She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Persian sage acquainted the Princess with the case of the King’s son, she believed him; so she rose forthright; and, putting her hand in his, said, “O my father, what hast thou brought me to ride?” He replied, “O my lady, thou shalt ride the horse thou camest on;” and she, “I cannot ride it by myself.” Whereupon he smiled and knew that he was her master and said, “I will ride with thee myself.” So he mounted and, taking her up behind him bound her to himself with firm bonds, while she knew not what he would with her. Then he turned the ascent-pin, whereupon the belly of the horse became full of wind and it swayed to and fro like a wave of the sea, and rose with them high in air nor slackened in its flight, till it was out of sight of the city. Now when Shams al-Nahir saw this, she asked him, “Ho thou! what is become of that thou toldest me of my Prince, making me believe that he sent thee to me?” Answered the Persian, “Allah damn the Prince! he is a mean and skin-flint knave.” She cried, “Woe to thee! How darest thou disobey thy lord’s commandment?” Whereto the Persian replied, “He is no lord of mine: knowest thou who I am?” Rejoined the Princess, “I know nothing of thee save what thou toldest me;” and retorted he, “What I told thee was a trick of mine against thee and the King’s son: I have long lamented the loss of this horse which is under us; for I constructed it and made myself master of it. But now I have gotten firm hold of it and of thee too, and I will burn his heart even as he hath burnt mine; nor shall he ever have the horse again; no, never! So be of good cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear; for I can be of more use to thee than he; and I am generous as I am wealthy; my servants and slaves shall obey thee as their mistress; I will robe thee in finest raiment and thine every wish shall be at thy will.” When she heard this, she buffeted her face and cried out, saying, “Ah, well-away! I have not won my beloved and I have lost my father and mother!” And she wept bitter tears over what had befallen her, whilst the Sage fared on with her, without ceasing, till he came to the land of the Greeks1 and alighted in a verdant mead, abounding in streams and trees. Now this meadow lay near a city wherein was a King of high puissance, and it chanced that he went forth that day to hunt and divert himself. As he passed by the meadow, he saw the Persian standing there, with the damsel and the horse by his side; and, before the Sage was ware, the King’s slaves fell upon him and carried him and the lady and the horse to their master who, noting the foulness of the man’s favour and his loathsomeness and the beauty of the girl and her loveliness, said, “O my lady, what kin is this oldster to thee?” The Persian made haste to reply, saying, “She is my wife and the daughter of my father’s brother.” But the lady at once gave him the lie and said, “O King, by Allah, I know him not, nor is he my husband; nay, he is a wicked magician who hath stolen me away by force and fraud.” Thereupon the King bade bastinado the Persian and they beat him till he was well-nigh dead; after which the King commanded to carry him to the city and cast him into jail; and, taking from him the damsel and the ebony horse (though he knew not its properties nor the secret of its motion), set the girl in his serraglio and the horse amongst his hoards. Such was the case with the Sage and the lady; but as regards Prince Kamar al-Akmar, he garbed himself in travelling gear and taking what he needed of money, set out tracking their trail in very sorry plight; and journeyed from country to country and city to city seeking the Princess and enquiring after the ebony horse, whilst all who heard him marvelled at him and deemed his talk extravagant. Thus he continued doing a long while; but, for all his enquiry and quest, he could hit on no new news of her. At last he came to her father’s city of Sana’a and there asked for her, but could get no tidings of her and found her father mourning her loss. So he turned back and made for the land of the Greeks, continuing to enquire concerning the twain as he went — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The Bresl. Edit. iii. 354 sends him to the “land of Sín” (China).
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King’s son made for the land of the Greeks, continuing to enquire concerning the two as he went along, till, as chance would have it, he alighted at a certain Khan and saw a company of merchants sitting at talk. So he sat down near them and heard one say, “O my friends, I lately witnessed a wonder of wonders.” They asked, “What was that?” and he answered, “I was visiting such a district in such a city (naming the city wherein was the Princess), and I heard its people chatting of a strange thing which had lately befallen. It was that their King went out one day hunting and coursing with a company of his courtiers and the lords of his realm; and, issuing from the city, they came to a green meadow where they espied an old man standing, with a woman sitting hard by a horse of ebony. The man was foulest-foul of face and loathly of form, but the woman was a marvel of beauty and loveliness and elegance and perfect grace; and as for the wooden horse, it was a miracle, never saw eyes aught goodlier than it nor more gracious than its make.” Asked the others, “And what did the King with them?”; and the merchant answered, “As for the man the King seized him and questioned him of the damsel and he pretended that she was his wife and the daughter of his paternal uncle; but she gave him the lie forthright and declared that he was a sorcerer and a villain. So the King took her from the old man and bade beat him and cast him into the trunk-house. As for the ebony horse, I know not what became of it.” When the Prince heard these words, he drew near to the merchant and began questioning him discreetly and courteously touching the name of the city and of its King; which when he knew, he passed the night full of joy. And as soon as dawned the day he set out and travelled sans surcease till he reached that city; but, when he would have entered, the gate-keepers laid hands on him, that they might bring him before the King to question him of his condition and the craft in which he was skilled and the cause of his coming thither-such being the usage and custom of their ruler. Now it was supper-time when he entered the city, and it was then impossible to go in to the King or take counsel with him respecting the stranger. So the guards carried him to the jail, thinking to lay him by the heels there for the night; but, when the warders saw his beauty and loveliness, they could not find it in their hearts to imprison him: they made him sit with them without the walls; and, when food came to them, he ate with them what sufficed him. As soon as they had made an end of eating, they turned to the Prince and said, “What countryman art thou?” “I come from Fars,” answered he, “the land of the Chosroës.” When they heard this they laughed and one of them said, “O Chosroan,1 I have heard the talk of men and their histories and I have looked into their conditions; but never saw I or heard I a bigger liar than the Chosroan which is with us in the jail.” Quoth another, “And never did I see aught fouler than his favour or more hideous than his visnomy.” Asked the Prince. “What have ye seen of his lying?”; and they answered, “He pretendeth that he is one of the wise! Now the King came upon him, as he went a-hunting, and found with him a most beautiful woman and a horse of the blackest ebony, never saw I a handsomer. As for the damsel, she is with the King, who is enamoured of her and would fain marry her; but she is mad, and were this man a leach as he claimeth to be, he would have healed her, for the King doth his utmost to discover a cure for her case and a remedy for her disease, and this whole year past hath he spent treasure upon physicians and astrologers, on her account; but none can avail to cure her. As for the horse, it is in the royal hoard-house, and the ugly man is here with us in prison; and as soon as night falleth, he weepeth and bemoaneth himself and will not let us sleep.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Yá Kisrawi!”=O subject of the Kisrá or Chosroë; the latter explained in vol.i.,75.[Volume 1, Footnote # 128] “Fars” is the origin of “Persia”; and there is a hit at the prodigious lying of the modern race, whose forefathers were so famous as truth-tellers. “I am a Persian, but I am not lying now,” is a phrase familiar to every traveller.