to me in organ tones, *To him shall we return.' * 

Know death to be the gathering together of the people, 

The water of life is hidden in the land of darkness. 

Like a water-lily seek life there ! 

Yea, like that drawer of water, at the risk of life, 

Water will be his death, yet he still seeks water, 

And still drinks on, — and God knows what is right. 

O lover, cold-hearted and void of byalty. 

Who from fear for your life shun the beloved ! 

base one, behold a hundred thousand souls 
Dancing toward the deadly sword of his love : 
Behold water in a pitcher ; pour it out ; 
Will that water run away from the stream ? 
When that water joins the water of the stream 
It is lost therein, and becomes itself the stream. 
Its individuality is lost, but its essence remains. 
And hereby it becomes not less nor inferior. 

1 will hang myself upon my lord's palm tree 
In excuse for having fled away from him ! " 

Even as a ball rolling along on head and face. 
He fell at the feet of the Prince with streaming eyes. 
The people were all on the alert, expecting 
That the Prince would bum him or hang him, 

1 Koran U., 153: "Verily we are God's, and to Him shall we 
return.** 



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220 



Rum. 



Saying, " Moth-like he has seen the blaze of the light^ 

And fooMike has phinged therein and lost his life.' 

But the torch of love is not like that torch, 

Tis light, light in the midst of light, 

Tis the reverse of torches of fire. 

It appears to be fire, but is all sweetness. 

Love generates Love. "If ye love God, God will 




LOVE vou."* 

That Bokharian then cast himself into the flame, 
But his love made the pain endurable ; 
And as his burning sighs ascended to heaven. 
The love of the Prince was kindled toward him. 

The heart of man is like the root of a tree. 
Therefrom grow the leaves on firm branches.' 
Corresponding to that root grow up branches 
As well on the tree as on souls and intellects. 
The tops of the perfect trees reach the heavens, 
The roots firm, and the branches in the sky. 
Since then the tree of love has grown up to heaven. 
How shall it not also grow in the heart of the Prince? 
A wave washes away the remembrance of the sin from 

his heart. 
For' from each heart is a window to other hearts ; 
Since in each heart there is a window to other hearts, 

1 Koran iii., 99. 

< " Seest thou not to what God likeneth a good word ? To a 
good tree, its root firmljr fixed, and its branches in the heaven." 
Koran xiv., 99. 










'M>^J^:^ 






i 










Tbe Masnavi. 



221 



They are not separated and shut off like two bodies. 
Thus, even though two lamp-dishes be not joined, 
Yet their light is united in a single ray. 
No lover ever seeks union with his beloved. 
But his beloved is also seeking union with him. 
But the lover's love makes his body lean, 
While the beloved's love makes hers fair and lusty. 
When in this heart the lightning spark of love arises, 
Be sure this love is reciprocated in that heart. 
When the love of God arises in thy heart. 
Without doubt God also feels love for thee. 

The noise of clapping of hands is never heard 
From one of thy hands unaided by the other hand. 
The man athirst cries, " Where is delicious water ? " 
Water too cries, " Where is the water-drinker ? " 
This thirst in my soul is the attraction of the water ; 
I am the water's and the water is mine. 
God's wisdom in His eternal foreknowledge and 

decree 
Made us to be tovers one of the other. 
Nay more, all the parts of the worid by this decree 
Are arranged in pairs, and each loves its mate. 
Every part of the world desires its mate. 
Just as amber attracts blades of straw. 
Heaven says to earth, " All hail to thee ! 
We are related to one another as iron and magnet" 
Heaven is man and earth woman in character ; 
Whatever heaven sends it, earth cherishes. 
When earth lacks heat, heaven sends heat ; 
When it lacks moisture and dew, heaven sends them. 





!!l 



The earthy sign ' succors the terrestrial earth, 

The watery sign (Aquarius) sends moisture to it ; 

The windy sign sends the clouds to it, 

To draw off unwholesome exhalations. 

The fiery sign (Leo) sends forth the heat of the sun. 

