Last night, Khizr was my instructor,
—With a secret, which came acceptably to my ear,—

Saying:—“O victual (wage)-devourer of my design (of instruction)!
“O taster of the cup of my speech (of instruction)!

“O one, lily-like, head turned from the service (of God's creatures to God Himself)!
“O one, moisture-gathered from the fountain of Life (the love of God)!

“Speech (verse) may cause thee to arrive (at renown) in the world;
“Read thou the writing of it (the Sharaf-Náma) to the sages.


Khizr (confounded with the prophet Elias), the general of the monarch Zu-l-Ḳarnain, was Abraham's nephew, and the guide to Moses and the children of Israel in their passage of the Red Sea and the desert. Having drunk of the water of life, he is not to die until the Day of Judgment. It is said that wherever he planted his foot the spot became green. Hence his name, Khizr.


“Jáma” signifies—musháhira; sáliyána.

“Jámagí-khwár” signifies—rozí yabanda.

“Chashní-gír” signifies—bahrí giranda.

Khizr's address extends from couplet 2 to couplet 32.


They call the lily, whose leaves are shaped like the tongue—noble, free.


“Be not the accepter of the unacceptable (the false history);
“For people find not harmony in the false note.

“Exercise choiceness, that thou mayst be precious,
“(That) the approved ones (sages) may also approve of thee.

“Without delay—the swallowing of (being swallowed by) the dragon;
“The stuffing (being stuffed) into the crocodile's mouth,

“Is to the world-experienced one more pleasant than that,
“He should behold (speech) altogether unacceptable.

“(Of the tale of Sikandar) what the ancient sage (Fir-dausi) said, utter not;
“For it is not proper to pierce two holes (in) one pearl (of speech),


“Save in parts, thought-seizing (necessary to explanation),
“Of repeating which there is no help.

“In this trade (of versifying), since thou art a new leader,
“Follow not those who have become old.

“When the power of virgin-attempting (unused poetical image) is thine,
“Stain not thy hand with every widow (used poetical image).


“Pesh-báz” signifies—pesh-wáz; istiḳbál kunanda; ḳabúl kunanda. Báz is redundant.


“Ambáshtan” signifies—properly, púrkardan, but here, púr shudan; faro raftan.

If a dragon carried the world-experienced one down his throat, or if a crocodile stuffed him into his own throat—it would not be so unplea­sant to him as the beholding of an abhorrent deed.

It is said that a dragon swallows a man at once in a lump, and that afterwards he twists himself about a tree so that the man's bones may be broken and digested.

In some copies, in the second line, ba daryá shudan occurs:—

In haste, to become the swallowing (morsel) of the dragon;

In the river, to go into the mouth of the crocodile.


The poet compares the using of phrases already uttered by other poets to taking a widow to wife.

“Grieve not for the prey (the tale of Sikandar), which thou hast not (yet) made;
“For whatever (is) uneaten is a food-store.

“With difficulty the jewel comes (is produced in) to the stone,
“(Then), how mayst thou easily acquire it from the stone?


“If thou little by little (minutely) examinest,—everything
“Issues with difficulty from the difficult place.

“One cannot with ease pierce the jewel (of speech);
“Refining is necessary to the virgin silver.

“That one who suffers toil on sea and land,
“Finds dirams from the fish (by fishing), and treasure from the ox (by ploughing).

“Thou desirest the silvern jar and the golden basin (emblems of wealth)?
“—It is not proper for thee to abandon (in impatience) the dust of Irak (thy native land).


“Yakhní” signifies—zakhíra, a store for the time of need.


Orientals say that jewels are produced from stone after a lapse of six thousand years.


Fishes devour drowned men, whose gold and silver thus enters their bellies. If a person catches them, he will certainly obtain the gold and silver.

“Az gáv ganj yáftan” refers on the following tale:—

A villager, on giving his field some water, beheld a hole into which the water passed, and from which a terrible voice came to his ear. The villager told his tale to Bahrám-Gor, by whose order they dug into the ground and found a building sixty yards in height. The sages said:— “Within this house are two buffaloes, of which the eyes are rubies and the bellies full of jewels. On their foreheads is written the title—‘The Treasure of Jamshíd.’ Around them are birds and animals, like the lion, the wild ass, and the peacock, whose eyes and breasts are rubies and pearls.”

On hearing this, Bahrám-Gor ordered that they should sell the jewels and distribute the proceeds to the deserving.


'Iráḳ is the place of appreciation of verse, and of abundance of gold.

If for case of wealth thou goest to other cities, thou wilt not find it.

See canto xxxi. couplet 87, and the Sháh-Náma, by Firdausí.

