What for a lover can there be more sweet
Than that his love with due return should meet?
Entrance when to her secret's place he gains,
When does her bosom from his load feel pains?
Tells in her ear of former days the tale,
And of her secrets sits and lifts the veil.
Of his army's bustle beyond the call,
Joseph sat down in his audience hall.
The chamberlain entered: “O thou alone
“In the world's tale who art for goodness known,
“There now stands at the door that aged dame,
“To seize thy reins upon the road that came.
“Thou didst command me: ‘Be her escort here
“‘And at the palace gate with her appear.’”
“Fulfil her wishes,” Joseph then replied;
“Be she heart-sore, a remedy provide.”
He said: “No woman of short sight is she,
“That all her wishes she should tell to me.”
“Permit her here to enter,” he replied:
“And to raise the veil that her state may hide.
Like Venus in dance, as she leave obtained,
Thus to his private room she entrance gained.
Like a smiling rosebud or blooming rose
Her smiling mouth with blessings overflows.
At her smiles as Joseph astonished gazed,
He asked her name and condition, amazed.
She said: “I am she who once saw thy face,
“And chose thee out of all the human race,
“Gems, treasures to thee devoted my whole,
“And gave for thy love my heart and my soul.
“In grief for thee I squandered youth as well,
“And into old age, as thou seest, fell.
“In thy arms that beauty, the State, has bloomed,
“And I am here to forgetfulness doomed.”
Thus who she was her words to Joseph bore,
And in compassion he lamented sore.
He said: “Zuleikha! Ah! what is thy state?
“Ah! what has come to thee through cruel Fate?”
Oblivion's wine now so inflames her heart,
Her very senses at his voice depart.
When to her senses she returned again,
This was of Joseph's questioning the strain:
“Where are thy beauty and thy youth?” he said.
“Far from thy union,” answered she, “it fled.”
“Why bent thy delicate cypress?” he asked—
“By parting's load,” she said, “'twas overtasked.”
“Why is thy eye of brightness void?” he cried.
“'Twas drowned in blood without thee,” she replied.
He asked: “Where is thy silver, where thy gold,
“The chaplet for thy head and crown of old?”
“Whoe'er of thy beauty told me,” she said,
“Poured pearls of thy praises upon my head;
“Head and gold offered at his feet I poured,
“The jewels I gave were his due reward.
“My crown of glory I placed on his head,
“And his gate's dust wore as my crown instead.
“No gold or silver is left in my hand:
“My heart is love's treasure, and here I stand.”
He said: “To-day what dost thou ask for? say,
“Who for thy needs will be surety to-day?”
“At my needs,” she said, “is troubled thy soul,
“But thou for those needs art the surety sole.
“With an oath if thou my surety wilt be,
“I will loosen my tongue and speak to thee.
“But if not my lip on the tale shall close,
“And I must suffer yet more grief and woes.”
Generosity's mine he then swore by,
That pillar architect of prophecy.*
For whom bloomed tulips and sweet herbs from flame,
To whom from God the robe of friendship came;
“Whatever wish thou show to me to-day,
“I will fulfil with speed, if so I may.”
She answered: “First my beauty and my youth,
“As thou hast seen and knowest is the truth;
“To see thee next my eyesight would I seek,
“And pluck a rose from garden of thy cheek.”
At once then Joseph moved his lip in prayer,
And from his lips poured out life's water there.
On her dead charms the breath of life he breathed,
And round her cheek auspicious fortune wreathed.
Her water gone he to its river led,
And thus refreshed of youth her roses' bed.
Her camphor musk became of Tartar deer,
And her dark night through her morn's dawn grew clear,
From her musk locks then disappeared the white,
Her dark Narcissus beamed again with light.
From her rose-cypress the bend disappeared,
And from her pure silver the wrinkles cleared.
A halo round her age her youth was seen,
From forty years old she became eighteen.
Her beauty changed to a loveliness rare,
Than in former days she became more fair.
Joseph again said: “Thou of nature sweet,
“What more may be thy wish to me repeat.”
She said: “I have no other wish than this,
“That I may rest me in thy union's bliss:
“That thou shouldst be aye in my sight by day,
“At night on thy foot my head I may lay;
“Of thy cypress tall in the shade may lean,
“From thy smiling lip I may sugar glean;
“May lay a plaster on my heart of pain,
“And in all matters my desire may gain;
“Whilst over my field, now withered and dead,
“From thy friendship's fountain may water spread.”
When Joseph had heard the hope she expressed,
In silence awhile with head on his breast,
He answered her with neither “yes” nor “no”,
Its purpose that the unseen world might show.
Will, no-will between he was wavering,
Till he heard the sound of Gabriel's wing.
This message he spoke: “O reverend king,
“From the pure God to thee I greeting bring.
“I have seen Zuleikha's humility,
“I have heard her piteous prayer to thee.
“From her wave-exciting weakness and toil
“Has my forgiveness' sea begun to boil
“Unwounded with sword of despair her mind,
“Upon the throne thy knot with hers I bind.
“Tie thou her knot that may for aye endure;
“Unloose those knots that now her way obscure.
“That thou in pure regard with her mayst be,
“And from this union pearls of offspring see.”