The Book Of The Thousand Nights And One Night, Volume IV
Part 4 out of 8
answered he, 'the land of the Chosroes.' When they heard this,
they laughed and one of them said, 'O Chosroaen, I have heard
the talk of men and their histories and looked upon their
conditions; but never saw or heard I a greater liar than the
Chosroaen that is with us in the prison.' 'Nor,' quoth another,
'did I ever see fouler than his favour or more repulsive than
his aspect.' 'What have ye seen of his lying?' asked the
prince, and they answered, 'He pretends that he is a sage. Now
the King came upon him, as he went a-hunting, and found with
him a most beautiful lady and a horse of ebony, never saw I a
handsomer. As for the lady, she is with the King, who is
enamoured of her and would fain marry her; but she is mad, and
were this man a physician, as he pretends, he would have cured
her, for the King doth his utmost endeavour to find a remedy
for her disease, and this whole year past hath he spent
treasures upon physicians and astrologers, on her account; but
none can avail to cure her. As for the horse, it is in the
royal treasury, and the man is here with us in the prison; and
all night long he weeps and bemoans himself and will not let us
When the prince heard this, he bethought himself of a device by
which he might compass his desire; and presently the warders,
being minded to sleep, clapped him into the prison and locked
the door. He heard the Persian weeping and bemoaning himself,
in his own tongue, and saying, 'Woe is me for my sin, that I
sinned against myself and against the King's son, in that which
I did with the damsel; for I neither left her nor got my desire
of her! All this comes of my want of sense, in that I sought
for myself that which I deserved not and which befitted not the
like of me; for he, who seeks what befits him not, falleth into
the like of my predicament.' When the prince heard this, he
accosted him in Persian, saying, 'How long wilt thou keep up
this weeping and wailing? Thinkst thou that there hath befallen
thee what never befell other than thou?' When the Persian heard
this, he made friends with him and began to complain to him of
his case and misfortunes.
As soon as it was day, the warders took the prince and carried
him before the King, informing him that he had entered the city
on the previous night, at a time when no audience could be had
of him. Quoth the King to the prince, 'Whence comest thou and
what is thy name and craft and why comest thou hither?' And he
answered, 'I am called, in Persian, Herjeh. I come from the
land of Fars and I am of the men of art and especially of the
art of medicine and cure the sick and the mad. For this, I go
round about all countries and cities, adding knowledge to my
knowledge, and whenever I see a sick person, I heal him; and
this is my craft.' When the King heard this, he rejoiced
exceedingly and said, 'O excellent sage, thou hast come to us
at a time when we have need of thee.' Then he acquainted him
with the case of the princess, adding, 'If thou win to cure her
and recover her of her madness, thou shalt have of me whatever
thou seekest.' 'May God advance the King!' rejoined the prince.
'Describe to me all thou hast seen of her madness and tell me
how long it is since it attacked her; also how thou camest by
her.' So the King told him the whole story, from first to last,
adding, 'The sage is in prison.' 'O august King,' said the
prince, 'and what hast thou done with the horse?' 'It is with
me yet, laid up in one of my treasure-chambers,' replied the
King; whereupon quoth the prince in himself, 'The first thing
to do is to see the horse and assure myself of its condition.
If it be whole and unhurt, all will be well; but, if its works
be destroyed, I must find some other way of delivering my
So he turned to the King and said to him, 'O King, I must see
the horse in question: haply I may find in it somewhat that
will serve me for the recovery of the damsel.' 'With all my
heart,' replied the King and taking him by the hand, led him to
the place where the horse was. The prince went round about it,
examining its condition, and found it whole and unhurt, whereat
he rejoiced greatly and said to the King, 'May God exalt the
King! I would fain go in to the damsel, that I may see how it
is with her; for I hope, by God's grace, to cure her by means
of the horse.' Then he bade take care of the horse and the King
carried him to the princess's apartment, where he found her
writhing and beating herself against the ground, as was her
wont; but there was no madness in her, and she did this but
that none might approach her. When the prince saw her thus, he
said to her, 'No harm shall betide thee, O ravishment of all
creatures;' and went on to soothe her and speak her fair, till
he won to make himself known to her; whereupon she gave a loud
cry and fell down in a swoon for excess of joy; but the King
thought this came of her fear of him.
Then the prince put his mouth to her ear and said to her, 'O
seduction of the universe, have a care for thy life and mine
and be patient and constant; for we have need of patience and
skilful ordinance to make shift for our delivery from this
tyrannical King. To begin with, I will now go out to him and
tell him that thou art possessed of a genie, and hence thy
madness; but, that if he will loose thee from thy bonds, I will
engage to heal thee and drive away the evil spirit. So, when he
comes in to thee, do thou give him fair words, that he may
think I have cured thee, and all will be accomplished as we
desire.' Quoth she, 'I hear and obey;' and he went out to the
King, full of joy and happiness, and said to him, 'O august
King, by thy good fortune I have discovered her disease and its
remedy and have cured her for thee. So now do thou go in to her
and speak softly to her and entreat her kindly, and promise her
what may please her; so shall all thou desirest of her be
accomplished to thee.' So he went in to her and when she saw
him, she rose and kissing the ground, bade him welcome; whereat
he was greatly rejoiced and bade the eunuchs and waiting-women
attend her and carry her to the bath and make ready for her
dresses and ornaments.
So they went in to her and saluted her, and she returned their
greeting, after the goodliest and pleasantest fashion; after
which they clad her in royal apparel and clasping a collar of
jewels about her neck, carried her to the bath and served her
there. Then they brought her forth, as she were the full moon;
and when she came into the King's presence, she saluted him and
kissed the ground before him, whereupon he rejoiced in her with
an exceeding joy and said to the prince, 'All this is of thy
blessing, may God increase us of thy good offices!' Quoth the
prince, 'O King, it behoves, for the completion of her cure,
that thou carry her forth, together with the ebony horse, and
attend her with all thy troops to the place where thou foundest
her, that there I may expel from her the evil spirit, by whom
she is possessed, and bind him and kill him, so he may never
more return to her.' 'With all my heart,' answered the King.
Then he caused carry out the horse to the meadow in question
and mounting, rode thither with all his troops and the princess,
knowing not the prince's purpose.
When they came to the appointed place, the prince bade set the
horse and the princess as far as the eye could reach from the
King and his troops and said to the former, 'With thy leave, I
will now proceed to the needful fumigations and conjurations
and imprison the genie here, that he may nevermore return to
her. After this, I shall mount the horse and take the damsel up
behind me; whereupon it will sway to and fro and fare forward,
till it come to thee, when the affair will be at an end; and
after this thou mayst do with her as thou wilt.' And when the
King heard his words, he rejoiced with an exceeding joy. So the
prince mounted the horse and taking the princess up behind him,
bound her fast to him, whilst the King and his troops watched
him. Then he turned the peg of ascent and the horse took flight
and soared with them into the air, till he disappeared from
The King abode half the day, expecting their return; but they
returned not. So, when he despaired of them, he returned to the
city with his troops, repenting him greatly of that which he
had done and grieving sore for the loss of the damsel. He shut
himself up in his palace, mourning and afflicted; but his
Viziers came in to him and applied themselves to comfort him,
saying, 'Verily, he who took the damsel is an enchanter, and
praised be God who hath delivered thee from his craft and
sorcery!' And they ceased not from him, till he was comforted
for her loss.
Meanwhile, the prince bent his course, in joy and cheer,
towards his father's capital and stayed not, till he alighted
on his own palace, where he set the princess in safety; after
which he went in to his father and mother and acquainted them
with her coming, whereat they rejoiced exceedingly. Then he
made great banquets to the townsfolk and they held high
festival a whole month, at the end of which time he went in to
the princess and they rejoiced in one another with an exceeding
joy. But his father broke the horse in pieces and destroyed its
works. Moreover, the prince wrote a letter to the princess's
father, advising him of all that had befallen her and how she
was now married to him and in all health and happiness, and
sent it by a messenger, together with costly presents and
rarities. The messenger, in due course, arrived at the city of
Senaa and delivered the letter and the presents to the King,
who, when he read the former, rejoiced greatly and accepted the
presents, rewarding the bearer handsomely. Moreover, he sent
rich presents to his son-in-law by the same messenger, who
returned to his master and acquainted him with what had passed,
whereat he was much cheered. And after this the prince wrote a
letter every year to his father-in-law and sent him a present,
till, in course of time, his father King Sabour died and he
reigned in his stead, ruling justly over his subjects and
ordering himself well and righteously towards them, so that
they submitted themselves to him and did him loyal service; and
he and his wife abode in the enjoyment of all delight and
solace of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of
Delights and Sunderer of Companies, He that layeth waste the
palaces and peopleth the tombs; and glory be to the Living One
who dieth not and in whose hand is the dominion of the Seen and
UNS EL WUJOUD AND THE VIZIER'S DAUGHTER
There was once, of old days and in bygone ages and times, a
King of great power and glory and dominion, who had a Vizier
named Ibrahim, and this Vizier had a daughter of extraordinary
beauty and grace, gifted with surpassing brilliancy and all
perfection, possessed of abundant wit and perfectly accomplished.
She loved wine and good cheer and fair faces and choice verses
and rare stories; and the delicacy of her charms invited all
hearts to love, even as Saith the poet, describing her:
She shines out like the moon at full, that midst the stars doth
fare, And for a wrapping-veil she hath the ringlets of her
The Eastern zephyr gives her boughs to drink of all its sweets
And like a jointed cane, she sways to every breath of air.
She smiles in passing by. O thou that dost alike accord With
red and yellow and arrayed in each, alike art fair,
Thou sportest with my wit in love, so that indeed meseems As if
a sparrow in the clutch of playful urchin 'twere.
Her name was Rose-in-bud and she was so named for the exceeding
delicacy and perfection of her beauty; and the King loved to
carouse with her, because of her wit and good breeding.
Now it was the King's custom yearly to gather together all the
nobles of his realm and play with the ball. So, when the day
came round, on which the folk assembled for ball-play, the
Vizier's daughter seated herself at her lattice, to divert
herself by looking on at the game; and as they were at play,
her eyes fell upon a youth among them, never was seen a
handsomer than he or a goodlier of favour, for he was bright of
face, laughing-teethed, tall and broad-shouldered. She looked
at him again and again and could not take her fill of gazing on
him. Then she said to her nurse, 'What is the name of yonder
handsome young man among the troops?' 'O my daughter,' replied
the nurse, 'they are all handsome. Which of them dost thou
mean?' 'Wait till he passes,' said Rose-in-bud, 'and I will
point him out to thee.' So she took an apple and waited till he
came under her window, when she dropped it on him, whereupon he
raised his head, to see who did this, and saw the Vizier's
daughter at the window, as she were the full moon in the
darkness of the night; nor did he withdraw his eyes, till he
had fallen passionately in love with her; and he recited the
Was it an archer shot me or did thine eyes undo The lover's
heart that saw thee, what time thou metst his view?