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the warders had recounted the case of the Persian egromancer they held in prison and his weeping and wailing, the Prince at once devised a device whereby he might compass his desire; and presently the guards of the gate, being minded to sleep, led him into the jail and locked the door. So he overheard the Persian weeping and bemoaning himself, in his own tongue, and saying, “Alack, and alas for my sin, that I sinned against myself and against the King’s son, in that which I did with the damsel; for I neither left her nor won my will of her! All this cometh of my lack of sense, in that I sought for myself that which I deserved not and which befitted not the like of me; for whoso seeketh what suiteth him not at all, falleth with the like of my fall.” Now when the King’s son heard this, he accosted him in Persian, saying, “How long will this weeping and wailing last? Say me, thinkest thou that hath befallen thee that which never befel other than thou?” Now when the Persian heard this, he made friends with him and began to complain to him of his case and misfortunes. And as soon as the morning morrowed, the warders took the Prince and carried him before their King, informing him that he had entered the city on the previous night, at a time when audience was impossible. Quoth the King to the Prince, “Whence comest thou and what is thy name and trade and why hast thou travelled hither?” He replied, “As to my name I am called in Persian Harjah;1 as to my country I come from the land of Fars; and I am of the men of art and especially of the art of medicine and healing the sick and those whom the Jinns drive mad. For this I go round about all countries and cities, to profit by adding knowledge to my knowledge, and whenever I see a patient I heal him and this is my craft.”2 Now when the King heard this, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and said, “O excellent Sage, thou hast indeed come to us at a time when we need thee.” Then he acquainted him with the case of the Princess, adding, “If thou cure her and recover her from her madness, thou shalt have of me everything thou seekest.” Replied the Prince, “Allah save and favour the King: describe to me all thou hast seen of her insanity and tell me how long it is since the access attacked her; also how thou camest by her and the horse and the Sage.” So the King told him the whole story, from first to last, adding, “The Sage is in goal.” Quoth the Prince, “O auspicious King, and what hast thou done with the horse?” Quoth the King, “O youth, it is with me yet, laid up in one of my treasure-chambers,” whereupon said the Prince within himself, “The best thing I can do is first to see the horse and assure myself of its condition. If it be whole and sound, all will be well and end well; but, if its motor-works be destroyed, I must find some other way of delivering my beloved.” Thereupon he turned to the King and said to him, “O King, I must see the horse in question: haply I may find in it somewhat that will serve me for the recovery of the damsel.” “With all my heart,” replied the King, and taking him by the hand, showed him into the place where the horse was. The Prince went round about it, examining its condition, and found it whole and sound, whereat he rejoiced greatly and said to the King, “Allah save and exalt the King! I would fain go in to the damsel, that I may see how it is with her; for I hope in Allah to heal her by my healing hand through means of the horse.” Then he bade them take care of the horse and the King carried him to the Princess’s apartment where her lover found her wringing her hands and writhing and beating herself against the ground, and tearing her garments to tatters as was her wont; but there was no madness of Jinn in her, and she did this but that none might approach her. When the Prince saw her thus, he said to her, “No harm shall betide thee, O ravishment of the three worlds;” and went on to soothe her and speak her fair, till he managed to whisper, “I am Kamar al-Akmar;” whereupon she cried out with a loud cry and fell down fainting for excess of joy; but the King thought this was epilepsy3 brought on by her fear of him, and by her suddenly being startled. Then the Prince put his mouth to her ear and said to her, “O Shams al-Nahar, O seduction of the universe, have a care for thy life and mine and be patient and constant; for this our position needeth sufferance and skilful contrivance to make shift for our delivery from the tyrannical King. My first move will be now to go out to him and tell him that thou art possessed of a Jinn and hence thy madness; but that I will engage to heal thee and drive away the evil spirit, if he will at once unbind thy bonds. So when he cometh in to thee, do thou speak him smooth words, that he may think I have cured thee, and all will be done for us as we desire.” Quoth she, “Hearkening and obedience;” and he went out to the King in joy and gladness, and said to him, “O august King, I have, by thy good fortune, discovered her disease and its remedy, and have cured her for thee. So now do thou go in to her and speak her softly and treat her kindly, and promise her what may please her; so shall all thou desirest of her be accomplished to thee.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 There is no such name: perhaps it is a clerical error for “Har jáh”=(a man of) any place. I know an Englishman who in Persian called himself “Mirza Abdullah-i-Híchmakáni”=Master Abdullah of Nowhere.
2 The Bresl. Edit. (loc. cit.) gives a comical description of the Prince assuming the dress of an astrologer-doctor, clapping an old book under his arm, fumbling a rosary of beads, enlarging his turband, lengthening his sleeves and blackening his eyelids with antimony. Here, however, it would be out of place. Very comical also is the way in which he pretends to cure the maniac by “muttering unknown words, blowing in her face, biting her ear,” etc.
3 Arab. “Sar’a”=falling sickness. Here again we have in all its simplicity the old nursery idea of “possession” by evil spirits.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Prince feigned himself a leach and went in to the damsel and made himself known to her and told her how he purposed to deliver her, she cried “Hearkening and obedience!” He then fared forth from her and sought the King and said, “Go thou in to her and speak her softly and promise her what may please her; so shall all thou desirest of her be accomplished to thee.” Thereupon the King went in to her and when she saw him, she rose and kissing the ground before him, bade him welcome and said, “I admire how thou hast come to visit thy handmaid this day;” whereat he was ready to fly for joy and bade the waiting-women and the eunuchs attend her and carry her to the Hammam and make ready for her dresses and adornment. So they went in to her and saluted her, and she returned their salams with the goodliest language and after the pleasantest fashion; whereupon they clad her in royal apparel and, clasping a collar of jewels about her neck, carried her to the bath and served her there. Then they brought her forth, as she were the full moon; and, when she came into the King’s presence, she saluted him and kissed ground before him; whereupon he joyed in her with joy exceeding and said to the Prince, “O Sage, O philosopher, all this is of thy blessing. Allah increase to us the benefit of thy healing breath!”1 The Prince replied, “O King, for the completion of her cure it behoveth that thou go forth, thou and all thy troops and guards, to the place where thou foundest her, not forgetting the beast of black wood which was with her; for therein is a devil; and, unless I exorcise him, he will return to her and afflict her at the head of every month.” “With love and gladness,” cried the King, “O thou Prince of all philosophers and most learned of all who see the light of day.” Then he brought out the ebony horse to the meadow in question and rode thither with all his troops and the Princess, little weeting the purpose of the Prince. Now when they came to the appointed place, the Prince, still habited as a leach, bade them set the Princess and the steed as far as eye could reach from the King and his troops, and said to him, “With thy leave, and at thy word, I will now proceed to the fumigations and conjurations, and here imprison the adversary of mankind, that he may never more return to her. After this, I shall mount this wooden horse which seemeth to be made of ebony, and take the damsel up behind me; whereupon it will shake and sway to and fro and fare forwards, till it come to thee, when the affair will be at an end; and after this thou mayst do with her as thou wilt.” When the King heard his words, he rejoiced with extreme joy; so the Prince mounted the horse and, taking the damsel up behind him, whilst the King and his troops watched him, bound her fast to him. Then he turned the ascending-pin and the horse took flight and soared with them high in air, till they disappeared from every eye. After this the King abode half the day, expecting their return; but they returned not. So when he despaired of them, repenting him greatly of that which he had done and grieving sore for the loss of the damsel, he went back to the city with his troops. He then sent for the Persian who was in prison and said to him, “O thou traitor, O thou villian, why didst thou hide from me the mystery of the ebony horse? And now a sharper hath come to me and hath carried it off, together with a slave-girl whose ornaments are worth a mint of money, and I shall never see anyone or anything of them again!” So the Persian related to him all his past, first and last, and the King was seized with a fit of fury which