Hajez receiving the cup of Djamshid

The Persian provinces produced some of Islam's greatest scholars and poets: Nizami (died 1203), Hafez (died 1390), Saadi (died 1292) and the 10th century Samanid figures Avicenna and Omar Khayyan. Iranians love Sufi poets. Many of great "Persian" poets and literary figures were in fact Tajiks from Central Asia.

Omar-Khayyám (1048-1123) was a Persian mathematician who enjoyed drinking and writing fatalistic poetry. He is famous in the West for his Rubiayat, or quatrains, but he was best known in his time as a mathematician and astronomer. Omar-Khayyám wrote: “I sometimes think that never blows so red/ The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled." “Rubaiyat of Mar Khayyam” was a popular book in the Victorian era. Produced by an American expatriate Elihu Vedder, it was filled with images of skulls, owls and lizards set to Omar verse.

In the early 20th century, Charles F. Horne wrote: “The name "Hafez" means "strong-memoried," and was given as a phrase of honor to the poet when, as a young boy, he recited the entire Qur'an by heart. He was born at Shiraz, in southern Persia, in 1325, and died there in 1389. Hafez was one of the world's greatest masters of lyric verse. Both he and Jami are Sufis, but in a very different mood. The Sufism of Hafez is like that of Umar Khayyam, i.e., Hafez confines himself so wholly to the praise of wine and love, that questions arose whether he was always thinking about the joys of the spirit. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed.,”The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East”, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol.VIII: Medieval Persia, pp. 103-107 \*\]

“Sadi was named by a brother poet the "nightingale of the groves of Shiraz." He was also noted in his lifetime as a religious teacher, though he never claimed to be inspired by any higher wisdom than the human intellect. The first work of this remarkable man was the "Bustan," which means the fruit-garden, or orchard. The book contains the fruits of the author's long experience, his judgments upon life, illustrated by a vast store of anecdotes. \*\

“Jami, the last of the great classic poets of Persia, was born at Jam, near Herat, in 1414 and died in Herat in 1492. He essayed every form of literature and achieved success in each. From childhood he was welcomed everywhere as a marvel of brilliancy. He himself wrote that he never found a master who knew more than he. When we seek for the work which best represents this universal genius, we find it perhaps in his chief love-tale, which follows below. This mingles Nizami's romantic touch with Jalal's Sufism and the fire of Hafez. It is Jami at his highest note. \*\

Websites and Resources: Islamic, Arabic and Persian Literature Islamic and Arabic Literature at Cornell University ; Internet Islamic History Sourcebook ; Wikipedia article on Islamic Literature Wikipedia ; Wikipedia article on Arabic Literature Wikipedia ; Wikipedia article on Persian Literature Wikipedia ; Persian literature at Encyclopædia Britannica ; Persian Literature & Poetry at / ; Arabic Poetry ; Arabic Poetry from Princeton ; Thousand and One Nights ; 1001 Nights ; Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Burton, ; Islamic Stories

Nizami (1140-1203)

Nizami on the Azerbajani money

Paul Halsall of Fordham University wrote: “ The poet Nizami (1140-1203 CE), forms the favorite romantic reading of Persians even today. He is the chief teller of love tales for his people. He wrote five long poetic books, commonly called "The Five Treasures." Among these the "Khosru and Shireen," here quoted, is generally regarded as his masterpiece. Khosru Parviz lived A.D. 590; he was a prince of exalted virtues and great magnificence; he fought against the Greek emperors with success, but was at last defeated by Heraclius. [Source: Internet Islamic History Sourcebook,]

He is said to have married a daughter of the Greek Emperor Maurice, named Irene, called by the Persians Shireen, or Sweet. Ferhad's history forms a tragical episode in this romance. He was a sculptor, celebrated throughout the East for his great genius, and was daring enough to fix his affections on the beloved of the King. The jealousy of Khosru was excited, and he lamented to his courtiers the existence of a passion which was so violent as not to be concealed, and which gave him great uneasiness. He summoned Ferhad to his presence, and commissioned him to execute a work which should render his name immortal—to clear away all impediments which obstructed the passage of the great mountain of Beysitoun. He commanded him, after having done this, to cause the rivers on the opposite side of the mountain to join.

Labors of Ferhad by Nizami

On lofty Beysitoun the lingering sun
looks down on ceaseless labors, long begun:
The mountain trembles to the echoing sound
Of falling rocks, that from her sides rebound.
Each day all respite, all repose denied—
No truce, no pause, the thundering strokes are plied;
The mist of night around her summit coils,
But still Ferhad, the lover-artist, toils,
And still—the flashes of his axe between—
He sighs to ev'ry wind, "Alas! Shireen!
Alas! Shireen!—my task is well-nigh done,
The goal in view for which I strive alone.
Love grants me powers that Nature might deny;
And, whatsoe'er my doom, the world shall tell,
Thy lover gave to immortality
Her name he loved—so fatally—so well!

Nizami: Layla and Majnun at School

A hundred arms were weak one block to move
Of thousands, molded by the hand of Love
Into fantastic shapes and forms of grace,
Which crowd each nook of that majestic place.
The piles give way, the rocky peaks divide,
The stream comes gushing on—a foaming tide!
A mighty work, for ages to remain,
The token of his passion and his pain.
As flows the milky flood from Allah's throne
Rushes the torrent from the yielding stone;
And sculptured there, amazed, stern Khosru stands,
And sees, with frowns, obeyed his harsh commands:
While she, the fair beloved, with being rife,
Awakes the glowing marble into life.
Ah! hapless youth; ah! toil repaid by woe—
A king thy rival and the world thy foe!
Will she wealth, splendor, pomp for thee resign—
And only genius, truth, and passion thine!
Around the pair, lo! groups of courtiers wait,
And slaves and pages crowd in solemn state;
From columns imaged wreaths their garlands throw,
And fretted roofs with stars appear to glow!
Fresh leaves and blossoms seem around to spring,
And feathered throngs their loves are murmuring;
The hands of Peris might have wrought those stems,
Where dewdrops hang their fragile diadems;
And strings of pearl and sharp-cut diamonds shine,
New from the wave, or recent from the mine.

"Alas! Shireen!" at every stroke he cries;
At every stroke fresh miracles arise:
"For thee these glories and these wonders all,
For thee I triumph, or for thee I fall;
For thee my life one ceaseless toil has been,
Inspire my soul anew: Alas! Shireen!"

What raven note disturbs his musing mood?
What form comes stealing on his solitude?
Ungentle messenger, whose word of ill
All the warm feelings of his soul can chill!
"Cease, idle youth, to waste thy days," she said,
"By empty hopes a visionary made;
Why in vain toil thy fleeting life consume
To frame a palace?—rather hew a tomb.
Even like sere leaves that autumn winds have shed,
Perish thy labors, for—Shireen is dead!"

He heard the fatal news—no word, no groan;
He spoke not, moved not, stood transfixed to stone.
Then, with a frenzied start, he raised on high
His arms, and wildly tossed them toward the sky;
Far in the wide expanse his axe he flung
And from the precipice at once he sprung.
The rocks, the sculptured caves, the valleys green,
Sent back his dying cry— "Alas! Shireen!" [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East”, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol.VIII: Medieval Persia, pp. 103-107]

Hafez (1325-1389)


In the early 20th century, Charles F. Horne wrote: “The name "Hafez" means "strong-memoried," and was given as a phrase of honor to the poet when, as a young boy, he recited the entire Qur'an by heart. He was born at Shiraz, in southern Persia, in 1325, and died there in 1389. Hafez was one of the world's greatest masters of lyric verse. Both he and Jami are Sufis, but in a very different mood. The Sufism of Hafez is like that of Umar Khayyam, i.e., Hafez confines himself so wholly to the praise of wine and love, that questions arose whether he was always thinking about the joys of the spirit. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East”, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol.VIII: Medieval Persia, pp. 103-107]

In Praise of His Own Verses The beauty of these verses baffles praise:
What guide is needed to the solar blaze?
Extol that artist by whose pencil's aid
The virgin, Thought, so richly is arrayed.
For her no substitute can reason show,
Nor any like her human judgment know.
This verse, a miracle, or magic white—
Brought down some voice from Heaven, or Gabriel bright?
By me as by none else are secrets sung,
No pearls of poesy like mine are strung

Persian Song by Hafez

Sweet maid, if thou wouldst charm my sight,
And bid these arms thy neck enfold;
That rosy cheek, that lily hand,
Would give thy poet more delight
Than all Bocara's vaunted gold,
Than all the gems of Samarkand.

Boy, let yon liquid ruby flow,
And bid thy pensive heart be glad,
Whate'er the frowning zealots say:
Tell them, their Eden can not show
A stream so clear as Rocnabad,
A bow'r so sweet as Mosellay.

Oh! when these fair perfidious maids,
Whose eyes our secret haunts infest,
Their dear destructive charms display,
Each glance my tender heart invades,
And robs my wounded soul of rest,
As Tartars seize their destined prey.


Prince entertained on a terrace

p> In vain with love our bosoms glow: <br/> Can all our tears, can all our sighs, <br/> New luster to those charms impart? <br/> Can cheeks, where living roses blow, <br/> Where Nature spreads her richest dyes, <br/> Require the borrowed gloss of art?

Speak not of fate:—ah! change the theme,
And talk of odors, talk of wine,
Talk of the flow'rs that round us bloom:
'Tis all a cloud, 'tis all a dream;
To love and joy thy thoughts confine,
Nor hope to pierce the sacred gloom.