“From Ray to Dahistan and Khwárazm and Jand,
“Thou wilt not behold (even) a cauldron (cover off) save the torrent-channel.


“The people of Bukhára, and Khazrán, and Gílán, and Gurd,—
“All four (people) are feeble for a fragment of bread.

“Of Mazandaran sprouts not the grass,
“In which thou seest not a hundred spear-points.

“From Mazandaran come only two things—
“One, the demon-man; the other, even the demon.

“Precious be 'Irak (of 'Ajam) heart-illuminating,
“Of which the fame of excellence became lofty.


Ray is the capital of Persian 'Iráḳ; Dahistan is in Tabarístán; Khwárazm lies along the bank of the Oxus (Jíhún), and extends to the Caspian. It is said to have received its name from the great Cyrus, who, with little loss, defeating a large army of the natives, exclaimed:— “Khwár razm (an easy victory)!” Jand (Khujand) is a town in Turkistán.

Thou wilt behold neither wealth nor comfort. The men of these regions are so poor that they have not even a cauldron or a platter,— unless, indeed, thou imaginest the holes in their land to be cauldrons, cover taken off.


Bukhárá, beyond the Oxus, is surrounded by a wall comprehending fifteen towns in a radius of twelve miles.


On the southern shores of the Caspian, lie the two Persian provinces of Gilan and Mazandarán, that offer the only easy and fertile belt of territory in all Persia through which an army could be marched from west to east, between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and, there­fore, the only road to India from Russia on the west. For there lies— to the north, the Caspian, so shallow and stormy as to be useless; and to the south, the great impassable salt desert. At this moment (1880) an excellent road runs from St. Petersburg to Hirát en route to Delhi, viâ Odessa, Batum and Meshed, broken only by the want of these two provinces.

All the men are man-injuring to such a degree that if grass spring up,—thou wilt find a hundred spears in the midst for the injuring of travellers.

So hard is the country of Mazandarán that grass (the softest of vege­tation) is hard to such a degree that its head is spear-point possessing— then imagine the country.

“That rose which keeps its perfume,—
“Its perfume-scatterer is in 'Irák alone.


“Thou—that also, best—O man of high descent (like an angel)!
“That thou wander not, like the wind (in restlessness), around the earth.

“For jewel-digging (lustrous spiritual verse) make sharp the mattock (of thought);
“Practise sugar-scattering on the bride of speech.

“Thou, the jewel-digger from the Sikandrian mine—
“Sikandar himself may come jewel-purchasing!

“A world-possessor may come thy purchaser,
“Thy work may with celerity rise to the sky (in the favour of the people).

“When the purchaser brings the price to the door,
“It is not fit to abandon the path of trade.


“'Araḳ-i-gul” signifies—guláb, rose water; it is against idiom to use it in the sense of 'araḳ-i-jabín, the sweat of the forehead (of shame).

“'Araḳ-rez” signifies—guláb rekhta; 'araḳ áranda; rekhtan-i-'araḳ. That rose, from the perfume of which the brain of men of excellence becomes fresh,—its rose-water is in 'Iráḳ alone.

Again—The rose-water drawer of every rose of fresh perfume is in 'Iráḳ alone.

Again—The phrases and thoughts that expand the sense and under­standing are in 'Iráḳ alone.

Again—In 'Iráḳ, the people are of such excellence that if the sages of Time there come they become ashamed. This rendering is contrary to idiom.

'Iráḳ is celebrated for its rose-water, for the understanding of its people, and for the birth-place (Ganja) of Niámí.


“Shakar-rez” signifies—a substance (sugar and sweetmeat) that, on the nuptial day, they scatter on the bride and the bridegroom. See canto xxxiii. couplet 123.


Some commentators think that Sikandar (couplet 26) and the world-possessor (couplet 27) each signify—Sikandar.


“When the sea purchases (snatches) the jewel of the narrow mine,
“It gives the boat-load of pearls for the (mere) stone fragment.

“From his sea (the purchasing of that king) conceal not the treasure of the jewel;
“Take a pearl (of justice from the king) and sell a jewel (of thy lustrous verse).

“By true judgment, be the impartial one, in such a way,
“That both the spit and the roast meat may be in place.”

When the consolation of (the prophet) Khizr came to my ear,
Sense made my brain more fresh.

The word (of counsel) was accepted; it became place-seizing;
The speech which comes from the heart is heart-pleasing.


When this counselling took hold on (affected) me,
I opened my tongue with a pearl of the Dari language.


The second line means:—

Then thou mayst truly relate the tale of Sikandar, and also not fall into error.

This couplet has no connection with couplets 31 and 33.

Niámí is a mediator between the creatures of God and the prophet Khizr.

