Bahrām sits on Wednesday in the Blue Dome, and the daughter of the king of the Fifth Clime tells him a story.

On Wednesday, from the blossom of the sun when turquoise-hued the blackness of the sphere,
The king, (sun-like) in world-illuming power, in triumph sphere-like, dressed in turquoise-blue.
He went for pleasure to the Turquoise Dome; the day was short, the theme in view was long.
When evening’s locks put on a musky veil*1591, the watching of officials he escaped.
He asked the fair narrator of romance to do, as such, the office due from her.
To tell, accordant with his gallantry, a tale to soothe and gratify his heart.
A rosebud opening*1592, the cypress tall joined to the rose’s petals sweet pastilles*1593.
She said, To your command the sky submits; you whom auspicious planets praise and bless.
I and a thousand slaves above me far are honoured by submissive lowliness.
It would be ill before a honey-spring to open shop to deal in vinegar*1594.
Since (too) the king’s command must be obeyed, I will narrate if he will bear the pain*1595.


There was a man in Egypt named Māhān, more handsome than the moon when at the full.
In beauty like Egyptian Joseph he, his graces*1596 thousand ravishers (of hearts).
A number of companions of his age were (always) charmed, each one, to (see) his face.
Would sundry days beneath the azure sphere devote their hearts to music and to song.
Each one for that felicitous bright lamp*1597 prepared a feast in garden and in house.
One day there came a worthy man of rank, who led him to a garden as his guest.
A garden sweet and pleasant (to the view),—the friends a hundred times more pleasant (still).
Till night they gave themselves to pleasure (there), they never tired of eating of the fruits.
Each moment something (new) to nurture joy; each instant food (too) of another kind.
When night a musky*1598 standard raised aloft, and pitch athwart the silver drew a pen*1599,
Sweet pleasure in the garden they enjoyed; wine in their hands and in their converse song.
They pledged to that (fair) garden heart (and soul), renewing joy and pleasure (constantly).
The moon shone bright and lighted up the sky, a night like day in brightness ’twas in truth.
When Māhān’s brain was heated with the wine, he saw the shining of the moon, and swift.
Went round the garden like a drunken man, till from the garden a palm-grove he reached.
Afar he saw a man, who (then) approached, and told him he was one who knew him well.
(He saw) on recognition ’twas a friend, (he saw) it was a partner in his trade.
He said (to him), Why come you at this time? you (who are) not companion, servant, slave.
To-night, said he, I have arrived from far; my heart impatient of not seeing you.
Inestimable profit have I brought; reason for thanks there is for such a gain.
When I approached the town it was too late, the gate was closed, I could not reach the house.
So to the caravansera without I took the sealed up load of merchandise.
On hearing you were on a visit (here), I came, (but) it is easy to return.
(Still) it is best that you come to the town: the welfare of the village is its chief*1600.
On a dark night ’tis also possible that from taxation we secure our goods.
Māhān, heart-gladdened at (the thought of) wealth, set out to follow in his partner’s steps.
The garden-gate they opened covertly, (but) since no person saw them naught was said.
Both, in their running, rushed on like the wind, till watches one or two of night had passed.
The road-devouring partner ran in front, (Māhān) ran after him like flying dust.
When they had passed by where the house should be—the arrow, thought, had overshot the mark*1601
Māhān said, From the Nile to my abode the distance of the way is but a mile*1602.
(But) we have traversed leagues exceeding four, beyond the limits of the circle gone.
Again he said, But I perchance am drunk, erroneous pictures on my eyes I’ve drawn.
He who is acting as my friendly guide knows (well) the road and is intelligent.
So in their heat and hurry on they went, slower the one behind, the leader swift.
Though from fatigue the former lagged behind, the leader, calling to the laggard, ran.
(Still) in their flight the two (men) slackened not, until the (morning) bird began to crow.
The partner vanished (then) from Māhān’s sight; Māhān was (almost) crazy left astray.
The bird of early morning*1603 spread its wings, the brain of night from fantasies was free.
Then the man’s eyes by fantasy enchained, escaped from the deceit of fancy’s play.
Fatigue and drunkenness disturbed his brain; fatigued and drunk, he lay down on the spot.
He shed tears like a candle half burnt out, he lay till midday sleeping (on the ground).
When from the hotness of the sun his head grew hotter than the fire within his heart,
He opened eyes to gaze upon the road, he gave a glance around on every side.
Rose-garden sought he, but he saw no rose, saw nothing but a trouble-branded heart.