well-nigh ended his life. He shut himself up in his palace for a while, mourning and afflicted; but at last his Wazirs came in to him and applied themselves to comfort him, saying, “Verily, he who took the damsel is an enchanter, and praised be Allah who hath delivered thee from his craft and sorcery!” And they ceased not from him, till he was comforted for her loss. Thus far concerning the King; but as for the Prince, he continued his career towards his father’s capital in joy and cheer, and stayed not till he alighted on his own palace, where he set the lady in safety; after which he went in to his father and mother and saluted them and acquainted them with her coming, whereat they were filled with solace and gladness. Then he spread great banquets for the towns-folk — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Nafahát”=breathings, benefits, the Heb. Neshamah opp. to Nephesh (soul) and Ruach (spirit). Healing by the breath is a popular idea throughout the East and not unknown to Western Magnetists and Mesmerists. The miraculous cures of the Messiah were, according to Moslems, mostly performed by aspiration. They hold that in the days of Isa, physic had reached its highest development, and thus his miracles were mostly miracles of medicine; whereas, in Mohammed’s time, eloquence had attained its climax and accordingly his miracles were those of eloquence, as shown in the Koran and Ahádís.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King’s son spread great banquets for the towns-folk and they held high festival a whole month, at the end of which time he went in to the Princess and they took their joy of each other with exceeding joy. But his father brake the ebony horse in pieces and destroyed its mechanism for flight; moreover the Prince wrote a letter to the Princess’s father, advising him of all that had befallen her and informing him how she was now married to him and in all health and happiness, and sent it by a messenger, together with costly presents and curious rarities. And when the messenger arrived at the city which was Sana’a and delivered the letter and the presents to the King, he read the missive and rejoiced greatly thereat and accepted the presents, honouring and rewarding the bearer handsomely. Moreover, he forwarded rich gifts to his son-in-law by the same messenger, who returned to his master and acquainted him with what had passed; whereat he was much cheered. And after this the Prince wrote a letter every year to his father-in-law and sent him presents till, in course of time, his sire King Sabur deceased and he reigned in his stead, ruling justly over his lieges and conducting himself well and righteously towards them, so that the land submitted to him and his subjects did him loyal service; and Kamar al-Akmar and his wife Shams al-Nahar abode in the enjoyment of all satisfaction and solace of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of deligights and Sunderer of societies; the Plunderer of palaces, the Caterer for cemeteries and the Garnerer of graves. And now glory be to the Living One who dieth not and in whose hand is the dominion of the worlds visible and invisible! Moreover I have heard tell the tale of
There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a King of great power and lord of glory and dominion galore; who had a Wazir Ibrahim hight, and this Wazir’s daughter was a damsel of extraordinary beauty and loveliness, gifted with passing brilliancy and the perfection of grace, possessed of abundant wit, and in all good breeding complete. But she loved wassail and wine and the human face divine and choice verses and rare stories; and the delicacy of her inner gifts invited all hearts to love, even as saith the poet, describing her,
“Like moon she shines amid the starry sky,
Robing in tresses blackest ink outvie.
The morning-breezes give her boughs fair drink,
And like a branch she sways with supple ply:
She smiles in passing us. O thou that art
Fairest in yellow robed, or cramoisie,
Thou playest with my wit in love, as though
Sparrow in hand of playful boy were I.”2
Her name was Rose-in-Hood and she was so named for her young and tender beauty and the freshness of her brilliancy; and the King loved her in his cups because of her accomplishments and fine manners. Now it was the King’s custom yearly to gather together all the nobles of his realm and play with the ball.3 So when the day came round whereon the folk assembled for ballplay, the Minister’s daughter seated herself at her lattice, to divert herself by looking on at the game; and, as they were at play, her glance fell upon a youth among the guards than whom never was seen a comelier face nor a goodlier form; for he was bright of favour showing white teeth when he smiled, tall-statured and broad-shouldered. She looked at him again and again and could not take her fill of gazing; and presently said to her nurse, “What is the name of yonder handsome young man among the troops?” Replied the nurse, “O my daughter, the dear fellows are all handsome. Which of them dost thou mean?” Said Rose-in-Hood, “Wait till he come past and I will point him out to thee.” So she took an apple and as he rode by dropped it on him, whereupon he raised his head, to see who did this, and espied the Wazir’s daughter at the window, as she were the moon of fullest light in the darkness of the night; nor did he withdraw his eyes, till his heart was utterly lost to her, and he recited these lines,
“Was’t archer shot me, or was’t thine eyes
Ruined lover’s heart that thy charms espies?
Was the notched shaft4 from a host outshot,
Or from latticed window in sudden guise?”
When the game was at an end, and all had left the ground, she asked her nurse, “What is the name of that youth I showed thee?”; and the good woman answered, “His name is Uns al-Wujud;” whereat Rose-in-Hood shook her head and lay down on her couch, with thoughts a-fire for love. Then, sighing deeply, she improvised these couplets,
“He missed not who dubbed thee, ‘World’s delight,’
A world’s love conjoining to bounty’s light:5
O thou, whose favour the full moon favours,
Whose charms make life and the living bright!
Thou hast none equal among mankind;
Sultan of Beauty, and proof I’ll cite:
Thine eye-brows are likest a well-formed Nún,6
And thine eyes a Sád,7 by His hand indite;
Thy shape is the soft, green bough that gives
When asked to all with all-gracious sprite:
Thou excellest knights of the world in stowre,
With delight and beauty and bounty dight.”
When she had finished her verses, she wrote them on a sheet of paper, which she folded in a piece of golf-embroidered silk and placed under her pillow. Now one of her nurses had seen her; so she came up to her and held her in talk till she slept, when she stole the scroll from under her pillow; and, after reading it, knew that she had fallen in love with Uns al-Wujud. Then she returned the scroll to its place and when her mistress awoke, she said to her, “O my lady, indeed I am to thee a true counsellor and am tenderly anxious on thy account. Know that love is a tyrant and the hiding it melteth iron and entaileth sickness and unease; nor for whoso confesseth it is there aught of reproach.” Rejoined Rose-in-Hood, “And what is the medicine of passion, O nurse mine?” Answered the nurse, “The medicine of passion is enjoyment” Quoth she, “And how may one come by enjoyment?” Quoth the other, “By letters and messages, my lady; by whispered words of compliment and by greetings before the world;8 all this bringeth lovers together and makes hard matters easy. So if thou have aught at heart, mistress mine, I am the fittest to keep thy secret and do thy desires and carry thy letters.” Now when the damsel heard this, her reason flew and fled for joy; but she restrained herself from speech till she should see the issue of the matter, saying within herself, “None knoweth this thing of me, nor will I trust this one with my secret, till I have tried her.” Then said the woman, “O my lady, I saw in my sleep as though a man came to me and said: ‘Thy mistress and Uns al-Wujud love each other; so do thou serve their case by carrying their messages and doing their desires and keeping their secrets; and much good shall befal thee.’ So now I have told thee my vision and it is thine to decide.” Quoth Rose-in-Hood, after she heard of the dream — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Lit. “The rose in the sleeves or calyces.” I take my English equivalent from Jeremy Taylor, “So I have seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood,” etc.
2 These lines are from the Bresl. Edit. (v. 35). The four couplets in the Mac. Edit. are too irrelevant.
3 Polo, which Lane calls “Goff.”
4 Arab. “Muffawak”=well-notched, as its value depends upon the notch. At the end of the third hemistitch Lane’s Shaykh very properly reads “baghtatan” (suddenly) for “burhatan”=during a long time.
5 “Uns” (which the vulgar pronounce Anas) “al-Wujud”=Delight of existing things, of being, of the world. Uns wa jud is the normal pun=love-intimacy and liberality; and the caranomasia (which cannot well be rendered in English) re-appears again and again. The story is throughout one of love; hence the quantity of verse.
