The longed-for Death.

Alas, the pity!—when the happy traveller
Hath laid down his burthen at the vestibule of greeting,
Hath clasped Fortune like his beloved in his embrace,
And hath utterly forgotten the anxieties of separation;
When his heart hath shaken off the dust of sorrow,
And he looketh to spend the days of his life in gladness,
Then riseth suddenly the breeze of vicissitude,
And the simoon of separation doeth its work:*
A rude intruder bursteth into the pleasure-ground,
And breaketh off the fair branch from the tree of our longings.
Zulaikha having obtained the desire of her heart,
And found rest to her soul in her union with Joseph,
Continued to live in cheerfulness and gladness,
Lived in freedom from soul-felt sorrows.
Long was the term of her days of enjoyment,
Forty years passed over her in that felicity;
That fertile palm-tree produced successively
Child after child, childrens’ children;
Nor was there a wish for earthly good in her heart,
Which was not fulfilled in the tablets of hope.
As Joseph one night bowed down his head before the altar,
And the robber sleep fell suddenly upon him,
He beheld his father seated with his mother,
With face like the sun veiled in light,
Who cried to him,—“O son, be aware that the day
Of the far separation is swiftly approaching;
Sign away with indifference water and clay,*
And set thy foot in the pleasant places of the heart and the soul.”
When Joseph again awoke from that sleep,
He repaired from the altar to the side of Zulaikha,
Announced to her the message delivered in his dream,
And explained to her its accordance with his own desire of departure:
Then he sank deep in her heart the image,
And left glowing in her soul the anguish of separation.
But Joseph came out from the circle of his business,
And his desires were turned more and more towards the regions of eternity;
He set forward his foot from the narrow passage of worldly lusts,
To tread a larger way towards the dwelling of mysteries.
He withdrew his earthly goods from the monastery of mortality,
To lift up the hand of prayer towards the imperish­able sanctuary.
“O Thou who listenest to the supplication of the needy,
Who settest a diadem on the head of the exalted,
Who hast placed upon my head a crown of fortune,
Such as Thou hast never bestowed even on the most fortunate,
My heart is estranged from this transitory kingdom,
It is weaned from the ambition of worldly dominion;
Freed from myself, conduct me in Thy paths,
Issue Thy royal mandate for the kingdom of Eternity!
They who have done good—who have trod the road of Faith—
Have come night to Thee and taken the first stations:
O take me out of the number of those who are loiterers,
And let me be amongst the first to hasten to Thy banquet!”
No sooner did Zulaikha hear the mysterious secret,
Than a severe wound struck her to the heart;
She knew at once that this prayer from him
Would quickly receive its visible accomplishment;
For not an arrow could part from that bow,
Which in the very bending would be slow to reach the mark.
Then she retreateth to her closet narrow and dark,
And unknotteth from each other her night-black tresses,
Seattereth dust upon her head in the pangs of separation,
And rubbeth her blood-stained face upon the earth.
Deserted by joy, the companion of grief and trouble,
The tears gush forth from her eyes as she exclaimeth,
“O Thou that relievest the sorrows of the sorrowing,
Who appliest the balsam to the lacerated breast;
Thou who fulfillest the heart’s-hope of the hopeless,
And extricatest him who seemeth fast inextricably;
Who bringest the keys which unlock the closed gates,
And bindest the andage on the broken heart;
Who givest deliverance to the forsaken in the dungeon,
And makest lighter the pangs of separation;
I am captive in the thoughts of my own heart,
And strangely bewildered in my own acts!
I have no strength to bear my separation from Joseph:
Oh with his life take my life from my body!*
Without his beauty I desire not life,
And no continuance in the dominion of existence;
The sapling of life were leafless without him,
Life everlasting were death without him!*
By the canon of faithfulness it would not be just
That I should be in a world where he is not!
If he is not made the companion of my way,
Oh! take me away first, and him afterwards!
I wish that I may never sit apart from him;
Nor look upon a world not beautified by his beauty!”
So she passed her time in weeping and wailing,
Nor called the night night, nor the day day;
For to him who has his heart straitened with sorrow,
His day and his night will seem of one colour.