On the cause of writing the book.

When from the court of Solomon (to me) an intimation secretly arrived*139,
I took to wings, as bird which spreads its wings, to take my place at Solomon’s (high) gate.
The courier in his intimation signed, On festive night let rise a crescent-moon*140,
Such that by no one, from its slenderness, it through its veil of darkness be discerned*141;
So that the play of thought and fantasy may captivate magicians by its spells*142.
Pour out a lot of pepper on the fire, and make the fierce fire crackle (as it burns)*143;
The cold and hardened wax (then) in this heat make soft, that it become of gentle heart*144.
Move your couch quickly from this narrow way; there’s been enough of dancing upon stones*145.
Allow the musky reed to sprinkle drops, so that the breeze of dawn may be perfumed*146.
Command the breeze to dance on ambergris*147; to scent with (fragrant) musk the verdure’s silk*148.
Bear toil, the time for bearing it is now—the leaves you count out form the royal stores*149.
Your bearing toil will to a treasure lead; he bears a treasure off who suffers toil.
Until the grape has first wept bitterly it does not finally display sweet smiles*150.
No one has marrow seen without a bone; without a bee can honey e’er be found*151?
How long a cloud be which no water gives? You have the oven heated, bake the bread.
Be active, draw the curtain back; comply, and let the curtained beauty be displayed*152.
When the (king’s) envoy sought this aim of me, joy settled down, and grief (at once) arose*153.
I sought out (then) from works both rare and choice whatever might give gladness to the heart.
Whate’er concerned the history of kings—in one work there was choice (of it for me)*154.
(A poet) of keen thought had come before, and versified it all in perfect style*155.
Some ruby dust was left from those cut stones*156, of which each (poet) gleaned some particles.
I, as a jeweller, with those still left shaped such a store (of jewelry) as this;
So that the wise who can distinguish things might make their choice from the contents of it*157.
That which had been half-said I said (in full): I bored the pearl (through) which had been half-bored.
But that which I perceived was just and right—I left it even as it was at first.
In such a composition did I strive to add adornment too from alien art*158.
I sought out from the works of famous men—works scattered (here and there) about the world*159
From Arabic and older Persian themes in Ṭabaristān and Bukhārā’s towns*160;
From other scattered treasures too (I sought) each pearl in each concealed receptacle*161.
All of the leaves which fell into my hands I fastened all (together) in a bag.
When from that whole selection had been made united ’neath the blackness of (my) reed*162,
A poem I composed should be approved; not one to be derided by the keen.
As in the Magian Zand, with seven Brides I’ve graced the work composed, on this account*163
That, if the Brides, (adorners) of the sky*164, should once bestow a glance upon my Brides,
Through sharing like adornments and affairs*165 one each of them one each of these should aid.
If seven lines converge, a single point at last falls on the target of the affair*166.
The painter who has ten subservient parts holds to the end of every single thread*167;
(For) if one thread should stray from the (main cord), all the subservient threads would faulty be*168.
If one should not trace out these threads aright, correctness is with me, and leaves me not*169.
I measure all these threads in faultless mode; I ever keep in mind the main design*170.
The thread if single, I should dread its risk, the more so that I’ve brought unmeasured pearls*171.
You may indeed in countless waters bathe before you come to waters you might drink*172.
A little water cast, a man is born, but water’s often cast away and lost*173.
I, shell-like, make pearls with the water*174; sure, a little water I deserve and food*175.
A work more sweet than plates of honey-comb—should not munificence attend to me?
But why think of munificence and work? The thing depends on Fortune, I am naught.
Firdausī’s bounty, Maḥmūd’s stinginess, on Sagittarius and Scorpio lay*176.
He favoured Asadī who had “Alif”*177, the ascendant and its subject were at one*178.
If from the cloud the shell receives a gift, the cloud finds also in the shell good faith;
For what the cloud disperses through the air the shell constructs into a royal pearl*179.
For this discourse to which I’d honour give*180 I crave support, thus wishing, from the king.
Of standard quality and quantity, so far as ’tis, the cause is such support.
If at the monarch’s Court support be (given)—four into four are sixteen, sooth to say*181.
What say I? What these words? when from the cloud my water is, my pearls from Aden are*182.