THE poet Nasr-ul din Abdúlrahmán, called Jámi, from having been born in the town of Jám in Khorasán, was one of the most celebrated and prolific of Persian poets. Of his writings, the poem of Yusuf and Zuleikha, the latter commonly known as the wife of Potiphar, into whose house Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt, is the most widely known and most appreciated in the Eastern world, especially among Mussulmans. Joseph is esteemed by them a type of manly beauty and virtue. Whereas the Jewish Scrip­tures in the Old Testament mention little in connec­tion with him and Potiphar's wife but the fact of the temptation of the former, his resistance to it, and his consequent imprisonment, this poem enters into the details of the manner in which the latter became acquainted with Joseph in three dreams, in the last of which he informed her, rather prematurely, that he was Vazír of Egypt. As her health was suffering from her unrequited longing for Joseph, her father sends an embassy to Egypt to the Vazír to inform him of Zuleikha's state of mind, and obtains his consent to her marriage with him. The Vazír meets her on the road, and there Zuleikha, looking through a hole made by her nurse in the tent, finds, to her despair, that he is not Joseph. She is, however, received with all honour in Egypt. The poet then leads the reader to Canaan, and, after brief references to Adam and the patriarchs, relates the early history of Joseph, the hatred of his brothers to him on account of the dreams foretelling his future superiority over them, their put­ting him into a well, and finally selling him into slavery. When he is put up for sale in the market, Zuleikha sees and recognises him, and, doubling other people's offers, obliges the Vazír to purchase him. Then commences the account of her long and vain pursuit of him, until her nurse persuades her to allow her to build a palace in which wherever Joseph might look—on the walls, on the roofs, or on the floors—he might see himself pictured with Zuleikha in his arms. The palace completed, she leads him into it, and urges their union with every blandishment. He is on the point of yielding, when he sees something behind a curtain, which she informs him is the idol to which she is in the habit of praying, and which she has con­cealed behind a curtain that it may not see what she is doing. Horrified at this, he feels the position in which he has placed himself, and tries to escape; but Zuleikha overtakes him at the entrance, and tears his vest down behind. As he goes out, the Vazír meets him and leads him back to Zuleikha, who imagines he has betrayed her, and at once makes a counter-accusa­tion against him, on which the Vazír, notwithstand­ing his denial of the charge, sends him to prison. Then a miraculous event is introduced, in which a child of two years of age is made to point out to the Vazír that, if Joseph is innocent, his vest will be found to have been torn from behind; but, if he is guilty, it will have been torn in front. Put to this test, Joseph's innocence is established, and he is released. One or two episodes are now introduced, which do not inter­fere with the main thread of the story. Zuleikha persuades the Vazír to imprison Joseph again, to hide the disgrace she has been brought to; and she still feeds her futile flame for him by visiting him secretly in prison by night, and looking by day at the walls that confine him. Then follow the interpretation by Joseph of the dreams of two of his fellow-prisoners, and its accomplishment by the death of one and the restoration of the other to favour. The king of Egypt dreams his two dreams of the seven fat and seven lean kine, and the seven fat and lean sheaves of corn. Joseph is sent for to interpret them; and, Zuleikha having admitted her guilt, he is restored to honour, and entrusted with the government of the land. The Vazír dies, and Zuleikha, being left in poverty, pines away for Joseph's love, and loses her beauty and her eyesight. She builds a reed-hut by the way-side, that she may hear him passing by, and at last gains admittance into his presence, and tells him who she is. He is moved with compassion, and, at her request, prays that her youth and beauty may be restored. This miracle takes place, and she again pleads for union with him. He consents to this on being directly inspired by the angel Gabriel. The marriage happily takes place, and the pair are blessed with offspring. Finally, Joseph dies, and Zuleikha also, after tearing out her own eyes in grief. The poem winds up with a diatribe against the fickleness of fortune, a homily addressed to the poet's son, and the winding up of the book with praise to God for its accomplishment, in which the date of its completion is given as in the Hijri year 898, or A.D. 1492.

Before the actual tale is commenced, a great deal of the preliminary writing common to Oriental poets has to be waded through. This has all been translated, with the exception of a few couplets in praise of Sultan Hussein, one of Jámi's patrons, as it not only contains some beautiful passages, but shows the child-like faith of the best type of Moslems, their real piety, and their devotedness to their religion. For this reason it will quite repay perusal.

It has not been a light task for the translator to put into rhyme over 7,000 couplets, whilst adhering to the literal meaning of the original. The attention paid to the latter point will, he trusts, prove a sufficient excuse for any want of smoothness the critic may find in the former. The partial translations into English that he has seen were far too free to be of use to students in studying the Persian, and Rosenzweig's edition, printed in 1824, in addition to being inaccu­rate in many instances, is in German, and therefore inaccessible to many in England, and more in India. The latter is, however, entitled to the present trans­lator's warm acknowledgments for assistance in the elucidation of many obscure passages

The text made use of in this translation is the lithographed edition of Naval Kishor, published at Lakhnáo, the Persian notes in the margin of which have been found of much use. The translitera­tion of Persian words in the notes has been carried out on the Hunterian system, but the sounds of the “ye” and “váo” are those used in Persia— that is, “ee” and “oo,” and not “é” and “o,” as in India.

To those who have enabled the translator to bring out this work, which has been one of love for him, by their kind subscriptions for copies, he tenders his grateful thanks, and trusts they will not be disap­pointed.