His hand that officer on Joseph laid,
To the labour-place of the jail conveyed;
The heart of Joseph was rent with despair
Secret he raised to heaven his face in prayer:
“O Thou Who wise art in all mysteries,
“With Thee the knowledge of all secrets lies.
“Falsehood and truth thou ever knowest here,
“And who but Thou can make this secret clear?
“With the truth's light as Thou hast filled my eyes,
“Oh! let me not be charged through uttered lies.
“May in my claim some evidence appear,
“For in Thy sight my truth is bright and clear.”
From thumb-stall of design that might the world subdue,
Directly to the target his prayer's arrow flew.
A woman there, by bonds of kindred tied,
Both night and day was by Zuleikha's side.
A child of three months old her shoulder graced,
Dear as her very soul by her embraced —
Its tongue, like lily, words had never said,
Nor roll of exposition had it read.
It cried: “O Vazír, patiently abide,
“Nor hastily on punishment decide.
“Joseph does not deserve to be chastised
“For loving mercy he is justly prized.”
At the child's speech the Vazír was amazed,
And with due rev'rence conversation raised—
“O thou whose lip from milk is not yet free,
“In fairest speech God has instructed thee:
“Tell me now clearly; who has lit this flame,
“And has burnt the veil of my honoured name?”
“No scandalous tale-bearer I,” it said,
“Secrets by whom to strangers are betrayed—
“Tell-tale is China's musk, aye black of face,
“Through many curtains whose scent one may trace.
“And see how fresh the roses are in spring,
“Because their curtains still around them cling.
“I backbite not, but yet that thou mayst know,
“To thee this hidden secret will I show.
“Go, look on Joseph's state at once, and see
“His vest, in what way it came torn to be,
“If from the front it has been torn in two,
“Free of his skirt Zuleikha thou mayst view:—
“In Joseph's claim there is no light to view;—
“For his own sake he says what is not true.
“But if the vest has from behind been torn,
“His skirt is free of that wickedness borne:
“Then what Zuleikha says will not be true:
“The way of truth then she does not pursue.”
When the child's words had reached the Vazír's ear,
The vest's condition he made haste to clear.
The vest was torn behind: this he could see,
And blamed that woman for her treachery.
“I knew that this deceit had come from thee,
“That innocent he should imprisoned be.
“What fraud is this that thou hast done at last?
“What evil this that to thyself has passed?
“Thou takest off of honour's road thy stand,
“And of thy own slave love didst thou demand.
“Approving that which thou shouldst evil know,
“Of this didst thou the blame upon him throw.
“Man's heart in two a woman's fraud will rend—
“Of woman's treachery there is no end.
“Through woman's fraud the pure man falls and lies;
“To woman's fraud the learned is a prize.
“From woman's fraud may none despairing be!
“And may deceitful women never be!
“Seek in humility God's pardoning grace:
“For very shame turn to the wall thy face.
“Go: this disorder with thy tears allay,
“And wash this ill word from thy book away.
“Thou, Joseph, in this matter bind thy tongue,
“By none this secret from thy lips be wrung.
“This in thy converse be enough for thee,
“That thy own innocence is clear to me.
“Backbiter's path to walk on do thou loathe:
“Better than rending veils is it to clothe.”
Thus spoke the Vazír as he turned away,
Well known for easy temper in his day.
Patience attracts the heart, yet not as this:
Good temper pleases, too, not such as this.
To ease his wife a man himself may lend,—
In cuckoldom* will such good nature end.
In a wife's matter not so lenient be:
'Twill break what is a bar to jealousy.