6 The allusion to a “written N” suggests the elongated not the rounded form of the letter as in Night cccxxiv.
7 The fourteenth Arabic letter in its medial form resembling an eye.
8 This is done by the man passing his fingers over the brow as if to wipe off perspiration; the woman acknowledges it by adjusting her head-veil with both hands. As a rule in the Moslem East women make the first advances; and it is truly absurd to see a great bearded fellow blushing at being ogled. During the Crimean war the fair sex of Constantinople began by these allurements but found them so readily accepted by the Giaours that they were obliged to desist.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Rose-in- Hood asked her nurse after hearing of the dream, “Tell me, canst thou keep a secret, O my nurse?”; whereto she answered, “And how should I not keep secrecy, I that am of the flower of the free?”1 Then the maiden pulled out the scroll, whereon she had written the verses and said, “Carry me this my letter to Uns al-Wujud and bring me his reply.” The nurse took the letter and, repairing to Uns al-Wujud, kissed his hands and greeted him right courteously, then gave him the paper; and he read it and, comprehending the contents, wrote on the back these couplets,
“I soothe my heart and my love repel;
But my state interprets my love too well:
When tears flow I tell them mine eyes are ill,
Lest the censor see and my case fortell,
I was fancy-free and unknew I Love;
But I fell in love and in madness fell.
I show you my case and complain of pain,
Pine and ecstasy that your ruth compel:
I write you with tears of eyes, so belike
They explain the love come my heart to quell;
Allah guard a face that is veiled with charms,
Whose thrall is Moon and the Stars as well:
In her beauty I never beheld the like;
From her sway the branches learn sway and swell:
I beg you, an ’tis not too much of pains,
To call;2 ’twere boon without parallel.
I give you a soul you will haply take.
To which Union is Heaven, Disunion Hell.”
Then he folded the letter and kissing it, gave it to the go- between and said to her, “O nurse, incline the lady’s heart to me.” “To hear is to obey,” answered she and carried the script to her mistress, who kissed it and laid it on her head, then she opened it and read it and understood it and wrote at the foot of it these couplets,
“O whose heart by our beauty is captive ta’en,
Have patience and all thou shalt haply gain!
When we knew that thy love was a true affect,
And what pained our heart to thy heart gave pain,
We had granted thee wished-for call and more;
But hindered so doing the chamberlain.
When the night grows dark, through our love’s excess
Fire burns our vitals with might and main:
And sleep from our beds is driven afar,
And our bodies are tortured by passion-bane.
‘Hide Love!’ in Love’s code is the first command;
And from raising his veil thy hand restrain:
I fell love-fulfilled by yon gazelle:
Would he never wander from where I dwell!”
Then she folded the letter and gave it to the nurse, who took it and went out from her mistress to seek the young man; but, as she would fare forth, the chamberlain met her and said to her, “Whither away?” “To the bath,” answered she; but in her fear and confusion, she dropped the letter, without knowing it, and went off unrecking what she had done; when one of the eunuchs, seeing it lying in the way, picked it up. When the nurse came without the door, she sought for it, but found it not, so turned back to her mistress and told her of this and what had befallen her. Meanwhile, the Wazir came out of the Harim and seated himself on his couch; whereupon behold, the eunuch, who had picked up the letter, came in to him, hending it in hand and said, “O my lord, I found this paper lying upon the floor and picked it up.” So the Minister took it from his hand, folded as it was, and opening it, read the verses as above set down. Then, after mastering the meaning, he examined the writing and knew it for his daughter’s hand; whereupon he went to her mother, weeping so abundant tears that his beard was wetted. His wife asked him, “What maketh thee weep, O my lord?”; and he answered, “Take this letter and see what is therein.” So she took it and found it to be a love-letter from her daughter Rose-in-Hood to Uns al-Wujud: whereupon the ready drops sprang to her eyes; but she composed her mind, and, gulping down her tears, said to her husband, “O my lord, there is no profit in weeping: the right course is to cast about for a means of keeping thine honour and concealing the affair of thy daughter.” And she went on to comfort him and lighten his trouble; but he said, “I am fearful for my daughter by reason of this new passion. Knowest thou not that the Sultan loveth Uns al-Wujud with exceeding love? And my fear hath two causes. The first concerneth myself; it is, that she is my daughter: the second is on account of the King; for that Uns al-Wujud is a favourite with the Sultan and peradventure great troubles shall come out of this affair. What deemest thou should be done?”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir, after recounting the affair of his daughter, asked his wife, “What deemest thou should be done?” And she answered, “Have patience whilst I pray the prayer for right direction.” So she prayed a two-bow prayer according to the prophetic1 ordinance for seeking divine guidance; after which she said to her husband, “In the midst of the Sea of Treasures2 standeth a mountain named the Mount of the Bereaved Mother (the cause of which being so called shall presently follow in its place, Inshallah!); and thither can none have access, save with pains and difficulty and distress: do thou make that same her abiding-place.” Accordingly the Minister and his wife agreed to build on that mountain a virgin castle and lodge their daughter therein with the necessary provision to be renewed year by year and attendants to cheer and to serve her. Accordingly he collected carpenters, builders and architects and despatched them to the mountain, where they builded her an impregnable castle, never saw eyes the like thereof. Then he made ready vivers and carriage for the journey and, going in to his daughter by night, bade her prepare to set out on a pleasure-excursion. Thereupon her heart presaged the sorrows of separation and, when she went forth and saw the preparations for the journey, she wept with sore weeping and wrote that upon the door which might acquaint her lover with what had passed and with the transports of passion and grief that were upon her, transports such as would make the flesh to shiver and hair to stare, and melt the hardest stone with care, and tear from every eye a tear. And what she wrote were these couplets,
“By Allah, O thou house, if my beloved a morn go by,
And greet with signs and signals lover e’er is wont to fly,
I pray thee give him our salams in pure and fragrant guise,
For he indeed may never know where we this eve shall lie.
I wot not whither they have fared, thus bearing us afar
At speed, and lightly-quipt, the lighter from one love to fly:
When starkens night, the birds in brake or branches snugly perched
Wail for our sorrow and announce our hapless destiny:
The tongue of their condition saith, ‘Alas, alas for woe,
And heavy brunt of parting-blow two lovers must aby’:
When viewed I separation-cups were filled to the brim
And us with merest sorrow-wine Fate came so fast to ply,
I mixed them with becoming share of patience self to excuse,
But Patience for the loss of you her solace doth refuse.”
Now when she ended her lines, she mounted and they set forward with her, crossing and cutting over wold and wild and riant dale and rugged hill, till they came to the shore of the Sea of Treasures; here they pitched their tents and built her a great ship, wherein they went down with her and her suite and carried them over to the mountain. The Minister had ordered them, on reaching the journey’s end, to set her in the castle and to make their way back to the shore, where they were to break up the vessel. So they did his bidding and returned home, weeping over what had befallen. Such was their case; but as regards Uns al- Wujud, he arose from sleep and prayed the dawn-prayer, after which he took horse and rode forth to attend upon the Sultan. On his way, he passed by the Wazir’s house, thinking perchance to see some of his followers as of wont; but he saw no one and, looking upon the door, he read written thereon the verses aforesaid. At this sight, his senses failed him; fire was kindled in his vitals and he returned to his lodging, where he passed the day in trouble and transports of grief, without finding ease or patience, till night darkened upon him, when his yearning and love-longing redoubled. Thereupon, by way of concealment, he disguised himself in the ragged garb of a Fakir,3 and set out wandering at random through the glooms of night, distracted and knowing not whither he went. So he wandered on all that night and next day, till the heat of the sun waxed fierce and the mountains flamed like fire and thirst was grievous upon him. Presently, he espied a tree, by whose side was a thin thread of running water; so he made towards it and sitting down in the shade, on the bank of the rivulet, essayed to drink, but found that the water had no taste in his mouth;4 and, indeed his colour had changed and his face had yellowed, and his feet were swollen with travel and travail. So he shed copious tears and repeated these couplets,
“The lover is drunken with love of friend;
On a longing that groweth his joys depend:
Love-distracted, ardent, bewildered, lost
From home, nor may food aught of pleasure lend:
How can life be delightsome to one in love,
And from lover parted, ’twere strange, unkenned!