Did the notched arrow reach me from midst a host, indeed, Or
was it from a lattice that launched at me it flew?
When the game was at an end, he went away with the King,
[whose servant and favourite he was,] with heart occupied with
love of her; and she said to her nurse, 'What is the name of
that youth I showed thee?' 'His name is Uns el Wujoud,'
answered she; whereat Rose-in-bud shook her head and lay down
on her couch, with a heart on fire for love. Then, sighing
deeply, she improvised the following verses:
He erred not who dubbed thee, "All creatures' delight,"[FN#75]
That pleasance and bounty[FN#76] at once dust unite.
Full-moonlike of aspect, O thou whose fair face O'er all the
creation sheds glory and light,
Thou'rt peerless midst mortals, the sovran of grace, And many a
witness to this I can cite.
Thy brows are a Noun[FN#77] and shine eyes are a Sad,[FN#78]
That the hand of the loving Creator did write;
Thy shape is the soft, tender sapling, that gives Of its
bounties to all that its favours invite.
Yea, indeed, thou excellest the world's cavaliers In pleasance
and beauty and bounty and might.
When she had finished, she wrote the verses on a sheet of
paper, which she folded in a piece of gold-embroidered silk and
laid under her pillow. Now one of her nurses saw her; so she
came up to her and held her in talk, till she slept, when she
stole the scroll from under her pillow and reading it, knew
that she had fallen in love with Uns el Wujoud. Then she
returned the scroll to its place and when her mistress awoke,
she said to her, 'O my lady, indeed, I am to thee a faithful
counsellor and am tenderly solicitous for thee. Know that
passion is grievous and the hiding it melteth iron and causeth
sickness and unease; nor is there reproach for whoso confesses
it.' 'O my nurse,' rejoined Rose-in-bud,'and what is the remedy
of passion?' 'The remedy of passion is enjoyment,' answered the
nurse. 'And how may one come by enjoyment?' asked Rose-in-bud.
'By letters and messages,' replied the nurse, 'and many a
tender word and greeting; this brings lovers together and makes
hard matters easy. So, if thou have aught at heart, mistress
mine, I will engage to keep thy secret and do thy need and
carry thy letters.'
When the girl heard this, her reason fled for joy; but she
restrained herself from speech, till she should see the issue
of the matter, saying in herself, 'None knoweth this thing of
me, nor will I trust this woman with my secret, till I have
proved her.' Then said the nurse, 'O my lady, I saw in my sleep
as though one came to me and said, "Thy mistress and Uns el
Wujoud love one another; so do thou serve their loves by
carrying their messages and doing their need and keeping their
secrets; and much good shall befall thee." So now I have told
thee my dream, and it is thine to decide.' 'O my nurse,' quoth
Rose-in-bud, 'canst thou keep secrets?' 'And how should I not
keep secrets,' answered the nurse, 'I that am of the flower of
the free-born?' Then Rose-in-bud pulled out the scroll, on
which she had written the verses afore said, and said to her,'
Carry this my letter to Uns el Wujoud and bring me his answer.'
So the nurse took the letter and repairing to Uns el Wujoud,
kissed his hands and saluted him right courteously, then gave
him the letter; and he read it and wrote on the back the
I temper my heart in passion and hide my case as I may; But my
case interprets for me and doth my love bewray.
And whenas my lids brim over with tears,--lest the spy should
see And come to fathom my secret,--"My eye is sore," I
Of old I was empty-hearted and knew not what love was; But now
I am passion's bondman, my heart to love's a prey.
To thee I prefer my petition, complaining of passion and pain,
So haply thou mayst be softened and pity my dismay.
With the tears of my eye I have traced it, that so unto thee it
may The tidings of what I suffer for thee to thee convey.
God watch o'er a visage, that veileth itself with beauty, a
face That the full moon serves as a bondman and the stars
as slaves obey!
Yea' Allah protect her beauty, whose like I ne'er beheld! The
boughs from her graceful carriage, indeed, might learn to
I beg thee to grant me a visit; algates, if it irk thee nought.
An thou knewst how dearly I'd prize it, thou wouldst not
say me nay.
I give thee my life, so haply thou mayst accept it: to me Thy
presence is life eternal and hell thy turning away.
Then he folded the letter and kissing it, gave it to the nurse
and said to her, 'O nurse, incline thy lady's heart to me.' 'I
hear and obey,' answered she and carried the letter to her
mistress, who kissed it and laid it on her head, then wrote at
the foot of it these verses:
Harkye, thou whose heart is taken with my grace and loveliness,
Have but patience, and right surely thou my favours shalt
When we were assured the passion thou avouchedst was sincere
And that that which us betided had betided thee no less,
Gladly had we then vouchsafed thee what thou sighedst for, and
more; But our guardians estopped us to each other from
When night darkens on the dwellings, fires are lighted in our
heart And our entrails burn within us, for desire and
Yea, for love and longing, slumber is a stranger to our couch
And the burning pangs of fever do our body sore distress.
'Twas a law of passion ever, love and longing to conceal; Lift
not thou the curtain from us nor our secret aye
Ah, my heart is overflowing with the love of yon gazelle; Would
it had not left our dwellings for the distant wilderness.
Then she folded the letter and gave it to the nurse, who took
it and went out to go to the young man; but as she went forth
the door, her master met her and said to her, 'Whither away?'
'To the bath,' answered she; but, in her trouble, she dropped
the letter, without knowing it, and one of the servants, seeing
it lying in the way, picked it up. When she came without the
door, she sought for it, but found it not, so turned back to
her mistress and told her of this and what had befallen her
with the Vizier.
Meanwhile, the latter came out of the harem and seated himself
on his couch. Presently, the servant, who had picked up the
letter, came in to him, with it in his hand, and said, 'O my
lord, I found this paper lying on the floor and picked it up.'
So the Vizier took it from his hand, folded as it was, and
opening it, read the verses above set down. Then he examined
the writing and knew it for his daughter's hand; whereupon he
went in to her mother, weeping so sore that his beard was
drenched. 'What makes thee weep, O my lord?' asked she; and he
answered, 'Take this letter and see what is therein.' So she
took it and saw it to be a love-letter from her daughter
Rose-in-bud to Uns el Wujoud; whereupon the tears sprang to her
eyes; but she mastered herself and swallowing her tears, said
to her husband, 'O my lord, there is no profit in weeping: the
right course is to cast about for a means of preserving thine
honour and concealing thy daughter's affair.' And she went on
to comfort him and lighten his trouble. Quoth he, 'I am fearful
of what may ensue this passion of my daughter, and that for two
reasons. The first concerns myself; it is, that she is my daughter;
the second, that Uns el Wujoud is a favourite with the Sultan,
who loves him with an exceeding love, and maybe great troubles
shall come of this affair. What deemest thou of the matter?'
'Wait,' answered she, 'whilst I pray to God for direction.'
So she prayed a two-bow prayer, according to the prophetic
ordinance of the prayer for divine guidance; after which she
said to her husband, 'Amiddleward the Sea of Treasures stands
a mountain called the Mount of the Bereaved Mother,' (the cause
of which being so named shall follow in its place, if it be the
will of God,) 'and thither can none come, save with difficulty;
do thou make her an abiding-place there.'
So the Vizier and his wife agreed to build, on the mountain in
question, a strong castle and lodge his daughter therein with a
year's victual, to be annually renewed, and attendants to serve
and keep her company. Accordingly, he collected builders and
carpenters and architects and despatched them to the mountain,
where they builded her an impregnable castle, never saw eyes
its like. Then he made ready victual and carriage for the
journey and going in to his daughter by night, bade her make
ready to set out on a pleasure-excursion. She refused to set
out by night, but he was instant with her, till she went forth;
and when she saw the preparations for the journey, her heart
misgave her of separation from her beloved and she wept sore
and wrote upon the door the following verses, to acquaint him
with what had passed and with the transports of passion and
grief that were upon her, transports such as would make the
flesh quake, that would cause the hearts of stones to melt and
eyes to overflow with tears:
By Allah, O house, if the loved one pass in the morning-glow
And greet with the greeting of lovers, as they pass to and
Give him our salutation, a pure and fragrant one, For that we
have departed, and whither he may not know.
Why on this wise they hurry me off by stealth, anights And
lightly equipped, I know not, nor whither with me they go.
Neath cover of night and darkness, they carry me forth, alack I
Whilst the birds in the brake bewail us and make their
moan for our woe;
And the tongue of the case interprets their language and cries,
"Alas, Alas for the pain of parting from those that we
When I saw that the cups of sev'rance were filled and that
Fate, indeed, Would give us to drink of its bitter,
unmingled, would we or no,
I blended the draught with patience becoming, as best I might;
But patience avails not to solace my heart for your loss,
Then she mounted, and they set forward with her and fared on
over desert and plain and hill, till they came to the shore of
the Sea of Treasures, where they pitched their tents and built
a great ship, in which they embarked her and her suite and
carried them over to the mountain. Here they left them in the
castle and making their way back to the shore, broke up the
vessel, in obedience to the Vizier's commandment, and returned
home, weeping over what had befallen.
Meanwhile, Uns el Wujoud arose from sleep and prayed the
morning prayer, after which he mounted and rode forth to wait
upon the Sultan. On his way, he passed by the Vizier's house,
thinking to see some of his followers, as of wont, but saw no
one and drawing near the door, read the verses aforesaid
written thereon. At this sight, his senses failed him; fire was
kindled in his vitals and he returned to his lodging, where he
passed the rest of the day in ceaseless trouble and anxiety,
without finding ease or patience, till night darkened upon him,
when his transport redoubled. So he put off his clothes and
disguising himself in a fakir's habit, set out, at a venture,
under cover of the night, distraught and knowing not whither he
He wandered on all that night and next day, till the heat of
the sun grew fierce and the mountains flamed like fire and
thirst was grievous upon him. Presently, he espied a tree, by
whose side was a spring of running water; so he made towards it
and sitting down in the shade, on the bank of the rivulet,
essayed to drink, but found that the water had no taste in his
mouth. Then, [looking in the stream,] he saw that his body was
wasted, his colour changed and his face grown pale and his,
feet, to boot, swollen with walking and weariness. So he shed
copious tears and repeated the following verses:
The lover is drunken with love of his fair; In longing and heat
he redoubles fore'er.