Cave upon cave he saw as his abode, than dragon larger was the snake in each.
Although no strength was (left him) in his legs, his will acceded to the thought of flight.
He ran along with no strength in his legs; he travelled on with no one (there) to guide.
Till night, that monarch, set his tripod down*1604, his heart (e’en) of his shadow was in fear.
When night had drawn designs of blackest work, whilst from white work the world entire was freed,
Insensible he fell at a cave’s mouth,—each blade of grass a serpent to his eyes.
He in that demons’ tract bereft of sense, when human voices fell upon his ear.
Opening his eyes he saw two persons (near), a woman one, the other one a man.
Each had a bundle fastened on their backs, slowly they walked by reason of the weight.
The man, who saw (Māhān) upon his way, there left the woman, and himself came close.
He shouted at him, Say, what man are you? With whom and what are you most near allied?
He said, A stranger I, in evil plight, my name Māhān, a man of intellect.
Said he, How happened you to reach this place, for this drear waste is void of husbandry?
This land and region are the abode of dīvs, the lion clamours from the dread of them.
He answered, You are welcome, worthy man; show such humanity as one should show.
Of my own will indeed I have not come,—of demons speak not, I am human-born.
Last night I was in luxury, at ease, in Iram’s (heavenly) gardens*1605 as a guest.
(Then) came a man who said, I am your friend; I am a partner in your land and coin.
He cast me from that heaven upon this waste, and when the sun rose vanished from my sight.
That friend devoid of friendship was himself deceived, or else deceitful (in his lead).
Do me a kindness for the sake of God, point out to me the road which I have lost.
The man said, Handsome youth, you have escaped by a hair’s breadth (and) by a single hair.
He was a demon whom you call a man, his name (is) Hā’il of the wilderness.
He who appeared a partner in your wealth,—his aim was the destruction of your life.
Many a one like you has he misled, and each of them has died in a ravine.
I and this woman are your friends and mates; we both will be your guardians on this night.
Be stout of heart and walk between us two; go with us foot for foot and step for step.
Māhān proceeded (then) between those guides, and traversed mile by mile the road (with them).
Till early dawn they uttered not a word, save after one another took no step.
When the cock’s crow beat the tattoo*1606 (at dawn), and dawn tied on the camel a gold drum*1607,
Those two became a lock without a key*1608; they vanished both (at once) from (Māhān’s) sight.
Again Māhān fell down (upon the ground), sat where he was, dejected and fatigued.
When day diffused its light (throughout the earth), and earth inclined to shed the blood of night*1609,
All through a narrow gorge Māhān went on, mount upon mount he saw, a narrow pass.
His strength departed, for there was no food,—no food there was except regret and pain.
(So) he made search for roots and seeds of herbs, and ate them few by few in place of bread.
He could not think of staying from the road; his travel he pursued and went along.
(Then) crept into a cave and slept awhile, concealed his face from those who were concealed.
That day he went till night from mount to mount, impatient of (his) life and of the world.
When the white world took on (the shade of) black, the traveller gave up his travelling.
He heard (then) suddenly a horse’s hoofs; went to the road and saw a rider (there):
The rider urging to full speed his horse, holding in hand another rapid steed.
When he came close to Māhān he beheld a figure lurking in amongst the rocks.
His horse, which he was riding with such speed, he reined in for a moment from (its) course.
He said, O wanderer of skulking mien, who are you, and what place for you is this?
If you apprise me of the secret, (well)!—if not, I will at once strike off your head.
Māhān through terror at the rider shook; perspired in drops like seed by farmers strewn*1610.
He said, O graceful rider, traveller, hear, end to end, the adventures of your slave.
All that he knew, occult, or manifest,—all to the rider he at once disclosed.
When from Māhān the rider heard the tale, in wonder he was lost and showed regret.
Repeating often to himself “Lā ḥaul”*1611, (he said), You’re saved from horror and from death.
Female and male two crafty “ghūls” were those*1612, who lead (all) men (they come across) astray;
They cast them into pits, and shed their blood; when the cock’s crow is (heard) they flee away.
Hailā the female’s called, Ghailā the male; their business to (bring) trouble and do ill.
Give thanks you have escaped the death (they give); come, brisk, and speed if you have any worth!
Mount the led horse and take the reins (in hand), and keep your tongue from speech of every kind.
Urge on the rapid courser on my road, and (fail not) in your heart (to) call on God.
