Bahrām sits on Tuesday in the Red Dome, and the daughter of the king of the Fourth Clime tells him a story.

When came December’s month, upon a day short as a night is in the month of June,—
The best of all the (seven) days of the week, Tuesday its happy and auspicious name*1531,
The day of Mars, and martial (too) its hue;—(on such a day) Bahrām, namesake of both*1532,
Adornment, red with red together, leagued, and to the Red Dome hastened at the dawn.
The fair Slavonian rosy-red of cheek, in hue like fire, like water all benign,
Ran up to meet the king, and homage paid, and with her sleeve swept from his cheek the dust.
For service worshipful she then prepared,—’tis sweet to see a moon adore the sun.
When night had raised its gilded globe on high, and dimmed the lustre of the solar cup,
She, honeyed apple, sweet and rosy-hued, was asked by him to tell a cheerful tale.
The charming one resisted not his will; she cast pearls from cornelian at his feet*1533:
You, to whose Gate the sky as threshold serves; orb of the sun and of the moon your tent;
Higher than every pearl that one can bore*1534, better than every word that one can speak!
No one so bold as to approach you near;—blind be the man who is too blind to see*1535!
She, having ended this, her prayerful speech, gave purest rubies to the ruby mine*1536.


She said, In Russia’s (broad) domains there was a town in beauty like a (beauteous) bride.
A king in it, a fosterer of good, who had a daughter bred in luxury.
A heart-beguiler, witching by her glance, of roseate cheeks, and cypress-slender form.
Face lovelier than the moon in beauty bright, in sweetness lips more sweet than sugar is.
All strength of heart she took from those who sued; sugar and taper near her were put out*1537.
Sugar, before her small and sugary mouth, in heart was more contracted than her waist.
The musk afflicted at her curling locks*1538; on thorns the rose and basil at her face.
High-statured like the cypress in the grove; like lamp and taper radiant of face.
The freshness of her face more fresh than Spring; than picture lovelier her lovely tints.
The drowsy jonquil languorous for her; the grace of eglantine her (humble) slave.
All men the dust beneath her servants’ feet; the rose prepared to serve her slaves as slave.
Besides her beauty and her smiling grace, she had the ornament of learning (too).
Knowledge of every order she had gained; and had perused a leaf on every art;
Had read the world’s (famed) books on magic lore, on sorcery and (other) secret things.
Over her face she’d drawn a veil of locks; and was averse to (all) command to wed.
(For) she who in her time’s unmatched, unique, how can it fit that she be mated, paired?
When that the rumour spread throughout the world that from the heavens a ḥūrī had appeared,
And that the moon and sun had born a child, Venus had given it milk through Mercury*1539;
An eager longing for her rose in each; each one with deprecation urged his suit.
One backed his claim with gold and one with strength; she on the instant hid her gold from view.
The father from the suit of men so famed, to which he saw that idol did not yield,
Was helpless, knowing not what means to adopt,—how, with opponents hundred, “nard” to play*1540.
The lovely girl to strict seclusion vowed, seeing the urgency of those who sued,
Sought out a lofty mountain in those lands, far from (the fear of) damage as the sky.
She had a castle built, so strong and fit that from the mount’s pith a new mount seemed born.
She made excuses, asked her father’s leave to make her preparations for the road.
(Her) loving father, though he was distressed at parting (from her), gave her leave to go.
So that when far his honey from the hive, the bees might not swarm in by roof and door;
Also, that with the treasure in a fort, the watchman might not be disturbed by thieves.
(Then) that incastelled beauty, for (her) ease, saw to the proper ordering of the fort.
When she had built a castle of such strength, she went and treasure-like remained in it.
Her treasure (thus) secured, to her was given the name of “Lady of the Castle-keep”.
Her castle thwarted treasure-pillagers, for, iron-built, ’twas as the “Brazen Fort”*1541.
She a Slavonian princess in that fort—of princesses naught (like it) had been dreamt.
