When the voice of the cock came from the court,
The king's messenger bound the bell to his neck (and shook it to arouse the army):

The leather strap of the drum-striker came into agitation;
Clamour issued from the beak of birds:

The people, prayer-making (to God), arose;
They prepared the requisites of worship:

The king raised his head from sweet sleep;
Began to make praising anew;


Made mention of his Goodness-giver (God) for goodness;
Made the world prosperous by that worship of his.

When he (had) performed the condition of worship,
He exercised judgment on the matter of wine and the assembly:

Sometimes drank wine to the notes of music;
Sometimes gave blessing to those of good faith (deceased prophets):

With rosy wine, fresh, like rose-water (the pain-dispeller),
Took pain from the head, and torment from the brain:

Opened the door of pastime (merry jest) to his intimate friends;
From the door (of the court),—far the clamour of strangers.


Speech passed on every subject in secret (hidden and abstruse);
No one uttered a tale void of a mystery.

One related a tale of Khurásán and Ghúr,
Saying:—“Thence one can obtain gold and power (of body).”

Another mentioned a tale of Sipáhán,
Saying:—“Firídún conquered the treasure of that place.”

Another said:—“Kaisúr is better than this country,
“For it gives camphor and sandal-wood beyond compu­tation.”

Another uttered the tale of Khwárazm and Chín,
Saying:—“Its musk is such (most fragrant), and its brocade such (soft and beautiful).”


Another said:—“Hindústán is better;
“For its fuel is all aloe-wood; and dust, ambergris.”


Firídún, after conquering the country of Sipahán and slaying Zuhháḳ, won treasure.


Ḳayṣúr is a city, musk-producing, beyond the river of Chín, near the Durya,e Akhar (the sea washing the coasts of Arabia, Ethiopia, and China); or a mountain on the river of Hind (the Indus).

In that assembly was an old man;
When to him the turn of speech at last came,

He suddenly opened his tongue respecting a wonder,
(And) like the other chiefs kissed the ground,

Saying:—“Of every land, that Dark Land is best,
“In which is a water, the life-giver.

“Weigh not thy life with weighty treasure;
“For dust (contempt) is on the treasure and on the porter of treasure.


“Since thou desirest that thou mayst long remain,
“Bring forth the desire for the fountain of life.”

The assembly passed into lowering of the head (in thought),
Saying:—“In the Dark Land, how is there life?”

Sikaudar spoke to him, saying:—“O my good man!
“Perhaps at that drinking-water (the fountain of life) that Dark Land

“Is the blackness of letters (of books) hand-worn;
“Its water,—verily, the meaning, soul-refreshing?

“Otherwise who beholds a dark land;
“Verily, the fountain that preserves from death?”


The old man, world-experienced, again spoke, saying,
Saying;—“Outside of these concealed mysteries


The first line may be:—

Of every darkness (in the world) that darkness (of the water of life) is best.

“ulmát” may mean—zamín-i-siyah (couplet 24); siyáhí (couplets 18, 22, 63, 64).


Consider not thy life equal to weighty treasure. With much treasure man's life becomes not long.


The mysteries are mentioned in couplet 23.

“Is a veil (of darkness) beneath the polar star of the north,—
“Within it, a pure fountain of limpid water.

“A veil, whose name is Zulmát,
“From its ease the water of life flowing.

“Everyone who drinks of that water of life
“Takes his life from the life-devourer (death) of this world.

“If, as regards my word, faith come not to thee,
“Inquire of other old wise men.”


From the perplexity of that discussion,—to the king
The thought of searching occurred.

He inquired of him, saying:—“Where is that Dark Land?”
The declarer declared, saying:—“From the right hand (beneath the North Pole).

“From us to that land, the road is short;
“Of this road (from Chín to the confines of Russia), which thou hast travelled, it is one out of ten.”

When the king perceived that that fountain, pleasant-tasting,
It is possible to find (luminous) like the morning in the Zulmát,

He placed the door of the court towards the Zulmát;
Reviewed the army with a view to moving:


When he went some stages he looked at the affair (of marching);
Beheld many of the people of the army sick.

A moving world was his general camp;
Another world, special about his court.


The ulmát (sing. ulmat) is in the “sixth climate.”

Through the market (multitude) of the army,—in that marching-place,
The road resembled the market of the place of assembling (the judgment-place).

If they turned the rein towards (sought for) bird's milk (a rare commodity),
It,—they found in the market of this camp.

In every arid land where the Khusrau arrived,
The rain rained; the grass sprouted.


Thou wouldst have said:—“The trace of Khizr was on that road;
“That, verily, Khizr was himself with the king.”

He reflected on the numerousness of his army;
He exercised patience as to that hastening (to the Dark Land).

Near to the plain was a cave-place (of the mountains of Zulmát),
Which there the Khusrau's court passed.

Whatever heavy baggage they had with them
They left near to that cave.