Worn out, afflicted by the vales and caves, he mounted, (as enjoined), the swift-paced steed.
From a low mountain-tract there came to view a level waste,— of what kind?—like one’s palm.
He rode his steed so (swiftly) in his wake that (soon) the wind, (outstripped), was left behind.
When they had gone some portion of the way, and passed beyond the middle of the hills,
From all sides came the sound of the guitar, the plaint of lute, the dulcet tones of song.
On that side rose the cry, come hither, come! on this, the cry, May the cup give you life!
On all the plain, instead of verdure, flowers, innumerable “ghūls” and ceaseless noise.
Mountain and plain were worn out by the dīvs: the mountain took the plain, the plain the mount*1613.
Innumerable demons seated there, exchanging shouts through valley and through plain.
All of them, like the wind, were scattering dust; rather, they were like leeches black and long.
Till it got so, that from the left and right the mirthful clamour rose up to the sky.
A tumult rose from clapping and the dance; it made the brain ferment in (every) head.
At every instant did the noise increase, moment by moment greater it became.
When a short time had gone by, from afar a thousand torches (all) aflame appeared;
(And) suddenly some persons came to view, forms cast in tall and formidable mould.
All of them “ghūls” like blackest Ethiops; pitchlike the dress of all, like tar their caps.
All with the trunks of elephants and horned, combining ox and elephant in one.
Each of them bearing fire upon his hand, (each) ugly, evil one like drunken fiend.
Fire (also) from their throats was casting flames; reciting verse, they clashed the horn and blade*1614.
By playing tambourines with tinkling bells they set the whole world dancing (to the rhythm).
And through the plectrums which those Ethiops used the horse which Māhān rode began to dance.
(Then) at his courser Māhān cast a glance, to see why from his legs his head bulged out.
A sore disaster under him he saw: upon a dragon found himself astride.
A four-legged dragon with two wings (it was), and, stranger still, it had (too) seven heads.
(A four-legged beast with four wings who has seen? I err, a seven-headed dragon, sure)*1615.
The sky which is around us as a belt,—why strange? A seven-headed dragon ’tis*1616.
On that destructive-looking dragon he, with legs drawn to his armpits on its neck;
Whilst that tyrannic demon, frolicsome, engaged in some new frolic ceaselessly.
It went on dancing with a thousand twists, coiling and writhing more than twisted rope.
Him,—like the straws and leaves, erstwhile at rest, which torrents drive along down hill and wild,—
It cast from side to side and bore away; it bruised and crushed (all over) utterly.
(As if) in drunken sport it made him run; it cast him on the hills and on the plains.
Sometimes it tossed him like a ball away; sometimes it put its foot upon his neck.
It played a thousand kind of tricks on him, until the cock’s crow and the time of dawn.
(Then) when the dawn breathed from the lion’s mouth*1617, it cast him quickly from (its) neck away.
The noise and clamour (all) had left the world; (all) the black cauldrons (then) had ceased to boil*1618.
When from the dīv the man who rode it fell*1619, he lost all power like those who see a dīv*1620.
Beside himself upon that road he lay, like one asleep, or, rather, one who’s dead.
Until his head was heated with the sun, his consciousness of self and world was gone.
With brain excited by the heat his sense which had departed came to him again.
Rubbing his eyes he rose up from the ground; awhile he looked intently left and right.
He saw himself in that drear wilderness, which from (its) length (appeared) to have no end.
It was as red as blood, as hot as hell, the coloured sand in endless carpets spread.—
When they would draw the sword upon a head, they spread a cloth and scatter sand about*1621.
That desert took the field on blood intent, (and) hence it scattered sand and spread a cloth*1622.—
The man, (so) troubled on the night before, when he had gathered strength in mind and frame,
Away from those wild beasts’ abode a road found out for flight, a gain to the distressed*1623.
He took the road, (and) speeded like the wind, in terror at that poisoned atmosphere.
It got so, that an arrow in its flight could not keep pace with him however swift.
As soon as evening darkened into night, he’d traversed all the desert end to end.
He said, ’Tis best that I should rest at night, for through the night my mind becomes disturbed.
I (now) indeed in atrabilious mood, an air (so) dry, a road of solitude,—
How should oppressive fancies not prevail? my mind’s (already) crushed with fancy’s play.
When he saw verdant ground and flowing stream, his old heart like (his) fortune became young.
He drank some water of the stream, and bathed, (and then) he sought a place wherein to sleep.
To-night I rest, (said he), my comrade sleep, that I may see not fancies of night’s play.
