The world (Time) is (engaged) in cherishing the bad and the good;
Many good and evil deeds are on its neck.

Night and day, from this screen of azure colour (the sky),
It brings forth (magician like) much lively pastime.

If a play (of verse) heart-pleasing issue from me,—
Take it even as a pastime of the sphere, the revolver.

(Since) from the sorcery of this screen of ancient years (the sky),
I became an image-maker,—how may I not produce (from myself) an image (conceit it speech)?


I am intent that I may make void (escape from) this screen (the sky),
May make a magician's image in this screen (the Sikandar-Náma);


In some copies the title is:—

“The reciting of the whole of the tale in an abridged form.”


Khiyálí” signifies—bází-gar; șáhib-i-khiyál.

“Parda,e derína sál” may signify—a musical note. The couplet may then be rendered:—

From the sorcery of this strange note (given by the sky)

I became master of song,—how then may I not produce the trill (of this poem)?

Khiyálí” signifies—mard-i-khiyál-band; sarod-goe.

Khiyál” signifies—the trill of a song.


When from beholding the sky's sorcery,—I come forth, retire, and become engaged with my own work,—I will display sorcery in the screen of this book.

The first parda may signify—Niámí's heart; the second—the sky.

May from a form (the Sikandar-Náma), make a (beautiful) image,
Such as no sorcerer brings forth.

First, I made the beginning (of the form) in such a way
That the melody of its music (verse) might produce the burning (of grief).

Of whatever I considered wonderful I spoke in such a way
That the heart took the path of believing.

That image (conceit in speech) which was very far from wisdom,—
To it I made not speech foot-bound (captive).


Having collected a grain (of information) from every door (of history),
I adorned (the Sikandar-Náma) like an idol-house.

First, I placed the foundation on a basis,
So that the wall of that house (the Sikandar-Náma) might be true (safe from ruin).

Carp not against me for giving precedence and keeping back (chronologically),
For no help is the narrator's on that account.

In the painting of this picture (the Sikandar-Náma) of Chinese silk (smooth paper),
The pen (the reed) was bound against Mání.


“Paikar” signifies—a form, witb or without soul.


The couplet may refer to—the praise of God, prayers, or to the praise of the prophet.

Some think that it refers to grief at the departing of youth, or at the injury inflicted by men of the world.


“Dúr dast” signifies—bisiyár dúr. See canto xxxi. couplet 129.

Hisáb” signifies—khiyal mentioned in the foregoing couplets.


In this book, I brought into verse tales from trustworthy histories so that there is no fear of the criticism of criticizers (i'tirá-i-mu'tari).


In the third century Mání proclaimed himself the comforter promised by Christ, and established the sect of Manicheans.

He fled from Shahpúr I. (A.D. 240), King of Persia, in Eastern Tartary, where he painted a number of singular figures in a book called the Artang, pretending that he had received them from angels, and returned to Persia in the reign of Bahrám (Varahrán I., A.D. 274), who put him and his followers to death.

Some say—artang signifies the house in which Mání painted, but here it means the painting. See canto xxviii. couplet 158.

Some say that bast is written for bastam, when the second line would read:—

I bound (rendered motionless) the pen against (of) Mání, the painter.

When I was preparing this work (the Sikandar-Nama),
Speech was straight-moving (fluent) but the road (of infor­mation) ambient.


The traces (deeds) of that monarch, world-wandering,
I saw not written in one book.

Speeches (subtleties) that were like stuffed treasure
Were scattered in every work.

I took up materials from every book;
I bound on them the ornaments of verse.

More than (besides) new histories,—
—Jewish, Christian, and Pahlavi (histories)—


It is observed that this couplet is false. For, in this book, we have words chiefly in Persian and Arabic; a few in Greek and Russian; and none in the Jewish and Christian tongues.

The meaning of couplets 18 and 19 may be:—

From the three histories, Jewish, Christian, and Pahlavi—nay, besides from other histories in the language of fire-worshippers and such like— from every history I took out the truth.

Couplet 18 may be read:—

More than (besides) new histories,—(I read)
Jewish, Christian, and Pahlaví (histories).

Pahlaví was the language of Western Persia; it was spoken at Isfahán, Hamadan (the capital of Media), and in A'arbíjan. See canto x. couplet 33.

