The True Faith.

Never is the melancholy lover content,
His avidity increases hour by hour:
Not a moment doth he rest in the same desire,
Every moment his wishes rise higher and higher;
If he scenteth the Rose, he longs to see it,
If he see’th it, he cannot but pluck it!*
Zulaikha now sitteth perpetually in the way,
Pierced with the yearning to behold his countenance;
At night she boweth her head to the ground before the idol,
Whom it has been her custom all her life to worship,
Exclaiming,—“O thou who hast been the shrine of my soul,
Before whose perfection I have ever prostrated myself in obedience;
Look with thine eye upon my reproach,
Restore to mine eyes the power of vision!
From him how long shall I remain separated?
Grant me to behold his face, though it be but from a distance!
Fulfil this desire, if thou canst do so;
When thou hast fulfilled this desire do with me what seemeth to thee best!
Keep me no longer in this soul-piercing sorrow,
In this miserable condition hold me not longer!
What life is this, than which not to be were better!
Better were it to me to tread the path of non-being!”
So she speaketh and casteth dust upon her head,
And maketh the earth all-wet with her tears.
When the sun, like a King, ascended the throne of the east,
And the neighing was heard of Joseph’s charger,
Zulaikha would come forth in the guise of a beggar,
And would take her place in his narrowest path;
Hold up her hand like the petitioner for justice,
And pour out from heart and soul her sighs and groans.
But from the loud cries which rose to the sky,
When the sergeants proclaimed—“Clear the way,”
And from the noise which struck the ear on every side
From the neighing and stamping of the road-clearing steed,
No one amidst the tumult noticed her condition,
Though it was snch as might make one cry—“God have mercy!”
Thus, with a heart broken in pieces,
A despairing wanderer from the valley of joy,
She went away, her soul heaving glowing sighs,
And withdrew her foot to her own sorrowful home.
There she brought out the stony Image, set it before her,
And opening her lips to quiet her pain,
Exclaimed—“O stone,—vessel of my dignity and honour,
Stone, which hath been the stone in my every path,
By which the way to happiness hath been barred to my heart,—
It is fitting that my heart should have felt thy weight.
When I prostrated myself in adoration before thee,
I struck into the road which led to sin;
When weeping I sought my desires from thee,
I washed my hands from the desire of both worlds.
Now, O stone, I will free myself from thy weight,
And break with a stone the jewel of thy power.”
She spake, and with the blow of a heavy stone,
Broke, like the Friend, the Image to pieces,*
And whilst she eagerly sprang to break it,
In the act of breaking she regained her purity.
When she had completed this work of Idol-breaking,
She washed her eyes with tears and her heart with blood;
Humbled herself, and rubbed her face in the dust,
And in the court of God the Pure uttered her lament:
“O Thou to whom love is due from all thy subjects,
Idols, and idol-makers, and idol-adorers,
Did not a reflection from Thee fall upon the idol,
Who would bow down before an idol in worship?
When Thou hast touched the idol-maker with Thy love,
And thereby moved him to idol-sculpture,
The man falleth down prostrate before the idol,
For worshipping the idol he thinketh that he wor­shippeth God.
When, O God, I turned my face to an idol,
In that I committed, O God, an offence against myself!
In thy mercy, O God, forgive the offence;
I have committed a sin, pardon my sinfulness!
Because I have trod so often the paths of sin,
Thou tookest away from me the jewel of sight,
Now since thou hast scattered the dust of my sin,
Give me back that which Thou tookest from me,
In order that, freed from the scars of my sorrows,
I may still gather a tulip in the garden of Joseph!”
When the Ruler of Egypt returned by the way,
Again she placed herself in his path, and renewing her lamentations
Began—“O Thou Holy one, who didst make the king a slave,
And didst abase his head to meanness, and weakness,
And hast placed on the head of a poor and needy slave
A royal crown of dignity and glory—
When these words found a place in the ears of Joseph,
His mind was disturbed with awe and reverence,
And he said to his Chamberlain,—“This reciter of praise,
Who hath deprived my soul of strength and firmness,
Bring her to my private chamber of audience,
Bring her within the circle of my most trusted intimates,
That I may question her as to every point of her condition,
That I may question her as to her unhappiness and happiness;
For that recital of praise hath so moved and disturbed me,
That I remain astonished that it hath left so strange an impression;
Unless some deep calamity have laid hold on her garment,
How have her words so strangely impressed me?”
A hundred lives for the ground trod by that saga­cious Prince,
Who by a sigh, by a look, can discriminate
Between the clear morning light of the genuine petitioner,
And the false story of those who have left the right way!