Then out of all the sheltered spots around he sought one where he might in safety rest.
Until he came upon a hollow place, in which he saw a deep shaft had been sunk.
A pit with thousand steps (down to its depths), into which naught save shadow found descent.
Like Joseph he went down into the pit; his legs (then) slackened like the rope (disused).
When he awakened from a pleasant sleep, and had arranged the pillows of his room*1624,
He looked on his surroundings in the pit; he drew a picture upon blackest silk*1625.
A white light (then), in size a “diram”*1626, saw, like jasmine on the black of willow’s shade.
He looked around the light to right and left, that (he might find) from where it had (its) rise.
He saw a breach through which the lofty sphere let the moon’s rays gain entrance (to the pit).
When he discovered that the spring of light shone from the moon—the moon so far away—
He put his hands and nails into the hole, and widened out its narrowness by force.
Till so it got, that he could put his head, from crown to neck, entirely through (the hole).
He put it through, saw gardens and parterres: he saw a lovely and resplendent place.
The breach he dug at, till by toil and skill, he managed to get all his body through.
He saw a garden,—nay, a paradise, finer than Iram in its form and make*1627.
Like hundred painted idols, too, its park, where countless cypresses and box-trees grew.
Its fruit-trees, for their happy increase there, bowed to the ground in adoration bent.
Beyond all measure were the fruits in it; renewed by them was life, they fresh as life.
Apples, like ruby garments of the wine; like caskets of cornelians, pomegranates.
Quinces like balls stuffed full of (fragrant) musk; pistachios smiling more than thirsty wights*1628.
The colours of the peach from twig and branch made the red ruby and the topaz cheap.
Its nuts conjoined with “ḥalvā” were distressed*1629; and kisses used its dates (to make them sweet)*1630.
Its honeyed guavas*1631 wreathed in honeyed smiles; its clustered jujubes fashioners of gems*1632.
The honey of its figs, its almond-nuts, were to its bowl as*1633 cups of pālūdah*1634.
Its grape-vines (with their) hats set (all) awry saw under their control both white and black*1635:
The rāziqī, mulāḥī, jazarī, the būdarī, gulābī, shakarī*1636.
A garden, a magician in the spells of (its) abundant buds of varied hue.
The branches and fresh leaves of orange-trees had planted a plantation in the grove.
The juice of grape and pomegranate fire-hued bore witness of blood-shedding for the grape*1637.
When such a paradise Māhān had found, he turned his heart from last night’s hell-abode.
Pomegranates, jujubes, apples, fruit on fruit,—like sappan red, like pure white sugar too*1638.
From the delight such honeyed draughts conferred, the smacking of his lips came to (his) ears.
He ate the fruits in honeyed sweetness rich; he ate of those provisions choice as gold.
Whilst he remained in wonder at the fruits,—eating of some, and casting some away,—
On one side suddenly a cry arose, Seize, hold the robber, to the left or right!
With rage and rancour chafing, an old man, bearing a staff upon his shoulder, came.
He said (to him), Who are you, fruit-thief fiend? Why to the garden have you come by night?
I have been in this garden many years, untroubled by the night-attack of thieves.
What person are you; of what lineage known? who are you, what are you, what are you called?
When the old man used such words to Māhān, the poor man (nearly) perished at the words.
He said, I am a stranger, and have strayed far from my home into an unknown place.
Put up with strangers who have suffered pain, that heaven may call you cherisher of such.
When the old man heard his apologies, he felt disposed to treat him graciously.
He threw the stick down from (his) hand at once; he put him at (his) ease, and sat down near.
He said, Pray tell me your adventures (now): what you have seen, what has occurred to you.
What wrongs from foolish people you’ve endured, what evil, wicked men have done to you.
When from the ancient man Māhān received soft words of kindness and of sympathy,
With his adventures he acquainted him: with what he’d seen and that which had occurred.
His falling out of comfort into pain, each night his heart subjected to some grief.
And (then) of his despair at what might come, as sometimes he was troubled, sometimes joyed.
Until the pit and that auspicious lamp*1639, which led him to the garden from its gloom.
In detail he narrated (all) the tale: the hidden matter he disclosed to him.
Hearing his words the ancient man was dazed at (all) the wondrous trials he had borne.
He said, Thanksgiving now is strictly due, that (so) you have been saved from pain and fear.
For all the old man’s kindness and support Māhān felt gratitude within (his heart).
Then he enquired (and said), That vile abode, what region is it, in what land its seat?
