Warner, Arthur George and Warner, Edmond;
The Shahnama of Firdausi
(London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner and Co) 1909.
|p100 Par. 1 In the Name of God the Merciful, the Pitiful IN the name of the Lord of both wisdom and mind, To nothing sublimer can thought be applied, The Lord of whatever is named or assigned A place, the Sustainer of all and the Guide, The Lord of Saturn and the turning sky, Who causeth Venus, Sun, and Moon to shine, Who is above conception, name, or sign, The Artist of the heaven's jewelry! Him thou canst see not though thy sight thou strain, For thought itself will struggle to attain To One above all name and place in vain, Since mind and wisdom fail to penetrate Beyond our elements, but operate On matters that the senses render plain. |p101 None then can praise God as He is. Observe Thy duty: 'tis to gird thyself to serve. He weigheth mind and wisdom; should He be Encompassed by a thought that He hath weighed? Can He be praised by such machinery As this, with mind or soul or reason's aid? Confess His being but affirm no more, Adore Him and all other ways ignore, Observing His commands. Thy source of might Is knowledge: thus old hearts grow young again, But things above the Veil surpass in height All words: God's essence is beyond our ken. Par. 2 Discourse in Praise of Wisdom Speak, sage! the praise of wisdom and rejoice The hearts of those that hearken to thy voice, As God's best gift to thee extol the worth Of wisdom, which will comfort thee and guide, And lead thee by the hand in heaven and earth. Both joy and grief, and gain and loss, betide Therefrom, and when it is eclipsed the sane Know not of happiness one moment more. Thus saith the wise and virtuous man of lore Lest sages search his words for fruit in vain:- "What man soever spurneth wisdom's rede Will by so doing make his own heart bleed; The prudent speak of him as one possessed, And 'he is not of us' his kin protest." In both worlds wisdom recommendeth thee When gyves are on the ankles of the mad; It is the mind's eye; if thou dost not see Therewith thy journey through this world is sad. |p102 It was the first created thing, and still Presideth o'er the mind and faculty Of praise - praise offered by tongue, ear, and eye, All causes it may be of good or ill. To praise both mind and wisdom who would dare? And if I venture, who would hear me through? Since then, O man of wisdom! thou canst do No good by words hereon, proceed, declare Creation's process. God created thee To know appearance and reality. Let wisdom be thy minister to fend Thy mind from all that self-respect should shun, Learn by the words of sages how to wend Thy way, roam earth, converse with every one; And when thou hearest any man of lore Discourse, sleep not, increase thy wisdom's store; But mark, while gazing at the boughs of speech, How much the roots thereof are out of reach. Par. 3 Of the Making of the World The first thing needful for thee is to know The sum of primal elements which He, Who maketh all things, made from naught to show The greatness of His own supremacy. Those elements are fourfold; at their birth No time elapsed and labour had no share; Fire shone above, and in the midst were air And water; underneath was dusky earth. Fire was the first its virtue to unfold; About it moisture ceased and dryness came; |p103 Then fire where'er it failed made way for cold, And moisture followed cold. Even so the frame Of this our Wayside Hostelry was made. When these four primal elements combined, They wrought, each on the rest, till every kind Of products as we see them was displayed. The turning vault of heaven showed its face, Exhibiting new wonders day by day, The Seven Planets then began their sway In yon Twelve Houses; each one took its place, Foreboding good and ill, and giving fit Return to every one that hath the wit To read. The heavens, fettered sphere to sphere, Moved as their making to completion came, And then this earth, with mountain, desert, mere, And upland, shone as 'twere a lamp aflame. The mountains reared themselves, the streams gushed out, While from the soil the herbs began to sprout. Our earth was not vouchsafed a lofty stead; Obscurity and gloom prevailed around, But stars displayed their wonders overhead And light grew more abundant on the ground; Then fire arose and water sank, the sun About the world its course began to run. The herbage and the various kinds of trees Grew up as fortune would. No faculties Have they but growth. Thus fixed they were the prey Of all the animals that passed, while they, The roamers, aim at safety, nourishment, And rest; with such a life they are content. With sluggish wits and tongues that never spake, They browse upon the briar and the brake, |p104 Acknowledging no end as wrong or right And not required to offer reverence To Him who, having wisdom, justice, might, Hath not withheld one single excellence. Par. 4 Of the Nature of Man A farther step-man cometh into sight; Locks had been made; he was the key of each. With head erect and cypresslike in height, Submiss to wisdom and endowed with speech, Possessed of knowledge, wisdom, reasoning, He ruleth other creatures as their king. Observe awhile with wisdom for thy guide Doth "man" imply one nature, one alone? Thou know'st it may be but the feeble side Of mortal man, wherein no trace is shown Of aught beyond, and yet two worlds agree - A mighty partnership - to furnish thee. By nature first, in order last, art thou; Hold not thyself then lightly. I have known Shrewd men speak otherwise, but who shall trow The secrets that pertain to God alone? Look to the end, act ever rightfully And toil, since sloth and knowledge ne'er agree; But if thou wouldst escape calamity, In both worlds from the net of bale be freed And in God's sight a righteous man indeed, Then to yon swiftly turning dome thy gaze Direct, that cause of anguish and relief, A dome not fretted by the lapse of days And unaffected by our joy or grief; |p105 It stayeth not to rest but turneth still, Not perishing like us but undecayed There both the term and process are displayed, There are revealed to thee both good and ill. Par. 5 Of the Nature of the Sun Of ruby is yon azure dome, not made Of air and water, dust and smoke; 'tis all With lamp and torch in many a spot arrayed Like gardens for the New Year's festival. Within the dome a gladdening Gem behold Revolving; thence the light of day is spread, And every morning like a shield of gold It raiseth from the East its shining head; The earth is clad in robes of spreading light, The sun declineth and there cometh night; Day ne'er o'ertaketh night, nor night the day, Most regular in all their movements they. O thou my Sun! hast thou for me no ray? Par. 6 Of the Nature of the Moon Though night be dark there is a light assured See that thou use it not unworthily. Two days and nights its features are obscured, Worn soothly by revolving; presently 'Tis seen again but pallid, thin, and backed, Like one who by the pangs of love is racked. |p106 Then if the gazer far away secure A glimpse thereof; 'tis quickly lost to sight; But on the following eve it seemeth more And yieldeth unto thee a larger light. In fourteen days it waxeth full and bright, In four teen waneth till its course is run, Diminishing as night succeedeth night And drawing nearer to the blazing sun. Such was the nature given by God's decree And will be, while the moon itself shall be. Par. 7 The Praise of the Prophet and his Companions The Faith and knowledge trusty guides are they, And 'tis for thee to seek Salvation's way; If thou wouldst have thy heart not sad, not see Thy spirit wretched through eternity, To take the Prophet's teaching be thy part, There wash away the darkness of thy heart. What was it that He said, the inspired Lord, Of bidding and forbidding - Heaven's own word? "I am the City of the Doctrine, he That is the gateway to it is 'Ali." I witness that His heart is in that word As though, as thou mayst say, His voice I heard. Regard then each companion and 'Ali As those that gave the Faith stability; These are the moons, the Prophet is the sun; With there in union is the way to run. Slave of the Prophet's slaves with praise I greet The dust upon his mandatary's feet, What others say to me is no concern, This is my way, from this I never turn. |p107 The sage regardeth as a sea this world, A sea whose waves are driven by the blast; Thera seventy gallant ships go sailing past, Each with her canvas every stitch unfurled. One stately vessel is in bridal gear, As beauteous as the eye of chanticleer. Muhammad and 'Ali are there within That stately vessel, they and all their kin. The sage beholding from afar that sea Of viewless shore and depth, and ware that he Must face the waves where all must drown, "If I Shall go down with Muhammad and 'Ali," He saith, "I sink in goodly company, And surely He will rescue me from ill, Who is of standard, crown, and throne the Lord, The Lord of wine, of honey, and of rill, Of founts of milk and floods which spread abroad.' If on the other world thou fix throe eyes Keep close beside the Prophet and 'Ali, And, should ill follow, lay the blame on me, Who take myself the course that I advise. In this Faith was I born, in this will die; The dust upon the Lion's foot am I. fhy heart, if prone to err, is thine own foe, And can the world more abject miscreants know Than haters of 'Ali, for born in shame Are they, and destined to eternal flame? Take not this world in jest, but walk with those Whose steps are right; right as thine end propose If thou wouldst be with men of glorious name. Why do I talk so long? I fail to see A limit to my theme's fertility. |p108 Par. 8 On the Compilation of the Shahnama All have gone sweeping in the garth of lore And what I tell hath all been told before, But though upon a fruit-tree I obtain No place, and purpose not to climb, still he That sheltereth beneath a lofty tree Will from its shadow some protection gain; A footing on the boughs too I may find Of yonder shady cypress after all For having left this history behind Of famous kings as my memorial. Deem not these legends lying fantasy, As if the world were always in one stay, For most accord with sense, or anyway Contain a moral. In the days gone by There was an Epic Cycle spread broadcast Among the learned archmages, and at last A certain paladin, of rustic birth, A man of courage, wisdom, rank, and worth, An antiquary, one who ransacked earth For any legends of the ages past, Intent on learning what might yet be known, Called hoar archmages out of every clime, To ask about the annals of the throne, The famed successful heroes of old tune, What men were doing in those days that we Inherit such a world of misery, And how each day beneath auspicious skies They carried out some daring enterprise. The archmages told their legendary store, How this world fared and what kings undertook, THE PRELUDE And as he listened to the men of lore He laid the basis of the famous book, Which now remaineth his memorial, Amid the plaudits both of great and small. Par. 9 Of the poet Dakiki Now, when the readers of the book had brought The stories into vogue, all hearts were caught, At least among the men of parts and thought. A brilliant youth well skilled in poetry Arose, of ardent mind and eloquent; "I will retell these tales in verse," said he, And every one rejoiced at his intent; But vicious habits were his friends, though we Should hold all vices foes that we should dread, And death, approaching unexpectedly, Imposed its gloomy helmet on his head. He gave his life to vice, and earth ne'er gave Him true enjoyment for a single day While fortune quickly turned its face away He perished by the hand of his own slave. Departing thus he left those tales of yore Untold; their wakened fortune slept once more. O God! forgive his faults, and in Thy grace Assign him at the last an honoured place. Par. 10 How the present Book was begun Mine ardent heart turned, when Dakiki fell, Spontaneously toward the Iranian throne; "If I can get the book I will retell," I said, "the tales in language of mine own." |p110 I asked of persons more than I can say, For I was fearful as time passed away That life would not suffice, but that I too Should leave the work for other hands to do. There was besides a dearth of patronage For such a work; there was no purchaser. It was a time of war, a straitened age For those who had petitions to prefer. Much time elapsed. I still concealed from all My secret purpose, for I could not see One who was worthy to partake with me This enterprise. What in this world can be More excellent than noble words? Men call Down blessings on them, men both great and small. Good words had God vouchsafed not to provide, How had the Prophet ever been our guide? I had a dear friend in the city, thou Hadst said: "They twain have but one skin." One day He said: "I like thy scheme; pursue thy way; Thy feet are in the right direction now. I undertake for my part to procure This ancient Persian book; but be not slack. Of youth and eloquence thou hast a store, Thy speech possesseth too the ancient smack. The stories of our kings afresh relate, And raise thy reputation with the great." He brought the volume to me and anon The darkness of my gloomy soul was gone. Par. 11 In Praise of Abu Mansur, Son of Muhammad When I obtained the volume a grandee Of noble lineage and conspicuous worth, Still in his youth, a paladin by birth, |p111 Possessing prudence, wit, and energy, A lord of counsel and of modesty, To hear whose gentle accents was my joy, Said unto me: "What means can I employ To make thee give thy life to poetry? I will do all and hide thy poverty." He used to tender me as one would tend Ripe apples, lest a breath of wind should spoil; Thus through that noble and kind-hearted friend I soared to Saturn from our grimy soil. In his eyes gold and silver were as dust While rank gained lustre. Earth seemed vile indeed Before him. He was brave and one to trust, And when he perished was as in a mead A lofty cypress levelled by a gust. I see no trace of him alive or dead; By murderous Crocodiles his life was sped. Woe for that girdle and that girdlestead, That royal mien, that high imperial head Bereft of him my heart's hopes ceased to be, My spirit quivered like a willow-tree; But I bethink me, to redress this woe, Of counsel which to that great prince I owe; He said: "This Tale of Kings, if 'tis thy fate To tell it, to the great king dedicate." Those words gave solace to my heart; there came Thereto a sense of gladness and content; I took in hand my story in the name Of him who is o'er kings pre-eminent, The lord of earth, the lord of crown and throne, Whose conquering fortune sleep hath never known. |p112 Par. 12 The Praise of Sultan Mahmud Ne'er, since the making of the world was done, Hath such a king been seen by human eye; The crown above his throne is like the sun, And maketh earth as bright as ivory. How canst thou say: "It is the sun indeed "? From him by far more glorious rays proceed. Abu'l Kasim! this all-victorious one Hath set his throne yet higher than the sun! His are the rays which illustrate the sky, His is the Grace which openeth afar Yon mines of gold. Awoke my slumbering star. Ideas poured through my brain tumultuously. Methought? The time for speaking in good sooth Hath come, the outworn age regaineth youth." By thoughts of this great monarch occupied I fell asleep one night with lips all praise, While my free heart, although my lips were tied, Shone in the dark. Then I beheld in sleep A dazzling lustre rising from the deep And making by the brightness of its rays The gloom of earth like glittering gems. The waste Grew like brocade beneath that radiant light, And in the midst a turquoise throne was placed. Upon the throne there sat a moon-like king With on his head a crown for covering. His army stretched two miles. To left there were Seven hundred elephants in all their might. Before him stood a trusty minister To guide him to the Faith and to do right. |p113 By that Shah's Grace, by all those troops outspread And mighty elephants my head was dazed, And as upon his royal face I gazed To that illustrious company I said :- "Is this the sky and moon, or throne and crown? Are these his soldiers or the stars come down? " One answered? Tis the king of Rum and Ind, King from Kannuj e'en to the river Sind, While in Turan and in Iran men give As slaves obedience to his will and live Thereby. With justice decked he earth and now, That done, hath set the crown upon his brow. Mahmud the worldlord, the great Shah, doth bring Together sheep and wolf for watering. The monarchs from Kashmir down to the sea Of Chin are instant in his eulogy, And children yet within their cots proclaim With lips unweaned as their first word his name Do thou too tell his praise, for thou canst speak, And through him everlasting glory seek. All do his bidding and keep fealty." When I awakened to my feet I sprang, Oh! what a while that night his praise I sang No drachms had I but poured my soul, and cried To mine own heart? My dream is justified. For his renown is patent far and wide." Then praise to him who praiseth the Most High For sleepless fortune, crown, and signet-ring. His glory maketh earth like garths in Spring With flower-painted soil and cloudy sky - A sky whence in their season showers come And make the world a garden of Iram. What good is in Iran his justice giveth, His name alone is heard where any liveth. |p114 A bounteous Heaven at banquets thou wilt find, A sharp-clawed Dragon in the fray meanwhile; He is an elephant, bath Gabriel's mind, Hands like a winter-cloud, heart like the Nile. When he is wroth, opposing fortune's might Is, as dinars are, worthless in his sight; To boast of crown and hoard is not his part, And war and travail darken not his heart. All those who are among his fosterlings, Freeborn or otherwise, but noble still, Devoted lieges of the king of kings, With loins girt ready to perform his will, Have each a province under their control, Each hath his name inscribed on every roll. The foremost is his brother, who in years Is younger, but in courage hath no peers; They who are courtiers of his Grace acquire Joy in the shadow of the age's king, For he who hath Nasiru'd Din for sire Hath round his throne the Pleiads in a ring, And is the lord of prowess, rede, and might In whom the nobles, one and all, delight. Next is the prince of Tus, a valiant lord Who mocketh lions in the battle-tide, And lavisheth what fortune may accord To him, desiring honour, naught beside. He leadeth lnen to God; his prayer is still That the Shah's head may be preserved from ill. May earth ne'er see that royal head go down, And may the Shah rejoice for ever thus, Possessing health of body, throne, and crown, Unpained, untroubled, and victorious. Now to the opening of my work once more To tell the tales of famous kings of yore. |p115 THE BEGINNING OF THE HISTORY THE PISHDADIAN DYNASTY |p118 Par. 1 The Greaness of Gaiumart and the Envy of Ahriman What saith the rustic bard? Who first designed To gain the crown of power among mankind? Who placed the diadem upon his brow? The record of those days hath perished now Unless one, having borne in memory Tales told by sire to son, declare to thee Who was the first to use the royal style And stood the head of all the mighty file. He who compiled the ancient legendary, And tales of paladins, saith Gaiumart Invented crown and throne, and was a Shah. This order, Grace, and lustre came to earth When Sol was dominant in Aries And shone so brightly that the world grew young. Its lord was Gaiumart, who dwelt at first Upon a mountain; thence his throne and fortune Rose. He and all his troop wore leopard-skins, And under him the arts of life began, For food and dress were in their infancy. |p119 He reigned o'er all the earth for thirty years, In goodness like a sun upon the throne, And as a full moon o'er a lofty cypress So shone he from the seat of king of kings. The cattle and the divers beasts of prey Grew tame before him; men stood not erect Before his throne but bent, as though in prayer, Awed by the splendour of his high estate, And thence received their Faith. He had a son Named Siyamak, ambitious like his sire, A youth well favoured, skilled, and fortunate, His father's Life, whose joy was gazing on him, That fruitful offshoot of the ancient stem. That Life the father cherished tenderly, And wept for love, consumed by dread of parting. Thus time passed onward and the kingdom prospered, For Gaiumart had not an enemy Except, in secret, wicked Ahriman, Who led by envy sought the upper hand. He had a son too, like a savage wolf Grown fearless, and a host of warriors. The son assembled these and sought his sire, Resolved to win the great Shah's throne and crown, Whose fortune joined with that of Siyamak Made the world black to him. He told his purpose To every one and filled the world with clamour; But who told Gaiumart about the foe? The blest Surush appeared in fairy-form, Bedight with leopard-skin, and told the king The projects that his foes were harbouring. |p120 Par. 2 How Siyamak was Slain by the Hand of the Div News of that foul div's acts reached Siyamak, Who listened eagerly; his heart seethed up With rage. He gathered troops, arrayed himself In leopard-skin, for mail was yet unworn, And went to fight. When host met host he came In front unarmed to grapple with the son Of Ahriman. That horrible Black Div Clutched at, bent down that prince of lofty stature And rent him open. Thus died Siyamak By that foul hand and left the army chiefless. When Gaiumart heard this the world turned black To him, he left his throne, he wailed aloud And tore his face and body with his nails; His cheeks were smirched with blood, his heart was broken, And life grew sombre. All the soldiers wept, Consumed upon the flames of woe, and wailed As clad in turquoise-coloured garb they stood Before the portal of the Shah. All cheeks Were wine-red, for all eyes shed tears of blood. Birds, timid beasts and fierce, flocked to the mountain With doleful cries in anguish, and dust rose Before the court-gate of the mighty Shah. When one year had passed thus the blest Surush Was sent by God; he greeted Gaiumart And said: "Lament no more, control thyself, Do as I bid, collect thy troops and turn Thy foemen into dust, relieve earth's surface Of that vile div and thine own heart of vengeance." |p121 The famous Shah looked up and cursed his foes, Then, calling by the highest of all names Upon his God, he wiped his tears away And prosecuted vengeance night and day. Par. 3 How Hushang and Gaiumart went to Fight the Black Div The blessed Siyamak had left a son, His grandsire's minister, a prince by name Hushang - a name implying sense and wisdom. It was the lost restored and fondly cherished, And therefore being set on war the Shah Sent for the prince and frankly told him all :- "I mean to gather troops and raise the war-cry, But thou being young shalt lead for I am spent." He raised a host of fairies, lions, pards, And raveners, as wolves and fearless tigers, But took the rear, his grandson led the host. The Black Div though in terror raised the dust To heaven, but his claws were hanging slack Frayed by the roaring beasts. Hushang saw this And putting forth his hands like lion's paws Made earth too narrow for the lusty div, Then flayed him, lopping off his monstrous head, And trampled him in scorn thus flayed and shent. The days of Gaiumart had reached their close When he achieved this vengeance on his foes; He passed away, the world was for his heir, But see who hath had glory to compare With his! He owned this tricky world and made The path of gain his path, and yet he stayed Not to enjoy, for like a story done Is this world: good and ill abide with none. |p122 II HUSHANG HE REIGNED FORTY YEARS Par. 1 The Accession of Hushang and his civilising Arts Hushang, a just and prudent sovereign, Assumed his grandsire's crown. For forty years Heaven turned above him. He was just and wise. |p123 He said: "I lord it o'er the seven climes, Victorious everywhere. My word is law, I practise bounteousness and equity; So hath God willed." He civilised the world, And filled the surface of the earth with justice. He was the first to deal with minerals And win the iron from the rock by craft. He gained more knowledge and, inventing smithing, Made axes, saws, and mattocks. Next he turned To irrigation by canals and ducts; Grace made the labour short. As knowledge grew Men sowed and reaped and planted. Each produced The loaf whereof he ate, and kept his station. Till then men lived on fruit in poor estate And clad themselves in leaves. Religious rites Existed, Gaiumart had worshipped God. Hushang first showed the fire within the stone, And thence through all the world its radiance shone. Par. 2 How the feast of Sada was Founded One day he reached a mountain with his men And saw afar a long swift dusky form With eyes like pools of blood and jaws whose smoke Bedimmed the world. Hushang the wary seized A stone, advanced and hurled it royally. The world-consuming worm escaped, the stone Struck on a larger, and they both were shivered. Sparks issued and the centres flashed. The fire Came from its stony hiding-place again When iron knocked. The worldlord offered praise For such a radiant gift. He made of fire A cynosure. "This lustre is divine," He said, "and thou if wise must worship it." |p124 That night he made a mighty blaze, he stood Around it with his men and held the feast Called Sada; that bright festival remaineth As his memorial, and may earth see More royal benefactors like to him. By Grace and kingly power domesticating Ox, ass, and sheep he turned them to good use. "Pair them," he said, "use them for toil, enjoy Their produce, and provide therewith your taxes." He slew the furry rovers for their skins, Such as the squirrel, ermine, fox, and sable, So sleek of hair; the rovers clothed the talkers. He gave, spent freely, and enjoyed the fruit, Then passing took naught with him but repute. In life no little share of toil had he In musings past all count and grammarye, And when a better life was his elsewhere He left the throne of greatness to his heir. The time that fortune gave him did not last For long, Hushang, the wise and prudent, passed. To thee too this world will not give its love, Nor will it from its face the veil remove. |p125 TAHMURAS TAHMURAS, THE BINDER OF THE DIV, REIGNED THIRTY YEARS |p126 Par. 1 Tahmuras ascends the Throne, invents new Arts, subdues the Divs, and dies Hushang possessed a wise and noble son Hight Tahmuras - the Binder of the Div - Who took the throne and girt his loins to rule, Then called the archmages and in gracious words Said: "Throne and palace, crown and mace and cap Are mine to-day, and when my rede hath purged The world a mountain-top shall be my footstool. I will restrain the Div, will reign supreme, And use the useful for the common gold." He sheared the flocks, and men began to spin; He thus invented clothes and draperies. He chose the swiftest quadrupeds and made them To feed on barley, grass, and hay; he noted The shyest of the beasts of prey, and chose The jackal and the cheetah, luring them From hill and plain, and taught them to obey him. Among the well-armed birds he chose the hawk And noble falcon, and began to tame them While men looked on amazed. His orders were To rear the birds and speak to them with kindness. He brought the cocks and hens to crow at drumbeat, And turned all hidden properties to use. He said: "Address your prayers and praise to Him Who made the world, and us to rule the beasts Praise be to Him, for He directed us." |p127 He had a famed and honest minister By name Shidasp, an upright man who took No step unless toward justice. Through the day He fasted, through the night he prayed, and lived In charity with all. The Shah's good fortune Was his sole wealth, ill doers he restrained And taught the Shah all good, acknowledging No rank but excellence till Tahmuras, Purged of his faults and glorious with the Grace, Bound Ahriman with spells and rode him horsewise At whiles around the world. Thereat the divs Rebelled and held a conclave, for their throne Of gold was void. When Tahmuras was ware He was enraged and spoiled their trafficking, Girt him with Grace and took his massive mace. Then all the divs and warlocks sallied forth - A huge magician host. The Black Div led them And vapoured, while their shouts affronted heaven. It darkened, earth turned sable and all eyes Grew dim. The illustrious worldlord Tahmuras Advanced girt up for battle and revenge. There were the roar of flame and reek of divs, Here were the warriors of the lord of earth, Who ranked his troops and speedily prevailed, For of the foe he bound the most by spells And quelled the others with his massive mace. The captives bound and stricken begged their lives. "Destroy us not," they said, "and we will teach thee A new and fruitful art." He gave them quarter To learn their secret. When they were released They had to serve him, lit his mind with knowledge And taught him