Thus hath said the master of choice speeches, the eloquent narrator,
He, who from his treasury of words can produce a treasure of expression,
That in the Western Land (Mauritania) lived a renowned king,
Whose royal tymbal beat to the name of Timus,
Possessed of all that is befitting sovereign authority,
So that not a wish of his heart remained unsatisfied;
His head gave to the crown prosperity,
His foot exaltation to the steps of his throne,
Orion, by the grace of Heaven, girded himself in the support of his armies,
And victory cleaved with firm grasp to his sword.
A lovely daughter was his, by name Zulaikha,
Whom he prized beyond aught else in the world;
Daughter,—no! rather a star from the constellation of heaven,
A brilliant jewel from a royal casket.
Her perfection could not be comprised within the limits of description,
I can but essay an attempt to portray her.
Like her own tresses I must descend from head to foot,
My soul must be enlightened from the reflection of her own countenance,
From her own sweet ruby lips I must draw her portrait,
If I am to repeat what I know of her qualities.
Her stature was that of the grace-created palm-tree,
Which raiseth its head in a garden of delights;
And which, copiously watered from a royal stream,
Exalteth itself like a cypress on some broad river.
Even the wise man might be entangled in the snare of her tresses,
Than which not musk itself exhaled a greater fragrance.
Oft did the comb nicely divide the hair,
Which elegantly adorned the crown of her head;
So that the musk-bag burst with passion,
For there was no employment for musk here.
Why should I further make mention of gold,
For in the ankle-ring it lay at her feet.—*
One while she walks proudly in the presence chamber of the palace,
In the gold-shot robes of Egypt and Syria;
Another while she reclines coquetishly on the sofa,
In the beautifnl brocade of Rum and China;
On every new day on which beams a ray,
She arrays her person in a new vestment;
She crowns not her head twice with the same tiara,
Presenting like the moon every day a new phase.
She allows not the grandees the favour of the foot-kiss;
Reserving that privilege for the skirt of her garment.
Tall cypress-formed maidens move airily about her,
Peri-faced attendants minister to her wants,
And a thousand houri-born damsels youthful as herself
Stand before her day and night to do her service.
Never yet had a burden weighed upon her heart,
Never yet had a thorn lacerated her foot,
Never yet had she loved, or had a lover,
Never yet admitted a passion to the heart.
She slept thro’ the night as sleeps the fresh narcissus,
And bloomed in the morning like the smiling rosebud
With silver like dolls (young girls,) yet tender in years,
Or with graceful gazelles in the courts of the dwelling,
Her mind, thoughtless of the deceitfulness of the changeful sphere,
She had not a care beyond her sports:
So was she cheerful and gay at heart,
And her soul was free from every sorrow,
As to what the coming days might bring to vex it,
Or what might be born from the womb of the nights.