The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi, by Richard F. Burton

Conclusion

Here the Hâjî ends his practical study of mankind. The image of Destiny playing with men as pieces is a view common amongst Easterns. His idea of wisdom is once more Pope’s:—

And all our knowledge is ourselves to know.

— (Essay IV. 398.)

Regret, i.e., repentance, was one of the forty-two deadly sins of the Ancient Egyptians. “Thou shalt not consume thy heart,” says the Ritual of the Dead, the negative justification of the soul or ghost (Lepsius “Alteste Texte des Todtenbuchs”). We have borrowed competitive examination from the Chinese; and, in these morbid days of weak introspection and retrospection, we might learn wisdom from the sturdy old Khemites. When he sings “Abjure the Why and seek the How,” he refers to the old Scholastic difference of the Demonstratio propter quid (why is a thing?), as opposed to Demonstratio quia (i.e. that a thing is). The “great Man” shall end with becoming deathless, as Shakespeare says in his noble sonnet:—

And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then!

Like the great Pagans, the Hâjî holds that man was born good, while the Christian, “tormented by the things divine,” cleaves to the comforting doctrine of innate sinfulness. Hence the universal tenet, that man should do good in order to gain by it here or hereafter; the “enlightened selfishness,” that says, Act well and get compound interest in a future state. The allusion to the “Theist-word” apparently means that the votaries of a personal Deity must believe in the absolute foreknowledge of the Omniscient in particulars as in generals. The Rule of Law emancipates man; and its exceptions are the gaps left by his ignorance. The wail over the fallen flower, etc., reminds us of the Pulambal (Lamentations) of the Anti-Brahminical writer, “Pathira-Giriyâr.” The allusion to Mâyâ is from Dâs Kabîr:—

Mâyâ mare, na man mare, mar mar gayâ, sarîr.

Illusion dies, the mind dies not though dead and gone

the flesh.

Nirwâna, I have said, is partial extinction by being merged in the Supreme, not to be confounded with Pari-nirwâna or absolute annihilation. In the former also, dying gives birth to a new being, the embodiment of karma (deeds), good and evil, done in the countless ages of transmigration.

Here ends my share of the work. On the whole it has been considerable. I have omitted, as has been seen, sundry stanzas, and I have changed the order of others. The text has nowhere been translated verbatim; in fact, a familiar European turn has been given to many sentiments which were judged too Oriental. As the metre adopted by Hâjî Abdû was the Bahr Tawîl (long verse), I thought it advisable to preserve that peculiarity, and to fringe it with the rough, unobtrusive rhyme of the original.

Vive, valeque!

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97k/chapter5.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31