She’d closed the road to those who took the road; she’d foiled the wish of those whose wish was law.
The accomplished princess was on every theme (most) fertile in device and quick in thought.
She knew the constitutions of the stars, (their) temperaments together she’d compared.
She’d fully mastered (all) the temperaments; she’d taken in her hand the fragrant wine*1542.
So that the treatment of all dry and moist, how water is made hot and fire made cold,
How men behave towards their fellow-men, how to community community,
All that may help and further culture (too), all that may add adornment to mankind,—
(Of) all this she had gathered (knowledge true),—she, who in form was woman, man in mind.
As she became content within those walls, she cast all thought of mankind from her heart.
Upon the road to that high-towering fort she set with cunning skill some talismans.
Each talisman a form of iron and stone; each bearing in its hand a glittering (sword).
(So that) whoever reached that dangerous pass, by the swords’ strokes (at once) was cut in two.
Except the watchman of the fort, each one who went that way was foiled and overthrown.
The watchman too, though an initiate, took not the road except with reckoned steps.
For if he happened to take one wrong step, his head would from his body severed fall.
A talisman would strike him with a sword; the moon, his life, would hide behind a cloud.
The fortress-gate, which towered to the sky, was hidden like the portal of the sky.
Though a surveyor searched it for a month, he’d find it no more than the heavens’ gate.
That fairy-faced one, dweller in the fort, of China’s studios*1543 was a painter skilled.
When she engaged in painting with the brush, she tied knots on the water like a shell*1544.
With the black paint, as ’tis with ḥūrīs’ locks, she painted (darkest) shadow upon light*1545.
When she was high-established in that house, (and) the house shone by that high-’stablished Moon,
She took the brush, and on a piece of silk painted a full-length portrait of herself.
And then above the silken portrait wrote in finest characters (the ensuing words):
Whoever in the world may wish for me, with such a castle as is my abode,
Let him, not speaking from afar, come in, moth-like no simple gazer at the light.
A brave man may gain access to such fort; no coward can have any business here.
Whoever wishes for the beauteous one, must have not only one but thousand lives;
Must boldly set his mind upon the road, and four conditions (strictly) must observe.
The first condition of this wedlock (then) is (that he have) fair fame and beauty (too).
The second, that by knowledge he has gained, he loosen on this road the talismans.
The third condition is that having loosed from their connections all the talismans*1546,
He show where is the portal of this fort, that he become my mate by door, not roof.
If he the fourth condition would fulfil, (then) let him take the pathway to the town,
That I may come unto my father’s court, and question him upon some learned themes.
If he should answer me in fitting mode, (then) I will wed him as good faith requires.
That honoured man shall be my husband (then), for that which I have promised must be done.
And whosoe’er in these conditions fails, false to the terms, his blood be on his head!
Who holds this admonition in esteem,—he has the alchemy of happiness.
But he who cannot penetrate my words,—though he be great, he shortly shall be small.
When she had done preparing (thus) her page, she gave it to a fitting messenger.
She said, Arise, and take this page with you; (go) and take off the cover from this plate*1547.
Go to the city-gate, in some high place upon the toll-house fasten this my note;
That anyone, of army or of town, whose wish may fall upon so fair a one,
May take the road on the conditions named, and either be the castellan or die.
The servant (then) departing with the note, followed an intricate and winding road.
He fixed the beauty’s portrait on the gate, so that her lovers (there) might look on it;
That whoso should desire her might arise, and (rashly) with his own hand shed his blood.
When by each reigning prince and sovereign crowned was gathered of this story some account,
Led by desire (inspired) by that wild news, people appeared from all the parts around.
Each one (urged) by the fervour of his youth abandoned to the winds his (precious) life.
Whoever for the sake of her set out incurred destruction through the falchion’s strokes.
Not one who strove by judgment and by schemes could loose those talismans, the castle’s guards.
And he who had some slight success in this,—even his spells reached not the remedy.
Though sundry of the talismans he loosed, he had not any power with the rest.