Beauty has such resistless pow'r,
That ev'n the chaste Egyptian dame
Sighed for the blooming Hebrew boy:
For her how fatal was the hour
When to the banks of Nilus came
A youth so lovely and so coy!

But ah! sweet maid, my counsel hear
(Youth should attend when those advise
Whom long experience renders sage)
While music charms the ravished ear,
While sparkling cups delight our eyes,
Be gay, and scorn the frowns of age.

What cruel answer have I heard?
And yet, by Heav'n, I love thee still:
Can aught be cruel from thy lips?
Yet say, how fell that bitter word
From lips which streams of sweetness fill,
Which naught but drops of honey sip?

Go boldly forth, my simple lay,
Whose accents flow with artless ease,
Like Orient pearls at random strung;
Thy notes are sweet, the damsels say,
But oh! far sweeter, if they please
The Nymph for whom these notes are sung.

Feast of Spring by Hafez

My breast is filled with roses,
My cup is crowned with wine,
And by my side reposes
The maid I hail as mine.
The monarch, wheresoe'er he be,
Is but a slave compared to me!

Game of Polo

Their glare no torches throwing
Shall in our bower be found;
Her eyes, like moonbeams glowing,
Cast light enough around:
And well all odors I can spare,
Who scent the perfume of her hair.

The honey-dew thy charm might borrow,
Thy lip alone to me is sweet;
When thou art absent, faint with sorrow
I hide me in some lone retreat.
Why talk to me of power or fame?—
What are those idle toys to me?
Why ask the praises of my name?
My joy, my triumph is in thee!

How blest am I! around me, swelling,
The notes of melody arise;
I hold the cup, with juice excelling,
And gaze upon thy radiant eyes.
O Hafiz!—never waste thy hours
Without the cup, the lute, and love!

For 'tis the sweetest time of flowers,
And none these moments shall reprove.
The nightingales around thee sing,
It is the joyous feast of spring.

Mystic Ode by Hafez

In wide Eternity's vast space,
Where no beginning was, wert Thou:
The rays of all-pervading grace
Beneath Thy veil flamed on Thy brow.
Then Love and Nature sprang to birth,
And Life and Beauty filled the earth.
Awake, my soul! pour forth thy praise,
To that great Being anthems raise—
That wondrous Architect who said,
"Be formed," and this great orb was made.
Since first I heard the blissful sound—

Hafez recites his poetry

"To man My Spirit's breath is given";
I knew, with thankfulness profound,
His sons we are—our Home is heaven.
Oh! give me tidings that shall tell
When I may hope with Thee to dwell,
That I may quit this world of pain,
Nor seek to be its guest again.

A bird of holiness am I,
That from the vain world's net would fly;
Shed, bounteous Lord, one cheering shower
From Thy pure cloud of guiding power,
Before, even yet, the hour is come,
When my dust rises toward its home.

What are our deeds?—all worthless, all—
Oh, bring Devotion's wine,
That strength upon my soul may fall
From drops Thou mad'st divine.
The world's possessions fade and flee,
The only good is—loving Thee!

O happy hour! when I shall rise
From earth's delusions to the skies,
Shall find my soul at rest, and greet
The traces of my loved one's feet:
Dancing with joy, whirled on with speed,
Like motes that gorgeous sunbeams feed,
Until I reach the fountain bright
Whence yonder sun derives his light.

Earthly And Heavenly Love by Hafez

A being, formed like thee, of clay,
Destroys thy peace from day to day;
Excites thy waking hours with pain;
Consumes thy sleep with visions vain.
Thy mind is rapt, thy sense betrayed;
Thy head upon her foot is laid.
The teeming earth, the glowing sky,
Is nothing to her faintest sigh.

Thine eye sees only her; thy heart
Feels only her in every part.
Careless of censure, restless, lost,
By ceaseless wild emotions tossed;
If she demand thy soul, 'tis given—
She is thy life, thy death, thy heaven.

Ypung Man with a bottle

Since a vain passion, based on air,
Subdues thee with a power so rare,
How canst thou marvel those who stray
Tow'rd the true path are led away,
'Till, scarce the goal they can descry,
Whelmed in adoring mystery?

Life they regard not; for they live
In Him whose hands all being give:
The world they quit for Him, who made
Its wondrous light, its wondrous shade:
For Him all pleasures they resign,
And love Him with a love divine!

On the cupbearer gazing still,
The cup they break, the wine they spill.
From endless time their ears have rung
With words, by angel voices sung;
"Art thou not bound to God?" they cry;
And the blest "Yes" whole hosts reply.

They seem unmoved, but ceaseless thought
Works in their minds, with wisdom fraught.
Their feet are earth, but souls of flame
Dwell in each unregarded frame.
Such power by steady faith they gain,
One yell would rend the rocks in twain;

One word that cities could o'erthrow,
And spread abroad despair and woe.
Like winds, unseen, they rove all ways;
Silent, like stone, they echo praise:
So rapt, so blest, so filled are they,
They know not night—they see not day!

So fair He seems, all things who made,
The forms He makes to them are shade;
And, if a beauteous shape they view,
'Tis his reflection shining through.
The wise cast not the pearl away,
Charmed with the shell, whose hues are gay;
To him pure love is only known,
Who leaves both worlds for God alone.

Divan by Hafez

Divan of Hafez

I: "Ala ya ayyuha's-Saki!"—pass round and offer thou the bowl,
For love, which seemed at first so easy, has now brought trouble to my soul.
With yearning for the pod's aroma, which by the East that lock shall spread
From that crisp curl of musky odor, how plenteously our hearts have bled!

Stain with the tinge of wine thy prayer-mat, if thus the aged Magian bid,
For from the traveler from the Pathway no stage nor usage can be hid.
Shall my beloved one's house delight me, when issues ever and anon
From the relentless bell the mandate: A>Tis time to bind thy litters on"?

The waves are wild, the whirlpool dreadful, the shadow of the night steals o'er,
How can my fate excite compassion in the light-burdened of the shore?
Each action of my froward spirit has won me an opprobrious name;
Can any one conceal the secret which the assembled crowds proclaim?

If Joy be thy desire, O Hafiz,
From Him far distant never dwell.
"As soon as thou hast found thy Loved one,
Bid to the world a last farewell."

II: Thou whose features clearly beaming make the moon of Beauty bright,
Thou whose chin contains a well-pit which to Loveliness gives light.
When, O Lord! shall kindly Fortune, sating my ambition, pair
This my heart of tranquil nature and thy wild and ruffled hair?

Pining for thy sight my spirit trembling on my lip doth wait:
Forth to speed it, back to lead it, speak the sentence of its fate.
Pass me with thy skirt uplifted from the dusty bloody ground:
Many who have been thy victims dead upon this path are found.

How this heart is anguish-wasted let my heart's possessor know:
Friends, your souls and mine contemplate, equal by their common woe.
Aught of good accrues to no one witched by thy Narcissus eye:
Ne'er let braggart vaunt their virtue, if thy drunken orbs are nigh.

Soon my Fortune sunk in slumber shall her limbs with vigor brace:
Dashed upon her eye is water, sprinkled by thy shining face.
Gather from thy check a posy, speed it by the flying East;
Sent be perfume to refresh me from thy garden's dust at least.

Hafiz offers a petition, listen, and "Amen" reply:
"On thy sugar-dropping rubies let me for life's food rely."
Many a year live on and prosper, Sakis of the court of Jem,
E'en though I, to fill my wine-cup, never to your circle come.

East wind, when to Yazd thou wingest, say thou to its sons from me:
"May the head of every ingrate ball-like 'neath your mallbat be!"
"What though from your dais distant, near it by my wish I seem;
Homage to your Ring I render, and I make your praise my theme."
Shah of Shahs, of lofty planet, Grant for God what I implore;
Let me, as the sky above thee, Kiss the dust which strews thy floor.

Divan of Hafez

V: Up Saki!—let the goblet flow;
Strew with dust the head of our earthly woe!
Give me thy cup; that, joy-possessed,
I may tear this azure cowl from my breast.

The wise may deem me lost to shame,
But no care have I for renown or name.
Bring wine!—how many a witless head
By the wind of pride has with dust been spread!

My bosom's fumes, my sighs so warm,
Have inflamed yon crude and unfeeling swarm.
This mad heart's secret, well I know,
Is beyond the thoughts of both high and low.

E'en by that sweetheart charmed am I,
Who once from my heart made sweetness fly.
Who that my Silvern Tree hath seen,
Would regard the cypress that decks the green?

In grief be patient,
Night and day,
'Till thy fortune, Hafiz,
Thy wish obey.

VI: My heart no longer brooks my hand: sages, aid for God my woe!
Else, alas! my secret-deep soon the curious world must know.
The bark we steer has stranded: O breeze auspicious swell:
We yet may see once more the Friend we love so well.

Bustan by Sa'di (1184-1292 CE)

In the early 20th century, Charles F. Horne wrote: “Sadi was named by a brother poet the "nightingale of the groves of Shiraz." He was also noted in his lifetime as a religious teacher, though he never claimed to be inspired by any higher wisdom than the human intellect. The first work of this remarkable man was the "Bustan," which means the fruit-garden, or orchard. The book contains the fruits of the author's long experience, his judgments upon life, illustrated by a vast store of anecdotes. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East”, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol.VIII: Medieval Persia, pp. 103-107]

In the name of the Lord life-creating!
The Wise One speech-creating within the tongue!
The Lord, the giver, hand-seizing!
Merciful, sin-forgiving, excuse-accepting!

A King such that whosoever turned away his head from His door
Found not any respect at the doors to which he went,
The heads of kings, neck-exalting,
Are at His court, on the ground of supplication.