Last night the Resurrection it appeared, with (all) its infidels intent on me.
Demons I saw, and to myself was lost; such is the state of him who demons sees*1640.
A fire raised smoke, (diffused it) through my brain; that evil all seemed from a single spark*1641.
Against me came a thousand, demon-faced, in each were countless demons and wild beasts*1642.
One dragged me, this one threw me, that one struck; demons, wild beasts, and both as bad could be.
Darkness has in the light an antidote: in blackness (also) whiteness may be seen;
But I saw black on black so much that I grew frightened of the pupils of my eyes.
I was bewildered, (knew not) what to do, quite innocent, yet weeping with distress.
Sometimes my eyes would lead me to complain, sometimes I stroked my eyes (to wipe the tears)*1643.
(Then) I went forth and hastened on the way,—this with “Lā ḥaul”*1644, and that with “Bismillāh”*1645.
Until (at last) God saved me from my woes, and changed my darkness to the Stream of Life*1646.
I found a garden sweeter than Iram*1647; a gard’ner still more charming than the same.
My terror of last night has left me now; to-night my wish tends towards security.
The old man said, O you who’ve care escaped, and paradise’s sanctuary reached,
That (dreary) desert which surrounds these tracts, fearful and sterile, is the abode of fiends.
From those base-natured beings you are saved, and such a treasure-house you (now) have reached.
Those Ethiop-like dwellers in the waste are fiends who ape men’s form, and men devour.
They first of all deceive men (by their wiles), then (with) no stinted torture torture them.
Of truth they make professions, but play false; they take men’s hands, (then) cast them into pits.
Their love is (but) a prelude*1648 to (their) hate; such (always) is the habit of the fiend.
He who (by nature) to deceit is given is even of the demons of those depths.
And such-like fiends are many in the world, who laugh at fools whilst they are fools themselves*1649.
Sometimes they hide a lie beneath the truth; sometimes find poison in an antidote*1650.
No lying fancy can be long sustained; truth is a warrant of eternity*1651:
Duration is an index (sure) of truth; from truth is found a wonder-working spell.
Your nature’s radically void of guile, that all these fancies came into your head*1652.
Such tricks as these by wicked beings played, they show not save to simple-minded men.
(’Twas) terror made a fierce attack on you, and gave the play of fancy to your mind.
All this oppression practised upon you came from alarm at straying from the road.
If your heart then had kept its normal state, your mind would not have harboured fantasies.
(But) since you’ve saved your life from that “ghūls’” haunt*1653, drink of the clear and pure;—no more of dregs!
Think that your mother bore you but last night; that God just now has given you to me*1654.
This precious garden, emerald in hue, which by my heart’s blood has been brought to hand,
Is my possession incontestably; no flower but makes avowal (of the fact).
Fruits nurtured by affection here there are; from different gardens all the trees were brought.
The income of it, even at its worst,—with it a city would be rich and great.
Besides (all) this I have a thousand stores; (pure) gold in stacks, and jewels in ass-loads.
All this I have, but still no child, no son, on whom to fix the affection of my heart.
When I saw you, by reason of your worth, I fixed my heart on you to be my son.
If this should please you, you to whom I’m slave, all this (at once) I will devote to you;
That you in this fresh garden may rejoice, enjoy (its) blessings, wander (at your will).
I will demand for you, as you may wish, a youthful bride, a ravisher of hearts.
On you I’ll fix my heart and be well pleased; in all you wish I’ll be subservient.
If kindly to this offer you respond, as pledge to this convention give your hand.
Māhān replied, How can such words be used? The bramble worthy of the cypress-tree!
(But) since you (deign to) accept me as your son, in this authority I am (your) slave*1655.
May you be joyous, for you’ve given me joy, O you through whom my house is flourishing.
He kissed (the old man’s) hand, rejoiced by him, and upon that he gave his hand to him.
The old man took his hand (then) in his own, engaged himself by oath, a compact made.
He said (to him), Arise! His guest arose. He took him from the left hand towards the right.
He pointed out a lofty edifice, (where) carpets of rich painted silk were spread.
A hall (there was which) towered to the sky; its arch arising up to Saturn’s (sphere).
Its walls and court were all of purest gold, and like the full moon in (their) radiance.
He saw some rooms (in it) of varied hue of many branches, cypress, poplar, formed.
Curtains were fixed up by the door-jambs (there), the waists of which the (lofty) heavens kissed.
