151. i.e., one has the trouble of cracking the bone to get at the marrow; and one must risk the sting of the bee to get the honey.

152. i.e., raise the curtain which conceals the beauty, your thoughts.

153. i.e., joy settled in my heart, and grief rose up and departed from it.

154. The “one work” is the Shāh-nāma of Firdausī.

155. The poet was Firdausī.

156. I read la‘l-i sūda with India Office MS. 1168, not la‘l-i rīza of the other editions.

157. “The contents of it”; lit., “its coin.”

158. “Alien or foreign,” I think, is a more likely sense here of gharīb than “wondrous”, especially if naqd, “coin,” be the right reading, and not naqsh, “design.”

159. i.e., which were not to be found collected together.

160. Darī, “the older Persian,” is the name given to the older pure Persian spoken before the admixture of Arabic, due to the Arab occupation. Firdausī professes to have written in Darī, though his work contains a considerable number of Arabic words. It is said to have received its name from its having been the court language, but this etymology, as well as others given, is doubtful. It is also said to have prevailed chiefly in Bukhārā, Balkh, Badakhshān, and Marv.

“In (such) cities (as those) of Bukhārā and Ṭabaristān” is one sense of dar savād-ī Bukhāri-y-ū Ṭabarī.

Another sense is “in works (found) in Bukhārā and Ṭabaristān”. Bukhārā, it may be added, is said to have derived its name from the learned men who inhabited it.

The rendering, “in the works of Bukhārī and Ṭabarī,” must, I think, be rejected, first, because Bukhārī was a Traditionist, and the Author does not quote Traditions, and secondly, because both Bukhārī and Ṭabarī wrote in Arabic, whereas the Author says he consulted both Arabic and also Persian works. Ṭabarī, it is true, was a historian, and therefore a likely source, but it seems curious that the poet should restrict his mention to that single authority.

161. The Author means presumably that he sought out each beauty of a recondite character which had been overlooked by other poets.

162. i.e., When I had written out a choice selection.

163. One of the meanings given to Zand is the Book of Ibrāhīm Zardusht, i.e., the Zend Avesta of Zoroaster. If the reading Zand be correct we must infer that that book was adorned with pictures of the planets, as we know the temples were. Or, reference may be made simply to the mention of the planets as an adornment. The B. ed. of 1328, however, reads dair-i Majūs, “the Magian temples.”

164. “The Brides, (adorners) of the sky,” are the seven planets.

165. By “affairs” or offices are meant possibly the arts of fascination.

166. i.e., when seven lines converge together, as, e.g., radii of a circle, the result is a single point in the object aimed at in our enterprise; i.e., though the subjects be many, the result is unity.

167. i.e., he keeps them all in due control so that they may all subserve the main design.

168. i.e., if any part be not subsidiary to the whole it throws out all the other parts, which brought together in due subservience would have formed a consonant and unified whole. The illustration here is a cord composed of a number of strands.

169. i.e., though no one appreciate the unity of the design, it is still there.

170. i.e., I measure correctly so as to produce a consonant, harmonious and unified whole.

171. i.e., presumably, If I had composed a work of one thread only it could not have borne so many pearls of rhetoric without fear of snapping.

172. The Author seems to imply (cf. the next two distichs) that the value of the water depends upon the nature of the recipient. If the water come to places which are not adapted to keep it perfectly pure, it may be fit for bathing, but not for drinking. It is also, of course, implied that for certain uses the water must be pure in itself before it reach the recipient. Similarly (see the next distich but one), if a drop of rain-water fall into an oyster-shell which is adapted to turn it into a pearl it becomes a pearl, but if not it is lost.

The real meaning implied by the next distich but one is that the Author being a proper recipient of such material as may come to him he is able to turn it into work of literary and poetical excellence. Cf. the lines of Sa‘dī:

Bārān, ki dar laṭāfat-i ṭab‘-ash khilāf nīst, dar bāgh lāla rūyad-u dar shūra būm khas: “Rain, in the fineness of whose nature there is no contrariety, makes tulips grow in the garden and weeds in brackish ground.”

It should be explained that it was believed that the pearl in the oyster-shell was formed from a drop of rain-water which fell into it.

173. See Note 172.

174. See Note 172.

175. The Author is hinting that he expects a reward from the king.

176. Firdausī’s “bounty” consisted in his offering to King Maḥmūd of Ghaznī the historical, romantic poem the “Shāh-nāma” of 60,000 distichs. Maḥmūd’s “stinginess” lay in his giving the poet a very inadequate reward.

The distich is literally: “Maḥmūd’s stinginess and Firdausī’s lavishness were (as) the relationship of one under the ascendant Scorpio to one under the ascendant Sagittarius.