He does not instantly seize the froward;
He does not drive away with violence those excuse-bringing.
And though He becomes angry at bad conduct,
When thou didst return He canceled the past circumstance in the book of sins.

The two worlds (this and the next) are like a drop in the sea of His knowledge;
He sees a crime, but in mercy covers it with a screen.
If a person seeks a quarrel with his father,
Doubtless the father becomes very angry.

Sa'di in a Rose Garden

And if a relation be not satisfied with a relation on account of bad conduct,
He drives him from before him, like strangers.
And if the clever slave is not of use,
The master holds him not dear,

And if thou art kind to friends,
The friend will fly from thee to the distance of a league.
And if a soldier abandons service,
The king army-leading becomes quit of him.

But the Lord of high and low
Shuts not the door of food on any one, on account of his sin.
The embroidered leather surface of the earth is His common table;
At this open table, whether enemy or friend---what matter ?

And if He had hastened against one tyranny-practicing
Who would have obtained safety from the hand of His violence ?
His nature is free from suspicion of opposition and similitude;
His kingdom independent of the devotion of jinn and mankind.

The servant of His order every thing and person:
The son of Adam, and fowl, and ant, and fly.
He spreads so wide a tray of liberality,
That the Simurgh in the mountains of Kaf enjoys a portion.

Grace and liberality diffusing, and work executing;
Because He is the Possessor of Creation and Knower of secrets.
Grandeur and egotism are proper for Him,
Whose kingdom is ancient and nature independent.

He places the crown of fortune on the head of one;
He brings another from a throne to the dust.
This one has the cap of Good-Fortune on his head;
That one the blanket of Misfortune on his body.

He makes a fire, a rose-garden for Ibrahim;
He takes a crowd, from the waters of the Nile to the fire of Hell.
If that making the fire a rose-garden---it is the written order of His beneficence;
And if this—the destruction of Pharaoh in the Nile---it is the sign-manual of His order.

Behind the screen He sees bad acts:
By His own favor He covers them with a veil.
If with threatening He draws forth the sharp sword of Command,
The Cherubim will remain deaf and dumb.

And if from the tray of Liberality He gives victuals to be carried home,
'Azazil [i.e., Satan] will say, "I may carry away a good portion."
At the Court of His grace and greatness
The Great Ones have put greatness out of their heads.

In mercy, near to those who are distressed:
A hearer of the prayer of those supplication-making.
Concerning circumstances not yet come to pass, His knowledge penetrating;
As to secrets unspoken, His grace informed.

Bustan of Sa'di

By power, the Guardian of high (sky) and low (earth),
The Lord of the Court of the day of reckoning (Judgment day).
The back of a person is not free from obedience to Him (it must bend);
On His word there is not room for the finger of a person (in slander).

The ancient doer of good, good-approving;
With the reed of Destiny, in the womb, picture-painting.
from the east to the west, the moon and sun
He put into motion; and spread the firmament on the water.

The earth, from distress of earthquake, became stupefied;
On its skirt He drove down a mountain as a nail.
He gives to the seed of man a form like a pari;
Who has made a painting on the water?

He places the ruby and the turquoise in the back-bone of the rock;
The red rose, on the branch of green color.
From the cloud He casts a drop toward the ocean;
From the back-bone of the father He brings the seed into the womb.

From that drop He makes an incomparable pearl;
And from this He makes a form of man like the lofty cypress.
The knowledge of a single atom is not hidden from Him,
To whom the evident and the hidden are one.

He prepares the daily food of the snake and the ant;
Although they are without hands and feet, and strength.
By His order He portrayed existence from non-existence;
Who, except He, knows how to make the existing from the non-existing?

Another time He takes away creation to the concealment of non-existence,
And thence conveys it to the plain of the place of assembling the Resurrection.
The people of the world are agreed to His divine origin;
Overpowered in respect to the substance of His essence.

The people discovered not what was beyond His majesty;
The vision discovered not the extent of His power.
The bird of Fancy flies not to the summit of His nature;
The power of the intellect arrives not at the skirt of His description.

In this whirlpool a thousand ships of reason foundered,
In such a way that not a plank was found on the marge.
Many nights I sat lost in this journey of thought of God,
When suddenly terror seized my sleeve, saying, "Get up!"

The knowledge of the King is the encircler of the wide plain of creation;
Thy conjecture becomes not the encircler of Him.
Genius reaches not to the substance of His nature;
Thought reaches not to the profundity of His qualities.

from the Bustan

One can attain to the Arab poet, Suhban, in eloquence;
But one can not reach to the substance of God without equal.
Because the immature ones have on this road urged the steed of thought,
At the words "la ahsa," they have wearied of the pace.

One can not gallop a steed in every place,
Places there are where it is proper to cast the shield.
And if a traveler becomes acquainted with the secret of God
They will shut on him the door of returning to the world.

In this banquet of the mystery of God they give a cup of the wine of the love of God to that one,
To whom they give a draught of senselessness that he may not utter the mystery of God.
The wise man fears this sea of blood the mystery of God,
Out of which no one has taken the bark of his life.

Of this hawk, the eye is sewn up blind to the knowledge of God;
Of the holy man, the eyes are open to the knowledge of God; and feathers of light to the world burned.
No one went to the buried treasure of Karun;
And if he found a way, he found not a way out of it.

If thou art a seeker, who over this ground of the knowledge of God dost travel,
First thou shouldst pluck up the foot of the steed of returning;
Shouldst reflect, in the mirror of the mind;
Shouldst acquire purity by degrees.

Possibly the perfume of the love of God makes thee intoxicated;
Makes thee a seeker of the Covenant--- "Am I your God?"
With the foot of search thou dost travel to that place;
And thence thou dost fly with the wing of the love of God.

Truth tears the curtains of fancy;
There remains not a lofty curtain, save the glory of God.
Again for the steed of reason there is no running;
Astonishment will seize its rein, saying, "Stand!"

In this sea of God only the man-guardian [Muhammad] went:
That one became lost, who went not behind the inviter [Muhammad].
Those persons who have turned back from this road
Traveled much, and are distressed.

from the Bustan

That person who chooses the way opposite to the Prophet
Will never arrive at the stage of his journey.
Oh Sadi! think not that the path of purity
One can travel, except behind the Chosen One.

Generous of dispositions, beautiful of natures!
The Prophet of creatures, the Intercessor of nations!
The Imam of the prophets, the Leader of the road!
The faithful of God, the place of descent of the Angel Jibra'il!

The Intercessor of mortals, the Lord of raising and dispersing!
The Imam of the guides, the Chief of the court of Assembling!
The Speaker, whose Mount Sinai is the celestial sphere;
All lights are the rays of his light.

The orphan who, the Qur'an uncompleted,
Washed the library of so many religions,
When anger drew forth his sword of terror,
Struck, by a miracle, the waist of the moon in two halves.

When his fame fell in the mouths of the people of the world
An earthquake occurred in the court of Kisri.
By the words---la-ilaha illa-llah he broke into small pieces the idol Lat;
For the honor of religion he took away the reputation of the idol ''Uzzah.

He brought not forth the dust of the idols Lat and 'Uzza only;
But made the Old Testament and Gospel obsolete.
One night he sate on the beast Burak; he passed beyond the Heavens:
In majesty and grandeur he exceeded the angels.

So impetuous, he urged his steed into the plain of propinquity to God,
While Jibra'il remained behind him, at the tree of paradise.
The Chief of the sacred house spoke to him,
Saying: "Oh, bearer of the Divine Revelation! move proudly higher.

"When thou didst find me sincere in friendship,
Why didst thou twist the reins from my love?"
Jibra'il said: "The power to move higher was not to me:
I remained here because the power of wing remained not to me.

If I fly one hair's breadth higher,
The effulgence of splendor will burn my feathers."
On account of sins a person remains not in restraint
Who has such a Lord as guide.

What acceptable praise may I say to thee?
Oh, Prophet of Mortals! peace be on thee!
May the benedictions of angels be on thy soul!
May they be on thy companions and followers!

First Abu-Bakr, the old disciple;
'Umar, grasp on the convolution of the contumacious demon;
The wise 'Usman, night, alive-keeping;
The fourth 'Ali-Shan, Duldul, riding.

Oh God! by the right of the sons of Fatima,
May I, on the word of faith, conclude my life!
If thou dost reject my claim, or if thou dost accept,
I, and the hand, and the skirt of the offspring of the Prophet are together.

Gulistan by Sa'di (1184-1292 CE):

“Chapter I: Of The Customs of Kings I: I have heard of a king who made the sign to put a captive to death. The poor wretch, in that state of desperation, began to abuse the king in the dialect which he spoke, and to revile him with asperity, as has been said; whoever shall wash his hands of life will utter whatever he may harbor in his heart: "When a man is desperate he will give a latitude to his tongue, Like as a cat at bay will fly at a dog" —- "at the moment of compulsion when it is impossible to fly, the hand will grasp the sharp edge of a sword." The king asked, saying, "What does he say?" One of the Viziers (or nobles in attendance), and a well-disposed man, made answer, "O my lord! he is expressing himself and saying, "Paradise is for such as are restraining their anger And forgiving their fellow-creatures; and God will befriend the benevolent."

“The king felt compassion for him, and desisted from shedding his blood. Another nobleman, and the rival of that former, said, "It is indecorous for such peers, as we are, to use any language but that of truth in the presence of kings; this man abused his majesty, and spoke what was unworthy of him." The king turned away indignant at this remark, and replied, "I was better pleased with his falsehood than with this truth that you have told; for that bore the face of good policy, and this was founded in malignity; and the intelligent have said, 'A peace-mingling falsehood is preferable to a mischief stirring truth': Whatever prince may do that which he (his counselor) will recommend, it must be a subject of regret if he shall advise aught but good."

