Warner, Arthur George and Warner, Edmond;
The Shahnama of Firdausi
(London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Truebner and Co) 1909.
|p30 XV GUSHTASP Par. 1 How Firdausi saw Dakiki in a Dream Thus was it that one night the poet dreamed:- He held a cup of wine whose fragrance seemed Rosewater-like. Dakiki from his stead Appeared and, speaking of that wine-cup, said Thus to Firdausi: "Quaff not save thou choose The fashion of the days of Kai Kaus, For he that is the monarch of thy choice, In whom crown, throne, and fortune all rejoice, Mahmud, the king of kings and conqueror, |p31 Who giveth all a portion of his store, Shall from today for fourscore years and five Behold his travail wane, his treasury thrive, Shall lead to Chin hereafter his array, And every chief shall ope for him the way. He will not need to speak an angry word, All crowns will come to him with one accord. If o'er this story then hast somewhat striven Now all that then didst wish to thee is given. I too told somewhat of this history, And if then findest it be kind to me. I sang a thousand couplets of Gushtasp, Before my day was done, and of Arjasp, And if my work shall reach the king of kings My soul will soar o'er sublunary things." So now the verses that he wrote I give, For he is gathered to the dust; I live. Par. 2 How Luhrasp went to Balkh and how Gushtasp sat upon the Throne Now when Luhrasp, descending from the throne Resigned it to Gushtasp, he made him ready To go to Naubahar in cherished Balkh, Because he had become God's votary, And men then held that fane in reverence, Just as the Arabs reverence Mecca now. He reached the fane, the Shah, that man of God, Dismounted there, and there at last he died. He shut the portal of that glorious fane, And let no mien enter it, assumed The woollen raiment of a devotee - The garniture wherein to worship wisdom - Put off his armlets, let his hair grow long, |p32 And set himself to serve the all-just Judge. Upstanding in His presence thirty years, Such is the way that men should serve the Lord, He offered supplication to the sun, According to the custom of Jamshid. Gushtasp, succeeding to his father's throne, His Grace, and fortune, donned his father's gift, The crown, fit ornament of noble men. "I am," he said, "a Shah that serveth God, And holy God hath given me this crown That I might keep the wolves apart the flock. Toward God's way will we stretch forth our hands, And to the noble straiten not the world, But, as hath been the custom of the Shahs, Convert ill-doers to the Faith of God." He spread abroad his justice in such wise That wolf and sheep drank of the stream together. At length Nahid, illustrious Caesar's daughter, She whom the noble Shah named Katayun, Bare him two sons, each like the moon in splendour, One, famous, glorious Asfandiyar, A warlike prince and doughty cavalier, The other, Bishutan, the valiant swordsman, A famous prince, a shatterer of hosts. The new Shah, when acknowledged by the world, Was fain to be another Faridun. All other kings paid tribute, and the heart Of every liege was well disposed to trim, Save King Arjasp, the ruler of Turan, Who had the divs for servants and admitted No claim for tribute, would not hear advice, And since he would not hear was doomed to chains. He took too tribute from the Shah each year, But why should one pay tribute to his peer? |p33 Par. 3 How Zarduhsht appeared and how Gushtasp accepted his Evangel Thus passed a while, and then a Tree appeared On earth within the palace of Gushtasp, And grew up to the roof - a Tree whose roots Spread far and wide, a Tree with many branches, Its leafage precept and its fruitage wisdom flow shall one die who eateth of such fruit A Tree right fortunate and named Zarduhsht - The slayer of malignant Ahriman. Thus said he to the monarch of the world "I am a prophet and thy guide to God." He brought a censer, filled with fire, and said:- "This have I brought with me from Paradise. The Maker of the world said: 'Take thou this, And look upon the heaven and the earth, Because I made them not of dust and water Behold herein how I created them. See now if any one could do this thing, Save I that am the Ruler of the world? If thou acknowledgest My handiwork Thou must acknowledge Me to be the Lord.' Receive His good religion from the speaker, And learn from him His usage and the way. See that thou do as he directeth thee, Choose wisdom, recognise this world as vile, And learn the system of the good religion, For kingship is not well when Faith is lacking." When that good Shah had heard of that good Faith, And had accepted it and its good customs, His valiant brother, glorious Zarir, Who used to vanquish mighty elephants; The Shah, his father, now grown old at Balkh, |p34 To whose heart worldly things were bitterness; The mighty chiefs from all the provinces, The wise physicians and the men of war, All gathered to the monarch of the earth, Assumed the cincture and received the Faith. Then was the Grace of God made manifest, For evil left the hearts of evil men, The charnels were fulfilled with light divine, And seeds were freed from all impurity. Then mounting to his throne high-born Gushtasp Dispatched his troops throughout the provinces, Distributed archmages through the world, And set up Fanes of Fire. He first established The Fire of Mihr Barzin; consider well The system that the realm received from him. Zarduhsht then planted him a noble cypress Before the portal of the Fane of Fire, And wrote upon that noble, straight-stemmed tree:- "Gushtasp is convert to the good religion"; Thus did he make the noble cypress witness That wisdom was disseminating justice. When in this manner many years had passed The cypress-tree increased in height and girth, Until that noble tree had grown so great That e'en a lasso would not compass it. When it had sent aloft full many a bough Gushtasp raised over it a goodly palace, Whereof the height and breadth were forty cubits; He used no clay or water in the building. When he had reared the palace of pure gold, With silvern earth and dust of ambergris, He painted there a picture of Jamshid, Engaged in worshipping the sun and moon, Commanded too a picture to be drawn Of Faridun armed with the ox-head mace, And limned there all the potentates. Consider |p35 If other ever had such puissance. When that famed hall of gold had grown thus goodly He had its walls inlaid with precious stones, And set an iron rampart round about. The king of earth made it his home. He sent This message through the reahn: "In all the world What equalleth the cypress of Kishmar? God sent it down to me from Paradise, And said: 'Ascend to Paradise therefrom.' Now hearken, all of you, this rede of mine Go to the cypress of Kishmar afoot; Adopt ye all the pathway of Zarduhsht, And, turning from the images of Chin, Gird round your loins the cincture in the Grace And greatness of the monarch of Iran. Heed not the usance of your predecessors, Trust in the shadow of this cypress-tree, And fix your gaze upon the Shrine of Fire, As bidden by the Prophet of the Truth." He spread abroad his words throughout the world Among the men of name and potentates, And at his bidding all that wore the crown Turned them toward the cypress of Kishmar; This holy shrine a paradise was found Wherein Zarduhsht the Div in fetters bound. Par. 4 How Gushtasp refused to Arjasp the Tribute for Iran Time passed. The monarch's star was blessed. Zarduhsht, The old, said to the ruler of the world:- "'Tis not accordant to our Faith for thee To pay a tribute to the prince of Chin, Nor consonant with custom and religion. |p36 Moreover I can not assent thereto, For no one of our Shahs in days of yore Hath yielded tax and tribute to the Turkmans, Who all were impotent against Iran." Gushtasp assented, saying: "I will order No tribute to be paid." A valiant div, On hearing this, went to the king of Chin, And said to him: "O monarch of the world! Throughout it all the people great and small Agree in executing thy commands, And not one cometh forth against thy spearpoint Excepting Shah Gushtasp, son of Luhrasp, Who leadeth out a host against the Turkmans, Hath made his hostile purpose clear, and wrought His devilry against a king like thee. More than a hundred thousand cavaliers Are mine, and I will bring them if thou wilt. Go to then, let us follow up his doings; See that thou fear not to contend with him." Ajasp, when he had heard the div speak thus, Descended from the royal Turkman throne, And, having summoned all the priests, announced What he had heard to them. "Know ye," said he, "That God's Grace and pure Faith have left Iran, Where some old dotard hath appeared who claimeth To be a prophet, and his words are these:- 'I have come down from heaven, I have come down From Him who is the Master of the world. I have beheld the Lord in Paradise, And all the Zandavasta is His writing; I saw, moreover, Ahriman in Hell, But dared not venture near; the Lord then sent me To teach the monarch of the earth the Faith: The chief among the nobles of Iran, The most illustrious son of Shah Luhrasp, |p37 He whom the Iranians call Gushtasp, hath bound The cincture round his loins, as hath withal His brother, that courageous cavalier, The general of Iran, Zarir by name. All gather to Zarduhsht to be instructed, And are befooled by that old sorcerer. All have with one consent embraced his Faith His cult and ritual fulfil the world. By such fond methods and buffoonery Hath he become a prophet in Iran. Needs must I write a letter to that rebel, Give him great gifts, for gifts unasked are pleasant, And say