how to write some thirty scripts Such as the Ruman, Persian, Arabic, Sughdi, Chini, and Pahlavi, and thus Delineate sounds. How many better arts |p128 Explored he in a reign of thirty years, Yet passed away! His time of life was spent And all his toils became his monument. O world! caress not those whom thou wilt soon Cut off, for such caressing is no boon; Thou raisest one to very heaven on high, Then biddest him in sorry dust to lie. |p129 IV JAMSHID HE REIGNED SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS |p131 Par. 1 The Greatness and Fall of Jamshid Jamshid, the mighty son of Tahmuras, Full of his father's maxims, girt himself, Succeeded to his glorious father's throne, And wore in kingly wise the crown of gold. His girdle was the Grace of king of kings, And all the world obeyed him, contests ceased, The age had rest, and bird and div and fairy Were his to bid, the world took added lustre, Through him the throne of Shahs was glorified. "Mine is the Grace," he said, "I am both king And archimage, I will restrain ill-doers And make for souls a path toward the light." |p132 He first wrought arms and oped for warriors The door of fame. His Grace made iron yield; He fashioned it to helmets, hauberks, breastplates, And coats of armour both for man and horse. His ardent mind achieved the work and made Good store in fifty years. Another fifty He spent on raiment fit for fight or feast; And made of spun and floss silk, hair and cotton, Fine fabrics, cloth of hair and rich brocade. He taught to spin and weave, and when the stuffs Were made he showed men how to full and sew them Then to the joy of all he founded castes For every craft; it took him fifty years. Distinguishing one caste as sacerdotal To be employed in sacred offices, He separated it from other folk And made its place of service on the mountains That God might be adored in quietude. Arrayed for battle on the other hand Were those who formed the military caste; They were the lion-men inured to war - The Lights of armies and of provinces - Whose office was to guard the royal throne And vindicate the nation's name for valour. The third caste was the agricultural, All independent tillers of the soil, The sewers and the reapers-men whom none Upbraideth when they eat. Though clothed in rags, The wearers are not slaves, and sounds of chiding Reach not their ears. They are free men and labour Upon the soil safe from dispute and contest. What said the noble man and eloquent? "Tis idleness that maketh freemen slaves." The fourth caste was the artizans. They live lay doing handiwork - a turbulent crew, |p133 Who being always busied with their craft Are given much to thought. Jamshid thus spent Another fifty years and did much good, For each man learnt his place and others' too. He bade the foul divs temper earth with water And taught them how to fashion moulds for bricks. They laid foundations first with stones and lime, Then raised thereon by rules of art such structures As hot baths, lofty halls, and sanctuaries. He searched among the rocks for stones whose lustre Attracted him and came on many a jewel, As rubies, amber, silver, gold. Jamshid Unlocked their doors and brought them forth by spells. He introduced the scents that men enjoy As camphor, genuine musk, gum Benjamin, Sweet aloe, ambergris, and bright rosewater. Next leechcraft and the healing of the sick, The means of health, the course of maladies Were secrets opened by Jamshid : the world Hath seen no other such discoverer. He crossed the sea in ships. For fifty years His wisdom brought to light the properties Of things. These works achieved, Jamshid ambitioned Rank loftier still, and by his royal Grace Made him a throne, with what a wealth of gems Inlaid! which when he willed the divs took up And bare from earth to heaven. There the Shah, Whose word was law, sat sunlike in mid air. The world assembled round his throne in wonder At his resplendent fortune, while on him The people scattered jewels, and bestowed Upon the day the name of New Year's Day, The first of Farwardin and of the year, When limbs repose from labour, hearts from strife. |p134 The noble chieftains held a festival, Called for the goblet, wine, and minstrelsy, And ever since that time that glorious day Remaineth the memorial of that Shah. Thus things continued for three centuries, And all the while men never looked on death; They wetted not of travail or of ill, And divs like slaves were girt to do them service; Men hearkened to Jamshid with both their ears, Sweet voices filled the world with melody, And thus till many years had come and gone The royal Grace shone brightly from the Shah His ends had been attained, the world reposed, And still new revelations came from God, Men saw but goodness in their king, the earth Served him, he reigned - a monarch with the Grace. One day contemplating the throne of power He deemed that he was peerless. He knew God, But acted frowardly and turned aside In his ingratitude. He summoned all The chiefs, and what a wealth of words he used! "The world is mine, I found its properties, The royal throne hath seen no king like me, For I have decked the world with excellence And fashioned earth according to my will. From me derive your provand, ease, and sleep, Your raiment and your pleasure. Mine are greatness And diadem and sovereignty. Who saith That there is any great king save myself? Leechcraft hath cured the world, disease and death Are stayed. Though kings are many who but I Saved men from death? Ye owe me sense and life They who adore me not are Ahrimans. So now that ye perceive what I have done All hail me as the Maker of the world." |p135 Thereat the archmages hung their heads, perplexed To answer and God's Grace departed from him, The world was filled with din, the Court deserted, None who desired renown stayed in his presence. For three and twenty years the empty portal Told of the crime that equalled him with God, Brought on disaster and o'erturned the state. How saith the seer, the man of Grace and wisdom? "King though thou art serve God. Great fears oppress The heart that is devoid of thankfulness." Day darkened to Jamshid, he lost the Grace That lighteneth the world, and though with tears Of blood he sought for pardon Grace was not, And dread of coming evil was his lot. Par. 2 The Story of Zahhak and his Father One of the desert spear-armed Bedouins Of noble birth then lived - a virtuous king, Just, highborn, generous, and hight Mardas, Who sought his God with reverence and sighs, He kept a thousand head of all milch cattle, Goats, camels, sheep, and kine - a gentle breed - With Arab steeds, all timid beauties they, And grudged the milk to none. He had a son Whom much he loved - Zahhak, a gallant prince, But hasty. People called him Biwarasp. Ten thousand is " biwar " in ancient Persian, And he possessed ten thousand Arab steeds With golden equipage - a famous stud. Most of his days and nights he spent on horseback |p136 Engaged in superintendence not in war. One day Iblis approached him as a friend And led his wits astray. The youth gave ear With pleasure and all unsuspectingly Gave to Iblis heart, reason, and pure soul, And heaped the dust on his own head. Iblis Exulted seeing that the youth was snared And gulled the simpleton with specious words, Thus saying: "I could tell thee many things Known to myself alone." The youth made answer :- "Tell me at once, my worthy monitor! " Iblis replied: "First promise, then my story." The guileless youth swore as Iblis dictated "Thy secret shall be kept, thy bidding done." Then said Iblis: "Great prince? shall any rule Here but thyself? What profiteth a sire With such a son? Now hearken to my redo The lifetime of this ancient potentate Continueth, thou art shelved. Seize on his court And goods. His place will suit thee, thou shalt be King of the world if thou durst do my bidding." Zahhak looked grave; to shed his sire's blood grieved him. He said: "Not so, suggest some other course: This cannot be." "Then thou," Iblis rejoined, "Art perjured and wilt still be despicable, Thy father honoured." Thus he snared the Arab, Who asked: "What must I do? I will obey." Iblis replied: "Leave me to scheme. Thy head Shall touch the sun. I only ask thy silence; No help need I, myself am competent, But keep the sword of speech within the scabbard." |p137 Now in the palace was a jocund garth, And thither used Mardas to go at dawn To bathe him ere he prayed, without a slave To light him on his way, The wicked Div, Intent on ill, dug in the garden-path A deep pit, masked and made it good with boughs. Ere dawn the Arab chieftain hied him thither And, as he reached the pit, his fortunes fell; That good man tumbled, broke his back, and died. He ne'er had breathed a cold breath on his son, But cherished him and lavished treasure on him, Yet that abandoned youth respected not His father, but conspired to shed his blood. I heard a sage once say: "Though fierce in strife No son will dare to take his father's life; If such a crime should seem to be implied, Seek for the reason on the mother's side." Vile and unjust Zahhak thus seized the throne, Assumed the Arabs' crown and governed them For good or ill. Iblis encouraged thus Began again and said: "Since thou hast turned To me, and gained thy heart's desire, come pledge me Thy word once more to do as I require; And then thy realm shall spread throughout the world, Birds, beasts, and fishes shall be all throe own." When this was said he set about to use, Most marvellous' another kind of ruse. Par. 3 How Iblis turned Cook Then as a youth well spoken, clean, and clever, Iblis went to Zahhak with fawning words, |p138 "Let me," he said, "who am a noted cook, Find favour with the king." By appetite Seduced, Zahhak received and welcomed him, So that the monarch's faithful minister Gave to Iblis the royal kitchen's key. Foods then were few, men did not kill to eat But lived on vegetals of all earth's produce; So evil-doing Ahriman designed To slaughter animals for food, and served Both bird and beast. He fed the king on blood To make him lion-fierce, and like a slave Obeyed him. First he fed his lord on yelk To make him strong; he liked the flavour much And praised Iblis, who said: "Illustrious monarch! For ever live! To-morrow I will serve thee So as to please thee well." All night he mused What strange repast to proffer on the morrow, And when the azure vault brought back again The golden Gem he hopefully presented A meal of partridges and silver pheasants. The Arab monarch ate and his small wits Were lost in admiration. On the third day Iblis served lamb and fowl, and on the fourth A chine of veal with saffron and rosewater, Musk and old wine. Zahhak when he had tasted, In wonder at his cook's ability, Said: "Worthy friend! ask thou my recompense." He answered? Live, O king! in wealth and power. My heart is throe, thy favour my soul's food; Yet would I ask one boon above my station 'Tis leave to kiss and lay my face and eyes Upon thy shoulders." Off his guard Zahhak Replied? I grant it; it may do thee grace." |p139 Iblis received permission, kissed and vanished. A marvel followed - from the monarch's shoulders Grew two black snakes. Distraught he sought a cure And in the end excised them, but they grew Again! oh strange! like branches from a tree. The ablest leeches gave advice in turn And used their curious arts but all in vain. At length Iblis himself came hurrying Dight as a leech. " This was thy destiny," He said; " cut not the snakes but let them live. Give them men's brains and gorge them till they sleep. It is the only means, such food may kill them." The purpose of the foul Div shrewdly scan Had he conceived perchance a secret plan To rid the world of all the race of man? Par. 4 How the Fortunes of Jamshid went to Wrack Thereafter tumult, combating and strife Arose throughout Iran, the bright day Bloomed And men renounced Jamshid, who when his Grace Was darkened turned to folly and perverseness. Pretenders started up, on every march The disaffected nobles levied troops And strove. Some set forth for Arabia, For they had heard? There is a monarch there - An awe-insiring king of dragon-visage." Thus all the discontented cavaliers Went to Zahhak and offered fealty, Saluting him as monarch of Iran. The king of dragon-visage came like wind And donned the Iranian crown, collected troops - The bravest of Arabia and Iran - |p140 And having seized the throne of Shah Jamshid Slipped on the world as 'twere a finger-ring. Thus fell Jamshid. Pressed by the world's new lord He fled, surrendering crown, throne and treasure, Host, power and diadem. The world turned black To him, he disappeared and yielded all. He was in hiding for a century, But in the hundredth year the impious Shah Appeared one day beside the sea of Chin. Zahhak clutched him forthwith, gave him small respite, And sawing him asunder freed the world From him and from the fear that he inspired. Long was he hidden from the Dragon's breath, But there was no escaping in the end, For fortune whirled him like a yellow straw And both his throne and greatness passed away. What better Shah was ever on the throne, And yet what profit could he call his own From all his toils? His seven centuries Brought him great blessings and calamities. What need hast thou then for a length of years? The world will keep its secrets though fur food It give thee sweets and honeycomb, and rude Ungentle voices banish from thine ears. Wilt thou then say? Its love is spent on me, In every look affection is expressed? " Wilt thou confide therein caressingly And tell it all the secrets of thy breast? 'Twill play with thee a pretty game indeed Anon, and cause thy wretched heart to bleed. My heart is weary of this Wayside Inn: O God! release me soon from toil therein.' |p141 V ZAHHAK HE REIGNED A THOUSAND YEARS Par. 1 The Evil Customs of Zahhak and the Device of Irma'il and Karma'il Zahhak sat on the throne a thousand years Obeyed by all the world. Through that long time The customs of the wise were out of vogue, The lusts of madmen flourished everywhere, All virtue was despised, black art esteemed, Right lost to sight, disaster manifest; While divs accomplished their fell purposes And no man spake of good unless by stealth. |p146 Two sisters of Jamshid, their sex's crown, Were brought out trembling like a willow-leaf. Of those two ladies visaged like the moon The names were Shahrinaz and Arnawaz. Men bore them to the palace of Zahhak And gave them over to the dragon king, Who educated them in evil ways And taught them sorcery and necromancy. The only teaching that he knew was bad - To massacre, to pillage, and to burn. Each night two youths of high or lowly birth Were taken to the palace by the cook, Who having slaughtered them took out their brains To feed the snakes and ease the monarch's anguish. Now in the realm were two good high-born Persians - The pious Irma'il and Karma'il The prescient. Talking of the lawless Shah, Of his retainers and those hideous meals, One said: "By cookery we might approach The Shah, and by our wits devise a scheme To rescue one from each pair doomed to death." They went and learned that art. The clever twain Became the monarch's cooks and joyed in secret. The time for shedding blood and taking life Came, and some murderous minions of the Shah Dragged to the cooks with violence two youths And flung them prone. The livers of the cooks Ached, their eyes filled with blood, their hearts with wrath, And each glanced at the other as he thought Of such an outrage by the Shah. They slew One of the youths and thought it best to mingle His precious brains with sheep's and spare the other, To whom they said: "Make shift to hide thyself, Approach not any dwelling-place of man, Thine are the wastes and heights." |p147 A worthless head Thus fed the serpents, and in every month The cooks preserved from slaughter thirty youths. And when the number reached two hundred saved Provided them, the donors all unknown, With sheep and goats, and sent them desertward. Thus sprang the Kurds, who know no settled home, But dwell in woollen tents and fear not God. Zahhak was wont, such was his evil nature, To choose him one among his warriors And slay him for consPirang with the divs. Moreover, all the lovely noble maidens Secluded in their bowers, not tanged of tongues, He took for handmaids. Not a jot had he Of faith, king's uses, or morality. Par. 2 How Zahhak saw Faridun in a Dream Observe God's dealings with Zahhak when he Had forty years to live. One longsome night He slumbered in the arms of Arnawaz, And saw a vision of three warriors - Boughs of the tree of kings. The youngest one, Who held the middle place, was cypress tall, In face, in armour, and in mien a king. He rushed with ox-head mace to fight Zahhak, Smote him upon the head, stripped off his skin, And used it as a rope to bind his hands Firm as a rock,' placed on his neck a yoke, Then casting earth and dust upon his head |p148 Dragged him before the crowd in shame and anguish Toward Mount Damawand. The tyrant writhed Thou wouldst have said: "His liver split with fright." He yelled. The palace of the hundred columns Shook, and the sun-faced ladies left their couches, While Arnawaz said to him? Shah! what was it? Confide in me; thou vast asleep in peace At home! What saw'st thou? Say what came to thee? The world is at thy will, beast, divr and man Watch o'er thee and the seven climes are thine - All 'twixt the moon and Fish.' What made thee start? O roaster of the world! Oh! answer me." The chief replied? I may not tell, or else Ye will despair my life." Then Arnawaz :- "Be pleased to tell us; we perchance may find A cure, no ill is irremediable." He told them every whit, then said the Fair:- "Neglect it not but seek a remedy. Thy throne's seat is the signet of the age, Thy famous fortune brightenetlr the world, Beneath thy finger-ring thou hast the earth With all its fairies, divs, beasts, fowls, and men. Call both the archmages and astrologers - The wisest of each realm - and tell them all. See if the hand that threateneth thy life Is that of fairy, div, or man. This known Act vigorously; quail not before thy foes." The lady's counsel pleased the Shah. Night then Was dark as raven's plumes, but when at length The Lamp showed o'er the hills, and thou hadst said, "Strewed yellow gems upon the azure vault," |p149 Zahhak brought archimages shrewd of heart And told to them the dream that pierced his liver. He said: "Expound this dream without delay, And make my soul a pathway toward the light." He asked them privily about the future, Demanding? What will be my latter end, And who succeed me? Tell or hide your heads In shame." They talked together sad at heart, With parched lips and with sallow countenances They said: "If we till truly what is fated We shall be tortured, haply lose our lives; And if we do not act straightforwardly As well wash hands of life." None dared to speak Their fortune was in jeopardy three days. Upon the fourth the Shah was wroth, exclaiming:- "Foretell the future or be hung alive." They drooped their heads, their hearts were rent, their eyes Wept tears of blood. Among them was a man, Wise, honest, prescient, by name Zirak - The chief of all the band of archimages. Concerned but fearless he addressed Zahhak "Indulge no vapouring for none is born Except to die. There have been kings ere thee Fit for the throne of power. Both griefs and joys Enough they reckoned up yet their time came. If thou wert standing there - an iron wall - Yon heaven would grind thee, thou wouldst not endure. One will hereafter take thy throne and fling Thy fortune to the ground. His name is Faridun, And he will be a royal heaven to earth. As yet he is not born, thy time of woe Hath not arrived, but when his honoured mother Hath borne him he will be a fruitful tree. |p150 At man's estate his head will reach the moon And he will seek thy belt, crown, throne, and casque. In stature a tall cypress, he will shoulder A mace of steel, will smite thy head therewith And drag thee from the palace to the street In bonds.' In vengeance "Why bind me," said the impious king, Then Zirak: "Wert thou but wise . . . But all make pretexts for injurious acts. Thy hand will slay his father and that wrong Will fill the son's brains with revengeful thoughts Besides the nurse of this young atheling - The cow, Birmaya hight - will perish too By thy hand; so in vengeance he will brandish An ox-head mace." Zahhak heard anxiously, And swooned upon his throne. The noble archmagc; Turned him and fled away in dread of ill. The Shah recovered and resumed his seat. He diligently sought throughout the world For traces faint or clear of Faridun; No food, no slumber, or repose took he, His daylight turned to lapislazuli. Par. 3 The Birth of Faridun Years passed away, calamity approached The dragon-king, the blessed Faridun Was born, the fashion of the world was changed. Of cypress height he shone forth with the Grace Of kings of kings which crst Jamshid possessed, |p151 Was like the sun, as needful as the rain To earth and fit as knowledge to the mind Revolving heaven loved him tenderly. Then lived the cow Birmaya, chief of kine, Born with a coat all bright and peacock-hued. The wise, the archmages, and astrologers Collected round her; none had seen or heard Of such a cow before. Meanwhile Zahhak Was searching everywhere, and filling earth With hue and cry, till Faridun became A source of danger to his sire Abtin, Who fled for life but to the Lion's toils, For certain of the followers of Zahhak, That impious monarch, met Abtin one day, Seized him and bore him, like a cheetah bound, Before the Shah, who had him put to death. When Faridun's wise mother Farunak, A glorious dame devoted to her child, Perceived her husband's evil fate she fled; And came heart-broken weeping to the field Wherein the beautiful Birmaya was. Sill shedding drops of blood she bade the hind:- "Protect this suckling for me, be a father To him, and give him milk of yon fair cow. Ask what thou wilt, e'en to my soul 'tis throe." The hind replied? I will perform thy bidding And be as 'twere a slave before thy child." Then Faranak resigned the babe to him, With all instructions that were requisite, And that wise guardian like a father fed The child for three years with Birmaya's milk; But as Zahhak ne'er wearied of the search, And as the cow was tallied of everywhere, The mother hasted to the field again |p152 And spake thus to the guardian of her child:" A prudent thought - a thought inspired by GodHath risen in my heart. What we must do Is this - there is no remedy, my son And my dear life are one - I must abandon This land of sorcerers, depart unmarked To Hindustan and bear him to Alburz." Then like a roe or one who rideth post She took the young child to that lofty mountain Where dwelt a devotee dead to the world, To whom she said: "I am, O holy one! A woeful woman from Iran. Know thou That this my noble son will be hereafter The loader of his people, will discrown Zahhak and tread his girdle in the dust. Take thou this child and father him with care." The good man took her child and never breathed One cold breath on him. When the rumour reached Zahhak about the cow and field he went, Like some mad elephant, and slew Birmaya, With all the other cattle that, he saw Within the field, and harried all the land. He went next to the home of Faridun, Searched it, but all in vain, for none was found, And burned the lofty palace to the ground. Par. 4 How Faridun questioned his Mother about his Origin Now Faridun, when twice eight years had passed, Sought out his mother on the plain and said: "Disclose thy secret, say who is my father, |p153 What is my lineage, whom shall I declare Myself in public? Let me have the truth." She said: "I will tell all, my noble boy! Within Iran erewhile lived one Abtin, Of royal race, discerning mind, wise, brave, And inoffensive, sprung from Tahmuras; Abtin knew all the pedigree. Thy sire And my dear spouse was he; my days were dark When we were parted. Now Zahhak the warlock stretched from Iran his hand against thy life, But I concealed thee. Oh! what woeful days I passed while that brave youth - thy father - forfeited His own sweet life for thee! Now on Zahhak The warlock's shoulders grew two snakes which sucked The life-breath of Iran, and thy sire's brains Were taken from his head to feed them. I In course of time came on an open pasture, As yet unknown to fame, and there beheld A cow like jocund spring, well shaped and coloured From head to foot: before her sat her herd Upon his heels as one before a king. I put thee in his charge. For long he nursed thee Upon his breast, the cow of peacock-hues Supplying thee with milk that made thee thrive Like some bold crocodile, until the tidings Of cow and meadow reached the Shah, and then I bare thee from the pasture in all haste And fled Iran and home and family. He came and slew the noble, tender nurse That could not speak to thee, then sent the dust, Up from our home and turned it to ditch." The prince, enraged thereat, mused on revenge, And said with aching heart and knitted brows:- "The lion groweth brave by venturing, |p154 And since the sorcerer hath done his part Mine is to take my scimitar and lay His palace in the dust; such is God's will." She said: "This is not well; thou canst not stand Alone against the world. He bath the crown And throne, and troops at his command, who come From all the realm to battle when he willeth, A hundred thousand strong. View not the world With boyish eyes; the laws of blood-revenge Demand it not. Drunk with the wine of youth Men think themselves the only ones on earth And vapour, but be thy days mirth and joy. Do thou, my son! bear this advice in mind, Give all words save thy mother's to the wind." Par. 5 The Story of Zahhak and Kawa the Smith Zahhak had " Faridun " upon his lips Both day and night, his lofty stature bent Beneath the terrors of his heart until One day, when sitting on the ivory throne And wearing on his head the turquoise crown, He called the notables from every province To firm the bases of his sovereignty, And said to them? Good, wise, illustrious men! I have, as sages wot, an enemy Concealed, and I through fear of ill to come Despise not such though weak. I therefore need A larger host - men, divs, and fairies too - And ask your aid, for rumours trouble me; So sign me now a scroll to this effect:- 'Our monarch soweth naught but seeds of good, He ever speaketh truth, and wrongeth none.'". |p155 Those upright men both young and old subscribed Their names upon the Dragon's document, Against their wills, because they feared the Shah. Just then was heard outside the palace-gate The voice of one that clamoured for redress. They called him in before the Shah and set him Among the paladins. Zahhak in dudgeon Said: "Tell us who hath wronged thee." Then the man Smote on his head before the Shah and cried:- "O Shah! my name is Kawa and I sue For justice. Do me right. I come in haste Accusing thee in bitterness of soul; An act of justice will enhance thy greatness. I have had many an outrage at thy hands, For thou hast stabbed my heart unceasingly, And if the outrages had not thy sanction Why hath my son been taken? I had once In this world eighteen sons: but one is left! Have mercy! Look on me this once! My liver Is ever burning' What is mine offence, O Shah? Oh, say ' If I have not offended Seek not occasion 'gainst the innocent, Regard my plight and save thyself from woe. My back is bent with length of years, despair Hath seized my heart, my head is all distraught, My youth is gone, my children are no more, And children are the nearest kin on earth. Oppression hath a middle and an end, And pretext ever. Tell me what is throe For wronging me and ruining my life. A smith am I, an inoflensive man, Upon whose head the Shah is pouring fire, And thou art he, and, though of dragon-form, Must still do justice in this cause of mine. |p156 Since thou dost rule the seven provinces Why should the toil and hardship all be ours? We have accounts to settle - thou and I - And all will be aghast if they shall show That this my son hath perished in his turn With all the rest to feed those snakes of throe." The monarch listened and was sore amazed. They set the young man free and strove to win The father by fair words, but when Zahhak Bade him subscribe the scroll he read it through And shouted to the ancients of the realm:- "Confederates of the Div with impious hearts! Ye set your faces hellward and have yielded To that man's bidding. I will not subscribe, Or ever give the Shah another thought." He shouted, rose in fury, rent the scroll And trampled it; then with his noble son In front of him went raving to the street. But all the courtiers blessed the Shah and said:- "Illustrious king of earth! may no cold blast From heaven pass o'er thee on the day of battle. Why was this insolent Kawa countenanced As though a friend of throe? He tore the scroll, Refusing to obey thee, and is gone Bent on revenge and leagued, as thou wouldst say, With Faridun! A viler deed than this We never saw and marvel such should