I melt with the fire of my pine for them,
And the tears down my cheek in a stream descend.
Shall I see them, say me, or one that comes
From the camp, who th’ afflicted heart shall tend?”
And after thus reciting he wept till he wetted the hard dry ground; but anon without loss of time he rose and fared on again over waste and wold, till there came out upon him a lion, with a neck buried in tangled mane, a head the bigness of a dome, a mouth wider than the door thereof and teeth like elephants’ tusks. Now when Uns al-Wujud saw him, he gave himself up for lost, and turning5 towards the Temple of Meccah, pronounced the professions of the faith and prepared for death. He had read in books that whoso will flatter the lion, beguileth him,6 for that he is readily duped by smooth speech and gentled by being glorified; so he began and said, “O Lion of the forest! O Lord of the waste! O terrible Leo! O father of fighters! O Sultan of wild beasts! Behold, I am a lover in longing, whom passion and severance have been wronging; since I parted from my dear, I have lost my reasoning gear; wherefore, to my speech do thou give ear and have ruth on my passion and hope and fear.” When the lion heard this, he drew back from him and sitting down on his hindquarters, raised his head to him and began to frisk tail and paws; which when Uns al-Wujud saw, he recited these couplets,
“Lion of the wold wilt thou murther me,
Ere I meet her who doomed me to slavery?
I am not game and I bear no fat;
For the loss of my love makes me sickness dree;
And estrangement from her hath so worn me down
I am like a shape in a shroud we see.
O thou sire of spoils,7 O thou lion of war,
Give not my pains to the blamer’s gree.
I burn with love, I am drowned in tears
For a parting from lover, sore misery!
And my thoughts of her in the murk of night
For love hath make my being unbe.”
As he had finished his lines the lion rose — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Sunnat,” the practice of the Prophet. For this prayer and other silly and superstitious means of discovering the “right direction” (which is often very wrongly directed) see Lane, M.E. chapt. xi.
2 Arab. “Bahr (sea or river) al-Kunuz”: Lane (ii. 576) ingeniously identifies the site with the Upper Nile whose tribes, between Assouan (Syene) and Wady al-Subu’a are called the “Kunuz”— lit. meaning “treasures” or “hoards.” Philae is still known as the “Islet of Anas (for Uns) al-Wujud;” and the learned and accurate Burckhardt (Travels in Nubia p. 5) records the local legend that a mighty King called Al–Wujud built the Osirian temples. I can give no information concerning Jabal al-Sakla (Thakla), the Mount of the woman bereft of children, beyond the legend contained in Night ccclxxix.
3 A religious mendicant (lit. a pauper), of whom there are two great divisions. The Shara’i acts according to the faith: the others (La Shara’i, or irreligious) are bound by no such prejudices and are pretty specimens of scoundrels. (Pilgrimage i.22.)
4 Meaning his lips and palate were so swollen by drought.
5 It is a pious act in time of mortal danger to face the Kiblah or Meccan temple, as if standing in prayer.
6 Still the belief of the Badawi who tries to work upon the beast’s compassion: “O great King I am a poor man, with wife and family, so spare me that Allah spare thee!” and so forth. If not famished the lion will often stalk off looking behind him as he goes; but the man will never return by the same path; “for,” says he, “haply the Father of Roaring may repent him of a wasted opportunity.” These lion-tales are very common, witness that of Androcles at Rome and a host of others. Una and her lion is another phase. It remained for M. Jules Gerard, first the chasseur and then the tueur, du lion, to assail the reputation of the lion and the honour of the lioness.
7 Abu Haris=Father of spoils: one of the lion’s hundred titles.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as Uns al- Wujud ended his lines, the lion arose and stalked slowly up to him, with eyes tear-railing and licked him with his tongue, then walked on before him, signing to him as though saying, “Follow me.” So he followed him, and the beast ceased not leading him on for a while till he brought him up a mountain, and guided him to the farther side, where he came upon the track of a caravan over the desert, and knew it to be that of Rose-in-Hood and her company. Then he took the trail and, when the lion saw that he knew the track for that of the party which escorted her, he turned back and went his way; whilst Uns al-Wujud walked along the foot-marks day and night, till they brought him to a dashing sea, swollen with clashing surge. The trail led down to the sandy shore and there broke off; whereby he knew that they had taken ship and had continued their journey by water. So he lost hope of finding his lover and with hot tears he repeated these couplets,
“Far is the fane and patience faileth me;
How can I seek them1 o’er the abyssmal sea;
Or how be patient, when my vitals burn
For love of them, and sleep waxed insomny?
Since the sad day they left the home and fled,
My heart’s consumed by love’s ardency:
Sayhun, Jayhun,2 Euphrates-like my tears,
Make flood no deluged rain its like can see:
Mine eyelids chafed with running tears remain,
My heart from fiery sparks is never free;
The hosts of love and longing pressed me
And made the hosts of patience break and flee.
I’ve risked my life too freely for their love;
And risk of life the least of ills shall be.
Allah ne’er punish eye that saw those charms
Enshrined, and passing full moon’s brilliancy!
I found me felled by fair wide-opened eyes,
Which pierced my heart with stringless archery:
And soft, lithe, swaying shape enraptured me
As sway the branches of the willow-tree:
Wi’ them I covet union that I win,
O’er love-pains cark and care, a mastery.
For love of them aye, morn and eve I pine,
And doubt all came to me from evil eyne.”
And when his lines were ended he wept, till he swooned away, and abode in his swoon a long while; but as soon as he came to himself, he looked right and left and seeing no one in the desert, he became fearful of the wild beasts; so he clomb to the top of a high mountain, where he heard the voice of a son of Adam speaking within a cave. He listened and lo! they were the accents of a devotee, who had forsworn the world and given himself up to pious works and worship. He knocked thrice at the cavern-door, but the hermit made him no answer, neither came forth to him; wherefore he groaned aloud and recited these couplets.
“What pathway find I my desire t’obtain,
How ’scape from care and cark and pain and bane?
All terrors join to make me old and hoar
Of head and heart, ere youth from me is ta’en:
Nor find I any aid my passion, nor
A friend to lighten load of bane and pain.
How great and many troubles I’ve endured!
Fortune hath turned her back I see unfain.
Ah mercy, mercy on the lover’s heart,
Doomed cup of parting and desertion drain!
A fire is in his heart, his vitals waste,
And severance made his reason vainest vain.
How dread the day I came to her abode
And saw the writ they wrote on doorway lain!
I wept, till gave I earth to drink my grief;
But still to near and far3 I did but feign:
Then strayed I till in waste a lion sprang
On me, and but for flattering words had slain:
I soothed him: so he spared me and lent me aid,
He too might haply of love’s taste complain.