to him: 'Abandon thine ill course, Be awed before the God of Paradise, Put far from thee that ancient miscreant, And hold a feast according to our customs.' If then he will accept of our advice Our bonds will not prove galling to his feet; If he reject it and revive old feuds We will assemble our disbanded troops, And, mustering a goodly host, invade Iran in consequence of these his doings, And, fearing not the pains and his resistance, Will bring him to contempt, before us drive, Put him in chains, and gibbet him alive:' Par. 5 How Arjasp wrote a Letter to Gushtasp The warriors of Chin agreed thereto, And chose, moreover, from themselves two envoys, The one a mighty man hight Bidirafsh, Advanced in years, a warlock stout of heart, The other named Namkhast - a sorcerer - |p38 Whose thoughts were ever bent upon destruction. The monarch wrote a fair and goodly letter To that illustrious sovereign and convert:- "First, I have written in the World-lord's name, Who knoweth what is manifest and hidden, This royal letter, worthy of a king. To brave Gushtasp, the monarch of the earth, The worshipful and worthy of the state, The elect, the eldest son of Shah Luhrasp, Lord of the world and warden of the throne, This from Arjasp, prince of the mighty men Of Chin, a world-subduing cavalier, And chosen hero." In that royal letter He wrote fair greetings in the Turkman script:- "O famed son of the monarch of the world, Who brightenest the throne of king of kings ! Fresh be thy head, thy soul and body hale, Thy royal loins tight-girded. I have heard That thou hast taken to disastrous courses, And turned bright day to darkness for thyself. A cozening old man hath come to thee, Hath filled thy heart with terrors and alarms, And with his talk of Hell and Paradise Hath sown the seeds of folly in thy heart. Thou hast accepted him and his religion, Hast glorified his doctrine and his rites, Hast flung aside the customs of the Shahs - The mighty of the world, thy predecessors - And wrecked the Faith professed by paladins. Why dost thou disregard the past and future? Thou art the son of him on whom of all The folk the glorious Shah bestowed the crown, And he chose thee among his choicest ones In preference to the offspring of Jamshid, |p39 So that, like Kai Khusrau - the man of vengeance - Thou wast more glorious than the other Kaians. Thou hadst, famed monarch ! royal might and lustre, Grace, power, and magnificence, with standards, Vast armies, elephants caparisoned, And treasuries fulfilled with goodly havings, While every chief was well disposed toward thee, And thou didst shine resplendent in the world - Ardibihisht with Sol in Aries. God gave to thee the kingship of the earth, And all thy chieftains stood before thee. Thou Didst err, ungratefully, despite His care, While even after He had made thee Shah An ancient sorcerer misled thee. When The news arrived I saw the stars by day Now have I written thee a friendly letter, For I am both thy friend and good ally. When thou hast read it make complete ablution, And countenance no longer that impostor; Put off the cincture that is round thy loins, And quaff with joy the sparkling wine once more. Cast not aside the usage of the Shahs, The mighty of the world, thy predecessors. Now if thou wilt accept this goodly counsel Thy life shall not be injured by the Turkmans, Their territory, with Kashan and Chin, Shall be to thee e'en as Iran itself, I will bestow on thee the boundless treasures That I have gotten me by mine own toils, Fair-coated steeds bedecked with gold and silver, And trappings all inlaid with gems, and I Will with the treasures send to thee boy-slaves And handmaids - pictures all - with crispy locks. But if thou wilt accept not this my counsel, Then shalt thou feel my heavy iron bonds, |p40 For I will follow in a month or twain This letter and will desolate thy realm, Lead from the Turkmans and from Chin a host, Whose tents the earth itself will not support, Will fill the channel of Jihun with musk, And stanch therewith the waters of the sea, Consign thy pictured palace to the flames, And raze thee utterly, both root and branch, Will set your land on fire from end to end, And skewer you all together with mine arrows. Those that are old among the Iranians Will I make prisoners, will behead the worthless, And carry off the women and the children As slaves to mine own land; I will lay waste Your country and uproot the trees. So much I had to say. See that thou do thy part, And lay this letter's counsel to thy heart." Par. 6 How Arjasp sent Envoys to Gushtasp Now when the monarch's minister had finished The letter, all the captains being present, Arjasp rolled, scaled, and then delivered it To those old sorcerers, instructing them:- "Be prudent, go together to his palace, And, when ye see him on the throne of state, Both bow yourselves forthwith, and proffer him The worship that pertaineth unto kings, With eyes upon the ground. When ye are seated, Look steadfastly upon his shining crown, Deliver mine enlightening embassage, Attend to what he sayeth in reply, And, having heard the answer every whit, Kiss ye the ground before him and depart." |p41 Then Bidirafsh, the vengeful, left the presence, And bare his banner forth toward famous Balkh, While with him fared Namkhast, his headstrong comrade - One to be shunned by all that seek for fame. Arrived at Balkh they went toward the court Afoot and, drawing nearer to Gushtasp, Bowed down themselves before him on the threshold. When they beheld his visage o'er the throne, As though it were the sun above the moon, They did obeisance, such as slaves would do, Before the Shah - the monarch of the happy - Then gave to him the letter of the king, The letter written in the Turkman script. The Shah, on opening the letter, raged And writhed. He called his counsellor Jamasp, The chosen chiefs, the captains of the host, The experienced magnates and the archimages, Then spread the Zandavasta out before him. He called his Prophet and archmage, he called Zarir, his well beloved, his general, Who was his brother and the chief of all The warriors, and then world-paladin Because Asfandiyar, the cavalier, Was still a youth. Zarir was leader, warden, The refuge of the world, the horsemen's stay 'Twas his to clear the earth of evil doers, And couch his lance in battle. Said Gushtasp:- "Arjasp, the ruler of Turan and Chin, Hath written unto me in terms like these!" And he informed them of the scurrile words Addressed to him by the Turanian king. "What are your views herein," he said to them, "What do ye say? How will the matter end? How very ill-advised was amity |p42 With one who hath so small a stock of wisdom! My race is from Iraj of holy birth, While he is sprung from Tur, the sorcerer. How then can there be peace betwixt us twain, Although I used to deem it possible? And now let him that is the most possest Of reputation speak before the rest." Par. 7 How Zarir made Answer to Arjdap Whenas the sovereign had spoken thus, Zarir, the leader, and Asfandiyar Unsheathed their scimitars forthwith, and cried:- "If there be any one in all the world Who holdeth not Zarduhsht to be a prophet, Is disobedient and approacheth not The courtgate of the glorious Shah, nor girdeth His loins before the splendid throne, rejecting The way and good religion, and refusing To be a slave thereto, his life will we Part from his body with our scimitars, And set his head upon a lofty stake." He that was hight Zarir, the Iranian leader, A hero valiant as the rending lion, Said to the world's king: "O illustrious! If I may have permission from the Shah To give Arjasp, the sorcerer, his answer ...." And Shah Gushtasp approved thereof: "Go to," He said, "arise then, give hilts his reply, And make his warriors of Khallukh like gleeds." Zarir, with glorious Asfandiyar, And with that prosperous minister, Jamasp, Departed with stern hearts and frowning looks, |p43 And wrote a letter to Arjasp the foul - A fit response. Zarir, chief of the host, Took it still open, bare it to the Shah, And read it out to him. The world-lord marvelled At that sage general and cavalier, And at Jamasp, and at Asfandiyar, Then fastened up the letter, wrote thereon His name, and called to him the ambassadors. "Take this," he said, "and bear it to Arjasp. Henceforth perchance ye will not tread my roads. Were not safe-conduct for ambassadors Enjoined expressly in the Zandavasta, I would have wakened you from drowsihead, And hung you all alive upon the gibbet, In order that yon worthless one might learn That he may not exalt his neck with kings." He threw the letter at them, saying: "Take it, And bear it to the Turkman sorcerer. Say: 'Thy calamity is drawing nigh, The need for blood and dust hath come upon thee. Be thy neck smitten and thy spirit wounded, And may thy bones be scattered on the ground. Next Dai, God willing, I will habit me In heavy iron mail, lead forth the host Against the country of Turan to war, And ruinate the realm of the Gurgsar.'" Par. 8 How the Envoys returned to Ajasp with the Letter of Gushtasp The monarch of the earth, when he had ended His speech, sent for his general, greeted him, Put in his charge the ambassadors, and said:- |p44 "See them beyond the borders of Iran." The envoys left the presence of Gushtasp, And went their way with dust upon their heads, The Shah dismissing them with ignominy. From glorious Iran they reached Khallukh, But in Khallukh were still inglorious. As soon as they perceived the monarch's palace Afar, surmounted by the sable standard, They lighted from their proudly pacing steeds, Their hearts were