From want of proper judgment and of sense, disgraced, as but a warning did he serve.
(Thus) many handsome youths were brought to death without at all attaining to their wish.
No one had found deliverance from that road; no road was there but that of loss of head.
Each head cut off of those exalted ones,—they hung it up upon the city gate;
Till heads so many sternly were cut off, that in the city, eaves on eaves were formed.
When round the world you look in every place, (you find) the towns adorned by festive scenes;
That troubler of the ḥūrīs, fairy-faced, with heads, not festive scenes, adorned the town.
Upon her head how many heads there were which had not reached the shadow of her door!
Among the great in rank, the monarchs’ sons, there was a handsome youth of noble mind.
Astute and powerful, beautiful and brave; the wolf and lion victims of his sword.
One day he left the city for the chase, to gain such joy as early spring invites.
On the town-gate he saw a honeyed page; around it hundred thousand poison-flasks*1548.
A portrait painted on a silken ground, one which should please the eyes, beguile the heart.
A face which from its loveliness and grace, took in a moment from him self-re straint.
He uttered fervent blessings on a reed from whose point came such characters (as those).
Around the portrait, which adorned the world, (round), head to foot, a hundred heads were hung.
He said, How from this shark-infested pearl can I escape? No place as refuge serves.
If from this love-affair I hold my hand, (such) self-restraint will bring on me distress.
And if my heart renounce not this desire, I lose my head, my wish still unfulfilled.
Although a lovely form is on the silk, snakes in the rings are, spines among the dates*1549.
Forsooth, so many heads have been cut off; would that some business too had been achieved!
Take it that I too lose my head,—what gain? A harmless being killed and blood-defiled.
If from this cord I do not hold my hand, my head must be (and will be) bound by it.
Though I be bold enough to encounter death, how can I ever bid adieu to life?
Again he said, This silk is fairies’ work, painted in order suitors to attract.
Before the spells of fairy such as this one must not go without some magic power.
Until by magic I annul her spells, I should not take up lightly this affair.
I must procure a means from small and great that from the wolf’s jaws may escape my sheep.
He who would grasp a business (hastily),—the order of his business gets confused.
(But) in (your) action dwell not on the small*1550, in order that great loss be not incurred.
Perform this mode of music with the world*1551: take slowly, give out forcibly and quick*1552.
My heart is more unbalanced than my mind; my liver much more blighted than my heart*1553.
How (then) with such a heart can I be gay? What can I bring to thought from such a mind?
He spoke these words and for a time was sad, and from his bosom heaved a bitter sigh.
He shed tears as he gazed; he saw cloth, sword, and on the basin*1554 saw, as ’twere, his head.
This love, as ’twas, he hid (within his heart), the thought and care he had he told to none.
(Thus) he was night and day with anguished heart; nor night was night to him, nor day was day.
With utter longing he at every dawn would wend his way unto the city-gate;
Would see that wondrous portrait (on the gate): tomb of Farhād, and palace of Shīrīn*1555.
Though for the lock a hundred thousand keys he sought, he (still) could not find any clue.
He saw a thread with thousand thousand ends, but the right end, the clue, remained unknown.
Then he discarded pride from the affair, and turned himself to search and scrutiny.
He sought in every land expedients by means of which the tight knot might be loosed.
Although he sped about on every side, he could not loose it from its tangled state,
Until (at last) he heard news of a sage, a demon-binder of angelic kind.
One who could bridle every untamed horse; who to all learning had attained in full.
Subservient to him every fellow-sage; opened by him all doors just claim might close*1556.
When of that learned man*1557 the noble youth heard news from men experienced and wise,
To that Sīmurgh*1558 of sun-like majesty he sped like bird which flies from mount to mount.
He found him like a garden in full bloom*1559. Where? In a cave most desolate and drear.
He touched his saddle-straps as lily might*1560; he girt himself for service like the rose*1561.
Through his good fortune and most happy state (much) knowledge did he gather from that Khiẓr*1562.