Through that multitude (of the army) which there became place-occupying (dwelling),
That desolate land became habitation-possessing (pros­perous).


The Muslims usually confound Khizr with Phineas, Elias, and St. George, saying that his soul passed by metempsychosis through all three.

Some say that he was one, Balya ibn Malkán, in the time of Firídún (B.C. 800); that he preceded Zú-'l-Ḳarnain (Asa,ab ibnu-'r-Rayesh); and that he lived to the time of Moses.

See Sale's Ḳurán, chap. xviii.; and canto x. couplet 1; lix. 17.


The desert watch-keeper (Sikandar) called it Bun-Ghár;
That Bunghar (in time) became, in name, Bulghár.

Those individuals who are chiefs of that territory
Are slave-born of the king, Sikandar.

When the king perceived that that countless army
Was not stage-recognizing as to that road (to the Zulmát).

He chose some individuals, like the impetuous steed,
Bow-possessing, and hardship-enduring, and hard-striving:

Bold, and robust, and hard of bone,
Patient (enduring), and powerful, and youthful.


He ordered that no sick nor old person
Should, on that road, become motion-possessing (move).

For, if he be year-stricken, the old man
Comes to toil with the difficulty of the road.

The old men sate, the young men departed;
They went the long road,—without those road-knowing.

From the men of that country, the world-king
Summoned a sensible one, work-versed;

Kept him in front for path-showing to the army;
Performed two stages in every stage:


All the road-provisions, sugared or salted,
Despatched on two-year-old camels and bay horses (of impetuous spirit):

Urged the army, double-horsed, towards the Zulmát;
Appointed a lieutenant over those left behind (in Bul-ghár):


See canto xiii. couplet 13; lxxi. 10.


“Sakht-kash.” Sakht may mean—the chest; and kash—the upper arm.


See canto xxxv. couplet 77; lxviii. 123.

Spoke to him without limit all fit to be uttered,
Saying:—“A place (desolate) like this is unfit for sleeping (Be watchful!).”

When he travelled a month towards the north,
The state of the sun's thoroughfare (the ecliptic) changed (in its apparent position):

A luminosity (of the sun) appeared from the (northern) pole of the sky;
It (the luminosity) ascended (above the horizon) and descended (below) quickly in a moment.


The circle of the equator established its extremity on (agreed with) the circle of the horizon (at the north pole);
The medial line (the equator) fell to (concurred with) the pole of the north.

They arrived at a place where the (light of the) sun,
More than a phantom in a dream,—they saw not.

Towards the border-place of the earth they hastened;
In that Dark Land they exalted the standard.

The earth snatched luminosity from the air;
The veil of terror displayed the Dark Land.

In one direction, the Dark Land revealed the margin (of the earth);
In the other direction, the deep sea (earth-encircling) closed the path:



A luminosity appeared from the (north) pole of the sky (the sun);
It (the sun) ascended and descended (rose and set) in a moment.

They say that for forty days every year the people of Balghár have no 'ishá (the time between sunset and dawn); for dawn appears in the east when the sun sets in the west.


The second line may be:—

The veil of the ulmát appeared fearful.


The skilful guide kept travelling northwards;
In one direction from the compass (the ecliptic) of the lofty sphere.

When he went little by little from the compass (the ecliptic) of revolution,
The light (of the sun) became more remote with every accession of remoteness.

Thus, until the path (of journeying) reached such a spot,
That the luminosity (of the sun) all at once became invisible.

Darkness appeared (to the king) from the corner of the path,
—The world is unpleasant when it becomes dark.—

The Khusrau became dejected, saying:—“What is the plan?
“Who is the pointer out of the way of this path (to the Dark Land)?”


Those versed in affairs exercised thought,
Saying:—“This Dark Land is the veil of the hidden.

“Within it,—in every way that is it is possible to go;
“The road of returning,—who shall bring to hand?”

Everyone hastened to remedy-devising (for coming out of the darkness);
No one found the path to the devising of the remedy.

When night came, that half-lit land (where the north pole was in the zenith)
Chose the black musk (night, in preference) to the wood aloe (half-lit day).


If az be read for án, the first line will be:—

When from the half-lit land night came,
It chose …

The sphere became confounded like one mad (who strikes hand and foot on the dust),
The Kashmírí (the half-lit land) became changed to the Zangí (pitch dark night).


That road became finer than a hair;
Darker than the darkness of evening.

Everyone returned to his own abode (in the halting-place),
In thought remedy-devising as to that matter (of returning).

There was a generous young man,—war-experienced,
Whose illumined mind was cherished of love (kind to men).

He had a father, an old man of ninety years,
Through pain of his body, every movement a lament.

On that first day, when the king ordered
That none of the old men should come towards the road,


The generous youth was impatient of (seeing) his father,
As the sick man complaining of (the want of) the odour of the apple (ease-giving).

He kept that doting old man,
As others the red ruby:

Had concealed him in the chest of road-provisions (carried by a camel);
Had brought him at the rate of (as) a valuable present.

