He from this house of mystery who writes,
The author, from behind the screen indites.
When tow'rds the seventh house their course they bent;
Zuleikha uttered thus her loud lament.
“Let thy foot, Joseph, on my eye alight:
“Kindly thy foot place in this Harem* bright.”
In that glad place she seated him again—
Fastened the iron lock with golden chain—
He found a place where strangers could not pry,
And free its neighbourhood from envy's eye.
No road to come and go for strangers there,
And friends to gain an entrance in despair,
A place for lover and his mistress sole,
No watchman's trouble, no fear from patrol.
The loved one's face in all its beauty gay,
Trolling the lover's heart its jocund lay.
The plain was open wide to all desire,—
On the soul fallen, too, of hope the fire.
Zuleikha's eye and heart to frenzy flown,
In the hand of her lover she placed her own.
With words heart-soothing and discourses sweet
She led him gracefully towards a seat.
Upon that throne she threw herself to rest,
And that fair cypress, weeping thus addressed:
“O rose-cheeked one, toward me raise thy eye,
“And give me now one glance of sympathy.
“Now were the sun himself my face to see,
“Moon-like, would he glean ears from me.
“How long wilt thou see me tortured with woes,
“That on my face thou pity's eye dost close?”
Thus from her heart complaint she constant made,
To Joseph the wish of her soul betrayed.
Still Joseph's eye but on himself was bent;
With head on breast for fear of trouble leant.
Down on the carpet as his eye he brought,
He saw his form with hers together wrought.
Thrown on a couch of silk and gold brocade
The two in close embrace together laid.
Upon those forms he gave a passing look,
And towards another spot his eye then took.
If on the door or wall that eye he kept,
Those rosy-cheeked ones still together slept.
If to the God of heav'n he turned his face,
The same upon the ceiling could he trace.
Towards Zuleikha then he more inclined;
He bent upon her face a look more kind.
Zuleikha's hope in that look vivid grew,
As that bright sun his ray upon her threw.
She fell to weeping with a bitter cry
And heart-felt tears of blood rained from her eye.
“O selfish one, grant my desire”; she cried.
“In union medicine for me provide.
“Thou art life's water and I thirst for thee.
“I die: thou art eternal life to me.
“O unfound treasure, I from thee am far,
“As the dead thirsty without water are—
“Thy scar has me for years in fever kept;
“From love for thee I neither ate nor slept.
“No more do thou me in this fever keep;
“No longer foodless leave me without sleep.
“Thee in the name of that God I adjure,
“Who Lord of all Lords is for evermore.
“By that world-conquering goodness he bestows,
“And by that beauty on thy cheek that glows,—
“By that light brilliant that shines from thy brow,
“And at thy feet for which the moon must bow,—
“By the bow to thy brows its curve that lends;—
“By that waving cypress's graceful bends;—
“By that arching eye-brow, to me a shrine;—
“By the wave of those curling locks of thine;—
“By the magic of eyes mankind that snare;—
“That brocade-clothed head and that robe so fair;—
“By that slender waist one might call a hair;—
“By that mouth a secret one might declare;—
“By those musk-like spots on thy rosy cheeks,
“And by that sweet smile when thy rose-bud* speaks;
“By the tear that flows in my longing for thee;—
“By burning sighs when thou'rt parted from me;—
“Thy absence, that mountain I lie below,
“A captive to many a grief and woe;
“Over me by thy love's great victory;—
“By thy being content if I live or die;—
“Now pity me helpless and in despair,—
“Unloose the knots of this grievous affair.
“My heart for long ages has borne thy scar;
“I look for thy scent from thy garden far.
“For a while the salve of my heart's wound be,
“And scent with thy beauty my mead for me.
“Through parting's famine have I lost my strength:
“From union's table feed my soul at length!
“Mine is the milk, dates, palm-tree fresh, from thee:
“Fail not to spread thy table now for me.
“Food for my soul in milk and dates vouchsafe:
“From perishing by famine make me safe.”