be." He answered quickly? I will tell you wonders. When Kawa entered and I heard his cries, A mount of iron seemed to rise betwixt us; And when he beat his head a strange sensation Convulsed me. How 'twill end I cannot tell; The secrets of the sky are known to none." When Kawa left the presence of the Shah, A crowd assembled in the market-place. |p157 And still he shouted, crying out for aid And urging all to stand upon their rights. He took a leathern apron, such as smiths Wear to protect their legs while at the forge, Stuck it upon a spear's point and forthwith Throughout the market dust began to rise. He passed along with spear in hand exclaiming:- "Ye men of name! Ye worshippers of God! Whoe'er would 'scape the fetters of Zahhak Let him resort with me to Faridun And shadow in his Grace. Come ye to him; The ruler here is Ahriman - God's foe." So that poor leather, worthless as it was, Discriminated friends and enemies. He took the lead, and many valiant men Resorted to him; he rebelled and went To Faridun. When he arrived shouts rose. He entered the new prince's court, who marked The apron on the spear and hailed the omen. He decked the apron with brocade of Rum Of jewelled patterns on a golden ground, Placed on the spearpoint a full moon - a token Portending gloriously - and having draped it With yellow, red, and violet, he named it The Kawian flag. Thenceforth when any Shah Acceded to the throne, and donned the crown, He hung the worthless apron of the smith With still more jewels, sumptuous brocade, And painted silk of Chin. It thus fell out That Kawa's standard grew to be a sun Amid the gloom of night, and cheered all hearts. Time passed and still the world maintained its secret. When Faridun saw matters thus, and all men Submiss to vile Zahhak, he came to Faranak With girded loins, crowned with a royal casque, |p158 And said: "I go to battle, but do thou Devote thyself to prayer. The Maker ruleth. In weal and woe alike clasp hands to Him." With tears and bleeding heart she cried: "O God! My trust hath been in Thee. Turn from my son The onslaughts of the wicked on his life, And rid the world of these infatuates." Then Faridun gat ready with despatch And secrecy. He had two brothers, both Of noble birth and older than himself, Hight Kaianush and prosperous Purmaya. He said to them: "Live, gallant hearts! in joy. Revolving heaven bringeth naught but good; The crown of power is coming back to us. Provide me cunning smiths and let them make me A massive mace." They sought the smiths' bazar In haste, whence all the aspiring craftsmen went To Faridun, who taking compasses Showed to the smiths the pattern, tracing it Upon the ground. It had a buffalo's head. They took the work in hand, and having wrought A massive mace they bore it to the hero. It shone as brightly as the noonday sun, And Faridun, approving of the work, Bestowed upon the makers raiment, gold, And silver, holding out to them beside Bright hopes and promise of advancement, saying :- "If I shall lay the Dragon in the dust I will not leave the dust upon your heads, But justify the entire world, since I Have Him in mind who judgeth righteously. |p159 Par. 6 How Faridun went to Battle evith Zahhak; With head raised o'er the sun he girt his loins For vengeance for his father, and set forth Upon the day Khurdad right joyfully With favouring stars and splendid auguries. The troops assembled at his gate, his throne Was lifted to the clouds. The first to go Were baggage and provisions for the army On buffaloes and high-necked elephants. Purmaya rode with Kaianush beside The Shah, like younger brothers and true friends. He went like wind from stage to stage; revenge Was in his head and justice in his heart. The warriors on their Arab chargers reached A spot where people dwelt who worshipped God, And Faridun dismounting greeted them. When night was darkening one in friendly guise Approached him, walking with a measured tread, With musky hair descending to the feet And favoured like a maid of Paradise. It was Surush, who came thence to advise The king of good and ill, came like a fairy And taught him privily the magic art, That he might know the key of every lock And by his spells bring hidden things to light; While Faridun, erceiving that the work Was God's not Ahriman's or come of evil, Flushed like a cercis-bloom and joyed to see How lusty he and his young fortune were. The cooks prepared a feast - a noble banquet, One fit for mighty men. Now Faridun, The drinking done, being heavy sought repose. |p160 His brothers, seeing that God sped his cause, And that his fortune slumbered not, departed Without delay to compass his destruction. There was above their heads a lofty cliff And underneath the Shah slept peacefully. His two abandoned brothers scaled the height That night unseen, and scrupling at no crime Set loose a mighty crag upon the brow To fall directly on their brother's head, And kill him in his sleep. The crashing crag, For God so ordered, roused the slumberer, Who by his magic art arrested it In mid career: it stopped dead. Faridun Went on his way but kept the matter secret. In front marched Kawa with the Kawian standard, Soon to become the ensign of the realm. Thus Faridun advanced, as one who sought A diadem, toward the Arwand, or call it, As Arabs do, the Dijla, if thou knowest not The ancient tongue. He marched another stage And came upon the Dijla, at Baghdad. On drawing near he sent to greet the guard And said: "Despatch to this side instantly Your boats and vessels, bear me across with all Mine army and let none be left behind." The river-guard sent not his boats nor came At Faridun's behest, but made reply:- "The Shah gave privy orders: 'Launch no boat Without a passport under mine own seal.'" The prince, enraged and fearless of the stream, Girt like a king and bent upon revenge, Plunged with his rose-red charger in the flood. With one accord his comrades girt themselves, Turned toward the stream, and on their brave, fleet steeds |p161 Plunged over saddle-back. The warriors' heads Reeled while their swift steeds struggled with the tide, And with their necks emerging seemed to be The phantom cohort of a dream. The warriors Reached the dry land undamped in their revenge And set their faces toward Bait al Mukaddas. This men called when they used the ancient tongue Gang-i-Dizhukht; to-day 'tis known among The Arabs as " The Holy Place." The fair Tall palace of Zahhak was budded there. When they approached the city that they sought, And Faridun beheld it a mile off, He saw a pile whose building towered o'er Saturn, So that thou wouldst have said: "'Twill catch the stars!" It shone like Jupiter in heaven; the place Appeared all peace and love and happiness. The hero recognised that seat of power And springlike beauty as the Dragon's dwelling, And said: "The man who reared a pile like that From dust I fear me cottoneth with the world, But still 'tis better to press on than tarry." This said he grasped his massive mace and gave His fleet steed rein, and thou hadst said: "A flame Shot up before the guards." He entered riding - An inexperienced but valiant youth, Who called upon the name of God - while they That were on guard fled from him in dismay. Par. 7 How Faridun saw the Sisters of Jamshid Then Faridun o'erthrew the talisman, Raised heaven-high by Zahhak, because he saw That it was not of God, with massive mace |p162 Laid low the sorcerers within the palace - All fierce and notable divs - and set himself Upon the enchanter's throne. This done he took Possession of the royal crown and palace, But though he searched he failed to find Zahhak. Then from the women's bower he brought two Idols Sun-faced, dark-eyed; he had them bathed, he purged The darkness of their minds by teaching them The way of God and made them wholly clean; For idol-worshippers had brought them up And they were dazed in mind like drunken folk. Then while the tears from their bright eyes bedewed Their rosy cheeks those sisters of Jamshid Said thus to Faridun: "Mayst thou be young Till earth is old! What star was this of thine, O favoured one! What tree bore thee as fruit, Who venturest inside the Lion's lair So hardily, thou mighty man of valour? What anguish and what bale have we endured All through this dragon-shouldered Ahriman! Oh!what a miserable world for us Did this infatuated sorcerer make! Yet saw we never here a man so hardy, Bold, and ambitious as to think that he Could take the throne." He answered? Throne and fortune Abide with none. My sire was fortune's favourite, But still Zahhak seized on him in Iran And slew him cruelly, so I have set My face against Zahhak's throne in revenge. He slew the cow Birmaya too - my nurse, A very gem of beauty. What could he, That villain, gain by slaughtering that dumb beast? Now I am ready and I purpose war; I came not from Iran to bring him pardon, |p163 Or good will, but to brain him in revenge With this ox-headed mace." When Arnawaz Heard this she guessed the secret, and replied:- "Then thou art Faridun the Shah and wilt Abolish necromacy and black art, For thou art fated to destroy Zahhak The binding of thy loins will loose the world. We twain, pure, modest, and of royal seed, Submitted only through the fear of death, Else would we ever sleep or wake, O king Beside a serpent-spouse? " Then Faridun :- "If heaven over us shall do me right I will cut off this Dragon from the earth, And purge the world of its impurity. Now speak the truth at once and tell me where That vile one is." Those fair dames told him all; They thought? The Dragon's head will meet the shears," And said: "He went to Hindustan to practise Some spell-work in that land of sorcerers. He will cut off a thousand innocent heads, For he is terror-struck at evil fortune, Because a seer hath said: ' Earth will be void Of thee, for Faridun will seize thy throne And thy prosperity wither in a moment: Struck by the words his heart is all aflame, And life affordeth him no happiness. Now is he slaughtering beasts and men and women To make a bath of blood and thus defeat That prophecy. Those serpents on his shoulders Keep him in long and sore disquietude. |p164 From clime to clime he roveth, for the snakes Give him no rest. 'Tis time for his return, But place there is not." Stricken to the heart That lovely pair revealed the mystery The exalted chieftain listened eagerly. Par. 8 The Story of Faridun and the Minister of Zahhak Zahhak while absent left in charge of all A man of wealth, who served him like a slave, So that his master marvelled at his zeal, One named Kundrav, because he used to limp Before the unjust king. He came in haste And saw within the hall a stranger crowned, Reposing on the throne, in person like A cypress over which the full moon shineth, On one side Shahrinaz the cypress-slim, Upon the other moon-faced Arnawaz. The city swarmed with soldiers, and a guard Stood ready armed before the palace-gate. All undismayed, not asking what it meant, Kundrav approached with lowly reverence, Then offered homage, saying? Live, O king While time shall last. Blest be thy sitting here In Grace, for thou deservest sovereignty. The seven climes be throe and be thy head Above the rain-clouds." Being bid approach He told the Shah the secrets of his office And was commanded? Serve a royal feast, Let wine be brought, call minstrels fit to hear, |p165 To cheer me at the banquet, fill the goblet, Spread out the board, and summon worthy guests." Kundrav obeyed and broughtbrightwine and minstrels, And noble guests whose birth entitled them. So Faridun quaffed wine and chose the lays And held that night a worthy festival. Kundrav at dawn left the new prince in haste Arid on a swift steed sought Zahhak. Arrived He told the things that he had seen and heard :- "O king of chiefs! the token of thy fall Hath come, three men of noble mien arrived With troops; the youngest of the three, in height A cypress and a king in face, is placed Between the other two and bath precedence. His mace is like a mountain-crag and shineth Amid the host. He entered thine abode On horseback, and the others rode with him - A noble pair. He went and sat upon The royal throne and broke thy charms and spells. As for the divs and warriors in thy palace He struck their heads off as he rode along And mingled brains and blood!" Zahhak replied :- "'Tis well, guests should enjoy themselves." Retorted: "One that hath an ox-head mace Beware of such in coming and in going; Besides, he sitteth boldly on thy couch, Eraseth from the crown and belt thy name, And maheth throe ungrateful folk his own If such a guest thou knowest know him such. Zahhak said: "Trouble not, it bodeth well When guests are at their ease." Kundrav replied:- Yea, I have heard so; hear thou my rejoinder |p166 If this great man be any guest of throe What business hath he in thy women's bower? He sitteth with the sisters of Jamshid The worldlord, taking counsel, while this hand Is toying with the cheek of Shahrinaz And that with Arnavaz' carnelian lip. At night he Both still worse and pilloweth His head on musk! What musk? The locks of Moons Who ever were the idols of thy heart." Zahhak, wolf-savage, wished that he were dead. With foul abuse he sternly hoarsely threatened That luckless one? No more shah thou have charge Of any house of mine:' Kundrav replied :- "Henceforth, O king! I deem thy fortune sheet. How shouldst thou make me ruler in the city, Or give me even minstrels' work, when thou Hast lost the throne of power? For like a hair From dough hast thou departed from the throne Of sovereignty. Think, sire! what thou wilt do. Have thine own interests no concern for thee? They ne'er before were in such jeopardy." Par. 9 How Faridun bound Zahhak Roused by that talk Zahhak resolved to act, And bade his keen-eyed roadsters to be saddled. Now as he neared the city by a byway With valiant divs and warriors, and saw His palace-roofs and gate he vowed revenge. The troops of Faridun received the tidings And flocked to meet him. Leaping from their steeds They struggled hand to hand. The citizens, |p167 Such as were warlike, manned the roofs and gates For Faridun; Zahhak had maddened them. Bricks from the walls, stones from the roofs, with swords And poplar arrows in the street, were plied As thick as hail; no place was left to stand. The mountains echoed with the chieftains' shouts, Earth trembled neath the chargers' tramping hoofs, A cloud of black dust gathered, and the flints Were pierced by javelins. From the Fane of Fire One shouted? If some wild beast had been Shah, We - young and old - had served him loyally, But not that foul Zahhak with dragon-shoulders." The warriors and citizens were blent Together as they fought - a mass of men. O'er that bright city rose a cloud of dust That turned the sun to lapislazuli. Anon Zahhak alone in jealous fear Approached the palace, mailed, that none might know him. Armed with a lasso sixty cubits long He scaled the lofty edifice in haste And saw beneath him dark-eyed Shahrinaz, Who toyed bewitchingly with Faridun. Her cheeks were like the day, her locks like night, Her lips were opened to revile Zahhak, Who recognised therein the act of God - A clutch of evil not to be evaded - And with his brain inflamed by jealousy Dropped one end of the lasso to the court And so slid down from that high roof, regardless Of throne and precious life. As he descended He drew a keen-edged poniard from its sheath, Told not his purpose or his name, but clutched The steel-blue dagger in his hand, athirst For blood - the blood of those two beauteous dames. |p168 His feet no sooner rested on the ground Than Faridun rushed on him like the wind And beat his helm in with the ox-head mace. "Strike not," cried blest Surush, who hurried thither, "His time hath not yet come, but bind him vanquished Firm as a rock and bear him to some gorge, Where friends and kinsmen will not come to him." When Faridun heard that he tarried not, But gat a lasso made of lion's hide And bound Zahhak around the arms and waist With bonds that no huge elephant could snap, Then sitting on Zahhak's own golden throne Determined all the evil usages And made a proclamation at the gate:- "Ye citizens possessed of Grace and wisdom! Disarm and follow but one path to fame, For citizens and soldiers may not seek A common excellence; this hath his craft And that his mace; their spheres are evident And, if confounded, earth will be so too. Depart rejoicing, each one to his work, And live and prosper long, because the foul one, Whose acts brought terror on the world, is bound." Men hearkened to the great redoubted Shah. Then all the leading, wealthy citizens Drew near with gladness bringing offerings And heartily accepted Faridun, Who graciously received them and discreetly Gave each his rank's due, counselled them at large, And offered up his prayers and thanks to God, Then said: "The realm is mine, your fortune's star Is bright, for me alone did God send forth From Mount Alburz by Grace, and for your sakes, To set the world free from the Dragon's bane. |p169 Blest as we are by Him who giveth good We ought to walk toward good upon His paths. As king I may not tarry in one place, Else would I pass with you a length of days." The nobles kissed the ground. Anon the din Of drums rose from the gate whereon all eyes Were fixed, the people yelled against the man, Whose days were almost sped? Bring forth the Dragon Bound in the lasso's coils as he deserveth." The troops withdrew no wealthier than they came, And took Zahhak, bound shamefully and flung In wretched plight upon a camel's back On this wise to Shirkhan. Call this world old Or ever thou shah hear this story told. What changes numberless have passed and still Must pass hereafter over plain and hill Thus fortune's favourite bore Zahhak toward Shirkhan, and driving him among the mountains Was purposing to cast him headlong down, When carne the blest Surush and whispered thus The prince in friendly wise? Convey the captive Thus to Mount Damawand with speed, and tape No escort, or but what thy safety needeth." He bore Zahhak as one that rideth post And fettered him upon Mount Damawand; So when new bonds were added to the old, And fate had not another ill in store, The glory of Zahhak became like dust And earth was cleansed from his abominations, He was removed from kindred and from friends, And bonds alone were left him in the mountains, Where Faridun chose out a narrow gorge - A chasm which he had marked of viewless depth - |p170 And having studded it with heavy nails, Whereon the brain might chafe, secured Zahhak, Bound by the hands upon a crag, that so His anguish might endure. Thus was he left To hang : his heart's blood trickled to the ground. Come let us, lest we tread the world for ill, Be on attaining every good intent; No good or evil will endure but still Good furnisheth the better monument. A lofty palace, wealth of every kind, Will not avail; thy monument on earth Will be the reputation left behind And therefore deem it not of little worth. No angel was the glorious Faridun, Not musk and ambergris; he strove to win By justice and beneficence the boon Of greatness : be a Faridun therein. By godlike travail undertaken he First cleansed the world from its iniquity. The binding of Zahhak, that loathly one Devoid of justice, was the chief deed done. He next avenged the murder of Abtin, Caused all the world to recognise his sway, And lastly purged the surface of earth clean Of madmen, and took miscreants' power away. O world! how loveless and malign art thou To breed the quarry and then hunt it down Lo! where is Faridun the valiant now, Who took away from old Zahhak the crown? Upon this earth five hundred years he reigned And then departing left an empty throne; Bequeathing earth to others, he retained Of all that he possessed regret alone. So is it with us whether great or small And sheep or shepherd, 'tis the same with all. |p171 VI FARIDUN HIS REIGN WAS FIVE HUNDRED YEARS Par. 1 How Faridun ascended the Throne When Faridun attained his wish, and reigned Supreme on earth, he ordered crown and throne According to the usance of old times Within the palace of the king of kings; And on the first of Mihr, a blessed day, Set on his head the royal diadem. |p175 In those days, apprehensive of no evil, All men began to tread the path of God, Abstaining from contention and observing A feast inaugurated royally. Then sages sat rejoicing and each held A ruby goblet, then the wine was bright, The new Shah's face was bright and all the world Itself was brightened as that month began. He bade men kindle bonfires and the people Burned ambergris and saffron; thus he founded Mihrgan. That time of rest and festival Began with him, and his memorial Is still the month of Mihr. He banished then All grief and labour from the minds of men. He dedicated not a single day To evil in five centuries of sway, But yet the world remained not his. Then shun Ambition and escape from grief, my son Note well that this world is no property, And small contentment wilt thou gain thereby. Now Faranak yet knew not that her child Had come to be the Shah, or that Zahhak Had lost the throne and that his power was ended. At length news of the happy youth arrived And of his being crowned. She bathed herself And prostrate in God's presence offered thanks Because of this most happy turn of fortune, And uttered maledictions on Zahhak; Then to all those who were in poverty And strove to hide it she afforded aid, But kept alike their secret and her own. She spent a week on alms till paupers failed; Another week she feasted all the nobles, Bedecked her house as it had been a garden |p176 And there received her guests. She then unlocked The portal of her secret hoards, brought forth The various treasures that she had amassed, And purposed to distribute all her store. It seemed the time to ope the treasury, For drachms were trifles since her son was Shah. She made no stint of robes and royal jewels, Arabian steeds with headstalls wrought of gold, Habergeons, helmets, double-headed darts, Swords, crowns and belts. Intent upon her son She placed her wealth on camels and despatched it With praises on her tongue. The king of earth Beheld, accepted it, and blessed his mother. The leaders of the army when apprised Sped to the monarch of the world and cried:- "Victorious Shah and worshipper of God, To whom be praise! may He give praise to thee. Thus may thy fortune grow from day to day, Thus may the fortunes of thy foes be shent, May heaven make thee still victorious And mayst thou still be gracious and august." The wise came to the Shah from, their retreats And poured before his throne gold mixed with gems; The nobles too from all his provinces At that hocktide assembled at his gate, Where all invoked God's blessing on the crown, The throne, the diadem, and signet-ring. With hands upstretched they prayed right heartily: "May such joy last, the Shah bear fruit for ever." As time went on he journeyed round the world, Examining its sights and mysteries, Marked each injustice and all wasted lands, Bound evil hands with bonds of kindliness - A policy that well beseemeth kings - |p177 Bedecked the world like Paradise, and raised Instead of grass the cypress and the rose-tree. He reached Tammisha, passing by Amul,l And built a seat there in the famous chace Kus is the modern title of the place. Par. 2 How Faridun sent Jandal to Yaman Now fifty years had passed, and by good fortune He had three noble sons fit for the crown, Of royal birth, as tall as cypresses, With cheeks like spring, in all points like their father. Two were the stainless sons of Shahrinaz, The youngest fair-cheeked Arnawaz had borne; And though they could outpace an elephant Their father in his love had named them not. In time the Shah perceived them fit to rule And called Jandal, a noble counsellor, In everything devoted to his lord, And said: "Go round the world, select three maidens Of noble lineage worthy of my sons, In beauty fit to be affined to me And named not by their sire for fear of talk, Three sisters in full blood with fairy faces, Unstained, of royal race, so much alike In height and looks that folk can scarce discern Betwixt them." Having heard he undertook The fair emprise, for he was shrewd and upright, Of plausible address and full of tact. He left Iran with certain of his friends To make inquiries and receive reports. |p178 Then when he heard of any chief with daughters He sought to learn about them privily, Yet could not find among the wealthy thanes One fit to be affined to Faridun. This shrewd and holy man at length reached Sarv - The monarch of Yaman - with whom he found The object of his search - three maidens such As Faridun required. With stately step, As 'twere a pheasant pacing toward a rose, He came to Sarv, and having kissed the ground Explained his coming, praised the king and said:- "For ever live, exalted sovereign, Thou ceaseless lustre of the crown and throne! " The king said: "Be thy praise in every mouth. What is thy message? What are thy commands? Art thou ambassador or principal? " Jandal replied? May every joy be thine, And ever far from thee the hand of ill. I come as some poor heathen to convey A message from Iran. Great Faridun Saluteth thee by me. Thou ask'st my business I answer: Mighty Faridun applaudeth thee, And great are they whom he despiseth not. He said: 'Say to the monarch of Yaman :- So long as musk hath scent perfume the throne, ße thy griefs scattered and thy wealth amassed, And ever, king of Arabs! mayst thou be safeguarded by the stars from all mishap. What thing is there more sweet than life and children? Yea, they are sweeter than all else beside, For none is dearer than a child, that bond Is as no other bond. If any man Hath three eyes I possess them in my sons, But know that they are better still than eyes For those that look on them give thanks. What said |p179 The sage when he defined a proper league? '"I ne'er ally myself but with my betters." A sage intent on good will seek his friends Among his peers, men may be fortunate But monarchs are not well without a host. My realm is prosperous, I have treasure, might, And daring, with three sons who well deserve To reign - wise, men of knowledge and of prowess, Without a want or wish unsatisfied. For these three princes in domestic life I need three consorts of a royal race, And I have news (whereon I send in haste) By means of mine informants that thou hast Among the ladies that are in thy bower, O honour-loving king! three maiden daughters As yet unnamed, whereat my heart rejoiced, For my three sons of course are nameless still. 'Twere surely well for us to intermingle These precious gems of two varieties, Three virtuous maids with three aspiring princes, Fit joined to fit, no room for scandal there.' Such is his message; think of thy reply." The monarch of Yaman drooped like the jasmine When out of water, thinking: "If these Moons Are taken from me, and I see them not About my couch, my day will turn to night. No need to answer yet; I will consult With those who share with me the consequence." He first assigned the ambassador a lodging, Then having closed the audience sat and pondered. The monarch summoned from the Bedouins Full many a chieftain well approved in war, And made the matter manifest to all:- "I have as only issue of my wedlock Three Lights that are resplendent in mine eyes, |p180 And Faridun hath sent an embassage To spread a goodly snare before my feet; He would deprive me of these Eyes of mine, And I would faro consult thereon with you. The ambassador with thus : ' Thus saith the Shah :- "I have three princes who adorn my throne And seek for favour and affinity With thee by marriage with thy virtuous daughters.'" If I shall answer, ' Yes,' and mean it not, 'Twill be a lie; to lie is not for kings; If I shall acquiesce in his request My heart will be on fire, my face all tears; And if I shall refuse my heart will feel His vengeance - not a matter for a jest From one who is the monarch of the world; And travellers too have heard of what Zahhak Hath suffered from him. Now advise me well." The veteran valiant chiefs thus made reply :- "We disapprove of veering to each gust. Be Faridun however great a king No earringed slaves are we, but say our say And take the consequence. "lis ours to handle The bridle and the lance; we make the earth A winefat with our swords, we make the air A reed-bed with our spears. If thy three children Are held so dear unlock thy treasury My gloomy soul; to see them will rejoice And shut thy lips; or, if thou wilt use craft, But fearest Faridun, make such demands That none shall ever hear the like again." The king heard while the chieftains said their say, But felt no less uncertain of his way. |p181 Par. 3 How the King of Yaman answered Jandal At length he called the Shah's ambassador And spake to him at large in gracious words:- "I am the servant of thy lord; in all That he commandeth me will I obey. 