Sam, Zal & Rustam
How Minuchihr ascended the Throne and made an Oration
They mourned for Faridun for seven days,
Upon the eighth Shah Minuchihr came forth
And set the royal cap upon his head;
He countercharmed the spell of sorcerers
And reigned twice sixty years. The paladins
Throughout the world called praises down on him.
When he assumed the crown he gave the world
Glad news of justice, Faith, humanity,
Of goodness, knowledge, purity, and said:-
"I sit enthroned upon the circling sphere,
Dispensing love and justice, wrath and strife.
Earth is my thrall, heaven mine ally, the heads
Of kings my quarry. Mine are Faith and Grace,
Mine to bestow good fortune and to harm.
I wreak revenge by night; the raging fire
Upon Barzin am I, and lord of scimitar
And golden boot. I set up Kawa's standard
And light the clouds, I draw my sword and give
No quarter on the battlefield. My hands
Become a bounteous ocean when I feast,
But when I mount my steed my breath is fire.
I cut the practice of the wicked short
And make the earth a red brocade of blood,
I wield the mace, I illustrate the crown
And light the kingdom from mine ivory throne;
Yet in despite of all I am a slave -
A servant of the Maker of the world.
Smite we our faces with our hands and weep,
Let all our conversation be of God,
Of whom we hold the crown, the throne, and host
We give Him praise and He is our defence.
We tread the path of Faridun the blest -
Our grandsire : he was old, but we are young.
Who ever in the seven climes of earth
Departeth from the Way, abandoneth
The Faith, inflicteth hurt on mendicants,
Oppresseth any one of his own kin,
Uplifteth in the pride of wealth his head,
Or causeth sorrow to the suffering,
All such are infidels in my regard
And worse than evil-doing Ahriman.
All evil-doers that hold not the Faith
Are banned by God and us: hereafter we
Will put our hand upon the scimitar,
And in our vengeance desolate their realm."
All men of name throughout the earth invoked
Their blessings on him with one voice, and said:-
"Thy glorious grandsire, O benignant Shah
Taught thee the conduct of the throne and crown.
Be ever thine the throne of mighty men,
The crown and archimages' Grace. Our hearts
Obey thy word, our souls are pledged to thee."
Thereat rose Sam, the chief of paladins,
And said to Minuchihr: "O judge most just!
I from the Shahs have gotten eyes to see,
And see thee just: my part is to applaud.
Shah of Iran art thou by long descent -
The chosen of the Lions and the brave.
May God watch o'er thy body and thy soul,
Thy heart be glad, thy fortune slumber not.
Thou mindest me of days of yore and art
My place of shelter at the royal throne.
Thou art a lion steadfast in the fight,
Thou art a sun resplendent in the feast.
Be time and earth the dust upon thy feet,
Thy place upon the turquoise throne. Since thou
Hast cleansed earth with thine Indian scimitar
Sit at thine ease and take thy pleasure here.
Henceforward all the warfare is for us;
Thine are the throne, the wine-cup, and the banquet.
The fathers of my race were paladins -
The shelter of the Shahs and of the great -
And from Garshasp to famous Nariman
Were chiefs and swordsmen. I will compass earth
And put a scantling of thy foes in bonds.
Thy grandsire made me paladin, thy love
And counsel made me wise."
The Shah returned
His praise, bestowing many a kingly gift,
And then Sam with the paladins withdrew
And so departed on his homeward way,
While all the world conformed to righteous sway.
The Birth of Zal
Now will I fashion from the legend-store
A tale of wonder from the days of yore;
Give me thine ear, my son! and learn from me
How Sam became the sport of destiny.
Now Sam was childless and in that regard
In need of solace. One among his wives -
A Beauty rosy-cheeked with musky hair -
Gave him the hope of offspring, for that Moon
Was sun-faced, ripe, and was with child by him,
And grievously she suffered with her burden.
When many days had passed the babe was born -
A Beauty like the world-illuming sun,
And like it too in loveliness of face;
But all his hair was white, and since 'twas so
They kept the thing from Sam for one whole week
The women of that famous paladin
Wept in the presence of the little child,
But not one dared to tell the hero Sam
That his fair spouse had borne a hoary babe.
Anon the infant's nurse, with lion's courage,
Came unabashed before the paladin,
As one who brought good news, blessed him and said :-
"May Sam the hero's days be fortunate,
And may his foemen's hearts be rooted out!
God hath bestowed on thee what thou didst ask -
The very gift whereon thy soul was set
Behind thy curtain, seeker after glory!
Thy moon-faced spouse hath borne a stainless son,
A paladin, a child of lion-heart,
A boy of spirit, fashioned of pure silver,
And with two cheeks that favour Paradise.
Thou wilt not see a faulty part in him
Except this blemish - that his hair is white.
So heaven willed, O seeker after glory
Content thee and be not morose and thankless."
The horseman Sam descended from his throne;
He went behind the curtain to " Young Spring,"
And saw a goodly boy with hoary head.
None hath beheld or heard of such; his hair
Resembled snow and yet his cheeks were ruddy.
Sam at that sight despaired. Great was his fear
Of coming shame; he left the path of wisdom
For courses of his own, looked up to heaven
And prayed to be forgiven his offence.
"O Thou," he said, "above all harm and loss!
Good ever cometh of Thine ordinance.
If I have sinned by any grievous sin,
Or yielded to the faith of Ahriman,
Oh! may the Almighty hearken to my prayer
And in His secret counsels pardon me.
My troubled mind is writhing for sheer shame,
The hot blood is a-tingle in my veins
For this brat like a brat of Ahriman,
With dark eyes and with hair like jessamine.
When any nobles come to speak with me,
And set their eyes on this ill-omened cub,
What shall I say that this div's bantling is -
A fay or leopard with its spots? The great
Will laugh at me in public and in private
Till shame shall make me curse and quit Iran."
He spake in wrath with frowns and railed at fortune,
Then bade some take the child and carry it
Beyond those fields and fells and far away.
There was a certain mountain named Alburz,
Nigh to the sun and far removed from men,
Where the Simurgh had nested, for the place
Was uninhabited. They left the child
Upon the mountain and returned. Time passed,
While for no fault the infant paladin,
Unable to distinguish black from white,
Was outcast from his father's love; but He,
Who fostereth all, took up the castaway.
Once when the lioness her cub had fed,
"If I should give thee my heart's blood," she said,
"I should not look for thanks. I live in thee;
My heart would break if thou shouldst break with me."
Throughout the expanse of earth the beasts we find
More tender to their young than are mankind.
The babe remained where thrown, exposed both day
And night. He sucked his finger-ends and wailed.
Now when the young Simurghs grew ravenous
The mother, soaring o'er her nest, beheld
Earth like a heaving sea, and wailing there
A child rock-cradled with the dust for nurse,
His body bare, his lips unwet with milk,
The dark drear soil about him and above
The noonday sun. Would that he had had pards
For dam and sire, he had at least been shaded!
The Lord gave loving instincts to that fowl,
Which thought not to devour the child herself,
But swooped down from the clouds and with her talons
Took up the infant from the heated rocks,
Then bare him quickly off to Mount Alburz,
Where were her nest and young, for them to tear
Regardless of his cries; but God, who giveth
All good, had ruth on him, his lot was other;
For when the fowl and all her brood beheld
That infant, who was weeping tears of blood,
They lavished love on him in wondrous wise,
Astonied at his goodly face. The bird
Chose for him all the tenderest prey, and made
Her little guest suck blood instead of milk.
Long was he lost to sight; but when he came
To man's estate a caravan passed by
And saw one like a noble cypress-tree,
His breast a silver mount, his waist a reed,
And rumour of him spread, for neither good
Nor bad remaineth hid; so Sam in fine
Heard of that high-starred youth of Grace divine.
Hum Sam had a Dream touching the Case of his Son
One night when Sam was sleeping, seared in heart
And overwhelmed by that which time had wrought,
He dreamed that from the land of Ind there came
A noble rider on an Arab steed
Apace, and gave him glad news of his son -
That lofty bough of his of fruitful promise.
When he awoke he called the archimages,
Conversed with them at large, told them his dream
And of the gossip of the caravans
"What say ye," said he, "touching this affair?
Is it a fair presumption to your minds
That this child liveth, or hath winter's cold
Or summer's heat destroyed him? "
Old and young
There present answered thus the paladin:-
"Ingrates to God experience good in naught;
For pards and lions on the sands and rocks,
And fish and crocodiles in waterways,
All cherish their own little ones and give
God thanks; but thou didst break the covenant
With Him who giveth good, and cast away
An innocent because of his white hair,
Which shameth not a body pure and bright.
Say not, 'The child is dead,' but gird thyself
And ever persevere in quest of him,
Since one whom God regardeth will not die
Of heat or cold. And now in penitence
Incline to Him - the Author of all good,
So next day and in sore distress
Sam went to Mount Alburz, and when night came
Slept ill at ease. He saw a standard raised
Above the Indian mountains, and a youth
Of beauteous visage with a mighty host,
Upon his left an archmage, on his right
A sage of noble aspect. Of these twain
One came to Sam and said in chilling tones:-
"Audacious man and impious in throe aims
Is there no fear of God before throe eyes?
If to thy mind a bird is nurse enough
What booteth it to be a paladin?
If white hair be a blemish in a man
Thy beard and head have grown like willow-leaves
God gave thee such and such things: why hast thou
By throe injustice frustrated the gift?
Abhor thy Maker then, for day by day
Thy body changeth hue. Thou didst despise
Thy son, who is the fosterling of God -
The kindliest Nurse for him. As for thyself,
Love is not in thee."
Sam roared out in sleep
As when a mighty lion is ensnared;
He feared that dream portended chastisement
From destiny. Aroused, he called to him
The men of lore and bade the chiefs to horse.
He came in haste toward the mountain-peak
To seek his castaway, and there beheld
A height whose top was midst the Pleiades:
Thou wouldst have said: "It will obstruct the stars."
Upon the top was built a lofty nest,
Where Saturn's influence could not injure it;
Tall posts of ebony and sandal-wood
Laced with lign-aloe stayed it underneath.
Sam gazed in wonder on that stony peak,
On that majestic bird and weird abode.
The building reached to Spica, and was raised
Without hand-labour, with no stones and earth.
A youth stood there - the counterpart of Sam,
Who watched him as he walked about the nest,
Then laid his cheeks upon the ground, and gave
Thanks to the Maker, in that He had made
Such bird upon the mountain, and had raised
Its stony summit to the Pleiades,
Acknowledging? He is a righteous Judge,
All powerful and higher than the high."
He sought to find a path or any track
Whereby the wild beasts scaled the precipice;
And walked around the mountain giving thanks,
But saw no way to climb it. He exclaimed:-
"O Thou above all place, o'er sun and moon
And shining rainbow! I prostrate myself
Before Thee, pouring out my soul in awe.
If this youth springeth from my loins indeed,
Not from the seed of evil Ahriman,
Assist thy servant to ascend this height
And show me mercy, sinful as I am."
Thus prayed he to the Just: his prayer was granted.
When the Simurgh looked from the height and saw
Sam with his company, she knew that they
Came not for love of her but for the youth,
To whom she said: "Thou who hast seen the unease
Of vide and nest! I am the only nurse
That fostered thee, the source of all thy weal,
And gave to thee the name Dastan-i-Zand,
Because thy sire dealt with thee treacherously;
Command thy valiant guide to call thee so
When thou returnest home. Thy sire is Sam,
The hero, paladin of paladins,
And most exalted of the mighty men.
He bath come hither searching for his son,
And with him high estate hath come to thee.
Now must I take thee up and bear thee back
Unscathed to him."
He listened while she spake,
His eyes were filled with tears, his heart was sad.
Though he had seen no man, still he had learned
Of her to speak in accents like her own,
With much of wisdom and of ancient lore;
Thus had he language, wisdom, and right redo,
And looked to God for succour. Now observe
His answer to the fowl? Hast thou in truth
Become aweary of my company?
Thy nest is unto me a shining throne,
Thy pinions are my glorious diadem,
And next to God I owe my thanks to thee,
For thou hast turned my hardship into ease."
The bird replied? If once thou dost behold
The crown, the throne, and doings of the court,
This nest will seem to thee of small account.
Make but one trial of the ways of fate.
I do not send thee hence in enmity;
I pass thee to a kingship. I would faro
Have kept thee here with me, but for thyself
To go is better. Bear this plume of mine
About with thee and so abide beneath
The shadow of my Grace. Henceforth if men
Shall hurt or, right or wrong, exclaim against thee,
Then burn the feather and behold my might,
For I have cherished thee beneath my plumes
And brought thee up among my little ones.
Now like a black cloud will I bear thee off
And carry thee to yonder spot uninjured.
Let not thy heart forget to love thy nurse,
For mine is breaking through my love of thee."
She thus consoled his heart, then took him up,
Bore him with stately motion to the clouds,
And swooping down conveyed him to his sire.
The youth had hair descending to his breast,
An elephantine form and cheeks like spring.
His father seeing him groaned bitterly,
Then quickly did obeisance to the bird,
And offered thanks and praises o'er and o'er.
"O queen of birds," he said, "the righteous Judge
Gave thee thy power and might and excellence,
That thou shouldst be the helper of the helpless,
And in thy goodness justest of the just.
May'st thou for ever make thy foes to grieve
And always be as mighty as thou art."
With that the bird, watched by the eyes of Sam
And all his company, soared mountainward.
He gazing on the youth from head to foot
Adjudged hire fit for crown and throne; he had
A lion's breast and limbs, a sunlike face,
The heart of paladins, a hand to seek
The scimitar, white lashes but with eyes
Pitch-coloured, coral lips and blood-red cheeks.
Except his hair there was no fault at all;
None could discern in him another flaw.
Sarn's heart became like Paradise; he blessed
His stainless child. "Have no hard thoughts," he said,
"Forget the past and warm thy heart with love
Toward me - the meanest of the slaves of God.
Henceforth since I have thee I swear by Him
I will not fail in gentleness to thee,
But will fulfil thy wishes good and bad
Henceforth thy will shall be my rule of right."
He clothed the young man like a paladin
And turned to leave the mountain: having reached
The plain he chose a charger for his son,
As well as royal robes for him to wear,
And gave to him the name of Zal-i-Zar,
Though the Simurgh called him at first Dastan.
Then all the troops with gladness in their hearts
Sought Sam. The drummers led on elephants.
And dust rose like a mount of indigo.
There was a sound of drums and clarions,
Of golden gongs and Indian bells, while all
The horsemen shouted. Thus they journeyed home
Until all joyfully they passed within
The city, greater by one paladin.
How Minuchihr took Knowledge of the Case of Sam and Zal
"Sam hath returned in triumph from Alburz! "
Such tidings from Zabul came to the Shah,
Who joyed exceedingly: the Maker's name
Was often on his lips. He had two sons,
Both well beloved, one hight Naudar, the other
Zarasp, both brave and wise, and both endowed
With Grace and Faith, both like Azargashasp
Upon the plain. He said: "Let famed Naudar
Go with despatch to Sam and look upon
His child that hath been nurtured in a nest,
Congratulate him on the Shah's behalf
Upon the joy that hath revealed itself
And bid him come in person to the Shah
To tell his tale, and afterwards depart
Home like a loyal liege."
Now when Naudar
Reached Sam the son of Nariman he saw
The new young paladin. Then Sam the horseman
Alighted, and Naudar and he embraced.
Sam asked about the Shah and chiefs, Naudar
Delivered all their greetings. Skin, on hearing
The message of the great king, kissed the ground,
And hasted as commanded to the court.
When he drew near the Shah went out to meet him.
Skin saw the flag of Minuchihr, dismounted
And went afoot. He kissed the ground and said:-
"For ever live glad and of ardent soul! "
But Minuchihr bade that true-hearted man,
That worshipper of God, to mount again.
They went toward the palace; Minuchihr
Sat down with great rejoicing nn the throne,
And placed the royal crown upon his head.