“They had written over the portico of King Feridun's palace: "This world, O brother! abides with none. Set thy heart upon its maker, and let him suffice thee. Rest not thy pillow and support on a worldly domain which has fostered and slain many such as thou art. Since the precious soul must resolve on going, what matters it whether it departs from a throne or the ground?"

Sa'di and the Youth of Kashgar

“II: One of the kings of Khorassan saw, in a dream, Sultan Mahmud, the son of Saboktagin, a hundred years after his death, when his body was decayed and fallen into dust, all but his eyes, which as heretofore were moving in their sockets and looking about them. All the learned were at a stand for its interpretation, excepting one dervish, who made his obeisance, and said: "He is still looking about him, because his kingdom and wealth are possessed by others!—Many are the heroes whom they have buried under ground, of whose existence above it not one vestige is left; and of that old carcass which they committed to the earth, the earth has so consumed it that not one bone is left. Though many ages are gone since Nushirowan was in being, yet in the remembrance of his munificence is his fair renown left. Be generous, O my friend! and avail thyself of life, before they proclaim it as an event that such a person is not left."

“III: I have heard of a king's son who was short and mean, and his other brothers were lofty in stature and handsome. On one occasion the king, his father, looked at him with disparagement and scorn. The son, in his sagacity, understood him and said, "O father! a short wise man is preferable to a tall blockhead; it is not everything that is mightier in stature that is superior in value: "A sheep's flesh is wholesome, that of an elephant carrion. Of the mountains of this earth Sinai is one of the least, Yet is it most mighty before God in state and dignity. Heard thou not what an intelligent lean man said one day to a sleek fat dolt? An Arab horse, notwithstanding his slim make, is more prized thus than a herd of asses."

“The father smiled; the pillars of the State, or courtiers nodded their assent, and the other brothers were mortified to the quick. 'Till a man has declared his mind, his virtue and vice may have lain hidden; do not conclude that the thicket is unoccupied, peradventure the tiger is gone asleep!

“I have heard that about that time a formidable antagonist appeared against the king. Now that an army was levied in each side, the first person that mounted his horse and sallied upon the plain was that son, and he exclaimed: "I can not be that man whose back thou mayest see on the day of battle, but am him thou mayest descry amidst the thick of it, with my head covered with dust and blood; for he that engages in the contest sports with his own blood, but he who flees from it sports with the blood of an army on the day of fight." He so spoke, assaulting the enemy's cavalry, and overthrew some renowned warriors. When he came before the king he kissed the earth of obeisance, and said, "O thou, who didst view my body with scorn, whilst not aware of valor's rough exterior, it is the lean steed that will prove of service, and not the fatted ox, on the day of battle."

“They have reported that the enemy's cavalry was immense, and those of the king few in number; a body of them was inclined to fly, when the youth called aloud, and said, "Be resolute, my brave men, that you may not have to wear the apparel of women!" The troops were more courageous on this speech, and attacked altogether. I have heard that on that day they obtained a complete victory over the enemy. The king kissed his face and eyes, and folded him in his arms, and became daily more attached to him, 'till he declared him heir-apparent to the throne. The brothers bore him a grudge, and put poison into his food. His sister saw this from a window, and closed the shutter; and the boy understood the sign, and withdrew his hand from the dish, and said, "It is hard that the virtuous should perish and that the vicious should occupy their places." Were the homayi, or phoenix, to be extinct in the world, none would take refuge under the shadow of an owl. They informed the father of this event; he sent for the brothers and rebuked them, as they deserved. Then he made a division of his domains, and gave a suitable portion to each, that discontent might cease; but the ferment was increased, as they have said: Ten dervishes can sleep on one rug, but two kings can not be accommodated in a whole kingdom. When a man after God's heart can eat the moiety of his loaf, the other moiety he will give in alms to the poor. A king may acquire the sovereignty of one climate or empire; and he will in like manner covet the possession of another.

“IV: A horde of Arab robbers had possessed themselves of the fastness of a mountain, and waylaid the track of the caravan. The yeomanry of the villages were frightened at their stratagems, and the king's troops alarmed, inasmuch as they had secured an impregnable fortress on the summit of the mountain, and made this stronghold their retreat and dwelling.

A Youth is marooned by an angry boatman

“The superintendents of the adjacent districts consulted together about obviating their mischief, saying: If they are in this way left to improve their fortune, any opposition to them may prove impracticable. The tree that has just taken root, the strength of one man may be able to extract; but leave it to remain thus for a time, and the machinery of a purchase may fail to eradicate it: the leak at the dam head might have been stopped with a plug, which now it has a vent we can not ford its current on an elephant.

“Finally it was determined that they should set a spy over them, and watch an opportunity when they had made a sally upon another tribe, and left their citadel unguarded. Some companies of able warriors and experienced troops were sent, that they might conceal themselves in the recesses of the mountain. At night, when the robbers were returned, jaded with their march and laden with spoil, and had stripped themselves of their armor, and deposited their plunder, the foremost enemy they had to encounter was sleep. Now that the first watch of night was gone: "the disk of the sun was withdrawn into a shade, and Jonas had stepped into the fish's mouth"—the bold-hearted warriors sprang from their ambush and secured the robbers by pinioning them one after another.

“In the morning they presented them at the royal tribunal, and the king gave an order to put the whole to death. There happened to be among them a stripling, the fruit of whose early spring was ripening in its bloom, and the flower-garden of his cheek shooting into blossom. One of the viziers kissed the foot of the imperial throne, and laid the face of intercession on the ground, and said, "This boy has not yet tasted the fruit of the garden of life, nor enjoyed the fragrance of the flowers of youth: such is my confidence in the generous disposition of his Majesty that it will favor a devoted servant by sparing his blood." The king turned his face away from this speech; as it did not accord with his lofty way of thinking, he replied: "The rays of the virtuous can not illuminate such as are radically vicious; to give education to the worthless is like throwing walnuts upon a dome: it were wiser to eradicate the tree of their wickedness, and annihilate their tribe; for to put out a fire and leave the embers, and to kill a viper and foster its young, would not be the acts of rational beings. Though the clouds pour down the water of vegetation, thou canst never gather fruit from a willow twig. Exalt not the fortune of the abject, for thou canst never extract sugar from a mat or common cane."

“The vizier listened to this speech; willingly or not he approved of it, and applauded the good sense of the king, and said: "What his majesty, whose dominion is eternal, is pleased to remark is the mirror of probity and essence of good policy, for had he been brought up in the society of those vagabonds, and confined to their service, he would have followed their vicious courses. Your servant, however, trusts that he may be instructed to associate with the virtuous, and take to the habits of the prudent; for he is still a child, and the lawless and refractory principles of that gang can not have yet tainted his mind; and it is in tradition that—-Whatever child is born, he is verily born after the right way, namely Islam, Afterward his father and his mother bring him up as a Jew, Christian, or Magi.

“The wife of Lot associated with the wicked, and her posterity failed in the gift of prophecy; the dog of the seven sleepers (at Ephesus) for some time took the path of the righteous, and became a rational being."

“He said this, and a body of the courtiers joined him in intercession, 'till the king acceded to the youth's pardon, and answered: "I gave him up, though I saw not the good of it. Know thou what Zal said to the heroic Rustem: 'Thou must not consider thy foe as abject and helpless. I have often found a small stream at the fountain-head, which, when followed up, carried away the camel and its load.'"

“In short, the vizier took the boy home, and educated him with kindness and liberality. And he appointed him masters and tutors, who taught him the graces of logic and rhetoric, and all manner of courtier accomplishments, so that he met general approbation. On one occasion the vizier was detailing some instances of his proficiency and talents in the royal presence, and saying: "The instruction of the wise has made an impression upon him, and his former savageness is obliterated from his mind." The king smiled at this speech, and replied: "The whelp of a wolf must prove a wolf at last, notwithstanding he may be brought up by a man."

“Two years after this a gang of city vagabonds got about him, and joined in league, 'till on an opportunity he murdered the vizier and his two sons; and, carrying off an immense booty, he took up the station of his father in the den of thieves, and became a hardened villain. The king was apprised of this event; and, seizing the hand of amazement with the teeth of regret, said: "How can any person manufacture a tempered saber from base iron; nor can a base-born man, O wiseacre, be made a gentleman by any education! Rain, in the purity of whose nature there is no anomaly, cherishes the tulip in the garden and common weed in the salt-marsh. Waste not thy labor in scattered seed upon a briny soil, for it can never be made to yield spikenard; to confer a favor on the wicked is of a like import, as if thou didst an injury to the good."

“V: At the gate of Oghlamish Patan, King of Delhi, I (namely Sadi) saw an officer's son, who, in his wit and learning, wisdom and understanding, surpassed all manner of encomium. In the prime of youth, he at the same time bore on his forehead the traces of ripe age, and exhibited on his cheek the features of good fortune: "Above his head, from his prudent conduct, the star of superiority shone conspicuous."