When from that spring he’d drunk full many a draught, he spoke a word upon his fixed resolve,
And of the fay-like girl, the lofty fort, the people’s fate caused by her sorcery.
The talismans she’d set upon her road; her casting down before her thousand heads—
All he related there before the sage; in naught did he the matter hide (from him).
The sage informed him then of what was fit, in secret calculations for the affair.
(The prince thus) found the remedy he sought, then full of anxious care retraced his steps.
In a few days regaining steadiness, he set himself to think about the affair.
He gathered every needful instrument fit for the business in that narrow pass.
He sought a spiritual relationship*1563 which should relieve in this his hard emprise.
According as his estimate came out he formed his plan for every talisman.
And first, to further his pursuit he sought favour from those of spiritual power.
He dressed in red, for blood’s involved, said he; this plaint is from the sky’s oppressive act.
Since he was soon to enter seas of blood, he made his garments, as his eyes, blood-stained.
All care for his own safety he resigned.—(Then) cries of disapproval rose from all.
He said, I take not for myself this pain; nay, rather, I avenge unnumbered heads.
Either I’ll loose this yoke from people’s necks, or sacrifice my life (in the attempt).
When for this work he’d dipped his clothes in blood, he took his sword, and pitched his tent without.
All who became acquainted with the affair,—that one of lion heart had come to avenge,—
Sent fervent aspirations forth with him, that he should soon succeed in that emprise.
Their aspirations and his pure, calm mind, were as steel armour to encase his frame.
Then afterwards, with plea to be excused, he asked the king’s permission to depart.
Then set out on the road towards the fort, keeping in mind the plans for his affair.
When he arrived quite near a talisman, he made a stroke and (then) a gap appeared.
And by the magic of that charm sublime the talisman’s connection he dissolved.
Each talisman he saw upon the road,—he cast it headlong down into the pit.
When he had (thus) removed them from the mount, he put their swords upon the mountain-peak.
Then he went quickly to the castle wall, and beat a drum (there) with a leathern strap.
He studied eagerly the sound (it made), having (in this) prepared a keen device.
(For) since to crevices the sound was clue, the door by means of crevices was found*1564.
When she became aware of these events, the moon-faced beauty sent someone to say:
You who make breaches and who open roads*1565, you whom good fortune guides to his desire,
Since you have loosened first the talismans, and (then) correctly found the treasure-door,
Turn to the city (now) like running stream, and two days wait with patience if you can,
Till to the city to my sire I come, and (there) subject you to a searching test.
About four secret things I’ll question you; give answer to these questions if you can.
My love will (then) be yours, no plea will be admissible against relationship.
When the man saw that he had found success, he turned back and went forward on the road.
From the high fort when to the town he came, he took the silken portrait off the gate.
He folded it and gave it to a slave;—blessings and praise gained life, and trouble died.
Then all the heads upon the city-gate indignantly he took down from their cords.
The people of the town applauded him, and with the slain men’s bodies buried them.
Followed by thousand blessings he went home, (while) minstrels raised their voices high in song.
The townsmen in his honour scattered coins; (from) all the roofs and doors they scattered them.
All of them swore an oath that should the king consent not to the union (of the twain),
They would at once bring down the king; and make that (prince) their ruler and their sovereign.
For one was cruel and cut off their heads; the other, brave and kindly, saved their heads.
And on her side the lovely princess (too) joyed in the suit of (her prospective) mate.
(And) soon as night, from pods of blackest musk, rubbed perfume on the litter of the moon*1566,
She, sitting in her litter gay in heart,—the wind the driver of her cavalcade*1567,—
From mountain pass unto the palace came; which gained the mountain’s majesty from her.
(Her) father seeing her grew bright and gay; nor did she hide from him the state of things.
All that had happened to her, good and bad,—she told him all her story (end to end):
About those cavaliers through her cast down; who dug a pit, fell into it themselves.