Like a dish heated red-hot in front and behind. 

The heaven is busily toiling through ages, 

Just as men labor to provide food for women. 

And the earth does the woman's work, and toils 

In bearing offspring and suckling them. 

Know then earth and heaven are endued with sense. 

Since they act like persons endued with sense. 

If these two lovers did not suck nutriment from each 

other. 
Why should they creep together like man and wife ? 
Without the earth how could roses and safiron grow? 
For naught can grow from the sole heat and rain of 

heaven. 
This is the cause of the female seeking the male, 
That the work of each may be accomplished. 
God has instilled mutual love into man and woman. 
That the world may be perpetuated by their union. 
• ««•♦«« 

Earth says to the earth of the body, *' Come away. 
Quit the soul and come to me as dust 
Thou art of my genusy and wilt be better with me, 
Thou hadst better quit the soul and fly to me ! '* 
Body replies, " True, but my feet are fast bound, 
Though like thee I suffer from separation." 

1 /^. of the Zodiac 



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Tibtf Masnavi. 



223 



Water calls out to the moisture of the body, 

" O moisture, return to me from your foreign abode ! " 

Fire also calls out to the heat of the body, 

" Thou art of fire ; return to thy root ! " 

In the body there are seventy-and-two diseases ; 
It is ill compacted owing to the struggle of its elements. 
Disease comes to rend the body asunder, 
And to drag apart its constituent elements. 
The four elements are as birds tied together by the 

feet; 
Death, sickness, and disease loose their feet asunder. 
The moment their feet are loosed from the others, 
The bird of each element flies off by itself. 
The repulsion of each of these principles and causes 
Inflicts every moment a fresh pang on our bodies. 
That it may dissolve these composite bodies of ours, 
The bird of each part tries to fly away to its origin ; 
But the wisdom of God prevents this speedy end, 
And preserves their union till the appointed day. 
He says, " O parts, the appointed time is not yet ; 
It is useless for you to take wing before that day.*' 

But as each part desires reunion with its original. 
How is it with the soul who is a stranger in exile? 
It says, " O parts of my habitation here below. 
My absence is sadder than yours, as I am heaven-bom. 
The body loves green pastures and running water. 
For this cause that its origin is from them. 
The love of the soul is for life and the living one, 
Because its origin is the Soul not bound to place. 
The love of the soul is for wisdom and knowledge. 







S:V> >^ ^ -vv . : *v*:c -v:-:'4^ ^-j^Slii 



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224 



Rumi. 



That of the body for houses, gardens, and vineyards ; 
The love of the soul is for things exalted on high, 
That of the body for acquisition of goods and food. 
The love too of Him on high is directed to the soul : 
Know this for ' He loves them that love Him.' " ^ 
The sum is this, that idioso seeks another. 
The soul of that other who is sought inclines to him. 

Let us quit the subject. — Love for that soul athirst 
Was kindled in the breast of the Prince of Bokhara. 
The smoke of that love and the grief of that burning 

heart 
Ascended to his master and excited his compassion. 

The Praises addressed to the Prince by the 

Vakil. 

He said, " O phoenix of God and goal of the spirit, 
I thank thee that thou hast come back from Mount 

Qaf! 
O Israfil of the resurrection-day of love, 
O love, love, and heart's desire of love ! 
Let thy first boon to me be this. 
To lend thine ear to my orisons. 
Though thou knowest my condition clearly, 
O protector of slaves, listen to my speech. 
A thousand times, O prince incomparable, 
Has my reason taken flight in desire to see thee, 
And to hear thee and to listen to thy words, 

1 Koran v., 59. 







i 




And to behold thy life-giving smiles. 

Thy inclining thine ear to my supplications 

Is as a caress to my misguided soul. 

The baseness of my heart's coin is known to thee, 

But thou hast accepted it as genuine coin. 

Thou art proud toward the arrogant and proud ; 

All clemencies are as naught to thy clemency. 

First hear this, that while I remained in absence, 

First and last alike escaped me. 

