ONE day in the fulness of joy and in the delight of youth I was in the garden. Good fortune stood at my right hand and wealth was at my feet. On my bosom I held my beloved, Wisdom sat over against me, I reclined on the throne of Knowledge, and Thought stood before me holding up his Glass.

And my heart within me burnt with fire, and my soul was heavy with the burden of words unsaid. How shall I tell the desire of my heart? How shall I utter the thought within me? Oh, for an unpierced pearl of fancy; oh, for a story yet untold.

And of a sudden came a messenger to my door, like the first warm wind of the spring. “Oh you,” he said, “whose thought blooms in his face like a rose, oh you who sit in sorrow, hasten, for your good fortune remembers you; it is come to pass even according to your desire.” And I said, “Oh chosen messenger, oh bird of good omen, even as the hoopoo that brought King Solomon tidings from Sheba,* oh lift up the curtain from the face of thy speech!” And the messenger said: “The Khan has summoned you, the glory of lovers, the pride of Daghestan, he whose name is sweet on the lips of men, Ali Ghuli Khan.”

When I heard that name I delayed not, I ran to his house, ran as a pilgrim to the Kaabe.

And when he saw me he rose and embraced me and made me sit down beside him, and he said: “Oh you, whose speech is the food of the world, and whose thought is the savour of it, know that I am a prisoner in the net of love; even as the tulip on my heart is branded love's mark. Hadijeh of the Lazgi* is my idol; she it is whose touch has fired my harvest. Lo! at her name my soul flew to my lips. I am tossed as in a whirlwind of joy and sorrow. Alas, far from her I am a prisoner in Hind; even as you, I am far from home, far from my love, far from garden and the freshness of spring. Now hear me, oh fellow wanderer, and make me a picture with thy magic pen, a picture of the fading flower of love, that the world may ever have it in remembrance, even as Maani* made his “Book of Flowers,” make thou the book of my love. For so out of an old story will spring new life; and even as blood is washed out with blood so shall love be love's remedy, and at this fire which burnt house and home you will light a candle, a little candle to light my heart with a tranquil flame.”

And I made answer: “Oh, noble one, your love is famous in the world. Like last year's almanack is* the story of Ves and Raaman, the fire of Ferhod, the love of Majnun. Why talk of them, why sell old merchandise? I will sell you to yourself. I will hold the mirror up to your eyes; you will look and see your hidden soul revealed.”

When he heard my word he flinched, he hid his eyes as if lightning had fallen from heaven; his tears fell like the first rain of spring, and he cried: “I am as one dead, but in your verse I shall live. Now I am a name, now am I as one risen from the dead, and in my story shall your fame grow strong, and the two shall be as soul and body.”

So he spoke, and so I accepted the task, and went to the temple of my heart to pray for help in the work.