That ancient juggler, this revolving sphere,
To trouble men its tricks devises here.
Of hope it binds the wretched with the chain
To hopelessness to lead him back again;
Fruit to the palate shows in distant view,
That unfulfilled hope he may sadly rue.
When on the tent the Vazír threw his shade,
Zuleikha was within there with her maid.
Desire to see drew from her hand the rein;
She said: “O ancient sharer of my pain,
“Contrive it so that I may have one look,
“For now no longer patience can I brook.
“And never greater the desire to see
“Than when one's love 'neath the same roof may be.
“Of thirsty souls should water touch the lip,
“They burn the mouth to moisten with a sip.”
When her nurse saw disturbed Zuleikha grew,
Her mistress round the tent she slily drew,
And in the tent with cunning and design
She made a hole as eye of needle fine.
When to that hole Zuleikha fixed her eye,
From a grief-laden heart she heaved a sigh.
“Alas,” she cried; “strange things do me befall;
“Still uncompleted now falls down my wall.
“Whom in my dream I saw, this is not he,
“In search of whom I bore this misery.
“Not he, my sense and wit away who bore,
“And to unconsciousness my reins gave o'er.
“Who told his secret, 'tis not he again,
“Who made my consciousness resume its reign.
“Alas! my slack fate brings me hardship still,
“The rising of my star has brought me ill.
“I planted palms for dates; thorns only grew.
“I scattered seeds of love that brought me rue.
“Much grief I suffered for a treasure's sake,
“And to my hand has fallen but a snake.
“Towards the garden drew me roses' scent;
“The thorn's spear caught me and my skirt was rent.
“I wander thirsting in the desert sand,
“For water hastening on every hand.
“Upon my lip my dry tongue falls through thirst;
“Pustules upon my lip in blood-waves burst.
“Sudden afar had water on me shone;
“In desperate rise and fall I hurried on:
“In place of water in a pit I find
“Shining in sun-light salt earth left behind.
“I am that traveller lost upon the hill
“For want of food below a mount of ill.
“Stones from my feet have torn the flesh away,
“Nor strength have I to move nor wish to stay.
“All of a sudden through my bloody tears
“This image whom I long have lost appears.
“As tow'rds him to advance I make me bold,
“A raging lion fate makes me behold.
“I am the merchant whose bark rocks have torn,
“Who on a plank sits naked and forlorn.
“My place through waves can I no moment keep,
“Now to the sky they bear me, now the deep,
“When suddenly a boat there comes in sight,
“And glads me that my task may yet be light;
“But it approaches me without delay,
“And is a crocodile sent me to slay.
“On the whole earth there 's no more wretched wight,
“Of wretched ones none in more hopeless plight.
“No heart is left me, charmer none I know,
“Stones on my heart, dust on my head I throw.
“Pardon for God's sake, heaven, on me bestow,
“In love show me a gate through which to go.
“Beneath my friend's skirt if I be not laid,
“Let me be captive to none other made.
“Do not thou tear the vest of my repute,
“And let no other hand my skirt pollute.
“My purpose have I vowed within my soul
“And ever strive to keep my treasure whole.
“Consume me not with pain who helpless stand,—
“Give not my treasure to a dragon's hand.”
After this manner she for long complained,
And blood from every pointed eye-lash rained.
From soul and rent heart uttering cries profound,
In grief she rubbed her face upon the ground.
Of mercy then arose in flight the bird,
And from the hidden world a voice she heard.
“Raise from the dust, O wretched one, thy face:
“Ease shall of difficulty take the place.
“Egypt's Vazír is not thy heart's desire:
“That wish without him mayst thou not acquire.
“Through him thou seest the beauty of thy friend,
“Thou gain'st thy heart's aim through him in the end.
“Let not his friendship terror bring to thee;
“In safety will he keep thy silver key.
“For his key's teeth are all of waxen mould;
“Of waxen key the business may be told.
“To guard thy jewel, then, what is thy need?
“In diamond's work soft iron fails indeed—
“If of a light thorn they a needle make,
“How will a hard rock its long stitches take?
“Where of a hand the sleeve is void, 'tis clear,
“There of a dagger there need be no fear.”
Zuleikha, when she heard these words of grace,
Rubbed on the ground in thankfulness her face.
Tongue free from means and lip from cries, her blood
She girded up her loins to swallow, like a bird.
Through eating blood she only breathed with pain;
She burnt with grief and yet did not complain.
Fixed on the road her eye, awaited she:
“When shall this matter's knots all loosened be?”