'thus say to him : ' Exalted as thou art, Mill thy three sons are precious unto thee; And kings esteem their own sons very precious When they are such as ornament the throne. I grant what thou hast said, I too have children And judge by them; yet if the mighty Shah Were to require mine eyes of me, or ask The kingdom of Yaman and desert-tribes, It were of lesser moment than for me to never look upon my children more; Mill if the Shah wish this I may not walk have as he biddeth me, and my three children, if so he will, shall cease to be my kin; But when shall I behold those princely sons Who are the lustre of thy crown and throne? Let those blithe youths come hither and illume My gloomy soul; to see them will rejoice My heart, and I will contemplate their shrewdness But fearest Faridun, make such demands Then I will give to them my three bright Eyes According to our customs. Furthermore, When I perceive that they are upright men, I will join hand in hand in league with them, And whensoe'er the Shah would see his sons They shall return.'" Jandal, the sweet-voiced speaker On hearing kissed the throne with reverence, |p182 Then uttering praises hied him to his lord, To whom he told what he had said and heard. The monarch bade his sons attend, he spake About the mission of Jandal, and said:- "The monarch of Yaman is king of peoples, Sarv is a cypress throwing lengthy shadows. He hath three daughters-pearls as yet unpierced - Who are his crown, for he hath not a son. Before all three of them Surush would kiss The ground, I ween, if he might have such brides. These I demanded of their sire for you And took such order as becometh us. Your duty now will be to go to him, But be discreet in all things small and great. Be complaisant but guarded therewithal, Heed what he saith and answer courteously. If he consulteth you advise him well. Now hearken to my words and ye shall prosper Among the peoples none can equal Sarv, For he is fluent, ardent, shrewd, and pure. Allow him not to find you off your guard, For wise men work with subtilty. ¡ The first day He will assign you chief seats at a feast, Bring forth three sun-faced maids like garths in springy, All full of grace, of colour, and perfume, And seat them on the throne, these cypresses In height and. in appearance so alike That none could tell their order as to age. Now of these three the youngest will walk first, . The eldest last, the other in the midst. The king will place the youngest maid beside The eldest youth, beside the youngest prince The eldest maid, and pair the mid in age. Know, for 'tis worth your while, that he will ask:- How range ye in respect of age these damsels? ' |p183 Reply: ' The youngest hath the highest place, The eldest hath a place below her rank, The mid in age is placed as she should be, And thou hast failed in this attempt of thine.'" The pure and high-born three paid all regard To what their father said, and left his presence Fulfilled with wisdom and with artifice. How should the sons by such a father taught Be ill advised or indiscreet in aught? Par. 4 How the Sons of Faridun went to the king of Yaman They summoned archimages and made ready; Their retinue was like the starry sky, All men of name with sunlike countenances. Sarv, hearing of their coming, decked his host Like pheasant's plumes, and sent to welcome them A goodly band of kinsfolk and of magnates. As those three noble princes reached Yaman Both men and women met them on their way, Bestrewing saffron mixed with precious jewels And mingling musk with wine. The horses' manes Were drenched therewith, and underneath their feet Gold coins were flung. A palace was prepared Like Paradise itself; they overlaid The bricks with gold and silver; all the hangings Were of brocade of Rum - a mass of wealth. There Sarv disposed his guests and by the morn Had put them at their ease. He brought his daughters, As Faridun had said, out of their bowers, Like shining moons too dazzling for the eye, And ranged them just as Faridun foretold. |p184 Sarv asked the eldest prince? Which is the youngest Of these three Stars, which is the mid in age, And which the eldest? Thus distinguish them." They answered as they had been taught, and so Sewed up the eyelids of his craft, while he And all his warriors were lost in wonder. He saw that his inversion naught availed And answered, "Yea," and paired the pairs aright. The introduction ended in betrothal. The three princesses, blushing for their father, Went from the presence of the three young princes In sweet confusion, blushes on their cheek And many a word of tenderness to speak. Par. 5 How Sarv proved the Sons of Faridun by Sorcery Then Sarv assembled boon-companions And passed the day with minstrels, wine, and talk, But his three sons-in-law - the sons of Faridun - Drank not except to him. When wine prevailed, And sleep and rest were needed, Sarv bade set Some couches by a fountain of rose-water, And there the three illustrious athelings Slept in a garden in a bower of roses, Which scattered blossoms o'er them, but meanwhile The sorcerer-king had thought of a device He left the royal pleasance and prepared His spells. He brought a frost and mighty blast To slay the princes; over hill and plain It froze so sharply that the crows grew numb. The arch-enchanter Faridun's three sons Leapt from their couches at the grievous cold; |p185 And by the Grace of God and their own skill, By kingly magic and their hardihood, Opposed the spell and kept the frost away. Now when the sun shone o'er the mountain-tops, Sarv, anxious to know all, approached in haste His three exalted sons-in-law in hope To find their cheeks like lapislazuli, Congealed with frost, and their emprise defeated, So that his daughters might remain to him As his memorial; such was his hope, But sun and moon were adverse to his wishes, For he beheld three princes like new moons Fresh-seated on their royal thrones, and knew That spells had failed him and his time was lost. He gave an audience; all the chiefs attended. He opened and brought forth his ancient treasures, Disclosing what had been secreted long, And brought too and committed to their lords Three maids sun-cheeked, like garths of Paradise (No archimage ere planted pines like them), With crowns and trinkets, ignorant of pain, Unless it be a pain to plait the hair: They were three new Moons and three warriorkings He thought with bitterness? The fault is mine, Not Faridun's, and may I never hear Of female issue from this royal stock; He hath a lucky star who bath not daughters, But he who hath them hath no star to shine." Then to the assembled sages? Kings may well Wed Moons. Bear witness all! that I have given My three Eyes to these men in lawful marriage, To hold them clear as their own eyes are dear, And limn them like their own lives in their hearts." |p186 He uttered this aloud and then he bound On many vigorous camels' lusty backs The baggage of the brides. Yaman was bright With gems. The daughters' litters moved in file With parasols and riches fit for kings. Sarv ordered everything and said farewell. Thus did the youths set out upon their way To Faridun with hearts alert and gay. Par. 6 How Faridun made Trial of his Sons When tidings that the princes had returned Reached Faridun he went to meet them, longing, By trial of their characters, to end His boding fears, so changed him to a dragon - One, thou wouldst say, no lion could escape - Which hissed and bellowed with its jaws aflame. As soon as he perceived his three sons near, Like sombre mountains in a cloud of dust, He too threw dust about and made it fly, While earth re-echoed with his bellowings. He rushed in fury toward his eldest son, That prince of many virtues, who exclaimed:- "No man of sense and wisdom thinketh good To fight with dragons." Then he showed his back And fled. The father turned toward the next, His second son, who when he saw the dragon Strung up his bow and drew it, saying thus:- "When fight is toward, what matter if the foe Be roaring lion or brave cavalier? " But when the youngest son carne up he looked Upon the dragon and cried out? Avaunt Thou art a leopard: ware the lions' path |p187 If e'er the name of Faridun hath reached Thine ears contend not with us, for we three Are sons of his, and every one of us A wielder of the mace, and warrior. Unless thou turnest from thy waywardness I will discrown thee of thy loathly face." The glorious Faridun thus heard and saw, And having proved their mettle disappeared. He went away but came back as their sire With all the pomp and circumstance befitting, With kettledrums and huge fierce elephants And bearing in his hand the ox-head mace. The leaders of the host were at his back, And all the world was his. The noble princes Dismounted when they saw the Shah, they ran To him and kissed the ground, dazed at the din Made by the elephants and kettledrums. The father grasped their hands and welcomed them, Each to his proper place. On his return He prayed and offered up much thanks to God - The Author of his weal and of his woe - Then summoned his three sons and seating them Upon the throne of majesty spake thus:- "That loathly dragon which would scorch the world Was your own father, who desired to prove Your mettle, and this known returned with joy. Now in my wisdom I have chosen fit names For you. Thou art the eldest, be thou Salm And have thy wish on earth - thou soughtest safety And didst not shun to flee the monster's maw. The rash man who despiseth elephants Or lions - call him frantic and not brave. My second son, who from the first showed fight, Whose courage is more ardent than a flame, |p188 Him name we Tur - a lion brave; not even A mighty elephant could vanquish him. To dare is all the virtues in his case, For no faint heart is master of a throne. The youngest is a man of sleight and fight, One that can bide his time and yet be prompt. He chose the middle course 'twixt dust and flame, The prudent man's. Brave, young, and sensible He must alone be praised. Be he Iraj, And may his end be all supremacy, Because at first he was not choleric, But at the time of stress his courage grew. I open now my lips with joy to name These Arab dames with fairy countenances." He named the wife of Salm, Arzu; the wife Of Tur, Mah-i-Azada Khu; the wife Of blest Iraj, Sahi, to whom Canopus Was but a slave in beauty. Afterwards He brought a catalogue embracing all The stars within the circling sphere of heaven, Whose aspects readers of the stars had taken, spread it before him and observed the fortunes Of his illustrious sons. Salm's horoscope Was Jupiter in Sagittarius. Next came the horoscope of glorious Tur - The Sun ascendant in the Lion's House - A presage brave; but when the Shah observed The horoscope of blest Iraj he found The Moon in Cancer; thus the stars revealed A destiny of strife and woe. The Shah Was sorely troubled, with a deep cold sigh Perceived that heaven loved not his bright-souled son, And as he mused thereon he could not be But filled with thoughts of grave anxiety. |p189 Par. 7 Faridun divides the World among his Sons These secrets known, the Shah divided earth And made three realms : he joined Rum with the West, Tur an with Chin, Arabia with Iran. He first took thought for Salm and gave hire Rum And all the West, commanding him to lead An army thither; so Salm took the throne, And all the West saluted hire as lord. Next Faridun assigned Turan to Tur To rule the Turkmans and the land of Chin, Providing troops; Tur led his army forth, Arrived, assumed the seat of sovereignty, Girt up his loins and opened wide his hands. The nobles showered upon him precious stones, And all Turan hailed him as king. Iraj Came last, the sire selected all Iran For him. This with Arabia and the throne Of majesty and crown of chiefs he gave, Perceiving that Iraj deserved to rule. How all the princes, prudent, wise, and shrewd, All hailed him as the master of Iran! As marchlords thus these men of noble birth Acceded to their thrones in peace and mirth. Par. 8 How Salm grew Envious of Iraj Much time rolled on, while fate reserved its secrets, Till wise Shah Faridun was worn with age And strewed with dust the Garden of his Spring. |p190 This is the common lot of all mankind - Man's strength is weakness when he groweth old. Then gloom began to gather in the state, The princes of the realm waxed turbulent. Immersed in greed Salm changed in heart and mind. He sat in conclave, for he much misliked His sire's apportionment, which gave Iraj The throne of gold. In rancour and with frowns He hurried off a camel-post, an envoy, To give this message to the king of Chin:- "Live ever glad and happy! Know, great king Of Turkmans and of Chin! that our shrewd hearts Did ill to acquiesce when we were wronged Though we are cypress-tall our souls are base. Mark with discerning heart this tale of mine; None such hath reached thee from the days of old:- Three sons were we who graced our father's throne, And now the youngest hath the chiefest place! Since I am first in wisdom and in years Such fortune doth befit my signet-ring, While if crown, throne, and diadem should pass From me, O king! should they not deck thyself? Shall both of us continue thus aggrieved By that injustice which our father did In giving to Iraj Iran, Yaman, And Araby; the West and Rum to me; To thee the wastes of Turkestan and Chin? The youngest hath Iran; I cannot brook This settlement; thy father must be mad." The message filled Tur's brainless head with wind, And savage as a lion he replied :- "Heed well my words and tell them to thy lord:- 'It was when we were youths, O most just king! That we were cheated by our father thus. |p191 This is a tree which his own hands have set; The fruit is blood, the leafage colocynth; So let us meet and parley as to this, Fix on our course of action and raise troops.'" Now when the envoy brought this answer back The face of that veiled secret was laid bare, This brother came from Chin and that from Rum, And, poison. being mixed with honey thus, They met together to deliberate The matter both in council and in state. Par. 9 How Salm and Tur sent a Message to Faridun They chose a priest, a shrewd, bright, heedful man And plausible, and then excluding strangers Concerted plans. Salm put their case in words, Washed off' all filial reverence from his eyes, And thus addressed the envoy: "Hence away, In spite of dust and tempest, swift as wind To Faridun and heed not aught beside. On reaching him greet him in both our names And say: 'In heaven and earth the fear of God Should equally prevail, the young may hope To see old age, but hoar hairs turn not black. By long abiding in this straitened place Thou straitenest the long home for thyself. All-holy God bestowed the world upon thee From yonder bright sun unto sombre earth, Yet didst thou choose to act in mere caprice, Not heeding His commands, and to entreat Thy sons with scath and fraud instead of justice; For thou hadst three, wise, brave, and youths no longer, |p192 And though no excellence appeared in one So that the others should bow down to him, Yet one thou blastedst with a dragon's breath, Another's head thou raisedst to the clouds On one thine eyes reposed with joy, and he Now bath the crown and is beside thy couch, While we who are as good as he by birth Are deemed unworthy of the royal throne. O upright judge and monarch of the world! May justice such as this be never blessed! If then his worthless head shall be discrowned, Earth rescued from his sway, and thou wilt give him Some corner of the world where he may sit Like us in anguish and oblivion - well Else will we bring the Turkman cavaliers And eager warriors of Rum and Chin - An army of the wielders of the mace - In vengeance on Iran and on Iraj.'" The priest at this harsh message kissed the ground, Then turned and mounted swift as wind-borne flame. When he approached the court of Faridun And marked the cloud-capt buildings from afar, Which stretched from range to range, while at the gate Chiefs sat and those of highest rank behind The curtain, on the one side pards and lions Chained, on the other fierce war-elephants, While from that noble band of warriors The noise that rose was like a lion's roar, "It must be heaven," he thought, "and not a court The troops around it are a fairy host! " The wary watchman went and told the Shah :- "A man of noble mien and high estate Hath come as envoy to the Shah." He bade His servants raise the curtain and bring in |p193 The envoy, when dismounted, to the court, Who when he saw the face of Faridun, Saw how the Shah engrossed all eyes and hearts, His stature cypress-like, his face a sun, His hair like camphor and his rose-red cheeks, His smiling lips, his modest countenance, And royal mouth, which uttered gracious words, Did reverence and wore the ground with kisses. The Shah commanded him to rise and sit Upon the seat of honour due to him, Then asked him first about the noble pair:- "Enjoy they health and happiness? " and next About himself? Art weary with long travel O'er hill and plain? " He answered? Noble Shah! May none behold the world without thee! Those Of whom thou speakest are as thou wouldst wish, And live but by thy name. Thy slave am I, Albeit all unworthy and impure. The message that I bring to thee is harsh And sent in anger by no fault of mine, But if my lord commandeth I will tell The message sent by two imprudent youths." The Shah commanded him to speak and heard The embassage delivered word by word. Par. 10 How Faridun made Answer to his Sons When he had heard, the Shah's brain seethed with anger. "O man of prudence! " thus he made reply, "Thou needest no excuse, for I have eyes And have discerned this for myself already. |p194 Tell mine unholy and abandoned sons - This pair of Ahrimans with dregs of brains :- ''Tis well that ye reveal your natures thus And send a greeting worthy of yourselves; For if your brains are empty of my teaching, And ye have no idea what wisdom is, Not fearing God, ye could not well do other. My hair was once as black as pitch, my stature Was cypress-tall, my face was like the moon. The sky which bath bent down this back of mine Is yet unfallen and revolveth still So time will bend you too, and even that Which bendeth you itself will not endure. Now by the highest name of holy God, By yon bright sun, and by the teeming ground, By throne, by crown, by Venus and the moon, I never cast an evil look upon you. I called the sages into conference, The archimages and astrologers; Abundant time was spent therein that so We might divide the earth with equity; I had no object but to deal with fairness; There was no knavery from first to last; My secret motive was the fear of God, My longing to fulfil all righteousness; Since earth was given to me full of men It was no wish of mine to scatter them; I said: "On each of my three lucky Eyes Will I bestow a populous dominion." If Ahriman hath now seduced your hearts From mine advice to dark and crooked ways, Consider if the Omnipotent will look With approbation on this deed of yours. One proverb will I speak if ye will hear :- "The crop that ye have sown that shall ye reap." |p195 He that instructed me was wont to say :- "Our other home is that which will endure." But your lusts sit where reason should be throned. Why are ye thus confederate with the Div? I fear that in that Dragon's clutch your bodies And souls will part. Now that I leave the world It is no time for wrath and bitterness; Yet thus he saith - the man consumed with years, Who had three sons, three men of noble birth:- By hearts released from passions dust is held As precious as the wealth of king of kings; But whoso selleth brother for the dust Men rightly say that he was bastard-born. The world hath seen and will see men like you In plenty; but it cottoneth to none. Now if ye know aught of avail with God To save you on the Day of Reckoning, Seek that, make it the provand for the way And be less careful for the things of earth!'" The envoy hearing kissed the ground and went; Thou wouldst have said: "His way-mate is the wind." The envoy being gone the Shah resumed His seat, then called his noble son Iraj And told both what had chanced and what might be:- Those Those sons of mine with hearts intent on war Have set themselves against us from the West. Their stars dispose them to delight in ill; Besides their troughs are in two provinces, Whose fruit is savagery. They will enact The brother's part while thou shah wear the crown, And when thy ruddy face is pale in death Will shun thy pillow. If thou puttest love Before the sword thy head will ache with strife, For from both corners of the world my sons |p196 Have shown their real intent. If thou wouldst fight Make ready, ope the treasury, bind the baggage; Secure the cup while thou art breaking fast, For if not they will sup on thee, my son! Thou needst not earthly helpers, throe allies Are truth and innocence." The good Iraj Gazed on that loving Shah, his glorious sire, And said: "My lord! consider how time passeth Like wind above us. Why should wise men fret? It withereth the cheek of cercis-bloom, It darkeneth the radiant spirit's eyes; It is at first a gain and then a pain; And when the pain is done we pass away. Since then our couch is dust, our pillow brick, Why plant to-day a tree whose roots will ever Be drinking blood, whose fruit will be revenge? The earth hath seen and will see many lords With scimitar and throne and signet-ring Like us; but they who wore the crown of old Made not a habit of revenge. I too, The king permitting, will not live in ill. I want not crown and throne. I will approach My brothers in all haste and unattended, And say: ' My lords, dear as my soul and body! Forbear your anger and abandon strife: Strife is unlovely in religious men. Why set your hopes so much upon this world? How ill it used Jamshid who passed away At last, and lost the crown and throne and girdle! And you and I at length must share his lot. Live we in joy together and thus safe From foes: I will convert their vengeful hearts: What better vengeance can I take than that? " |p197 The Shah replied? Thy brethren, my wise son! Are set on fight while thou wouldst have a feast. I cannot but recall this saw to mind:- It is no marvel if the moon is bright.' An answer such as throe becometh well Thy virtuous self; thou art for brotherhood And love, but doth a prudent roan expose His priceless life and head to dragon's breath, Since naught but biting venom cometh thence By nature? Yet, if such be thy resolve, Take order for thy going and set forth. Select a retinue among the troops To go with thee, and I will write a letter, With sorrow in my heart, to those two men. Oh! may thy safe return rejoice my sight, For when I look on thee my soul is bright." Par. 11 How Iraj went to his Brothers The great Shah wrote a letter to the lord Of all the West and to the king of Chin, Wherein he offered first his praise to God Who is and will be to eternity, And then went on? This letter of good counsel Is for two Suns at their meridian, Two men of weight and courage, kings of earth, One monarch of the West, the other of Chin, From him who hath surveyed the world throughout, To whom mysterious things have been disclosed, Who brandisheth the sword and massive mace, Who addeth lustre unto famous crowns, Who turneth into night the light of day, Who openeth the hoards of hope and fear, |p198 To whom all labours have grown easy, one In whom all splendour hath displayed itself. I do not ask of you your diadems, Your hoarded treasures, thrones, or palaces My wish is, after all my weary toils, That my three sons should dwell in peace and love. The brother as to whom your hearts are sore (Though none hath felt a chilling breath from him) Doth come in haste because of your chagrin, And of his eagerness to see you both. He hath resigned his kingship for your sakes - An action worthy of the noblest men - And taking to the saddle from the throne Hath girt his loins that he may do you service. Now since he is the youngest of the three He hath a right to love and tenderness. Hold hire in honour, and repent yourselves; As I have fed his body feed his soul, And after he hath been with you awhile Send my beloved one back to me:' They sealed The letter with the signet of the .Shah. Iraj set forth with such attendants only, Both young and old, as were imperative; And Salm and Tur, when he was drawing nigh, Unwitting of their dark design, led forth The troops to meet him as their custom was. When they beheld their brother's face of love They showed to him an altered countenance, And bent on quarrel gave the peaceful one A greeting but not such as he desired. Two hearts were full of vengeance, one was calm Thus all three brothers sought their royal tents. The troops saw, as they looked upon Iraj, That he was worthy of the throne and crown, |p199 And could not rest because the love of him Possessed their hearts e'en as his face their eyes; And when, dispersing, mate went off with mate, Their talk in private was about Iraj :- "This is the one to be the king of kings! May none beside him have the crown of might. Salm from apart was spying on the troops, Their doings made him heavy, and he sought His royal tent with a revengeful heart, With liver full of blood, and frowning brows. He had the enclosure cleared while he and Tur Sat with their counsellors, and talked at large Of kingship, crown, and all the provinces; And in the midst thereof Salm said to Tur "Why have the soldiers scattered into groups Didst thou not mark how, when we were returning, The soldiers as they passed along the road Could not refrain from looking at Iraj? Our troops when they came back were altered men. He turned my heart to gloom, thoughts thronged, I saw That henceforth they would wish no Shah but him. Unless thou shah uproot him thou wilt fall From throe exalted throne beneath his feet." In such a mind they closed the interview And spent the night devising what to do. Par. 12 Haw Iraj was Slain by his Brothers Now when the veil was lifted from the sun, As morning dawned and slumber passed away, The hearts of that insensate pair were eager To do their deed of shame; they proudly strode Toward their royal brother's tent. Iraj, Who saw them coming, met them tenderly. |p200 They went with him inside the tent. The talk Ran on the why and wherefore of his coming. Tur said to him? Since thou art youngest born Why shouldst thou take the crown of power? Must thou Possess the throne of princes and Iran While I am bondslave at the Turkman's gate? Thine eldest brother chafeth in the West While thou art crowned and walkest over treasure, For thus did our aspiring sire apportion The world in favour of his youngest son." Iraj made answer in a holier strain :- "O mighty chieftain, lover of renown! Seek peace if thou wouldst have thy heart at ease. I do not want the royal crown or throne, The style of monarch or the Iranian host; I do not want Iran, the West, or Chin, The kingship or the broad expanse of earth. When majesty produceth naught but strife One needs must weep o'er such supremacy. Although thou ridest on the heaven above, A brick will be thy pillow in the end. For my part, though the master of Iran, I am aweary both of crown and throne, And yield to you the diadem and signet, So hate me not; there is no feud between us, No heart need ache through me. I will not have The world against your will, and though I dwell Far from your ken I ever act as younger: My Faith is naught without humanity." Tur heard the words and little heeded them, But, angry that Iraj should speak and caring No jot for peace, he rose up with a cry And then advancing suddenly, and grasping The massive seat of gold, he smote Iraj, |p201 Who pleaded for his life? Hast thou no fear Of God, nor any reverence for thy sire? Is this indeed thy purpose? Slay me not, Be not thou reckoned with the murderers, For in the end my blood will be required. And henceforth thou shah find no trace of me. Canst thou approve and reconcile these twain - To be a murderer and live thyself? Oh! hurt not e'en the poor grain-dragging ant, For it hath life, and sweet life is a joy.' I will choose some retreat and earn my bread; Why gird thy loins to take a brother's life? Why set on fire our aged father's heart? Wouldst have the world? Thou hast it. Shed not blood Provoke not God, the Ruler of the world." Tur heard him speak but answered not a word His heart was full, his head was vapouring. He drew a dagger from his boot, he robed Iraj in blood, and with the keen bright blade Entrenched the royal breast. The lofty Cypress Fell, the imperial girdlestead was broken, The blood ran down that face of cercis-bloom, And thus the young illustrious monarch died! Tur with his dagger cut the prince's head From the elephantine form and all was over. O world! since thou hadst nursed him tenderly Yet didst not spare his life at last, I wis Not who thy secret favourites may be, But needs must weep for such an act as this. |p202 Thou too, O man distracted and distraught, Whose heart the world hath seared and caused to bleed If, as with these, revenge is in thy thought Take warning by these persecutors' deed. They filled the head with musk and ambergris And sent it to the aged world-divider With these words? Look upon thy darling's head - The inheritor of our forefathers' crown - And give it crown or throne as pleaseth thee." The royal and far-shadowing Tree had fallen, And those two miscreants went their way in spleen, One unto Rum, the other unto Chin. Par. 13 How Faridun received Tidings of the Murder of Iraj The eyes of Faridun were on the road, Both host and crown were longing for the prince But when the time arrived for his return How did the tidings reach his father first? He had prepared the prince a turquoise throne And added jewels to his crown. The people Were all in readiness to welcome him And called for wine and song and minstrelsy. They brought out drums and stately elephants, And put up decorations everywhere Throughout his province. While the Shah and troops Were busied thus a cloud of dust appeared, And from its midst a dromedary ridden By one in grief who uttered bitter cries; He bore a golden casket, and therein The prince's head enwrapped in painted silk. The good man came with woeful countenance To Faridun and wailed aloud. They raised The golden casket's lid (for every one |p203 Believed the words of him who bore it wild) And taking out the painted silk beheld Within the severed head of prince Iraj. Down from his steed fell Faridun, the troops All rent their clothes, their looks were black, their eyes Blanched with their horror, for the spectacle Was other far than that they hoped to see. Since in this wise the young king came again The troops that went to meet him thus returned - Their banners rent, their kettledrums reversed, The warriors' cheeks like ebony, the tymbals And faces of the elephants all blackened, The prince's Arabs splashed with indigo. Both Shah and warriors fared alike on foot, Their heads all dust; the paladins in anguish Bewailed that noble man and tore their arms. Be on thy guard as touching this world's love A bow is useless if it be not bent. The process of the turning sky above Is, favouring first, to plunder in the event. 