Love-maddened, confounded, distracted, perplexed, No dwelling
is pleasant to him and no fare.
For how, to a lover cut off from his love, Can life be
delightsome? 'Twere strange an it were.
I melt with the fire of my passion for her And the tears down
my cheek roll and never forbear.
Shall I ever behold her or one from her stead, With whom I may
solace my heart in despair?
And he wept till he wet the ground; after which he rose and
fared on again over deserts and wilds, till there came out upon
him a lion, with a neck buried in hair, a head the bigness of a
dome, a mouth wider than the door [thereof] and teeth like
elephants' tusks. When Uns el Wujoud saw him, he gave himself up
for lost and turning towards Mecca, pronounced the professions
of the faith and prepared for death.
Now he had read in books that whoso will flatter the lion,
beguileth him, for that he is lightly duped by fair words and
glorieth in praise; so he began and said, 'O lion of the forest
and the waste! O unconquerable warrior! O father of heroes and
Sultan of wild beasts! Behold, I am a desireful lover, whom
passion and severance have undone. Since I parted from my
beloved, I have lost my reason; wherefore, do thou hearken to
my speech and have ruth on my passion and love-longing.' When
the lion heard this, he drew back from him and sitting down on
his hind-quarters, raised his head to him and began to frisk
his tail and paws to him; which when Uns el Wujoud saw, he
recited these verses:
Wilt slay me, O lord of the desert, before My enslaver I meet
with, e'en her I adore?
No fat on me is; I'm no booty for thee; For the loss of my
loved one hath wasted me sore.
Yea, my love's separation hath worn out my soul, And I'm grown
like a shape, with a shroud covered o'er.
Give the railers not cause to exult in my woe, O prince of the
spoilers, O lion of war!
A lover, all sleepless for loss of my dear, I'm drowned in the
tears from mine eyelids that pour;
And my pining for her in the darkness of night Hath robbed me,
for passion, of reason and lore.
When he had finished, the lion rose and coming softly up to
him, with his eyes full of tears, licked him with his tongue,
then walked on before him, signing to him, as who should say,
'Follow me.' So he followed him, and he led him on till he
brought him, over a mountain, to the farther side, where he
came upon the track of a caravan and knew it to be that of
Rose-in-bud and her company. When the lion saw that he knew the
track and set himself to follow it, he turned back and went his
way; whilst Uns el Wujoud followed the foot-marks, till they
brought him to a surging sea, swollen with clashing billows. The
trail led down to the water's edge and there broke off; whereby
he knew that they had taken ship there and had continued their
journey by sea. So he lost hope of finding his beloved and
repeated the following verses, weeping sore:
Far's the place of visitation and my patience faileth me For my
love; but how to reach her o'er the abysses of the sea?
When, for love of her, my vitals are consumed and I've forsworn
Slumber, sleep for wake exchanging, ah, how can I patient
Since the day she left the homesteads and departed, hath my
heart Burnt with never-ceasing anguish, all a-fire with
Oxus and Jaxartes, running like Euphrates, are my tears; More
than rain and flood abounding, run like rivers to the sea.
Ulcerated are my eyelids with the running of the tears, And my
heart on fires of passion's burnt and wasted utterly.
Yea, the armies of my longing and my transport on me pressed,
And the hosts of my endurance did before them break and
Lavishly my life I've ventured for the love of her; for life Is
the lightest to a lover of all ventures, verily.
Be an eye of God unpunished that beheld the beauteous one, Than
the moon how much more splendid, in the harem's sanctuary!
Struck was I and smitten prostrate by wide-opened eyes, whose
shafts, From a bow all stringless loosened, pierced the
hapless heart of me.
By the soft and flexile motions of her shape she captived me,
Swaying as the limber branches sway upon the cassia-tree.
Union with her I covet, that therewith I may apply Solace to
the pains of passion, love and care and misery.
For the love of her, afflicted, as I am, I have become; All
that's fallen on me betided from the evil eye, perdie.
Then he wept, till he swooned away, and abode in his swoon a
long while. When he came to himself, he looked right and left
and seeing none in the desert, was fearful of the wild beasts;
so he climbed to the top of a high mountain, where he heard a
man's voice speaking within a cavern. He listened and found it
to be that of a devotee, who had forsworn the world and given
himself up to pious exercises. So he knocked thrice at the
cavern door; but the hermit made him no answer, neither came
forth to him; wherefore he sighed heavily and recited the
What way is open unto me, to my desire to get And put off
weariness and toil and trouble and regret?
All pains and terrors have combined on me, to make me hoar And
old of head and heart, whilst I a very child am yet.
I find no friend to solace me of longing and unease' Nor one
'gainst passion and its stress to aid me and abet.
Alas, the torments I endure for waste and wistful love!
Fortune, meseems, 'gainst me is turned and altogether set.
Ah, woe's me for the lover's pain, unresting, passion-burnt,
Him who in parting's bitter cup his lips perforce hath
His wit is ravished clean away by separation's woe, Fire in his
heart and all consumed his entrails by its fret.
Ah, what a dreadful day it was, when to her stead I came And
that, which on the door was writ, my eyes confounded met!
I wept, until I gave the earth to drink of my despair; But
still from friend and foe I hid the woes that me beset.
Then strayed I forth till, in the waste, a lion sprang on me
And would have slain me straight; but him with flattering
words I met
And soothed him. So he spared my life and succoured me, as
'twere He too had known love's taste and been entangled in
Yet, for all this, could I but win to come to my desire, All,
that I've suffered and endured, straightway I should
O thou, that harbour'st in thy cave, distracted from the world,
Meseems thou'st tasted love and been its slave, O
Hardly had he made an end of these verses when, behold, the
door of the cavern opened and he heard one say' 'Alas, the pity
of it I' So he entered and saluted the hermit, who returned his
greeting and said to him, 'What is thy name?' 'Uns el Wujoud,'
answered the young man. 'And what brings thee hither?' asked
the hermit. So he told him his whole story, whereat he wept and
said' 'O Uns el Wujoud, these twenty years have I dwelt in this
place, but never beheld I any here, till the other day, when I
heard a noise of cries and weeping, and looking forth in the
direction of the sound, saw much people and tents pitched on
the sea-shore. They built a ship, in which they embarked and
sailed away. Then some of them returned with the ship and
breaking it up, went their way; and methinks those, who
embarked in the ship and returned not, are they whom thou
seekest. In that case, thy trouble must needs be grievous and
thou art excusable; though never yet was lover but suffered
sorrows.' Then he recited the following verses:
Uns el Wujoud, thou deem'st me free of heart, but, wel-a-way!
Longing and transport and desire fold and unfold me aye.
Yea, love and passion have I known even from my earliest years,
Since at my mother's nursing breast a suckling babe I lay.
I struggled sore and long with Love, till I his power
confessed. If thou enquire at him of me, he will me not
I quaffed the cup of passion out, with languor and disease, And
as a phantom I became for pining and decay.
Strong was I, but my strength is gone and neath the swords of
eyes, The armies of my patience broke and vanished clean
Hope not to win delight of love, without chagrin and woe; For
contrary with contrary conjoined is alway.
But fear not change from lover true; do thou but constant be
Unto thy wish, and thou shalt sure be happy yet some day:
For unto lovers passion hath ordained that to forget Is heresy,
forbidden all its mandates that obey.
Then he rose and coming to the youth, embraced him, and they
wept together, till the hills rang with their crying and they
fell down in a swoon. When they revived, they swore brotherhood
in God the Most High, and the hermit said to Uns el Wujoud,
'This night will I pray to God and seek of Him direction what
thou shouldst do to attain thy desire.'
To return to Rose-in-bud. When they brought her into the castle
and she beheld its ordinance, she wept and exclaimed, 'By
Allah, thou art a goodly place, save that thou lackest the
presence of the beloved in thee!' Then, seeing [many] birds in
the island, she bade her people set snares for them and hang up
all they caught in cages within the castle; and they did so. But
she sat at a window of the castle and bethought her of what had
passed, and passion and transport and love-longing redoubled
upon her, till she burst into tears and repeated the following
To whom, of my desire complaining, shall I cry, To whom, for
loss of loves and parting's sorrow, sigh?
Flames rage within my breast, but I reveal them not, For fear
lest they my case discover to the spy.
I'm grown as thin as e'er a bodkin's wood, so worn With absence
and lament and agony am I.
Where is the loved one's eye, to see how I'm become Even as a
blasted tree, stripped bare and like to die?
They wronged me, when they shut me prisoner in a place, Wherein
my love, alas I may never come me nigh.
Greetings a thousandfold I beg the sun to bear, What time he
riseth up and setteth from the sky,
To a beloved one, who puts the moon to shame, For loveliness,
and doth the Indian cane outvie.
If the rose ape his cheek, "Now God forfend," I say, "That of
my portion aught to pilfer thou shouldst try."
Lo, in his mouth are springs of limpid water sweet, Refreshment
that would bring to those in flames who lie.
How shall I one forget who is my heart and soul, My malady and
he that healing can apply?
Then, as the shadows darkened upon her, her longing increased
and she called to mind the past and recited these verses also:
The shadows darken and passion stirs up my sickness amain And
longing rouses within me the old desireful pain.
The anguish of parting hath taken its sojourn in my breast And
love and longing and sorrow have maddened heart and brain.
Passion hath made me restless and yearning consumes my soul And
tears discover my secret, that else concealed had lain.
I know of no way to ease me of sickness and care and woe; Nor
can my weak endeavour reknit Love's severed skein.
My heart is a raging furnace, because of the heat whereof My
entrails are racked with anguish, that nothing can assain.
O thou, that thinkest to blame me for what is fallen on me,
Enough, I suffer with patience whatever the Fates ordain.
I swear I shall ne'er find comfort nor be consoled for them,
The oath of the children of passion, whose oaths are never
Bear tidings, O night, to my dear ones and greet them and
witness bear That thou knowest in thee I sleep not, but
ever to wake am fain.