broken and their eyes were dim. They went afoot before their sovereign, With souls all darkness and with livid cheeks, And gave to him the letter of the Shah - The answer of Zarir the cavalier. The letter was unfolded by a scribe, Who read it to the king of Turkman race. The writing in the letter of the prince, The leader of the brave, the warrior-horseman, Ran: "Thine insulting letter to the Shah Arrived, and I have listened to and marked Words that were not becoming thee to utter, Words that should not be written or divulged, Not fit to be read out and hearkened to. Thus spakest thou: 'I will lead forth anon A host against that jocund land of thine.' For my part I need not four months or twain Ere I lead forth my Lions of the fray. Bring not upon thyself increase of toil, Because I shall unlock my treasury, And lead a thousand thousand warriors, All risen of name, all veterans in fight, All offspring of Iraj, the paladin, Not of Afrasiyab, or of the Turkmans, All moon-faced men, all kings to look upon, All upright in their stature and their speech, |p45 All worthy of the empire and the throne, All worthy of the treasure, crown, and host, All spearmen and all swordsmen, all of them The leaders and the shatterers of armies, All brandishing their lances as they ride, All with my name inscribed upon their signets, All converts to the Faith, all men of wisdom, All worthy of the earring and the armlet. When they are ware that I have bound the drums Upon the elephants their horses' hoofs Lay low the heights, and when they arm for battle They send the dust-clouds flying to high heaven. Firm as a mountain are they in the saddle, The hill-tops shatter at them, while among them For choice there are two warrior-cavaliers - Zarir, the leader, and Asfandiyar - Who, when they don their iron panoply, Bestride the sun and moon, and, when they shoulder The crashing mace, their Grace illumineth The Grace and form of others. As they stand Before the host thou must perforce observe them. They with their crowns and thrones are like the sun, Their countenances shine with Grace and fortune. The other troops and chiefs are like myself - Approved and chosen of the archimages - So never fill up the Jihun with musk, For I will open thy parched treasuries, And, if it pleaseth God, will trample down Thy head in fight upon the day of battle." Arjasp descended from his throne, amazed At reading this, and bade his generals:- "Call out the whole host at tomorrow's dawn." The warriors of the army, chosen men Of Chin, came to Turan from every quarter. The monarch had two brothers - Ahrimans - |p46 One hight Kuhram, Andariman the other, Who both received drums, elephants, and standards, Bedecked with yellow, red, and violet. He gave to them three hundred thousand men, Selected and courageous cavaliers. He oped the treasury-doors and paid the troops, Bade blow the trumpets and load up the baggage. He had Kuhram, his brother, called in haste, And gave him charge of one wing of the host. He gave the other to Andariman, And took his own position in the centre. There was an aged Turkman named Gurgsar, To whom the king gave the command in chief Thou wouldst have said: "He knoweth naught but ill." To Bidirafsh, the brother of this man, He sent a banner blazoned with a wolf. There was a valiant man by name Khashash, Who fought afoot with lions; him the king Made leader of the scouts and of the vanguard They bore his flag as champion of the host. There was a Turkman who was named Hushdiv; The monarch sent him to the rear, and said:- "Keep guard behind the army and if thou See one deserting slay him on the spot, And take good heed herein." Thus in fierce wrath He fared with full heart and with eyes all tears. He ravaged as he went, he set on fire The palaces, and razed trees, root and branch. That king of infidels led forth his host, With vengeful heart, against the Iranian coast, |p47 Par. 9 How Gushtasp assembled his Troops As soon as tidings came to Shah Gushtasp:- "The ruler of the Turkmans and of Chin Hath made his preparations and set forth, Dispatching to the front the brave Khashash," He bade his general: "At dawn tomorrow Array the elephants, lead out the host." He wrote a letter to his marchlords thus:- The Khan hath left the pathway of the great. Come to my court-gate, all ! because my foes Are at the border." When the letter reached Those nobles with this news: "There hath appeared A foeman who ambitioneth the world," Troops gathered at the portal of the Shah, Out-numbering the grass-blades on the ground. The warriors of the world girt up their loins To aid the Kaian Shah, the world-possessor, And, as he had commanded, all the marchlords Set forward to the court-gate of the king. Anon a thousand thousand gathered round The Shah, that famous and benignant Kaian, Who visited the camp, reviewed the troops, And chose the fit. It joyed the glorious Shah, Whose heart was all astound at such a host. Neat day Gushtasp went with the archimages, The chiefs, the great men, and the army-captains, Unlocked the treasures hoarded by Jamshid, Gave to the soldiers two years' pay and then, When he had given mail and rations, sounded The drums and trumpets, loaded up the baggage, And ordered to be borne before the host The conquering standard of the glorious Shahs. |p48 He led the troops to battle with Arjasp - An army such as none had ever seen. None could discern the daylight or the moon For murk of flying dust-clouds, troops, and steeds Whose neighing and the war-cries drowned the drums. A multitude of banners were displayed, And spearheads pierced the clouds like trees that grow On mountain-tops or like reed-beds in spring. Upon this wise by Shah Gushtasp's command The army made its way from land to land. Par. 10 How Jamasp foretold the Issue of the Battle to Gushtasp When he had reached Jihun from famous Balkh The captain of the army made a halt. The Shah departed from among the troops, Alighted from his steed and, having mounted Upon the throne, called unto him forthwith Jamasp his counsellor, the chief archmage, The first among the nobles, and the lustre Both of the great men and the generals. So pure in person was he, so devout Of soul, that mysteries were revealed to him. He was a mighty reader of the stars, And who in point of knowledge had his standing? Of him the Shah inquired: "God hath endowed thee With honest counsel and the good religion. There is none like thee in the world; in short The Ruler of the world hath given thee knowledge; So make thy calculations of the stars, And tell me all the aspect of affairs. How will the battle go from first to last, And which of us will meet disaster here?" |p49 The old Jamasp was grieved, with rueful looks He said: "I would to God that He, the Just, Had not bestowed on me this skill and wisdom, For then the Shah would not have questioned me; Yet will I speak for, if I answer not, The king of kings will have me put to death." The world-lord answered: "By the name of God, By his - the holy bringer of the Faith - And by the life of that brave cavalier, Zarir, and that of great Asfandiyar, I will not ever do thee injury, Myself, or bid another so to do. Say what thou knowest touching this affair, For thou canst give, and I am seeking, help." The sage made answer! " 0 illustrious Shah ! May thy crown flourish everlastingly. Know, Kaian warrior, seeker of renown When fight shall bring the heroes face to face, When they shall raise their shouts and battle-cries, And thou wouldst say: 'They tear up all the mountains,' The mighty men of valour will advance, And air grow pitchy with the dust of battle; Then will the world be darkened in thine eyes, Fire will fulfil the earth and reek the air, While mid the blows struck and the massive maces, Descending like smiths' hammers on the steel, The twang of bowstring will oppress the brain, And air re-echo with the charger's neigh; The heavens will be broken, spheres and vaults, The standards drenched with gore. Full many sons Wilt thou see fatherless and fathers sonless First will Ardshir, that Kaian, the king's son, The famed and gallant, urge his charger forth, And fling whoe'er opposeth in the dust, Unhorsing of the Turkman cavaliers |p50 A number greater than the tale of stars, Yet in the end be slain and his good name Erased. The monarch's son, the great Shidasp, In vengeance then will urge his sable steed, His Rage, draw his sword, and charging slay full many A horse and man, but in the end his fortune Will be abased, and his crowned head be bare. Then my son will come forward with his loins Girt with my girdle for Shidasp's avengement, And go, like Rustam, in between the hosts. How many men of name and warriors Of Chin will that brave Lion bring to earth, And undergo much travail in the fray ! I tell the king of kings that Girami, What time the Iranians drop the glorious flag Of Kawa, will behold it from his charger, All dust and blood, and leaping to the ground Will raise it bravely, with the scimitar In one hand and the standard in the other - The violet standard - and while thus bestead Will overthrow the foe and root the life Out of those Ahrimans; then suddenly An enemy vindictively will strike One hand off with the trenchant scimitar, And Girami will seize the violet flag Between his teeth and hold it therewithal, While with one hand he maketh foes to vanish No man hath seen a feat wore wonderful; Yet will a Turkman with an arrow smite His breast and bring his head and crown to dust. Next nobly born Nastur, son of Zarir, Will urge his charger forward like a lion, And when at last he shall return in triumph, With