When like a new bride sporting in delight
Its dark rose-shedding hair spread out the night,
It placed the Pleiads' cluster in its ear,
And took in hand the moon, its mirror clear.
Repeating tales, in cloak of grace arrayed,
With air coquettish stood there every maid.
Breathing of love's enchantment tales, each one
Clustered in ordered rows round Joseph's throne.
First from her own sweet lips one sugar shed,
“Thy palate with my sugar fill,” she said,
“From my sweet little mouth the knots unslip:
“Eat, like a parrot, the sweets from my lip.”
One said, with a roguish glance from her eye:
“O thou whose praise expression would defy,
“In my world-seeing eye thy home I make;
“In my eye's pupil, come, thy station take.”
One showed her cypress form in silken grace,
And said: “To-night this cypress form embrace.
“Where wilt thou sleep in joy's cradle at rest,
“If this fair cypress lie not in thy breast?”
With musky ringlets one a noose would tie:
“A mere ring without head or foot am I.
“Open the door and me to union bring:
“Outside that door nor place me like a ring.”
Then one lifted up her delicate hand,
And above her arm let her loose sleeve stand.
“From thy beauty to ward the evil-eye,
“This hand on thy neck as amulet lie!”
One of a hair made a belt round her waist,
An ornament of hair around her placed:
“As girdle place thy hand my waist around;
“My soul through thee upon my lip is found.”
After this way of those moon-faced ones each
Joseph for union with him would beseech.
Since he of beauty was a garden fair.
For such grass-handfuls he could never care.
Full of deceit and malice were they all,
In figure idols, who on idols call.
And Joseph had this thought alone in view,
To lead them to a service that was true.
All that he told them in the way of faith
Was to shake doubt, of heavenly truths the breath.
First, then, he said: “O maids of beauteous birth,
“Dear in the sight of every man on earth,
“Thus honoured, follow no path that is base;
“Look of religion only on the face.
“Beyond this world we have our God alone,
“The way to way-lost sinners Who has shown.
“He mixed our clay with His own mercy's dew,
“His wisdom planted there the grain that grew,
“That a fair plant might spring up from that grain,
“And in this mead perfection might attain.
“It draws itself aloft from lowly root,
“And of God's worship yields alone the fruit.
“To God alone be hands of worship raised,
“For He alone is worthy to be praised.
“Come and henceforward bow before His face;
“In every place without Him are we base:
“In adoration low our head be laid:
“The head was only for His worship made.
“And why to anyone should bow the wise,
“When head and foot are equal in God's eyes?
“With their own hands they carve a god of stone,
“And for its love in sorrowing heart they moan.
“What through a stone can happen, only know
“That from such worship but disgrace can flow.”
From the first of night until morning broke,
This counsel to the careless, Joseph spoke.
Her lip then opens each in Joseph's praise,
Her head at his feet in obedience lays.
Each he confirms with testimony sure,
All mouths are sweetened with that honey pure.
Blessed be that honey on the finger tip
That bitterness expels for those that sip.
With finger wound of testimony sure,
Alone will blind become the Div impure.
And from the evil eye escapes the wise,
With martyr's finger who roots out his eyes.
Zuleikha had awoke at dawn of day,
And towards Joseph made her gladsome way.
Round about Joseph there she saw a crowd,
To his instruction who as pupils bowed:
Their idols broken and their zones* were rent;
In telling beads towards true faith they leant.
Upon their tongues of Unity the sound,
And in His service with waists newly bound.
She said to Joseph: “Thou from head to foot
“Disturbest hearts, that giv'st fair peace to boot,
“To-day another beauty on thy face,
“Thou from some other place hast greater grace.
“How does the night fresh beauty thee provide?
“Of goodness what new door has opened wide?
“What didst thou eat at night to give thee grace?
“Above earth's fair ones what has raised thy place?
“Perchance their company whom thou dost seek,
“These of the silver lips and jessamine cheek,
“An increase to thy comeliness have earned,
“And have thy beauty to perfection turned.
“For as from one fruit other fruit takes hue,
“So fair from fair ones gain a beauty new.”
Though with that bud-like lip thus much she spoke,
No fairer bloom could yet her words evoke.
His mouth to all speech he had closed up tight,
But shame gave to his cheek a rosy light.
In modesty his head he would not raise,
But fixed upon his instep aye his gaze.
Zuleikha saw that he his head withdrew,
Nor on her ever glance of pity threw.
Thus in her soul was lit the fire of care,
Her breast was scarred with the scar of despair.
Thus hopeless, she bade to her life adieu,
And back to her chamber of sorrow flew.