Before that hall for a king’s palace fit, there grew a sandal-tree (both) tall and broad.
It threw out from its many branches gems, which blushing hung their heads down towards the earth*1656.
On it was fixed a strong well-fitting seat,—a couch made out of strong and solid boards.
Cushions and mats were laid upon the couch, pleasant and soft like branches of a tree.
The old man said to him, Climb up the tree. If need you have of water and of food,
A wallet and a bottle hang (from it), full of blue water this, of white bread that.
I go, in order to prepare for you in full abundance all your heart may wish.
Until I come be patient in (your) place; descend not from your sleeping-place at all.
Whoever questions you, lend not your ear; keep silence, and no word in answer speak.
By no one’s courtesy be you beguiled, to anyone’s attention give no heed.
If I should come, for some assurance ask, and then admit me to your safe retreat.
Since in all earnestness between us two a close and lively friendship has been fixed,
The garden is your own, the house your house, my resting place is resting place of yours.
(But) you must fear the evil eye to-night, and then all other nights you’ll be at ease.
He gave him these injunctions one by one, and swore him also to (observe) the same.
There was a leather scaling-ladder there for (the ascent to) that auspicious couch.
(The old man) said, Come, grasp the leather, mount: to-night be just a little limber-legged.
Then draw up this long leather from the ground, in order that no person may play tricks.
To-night be girded ready for the snake; and in the morning with the treasure play*1657.
Although my “ḥalvā” has arrived at night, its saffron in the day-time must be seen*1658.
Though like a choke-pear is the pear of night, the smiling pomegranate is in dawn’s hands*1659.
The old man spoke, then to the palace went, to put a place in order for (his) guest.
Māhān ascended (then) the lofty tree, drew up the leathern (ladder) from the ground.
He (then) sat down upon the high-placed couch; beneath his feet all heights (seemed) low (to him).
He opened out the wallet and consumed a portion of the yellow cakes and white.
He drank some of the water cool and clear, on which the north wind had bestowed its care.
In such a house perfumed with ambergris*1660 like the north wind he had renounced the world*1661.
As on that couch adorned as by the Greeks he from the Chinese cushions gained repose*1662
Pastilles of camphor sweet and sandal-tree from atrabilious trouble cleared his heart*1663.
(Soon) he leaned over, towards the garden looked, saw many candles suddenly afar:
The candles borne by sundry beauteous girls;—the king enthroned*1664 (there) beauties’ slave became.
Seven queens together came along one road, (who) from the moon had snatched seven qualities.
Adorned was each one in a different way; roses and sugar*1665 they in linen fine.
When they before the garden-palace came, with candles, as in lanterns, in their hands*1666,
They made arrangements for a royal feast; they spread a carpet as the foremost seat*1667.
The carpet was illumed by light on light, varied in mode became the song and glee.
That (beauty) fairy-faced who was their chief, who of that necklace was the crowning pearl,
Sat in her own place in the banquet hall, giving the others place on either side.
They raised their voices, like the birds, in song, luring the birds down by it from the air.
Their voices in their all-beguiling power took peace of heart from Māhān and the moon*1668.
Their playing made the feet incline to dance; their verses chanted made the hands beat time.
A wind arose and played some roguish tricks, it opened fragrant groves of oranges*1669.
In love-pangs at these pleasing oranges*1670 Māhān from suffering pounded sandal-wood.
Since (too) his nature was refined and keen,—when the sweet music and the songs he heard,
He wished to find some excellent device to get down quickly from his airy (perch):
And with such beauties, ḥūrī-like in make, to be in heaven without the Judgment Day.
Again, he brought to mind the old man’s words, he held in check the struggling of his heart.
And still those idols in their sport and play showed all deluding and beguiling art.
When they had spent some time in merriment, they placed a tray, on feasting set their minds:
A tray inset with rubies and with pearls, the rubies joined together with the pearls.
Foods which had neither fire nor water seen, perfumed with musk, rose-water, aloes-wood.
Fat lambs from (far) Bulgaria*1671 (were there), fresh fish (besides), and (also) fatted birds.
Birds, fish, lamb, “ḥalvā”*1672, pulse with cumin stewed,— and thousand dishes made with pulse (were there).
When they had brought a tray of such a kind,—a tray!—no tray, but rather a whole world,
The queen of beauties in her pleasing way, said, Soon my odd to even will be changed*1673.
From sandal, scent as aloes (sweet) I smell; (now) go you to the sandal=aloes-wood.
