Though through her love Zuleikha's state confused,
Her beauty's fame was through the world diffused.
Where'er that beauty's tale men might relate,
Was he who heard at once inebriate.
Eager desire was she of monarchs crowned;
At royal feasts her fairness was renowned—
In hope in marriage he might gain her hand
Each moment came from some king a demand.
When, then, of madness she escaped the chain,
And sat recovered on love's throne again,
Envoys from kings of every land around,*
From Syria's kingdoms and Rome's countries bound,
More than ten persons there the journey made,
And at her shrine of majesty delayed—
With royal letter one and goods a store;
The seal of Solomon another bore.
From some world-conqueror a gift each brought,
A sign in wedlock that her hand he sought.
Wherever turned that envy of the sun,
A throne, and on her head a crown was won.
Whatever land with grace she might adorn,
As her road dust would royal crowns be borne.
If moonlike she in Syria* deigned to rest,
From morn till even* she would aye be blessed.
And if towards Rome she should take her way,
From Rome to Zanzibar all would obey.
Each courier a message thus conveyed,
A name auspicious from his lip was said.
News of their purport reached Zuleikha there:
Her heart from fear was driven to despair.*
“With these from Egypt is there no one now?
“Beneath Egyptians' love my back I bow.
“Towards Egyptians is my heart constrained:
“If Egypt envoy send not, what is gained?
“The breeze that from the land of Egypt blows,
“And in my eyes the dust of Egypt throws,
“A hundred times more dear that wind to me,
“Than the musk-laden breeze of Tartary.”
Her father summoned her. Before his face,
Absorbed in thought she sat down in her place.
“Light of my eye!” he said; “heart's joy to me,
“That frees from grief thou deed of liberty!
In beauty's chief seat of those crowns who own,
“Of kings who wear a crown upon the throne,
“At heart the scar of thy desire they know,
“The seed of longing in their bosoms sow.
“From every realm in hope of thy consent
“Does an ambassador himself present.
“I tell of every messenger the tale
“To see among them who will now prevail—
“And of that land tow'rds which thy heart may lean,
“That of it quickly I may make thee queen.”
The father spoke and she more silent grew,
And turned her listening ear to sound she knew.
Happy is one when one can turn the ear
The words of well-known friends alone to hear.
One after other did he of kings tell,
Of Egypt only there no mention fell.
Zuleikha saw from the Egyptian's land
No messenger had come to claim her hand.
Before her father hopeless in despair,
She rose, like willow trembling in the air.
With her eyes' spear she pierced the pearls she shed,
Out of her eye she rained her tears and said:
“Oh that a mother I had ne'er possessed,
“Or that she ne'er fed me from her breast!
“What star my fate rules is to me unknown,
“Or by that fate I whither have been thrown.
“If a cloud, rising from the ocean's bed,
“On every thirsty lip should water shed,
“Tow'rds me with thirsting lip if it should turn,
“In place of water 'twould rain fire to burn.
“Tow'rds me I know not, heav'n, what is thy mood,
“In blood that cloth-like* my skirt is imbrued.
“If to my friend thou wilt not let me fly,
“So far from him, oh; do not let me lie.
“If thou desire my death, behold I die;
“By thy injustice lifeless here I lie.
“Or into sorrow if thou wouldst me throw,
“Thou castest on me many a hill of woe.
“Beneath a hill what is a blade of grass?
“Through waves of grief how can a straw e'er pass?
“A hundred wounds upon my heart through thee,
“Still is it in thy hand to pity me.
“What is't to thee if I am glad or greet?
“What is't to thee if I am sour or sweet?
“Destroy the wind my crop, say ‘let it be’!
“Two hundred harvests are one grain to thee.
“Who am I? What from me can ever rise?
“Exist or not, what is it in thy eyes?
“Destroying many a rose that freshly bloomed,
“Thou hast to fire with death's brand on them doomed.
“Where would thy feelings ever be distressed
“That I should ever differ from the rest?”
With grievous groaning both by night and day,
And with heart filled with blood, like bud, she lay.
Tears from her moistened eye would ever flow,
Dust on her head her angry hand would throw.
Her father saw her restless discontent,
And heard for Egypt's Vazír her lament,
The messengers in royal robes arrayed
Dismissed, excuses with his lips he made.
He said: “For this my precious child as bride,
“To Egypt's Vazír long my tongue is tied.
“Ye who are learned all will understand
“His right is first who did the foremost stand.
“Better than this can time's tongue never say:
“The hand that's foremost carries aye the day.”
Thus lost the hope of gaining their desire,
With wind in hand* the messengers retire.