Thus state the builders who this tale designed:
To build, when eager turned the nurse her mind,
She brought a man possessed of every skill,
On every finger many an art at will,
In geometric arts well proved and tried,
In astronomic ways a faithful guide.
Did he at hand no compass ready find,
‘A circle with two fingers he designed.
Hard problems from his figures set at rest,*
‘At his doubts cast was Euclid,* too, oppressed—
To draw a line when he evinced desire,
To make it straight no ruler he'd require.
Agile he mounted on the arching sphere,
‘And upon Saturn built a belvidere.
If he should move his hand towards the pick,
A stone became more soft than unburnt brick.
To architecture when he turned his mind,
‘A thousand fair foundations he would find,
‘And the world's buildings without head or base
Upon a single finger-nail he'd trace.
To making pictures when his thoughts he turned,
Was being's tablet by his pen adorned —
And that which from his brush on pictures flowed,
From its mere drops a soul with being glowed.
If a bird's figure he had carved in stone,
Light rising it had left its place and flown.
As the nurse ordered, he of golden hand
Of a gold palace the foundations planned.
Good fortune's drawing were its couches pure,
And in its roomy houses hope secure.*
Of marble inlaid were its passage floors,
Of ebony and ivory its doors—
Together in it there were mansions seven,
Like the unequalled cupolas of heaven.
Each one was made of stone of varied hue,
Like polished eye, of pleasing colour, too.
The seventh house was as the seventh sphere—
And lost was every shape and colour here—
Its forty pillars were with gold inlaid,
On which were forms of beasts and birds displayed—
At foot of each pillar of gold was made
A deer with bag where fragrant musk was laid.
Of golden peacocks there was full the plain,
With decorated tails in stately train.
And in the midst there was a lofty tree,
Whose like the wondering eye might never see.
Wrought of pure silver its delicate stem,
Gold boughs, with leaves of turquoise surrounding them.
On each branch a bird, created with skill,
With emerald wings and a ruby bill.
And in God's name that green and pleasant tree
From autumn's wind would never blighting see,
And to mankind were all the birds there tame,
And morn and eve at peace together came.
In every place the painter brought to view
The forms of Joseph and Zuleikha too.
As lovers sat together he and she,
As two who in their heart and soul agree.
Both in one place with lips together pressed
One of the other leaning on the breast.*
If any passing by had them there seen,
His envious mouth had full of water been.
The roof, moreover, was just like a sphere
On which a shining moon and sun appear.
A wondrous sun and moon, in form as two
Where both from one rent collar came to view.
Upon the wall's face there appeared to sight
As in the time of spring a rose-bed bright.
On every rosebush of that rose-bed placed
Two branches fair with roses interlaced,
And on its carpet everywhere displayed
In cradle roses two in slumber laid.
In short no spot within that house remained,
But it of charmers that sweet pair contained,
And to whatever side the eye was thrown
At once their beauteous forms were clearly shown.
When thus prepared the house appeared in view
Zuleikha's love for Joseph stronger grew.
When she that temple saw, at every turn
Her heart for Joseph would more freshly burn.
When of his darling the face comes in view,
The lover reads the words of love anew;
When from those words his fires fresh force obtain,
He is led captive by that boundless pain.