On this side sat Karan, on that side Sam,
Both glad and well content. The chamberlain
Approached with stately step and brought in Zal,
Equipped with golden mace and golden crown.
The Shah marked with amaze that lofty stature
And goodly face, "the abode," as thou wouldst say,
"Of life and love." He said to Sam? Safeguard him
For my sake, never give him needless pain,
But find thy happiness in him alone,
For he hath royal Grace and lion's claws,
The wise man's heart, the prudence of the old.
Teach him our customs both in war and feast;
Bird, nest, and height he knoweth; can he know
What honour and court-usages demand? "
Then Sam told all the story to the Shah
About the lofty mountain and Simurgh,
And how the precious one was lodged and nurtured
Within the nest till he could feed himself;
Told wherefore he had cast the child away,
And said thus? Heaven revolved above my head
For many years; the world at length was filled
With strange reports of Zal and the Simurgh.
Commanded by the Lord of all the world
I went to Mount Alburz - no easy place -
And saw a mountain-peak among the clouds;
Thou wouldst have said: ' It is a dome of flint
Upon a sea!' The nest like some tall palace
Was there, well fenced from harm on every side,
With Zal and with the young of the Simurgh
Within it: thou hadst said:-'They are one brood.'
His breath exhaled the very scent of love,
And every thought of him rejoiced my heart.
Oft ran I round the Mount but path was none;
A yearning for my lost son came to me;
My heart burned so that life was well-nigh gone.
I prayed in secret to the holy Judge:-
Resource Resource of men, without a want Thyself!
Thy witness doth extend to every place,
And heaven turneth only at Thy word.
A slave am I, whose heart is full of sin
Before the Master of the sun and moon;
My hope is in Thy mercy - that alone
I have no other ground of confidence.
This slave of Thine - the fostered of the fowl -
Brought up in misery and wretchedness,
Who bath but skins to wear instead of silk
And sucketh raw flesh, not his mother's breast -
Restore to me! Disclose for me a way
To him and cut this present trouble short.
Sear not my soul for my defect in love;
Oh! pardon me this once and cheer my heart.'
When I had spoken thus, the Lord vouchsafed
To grant my prayer immediately: the bird
Flew up, and soaring to the clouds wheeled round
Above the head of me the infidel;
Then from the mountain like a cloud in spring
Came with the form of Zal clasped to her breast,
And odours that fulfilled the world with musk.
Mine eyes were tearless, and my lips were dry;
I feared the bird and yearned upon my son,
So that my wits departed clean away.
She brought him to me like the kindliest nurse,
Whereat my tongue began to utter praise;
And strange! I did obeisance to the fowl!
She left my son and went, 'twas God's decree,
And I have brought him, lord of earth! to thee,
And told what heretofore was mystery."
How Zal went back to Zabulistan
The Shah then ordered the astrologers,
The archmages and the other men of lore,
To ascertain the horoscope of Zal
And so forecast the prince's destiny:-
"What will he be on reaching man's estate?
Ye must inform me as to this at large."
They found the horoscope of Zal and said:-
This This youth will be a famous paladin,
A noble, shrewd, and valiant cavalier."
The Shah rejoiced and Sam's heart ceased from care.
The ruler of the earth prepared a gift
Of such a sort that he was blessed by all,
Of Arab steeds with golden furniture,
Of Indian scimitars with golden sheaths,
Of furs and gold, of jewels and brocade,
Of carpets also an abundant store,
Of Ruman slaveboys in brocade of Rum
With jewelled patterns on a golden ground,
Of bowls of emerald and turquoise cups,
Of others of pure silver and red gold
Containing saffron, musk, and camphor: these
The servants brought with suits of mail and casques,
Horse-armour, lances, maces, bows and arrows,
A throne of turquoise and a crown of gold,
A ruby signet-ring and golden girdle.
Anon the monarch had a patent drawn,
Like Paradise - all praise - investing Sarn
With Mai of Hind, Danbar, Kabulistan,
All from the Indus to the sea of Chin,
And from Zabul up to the stream of Bust,
Drawn strictly in accord to precedent.
The patent written and the gifts prepared,
They ordered out the horses for that chief
Of paladins, who rising spake and said:-
"O chosen lord of justice and of right!
Know that between the Moon and Fish no Shah
Like thee e'er wore the crown; thy goodness, prudence,
Beneficence, and rede rejoice the age.
In thine eyes all the world's wealth is despised
May men remember no one's name but thine."
He then advanced and kissed the throne.
The kettledrums upon the elephants
And started for Zabulistan. The towns
And villages turned out to gaze. When Sam
Approached Nimruz 'twas bruited that the prince -
The lustre of the world - had come with presents,
A crown of gold, grant, patent, and gold girdle.
Sistan was decked throughout like Paradise;
Its bricks were gold and all its soil pure musk.
They flung about dinars, musk, drachms, and saffron,
And made a holiday for all alike.
The aspiring chief's from all sides went to Sam,
And said: "May this youth's steps prove fortunate
For thee, blithe-hearted, famous paladin! "
And as they blessed him showered gems o'er Zal.
For each man worthy was a gift prepared,
A robe of honour suited to his station
As being eminent in rank or lore,
While emulation caused all hopes to soar.
How Sam gave the Kingdom to Zal
Thereafter Sam set forth before his son
The various virtues that adorn a king,
And having called the fathers of the realm
Harangued them in set terms at large, and said:-
"Ye holy archimages, wise of heart!
Our monarch in his wisdom ordereth
That I should march upon Mazandaran
Against the Kargasars. I take with me
A mighty host; my son - mine own heart's blood
And partner of my life - abideth here.
I in the days of youth and arrogance
Pronounced a monstrous sentence on the boy.
God gave to me a son: I cast him out
In ignorance, not wotting of his worth.
Him the Simurgh, that noble bird, bare off,
Him too the Maker passed not by in scorn.
What I despised was precious to the fowl,
Which reared hire till he seemed a lofty cypress,
And when the tune for pardon came the Lord
Of all the world - God - gave him back to me.
Regard him as my representative,
As mine own self committed to your charge;
I leave to you to teach him what is good
And kindle every virtue in his breast.
Hold him in honour, give him sound advice,
Impart good principles and lofty aims,
For as the Shah commandeth I depart
With other chiefs against our enemies."
He turned to Zal and said: "Be peaceful, just,
And liberal, hold Zabulistan as home
And all things there as subject to thy will.
Be thine to make the home more beautiful
And friends more happy.
Of my treasure-hoards
I leave the key with thee, thy gain is weal,
Thy loss is woe to me. In feast and fight
Do whatsoe'er thy bright soul holdeth good."
Zal answered: "Can I live on here? If one
Was ever born defective it was I,
And I have cause to wail. Put me not further
Than ever from thee now that peace hath come.
While I was neath the talons of the bird,
Sucked blood and fared in dust, dwelt in a nest
And had a fowl for friend, I was esteemed
A fowl myself; but she that fostered me
Is far away. Such is fate's fostering i
I have no portion of the rose but thorns
And must submit."
Sam answered? "Be at ease.
Let thy heart rest; command whate'er thou wilt.
The astrologers declare a gracious purpose
Concerning thee - that here shall be thyhome
With host and crown. We cannot thwart heaven's will;
Thy portion is to spread around thee love.
Now gather to thee cavaliers and sages,
Delight in men of wisdom, list and learn
From them, be instant both in feast and bounty,
And instant too in justice and all knowledge."
He ceased. The din of tymbals rose, earth turned
To iron and the air to ebony;
The Indian bells and gongs clanged at the portal
As Sam the chief departed to the war
With troops equipped and eager. For two stages
Zal went to see his father lead the host.
His sire then clasped him closely. Rose wild wailing;
Zal wept his heart's blood down his cheeks, but Sam
Bade him return and go with happy heart
Back to the throne and crown; yet Zal returned
In grief - a happy life without his father
He sat upon the famous ivory throne,
He set the shining crown upon his head,
He took the armlet and the oxhead mace,
The golden necklace and the golden girdle,
And called the archmages out of every province
In quest of knowledge both of men and things.
Astrologers and men of sanctity,
Brave warriors and warlike cavaliers,
Were with him night and day and counselled him
In every matter, whether great or small.
He profited so much that thou hadst said:-
"He shineth as a star! " In policy
And understanding he had not a peer,
His horsemanship was famous with the great,
Folk thronged him in amazement at his beauty,
And whether near or distant used to think
The camphor locks of Zal as black as ink.
How Zal visited Mihrab of Kabul
One day Zal set forth on a royal progress
With chiefs attached to him in rede and Faith
To view Kabul, Dunbar, Margh, Mai and Ind.
At every stage he set him up a throne
And called for wine and harp and minstrelsy.
He lavished treasure and indulged in pleasure,
As is the fashion in this Wayside Inn,
And reached Kabul with gladness in his heart.
There was a certain monarch hight Mihrab,
A wealthy and successful potentate,
In stature like a noble cypress-tree,
With cheeks like springtide and with pheasant's tread;
He had a sage's heart, a ruler's brain,
A warrior's shoulders and archmage's sense.
Descended from Zahhak, he ruled Kabul,
But having not the power to fight with Sam
Paid yearly tribute. Hearing that Sam's son
Had come, he left Kabul at dawn with treasure,
With steeds caparisoned, slave-boys, dinars,
Musk, rubies, spicery, brocade of gold,
Silks, beaver-skins, a royal jewelled crown
And golden torque with emerald ornaments.
He took the chiefs and army of Kabul
As escort. Tidings reached the son of Sam :-
"The stately chief is coming in his state."
Zal went to meet and greet him courteously
With every honour due. In merry mood
They came together to the turquoise throne;
A table fit for paladins was spread
And all sat down with gladness to the feast.
There, while cup-bearers handed cups and wine,
Mihrab observed the son of Sam, on whom
He joyed to gaze, and whom he longed to serve.
Zal's wit and prudence made Mihrab exclaim:-
"His mother is immortal! "
Rose from the board, Zal marked his mien and limbs,
And said before the chiefs? Who girdeth him
More gracefully? Who hath such mien and carriage?
Men would pronounce him matchless in the fight."
One of the noble chieftains said to Zal :-
"He hath a daughter in his house whose face
Is fairer than the sun, like ivory
From head to foot, with cheeks like Paradise,
And as a teak in height. Two musky ringlets
Fall o'er her silvern neck, the ends of them
Would serve for ankle-rings. Her cheeks are like
Pomegranate-blossoms, she hath cherry lips,
Her silvern breasts bear two pomegranate-grains,
Her eyes are twin narcissi in a garden,
Their lashes blackness rapt from raven's plumes,
Her brows are like two bows made at Taraz,
Whipped with the purest musk. If thou wouldst seek
A moon, there is her face; if thou wouldst scent
The musk, there is her hair. From head to foot
She is as Paradise - all music, charm,
This raised tumult in the heart
Of Zal, and rest and reason fled from him;
He thought? There is no doubt that this fair maid
Is like the sun and moon, for since the sire
Is comely still, how fair the child must be!"
Night came; Zal sat in sad and anxious thought,
Concerned for her whom he had never seen,
But when the sun's rays struck the mountain-tops
An Arab chief once said in this regard :-
"A horse shall while I live my comrade be,
The vault of circling heaven shall shelter me;
I want no bride to make me delicate,
And cause the wise to mock at mine estate."
Zal, who was stricken to the heart by care,
Kept brooding o'er the matter, sorely pained
For fear lest scandal might result and dim
His glory. Thus heaven oft revolved above,
And all the while his heart was full of love.
How Rudaba took Counsel with her Damsels
It came to pass that at the dawn one day
Mihrab walked stately from the audience-chamber,
And going toward his women's bower beheld
Two Suns within the hall; one was Rudaba,
The fair of face, the other was Sindukht,
The prudent and devoted; both were decked
Like garths in spring - all colour, scent, and grace.
He gazed upon Rudaba wonderingly,
Invoking blessings on her. In his eyes
She seemed a cypress neath the orbed moon,
Encrowned with ambergris, decked with brocade
And gems - a very Paradise of wealth!
Sindukht, whose smiles displayed her pearly teeth,
Between her jujube lips asked of Mihrab :-
"How did thy visit prosper? May the hand
Of ill be far from thee! What is he like -
Sam's hoary son? What is he suited for -
A nest or throne? Doth he behave as man,
And walk in chieftains' steps? "
"O fair-faced Cypress with the silvern breast!
Of all the warrior-paladins of earth
Not one can tread his steps; there is no portrait
Inside our halls with such a bridle-hand,
Or such another cavalier on horseback.
He is in heart a lion and in strength
An elephant: his hands are like the Nile.
When he is on the throne he scattereth gold,
When he is in the fray he scattereth heads.
His cheek is ruddy as the cercis-bloom
Shrewd, young in years and fortune too is he,
In battle like the baleful crocodile,
On horseback like a dragon with sharp claws.
He layeth in the fight the dust with blood
And brandisheth his falchion of blue-steel.
He hath this one defect - his hair is white;
Fault-finders find in him no other fault;
Yet this white hair of his becorneth him,
And thou wouldst say: ' He fascinateth hearts.'"
On hearing this Rudaba blushed, with cheeks
Red as pomegranate-blossoms, while her heart
Became fulfilled with fire for love of Zal:
She could not eat or rest in peace; a change
Came in her disposition and demeanour,
For passion had usurped the place of wisdom.
How goodly were the teacher's words? "Deny
All talk of men when there are women by;
The heart of woman is the Div's abode,
If thou suggestest she will find the road."
Rudaba had five Turkman waiting-maids,
Five faithful slaves, all girls of prudent minds;
To them she said: "I have a secret for you,
Since all of you are in my confidence,
Attend upon me, and dispel my cares;
Know then, all five of you, and understand,
And luck go with you all your years, that I
I am in love, and like a raging sea
Whose billows surge to heaven! Mine ardent heart
Is full of love for Zal, and in my sleep
I cannot tear my thoughts from him. His love
Possesseth me, heart, mind, and wits; I muse
Upon his features day and night; and now
Means must be found to free me from my woe.
None knoweth of my secret but yourselves,
For ye are good and love me."
Then the slaves
Thought in amaze? "The princess doth amiss!"
Rose at her like so many Ahrimans
And said: "O crown of ladies in the world!
O daughter eminent among the mighty,
Admired from Hindustan to Chin, and like
A shining signet in the women's bower!
No cypress in the garden equalleth
Thy height; thy cheeks outshine the Pleiades.
Thy portrait hath been sent out to Kannuj,
To Mai, and to the monarch of the West.
Hath modesty departed from thine eyes
And all consideration for thy sire
That thou shouldst long to clasp upon thy bosom
One whose own father hath rejected him -
One fostered on a mountain by a fowl -
A spectacle for all the folk? No mother
Excepting his hath borne an aged babe.
Such offspring is ignoble. Strange indeed
For two such coral lips and musky hair
To seek a dotard! Why, all folk love thee;
Thy portrait is in all their palaces;
Thy stature, face, and hair are such that Sol
Would come from his fourth heaven to be thy spouse!"
Rudaba heard, her heart flared up like fire
Before a blast of air. She shrieked at them,
With frowns that shut her eyes, exclaiming? Bah!
Ye strive in vain: it booteth not to hear.
If to some star I lost my heart, could I
Find any satisfaction in the moon?
Clay-eaters do not gaze upon the rose
Although the rose is better than the clay.
If vinegar will cure a body's liver,
Then honey will but make the anguish worse.
I want not Caesar or Faghfur of Chin,
Or any of the princelings of Iran
Zal,son of Sam, is tall enough for me
And lion-like in shoulder, neck, and arm;
For whether people call him old or young
To me he giveth peace of soul and mind.
Talk not of other men, be his my heart,
Bit as it is by love of one whom I
Have never seen! It chooseth by report.
I do not love his face and hair but him;
'Tis for his merits that I seek his love:'
The slaves, on hearing her distracted voice,
And having learned her secret, cried? Thy slaves
Are we and serve thee with devoted hearts.