O impartial one! so act that both the praise and the beauty of poetry may remain; and also that the customs of religion may not leave thy hand. Like other poets, who have practised exaggeration in praise, and ended in infidelity—speak not.

Some say that Niámí, making himself the person addressed, says:— “In this way I speak that both the heart of the king (by excess or deficiency of praise) may not be distressed; and also that respect for the Darvesh and for the splendour of the market of verse may not leave thy hand.”

A commentator (Khán Arzú) says that the latter explanation is wrong, as up to this point the advice of Khizr extends. But Khán Arzú is wrong, if it be supposed that Khizr is written for—dil, the heart.


In some copies—the sense of my brain became more fresh.

The Persian tongue is of seven kinds:—

(1) Hiriví, the speech of the people of Hirát.

(2) Sikrí, the speech of the people of a mountain in Zábulistán (Sístán), between Kích and Makrán.

(3) Zaválí, the speech of the people of Zábul, in Zábulistán.

(4) Sughdarí, the speech of the people of a district of Samarḳand.

(5) Pársí, the language of Eastern Persia, the speech of the people of Párs, of which the metropolis was Israkh or Istakhar, Persepolis. It was spoken up to A.D. 1000.

(6) Pahlaví, the language of Western Persia, the speech of the people of Pahlú, the language of Sipáhán, Hamadan, Nihávand, and its dependencies, was spoken during A.D. 226-651.

(7) Darí, the speech of the people of Darah,e jabál (the pass of the mountains).

The first four tongues are obsolete, the last three current. Darí being the most eloquent, Niámí selected it for the writing of this work; it was first spoken in the time (B.C. 465) of Bahman-dirázdast (Ardshír or Artaxerxes Longimanus), son of Isfandiyár, of brazen-body (Xerxes). See Clarke's translation of the Sháh-Náma.

Párs was the name of the son of Halú, son of Sám, son of Núh (Noah).

All that stretch of country, from the bank of the Jíhún to that of the Farát (Euphrates), that was in his sway was Párs.

From Bábu-l-Abwáb (Darband, on the west shore of the Caspian, Șadd-i-Iskandar, Sadd-i-Yajúj va Májúj) to the shore of the sea of 'Umán; and (after the lapse of time) Istakhar (Persepolis) and all its dependencies became Párs. See canto xiii. couplet 47.

The rest of the country east of Istakhar became Khurásán (meaning east); and the country of Ispahán and the towns of Kohistán (by reason of the wholesomeness of the water and the agreeableness of the air) known as 'Iráḳ-i-'Arab and 'Iráḳ-i-'Ajam.

The Darí was not a distinct language, but only a refined dialect of the national language spoken at Court; it differed from the rustic dialects just as the language of good society and literature differs from that of the peasantry.

The word Darí is derived from dar, a door; for it was the usage of the Persians, as it is of the Ottoman Porte, to name what approaches royalty from the gate, while we name it from the court within the gate.

The dialect of Bactria, after it had been established at Court by Bahrám Gor, (Varahrán the Fifth of Roman history, A.D. 420), was called Darí.

I established a great crowd of every subtlety (of verse),
Perhaps, in speech, I may make a new book.

In that place of perturbation, without helpers,
I cast a lot, in respect to the names of renowned ones (past kings).


By lot, Niámí chose the king whose history he should relate.

Hairát” refers to—the perturbation into which, by Khizr's visit, Niámí was last night thrown; or, to this world, the place of per­turbation.

Every mirror which from (by means of) the heart I bur­nished,
In it, to me, Sikandar's form shined.

Glance not lightly at that monarch,
Who was both sword-striker and crown-possessor.


A multitude call him Throne-Possessor,
Territory (of Iran)-Seizer, nay, World-Seizer.

A crowd of his ministers and councillors
Have written his decree for wisdom.

A crowd, by reason of his purity and love of the religion (of Islam),
Became accepters of him as a prophet.

From all three grains which the sage (the ancient wise historian) scattered,
I will plant a fruitful tree (a book full of profit).

Will first knock at the door of sovereignty,
Will speak of the work of territory-conquering:


Will then of his wisdom arrange my words,
Will make fresh old histories (of his philosophy).

Will then strike the door, in respect to his prophecying;
For God has also called him prophet.


“Táftan” signifies—properly, roshan shudan; but here, roshan kardan.


“Díván” may signify—daftar; dawárí-gáh.

“Dastúr” may signify—vazír; nuskha,e daftar.

Aristotle and others called Sikandar—“the Wise One.”


Sikandar's ancestor, Ibráhím, the Friend of God, was, they say, of the faith of Islám.