In the Bombay transactions, vol. ii. page 298, Mr. Erskine says—he has never heard of any Pahlaví work written to the east of the great desert of Persia.

When the Parthians made Ctesiphon and Hamadan their capitals, and under most of the Sassanidæ (A.D. 226-641), who resided chiefly at Susa and almost exclusively in the west, the Pahlaví became the principal dialect in which the works existing at the time of the Muhammadan conquest (A.D. 641) were written.

So complete, however, was the destruction—first by the fanatical zeal of the invaders, and secondly by indifference about the originals, after everything valuable had been sucked out of them—that, besides a few inscriptions and legends of medals, and some portions of the Zand-Avesta (the living word of Zoroaster), and treatises connected there­with, scarcely any specimens of the Pahlaví have been found.

Chardin says—that Abbás the Great made (circa A.D. 1603) every possible search after manuscripts in the Pahlaví, and that he put one of the priests of the Gabrs to death in consequence of his disappointment. The collection made by Abbás amounted to twenty-six volumes, lodged in the Royal Library, Iṣfahán. A Gabr read to him (Chardin) for three months out of a book relating to their usages, written in the time of Yazdijird (A.D. 632-651).

The fanatical Arabian of the era of Muhammad knew and wished to know no book but the Ḳurán; for if it contained only what was in the Ḳurán it was useless; if it contained anything different it was wrong and injurious. The Persian priests (Majús) were considered as sorcerers. In the popular tales of Arabia every act of wickedness or of witchcraft is the deed of a Gabr, a word throughout the Muhammadan world synonymous with Gaur, or infidel.

Ibn Chaldun says:—

When the Islamites conquered Persia and had found many books, Sa'd bin Makas wrote to 'Umar requesting permission to preserve them and have them translated for the use of the faithful. 'Umar, however, commanded him to throw them into the water or into the fire. Thus perished all the knowledge of Persia.

It would be important could we ascertain the fate of those ancient national records—“the books of the chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia,”—referred to in the book of Esther, by Herodotus (viii. 85), and by Thucydides (i. 129), which Ktesias affirms he used, saying that the Persians had their deeds recorded on skins.

Moses of Chorene, the Armenian chronicler of the fifth century, relates that—when Valarsakes was set over Armenia by his brother Arsakes (B.C. 250), the founder of the Parthian dynasty, he sent a learned man to Nineveh to examine the royal library, and that this envoy found a volume translated by order of Sikandar from the Chaldaic into the Greek tongue, containing a true and genuine history from the earliest times. (Liber i., cap. 7 and 8.)

It is scarcely conceivable that some narratives of ancient Persian history should not have survived till the time of the Sassanidæ, when they would have formed the basis of the various Sháh-Námas, especially of the Bastán-Náma, the national history compiled under the reign of Yazdijird, and subsequently translated from the Pahlaví into Persian under the Sammani princes of Khurásán.

This Bastán-Náma is the book of which Firdausí speaks in the begin­ning of his Sháh-Náma, completed at the age of eighty years, A.D. 1020.

Maṣudí, the Arabian writer, who lived about A.H. 350 (A.D. 961), besides quoting an ancient Sháh-Náma, mentions having seen a history of the Persian kings, compiled in A.H. 113 (A.D. 731) from the original documents preserved in the treasury of Iṣakhar.

No long period after the destruction of the Persian empire (A.D. 641) can have elapsed before the fragments of its ancient records were col­lected and translated into Persian and Arabic. The poet Dakíkí, who was employed to versify them, after composing a thousand couplets, was assassinated by a slave.

Mahmúd of Ghuzní, A.H. 387 (A.D. 997), feeling the advantage of teaching his subjects to contemplate those periods when their ancestors were wont to be the masters of Asia, urged his court-poets, Ansarí and Essedí, to accomplish what Dakíkí had begun; but they declined it, being unequal to so boundless an undertaking.

The achievement was reserved for Firdausí, who, in his Sháh-Náma— the loftiest flight of the Persian muse and the noblest monument of Eastern genius—has related all that the Persians know of their ancient history, from Ḳayumars to the downfall of the second empire under Yazdigird, who began to reign A.D. 632 and died A.D. 651. Of the documents on which the Sháh-Náma was founded no trace has been discovered. The original Pahlaví records and the Persian translations from them appear to have perished together. If the Bastán-Náma be still extant, it has eluded every search.

