In God's name, what a fortunate caravan,
From which for water came a knowing man.
He drew up from the well his bucket soon,
And from Aquarius' sign arose a moon.
For three days in the pit did that moon dwell,
As dwells the full moon in the “Nakhshab” well.*
As the fourth day upon this azure sky,
Rose the lost Joseph from the well on high.
With goods prepared from many cities round,
For Egypt with propitious fortune bound,
A caravan had wandered from its road,
Pitched tents and there to rest undid its load.
Happy the wand'rer who might lose his way
And come where such a guide as Joseph lay.
Around the well they made their camping-place,
And seeking water thither turned their face.
There came one first who was by fortune blessed,
And tow'rds life's water there who forward pressed.
In the dark well that one of Khisr* face
Let down his bucket on the water's trace.
To Joseph Gabriel faithful said: “Arise!
“Pour mercy's water which the thirsty prize.
“Like the bright sun sit in the pail at rest,
“And hasten to the East from tow'rds the West.
“Make the well's edge thy own horizon bright,
“Illumine that horizon's veil with light.
“Throw from thy face upon the world a ray:—
“Illumine once again the earth with day.”
From the well's stone then Joseph leapt in haste,
Himself as water in the pail he placed.
The strong man then the bucket upwards drew,
And what a pail of water weighed he knew.
“To-day the pail is heavier,” he cried:
“Than water there is something more beside.”
As rose that world's moon from the well on high,
Rose of good tidings from his soul the cry,—
Glad news that from that dark well came to birth
A moon that should illumine many an earth;
Glad news that from a brackish well obscure
Water there should arise so fresh and pure.
A rose had in that desert been revealed,
Yet from the rest he kept it there concealed.
To the encampment he conveyed him then,
And handed him in secret to his men,
Just as with luck one may a treasure gain,
And yet unless concealed 'twill bring him pain.
Those envious ones as well were standing by,
What might become of him to promptly spy,
There constantly they lingered round to wait,
To learn what possibly might be his fate.
When of the caravan the news they found,
To know in haste the well they gathered round.
In secret they called Joseph by his name,
But nothing from the well but echo came;
And thence towards the caravan they went,
Into their power to bring Joseph bent.
And after searching with much pain and care
Amidst the caravan they found him there.
“This is our slave,” in seizing him they said,
“Out of faith's collar who has wrenched his head.
“For work and service he is not inclined,
“But tow'rds flight for long has set his mind.
“He has no wish to do his service well;
“Thus him, though of the house, we fain would sell.
“The service of a bad slave in his mood
“Is more of evil service than of good.
“Better that thou shouldst sell him ev'n for naught:
“Into restraint from ill he 'll not be brought.
“Much pains we will not take on his account:
“'Twere best to sell him for some small amount.”
Thus the young man who from the well had brought,
Joseph from them at some small value bought.
The young man was to Málik fully known;
He for a trifle made the slave his own.
With fastened loads the caravans then went,
On reaching Egypt on their aim intent.
Wrong he who sells a soul as merchandise
Who sells for trifles such a goodly prize.
All Egypt's income for one look from him!
And a life's goods for but one word from him!
Yet of his costliness can Jacob tell;
At what to purchase knows Zuleikha well.
Sells fortune's treasure he who 's void of sense,
And frowning gives it but for some few pence.*