O devotee, that idlest in thy cave,
Meseems eke thou hast learned Love’s might and main;
But if, at end of woes, with them I league,
Straight I’ll forget all suffering and fatigue.”
Hardly had he made an end of these verses when, behold! the door of the cavern opened and he heard one say, “Alas, the pity of it!”4 So he entered and saluted the devotee, who returned his salam and asked him, “What is thy name?” Answered the young man, “Uns al-Wujud.” “And what caused thee to come hither?” quoth the hermit. So he told him his story in its entirety, omitting naught of his misfortunes; whereat he wept and said, “O Uns al-Wujud, these twenty years have I passed in this place, but never beheld I any man here, until yesterday, when I heard a noise of weeping and lamentation and, looking forth in the direction of the sound, saw many people and tents pitched on the sea-shore; and the party at once proceeded to build a ship, in which certain of them embarked and sailed over the waters. Then some of the crew returned with the ship and breaking it up, went their way; and I suspect that those who embarked in the ship and returned not, are they whom thou seekest. In that case, O Uns al-Wujud, thy grief must needs be great and sore and thou art excusable, though never yet was lover but suffered love-longing.” Then he recited these couplets,
“Uns al-Wujud, dost deem me fancy-free,
When pine and longing slay and quicken me?
I have known love and yearning from the years
Since mother-milk I drank, nor e’er was free.
Long struggled I with Love, till learnt his might;
Ask thou of him, he’ll tell with willing gree.
Love-sick and pining drank I passion-cup,
And well-nigh perished in mine agony.
Strong was I, but my strength to weakness turned,
And eye-sword brake through Patience armoury:
Hope not to win love-joys, without annoy;
Contrary ever links with contrary.
But fear not change from lover true; be true
Unto thy wish, some day thine own ’twill be.
Love hath forbidden to his votaries
Relinquishment as deadliest heresy.”
The eremite, having ended his verse, rose and, coming up to Uns al-Wujud, embraced him — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 “They” again for “she.”
2 Jaxartes and Oxus. The latter (Jayhun or Amu, Oxus or Bactros) is famous for dividing Iran from Turan, Persia from Tartaria. The lands to its north are known as Ma wara al-Nahr (Mawerannahar) or “What is behind the stream,”=Transoxiana and their capitals were successively Samarcand and Bokhara.
3 Arab. “Dani was gharib”=friend and foe. The lines are partly from the Mac. Edit. and partly from the Bresl. Edit., v. 55.
4 Arab. “Wa Rahmata-hu!” a form now used only in books.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the eremite having ended his verse, rose and coming up to Uns al-Wujud embraced him, and they wept together, till the hills rang with their cries and they fell down fainting. When they revived, they swore brotherhood1 in Allah Almighty; after which said Uns al-Wujud, “This very night will I pray to God and seek of Him direction2 anent what thou shouldst do to attain thy desire.” Thus it was with them; but as regards Rose-in-Hood, when they brought her to the mountain and set her in the castle and she beheld its ordering, she wept and exclaimed, “By Allah, thou art a goodly place, save that thou lackest in thee the presence of the beloved!”3 Then seeing birds in the island, she bade her people set snares for them and put all they caught in cages within the castle; and they did so. But she sat at a lattice and bethought her of what had passed, and desire and passion and distraction redoubled upon her, till she burst into tears and repeated these couplets,
“O to whom now, of my desire complaining sore, shall I
Bewail my parting from my fere compellèd thus to fly?
Flames rage within what underlies my ribs, yet hide them I
In deepest secret dreading aye the jealous hostile spy:
I am grown as lean, attenuate as any pick of tooth,4
By sore estrangement, absence, ardour, ceaseless sob and sigh.
Where is the eye of my beloved to see how I’m become
Like tree stripped bare of leafage left to linger and to die.
They tyrannised over me whom they confined in place
Whereto the lover of my heart may never draw him nigh:
I beg the Sun for me to give greetings a thousandfold,
At time of rising and again when setting from the sky,
To the beloved one who shames a full moon’s loveliness,
When shows that slender form that doth the willow-branch outvie.
If Rose herself would even with his cheek, I say of her
‘Thou art not like it if to me my portion thou deny:’5
His honey-dew of lips is like the grateful water draught
Would cool me when a fire in heart upflameth fierce and high:
How shall I give him up who is my heart and soul of me,
My malady my wasting cause, my love, sole leach of me?”
Then, as the glooms of night closed around her, her yearning increased and she called to mind the past and recited also these couplets,
“’Tis dark: my transport and unease now gather might and main,
And love-desire provoketh me to wake my wonted pain: The pang of parting takes for ever place within my breast,
And pining makes me desolate in destitution lain.
Ecstasy sore maltreats my soul and yearning burns my sprite,
And tears betray love’s secresy which I would lief contain:
I weet no way, I know no case that can make light my load,
Or heal my wasting body or cast out from me this bane.
A hell of fire is in my heart upflames with lambent tongue
And Laza’s furnace-fires within my liver place have ta’en.
O thou, exaggerating blame for what befel, enough
I bear with patience whatsoe’er hath writ for me the Pen!
I swear, by Allah, ne’er to find aught comfort for their loss;
“Tis oath of passion’s children and their oaths are ne’er in vain.
O Night! Salams of me to friends and let to them be known
Of thee true knowledge how I wake and waking ever wone.”
Meanwhile, the hermit said to Uns al-Wujud, “Go down to the palm-grove in the valley and fetch some fibre.”6 So he went and returned with the palm-fibre, which the hermit took and, twisting into ropes, make therewith a net,7 such as is used for carrying straw; after which he said, “O Uns al-Wujud, in the heart of the valley groweth a gourd, which springeth up and drieth upon its roots. Go down there and fill this sack therewith; then tie it together and, casting it into the water, embark thereon and make for the midst of the sea, so haply thou shalt win thy wish; for whoso never ventureth shall not have what he seeketh.” “I hear and obey,” answered Uns al-Wujud. Then he bade the hermit farewell after the holy man had prayed for him; and, betaking himself to the sole of the valley, did as his adviser had counselled him; made the sack, launched it upon the water, and pushed from shore. Then there arose a wind, which drave him out to sea, till he was lost to the eremite’s view; and he ceased not to float over the abysses of the ocean, one billow tossing him up and another bearing him down (and he beholding the while the dangers and marvels of the deep), for the space of three days. At the end of that time Fate cast him upon the Mount of the Bereft Mother, where he landed, giddy and tottering like a chick unfledged, and at the last of his strength for hunger and thirst; but, finding there streams flowing and birds on the branches cooing and fruit-laden trees in clusters and singly growing, he ate of the fruits and drank of the rills. Then he walked on till he saw some white thing afar off, and making for it, found that it was a strongly fortified castle. So he went up to the gate and seeing it locked, sat down by it; and there he sat for three days when behold, the gate opened and an eunuch came out, who finding Uns al-Wujud there seated, said to him, “Whence camest thou and who brought thee hither?” Quoth he, “From Ispahan and I was voyaging with merchandise when my ship was wrecked and the waves cast me upon the farther side of this island.” Whereupon the eunuch wept and embraced him, saying, “Allah preserve thee, O thou friendly face! Ispahan is mine own country and I have there a cousin, the daughter of my father’s brother, whom I loved from my childhood and cherished with fond affection; but a people stronger than we fell upon us in foray and taking me among other booty, cut off my yard8 and sold me for a castrato, whilst I was yet a lad; and this is how I came to be in such case.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Before noted. The relationship, like that of foster-brother, has its rights, duties and privileges.