Command us! Naught but good will come of it."
One said: "O Cypress-stem! let none else know.
A hundred thousand of us for thy life!
May all Creation's wisdom be throe aid!
Should there be need to study grammarye,
And stitch up eyes with artifice and spell,
Then will we fly like an enchanter's bird,
Or run along like deer to give thee aid,
So we may bring this king to thee our Moon,
And lay him at thy feet."
Turned safflower cheeks toward the slave and said:-
"If thou canst compass this thou wilt have planted
A tall tree bearing rubies day by day
Which wisdom in its breast will bear away."
How Rudaba's Damsels went to see Zal
The slaves arose and went, remediless
Themselves they sought a remedy for her.
So donning raiment of brocade of Rum,
And twisting roses in their hair, they went,
The five of them, toward the river-side,
Like jocund spring - all colour and perfume.
'Twas Farwardin, the first month of the year,
And Zal's encampment was beside the stream;
The damsels were upon the farther bank.
Their talk was all of Zal. They gathered roses
Along the river-side. Their cheeks were like
A rosary, and roses filled their laps;
But still they gathered roaming here and there.
When they came opposite the royal tent
Zal, spying them from his high throne, inquired:-
"Who are these flower-worshippers? "
"The Beauty of Kabulistan hath sent
Forth from the palace of bright-souled Mihrab
Her waiting-maidens to the rosary."
Zal's heart beat fast, and being love-distraught
He walked attended by a single slave
Beside the stream. Upon the further bank
He saw the girls, drew himself up and bade
The Turkman slave-boy bring the bow; then looked
For game and lighted on a water-fowl.
The ruddy Turkman slave-boy strung the bow
And laid it in the paladin's left hand,
Who flushed the fowl and shot it as it rose.
Blood dyed the water. Zal said: "Go across
And fetch yon crippled bird."
The gallant Turkman
Crossed in a boat. The slave-girls questioned him
About the paladin? This lion-limbed
And elephantine-bodied warrior -
Who is he? Of what people is he king?
What foe could counter him? We never saw
A finer cavalier or better shot."
The pretty slave-boy bit his lip and said:-
Speak Speak not so of the king. The son of Sarn
Is monarch oŁ Nimruz, and other kings
Call him ' Dastan.' The sky revolveth not
O'er cavalier like him, nor will time see
The damsels laughed and answered thus
The moon-faced boy? Say not such things because
Mihrab hath now a Moon within his palace,
Who is a whole head taller than thy king,
A teak in stature, ivory in hue,
Crowned with a crown of musk, a thing divine.
Her eyes are pensive and her eyebrows arched;
Their column is a silvern-reed. Her mouth
Is narrow as the heart of one forlorn,
Her tresses' ends are coiled like ankle-rings,
Her witching eyes are full of dreamy light,
Her cheeks are tulip-like in hue, her locks
Like musk; her soul is breathing through her lips.
A matchless Moon is she! We from Kabul
Approach the monarch of Zabul in state,
And 'tis our policy to introduce
Our lady's ruby lips to those of Zal,
Which is but well and seemly, for she is
Of equal rank."
On hearing this the slave-boy
Flushed ruby-like. " The Sun should wed the Moon,"
He said. " Whene'er the world would make a match
The hearts of all concerned find room for love,
And when the world would cause a severance
It parteth mate from mate without a word.
Love's bond is hidden but its rupture seen,
And both are common. Still the bachelor
Enjoyeth peace at home, and since he hath
No daughter, will not hear reproachful words.
Once said the male hawk to his brooding mate:-
'If hen-birds only from these eggs thou bring
Thou makest of the sire a sexless thing.'"
Now when the laughing slave-boy had returned
Zal asked? What was it that they said to thee
To make thee laugh and show thy silvern teeth? "
He told the paladin, whose heart grew young
With joy. He bade the moon-faced youth? Return
And say thus to yon damsels: ' Stay awhile
Among the roses; ye perchance may take
Some gems as well as blossoms from the garden,
So go not till ye hear from me.'"
Gold, jewelry, and drachms, with five rich pieces
Of gold brocade and bade his slaves? Convey them
To yonder girls, tell none and be not seen."
They took the treasures with an ardent message
And gave them to the damsels in Zal's name.
Then said one damsel to the moon-faced page:-
"A matter never can be kept concealed
Unless it be confined to only two;
Three are no casket, four are all the world.
So say to him, shrewd, trusty boy: ' If thou
Hast secret things to say tell us in person.'"
Rudaba's damsels said to one another:-
The The Lion hath been taken in the toils.
The wishes of Rudaba and of Zal
Have been fulfilled, and matters promise well."
The black-eyed youth, who brought the monarch's gifts
And acted for him, went and told his chief
In secret what those charming damsels said.
Zal went. Those rosy Idols of Taraz
Drew near and did obeisance. He inquired
About that Cypress-stem, her mien and looks,
Her speech, her wisdom, and her rede, to see
If she were worthy of him. " Speak," he said,
"Without attempting to prevaricate.
If ye speak truth it will advantage you,
But if I think that ye impose upon me
An elephant shall trample you to death."
With cheeks that had become like sandarac
The slave-girls kissed the ground before the chief,
And one of them - the youngest of the troop,
A girl of tenderness and ready speech,
Spake thus to Zal? Among the mighty none
Hath e'er been born of woman in this world
Who could compare with Sam in looks and stature,
In purity, in courage, sense, and knowledge;
Or yet with thee, thou valiant cavalier,
Of lofty bearing and of lion-limbs!
Or with Rudaba in her loveliness,
A silvern Cypress, coloured and perfumed,
Compact from head to foot of rose and jasmine,
While over it Canopus of Yaman
Is shining. One would say: 'Her face distilleth
Wine, and her locks are scents.' Insidious lassos
Fall from her head, that cupola of silver,
O'er cheeks of roses to the very ground.
Her head is all a-twine with ambergris
And musk, her person all a-shine with jewels.
Her locks and ringlets are like musky mail
Where ' there is link on link' as one might say.
Thou wilt not see in Chin so fair an Idol
The moon and Pleiades bow down to her."
The chief on fire rejoined in sugared tones: -
"Say, Say, if thou knowest, how I may approach her.
I love her, heart and soul, and long to see
She answered? We, if thou shah bid us,
Will haste back to the palace of our Cypress,
And then beguile her, telling all we can
About the chief of paladins, his prudence,
His looks, his converse, and his ardent soul,
And 'tis an honest work. We will ensnare
Her musky head and bring her lips to Zal's.
The paladin, a lasso in his hand,
May haply stroll toward our stately home
And fling the noose around a pinnacle.
The Lion will rejoice to hunt the Lamb.
Then gaze thy fill on her. Our talk shall be
The earnest of far more felicity."
How the Damsels returned to Rudaba
The girls departed, and Zal thought the night
A year. Meanwhile they reached the palace-gate,
Each with two sprays of roses, where the porter,
On catching sight of them, prepared to chide,
And spake with sternness, hardening his heart:-
"A nice time this to be beyond the gates!
I marvel at your gadding so about."
The Idols, when they found a word to say,
Flew out at him in their embarrassment:-
"This day is just like any other one
There is no foul div in the rosary.
'Tis spring. We gather roses in the garden,
And spikes of hyacinth upon the ground.
Moon-faced Rudaba bade, and so we went
Hence after roses out of love for her;
Then wherefore speak to us in such a tone
For plucking them? "
"But this is not the time,"
He said, "for pranks like these; for bear in mind
That Zal the chieftain now is at Kabul
The land is covered with his tents and troops.
Do ye not see Mihrab at early dawn
Go from his palace-gate and mount his steed?
Why, every day he goeth to and fro
Now he and Zal have come to be such friends,
And if he saw you carrying your roses
Would have you down upon the ground forthwith.
Quit not the Haram more, and would to God
That nothing great or small may come of this."
They went within and told the Moon in private :-
"We ne'er saw Sun like this with ruddy cheeks
And hair all white."
Rudaba's heart inflamed
In expectation of beholding Zal.
They laid his jewels and dinars before her,
While she minutely questioned them: "How found ye
The son of Sam? Doth he deserve his fame? "
The five, encouraged, chattered on and said :-
"Zal is the finest horseman, with such mien
And Grace - a lofty cypress of a man.
Imperial Grace and dignity are his.
What fragrance, colour, stature, limbs, he bath
How slim a waist and what an open chest
His eyes are twin narcissi water-blue,
His lips like coral and his cheeks like blood.
His hand and forearm are like lion's paws.
A shrewd man he, with an archmage's heart
And royal Grace! while as for his white hair
It is a blemish - but no cause for shame.
This chief of paladins bath downy cheeks,
Like cercis-bloom through silver habergeon,
Such as to make one cry : 'Be ever thus
No change can make thee dearer than thou art.'
We told him he should see thee; he was hopeful
When we departed. Now devise a scheme
To entertain him. Tell us what to tell him."
She answered: "Once ye told a different tale
This Zal, who was the nursling of a bird,
Was so white-headed and so wizened! Now
His cheek is like the cercis-bloom, and he
Is tall and handsome, and a paladin!
And ye have bragged about my face to him
And asked for payment for your gossiping."
She spake with smiles and blushes on her cheeks,
As'twere pomegranate-blooms, then bade one damsel :-
"Be off with you at dawn. Take him good news,
Hear what he bath to say and say to him :-
Thy wish is granted; be in readiness;
Come and behold thy Moon in all her charms.'"
The waiting-maid departed, gave the message,
And came back to the Cypress of Taraz.
"Devise some means to compass it," she said,
"For God bath granted thee thy whole desire,
And may the ending be a happy one! "
Rudaba soon made ready, while her kin
Suspected naught. She had her own pavilion
Like jocund spring and decked with great men's
The servants draped it with brocade of Chin,
Set golden trays about as ornaments,
Then mingled wine with musk and ambergris
And scattered emeralds and carnelians.
Here were narcissus, violet, cercis-bloom
And rose, there lily and the jasmine-spray.
The goblets were compact of gold and turquoise,
The viands saturate with clear rose-water;
Thus from the chamber of the sun-faced one
Rose fragrant odours wafting to the sun.
How Zal went to Rudaba
At dusk they locked the gate and took the key,
And then a damsel went to Zal and said:-
"All is prepared, so come."
Thereat the chief,
All wooer-like, set out toward the palace.
Meanwhile black-eyed and rosy-cheeked Rudaba -
A cypress over which the full moon shone -
Went to the roof, and, when the son of Sam
The cavalier appeared, that high-born maid
Unlocked her coral lips and cried to him:-
"Thou art well come, O youth of noble birth!
The Maker's blessing be on thee, the arch
Of circling heaven be underneath thy feet,
And may my maid be blithe of heart and glad,
For, top to toe, thou art as she described thee.
To foot it thus from thy pavilion
Must irk thy royal feet."
He heard the voice
And saw upon the wall a sun-cheeked damsel,
Whose beauty set the roof a-gleam like gems,
Whose blushes set the ground a-flush like rubies.
He thus made answer? O thou moon-faced one
My blessing and the Grace of heaven be thine.
How many nights with eyes up-turned to Spica
Have I entreated Him who ruleth all,
To let me privily behold thy face!
Now thou dost make me happy with thy voice,
Thy tender words and gentleness. Oh! find
Some means to let me look on thee! For why
Shouldst thou be on the roof and I below? "
The fairy-faced one heard the chieftain's words
And doffed her scarlet wimple instantly.
Then from her lofty cypress-form she loosed
A lasso, such as none could plait, of musk
Coil within coil it was, and snake on snake;
Strand over strand it lay upon her neck.
She loosed her tresses o'er the battlements
And when they straightened out they reached the ground.
Then spake Rudaba from the wall above:-
"O paladin! O child of warrior-race!
Now speed thee quickly and gird up thy loins,
Exert thy lion-breast and royal hands.
Seize these black tresses which hang down beside me
All dedicate to thee."
Zal gazed on her
In marvel at her hair and face. She heard
Him kiss that musky lasso oft. He said:-
"This is not well; may no sun shine when I
Shall lay a wanton hand upon my Life
And put a spearpoint to this wounded heart."
He took a lasso from his servant, coiled
And lightly flung it in his breathless haste.
The noose caught and he mounted. Fairy-face
Advanced to welcome him, she clasped his hand,
And both intoxicate with love descended,
Hand clasped in hand, to her pavilion
Gold-arabesqued - a meeting-place for kings,
A Paradise adorned - a blaze of light.
Slave-girls attended on the Houri there,
While Zal in rapt astonishment beheld
Her face, her hair, her loveliness and grace,
Her bracelets, torque, and earrings: her brocade
And jewels were like gardens in the spring;
Her cheeks were like twin tulips in a garth;
Her crispy love-locks twisted curl on curl.
Zal sat in royal grace by that fair Moon,
His dagger in his belt and on his head
A ruby coronet. Rudaba looked
And looked with stolen glances at him still;
Looked at that form, that neck, that grace, that height,
Which used to make rocks brambles 'neath his mace,
And at those cheeks whose lustre fired her soul.
The more she gazed the more her heart inflamed
They kissed and clung intoxicate with love.
What lion hunteth not the onager?
Thus spake the chieftain to the moon-faced maid:-
"O silver-bosomed Cypress, musk-perfumed!
The Shah will ne'er consent, and Sam will wring
His hands and storm, but still by God I swear
That I will never break my troth to thee.
Nay I will first hold soul and body cheap
And wear a shroud. I will seek God and pray Him,
With all the instancy of devotees,
To wash all opposition, wrath, and vengeance
From both their hearts, and if He hearkeneth
Thou shalt become my wife before the world."
Rudaba answered? I too swear by Him -
The God of Faith and right - that none but Zal
Shall be my lord; the Maker is my witness."
Their love waxed ever as the moments sped,
For wisdom was afar and passion near.
So fared they till the day began to break
And drum-call sounded. Zal farewelled his Moon,
Embracing her as warp and woof embrace.
Both wept and both adjured the rising sun:-
"O glory of the world! one moment more!
Thou needst not rise so soon."
Then from aloft
Zal dropped his lasso and descending straight
Went from the palace of his lovely mate.
How Zal consulted the Archimages in the Matter of Rudaba
The warriors, when bright Sol rose o'er the hills,
Went to the levee of the paladin,
And then dispersed while Zal bade call the sages.
They came - the ministers, archmages, heroes
And glorious chieftains, men both wise and ardent -
Well pleased at being summoned. Zal, all smiles
And yearning, oflered first his praise to God,
Then roused the archimages to attention
By thus addressing them? Let all our hearts
Regard with fear and hope the righteous Judge,
Who is the Lord of circling sun and moon,
And showeth souls the way of righteousness.
To give Him all the praise that we can give
We must bow down before Him night and day.
By Him the jocund world abideth fast,
By Him is justice done in heaven and earth.
He bringeth summer, spring, and autumn-tide
With fruit to fill the branches of the vines;
Youth hath from Him its time of scent and bloom,
Age hath from Him its time of saddened looks.
None can transgress His will and ordinance
Without Him not an ant can walk the earth.
He bringeth increase to the world by pairs,
And not by one; there is no One but God,
Who bath not any partner, mate, or peer,
But all His creatures hath He made in pairs.
This was His scheme - earth and its good for man;
But save for pairing we had never known
Its possibilities. Again, we never
See youth unmated stable in the Faith,
And thirdly, men though of a mighty stock
Unmated lose their vigour. What can show
More goodly than a chief of paladins,
Whose soul is gladdened by his progeny?
He at life's close will have a New Year's Day
In children who will keep his memory thus:-
'This is the son of Zal the son of Sam.'
Thus crown and throne are graced; the father's time
Being over fortune resteth with the son.
All these apply to mine own case, and are
The roses and narcissi of my garden.
My heart is lost, my wisdom fled! Declare
The remedy for this. I have not spoken
Before I suffered both in brain and wits.