Secondly , hear this, O prince beloved, 

That I searched much, but found no second to thee. 

Thirdly, that when I had departed outside thee, 

I said it was like the Christian Trinity.^ 

Fourthly, when my harvest was burned up, 

I knew not the fourth from the fifth. 

Wheresoever thou findest blood on the roads. 

Trace it, and 'tis tears of blood from my eyes. 

My words are thunder, and these sighs and tears 

Are drawn by it as rain from the clouds. 

I am distracted between speaking and weeping. 

Shall I weep, or shall I speak, or what shaU I do? 

If I speak, my weeping ceases ; 

If I weep, I cease to praise and magnify thee." 

He spoke thus, and then fell to weeping, 
So that high and low wept with him. 
So many " Ahs " and " Alases " proceeded from his 

heart, 
That the people of Bokhara formed a circle round him. 

^ "They surely are infidels who say. ' God is the third of three,* 
for there is no God but one God." Koran v., 77. 



>_ ^•*- /'. 



tit .1.^1.1 T . .. ^ 



226 



Rumi. 



Talking sadly, weeping sadly, smiling sadly. 

Men and women, small and great, were all assembled. 

The whole city wept Id concert with him ; 

Men and women mingled together as on the last day. 

Then Heaven said to Earth, 

" If you never saw a resurrection-day, see it here ! " 

Reason was amazed, saying, " What love, what ecstasy I 

Is his separation more wondrous, or his reuoioD?" 

The Thkee Fishes.' 

This story, which is taken torn, the book of Kalila 
and Damnah,* is as ibUows. There was in a secluded 
place a lake, which was fed by a running stream, and 
in this lake were three fishes, one very wise, the sec- 
ond half wise, and the third foolish. One day some 
fishermen passed by that lake, and having espied the 
fish, hastened home to fetch their nets. The fish also 
saw the fishermen and were sorely disquieted. The 
very wise fish, without a minute's delay, quitted the 
lake and took refuge in the running stream which com- 
municated with it, and thus escaped the impending 
danger. The half wise fish delayed doing anything 
till the fishermen actually made their appearance with 
their nets. He then floated upon the surface of the 
water, pretending to be dead, and the fishermen took 
him up and threw him into the stream, and by this 
device he saved his life. But the foolish fish did noth- 



t^ 



Z'>J^ 



Tbe Masnavi. 



227 



ing but swim wildly about, and was taken and killed by 
the fishermen. 

The Marks of the Wise Man, of the Half Wise, 

AND of the Fool. 

The wise man is he who possesses a torch of his own ; 

He is the guide and leader of the caravan. 

That leader is his own director and light ; 

That illuminated one follows his own lead. 

He is his own protector ; do ye also seek protection 

From that light whereon his soul is nurtured. 

The second, he, namely, who is half wise, 

Knows the wise man to be the light of his eyes. 

He clings to the wise man like a blind man to his 

guide, 
So as to become possessed of the wise man's sight 
But the fool, who has no particle of wisdom. 
Has no wisdom of his own, and quits the wise man. 
He knows nothing of the way, great or small, 
And is ashamed to follow the footsteps of the guide. 
He wanders into the boundless desert, 
Sometimes halting and despairing, sometimes running. 
He has no lamp wherewith to light himself on his way, 
Nor half a lamp which might recognize and seek light. 
He lacks wisdom, so as to boast of being alive. 
And also half wisdom, so as to assume to be dead. 
That half wise one became as one utterly dead 
In order to rise up out of his degradation. 
If you lack perfect wisdom, make yourself as dead 



n* 



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228 



Rumi. 



Under the shadow of the wise, whose words give life. 
The fool is neither alive so as to companion with 'Isa, 
Nor yet dead so as to feel the power of 'Isa's breath. 
His blind soul wanders in every direction, 
And at last makes a spring, but springs not upward. 



The Counsels of the Bird. 