A share of perfume it has given my brain,—but is content of mind, or perfume, good*1674?
It seems (to me) that one of friendly mind is on the tree, and harbours some desire.
(Go), call him down for fellowship (with me), that I may play his fancies (at my will).
If he come not, (then) say the tray’s prepared, (but that) love for the guest is (far) too great
To let (the queen) put hand upon the tray save at the moment when the guest has come.
(Say), rise, enjoy companionship with her; the tray is set, expectant keep her not.
The charmer went up to the sandal-tree, with mouth so small, so great in coaxing speech.
She made a bulbul long for festive song, and like the rose she brought him from the tree*1675.
From youthfulness, the force of which prevailed, the old man’s admonitions he forgot.
Since love removed the shame (of broken faith), Māhān went as the guest of that (bright) Moon.
When the (resplendent) Moon saw Māhān’s face, she bowed down low to him, as throne to king.
She seated him with her upon the rug; on both sides pearls (of eloquence) were strewn.
At the same tray she sat with him at food, for such does hospitality require.
And every moment in her kindly care she gave him of the choicest morsels (there).
When they had finished with the banqueting, the ruby-raining bowl began to flow.
When they had drunk some measures of the wine, all bash­fulness between them was dispelled.
When wine had rent the veil of bashfulness, his love for that bright Moon more fervent grew.
He saw a beauty like a flowering Spring; more charming than a picture in her grace.
With bosom soft and delicate as silk; more dainty, sweeter she than milk and sweets.
Her face an apple pleasing to the heart, with liquid candy and (pure) honey filled.
Her body quicksilver one tries to grasp, but which from fineness through the fingers slips.
Her bosom rivalled the white garden-rose, her waist with taper and with candle vied.
On her was shed the beauty of the moon; the love of Māhān soon grew thousandfold.
Now bit he as the crop-sick sugar bite; now did he taste as bees the honey taste.
When Māhān to that moon made ardent love, the moon-faced beauty turned away through shame.
He took that Chinese idol to his breast, those sweet white petals of the Chinese rose.
He put his lips upon that fount of wine: on red cornelian put a ruby seal*1676.
When his approving eyes looked well on her, that lustre of his eyes, a candied fount,—
He saw an ‘Ifrīt*1677 who from mouth to foot had her existence from the wrath of God.
A buffalo with boar’s teeth such that none would think a dragon could so (monstrous) be.
A hunch-back,—God defend us (all)!—a hump like that of bow, a bow that’s drawn in Tūz*1678.
Her back a bow, her face was like a crab; her stinking odour reached a thousand leagues.
A nose (she had) like a brick-maker’s kiln; (she had) a mouth (too) like a dyer’s trough.
Her lips apart like jaws of crocodile;—she closely held Māhān in her embrace.
Upon his head and face, no matter how, she showered kisses, and thus spoke (to him):
O you whose head has come into my hands; O you whose lips are bitten by my teeth,
You put your hands on me, your teeth as well, to kiss my lips, and (kiss) my chin as well.
(Now) look at hands and teeth,—nay, sword and lance! like this are hands and teeth, (and) not like that*1679.
What was all this desire of yours at first? and why has your desire so weakened now?
The same lips are these lips, for kisses ask; the face the same, shut eyes not to the Moon.—
Do not take wine from such a cupbearer as tempts to sense-deluding drunkenness*1680.
(And) do not hire a house (too) in a street where the police-director is a thief.—
All these, my acts, are such as they should be*1681, if I would treat you as is requisite.
If I should act not as befits you, then I am the same one that you saw at first*1682.
She caused (him) thus affliction ceaselessly, inflicted fiery acts of violence.
When Māhān, helpless and ill-fated, saw a Moon resplendent to a dragon changed;
One, silver-legged, (now) showing wild boar’s hoofs; an ox-eyed (beauty), (now) with ox’s tail;
Beneath that pitch-like dragon he became—(without descrip­tion) you must take the sense.
He shrieked aloud like any child in fright, or woman in the pain of giving birth.
And that black monster like the (famed) White Dīv*1683 the willow with her kisses would have fired*1684.
Until the (first) light of the dawn appeared, the cock crowed, and the demon fled away.
The veil of darkness lifted from the world, and (all) those visions were (at once) dispelled.
Those potsherd natures, which as rubies showed*1685, all went, and no one in the place remained.
Māhān, (left) lying at the palace-gate, remained until the sun began to shine.
When he had gained his senses once again from the sweet basil of the shining day*1686,
His eyes he opened, saw an ugly place; he found a hell in place of paradise.