Could it be brought to light, we should be able to distinguish that due to Firdausí's imagination from the national records which he received. The manuscripts were probably deposited in the royal archives at Ghuzní, and must have perished when it was burned and sacked by the Afgháns of Ghúr

I chose from every book its charm (excellence);
Took out from every husk (book) its brain (pith):


Gathered treasure (the Sikandar-Náma)—speech within speech (boundless);
And prepared from that total (of varied tongues) the sum total (the Sikandar-Náma).

Whosoever is acquainted with every language (in which the tale of Sikandar is related),
His tongue is short of criticism (on this work).

In that screen of history from which I found truth,
I twisted (arranged) the tip of the curl of (lustrous) speech.

And, if thou desirest truth;—true words,
It is not fit to seek in the ornament of verse.

If of it (speech) I diminish the decoration of verse,
I may put it together in couplets of little value (few and void of lustre).


Everything done by the king (Sikandar) world proudly traversing,
I may bring together complete in this single page of paper.

Sikandar, who was king, world-wandering,
Was provision-provided (prepared) for the work of travelling.

He wandered and beheld all four limits of the world;
For one cannot purchase a country without four limits.

On every throne-place (capital) on which he planted his foot,
He preserved the regulations of the great kings of Kay.


Couplets 25 to 74 give the deeds of Sikandar.

In the Ionian language Iskandar, or Sikandar, signifies—Akshíd Rús, or Fílusúf (fílá, love; súfá, wisdom)—or the lover of wisdom.

Sikandar (Alexander the Great), bore the title of Zú-l-Ḳarnain the less, in contradistinction to Sikandar Zú-l-Karnain the greater (the contemporary of Abraham, or King Asa'b ibnu-r-rayesh of the first race of Persian kings).


Kay refers to the title of the second dynasty of the Persian kings. Kay Ḳubád (Dijoces, B.C. 696), Kay Ḳá,us (Cyaxares, B.C. 634), Kay Khusrau (Cyrus, B.C. 558), and his successor, Kay Luhrasp.

“Zar dusht” may be spelled—zar dust, zar tusht, zár tusht, zár husht, zára dusht.


Zar dusht, called Ibráhím, or the Sage Zoroaster, of the city of Balkh, the pupil of Afládus, the disciple of Físaghoras, of the lineage of Mínu-chihr (B.C. 730), laid claim, in the time of Gushtasp (Darius Hystaspis, B.C. 521), to being a prophet.

He presented three books, said to be of heavenly origin—the 'Usta, the Zand, and its commentary, Pázand. The Magians call him a prophet. Firdausí, of the lineage of Ibráhím, believed in him.

Some say that Zar dusht is, in Syriac, the name of Ibráhím.

Professor Haug carries Zoroaster to B.C. 1200. Zoroaster signifies the office of the priest, not the priest. The real name is Spitáma, a fire-priest in Bactria, in B.C. 1200. According to Haug, he attempted to refine on the primitive elementary worship, and to teach the unity of God; but in attempting to solve the difficulty how evil, physical and moral, came into existence, he introduced the doctrine of the two principles, in con­sequence of which his followers, confounding his religion with his philosophy, believed that he taught the duality of God.

Spitáma is the reputed author of the teaching embodied in the Zand-Avesta, originally consisting of twenty-one distinct compositions; unhappily only one of these, the Vandidad (Vidaé-vadáta), “the law against demons,” with fragments of others, is extant.

Sometimes, as the mubid (priest) engages in adoration of fire (or light, its emblem), he raises to his nose a branch or a bundle of twigs, called in Zand, barsum. Thus Ezekiel, chapter viii. verses 15-17, says:—

“Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abomi­nations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence and have returned to provoke me to anger; and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.

The previous verses being read, the combination of sun-worship with the putting of a branch to the nose shows that it was Zoroastrian worship that Ezekiel saw.

Herodotus represents the Magí first as a people of Media, and (after the Persian conquest) as a priestly caste.