The Sharaf-Náma consists of two parts:—

(1) The Sikandar-Náma,e bará, or Sharaf-Náma,e Sikandarí.

(2) The Sikandar-Náma,e bahrí, or Aḳhál-Náma,e Sikandarí.

The first describes Sikandar's sovereignty (sulanat), or exploits by land; the second, his philosophy (hikmat) and prophecying (paigham­barí). These two parts, forming three volumes, may be called three grains—sulanat, hikmat, and paighambarí.

Three pearls (three histories) I prepared; each one pearl (book) the mine of treasure;
Toil endured, separately, for each one pearl.

With those three rivers (histories, or books); with these three pearls (three kinds of lustrous verse);
I make the world's skirt full of treasure;

I raise in the world a new decoration (a book),
Which demands a present from every country.


Pity comes mine that this illuminated scroll (of lustrous verse)
Should be the captive of the dust, in the waste-book (of ancient histories).

Where is the door of the wealthy one (Nasratu-d-din) that of this handiwork (the Sharaf-Nama)
The picture, I may affix to his wall?

(That I) may make a piece of silk (the Sikandar-Nama) like this his life-keeper;
May make him free from earth's dust (the grave).

By this renowned book slow-moving (long enduring)—
By it—I may keep long his name:

May make of this throne (the Sikandar-Náma) its sitting-place,
On which (throne) it may perpetually be place-occupier:


Niámí was sixty years old when he completed this work.


Here begins the praise of Nașratu-d-din, the king, the patron.


“Dast kár” signifies—an embroidered cloth that they used, for show, to hang at the door and on the walls of the king's palace.


If parda wár be read for zinda dár:—

(That I) may make a silk (the Sikandar-Náma) like this his (door) screen;

May make it (the silk) free from earth's dust.


In both lines, “it” it refers to the name of Nașratu-d-dín mentioned in couplet 53.


May prove by a word (of lustrous verse) his name (worthy of honour),
That its ease may be (remain) in this motion (the ever-changing world):

Not a word, that the world may take from its memory (forget),—
Neither will the rain wash (efface) it; nor, the wind take it away:

On the condition that—when, in this splendour-place (of the world), I
Cause his head to reach the sun and moon,

To me, from him, also a great degree of rank may arrive;
A crown, worthy of my head, may arrive.

From the luminous sun (Nasratu-d-din) one can seek light;
But of shade! shade (the nobles) is far from this work (of light-giving).


To the kites (the nobles), what business with the pigeon (the Sharaf-Nama)?
For the king's falcon (Nasratu-d-din), this prey is required.

Nizami, whose work is versifying in Dari,
Threading a pearl (of verse) is fit for him.

He so prays for this charming book (the Sharaf-Nama)
That the reading of it may illumine (not vex) the brain.

By it,—may light be to the heart of friends!
And from it,—may the animadversion of enemies be far!

Melody—(even) if it be the melody of the (joy-exciting) Chagawak (Lark),
When the enemy touches the chord, it is the arrow (of abhorrence) swiftly flying.


In that circle (earth's surface), in which I have urged this speech (the Sikandar-Nama),
I have invoked my own heart-cherisher (God),

That He may make this charming book famous;
May make its precious maker (its reverencer) precious:

May expand (in lofty flight) its feathers and wings (leaves) in such a way
That good fortune may arise from its omen,

(That it) may bring joy to the readers;
May cause exhilaration to reach the learned ones:

May bring hearts withered (in lust, not scorched with the love of God) to the work (of the love of God);
May be the consoler of those grief-stricken (of God).


May cherish the broken-hearted;
May give the solution of concealed (difficult) matter:

If one unable (to read) desire it,
May God make him strong for reading!

And, if one hopeless take it in the hand,
May God bring to his hand every hope that is!

Whatever of this sort I asked from God,
God gave; and for that given I offered thanks.

This banquet-place became (auspicious), like the Huma, on that account that
It became especially prosperous in the king's banquet.


Come Cup-Bearer! that water,—ruby-like,
Cast into the cup, ruby-shedding (full of red wine).


The meaning may be—Although all the requests that I made to God are auspicious, yet it is more auspicious that this Sikandar-Náma became especially prosperous at the banquet of the King Nașratu-d-dín.

“Humáyún” is composed of—humá, a fabulous, auspicious bird; and yún, like.

The banquet place refers to—the Sikandar-Náma, the place of ease for the holy men of the time, and of joy for the learned ones.


The cup ruby-shedding signifies—Niámí's body, that through love to God keeps shedding tears of blood.

A cup of earthenware (man's body) of which wine is t?? life,—
The earthenware of the earth (the whole of the earth) ?? the dust (source) of its odoriferous herb (man's soul).