'Twill countenance an open enemy While those who seek its favour are denied. One goodly counsel I address to thee: Let no love for it in thy heart abide. The troops heart-seared, the Shah with cries " Alas! Alas!" went toward the garden of Iraj Where he delighted to hold festival On any royal anniversary. The monarch entered bearing his son's head, Beheld the hauzes and the cypresses, |p204 The trees a-bloom, the willows and the quinces, Saw too and strewed dark dust upon the throne Imperial but unprinced and lustreless While up to Saturn rose the soldiers' wail. He cried " Alas! Alas!" plucked out his hair, He poured down tears, he tore his face and girt Around his loins a rope besmirched with blood. He fired the house wherein Iraj had dwelt, Destroyed the rose-beds, burnt the cypress-trees And closed up once for all the eye of joy. He placed the prince's head upon his breast, And said with head turned God-ward? Righteous Judge! Look down upon this murdered innocent, Whose severed head is here before me now, While foreign lions have devoured his body. Do Thou so burn up those two miscreants' hearts That they may never see a bright day more. So pierce and sear the livers of them both That even beasts of prey shall pity them. Oh! grant me, Thou that judgest righteously So long a respite from the day of death That I may see descended from Iraj One born to fame, and girded to avenge. Let him behead those two injurious men As they beheaded him who wronged thorn not, And when I have beheld it let rue go Where earth shall take the measure of my height.' He wept thus many days and bitterly. His pillow was the dust, his bed the ground Until the herbage grew about his breast And both those lustrous eyes of his were dimmed. He gave no audience, but without surcease Cried out with bitterness? O gallant youth! No wearer of a crown bath ever died |p205 As thou hast died, thou famous warrior! Thou vast beheaded by vile Ahriman; The maw of lions was thy winding-sheet." Wails, sobs, and cries robbed e'en the beasts of sleep, While men and women gathered into crowds In every province, weeping and heart-broken. How many days they sat in their distress - A death in life of utter hopelessness! Par. 14 How a Daughter was born to Iraj A while passed and the Shah went in to view Iraj's bower, inspected it and marked The moon-faced beauties who resided there. He saw a slave of lovely countenance, Whose name was Mah Afrid. Iraj had loved her, And fate decreed that she should bear him fruit. The Shah rejoiced because she was with child, Which gave hire hope of vengeance for his son, But when her time was come she bore a daughter, And hope deferred hung heavy on the Shah. He nursed the babe with joy and tenderness, And all the folk began to cherish her As she increased in stature and in charms. Thou wouldst have said to her the tulip-cheeked :- "Thou art Iraj himself from head to foot." When she was old enough to wed - a Pleiad In countenance with hair as black as pitch - Her grandsire chose Pashang to be her spouse Pashang was brother's son to Faridun, Descended from a noble ancestry, A hero of the seed of Shah Jamshid, Meet for the kingship, diadem, and throne; And in this way no little time passed on. |p206 Par. 15 The Birth of Minuchihr Mark what a wonder yon blue vault revealed When nine months had elapsed! That virtuous dame Brought forth a son fit for the crown and throne, Who from his tender mother's womb was brought Without delay before the mighty Shah. The bearer said: "O master of the crown! Let all thy heart be joy: behold Iraj! " The world-divider's lips were full of smiles; Thou wouldst have said: "His own Iraj doth live." He clasped the noble child and prayed the Almighty : Oh! would that I might have mine eyes again, That God would show to me this infant's face." He prayed so earnestly that God vouchsafed To give his sight back. When with open eyes He gazed on that new-comer's face he cried: "Be this day blest and our foes' hearts plucked out! " He brought bright wine and splendid cups and called That babe of open visage Minuchihr, And said: "From two pure parents there hath come A proper branch to fruit." He reared the babe So tenderly that not a breath passed o'er him. The slave that carried him upon her breast Trod not the ground, for underneath her feet The purest musk was strewn, and as she walked A sunshade of brocade was o'er her head. Years passed, no ill befell him from the stars; Meanwhile the famous monarch taught the child All those accomplishments that kings require. |p207 When Faridun had got back sight and heart, And all the world was talking of the boy, His grandsire gave to him a golden throne, A princely turquoise crown, a massive mace And treasury-key with thrones, torques, casques, and girdles, A bright-hued tent-enclosure of brocade With tents of, leopard-skin, such Arab steeds With golden furniture, such Indian scimitars With golden sheaths, such store of casques and breast-plates, With buttoned hauberks made in Rum and bows From Chach and poplar shafts and shields from Chin And double-headed javelins of war Thus Faridun bestowed his hard-won treasures, Convinced that Minuchihr was well deserving, And felt his own heart full of love for him. He summoned all his paladins and nobles, Who came intent on vengeance for Iraj, And offered homage, showering emeralds Upon his crown. On that great new-made feast The sheep and wolf walked side by side on earth. The leaders were Karan, the son of Kawa, The chief Shirwi, the fierce and lion-like, Garshasp the noble swordsman, Sam the champion, The son of Nariman; Kubad, Kishwad, - He of the golden helm-and many more Illustrious men, - the safeguards of the world - And when the work of gathering troops was done The Shah's head towered over every one. |p208 Par. 16 How Salm and Tur had Tidings of Minuchihr When those two miscreants Satin and Tur had heard :- "The throne of king of kings is bright again," They feared their star would sink and sat together In anxious thought; those wretches' day was darkened And they resolved to send to ask forgiveness. They chose a man persuasive, wise, and modest, To whom they made a passionate appeal, And fearful of a downfall opened wide The treasury of the West. From that old hoard They chose a crown of gold. They housed the elephants. What wagons did they fill with musk and ambergris, Brocade, dinars, and precious furs and silks! On high-necked elephants the embassage Went from the West in state toward Iran. The courtiers added tokens of regard, And when there was as much as heart could wish The envoy came prepared to start. The kings Gave him this embassy to Faridun, Invoking first of all the name of God:- "May valiant Faridun for ever live On whom God hath bestowed the royal Grace, Be his head flourishing, his person loved, His genius higher than heaven! I present A case committed to me by two slaves At this high portal of the king of kings. Know that two ill-disposed and lawless men, Whose eyes are wet with shame before their sire, Repentant, seared at heart, and much to blame, Now seek how best they may excuse themselves; Till now they had no hope of being heard. |p209 What do they say? Their words, wise Shah! are these:- Let him that did the evil bear the brunt, And live in pain of heart and self-reproach As we are doing now, O noble Shah Thus was it written down for us by fate And by decree of fate the sequel came; Fen world-consuming lions and fierce dragons Escape not from the net of destiny. Again - the foul Div bade us put aside All terror of the Worldlord from our hearts, He took possession of two wise men's brains, And mightily prevailed against us both; And now our hope is that perchance the Shah May yet forgive us, and impute the wrong To ignorance in us, next to high heaven That is at once our shelter and our scath, And thirdly to the Div that in our midst Is girded runner-like to work us ill. Now, if the great king's head no longer harboureth Revenge on us, our good faith shall be evident. Let him send Minuchihr and, as an escort, A mighty army to his suppliants, With this intent that we may stand as slaves Before him dutifully; thus our tears May wash the tree that springeth of revenge, Our offering shall be our tears and groans, And when he groweth up our hoards and thrones.'" Par. 17 How Faridun received his Sons' Message Charged with these words, and doubting what would follow, The envoy reached the portal of the Shah With treasures of all kinds on elephants. |p210 When Faridun was told he gave command To spread brocade of Rum upon the throne Of king of kings and have the royal crown Prepared, then took his seat as he had been An upright cypress 'neath a full-orbed moon In fitting state with crown and torque and rings. Blest Minuchihr sat by him crowned, the nobles Stood ranked in double file in robes of gold, With golden mace and girdle, making earth Another sun. On one side pards and lions Were chained, on the other huge war-elephants. Then from the palace issued bold Shapur To introduce Salm's envoy, who on seeing The palace-gate alighted and ran forward. As soon as he drew near to Faridun And saw the diadem and lofty throne, He bent until his visage touched the ground. The noble Shah, the monarch of the world, Bade him be seated on a golden seat. He did obeisance to the Shah and said :- "O glory of the crown and throne and signet! Thy throne's steps make the earth a rosary, And thy fair fortune brighteneth the age. We serve the dust that is beneath thy feet And only live since thou wilt have it so." These praises caused the Shah's face to relax, Whereat the envoy spake of clemency With great craft, and the Shah gave ear to him While he repeated those two murderers' words, Endeavouring to keep the truth concealed And make excuses for their wickedness, Inviting Minuchihr to visit them When they would wait upon him as his slaves, Give him the crown and throne of majesty |p211 And purchase back from him Iraj's blood With wealth, brocade, dinars, and jewelry. The monarch heard the speech and answered it; hike key to lock so did the answer fit. Par. 18 How Faridun made Answer to his Sons The Shah, when he had heard the message sent By his two wicked sons, said to the envoy:- "Canst thou conceal the sun, and clearer still Are shown the secrets of those miscreants' hearts? I have heard all thy words; now mark mine answer. Tell those two shameless and unholy men, Unrighteous, ill-affectioned, and impure, That their vain words avail them not, and I Have also something that I faro would say:- 'If thus your love for Minuchihr hath grown Where is the body of his famous sire - Iraj? The maw of wild beasts hideth it, His head is in a narrow casket laid, And they who made a riddance of Iraj Now seek to shed the blood of Minuchihr! Ye shall not see his face but with an army And with a casque of steel upon his head, With mace and Kawian standard while the earth Is darkened by his horses' trampling hoofs; With leaders like Karan, who loveth fight, Shapur - the valiant backbone of the host - And by his side Shidush the warrior, Shirwi the lion-strong as pioneer, King Taliman, and Sarv, king of Yaman, To head the forces and direct the war; And we will drench with blood, both leaf and fruit, The tree sprung out of vengeance for Iraj. |p212 No one hath sought revenge for him as yet Because I saw the back of fortune bent It seemed not good to me to lay my hands In battle on mine own two sons; but now From that same Tree which enemies have felled A fruitful Offshoot hath sprung up; for like An angry lion Minuchihr shall come, With loins girt ready to avenge his sire, Together with the leaders of the troops - Such chiefs as Sam the son of Nariman, Garshasp, son of Jamshid - and hosts to reach From hill to hill, and trample down the world.' Next for their pleading that 'the Shah must wash His heart from vengeance, and forgive our crime, Because the sky so turned o'er us that wisdom Was troubled, and affection's seat obscured:' I have heard all the unavailing plea, And now that patience is fordone I answer :- No man that soweth seed of violence Shall see good days or jocund Paradise. If ye are pardoned by All-holy God What need ye fear about a brother's blood? The wise esteem the self-excuser guilty. Revere ye not the glorious Lord of all? Your hearts are black, your tongues speak glozing words; He will requite you for it in both worlds. And thirdly, since ye sent an ivory throne And torquoise crown on mighty elephants, With purses full of divers-coloured gems, Am I to balk revenge, to wash away The blood and sell the prince's head for gold? Nay! perish first throne, diadem, and Grace Worse than a dragon's offspring is the man Who taketh money for a priceless head. |p213 Shall any say: "The sire in his old age Is putting price upon his son's dear life? " As for these gifts of yours - I need them not. But wherefore utter I so many words? Your hoary-headed sire will not ungird The loins of his revenge while life endureth.' Thy message have I heard. Hear my reply, Retain it every whit and get thee gone." The messenger grew pale at this dread speech And at the bearing of prince Minuchihr, Leapt up in fear and mounted instantly. The noble, youthful envoy shrewdly saw :- "Revolving heaven in no long time will furrow The visages of Tur and Salm." He sped Like rushing wind, his head full of the message, His heart of bodings. When he saw the West, With camp-enclosures stretched upon the plain, He made his way toward Salm's pavilion Of painted silk with other tents around, Where sat both kings in conclave. Word was passed :- "The envoy hath returned." The chamberlain Approached and took him to the royal presence. They had a special seat prepared for him And asked for tidings of the new-made Shah, Of crown and throne and of Shah Faridun, His host, his warriors, and his dominions, And of the aspect of the turning sky :- "What favour showeth it to Minuchihr? Who are the nobles? Who is minister? What treasures have they? Who hath charge thereof? " The envoy said: "The portal of the Shah Beholdeth that which bright spring seeth not, |p214 For 'tis the jocund Spring of Paradise Where ground is ambergris and bricks are gold. The roof above his palace is a heaven, And Paradise is in his smiling face. When I approached his lofty residence Its roof was telling secrets to the stars. On this hand there were lions, and on that Were elephants. The world itself was placed Beneath his throne. Upon his elephants Were seats of gold, and round the lions' necks Were jewelled torques. The tymbal-players stood Before the elephants while trumpets blared. Thou wouldst have said: ' The precincts seethe, earth shouteth To heaven: I came before that well-loved Shah, And saw a lofty turquoise throne where sat A monarch like a moon. Upon his head He wore a sparkling ruby coronet. His hair was white as camphor, and his cheeks Were like the petals of the rose. His heart Is full of clemency, his speech is kind; He is the hope and fear of all the world. Thou wouldst have said: ' Jamshid doth live again.' A Shoot from that tall Cypress - Minuchihr, Like Tahmuras, the Binder of the Div, Sat on the Shah's right hand: thou wouldst have said:- 'He is the heart and soul of that great Shah.' There Kawa stood, the skilled among the smiths, With one before him well beseen in war - His son, Karan by name, the warrior, The watchful chief, the conqueror of hosts; The minister - Sarv, monarch of Yaman, The treasurer - victorious Garshasp, Were there. The sum within the treasuries Appeareth not. None ever saw such greatness. |p215 Around the palace were two lines of troops With golden maces and with golden helms. Before them there were leaders like Karan, The son of Kawa, that experienced captain, And warriors - ravening Lions like Shirwi, And bold Shapur, the elephantine chief. When on the elephants they bind the drums The air becometh ebon with the dust. If these men come to fight us hill and plain Will be confounded; these men have revenge At heart; their faces frown; they purpose war." The envoy having further told the message Of Faridun, those tyrants' hearts grew sore, Their faces blue as lapislazuli. They sat consulting, but had naught determined When Tur spake thus? Farewell to peace and joy We must not let this hardy lion's whelp Grow bold and sharp of fang. Will such a youth Lack prowess, being taught by Faridun? When grandson communeth with grandsire thus Some devilry is sure to come of it. Prepare we then for war and that with speed." They hurried out their cavalry and mustered Troops from the West and Chin, whence hubbub rose And all flocked to the kings - a multitude Whose star of fortune was no longer young. Two hosts empanoplied marched, on Iran With mighty elephants, much precious store, And those two murderers intent on war. Par. 19 How Faridun sent Minuchihr to fight Tur and Salm The Shah was told, "A host hath crossed Jihun," And bade prince Minuchihr to pass the frontier |p216 Toward the desert, thus advising him :- "A youth predestined to be fortunate May happen to ensnare a mountain-sheep While hunters are before and pards behind; But having patience, prudence, sense, and wits, He will take savage lions in his toils, And now my foes in these my closing days I would chastise, and wield a sword of fire." "Great Shah! " said Minuchihr, "may fate keep ill For any foe that cometh to attack thee May he betray himself both soul and body. Lo! I will don a coat of Ruman mail To leave no part exposed, and then in quest Of vengeance on the battlefield will send The dust of yon host sunward. None of theta Hold I a man: dare they contend with me? " He ordered that Karan, who loved the fray, Should cross the frontier to the desert, taking The camp-enclosure and the imperial standard. Then as troop followed troop the hills and plains Heaved like the sea, the day was dark with dust, And thou hadst said: "The sun is azure-dim." A clamour rose enough to deafen ears Though keen, the neighing of the Arab steeds Rose high above the tymbals' din. Two lines Of mighty elephants stretched from the camp For two miles, sixty carried seats of gold Inlaid with gems, three hundred bore the baggage, Three hundred were in iron panoply That hid all but their eyes. They left Tammisha And bore the camp-enclosure to the waste. Karan the avenger was the general, The host three hundred thousand cavaliers. The men of name marched mailed, with massive maces, |p217 All bold as angry lions and all girded For vengeance for Iraj; their steel-blue swords Were in their hands and Kawa's standard led them. Then Minuchihr with him who loved the fray, Karan, went from the forest of Narwan, Reviewed and ranged his host on those broad plains. He gave the army's left wing to Garshasp; Upon the right was brave Sam with Kubad, Who set the battle in array. The prince With Sarv was in the centre, whence he shone Moon-like, or as the sun o'er some high hill. Led by Karan, with champions such as Salm, The Iranian army fought. Kubad was scout, The heroes of the house of Taliman Were ambuscaders, and the host was decked In bridal trim with lion-warriors And din of drums. Men bore the news in haste To Tur and Salm: "The Iranians armed for fight Are marching toward the desert from the forest, Their livers' blood afoam upon their lips." That pair of murderers with a huge array Set forth intent on vengeance and drew up Their host upon the plain : they made the Alans And sea their base. Kubad the scout advanced, And Tur on hearing that came forth like wind, And said to him: "Return to Minuchihr And say to him : ' Thou bastard just made Shah What though there was a daughter to Iraj, Hast thou a right to signet, crown, and throne?'" "Yea, I will take thy message." said Kubad, "In Chine own words and style, but thou wilt quake To think hereafter of this monstrous speech. 'Twill not be strange if even savage beasts |p218 Bewail you day and night, for from Narwan To Chin are warlike, vengeful cavaliers. A glimpse of our bright swords and Kawa'S standard Will make your hearts and brains burst in dismay Ye will not know a valley from a hill." Tur heard and turned away in silent dudgeon, While blest Kubad went back to Minuchihr And told the insulting words. The young prince laughed. "None but a fool," he said, "would talk like this. But praise to Him - the Lord of both the worlds - Who knoweth all things secret or revealed! He knoweth that my grandsire was Iraj, As blessed Faridun assureth me, But when I show my person in the fight My birth and prowess will approve themselves. Now by the Grace of Him who ruleth sun And moon I will not leave Tur power to wink, But show his trunkless head to all the host; I will avenge my blessqd sire upon him And turn his kingdom upside down." He ceased And issued orders to prepare a feast. Par. 20 How Minuchihr attacked the Host of Tur When the bright world grew dark and scouts dispersed About the plain, Karan the warrior And Sarv the counsellor, who led the host, Observed? This will be Ahriman's own fight, A day of martial deeds and vengeance-seeking." A proclamation issued to the troops :- Omen of name and Lions of the Shah! |p219 Gird up your loins, be vigilant, and may The Almighty guard you. Whosoe'er is slain Will go to Paradise washed clean from sin; While they who shed the blood of warriors Of Rum and Chin, and take their lands, shall have Eternal fame, the Grace of archimages; The Shah will give them thrones and diadems, Their chieftain gold and God prosperity. Now when the dawn is breaking and the sun Half risen gird upon your valiant loins Your maces and your daggers of Kabul, Take up your stations and preserve your ranks." The captains of the host, the valiant chiefs, Drew up before the lion-prince and said:- "We are but slaves and live to serve the Shah, Will do his will and with our swords make earth Run like Jihun." They went back to their tents All purposing revenge. Now when day broke, Upheaving night's mid gloom, the prince assumed His station at the centre of the host With coat of armour, sword, and Ruman helm. The soldiers shouted lifting to the clouds Their spears. He duly ordered all the troops, The left, the right, the centre, and the wings. With heads all anger and with brows all frowns They rolled up earth in marching. It resembled A ship upon the waves and thou hadst said:- "It sinketh fast!" From his huge elephant He dropped a ball, earth heaved like azure sea, The drummers marched before the elephants With roar and din like lions in their rage, While from the sounds of pipe and clarion Thou wouldst have said: "It is a festival." |p220 The troops moved mountain-like and both hosts shouted. Anon the plain ran blood : thou wouldst have said That tulips sprang up. Mighty elephants Stood as on coral columns in the gore. They fought till night, till Minuchihr, who won The love of all, obtained the victory; Yet fortune in one stay abideth not, Now honey and now gall make up man's lot. The hearts of Tur and Salm were deeply moved By grief. They listened for a night-surprise, But no one came e'en when night turned to day, And they themselves were anxious for delay. Par. 21 How Tur was Slain by the Hand of Minuchihr Noon passed. With vengeful hearts the brothers met For consultation; mid their foolish schemes They said: "Let us attempt a night-attack And fill the desert and the plain with blood." That night those miscreants drew their army out, Bent on a camisade. The Iranian scouts Gat news thereof, and sped to Minuchihr To tell him so that he might post his troops. That shrewd man heard and planned a counter-ruse. He left Karan the host and led himself An ambuscade with thirty thousand warriors, All men of name. Tur came at night and brought One hundred thousand men prepared for fight, But found the foe arrayed with banners flying And saw that battle was his sole resource. A shout rose from the centres of the hosts, The horsemen made the air a cloud of dust And steel swords flashed like lightning: thou hadst said :- |p221 "They make air blaze, earth gleam like diamonds." The clashing of the steel went through the brain, While flame and blast rose cloudward. Minuchihr Sprang from his ambush and surrounded Tur, Who wheeled and fled mid wailings of despair From his own troops. Prince Minuchihr pursued, Hot for revenge, and cried: "Stay, miscreant, Who lovest fight so well and cuttest off The heads of innocents! Know'st not that all Desire revenge on thee? " He hurled a dart Against Tur's back, whose sword fell from his grasp. Then Minuchihr like wind unseated him, Cast him to earth, slew him, cut off his head, And left the body for the beasts of prey; Then went back to his camp to contemplate That symbol of a fall from high estate. Par. 22 How Minuchihr wrote to Announce his Victory to Faridun Then Minuchihr wrote to Shah Faridun About the war - its fortunes good and ill - And first he spake of Him who made the world - The Lord of goodness, purity, and justice :- "Praise to the Worldlord who bath succoured us Men find no other helper in their straits. He is the Guide, he maketh hearts rejoice And changeth not throughout eternity. Next, praises be to noble Faridun - The lord of crown and mace, possessed of justice, The Faith and Grace, crown and imperial throne. His fortune is the source of righteousness, His throne of beauty and of excellence. |p222 By virtue of thy Grace I reached Turan, Arrayed the host and fought by day and night Thrice fiercely in two days. I heard that Tur Designed a night-attack and wanting power Relied on craft; so I arranged an ambush And left him nothing but the wind to clutch. He fled, I followed, and o'ertaking him Pierced through his armour with a javelin, And took him from his saddle like the wind. I flung him as I would a serpent down And from his worthless body smote the head, Which lo! I send my grandsire, and forthwith Will set about a stratagem for Salm. Since Tur had placed within a golden casket His royal brother's head in foul contempt, And had no ruth or reverence for him, God, Who made the world, delivered Tur to me, And I have slain him as he slew Iraj; And will lay waste his realm and dwelling-place." The letter done he sent a cameleer, Who sped like wind with cheeks suffused with shame And hot tears in his eyes for Faxidun; How should he like to be the carrier Of Tur's head to the monarch of Iran? Though dead sons were perverse their fathers mourn them; But as the crime was great and unprovoked, And as the avenger was both young and brave, The messenger approached with confidence And laid the head of Tur before the Shah, Who prayed to God, the righteous Judge, to pour On Minuchihr his blessings evermore. |p223 Par. 23 How Karan took the Castle of the Alans News of the fight and of that Moon's eclipse Reached Salm, who purposed making a retreat Upon a lofty castle in his rear; Such are the ups and downs which fortune hath! Now Minuchihr had thought of this and said:- "If Salm declineth battle his retreat Will be upon the hold of the Alans, And therefore we must occupy the road, For if he hath the fortress of the sea No one will wrench him from his foothold there. It is a place whose head is in the clouds, 'Twas built