When of those hand-cut women by the guile,
Conceited, idols worshipping the while,
From chastity was not turned Joseph's will,
He clung to chastity the firmer still.
They, like the bats that from the sun take flight,
Became all hopeless at his nearer light.
Into Zuleikha's eyes they then threw dust,
And urged her Joseph into jail to thrust.
They said: “O poor wretch in oppression held,
“Thou art not worthy to be thus repelled.
“Although with Joseph Huris cannot vie,
“Thou hast with him no hope of unity.
“In giving him advice we strove awhile,
“We made our tongue as rough as any file.
“But on his iron will the file not bite;—
“In hardness only is his craft aright.
“Make hot the jail for him, as furnace-glow;
“In that forge softer will his iron grow.
“And when the steel becomes soft in the fire,
“The master can work it at his desire.
“If thou canst not make it softer with heat,
“What wilt thou gain if cold iron thou beat?”
Now when Zuleikha on their magic tongue
In hope of union through the prison hung,
For her own comfort she desired his pain,
His treasure in that ruined house to gain.
If one to perfect love does not attain,
But his own purpose he desires to gain,
He would his love should follow his behest,
And suits his own affairs as he thinks best.
For one rose's scent of love from the mead,
Her soul from many a thorn of grief may bleed.
Zuleikha with the Vazír talked one night,
And of her heart the passion brought to light.
“In Egypt through this boy I've lost my name,—
“In Egypt's people's eyes have come to shame.
“And in this men and women all agree,
“That I am deep in love as I can be.
“His arrow's victim in this plain, they say,
“In blood and dust I am his trembling prey.
“So have the arrows pierced my very heart,
“That one dart lies upon another dart.
“Of his love is void no point of my hair:
“In his love of myself I am not aware.
“I think that this suspicion to repel,
“To send to jail the young man would be well,
“And that in ev'ry street we should proclaim
“His hopeless failure and his helpless shame.
“Thus is that sinner punished who would dare
“His master's property with him to share:
“Of his soul-tearing rage who will not think,
“Whose foot from his lust's carpets will not shrink.
“When all mankind this rage of mine shall see,
“They will dismiss their evil thoughts of me.”
The Vazír's fancy by her counsel moved,
He smiled upon her, and her plan approved.
“I gave to the question,” he said, “much thought,
“And to this matter much reflection brought.
“No better pearl than that which thou hast thread;
“Naught better to my heart than thou hast said.
“To treat him as thou wilt thou hast thy way,
“Or else his dust upon thy path to lay.”
When Zuleikha had thus obtained his leave,
She turned to Joseph again to deceive.
“O aim of my soul, desire of my heart,
“In life I have no wish from thee apart.
“Above thee the Vazír has placed me still,
“Thy head in my pow'r to do as I will.
“At will I place thee in the prison here,
“Or raise thy foot up to the heavenly sphere.
“Lay down thy head: how long wilt thou rebel?
“How long with me wilt thou unhappy dwell?
“Proceed with me upon the road of peace;
“Thyself from shame and me from pain release.
“Oh! grant my desire,—I will give thee thine:
“Thy name in the height of glory shall shine.
“Else, a hundred doors of pain open wide:
“Thy foot in torment in jail shall abide.
“Thus happy to sit and on me to smile,
“Were better than living in jail awhile.”
Joseph allowed in blame his speech to flow,
And loosened his tongue in the way you know.
In Zuleikha's breast then passion awoke;
And to the guard without delay she spoke.
Then his golden crown on the ground they threw:
An old woollen coat on his form they drew:
His silver leg, with iron chain they deck,
With endurance collar around his neck.
As Jesus was, he was placed on an ass;
Through the streets of Egypt they made it pass,
And a crier aloud this warning gave:
“Ev'ry rebellious and impudent slave,
“Whoever, taking the way of disgrace,
“On his master's carpet his foot shall place,
“Should thus with the bad be ever disgraced,
“And with all contempt in the prison placed.”
But there came to see him running the crowd,
And “May God forbid it!” all cried aloud.
“From such a good face can there evil spring?
“On men can such a charmer mischief bring?
“For this is an angel, perfectly pure,
“Who the works of Satan could not endure.
“From ill Fair-face will aye his foot withhold;
“He of good counsel well the tale has told.
“For he upon the earth whose face is good,
“Far better than his face will be his mood,
“And he whose countenance is seeming ill,
“Than his bad ways his face more hideous still.
“Just as in evil good you never see,
“So in the good bad moods can never be.”
Thus to the prison they took him away,
And to the jailors gave him up that day.
That living heart within its walls they knew,
And the prisoners there gained life anew.
Excitement rose in that abode of pain;
The shouts of captives rent the air again.
At the approach of that king of the fair
The captives all to beat their chains prepare.
The fetters on their feet were chains of will,
And their neck-collars yokes of blessing still.
In gladness there their sorrow found relief,
Lighter than blade of grass their hill of grief.
Wherever those of Huri's nature dwell,
To paradise they ever turn a Hell;
And where the rosy-cheeked belovèd goes,
A furnace even is a bed of rose.
The agitated jail again had rest,
The jailor then Zuleikha thus addressed:
“Upon his heart inflict no greater pain;
“Loose from his neck the yoke, from foot his chain.
“His silver body be with wool not warm;
“That palm tree with a golden cloak* adorn.
“The dust of sadness wash thou from his head:
“Exalt it with a crown of pomp instead.
“Prepare a chamber freshly for his sake;
“Apart from all the rest his dwelling make.
“For him do thou both wall and door perfume:
“Adorn the roof and window of his room.
“Lay of brocade the richest carpet there;
“And an enticing couch of silk prepare.”
Then Joseph to that chamber when they led,
Carpet of prayer upon the ground he spread.
And in that place, as he was wont each day,
His face turned to the Mehráb there to pray.
Manly, of patience sitting in abode,
Thankful, and saved of women's wiles from load.
To none misfortune happens on the earth,
To hope of favour that does not give birth.
To captives of misfortune in affright
The hope of favour makes their burden light.