The palace of Mihrab - I love it all!
His land is heaven to me forwhy my heart
Rejoiceth in the daughter of Sindukht.
What say ye now? Will Sam too be rejoiced?
And will Shah Minuchihr, if he shall hear,
Regard it merely as a youthful error?
All - great and small - in marrying but obey
The laws of Faith and custom. No wise man
Will bar what honour and religion sanction.
What do the prescient archimages say?
What are the sages' views? "
They held their peace
Because Zahhak was grandsire to Mihrab,
And Minuchihr detested both. None dared
To answer, none had heard of antidote
And bane combined. Their silence grieved the chief,
Who tried another plan? I know," said he,
"That ye will blame the course that I adopt,
But every one who chooseth for himself
Is certain to incur no lack of blame.
If ye can show me what to do, and how
I may undo this coil, ye shall be treated
As subjects ne'er were yet, my goodness, kindness,
And uprightness shall keep you from all ill."
The archimages, well disposed toward him,
Considered and replied? We are thy slaves,
And we are much amazed. But who will be
The better or the worse on this account?
Although Mihrab is not of equal rank
Yet is he mighty, brave, and rich, albeit
Sprung from the Dragon's stock - the Arabs' king.
Write thou to Sam as thy shrewd mind suggesteth,
Who bast more wisdom, thoughtfulness, and wits
Than we, and he may write the Shah a letter
Explaining his own views, and Minuchihr
Will be advised by Sam the cavalier
And every obstacle will disappear."
How Zal wote to Sam to Explain the Case
The chieftain bade a scribe to come, poured forth
His heart and wrote a letter of good cheer,
And first he praised the Maker and the Judge,
"The Source of joy and might, the Lord of Venus,
Of Sol and Mars, of being and not being.
We all of us are slaves and God is One.
May He bless Sam the son of Nariman -
The lord of mace, of scimitar, and helm,
Whose black steed boundeth in the dust of fight,
Who glutteth vultures when he maketh war,
Who raiseth tempests on the battle-field,
Who sheddeth gouts of blood from murky clouds,
Who handleth golden belts and diadems
And setteth kings upon their thrones of gold.
His bravery achieveth feat on feat
And they exalt his name. There liveth not,
Nor ever will, a cavalier so brave.
His thrall am I and love him heart and soul.
He saw how I was born, and ills have come
Since then upon me from the rolling sky.
My father wore luxurious furs and silks;
Me the Simurgh bare to a mount in Ind.
Fain was I that the bird should bring me prey
And number me among its little ones.
My skin was scorched by blast, mine eyes were stopped
With dust. They used to call me son of Sam
Though he was on a throne, I in a nest,
Since God ordained and made this way for me.
None scapeth His ordainment though one fly
Among the clouds, gnaw spearheads, rend the hides
Of lions with his shouting, yea although
His teeth are anvils he is still God's slave.
A thing hath happened which I cannot tell
To every one, and I am broken-hearted,
Howbeit a sire, though fierce and dragon-like,
Should hearken to the secrets of his child.
My tears are for the daughter of Mihrab,
I am as if consumed in raging fire,
The stars are my companions in the night,
My breast is like a sea, I lose my wits
So that my people weep; yet though sore troubled
I will not draw a breath but at thy word.
What doth the chief of paladins command?
Oh! free my mind from this distress and grief!
The archimages have advised me thus:-
'Let not the chieftain keep his Jewel hidden
But act with loyalty.' My sire perchance
Will second me herein that I may make
The daughter of Mihrab my lawful wife.
My father will remember that when God
Restored me to him out of Mount Alburz
He pledged his word in presence of his men:-
'I will not frustrate one wish of thy heart.'
Now this it is whereon my heart is set."
A horseman left Kabul at lightning-speed
To go to Sam and took a second horse,
For Zal directed? Should one roadster founder
Stay not to breathe but lightly mount the other
And hurry on to Sam."
Went, like the wind, upon a steed of steel.
When he was drawing near the Kargasars,
Sam, who was hunting on a range of hills,
Beheld him from afar and told his comrades:-
"There cometh from Kabul a messenger
Upon a white steed of Zabulistan,
Sent doubtlessly by Zal, so let us learn
The man approaching kissed the ground,
With many thanks to God. Sam welcomed him
And took the letter, while the man discharged
His errands. Sam undid and read the letter
While coming from the mountains, paled and halted
In wonder not expecting or commending
Zal's conduct. " Yet," he thought, "'tis natural
One nurtured by a bird would hanker thus."
When he returned he pondered long and deeply,
And said: "If I shall say, 'This is not well,
Oppose me not, incline to wisdom's ways,'
Both God and man will blame my breach of faith.
If I say,' Yes,' and ' Thy desire is good
Do as thou wilt,' what will their offspring be -
This nursling of the fowl and that div's child? "
He laid him down in grief but could not rest.
The harder any servant's task, the more
His heart is heavy and his suffering sore,
The greater peace and comfort shall he know
Within when God Almighty willeth so.
How Sam consulted the Archmayes in the Matter of Zal
Sam when he woke asked the astrologers:-
"How will this end, for these two elements,
Like fire and water, are opposed completely?
Such surely on the Judgment Day will be
The warfare of Zahhak and Faridun.
Consult the stars, vouchsafe me your advice,
And put your pen-point to a lucky sign."
They spent the day in searching, and then came
To Sam with smiles, for opposites combined
In his behalf, and an astrologer
Said: "Hero of the golden belt! we bring
Good news about the daughter of Mihrab
And Zal, for they will be a glorious pair,
Whose son will prove a mighty Elephant,
Will gird his loins with valour, overcome
The world, will set the Shah's throne on the clouds,
Cut from the ground the feet of evil doers
And leave them not a lurking-place on earth,
Spare no Sagsars, spare not Mazandaran,
But make the earth clean with his massive mace.
Through him Ttiran shall suffer greater woe,
Through him Iran shall gain unbounded weal,
Through him the aching head shall rest, and he
Shall shut the door of war, the path of mischief.
The Iranians shall have hope in him, through him
The paladin shall have good news and joy.
The charger that he urgeth in the fight
Shall trample on the face of warrior-pards.
The realm in his days shall be fortunate,
The age accept his name among the kings,
While Rum, Ind, and the country of Iran
Shall grave it on their signets."
Sam gave ear
And smiled as they congratulated him.
He gave them gold and silver past all count
Since peace had come in time of fear. He called
The messenger, conversed with him and said:-
"Speak gently unto Zal and say: ' Thy wish
Hath nothing in its favour, but since I
Have pledged my word I must not seek a pretext
For breaking it. Lo! I shall quit the field
To-morrow for Ira n to ascertain
The Shah's commands, and how God shall dispose him.
He gave a largess to the messenger
And said to him: "Arise and tarry not."
They bound a thousand of the Kargasars
And dragged them off afoot in shame and woe.
Toward dawn the horsemen's shouts rose o'er the plain,
Rose too the sound of drums and clarions
About the entrance of the tent-enclosure,
And Sam marched to Iran by Dahistan.
The messenger returned to Zal in triumph
With omens of success. When he arrived
He told Sam's answer. Zal was well content
And offered praises to Almighty God
For this great mercy and his blissful fate.
He lavished on the poor drachms and dinars
And showed especial kindness to his kindred,
Invoking blessings on the chieftain Sam
For having sent a gentle answer back.
He could not rest by day or sleep by night,
He drank no wine, desired no minstrelsy;
His heart was always yearning for his bride;
He could not talk of any one beside.
How Sindukht heard of the Case, of Rudaba
A dame of honied speech was go-between
And bore the lovers' greetings to and fro.
Zal called this woman, told about his sire,
And said to her? Go to Rudaba. Say
O Beauty kind and young! when matters come
To grievous straits we quickly find a key
For their enlargement. Now the messenger
Hath come from Rum rejoicing with good news.
Sam hummed and hawed but in the end consented.'"
Zal sent his father's letter by the woman,
Who hurried with the good news to Rudaba.
That fay-faced damsel showered drachms upon her,
Placed her upon a gold-embroidered seat
And for her news gave her a change of raiment;
Then brought an Indian turban woven so finely
That warp and woof were not distinguishable,
With patterns wrought thereon in gold and rubies,
So that the gold was hidden by the gems.
This, and a costly finger-ring to match,
As bright as Jupiter, she sent to Zal,
With many greetings, many messages.
Sindukht observed the woman in the hall
And cried? Whence art thou? Speak! Dissemble not!
Thou passest in and out from time to time
Without regard to me. I much suspect thee.
Wilt thou not say if thou art string or bow? "
With face like sandarac she kissed the ground
And answered thus? A needy woman I,
Who have to get my living as I can;
I visit houses of the gentlefolk
Who purchase clothes of me and jewelry.
Rudaba wished to buy rich gems and trinkets;
I brought to her a gold adorned tiara
And hoop of royal gems."
And quench my wrath."
Sindukht said: "Show them
"I left them with Rudaba,"
The woman answered, "and am fetching more."
"Show me the purchase-money," said Sindukht,
"And set my heart at rest"
The woman answered:-
The The moon-faced lady told me she would pay
To-morrow. Wait until I have the money."
Perceiving that she lied Sindukht used force,
Searched up her sleeves and found her knavery.
Sindukht discovering Rudaba's ring
And costly stuffs was very wroth, and catching
The woman by the tresses flung her down
Upon her face, and in a burst of rage
Haled her in shameful plight along the ground,
Then let her fall, and bound and spurned and smote her.
The queen returned in dudgeon to the palace,
O'erwhelmed with disappointment, pain, and grief,
Shut herself in and was as one bemused.
She sent to call her daughter and the while
Kept buffeting her face, and from her eyes -
Those wet narcissi-bathed her burning cheeks;
Then to Rudaba: "O thou noble Moon
Why choosest thou the ditch and not the throne?
In what respect can I have failed to teach thee
Propriety in public and in private?
My pretty! wherefore hast thou wronged me so?
Tell mother all thy secrets - who despatched
This dame to thee and why. What is all this?
Who is the man for whom this splendid turban
And finger-ring are meant? In that great treasure -
The Arabian crown - much good and ill was left us.
It had a name. Wilt fling it to the winds?
May mother never bear a child like mine! "
Rudaba looked away and hung her head
In overwhelming shame before her mother,
And tears of love descending graced her cheeks.
"O most wise mother! " thus she made reply,
"Love hunteth down my soul, but I had wrought
No good or ill hadst thou not borne me first.
The chieftain of Zabul is at Kabul,
And love of him so fireth me, and things
Have come to such a pass within my heart
That, if in others' presence or alone,
I weep and only live to see his face.
One hair of his is worth the world to me.
Know too that he hath seen and sat beside me,
And that we hand in hand have plighted troth.
We did but see each other - nothing more -
And to! a fire sprang up betwixt us twain.
A messenger was sent to mighty Sam
And he hath given his valiant son an answer.
Though vexed at first he grew amenable
And gave large presents to the messenger.
By means of her whose hair thou didst pluck out,
And whom thou didst fling down and hale along
Upon the face, I have read all his letter
This stuff was my reply."
Sindukht was lost
In wonder, glad that Zal should wed Rudaba,
But said: "This is no trifle. Zal is peerless
Among the chiefs for valour, he is great,
Son of the paladin of paladins,
With all the virtues, and a single fault
Which dwarfeth them - the Shah will be displeased
And send the dust up sunward from Kabul.
He wisheth not that any of our race
Should e'er mount saddle."
Then, to make it seem
That she had been mistaken, she released
The woman and made much of her, and said:-
"Act ever thus, discreet and clever dame!
Shut fast thy lips. God grant they never prove
A chink for speech. Now hide this in the dust."
She saw her daughter's secret bent was such
That she would listen to advice from none,
And laid her down in tears and in chagrin;
Thou wouldst have said that she had burst her skin.
How Mihrab was made Aware of his Daughter's Case
Mihrab, much gratified by Zal's attentions,
Returning found Sindukht upon her couch
Pale and distressed; he asked her? What hath happened?
Speak! Wherefore are thy rosy lips thus faded? "
She said: "I have been musing for a while
About these goodly treasures and this wealth,
These Arab steeds caparisoned, this palace
So noble and its pleasure-grounds, the friends
Who cheer our hearts, these servants of my lord,
Our favour and our stature cypress-tall,
Our fame, our knowledge, and our policy.
In time our pride and glory must abate;
We yield them to the foe; our toil is wind;
A narrow bier is ours at last. We plant
A tree whose antidote is bane to us,
We water it laboriously and hang
Thereon our crown and wealth, but when it mounteth
Sunward and giveth shade its lusty head
Descendeth to the dust. With this before us
I know not where we ever shall find rest."
Mihrab replied? Thou tellest an old tale
It is the fashion of this Wayside Inn.
One is abased, another flourisheth,
One cometh in, another goeth out;
Canst thou see one whom heaven hunteth not?
Fret as we will our woes remain; we cannot
Contend against the All just Judge."
The wise would take a very different view
Of what I said. Now can I hide from thee
A secret such as this and these grave doings?
A blessed wise archmage once told his child
The parable of the tree which I adopted
In hope my lord would understand the meaning.
She hung her head and bent her cypress-form,
Her eyes dropped dew upon her rosy cheeks.
"O full of wisdom," she went on to say,
"The sky must not revolve above us thus.
Know that the son of Sam hath striven to snare
Rudaba and misled her ardent heart.
Now 'tis for us to find a remedy.
I have exhorted her without avail;
Her heart I see is troubled, her face wan."
Thereat Mihrab sprang up and seized his sword,
His cheek grew livid and his body shook
With rage; his heart was full, he groaned and cried:-
"Her blood shall flow for this."
Sindukht sprang too,
Clasped him about the waist, and cried? Now hear
Thy handmaid speak one word, then do what heart
And wisdom counsel thee."
He shook her off
And bellowed like a maddened elephant:-
"I should have cut her head off at her birth.
I left her grandsire's way and let her live;
Now she hath wrought on me this devilry.
The son who walketh not his father's path
Is but a bastard in a brave man's eyes.
Thus said the leopard grown keen-clawed for strife
I glory in the conflict, and I wis
My sire inherited the taste from his.
Life must be risked when honour is in sight;
Why strivest thou to stay me from the fight? '
If Sam and Minuchihr shall get a handle
Against us smoke will go up from Kabul,
Seedtime and harvest cease throughout the land."
She said: "O marchlord! do not speak so wildly.
Sam knoweth all: be not so greatly moved.
He left the Kargasars for this: all know it."
Mihrab replied? Fair dame! deceive me not.
Could one imagine wind obeying dust?
I care not I so thou canst keep us scathless.
A better son-in-law than noble Zal
There cannot be as all know, great and small.
Who is there from Ahwaz to Kandahar
That wisheth not to be affined to Sam? "
She said: "Great prince! ne'er may I be enforced
To use deceit with thee; thy harm is mine;
I share thy sorrows. What I said is true
And it was on my mind. I had at first
Myself the same misgiving, which is why
Thou sawst me lying down absorbed in grief;
But if this is to be 'tis not so strange
As to occasion this anxiety.
Sarv of Yaman pleased Faridun; prince Zal
Is not unmindful of that precedent.
By mingling fire with water, air with earth
Earth's dark face is made bright."
She brought Sam's answer,
And said: "Rejoice! Thou hast thy wish. When strangers
Affine with thee thy foes grow black of face."
Though vengeful still and greatly moved Mihrab
Gave ear, then bade her? Rouse and bring Rudaba."
Sindukht, in terror lest that lion-man
Should lay her daughter dead upon the dust,
Replied? First promise to restore her to me
Unscathed, and that Kabulistan shall still
Possess this Rosary like Paradise."
The chieftain promised, but he said: "Now mark!
The Shah will meditate revenge for this."
Sindukht did reverence, bending to the ground;
Then with her lips all smiles and face that showed
The dawn beneath the night went to her daughter
With this good news? The warrior-leopard's claws
Have spared the wilful onager. Now hasten!