Meanwhile, the hermit said to Uns el Wujoud, 'Go down into the
valley and fetch me palm-fibre.' So he went and returned with
the palm-fibre, which the hermit took and twisting into ropes,
made therewith a net, such as is used for carrying straw; after
which he said to the youth, 'O Uns el Wujoud, in the heart of
the valley grows a gourd, which springs up and dries upon its
roots. Go thither and fill this net therewith; then tie it
together and casting it into the water, embark thereon and make
for the midst of the sea, so haply thou shalt come to thy
desire; for he, who adventureth not himself, shall not attain
that he seeketh.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Uns el Wujoud and
bidding the hermit farewell after he had prayed for him, betook
himself to the hollow of the valley, where he did as he had
counselled him and launched out upon the water, supported by
Then there arose a wind, which drove him out to sea, till he
was lost to the hermit's view; and he ceased not to fare on
over the abysses of the ocean, one billow tossing him up on the
crest of the wave and another bearing him down into the trough
of the sea, and he beholding the while the terrors and wonders
of the deep, for the space of three days, at the end of which
time Fate cast him upon the Mount of the Bereft Mother, where
he landed, weak and giddy as a fledgling bird, for hunger and
thirst; but, finding there streams running and birds warbling
on the branches and fruit-laden trees, growing in clusters and
singly, he ate of the fruits and drank of the streams. Then he
walked on till he saw some white thing alar off, and making for
it, found that it was a strongly-fortified castle. So he went
up to the gate and finding it locked, sat down by it.
He sat thus three days and on the fourth, the gate opened and
an eunuch came out, who seeing Uns el Wujoud seated there, said
to him, 'Whence comest thou and who brought thee hither?' Quoth
he, 'I come from Ispahan and was travelling by sea with
merchandise, when my ship was wrecked and the waves cast me
upon this island.' When the eunuch heard this, he wept and
embraced him, saying, 'God preserve thee, O [thou that bringest
me the] fragrance of the beloved! Ispahan is my own country and
I have there a cousin, the daughter of my father's brother,
whom I loved and cherished from a child; but a people stronger
than we fell upon us and taking me among other booty, docked me
and sold me for an eunuch, whilst I was yet a lad; and this is
how I come to be what I am.' Then he carried him into the
courtyard of the castle, where he saw a great basin of water,
surrounded by trees, on whose branches hung cages of silver,
with doors of gold, and therein birds warbling and singing the
praises of the Requiting King. In the first cage he came to was
a turtle dove which, seeing him, raised her voice and cried
out, saying, 'O Bountiful One!'[FN#79] Whereat he fell down in
a swoon, but, presently coming to himself, sighed heavily and
recited the following verses:
O turtle, art thou mad for love, as is my case? Then sing, 'O
Bountiful!' and seek the Lord His grace!
Tell me, doth thy descant in joyance tale its rise Or in
desireful pain, that in thy heart hath place?
If for desire thou moan'st of bygone loves or pin'st For dear
ones that have gone and left thee but their trace,
Or if thou'st lost thy love, like me, ah, then, indeed,
Severance long-felt desire discovereth apace.
God guard a lover true! Though my bones rot, nor time Nor
absence from my heart her image shall efface.
Then he fainted again and presently coming to his senses, went
on to the second cage, wherein he found a ring-dove. When it
saw him, it sang out, 'O Eternal, I praise thee!' and he sighed
and recited these verses:
I heard a ring-dove say in her plaintive note, "Despite of my
woes, O Eternal, I praise Thee still!"
And God, of His grace, reunion of our loves, in this my travel,
may yet to us fulfil.
She visits me oft,[FN#80] with her dusk-red honeyed lips, And
lends to the passion within me an added thrill.
And I cry, whilst the fires in my tortured heart flame high And
my soul for ardour consumes and my eyes distil
Tears that resemble blood and withouten cease Pour down on my
wasted cheeks in many a rill,
There's none created without affliction, and I Must bear with
patience my tribulations, until
The hour of solace with her I love one day Unite me. Ah, then,
by God His power and will,
In succouring lovers, I vow, I'll spend my good, For they're of
my tribe and category still;
And eke from prison I'll loose the birds, to boot, And leave,
for joyance, the thought of every ill!
Then he went on to the third cage, in which was a mocking-bird.
When it saw him, it set up a song, and he recited the following
The mocking-bird delighteth me with his harmonious strain, As
'twere a lover's voice that pines and wastes for love in
Woe's me for those that lovers be! How many a weary night, For
love and anguish and desire, to waken they are fain!
'Twould seem as if they had no part in morning or in sleep, For
all the stress of love and woe that holds their heart and
When I became distraught for her I love and wistfulness Bound
me in fetters strait, the tears from out mine eyes did
So thick and fast, they were as chains, and I to her did say,
"My tears have fallen so thick, that now they've bound me
with a chain."
The treasures of my patience fail, absence is long on me And
yearning sore; and passion's stress consumeth me amain.
If God's protection cover me and Fortune be but just And Fate
with her whom I adore unite me once again,
I'll doff my clothes, that she may see how worn my body is, For
languishment and severance and solitary pain.
Then he went on to the fourth cage, where he found a
nightingale, which, at sight of him, began to tune its
plaintive note. When he heard its descant, he burst into tears
and repeated the following verses:
The nightingale's note, when the dawning is near, Distracts
from the lute-strings the true lover's ear.
Complaineth, for love-longing, Uns el Wujoud, Of a passion that
blotteth his being out sheer.
How many sweet notes, that would soften, for mirth, The
hardness of iron and stone, do I hear!
The zephyr of morning brings tidings to me Of meadows,
full-flower'd for the blossoming year.
The scents on the breeze and the music of birds, In the
dawning, transport me with joyance and cheer.
But I think of a loved one, that's absent from me, And mine
eyes rain in torrents, with tear upon tear;
And the ardour of longing flames high in my breast, As a fire
in the heart of a brasier burns clear.
May Allah vouchsafe to a lover distraught To see and foregather
once more with his dear!
Yea, for lovers, heart-sickness and longing and woe And wake
are excuses that plainly appear.
Then he went on a little and came to a handsome cage, than
which there was no goodlier there, and in it a culver, that is
to Say, a wood-pigeon, the bird renowned among the birds as the
singer of love-longing, with a collar of jewels about its neck,
wonder-goodly of ordinance. He considered it awhile and seeing
it mazed and brooding in its cage, shed tears and repeated
O culver of the copse, may peace upon thee light, O friend of
all who love and every wistful wight!
I love a young gazelle, a slender one, whose glance Than
sharpest sabre's point is keener and more bright.
For love of her, my heart and entrails are a-fire And
sicknesses consume my body and my spright.
The sweet of pleasant food's forbidden unto me, And eke I am
denied the taste of sleep's delight.
Solace and fortitude have taken flight from me, And love and
longing lodge with me, both day and night.
How shall my life be sweet to me, while she's afar, That is my
life, my wish, the apple of my sight?
When the pigeon heard these verses, it awoke from its brooding
and cooed and warbled and trilled, till it all but spoke; and
the tongue of the case interpreted for it and recited the
O lover, thy wailings recall to my mind The time when my youth
from me wasted and dwined,
And A mistress, whose charms and whose grace I adored,
Seductive and fair over all of her kind;
Whose voice, from the twigs of the sandhill upraised, Left the
strains of the flute, to my thought, far behind.
A snare set the fowler and caught me, who cried, "Would he d
leave me to range at my will on the wind!"
I had hoped he was clement or seeing that I Was a lover, would
pity my lot and be kind;
But no, (may God smite him!) he tore me away From my dear and
apart from her harshly confined.
Since then, my desire for her grows without cease, And my heart
with the fires of disjunction is mined.
God guard a true lover, who striveth with love And hath
suffered the torments in which I have pined!
When he seeth me languish for love in my cage, He will loose
me, in mercy, my loved one to find
Then Uns el Wujoud turned to his friend, the Ispahani and said
to him, 'What palace is this? Who built it and who abideth in
it?' Quoth the eunuch, 'The Vizier of King Shamikh built it
for his daughter, fearing for her the assaults of fate and the
vicissitudes of fortune, and lodged her therein, with her
attendants; nor do we open it save once in every year, when our
victual comes to us.' And Uns el Wujoud said in himself, 'I
have gained my end' though after long travail.'
Meanwhile, Rose-in-bud took no delight in eating nor drinking,
sitting nor sleeping; but her transport and passion and
love-longing redoubled on her, and she went wandering about the
castle, but could find no issue; wherefore she shed plenteous
tears and recited the following verses:
They have prisoned me straitly from him I adore And given me to
eat of mine anguish galore.
My heart with the flames of love-longing they fired, When me
from the sight of my loved one they bore.
They have cloistered me close in a palace built high On a mount
in the midst of a sea without shore.
If they'd have me forget, their endeavour is vain, For my love
but redoubles upon me the more.
How can I forget him, when all I endure Arose from the sight of
his face heretofore?
My days are consumed in lament, and my nights Pass in thinking
of him, as I knew him of yore.
His memory my solace in solitude is, Since the lack of his
presence I needs must deplore.
I wonder, will Fate grant my heart its desire And my love,
after all, to my wishes restore!
Then she donned her richest clothes and trinkets and threw a
necklace of jewels around her neck; after which she ascended to the
roof of the castle and tying some strips of Baalbek stuff together,
[to serve for a rope], made them fast to the battlements and let
herself down thereby to the ground. Then she fared on over wastes
and wilds, till she came to the sea-shore, where she saw a
fishing-boat, and therein a fisherman, whom the wind had driven
on to the island, as he went, fishing here and there, on the sea.
When he saw her, he was affrighted, [ taking her for a Jinniyeh]
and put out again to sea; but she cried out and made pressing
signs to him to return, reciting the following verses:
Harkye, O fisherman, fear thou no injury; I'm but an earthly
maid, a mortal like to thee.
I do implore thee, stay, give ear unto my prayer And hearken to
my true and woeful history.
Pity, (so God thee spare,) the ardour [of my love,] And say if
thou hast seen a loved one, fled from me.
I love a fair-faced youth and goodly; brighter far Of aspect
than the face of sun or moon is he.
The antelope, that sees his glances, cries, "His slave Am I,"
and doth confess inferiority.
Yea, beauty on his brow these pregnant words hath writ In very
dust of musk, significant to see,
"Who sees the light of love is in the way of right, And he who
strays commits foul sin and heresy."
An thou have ruth on me and bring me to his sight, O rare!
Whate'er thou wilt thy recompense shall be;
Rubies and precious stones and freshly gathered pearls And
every kind of gem that is in earth and sea.
Surely, O friend, thou wilt with my desire comply; For all my
heart's on fire with love and agony.
When the fisherman heard this, he wept and sighed and lamented;
then, recalling what had betided himself in the days of his
youth, when love had the mastery over him and transport and
love-longing and distraction were sore upon him and the fires
of passion consumed him, replied with these verses:
Indeed, the lover's excuse is manifest, Wasting of body and
streaming tears, unrest,
Eyes, in the darkness that waken still, and heart, As 'twere a
fire-box, bespeak him love-oppress.
Passion, indeed, afflicted me in youth, And I good money from
bad learnt then to test.
My soul I bartered, a distant love to win; To gain her favours,
I wandered East and West;
And eke I ventured my life against her grace And deemed the
venture would bring me interest.