by cunning from the ocean's depths, Is furnished well with treasures manifold And overshadowed by the eagle's wing. I must make haste to execute my plan And ply both rein and stirrup." This he told Koran, who, as he knew, would keep the secret. That chief replied? O gracious sovereign! If to the least of all his warriors The Shah vouchsafeth to entrust a host, I will secure Salm's only gate for combat Or for retreat. For this exploit I need Tur's royal standard and his signet-ring, Then will I make a shift to seize the hold And go to-night; but keep the matter close." He chose six thousand veterans of name, Who when the sky grew ebon placed the drums Upon the elephants, and full of fight Set forward toward the sea. Karan resigned The army to Shirwi and said: "I go |p224 Disguised as envoy to the castellan To show to him the signet-ring of Tur. When I am in the castle I will raise The standard, and will make the blue swords gleam. Approach ye then the hold, and when I shout Make onset and lay on." He left the host Hard by the hold while he himself advanced, And when he reached the castle told his tale, Showed to the castellan Tur's signet-ring And said: "I come from Tur, who bade me not Stop to draw breath, and said: ' Go to the castellan And say to him? Be watchful day and night, Share both in weal and woe, guard well the castle, Be vigilant, and if Shah Minuchihr Shall send his troops and standard 'gainst the hold Assist each other, and put forth your strength; And may ye overthrow the enemy." The castellan heard this and recognised The signet-ring; they oiled the castle-gates He saw the seeming, but he saw no more. Mark here the rustic poet's moralising: "No one but He alone who placed the heart Within can see its secrets. Be our part To labour at the duty of the day; So be the good and evil what they may, Mine only duty is to say my say." The castellan re-entered with Karan, Who loved the fight, the guileless with the guileful. This chieftain, though prepared for stratagems, Sealed friendship with a stranger, and in folly Gave both his head and castle to the winds. He thus addressed his son - a warrior-pard :- "My son, who art so skilful and adroit Do nothing rashly and in ignorance, |p225 But ponder well and mark from first to last The homed words of one that is a stranger, Especially in times of war and strife. Search well and live in dread of ambuscades, Look deeply whatsoe'er the matter be, And how a chieftain shrewd of intellect, By leaving some small detail unexplored, And not considering the foemen's craft, May render up his fortress to the winds." At break of day Karan, who loved the fight, Set up a standard like the moon full-orbed; He shouted and made signals to Shirwi And his exalted chiefs. Shirwi perceiving The royal standard made toward the hold, Seized on the gate, threw in his troops and crowned The chiefs with blood. Here was Karan and there Shirwi, the sword above, the sea below. By noon the castle's form and castellan's Had vanished. Thou couldst see a cloud of smoke, But ship and castle were invisible. Fire blazed, wind blew, rose horsemen's shouts and cries For help. At sunset hold and plain were level, And twice six thousand of the foe were slain. A pitchy reek rose o'er a pitchy shore And all the surface of the waste ran gore. Par. 24 How Kakwi, the Grandson of Zahhak, attacked the Iranians Karan returned and told the prince, who said:- "May horse and mace and saddle ne'er lack thee. When thou hadst gone another host approached, Led by a young and battle-loving chief, |p226 A grandson of Zahhak, and called, I hear, Kakwi - an infidel - with haughty horsemen And men of name a hundred thousand strong, And slaughtered many of our lion-warriors. Salm now is bent on fight since this ally Hath come to help him from Gang-i-Dizhhukht. They tell me that he is a warlike div, In battle unappalled and strong of hand. I have not reached him in the combat yet, Nor ta'en his measure with the warriors' mace, But when he cometh next to fight with us I will essay him and will try his weight." Karan replied: "O prince! who can confront thee In battle? If he were a pard his skin Would burst upon him at the thought of fight. Who is Kakwi? What is Kakwi? Thy foes Will never play the man. I will devise A shrewd device in this emergency That none like vile Kakwi may ever come Henceforth to fight us from Gang-i-Dizhhukht." The noble prince replied: "Be not concerned. Thou art exhausted with thy late exploit, Thy marching and revenge; it is my turn To do the fighting : breathe awhile, great chief! " The din of trump and pipe arose without, The tymbals sounded and the horsemen's dust Made air pitch-black and earth like ebony. Thou wouldst have said: "These Diamonds have life, These maces and these javelins have tongues! " Shouts rose around and arrows fledged the air Like vulture's wings, blood grouted hand to hilt And spurted from the murk; thou wouldst have said :- "The earth will rise in waves and whelm the sky." |p227 Kakwi the chieftain raised the battle-shout And came forth like a div, while Minuchihr Advanced with Indian sword in hand. Both raised A cry that rent the hills and frayed the hosts. Thou wouldst have said: "These chiefs are elephants, Both terrible, both girt, both bent on vengeance." Kakwi thrust at the girdle of the prince, Whose Ruman helmet shook : his mail was rent Down to the belt so that his waist appeared. The prince's falchion struck Kakwi's cuirass And clove it by the neck, and thus they fought Till noon like pards and puddled earth with blood. As day declined the prince, sufficed with fight, Reached out and gripping firmly with his legs Caught with all ease the girdle of Kakwi, Dragged from his steed his elephantine form, Flung him upon the burning sand and gashed His chest and bosom with the scimitar. Thus went that Arab to the winds a prey; His mother bare him for so ill a day! Par. 25 How Salm fled and was Slain by the Hand of Minuchihr Kakwi being dead, the master of the West, Whose stay was broken, ceased to seek revenge And sought to gain his stronghold in his flight, But when he reached the sea saw not a spar Of any vessel there. The Iranian host, Though clogged by killed and wounded on the plain, Pursued apace, while Minuchihr, all wrath And vengeance, cast his fleet white charger's mail And pressed on till within the foemen's dust And hard upon the king of Rum he cried :- |p228 "Thou who art guilty of the blackest crime, Who murderedst thy brother for his crown! Hast thou obtained it? Whither wilt thou flee? I bring thee now, O king! a crown and throne The royal Tree'hath come to bearing fruit. Fly not the throne of greatness! Faridun Hath got a new throne ready for thine use. The tree which thou bast planted beareth now, And thy breast shall receive the produce of it; If thorns, the tree was planted by thyself; If painted silk, the weaving was thine own." As thus he spake he urged his steed along And in another moment overtook And clave the king asunder from the neck, Then bade the head be set upon a spear, While all admired his might and warlike arm. Salm's troops were scattered like a flock by snow And wandered aimlessly in companies Amid the wastes, the caverns, and the hills. They bade one wary, wise, and eloquent To go to Minuchihr forthwith and say On their behalf: "We are thy subjects all And only tread the earth to do thy will. Among us there are some possessed of herds, And some of tilth and palaces. To fight Was not our interest but our king's command; We came as soldiers, not to seek revenge. We are the Shah's slaves now and bow our heads To do his will and pleasure. If he willeth Revenge and bloodshed we can but submit. We all are guiltless and we all come in, So let him do as seemeth good to him, For he is master of our guiltless lives." Thus spake the sage, the chief in wonder answered :- "I cast my passions and exalt my name. |p229 What is not God's is Ahriman's and evil; Be all such banished from my sight, and may The divs be punished for their sins. Ye all Are either foes or friends and mine allies, But innocent and guilty both are spared Since God bath given us victory. 'Tis the day Of justice, wrong bath ceased, the leaders' heads Are safe from falling now. Seek brotherhood And use it for a charm, put off from you The implements of war, be wise and pure In Faith, secure from ill, and banish vengeance. Now in your dwellings wheresoe'er they be, In Chin, Turan, or in the land of Rum, Let all the virtues form your pedestal And be your homes those of enlightened minds." The great chiefs praised that noble, upright prince, And proclamation issued from his tent :- "Ye paladins whose counsel prospereth Shed no more needless blood, the tyrants' fortunes Are overthrown." Then all the troops of Chin Fell prostrate, brought their arms and gear of war To Minuchihr, and as they passed him piled A mountain of horse-armour, helms, and breastplates, Of maces and of Indian scimitars, While Minuchihr the chieftain graciously Entreated each one as his rank might be. Par. 26 How the Head of Salm was sent to Faridun The hero called a courier, gave to him The head of Salm, the monarch of the West, And wrote to tell his grandsire of the fight And strategy, first giving God the praise |p230 And then the Shah: "Praise to the conquering World-lord From whom are virtue, power, and Grace! His blessing Is now on Faridun, that wise, brave Shah, Who hath released us from the bonds of ill, And hath the wisdom and the Grace of God. We are avenged upon the cavaliers Of Chin. We lay in ambush for their lives. Strong in the Shah with our avenging scimitars We smote the heads off those unrighteous men, Who both were reeking with Iraj's blood; We purged the surface of the earth with steel. Lo! I am coming like the wind behind My letter, and will tell thee all that passed." He sent Shirwi, the aspiring veteran, Back to the hold, and said? Explore the booty, Act as thou seest best, and take the Shah The spoil upon high-crested elephants." He bade the drummers and the pipers fare Forth from the royal tent, and from that hold In Chin marched inland back to Faridun. As he approached Tammisha on his way His grandsire longed to look at hire. The blast Of clarions ascended from the gate, The host began to march out. Faridun, That man of wakeful fortune, decked the backs Of all the elephants with turquoise thrones, And golden litters with brocade and gems. A world of banners, yellow, red, and blue, Waved overhead. The host marched toward Sari, Like black clouds from the waters of Gllan, With golden bridles and with golden girdles, With silvern stirrups and with golden bucklers, With treasures, elephants, and precious stores, In readiness to welcome Minuchihr. |p231 Now as that prince approached the royal host His grandsire went afoot to welcome him, As did the men of Gil like lions loose, With torques of gold and helmets black as musk. The Iranians followed on behind the Shah, Each like a savage lion, troops went first, The elephants and lions in the midst, Behind the elephants more valiant troops. Whenas the flag of Faridun appeared The host of Minuchihr deployed in line. That youthful prince, that sapling just producing Its earliest fruits, dismounted from his steed. He kissed the ground and blessed the monarch's throne, His diadem and crown and signet-ring, But Faridun commanded him to mount, Kissed him and grasped his hand. Then Faridun Returning home sent word to Sdm, the son Of Nariman: "Come presently," for Sam Had come from Hindustan to help to fight Against the sorcerers, and brought withal A mighty store of gold and precious things Above whate'er the Shah required of him - Such myriads of jewels and dinars That no accountant could have reckoned them. Sam, when he reached the monarch of the world, Saluted both the old Shah and the young. The famous monarch seated Sam beside him, The great king seated the great paladin, And said: "I put my grandsire in thy charge, For I must now depart. Help him in all And make him show a prowess like thine own." The great Shah lightly laid the young man's hand In that world-paladin's, looked up and said:- "Almighty God! Just Judge who sayest sooth |p232 Thou saidst : 'I am the Almighty, the just Judge, The Help of the oppressed in their distress.' Right hast Thou done me, Thou hast holpen me And given me both crown and signet-ring. God! Thou hast granted me my whole desire; Now take me to the other world - a better Than this - because I would not that my soul Should tarry longer in this narrow sphere." Shirwi the chieftain with the spoils approached The palace of the Shah, who lavished all The booty on the troops. He gave directions, Two days ere Mihr, for Minuchihr to sit Helmed on the throne of gold, with his own hands Crowned the young prince, and gave his last commands. Par. 27 The Death of Faridun This done, the great king's day and fortune changed, The leafage withered on the royal tree; He quitted crown and throne and with the heads Of those three kings beside him lived in tears And in austerities: his plaint was this "My days are changed and darkened by these three, Who were my heart's delight and grief withal, Thus slain before me miserably, in hatred, And as my foes would wish. Such ills befell them Through their perversity and evil deeds; They disobeyed me and the world frowned on them." His heart was full, his face all tears till death. Though Faridun is gone there is his name Still left through all the years that have passed by; |p233 He was, my son! all excellence and fame - One who found profit in adversity. Then Minuchihr put off the royal crown, He girt a blood-stained girdle round his loins, And reared a charnel as the Shahs were wont Of ruddy gold and lapislazuli. They placed a throne of ivory within And hung a crown above it, visited The dead to say farewell, as was the use And ritual, then shut the charnel-door In such ill case that dear one left the world One sennight Minuchihr gave up to grief, His eyes were full of tears, his cheeks were pale, And for a sennight city and bazar Were mourning with their mourning sovereign. O world which art all wind and levity The man of wisdom hath no joy of thee. Thou fosterest each one with thy caress, No matter if his life be more or less, But when thou willest to revoke the trust What reekest thou of coral or of dust? Man' when the world hath snapped in twain the cord Of this world for thee, be thou liege or lord, Thy griefs and pleasures as a dream appear Vex not thy heart then to continue here. Blest is the man who, whether king or thrall, Bequeatheth good as his memorial! |p234 VII Minuchihr |p237 Par. 1 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. |p238 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. WHower 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. |p239 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. Par. 2 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. |p240 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. |p241 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. |p242 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, |p243 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. Par. 3 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 |p244 Incline to Him - the Author of all good, The Guide." 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; |p245 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; |p246 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. |p247 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, |p248 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. Par. 4 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? " |p250 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. |p251 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." Par. 5 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, |p252 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. They bound 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. |p253 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. Par. 6 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. |p254 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 |p255 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. |p256 Par. 7 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. |p257 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! " When Mihrab 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, And beauty." 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 |p258 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. Par. 8 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? " Mihrab replied:- "O fair-faced Cypress with the silvern breast! |p260 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 |p261 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, |p262 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." Rudaba smiled, Turned safflower cheeks toward the slave and said:- "If thou canst compass this thou wilt have planted |p263 A tall tree bearing rubies day by day Which wisdom in its breast will bear away." Par. 9 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? " One said:- "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. |p264 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 o£ Nimruz, and other kings Call him ' Dastan.' The sky revolveth not O'er cavalier like him, nor will time see His peer." 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 |p265 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.'" He took 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. |p266 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. |p267 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 Her face." 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." Par. 10 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:- |p268 "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, |p269 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 portraits. The servants draped it with brocade of Chin, |p270 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. Par. 11 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. |p271 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, |p272 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." |p273 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. Par. 12 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; |p274 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. |p275 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." Par. 13 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, |p276 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, |p277 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." The messenger 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 His news." 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 |p278 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. Par. 14 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, |p279 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. |p280 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. Par. 15 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. |p281 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. |p282 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. |p283 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. |p284 Par. 16 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." She answered The wise would take a very different view |p285 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 |p286 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." |p287 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. |p288 Par. 17 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 |p289 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. Par. 18 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; |p290 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 |p291 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 |p292 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. Par. 19 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. |p293 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 |p294 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 |p295 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." Thereupon Gail kissed the ground with many a benison. Par. 20 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, |p296 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. |p297 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; |p298 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.' |p299 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. Par. 21 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, |p300 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. |p301 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. Par. 22 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, |p302 Charged with a message from Mihrab to Sam, The winner of the world." The chamberlain 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 |p303 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." Sam replied:- "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." Sam grasped 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, |p304 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, |p305 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." Sindukht 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." |p306 With favouring stars the pale Moon's face again Grew bright, and she went homeward with her train. Par. 23 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 than well; "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 |p307 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." |p308 Par. 24 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. |p309 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." Par. 25 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. |p310 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. |p311 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." Par. 26 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, |p312 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 My heart." 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, |p313 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 And arrows." 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. |p314 Par. 27 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. |p315 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 |p316 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. Par. 28 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:- |p317 '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. |p318 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, |p319 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. |p320 Par. 29 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? " Rudaba answered:- "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? |p321 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. |p322 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 Is over." 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. |p323 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. |p324 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." Par. 30 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. |p325 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, |p326 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 |p327 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. Par. 31 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. |p328 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 |p329 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 |p330 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." Par. 32 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." |p331 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." |p332 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." Par. 33 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 |p333 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." Rustam read 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, |p334 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. Par. 34 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 |p335 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. Par. 35 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 - |p336 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. |p337 VIII NAUDAR HE REIGNED FOR SEVEN YEARS Par. 1 How Naudar succeeded to the Throne The mourning over, Shah Naudar exalted His royal crown o'er Saturn and gave audience Upon the throne of Minuchihr, bestowing Drachms and dinars upon the troops. The nobles Did reverence with their faces in the dust, And said: "We are the bondslaves of the Shah, Our eyes and hearts are full of love for thee." But matters changed, the monarch proved unjust, Laments went up on all sides, and men's heads Were whitened by the Shah. He blotted out The customs of his sire and grew severe To chief and archimage, spurned gracious ways And was enslaved to pelf. The peasants rose, Bold spirits claimed the realm, and tumults followed. The unjust Shah in terror wrote to Sam, Then at Sagsar within Mazandardn, And first invoked the Maker of the world, The Lord of Venus, Mars, and Sol, who made Both ant and elephant? Naught is beyond His power, or too minute for His regard. Now may the Master of the sun and moon Have mercy on the soul of Minuchihr, The Shah, through whom the glorious crown grew bright, My predecessor on so great a throne; And may as many blessings light on Sam, The hero, as the clouds shed drops of rain; May that redoubted glorious chief be sound In heart and mind, and sorrowless in soul. The paladin of earth should know, I ween, |p340 All matters close or open. Minuchihr, Before he closed his eyes, spake much of Sam, And I too have a warm supporter in him, Who - paladin and favourite - watched over My father's realm, illuming throne and crown. Now things have reached this pass that save thou takest Thy vengeful mace the throne will be abolished." Whenas the letter came Sam sighed. At cockcrow The sound of tymbals rose within the court, And from the Kargasars he marched a host Such that the green sea had been lost therein. The magnates in Iran went out to meet The approaching troops, dismounted when near Sam, And spake with him at large of all the actions Done by Naudar, and how he was unjust And left his father's footsteps recklessly. "He hath made earth a desert," they protested, "His fortune that was wakeful is asleep. He walketh not in wisdom's way, the Grace Of God hath left him. How would it be if Sam With his shrewd mind were seated on the throne? His fortune would regenerate the world, The country and its throne would both be his. We all would serve him and would pledge our lives For fealty to him." But Sam replied:- "Would God approve? Naudar hath royal blood And sitteth belted on the royal seat. Could I lay hands upon the realm and crown? Impossible! One should not hear such words. Would any chief dare say this publicly? If but a daughter of Shah Minuchihr Sat crowned upon the golden throne the dust Would be my couch whence I should joy to gaze |p341 Upon her. If Naudar hath left the way Trod by his sire it hath not been for long, The iron is not so rust-eaten yet As to be hard to furbish. I will bring The Grace back and make all desire his love. The dust of Minuchihr shall be my throne, The print of his son's horseshoe be my crown. We will speak much with him, and by our counsel Bring him good fortune. Ye! repent yourselves Of what hath passed and tender fresh allegiance. Unless Almighty God and Shah Naudar Shall pardon you, the Shah's wrath is your portion On earth, and fire your dwelling-place hereafter." The chiefs repented and made fealty Afresh; that prosperous-footed paladin Made earth grow young throughout. When Sam had reached The presence of the Shah he kissed the ground. The Shah descended from the throne, embraced His captain, seating him upon the throne With greetings and unbounded compliments. They feasted for a week with harp and wine, All offered their excuses to Naudar, And bare themselves as subjects. From each province Came tax and tribute out of fear of Sam, The swift of wrath. Naudar sat on the throne In splendour and in undisturbed repose, Till in the presence the chief paladin Arose and asked permission to depart, Threw wide the door of counsel to the Shah And told again the goodly histories Of glorious Faridun and Shah Hushang And Minuchihr, the lustre of the throne, And how they ruled earth justly and gave alms And would not countenance iniquity. |p342 Sam brought the monarch's wayward heart to reason, Warmed the chiefs' hearts toward him, rendering All justice and injustice at his hands Acceptable, and having said his say Both to the nobles and their sovereign Went with a robe of honour from Naudar, With crown and throne and signet-ring and slaves, With steeds whose furniture was wrought of gold And two gold goblets all a-brim with rubies. So matters stayed awhile, but heaven above Revolved not o'er Naudar in peace and love. Par. 2 How Pashang heard of the Death of Minuchihr News of Shah Minuchihr's decease, and how Things fared ill with Naudar, came to Turan, Whose folk held commune with the malcontents. Pashang; the Turkman ruler, also heard And contemplated war. He spake at large About his sire Zadsham, talked big of Tur, The throne of Minuchihr, his troops, his warriors, His princes and his realm, then summoned all The captains and grandees, as Ighriras, Barman, and Garsiwaz, that raging Lion Kulbad, and generals like skilful Wisa, The leader of the host. He also called His son Afrasiyab, who came in haste, To whom he said concerning Salm and Tur :- "We may not hide revenge beneath our skirt, For all whose brains are level in their heads Knowhow the Iranians have entreated us, And always girded up their loins for ill. Now is the time for action and revenge, |p343 The time to wash the blood-tears from our cheeks. What say ye now? What answer do ye make? Advise me well." His words inspired Afrasiyab With zeal, he bragged before his sire with loins Girt up and vengeance in his heart? To fight With Lions is my work, I match myself Against Naudar, and if Zadsham had warred He had not left the world in such ill plight, But had become the master of Iran. Now whatsoe'er my grandsire left undone Of vengeance-seeking, fight, and stratagem, Is left for my sharp sword to execute. The time of turmoil is the time for me." Pashang grew keen for battle as he marked The lofty stature of Afrasiyab, His elephantine might, his breast and arms So lion-like, his shadow stretching miles, His tongue a trenchant scimitar, his heart An ocean and his hand a raining cloud. Pashang commanded him to draw the sword Of war, and lead an army to Iran. A chief whose son is worthy of his name May raise his own head to the orb of day, For afterwards, when he hath passed away, The son will keep alive the father's fame. Afrasiyab, high-wrought and full of vengeance, Went forth and opening the treasury Abundantly equipped his warriors; But when all things were ready, Ighriras The counsellor, heart-musing, sought his sire, For thinking is the business of the heart, And spake on this wise? Mine experienced father, The highest of the Turkman race in valour Although Iran hath now no Minuchihr, |p344 Sam, son of Nariman, is general; There are besides Kishwad, the brave Karan, And other men of name among the folk. Thou know'st what Salm and valiant Tur endured Through that old wolf and sworder Minuchihr, And yet Zadsham, my grandsire and our king, Whose helmet touched the circle of the moon, Ne'er spake a word of such a war, or read The book of vengeance in the time of peace. 