This does not mean that Firdausī and Maḥmūd were born respectively with the ascendants Sagittarius and Scorpio. The Author implies only either, that in the presentation of the “Shāh-nāma” by Firdausī and the thought of reward on the part of Maḥmūd the two were influenced by the ascendants of the particular times—Firdausī by Sagittarius, and Maḥmūd by Scorpio; or rather perhaps, more generally, that there was something in the horoscope of each that induced their respective acts at the respective times. It is clear from the context that the Author means that their respective conduct was due in some way to the influence of the stars.

According to Alan Leo those with the ascendant Scorpio are “reserved, determined and tenacious”, and those with the ascendant Sagittarius are “frank and honest, generous and sincere”. One may add that Scorpio being a “watery” sign, and Sagittarius a “fiery” sign, the two are antagonistic.

Pierre de Bresche in his Traité des Talismans (1671) says: “On attribue à Salomon un livre intitulé ‘des Sceaux des pierreries’, où il dit que la figure . . . du Scorpion et du Sagittaire se combattans, gravée en quelques pierres, et enchassée dans un anneau de fer, cause les divisions parmi ceux qui en sont touchez.”

Such figures, though included by De Bresche amongst talismans, are, more strictly speaking, spells or charms. (See also Note 1,490.)

177. Of Asadī of Ṭūs the Encyclopœdia of Islām says little except that he was “one of the oldest of the Neo-Persian poets, who died during the reign of the Ghaznavide Mas‘ūd (1030-41). Specially is he known for his Strife-poems (Munāzarāt)”.

The Encyclopædia adds, “Little that is certain is known of his circumstances, for what Daulat-Shāh tells of his relations with Firdausī appears to be of a legendary nature.”

This fact, I would suggest, is no reason for not repeating the account of those relations, since such legends are often of great importance to the Orientalist on account of the frequent reference made to them by Persian Authors. Of course discretion must be used, since some illustrative stories are of no importance, and are really too absurd to be repeated. One might add, however, with regard to the Encyclopædia, that it is far too succinct and condensed in many of its articles, and gives much too frequently references to other works when it ought to give the information itself. In its scientific articles also it is too technical: many of them are intelligible only to one who already knows the subject, and an Orientalist can scarcely be expected to have an acquaintance with all Oriental sciences.

We see, however, from the present distich that Asadī was better treated by Maḥmūd than Firdausī, of whom, it is related, he was the master.

It is said that Firdausī on his departure from Ghaznī in A.D. 1010 requested him to finish the “Shāh-nāma”, which was yet incomplete, and that Asadī composed that part of the poem between the Arabian conquest of eastern Persia under the Khalif ‘Umar to the end, consisting of 4,000 distichs. In the “Rose Garden of Persia” there is a verse translation by Miss Costello of Asadī’s poem, the “Dispute between Day and Night”.

The meaning of the hemistich (if the reading be correct) is obscure. It may be translated, “He favoured Asadī who was alif.Alif is the first letter of the alphabet, and is in form like an upright stroke. It hence has the derived senses, “first,” “alone,” “bare or destitute,” and “recluse”, but no one of these seems applicable. He was certainly “first” in the sense of having been Firdausī’s master, but there seems to be no point in asserting this.

The B. ed. of 1328 reads, Asadī-rā ki būd-i ū bi-navākht: “For Asadī, whose being he caressed,” the sense being concluded in the second hemistich. Such a reading, however, strikes one as being only an evasion of the difficulty.

178. i.e., were friends together, or “the man subject to the ascendant”, ṭāli‘ī, was favoured by “the ascendant”, ṭāli‘.

179. The Author again urges the fact that he makes great improvements in the material collected. He does not sacrifice his independence by taking water from the cloud, because he far more than pays his debt by converting it through his poetical genius into pearls. He may also be intimating that he is not one of the mere imitators or plagiarists of whom he sometimes complains—cf. e.g. the Sikandar-nāma.

180. i.e., honour for the poem itself.

181. “At the monarch’s court support”; i.e., from the king himself. “Four into four are sixteen”; i.e., my calculations will be found correct, or things will be as I thought they would, and as they should be.

182. The Author probably means that he has so pure and bountiful a source of inspiration, and produces results so excellent that he need not fear for the reception of the work at the king’s court. This harmonizes with the preceding distich. Or the “cloud” may signify the king in his bountiful and generous nature, and the “water”, not the material from which the pearls are made, but rather the cause or instrument of the poet’s inspiration. Or possibly, after expressing his desire for the king’s support and favour (faiẓ, “favour,” by the way, means also “generosity”), the Author may be poetically asserting his independence in the concluding distich of the Section. Ab, “water,” means also “favour, generosity, honour, success, splendour”, and all this he can get from the “cloud”, i.e., from the material collected whence he pleases, and which by his genius he turns into the finest of pearls,—those of Aden,—which also enrich him.