“In short, it was noticed with approbation by the king that he possessed bodily accomplishments and mental endowments. And sages have remarked that worth rests not on riches, but on talents; and the discretion of age, not in years, but on good sense. His comrades envied his good fortune, charged him with disaffection, and vainly attempted to have him put to death: "but what can the rival effect so long as the charmer is our friend?"

from the Gulistan: The Traveler and the Dervish

“The king asked, saying, "Why do they show such a disinclination to do you justice?" He replied: "Under the shadow of his majesty's good fortune I have pleased everybody, excepting the envious man, who is not to be satisfied but with a decline of my success; and let the prosperity and dominion of my lord the king be perpetual!" I can so manage as to give umbrage to no man's heart; but what can I do with the envious man, who harbors within himself the cause of his own chagrin? Die, O ye envious, that ye may get a deliverance; for this is such an evil that you can get rid of it only by death. Men soured by misfortune anxiously desire that the state and fortune of the prosperous may decline; if the eye of the bat is not suited for seeing by day, how can the fountain of the sun be to blame? Dost thou require the truth? It were better a thousand such eyes should suffer, rather than that the light of the sun were obscured.

“VI: They tell a story of a Persian king who had stretched forth the arm of oppression over the subjects' property, and commenced a system of violence and rapacity to such a degree that the people emigrated to avoid the vexatiousness of his tyranny, and took the road of exile to escape the annoyance of his extortions. Now that the population was diminished and the resources of the State had failed, the treasury remained empty, and enemies gathered strength on all sides. Whoever may expect a comforter on the day of adversity, say, let him practice humanity during the season of prosperity; if not treated cordially, thy devoted slave will forsake thee; show him kindness and affection, and the stranger may become the slave of thy devotion.

“One day they were reading, in his presence, from the Shah-Nameh, of the tyrant Zollak's declining dominion and the success of Feridun. The vizier asked the king, saying: "Can you so far comprehend that Feridun had no revenue, domain, or army, and how the kingdom came to be confirmed with him?" He answered: "As you have heard, a body of people collected about him from attachment, and gave their assistance 'till he acquired a kingdom." The vizier said: "Since, O sire, a gathering of the people is the means of forming a kingdom, how come you in fact to cause their dispersion unless it be that you covet not a sovereignty? So far were good that thou wouldst patronize the army with all thy heart, for a king with an army constitutes a principality." The king asked: "What are the best means of collecting an army and yeomanry?" He replied: "Munificence is the duty of a king, that the people may assemble around him, and clemency, that they may rest secure under the asylum of his dominion and fortune, neither of which you have. A tyrant can not govern a kingdom, for the duty of a shepherd is not expected from the wolf. A king that can anyhow be accessory to tyranny will undermine the wall of his own sovereignty."

“The advice of the prudent minister did not accord with the disposition of the king. He ordered him to be confined, and immured him in a dungeon. It soon came to pass that the sons of the king's uncle rose in opposition, levied an army in support of their pretensions, and claimed the sovereignty of their father. A host of the people who had cruelly suffered under the arm of his extortion and were dispersed, gathered around and succored them 'till they dispossessed him of his kingdom and established them in his stead. That king who can approve of tyrannizing over the weak will find his friend a bitter foe in the day of hardship. Deal fairly with thy subjects, and rest easy about the warfare of thine enemies, for with an upright prince his yeomanry is an army.

“IX: In his old age an Arab king was grievously sick, and had no hopes of recovery, when lo! a messenger on horseback presented himself at the palace-gate, and joyfully announced, saying: "Under his majesty's good fortune we have taken such a stronghold, made the enemy prisoners of war, and reduced all the landholders and vassals of that quarter to obedience as subjects." On hearing this news the king fetched a cold sigh, and answered: "These glad tidings are not intended for me but for my rivals, namely, the heirs of the sovereignty. My precious life has, alas! been wasted in the hope that what my heart chiefly coveted might enter at my gate. My bounden hope was gratified; yet what do I benefit by that? There is no hope that my passed life can return. The hand of death beats the drum of departure. Yes, my two eyes, you must bid adieu to my head. Yes, palm of my hand, wrist, and arm, all of you say farewell, and each take leave of the other. Death has overtaken me to the gratification of my foes; and you, O my friends, must at last be going. My days were blazed away in folly; what I did not do let you take warning and do."

“X: At the metropolitan mosque of Damascus I was one year fervent in prayer over the tomb of Yahiya, or John the Baptist and prophet, on whom be God's blessing, when one of the Arab princes, who was notorious for his injustice, chanced to arrive on a pilgrimage, and he put up his supplication, asked a benediction, and craved his wants.—The rich and poor are equally the devoted slaves of this shrine, and the richer they are the more they stand in need of succor. Then he spoke to me, saying: "In conformity with the generous resolution of dervishes and their sincere zeal, you will, I trust, unite with me in prayer, for I have much to fear from a powerful enemy." I answered him, "Have compassion on your own weak subjects, that you may not see disquiet from a strong foe. With a mighty arm and heavy hand it is dastardly to wrench the wrists of poor and helpless. Is he not afraid who is hard-hearted with the fallen that if he slip his foot nobody will take him by the hand?— Whoever sowed the seed of vice and expected a virtuous produce, pampered a vain brain and encouraged an idle whim. Take the cotton from thy ear and do mankind justice, for if thou refuse them justice there is a day of retribution. The sons of Adam are members one of another, for in their creation they have a common origin. If the vicissitudes of fortune involve one member in pain, all the other members will feel a sympathy. Thou, who art indifferent to other men's affliction, if they call thee a man art unworthy of the name."

from the Gulistan: Dancing Dervishes

“XI: A dervish, whose prayers had a ready acceptance with God, made his appearance at Baghdad. Hojaj Yusuf (a great tyrant) sent for him and said: "Put up a good prayer for me." He prayed, "O God! take from him his life!" Hojaj said, "For God's sake, what manner of prayer is this?" He answered: "It is a salutary prayer for you, and for the whole sect of Muslims.—O mighty sir, thou oppressor of the feeble, how long can this violence remain marketable? For what purpose came the sovereignty to thee? Thy death were preferable to thy tyrannizing over mankind."

“XII: An unjust king asked a holy man, saying. "What is more excellent than prayers?" He answered: "For you to remain asleep 'till mid-day, that for this one interval you might not afflict mankind."—I saw a tyrant lying dormant at noon, and said, "This is mischief, and is best lulled to sleep. It were better that such a reprobate were dead whose state of sleep is preferable to his being awake."

“XIV: One of the ancient kings was easy with the yeomanry in collecting his revenue, but hard on the soldiery in his issue of pay; and when a formidable enemy showed its face, these all turned their backs. Whenever the king is remiss in paying his troops, the troops will relax in handling their arms. What bravery can be displayed in the ranks of battle whose hand is destitute of the means of living?

“One of those who had excused themselves was in some sort my intimate. I reproached him and said, "He is base and ungrateful, mean and disreputable who, on a trifling change of circumstances, can desert his old master and forget his obligation of many years' employment." He replied: "Were I to speak out, I swear by generosity you would excuse me. Peradventure, my horse was without corn, and the housings of his saddle in pawn.—And the prince who, through parsimony, withholds his army's pay can not expect it to enter heartily upon his service."—Give money to the gallant soldier that he may be zealous in thy cause, for if he is stinted of his due he will go abroad for service. So long as a warrior is replenished with food he will fight valiantly, And when his belly is empty he will run away sturdily.

“XV: One of the viziers was displaced, and withdrew into a fraternity of dervishes, whose blessed society made its impression upon him and afforded consolation to his mind. The king was again favorably disposed toward him, and offered his reinstatement in office; but he consented not, and said, "With the wise it is deemed preferable to be out of office than to remain in place.—Such as sat within the cell of retirement blunted the teeth of dogs, and shut the mouths of mankind; they destroyed their writings, and broke their writing reeds, and escaped the lash and venom of the critics."—The king answered: "At all events I require a prudent and able man, who is capable of managing the State affairs of my kingdom." The ex-minister said: "The criterion, O sire, of a wise and competent man is that he will not meddle with such like matters.—The homayi, or phoenix, is honored above all other birds because it feeds on bones, and injures no living creature."

“A Tamsil, or application in point.—They asked a Siyah-gosh, or lion-provider, "Why do you choose the service of the lion?" He answered: "Because I subsist on the leavings of his prey, and am secure from the ill-will of my enemies under the asylum of his valor." They said: "Now you have got within the shadow of his protection and admit a grateful sense of his bounty, why do you not approach more closely, that he may include you within the circle of select courtiers and number you among his chosen servants?" He replied, "I should not thus be safe from his violence."—Though a Gueber may keep his fire alight for a hundred years, if he fall once within its flame it will burn him.—It on one occasion may chance that the courtier of the king's presence shall pick up a purse of gold, and the next that he shall lie shorter by the head. And philosophers have remarked, saying, "It is incumbent on us to be constantly aware of the fickle dispositions of kings, who will one moment take offense at a salutation, and at another make an honorary dress the return for an act of rudeness; and they have said, That to be over much facetious is the accomplishment of courtiers and blemish of the wise.—Be wary, and preserve the state of thine own character, and leave sport and buffoonery to jesters and courtiers.

“XVI: One of my associates brought me a complaint of his perverse fortune, saying, "I have small means and a large family, and can not bear up with my load of poverty. Often has a thought crossed my mind, suggesting, Let me remove into another country, that in whatever way I can manage a livelihood none may be informed of my good or bad luck." —(Often he went asleep hungry, and nobody was aware, saying, "Who is he?" Often did his life hang upon his lip, and none lamented over him.)— "On the other hand, I reflect on the exultation of my rivals, saying, They will scoffingly sneer behind my back, and impute my zeal in behalf of my family to a want of humanity.—Do but behold that graceless vagabond who can never witness the face of good fortune. Be will consult the ease of his own person and abandon to distress his wife and children.—And, as is known, I have some small skill in the science of accounts. If, through your respected interest, any office can be obtained that may be the means of quieting my mind, I shall not, during the remainder of life, be able to express my sense of its gratitude."