He says:—“It is said that the corpse of every Persian, before inter­ment, is torn of birds or of dogs. This practice is, I certainly know observed by the Magi, for it is done openly.”

Strabo says:—“The Magi keep upon the altar a quantity of ashes and an immortal fire; and, going there daily for an hour, repeat their prayers, holding a bundle of twigs before the fire.”

This proves that the Magi (whatever they might originally have been) had become priests of the fire-temple and Zoroastrians.

Consider—the mention of Rab-Mag (chief of the Magi) in the train of Nebuchadnezzar, B.C. 603 (Jeremiah xxxix. 3, 13); the visit of the wise men (Magoi) to Christ's cradle, and the doings of Simon Magus.

Not long after Muhammadanism arose, the Muslims fell with fury on Persia. The contest began with the battle of Kadesia, A.D. 636, and ended with the overthrow of Yazdagird, the last of the Sassanian kings, A.D. 641.

The Persian empire that then fell was devotedly Zoroastrian. Numbers, feeling the Muhammadan yoke intolerable, fled to Khurasán, and there remained a hundred years. The mass of the refugees then went to Ormus, in the Persian Gulf, where they remained fifteen years, thence to Div, an island south-west of Gujarát, and thence to Sanjan.

At present, Bombay and Surat are their chief seats. The fragments of the Zand Avesta or Avesta u Zand (text and commentary) that we have are not older than A.D. 226, when Ardashír founded the Sassanian empire in Persia.

See “Essays” by Dr. Haug, Bombay, 1862; the “Acad. des Inscript.” tom. 37, an extract from which is given (p. 274) in Shea's translations of Mirkhond's “History of the Early Kings of Persia”; Malcolm's “History of Persia,” vol. i. p. 494; the list of Zand and Pahlaví books by Trübner & Co.; two articles by Monier Williams, in “the Nine­teenth Century,” 1881—“the Religion of Zoroaster” (January), and “The Parsís” (March); “Modern India,” by Monier Williams, pp. 56, 169, 202; Hammer's “History of Persian Literature,” and his “Encyclo­pedic View of the Sciences of the East.”

Save the rites of Zar-dusht, the fire-worshipper,—
Other customs he surrendered not.


He was the first person who established (the use of) decoration;
(Who), in Rum established gold-coining.

By his order the goldsmith of cunning hand
Fixed leaves of gold on the surface of virgin silver.

The books of wisdom, from the Darí language,
He clothed in the Greek tongue.

Verily the drum of the watch, in the morning and evening,
Brought forth (proclaimed) his name from the watch-place (the court).

He became the guide of the people to the mirror,
Brought forth the jewel (the lustrous mirror) from the darkness (of iron):


Severed the tumult of the men of Zang from the world;
Took crown and throne from Dárá:


From this couplet it may be inferred that formerly in Rúm certain customs were not in use, such as—gold-coining (sikka,e zar); hand­shaking (mușáfaha); hand-kissing (dast-bosí).


“ilá” here signifies—awráḳ-i-ilá, leaves of gold, with which they plate articles.


Some say that Sikandar, after translating all these Persian books, burned them.


This couplet may refer to the precious jewel that Sikandar brought forth from the darkness. See cantos lxviii. and lxix.

Zang. See canto xix.

Of the blackness (of boasting) of Hindústán and of the yellowness (of plundering) of Russia,
Washed down (purified) the world, like the house of a bride.

His order became the mirror (model) of the men of Chín;
His place the throne of Kay-Khusrau (Cyrus, B.C. 558).

When his age urged (turned) a leaf over twenty years,
It (his age) smote, in royalty, the leather strap on the drum.

Secondly, when he added seven to twenty years,
He bound up his chattels for prophesying (regarding God) and set out.


From that day, when he went a-prophesying,
They wrote the date (era) of Sikandar.


“Baitu-l-'arús” signifies—the whitened house of a man or a woman newly married. When a death occurs the house is blackened.

The men of Hindústán are very black; of Russia, whitish yellow.


Sikandar at the age of twenty, having subdued the monarchs of the East, returned to Rúm and sat on the throne. This was his first excursion. See canto lxxi.

“Dawal,” meaning a drum-stick, here signifies—tasma, a thong of undressed hide.