Take from thy face throe ornaments and go
Before thy father, weeping bitterly."
Rudaba answered? What are ornaments?
What are these worthless trinkets to my wealth?
My soul is wedded to the son of Sam;
Why hide what is so plain? "
Then went she in
Before her father, like a rising sun,
And overwhelmed in gold and jewelry.
Her father called on God in mute amaze.
She was a Paradise adorned and fair,
Like shining Sol in jocund sprin. He said:-
"O witless one! would virtuous folk approve
That Ahriman should have a fairy-bride?
May neither crown nor finger-ring be throe.
If but a serpent-charmer from Kahtan
Turned Magian we should slay him with an arrow."
Whenas Rudaba heard her father's words
Her heart grew full, her face like fenugreek.
She let her dark eyelashes droop and veil
Her melancholy eyes and scarcely breathed,
Her father all the while with furious heart
And full of menace roaring like a pard.
With blood returning to her pallid cheeks
His love-sick daughter went back to her chamber,
Where with her mother who had gained the day
She prayed Almighty God to be their stay.
How Minuchihr heard of the Case of Zal and Rudaba
News of the friendship of Mihrab and Zal
And of that noble ill-matched pair of lovers
Reached Minuchihr. The matter was discussed
Before him by the archmages. Said the Shah :-
"A dismal time will come on us hereby.
Did Faridun purge this world of Zahhak
That at Kabul Mihrab - his seed - might flourish?
This love of Zal's must not through our neglect
Restore the drooping plant to its old vigour.
If from the daughter of Mihrab, and Zal,
The son of Sam, a sharp Sword should be drawn,
On one side he will be an alien,
And how shall antidote agree with bane?
While if he favoureth the mother's side
His head will be possessed by evil projects,
He will fulfil Iran with strife and travail
In hope to win the crown and treasure back.
What is your rede? Strive to advise me well."
Then all the archimages blessed the Shah,
They hailed him as the king of the Pure Faith,
And said: "Thou art more wise than we and bast
More power to act. Let wisdom be thy guide,
And wisdom's quarry is the Dragon's heart."
The Shah, desirous to conclude the matter,
Sent for Naudar, with lieges and great men,
And bade him? Go to Sam the cavalier,
Ask: 'What hath been thy fortune in the war? '
And having seon him say: 'Come hither first,
And journey home from us.'"
Naudar set forth,
And valiant Sam, informed of his approach
Went with the paladins to welcome him
With mighty elephants and kettledrums.
Anon they met and interchanged their greetings.
The hero Sam rejoiced to see the prince,
Who gave his father's message. Sam replied:-
"I will obey and joy to look on him."
For that day they remained the guests of Sam,
The sight of whom rejoiced the company;
They spread the board, they took the cup in hand,
And first they drank the health of Minuchihr,
Then of Naudar, and then of Sam and all
The chieftains, not forgetting any province.
The livelong night was spent in revelry,
But with the sunrise rose the din of tymbals;
The speedy dromedaries spread their wings
And toward the palace of Shah Minuchihr
They went as bidden. When he heard thereof
He had the palace of the shahs prepared.
Then from Sari and from Amul rose din,
As when a fierce sea heaveth, for the spearmen
Marched in their mail with heavy darts, a host
That reached from range to range, with shield on shield,
Whose red and yellow blent, with tymbals, pipes,
Gongs, Arab horses, elephants, and treasures.
On such a fashion marched that armament
With flags and kettledrums on welcome bent.
How Sam came to Minuchihr
Sam reached the court, alit and was received
In audience by the Shah, at sight of whom
He kissed the ground, and then approached the presence;
While Minuchihr, encrowned with sparkling gems,
Rose from his ivory throne and made Sam sit
Beside him, showed the chieftain all observance
And questioned him at large and anxiously
About the Kargasars, about his troops,
About the fierce divs of Mazandaran.
The chief told all and said: "Live happy ever,
O Shah! Ne'er may foe's malice touch thy life.
I marched upon that land of valiant divs,
And such divs too, like lions in the fight,
Afore swift than Arab horses and out-daring
The warriors of Iran! The fierce Sagsars -
Pards in the fray - concerned at mine approach,
Sent up the battle-cry within their cities,
And all turned out to fight - a mighty host,
From mountain unto mountain naught but men,
So that the bright day vanished in the dust.
All eager for the fray they came upon me,
Came with a reckless rush' A panic fell
Upon my troops. ' How shall I bear,' I thought,
'This anguish? " and I saw not; for the brunt
Had fallen then on me. I roared against them,
I whirled a mace that weighed three hundred mans
And urged mine iron steed. I came among them
And brained them till the foe was panic-stricken.
The grandson of the valiant worldlord Salm,
As 'twere a wolf, was foremost of them all.
The youth was named Karkwi, a lofty Cypress,
Descended through his mother from Zahhak.
The heads of nobles were but dust to him.
His army thronged like locusts or like ants
And hid dale, plain, and mountain. When the dust
Rose from that great host, and my troops turned pale,
I reared the mace whereof one blow sufficeth
And led the army on. I raised a shout
That made earth seem a millstone to the foe,
While all my host was heartened and resolved
To battle on. Karkwi, who heard my voice,
And blows down-crashing from mine iron mace,
Came like a monstrous elephant against me
To battle, carrying a mighty lasso,
And sought to catch me in its noose, but I
Was ware and moved me from destruction's path.
I took a royal bow and poplar arrows
With points of steel, and urging on my charger
To eagle's speed I showered shafts like fire
And deemed his helm pegged to his anvil head
Until I saw him coming mid the dust,
Like some mad elephant, with Indian sword
In hand. Methought, O Shah! that e'en the mountains
Would cry to him for quarter! He pressed on,
And I held back to tempt kiln to come near;
Then, when he closed with me, reached from my grey,
Seized on the girdle of that mighty man
And like a lion wrenched him from his saddle;
Then like a maddened elephant I dashed him
Upon the ground so that his bones were shivered.
Their prince o'erthrown his soldiers fled the fight;
The vales and hills, the deserts and the mountains,
Were crowded everywhere, while of the fallen
Upon the field we reckoned up ten thousand
Of horse and foot. Troops, citizens, and horsemen
Were verily three hundred thousand strong;
But weighed against thy fortune what are foes
Confronted by a servant of thy throne? "
The Shah, on hearing what his chieftain said,
Raised to the moon his glorious diadem,
Bade hold a festival and saw with joy
The world freed from his foes. The night passed quickly
In revelry and praises of the chieftain.
At dawn the Shah held audience. Sam drew near
And having done obeisance sought to speak
About Mihrab and Zal, but was prevented
By Minuchihr, who said with angry looks:-
Depart with chosen chiefs, burn Hindustan,
The palace of Mihrab, and all Kabul.
Let not Mihrab escape; he is a remnant
Left of the Dragon's seed, and fillethearth
With turmoil. As for his allies and kindred,
Smite off their heads, and purify the world
Of all the kith and kindred of Zahhak."
Sam dared not speak, so wrathful was the Shah,
But kissed the throne, then gently pressed his face
Against the famous signet and replied:-
"My conduct shall acquit the Shah of vengeance."
Then with his host he sought his own abode
On steeds that went like wind along the road.
How Sam went to War against Mihrab
Mihrab and Zal had news of what had passed
Between the Shah and Sam, Kabul was moved,
And cries rose from the palace of Mihrab.
Now when Sindukht, Mihrab, and e'en Rudaba
Despaired of saving either life or goods,
Zal left Kabul, exclaiming as he went
With drooping mien yet resolute withal:
"The Dragon grim whose breath would burn the world
Must take my head off ere he touch Kabul."
In great concern he hasted on his journey,
With much to think about and much to say.
News reached brave Sam: "The Lion's Whelp hath come."
The troops bestirred themselves and got in readiness
The flag of Faridun. They beat the tymbals,
And chief and host went out to welcome Zal
With elephants whose backs were draped with banners
Of yellow, red, and violet. Zal, on seeing
His father's face, alighted and approached
Afoot, as did the chiefs of both the hosts,
And brave Zal kissed the ground. Sam spent a while
In converse with his son, who then remounted
His chestnut Arab, like a hill of gold,
While all the chiefs approached him in concern.
"Thy father is displeased with thee," they told him;
"Make thine excuse and be not obstinate."
He said: "I fear not, for man's end is dust.
My sire if sane will not unsay his words,
And if at first he speaketh angrily
Will after weep for shame."
They reached Sam's court
With much good cheer. He lighted and gave audience
To Zal, who kissed the ground before his sire
With ruffled feathers, offering praise while tears
Fell from his eyes and washed his rosy cheeks.
"Glad be the paladin's shrewd heart," he said,
"And may his spirit be the slave of justice.
Thy falchion scorcheth adamant, earth weepeth
When thou art fighting. Where thy charger pranceth
The lagging soldiers haste, and verily
Where heaven hath felt the storm-blast of thy mace
It dareth not array its host. All earth
Is verdant with thy justice, and the spirit
Of wisdom is a seedling of thy stock.
All joy in thy just dealing; earth and time
Receive it at thy hands. So do not I;
I have no share though thine acknowledged kinsman.
I am the dust-fed nursling of a bird
And know no feud with any, and no fault
To give occasion to an enemy
Save this, that Sam the hero is my sire
And mine accomplishment beneath such birth.
Or ever I was born thou didst expose me
Upon the mountains, harrowing my mother,
And giving to the flames a thriving child.
I saw no cradle and no breast of milk,
I had no memory of any kindred,
For thou didst cast me out, deprive my heart
Of peace and tenderness, and strive against
The Maker, for who maketh white and black?
Now since the Maker hath provided for me,
And looked upon me with a Master's eye,
Skill, manhood, and a hero's sword are mine
And one friend too, himself the crown of chiefs,
The brave, wise, prudent monarch of Kabul.
I sojourned at Kabul by thy command
And mindful of thy counsel and thy pledge.
Thou saidst : ' I ne'er will vex thee, but will bring
The tree that thou hast planted into fruit,'
Yet bringest this gift from Mazandaran,
And hastest from the Kargasars to further
The ruin of my home: such is thy justice!
Behold, I stand before thee and expose
My body to thy wrath. Saw me asunder,
But utter not a word against Kabul.
Do as thou wilt; the power is all thine own,
But mischief to Kabul is done to me."
The chief attended to Zal's words, then bowed
His head and answered:- "'Tis all true, and I
Have dealt with thee unjustly from the first
And given foes occasion to rejoice.
What thou hast asked me is thy heart's desire
And in thy trouble thou couldst find no rest;
Yet be not rash, let me despatch the business.
I will indite a letter to the Shah
And send it by thy hand, my loving son!
The worldlord will not seek to do thee harm
When he shall see thy prowess and thy looks,
And I have wooed his heart and soul to justice.
If he shall aid us thou wilt be contented,
Because the lion always hath the power
To gain its ends, and everywhere alike
Can seize upon the quarry."
Gail kissed the ground with many a benison.
How Zal went on a Mission to Minuchihr
Sam wrote at large and set forth every plea.
The letter opened with the praise of God,
Who is established in His seat for ever:-
"From Him are good and evil life and death
We all of us are slaves and God is One.
The process of the sky is over all
That He - the Lord of Saturn, Sun, and Moon -
Hath willed. His blessing be upon the Shah -
In fight an antidote-consuming bane,
In feast a moon that lighteneth the world -
Who brandisheth the mace, who stormeth cities,
Who giveth unto each his weed of joy,
Who marcheth with the flag of Faridun
To war, and slayeth haughty warrior-leopards.
The lofty mountain shattered by thy mace
Becometh dust upon thy proud steed's hoofs,
While thy pure heart and stainless Faith constrain
Both wolf and sheep to water at thy cistern.
A slave am I whose race is run, a slave
Who hath attained to sixty years twice told.
My head is strewn with camphor-dust - a crown
That sun and moon have given me. I girt
My warrior-loins and slaved. I fought the warlocks.
None o'er saw horseman rein his steed, fell chiefs,
Or wield a mace like me. My mighty mace
Eclipsed the warriors of Mazandaran.
Did naught beside exalt me over all -
There was a dragon haunting the Kashaf
And making earth afoam. It reached from city
To city and from hill to hill, the hearts
Of all were filled with panic: men kept watch
Both night and day. That dragon cleared the sky
Of flying fowl and earth of beast of prey.
It scorched the vulture's feathers with its blast,
Set earth a-blazing where its venom fell,
Dragged from the water gruesome crocodiles,
And swiftly flying eagles from the air.
Men and four-footed beasts ceased from the land
The whole world gave it room. So seeing that none
Dared to lay hand upon it, in God's strength
I banished terror from my heart, girt up
My loins in His exalted name, and rode
Mine elephantine steed. My saddle bore
Mine ox-head mace, upon mine arm I carried
My bow, and at my neck my shield. I went
Forth like a savage crocodile. My hand
Was keen, keen too the dragon's breath, and all
Farewelled me when they saw me wield my mace.
I came. The dragon seemed a lofty mountain
And trailed upon the ground its hairs like lassos.
Its tongue was like a tree-trunk charred, its jaws
Were open and were lying in my path.
Its eyes were like two cisterns full of blood.
It bellowed when it saw me and came on
In fury, seeming all afire, O Shah!
Within. The world 'gan swim before mine eyes,
A black reek went up to the murky clouds,
Earth's surface shook beneath the bellowing,
The venom seemed to be a sea of Chin.
Then like a gallant warrior I roared
Against that dragon, as a lion roareth,
And tarried not, but fitted to my bow
A poplar arrow tipped with adamant
And shot it at the dragon's jaws, to pin
The tongue against the throat; the tongue lolled pinned;
The dragon was astound. Again I shot,
Again I pierced the mouth; the creature writhed.
I shot a third shaft right adown its jaws;
Its heart's blood spouted seething. When it closed
And pressed me hard I took mine ox-head mace
And in the strength of God, the Lord of all,
Urged on mine elephantine steed and smote
The dragon's head: thou wouldst have said that heaven
Rained mountains down thereon. I smashed the skull,
As it had been a mighty elephant's,
And venom poured forth like the river Nile.
So struck I that the dragon rose no more
While earth was levelled to the hills with brains.
Kashaf was flowing like a stream of gall
And all was peace. The mountain-tops were thronged
With folk who called down blessings on my head,
Because that dragon was a fearful bane.
On this account men called me ' One blow' Sam,
And all threw jewels o'er me. I departed
With all my shining body bare of mail;
My charger's armour dropped from him in pieces;
I sickened with the venom many days.
There was no harvest in those parts for years
Nor aught except the ashes of burnt thorns.
To tell my conflict with the divs would make
The letter tedious, but in that and elsewhere
I trampled underfoot the heads of chieftains,
And wheresoe'er I rode my wind-foot charger
I cleared that region of the rending lion.
And now this many a year my saddle's back
Hath been my throne, my charger been mine earth.
My massive mace hath brought beneath thy sway
Mazandaran and all the Kargasars;
I ne'er have asked for field or fell but sought
To make thee both victorious and happy.
My neck and mace-blows are not what they were,
My breast and loins are bent; I used to throw
A lasso sixty cubits long, but now
Am bent by time and have resigned my duties
To Zal, as worthy of my mace and girdle.
Like me he will destroy thy foes and make
My heart glad with his prowess. - He bath come
To ask the Shah to grant his secret longing,
One excellent in God's sight, apart from Whom
There is no excellence. We have not moved
Therein as yet but wait the great king's will,
For slaves must not presume. My lord the Shah,
The guardian of the world, bath surely heard
How once and publicly I promised Zal,
When I was bringing him from Mount Alburz,
Not to refuse him aught, and he hath come,
Besmeared with blood and dust, and bones in bits,
With his request. He said? Twere better far
To hang Amul than fall upon Kabul.'
But when a fowl-fed outcast on the mountains
teeth in Kabulistan so bright a Moon -
A Cypress slim crowned with a rosary -
It is no wonder if he goeth mad,
Nor ought the Shah to visit it upon him.
