The Suckling.

When the sergeant had secured the person of Joseph,
And had conveyed him to that doleful prison,
His heart shrank under the weight of his misery,
And he turned upward to Heaven the face of secret supplication:
“O Thou, who art versed in hidden mysteries,
Who hast knowledge to penetrate every obscurity,
In whose mind truth and falsehood are clearly distinguished,
Who knoweth but Thou how to unravel this great perplexity!
Since Thou hast enlightened me with the light of Thy truth,
Suffer not the suspicion of a lie to rest upon me;
Raise up at my prayer a witness in my favour,
That my sincerity may shine forth bright as the morning!”

And the prayer is granted, for a babe in the arms is endued with voice, and exclaims,

“Beware, Vizier, and proceed more slowly;
Be cautious, and be not in haste to punish,
For Joseph ïs not deserving of punishment,
No! rather is Joseph worthy of kindness and pity!”

But Zulaikha renews her attempts and is again repelled. Then her passion is changed into anger, and she contrives once more to have him thrown into prison, having first caused him to be led through the streets and exposed to every kind of contumely. But the Orientals have a notion, that beauty of coun­tenance and vicious dispositions are inconsistent with one another, and when the people beheld his exceed­ing comeliness they refuse to believe his guilt.

But the crowd which came forward to witness the sight
Exclaimed,—“God forbid! Ah, God forbid!
That from that beautiful face should proceed evil actions,
That that charmer of hearts should inflict a heart-wound!
An Angel he is with an Angel’s purity,
From an Angel come not the deeds of Satan.
The beautiful face withdraweth its foot from vicious habits,
And well said that wise and handsome man,
That every one in the world who is endowed with beauty
Hath dispositions far better than his face;
That the countenance of every one whose nature is ugly,
Covereth dispositions still uglier than his countenance:
So that from the unlovely can come naught of goodness,
And from the lovely nothing of evil.”
So when that living heart entered the prison,
Thou wouldst say,—“It was as tho’ the soul had returned to a dead body:”
An ebullition of joy broke forth in that abode of misery,
And a shout of delight burst from the prisoners
At the arrival of that image of brightness and beauty;
All the enchained rattled their chains,
The shackles of their feet became fetters of inclination,
The chains of their necks collars of happiness;
The melancholy of their hearts was exchanged for gladness;
The mountain of grief pressed lightly as straw.
Yes! whatever place entereth a heavenly Houri,
That place were it hell would become a paradise;
Wherever appeareth the blooming face of a beloved one,
Were it a furnace it would become a bed of roses.
When Joseph reached the dwelling prepared for him,
He spread on the ground the carpet of devotion,
And, as was his custom, bowed himself down,
Turned his face towards the altar of adoration;
Then seated himself manfully in the resting place of patience,
Thankful that he had escaped the snares of women.
To no one in the world happeneth an affliction,
That from the affliction cometh not an odour of mercy:
Even the hard lot of the prisoner, overwhelmed with misery,
An odour of mercy can render easy!