The firstly occurs in couplet 38.

They call him in the Greek tongue—Muhibb-i-hikmat, the friend of philosophy. Some call him—Zú-l-ḳarnain-i-așghar; because both sides of his forehead projected like two horns.

In the Burhán-i-ḳái', it is written that Dárab's wife, the daughter of Philip of Makedon, being afflicted with a foul breath, was sent back to her father. After a physician, Iskandarús, had cured her, a son, whom doubtless they called Iskandar, was born. See canto xv., couplet 30.

The son of Sikandar and Roshanak (Dárá's daughter) was called Iskan-darús, which, in Rúm, signifies—a shield. See canto xxxv., couplet 83.


They wrote history before Sikandar's mission from a certain date; after his mission from his date; and now from the date of Christ, or of Muhammad.

Before Muhammad's time Persian histories have no era.

When he became the teacher of wisdom, in regard to the true religion (of Islám),
He became, like (auspicious) fortune, joyous to the world:

Stirred up much proof (by miracle) as to the pure religion (of Islám);
Erected many buildings on the surface of the dust (of the earth):

In every revolution round the compass of time (the seven climes),
Founded many wealthy cities:

From Hindústán to the confines of Rúm,
Raised a city in every land and clime.


Gave adornment even to Samarkand;
—Not one Samarkand, but to many (a city) like it:

Founded a city like the city Hirí (Hirát);
Like to which another seldom makes a city.

The door and wall that Darband first obtained,
It obtained, by the wisdom of that wise one (Sikandar).


They say that Sikandar was of the faith of Ibráhím (the prophet), and consequently mu,mín (orthodox); and that Adam was the first Muslim.


“Marz” signifies—zamín-i-ránda va ábád.

“Búm” signifies—zamín-i-ná ránda va kharab.


The “Journal” of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1834, vol. iii. p. 9, says:—Luhrasp began and Sikandar completed the building of Hirát.


“Darband” (dar signifying door, and band, fortress) has several names—

darband the barrier.
bábu-l-abwáb the gate of gates.
sadd-i-iskandar the barrier of Sikandar.
sadd-i-ga,júj va ma,júj the barrier of Gog and Magog.

Darband (ancient Albania), the capital of Daghistan, was a fortress on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, at the foot of the Caucasus, near Shirván. Some remains of the thick and extensive wall of Gog and Magog, running in a western direction over high and almost inac­cessible mountains, built by Sikandar Zu-l-Ḳarnain the greater (to check the incursions of Hyperborean savages) are still to be seen.

Many believe that Sikandar (Alexander the Great) is the prophet Sikandar Zu-l-Ḳarnain the greater, mentioned in Sale's Ḳurán, chap. xviii.; and that he built the rampart which confines Ya,júj (Gog) and Ma,júj (Magog). These evil demons, according to the Persians, dwell in Mount Káf, the centre of the world; and their progeny, who are of all sizes and shapes, used to plunder and lay waste the neighbouring countries, till the inhabitants complained to Sikandar, who built his wall to confine them. They scratch it almost through with their claws every day and go home, expecting that they will easily destroy in the morning the little that is left; but in the morning they find the wall rebuilt.

The reason of their failure is their never saying—“Inshalla” (God willing), and they will never destroy this wall till one of their children is named Inshalla, when, on retiring, they will call the boy:—“Come along, Inshalla; we shall finish to-morrow.”

By the accidental use of this expression they will succeed in destroy­ing it, and their consequent ravages will be a sign of the dissolution of the Universe. See Malcolm's “History of Persia,” vol. i. p. 62; and the “Asiatic Journal,” vol. x., January-April, 1833.

In the word Samarḳand, samar is a king's name, and ḳand (in the language of the region this side of the Oxus) signifies—a city.

“Ba shar” signifies—ba muḳtaẓạ.

Pass beyond Bulghár, which is of his work;
Its true site is his Bunghár (chattel-place).

Verily, the barrier of (the tribe of) Ya,juj became lofty by him:
—Who thus established a barrier on the mountain?