2 Arab. “Istikharah,” before explained as praying for direction by omens of the rosary, opening the Koran and reading the first verse sighted, etc., etc. At Al–Medinah it is called Khirah and I have suggested (Pilgrimage, ii. 287) that it is a relic of the Azlam or Kidah (divining arrows) of paganism. But the superstition is not local: we have the Sortes Virgilianae (Virgil being a magician) as well as Coranicae.
3 Arab. “Wujud al-Habib,” a pun, also meaning, “Wujud my beloved.”
4 Arab. “Khilal,” as an emblem of attenuation occurring in Al–Hariri (Ass. of Alexandria, etc.); also thin as a spindle (Maghzal), as a reed, and dry as a pair of shears. In the Ass. of Barka’id the toothpick is described as a beautiful girl. The use of this cleanly article was enjoined by Mohammed:—“Cleanse your mouths with toothpicks; for your mouths are the abode of the guardian angels; whose pens are the tongues, and whose ink is the spittle of men; and to whom naught is more unbearable than remains of food in the mouth.” A mighty apparatus for a small matter; but in very hot lands cleanliness must rank before godliness.
5 The sense is ambiguous. Lane renders the verse:—“Thou resemblest it (rose) not of my portion” and gives two explanations “because he is of my portion,” or, “because his cheek cannot be rosy if mine is not.” Mr. Payne boldly translates —
“If the rose ape his cheek, ‘Now God forfend,’ I say, ‘That of my portion aught to pilfer thou shouldst try’.”
6 Arab. “lif” (not “fibres which grow at the top of the trunk,” Lane ii. 577); but the fibre of the fronds worked like the cocoa-nut fibre which forms the now well-known Indian “coir.” This “lif” is also called “filfil” or “fulfil” which Dr. Jonathan Scott renders “pepper” (Lane i. 8) and it forms a clean succedaneum for one of the uncleanest articles of civilisation, the sponge. It is used in every Hammam and is (or should be) thrown away after use.
7 Arab. “Shinf;” a course sack, a “gunny-bag;” a net compared with such article.
8 The eunuch tells him that he is not a “Sandali”=one whose penis and testes are removed; and consequently the highest valued. There are many ways of making the castrato; in some (as here) only the penis is removed, in other the testes are bruised or cut off; but in all cases the animal passion remains, for in man, unlike other animals, the fons veneris is the brain. The story of Abelard proves this. Juvenal derided the idea of married eunuchs and yet almost all of these neutrals have wives with whom they practise the manifold plaisirs de la petite oie (masturbation, tribadism, irrumation, tete-beche, feuille-de-rose, etc.), till they induce the venereal orgasm. Such was the account once given to me by a eunuch’s wife; and I need hardly say that she, like her confrerie, was to be pitied. At the critical moment she held up a little pillow for her husband to bite who otherwise would have torn her cheeks or breasts.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the eunuch who came forth from the castle, where Rose-in-Hood was confined, told Uns al-Wujud all his tale and said:—“The raiders who captured me cut off my yard and sold me for a castrato; and this is how I came to be in such case.”1 And after saluting him and wishing him long life, the eunuch carried him into the courtyard of the castle, where he saw a great tank of water, surrounded by trees, on whose branches hung cages of silver, with doors of gold, and therein birds were warbling and singing the praises of the Requiting King. And when he came to the first cage he looked in and lo! a turtle dove, on seeing him, raised her voice and cried out, saying, “O Thou Bounty-fraught!” Whereat he fell down fainting and after coming to himself, he sighed heavily and recited these couplets,
“O turtle dove, like me art thou distraught?
Then pray the Lord and sing ‘O Bounty-fraught!’
Would I knew an thy moan were sign of joy,
Or cry of love-desire in heart inwrought —
An moan thou pining for a lover gone
Who left thee woe begone to pine in thought —
Or if like me hast lost thy fondest friend,
And severance long desire to memory brought?
O Allah, guard a faithful lover’s lot
I will not leave her though my bones go rot!”
Then, after ending his verses, he fainted again; and, presently reviving he went on to the second cage, wherein he found a ringdove. When it saw him, it sang out, “O Eternal, I thank thee!” and he groaned and recited these couplets,
“I heard a ringdove chanting plaintively,
‘I thank Thee, O Eternal for this misery!’
Haply, perchance, may Allah, of His grace,
Send me by this long round my love to see.
Full oft2 she comes with honeyed lips dark red,
And heaps up lowe upon love’s ardency.
Quoth I (while longing fires flame high and fierce
In heart, and wasting life’s vitality,
And tears like gouts of blood go railing down
In torrents over cheeks now pale of blee),
‘None e’er trod earth that was not born to woe,
But I will patient dree mine agony,
So help me Allah! till that happy day
When with my mistress I unite shall be:
Then will I spend my good on lover-wights,
Who’re of my tribe and of the faith of me;
And loose the very birds from jail set free,
And change my grief for gladdest gree and glee!’”
Then he went on to the third cage, wherein he found a mockingbird3 which, when it saw him, set up a song, and he recited the following couplets,
“Pleaseth me yon Hazar of mocking strain
Like voice of lover pained by love in vain.
Woe’s me for lovers! Ah how many men
By nights and pine and passion low are lain!
As though by stress of love they had been made
Morn-less and sleep-less by their pain and bane.
When I went daft for him who conquered me
And pined for him who proved of proudest strain,
My tears in streams down trickled and I cried
‘These long-linkt tears bind like an adamant-chain:’
Grew concupiscence, severance long, and I
Lost Patience’ hoards and grief waxed sovereign:
If Justice bide in world and me unite
With him I love and Allah veil us deign,
I’ll strip my clothes that he my form shall sight
With parting, distance, grief, how poor of plight!”
Then he went to the fourth cage, where he found a Bulbul4 which, at sight of him, began to sway to and fro and sing its plaintive descant; and when he heard its complaint, he burst into tears and repeated these couplets.
“The Bulbul’s note, whenas dawn is nigh,
Tells the lover from strains of strings to fly:
Complaineth for passion Uns al-Wujud,
For pine that would being to him deny.
How many a strain do we hear, whose sound
Softens stones and the rock can mollify:
And the breeze of morning that sweetly speaks
Of meadows in flowered greenery.
And scents and sounds in the morning-tide
Of birds and zephyrs in fragrance vie;
But I think of one, of an absent friend,
And tears rail like rain from a showery sky;
And the flamy tongues in my breast uprise
As sparks from gleed that in dark air fly.
Allah deign vouchsafe to a lover distraught
Someday the face of his dear to descry!
For lovers, indeed, no excuse is clear,
Save excuse of sight and excuse of eye.”
Then he walked on a little and came to a goodly cage, than which was no goodlier there, and in it a culver of the forest, that is to say, a wood-pigeon,5 the bird renowned among birds as the minstrel of love-longing, with a collar of jewels about its neck marvellous fine and fair. He considered it awhile and, seeing it absently brooding in its cage, he shed tears and repeated these couplets,
“O culver of copse,6 with salams I greet;
O brother of lovers who woe must weet!
I love a gazelle who is slender-slim,
Whose glances for keenness the scymitar beat:
For her love are my heart and my vitals a-fire,
And my frame consumes in love’s fever-heat.
The sweet taste of food is unlawful for me,
And forbidden is slumber, unlawfullest sweet.
Endurance and solace have travelled from me,
And love homes in my heart and grief takes firm seat:
How shall life deal joy when they flee my sight
Who are joy and gladness and life and sprite?”