For law of lovers it is that whoso buys His love's possession
with life, he profits best.
Then he moored his boat to the shore and bade her embark,
saying, 'I will carry thee whither thou wilt.' So she embarked
and he put off with her; but they had not gone far, before
there came out a stern-wind upon the boat and drove it swiftly
out of sight of land. The fisherman knew not whither he went,
and the wind blew without ceasing three days, at the end of
which time it fell, by leave of God the Most High, and they
sailed on, till they came in sight of a city builded upon the
seashore, and the fisherman set about making fast to the land.
Now the King of the city, a very powerful prince called Dirbas,
was at that moment sitting, with his son, at a window in the
palace giving upon the sea, and chancing to look out to
sea-ward, they saw the fishing-boat enter the harbour. They
observed it narrowly and espied therein a young lady, as she
were the full moon in the mid-heaven, with pendants in her ears
of fine balass rubies and a collar of precious stones about her
neck. So the King knew that this must be the daughter of some
king or great noble, and going forth of the sea-gate of the
palace, went down to the boat, where he found the lady asleep
and the fisherman busied in making fast to the shore. He went
up to her and aroused her, whereupon she awoke, weeping; and he
said to her, 'Whence comest thou and whose daughter art thou
and what brings thee hither?' 'I am the daughter of Ibrahim,
Vizier to King Shamikh,' answered she; 'and the manner of my
coming hither is strange and the cause thereof extraordinary.'
And she told him her whole story, hiding nought from him; then
she sighed deeply and recited the following verses:
Tears have mine eyelids wounded sore, and wonder-fast they flow
Adown my cheek for parting's pain and memory and woe,
For a beloved's sake, who dwells for ever in my heart, Though
to foregather with himself I cannot win, heigho!
Fair, bright and brilliant is his face, in loveliness and
grace, Turk, Arab and barbarian he cloth indeed o'ercrow.
The full moon and the sun contend in deference to him, And when
he rises into sight, they, lover-like, bend low.
His eyes with wondrous witchery are decked, as 'twere with
kohl; Even as a bow, that's bent to shoot its shafts, to
thee they show.
O thou, to whom I have perforce revealed my case, have ruth On
one with whom the shifts of love have sported long eno'.
Lo, broken-hearted, Love hath cast me up upon thy coast,
Wherefore I trust that thou on me fair favour wilt bestow.
The noble who, when folk of worth alight within their bounds,
Do honour and protect them, win increase of glory so.
Cover thou then, my lord, my hope, two lovers' follies up And
let them to thy succouring hand their loves' reunion owe.
Then she shed plenteous tears and recited these verses also:
I lived, a marvel till I saw in love, then lived no mo'; Each
month to thee as Rejeb[FN#81] be, as free from fear of
Is it not strange that, on the morn they went away, I lit Fire
in my vitals with the tears that from mine eyes did flow?
Indeed, mine eyelids ran with blood, and on the wasted plain Of
my sad cheek, that therewithal was watered, gold did grow.
Yea, for the safflower hue, that thence o'erspread my cheeks,
they seem The shirt of Joseph, steeped in blood, to make a
When the King heard this, he was certified of her passion and
love-longing and was moved to compassion for her; so he said to
her, 'Fear nothing and be not troubled; thou hast attained the
term of thy wishes; for needs must I bring thee to thy desire.'
And he recited the following verses:
Daughter if nobles, thou hast reached thy wishes' goal, I trow:
In happy presage then rejoice and fear not any woe.
Treasures this very day, will I collect and neath escort Of
horsemen and of champions, to Shamikh they shall go.
Brocade and bladders full of musk I will to him despatch And
eke white silver and red gold I'll send to him also.
Yea, and a letter neath my hand my wish for ties of kin And for
alliance with himself shall give him eke to know;
And all endeavour will I use, forthwith, that he thou lov'st
Once more with thee may be conjoined, to part from thee no
I, too, have battened upon love and know the taste thereof And
can excuse the folk who've quaffed the self-same cup of
Then, returning to his palace, he summoned his Vizier and
causing pack him up countless treasure, bade him carry it to
King Shamikh and say to him, 'The King is minded to ally
himself with thee by marrying Uns el Wujoud, shine officer, to
his daughter. So needs must thou send him with me, that the
marriage may be solemnized in her father's kingdom.' And he
wrote a letter to King Shamikh, to this effect, and gave it to
the Vizier, charging him without fail bring back Uns el Wujoud,
on pain of deposition from his office. 'I hear and obey,'
answered the Vizier and setting out forthright, in due course
arrived at the court of King Shamikh, to whom he delivered the
letter and presents, saluting him in the name of King Dirbas.
When Shamikh read the letter and saw the name of Uns el Wujoud,
he burst into tears and said to the Vizier, 'And where is Uns
el Wujoud? He went away, and we know not his place of abiding.
Bring him to me, and I will give thee the sum of the presents
thou hast brought me, twice told.' And he wept and sighed and
groaned, reciting the following verses:
Him whom I loved to me restore; By gold and gifts I set no
Nor do I crave largesse, indeed, Of pearls and gems and
As 'twere a moon at full, for us, In beauty's heaven he did
Passing in wit and grace, gazelles With him comparison gave
His shape was as a willow-wand, For fruits that sweet
But in the willow, to enslave The hearts of men, there is no
I reared him from a child upon The bed of fondness evermore;
And now I am at heart distraught For him and sorrow passing
Then said he to the Vizier, 'Go back to thy master and tell him
that Uns el Wujoud has been missing this year past, and his
lord knoweth not whither he is gone nor hath any news of him.'
'O my lord,' answered King Dirbas's Vizier, 'my master said to
me, "An thou come back without him, thou shalt be ousted from
the Vizierate and shall not enter my city." How then can I
return without him?' So King Shamikh said to his Vizier
Ibrahim, 'Take a company and go with him and make search for
Uns el Wujoud everywhere.' 'I hear and obey,' answered Ibrahim,
and taking a company of his own retainers, set out in quest of
Uns el Wujoud, accompanied by King Dirbas's Vizier; and as
often as they fell in with Bedouins or others, they enquired at
them of Uns el Wujoud, saying, 'Have ye seen a man, whose name
is so and so and his favour thus and thus?' But they answered,
'We know him not.'
So they fared on, enquiring in city and hamlet and seeking in
hill and plain and desert and wold, till they came to the
sea-shore, where they took ship and sailed, till they came to
the Mountain of the Bereaved Mother; and King Dirbas's Vizier
said to Ibrahim, 'Why is this mountain thus called?' 'There was
once of old time,' answered the other Vizier, 'a Jinniych, of
the Jinn of China, who fell passionately in love with a man and
being in fear of her own people, searched all the earth for a
place, where she might hide him from them, till she happened on
this mountain and finding it inaccessible both to men and Jinn,
carried off her beloved and lodged him therein. There she used
to visit him privily, till she had borne him a number of
children, and the merchants, sailing by the mountain, in their
voyages over the sea, heard the weeping of the children, as it
were the wailing of a woman who had lost her young, and said,
"Is there here a mother bereaved of her children?" For which
reason the place was named the Mountain of the Bereaved
Mother.' And King Dirbas's Vizier marvelled at this.
Then they landed and making for the castle, knocked at the gate,
which was opened to them by an eunuch, who knew the Vizier
Ibrahim and kissed his hands. Ibrahim entered and finding in
the courtyard, among the serving men, a man in the habit of a
fakir,[FN#82] said. 'Whence comes yonder fellow?' Quoth they,
'He is a merchant, who hath lost his goods by shipwreck, but
saved himself on a plank; and he is an ecstatic.'[FN#83] Now
this was none other than Uns el Wujoud, [but the Vizier knew
him not]; so he left him and went on into the castle. He found
there no trace of his daughter and questioned her women, who
answered, 'She abode with us but a little while and went away,
how and whither we know not.' Whereupon he wept sore and
repeated the following verses:
O house, whose birds warbled for joyance whilere And whose
sills were resplendent with glory and pride,
Till the lover came to thee, bemooning himself For his passion,
and found thy doors open and wide,
Would I knew where my soul is, my soul that was late In a
house, where its masters no longer abide!
Therein were all things that are costly and rich And with suits
of brocade it was decked, like a bride.
Yea, happy and honoured its doorkeeper were. Would God I knew
whither its mistress hath tried!
Then he wept and sighed and bemoaned himself, exclaiming,
'There is no resource against the ordinance of God neither is
there any escape from that which He hath decreed!' Then he went
up to the roof and finding the strips of Baalbek stuff tied to
the battlements and hanging down to the ground, knew that she
had descended thence and had fled forth, as one distracted and
mad with passion. Presently, he turned and seeing there two
birds, an owl and a raven, deemed this an ill omen; so he
groaned and recited these verses:
Unto the loved ones' stead I came, as hoping, by their sight,
To quench the fire that burnt in me of love-longing and
But no beloved found I there, nor aught, indeed, I found, Save
two ill-omened ones, an owl And eke a corby-crow.
And quoth the tongue o' the case to me, "Thou hast been
tyrannous And hast two longing lovers torn, the one the
Taste of the anguish, then, of love what thou hast made them
taste And live, 'twixt agony and tears, in sorrow evermo."
Then he descended, weeping, and bade the servants go forth and
search the island for their mistress; so they sought for her,
but found her not. As for Uns el Wujoud, when he was certified
that Rose-in-bud was indeed gone, he gave a great cry and fell
down in a swoon, nor came to himself for a long time, whilst
the folk deemed that a ravishment from the Merciful One had
taken him and that he was absorbed in contemplation of the
splendour of the majesty of the Requiter of good and evil.
Then, despairing of finding Uns el Wujoud and seeing that
Ibrahim was distracted for the loss of his daughter, King
Dirbas's Vizier addressed himself to return to his own country,
for all he had not attained the object of his journey, and said
to Ibrahim? 'I have a mind to take yonder fakir with me; it may
be God, for his sake, will incline the King's heart to me, for
that he is a holy man; and after, I will send him to Ispahan,
which is near our country.' 'Do &as thou wilt,' answered
So they took leave of one another and departed, each for his
own country, King Dirbas's Vizier carrying with him Uns el
Wujoud, who was still insensible. They bore him with them on
muleback, unknowing if he were carried or not, for three days,
at the end of which time he came to himself and said, 'Where am
I?' 'Thou art in company with King Dirbas's Vizier,' answered
they and went and told the latter, who sent him rose-water and
sherbet of sugar, of which they gave him to drink and restored
him. Then they fared on till they drew near King Dirbas's
capital and the King, being advised of his Vizier's coming,
wrote to him, saying, 'An Uns el Wujoud be not with thee, come
not to me ever.'