When Sikandar, in search of the water of life, came to the “Dark­ness” (canto lxix), he made in its vicinity a dwelling place (bungáh), or store-place for his chattels, in Bunghár (a place of many caves); and when he came thence and marched into the “Darkness,”—a crowd of people from the neighbouring districts and the men of his army who were wearied of marching assembled and established a great city. The true site of that Bulghár is Bunghár.

“Bunágáh” signifies—bungáh.

In the Rashídí the meaning of Bulghar (Bunghár) is—bisiyar ghár (for bul signifies—bisiyár). The Ḳámus says:—The word is properly Bulghar, but that the people call it Bulghár, which is pure Arabic.

The second line may be rendered:—

Its true foundation is its cave's foundation.

See canto lxviii. couplet 45; lxi. 10.


Near the Caspian, between two mountains, for a length of one hun­dred farsangs, Sikandar built a wall of brick, iron, tin and lead,—that the two tribes, Ya,júj (Gog) and Ma,júj (Magog), the offspring of Yafar, the son of Nuh (on him be peace!), might not intrude. Sale's Ḳurán, chap. xviii.

See couplets 47 and 59; the second book of this work (the Sikandar-Náma,e bahrí); and the Sháh-Náma, by Firdausí.


Besides this, he also established many foundations (cities);
But one cannot mention about him more than this.

When to that pure body (Sikandar of pure religion) the purpose came,
That he should apportion the form of the dust (of the world).

He drew out a cross-line (wandered far and wide) in the world,
Before that the cross-bearer (the Christian) appeared.

With that celestial line of four angles (for earth-measur­ing),
He set up the computation of geometry:

Upreared a great tent of four bounds (corners),
That beat five drums against (exulted over) the ninth heaven.


Its one peg in the northern pole,
Its other peg in the southern amplitude.

He drew the tent-rope from this side to the east;
From it another tent-rope reached to the west.


In the plain of Khafcháḳ, between two mountains, Sikandar set up another barrier against robbers.


Kha-i-șalíbí” signifies—kha-i-alasí, or kha-i-chahár gosha, the cutting of an equatorial with an axial line—the former from east to west, the latter from north to south; or an instrument for measuring the earth.


Sikandar, a world-wanderer, described a cross on the earth—that is, he travelled east, west, north, and south, and discovered the dimensions of the earth.

“Salíbí” here signifies—a cross-bearer, wearing a cross of silver, copper, or wood, attached to his girdle. Many Christians have the cross embroidered on pieces of satin which they wear.

Within this workshop (of the world) as regards (measuring) this length and breadth (of the world);
To whom other (than he) was such power?

When he began the design of world-wandering
For applying the (measuring) line, he prepared lines

Of farsang, and of mile, and of halting-place,—
Of the earth, to the extent of one span, he left not.


He had surveyors, measure-taking;
A hundred scribes appointed to that work (of earth-measuring).

The measuring-line fixed, the dimension became evident;
The limits of the stage became conspicuous.

On dry-land, wherever he pitched his tent,
From stage to stage he measured the way.

Another time (to travel) on the surface of the sea was his lot.
The method of measuring was ready to him.

Two boats were fastened together;
Between the two boats the measuring cord was tied.


“Rishta zadan” here signifies—paimúdan, to measure.

“Rishta sákhtan” signifies—ráhhá sákhtan, to make roads.

See “Ancient Geography of India,” by General A. Cunningham, page 3, plate II.:—

“The close agreement of these dimensions given by Sikandar's in­formants with the actual size of the country is very remarkable.”

According to Strabo, Sikandar caused the whole of the country to be described by men well acquainted with it.

1 farsang = 3 míl = 3 karoh (about 2 miles)
1 míl = 4000 gaz
1 gaz = 24 angusht-i-dast

“Yala” here signifies—rihá.

At the end of each farsang they set up “a mile-stone” called farsang-sár.


Having bound a measuring cord to two boats, he urged one forward until he obtained the desired distance; then, moving the first boat, he kept the other in its place.


He left one (boat) at its anchor-place,
Urged the other forward to the limit of the measuring cord:

Gave the next time the foot (of motion) to this the fastened one (for weighing anchor);
Gave a place in (of) rest to the hastener (the other boat):

Would prepare the (measuring) cord sometimes for that; sometimes for this (boat),
—Consider the majesty of him (Sikandar) who thus would play (with) the rope!—

With this subtlety, the measurer, the stage-recogniser,
Used to take measurement from shore to shore.