All pity him, his pangs of love are such!
His many undeserved afflictions borne
Evoked the promise that the Shah hath heard,
And I have sent him with a heavy heart.
When he shall come before thy lofty throne
Do that which is most consonant with greatness;
There is not any need to teach thee wisdom.
Him and him only have I in the world
To share my sorrows or to succour me.
From Sam the son of Nariman be blessings
A thousand fold upon the king of kings
And on the lords."
When all things were prepared
Zal took the letter hastily, arose,
Went forth and mounted mid the blare of trumpets.
A troop of warriors went with him to court
At speed. Thus from Zabulistan went he
While " One blow " Sam enjoyed his rosary.
Hom Mihrab was Wroth with Sindukht
When these events were bruited at Kabul
Mihrab in fury called Sindukht and vented
His rage against Rudaba on his wife.
He said: "The only course for me, since I
Must yield before the monarch of the world,
Is to take thee with thy polluted child
And slay you shamefully and publicly.
Thereat perchance the Shah will be appeased
And earth grow peaceful. Who within Kabul
Would dare to strive with Sam or feel his mace? "
Sindukht sank down before him and considered.
Then having hit on an expedient,
For she was shrewd and subtle, came before
The sunlike king with folded arms and said
"Hear but one word from me, then do thy will.
If thou hast wealth to purchase life bestow it,
And know thou that this night is big with fate.
Yet though night seemeth long 'twill pass, and earth
Be like a signet-ring of Badakhshan."
Mihrab replied? No old wives' tales to warriors!
Say what thou know'st and use all means for life,
Or else array thee in the robe of blood."
She said: "There is no need of that, great king!
But I must go to Sam to draw this sword
And to appeal to him in fitting terms,
For wisdom is the cook when speech is raw.
To labour for our lives is my part, thine
To find the presents and entrust to me
Thy hoarded wealth."
"Here is the key," he said,
"One must not always grieve at spending treasure.
Prepare slaves, horses, thrones, and casques to go.
We yet may save our country from the flames
To shine though faded now."
Sindukht replied :-
"If thou desirest life hold treasure cheap.
While I avert the danger thou must use
No harshness toward my child. My greatest care
Here is her life; give me a pledge for that.
I care not for myself; all my concern
And travail are for her."
She took his pledge,
Then boldly faced the danger, clad herself
All in brocade of gold with pearls and jewels
About her head, and from the treasury took
Three hundred thousand pieces as a largess.
They brought forth thirty steeds of Arab stock
Or Persian with their silvern equipage;
And sixty slaves with golden torques, each bearing
A golden goblet brimmed with camphor, musk,
Gold, turquoises, and jewels of all kinds;
One hundred female camels with red hair,
One hundred baggage-mules; a crown of jewels
Fit for a king, with armlets, torques, and earrings;
A throne of gold like heaven, all inlaid
With divers sorts of gems, the width thereof
Was twenty royal cubits and the height
The stature of a noble horseman; lastly
Four mighty Indian elephants to bring
Bales full of wearing-stuffs and carpeting.
How Sam comforted Sindukht
The treasures having been despatched she mounted
In warrior-guise, swift as a lightning-flash,
Assumed a Ruman helm and rode a steed
As swift as wind, approached Sam's court unknown
And bade the officers announce her thus:-
"An envoy from Kabul hath come to seek
The mighty chief, the hero of Zabul,
Charged with a message from Mihrab to Sam,
The winner of the world."
Went to tell Sam, who granted audience.
Sindukht dismounted, basted to the chief
And kissed the ground, with praises of the Shah
And of the chief of paladins. The largess,
The slaves, the horses, and the elephants
Stretched from the gate two miles. She offered all
To Sam, who sat there dazed, like one bemused,
With folded arms and drooping head. He thought:-
"Come female envoys from so rich a country?
If I accept the Shah will be displeased;
If I decline then Zal will be chagrined
And flap his wings about like the Simurgh."
He raised his head and said: "As for these goods,
These slaves and elephants caparisoned,
Go give them to Zal's treasurer as presents
Sent by the Beauty of Kabulistan."
Then fairy-faced Sindukht essayed to speak,
Rejoicing that her offerings were accepted
And all had ended well. Three of her handmaids,
With idol-faces, tall as cypresses
And fair as jasmine, bearing each a goblet
Which brimmed with pearls and rubies, poured them out
In one promiscuous shower before the chieftain.
This done and strangers gone she said to Sam :-
"Thy counsel maketh old folk young. Thou teachest
The mighty wisdom, who through thee illume
The world. Thou bast sealed up the hand of ill
And opened with thy mace the way of God.
Mihrab, if any, was to blame, and he
Is weeping blood. What have our people done
That thou must raze Kabul? They only live
To do thy hest - slaves of the very dust
Upon thy feet. Fear Him who hath cieated
Both mind and might, bright Venus and the Sun.
He would not countenance such acts from thee:
Gird not thy loins for bloodshed."
"Come tell me what I ask and palter not.
Art thou the slave or consort of Mihrab,
Whose daughter Zal bath seen? Tell me that I
May judge her worthiness, her mind and temper,
Her face, hair, stature, looks, and understanding -
Whatever thou bast noted tell me all."
Sindukht replied to him? O paladin,
The chief of paladins, the warriors' stay!
First swear an oath whereat the land shall quake
That thou wilt never injure me or mine.
I have a palace, wealth, and mighty kindred.
First reassure me and I will reply
In hope to win thy favour, and will send
Our hoarded treasures to Zabul."
Her hand and took the oath, on hearing which,
And marking that his speech and pledge were frank,
She kissed the ground, then rose and told him all
"My race is from Zahhak, O paladin!
Spouse to Mihrab, that ardent warrior,
Am I, and mother of moon-faced Rudaba,
Of her o'er whom Zal poureth out his soul.
W e and our kin before all-holy God
Bless all night long the Shah, and thee, and Zal.
I come to know thy will, and how thou boldest
Us in Kabul. If we be bad by race
And sinners all unfit for rule, behold!
I stand before thee sorrowing. Slay thou
Who should be slain and bind who should be bound,
But as for all the guiltless of Kabul
Burla not their "hearts nor turn their days to darkness."
The paladin on hearing saw in her
A woman of counsel and of ardent soul,
With cheeks like spring, in height a cypress-tree,
With reed-like waist and pheasant's gait. He said
"My pledge shall hold although it cost my life.
Live, safely and rejoicing at Kabul
With all thy kindred. I assent that Zal
Shall wed Rudaba. Though our race is other
Than yours, yet ye deserve the crown and throne;
The world so waggeth and no shame to us;
We cannot strive against the Almighty Maker,
Who doth whate'er He willeth in such wise
That we are ever crying out: 'Ah me!'
One is exalted and another humbled,
And while one fareth well another quaketh.
The heart of one is furnished by his increase,
Another's minished by his poverty,
But, after all the end of both is dust -
The element that slayeth every race.
I will exert myself on thy behalf
Because of thine appeal and bitter cry,
Ancl have already written to the Shah
A litter with the plaint of one in pain,
Ancl Zal hath gone with it. Hath gone! nay rather
Hath flown! He saw no saddle when he mounted,
Ancl then his roadster's hoofs saw not the ground
ThE, Shah will smile and give a gracious answer,
For, this bird's fosterling is out of heart;
He standeth in the mire.made by his tears,
And if his sweetheart is as fond as he is.
Their skins will never hold them. Prithee now
Let, me behold the Dragon's child, just once,
On thine own terms. The sight may weigh with me
If both her looks and locks commend themselves."
She answered? If the paladin will gladden
His slave, let him vouchsafe to visit her
Her head will reach high heaven. If to Kabul
We bring a king like thee, we will present
Our lives as offerings."
She saw his smiles
And that all hate was rooted from his heart
As he replied? Be not concerned; this matter
Will shortly turn out to thy wish."
Then asking leave withdrew, and went away
In full content, her cheeks like gems for joy.
She sent a lusty courier like wind
To tell Mihrab: "Be easy in thy mind,
Rejoice and make thee ready for a guest.
I follow quickly."
Next day, when the sun
Shot up and heads awoke from drowsiness,
Saluted as the Moon of noble dames,
Sindukht proceeded to the court of Sam.,
Did him obeisance, spake with him at large,
And asked permission to go home rejoicing
To tell Mihrab about the new-made league,
And get all ready to receive their guest.
Sam said: "Depart and tell him everything."
They chose choice gifts for her and for Mihrab,
And for Rudaba too - that lovesome maid.
Sam gave Sindukht withal all that was his
Within Kabul of palaces and gardens,
Of tilth, milch cattle, carpets and apparel,
Then took her hand, re-swore his oath and said:-
"Be happy at Kabul, and fear no foe."
With favouring stars the pale Moon's face again
Grew bright, and she went homeward with her train.
How Zal came to Minuchihr with Sam's Letter
Now hearken how Zal fared with Minuchihr -
That favourite of fortune. News arrived :-
"Zal, son of Sam the cavalier, bath come."
The nobles went to welcome him. On reaching
The court he had an audience and did homage,
Remaining with his face upon the ground.
The kind Shah's heart was won; he bade to purge
Zal's face of dust and sprinkle him with musk,
And, when the well-beloved approached the throne,
Inquired: "How didst thou fare mid wind and dust
On thy hard journey, child of paladins? "
Zal answered? Through thy Grace 'twas more
"Thou turnest every trouble to delight."
The Shah then took Sam's letter, read and smiled.
"Thou bast increased an ancient grief of mine,"
He said, " yet for thy father's touching letter,
Which ancient Sam bath written in his trouble,
Although the matter bath much grieved my heart,
I am resolved to think of it no more,
And will perform and carry out thy wish,
Since that is all to thee; but tarry here
While I deliberate on thine affairs."
The cooks brought in a service all of gold
Whereat the king of kings sat down with Zal,
And ordered all the chieftains to partake
The feast. The eating done, they served the wine
Within another throne-room, and that over
Zal mounted on his charger with gold trappings,
And so departing passed the livelong night
With much to think and talk about. At dawn
He came with girded loins to Minuchihr
Of glorious Grace, who gave him salutation
And praised him privily when he had gone.
The Shah commanded that the archimages,
The nobles, wise men, and astrologers,
Should meet at his high throne and read the stars.
They met and laboured for three days and then
Announced: "We have perused the circling sky,
And this is what the stars prognosticate :-
No stagnant pool is here. There will arise
From Sam's son and the daughter of Mihrab
A hero full of prowess and fair fame.
His life will be prolonged for centuries;
He will have strength, renown, and Grace, pluck, brains,
And thews, and not a peer in fight or feast.
Where'er his charger's coat shall run with sweat
The liver of his foemen shall run dry.
The eagle will not soar above his helm;
Naught will he reek of chiefs and men of name.
He will be tall in stature, great in might,
Will take the lion with his twisted lasso,
Will roast whole onagers upon the fire,
Will make the air weep with his scimitar,
Will be the belted servant of the Shahs
And shelter of the horsemen of Iran.'"
Then said the exalted Shah: "Beware that ye
Disclose to none what ye have told to me."
How the Archmages questioned Zal
The Shah called Zal to prove him by hard questions.
The shrewd archmages and the men of lore
Sat in full conclave, and examined him
On many matters veiled in mystery.
One asked that man of insight, wit, and knowledge:-
"What are the dozen cypresses erect
In all their bravery and loveliness,
Each one of them with thirty boughs bedeckt -
In Persia never more and never less? "
The second said: "O noble youth! explain -
What are those two steeds moving rapidly
As crystal bright is this one of the twain
And that one sable as a pitchy sea;
They gallop at their utmost speed and strain
Each one to catch the other, but in vain? "
The third said thus? What are the thirty men
Who ride before their king in order meet
And seem but twenty-nine to thee - , but when
Thou countest them their number is complete? "
The fourth inquired: "What is the meadow-land,
Where streams abound and herbage groweth strong,
To which a fierce man cometh, in whose hand
There is a scythe, a sharp one and a long
He cutteth all the grass both green and dry,
And if thou criest heareth not thy cry? "
"What are those cypresses - a lofty pair -
Like reeds above a sea whose waters heave,"
Another asked, "and what bird nesteth there
On this at morning, and on that at eve?
The bird departeth and the leaves turn pale,
The bird arriveth and they musk exhale.
In all their verdure both are never seen
together, but one sere, the other green."
the sixth said: "On a mountain I descried
A city that was strongly fortified.
The citizens, those men exceeding wise,
Preferred thereto a thornbrake on the waste;
And there as monarchs or as subjects placed
A town with buildings lifted to the skies.
The memory of the city now hath gone,
'Tis not accounted of by any one;
But some day suddenly the earth will quake,
The country vanish from the sight of men,
Remembrance of the city will awake,
And long regret possess the citizen.
Now look behind the veil, explore the words,
And if thou canst the secret sense unfold,
Declare it here in presence of the lords,
And make the purest musk from grimy mould."
How Zal answered the Archimages
Zal for a while remained absorbed in thought,
Then shook his plumage, spread his wings, and answered:-
"First as to those twelve cypresses which rear
Themselves, with thirty boughs upon each tree
They are the twelve new moons of every year,
Like new-made monarchs, throned in majesty.
Upon the thirtieth day its course is done
For each; thus our revolving periods run.
Thou speakest of two chargers, black and white,
Which like Azargashasp go flashing by
hese too are periods, and in their flight
Pursue each other unremittingly.
The two that pass along are night and day,
The pulses of the sky are reckoned so;
They never catch each other as they go,
But follow as a hound pursueth prey.
Again, thou askest of the thirty men
That ride before their king in order meet,
And seem to thee as twenty-nine, but when
Thou countest them their number is complete.
They are the phases of the moon; one night
A phase from time to time eludeth sight.
Unsheathe we now the hidden sense expressed
By two tall cypresses, a bird and nest.
The darker limb of heaven is opposed
With Aries to Libra in the height;
Thence till the reign of Pisces hath been closed
The ascendant limb is that of gloom and night.
Each lofty cypress-tree denoteth one
Of these two limbs which cause our smiles and tears,
The bird which flieth 'twixt them is the sun -
Occasion to the world of hopes and fears.'
Again, the city built upon the mount
Is our long home, the scene of our account.
This Wayside Inn is meant by Thornbrake town,
At once our pleasure, treasure, pain and woe
It reckoneth each breath drawn here below
And both exalteth us and casteth down.
A storm ariseth, earth's foundations quake,
Extorting from the world a bitter cry;
We leave our toils behind us in the brake
And seek the city that is built on high.
Where we have toiled another hath the gain,
But not for ever: he will not remain.
'Twas always so; to look for change is vain.
If our provision be an honoured name
Our souls will be on that account held dear,
But if we do the deeds of greed and shame
That will, when we have breathed our last, appear.
Albeit we have raised to Saturn here
Our mansion we shall have a shroud instead,
No more. The dust and bricks close o'er our head
And all is consternation, awe, and fear.
As for the meadow-land, and him whose keen
Scythe is a terror both to green and dry,
Who cutteth all alike, both dry and green,
And if thou criest heareth not thy cry -
Time is the mower; we are like the swath;
The grandsire and the grandson are the same
To him, not making young or old his aim,
But chasing each that cometh in his path.
The use and process of. the world are so
No mother's son is born unless for death.
By this door we arrive, by that we go,
And time meanwhile accounteth every breath."
How Zal displayed his Accomplishment before Minuchihr
When Zal had thus expounded all the riddles
The company both wondered and rejoiced,
While Minuchihr, glad-hearted, cried? Well done!"
He had forthwith a banquet-hall prepared,
As 'twere the moon at full, and there they quaffed
Wine till the night fell, and the revellers' heads
Became bemused. Then at the portal rose
Shouts for the steeds, and glorious in their cups
The warriors grasped bands and went their ways.