When the Vizier read the royal mandate, it was grievous to him,
for he knew not that Rose-in-bud was with the King nor why he
had sent him in quest of Uns el Wujoud, neither knew he that
the fakir he had with him was Uns el Wujoud himself; and the
latter in like manner knew not whither they were bound nor that
the Vizier had been despatched in quest of himself. So, when he
saw him thus chagrined, he said to him, 'What ails thee?' And
he answered, 'I was sent by the King on an errand, which I
have not been able to accomplish. So, when he heard of my
return, he wrote to me? saying, "Enter not my city, except thou
have fulfilled my need."' 'And what is the King's need?' asked
Uns el Wujoud. So the Vizier told him the case, and he said,
'Fear nothing, but go boldly to the King and take me with thee;
and I will be surety to thee for the coming of Uns el Wujoud.'
At this the Vizier rejoiced and said, 'Is this true that thou
sayest?' 'Yes,' answered he; whereupon the Vizier mounted and
carried him to King Dirbas, who said to him, 'Where is Uns el
Wujoud?' 'O King,' answered the young man, 'I know where he
is.' So the King called him to him and said, 'Where?' 'Near at
hand, replied Uns d Wujoud. 'Tell me what thou wouldst with
him, and I will fetch him to thee.' 'With all my heart,'
answered the King; 'but the case calls for privacy.'
So he bade the folk withdraw and, carrying Uns el Wujoud into
his closet, told him the whole story; whereupon quoth the
youth, 'Clothe me in rice apparel, and I will eftsoons bring
Uns el Wujoud to thee.' So they brought him a sumptuous dress,
and he donned it and said, 'I am the Delight of the World[FN#84]
and the Mortification of the Envious.' So saying, he transfixed
ail hearts with his glances and recited the following verses:
My loved one's memory cheers me still in this my solitude And
doth wanhope from me away, as I in absence brood.
I have no helper but my tears; yet, when from out mine eyes
They flow, they lighten my despair and ease my drearihood.
Sore is my longing; yea, it hath no like and my affair In love
and passion's marvellous, beyond all likelihood.
I lie the night long, wakeiul-eyed,--no sleep is there for
me,--And pass, for love, from heaven to hell, according to
Yea, patience fair some time I had, but have it now no more;
And longing and chagrin increase upon me, like a flood.
Indeed, my body's worn to nought, for severance from her;
Yearnings my aspect and my form to change have all
Mine eyelids ulcerated are with weeping, nor can I Avail to
stay the constant tears, wherewith they're still bedewed.
Indeed, I can no more; my strength, my very vitals fail. How
many sorrows have I borne, on sorrows still renewed!
My heart and head are grizzled grown, for loss of a princess In
beauty, sure, the fairest maid that ever lover wooed.
In her despite, our parting was, for no desire hath she Save to
be joined with me and feed once more on lovers' food.
I wonder, will my fate to me union vouchsafe with her I
cherish, after absence long and stress of lonelihood,
And shut the book of severance up, that now is open wide, And
blot out troubles from my thought with love's supremest
Shall my beloved, in my land, my cup-companion be And sorrow
and affliction be by pure delight ensued?
'By Allah,' exclaimed the King, 'ye are, indeed, a pair of true
lovers and in the heaven of beauty two shining stars! Your
story is marvellous and your case extraordinary.' Then he told
him all that had befallen Rose-in-bud; and Uns el Wujoud said,
'Where is she, O King of the age?' 'She is with me now,'
answered Dirbas and sending for the Cadi and the witnesses,
drew up the contract of marriage between her and him. Then he
loaded Uns el Wujoud with favours and bounties and sent to King
Shamikh, advising him of what had befallen, whereat the latter
rejoiced with an exceeding joy and wrote back to him, saying,
'Since the marriage contract hath been drawn up at thy court! it
behoves that the wedding and consummation be at mine.' And he
made ready camels and horses and men and sent them in quest of
When the embassy reached King Dirbas, he gave the pair great
store of treasure and despatched them to King Shamikh's court
with an escort of his own troops. The day of their arrival was
a notable day, never was seen a greater; for the King assembled
all the singers and players on instruments of music and made
banquets and held high festival seven days; and on each day he
gave largesse to the folk and bestowed on them sumptuous
dresses of honour. Then Uns el Wujoud went in to Rose-in-bud,
and they embraced and sat weeping for excess of joy and
gladness, whilst she recited the following verses:
Gladness is come, dispelling grief and putting care aside; We
are united now and have our enviers mortified.
The fragrant breeze of union blows fresh and sweet for us,
Whereby our bodies, vitals, hearts are all revivified.
The splendour of fulfilled delight in all its glory shines, And
for glad tidings beat the drums about us far and wide.
Think not we weep for stress Of grief or for affliction; nay,
It is for joy our tears flow down and will not be denied.
How many terrors have we seen, that now are past away! Yet we
each agonizing strait did patiently abide.
In one hour of delight have we forgotten all the woes, Whose
stresses made us twain, whilom, grey-haired and
Then they clipped each other and ceased not from their embrace,
till they fell down in a swoon, for the ecstasy of reunion; and
when they came to themselves, Uns d Wujoud recited these
Ah, how peerlessly sweet are the nights of delight, When the
loved one to me keeps the troth she did plight,
When enjoyment enjoyment ensues and the bonds Of estrangement
between us are sundered outright,
And fortune is come to us, favouring and fair, After turning
away with aversion and spite!
Fair fortune hath set up her standards for us And we drink from
her hand a cup pure of affright.
United, our woes each to each we recount And the nights when in
torments we watched for the light.
But now, O my lady, forgotten have we Our griefs, and God
pardon the past its upright!
How pleasant, how lovesome, how joyous is life! Enjoyment my
passion doth only excite.
Then they gave themselves up anew to the pleasures of the
nuptial bed and passed seven whole days thus, carousing and
conversing and reciting verses and telling pleasant tales and
anecdotes, in the intervals of amorous dalliance; for so
drowned were they in the sea of passion, that they knew not
night from day and it was to them, for very stress of joy and
gladness and pleasure and delight, as if the seven days were
but one day, and that without a morrow. Nor did they know the
seventh day, but by the coming of the singers and players on
instruments of music;[FN#85] whereat Rose-in-bud was beyond
measure wondered and improvised the following verses:
Despite the enviers' rage and malice of the spy, I've won of
him I love my wish to satisfy;
Yea, we have crowned our loves with many a close embrace, On
cushions of brocade and silken stuffs piled high
Upon a couch full soft, of perfumed leather made And stuffed
with down of birds of rarest kind that fly.
Thanks to the honeyed dews of my beloved's lips, Illustrious
past compare, no need of wine have I.
Yea, for the sweet excess of our fulfilled delight, The present
from the past we know, nor far from nigh.
A miracle indeed! Seven nights o'er us have passed, Without our
taking note of how they flitted by;
Till, on the seventh day, they wished us joy and said, "Your
union God prolong to all eternity!"
When she had finished, Uns el Wujoud kissed her, more than a
hundred times, and recited the following verses:
O day of pure delight and mutual happiness! The loved one came
and set me free from loneliness.
She blest me with the sweets of all her glorious charms, What
while her converse filled my spirit with liesse.
She plied me with the wine of amorous delight, Till all my
senses failed, for very drunkenness.
Yea, merry each with each we made, together lay, Then fell to
wine and did, in song, our cheer express;
Nor knew we, of the days that fleeted over us, The present from
the past, for very joy's excess.
Fair fall all those that love of ease and twinned delight, And
joy to them fulfil its promise none the less!
Ne'er may they know the taste of parting's bitter cup! God
succour them as me He succoured in my stress!
Then they went forth and distributed to the folk alms and
largesse of money and raiment and so forth; after which
Rose-in-bud bade empty the bath for her and turning to Uns el
Wujoud, said to him' 'O solace of my eyes, I have a mind to see
thee in the bath; and we will be alone together therein.' He
gladly consented to this, and she bade perfume the bath for
them with all manner of scented woods and essences and light
the candles. Then, of the excess of her contentment, she
recited the following Verses:
O thou aforetime of my heart that mad'st prize (And the present
for us on the past still relies),
Thou, the only companion I crave, for to me None other the want
of thy presence supplies,
To the bath,--that in midst of hell-fire we may see Even
Paradise shining,--come, light of mine eyes!
We will scent it with ambergris, aloes and musk, Till the
fragrance in clouds from all quarters arise.
Yea, Fortune we'll pardon her sins and give thanks, For His
grace, to the Merciful One, the All-Wise;
And I'll say, when I see thee therein, "O my love, All delights
be thy lot in the earth and the skies!"
So they went to the bath and took their pleasure there in;
after which they returned to their palace and there abode in
the fulness of delight, till there came to them the Destroyer
of Delights and the Sunderer of Companies; and glory be to Him
who changeth not neither ceaseth and in whom all things have
ABOU NUWAS WITH THE THREE BOYS AND THE
KHALIF HAROUN ER RESHID.
Abou Nuwas one day shut himself up and making ready a richly-
furnished saloon, set out therein a banquet of meats of all
kinds and colours that lips and tongue can desire. Then he went
forth, to seek a minion who should befit the entertainment,
saying, 'O my God and my Master and my Lord, I beseech Thee to
send me one worthy of this banquet and apt to carouse with me
this day!' Hardly had he made an end of speaking, when he
espied three handsome beardless youths, as they were of the
children of Paradise, differing in complexion but equal in
perfection of beauty; and all hearts yearned with desire to the
graceful bending of their shapes, even to what saith the poet:
Two beardless youths I happened on one day And said "I love
you." "Hast thou pelf?" asked they.
"Yes," answered I, "and liberality." "Then is the matter easy,"
did they say.
Now Abou Nuwas was on this wise given and loved to sport and
make merry with the fair and cull the rose from every fresh-
flowered cheek, even as saith the poet:
Full many a graybeard is amorous and loves Fair faces and music
and dalliance and glee:
From Mosul, the country of pureness,[FN#86] he comes, Yet
nought but Aleppo[FN#87] remembereth he.
So he accosted them with the salutation, and they returned his
greeting with all honour and civility and would have gone their
way; but he stayed them, repeating these verses:
To none but me your footsteps steer; For I have store of all
Wine that the heart of convent monk Would glad, so bright it is
And flesh of sheep, to boot, have I And birds of land and sea
Eat ye of these and drink old wine, That doth away chagrin and
The boys were beguiled by his verses and consented to his
wishes, saying, 'We hear and obey.' So he carried them to his
lodging, where they found all ready that he had set forth in
his verses. They sat down and ate and drank and made merry
awhile, after which they appealed to Abou Nuwas to decide which
was the handsomest and most shapely of them. So he pointed to
one of them, after having kissed him twice, and recited the
With my life I will ransom the mole, on the cheek of the
loveling that is; For how should I ransom it else with
treasure or aught but my soul?
