Woe to this trickery sphere, which every day
Casts in a well some beauteous moon away.
Gazelles that feed in pastures of the soul
Of some wolf's claw it places in control.
When Joseph to those ravening wolves was giv'n,
“Wolves carry off the lambs,” exclaimed the heav'n.
Whilst they remain before their father's eyes
Each with the other in affection vies.
One holds him on his head or back at rest;
Another to his bosom tightly pressed—
When on the desert's edge they placed their feet
Then with the hand of cruelty they beat.
No more upon the back of kindness borne,
They threw him on the hard rock or the thorn.
His foot in thorns and mud that naked went
With thorns and grass as if with nails was rent.
His shoes thrown off, upon the rocky road
His silver foot the stones tore as he trod.
His foot's sole, tightly which the mud retained.
Amongst the thorns and rocks with blood was stained.
Behind those ten hard hands stayed he to rest,
With slaps and blows his fair cheek was distressed.
(May soon the sword cut off the hand of those,
Who with a tender moon could come to blows!)
If he went on, like flood would pour the blow,
A Nile behind him as the face of foe.
('Twere better that that man should pinioned be
Who such a fair neck could e'er broken see!)
If he proceeded with them side by side
They pulled his ear for him on every side.
(He with his finger who would rub that ear,
Of all but fingers may his fist lie bare!)
Wailing, the skirt of any if he pressed,
Open he cruelly would tear his vest.
Weeping if he the foot of one embraced,
Laughing upon that head a foot was placed.
To whomsoever he with groaning spoke,
Naught but abusive songs he would provoke.
Hopeless from them, when he would weep and moan,
Blood from his eye on tulip flowers was sown.
Sometimes in blood, sometimes in dust he lay;
Shattered his heart with sorrow, he would say:
“Where hast thou gone, my father? Where, oh! where?
“That thou for my misfortune dost not care?
“Come! Of thy handmaids now the sons behold,
“Fallen from wisdom, from thy Faith of old—
“Come, see the wretched plight in which I stand,
“Ground to the dust of envy by the hand.
“Thou hast thy precious one thyself brought low,
“And by the hand thou maimest of his foe.
“To claws of those that know no mercy thrown;
“Of wolves the power thy gazelle must own.
“See with thy hearts' hope what desire have they,
“And how thy favours they would now repay.
“In thy life's garden the sweet rose that grew,
“Aye watered of thy bounty with the dew,
“Through thirst, dried up with fever, it remains,
“And neither hue nor moisture it retains.
“The soft plant reared as Paradise's own,
“That in the garden of life's house was sown,
“Through cruel wind has fallen in the dust,
“And thorns and grass their heads above it thrust.
“The moon that lit the darkness of thy night,
“And was of gloomy fate far from the sight,
“Has heaven overcast in such a way
“That from the crescent moon it seeks a ray.”
Thus for three leagues was he then dragged afar,
Peaceful, but with those stony hearts at war.
Harsh looks from them in him with mildness meet,
And cold abusive words from him with heat.
Of a well suddenly they reached the head,
And at its head there were their footsteps stayed.
A well, dark, narrow as a tyrant's tomb,
That e'en on wisdom's eye would cast a gloom.
Then were its lips as dragon's mouth agape,
That men from outside for its food would rape;
Inside of men-oppressors as the mind,
And full of serpents to torment mankind.
Its circle was the centre-point to grieve;
Its depth beyond man's power to conceive.
Full of impurity its depth profound,
Fetid its air, brackish its spring was found.
And if a breather there an instant stayed
A bar across his breathing's road was laid.
When they that rose-faced moon to drive away
Approach the well, all horrid as it lay,
Against their cruelty he cried once more,
And wept and wailed in such a measure sore,
That if the rock had understood the moan,
Softer than wax would have become the stone.
Yet as the pleading voice became more shrill,
Their stony hearts grew ever harder still.
How may I tell how cruel they became?
My heart will not permit to give it name.
Upon those arms which, if the silk of heav'n
Had touched, it would great pain have giv'n.
Of goats' and sheeps' hair made they bound a string,
In every hair of which there was a sting.
His slender waist, with finest hair that vied,
They with a woollen rope made fast and tied.
His robe from off his body then they tear,—
Like rose without its bud that form was bare,
But with reproach their own robes cut away
From their own stature for the Judgment Day.
Then him within the well that day they hung,
And half-way to the water downwards slung.
As the world-lighting sun in beauty clear,
They cast into the wave that shining sphere.
Above the water in the well a stone
He made a place for him to sit upon.
Behold what blessing to that rock there came,
That it a mine of precious gems became!
Whilst from his lip, as fresh as sugar new,
That brackish water to sweet honey grew.
Lit by his cheek, the well at once grew bright,
As the earth lit up by the moon at night,
The odour from his attar* shedding hair
Removed the smell from the well's putrid air.
Each noxious thing, when that light rose revealed,
Down in another hole itself concealed.
He had a garment that contained a charm,
That saved his grandsire from the fire's alarm.
From Rizván* down to Abraham it came;
Into a bed of roses it turned flame.
Soon from the Sidrah Gabriel came to view
And from his side the amulet he drew.
Forth from that place he brought out then the vest
And that pure body with it robed and dressed.
Then said: “O thou with parting's sorrow rent,
“By me the Eternal has a message sent,
“Some day those on thee who this evil wrought,
“That band who have such evil in their thought,
“Heart-wounded more than thou shalt ever be,
“With bowed heads will I bring them here to thee.
“Thou shalt these cruelties to them recite,
“Nor thy condition shalt thou bring to light
“These as thou knowest shalt thou all declare:
“They shall not know of thee a single hair.”
From Gabriel this promise Joseph gained,
And by his brothers' deeds was no more pained.
It seemed to him a throne, that slab of stone,
And Joseph sat as monarch on his throne.
And whilst he sorrowed stood the Faithful Soul*
To wait upon him and his heart console.