A man captured a bird by wiles and snares ; 

The bird said to him, ** O noble sir, 

In your time you have eaten many oxen and sheep, 

And likewise sacrificed many camels ; 

You have never become satisfied with their meat, 

So you will not be satisfied with my flesh. 

Let me go, that I may give you three counseb. 

Whence you will see whether I am wise or foolish. 

The first of my counseb shall be given on your wrist. 

The second on your well- plastered roof. 

And the third I will give you fix>m the top of a tree. 

On hearing all three you will deem yourself happy. 

As regards the counsel on your wrist, 'tis this, — 

* Believe not foolish assertions of any one ! ' " 

When he had spoken this counsel on his wrist, he flew 

Up to the top of the roof, entirely fi-ee. 

Then he said, '' Do not grieve for what is past ; 

When a thing is done, vex not yourself about it.*' 

He continued, ** Hidden inside this body of mine 

Is a precious pearl, ten drachms in weight 

That jewel of right belonged to you. 

Wealth for yourself and prosperity for your children. 






The Masnavi. 



229 



You have lost it, as it was not fated you should get it, 

That pearl whose like can nowhere be found." 

Thereupon the man, like a woman in her travail. 

Gave vent to lamentations and weeping. 

The bird said to him, '' Did I not counsel you, saying, 

* Beware of grieving over what is past and gone ' ? 

When 'tis past and gone, why sorrow for it? 

Either you understood not my counsel or are deaf. 

The first counsel I gave you was this, namely, 

'Be not misguided enough to believe foolish asser- 
tions.' 

O fool, altogether I do not weigh three drachms, 

How can a pearl of ten drachms be within me ? " 

The man recovered himself and said, " Well then, 

Tell me now your third good counsel ! " 

The bird replied, " You have made a fine use of the 
others. 

That I should waste my third counsel upon you ! 

To give counsel to a sleepy ignoramus 

Is to sow seeds upon salt land. 

Tom garments of folly and ignorance cannot be 
patched. 

O counsellors, waste not the seed of counsel on them ! " 





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230 



Rumi. 



POEMSJ 



I. 



He comes, a moon whose like the sky ne'er saw, awake 

or dreaming, 
Crowned with eternal flame no flood can lay. 
Lo, from the flagon of thy love, O Lord, my soul is 

swimming, 
And ruined all my body's house of clay ! 

When first the Giver of the grape my lonely heart be- 
friended. 

Wine fired my bosom and my veins filled up. 

But when his image all mine eye possessed, a voice 
descended : 

" Well done, O sovereign Wine and peerless Cup ! " 

Love's mighty arm from roof to base each dark abode 

is hewing 
Where chinks reluctant catch a golden ray. 
My heart, when Love's sea of a sudden burst into its 

viewing, 
Leaped headlong in, with '^ Find me now who may ! " 






As, the sun moving, clouds behind him run, 
All hearts attend thee, O Tabriz's Sun ! 

1 From the Drvami Shamsi TabrU translated by Mr. Reynold A, 
Nicholson. 





Poems. 



n. 



231 \ 



The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
To the man 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 
The man o 



God ' is drunken without wine, 

God is full without meat. 

God is distraught and bewildered, 

God has no food or sleep. 

God is a king 'neath dervish-cloak, 

God is a treasure in a ruin.' 

God is not of air and earth, 

God is not of fire and water. 

God is a boundless sea, 

God rains pearls without a cloud. 

God hath hundred moons and skies, 

God hath hundred suns. 

God is made wise by the Truth, 

God is not learned from book. 

God is beyond infidelity and religion, 

of God right and wrong are alike. 

God has ridden away firom Not-being, 

God is gloriously attended. 

God is concealed, Shamsi Din ; 

God do thou seek and find ! 



^ The perfect Sufi. 

< Orientals lancy that treasures guarded bj inviolable Ulismans lie 
buried in the ruins of Persepolis. 





■r^ ;- 



232 



Rumi. 