And blessed for ever be He who fashioned his cheek without hair
And made, of His power and His might, all beauty to dwell
in yon mole!
Then he pointed to another and kissing his lips, repeated these
There's a loveling hath a mole upon his cheek, As 'twere musk
on virgin camphor, so to speak.
My eyes marvel when they see it. Quoth the mole, "Heaven's
blessing on the Prophet look ye seek!"[FN#88]
Then he pointed to the third and repeated the following verses,
after kissing him half a score times:
All in a silver cup he melted gold full fine, A youth whose
hands were dyed in ruby-coloured wine,
And with the skinkers went and handed round one cup Of wine,
whilst other two were proffered by his eyne.
Fairer than all the Turks, an antelope, whose waist Together
would attract the mountains of Hunain.[FN#89]
An if I were content with crooked[FN#90] womankind, Betwixt
attractions twain would be this heart of mine.
One love towards Diyarbeker[FN#91] drawing it, and one That
draws it, otherguise, to the land of Jamiain.[FN#92]
Now each of the youths had drunk two cups, and when it came to
Abou Nuwas's turn, he took the goblet and repeated these
Drink not of wine except it be at the hands of a loveling slim,
Who in brightness of soul resembles it and it resembles
The drinker of wine, in very truth, hath no delight thereof,
Except the cheek of the fair be pure, who doth the goblet
Then he drank off his cup, and when it came round to Him again,
joyance got the mastery of him and he repeated The following
Make thou thy boon-fellow of cups, brimmed up as full as this,
And eke to follow cup with cup, I rede thee, do not miss,
Poured by a damask-lipped one's hand, a wonder-lovely fair,
Whose mouth's sweet water, after sleep, as musk on apple
Drink not of wine, except it be from the hand of a gazelle,
Whose cheek is goodlier than itself and sweeter still his
Presently, the wine crept to his head, drunkenness mastered him
and he knew not hand from head, so that he swayed about for
mirth, inclining anon to this one, to kiss him, and anon to
another. Then he fell to glorying in himself and his case and
the goodliness of his entertainment and his companions, and
recited these verses:
None knoweth perfection of pleasure but he Who drinketh, with
fair ones to hearten him still.
This sings to him, t'other, when cheer him would be, Revives
him forthright with the cups he doth fill;
And whenever from one he hath need of a kiss, Long draughts
from his lips, at his case, he doth swill.
God bless them! Right sweet has my day with them been, And
wonder delightsome and void of all ill!
We drank of the wine cup, both mingled and pure, And agreed
whoso slept, we should touzle at will.
At this moment, there came a knocking at the door; so they bade
him who knocked enter, and behold, it was the Khalif Haroun er
Reshid. When they saw him, they all rose to him and kissed the
ground before him; and the fumes of the wine forsook Abou
Nuwas's head for awe of the Khalif, who said to him, 'Hallo,
Abou Nuwas!' 'At thy service, O Commander of the Faithful,'
answered he, 'may God preserve thee!' 'What state is this I
find thee in?' asked the Khalif; and the poet replied, 'O
Commander of the Faithful, methinks my state dispenses with
question.' Quoth the Khalif, 'O Abou Nuwas, I have sought
direction of God the Most High and appoint thee Cadi of
whoremasters.' 'Dost thou indeed invest me with that office, O
Commander of the Faithful?' asked Abou Nuwas. 'I do,' replied
the Khalif. 'Then, O Commander of the Faithful,' rejoined Abou
Nuwas, 'hast thou any suit to prefer to me?' At this the Khalif
was wroth and turned away and left them, full of rage, and
passed the night, sore angered against Abou Nuwas, whilst the
latter spent the merriest and most easeful of nights, till the
day dawned and the morning-star appeared and shone, when he
broke up the sitting and dismissing the boys, donned his court-
dress and set out for the Khalif's palace.
Now it was the latter's custom, when the Divan broke up, to
withdraw to his sitting-chamber and summon thither his poets
and minions and musicians, each having his own place, which he
might not overpass. So, that day, he retired to his saloon, and
the minions came and seated themselves, each in his place.
Presently, in came Abou Nuwas and was about to take his usual
seat, when the Khalif cried out to Mesrour the headsman and
bade him strip the poet of his clothes and clap an ass's pannel
on his back. Moreover, he charged him bind a halter about his
head and a crupper under his rear and carry him round to all
the lodgings of the slave-girls and the chambers of the harem,
that the women might make mock of him; then cut off his head
and bring it to him. 'I hear and obey,' replied Mesrour and
accoutring Abou Nuwas, as the Khalif had bidden him, carried
him round to all the lodgings of the harem, in number as the
days of the year; but he made all the girls laugh with his
buffooneries and each gave him something, so that he returned
with a pocketful of money.
Just then, Jaafer the Barmecide, who had been absent on an
important business for the Khalif, entered and seeing the poet
in this plight, said to him, 'Hallo, Abou Nuwas!' 'At thy
service, O our lord,' answered he. 'What offence hast thou
committed,' asked Jaafer, 'to bring this punishment on thee?'
'None whatever,' answered the other, 'except that I made our
lord the Khalif a present of the best of my verses, and he
presented me, in return, with the best of his clothes.' When
the Khalif heard this, he laughed, from a heart full of wrath,
and [not only] pardoned Abou Nuwas, but gave him a myriad of
ABDALLAH BEN MAAMER WITH THE MAN OF
BASSORA AND HIS SLAVE-GIRL.
A certain man of Bassora once bought a slave-girl and reared
and educated her excellent well. Moreover, he loved her very
dearly and spent all his substance in pleasuring and making
merry with her, till he had nothing left and want was very sore
upon him. So she said to him, 'O my master, sell me; for thou
needest my price and it makes my heart ache to see the sorry
plight to which want hath brought thee. It thou sell me and
make use of my price, it will be better for thee than keeping
me, and haply God the Most High will prosper thee and mend thy
fortune.' He agreed to this, of the straitness of his case, and
carried her to the bazaar, where the broker offered her for
sale to the Governor of Bassora, by name Abballah ben Maamer et
Teimi, and she pleased him. So he bought her, for five hundred
dinars, of her master, who took the money and was about to go
away, when the girl burst into tears and repeated the following
May Allah prosper unto thee the money thou hast got! For me,
nought's left me but lament and memory and woe.
I say to my afflicted soul, "Mourn little or mourn much; It
skills not, for the loved one's gone and will return no
When he heard this, he sighed heavily and replied thus:
Though there be no recourse for thee in this thy case and thou
Find nought but death to solace thee, excuse me yet and
Evening and morn the thought of thee will company with me,
Wherewith a heart I will console, that's all fulfilled of
Peace be on thee! Henceforth for us no meeting shall there be
Nor any union more, except Ben Maamer will it so.
When Abdallah heard these verses and saw their affliction, he
exclaimed, 'By Allah, I will have no hand in separating you;
for it is manifest to me that ye indeed love one another. So
take the money and the damsel, O man, and may God bless thee in
them! For parting is grievous to true lovers.' So they kissed
his hand and going away, ceased not to dwell together, till
death parted them; and glory be to Him whom death overtaketh
THE LOVERS OF THE BENOU UDHREH.
There was once, among the Benou Udhreh, a handsome and
accomplished man, who was never a day out of love, and it
chanced that he became enamoured of a beautiful woman of his
own tribe and sent her many messages; but she ceased not to use
him with cruelty and disdain, till, for stress of passion and
longing and distraction, he fell exceeding sick and took to his
bed and forswore sleep. His sickness grew on him and his
anguish redoubled upon him, till he was all but dead; and his
case became known and his passion noised abroad among the folk.
His family and hers were instant with her to visit him, but she
refused, till he was at the point of death, when, being told of
this, she relented towards him and vouchsafed him a visit. When
he saw her, his eyes ran over with tears and he repeated the
following verses, from a broken heart:
If, by thy life, there pass thee by my funeral train, to wit, A
bier borne on the necks of four, wilt grudge to follow it?
Wilt thou not follow in its track, that so thou mayst salute
The sepulchre of one who's dead, committed to the pit?
When she heard this, she wept sore and said to him, 'By Allah,
I thought not that passion had come to such a pass with thee,
as to cast thee into the arms of death! Had I known this, I had
been favourable to thee, and thou shouldst have enjoyed thy
desire.' At this, his tears streamed down, like the cloud-
showers, and he repeated the following verse:
She draweth near to me, when death hath come betwixt us two And
proffereth union, when it no profit can me do.
Then he gave one sigh and died, and she fell on him, kissing
him and weeping, till she swooned away. When she came to
herself she charged her people bury her in his grave and
recited the following verses, with streaming eyes:
We lived upon the earth a life of comfort and delight: Country
and tribe and dwelling-place alike of us were proud;
But Fortune and the shifts of time did rend our loves apart,
And now the grave uniteth us within a single shroud.
Then she fell again to weeping and ceased not from tears and
lament, till she swooned away. She lay three days, senseless;
then died and was buried in his grave. This is one of the
strange chances of love.
THE VIZIER OF YEMEN AND HIS YOUNG
Bedreddin, Vizier of Yemen, had a young brother of singular
beauty and kept strait watch over him. So he applied himself to
seek a governor for him and coming upon an elder of dignified
and reverend aspect, chaste and pious, lodged him in a house
next his own, whence he used to come daily to the Vizier's
dwelling, to teach the latter's brother. After awhile, the old
man's heart was taken with love for his pupil and longing grew
upon him and his entrails were troubled, till, one day, he made
moan of his case to the boy, who said, 'What can I do, seeing
that I may not leave my brother day or night? Thou seest how
careful he is over me.' Quoth the governor, 'My lodging adjoins
thine; so, when thy brother sleeps, do thou rise and entering
the wardrobe, feign thyself asleep. Then come to the parapet of
the roof and I will receive thee on the other side of the wall;
so shalt thou sit with me awhile and return without thy
brother's knowledge.' 'I hear and obey,' answered the boy. So,
when awhile of the night was past, he entered the closet and
waited till his brother lay down on his bed and was drowned in
sleep, when he rose and going to the parapet of the roof, found
the governor awaiting him, who gave him his hand and carried
him to the sitting-chamber, where he had made ready various
dainties for his entertainment, and they sat down to carouse.