Until (the story) came to where the prince had of a sudden lost his heart to her.
How to the mount he came, and firmness showed; how he broke, one by one, the talismans.
How he became successful with the fort*1568, (and) failed not in the stipulations made.
Having fulfilled of four conditions three, let us now see how ’twill be with the fourth.
The king enquired of her, What is the fourth? That of the fair should one, not twenty be.
The honey-lipped one said, With fortune’s lead, I mean to set four problems hard to solve.
(And) if by him my problems should be solved, the crown will (then) be placed upon his head.
But if he should break down upon this road, (then) he will pitch his tent where he (well) knows.
’Twere fitting that to-morrow at the dawn, the king should take his place upon the throne;
Should then invite (the prince) to be his guest; whilst I behind the curtain should be hid.
Then I some mystic questions would prepare, for him to answer with maturest thought.
The king said, we will do so, it is well; whate’er is done by you by me is done.
To these their words they added not a word, but sought their rooms and (then) retired to rest.
Next morn at dawn when that the azure sphere over the rocks the ruby’s lustre shed*1569;
When in these seven “nard”-boards of six squares, a wheat-ear sown came up a single grain*1570,
Like the Great Kings*1571, the king arranged a Court, and girded tight his waist in servitude*1572.
He gathered an assembly of the famed, of those (esteemed for) piety and truth.
(Then) when the royal guard was formed in ranks, he made his Court a hospitable hall.
The prince he (then) invited as his guest, and scattered precious pearls upon his head*1573.
Then golden trays were set down in the hall; the hall in straits through store of food profuse*1574.
Since all one wished was on the tray, it was, rather than tray, supplier of desires.
The foods which were to right and left of them,—each person ate of that which he desired.
The food partaken of in measure due, and nature (thus) refreshed with nutriment,
The king ordained that in a private hall they should assay the gold refined by fire*1575.
When he went in he gave up his own seat, and made his guest be seated in his place.
He sat before his daughter (then) to see what further play she’d with her suitor make.
She who might teach Ṭarāzian puppets play*1576, behind the curtain gave a puppet-show.
She took off from her ears two cryptic pearls, and gave them to a treasurer and said,
Convey these to our guest without delay, and when they’ve been conveyed, (his) answer bring.
The messenger at once went to the guest, and that which she had brought she showed to him.
When the man (carefully) had weighed the pearls, the secret of them found place in his mind.
Three other (pearls) he added to those (two), pearls which were worthy (to consort with) them.
(Then) he consigned them to the messenger, and sent her back to that exalted (dame).
When she whose heart was stone saw those fine pearls, she took a stone up (then) and weighed the pearls*1577.
On seeing that their weight was quite correct, with the same stone she pounded them to dust;
A little sugar added to the (pearls), (so that) the pearls and sugar were commixed.
The envoy took them and rejoined the guest; the guest again divined the subtlety.
He asked the servant for a glass of milk; he poured both into it and said, (here), take.
The servant to her lady (then) returned, and near her placed the present she had brought.
The lady took the milk and drank it up, and made a paste then of the residue.
She weighed it with the weights in use before; the weight was not diminished by a hair.
(Then) from her hand at once she took a ring, and gave it for the trusty girl to take.
The wise man took it from the servant’s hand, then on his finger placed it with respect.
He gave a world-illuming pearl most rare, for night a lamp, in brightness like the day.
The girl of ḥūrī race (then) speeded back, and gave to rarest ruby*1578 rarest pearl.
The lady put the pearl upon her hand, and from her necklace took apart the pearls,
Until she found a pearl a mate for his, for night a lamp, of the same kind as his.
She threaded them together on one string, this one and that as one, exactly like.
The servant went, gave pearls unto the sea,—rather she gave the pleiads to the sun*1579.
When the wise man had seen them, in those two united he could find no difference.
’Twixt those bright pearls no difference there was in light and sheen—none save duality.
He asked the servants for a blue glass-bead, for to those two no (pearl) could be a third.