Every moment the voice of Love is coming from left 

and right. 
We are bound for heaven : who has a mind to sight- 
seeing? 
We have been in heaven, we have been Mends of the 

angels; 
Thither, sire, let us return, for that is our country. 
We are even higher than heaven and more than the 

angels; 
Why pass we not beyond these twain? Our goal is 

majesty supreme. 
How different a source have the world of dust and the 

pure substance ! 
Though we came down, let us haste back — what place 

is this? 
Young fortune is our friend, yielding up soul our 

business ; 
The leader of our caravan is Mustate^ glory of the 

world. 
This gale's sweet scent is from the curl of his tresses, 
This thought's radiance is from a cheek like '' by the 

morning brighty 
By his cheek the moon was split : she endured not 

the sight of him ; 

1 This ghaxel was sent by Sa*di to Shamsu'ddin Hindi, prince of 
Shiraz. who asked him "to select the best ode, with the roost sublime 
thoughts, that he knew of as existing in Persian, and to send it to 
him for presentation to the great Khan of the Moguls." Redhouse's 
Masnavi. 



L 







^•-c :i 



Poems. 



233 



Such fortune the moon found — she that is an humble 

beggar. 
Behold a continual " cleaving of the moon " in our 

hearts, 
For why should the vision of that vision transcend 

thine eye ? 
Came the billow of *'Am I notf'^ and wrecked the 

body's ship ; 
When the ship wrecks once more is the time of union's 

attainment. 
Mankind, like waterfowl, are sprung from the sea — 

the sea of soul ; 
Risen from that sea, why should the bird make here 

his home ? 
Nay, we are pearls in that sea, therein we all abide ; 
Else, why does wave follow wave from the sea of soul? 
' Tis the time of union's attainment, 'tis the time of 

eternity's beauty, 
' Tis the time of favor and largesse, 'tis the ocean of 

perfect purity. 
The billow of largesse hath appeared, the thunder of 

the sea hath arrived. 
The mom of blessedness hath dawned. Mom ? No, 

'tis the light of God. 
Who is this pictured form, who is this monarch and 

this prince? 
Who is this aged wisdom? They are all veils. 
The remedy against veils is ecstasies like these. 
The fountain of these draughts is in your own head 

and eyes. 



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Poems. 



23 s 



Deem it perishable, because it is unfamiliar with thy 

permanence. 
How happy the king that is mated by thy rook ! 
How fair company hath he who lacks not thine ! 
I desire continually to fling heart and soul at thy feet ; 
Dust on the head of the soul which is not the dust of 

thy feet ! 
Blessed to all birds is desire of thee ; 
How unblest the bird that desires thee not ! 
I will not shun thy blow, for very crude 
Is the heart ne'er burned in the fire of thy affliction. 
To thy praise and praisers there is no end ; 
What atom but is reeling with thy praise ? 
Like that one of whom Nizami^ tells in verse, 
Tyrannize not, for I cannot endure thy tyranny. 
O Shamsi Tabriz, beauty and glory of the horizons. 
What king but is a beggar of thee with heart and soul? 



VI. 

Poor copies out of heaven's original, 
Pale earthly pictures mouldering to decay, 
What care although your beauties break and fall, 
When that which gave them life endures for aye ? 

O never vex thine heart with idle woes : 
All high discourse enchanting the rapt ear. 
All gilded landscapes and brave glistering shows. 
Fade — perish, but it is not as we fear. 

1 Probably Lafli. 



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Poems. 



237 



What though thy frame be withered, old, and dead. 
If the soul save her fresh immortal youth? 



Lo, for I to myself am unknown, now in God's name 

what must I do? 
I adore not the Cross nor the Crescent, I am not a 

Giaour nor a Jew. 
East nor West land nor sea is my home, I have kin 

nor with angel nor gnome, 
I am wrought not of fire nor of foam, I am shaped 

not of dust nor of dew. 
I was bom not in China afar, not in Saqsin and not in 

Bulghar ; 
Not in India, where five rivers are, nor 'Iraq nor 

Khorasan I grew. 
Not in this world nor that world I dwell, not in Para- 
dise, neither in Hell ; 
Not from Eden and Rizwan I fell, not from Adam my 

lineage I drew. 
In a place beyond uttermost Place, in a tract without 

shadow of trace. 
Soul and body transcending, I live in the soul of my 

Loved One anew ! 