On that night, when of the road of returning (from the Zulmát)
Perplexity came into the thought (of all),


The second line may be:—

Had brought him as stores of the road.

The youth opened that closed lid (of the chest),
And began speech with him on this subject (the difficulty of returning),


Saying:—“Of this advancing the king has become regretful;
“Through hardship-enduring he has become unsteady to his purpose (of drinking the water of life):

“On account of the darkness his heart has come to fear;
“For he knows not the design of his own road (of returning):

“Guideless he can go within (the Dark Land),
“The coming forth,—he knows not how (it is).”

The venerable old man to youth spoke,
Saying:—“Within this screen is a hidden mystery.

“When the time of going reaches the king,
“That he may find the road forth,—know


“For him, sound of body, is necessary a mare,
“Whose parturition is indeed the first.

“When the colt of the wind-fleet steed is born,
“They should immediately cut off its head at the spot.

“That very spot where the head shall have been severed
“They should not conceal,—so that at it the mother may look:

“By it (the slaying and the bearing),—should bring the mare's heart to fury;
“And should use haste for departing thence.

“When the time of returning from the path occurs,
“Let the mare be the leader to the army.


The first line may be:—

The youth unfolded the hidden matter (the difficulty of returning).


“It will run towards its own beautiful colt,
“Brought forth on the former path.

“By that path, the coming guideless;
“By this device (of the mare), the coming forth—are possible.”

When the youth heard this account from his father,
He found the end of the thread for remedy-devising.

In the morning-time, when the musky silk (the black night) of Tiráz (the Dark Land at night),
Became again changed for the brocade of aloe nature (the Dark Land by day),

The monarch sate in the assembly,
As to going, each one an opinion-expresser become.


In every way, they prepared a remedy;
In a different way, cast a device (for going and returning);

Neither,—the king the purchaser of anyone's remedy;
Nor,—the door of remedy apparent to any.

The wise youth of deliberate judgment
Urged speech as to the matter of road-guidance.

The tale which he had heard from the wise old man,
To the king he unfolded for remedy-devising.

When the king heard, it came heart-pleasing to him;
It came place-occupying in his own wisdom.


To him he spake, saying:—“O noble young man!
“Of thyself, how was it possible to express such an opinion?

“Of thyself, thou acquiredest not this wisdom;
“Say truly—from whom learnedest thou?

“If thou should say (truly),—thou wilt become prosperous with (my) treasure;
“But if not, by crooked speaking thou wilt come to sorrow.”

The youth said:—“If thou give me protection,
“I will make the camel-litter (the tongue) void of the load of sorrow (of falsehood).

“The first day, when the monarch ordered
“That the old man, unsound of body, should not come to the path,


“I had a father, an old man of ancient years,
“Much chastisement found from the sphere;

“From compassion for the old man, my own father,
“I forgot care of myself:

“I brought him in concealment with myself;
“—It was not evil though I brought him evil—

“Last night—of the king's road-journeying, the words
“Each one I caused to reach his ear:

“By his instruction I illumined (my) heart;
“Learned a remedy like this from him.”


The king in secret through the counsel of that guide (the old man),
Kindled; and uttered this beautiful subtlety:—

“Although the young man is the king of counsellors,
“Yet in remedy-devising he is in need of old men.

“If the gourd sport with (bring forth) the new bough,
“It shows exaltation by the old bough (the dry wooden prop).

“If the young man were incomparable in wisdom,
“Yet to him need would come of the words of the old man.”

In this speech was the world-king,
When suddenly by the door that desert one


Entered; to the king he brought
A back-load of black sable.

Of it—each one (sable skin) more famous (more perfect) than the ermine;
In quality,—each one (sable skin) more pleasant-limbed (soft) than the other.

When the king became a purchaser of his gift,
He became again concealed from the king.

He concealed his chattels in the Darkness;
The king was astonied at that difficult matter (the present-bringing and disappearing of the demon man):

In the thought of the light-displayer (the old man)
Brought his judgment, double-horsed, (for proceeding) towards the Zulmát:


Ordered, saying:—“A mare, wind-like,
“Whose pregnancy is (near) the time of parturition,

“Bring ye; in that way in which the old man said,
“Let the colt of the wind-fleet (mare) be matched with the dust (of the grave).”

When they performed the work which the king ordered,
They took the road to the water of life.

Come, cup-bearer! that dust like the Zulmát (the place of passing away)
Seek; and bring to the hand the water of life (the wine of senselessness).


In some copies:—

Of it (the back-load) each one a famous (perfect) ermine-skin:

It is said that the sick man who puts on the sable skin (samúr) recovers from his sickness.


See canto xxxv. couplet 77; lxviii. 56.

By that luminous water behold me;
And (by drinking it) make me more living than this (terrestrial) life (so that I may obtain eternal life).


The first line may be:—

By that water make me luminous of eye.

For of the holy man,—the eye is luminous, and life lasting.