Then answered Joseph: “Thou of Paris' kind,
“To vie with whom no Pari comes to mind,
“Bring not this matter to a cruel pass,
“Dash not a stone against my sinful glass.
“With sinful water wet thou not my robe,
“Nor with the fire of lust my body probe.
“Whose forms men are by Him who has no like;*
“To whom inside and out are all alike;
“Foam from Whose bounty-sea the spheres arose,
“And from Whose lightning the sun brightly glows;
“By those pure souls from whom I claim descent,
“From whom this purity to me is lent,
“From whom this spirit pure I gain of mine,
“In whom my star does aye so brilliant shine,
“Thy hand from me, oh! lift thou off to-day,
“And thus release me from this narrow way.
“Then quick my meed of service shalt thou see,
“A thousand deeds of gratitude from me;—
“From my life-giving lip thy wish obtain,
“And ease from my enchanting stature gain.
“Thy longed for food, oh! be not quick to taste;—
“Many delays are sweeter than is haste.—
“Better to snare a noble prey at last,
“Than a good end to lose by being fast.”
Zuleikha said: “Himself the thirsty soul
“To drink till to-morrow will not control.
“My life is on my lip from love to-day;
“I have no patience for the night's delay.
“And whence again the power may I find,
“To more delay than I should be inclined?
“To this I know not what can hindrance give,
“For me one moment that thou canst not live.”
He said: “Two things will hinder my desire:
“Reproach from God,—of the Vazír the ire.
“This crooked nature should the Vazír know,
“A hundred pains will he inflict and woe.
“In the way that thou knowest he'll bare his blade,
“And bare of life's robe will my form be laid.
“And oh! the disgrace on the Judgment Day
“When fines the adulterers have to pay!
“When they write down the wickeds' recompense
“Will my name among all their list commence!”
“Think not of that foe”; Zuleikha replied:
“He will place me some day at a feast by his side,
“That will plague his soul he a cup shall drain,
“And drunk* till Judgment Day not rise again.
“Thou sayest, ‘My God is compassionate,
“‘And with pity looks on a sinner's state.’
“Of pearls and jewels a plentiful store
“Still lies there buried beneath this floor.
“These for thy sins an offering I stake,
“To God that thy excuses they may make.”
He said: “To this can I never incline
“That others should suffer for fault of mine;
“And the Vazír especially, who thee
“Has kindly appointed to wait on me.
“My God, whose favour one can ne'er repay,
“Shall He for bribes His mercy give away?
“He who for giving life takes no reward,
“For bribes His pardon how should He afford?”
Zuleikha answered him: “O happy king,
“Both crown and throne to thee may fortune bring!
“My heart a butt is for the dart of pain:
“Excuse thou heapest on excuse again.
“‘Excuse’ is crooked-faced, full of deceit:
“In a fair game ‘excuse’ thou” It never meet.
“Now God forbid on false ways that I go;
“Deceit from thee no longer may I know.
“I am strangely feeble; oh! give me rest:
“Willing, unwilling, grant me my request.
“In words on words full many days have passed;
“And yet my hope is not attained at last.
“Thy tongue fŕom bond of idle tales release:
“Move from thy place, that so my woes may cease.
“In my dry cane-brake there has fallen fire,
“Yet in my burning hast thou thy desire.
“What is my gain from all this fire and smoke,
“Since tears in thy eyes it will not provoke?
“Like smoke from fire I upwards curl and soar;
“Come: on this flame of mine thy water pour.”
Zuleikha ceased this secret forth to pour:
Joseph began to make excuse once more.
“O Hebrew speaker,” she resumed her say:
“Thou hast in talking robbed my time away.
“In this affair oppose no more my will,
“Or else with thy own hand myself I kill.
“Now let my hand around thy neck be laid,
“Or it shall feel of dagger keen the blade.
“If on my neck thy hand thou wilt not lay,
“Upon thy neck wilt thou my blood's price pay.