“I replied, "O brother, the service of kings offers a twofold prospect—a hope of maintenance and a fear for existence; and it accords not with the counsel of the wise, under that expectation, to incur this risk.—No tax-gatherer will enter the dervish's abode, saying, Pay me the rent of a field and orchard; either put up with trouble and chagrin, or give thy heartstrings to the crows to pluck."

“He said, "This speech is not made as applicable to my case, nor have you given me a categorical answer. Have you not heard what has been remarked, 'His hand will tremble on rendering his account who has been accessory to a dishonest act.—Righteousness will insure the divine favor; I never met him going astray who took the righteous path.'—And philosophers have said, 'Four orders of people are mortally afraid of four others—the revenue embezzler, of the king; the thief, of the watchman; the fornicator, of the eavesdropper; and the adulteress, of the censor.' But what has he to fear from the comptroller who has a fair set of account books?— 'Be not extravagant and corrupt while in office if thou wish that the malice of thy rival may be circumscribed on settling thy accounts. Be undefiled, O brother, in thy integrity, and fear nobody; washer men will beat only dirty clothes against a stone.'"

“I replied, "The story of that fox suits your case, which they saw running away, stumbling and getting up. Somebody asked him, 'What calamity has happened to put you in such a state of trepidation?' He said, 'I have heard that they are putting a camel in requisition.' The other answered, 'O silly animal! what connection has a camel with you, or what resemblance is there between you and it?' He said, 'Be silent; for were the envious from malevolence to insist that this is a camel, and I should be seized for one, who would be so solicitous about me as to inquire into my case?' And before they can bring the antidote from Iraq the person bitten by the snake may be dead. In like manner, you possess knowledge and integrity, discrimination and probity, yet spies lie in ambush, and informers lurk in corners, who, notwithstanding your moral rectitude, will note down the opposite; and should you anyhow stand arraigned before the king, and occupy the place of his reprehension, who in that State would step forward in your defense? Accordingly, I would advise that you should secure the kingdom of contentment, and give up all thoughts of preferment. As the wise have said: "The benefits of a sea voyage are innumerable; but if thou seek for safety, it is to be found only on shore.'"

Dancing Dervishes

“My friend listened to this speech; he got into a passion, caviled at my fable, and began to question it with warmth and asperity, saying, "What wisdom or propriety, good sense or morality, is there in this? Here is verified that maxim of the sage, which tells us they are friends alone that can serve us in a jail, for all our enemies may pretend friendship at our own table.— 'Esteem him not a friend who during thy prosperity will brag of his love and brotherly affection.' I account him a friend who will take his friend by the hand when struggling with despair, and overwhelmed with misfortune."

“I perceived within myself, saying, "He is disturbed, and listens to my advice with impatience"; and, having called the sahib diwan, or lord high treasurer, in virtue of a former intimacy that subsisted between us, I stated his case and spoke so fully upon his skill and merits, that he put him in nomination for a training office. After some time, having adverted to his kindly disposition and approved of his good management, his promotion was in train, and he got confirmed in a much higher station. Thus was the star of his good fortune in ascension, 'till it rose into the zenith of ambition; and he became the favorite of his majesty the king, toward whom all turned for counsel, and upon whom all eyes rested their hopes! I rejoiced at this prosperous change of his affairs, and said: "Repine not at thy bankrupt circumstances, nor let thy heart despond, for the fountain of immortality has its source of chaos. "Take heed, O brother in affliction! and be not disheartened, For God has in store many hidden mercies. Sit not down soured at the revolutions of the times, for patience is bitter, yet it will yield sweet fruit."

“At that juncture I happened to accompany a party of friends on a journey to Hijaz, or Arabia Petraea. On my return from the pilgrimage to Mecca, he came out two stages to meet me. I perceived that his outward plight was wretched, and his garb that of dervishes. I asked, "How is this?" He replied, "Just as you said, a faction bore me a grudge and charged me with malpractice; and the king, be his reign eternal, would not investigate the truth of that charge, and my old and best friends stood aloof from my defense, and overlooked my claims on our former acquaintance.—When, through an act of God, a man has fallen, the whole world will put their feet upon his neck; when they see that fortune has taken him by the hand, they will put their hands upon their breasts, and be loud in his praise.—In short, I underwent all manner of persecution 'till within this week, that the tidings of the safe return of the pilgrims reached us, when I got a release from my heavy durance and a confiscation of my hereditary tenements." I said, "At that time you did not listen to my admonition, when I warned you that the service of princes is, like a voyage at sea, profitable but hazardous: you either get a treasure or perish miserably.—The merchant gains the shore with gold in both his hands, or a wave will one day leave him dead on its beach."—Not deeming it generous any further to irritate a poor man's wound with the asperity of reproach, or to sprinkle his sore with the salt of harsh words, I made a summary conclusion in these two verses, and said:— "Wert thou not aware that thou shouldst find fetters on thy feet when thou wouldst not listen to the generous man's counsel? Thrust not again thy finger into a scorpion's hole till thou canst endure the pain of its sting."

“XVI: I was the companion of a holy fraternity, whose manners were correct from piety, and minds disciplined from probity. An eminent prince entertained a high and respectful opinion of the worth of this brotherhood, and had assigned it an endowment. Perhaps one of them committed an act unworthy of the character of dervishes; for the good opinion of that personage was forfeited, and the market of their support shut. I wished that I could by any means re-establish the maintenance of my friends, and attempted to wait on the great man; but his porter opposed my entrance, and turned me away with rudeness. I excused him conformably with what the witty have said: "Till thou canst take an introduction along with thee approach not the gate of a prince, vizier, or lord; for the dog and the doorkeeper, on espying a beggar, will the one seize his skirt and the other his collar."

“When the favorite attendants of that great man were aware of my situation, they ushered me into his presence with respect, and offered me the highest seat; but in humility I took the lowest, and said: "Permit that I, the slave of the abject, should seat myself on a level with servants."—The great man answered, "My God, my God! what room is there for this speech? Wert thou to seat thyself upon the pupil of mine eye, I would court thy dalliance, for thou art lovely."

“In short, I took my seat, and entered upon a variety of topics, 'till the indiscretion of my friends was brought upon the carpet, when I said: "What fault did the lord of past munificence remark, that his servant should seem so contemptible in his sight? Individually with God is the perfection of majesty and goodness, who can discern our failings and continue to us his support." When the prince heard this sentiment he subscribed to its omnipotence; and, with regard to the stipendiary allowance of my friends, he ordered its continuance as heretofore, and a faithful discharge of all arrears. I thanked him for his generosity, kissed the dust of obeisance, apologized for my boldness, and at the moment of taking my leave, added: "When the fane of the Kaaba, at Mecca, became their object from a far distant land, pilgrims would hurry on to visit it for many farsangs. It behooves thee to put up with such as we are, for nobody will throw a stone at a tree that bears no fruit."

“XVIII: A prince inherited immense riches by succeeding to his father. He opened the hand of liberality, displayed his munificence, and bestowed innumerable gifts upon his troops and people. "The brain will not be perfumed by a censer of green aloes-wood; place it over the fire that it may diffuse fragrance like ambergris. If ambitious of a great name, make a practice of munificence, for the crop will not shoot till thou shalt sow the seed."

“A narrow-minded courtier began to admonish him, saying, "Verily, former sovereigns have collected this wealth with scrupulosity and stored it advisedly. Check your hand in this waste, for accidents wait ahead, and foes lurk behind. God forbid that you should want it on a day of need.-Wert thou to distribute the contents of a granary among the people, every master of a family might receive a grain of rice; why not exact a grain of silver from each, that thou mightest daily hoard a chamber full of treasure?"

“The prince turned his face aside from this speech, so contrary to his own lofty sentiments, and harshly reprimanded him, saying, "A great and glorious God made me sovereign of this property, that I might enjoy and spend it; and posted me not a sentinel, to hoard and watch over it.—Carown perished, who possessed forty magazines of treasure; Nushirowan died not, who left behind him a fair reputation."

“XIX: They have related that at a hunting-seat they were roasting some game for Nushirowan, and as there was no salt they were dispatching a servant to the village to fetch some. Nushirowan called to him, saying, "Take it at its fair price, and not by force, lest a bad precedent be established and the village desolated." They asked, "What damage can ensue from this trifle?" He answered, "Originally, the basis of oppression in this world was small, and every newcomer added to it, 'till it reached to its present extent.--Let the monarch eat but one apple from a peasant's orchard, and his guards, or slaves, will pull up the tree by its root. From the plunder of five eggs, that the king shall sanction, his troops will stick a thousand fowls on their spits."

“XX: I have heard of a revenue-collector who would distrain the huts of the peasantry, that he might enrich the treasury of the sovereign, regardless of that maxim of the wise, who have said, "Whoever can offend the Most High, that he may gain the heart of a fellow-creature, God on high will instigate that creature against him, 'till he dig out the foundation of his fortune.—That crackling in the fame is not caused by burning rue, but it is the sigh of the afflicted that occasions it."

“They say, of all animals the lion is the chief; and of beasts the ass is the meanest; yet, with the concurrence of the wise, the burden-bearing ass is preferable to the man-devouring lion. "The poor ass, though devoid of understanding, will be held precious when carrying a burden; oxen and asses that carry loads are preferable to men that injure their fellow creatures."