He placed the little bead among the pearls; he gave, that she who brought might take them back.
The lady, seeing bead and pearls conjoined, propitious, sealed her lips and sweetly smiled.
She, comprehending, took the pearls and bead, fixed bead on wrist, and in her ears the pearls;
(Then) to her sire said, Rise, arrange the affair, for I have played with fortune now enough.
Behold, (now), how my fortune favours me, when I (can) choose a lover such as this.
(Now) have I found a match in one whose match no other person is in his own land.
I who have wisdom and approve the wise, in wisdom am inferior to him.
Her father, when he heard these pleasant words, said to the fay, O you of angel kind,
The converse which I’ve witnessed (at this time),—its face behind a veil has been concealed.
All that in secret converse has occurred, you must successively narrate to me.
She, nurtured in a thousand hopes*1580, (then) raised the cryptic curtain of the mystery.
She said, When first I set my wits to work, the two pearls I unloosened from my ears.
Under the symbol of those lustrous pearls I said, Life’s but two days, these wisely use.
He, who three others added to the two, said, Though ’twere five ’twould also quickly pass.
(Then) I, who added sugar to (the five), and ground in one the sugar and the pearls,
Meant that this life, polluted by desire, is like the pearls and sugar ground in one.
By incantation and by alchemy, who can each from the other set apart?
He, who poured milk upon the (mixture then), so that one melted and the other stayed,
Meant that the sugar mixed up with the pearls would (from them) with a drop of milk divide*1581.
I, who drank up the sugar from his cup, was but a suckling (when) compared with him.
My sending (him) a ring (was meant to show) that in his wedding me I acquiesced.
The pearl bestowed by him occultly showed that, like the pearl, his match could not be found.
I from my necklace added (then) a pearl to point out that I was myself his match.
Examining, he saw not in the world a third one that resembled those two pearls.
(Thereafter) he obtained a blue glass-bead; and added it against the evil eye*1582.
I, who disposed the bead upon myself, thus showed myself devoted to his will.
His (blue glass) bead, as seal upon my heart, is on my treasury the treasure-seal.
For (solving thus) the five close mysteries I honour and acknowledge him as king.
When the king (thus) beheld the wild colt tamed; the whip no longer in a state undressed,
In method excellent he set himself all (rites) prescribed by wedlock to perform;
Saw to the sweetmeats of her marriage-feast*1583; and portioned Venus, to Canopus*1584 (wed).
He made a banquet like the field of heaven; perfumed the hall with aloes-wood and musk.
He had all done to adorn the marriage-feast; with rose he seated cypress*1585, and went forth.
He joined together two of joyous heart, and then departed, (leaving them alone).
When the prince saw his captivating bride, saw that a heavenly ḥūrī was his mate,
Sometimes he kissed her cheek, at times her lips; at times pomegranates tasted, sometimes dates*1586.
Postremo adamas margaritas superavit; falco avis phasianæ pectori superincubuit.
He saw his blue glass-bead upon her wrist, (and) love for him in her two languorous eyes
Ejus margaritas cum sigillo non reliquit; margaritarum sigillum thesauro detraxit.
He lived with her, enjoying his desires. He dressed in red, a symbol of her cheeks.
For he had taken on that previous day redness of clothes as omen of success.
Since by that red he had escaped from black*1587, he ever with red gems adorned himself.
Since (then) in red his fortune had been cast*1588, the name was giv’n to him of “King in Red”.
Red’s an adornment which delights (the eyes); the value of red gems is (due to) this.
Gold, which the name, red sulphur, has received, has its best title in the title, “red”.
The vital spirit is diffused in blood, and this is with the grace of life bright red*1589.
Those persons in whom beauty may be found,—the source of this, their beauty, is of red.
When this delightful story reached its end, (and) roses red had filled the air with scent*1590,
By reason of the roses strewed about Bahrām’s face brightened red like fragrant wine.
Extending then his hand to the red rose, he took her to his arms, in comfort slept.