“I'll sheath my lily dagger in my breast,
“Like rose with crimson hue will dye my vest.
“My form shall from my soul know pastime's pain,
“And thus from thy excuses freedom gain.
“Me the Vazír shall find before thee dead,
“And thus to kill thee, too, will he be led.”
Before his dart her soul a butt she made,
Herself as oyster for his pearls she laid.
Aim at the target Joseph would not take,
Nor in his search for pearls the oyster break;
He wished the pearl with diamond to bore,
But his heart held his chastity the more.
Importunate Zuleikha was, but he
Would interpose delay repeatedly.
When in the corner of the house, behold
Sudden a curtain of embroidered gold!
He questioned her: “Why is that curtain there?
“Who sits concealed behind that curtain fair?”
She said: “While I live in the world below,
“By way of service before him I bow.
“A golden idol, gems he has for eyes,
“Full of pure musk a tray within him lies.
“I fall down every hour before his face,
“My head before him in obedience place.
“And when thou dead behind earth's veil shalt be,
“This longing soul shall fix itself on thee.”
Thus saying, from beneath the couch she drew
Like willow leaf a sword of lightning hue;
And with the fire of grief inflamed and sore,
To thirsting throat that drop of water bore.
When Joseph saw, he leapt up from his place
Her hand like golden bracelet to embrace.
“Zuleikha, from this rashness cease,” he said,
“And on this path let not thy steps be led.
“Dost thou desire thy object's face to see,
“Or gain thy wish from union with me?”
Zuleikha, moon enchanting of the sky,
When she saw kindness beam from Joseph's eye,
Thought that, perhaps, her wishes he might grant,
In union might with peace her soul enchant.
Cast from her hand in haste the blade away,
Of concord she essayed another way,—
From his sweet mouth a draught of sugar drew,
His arm around her neck as collar threw.*
“I made him up a place within the screen,
“That ever by him I might not be seen.
“That he might not see evil that I do:
“What I am doing now, he may not view.”
When Joseph heard the word, he raised the cry:
“Of such dinars of cash no dáng have I.*
“Before the eyes of dead things thou hast shame,
“And from these lifeless ones thou fearest blame.
“The great, wise Seer, why should I not fear?
“Why the Eternal God should I not fear?”
He spoke, and from the midst his way to take,
Arose from that sweet sleeping place awake.
From the Lám-Aleph, Aleph stripped away,*
Seized camphor lamp on silver stand that lay.
When, with swift footsteps he began to run,
Doors in his flight he opened every one.
Each door when he approached to open it,
Locks here, bolts there, in every place were split.
Point with his finger, he need do no more,
In his hand lay the key of every door.
She saw, and in pursuit Zuleikha sped,
In the last chamber caught him as he fled.
Seizing his skirt to bring him back she flew,
And from behind she tore his vest in two.
Passed from her hand that one with grief forlorn,
His vest was like an opening rosebud torn.
Zuleikha wretched tore her own robe's fold—
Upon the ground as her own shadow rolled.
From her sad heart rose loud Zuleikha's cry,
Her wailing in her sorrow rose on high.
“Ah! woe is me, my unpropitious fate,
“That my love bore his goods from out my gate!
“Alas! my prey escaped my snare in haste!
“Woe for that honey that I could but taste!
“A spider had determined on a day,
“That for itself it would entrap some prey.
“It saw a royal falcon sitting down,
“From hand of one escaped who wore a crown;
“Its web around it it began to spin,
“From flight its wings and feathers to hold in.
“And for a while on the affair intent,
“Its web completely on the matter spent.
“And when away that royal falcon sped,
“Were left the spider but some bits of thread.
“I am that spider, weeping and forlorn,
“Fallen from hope, who far away am borne.
“My soul's vein worn through, just as was that thread,
“My prey, hope's bird, too, from my snare has fled.
“My cord is broken off from every thing,
“And in my hand are broken bits of string.”