The time how happy and the day how sweet,
When of their union lovers fruit may eat!
When friendship's bright lamp is again a light,
And pain of separation 's put to flight.
The market brisk had Joseph's beauty made;
Itself to buy him Egypt open laid.
With anything that any hand acquired,
In that bazaar to buy with all desired.
There an old crone, I heard, excited sped,
Bringing with her some yarn she'd spun, and said:
“Enough, though little there be in my hand,*
“Among the purchasers to let me stand.”
The criers right and left now loudly cry:
“A slave without defect, come, who will buy?
“Like beauteous rising of the dawn his face;
“His lip a jewel from the mine of grace.
“His face with virtue's signs is full of light:
“His breast on bounty's nature based aright.
“Upon his tongue there's naught but what is straight;
“In twisted, crooked words he'll nothing state.”
One, from the midst of them the first to try,
For one bag of red gold proposed to buy.
If of that bag thou wouldst count the tale,
Of gold a thousand pieces would not fail.
While others, their steed's victory to boast,
A hundred bags laid on the winning post.*
Another rich man then as much would pay
In fragrant musk as Joseph's self should weigh;—
Another wiser one, outbidding them,
With equal weight of ruby and of gem.
After this manner they bid and more
Of every kind of precious things a store.
Zuleikha, from whom this had not been hid,
Doubling their offers, all at once outbid.
Then they closed their lips, all those buyers there,
And sat them down on the knees of despair.
“Of counsel good,” to the Vazír she said:
“Let the full price to Málik now be weighed.”
He said to her: “All that there hidden lies,
“Musk, jewels, gold, my treasures that comprise,
“Even to half his price would not extend,
“How can I, then, the whole of it expend?”
A box of gems Zuleikha there possessed,
A constellation full of stars, no chest.*
The price of every jewel in that store,
Equalled all Egypt's revenue or more.
She answered him: “These jewels for his price,
“Give jewels of my life, his sacrifice.”
The Vazír an excuse then made once more:
“The age's king tow'rds him a liking bore:
“That in his house one of such purity
“Head of the list of all his slaves should be.”
She said then: “Go thou to the conquering king,
“Before him all thy service rendered bring.
“Tell him: Of sorrows I have only one,
“That these my eyes may never see a son.
“Exalt me with this single grace, I pray,
“That this one slave may my commands obey;
“That in my constellation he may shine,
“Be the king's slave and as a son be mine.”
Thus at Zuleikha's word the Vazír came;
Before that lofty king he said the same.
The monarch heard the words and hearing weighed,
Nor did he turn from the request his head.
To purchase him at once he gave the leave,
And as a son to love him and receive.
Rejoicing homewards he then Joseph bore.
Zuleikha from her pain was freed once more,
And piercing pearls of joy with eyelash thread,
Weeping, her own two eyes she rubbed, and said:
“Am I awake, O God, or in a dream,
“That from my love my soul's desire should beam?
“When had I ever hope in that black night
“That in this way my day would e'er be white?
“Upon my night has followed azure day:
“My daily grief and pain have passed away.
“Now that my darling they with me unite,
“The heav'ns that I should now caress were right.
“In this sad world of pain who is like me?
“After decay who 's freshened up like me?
“I was a fish for water sore distressed,
“Writhing on sand, with water's grief oppressed
“Yet from the cloud of grace a flood at hand
“Safe to the river bore me from the sand.
“Lost in night's darkness I was straying round;
“In wandering my soul upon my lip I found.
“From the horizon rose a moon and shone,
“And to my street of fortune led me on.
“Upon death's couch I slumbering had lain,
“Death's lancet pricking of my life the vein;
“When sudden Khizar came in from the door,
“And did upon me his life's water pour.
“Thanks be to God that fortune proves my friend
“And Fate its troubling of my soul will end.
“A thousand lives for him an offering,
“Who to my market now such cash could bring!
“To break into my jewel-box what pain,
“Of fine gems when a mine my hand shall gain?
“Before a soul's cash what are gems to me?
“A friend's security, whate'er it be.
“I gave some lifeless things a soul to keep,
“And in God's name I bought them wondrous cheap.
“What profit does he gain for cash who sells
Isá himself and picks up paltry shells?
“Although these paltry shells all I expend,
“I make a gain if Isá's still my friend.”
These secrets in her sieve of thought she strained,
Whilst from her eyes tears bright as jewels rained.
Silent, at times on Joseph turned her eye,
She yet was free of parting's misery.
Sometimes rememb'ring partings left behind,
With thoughts of union she rejoiced her mind.