The wealth had gone, naught save laments remained; dust filled the eyes of vision, fantasy.
The flag, whose source was (but) in fantasy, was fickle, since it was of fickle state*1687.
He found the garden all a place of thorns, the hall a place where mist and vapour rose.
The box and cypress naught but weeds and thorns, the fruits (all) ants, the keepers of them snakes*1688.
The breasts of birds and backs of (tender) kids were all but carrion (now) of ten years’ date.
The player’s instruments, harps, rebecks (all) were (nothing but) the bones of animals.
Those (costly) tissues (all) adorned with gems (were now all) leather skins, with tanning, foul*1689.
The sandal-tree and carpets honeycombed had camphor-like evaporated (all).
Tanks (clear) as eyes reflecting honour’s soul had turned to sinks of putrid, stinking lymph.
And that which had been left of (all) the food; that which remained in the cupbearers’ jugs,
Was refuse, in its nature ordurous; was percolation, all, of (oozing) sores.
That which was wholly basil-scented wine had all become a cesspool’s filthy flow.
Again Māhān despaired of his affairs; God’s pardon and protection he invoked.
To set out on the way he had no power, nor had he daring (in the place) to stay.
He pondered thus*1690, It is a wondrous thing; what tie is this? what collar (round my neck)?
To see a flowering garden yesternight; to see a place of misery to-day!
What meant a show of roses and (then) thorns? What gain is in the produce of earth’s fields?
And he knew not that all that we possess is a (fell) dragon hid beneath a moon.
If they cast down the veil you (then) will see to what things foolish men devote their love.
These Grecian and these Chinese figures, all, are ugly Ethiopians when you look.
A skin drawn over blood*1691 (presents to view) wine out­side*1692, but a cesspool ’tis within.
If they took off from us these veins and skin, (all love would cease), a dust-heap no one loves.
Many keen men who pay for snake-stones think they have them, but find in the basket snakes*1693.
Many deluded men in this dry bag*1694 find a musk-pod a knur of aloes-wood*1695.
When Māhān from wrong-doers’ hands escaped,—as I (now) from the story of Māhān*1696,—
He formed the resolution to act well; sin (thenceforth) he abjured, made vows to God.
With a heart purified he fled to God; he went upon his way, his heart’s blood shed*1697.
Until he reached some water clear and pure; he bathed, and laid his face upon the ground.
In lowly self-abasement worshipped God; and weeping prayed the Friend of friendless men:
O Helper, help me in my troubled state! O Shewer (of the way), shew (me) my way!
His sorrows he poured out awhile to God, laid in His temple (in the dust) his face.
He said, Not only are You guide to me; who is there whom You do not shew the road?
You alone help me in my troubled state; You, and no other, shew the road to me.
When with (more) constant mind he raised his head, he saw a person standing at his side,
Like the (Spring) month of April, dressed in green; like the bright, (glowing) dawn, of ruddy face.
He said, In truth, who are you, worthy sir? Essential worth, sure, in your essence shares.
He said, I’m Khiẓr*1698, O worshipper of God, (and) I have come to help you (in your pain).
It is your good intention which has come, in order to convey you home again.
(So) give to me your hand without delay, (then) close your eyes, and open them again.
As soon as Māhān heard the words of Khiẓr,—a thirsty man, he saw the Fount of Life*1699.
He quickly gave his hand into his hand; he closed his eyes, and opened them at once.
He saw himself in that secure retreat from where the demon led him first astray.
The garden-gate he opened, and sped on; to Cairo from a dreary waste returned.
(And there) he saw his friends (in) silent (grief), all dressed in blue as mourning (for a friend).
Whatever he had seen from first to last, (all) he narrated to his friends in full.
All of his friends who were his intimates; whose eyes were blinded (with their tears) for him,—
He strove to (act) in unison with all, blue (garments) he prepared and put them on.
Blue came to be inseparate from him; sky-like he took the colour of the world*1700.
Than blue the lofty sky has found no silk more beautiful in hue (to serve as dress).
Whoever takes the colour of the sky,—the sun becomes as loaf upon his tray*1701.
That azure flower which they (so much) esteem receives a round loaf from the sun’s (round) loaf*1702.
To whatsoever side the sun inclines,—the azure flower still keeps its glance on him.
Hence every other flower which is blue is called by the Hindū sun-worshipper.
When the fair radiant Moon had told her tale, with love the monarch drew her to his breast.