VU. 



Up, O ye tovers, and away ! Tis time to leave the 
world for aye. 

Hark, loud and clear from heaven the drum of part- 
ing calls — let none delay 1 






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Poems. 



2)9 



O contemplate thy true estate, enlarge thyself, and 

rove 
From this dark world, thy prison, whirled to that 

celestial grove. 
O honored guest in Love's high feast, O bird of the 

angel sphere, 
Tis cause to weep, if thou wilt keep thy habitation 

here. 
A voice at morn to thee is borne — God whispers to 

the soul — 
^' If on the way the dust thou lay, thou soon wilt gain 

the goal." 
That road be thine toward the Shrine ! and lo, in bush 

and brier, 
The many slain by love and pain in flower of young 

desire. 
Who on the track fell wounded back and saw not, ere 

the end, 
A ray of bliss, a touch, a kiss, a token of the Friend ! 




DC 

When my bier moveth on the day of death. 

Think not my heart is in this world. 

Do not weep for me and cry, " Woe, woe ! " 

Thou wilt fall in the devil's snare : that is woe. 

When thou seest my hearse, cry not, "Parted, 

parted ! " 
Union and meeting are mine in that hour. 
If thou commit me to the grave, say not, " Farewell, 

fereweU ! " 



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Poems. 



241 



Every tree and blade of grass was dancing in the 

meadow. 
But in the view of the vulgar they were bound and at 

rest. 
Suddenly on one side our Cypress appeared, 
So that the garden became senseless and the plane 

clapped its hands. 
A face like fire, wine like fire, Love afire — all three 

delectable ; 
The soul, by reason of the mingled fires, was wailing, 

" Where shall I flee ? " 
In the world of Divine Unity is no room for Number, 
But Number necessarily exists in the world of Five and 

Four. 
You may count a hundred thousand sweet apples in 

your hand : 
If you wish to make One, crush them all together. 
Behold, without regarding the letters, what is this lan- 
guage in the heart ; 
Pureness of color is a quality derived from the Source 

of Action. 
Shamsi Tabriz is seated in royal state, and before him 
My rhymes are ranked like willing servants. 



XI. 

Thee I choose, of all the world, alone ; 

Wilt thou suffer me to sit in grief ? 

My heart is as a pen in thy hand, 

Thou art the cause if I am glad or melancholy. 



I 
I 



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242 



1 1*^ 



Save what tbou wiHest, wfaftt win hsve I? 

Save what thou showest, what do I see? 

Thou mak'ft grow out of Bie nowa thorn and nowa rose ; 

Now I smell roses and now pull thorns. 

If thou keep'st me that, that I am ; 

If thou would'st have me this, I am this. 

In the vessel where thou givest color to the soul 

Who am I, what is my love and hate? 



xn. 

I am a painter, a maker of pictures ; every moment I 

shape a beauteous form. 
And then in thy presence I melt them all away. 
I call up a hundred phantoms and indue them with a 

spirit ; 
When I behold thy phantom, I cast them in the fire. 
Art thou the Vintner's cup-bearer or the enemy of him 

who is sober, 
Or is it thou who mak'st a ruin of every house I build ? 
In thee the soul is dissolved, with thee it is mingled ; 
Lo 1 I will cherish the soul, because it has a perfume 

of thee. 
Every drop of Mood which proceeds fit>m me is saying 

to thy dust : 
" I am one color with thy love, I am the partner of thy 

affection." 
In the house of water and day this heart is desolate 

without thee ; 
O Beloved, enter the house, or I will leave it. 



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Poems. 



24} 



xm. 



This is Love : to fly heavenward. 

To rendy every instant, a hundred veils. 

The first moment, to renounce life ; 

The last step, to iiare without feet. 