Now when the sunshine struck the mountain-tops
And when the chiefs awoke, Zal, ready-girt
And lion-like, approached the royal presence
For leave to hie him home, and thus he said:-
"My gracious lord! I long to see Sam's face.
Since I have kissed the footings of thy throne
Of ivory thy Grace and crown illume
The Shah said: "Youthful warrior!
Thou must bestow upon us still one day.
Thou yearnest for the daughter of Mihrab
And not for Stim."
He bade to carry gongs
With Indian bells and clarions to the ground,
And all the warriors went forth rejoicing
With lances, maces, and artillery.
They took their bows and poplar shafts and let
A mark stand for the foe. They wheeled and showed
Their horsemanship with mace, sword,' shaft, and lance,
While from a height the Shah, seen or unseen
By them, observed their skill, but never saw
Or heard of horsemanship like Zal's. There stood
Upon the ground an ancient tree. Zal took
His bow, urged on his steed, and raised his name
By striking that tall tree and piercing it
Full in the centre with the royal shaft.
Then certain of the javelin-men took bucklers
And exercised with double-headed darts.
Zal bade his Turkman slave bring shields of hide,
Drew himself up and urged his steed along,
Then dropped his bow, took his own javelin
And made new sport. He struck and pierced three shields
And flung them to one side in high disdain.
The Shah said to the chiefs? What mighty man
Will challenge him to prove his weight in combat?
He hath knocked dust out of two-headed darts
Then the warriors donned their mail
With wrathful hearts and curses on their tongues.
They pricked forth to the combat bearing spears
With heads of tempered steel. Zal urged his steed,
Made the dust fly, and, when the battle joined,
Selected from the rest a cavalier
Of fame and high estate at whom he charged.
The warrior turned and fled. Zal, leopard-like,
Emerging from the dust, seized on his belt
And took him from his saddle with such ease
That both the Shah and army were astound,
The chiefs exclaiming? None will see his peer."
The Shah said: "May he ever be thus ardent.
The mother of the man that dareth him
To battle will wear mourning for her son.
The lionesses .bear not one so brave,
So brave . . . he must be classed with crocodiles!
And Sam is blessed indeed to leave the world
Such a memorial."
He praised the youth,
As did the famous warriors. Then they went,
With girded loins and casques upon their heads,
Toward the palace where the Shah prepared
A robe of honour that astonished all
The chieftains, with a precious crown and throne
Of gold, with armlets, torques, and golden girdles,
Rich robes, slaves, steeds, and other things of worth,
And gave the whole to Zal, who kissed the earth.
Minuchihr's Answer to Sam's Letter
The Shah then wrote a very gracious letter
To Sam: "Renowned and valiant paladin,
In all emprise victorious like a lion,
And peerless in the sight of turning heaven
For feast, for fight, for counsel and for favour!
That glorious son of thine - brave Zal - at whom
The lion is aghast in battle-tide,
The brave accomplished warrior and horseman
Of lasting fame, hath come, and I, on learning
Thy wishes and his longings, granted him
All his desires, and count upon his having
A long and glorious life. Should leopard-hunters
Have other issue than the strong-clawed lion? "
Exalted o'er the rest and in high favour
Zal sent to Sarn to say? I left the Shah
With all that I could wish - a royal robe
Of honour, crowns, torques, armlets, and a throne
Of ivory, and am coming with all speed,
My loving, glorious sire! "
Sam gladdened so
That his hour head grew young. He hurried off
A horseman to Kabul to tell Mihrab
The kindness of the Shah which had produced
Such joy, and added? After Zal's return
We will set out to pay thee our respects."
The messenger sped forth. Mihrab on hearing
So joyed to make Kabul's Sun his affine
That through his joy the dead returned to life
And aged heads grew young. They summoned minstrels,
And one had said that all poured out their souls.
With smiling lips and joyful heart he called
High-born Sindukht and beaming said to her:-
"My consort, whose advice is prosperous
Thy counsel bath illumed our gloomy dwelling.
Thou hast laid hand upon a sprout whereto
The monarchs of the world will do obeisance.
Since thou hast ordered matters from the first
Thine be it also to accomplish them.
My treasury is all at thy disposal
For what is needed - throne, or crown, or wealth."
Sindukht on this withdrew and gave her daughter
The news, and joyful hopes of seeing Zal.
She said: "Thy choice of partner is most fit,
And men and women, howsoever strict,
Will see good cause to let their strictures cease.
Thou hast sped quickly to thy heart's desire."
Rudaba answered? Consort of the king!
Thou meritest the praise of every one.
I make the dust upon thy feet my pillow,
And order my religion by thy teaching.
May eyes of Ahrimans be far from thee,
And be thy heart and soul the house of feasting."
Sindukht on hearing this bedecked the palace,
Arrayed the hall like jocund Paradise,
Mixed wine and musk and ambergris and spread
Gold-broidered carpets, some inwoven with emeralds
And others patterned out in lustrous pearls;
Each several pearl was like a water-drop.
She placed a golden throne within the hall,
So do they use in Chin. The tracery
Was all of gems with carvings interspersed,
The feet were jewelled : 'twas a royal throne
And very splendid. She arrayed Rudaba
Like Paradise, wrote on her many a charm
And seated her, allowing none to enter
Within that chamber arabesqued with gold.
Kabulistan was dight in festal trim,
All colour, scent, and wealth. They housed the backs
Of the elephants with rich brocade of Rum
And seated on them minstrels wearing crowns.
All was prepared for welcoming the guests
And all the slaves were summoned to strew musk
And spicery, to put down furs and silks,
To fling down gold and musk, and sprinkle round
Wine and rose-water on the dusty ground.
How Zal came to Sam
Zal sped like bird on wing or ship at sea
And all that heard of his approach went out
To welcome him with joy. The palace rang
With shouts? Zal hath succeeded and returned."
Sam met him joyfully and held him close
Embraced. When Zal had disengaged himself
He kissed the ground and told his news. Anon
Sam, seated on his splendid throne with Zal,
Blithe-hearted and in great content, began
To tell about the matter of Sindukht,
And kept his countenance? A woman named
Sindukht brought me a message from Kabul,
And made me promise not to be her foe.
I granted all that she was pleased to ask -
First that the future monarch of Zabul
Shall have the Beauty of Kabul to wife,
And next that we will go and be her guests
To heal all sores. Now she hath sent to say:-
'All things are ready, scented and adorned.'
What answer shall we send high-born Mihrab?"
Then Zal blushed ruby-red from head to foot
With sudden joy, and said: "O paladin
If it seem good to thee send on the troops
And let us follow and discuss the matter."
Sam smiled at Zal, aware of his desire,
For he could talk of nothing but Rudaba,
And got no sleep at nights for thinking of her.
SAm bade to sound the gongs and Indian bells
And have prepared the royal tent-enclosure.
He sent a cameleer, a valiant man,
To advertise the lion-like Mihrab :-
"The chieftain is upon his way with Zal
And elephants and troops escorting them."
He went with speed and told Mihrab, who joyed;
His cheeks grew ruddy as the cercis-bloom.
He sounded trumpets, mounted kettledrums,
And furnished forth his army like the eye
Of chanticleer. Huge elephants and minstrels
Made earth a Paradise from end to end.
What with the many flags of painted silk
Of divers colours, sound of pipes and harps,
The blast of trumpets and the din of gongs,
One would have said: "It is a festival,
The Resurrection or the Last Great Day."
Thus went Mihrab till he encountered Sam,
He then dismounted and approached on foot.
That paladin of paladins embraced him
And asked if all were well. Mihrab began
To compliment both Sam and Zal, then like
The new moon rising o'er the mountain-tops
He mounted his fleet steed and set a crown
Of gold and jewels on the head of Zal.
Conversing of the past they reached Kabul.
What with the clang of Indian bells, the sounds
Of lyre and harp and pipe, one would have said:-
"The roofs and doors make music. Times are changed? "
The horses' manes and forelocks ran with saffron
And musk. Then with three hundred female slaves
With girded loins, each with a cup of gold
Which brimmed with musk and gems, Sindukht approached,
And all blessed Sam and showered forth the jewels.
Each person present on that happy day
Had treasure to the full. Sam smiled and asked:-
How How long wilt thou conceal Rudaba thus? "
Sindukht replied? If thou wouldst see the Sun
What is my fee?"
Sam answered? What thou wilt
My treasures, crown, throne, country - all are thine."
They sought the chamber arabesqued with gold,
Where all was jocund Spring, and Sam, entranced,
Struck dumb, and dazzled, viewed the moon-faced maid.
At last he said to Zal: "Thou lucky youth
God greatly helped thee when this glorious Sun
Set her affections on thy face. Thy Choice
Is choice indeed!"
By Sam's desire Mihrab
Approached to execute the legal contract.
They placed the happy couple on one throne
And scattered emeralds and carnelians.
Her coronet was wrought of gold and his
Of royal gems. Mihrab produced and read
The inventory of his daughter's dowry
Till one had cried? 'Tis more than car can hear."
Sam was confounded when he realised
The treasures, and invoked the name of God.
Then hall and city revelled for a week,
The palace was a Paradise in raptures,
And neither Zal nor coral-tipped Rudaba
Slept for a sennight either day or night;
Then going to the palace from the hall
They spent three weeks in joy, while all the nobles
With armlets on stood ranked outside. One month
Elapsed and Sam departed to Sistan.
Zal spent a happy week in getting ready
Steeds, howdahs, litters; for Rudaba's use
A curtained couch. Sindukht, Mihrab, and all
Their kin set oft' first for Sistan, glad-hearted,
With minds at ease and lips all praise to God,
Who giveth good, and there arrived triumphant,
Illuminating earth with joy and laughter.
Sam had a feast prepared. Three days were spent
In revelling, then while Sindukht remained
Mihrab returned attended to Kabul,
While Sam gave up the realm to Zal and led
His army westward 'gainst the Kargasars,
With flaunting flag and favouring auguries.
"I go," said he, " because those fields are mine,
Though not men's hearts and eyes. I have the patent
From Minuchihr. ' Have and enjoy,' he said.
I fear me that the miscreants will rebel,
The divs above all of Mazanda.ran.
I give to thee, O Zal! this state, this realm,
And glorious crown."
Sam of the single blow
Departed, leaving Zal upon the throne,
A happy husband holding festivals,
And when Rudaba sat beside her spouse
He placed a crown of gold upon her brows.
The Story of the Birth of Rustam
Ere long the noble Cypress was in bearing,
Delightsome Spring grew sere, her heart was sad,
She wept blood for the burden that she bore.
Gone was her cercis-bloom, her cheeks were saffron.
Sindukht said unto her? Life of thy mother!
Why hast thou grown so wan? "
"By night and day I cry for help. I lie
Sleepless and withered like a living corpse.
My time hath come but not deliverance."
Until that came she lacked both rest and sleep.
One would have said? Her skin is stuffed with stones
Or iron." Now one day she swooned, and shrieks
Rose from the halls of Zal. Sindukht bewailed,
Plucked out her raven tresses musk-perfumed
And tore her face. Then one announced to Zal :-
"The leaves have withered on thy lofty Cypress,"
And he with tearful cheeks and stricken heart
Approached the couch whereon Rudaba lay.
The female slaves were tearing out their hair
Unveiled with tearful faces. Then occurred
A thought to Zal which eased him of his anguish -
The plume of the Simurgh. He smiling told
Sindukht, then brought a censer, kindled fire
And burnt some of the plume. The air grew dark
And that imperious bird swooped down - a Cloud
Whose drops were pearls . . . pearls, say I, rather peace.
Zal did obeisance long and praised her much.
She thus addressed him? Wherefore is this grief,
This moisture in the mighty Lion's eye?
From this moon-faced and silver-bosomed Cypress
Will come a noble babe. The mighty lion
Will kiss the dust upon his feet. No cloud
Will dare to pass above him. When he shouteth
The pard will split its skin and gnaw its paws.
The warriors that see his whizzing mace,
His chest, his arms and neck, will hear his voice
With quaking hearts, steel-eaters though they be
And gallant fighters; for this child will prove
In counsels and in rede a weighty Sam,
In height a cypress-tree, in wrath a lion,
In strength an elephant, and fillip bricks
Two miles. His birth will not be natural,
So willeth He who giveth good. Bring thou
A blue-steel dagger, seek a cunning man,
Bemuse the lady first with wine to ease
Her pain and fear, then let him ply his craft
And take the Lion from its lair by piercing
Her waist while all unconscious, thus imbruing
Her side in blood, and then stitch up the gash.
Put trouble, care, and fear aside, and bruise
With milk and musk a herb that I will show thee
And dry them in the shade. Dress and anoint
Rudaba's wound and watch her come to life.
Rub o'er the wound my plume, its gracious shade
Will prove a blessing. Let this gladden thee.
Then go before the Lord who hath bestowed
This royal Tree which ever blossometh
Good fortune. Be not troubled for this matter,
Because thy fertile Bough will yield thee fruit."
She spake, and plucking from her wing a plume
Dropped it and flew aloft. Zal, picked it up
And did, O marvel! as the bird had said, ,
While every one looked on amazedly
With wounded spirit and with bloodshot eyes.
Sindukht wept tears of blood in torrents, asking:-
How How shall the infant come forth through the side?"
There came an archimage, one deft of hand,
Who made the moon-faced dame bemused with wine,
Then pierced her side while she was all unconscious,
And having turned the infant's head aright
Delivered her uninjured. None had seen
A thing so strange. The babe was like a lion,
A hero tall and fair to look upon.
Both men and women wondered at him, none
Had heard of such an elephantine child.
A day and night the mother lay asleep,
Bemused, unconscious. They the while sewed up
The wound and eased the anguish with the dressing.
When she awoke and whispered to Sindukht
They showered gold and jewels over her
And praised the Almighty. Then they brought the babe
To her, extolling him as heavenly.
The first day thou hadst called him twelve months old -
A very heap of lilies mixed with tulips.
The lofty Cypress smiled upon the babe,
Perceived in him the Grace of king of kings,
And, " I am magnified," she said, "and grief
So they named the infant "Rustam."
They made of silk a herolet the size
Of that unsuckled Lion, stuffing it
With sable's hair and limning Sol and Venus
Upon the cheeks, with dragons on the arms,
And on the hands a lion's claws. Beneath
The arm there was a spear, mace in one hand
And bridle in the other. They set the puppet
Upon a chestnut horse with great attendance.
This done they sent on first a cameleer
Apace, showered drachms on those who were in charge,
And took the puppet mace in hand to Sam.
In all the country round they held high revel,
The desert was supplied with pipe and wine.
Inside Kabul Mihrab enjoyed the tidings
And showered dinars upon the mendicants,
While in Zabul the revellers sat together
Without distinction as to high and low,
But mixed like warp and woof.
They brought the puppet
To Sam the cavalier, who looked thereon,
Grew glad and well content. That hero's hair
Stood up on end. " This silken thing," said he,
"Is just like me. If he is half this size
His head will touch the sky, his skirt the ground."
He called the messenger and poured drachms o'er him
Until the heap was level with his head.
The drums beat in the court for joy, Sam decked
The champaign like the eye of chanticleer
And bade adorn the land of the Sagsars
And all Mazandarin. He had wine brought,
Called minstrels and showered drachms on mendicants.
A week passed and the famous chieftain wrote
A letter like the meads of Paradise
To Zal. He offered praises first to God
That matters had turned out so happily,
Praised Zal the lord of mace and scimitar,
Then coming to the effigy of silk,
Which had a hero's neck and Grace of kings,
Enjoined? So cherish him that not a breath
May hurt him. I have prayed by day and night
In secret to Almighty God to show me
A son born of thy seed and of my type.
Now that the backs of both of us are straightened
We only need to pray that we may live."
Came like a rushing wind the messenger
To Zal of ardent and exulting heart,
Told him of Sam's delight and gave the letter.
As soon as Zal had heard those pleasant words,
Which caused the clear-brained hero added joy,
He raised his neck to touch the azure sky.
Thus went the world with Zal and showed its purpose.
