The khān of khāns comes to fight against Bahrām Gūr.

When the renown of Bahrām (Gūr) as king had risen from the Fish*979 up to the moon,
The hearts of the distinguished gained new strength; the fame of (all) the famous lived again.
Malignants perished in obscurity*980, the heads of all beneath black water plunged*981.
There was a good old man, Narsī by name—(the same name had the brother of Bahrām)*982
His judgment strong, his reason perfect too, he knew of things before (they had occurred)*983.
His lineage was that of King Dārā—this was no secret, but a well-known thing.
The king would never be apart from him; he was both his companion and vazīr.
He had three sons, each one of whom possessed a certain branch of knowledge to himself.
(Then) he who was the eldest of the sons Zarāvand by his father had been named.
The monarch had discerned his standard worth*984, and he had made him chief of all his priests.
He thought as gnostics do, he knew the Way, and measureless was his asceticism.
The second was collector-general, impost-receiver*985 upon all the roads.
Through the integrity of his control*986 the king had given him power throughout the land*987.
The third was in the business of the town and army the king’s special deputy*988.
The monarch left the government to them; the governors were faithful to their trust.
Each night he brightened up the feast with wine; each day his governors were at their work.
Revolving like a mill around himself, whatever he acquired he threw away*989.
This story was divulged throughout the world; axes were sharpened with a view to cut*990.
All said, Bahrām is drunk, and has exchanged religion for the world, and sword for cup.
With boon companions he is lost in wine; (all) he enjoys (is) wine, his gain’s the wind.
The mind of each was stirred with the desire that the realm’s business should be ruled by him.
The khān of khāns from China (then) set out*991 to take the monarch of the world’s abode.
With him*992, like formidable dragons, were three hundred thousand archers strong and skilled.
He crossed the Oxus and advanced with speed; a resurrection in Khurāsān raised*993.
(And) from the king’s viceroys he seized by force of Transoxiana all the (broad) domains.
The king got information of the raid, but in his army had no confidence.
He saw that all by pleasure’s hand were nursed, (and) from war’s ways that they withheld their hands.
(That) those who were the leaders of the troops were (nowise) single-hearted towards the king.
Each one sent out an envoy in advance with letters*994 to the khāqān on their views*995.
(Each one) conceived ill-feeling for his king; thought (but) of saving his own wealth and land.
They said (unto the khān), We’re all your friends; pursue the road, we’re dust upon your road*996.
You are the monarch of the world, advance, come on, for Bahrām cannot act as king.
If you desire we’ll use the sword to him; and if not, we will bind and give him up.
A scribe, as one who’s competent to read the letters (that he writes), informed the king.
The king abandoned hope of Persian faith*997, (and) left the kingdom to (his) lieutenants.
He went himself and hid his face (from view), (for) with such instruments one cannot fight.
The world’s king—so it flashed throughout the world*998— had hid his face from kingdom and from troops.
Unable with the khāqān and his troops to cope, he’d fled disordered from (the scene).
The messenger brought greeting to the khān (advising him) the king had left the throne;
Adding, You’re favoured with the crown and belt; advance, (for) neither crown nor throne remains*999.
After the khān had heard the message brought, that Bahrām (Gūr) had vanished from the world;
That he from sword and sword-play held his hand, (and) sat down carelessly to lute and wine;
That, troubled not for foe, he drank of wine, and did such things as should not have been done,
He did what in his foe he’d not approved, so that his foe (thereafter) laughed at him.
King Bahrām day and night was at the chase, whilst couriers in (his) business were engaged.
About the Chinese leader*1000 news he sought, until his courier brought him truthful news:
That he felt safe, at ease about the king—this was of happiest omen to the king.
When he prepared, of all those troops of his there were three hundred horsemen, none besides.
Each one had seen, (each one) was tried in war; dragons on land, on water, crocodiles.
Of one heart all as pomegranate with grains: though hundred-grained, of one receptacle.
The king used stratagem against his foe, (against him) plotted all in secrecy*1001.
His enemy sought fire, he gave him smoke*1002; inspired him with false confidence*1003, and soon
He aimed (his) shaft well*1004 at the mark, his (foe), for he knew well how he was circumstanced.
