Many the lock for which there is no key
To open which a road there may not be,
When in spite of endeavour, care, and thought,
The wise man's devices may come to nought.
Though an artist's hand should not intervene,
Though no creator appear on the scene,
From mystery's world a sudden door will ope,
Reveal the deposit and grant our hope.
When Joseph thus abandoned all his plan,
He of his stratagem cut through the span;
Except in God no refuge there remained
By which in evil he might be sustained.
By his own wisdom when he could not stand,
God, in His mercy, took him by the hand.
To Egypt's ruler wise and king one night,
In dreams seven cattle there appeared in sight;
These all were very good and full in hide,
And with each other in their beauty vied.
Seven other cattle were behind them seen,
Equal in size, but all dried up and lean.
Upon the seven first these seven lean ones set,
And as grass in the field completely ate.
Seven green, fat corn-ears in the self-same wise,
Food for the heart, provision for the eyes,
Arose. Seven other dry ears, by-and-bye,
Behind them coming, made them also dry.
Next morning, when the king from dreams arose,
He asked the wise their meaning to disclose.
All said: “This dream's impossible to tell;
“Fancy and doubt there may be here as well.
“Its meaning wisdom never can explain:
“From all attempts 'twere better to refrain.”
Then that young stripling who of Joseph knew,
From face of his affair the veil withdrew.
“In jail of royal beauty one there lies
“In solving subtleties accounted wise;
“Quick to interpret dreams and subtle, he
“A diver for this sea of pearls will be.
“This secret will I at thy word explain,
“And thy dream's meaning bring to thee again.”
He said: “From me leave why dost thou require?
“More than clear eye the blind can not desire.
“Blind from that moment is my wisdom's eye,
“Since from that secret's knowledge far I lie.”
Then straightway went the young man to the jail,
Of the king's dream to Joseph told the tale.
He said: “In ears and kine ye years may see,
“Descriptive each of its own quality.
“When the kine are fat and the ears are green,
“In this way a prosperous year may be seen.
“When ears are dry, and cattle lean appear,
“A sorry tale they tell thee of the year.
“In those seven years that ye may see at first,
“For rain the field and grain will never thirst;
“Men full of Grace these seven years will see;
“But afterwards seven other years will be;
“Consumed the former bounties that are giv'n,
“To wretchedness will people's lives be driven.
“No cloud of bounty o'er the sky shall pass;
“The ground shall not produce a blade of grass.
“The pleasures of the wealthy all will cease,
“The poor in misery will all decease.
“On Time's board will there be so little bread,
“‘Bread!’ will men cry, and give their lives instead.”
The young man heard the word and turned him back;
Nor did the king's boon comrade justice lack.
As Joseph's tale and the dream's sense were told,
Did as a rosebud the king's heart unfold.
He said: “Arise, and Joseph hither bring,
“That I may trust him in this subtle thing.
“When one the charmer's voice itself may hear,
“Through other's mouth why bring it to the ear?
“As sugar sweet thou bring'st this friendly word
“Far sweeter were it from himself when heard.”
Back to the jail once more his way he made,
And to that precious one the news conveyed.
“Thou of the garden cypress pure, proceed,
“And plant thy footsteps in the royal mead;
“Walk on in beauty with thy charming face,
“And with thy roses that fair garden grace.”
He said: “To such a king why should I go,
“Who wretched me, though guiltless, long ago
“Has to the jail in years gone by conveyed,
“And hopeless of his mercy's tokens made.
“If he desire my foot without should stand,
“Out of this sorrow-house let him command
“That those who on my face when first they gazed,
“And cut their hands before me, all amazed,
“As Pleiads may altogether appear,
“And the veil lift up my affair to clear;
“What was my fault, and what they saw in me
“That to thy prison brought my goods should be.
“Then for the king will the secret be sure,
“That from this sin my skirt is clean and pure.
“Myself to wickedness I never brought,
“Nor of such sin has ever been my thought.
“Evil of mine in that house none might see,
“But truth and purity was found in me.
“Better as burglar treasure bear away,
“Than of the house the honour to betray.”
When the young man told these words to the king,
He bade them those women of Egypt bring.
Towards him together they all took their flight,
As the moths aye flutter towards the light.
When that assembly all together came,
Like a candle he loosed his tongue of flame:
“What in that holy light had come to view
“That ye on him the sword of scandal drew?
“Ye were through his face in a bright spring mead:
“Why did ye him towards the prison lead?
“An idol who too heavy feels a rose,
“Who wise on such a neck would chains impose?
“The rose of night winds that bears not the pain,
“Why binds its foot with more than water's chain?”
“O thou of happy fate!” the women said,
“Prosper still more thy throne and crownèd head!
“In Joseph saw we only purity,
“But perfect honour and pure dignity.
“No pearl in oyster-shell can purer be
“Than he from accusation's stain is free.”
Zuleikha also then was sitting near,
Her soul from fraud, and tongue from falsehood clear.
Behind a veil her treachery would she hide,
And the promptings of love were laid aside.
Truth's flag was by her spirit held aloft:
And like truth's morn her breath was pure and soft.
Fully her own transgression she confessed:
“The truth is clear!” a voice came from her breast.
“In Joseph is no kind of fault,” she said:
“'Tis I who in his love astray am led.
“His union with me first did I require,
“He drove me off, ungranted my desire.
“Through my oppression he in prison fell:
“And to his grief my sorrows led as well.
“And when my grief was more than I could bear,
“I that contagion called on him to share.
“And as from me that cruelty he knew,
“To him from me is compensation due.
“Whatever favours to bestow the good king please,
“Joseph deserves a hundred such as these.”
These well-weighed words the monarch heard disclose;
He smiled as rosebud, blossomed as the rose.
He bade them Joseph, from the prison freed,
Into that garden of enjoyment lead—
Of pleasure's garden him, a smiling rose,
Best in a garden, not a jail, enclose.
In the soul's realm a prosperous king is known:
No seat becomes him better than a throne.