Ten nurses suckled Rustam, for from milk
Are strength and constitution. Being weaned
He lived on bread and flesh. He ate as much
As five, and people turned from such repasts.
When Rustam had attained the height of eight
And grown a noble Cypress or bright Star -
A Star whereat the world was all agaze -
Thou wouldst have said? Tis valiant Sam indeed
In stature, wisdom, countenance, and rede."
How Sam came to see Rustam
Sam heard? The son of Zal is like a lion,
None ever saw a child so fierce and stalwart."
His heart was stirred in him, and he resolved
Himself to see the boy. He left in charge
The captain of the host and went with escort,
Drawn by his love, toward Zabulistan.
Then earth grew ebon, for Zal heard the news,
Bound on the drums and went with brave Mihrab
To welcome Sam. When Zal had dropped the ball
Shouts of departure rose on every side.
The mass of men stretched out from hill to hill,
With buckler after buckler red and yellow.
Then trumpeted the elephant and neighed
The Arab steed, five miles that din resounded.
They had one mighty elephant caparisoned
And furnished with a golden throne, whereon
The son of Zal sat with his cypress-form,
And what a neck and shoulders! crowned and girt,
With bow and shafts in hand, and shield before him.
Sam saw and ranked his troops upon each side.
Mihrab and Sam dismounted, and the elders
Fell prostrate, calling blessings down on Sam,
Whose face bloomed like a rose. With gladdened heart
He smiled to see the child so strongly built -
A lion's whelp upon an elephant.
He had them brought just as they were, surveyed
The boy thus crowned and throned, and blessed him, saying :-
Live Live long and happily, thou matchless Lion."
Then Rustam kissed Sam's throne and, wonderful
To tell! saluted him in this new fashion:-
"Great paladin! rejoice. I am thine offshoot
Be thou my root. The slave of Sam am I,
But am not one for banquet, dream, and ease,
I would have steed and saddle, mail and helm,
Despatch my compliments by bolt and arrow,
And by God's bidding trample on foes' heads.
My face is like to thine, so be my courage."
He lighted. Sam the chieftain grasped his hand
And kissed his head and eyes. Meanwhile the tymbals
And elephants were still. Then full of glee
And talk they all betook them to the palace
And revelled merrily on golden seats,
Thus resting for a month with harp and song.
Upon the throne there sat victorious Sam,
An eagle's feather drooping from his crown,
Flanked by his son and Rustam mace in hand,
On whom the grandsire gazed amazedly,
Invoked o'er him the name of God and thought:-
"With such a neck and arms, such thews and shoulders,
Such reed-like waist, such ample chest and breast,
Such thighs like those of mighty dromedaries,
Such lion's heart and lion-tiger might,
Such goodly features, neck, and Grace, he hath
No peer on earth," then said to Zal? Although
Thou question back a hundred generations,
No one would know of babe delivered thus.
How could they do the thing successfully?
A thousand times may that Simurgh be blest
To whom God showed the way. Now let us revel
And put to flight with wine the soul of care,
For this world is a caravanserai,
Old guests depart and new ones take their places."
They put the wine about and grew bemused,
They drank the chieftain's health, then that of Zal.
Mihrab kept quaffing till he thought himself
The one man of the world. " I do not care
For Zal or Sam," he said, "Shah, crown, or Grace.
I, Rustam, and my steed Shabdiz, and sword . . .
No cloud will dare to overshadow us.
I will revive the customs of Zahhak,
And make the dust beneath my feet pure musk.
And now to find him arms."
He spake in jest,
And Zal and Sam were merry at his words.
Sam, when the month was o'er, one day at dawn
Returned to his own throne. He said to Zal :-
"My son! be just and loyal to the Shahs,
Preferring wisdom over wealth, refraining
Thy hands from evil all thy years, and seeking
God's way from day to day. Know that in public
And private also 'tis the one thing needful
Because the world will not abide with any.
Observe my redo and walk in righteous ways.
My heart forebodeth that my time hath come."
He bade his children both farewell and said:-
Forget Forget not mine advice."
Then in the palace
The bells rang out, and on the elephants
The clarions blared, as with his gentle tongue
And kindly heart Sam journeyed toward the west.
His children bore him company three stages
With minds instructed and with tearful cheeks,
Then Sam went on while Zal marched to Sistan
And there in lion Rustam's company
Spent day and night in bout and revelry.
How Rustam slew the White Elephant
It came to pass that as they spent a day
In revel in a garden with their friends,
While harp-strings ran the gamut of sweet sounds
And all the chiefs were one in merriment,
They quaffed red wine from crystal cups until
Their heads were dazed, and then Zal bade his son:-
"My child of sun-like Grace! make ready robes
Of honour for thy warriors, and steeds
For those of high degree."
So Rustam gave
Gold, many Arab steeds caparisoned
And other gifts, and all went richer home.
Zal, as his wont was, sought the bower, while Rustam
Reeled to his chamber, laid him down and slept.
Shouts rose outside his door? The chief's white elephant
Hath broken loose, and folk are in its danger!"
He heard, and urged by hardihood ran forth,
Snatched up Sam's mace and made toward the street.
The keepers of the gate opposed him, saying:-
"We fear the chieftain, 'tis a darksome night,
The elephant is loose! Who can approve
Thy going forth? "
Wroth at the speaker's words
The matchless Rustam smote him on the nape
His head rolled from him. Rustam turned toward
The others but they fled the paladin,
Who boldly went up to the gate and smashed
The chains and bolts with blows that well befitted
One of such noble name, went forth like wind
With shouldered mace excitedly, approached
The mighty beast and roared out like the sea.
He looked and saw a Mountain bellowing,
The ground beneath it like a boiling pot,
Saw his own nobles fleeing in dismay,
Like sheep that spy a wolf, roared.like a lion
And went courageously against the beast,
Which seeing him charged at him like a mountain
And reared its trunk to strike, but Rustam dealt it
A mace-blow on the head; the mountain-form
Stooped; Mount Bistun shook to its core and tumbled
Atone blow vile and strengthless. Thus it fell,
That bellowing elephant, while matchless Rustam
Went lightly to his place again and slept.
Now when the sun ascended from the east,
Bright as the cheeks of those who ravish hearts,
Zal heard of Rustam's deeds, how he had knocked
The dust out of the roaring elephant,
Had with a single mace-blow broken its neck
And cast its body to the ground. He cried:-
"Woe for that mighty elephant, which used
To bellow like the dark blue sea! How often
Hath that strong beast charged and o'erthrown a host,
Yet conquer howsoe'er it might in battle
My son hath bested it! "
He summoned Rustam,
Kissed him upon his head and hands and neck,
And said: "O lion's whelp! thy claws have grown
And thou art brave indeed! Youth as thou art
Thou hast no peer in stature, Grace, and valour;
So ere thy spreading fame shall thwart throe action
Take vengeance for the blood of Nariman.
Speed forth to Mount Sipand where thou wilt see
A cloud-capt stronghold four leagues square, whereover
The eagle hath not soared. 'Tis full of herbage
And water, gold and money, men and beasts.
Both trees and husbandmen abound there; none
Hath seen a place like that. The All-Provider
Hath furnished workmen of all sorts, and fruit-trees.
There is but one approach; 'tis through a gate
As high as heaven, and Nariman, who bore
The ball from all the chiefs, approached the stronghold
By order of Shah Faridun and held
The road. The siege went on both night and day
With stratagems and spells above a year,
Until the foe hurled down a rock and earth
Possessed the paladin no more. The host
Retreated to the Shah. When Sam was told:-
The valiant Lion hath had fight enough,'
He wailed with growing grief, and having mourned
A week in anguish called the host together.
He marched against that hold with troops that covered
The waste and desert, and for months and years
Beleaguered it in vain. None issued forth
And none went in, but though the gate was shut
So long the foe lacked not a stalk of hay,
And Sam forewent his vengeance in despair.
Now is the time, my son! for artifice.
Go with a caravan in merry pin,
So that the watchmen may not find thee out,
And when thou occupiest Mount Sipand
Destroy those evil-doers, root and stem.
Since thou art yet unknown thou mayst succeed."
Then Rustam answered? I will do thy bidding
And soon provide a physic for the ache."
Said Zal to him? My prudent son! give ear.
Don camel-drivers' clothes and from the plain
Fetch camels to make up a caravan.
Disguise thyself and carry naught but salt,
For that is precious there. The folk know nothing
Of greater value. Though the castle towereth
Above its gate they have no salt to eat,
So all will run to greet thee when they see
Loads of it coming unexpectedly."
How Rustam event to Mount Sipand
Then Rustam made him ready for the fray,
Concealed his mace within a load of salt
And took some wise and valiant men withal.
He hid the arms within the camels' loads
And merry at the artifice sped on
To Mount Sipand. When he arrived the watchman
Saw him and hastened to the castellan.
"A caravan," he said, "with many drivers
Hath come, and if my lord doth ask their business,
To me it seemeth that they carry salt."
The chief sent one in haste to learn their loading,
Who went like dust to Rustam and inquired :-
"O master of the caravan! inform me
What merchandise is hidden in thy packs,
That I may go and tell the castellan
And take his orders."
Rustam answered him:-
Go Go to the noble castellan and say
They carry salt.'"
The messenger returned
And said: "They carry salt alone, my lord!"
The chief rose, glad and smiling, bade his men
Unbar the gate and let the strangers in.
So battle-loving Rustam with his folk
Approached the gate whence people hurried out
To welcome him. He kissed the ground before
The chieftain, paid him many compliments,
Gave him much salt and spake fair words all round.
The chieftain said to Rustam: "Live for ever.
Be as the sun and as the shining moon.
I both accept and thank thee, worthy youth! "
Young Rustam entered the bazar and took
His caravan. The people flocked about him;
One gave a robe, another gold and silver,
And chaffered with him unsuspectingly.
At night brave Rustam and his warriors,
Armed for the fray, made for the castellan,
Who strove against them, but the Matchless one
Struck him a mace-blow on the head, and buried
His head and crown in dust. The tidings spread,
The people hastened to oppose the foe,
Night gloomed, blades flashed, and earth was like the ruby.
What with the mellay and the waves of blood
One would have said: "A sunset sky hath fallen."
The peerless Rustam with his lasso, mace,
And sword destroyed the gallant foe; and when
The sun unveiled itself, and held the world
From earth to Pleiades, of all the garrison
Not one remained alive that was not wounded.
The brave Iranians entered every nook
And slaughtered all they found. The matchless Rustam
Saw in the citadel where room was scant
A building of hard stone with iron doors,
And having with his mace-blows shattered them
He entered and beheld a lofty vault
Full of dinas. Astonied at the sight
He bit his lip; then to his chiefs he said:-
"Who ever would have thought of such a thing?
Good sooth no gold remaineth in the mines,
Or any pearl or jewel in the sea;
They lie out-spread within this treasury."
How Rustam evrote a Letter announcing his Victory to Zal
Then Rustam wrote his sire a full report
Of what had passed? First blessing be on Him,
Who is the Lord of serpent, ant, and sun,
Of Venus, Mars, and Sol, and heaven above.
May He bless Zal, the hero of Zabul,
The peerless paladin, the warriors' shelter,
The lranians' stay, who setteth up on high
The flag of Kawa, who enthroneth Shahs,
Who taketh thrones, him whose commandment reacheth
To sun and moon.
'I came to Mount Sipand
By thy behest, and what a mount was there!
'Twas like the sky.When I had reached its foot
There came a greeting from the castellan,
And though I did according to his bidding
All things turned out as I would have them be.
At night-time with my famous men of war
I gave scant respite to the garrison,
Who have been slain or maimed or have escaped
By throwing all their fighting-gear away.
There are in sooth five hundred thousand loads
Of silver ingots and of standard gold.
Of raiment, tapestries, and movables
No one could tell the total though he counted
For days and months. What would the paladin?
May his steps prosper, may his mind be bright."
The messenger came like a blast and gave
The letter to the paladin. That chieftain
Read and exclaimed? Praise to those noble ones."
Thou wouldst have said? The news will make him young."
He wrote a full reply, first praising God
And then proceeding thus? I have perused
That tale of triumph and poured out my soul
In joy. Such fights become thee well, my son!
Who though a boy hast played the man, illumed
The soul of Nariman and burned his foes.
To carry off' the spoil I have sent camels
By thousands. Having read this mount with speed;
Thine absence grieveth me. Pack all the best,
Then fire the hold in vengeance."
The letter well content, then chose the choicest
Among the signet-rings, swords, casques, and belts,
As well as pearls and jewels fit for kings,
And figured pieces of brocade of Chin,
And sent them to his sire. The caravan
Set forth while he set fire to Mount Sipand,
Whose reek rose skyward, then he turned away
Light-hearted and went home like rushing wind.
When Zal had heard? The world-illuming chieftain
Hath come," the folk prepared to welcome him
And decorated all the streets and quarters.
Arose the din of brazen clarions,
Of cymbals, trumpets, and of Indian bells
As eager Rustam fared toward Zal's palace
And coming bowed to earth before his mother,
Who blessed his face and kissed his chest and shoulders,
While Zal the chief embraced his son and bade
A scattering of largess to be made.
The Letter of Zal to Sam
The famous chief sent the good news to Sam,
With many gifts to him and every one.
Whenas the letter came to Sam his cheeks
Bloomed like a rose in his exceeding joy.
He made a feast like jocund spring, bestowed
Upon the messenger a robe and steed,
And talked of Rustam much. He wrote to Zal :-
"It is not wonderful that lions' whelps
Prove brave. A clever archimage may take
One ere it suck and bring it up with men,
Yet will he fear it when its teeth have grown,
For though it never saw its mother's dugs
'Twill throw back to the instincts of its sire.
No wonder then that Rustam should inherit
Zal's prowess, and that Lions seek his aid
In times of enterprise."
He sealed the letter
And gave it to the messenger, who went
To Zal therewith clad in his robe of honour.
The paladin rejoiced at what that youth
Of tender years had done, and all the world
From earth to Aries had hopes in him.
Now will I speak once more of Minuchihr,
The kindly Shah, who when his end drew near
Gave to his son these counsels: lend throe ear.
Minuchihr's last Counsels to his Son
Now Minuchihr, twice sixty years being sped,
Prepared to pass, because the astrologers
Informed him that the royal Grace would fade :-
"Thy time for passing to the other world
Hath come, God grant thee a good place with Him.
Consider what behoveth to be done
And let not death surprise thee, so make ready
For yielding up thy body to the clay."
When he had heard the wise men's words he changed
The fashion of his court, told the archmages
And chiefs the secrets of his heart, then gave
Naudar much counsel, saying thus? This throne
Is but a jest, a breath, no lasting thing
To set the heart upon. In six score years
Now passed I girt my loins for stress and travail
And used to find much pleasure and content
In labour at the bidding of the Shah.
I girt me with the Grace of Faridun,
And by his counsels every loss proved gain.
I took on Salm and on the brutal Tur
Due vengeance for my grandsire - great Iraj -
I cleansed the world of its iniquities
And built me many a city, many a fortress;
Yet thou mightst say that I had never seen
The world, such am I! and my tale of years
Is blank. A tree whose leaves and fruit are bitter,
Should it not rather die than still live on?
Now after I have borne such pain and travail
I leave the throne of kingship and the treasure
To thee. As Faridun once gave to me,
So give I thee, the crown worn by the Shahs.
Hard are the enterprises that confront thee,
Thou must be sometimes wolf and sometimes sheep.
The offspring of Pashang will be thy bane,
And from Turan will be thy straitening.
When any question shall arise, my son
Seek aid from Zal and Sam and this new Tree
Now burgeoning, sprung from the root of Zal.
He will tread down Turan and take upon him
To avenge thee."
While he spake he wept. Naudar
Bewailed him bitterly, and thus the Shah,
Free from disease, unvexed by any pains,
Closed with a last cold sigh his eyes and faded.
So passed that famous Shah, well graced in all,
Whose tale is left as his memorial.
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