He made a sudden night-attack on him; he raised the dust above the seven skies.
On a dark night, which, in its black control, proceeded as a black snake with the founts*1005
A night which had removed (all) lamps away, (when) mount and plain were blacker than crows’ plumes;
(When) countless drunken Ethiops, as it were, were running sword in hand from side to side*1006;
(And) fearing those Ethiops who ran about, men opened wide their eyes, though naught they saw;
(When) the bright-hearted sky in black silk dressed was like a jar of gold closed up with pitch*1007
On such a night of ambergris*1008 so pure Bahrām (went out and) waged Bahrāmian war*1009.
(And) so he rushed upon the valorous, attacking now with sword and now with shaft.
The arrow which he shot at any place became free in a moment from the mark*1010.
The eye of caution of his foemen slept before his arrow, which could pierce hard stone*1011.
They saw the wound, the arrow was not seen; the arrow seen, the wound was not there (near)*1012.
They all said, What contrivance should this be?—The shafts remote from wounds, the wounds from shafts!
Until it came to this that no one (dared) within a league of his arena come.
He rushed on all sides like a cloud; through him the plain became a mount, the mount a plain*1013.
He killed so many of those troops with shafts that with the blood the earth grew soft as paste.
The frame of whomsoe’er his arrow hit—the soul at once departed from that frame.
When dawn drew forth the falchion of the sun, and on the sky a bowl of blood appeared*1014.
From all the blood shed by the hero-king a stream of blood flowed, bore down heads as balls.
And through the numbers slaughtered by the sword the gall-bladder was stirred to vomit bile*1015.
The lance (there) wagered with the sword its head*1016 that dragons*1017 it would reap like ears of corn.
The shaft was in the fight a darting snake—when darts the snake ’tis bad (for all who’re near).
King Bahrām fighting in the battle ranks, his arrow-points, as hairs*1018, were splitting hairs.
If with his sword he struck a horseman’s head, down to the waist he clove him like a gourd.
And if with stroke oblique he terrified, he cleft the man asunder at the waist.
Of this kind was (his) sword, of that, (his) shaft—’tis likely that the foe would be dismayed.
The Turks from this his sudden Turk-like raid, and wounds so deadly on the path he took*1019,
Inclined to flight*1020; the swords of all of them became (all) blunted, and their racing keen.
When the king’s sword was brandished*1021 on all sides, the Turkish troops relaxed in (their) attempts.
The king discerning signs of victory, drove (at the foe his) sword, and shot (his) shafts.
By the shock of (his) sword he broke their ranks: he was the wind, you’d say, and they were clouds.
In triumph to his troops he called (aloud), Behold (our) fortune, see (our happy) lot!
That we may strike a head off strive again, that we may tear the centre from its place*1022.
Supporting one another (then) they charged, lions beneath them, dragons in their hands*1023.
The right retired, the left wing fled away, the centre poured into the vanguard’s rear.
The king obtained a hold on victory: he routed all who at the centre (fought).
An army more in number than the grains of sand and earth he ruined by his raids.
The hardness of the swarthy lions’ claws*1024 pounded the brains of those whose swords were soft*1025.
Rapid in action as the snake (their) shafts; from their effects the horsemen fell and lay.
Through the sharp dagger’s (work) the dust of flight reached the Turks’ army to the Oxus stream*1026.
The king such store of gems and treasure took that treasurers were troubled in the count.
Returning from that conquest to his realm, he showed for (all his) people kindly care.
In triumph then ascending to the throne, he garbed the world afresh in New Year’s joys*1027.
All swept the ground before him (with their brows) and, suited to (his) conquest, gave him praise.
Singers in Pahlavī, with Persian tunes sang to the harp’s sweet sounds in Pahlavī*1028.
The Arab poets to the rebeck’s tones recited verses like pellucid pearls.
The king, a judge of skill, a connoisseur in poetry, gave them unmeasured wealth.
From that great spoil and treasure he endowed the temples with a thousand camel (loads).
In skirtfuls gold, and pearls in hatfuls too, he to the priesthood of the temples gave.
So much gold from his treasury he gave that no one poor remained in (all) the world.