183. I read, Jabra’īl-am na, jinni-yī qalam-am. Some of the I.O. MSS. have, Chīni-yī qalam-am, “the Chinese (art) of my pen.” The B. ed. of 1328 has, Jabra’īl-am ba-junbish-ī qalam-am, where junbish, I think, evidently indicates jinnī. Jinnī I take to be preferable on account of the coming reference to fusūn, “incantation,” and to the dīvs, “evil genii,” and Solomon. By “the genius, my pen” he means simply his poetical genius.

The genii (jinn) are supposed to have been created of fire, whilst the angels were created of light. There are good and evil genii, the latter corresponding generally with the Persian dīvs. Satan and his assistant-demons are of the jinn. The parī or fairy is of the good jinn.

184. It was the custom to put on new dress at the beginning of the New Year. In this and the following distich the poet’s genius is addressing him.

185. “Evil genii,” dīvs, mean here common and unspiritual people. “No man, it is said, ever obtained such absolute power over the Jinn as Sulaimānu ’bnu Dā’ūd (Solomon the son of David). This he did by virtue of a most wonderful talisman, which is said to have come down to him from heaven. It was a sealing-ring upon which was engraved ‘the most great name’ of God (al-ismu ’l-a‘zam), and was partly composed of brass and partly of iron. With the brass he stamped his written commands to the good Jinn; with the iron those to the evil Jinn or devils. (The Jinn are supposed to have a great dread of that metal.) Over both orders he had unlimited power, as well as over the birds and the winds, and, as is generally said, the wild beasts.” (Hughes: “A Dictionary of Islām.”)

The legend of “the great name” is very ancient, dating from the time of the Accadians, the people of the yellow race who inhabited Chaldæa before the Semite immigrations.

Lenormant in his Chaldean Magic says: “But the highest and most irresistible of all the powers dwells in the divine and mysterious name, ‘the supreme name,’ with which Hea alone is acquainted. Before this name every­thing bows in heaven and in earth, and in Hades, and it alone can conquer the Maskim and stop their ravages. The gods themselves are enthralled by this name, and render it obedience. . . The great name remains the secret of Hea; if any man succeeded in divining it, that alone would invest him with a power superior to that of the gods. Sometimes also in that part of the incantation (quoted by Lenormant) which takes a dramatic character, it is supposed that Hea is teaching it to his son Silik-mulu-khi. But even then it is not uttered, it is not written in the formula, and they think that the mention of it alone is sufficient to produce a decisive effect when the incantation is recited. Every one knows to what a pitch the belief in the all-powerful and hidden name of God has grown amongst the talmudical and cabalistic Jews, and how general it still is amongst the Arabs.”

It should be explained that Hea was the supreme god of the Accadians, and that the Maskim, of whom there were seven, were an order of demons.

186. The Author is now apparently addressing the king.

187. i.e., as regards the mere body.

188. i.e., my work has no character, good or bad, until it bear the king’s stamp of approval or disapproval. It has neither the sweetness of the honey nor the bitterness of (the sting of) the bee. It is neutral: pure and simple wax.

189. To be “red-faced” is to be “honoured”, and to be “black-faced” the contrary.

190. “The monarch’s scribe” means the king through his scribe or amanuensis.

191. i.e., if no one care for my written words, my silky paper will be enriched by them. They must be left simply to the paper, and I must be resigned. Or, for “silky paper” might perhaps be substituted “silk garments”, which are sometimes perfumed, the sense being that he must keep the poem for his consolation and be contented with it.

192. “The eloquent”; i.e., former writers, especially poets.

193. “I, looper of these knots”; i.e., the tyer of knots of subtleties in the poem. The “alchemy and bond of travellers to the village”; i.e., the transmuter into gold of (the material left by) those who had reached the domain of composition, and the fastener together of their material.

194. i.e., no one has written more originally than I.

195. i.e., I have nothing new to offer in the way of words, but I am an adept at expressing my meaning in the words which exist. Ma‘ānī, lit., “meanings,” is used here in the sense of ‘ilmu ’l-ma‘ānī, “the science whereby is known the manner of adapting language to the requirements of the case; ability to express clearly one’s meaning in various ways; rhetoric, and theory of literary style.”

196. i.e., I consider form, literary style, without good matter to be phantom-like and to have no real existence, like a dream; and I consider matter, i.e., the meaning, the thoughts of the poet, without form to be undetermined and vague, like water.

197. The Author probably is alluding especially to Firdausī.

198. In this and the following three distichs the Author seems to show some feeling of discouragement, real or affected, at not having in his poetry attained to perfection, on the mental, moral, or spiritual side.

199. i.e., “what is there in the domain of poetry that I have not written?”

200. Khilāṣ, “that which is absolutely pure, anything select or exquisite, gold refined in the fire, genuine money, the best and purest of anything,” is evidently the correct reading here, not khalāṣ, “deliverance, liberty.” (See Note 198.)