In this changeful world—a worshipper of semblances,
When each one in turn strikes the tymbal of existence,*
Each day makes conspicuous some new truth.
And some name spreads abroad a light through the earth.
If the universe remained conformed to one rule,
How many secrets would remain unrevealed!
If the brightness of the sun never became less in the revolving sphere,
The starry mart would never exhibit its riches;
And did winter never depart from the garden,
No rose would smile at the aspect of spring.

These words introduce the Poet’s account of the succession of Adam’s descendants,—Seth,—Enoch,— Noah,—Abraham,—Isaac and Jacob—to the birth of Joseph, upon whom, of his twelve children, Jacob concentrated his strongest affection. Losing his mother after two years, he is taken in charge by his aunt; who becomes so devotedly fond of him, that she will not part with him, and resorts to devices for keeping him from his father, and as much as possible to herself. But after a time she too dies, and Jacob can no longer resist his fatherly yearnings to enjoy his son’s companionship.

But Jacob was cheered by this event,
And closed not his eyes in sleep from the desire to behold him.
He found in Joseph the Kiblah of his affection,*
And turned away his face from his other children;
In Joseph was centred his every act,
To Joseph was limited his whole occupation;
In Joseph alone his soul found repose,
By Joseph alone was his eye lighted up:
Yes! whatever place that moon should irradiate
To that not even the sun would find an entrance!
How shall I describe beauty and alluringness,
Which transcended that of Houri or Peri!
He was a moon in the firmament of graciousness,
Which filled with brilliancy the whole universe:
A moon, resembling a resplendent sun,—no!
A moon—of which that in heaven is but a ray!
What say I?—What room for comparison with the sun!
The sun’s flashing beams were, compared with him, a delusive mirage.*
No “Why or wherefore” will explain his sacred lustre,
When from his bright countenance he withdraws the veil:
For in him dwelleth calmly He to whom there is none like,
And veileth Himself under the name of Joseph.
If then love of him stole unheeded into the heart of Jacob,
And fixed itself in his soul, it was not without reason!
Zulaikha, herself the envy of the lovely Houris,
Sitting in the far west behind the veil of her modesty,
From the sun of his countenance caught a spark,
And became in a dream the captive of his image:
When the pangs of love overpower those who are distant,
How can it be far away from those who are near?