hands that have been stretched out o'er the foe, Nivzar, the chosen horseman, will go forth, The world-lord's son, will overthrow three score |p51 Of foemen, and display the mastery Of paladins; but in the end the Turkmans Will smite him with their arrows and will fling His elephantine body to the dust. Next to advance will be that valiant Lion, That warrior-horseman who is named Zarir He will go forth, a lasso in his hand, Upon his Arab bay, arrayed in breastplate Of gold resplendent as the moon. The troops Will be astonied at him. He will take A thousand warriors of the Turkman host, Put them in bonds, and send them to the Shah, And wheresoe'er that prince shall turn his face He will pour forth his foemen's blood in streams. No one will take that royal paladin, Who will confound the monarch of the tents. Then will Zarir see great Ardshir o'erthrown With livid cheeks and form like turmeric, Will bitterly lament him and, grown grim, Urge his bay Arab onward and will set In bitter wrath his face against the Khan Thou wouldest say: 'Ne'er hath he looked on flight When he shall see Arjasp among the host He will proclaim the praise of Shah Gushtasp, O'erthrow the battle of the enemy, And, looking not to any one on earth, Proclaim the Zandavasta of Zarduhsht, And put his kingly confidence in God; But in the end his fortune will be darkened, The chosen Tree be felled, for there will come One, Bidirafsh by name, and make his way Toward the spear that hath the violet standard, But, daring not to face the chosen champion, Will lie in wait for him upon the road, And bar it like a maddened elephant, |p52 While grasping in his hand a venomed sword. As prince Zarir returneth from the fight, And thou wouldst say: 'He cometh from a feast,' That Turkman will let fly at him an arrow, Not daring to assail him openly, And thus the chief of nobles will be lost Through loathly Bidirafsh, who will bear off His charger and his saddle to the Turkmans. What man will then be foremost to avenge him? Anon this famous, mighty host will close, Like wolves and lions, on the foe, and earth Will in the mellay blush with warriors' blood, Their faces all be wan, the bravest tremble, The army's dust will hide the sun and moon, While flashes from the spearheads, swords, and arrows Will glisten as the stars among the clouds. Then Bidirafsh, that valiant miscreant, Will go forth like a wolf that raveneth, And, holding in his hand the envenomed glaive, Will urge his steed like some mad elephant. By his hand will a multitude of troops, And those the choicest of the Shah's, be slain. Then will the glorious Asfandiyar, With troops behind and God to succour him, In blood-stained raiment and with soul fulfilled By hate bring Doomsday down on Bidirafsh, Smite with an Indian sword a single blow, And hurl down half his body from the saddle. Then with his iron mace in hand the prince Will illustrate his Grace and majesty, Will break the foemen with a single charge, And shall he let them go when they are broken? Nay, with a spearpoint will he gather them, And scatter them abroad in utter ruin, While in the end the king of Chin will flee Before Asfandiyar, that glorious Kaian, |p53 And in his flight will snake toward Turan, Heart-broken and in tears, and cross the waste With but a scanty following, while the Shah Will be triumphant and the foe destroyed. Know, 0 thou chosen chief of sovereigns! What I have said will not be otherwise. From me thou wilt hear nothing more or less; Regard me not henceforth with louring looks. I have not said the things that I have said Save at thy bidding, O victorious Shah ! And as for what the glorious Shah hath asked Of that deep sea and dark abysm of fate, I have not kept back aught that I have seen, Else why should I have told the Shah these secrets? " Now when the Shah, the master of the world, Heard this revealed he sank back on his throne, And dropped the golden mace; thou wouldst have said:- "His Grace and majesty alike are gone." He fell upon his face and swooned away, He spake no word and uttered not a sound. The monarch when his sense returned to him Descended from his throne, wept bitterly, And " What to me," he said, "are throne and kingship When all my day shall have been turned to gloom, My Moons, brave cavaliers, and princes gone? What need have I for empiry and fortune, For puissance and host, for crown and throne, When those that I love best, the most renowned, The chosen of the host, shall have departed, And from my body pluck my wounded heart?" Then to Jamisp he said: "Since things are so, When it is time to go forth to the battle, I will not call upon my valiant brother, I will not burn mine aged mother's heart. I will forbid his going to the fight, And give the host to glorious Gurazm. |p54 Those of blood Kaian with my youthful sons, Who all arc as my body and my soul, Now will I call before me, will prevent Their arming and will seat them in my presence. How can the points of poplar arrows reach These rocks and mountains higher than high heaven? The sage replied: "Most gracious, glorious Shah If these be not before the army, helmed, Who will dare face the warriors of Chin? Who will retrieve the Grace and holy Faith? Rise from this dust, be seated on the throne, And ruin not the Grace of sovereignty, For 'tis God's purpose which no shift can stay; The Maker of the world is not a tyrant. Thou wilt not profit by indulging grief, For that which shall be is as good as done. Distress thy heart no more then but acknowledge The justice of the Maker of the world." He gave much counsel while the Shah gave ear, Grew like the sun, and mounted to his throne, And as he sat his purpose was confirmed To fight the ambitious monarch of Chigil; Oppressed with thought he gat no sleep that night, And was all eagerness for war and fight. Par. 11 How Gushtasp and Arjasp arrayed their Hosts Gushtasp, according to Jamasp's advice, When morning breathed and starlight disappeared, Led down his chosen warriors to the field, And, at the season when the scent of roses Is wafted houseward by the breath of dawn, Dispatched according to the Iranian custom His scouts on every side. A cavalier |p55 Approached and said: "0 monarch of the world ! The enemy is nigh. So great a host Ne'er came before from Turkistan or Chin. They have encamped hard by and pitched their tents . On mountains, dales, and plains. Their general Hath sent out scouts, and his and thine have met." Thereat high-born Gushtasp, the valiant Shah, Called for his general - glorious Zarir - And gave to him the standard, saying: "Haste Array the elephants and arm the troops." The general went forth and ranged his host, All fain to battle with the king of Chin. Gushtasp gave one wing to Asfandiyar, With fifty thousand chosen cavaliers, Because he had an elephantine breast And lion's heart. Upon the other wing He stationed a select and goodly band, And gave it to the cherished warrior, Who was the son and equal of the Shah, The high, exalted, and exultant prince, To whom the Shah had given the name Shidasp; While fifty thousand valiant cavaliers He gave to glorious Zarir, the leader, Assigning him the centre, for he was A savage Lion and the Shah's own equal. The rearguard he entrusted to Nastur, Of glorious race, the Lustre of Zarir. The army thus arrayed, the Shah, o'ercome With grief and spent with labour, sought the height, Sat down upon his fair, resplendent throne, And thence surveyed the army. Then Arjasp, The monarch of the cavaliers of Chin, In like wise ranged his forces and dispatched A hundred thousand horsemen of Khallukh, All brave and tried, to Bidirafsh, who had, |p56 As general, the drums and golden standard, Entrusting one wing of the host to him, Whom not a lion loose would face. He gave The other to Gurgsir, and gave withal A hundred thousand chosen cavaliers. In like wise in the centre of the host He posted a select and goodly band, And gave them to that stubborn sorcerer, Namkhast by name, the son of Hazaran. With chosen horsemen five score thousand strong, Whose prowess was renowned throughout the world, He took his own post rearward in reserve, O'erlooking every portion of his powers. He had one son, a man of high repute, A veteran and pre-eminent in war, A noble cavalier by name Kuhram Above whose head much heat and cold had passed; This son of his he set to oversee The army and direct the strategy. Par. 12 The Beginning of the Battle between the Iranians and Turanians, and how Ardshir, Shiru, and Shidasp were slain Now when that night had passed and it was day, And when the world-illuming sun shone forth, The troops of both hosts mounted on their saddles, While Shah Gushtasp observed them from the height. What time the glorious Shah saw from the mountain The warriors in their saddles he desired Bihzad, his sable charger, to be brought Thou wouldst have said: "'Tis surely Mount Bistun ! " They put the bards thereon, and then he mounted. |p57 Whenas they set the battle in array, And champion challenged champion, first they sent A shower of arrows like a springtide hail, Such that the sun's course was invisible! Who will believe that hath not seen that marvel? The fountain of the sun was garnitured With javelin-heads that sparkled like a river! One would have said: "The sky is overcast, And from the clouds are raining diamonds," While through the mace-men and the javelin-men, Who charged on one another, all the air Assumed the hue of night and all the earth Was inundate with gore. First came Ardshir, That goodly horseman and the world-lord's son, Like some mad elephant upon the field; Thou wouldst have