“The king had reported to him a part of his nefarious conduct. He put him to the rack, and tortured him to death. "Thou canst not obtain the sovereign's approbation 'till thou make sure of the good-will of his people. Wish thou that God shall be bountiful to thee, be thou good thyself to the creatures of God."

“One who had suffered from his oppression passed him at the time of his execution, and said: "It is not every man that may have the strong arm of high station, that can in his government take an immoderate freedom with the subjects' property. It is possible to cram a bone down the throat, but when it sticks at the navel it will burst open the belly."

“XXI: They tell a story of an evil-disposed person who struck a pious good man on the head with a stone. Having no power of revenge, the dervish was keeping the stone by him 'till an occasion when the sovereign let loose the army of his wrath, and cast him into a dungeon. The poor man went up and flung the stone at his head. The person spoke to him, saying, "Who are you, and why did you throw this stone at my head?" He answered, "I am that poor man, and this is the same stone that you on a certain occasion flung at my head." He said, "Where have you been all this time?" The poor man answered, "I stood in awe of your high station, but now that I find you in a dungeon, I avail myself of the opportunity, as they have said— 'Whilst they saw the worthless man in prosperity, the wise thought proper to show him respect. Now thou hast not sharp and tearing nails, it is prudent for thee to defer to engage with the wicked. Whoever grappled with a steel-armed wrist exposed his own silver arm to torture. Wait 'till fortune can manacle his hands, then beat out his brains to the satisfaction of thy friends.'"

“XXV: I have heard that one of the kings of Arabia directed the officers of his treasury, saying, "You will double a certain person's salary, whatever it may be, for he is constant in attendance and ready for orders, while the other courtiers are diverted by play, and negligent of their duty." A good and holy man overheard this, and heaved a sigh and groan from the bottom of his bosom. They asked, saying, "What vision did you see?" He replied, "The exalted mansions of his devoted servants will be after this manner portioned out at the judgment-seat of a Most High and Mighty Deity!—If for two mornings a person is assiduous about the person of the king, on the third he will in some shape regard him with affection. The sincerely devout exist in the hope that they shall not depart disappointed from God's threshold. The rank of a prince is the reward of obedience. Disobedience to command is a proof of rejection. Whoever has the aspect of the upright and good will lay the face of duty at this threshold."

“XXVI: They tell a story of a tyrant who bought firewood from the poor at a low price, and sold it to the rich at an advance. A good and holy man went up to him and said, "Thou art a snake, who bites everybody thou sees; or an owl, who digs up and makest a ruin of the place where thou sits. Although thy injustice may pass unpunished among us, it can not escape God, the knower of secrets. Be not unjust with the people of this earth, that their complaints may not rise up to heaven." They say the unjust man was offended at his words, turned aside his face, and showed him no civility, as they have expressed it (in the Qur'an): He, the glorified God, overtook him amidst his sins: 'till one night, when the fire of his kitchen fell upon the stack of wood, consumed all his property, and laid him from the bed of voluptuousness upon the ashes of hell torments. That good and holy man happened to be passing and observed that he was remarking to his friends, "I can not fancy whence this fire fell upon my dwelling." He said, "From the smoke of the hearts of the poor!—Guard against the smoke of the sore-afflicted heart, for an inside sore will at last gather into a head. Give nobody's heart pain so long as thou canst avoid it, for one sigh may set a whole world into a flame."

“They have related that these verses were inscribed in golden letters upon Kai-khosrau's crown: "How many years, and what a continuance of ages, that mankind shall on this earth walk over my head. As the kingdom came to me from hand to hand, so it shall pass into the hands of others."

“XXVII: A person had become a master in the art of wrestling; he knew three hundred and sixty sleights in this art, and could exhibit a fresh trick for every day throughout the year. Perhaps owing to a liking that a corner of his heart took for the handsome person of one of his scholars, he taught him three hundred and fifty-nine of those feats, but he was putting off the instruction of one, and under some pretense deferring it. In short the youth became such a proficient in the art and talent of wrestling that none of his contemporaries had ability to cope with him, 'till he at length had one day boasted before the reigning sovereign, saying, "To any superiority my master possesses over me, he is beholden to my reverence of his seniority, and in virtue of his tutorage; otherwise I am not inferior in power, and am his equal in skill." This want of respect displeased the king. He ordered a wrestling match to be held, and a spacious field to be fenced in for the occasion. The ministers of State, nobles of the court, and gallant men of the realm were assembled, and the ceremonials of the court marshaled. Like a huge and lusty elephant, the youth rushed into the ring with such a crash that had a brazen mountain opposed him he would have moved it from its base. The master being aware that the youth was his superior in strength, engaged him in that strange feat of which he had kept him ignorant. The youth was unacquainted with its guard. Advancing, nevertheless, the master seized him with both hands, and lifting him bodily from the ground, raised him above his head and flung him on the earth. The crowd set up a shout. The king ordered them to give the master an honorary dress and handsome largess, and the youth he addressed with reproach and asperity, saying, “You played the traitor with your own patron, and failed in your presumption of opposing him." He replied, “O sire! my master did not overcome me by strength and ability, but one cunning trick in the art of wrestling was left which he was reserved in teaching me, and by that little feat had to-day the upper hand of me." The master said, “I reserved myself for such a day as this. As the wise have told us, Put it not so much into a friend's power that, if hostilely disposed, he can do you an injury.' Have you not heard what that man said who was treacherously dealt with by his own pupil: ' Either in fact there was no good faith in this world, or nobody has perhaps practiced it in our days. No person learned the art of archery from me who did not in the end make me his butt.'?"

“XXVIII: A solitary dervish had taken up his station at the corner of a desert. A king was passing by him. Inasmuch as contentment is the enjoyment of a kingdom, the dervish did not raise his head, nor show him the least mark of attention and, inasmuch as sovereignty is regal pomp, the king took offense, and said : "The tribe of ragged mendicants resemble brute beasts, and have neither grace nor good manners." The vizier stepped up to him, and said: "O generous man! the sovereign of the universe has passed by you; why did you not do him homage, and discharge the duty of obeisance?" He answered and said, “Speak to your sovereign, saying: Expect service from that person who will court your favor; let him moreover know that kings are meant for the protection of the people, and not the people for the subjects of kings. —Though it be for their benefit that his glory is exalted, yet is the king but the shepherd of the poor. The sheep are not intended for the service of the shepherd, but the shepherd is appointed to tend the sheep. —Today thou mayest observe one man proud from prosperity, another with a heart sore from adversity; have patience for a few days 'till the dust of the grave can consume the brain of that vain and foolish head. When the record of destiny came to take effect, the distinction of liege and subject disappeared. Were a person to turn up the dust of the defunct, he could not distinguish that of the rich man from the poor."

“These sayings made a strong impression upon the king; he said: "Ask me for something." He replied: "What I desire is, that you will not trouble me again!" The king said, "Favor me with a piece of advice." He answered: "Attend to them now that the good things of this life are in thy hands; for wealth and dominion are passing from one hand into another."

“XXX: A king ordered an innocent person to be put to death. The man said, "Seek not your own hurt by venting any anger you may entertain against me." The king asked, "How?" He replied, "The pain of this punishment will continue with me for a moment, but the sin of it will endure with you forever.--The period of this life passes by like the wind of the desert. Joy and sorrow, beauty and deformity, equally pass away. The tyrant vainly thought that he did me an injury, but round his neck it clung and passed over me." The king profited by this advice, spared his life, and asked his forgiveness.

“XXXI: The cabinet ministers of Nushirowan were debating an important affair of State, and each delivered his opinion according to the best of his judgment. In like manner the king also delivered his sentiments, and Abu-zarchamahr, the prime minister, accorded in opinion with him. The other ministers whispered to him, saying, "What did you see superior in the king's opinion that you preferred it to the judgment of so many wise heads?" He replied: "Because the event is doubtful, and the opinion of all rests in the pleasure of the most high God whether it shall be right or wrong. Accordingly it is safer to conform with the judgment of the king, because if that shall prove wrong, our obsequiousness to his will shall secure us from his displeasure. —To sport an opinion contrary to the judgment of the king were to wash our hands in our own blood. Were he verily to say this day is night, it would behoove us to reply: Lo! there are the moon and seven stars."

Joseph and Zuleika (1470) by Jami (1414-1492)

Jami in the Rose Garden

In the early 20th century, Charles F. Horne wrote: “Jami, the last of the great classic poets of Persia, was born at Jam, near Herat, in 1414 and died in Herat in 1492. He essayed every form of literature and achieved success in each. From childhood he was welcomed everywhere as a marvel of brilliancy. He himself wrote that he never found a master who knew more than he. When we seek for the work which best represents this universal genius, we find it perhaps in his chief love-tale, which follows below. This mingles Nizami's romantic touch with Jalal's Sufism and the fire of Hafiz. It is Jami at his highest note. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East”, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol.VIII: Medieval Persia, pp. 103-107]

Zuleika, the daughter of Taimus, King of Mauretania, beheld in a dream a figure of such extraordinary beauty that she became immediately enamored of the glorious vision, and sank into a deep melancholy, fruitlessly longing for the unknown object. This dream was three times repeated, and the last time the beautiful apparition named Egypt as the land of his abode. He is indeed Joseph, or Yusuf, of the Old Testament, and Zuleika is to play the part of Potiphar's wife. The following is abridged by L. M. Costello.

The ravens of the night were hushed,
The bird of dawn began his lay,
The rosebud, newly awakened, blushed
To feel the touch of springing day,
And bade the roses round unveil,
Roused by the warbling nightingale.
The jasmine stood all bathed in dew;
Wet were the violet's lids of blue.

