1,201. “The Stream or Water of Life” was supposed to be in a dark place at the extremity of the world, Zalmat or (plural) Zulumāt. The prophet Khiẓr (sometimes confused with Elias or with St. George) was said to have been the only person who found it and drank of its water. Alexander the Great sought but did not find it.

It is probable that the legend of the Water of Life, so commonly referred to by Persian poets, has descended from the Babylonian Epic of the progress of the sun through the seasons, which narrates how the sun after his youth, manhood, and decline in Spring, Summer, and Autumn respectively, perishes in the storms and “darkness” of Winter, but is restored to life by the Water of Life in that darkness, and appears again in his youth in the Spring. (See also Notes 1,562 and 1,698.)

1,202. The qibla is the direction to which people turn in prayer. With Muslims it is the ka‘ba or cubical house in the temple of Mecca.

1,203. Iram, the name of the fabulous gardens said to have been devised by Shaddādu ’bnu ‘Ād, a king of Yaman, in emula­tion of the gardens of paradise. (See the Qur’ān, lxxxix., 5-7. See also Notes 90 and 1,605.)

1,204. The meaning of this second hemistich is “it has brought me under the ban of misfortune”. The literal sense seems to be “it has drawn the black ink of the pen through me: it has erased me, or smothered me in black”. Cf. the idiom, dar qalam āmadan (lit., “to come into the pen”), which means bāṭil va-khārij az mabḥas shudan, “to become null and void, futile and beside the question,” (so as to be, as it were, subject to erasure).

Another idiom is worthy of notice, qalam dar siyāhī nihādan, “to dip the pen into black ink,” which signifies āmāda-yi bad­bakhtī nuvishtan shudan, “to prepare to write ill-fortune (against a person).”

1,205. i.e., my white body.

1,206. i.e., may attempt an audacious and impossible thing.

1,207. i.e., he opened his lips and spoke words, likened in their sweetness to the scent of musk.

1,208. i.e., it is a mystery which cannot be disclosed. The Sīmurgh is said to be “existent in name, but not found in body”, maujūdu ’l-ism, ma‘dūmu ’l-jism. (See also Notes 1,198 and 1,558.)

1,209. Natives of both ‘Irāq and Khurāsān were famed for cunning.

1,210. “China’s realm.” This may be China proper, or possibly either Chinese Turkistan, or Turkistan. (See Note 694.)

1,211. “Black silk”; i.e., as regards the moon, the dark sky at night.

1,212. i.e., whoever engages in the intoxicating mystery which that city can offer him.

1,213. Ān savād, “that city,” means also “that blackness”.

1,214. Lit., “fastened (his) baggage on to (his) ass.”

1,215. “Check to king and castle.” The term used here is farzīn-band, “fixed by the queen,” and means, according to Dr. Forbes, check to the adversary’s king by the queen, the latter at the same time attacking the castle.

It should be remembered that in the Oriental game the castle was the most valuable piece on the board.

1,216. i.e., to let me get the better of him by guessing the secret.

1,217. “Iram’s Garden.” (See Notes 90, 1,203, and 1,605.)

1,218. i.e., was dressed in black, musk being of a dark colour.

1,219. Takht or takhta is a parcel of silk goods laid between two boards and fastened at the ends.

1,220. The text adds “a butcher”, but I have omitted this in the translation, the familiar association of a king with a butcher being somewhat incongruous with Western ideas.

1,221. “A piece of iron” means the butcher, probably as a plain man, but one of sterling worth.

1,222. i.e., speak more like a person of mature judgment.

1,223. “When night o´er camphor scattered ambergris”; i.e., when the blackness of night came upon the whiteness of day, ambergris being of a dark colour.

1,224. The ruin was probably an enchanted place, in which they would become actually invisible as fairies are. (Cf. the next distich.)

1,225. i.e., “rise up into the air in the basket.”

1,226. The sphere or sky is called a juggler with rings because it is circular, or because it was supposed to revolve; or again, because it may be said to juggle with the planets in its govern­ment of the fortunes of men.

1,227. i.e., I was engaged in a hazardous enterprise connected with the rope.

1,228. i.e., I was helplessly bound by the rope.

1,229. A captive whom good fortune leaves, etc., i.e., one who must remain in prison, and whose neck is bound by a rope.

1,230. i.e., a rope which restrained my body.

1,231. i.e., it saved my life by preventing me from falling out.

1,232. i.e., the rope which had coiled round his neck and kept him fixed in the basket was loosened, so that he fell out on to the tower.

1,233. i.e., piety towards God and invocation of Him.

1,234. Bīstūn, the mountain through which Farhād cut at the request of his beloved Shīrīn. The Author uses the name in connexion with the word “column” because of its suppo ed meaning, “columnless,” as if from bī-sutūn. (See also Notes 1,135, 1,163, 1,165, and 1,555.)

1,235. i.e., he has reduced me to so helpless and desperate a plight.

1,236. “Earth”; more literally, “a piece of earth,” i.e., the man himself.

1,237. Man is here likened to dust, and it is implied that the beauty of the garden had never been impaired by the presence of man.

1,238. i.e., the verdure was full of fresh life, and the water was, presumably, lake-water.

1,239. i.e., the hyacinth and the pink grew there close together.

1,240. The “lips” are the “petals”. (See the last Note.)

1,241. i.e., the blossoms or leaves of the Judas’ tree grew down to the ground in their luxuriance, and those which reached it were cut off, as it were, by the blades of grass of the meadow.

1,242. “This turquoise fort”; i.e., the sky.

1,243. See Note 569.

1,244. i.e., the breeze was fragrant with the scent of them.

1,245. Iram. (See Notes 90, 1,203, and 1,605.)

1,246. One species of cypress is called the “free cypress”, because it grows up straight and free from crookedness, and does not interlace with other trees. Others say, because it is free from change and always green. Others again, because it bears no fruit.

Āzādī, “freedom,” means also “thanksgiving”, and “praise”.

1,247. “I had not gone though endless work had called.” I think this is the sense of na-shudam gar hazār kār-am būd, and that the Author for the sake of the metre uses shudam for shudamī or mī-shudam, and būd for būdī or mī-būd. The sense seems to require the above interpretation, and the word gar, “if,” has no meaning if the hemistich be rendered with due regard to the exact sense of the tenses employed here.

1,248. Collyrium being dark in colour is made an image of the darkness of night.

“Crimson spurned” is an allusion to the setting of the sun.

1,249. “The eastern sky.” This seems to be the sense here of ṣubḥ, which means literally the “dawn”. It refers possibly to the paler streaks in the eastern sky after sunset, since the prevalent meaning of shigūfa, “blossom,” is “‘white’ blossom”. Shigūfa or shikūfa itself comes from shukūfīdan, “to open or split,” and is allied to shikāftan, “to split.”

The hemistich reads slightly more literally, “the flower of dawn was cleft like a flower,” zahra-yī ṣubḥ chun shigūfa shikāft.

In my interpretation I have taken zahra as the Arabic word for “flower”, but it may also be used as the Persian word meaning “gall-bladder”, in which case the hemistich would mean “the gall-bladder of dawn was split like a flower”, the sense being that dawn (by which here “day” must be meant) was scared away.

1,250. “Idols”; i.e., beautiful girls.