said: "Can it be Tus the chief?" Thus wheeled he before the host, not knowing What sun and moon decreed. An arrow struck him Upon the loins, transfixed his Kaian mail, And that prince tumbled headlong froth his bay, His stainless form defiled and smirched with blood. Woe for that fair face radiant as the moon, Which never more the wise Shah looked upon! Then came like flying dust high-born Shiru, Whose heart was full and visage wan, before The line of battle, bearing in his hand A venomed sword; he roared as 'twere a lion, Brought down like on ager full many a foe, And in his vengeance for that royal horseman Slew fifty score of hostile cavaliers; But as he was returning from the fray, When thus he had incarnadined the earth, There came an arrow at his nape; the princ e Fell. Woe for that brave, noble warrior, Who died and nevermore beheld his sire ! The next to sally forth was prince Shidasp, |p58 One like the moon, a man of royal mien. He, seated on a steed like indigo, Fleet as gazelle and huge as elephant, Rushed on the field of battle, whirled and brandished His lance as 'twere a twig, held in his steed, And shouted, saying: "Which is bold Kuhram, Whose look is as the look of wolf and tiger?" A div advanced, exclaiming: "I am one To bite the famished lion." Then they wheeled With lances, and the Shah's son speared the Turkman, Dismounted him, and, cutting off his head, Flung down his goodly girdle to the dust; Then wheeled before the warriors of Chin, As though he were a mountain on the saddle. In sooth eye never saw a roan so goodly; His beauty drew all eyes. Howbeit a Turkman Let fly at him an arrow, and that prince, That offspring of the Shah, went to the winds. Woe for that lost one reared so daintily, Whose face his father was no more to see ! Par. 13 How Girami, Jamasp's Son, and Nivzar were slain Then of the leaders of the host went forth The brave son of Jamasp the minister, A valiant horseman, Girami by name, Like to the son of Zal, the son of Sam. Upon a chestnut charger fleet and trusty He stood before the battle of the men Of Chin, and, having prayed to God the Judge, "Who of you," said he, "is of lion-heart To come against my life-destroying spear? And where is that o'erweening sorcerer, |p59 Namkhast by name, the son of Hazaran?" Namkhast went forth to him: thou wouldst have said:- "That charger hath a mountain on its back!" Those two accomplished horsemen wheeled about With mace and lance, with shaft and scimitar, But gallant Girami had lion's strength; That valiant cavalier could not withstand him, And, though a man of battle, took to flight On seeing that Kaian puissance and keen sword; Then Girami rode onward in fierce wrath, With heart all raging to avenge the fallen, And fell upon the centre of the foe. Anon a blast rose from the mountain-skirt As those two armies mingled in the mellay And sent the dark dust flying. In the turmoil That followed 'twixt the hosts, amid the strokes Of scimitars and sable clouds of dust, Fell from the Iranians' hands the splendid standard Of Kawa. Girami beheld that flag, All indigo of hue, which they had flung From elephant-back, dismounting lifted it, Shook off the dust, and cleared the soil away. Now when the warriors of Chin beheld him Raise from the ground that flagstaff famed and dear, And, after having cleansed it, bear it off, Their bravest warriors surrounded him, And, thus assailing him on all sides, struck One hand off with a scimitar. He seized The flag of Faridun a between his teeth And, strange to tell, plied with the other hand His mace ! At last they slew him wretchedly, And flung him vilely on the burning dust. Alas for that brave, warlike cavalier That ancient sage beheld him not again. |p60 Immediately went forth Nastur, the Lion, A warrior, Kaian-born, son of Zarir He slew a countless multitude of foes, For he had learned to battle from his father, And in the end returned victorious And glad, and stood again before his sire. Next there went forth the chosen cavalier, Nivzar, son of the monarch of the world. He rode a charger fleet of foot - a steed Of thousands - came to that dark battlefield, And shouted, saying: "Chosen warriors ! What man of name is there among you all, What valiant, veteran wielder of the spear? Let him confront me now with lance in hand, Because a man of mettle fronteth you." The cavaliers of Chin rushed forth at him, And strove to overthrow him. Brave Nivzar, Who was the finest horseman in the world, Like some wroth elephant and rending lion, Kept wheeling round the warriors of Chin Thou wouldst have said: "He rolleth up the earth ! " He slaughtered sixty warriors world-renowned, And nurtured all upon the dust of battle, But in the end an arrow from a bow Struck him as it had been a flash from heaven. He fell from that fleet steed of goodly hue, And died. Behold the end of combating ! Alas ! that noble cavalier and Lion, Who fell in vain - the image of his sire - And woe is me for that fair face and form ! Now when that goodly cavalier was slain The myriad warriors that were around Engaged in every quarter of the field, And raised the dust-clouds from earth's face. Two sennights Passed in that fight for not a horseman slept, |p61 The earths were filled with slain and wounded men, The passage of the wind was barred by dust, The dales and deserts were in tulip-dress, And blood flowed over waste and wilderness. Par. 14 How Zarir, the Brother of Gushtasp, was slain by Bidirafsh In these encounters two weeks passed away, And all the while the fighting grew more fierce. Then brave Zarir advanced before the host, Bestriding his huge chestnut, threw himself Upon the encampment of the enemy, Like blazing fire and wind amid the grass, Slew, and dispatched them to their last repose None that beheld withstood him. Then Arjasp, Perceiving that the prince had slaughtered many Of name, cried loudly to his warriors:- "What ! will ye let Khallukh go to the winds? We have been fighting for two weary weeks, And still I see no prospect of the end. The warriors of Shah Gushtasp have slain Full many a man of name among our troops, And now Zarir is in the midst of you, As 'twere a fierce wolf or a rending lion, And he hath slaughtered all my followers, My noble Turkmans and my men of war We must devise a remedy for this, Or trudge back to Turan, for if this man Continue thus he will not leave Ayas, Khallukh or Chin: What man of you in quest Of fame will show among the troops, go forth Man-like, alone, and compass world-renown? I will bestow on him my daughter's hand, |p62 And give to him the conduct of my host." The soldiers answered not a word, for all Feared that Wild Boar. Immediately Zarir The chief, the paladin of paladins, Advancing as he were a furious wolf, Fell on them like a maddened elephant, Or lion, slaughtering and overthrowing. Arjasp, beholding this, was so astound That day turned dark to him. Again he said - "0 great, brave princes, warriors of Chin ! Regard ye not your kindred and allies, Nor yet the wounded groaning 'neath the feet Of one who is as a consuming fire, With Sim's mace and the arrows of Arish, Whose flames e'en now are burning up my host, And scorching all my kingdom? Who is there Among you all, one puissant of hand, To go against yon maddened Elephant? Whoever will attempt yon warrior-slayer, And hurl him from his steed, upon that man Will I bestow a treasury full of gold, And raise his helmet higher than the sky." Still no man answered him a word. Arjasp Was in amazement and his cheeks grew pale. He spake the third time to the troops, but when No answer came to him he held his peace. At last the lusty Bidirafsh advanced - The foul, that dog, that warlock, that old wolf - And spake thus to Arjasp: "0 mighty Sun, In root and stem like to Afrasiyab ! Thee have I brought my life and I have made it, Sweet as it is, thy shield. I will confront Yon raging Elephant. If I shall seize, And fling him to the dust before the king, Let me be leader of this countless host." |p63 Thereat Arjasp rejoiced, praised Bidirafsh, Gave his own steed and saddle to that chief, And therewithal a keen two-headed dart Of steel that would have pierced an iron mountain. That foul enchanter with the loathly form Went toward Zarir, the leader of the folk, But seeing from afar his fearsome fury, His beard besoiled, his eyes fulfilled, with dust, A mace like Sim the hero's in his hand, And slain before him heaped up like a mountain, Adventured not to face him openly, But skirmished round him stealthily and hurled Unseen at him the double-headed dart. His royal mail was pierced, his kingly form Bedrenched with blood. He tumbled from his steed. Woe for that youthful, royal cavalier Foul Bidirafsh alighted, stripped the prince, And bare off to the king the horse and girdle, The standard and the goodly, jewelled crown, While all the army shouted and paraded The standard on an elephant. Gushtasp, What time he looked forth from the mountain-top, Saw not amid the dust that Moon of chief's, And said: "I fear me that the full-orbed Moon, That ever gave a lustre to the host - My valiant brother, glorious Zarir, Who used to overthrow the angry lion - Hath been dismounted, for the warriors Have ceased from charging and the princes shout not Perchance that chief of nobles hath been slain. Speed to the battlefield a mounted man Toward yonder sable standard and discover My royal brother's case, because my heart Is full and seared for him." Thus fared the world's king Till one, whose eyes poured blood-drops, came and said:- |p64 "The Turkman horsemen wretchedly have slain Thy Moon, the guardian of thy