Zuleika, fairer than the flowers,
Lay tranced—for 'twas not sleep that stole
Her senses, through the night's still hours,
And raised new visions to her soul.
The heart unfettered, free to rove,
Turned toward the idol of her love.

No—'twas not sleep, 'twas motionless,
Unbroken thought, repressed in vain;
The shadow of the day's distress,
A frenzy of remembered pain.
But, 'midst those pangs, what rapture still;
The same dear form is ever there;
Those eyes the rays of Eden fill
And odors of the blest distill
From every curl of that bright hair!
His smiles!—such smiles as houris wear
When from their caves of pearl they come,
And bid the true believer share
The pleasures of their sacred home.
See, on his shoulder shines a star
That glows and dazzles as he moves:
She feels its influence afar,
She gazes, worships, hopes—and loves!

At this period, while her mind is absorbed by the one engrossing idea, an embassy arrives in Mauritania from that very country, Egypt, the land of all her hopes, soliciting the hand of the princess for the Asis, or grand vizier of Pharaoh, an offer which she unhesitatingly accepts, being secretly convinced that her visionary lover and her proposed future husband are the same. She accordingly departs for Egypt, with a splendid and numerous retinue, and makes a magnificent entry into Memphis, under the escort of the Asis Potiphar, or Kitfir, himself, who comes to meet his bride. Curious to discover his identity, she anxiously seizes an opportunity of peeping through the curtains of her litter, but is filled with grief and dismay on finding a totally different person from the lovely image of her dreams. She thus exclaims, on hearing the acclamations which announce the arrival of the Asis, when he first comes to meet her, before she has yet made the discovery fatal to her peace:

O joy too great!—O hour too blest!
He comes—they hail him—now, more near,
His eager courser's feet I hear.
Oh heart! be hushed within my breast,
Burst not with rapture! Can it be?
The idol of my life—divine,
All radiant, clothed in mystery,
And loving me as I adore,
As none dared ever love before,
Shall be—nay, is—even now, is mine!

I will be patient, but his breath
Seems stealing o'er my senses—death
Were better than suspense like this—
One draught—though 'twere the last—of bliss!
One glance, though in that glance I die,
To prove the glorious certainty!

Not he! not he! on whom for years
My soul has dwelt with sacred truth;
For whom my life has passed in tears,
And wasted was my bloom of youth;
For whom I breathed, and thought, and moved,
My own, my worshiped, my beloved!
I hailed the night, that I might gaze
Upon his star's unconquered blaze:
The morn but rose that I might pray,
Hope, wish, expect from day to day,
My sole existence was that thought,
And I do wake to know 'tis naught?
Vain tears, vain madness, vain endeavor,
Another blasts my sight forever !

Dawn upon the wide world broke,
And the sun's warm rays awoke;
Scattering o'er the cloudy sky
Hues of rich variety:
Such bright tinting as illumes
With its rays the peacock's plumes,
And the parrot's feathers bright,
Touches with a starry light.
The Asis rides in kingly guise;
Yon curtained litter holds the prize
More precious than all wealth beside—
His own, his young, his peerless bride.

Around, afar, of homage proud,
In countless ranks his warriors crowd,
Well may the lordly Asis boast
The glories of his gorgeous host.
Rich are the veils, profusely spread,
That canopy the "fair one's" head;
Like some delicious tree that throws
Its shade, inviting to repose:
And, like soft turf, the carpets lie,
Bedecked with gay embroidery.

The temple moves, all-glorious, on—
Throned in the midst the "happy one."
All heaven resounds with shout and song,
As the bright pageant sweeps along.
The camel-drivers' cries succeed,
Urging their stately beasts to speed.
Whose hoofs, with swift and frequent tread,
The sands with moonlike forms have spread:
The earth is plowed with coursers' feet
And still fresh hosts the wounds repeat.
Many a fair and blushing maid
Exulted in the gay parade:
And all who called the Asis lord
Hailed the fair idol he adored.
But she— "the beautiful," "the blest"—
What pangs, what tumults shook her breast!
She sat, concealed from every eye—
Alone—in hopeless misery.

"O Fate!" she cried; "O ruthless Fate!
Why am I made thy mark of hate?
Why must my heart thy victim be?
Thus lost, abandoned—crushed by thee!
Thou camest, in troubled dreams, and stole
The peace, the pleasure of my soul,
In visions that the blest might share,
Whose only fruit has been despair.
I see each glittering fabric fall;
But vain reproach, vain trust, vain all!
For help, for rest, where can I fly?
My heart is riven—let me die!

Have I then lingered long in pain,
In sad suspense, in musings vain,
To be—O crowning grief! betrayed,
In foreign lands a victim made?
Relentless destiny! accurst
Were all the joys thy visions nurst.
Is there no drop of hope left yet?
Must I all promises forget?
Dash not my cup to earth: say, Power benign,
I may be blest—even yet he may be mine!"

"Why hast thou thus cruelly
Robbed me of my peace?
What have I done to thee to be thus treated;
it is folly indeed that I seek help from thee.
When souls melt, thou art called upon for aid;
What is the melting of thy soul?"

Thus raved Zuleika, when without
Arose the sudden deafening shout
That hailed the close of all their toil—

"Lo!—Memphis! and the banks of Nile!"

Then, far and ide, the glittering ranks
Rush to the fiowery river's banks.
The Asis' sign his slaves obey,
Gold, silver, flowers, bestrew the way:
And o'er the litter gems are thrown,
Whose countless rays like meteors shone;
As thick they fall as on the rose
Hang the rich dews at evening's close;
The courser's feet on rubies trod,
O'er mounds of gold the camel strode.

On swept the train—one gorgeous mile,
Planting with gems the banks of Nile;
The proud stream rolled its waters deep
O'er pearls in many a shining heap:
Each shell was filled with pearls; each scale
That clothed the crocodile in mail
Was changed to silver, as he lay
And basked amidst the fervid ray.

And onward to the palace-gate
The train poured on, in sumptuous state;
The glowing portals opened wide—
In flowed the overwhelming tide,
Ushering the Asis and his bride.

A throne the Peris might have framed,
The sun and moon's pale luster shamed:
And she, whose radiance all effaced—
Zuleika—on the throne was placed.
Sparkling with jewels, red with gold,
Her heart shrunk, withered, crushed, and cold;

Although a feverish sense of pain
Frenzied her mind and seared her brain:
As on a flaming hearth she sat—
Amidst rejoicing—desolate!
Laden with many a priceless gem,
Crowned with a gorgeous diadem.
Each pearl a poisonous drop appears:
And from her eyes fall scalding tears.

And thus a crown is gained—for this,
We leave all thoughts of present bliss!
We toil, we strive, we live in care,
And in the end possess—despair!
Our sun of youth, of hope, is set,
And all our guerdon is—regret!

The poem now pursues the Scriptural account of the life of Joseph, or Yussuf, whose supernatural beauty is, however, described as being the especial gift of God, and recorded to have been so great that no woman could look on him without love. Zuleika, therefore, only shared the fate of all her sex. Some writers say the ladies who clamored so much against her for her passion were, when he first entered the chamber where they were all assembled, in the act of cutting pomegranates, some say oranges, and in their admiration and amazement cut their fingers instead of the fruit! Yussuf is considered the emblem of divine perfection, and Zuleika's love is the image of the love of the creature toward the Creator: some go so far as to say that we ought to follow her example, and should permit the beauty of God to transport us out of ourselves. The rapid change from prison to high estate of Yussuf they consider a type of the impatience of the soul to burst its fetters and join its Creator.
Yussuf was always surrounded with a celestial light, typical as well of the moral beauty and wisdom which adorned his mind. He is sold as a slave, and Zuleika becomes his purchaser, to the great rage and envy of all her rivals, amongst whom was included the Princess Nasigha, of the race of Aad. The beautiful Yussuf now enters her service, and, at his own desire, a flock of sheep are given to his special keeping, his admiring mistress wishing, by every indulgence, to attach him to her. The nurse of Zuleika is the confidante of the passion which she cannot control, and which, at length, in an imprudent moment, she discloses to its object himself. His father, Jacob, or the angel Gabriel in his likeness, appears, to warn him of his danger, and he flies, leaving his mistress in an agony of despair, rage, and grief. She thus exclaims:

Is this a dream?—another dream,
Like that which stole my senses first,
Which sparkled o'er my life's dull stream,
By idle, erring fancy nursed?
Was it for this my life I spent
In murmurs deep, and discontent—
Slighted, for this, all homage due,
From gen'rous, faithful love withdrew?
For this, no joy, no pomp have prized;
For this, all honors have despised—
Left all my soul, to passion free,
To be thus hated—spurned-by thee?
O God! to see thee loathing turn,
While on my cheeks swift blushes burn:
Contempt, abhorrence on thy brow,
Where radiant sweetness dwelt—>till now!
Thy bitter accents, fierce, severe,
In harsh, unwonted tones to hear:
Thy horror, thy disgust to view,
And know thy accusations true!
All, all but this I could have borne—
A husband's vengeance and his scorn;
To be reproached, disgraced, reviled,
So Yussuf on his victim smiled.
I would, amidst the desert's gloom,
Have hailed, with thee, a living tomb;
My home, my state, my birth forgot,
And, with thy love, embraced thy lot;
Had taught my heart all pangs to share,
And prove what perfect love can dare.

There’s More

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Arab News, Jeddah; Islam, a Short History by Karen Armstrong; A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani (Faber and Faber, 1991); Encyclopedia of the World Cultures edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994). Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The Guardian, BBC, Al Jazeera, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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