As soon as Uns al-Wujud had ended his verse — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 In real life the eunuch, as a rule, avoids all allusion to his misfortune, although the slave will often describe his being sold merrily enough.
2 The visits are in dreamland. The ringdove thanks the Lord for her (his?) suffering in the holy martyrdom of love.
3 Arab. “Hazar;” I have explained it as meaning “(the bird of) a thousand (songs).”
4 The “Bulbul” had his day with us but he departed with Tommy Moore. We usually English the word by “nightingale;” but it is a kind of shrike or butcher-bird (Lanius Boulboul. Lath.).
5 The “Hamam” is a lieu commun in Arabic poetry. I have noticed the world-wide reverence for the pigeon and the incarnation of the Third Person of the Hindu Triad (Shiva), as Kapoteshwara (Kapota-ishwara)”=pigeon or dove-god (Pilgrimage iii. 218).
6 Arab. “Hamam al-Ayk.” Mr. Payne’s rendering is so happy that we must either take it from him or do worse.
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as soon as Uns al-Wujud had ended his verse, the wood-culver awoke from its brooding and cooed a reply to his lines and shrilled and trilled with its thrilling notes till it all but spake with human speech;1 and the tongue of the case talked for it and recited these couplets,
“O lover, thou bringest to thought a tide
When the strength of my youth first faded and died;
And a friend of whose form I was ‘namoured,
Seductive and dight with beauty’s pride;
Whose voice, as he sat on the sandhill-tree,
From the Nay’s2 sweet sound turned my heart aside;
A fowler snared him in net, the while
‘O that man would leave me at large!’ he cried;
I had hoped he might somewhat of mercy show
When a hapless lover he so espied;
But Allah smite him who tore me away,
In his hardness of heart, from my lover’s side;
But aye my desire for him groweth more,
And my heart with the fires of disjunction is fried:
Allah guard a true lover, who strives with love,
And hath borne the torments I still abide!
And, seeing me bound in this cage, with mind
Of ruth, release me my love to find.”
Then Uns al-Wujud turned to his companion, the Ispahahi, and said, “What palace is this? Who built it and who abideth in it?” Quoth the eunuch, “The Wazir of a certain King built it to guard his daughter, fearing for her the accidents of Time and the incidents of Fortune, and lodged her herein, her and her attendants; nor do we open it save once in every year, when their provision cometh to them.” And Uns al-Wujud said to himself, “I have gained my end, though I may have long to wait.” Such was his case; but as regards Rose-in-Hood, of a truth she took no pleasure in eating or drinking, sitting or sleeping; but her desire and passion and distraction redoubled on her, and she went wandering about the castle-corners, but could find no issue; wherefore she shed tears and recited these couplets,
“They have cruelly ta’en me from him, my beloved,
And made me taste anguish in prison ta’en:
They have fired my heart with the flames of love,
Barred all sight of him whom to see I’m fain:
In a lofty palace they prisoned me
On a mountain placed in the middle main.
If they’d have me forget him, right vain’s their wish,
For my love is grown of a stronger strain.
How can I forget him whose face was cause
Of all I suffer, of all I ‘plain?
The whole of my days in sorrow’s spent,
And in thought of him through the night I’m lain.
Remembrance of him cheers my solitude,
While I lorn of his presence and lone remain.
Would I knew if, after this all, my fate
To oblige the desire of my hear will deign.”
When her verses were ended, she ascended to the terrace-roof of the castle after donning her richest clothes and trinkets and throwing a necklace of jewels around her neck. Then binding together some dresses of Ba’albak3 stuff by way of rope, she tied them to the crenelles and let herself down thereby to the ground. And she fared on over wastes and waterless wilds, till she came to the shore, where she saw a fisherman plying here and there over the sea, for the wind had driven him on to the island. When he saw her, he was affrighted4 and pushed off again, flying from her; but she cried out and made pressing signs to him to return, versifying with these couplets,
“O fisherman no care hast thou to fear,
I’m but an earth-born maid in mortal sphere;
I pray thee linger and my prayer grant
And to my true unhappy tale give ear:
Pity (so Allah spare thee!) warmest love;
Say, hast thou seen him-my beloved fere?
I love a lovely youth whose face excels
Sunlight, and passes moon when clearest clear:
The fawn, that sees his glance, is fain to cry
‘I am his thrall’ and own himself no peer:
Beauty hath written, on his winsome cheek,
Rare lines of pregnant sense for every seer;
Who sights the light of love his soul is saved;
Who strays is Infidel to Hell anear:
An thou in mercy show his sight, O rare!5
Thou shalt have every wish, the dearest dear,
Of rubies and what likest are to them
Fresh pearls and unions new, the seashell’s tear:
My friend, thou wilt forsure grant my desire
Whose heart is melted in love’s hottest fire.
When the fisherman heard her words, he wept and made moan and lamented; then, recalling what had betided himself in the days of his youth, when love had the mastery over him and longing and desire and distraction were sore upon him and the fires of passion consumed him, replied with these couplets,
“What fair excuse is this my pining plight,
With wasted limbs and tears’ unceasing blight;
And eyelids open in the nightly murk,
And heart like fire-stick6 ready fire to smite;
Indeed love burdened us in early youth,
And true from false coin soon we learned aright:
Then did we sell our soul on way of love,
And drunk of many a well7 to win her sight;
Venturing very life to gain her grace,
And make high profit perilling a mite.
’Tis Love’s religion whoso buys with life
His lover’s grace, with highest gain is dight.”
And when he ended his verse, he moored his boat to the beach and said to her, “Embark, so may I carry thee whither thou wilt.” Thereupon she embarked and he put off with her; but they had not gone far from land, before there came out a stern-wind upon the boat and drove it swiftly out of sight of shore. Now the fisherman knew not whither he went, and the strong wind blew without ceasing three days, when it fell by leave of Allah Almighty, and they sailed on and ceased not sailing till they came in sight of a city sitting upon the sea-shore — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 All primitive peoples translate the songs of birds with human language; but, as I have noticed, the versions differ widely. The pigeon cries, “Allah! Allah!” the dove “Karim, Tawwa” (Bountiful, Pardoner!) the Kata or sand-grouse “Man sakat salam” (who is silent is safe) yet always betrays itself by its lay of “Kat-ta” and lastly the cock “Uzkuru ’llah ya ghafilun” (Remember, or take the name of Allah, ye careless!).
2 “Nay,” the Dervish’s reed pipe, symbol of the sighing absent lover (i.e. the soul parted from the Creator) so famed by the Mullah-i-Rum and Sir William Jones.
3 Ba’albak=Ba’al (the God)-city (bek in Coptic and ancient Egyptian.) Such, at least, is the popular derivation which awaits a better. No cloth has been made there since the Kurd tribe of gallant robbers known as the “Harfush” (or blackguards) lorded it over old “Heliopolis.”
4 Thinking her to be a Jinn or Ghul in the shape of a fair woman. This Arab is a strange contrast to the English fisherman, and yet he is drawn with truth.
5 Arab. “Habbaza!” (good this!) or “Habba” (how good!): so “Habba bihi,” how dear he is to me.
6 Arab. “Zind,” and “Zindah” the names of the two sticks, upper and lower, hard and soft, by which fire was kindled before flint and steel were known. We find it in Al–Hariri (Ass. of Banu Haram) “no one sought ire from my fire-stick (i.e. from me as a fire-stick) and failed.” See Night dccciii.
7 Arab. “Nazih” i.e. travelled far and wide.
Last updated Monday, September 7, 2015 at 12:07