crown and host, Him that was paladin of paladins - Zarir the cavalier - for Bidirafsh, The chief of all the warlocks of the world, Hath overthrown him and borne off the standard." The world's king, hearing of that slaying, felt Death visible. Down to the feet he rent His robe, strewed dust upon his jocund crown, And said to sage Jamasp: "What shall I say To Shah Luhrasp? How can I send to court A messenger? How tell mine ancient sire? Alas! that royal warrior ! Alas ! Gone like the bright moon midst the clouds! Bring hither Luhrasp's Gulgun and set thereon my saddle." He made him ready to avenge his brother, And carry on his Faith and precedent, But " Pause!" said his experienced minister, "Thy going to revenge is ill-advised." So, as that prescient minister enjoined, The Shah alighted and resumed the throne, Thus saying to his troops: "What Lion is there To take revenge for glorious Zarir, And, urging forth his stood with that intent, Retrieve my brother's saddle and his charger? I swear before the Master of the world - The oath of upright and of noble men - That whosoe'er shall go forth from the army, On him will I bestow Humai, my daughter." But not a man came forward from the host, And not a single warrior left his post. |p65 Par. 15 How Asfandiyar heard of the Slaying of Zarir Thereafter tidings reached Asfandiyar:- "Zarir, that princely cavalier, is slain. Thy father, overcome by grief for him, Now purposeth to take revenge himself." The famous hero wrung his hands, and said:- "What ill doth fortune spare us? When I saw Zarir in fight I ever feared this day. Woe for that horseman, warrior, and chief, Whom fortune hath discrowned ! Who slew that prince, That valiant Elephaht? Who plucked from earth That iron Mount? " Resigning to a brother Flag, troops, and his own station, he advanced Himself and reached the centre, girt his loins, And seized the royal standard. Now he had Five brothers, the adornments of the throne, All men of high renown, the Shah's compeers. They held Asfandiyar in reverence, Because it was his wont to shatter hosts. That Mainstay of the troops said to those nobles:- "Ye men of name and scions of the Shah ! Attend to what I say, observe it well, And trust the Faith of God, the Lord of all. Know then, ye princes ! that this is the day Which will discern the false Faith from the true. See that ye fear not death or anything, For none will die but at his fated time, And if so be that fated time hath come, What is more glorious than to die in battle? Heed not the slain, seek not for further help, And count not heads. Put not your trust in flight, And be not terrified at combating. |p66 In battle let your lances' points be low, Strive for a space and quit you manfully. If ye will do as I have bidden you My soul will still be stayed within my body, Your name will be renowned throughout the world, And all the host of yon old Wolf will perish." While matters fared thus with Asfandiyar His father shouted from the mountain-top:- "Ye men of name and warriors of mine, Who are as mine own body and my soul ! Fear ye not arrows, swords, and javelins, Because there is no fleeing from our fate. By God's Faith and by brave Asfandiyar, And by the soul of that loved cavalier, Zarir, alighted now in Paradise, Luhrasp the Shah hath written unto me, And I have pledged me to that ancient man, That, if good fortune giveth me the day, I will bestow, when I shall quit the field, The crown and throne upon Asfandiyar; I will bestow the royal crown on him. Just as my sire bestowed the realm on me, While Bishutan shall have the host, and I Will crown him with a crown of royalty." Par. 16 How Asfandiyar went to battle with Arjasp Asfandiyar, the elephant-bodied hero, Lord of the throne and terrible of form, Heard what his father shouted from the mountain, And hung his head for sorrow. Spear in hand He came, bent modestly before his sire, And then, as 'twere a div escaped from bond, |p67 Bestrode a stately grey, like blast on rose-leaves Fell on the foe, slew, and beheaded them, While all that saw him died of fright. Nastur, Son of Zarir the horseman, left his tent, Went to the keeper of the steeds and bade To bring him forth one fresh and fleet and broad Of buttock, like a caracolling mountain. He set a golden saddle on its back, And harnessed it and put the bards thereon. He bound a Kaian lasso to the straps, Then mounted, after he had armed himself, And spear in hand rode to the battlefield. Thus faring till he reached the scene of strifo He sought to light upon his slaughtered sire. He hasted, put his charger to its speed, Exacting vengeance, slaying as he went, Arid when he saw one of the Iranian race Would ask that noble of the host, and say:- "Where was it that Zarir, my father, fell - That warrior, that doughty cavalier ?" There was a certain man, Ardshir by name, A horseman, one of worth, a hero-taker, Of whom the youth inquired. That warrior Directed him to where his slain sire lay. "He fell," so spake Ardshir, "amid the host, Hard by yon sable standard. Thither haste, And thou mayst look upon his face once more." The prince urged on his steed and as he went He slaughtered foes and dealt destruction round. He rushed along until he reached his sire, And, when he saw the corpse upon the dust, All heart and reason left him. From his saddle He threw himself upon his father's body, And thus addressed it: "0 my shining Moon, The lustre of my heart and eyes and soul ! What toil and trouble hadst thou in my nurture, |p68 And whom didst thou commit me to in dying? Since Shah Luhrasp bestowed the host upon thee, And gave Gushtasp the throne and diadem, Thou hast administered the troops and realm, And battled with a will. Thy fame on earth Is bright as thou couldst wish, yet thou art slain While still unsatisfied; but I will seek Thy brother, that auspicious Shah, and say:- 'Descend thou from that goodly throne of thine. Thy conduct is unworthy of my father; Go forth then and avenge him' on the foe.'" Longwhile he mourned, then mounted. With exclaims He sought the Shah upon the goodly throne. "Life of thy father," said the king of kings, "Why hast thou filled thine eyes with tears?" Replied The Kaian-born: "0 monarch of the world ! Go and avenge my sire, because my lord, His black beard music-perfumed, is left to lie Upon the arid dust ! " Now when the Shah Heard, daylight blackened to him and the world Loured on its lord; his elephantine form Shrank, and " Bring forth," he said, "my sable steed, My battle-mail, and casque, because today In wreak for him will I pour warriors' blood In many a stream and light a fire whose reek Shall reach to Saturn!" When the warriors Saw from the field - the hosts' dark scene of strife - Their sovereign arming, and that he would go To seek revenge, they said: "The king of kings, And master of the world, will not go forth To battle, seeking wreak, with our consent, Else what need is there to array the host?" The noble minister addressed the Shah, |p69 And said: "Thou shouldst not go upon the field. Give to Nastur the steed that thou wouldst mount, And send him forth to battle with the foe, For better than thou canst will he require The vengeance that is owing for his sire." Par. 17 How Nastur and Asfandiyar slew Bidirafsh The Shah then gave his steed Bihzad, his helm Of steel, and sable breastplate to Nastur, The slaughtered prince's son who, armed and mounted, Rode forth between the opposing hosts and, halting Before the battle of the enemy, Heaved from his breast a deep, cold sigh, and cried:- "Nastur am I, the offspring of Zarir The lion dareth not encounter me. Where is that warlock Bidirafsh who holdeth The flag of Kawa? " As no answer came He urged along night-hued Bihzad, and slew Full many a valiant warrior of the host, While no one went forth to encounter him; On this side too the brave Asfandiyar Slew of them past all counting and compute. Whenas the king of Chin beheld Nastur - That youthful paladin of Kaian race - He cried out to his troops: "What man is this, This spearman so accomplished, who hath slain My chiefs in numbers numberless, unless Zarir, the cavalier, hath come to life - He that came out against me at the first, And urged his charger in this selfsame way? Where is the chosen warrior Bidirafsh? He ! summon him before me, and right soon." |p70 Then Bidirafsh went forth at once, he bare The violet flag, was mounted on the charger Of prince Zarir, and wore the prince's mail. Advancing in his pride toward Nastar, That royal youth, the lustre of the host, He grasped the selfsame sword of watered steel Wherewith he had o'orthrown Zarir. They wheeled - Zarir's son and that chief of Turkman warlocks - Contending with their scimitars and arrows. Men told the glorious Asfandiyar, The Shah's son, of their combating, who made All haste to go to them. Now when that chief Of sorcerers beheld this, and perceived What man now was advancing to assail him, He urged his charger from amid the fray, And hurled his baneful weapon at the prince To darken if he might that radiant face; It missed the prince, who caught it in his hand And pierced - a hero's stroke - his foeman's liver, So that the point came out the other side. Thus Bidirafsh fell from his steed and perished, Experiencing the might of Kaian birth. Asfandiyar dismounted from his steed, And stripping off the armour of Zarir - The noble hero - from that ancient warlock, Whose head he severed from its trunk withal, He carried off the prince's glossy charger, The flag, and head of worthless Bidirafsh. The Kaian army raised a shout, all sent Their clarnour through the skies: "The prince hath triumphed, Hath overthrown the foe, gone forth, and brought The dun steed back!" |p71 The prince, that valiant horseman, Brought to the Shah Zarir's horse and presented The head of that old warlock. Thus he slew The slayer as by law and wont is due. Par. 18 How Arjasp fled from the Battle When great Asfandiyar had taken vengeance, And saddled him the charger of Zarir, He rode back proudly to the battlefield, Formed three divisions of the Kaian host, And gave one to the warrior Nastur Of glorious birth - the lustre of the troops; The second - all Iranian warriors And chieftains - he entrusted to his brother, And kept the third beneath his own command, Whose voice was as it were a thundering cloud. Nastur of stainless birth, the exalted chief, And Nush Azar, the valiant paladin, Both bound themselves together solemnly "Although the foeman's sword shall cleave the earth We will not come back from the fight alive, And let those miscreants escape our grasp." When they had spoken thus and made secure Their saddle-girths they went forth to the battle. Now, as they urged their chargers from the lines, The heroes and the young men of Iran All came on too and decked the world with mail. They slew so many horsemen that they cramped The battlefield. The mill-wheels turned in blood That streamed from hill and plain. Arjasp, beholding Advanced with his own chiefs and warriors. Asfandiyar, the hero-slayer, couched His lance against those divs of Turkman race, |p72 And sewed them breast to back till he had slain Full many a haughty chief. Although the Khan Saw none to aid, and none who dared oppose Asfandiyar, but that his troops withdrew Demoralised, he kept his post till eve Amid the rout, then fled toward the waste. The Iranians pressed the countless troops of Chin, And slaughtered them in numbers everywhere, For, strange to tell! not one showed pity there ! Par. 19 How the Turkmans received Quarter from Asfandiyar The Turkman troops saw that Arjasp had fled, That swords were flashing on all sides of them, And all the chiefs, alighting from their steeds, Came to the presence of Asfandiyar, The hero, flung away their Turkman bows, And doffed their mail. They said to him in anguish:- "If now the prince will give his servants quarter We will accept his Faith, will seek instruction Therein, and all do worship to the Fires." The Iranian soldiery regarded not Their words and smote and slaughtered till the world Shone with their blood, but when Asfandiyar Had heard the Turkmans' cries he granted quarter For life and limb. That elephantine hero, That princely scion of the royal race, Made proclamation to his glorious host:- "Iranian nobles ! spare the men of Chin. Now that our enemies have been o'erthrown Restrain your hands from further massacre. Give these dogs quarter, for they have enough Of anguish, scorn, and strait, make no more prisoners, Put none in bonds, and let all bloodshed cease; |p73 Charge not, nor trample on the slain. Go round And reckon up the wounded. By Zarir's soul, Make no more prisoners, and tarry not For long upon your battle-steeds." The troops, On hearing what their leader said to them, Gave themselves up to tendering the wounded. They went back to their camp, beat kettledrums, Because they had returned victorious, And all that night slept not for joy, for Rustam Himself might own to such a victory. When night had passed away, and blood still ran On wilderness and waste, the famous Kaian, Escorted by the captains of the host, Went forth to look upon the battlefield. He wandered midst the slaughtered, shedding tears O'er any known to him, but when he saw His brother's corpse flung vilely on the field He rent the royal raiment that he wore And, lighting from his glossy steed Shulak, Clutched at his beard with both his hands, and cried:- "Prince of the warriors of Balkh ! by thee My whole life hath been turned to bitterness. Alaek ! O gracious form! O chief! O prince O warlike cavalier ! O chosen hero - My column and the curtain of the realm, The Kaian lustre and the army's crown!" He came near, raised the body from the dust, And with his own hands wiped the dead man's face; Then placed the body on a golden bier Zarir, thou wouldst have said, had ne'er been born. The Iranian nobles and his own young kinsmen He laid upon their biers, and gave command To count the slain and carry off the wounded. They searched the battlefield, the plains, and mountains, |p74 The waste and ways. Of soldiers of Iran Were thirty thousand slain; of men of name Eleven hundred and three score and six; One thousand and two score of name were wounded, And 'scaped the trampling of the elephants. A hundred thousand of the enemy Were slain, eight hundred of them chiefs and nobles; The wounded were three thousand and ten score. Shun, if thou canst, such ill scenes evermore. Par. 20 How Gushtasp returned to Balkh The famous Kaian, the triumphant Shah, Went from the battlefield toward his throne, And bade Nastur: "Tomorrow at the dawn Conduct the army toward our glorious realm." That chosen chieftain had the tymbals sounded At daybreak, and the army packed the baggage. They turned back to the country of Iran, Stout-hearted and prepared to fight again. They passed by no one either killed or wounded, But bore the wounded to Iran and gave them To skilful leeches. Now on his return The monarch of the world bestowed Humai, His glorious daughter, on his eldest son, And gave illustrious Nastur the host, According to the usage of the Persians, Gave him ten thousand of that noble race, World-questing horsemen, wielders of the lance, Gave him command, and said: "O gallant spearman! Go forth against the monarch of the Turkmans, Pass through Ayas and through Khallukh, and slay All that thou takest to avenge thy sire." |p75 The Shah supplied whate'er Nastur required, Not taking either count or reckoning, And thereupon Nastur led forth the host, While Shah Gushtasp sat on his throne and state, And, placing on his head the Kaian crown, Gave audience unto all the host. He opened His treasury and decked the troops with wealth, Gave cities to the chieftains, sovereignties And dignities to those deserving them; He passed none over, gave to each his due, And after that dismissed them to their homes. Then mounting on his throne for secret conclave, And sitting on the seat of king of kings, He bade inaugurate a Fane of Fire, And use for fuel Indian aloe-wood. They made the floor thereof pure gold throughout; The dust was ambergris, the fuel aloe. He fashioned All by rules of art, he called The place "The Mansion of Gushtasp," and made Jamasp its archmage. To his governors He wrote: "The Lord hath not abandoned us, For He hath turned our night's gross murk to day, And given us conquest to our full content. Arjasp was shamed, we triumphed. Who can know To do this save the Maker of the world? On hearing of the victory of your Shah Present your tribute to the priests of Fire." When Caesar, King of Rum, received the news:- The Shah hath conquered and Arjasp is worsted," He sent an embassy with precious gifts Of slave-boys and of steeds caparisoned; The king of Barbaristan and kings of Hind Sent tribute too as did the kings of Sind. |p76 Par. 21 How Gushtasp sent Asfandiyar to all the Provinces, and how the Folk received from him the good Religion One day the illustrious and fair-fortuned hero, When seated on the glorious Kaian throne, Gave audience to the elect of all his realm, The magnates, and the princes of birth royal. Asfandiyar, the hero, came before The presence, ox-head mace in hand and wearing A Kaian casque above that shining moon, His face. He stood before the presence, slave-like, With head depressed and folded arms. Gushtasp Saw and esteemed his face o'er life and world, And smiling said: "O brave Asfandiyar ! Dost thou not long for fight?" That gallant swordsman Replied: "'Tis thine to bid because thou hast The kingship and the world." The famous Kaian Gave him a golden crown, unlocked for him The treasures, and committed to his charge The conduct of Iran, because he had The might of paladins, gave standard, wealth, And host, and said: "Thy season for the throne Is not yet. Mount thy saddle and convert All nations to the Faith." The Shah's son went - A hero-slaying swordsman - with his host To all the nations. Over Rum he passed, And Hiudustan, passed ocean and the Gloom, And published the evangel by command Of God, the All-provider. When folk learned About the good Faith they received its rites, Adorned themselves therewith, and sought instruction. |p77 They burned the idols on their thrones, they kindled Tho Fire in stead thereof, and all dispatched This letter to the Shah: "We have accepted The Faith delivered by Asfandiyar, And donned the girdle. He hath ordered all. Thou ahouldst not now ask tribute of us, we Have been converted and profess the Faith. Send us the Zandavasta of Zarduhsht." When he had read the letter of the kings He sat upon his throne and called his peers. He sent the Zandavasta to each clime, To every man of name and every chief, And ordered that the famous paladin Should go to all four quarters of the world. Now no one, wheresoe'er that prince appeared Dared to go forth to meet him in the fight, But all folk placed themselves at his command, While evil-doers vanished utterly. Asfandiyar, when all had recognised His sire, loosed from his loins the golden girdle, Sat like a monarch on the royal seat, And for a season rested with his host, But called to him his brother Farshidward And, having summoned troops and warriors, Bestowed on him dinars and drachms in