[Abú-l Kásim Hasan bin Ahmad 'Unsurí, of Balkh, rose to a high position by the exercise of his poetical talents. He was one of the poets entertained at the Court of Mahmúd of Ghazní. They are said to have been 400 in number. He was reckoned their chief, and it was his duty to read and report upon the productions of the poets who sought for the patronage of the Sovereign. He wrote a series of Odes describing the victories of the Ghaznivides, of which the following is an Extract, translated by Sir H. M. Elliot. He died in 431 or 441 H. (1039 or 1049 A.D.).]

Ode in praise of Sultán Mahmúd Ghazniví.—Jaipál.—Multán.—
Thánesar.—The display of booty from India

Oh! thou who hast heard of the virtues of kings from history, come hither and clearly discern the virtue of the Khusrú of Írán. * * * If thou regardest his face, thou wilt find it more auspicious than that of the sun. If thou regardest his wealth, thou wilt find it more abundant than the sand of the desert or the drops of a shower. The son resembles the father; for when the matter is so excellent that which proceeds from it must be equally so. In whatever business he undertakes, he acts like a hero; he is swift to hunt lions; the line of his army is as indissoluble as a ring; when he rides he is as much a part of his horse as sugar dissolved in milk forms one liquid. The eye of day is blinded by the dust raised by his steed; from its neighing the ear of heaven is deafened. His family around him are like the army of Yájúj; his troops are as firm as the wall of Sikandar. With his body erect, his heart filled with revenge, his sword drawn, he resembles an enraged male lion pursuing its prey. The attack of the King of the World has exterminated his enemies root and branch, as the blast when it destroyed the tribe of 'Ád. The foundations of his fort are as strong as iron, and its bastions are as lofty as heaven. When men walk along its ramparts, you would say they were taking their way along the galaxy.

Thou hast heard the account of Jaipál, the King of the Hindus, who was exalted above the other chiefs of the world. His army was more numerous than the stars of heaven; the stones on the face of the earth did not equal it, or the drops of rain. His soldiers had so imbrued their hands in blood, that their swords were as red as the morning dawn. Hadst thou seen his spears gleaming, like tongues of flame through black smoke, thou wouldst have said his host was dispersed in the wilderness of hell. Sense fled from the brain at fear of him; and the light of the eye was confounded. The Lord of Khurásán dispersed in his attack the whole of that army on the plain of Pesháwar. Thou knowest the history of his expedition to Multán, or if thou knowest not, consult the “Crown of Victories.”* In the Sháh-náma will be read the story of Farídún crossing the Tigris without a boat. The tale may be true, or it may not be true; if thou knowest it to be not true, put no faith in the narrative. But [Mahmúd] crossed the Chandáha, the Síhún, the Rahwáli, and Behat,* yet he had neither boat nor anchor, notwith­standing that thought could not fathom their depth, and the breeze was unable to pass over their breadth. On his road to Multán he took two hundred forts, each of which was a hundred times stronger than Khaibar.* As the King passed from the right to the left, he dispersed all his foes, and in his contempt regarded them as vile. Their armour was shattered, their bodies wounded, their hopes depressed, their swords broken, their hearts confounded, their shields cast away. Vestiges of the blood of his enemies, which the Sháh spilt, still remain in that country, for its air is full of clouds and its soil bright red. He marred the beautiful gardens of Gang and Thánesar, because they were places of pilgrimage to the Hindus. He threw down the idol's head at the entrance of the plain of Ghaznín, because it was, as it were, the helmet of Hind. * * * The enemy's blood will flow for years over the wide plains of that country. The mother who has witnessed the battles of that region will bring forth no more children through affright; for the feet of the camels and the swords of the warriors are yet red with the blood of the inhabitants.

No one, except God the giver, can rightly enumerate the booty which the Prince of 'Ajam brought back with him. In one direct line, as far as Balkh, it was displayed; and the road became like one saráí, fitted up with the puppets of Barbar. Villages and towns became distracted at the colours and odours arising from the strings of rubies and the balls of ambergris. Baghdád could not produce such rarities, nor Shustar [Súsa] such beauties. The sand of the deserts is not greater than were the heaps of jewels piled up before the King of the World. If this surpasses belief, read the “Crown of Victories,” the text of which is a necklace, and its commentaries like pearls. The Sháh of Khurásán has conquered all his opponents by the help of God, in a manner which no one amongst men has done before him. Though the moon shines in a dark night and is very brilliant, yet it pales before the light of day. Though every Sháh may say, “I am aloe-wood, because I also am of the same nature,” yet that only can be known when tested in the fire and censer. * * * Who upon this earth resembles the King in excellence? What thorn resembles the pine and cypress? Princedom, nobility, wealth, and religion are excellent through his possession of them, as trees are valuable through the fruits they produce. As long as in every time men throughout the world are affected by pleasure and sorrow, by the decrees and preknowledge of God, may the life of the King of the World endure, and his wealth be abundant, his heart at ease, and his hand upon the wine and cup!

Ode in celebration of Sultán Mahmúd.

Hail! Lord of Khurásán and son of perfection, on whom Almighty God has bestowed dignity and pomp. Thou art the right hand of the State, from whom the State has acquired honour, the asylum of the faith, from whom the faith has derived splendour. God has abolished mortality from the creation, in order to secure the eternity of his government. The tree of his liberality has risen to heaven, every leaf of which is dignity, and every fruit is wealth. From the utmost bounds of the sea and land he has united in his donations all the munificent largesses which have ever been scattered over the earth. If you look at his face, your heart will be gladdened; if you hear his name, you may consider it a happy omen. * * * In Turkistán there are no houses which he has not saddened; in Hind there are no cities which he has not levelled with the ground. Wherever there is wisdom, wherever there is excellence, every one takes an example in both from thee. Wisdom has no value till it derives approval from thee; excellence makes no impression till it draws its model from thee. * * * * From fear of thee the heart of the infidel becomes black; the heart of the pious is illumined by the light of thy religion. Before thy benefactions are made, a request is issued that they might meet with accept­ance. If I were not to wish for a long life, in order to serve thee, all that I possess in the world which is lawful would change its nature.