Now it was the night of the full moon, and as they sat, passing
the wine-cup to one another, her rays shone upon them, and the
governor fell to singing. But, whilst they were thus in mirth
and joyance and good cheer, such as confounds the wit and the
sight and defies description, the Vizier awoke and missing his
brother, arose in affright and found the door open. So he went
up to the roof and hearing a noise of talk, peeped over the
parapet and saw a light shining in the governor's lodging. He
looked in and espied his brother and his governor sitting
carousing: but the latter became aware of him and sang the
following verses, cup in hand, to a lively measure:
He gave me wine to drink, of his mouth's nectar rare, Toasting
with down of cheeks and what adjoineth there;
Then passed with me the night, embracing, cheek to cheek, A
loveling midst mankind unpeered and past compare.
The full moon gazed on us all night; pray then to her, So to
his brother she to tell of us forbear.
Now the Vizier was a merry man; so, when he heard this, he
said, 'By Allah, I will not betray you!' And he went away and
left them to their diversion.
THE LOVES OF THE BOY AND GIRL AT SCHOOL.
A boy and a girl once learnt together in a school, and the boy
fell passionately in love with the girl. So, one day, when the
other boys were heedless, he took her tablet[FN#93] and wrote
on it the following verses:
Tell me, what sayst thou unto him, whom sickness for thy love
Hath worn and wasted, till he's grown distraught and
Him who of passion maketh moan; for love and longing pain, That
which is in his heart, indeed, no longer can he hide.
When the girl took her tablet, she read the verses and wept for
pity of him; then wrote thereunder these others:
An if we see one languishing for very love of us, Our favours,
surely, unto him shall nowise be denied.
Yea, and of us he shall obtain that which he doth desire Of
love-delight, whate'er to us in consequence betide.
Now it chanced that the teacher came in on them And taking the
tablet, unnoticed, read what was written thereon. So he was
moved to pity of their case and wrote on the tablet the
following verses, in reply to those of the girl:
Favour thy lover, for he's grown distracted for desire, And
reck thou not of punishment nor fear lest any chide.
As for the master, have no dread of his authority, For he with
passion an its pains aforetime hath been tried.
Presently, the girl's master entered the school and finding the
tablet, read the above verses and wrote under them the following:
May Allah never separate your loves, whilst time abide, And may
your slanderer be put to shame and mortified!
But, for the master of the school, by Allah, all my life, A
busier go-between than he I never yet espied.
Then he sent for the Cadi and the witnesses and married them on
the spot. Moreover, he made them a marriage-feast and entreated
them with exceeding munificence; and they abode together in joy
and contentment, till there came to them the Destroyer of
Delights and the Sunderer of Companies.
EL MUTELEMMIS AND HIS WIFE UMEIMEH.
It is related that El Mutelemmis[FN#94] once fled from En Numan
ben Mundhir[FN#95] and was absent so long that the folk deemed
him dead. Now he had a handsome wife, Umeimeh by name, and her
family pressed her to marry again; but she refused, for that
she loved her husband El Mutelemmis very dearly. However, they
were instant with her, because of the multitude of her suitors,
and importuned her till she at last reluctantly consented and
they married her to a man of her own tribe.
On the night of the wedding, El Mutelemmis came back and
hearing in the camp a noise of pipes and tabrets and seeing
signs of festival, asked some of the children what was toward,
to which they replied, 'They have married Umeimeh, widow of El
Mutelemmis, to such an one, and he goes in to her this night.'
When he heard this, he made shift to enter the house with the
women and saw there the bride seated on her throne. By and by,
the bridegroom came up to her, whereupon she sighed heavily and
weeping, recited the following verses:
Ah would, (but many are the shifts of good and evil fate), I
knew in what far land thou art, O Mutelemmis mine!
Now El Mutelemmis was a renowned poet: so he answered her with
the following verse:
Right near at hand, Umeimeh! Know, whene'er the caravan Halted,
I never ceased for thee with longing heart to pine.
When the bridegroom heard this, he guessed how the case stood
and went forth from among them in haste, repeating the following
I was in luck, but now I'm fall'n into the contrary. A
hospitable house and room your reknit loves enshrine!
So El Mutelemmis took his wife again and abode with her in all
delight and solace of life, till death parted them. And glory
be to Him at whose command the earth and the heavens shall
THE KHALIF HAROUN ER RESHID AND THE
PRINCESS ZUBEIDEH IN THE BATH.
The Khalif Haroun er Reshid loved the Princess Zubeideh with an
exceeding love and laid out for her a pleasaunce, in which he
made a great pool and led thither water from all sides.
Moreover, he set thereabout a screen of trees, which so grew
and interlaced over the pool, that one could go in and wash,
without being seen of any, for the thickness of the leafage. It
chanced, one day, that Zubeideh entered the garden and coming
to the basin, gazed upon its goodliness, and the limpidity of
the water and the interlacing of the trees over it pleased her.
Now it was a day of exceeding heat; so she put off her clothes
and entering the pool, which was not deep enough to cover her,
fell to pouring the water over herself from an ewer of silver.
The Khalif heard she was in the pool; so he left his palace and
came down to spy upon her, through the screen of the leaves. He
stood behind the trees and saw her naked, with all her secret
charms displayed. Presently, she became aware of him and
turning, saw him behind the trees and was ashamed that he
should see her naked. So she laid her hands on her kaze, but it
escaped from between them, by reason of its much greatness and
plumpness; and the Khalif turned and went away, wondering and
reciting the following verse:
I looked on her whom I adore And longing rose in me full sore.
But he knew not what to say next; so he sent for Abou Nuwas and
bade him make a piece of verse commencing with the above line. 'I
hear and obey,' replied the poet and in a twinkling extemporized
the following lines:
I looked on her whom I adore, And longing rose in me full sore
For a gazelle that ravished me, By double lote-trees shaded
The water on her dainty part With silver ewer did she pour
And would have hidden it, seeing me, But all too small her
Would I were on it, wel-a-way, An hour or liefer two or more!
The Khalif smiled and made him a handsome present, and he went
HAROUN ER RESHID AND THE THREE POETS.
The Khalif Haroun er Reshid was exceeding restless one night;
so he rose and walked about his palace, till he happened on a
damsel overcome with wine. Now he was greatly enamoured of this
damsel; so he toyed with her and pulled her to him, whereupon
her girdle fell down and her trousers were unloosed and he
besought her of amorous dalliance. But she said to him, 'O
Commander of the Faithful, wait till to-morrow night, for I am
unprepared for thee, knowing not of thy coming.' So he left her
and went away.
On the morrow, he sent a page to her to announce his visit to
her apartment; but she sent back to him, saying, 'The day
obliterates the promise of the night.' So he said to his
minions, 'Make me somewhat of verse, introducing these words,
"The day obliterates the promise of the night."' 'We hear and
obey,' answered they; and Er Recashi[FN#96] came forward and
recited the following:
By Allah, an thou feltst my longing and my pain, Repose had
turned away from thee and taken flight.
A maid hath made me love-distraught, nor visiting Nor being
visited, a sad and love-lorn wight.
She promised me her grace, then turned away and said, "The day
obliterates the promise of the night."
Then Abou Musab came forward and recited these verses:
When wilt thou put away this dotage from thy spright? Thy heart
is dazed and rest to thee forbidden quite.
Is't not enough for thee to have a weeping eye And vitals still
on fire for memory and despite?
For self-conceit, indeed, he laugheth, when he saith, "The day
obliterates the promise of the night."
Last came Abou Nuwas and recited the following:
Love was prolonged and far was union out of sight, Nor skilled
it aught to feign aversion and despite.
One day, she came into the palace, drunk with wine, But even
her drunkenness with pudour was bedight.
Her upper garments dropped and left her shoulders bare And
loosened trousers showed the dwelling of delight;
Yea, and the breeze shook hips, full heavy, and a shape, As
'twere a branch, whereon pomegranates twain unite.
"Give me a tryst," quoth I; and she replied, "The place Of
visiting will be to-morrow clean and right."
Next day, I came and said, "Thy promise;" but quoth she, "The
day obliterates the promise of the night."
The Khalif bestowed a myriad each on Er Recashi and Abou Musab,
but bade strike off Abou Nuwas's head, saying, 'Thou west with
us yesternight in the palace.' 'By Allah,' answered the poet,
'I slept not but in my own house! I was directed to what I said
by thine own words as to the subject of the poem; and indeed
quoth God the Most High (and He is the truest of all speakers),
"As for poets (devils ensue them!) dost thou not see how they
run wild in each valley and say that they do not?"'[FN#97] So
the Khalif forgave him and bestowed on him two myriads of gold.
MUSAB BEN EZ ZUBEIR AND AAISHEH
DAUGHTER OF TELHEH.
It is told of Musab ben ez Zubeir[FN#98] that he met Izzeh, who
was one of the shrewdest of women, in Medina and said to her,
'I have a mind to marry Aaisheh,[FN#99] daughter of Telheh, and
I would have thee go to her and spy out for me how she is
made.' So she went and returning to Musab, said, 'I have seen
her, and her face is more beautiful than health; she hath large
and well-opened eyes, an aquiline nose and smooth, oval cheeks
and a mouth like a cleft pomegranate, a neck like an ewer of
silver and a bosom with two breasts like twin pomegranates, a
slim waist and a slender belly, with a navel therein as it were
a casket of ivory, and backside like a hummock of sand.
Moreover, she hath plump thighs and legs like columns of
alabaster; but I saw her feet to be large, and thou wilt fall
short with her in time of amorous dalliance.' Upon this report,
he married her and Izzeh invited Aaisheh and the women of the
tribe of Kureish to her house, when Aaisheh sang the following,
with Musab standing by:
The mouths of girls, with their odoriferous, Sweet breath and
their witching smiles, are sweet to buss;
Yet ne'er have I tasted them, but in thought of him; And by
thought, indeed, the Ruler rules over us.
The night of his going in to her, he departed not from her,
till after seven courses; and on the morrow, a freed-woman of
his met him and said to him, 'May I be thy ransom! Thou art
perfect, even in this.'
Quoth a certain woman, 'I was with Aaisheh, when her husband
came in to her, and she lusted to him; so he fell upon her and
she puffed and snorted and made use of all manner of rare
motions and strange inventions, and I the while within hearing.
So when he came out from her, I said to her, "How canst thou,
with thy rank and nobility and condition, do thus, and I in thy
house?" Quoth she, "A woman should bring her husband all of
which she is mistress, by way of excitations and rare motions.
What mislikest thou of this?" And I answered, "I would have
this anights." "Thus is it by day," rejoined she, "and by night
I do more than this; for, when he sees me, desire stirs in him
and he falls on heat; so he puts out his hand to me and I obey
him, and it is as thou seest."'
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