'Tis better for us to restrain ourselves, Because this madness will confound the realm." Pashang said: "That brave crocodile, Afrasiyab, Is as a lion on a hunting-day, An elephant of war in battle-tide. Call him a bastard that would not avenge His grandsire's wrongs. Depart forthwith and counsel Afrasiyab in matters great and small. So when the crumple-skirted clouds are gone, When rains have drenched the wastes, when hill and plain Give pasture for the steeds, when herbage riseth Above our warriors' necks and all the world Is green with corn, then camp upon the plain; Midst rose and verdure bear a gladsome heart, And lead the whole host onward to Amul; Tread Dahistan beneath the horses' hoofs, Speed and incarnadine the streams with blood. Thence Minuchihr departed to the war To take revenge on Tur, thence did his powers Advance against us like a murky cloud, And by that token it is your turn now To send the dust up from their nobles' heads. The refuge of the army of Iran Was Minuchihr, and he adorned the throne. Why fear the lranians now that he is gone? |p345 They are not worth a pinch of dust. I fear not Naudar, who is but young and raw. Karan Will be your foe, and one more warrior - Garshasp. May ye so treat them on the field As to rejoice our fathers' souls, and burn Our foemen's hearts." The prince said: "Blood shall run Along in streams ere my revenge is done." Par. 3 Hom Afrasiyab came to the Land of Iran When herbage made the plain like painted silk The warriors of Tciran girt up their loins; An army marched forth from Turin and Chin With mace-men from the Western lands-a host Without a middle or an end; withal The fortune of Naudar was young no longer. As these approached Jihun he heard the news rind drew forth to the plain toward Dahistan. Karan, who loved the fray, was general, Behind him came Naudar, the king of kings, And all the world was filled with bruit of warfare. The host approaching Dahistan concealed The sun in dust. They pitched the camp-enclosure Of Shah Naudar before the hold. Brief respite Was theirs, because Afrasiyab, who then Was in Irman, sent thirty thousand warriors, With Shamasas and Khazarwan as leaders, Toward Zabul to take revenge on Zal, For "Sam," they heard, "is dead, and Zal is busied About the obsequies." Afrasiyab Was pleased, perceived that fortune was awake, Marched forth to Dahistan, and pitched against it. |p346 Who knoweth how to reckon up his host? Go count a thousand o'er four hundred times. Thou wouldst have said: "The sands and uplands seethe, The wilderness is naught but ants and locusts." With Shah Naudar were seven score thousand men, And certes they were warlike cavaliers. Afrasiyab surveyed them and despatched By night a cameleer to bear Pashang A letter? The expected good hath come, Naudar's whole host is as a quarry to us, And Sam is dead. I feared none in Iran But him. His death alloweth our revenge. Zal is engaged upon the obsequies And hath not foot or feather for the fight. By this time Shamasas is in Nimruz Enthroned and crowned. Prompt action well advised Is best for us; occasions will not wait." The camel spread its wings and went apace Toward Pashang, that king of sunlight grace. Par. 4 How Barman and Kubad fought together and how Kubad was slain The van appeared in front of Dahistan As morn rose o'er the hills. The armies camped Two leagues apart in warlike pomp. A Turkman, By name Barman - one who bade sleepers wake - Approached, spied out the whole Iranian host And viewed the camp-enclosure of Naudar, Returned, reported to his chief, and said:- "How long must all our prowess be concealed? |p347 Now if the king permit I will engage Our foemen like a lion. They shall see My skill and know no hero but myself." "But if in this," said prudent Ighriras, "Some misadventure should befall Barman, Our marchlords would be cowed, our folk discouraged. Nay, choose we rather one of small account, For whom we need not bite our nails and lips." Then lowered Afrasiyab, ashamed to hear Such words, and frowning spake thus to Barman :- "Put on throe armour and string up thy bow; It will not come to using teeth and nails." Barman pricked forth and shouted to Karan :- "In all the army of the famed Naudar Hast thou a man who will contend with me? " Karan looked round upon his mighty men For one to volunteer, but none responded Save valiant old Kubad. The prudent chief Was grieved and troubled when his brother spake, And wept for wrath, and there was room for it With that great host, that, with so many young To fight, one old man only volunteered. Vexed to the heart about Kubad, Karan Addressed him thus in presence of the chiefs:- "At thine age thou shouldst not contend with one Fresh, ardent, young, and daring, like Barman, Who hath a lion's heart, and head sun-high. Thou art an honoured chieftain, and the centre Of counsel to our Shah. If thy white locks Grow red with blood our bravest will despair." Mark his reply in presence of the troops:- The The rolling sky hath given me enough. Know, brother! that the body is for death; My head and neck were meant to wear a helm. |p348 My heart hath been in anguish from the time Of blessed Minuchihr until this day. No mortal passeth into heaven alive, Man is death's quarry; one the scimitar Destroyeth mid the mellay, and the vulture And lion tear his corpse; another's life. Is ended on his bed. Beyond all question We must depart, and if I quit the world My tall and lusty brother is still safe. Make me a royal charnel in your love, Give musk, rose-water, camphor for my head, My body to the place of endless sleep. This do, live peacefully, and trust in God." This said, he grasped his spear and sallied forth Like some fierce elephant. Barman exclaimed:- "Now hath fate put thy head within my reach. Well hadst thou held aloof, for time itself Would have thy life." "The sky," Kubad replied, "Gave me my share long since, and he whose hour Hath come will have to die where'er he be: That time is not ill-timed at any time." He spake and urged his sable steed, denying His ardent heart all rest. The two contended From dawn till shadows lengthened. In the end The victory was Barman's, who as he rode Hurled at Kubad a dart which struck his hip And pierced his belt. That ancient lion-heart Fell headlong and so passed. Then with cheeks flushed With pride and satisfaction came Barman Before Afrasiyab, who gave him gifts Unprecedented as from king to liege. Karan the battle-lover, when Kubad Was slain, drew out his army and attacked. |p349 The two hosts seemed as 'twere two seas of Thou wouldst have said: "Earth shaketh." Then Karan The warrior rushed forth and Garsiwaz, Huge as an elephant, confronted him. The chargers neighed, the sun and shining moon Were hidden by the dust-clouds of the host, Swords diamond-bright and spear-heads steeped in gore Shone mid the dust - dust like a rainy cloud Wherethrough vermilion droppeth from the sun, A cloud whose marrow thrilled with tymbal-din, While liquid crimson drenched the falchions' souls. Where'er Karan urged on his steed the steel Flashed like Azargashasp, and thou hadst said "His Diamond sheddeth Coral." Nay, shed souls. Afrasiyab beheld and led his troops Against Karan, and with insatiate hearts They fought till night rose o'er the hills, and then Karan withdrew the host to Dahistan. With heart distracted by his brother's death He came to the pavilion of Naudar, Who on beholding him let tears down fall From weary eyelids that had seen no sleep, And said: "Since Sam the horseman died my soul Hath not grieved thus. Live thou for evermore, And sunlike be the spirit of Kubad. A day of joy and then a day of grief, Such is the wont and fashion of the world' No fostering will rescue us from death; Earth's only cradle is the sepulchre." "I have resigned to death," Karan replied, "My doughty body even from my birth. 'Twas Faridun that put my helmet on That I might tread the earth to avenge Iraj, And hitherto I have not loosed my girdle, |p350 Nor laid aside the sword of steel. My brother - That sage - is dead. I too shall die in harness; But be of cheer, Afrasiyab to-day Was straitened, and he called up his reserves. He saw me with mine ox-head mace and eagerly Attacked me; eye to eye I fronted him. He used some magic and my keen eyes lost Their vision, night came on and all was dark, Mine arm was tired of striking. Thou hadst said:- 'The End hath come.' The sky was overcast, And we were forced to quit the battlefield Because the troops were spent and it was dark." The opposing hosts reposed a while, and when The morrow dawned began the strife again. Par. 5 How Afrasiyab fought with Naudar the second Time The Iranians drew up for battle royal, And what with thundering drum and blaring trumpet Thou wouldst have said? The earth is tottering." Afrasiyab, when he beheld, arrayed His army opposite. "The sun hath set," Thou wouldst have said, earth was so dark with dust Of horsemen. Mid the war-cries none could tell A mountain from a plain, host grappled host And blood ran like a river where Karan Sought for the fray, and where Afrasiyab Towered till Naudar approached and challenged him. They strove together, spear confused with spear; No serpents ever writhed together so; How could kings battle thus? They fought till night And then Afrasiyab was conqueror, |p351 For more were stricken on the Iranian side And still the foemen's battle was unbroken. The Iranians turned their faces helplessly, Abandoning their camp upon the waste. Naudar was grieved that fortune should besmirch His crown with dust, and when the tymbals ceased He sent for Tus, who came with Gustaham, All sighs and grief. " What pain is in my heart!" He cried, recalling what his dying sire Foretold? An army from Turan and Chin will come against Iran, grieve thee and bring Disaster on thy troops." "The words are now Fulfilled," he said, " the arrogant have triumphed; But who e'er read in tales of famous men Of any that led forth such Turkman hosts? Go ye to Pars to fetch the women-folk And bear them through the passes to Alburz. Take unperceived the road to Ispahan, Else ye will break our soldiers' hearts, inflicting A second wound. Some haply of the seed Of Faridun may scape of all our troops. I know not if I shall behold you more Because to-night we make our last attempt. Have scouts out night and day to watch events; If they give evil tidings of the host And say: ' The Glory of the king of kings Is dimmed,' grieve not too much at heart; high heaven, Since it had being, bath been ever thus. Time bringeth this to dust while that enjoyeth A royal crown. Death, whether violent Or natural, is one - a throb then peace." Naudar with tears of blood embraced his sons. The royal pair proceeded to depart, But he remained and with a heavy heart. |p352 Par. 6 How Naudar fought with Afrasiyab the third Time The host reposed two days, but when the sun Rose on the third the Shah was forced to fight. Then like a foaming sea Afrasiyab; Dashed at the army of Naudar, the war-cry Rose from the camp-enclosures mid the din Of trump and Indian bell, the tymbals sounded Before the Shah's tent, and the warriors donned Their iron helmets. None had thought of sleep Within the camp of great Afrasiyab; All night they had made ready, sharpening The swords and double-headed darts. The earth Was filled by armoured men with heavy maces. Karan was marshal of the central host Whereto the Shah and he were towers of strength. The Shah's left wing the hero Taliman Claimed for himself, and bold Shapur the right. From morning till the sun had left the dome, Hills, plains, and wastes were indistinguishable; Thou wouldst have said: "The sword's heart is enlarged And earth is groaning underneath the steeds." But while the javelins put the earth in shade Defeat drew ever nearer to Naudar, And as his fortunes sank the Turkmans' rose. Upon the side where bold Shapur was stationed The ranks were broken and the troops dispersed, But he maintained his post till he was slain. The Iranians' fortune turned away its head, And many another chieftain of the host Was killed or wounded on the battlefield. |p353 Now when the monarch and Karan perceived The stars averse, they fled before the foe To Dahistan, and there maintained themselves, Cut off from all outside it. Night and day They fought in the approaches. Passed a while. Now since Naudar had refuged in the hold, Where horsemen could not act, Afrasiyab Made ready and despatched a force by night, Bethought him of the chieftain Kurukhan, Of Wisa's race, and bade him lead them forth Along the desert-route to Paars, for there The Iranians' homes were situate, and men In trouble make for home. Karan heard this And, moved with jealousy and grieved at heart, Went in as 'twere a leopard to Naudar And said: "Behold how base Afrasiyab Is dealing with the monarch of Iran! He hath despatched a countless host of troops Against our warriors' women. Should he get them Disaster will befall our men of name And we shall hide our faces in disgrace; So Kurukhan roust be attacked forthwith, And by the leave of the victorious Shah I will pursue with speed. Thou hast a river, Provisions, and right zealous warriors. Stay thou; be not concerned. Thou canst defend Thyself with ease, so play the lion's part, For monarchs should be brave." Naudar replied :- "Not so, the host hath none like thee to lead them. 'Twas for our homes that Tus and Gustaham Went forth at beat of drum, and they will reach The women in good time, such is their speed, And take the needful steps." The mighty men |p354 Went to the sleeping-chamber of the Shah Where presently they sat and called for wine To purge their hearts of sorrow for a while. When Shah Naudarwas well bemused he went Behind his curtains, meditating vengeance, And those brave chief's - the Iranian cavaliers - Departed in disorder from the court To assemble at the quarters of Karan, With eyes like winter-clouds; with much debate, They all agreed? We must set out for Pars Forthwith or else our wives and little ones Will all be broken-hearted slaves, all captured Without a struggle, and who then will wield The spear upon the plain or rest in peace? " Now when these three - Shidush, Kishwad, Karan - Had taken counsel for the whole emprise, And half the night had passed, they made them ready To sally forth. At dawn with heavy hearts They reached what men in those days called "White Castle." There found they Guzhdaham the castellan Together with his watchful warriors Beleaguered by Barman, who held the road With troops and elephants and valiant chiefs, And erst had wrung the heart of brave Karan Who, eager to avenge his brother's blood, Assumed his mail, prepared his men for action, And made for Pars. The brave Barman was ware And like a lion met him on the way. Now when Karan saw mid the dust of fight That man of blood he grappled with his foe, All lion-like, not giving time for ruse, But closed at once, invoking God for succour, And pierced the Turkman's girdle with a javelin |p355 Through mail and buckle. From his charger's back Barman fell headlong, the bright orb of day Turned dark to him, his army's heart was broken, His soldiers fled. Karan the chieftain then Went on toward Pars with all his valiant men. Par. 7 How Naudar was taken by Afrasiyab Naudar, on hearing that Karan had gone, Sped after him, all instant to escape The evil day, lest heaven should trample him. Afrasiyab gat tidings that Naudar Had sought the waste, collected troops, and followed As 'twere a lion. Drawing near he found The foemen ready for a running fight, And as he marched mused how to take the head That wore the crown. They fought all night till noonday, And earth was dark with warriors' dust. At length The Shah was taken with twelve hundred nobles; Thou wouldst have said: "Their place on earth is void." strive as they might to flee they were ensnared Within the net of bale. Afrasiyab Put into bonds the captured host and Shah. Though thou shouldst sit in conclave with the sky Yet will its revolutions grind thee down. It giveth majesty and throne and crown, It giveth too despair and misery. It playeth friend and foe, and proffereth thee, At times a kernel and at times a shell; It is a conjurer that knoweth well The sleights of every form of jugglery. |p356 Although thy head may touch the clouds, it must Have in the end its place amid the dust. Afrasiyab gave orders? Search," he said, "The caves, the hills, the waters, and the waste That fierce Karan may not elude our troops." But hearing that Karan had gone to save The women he was furious. " Let Barman," He bade, "speed forth and lion-like pursue Karan, and bring him me a prisoner." They told the monarch how Karan had served Barman, and brought him from his steed to dust; Whereat Afrasiyab was sorely grieved, Food, rest, and sleep were bitterness to him, And thus he spake to Wisa: "Let the death Of this thy son steel thine own heart, for when The son of Kawa warreth leopards shrink Before his spear. Go with a valiant host Well furnished, and take vengeance for the lost." Par. 8 How Wisa found his Son - that had been slain So Wisa, chief of the Turanian troops, Departed with a noble, vengeful army, And saw before he overtook Karan His loved son lying slain, his banner rent, His kettledrums o'erturned, his shroud of blood Like tulips, and his face like sandarach; While warriors and chieftains of Turan Were flung in numbers with him on the route. The sight grieved Wisa so that thou hadst said:- "His heart is rent by anguish," while his eyes Wept scalding tears. He sped to catch Karan. |p357 Thus like a torrent Wisa rushed along And shed calamity throughout the world. "He marcheth on in triumph gloriously," Such was the news that reached Karan, who sent His Arab horsemen forward to Nimruz And followed there himself - the Sun of earth. Now when from Pars he reached the waste, a dust-cloud Appeared upon his left, and from the dust The sable flag emerged, while from the van The Turkman chief led on his host. Both armies Arrayed their ranks; the warriors sought the fray. Then from the centre Wisa shouted, saying:- "Gone to the winds are crown and throne of greatness. All from Kannuj up to Kabulistan, Ghaznin too, and Zabulistan, are ours Our throne is graven on their palaces, Where wilt thou refuge since the Shah is taken? " The other said: "Karan am I, and cast My blanket on the waters. Neither fear Nor any idle rumour sent me forth. I marched to fight thy son, and having taken Revenge on him will take it now on thee, And show thee how brave warriors fight." They urged Their chargers on, the clarions blared, dust rose To left and right and moon and sky waxed dim. Men grappled eagerly and showered blood. Karan and Wisa met once in the mellay, But Wisa turned away and fled the field Where many a chief had fallen, yet Karan Pursued not. Wisa, broken by misfortune, Appeared before Afrasiyab in pain And weeping for his son that had been slain. |p358 Par. 9 How Shamasas and Khazarwan invaded Zabulistan The expedition from Irman went forth Against Zabul, and Shamasas advanced Toward Sistan in haste, while Khazarwan, With thirty thousand famous men - good swordsmen Marched warily as far as the Hirmund With glaive and mace, and fortune at its height. Now Zal was at the burial-place erecting In pain and grief a charnel for his father, While brave Mihrab, whose mind was on the alert, Was in the city, and despatched an envoy To Shamasas. When this man reached the camp He gave his master's greetings, saying thus:- "For ever may the monarch of Turan Continue bright of heart and wear the crown. Zahhak the Arab was mine ancestor, And little do I love mine overlord, But by alliance have I purchased life Because I saw no other course. At present I dwell within the palace, ruling all Zabulistan. When Zal went whelmed with grief To bury Sam my heart rejoiced, and I Will never see his face again. I ask The famous paladin for time to send Afrasiyab a prudent cameleer; 'Twill shorten matters if he know my mind. I will despatch him fitting gifts besides The tribute, and if he saith 'Come,' will stand Before his throne, resign to him my realm, And joy in him. I will not vex the paladin, But send him every kind of hoarded wealth." |p359 Thus one hand held back Shamasas and one Was stretched for help. He sent a messenger And said? Fly! Ply thy feathers and thy pinions, Announce to Zal what thou hast seen, and say:- 'Pause not to rub thy head but come at once, For of the Turkman host two paladins, Like leopard's claws, advanced to fight with me; But when they were approaching the Hirmund I put their feet in fetters of dinars. Now if thou waitest to draw breath but once Our foes will have their will.'" The envoy came To Zal, whose heart forthwith was all a-flame. Par. 10 How Zal cane to help Mihrab Zal hearing this had the gold trappings placed Upon his steed, and faring night and day Rejoined his troops. Whenas he saw Mihrab Unmoved and full of knowledge and good counsel, He thought? What cause have we to fear this host, For Khazarwan is but a pinch of dust To me? " Then to Mihrab: "O man of prudence, Approved in all! now will I go by night And lay a hand upon the foe for blood. They shall be ware that I am back again, Back with full heart and ready to avenge." He marked the stations of the hostile chiefs, Then drew his bow amain and shot three arrows Of poplar, bough-like, arching through the sky In three directions, and a clamour followed. |p360 When it was day the soldiers gathered round And marked the arrows, saying? They are Zal's! None other shooteth with such shafts as these." Cried Shamasas: "O Khazarwan, thou Lion Hadst thou not been remiss in fight, not dallied So with Mihrab, his army and his treasure, Zal had not troubled thee." Then Khazarwan :- "He is but one, not Ahriman or iron. Fear not, for I will grapple him anon." Whenas the bright sun crossed the vault were heard Drums on the plain, and in the city sounds Of tymbals, clarions, gongs, and Indian bells. Zal donned his mail apace, bestrode his charger As swift as dust, while all his warriors mounted With vengeful thoughts and frown's upon their brows. He led the army forth upon the plain; Equipped with elephants and camp-enclosures, Where host encountered host and made the waste As 'twere a darksome mountain with the dust. Then Khazarwan with mace and buckler rushed To counter Zal, and smote his glittering breast A blow that brake his famed cuirass. When Zal Withdrew the warriors of Kabulistan Retreated, but brave Zal armed him afresh. His head was wroth, his blood was up, he brandished His father's mace, while Khazarwan advanced To challenge fight, a roaring Lion he, Before the host. Zal had no sooner raised The reek of fight than Khazarwan was on him As quick as dust, while Zal in fury charged His foe, and brandishing the ox-like mace Smote Khazarwan upon the head and made The ground as 'twere a leopard's back with blood; |p361 Then flung him down, trod on him, passed along And led the army forward to the plain, Inviting Shamasas to come and fight, But Shamasas came not; his blood was chilled. Zal next descried Kulbad amid the dust And shouldered his steel mace. Thereon Kulbad, Observing Zal with mace and scimitar, Endeavoured to escape his foeman's sight, But Zal the cavalier strung up his bow And lightly aimed at him a poplar arrow, Struck full upon the girdle of Kulbad - A girdle that was wrought of links of steel - And pinned him to the pummel through the loins. His troops' hearts burned for him while Shamasas Despaired, his face paled when those chiefs were slain, And he and all his army in full flight Dispersed like sheep upon a stormy day, Pressed by the soldiers of Zabulistan And by Mihrab. The field was such with corpses That thou hadst said: "The troops are cramped for room." The Turkmans fled toward Afrasiyab, Their mail unfastened and their girdles snapped. When Shamasas had reached the open plain Karan, the son of Kawa, came in sight Returning from pursuing Wisa's host, Whose noblest he had slain so easily. The armies met together, Shamasas Met with Karan, the lover of the fray, Who knowing his antagonists, and why They were retreating from Zabulistan, Bade trumpets sound and occupied the road. Thus host encountered host. The paladin Said to his troops? Ye men of noble name And ardent soul! go battle with your spears, |p362 And may ye rob the foe of life." With cries Of maddened elephants they seized their spears, Which made a reed-bed of the battlefield And veiled the sun and moon. He lightly slew Those Turkman troops and flung them on the track, Fell on the wounded and the prisoners, And sent their dust up to the shining sun, While Shamasas with certain men of might Fled and escaped the murky dust of fight. Par. 11 How Naudar was slain by Afrasiyab News of the death of those famed warriors Came to the Turkman king; his heart was pained, His cheeks were wet with his heart's blood. He said:- "Naudar is in my prison, yet my friends Are vilely slaughtered thus! What can I do But shed his blood and give new cause for feud? " He was enraged and cried? Where is Naudar, For Wisa calleth for revenge on him? Bring him," he told an executioner, "That I may teach him war." Naudar on hearing Knew that his time was come. A clamorous throng Departed, bound his arms firm as a rock, And haled him bare both head and foot, fordone, In shameful plight before the Crocodile. Full of impatience great Afrasiyab Looked out for him, and seeing him approach Reminded him of their ancestral feud, Began with Salm and Tur, and washed away From heart and eyes the reverence due to kings. |p363 "Thou hast deserved whatever ill may come," He said, called fiercely for a scimitar, Smote Shah Naudar upon the neck and flung In foul contempt the body in the dust. Thus passed that Memory of Shah Minuchihr And left Iran bereft of throne and crown. O man of knowledge shrewd exceedingly! Don not the whole robe of thy greed, for throne And crown have seen already many an one . Like thee, and thou mayst hear their history. If thou hast gained the object of thy lust And appetite hath ceased, so strong before, Why shouldst thou ask this gloomy mournful dust To make thee miserable any more? They haled the other captives forth in shame, And asking quarter. Virtuous Ighriras Saw this and anxiously besought the king:- "To slay so many noble warriors And horsemen in cold blood - mere prisoners Disarmed - is base, and base where we should look For magnanimity. 