In changeful life where mere show rev'rence meets,
And each in turn of life the tymbal beats,
On each day* something clear for truth is shown,
And on the world a light from some name thrown.
Were the world ever in the self-same plight,
There would remain still hidden many a light.
Were in revolving the sun's light not lost,
Would lack their beauty of the stars the host.
Should winter never leave the flowering plain,
At spring's touch would the rose not laugh again.
When from this temple* Adam turned his face,
Seth in the Mehráb sat, and took his place.
When he departed, Idris* then began
In fraud's* house purity to teach to man.
When Enoch's* teaching was transferred to heav'n,
Faith's guardianship was then to Noah giv'n.
When Noah perished in destruction's flood,*
This door was opened to the friend of God.*
When from the world his table had been moved,*
For Isaac then his office was approved—
To non-existence' path* he turned aside,
And from salvation's mountain Jacob cried—
When from this business Jacob then withdrew,
His flag in Canaan from Syria flew.
When permanent in Canaan he remained,
Increase of wealth and children he obtained,
Whilst of his cattle, sheep and goats the tale
Exceeded ant and locust in the vale.
Thus prophet after prophet, on they came,
In prophecy distinct as shining flame.
Joseph himself eighth in descent appears,
For whom the world remains dissolved in tears.
Joseph beside, Jacob had sons eleven:
But now to Joseph was his whole heart given.*
When Joseph from his mother came to birth,
In face the moon an equal had on earth.
In the heart's garden was a plantlet reared,
A crescent in the heav'n of souls appeared.
Of God's friend in the grove a rose there grew,
A tight robe round its tender form it drew.*
A star from Isaac's constellation bright
Arose the eye of heav'n to deck with light.
In Jacob's mead its flag a tulip bore,
A wound and plaster both for Jacob's sore.
A deer to Canaan's breeze that perfume lent,
Tartary at Canaan's wastes in envy went.
Whilst in this life his mother yet remained
His sweet mouth from her milk its nurture gained.*
Him she embraced up to the age of two:
Into her food then Time its poison threw.
An orphan of its mother thus bereft,
The pearl from bounty's sea was tearful left.
His father, when he saw his pearl distressed,
The place of oyster gave his sister's breast.*
His soul's bird from his aunt its food obtained,
In her joy's rose-bed wings and feathers gained.
His form assumed the way of graceful walk;
His lip soon formed the way of pleasing talk.
To him his aunt's heart clung in such degree
That from that bond she could be never free.
As her own soul each night upon her breast,
By day on him as sun her eye would rest.
His father longed as well to see his face,
And in his love he ever took his place.
He in his sorrowing heart had none beside,
Nor seeing him at times was satisfied.
And he desired that moon his heart to light
With him should present be both day and night.
He told his sister: “Thou for my love's sake
“Around my head dost like a willow shake.
“I can no longer Joseph's absence bear;
“Do thou me from his separation spare.
“Send him of mystery to my secret place,
“Send him to where in prayer I turn my face.”
His sister heard the word that Jacob said,
Nor from it outwardly she turned her head,
Prepared herself a pretext to invent
That back from Jacob he might yet be sent.
Of Isaac with her there a girdle lay,
In God's own service rubbed and worn away.
Whoever on his hand that girdle bound
Free of the spheres' oppression would be found.
When towards his sire she Joseph's face inclined
Did she the belt in secret round him bind.
Secret the girdle she around him drew,
So that its presence there he never knew.
Thus girdle-bound he to his sire was sent,
Whilst she delayed no more to make lament:
“The girdle from our midst is lost,” she said,
And on them all around suspicion laid.
Then under each one's garment must she look,
And in his turn each one in order took.
Thus when it came to Joseph's turn at last,
She loosed the belt that round his waist was fast.
On those at that day who the Faith obeyed,
This precept by the holy law was laid:
“Whoever in the act of theft is caught,
“To the goods' owner captive must be brought.”
Once more again, then, through this false pretence,
Which she made up, she bore him homewards thence.
Fixed on his face, her eye was rendered bright;
But death in brief space closed that eye to light.
From seeing him his eye no longer closed,
Then Jacob's mind in happiness reposed.
In Joseph's countenance his Kiblah's* place,
He from his other children turned his face.
In Joseph only was his soul at rest,
Alone in Joseph's light his eye was blessed.
In Joseph all then centred that he did,
Joseph's the only market where he bid.
Wherever may the moon its light display,
The sun itself can never find its way.
How shall I tell that loving beauty's mead,
Huris' and Paris' that surpassed indeed?
It was a moon whence heaven friendship gained,
Whence brilliance space and being both obtained.
No desert moon, it was a shining sun,
From which the heav'n itself its brilliance won.
That he was like the sun how shall I say?
A mere mirage the fountain of its ray,
A holy light from bonds of “what” and “when”
Raised from the veil of form its head again.
A form when that Incomparable gained,
By way of veil was Joseph's name obtained.
In Jacob's heart although his love concealed,
It was in heart and soul to him revealed.
Though, envious of Zuleikha, Huris pale,
She in the West sits hid in virtue's veil.
Yet of his sun-like face unseen the beam,
She of his image captive was in dream.
Love's pain controls e'en those who are afar,
'Twill not be far from those who nearer are.