To regard this world as invisible, 

Not to see what appears to one's self. 

« O heart," I said, " may it bless thee 

To have entered the circle of lovers. 

To look beyond the range of the eye, 

To penetrate the windings of the bosom ! 

Whence did this breath come to thee, O my soul, 

Whence this throbbing, O my heart? 

Urd, speak the language of birds : 

1 can understand thy hidden meaning." 

The soul answered : " I was in the (divine) Factory 
While the house of water and clay was a-baking. 
I was a flying away from the (material) workshop 
While the workshop was being created. 
When I could resist no more, they dragged me 
To mould me into shape like a ball." 



I 

t 
f 



! 




Happy the moment when we are seated in the palace, 

thou and I, 
With two forms and with two figures but with one 

soul, thou and I. 



J 



K*- 




^!i:.r^; 



- V V ^ 



244 



Rumi. 



The colors of the grove and the voice of the birds 

will bestow immortality 
At the time when we come into the garden, thou and 

I. 
The stars of heaven will come to gaze upon us ; 
We shall show them the moon itself, thou and I. 
Thou and I, individuals no more, shall be mingled in 

ecstasy, 
Joyful, and secure from foolish babble, thou and I. 
All the bright-plumed birds of heaven will devour their 

hearts with envy 
In the place where we shall laugh in such a fashion, 

thou and I. 
This is the greatest wonder, that thou and I, sitting 

here in the same nook. 
Are at this moment both in 'Iraq and Khorasan, thou 

and I. 



XV. 

O my soul, who is this, stationed in the house of the 
heart? 

Who may occupy the royal seat save the King and the 
Prince? 

He beckoned with his hand : " Say, what do you desire 
of me?" 

What does a drunken man desire except sweetmeats 
and a cup of wine ? 

Sweetmeats derived from the soul, a cup of the Abso- 
lute Light, 




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Poems. 



245 



An eternal banquet laid in the privacy of " I/e is the 

Truth:' 
How many deceivers are there at the wine-drinkers' 

feast ! 
Take heed lest thou fall, O easy simple man! 
Beware ! do not keep, in a circle of reprobates, 
Thine eye shut like a bud, thy mouth open like the 

rose. 
The world resembles a mirror : thy Love is the perfect 

image ; 
O people, who has ever seen a part greater than the 

whole ? 
Go on foot, like the grass, because in this garden 
The Beloved, like the rose, is riding, all the rest are on 

foot. 
He is both the sword and the swordsman, both the 

slain and the slayer. 
He is at once all Reason and brings Reason to nought. 
That King is Salahu'ddin' — may he endure forever. 
May his bounteous hand perpetually be a necklace on 

my neck ! 



XVI. 

At last thou hast departed and gone to the Unseen ; 
Tis marvellous by what way thou wentest from the 

world. 
Thou didst strongly shake thy wings and feathers, and 

having broken thy cage 

1 Salahu'ddin Zarkub (Goldsmith). See Redhouse's Masnavi, 
p. iia 




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Didst take to the air and journey toward the world of 

soul. 
Thou wert a favorite fidcon, kept in captivity by an 

old woman : 
When thou heard'st the fiUcon-drum thou didst fly away 

into the Void. 
Thou wert a love-lorn nightingale among owls : 
The scent of the rose-garden reached thee, and thou 

didst go to the rose-garden. 
Thou didst suffer sore headache from this bitter fer- 
ment; 
At last thou wentest to the tavern of Eternity. 
Straight as an arrow thou didst make for the mark of 

bliss; 
Thou didst speed like an arrow to that mark from this 

bow. 
The world gave thee false clews, like a ghoul : 
Thou took'st no heed of the clew, but wentest to that 

which is without a clew. 
Since thou art now the sun, why dost thou wear a tiara, 
Why seek a girdle, since thou art gone from the 

middle? 
I have heard that thou art gazing with distorted eyes 

upon thy soul : 
Why dost thou gaze on thy soul, since thou art gone 

to the soul of Soul ? 
O heart, what a wcmdrous bird art thou, that in chase 

of divine rewards 
Thou didst fly with two wings to the spear point, Uke 

a shield ! 