'Twere worthier far To spare their lives. Commit them bound to me And I will prison them within a cavern, Well guarded. Prison will restore their wits; But shed not blood." At Ighriras' request, Perceiving his distress and earnestness, The monarch spared their lives, and bade men take The captives to Sari in shameful bonds. This done he marched from Dahistan to Rai, Hid earth beneath his cavaliers and made His chargers sweat, assumed the royal crown, Bestowed a liberal largess of dinars, And played as monarch of Iran his part With thoughts of war and vengeance in his heart. |p364 Par. 12 How Zal had Tidings of the Death of Naudar This news reached Gustaham and Tus? The Grace Of kingship is obscured. They have struck off Remorselessly with trenchant scimitar The head that wore the crown, and all is over." Men tore their faces and plucked out their hair, A cry of mourning went up from Iran, The great put dust and earth upon their heads, All eyes wept tears of blood, all robes were rent. Men turned their faces toward Zabul; their tongues Spake of the Shah, their souls yearned for the Shah. They went to Zal in mourning and in pain, With blood-stained cheeks and dust upon their heads. They cried? O good and valiant Shah Naudar! O great just monarch, wearer of the crown, The guardian of Iran, the prop of nobles, The head of kings and monarch of the world! Thy head is seeking for a crown from dust And earth is savouring of the blood of Shahs. The grasses on these fields and fells are hanging Their heads in shame before the sun while we Ask vengeance, mourning as it were a father, In whom the stock of Faridun survived, While earth was servant to his horse's shoe. Now him and all that famous troop have they Beheaded shamefully, despitefully; But we will draw our swords of watered steel, Will go to seek revenge and slay the foe So arm ye and revive the ancient feud. The heaven is surely with us in our grief; Its eyes rain tears of blood for very ruth. |p365 Do ye too fill your eyes with tears like those And strip your bodies of their dainty dress, For in revenge for kings it is not well That eyes should stint their tears or hearts their rage.' The mournful multitude wept bitterly, And burnt as though upon a raging fire, While Zal rent all his raiment and sat down With lamentable outcries in the dust. He said: "My trenchant blade shall ne'er behold Sheath till the Resurrection, my white charger Shall be my throne, a spear mine only tree, My place a stirrup and a dusky helm The crown upon my head. There is no rest Or slumber in this feud. No stream can match The river of mine eyes. Oh! may the soul Of great Naudar shine bright amid the mighty, And may the Lord of earth bestow on you A soul for Faith and duty. All of us Are born to die; it is our lot whereto We yield our necks." Now when the captives heard:- The The Iranians are upon the march for vengeance, They send out cameleers on every side, Have gathered countless troops and have renounced Home and delights," they neither ate nor slept, Such was their terror of Afrasiyab. A message from them came to Ighriras :- "O man of mighty purpose, famous chief We are thy slaves in all, and by thy word We live. Zal, as thou knowest, is at home And acting with the monarch of Kabul. Men like Barzin, Karan the warrior, Kharrad, and that host-shatterer Kishwad, Are men of might with hands that reach afar And will not keep their clutches off Iran. |p366 Now when these warriors wheel about us here And brandish their sharp lances in his sight The great Afrasiyab will be enraged, His heart will be inflamed against his captives, And for his crown's sake he will bring to dust The heads of all our blameless company. If prudent Ighriras see fit to free us We will disperse, praise him before the great And make thanksgiving unto God for him." Wise Ighriras replied? Such skilleth not; 'Twere a foe's act; this human Ahriman Would be incensed. I will not take other order So that my brother may not turn upon me In vengeance. If now Zal is keen for war And will advance to fight us at Sari I will deliver you to him, myself Evacuate Amul, forbear to fight And bring to infamy my honoured head." At this reply the nobles of Iran Bent to the ground, and full of praise for him Despatched a courier from Sari with speed To Zal, the son of Sam. The message ran. - Our Our God hath pitied us; wise Ighriras Is now our friend. This is the pact between us If only two Iranian warriors Shall come and offer fight that noble man, Who walketh fortune's path, will quit Amul For Rai, and so some one of us may scape The Dragon's clutch." The courier reached Zabul And made the glad news known to Zal, who called The nobles, told them all, then said: "My friends, Pards of the fray and winners of renown Who is the warrior of princely heart, All black with courage, who will raise his neck |p367 To touch the sun by undertaking this? " Kishwad accepting struck his breast and said:- "My hand is ready for an act so just." The glorious Zal approved him, saying thus:- "Live happily while months and years endure." So from Zabul a troop of warriors Intent on war set face toward kmul. When they had journeyed for a stage or two The tidings came to Ighriras their friend, Who blew the brazen trumpets, marched away His troops and left the captives at Sari. When fortunate Kishwad arrived he found The key to loose their bonds, provided steeds, And from kmul sped toward Zabul. When Zal Was told? Kishwad is coming back in triumph," He gave a largess to the mendicants, The robe that he was wearing to the messenger, And when Kishwad approached went out to meet him In state, while weeping tears of joy for those That had been captive in the Lion's clutch, And then with dust upon his head wept tears Of grief o'er famed Naudar. He took the loved ones Within the city, gave them palaces, And they became as when Naudar was king, Possessed of crowns and thrones and diadems, While Zal distributed his treasure-store Until the army could desire no more. Par. 13 How Ighriras was slain by his Brother When Ighriras went from Amul to Rai The king asked? Wherefore hast thou acted thus? Why hast thou mingled colocynth with honey? |p368 Did I not bid thee : 'Slay these evil men; It will be folly to imprison them? ' The warrior's head is not concerned with statecraft, His fame is gained upon the battlefield; Nor should the soldier tread the path of wisdom, For wisdom never mingleth with revenge." "Tears and compassion are not wholly needless," He answered. " When thou hast the power to harm Fear God and do it not, for crown and girdle See many like thee but are no man's own For ever." Hearing this Afrasiyab Was silenced, for the one was full of fire, The other wise; and how should wisdom fit Divs' heads? At his reply the chieftain raging, Like elephant gone mad, drew forth his scimitar And cut his brother down; that man of wisdom And goodness passed away. ZAl heard, and said :- "Now shall the fortune of Afrasiyab Be darkened and his throne laid waste." He blew The trumpets, bound the tymbals on, arrayed The army like the eye of chanticleer And went toward Pars, in anger and revenge, With troops that stretched from sea to sea, and darkened The sun and moon with dust. Afrasiyab, On hearing Zal's design, marched forth his host Toward Khar of Rai, drew up and took his stand. The outposts were engaged both day and night; Thou wouldst have said: "The world hath but one hue." Both hosts lost many a gallant man of mark. 'Twas thus until two sennights passed away, And horse and foot were weary of the fray. |p369 IX ZAV, THE SON OF TAHMASP HE REIGNED FIVE YEARS |p370 Par. 1 Zav is elected Shah One night as Zal sat speaking to his chiefs And retinue about Afrasiyab, He said: "Although our paladins possess Unsleeping fortune and enlightened minds We need a Shah, one of the royal race, Skilled in the lore of eld. The host resembleth A ship whereto the throne is wind and sail. Oh! had but Us and Gustaham the Grace . . . . We lack not troops, but men, however noble, That have not prudence, merit not the crown And throne. We need a Shah of puissant fortune, A man of Grace through whose words wisdom shineth." They found none of the seed of Faridun But Zav, son of Tahmasp, with monarch's might And hero's worth to grace the lofty throne. Karan took with a gallant company The joyful news to Zav: "In thee reviveth The crown of Faridun. Zal and the troops Acclaim thee as the Shah, O worthy one!" On an auspicious day fair-fortuned Zav Came and acceded to the lofty throne. The mighty praised him, showering offerings; Zal too did homage. Five years passed away |p371 While Zav, a wise old man, sat on the throne And judged and lavished till the world grew young. He kept his soldiers back from evil ways, Wrapped up himself in communings with God. None dared to rob or slay, but after him Men saw no lack of slaughter. There was a famine, There was not dew or rain, the ground and herbs Were parched, and bread was worth its weight in drachms. The hosts had faced each other for five months, Engaged in fierce encounters day by day As fitteth chiefs and heroes, but that famine Left them resourceless, wasted woof and warp, And all confessed? We are ourselves to blame," While wails and cries for help rose from both hosts. At length an envoy came to Zav and said:- "It is our own fault that this Wayside Inn Affordeth naught but travail, care, and anguish. Come let us share the earth and bless each other." They gave up thoughts of war for famine pressed, Agreed to drop the ancient feud, to share The world according to just precedent And put all bygones out of memory. The portion of Iran both near and far 'Twixt the Jihun and marches of Turan, And so along toward Khutan and Chin, Was given to the Turkmans as their kingdom, While Zal abandoned all the nomad tribes. Such was the sharing, such the Turkmans' bounds. Then Zav led forth his host to go to Pars, Old as he was he made earth young again; While Zed departed for Zabulistan And men received them both with open arms. The roar of thunder filled the mountain-tops |p372 And earth recovered colour, scent, and beauty; It was as 'twere a youthful bride, arrayed In fountains, pleasances, and rivulets, For fortune. would be neither dark nor hard If man had not the temper of a pard. Zal called the chiefs and offered thanks to God, Who had converted scarcity to plenty, Men set up feasting-places everywhere And banished feud and cursing from their hearts. Thus for five years men knew not wrong or travail, Yet verily the world grew sick of justice And longed to be within the Lion's claws. Now when he reached his sixth and eightieth year That sun-like ruler's leaf began to sear, The Iranians' fortune halted and the day Of Zav, the righteous worldlord, passed away. |p373 GARSHASP HIS REIGN WAS NINE YEARS |p374 Par. 1 How Garshasp succeeded to the Throne and died, and how Afrasiyab invaded Iran Zav had a puissant son by name Garshasp Who sat upon the throne and donned the crown. He ruled the world with majesty and Grace, But tidings reached the Turkmans: "Zav hath gone And left an empty throne." Afrasiyab Sent up the war-cry, launched his ships and made For Khar of Rai, but no one brought to him A greeting from Pashang, whose head was filled With hate, his heart with strife. All wild with grief For Ighriras, of throne and crown he reeked not, Would never look upon Afrasiyab And let the shining sword grow dull with rust; Albeit messengers were sent to him Month after month, but he denied himself, And said? Whatever prince were on the throne A friend like Ighriras would profit him, But thou art one to shed a brother's blood And flee before the nursling of a fowl. |p375 I sent thee forth to battle with the foe And thou hast slain thy brother? I disown thee Thou shalt not look upon my face again." Thus matters fared awhile; at length the tree Of bale bore colocynth. 'Twas in the year Wherein Garshasp the son of Zav departed That evil showed itself, for tidings reached All ears? The throne of king of kings is void." There came a message to Afrasiyab - A stone flung by Pashang: "Cross the Jihun And tarry not until yon throne be filled." Between Jihun and plain of Sipanjab Afrasiyab arrayed his armaments, And thou hadst said: "Earth is a turning sky Where Indian swords are shedding souls for rain." So sped that splendid army forth to war. "There is a claimant for the throne of might," Such tidings reached Iran. The throne was void, The outlook dark. Anon the streets and quarters Were all astir, cries rose from all the land And men turned toward Zabul. The world was filled With strife and folk spake bitterly to Zal:- "Thy handling of the world hath been too lax. Since thou hast held Sarn's place as paladin Our minds have not been joyful for a day. When Zav departed and his son was Shah The hands of evil men were kept from ill. Now seeing that Garshasp hath passed away The world is Shahless and the army chiefless. A host hath crossed Jihun, men cannot see The sun for dust. If any shift thou knowest Use it, because Afrasiyab approacheth." Zal answered? Since I girt the belt of manhood No rider like me hath bestridden steed, None hath essayed to wield my sword and mace, |p376 And horsemen showed their cruppers, not their reins, When I appeared. I have fought night and day And all my life have dreaded growing old. At length my back is bent, I wield no more A falchion of Kabul; yet God be praised That from my root a glorious shoot hath sprung, Whose head will reach the sky, and thou shalt see It grow in valour, Rustam being now A straight-stemmed Cypress whom the crown of greatness Becometh well; but he must have a charger; These Arab horses will not do for him. I will seek out some elephantine steed, Wherever there are herds, and say to Rustam :- 'Wilt thou consent, consent with all thy heart To gird thy loins to execute revenge Upon the offspring of Zadsham?'" Iran Was glad of heart and blithe of face as Zal Sent camel-posts to every quarter, armed His cavaliers, and said to Rustam thus :- "Mine elephantine son, a whole head taller Than other men! a work of toil is toward To break thy slumbers, quiet, and delights. Thou art not yet of age to fight, my son! But what of that? This is no time for feasting. Yet with the scent of milk upon thy lips, And with thy heart all set on sports and pleasures. How shall I send thee to the battlefield Against the Lions and the mighty men? Now for thine answer, and may majesty And goodness be thy mates." Then Rustam thus:- "O noble prince, ambitious of renown! Good sooth thou hast forgotten how I showed |p377 My courage publicly. The paladin Hath surely heard of the fierce elephant, And Mount Sipand, and I shall lose my fame If now I tremble at Afrasiyab. This is the time for fight and not for flight. The overthrow of Lions, the pursuit Of war, renown, and battle, fashion heroes; But 'tis not so with women; their concern Is food and sleep." Zal said: "O gallant youth, The chief of princes and the warriors' stay! My heart rejoiceth when I hear thee speak Of that white elephant and Mount Sipand, For truly since that fight was won with ease Why fear I for thee now? Afrasiyab And his designs deprive me of my sleep, Yet can I send thee to contend with one Who is a gallant king and loveth battle? Now is thy time for feasts and twanging harps, For quaffing wine, and tales of warlike deeds; 'Tis not thy time for warfare, fame, and strife, Or sending up the earth's dust to the moon:' He said: "I am not one for ease and revel. 'Twere base to pamper in luxuriousness Such arms as these, and these long hands of mine. What though the battlefield and fight be hard God and victorious fortune are mine aids. In battle thou shalt mark me how I go Upon my ruddy charger through the blood, And I will carry in my hand a cloud That is of watered hue but raineth gore, While from the substance of it flasheth fire Its head shall bruise the brains of elephants, My quiver when I clothe myself in mail |p378 Shall shock the world, and all the fortresses That shall withstand mine iron mace's blows, My breast and arms and neck, need never fear An arbalist or catapult, or want A bishop for their castellan. The rocks Shall redden to their cores when I advance My lance in fight. I need a steed hill-high Caught by my lasso, up to weight like mine In war, and not impatient of restraint. I need a mace too like a mountain-crag, For hosts will come against me from Turan, And when they come, though I should fight unaided, Their blood shall rain upon the battlefield." The paladin was moved, and thou hadst said, "He will pour out his soul." He thus replied:- "O tired of ease and revel! I will bring thee The mace of Sam the cavalier, preserved In memory of him, wherewith thou slewest The elephant. Live ever, paladin! " Zal ordered? Bring the mace employed by Sam In his campaign against Mazandaran To this fanned paladin that he may take Our foemen's breath away." When Rustam saw it He smiled with joy, called blessings down òn Zal, And said: "Thou art the chief of paladins; But now, to bear my person, mace, and Grace, I need a steed." Zal mused at what he said And oft invoked God's blessing on his head. Par. 2 How Rustam caught Rakhsh When Zal had gathered all his herds of horses, And many from Kabul, the herdsmen drove them |p379 Past Rustam, calling out the royal brands. Whenever Rustam caught a steed he pressed Its back until its belly reached the ground. At length a herd of piebald steeds sped by, Among them a grey mare short-legged and fleet, With lion's chest and ears like two steel daggers, Her breast and shoulder full and barrel fine. Behind her came a colt as tall as she, His buttocks and his breast as broad as hers, Dark-eyed and tapering - a piebald bay With belly hard and jet-black, hoofs of steel, His whole form beautiful, and spotted roan Like roses spread upon a ground of saffron. He could discern the tiny emmet's foot Upon black cloth at night two leagues away, Had elephantine strength with camel's stature, And pluck of lions bred on Mount Bistun. Now Rustam gazing on the mare observed That elephantine colt, and coiled his lasso To catch it, but an ancient herdsman cried :- "O chief! forbear to take another's charger." "Whose?" Rustam asked. "The thighs have not been branded." The herdsman answered? Never mind his brand; There are all kinds of rumours as to him. We call him Rakhsh. He is a piebald bay, As good as water and as bright as fire. We call him 'Rustam's Rakhsh,' but know of none To master him. He hath been fit to saddle These three years. All the nobles have observed him, But at the sight of noose and cavalier The dam is like a lion. We cannot tell, O chief of paladins! the reason why, But as a prudent man forbear to fight A Dragon such as this, for when the mare |p380 Is in the fighting humour she will rend The hearts of lions and the hides of pards." The old man's sayings opened Rustam's eyes, He cast his royal lasso and entangled The piebald's head. Then like a furious elephant The dam advanced as she would tear off Rustam's, Who roared as savage lions roar and scared her, Then with one buffet on the withers sent her All trembling to the ground. She rose, sprang back, Then turned and joined the herd, while mighty Rustam Stood firm and drew the lasso tighter still, And laid his hand upon the bay colt's back Which gave not; thou hadst said: "It is not felt." The hero thought? This is the mount for me; Now I can act." He mounted swift as wind, The ruddy steed sped with him. He inquired:- What What is this Dragon's price or who can tell it? " "If thou art Rustam," said the herd, "redress fran upon his back. Its broad champaign Shall be his price; then thou wilt right the world." The hero's lips grew coral-like with smiles; He said: "All good is God's." Bent on revenge He saddled ruddy Rakhsh, and giving him The rein observed his courage, strength, and blood, And that he could bear rider, arms, and mail. The piebald grew so precious that at night They burned wild rue to right and left of him For fear of harm. "They practise sorcery," Thou wouldst have said. In fight no deer was swifter. He was soft-mouthed, foam-scattering, light in hand, With rounded buttocks, clever, and well paced. The gallant rider and his new-found steed Made Zal's heart joyful as the jocund spring. |p381 He oped his treasury-door, gave out dinars, Nor reeked of day or morrow. When he mounted His elephant and dropped a ball the sound Made by the cup was heard for miles around. Par. 3 How Zal led the Host against Afrasiyab There was a noise of drums and clarions, Of mighty elephants and Indian gongs; 'Twas Resurrection in Zabulistan And earth called loudly to the dead? Arise!" A host departed from Zabul like lions; All hands were bathed in blood. In front came Rustam As paladin, then veteran warriors. The troops so spread o'er passes, plains, and dales That ravens had not room to fly, while tymbals Beat everywhere and tumult filled the world As at that time of roses Zal led forth The army from Zabul. Afrasiyab Thereat arose from banquet, rest, and slumber, And marched toward Khar of Rai along the meadows Among their streams and reeds. The Iranian host Fared o'er the desert to the scene of war, And when the armies were two leagues apart Zal called the veterans, and thus harangued them :- "Ye men of wisdom, well approven warriors We have arrayed us here an ample host And with advantages; yet with no Shah Upon the throne our plants want rede, our toils Lack purpose, and our troops a head. When Zav Was on the throne new glory ever came, And now we need a Shah of royal seed |p382 To gird him there. An archimage hath told me Of valiant Kai Kubad of royal stature, A future Shah of Faridun's own line In whom Grace, height, and lawful claims combine." Par. 4 How Rustam brought Kai Kubad from Mount Alburz Then glorious Zal spake unto Rustam, saying :- "Bestir thyself, take up thy mace, select The escort, go with speed to mount Alburz, Do homage unto Kai Kubad, but stay not With him, be back within two sennights, sleep not, But late and early hurry on and tell him:- 'The soldiers long, and deck the throne, for thee. We see none fitted for the royal crown, O monarch, our defender! but thyself.'" When Zal had spoken matchless Rustam swept The ground with his eyelashes, joyfully Got on the back of Rakhsh, and proudly rode In quest of Kai Kubad. A Turkman outpost Held the road strongly, but he charged the foe As champion of the host with his brave troops, Armed with the ox-head mace. He brandished it And towering in his wrath struck out and raised His battle-cry. The Turkmans' hearts all failed, His arm laid many low. They strove with him, But had to flee the battle in the end. With broken hearts and tearful eyes they turned Back to Afrasiyab, and told him all. He sorrowed at their case, called one Kulrin, A gallant Turkman warrior full of craft, And said to him? Choose horsemen from the host, |p383 Go thou too to the palace of the king, Be careful, prudent, and courageous, And specially keep watch with diligence; The Iranians are human ihrimans And fall on outposts unawares." Kulun Departed from the royal camp with guides To bar the road against the noble foe, With warriors and lusty elephants. Now Rustam the elect and brave marched on Toward the new Shah, and when within a mile Of mount Alburz perceived a splendid seat With running water and abundant trees - The home for youth. Upon a river's bank Was set a throne besprinkled with rose-water And purest musk. A young man like the moon Was seated on the throne beneath the shade, While many paladins with girded loins Mood ranked as is the custom of the great, rind formed a court well fitted for a Shah, Like Paradise in form and hue. On seeing The paladin approach they went to greet him And said: "Pass not, O famous paladin We are the hosts and thou shah be our guest. Dismount that we may join in jollity, And pledge thee, famous warrior! in wine:' But he replied? Exalted, noble chiefs! I must to mount Alburz upon affairs Of moment, and not loiter in my task. I have much work to do, the Iranian marches Are full of foes, all households weep and mourn, I must not revel while the throne is void." They said: "If thou art hasting to Alburz Be pleased to say of whom thou art in quest, For we who revel here are cavaliers |p384 From that blest land, and we will be thy guides And make friends on the way." He thus replied:- The Shah is there, a holy man and noble. His name is Kai Kubad, sprung from the seed Of Faridun the just and prosperous. Direct me to him if ye wot of him." The leader said: "I wot of Kai Kubad. If thou wilt enter and delight our hearts I will direct thee and describe the man." The peerless Rustam hearing this dismounted Like wind, and hurried to the water's edge, To where the folk were seated in the shade. The youth sat down upon the throne of gold And taking Rustam's hand within his own Filled up and drained a goblet " To the Free!" Then handed it to Rustam, saying thus :- "Thou askest me, O famous warrior! About Kubad, whence knowest thou his name? " Said Rustam: "From the paladin I come With joyful news. The chiefs have decked the throne And called on Kai Kubad to be the Shah. My sire, the chief whom men call Zal, said thus:- 'Go with an escort unto mount Alburz, Find valiant Kai Kubad and homage him, Yet tarry not, but say? The warriors call thee And have prepared the throne.'" If thou hast tidings Give them and speed him to the sovereign power." The gallant stripling, smiling, answered Am Kai Kubad and sprung from Faridun, I know my lineage from sire to sire:' When Rustam heard he bowed, rose from his seat Of gold to do obeisance, and thus spake "O ruler of the rulers of the world, The shelter of the brave and stay of chiefs |p385 Now let Iran's throne wait upon thy will, Great elephants be taken in thy toils. Thy right seat is the throne of king of kings; May Grace and glory be thins own! I bring A greeting for the king of earth from Zal, The chieftain and the valiant paladin. If now the Shah shall bid his slave to speak I will acquit me of the chieftain's message." Brave Kai Kubad rose from his seat, intent Upon the speaker's words, while peerless Rustam Discharged his ernbassage. With throbbing heart The young prince said: "Bring me a cup of wine," And drank to Rustam's health, who likewise drained A goblet to the monarch's life, and said "Thou mindest me of glorious Faridun " (For Rustam was rejoiced at seeing him), "Not for an instant may the world lack thee, The throne of kingship, or the royal crown." The instruments struck up, great was the joy, The grief was small, the ruddy wine went round And flushed the youthful Shah, who said to Rustam :- "Mine ardent soul in sleep saw two white hawks Approaching from Iran, and bringing with them A crown bright as the sun. They came to me With dainty and caressing airs and set it Upon my head. I wakened full of hope Because of that bright crown and those white hawks, And made a court here such as kings would hold, As thou perceivest, by the river-side. Like those white hawks hath matchless Rustam come With news that I shall wear the warriors' crown." When Rustam heard thereof he said: "Thy dream Had a prophetic source. Now let us rise And journey to Iran and to the chief's." Then Kai Kubad rose swift as fire and mounted |p386 His steed, while Rustam girt his loins like wind And journeyed proudly with him. Night and day He travelled till he reached the Turkman outposts, When bold Kulun, ware of his coming, marched To meet and fight with him. The Shah thereat Was fain to put his battle in array, But mighty Rustam said to him: "O Shah! 'Tis not a fight for thee, they will not stand Against my battleax and barded Rakhsh; My heart and arm and mace are help enough; I ask but God's protection. With a hand Like mine and ruddy Rakhsh to carry me Who will confront my mace and scimitar? " He spake, spurred on and with a single blow Threw one and hurled another at a third Whose brains ran down his nostrils. Those strong hands Unhorsed the foe and dashed them to the ground, And in their fall brake heads and necks and backs. Kulun beheld this div escaped from bonds With mace in hand and lasso at his saddle, Charged him like wind and thrusting with his spear Brake through some fastenings of his mail, but Rustam, What while his foe was lost in wonderment, Seized on the spear and wrenched it from Kulun, Then roared like thunder from the mountain-tops, Speared him and having raised him from his seat Put down the spear's butt to the ground.' Kulun Was like a spitted bird in sight of all. The victor rode Rakhsh over him, and trod him To death. The Turkman horsemen turned to flee |p387 And left Kulun upon the field. His troops Fled in dismay from Rustam. In an instant Their fortune was o'erthrown. He passed the outposts And hastened toward the hills. The paladin Alighted at a place with grass and water Till night had come and he had furnished robes Fit for a paladin, a royal steed And crown, then introduced the Shah to Zal Unnoticed. For a, week they sat in conclave But kept their movements secret. All agreed "Kubad hath not his peer in all the world." For seven days they revelled with Kubad, Upon the eighth hung up the crown on high - And 'neath it decked the throne of ivory.