The world,—which he drew from grief into ease,—
By this geometry, he drew into measurement (surveyed).


To wit—of the earth, how much there is; and of the road to where it is (goes);
He made straight (evident) the balance of design (of measurement).

Verily the inhabited quarter of the world became by him conspicuous;
—To that stage (of exaltation) which of us will arrive?—

To every cultivated and uncultivated land to which he urged his steed,
To that land he gave the portion of prosperity.

He exercised every design (of city-founding) on mountain and plain,
When death came, he became remediless as to death.


“Pá,e dádan” here signifies—pá,e raftár dá??an; rawán kardan.


In some copies, in place of bákhte (an active verb), the following occurs:—bafte; táfte; sákhte.

“Rassan báz” signifies—one who dances on a rope.


One-fourth of the world—twenty-six thousand farsangs—is inhabited, the other three-fourths are desolate.

Of the history (time) of that Khusrau (Sikandar), crown-possessing,
This is useful (true) which has come into use (in this my abstract).


Except this (written), whatever the pen brings into scratching (writes),
More or less has light weight (is untrustworthy).

Since verse-making was road-taking (pleasing),
The mistaking of the path (of truth) was unavoidable.

Mine is work with beautiful uttering;
All my work, indeed, is (lies) in falsifying.

Yes, whatever of it I found unworthy of belief,
I turned away my face from giving it place (in the “Sharaf-Náma.”)

I made its representation in (my own) mind, in such a way
That to readers there might be no help for it.


To circulate much about a wonderful matter
Draws the rein of speech into foolish talking.


In the second line, the first ba kár ámad signifies—rást va muwáfiḳ-i-nafsu-l-amr; the second ba kár ámad signifies—nawishtá shud.

The circumstances of Sikandar, to the extent of which I have written, are true; the rest is falsehood.


When it is necessary to versify the tale of the contests and banquets of Sikandar, the mistaking of the road (the uttering of falsehood) is unavoidable; for without a mixture of falsehood the tale cannot be versified. In couplet 77 the author goes further and says:—

Since my work consists of beautiful speeches (nughz-guftárí), all my labour is falsifying (ghalat-kárí); because, in choosing deeds of bril­liancy (khúb-kár) falsifying is necessary.


The sages have said:—

Of writers, the falsest poem is that most inciting to wonder

And if thou should utter speech without some wonder (the subtlety of verse),
The old books (void of the imagery of verse) would have no freshness.

Of speech, keep watch to this extent,
That in imagination one can believe it.

Although speech (verse) produces (in the orator's opinion) the splendour of the jewel,
When it is not believed it seems the lie.

That falsehood that is like to truth,
Better than the truth, that (in man's sight) is apart from truth.


O Nizami! be light (free from worldly affections); friends have departed (died);
Thou hast remained, and grief; the grief-soothers have departed.

Sikandar, the monarch of seven climes, remained not (died);
None may remain (in the world), since Sikandar remained not.

Drink not wine alone (think not of thyself) on this side the stream (of verse);
Seek out (remember) the former companions (who have died).


Shaikh Sa'dí, in the Gulistán, chap. i. says:—

That falsehood fraught with good advice is better than the truth tending to strife.

Couplets 80-84 apologise for uttering the untrue.


Be not proud of this power of versifying, for the world's power is the cause of permanence of none.


By the side of streams they drink wine; the passage refers to versi­fying.

If they (the former companions) be present (to thy mind) may the wine be to thee the water of immortality,
And if not, may the reckoning (of thy wine-drinking) be forgotten!

Come, cup-bearer! from the jar of the old villager,
Pour wine (a portion of senselessness) into the goblet, like honey and milk:


Not that wine which is unlawful to religion,—
(But), the wine by which the true religion became com­plete.


In some copies, ziyádah occurs in place of hisábat, that (some think) here means—joy at the time of speech.


Like honey and milk in sweetness and wholesomeness.

The viewing of God's majesty they call the old villager (the fire-worshipper, the wine-drinker); because it gives the rapture of sense­lessness to the lovers of God.


In some copies, this couplet is omitted.