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Poems. 



247 



The rose flees from autumn — O what a fearless rose 
art thou 

Who didst go loitering along in the presence of the 
autumn wind ! 

Falling like rain from heaven upon the roof of the ter- 
restrial world 

Thou didst run in every direction till thou didst escape 
by the conduit. 

Be silent and free frx>m the pain of speech : do not 
slumber^ 

Since thou hast taken refuge with so loving a Friend. 






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Claiming both the highest birth — 
Night spoke frowningly : " Twas I 
Who from all eternity 
Ruleid the chaos of the world, 
When in dim confusion hurled. 
The fervent prayer is heard at night ; 
Devotion flies day's glaring light. 
'Twas night, the Mount when Moses left; 

At night was Lot avenged by fire : 
At night the moon our prophet cleft, 

And saw Heaven's might revealed entire. 
The lovely moon for thirty days 

Spreads radiant glory from afar : 
Her charms forever night displays, 

Crowned, like a queen, with many a star : 
Her seal-bearer is Heav'n, a band 
Of planets wait on her command. 
Day can but paint the skies with blue, 
Night's starry hosts amaze the view. 
Man measures time but by the moon ; 
Night shrouds what day reveals too soon. 
Day is with toil and care oppressed, 
Night comes, and, with her, gentle rest 
Day, busy still, no praise can bring. 
All night the saints their anthems sing ; 
Her shade is cast by Gabriel's wing ! 
The moon is pure, the sun's broad face 
Dark and unsightly spots deface : 
The sun shines on with changeless glare, 
The moon is ever new and fair." 



:^:^': 




250 Essfdi. 

Day rose, and smiled in high diidun : — 
" Cease aO this boudng, void and vain ; 
The Lord of Heaven, and earth, and thee 

Gave me a place more prond than thine. 
And men with joy my rising see, 

And hail the beams that nnmd me shine. 
^ ' The holy pilgrim takes by day 

P To many a sacred shrine his way ; 

By day the pious fast aod pray; 
And solemn feasts are held by day. 
On the Last Day the world's career is mn. 
As on the First its beii^ was begun. 
Thou, Night, art friendly, it may be, 
For lovere fly for help to thee. 
When do the sick thy healing see? 
Thieves, by thy aid, may scathless prowl ; 
Sacred to thee the bat aod owl ; 
And, led by thee, pale spectres grimly hoiri I 
I sprang from Heaven, from dust thou art, 

Light crowns my head with many a gem; 
The collier's cap is on thy brow — 

For thee a fitting diadem. 
My presence fills the world with j(qr; 
Thou com'st all comfort to annoy. 
f ^ I am a Moslem — white my vest : 

Thou a vile thief, in sable drest. 
Out Dcgto-face I — dar'st thou compare 
Thy cheeks with mine, so purely fair? 
Those ' hosts of stars,' thy boast and pride, 
How do they rush their sparks to hide, 



Sf 




Day and Nigbt. 251 

How to their native darkness run. 
When, in his glory, comes the sun ! 
True, death was first; but, tell me, who 
Thinks life least worthy of the two? 
'Tis by the moon the Arab counts ; 

The lordly Persian tells his year 
By the bright sun, that proudly mounts 

The yielding heavens, so wide and clear. 
The sun is ruddy, strong, and hale ; 
The moon is sickly, wan, and pale. 
Methinks 'twas ne'er in story told 
That silver had the worth of gold ! 
The moon, a slave, is bowed and bent. 
She knows her light is only lent ; 
She hurries on, the way to clear 
Till the great Shah himself appear. 
What canst thou, idle boaster, say 
To prove the night excels the day? 
If stubborn still, let Him decide 
With whom all truth and law abide ; 
Let Nasur Ahmed, wise as great, 
Pronounce, and give to each his state.*' 




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