plenty, Gave Khurasan to him and so dismissed him. Now when a while had paused, and when the world Had grown all pure and convert to the Faith, Asfandiyar thus advertised his sire, And said: "Illustrious and victorious Shah By God's Grace I have purged the world, and spread The shadow of the eagle through the climes; Moreover men no longer fear each other, And no one is in lack of gold and silver. The world hath grown as bright as Paradise |p78 And populous, and all the fields are tilled; Our cavaliers have made it all their own, The husbandmen are at their husbandry." The world wagged on awhile with matters thus, And evil was no longer obvious. Par. 22 How Gurazm spake Evil of Asfandiyar Mine author saith that when the Shah bestowed A royal crown upon Asfandiyar There was a certain noble hight Gurazm, A famous war-worn warrior, who cherished A secret enmity against the prince. I know not why it was, but I have heard That this man was a kinsman of Gushtasp's, And always ill-disposed toward his son, And, when that prince's fame was noised abroad, Was wont to slander and belittle him. Once at the dawn of day the famous Shah, While sitting in the banquet-hall at ease, Gave audience to the chosen of his host, The magnates, kings, and others of high birth. Gurazm sat, his visage passion-pale And heart all black with hate, before the Shah, The glorious one. Now mark the villain's conduct What time the converse turned upon the prince, For thereupon he wrung his hands, and cried:- "A wicked son is like an enemy, And, being such, should win advancement never. An archimage, a holy man, hath told us:- 'A puissant son, if he becometh great, Will alter for the worse his sire's estate; A slave that is disloyal to his lord Should be beheaded as his just reward.'" |p79 Gushtasp asked what the riddler meant, and said:- "What is this riddle? Who doth know the answer?' The slanderous Kaian said: "'Twere indiscreet To tell it now." The great king cleared the hall, And said to that deceiver: "Come to me, Reveal the whole to me and what my son, That man of serpent faith, concealeth from me." Gurazm, the ill-disposed, made answer thus:- "To do the right thing is the part of wisdom. The Shah hath satisfied mine every wish, And I must keep no secrets from the Shah. I will not keep my counsel back from him, E'en though it proveth unacceptable, I will in no wise keep it from my lord, Though he should let me never speak again, Because for me to speak, although he hear not, Is better than to hide from him the secret. Know then, O world-lord ! that Asfandiyar Is clearly bent on battle, troops have flocked In multitudes, and all men turned, to him. His purpose is to put thee into bonds; He cannot bear that thou shouldst be the Shah, And, when he hath laid hands on thee and bound thee, Will make the whole world subject to himself. Thou knowest that Asfandiyar is one That hath no peer in battle, and when he Hath coiled his lasso up the sun itself Will not dare meet him. I have told thee truly What I have heard; so now be well-advised; To counsel and take action are for thee." Now when Gurazm spake thus before the Shah That famous warrior was all astound, And said: "Whoever saw a thing so monstrous? " In dudgeon he began to hate his son; |p80 He quaffed no wine withal, forwent his pleasures, Refused the feast, and heaved deep, chilling sighs; He could not sleep for thinking all that night, Possessed by wrath against Asfandiyar. As soon as dawn breathed from the mountain-tops, And starlight disappeared, he called to him Jamasp, that man of much experience, His minister in chief, and said: "Approach Asfandiyar, call him forthwith, conduct him To me, and say: 'A great affair is toward, And therefore come, O leader of the realm ! Thy presence is required, and for my part, When thou art absent, nothing prospereth.'" He wrote an urgent letter in these words:- "O noble, glorious Asfandiyar ! I have dispatched the old Jamasp to thee, Who can remember to have seen Luhrasp. When thou beholdest him gird up thy loins, And come with him upon swift-footed steeds. If thou art lying down spring to thy feet, _ And if thou shalt be standing tarry not" Charged with the letter of the Shah in haste That wise man crossed the hills and trod the waste. Par. 23 How Jamasp came to Asfandiyar Asfandiyar was in the desert hunting When some one shouted that the Shah had sent Jamasp. He mused and laughed uneasily. He had four noble sons, all fair of face And doughty cavaliers, the eldest hight Bahman, the second Mihr-i-Nush, the third |p81 Azar Afruz - a wary warrior - The youngest Nush Azar; 'twas he that built The Fane of Fire. Bahman said to his father, That king of earth: "May thy head flourish ever! My lord was laughing with a hollow laugh, I know not why." Asfandiyar replied:- "My son! one cometh to me from the Shah, Who is displeased with me and hath some grudge Against his slave." The noble youth said: "Why? What hast thou done against our sovereign lord?" Asfandiyar made answer: "O my son I know of no offence against my father, Unless it is that I have taught the Faith, Have lighted sacred Fires throughout the world, And purified it with my trenchant sword. What can have made the Shah's heart wroth with me? In sooth the Div must have seduced his heart, For he is mad enough to wish to bind me!" Now while Asfandiyar was thus engaged The dust of the advancing troops appeared. He saw it from the mountain-top afar And, knowing that the messenger had come, Went forth at once to meet him. When they spied Each other on the way they both alighted Down from their prancing steeds, and warrior And elder fared afoot. The glorious Asfandiyar inquired: "How is the Shah, That hero-king?" The sage Jamasp made answer:- "He is both well and happy." Then he kissed The prince upon the head and gave the letter, Informing him with Irankness of the case, And saying: "The Div hath led the Shah astray." |p82 Asfandiyar said to that man of wisdom:- "What seemeth to thee best for me herein? If I set out with thee to go to court My father will entreat me scurvily, And if I go not with his officer I shall no longer be a loyal liege. Devise some remedy, thou ancient sage! I may not rest in this bewilderment" The sage replied: "O prince of paladins, So young in body and so old in knowledge ! Thou knowest that the best love of a son Is not so tender as a father's wrath. Thou must set forward, that is mine advice, For, whatsoe'er he doth, he is the Shah." This they agreed upon and went their ways, The messenger and the exalted prince, Who made Jamasp alight when they had reached A goodly seat whereafter both drank wine. Next day Asfandiyar sat on his throne And, when he had brought forth the muster-roll, Entrusted all the army to Bahman, And setting forth with certain warriors, His girdle girt, his crown upon his head, Back to the court-gate of the great Shah sped. Par. 24 How Gushtasp imprisoned Asfandiyar The Shah on hearing that Asfandiyar, His son, had come, crowned with the Kaian casque, Called to his presence high and low alike, And spread the Zandavasta out before him. He seated all the archmages and then summoned The royal swordsman. With extended hands The hero came, approached the presence, did |p83 Obeisance, and stood slave-like with bent head And folded arms. The king of kings addressed The archmages, chiefs, and leaders of the host. "Suppose," he said, "that any noble man Shall rear a son with pains, provide him nurses While needing suckling, crown him with a crown Of gold, and guard him till he waxeth lusty, Teach him till he becometh venturesome, And undergo no little pains to make That son a cavalier expert in war; Suppose that noble youth attaineth manhood, And is as bright as new gold from the mine, That all that seek for favours ask of him, And that he is the theme of every speaker, Shall prove a good, victorious cavalier, And foremost when folk meet for fight or feast, Shall place the whole world underneath his feet, And well deserve the royal diadem, Shall, when victorious, spread forth limbs and boughs, The while his father, then grown old, shall sit Within his palace, keeping but one crown And throne, and stay at home to mind the goods; Suppose that son with world and flag and host Shall grudge his sire e'en one gold crown and throne Hath any of you heard of such a thing As that the son for that one throne and crown Should purpose to cut off his father's head, Should make an insurrection with his troops, And whet his heart to fight against his sire? What say ye, ancient men? What is the course The father well may take with such a son? " The chosen chiefs replied: "O monarch ! never Have we to take account of such a case - The father living and the son attempting His throne! Call nothing more preposterous." The world-lord answered: "Here there is a son |p84 Who hath designs upon his father's life. Him will I bind as well he hath deserved, And on such wise as none hath bound another." The son exclaimed: "O Shah of noble race How ever could I hanker for thy death? I do not know, O Shah! of any wrong That I have done to thee at any time. By thine own life, imperious sovereign ! When ever did I harbour such designs? But thou art Shah; 'tis thine to order; I Am thine, and bonds and prison rest with thee. Bid them to bind or slay me as thou wilt; My heart is honest and my mind submiss." The king of kings exclaimed: "Bring hither chains, Bind him, and falter not." They brought in blacksmiths, Yoke, chains, and heavy shackles, and then bound him, Both hand and foot, before the king, the world-lord, So straitly fettered him that all beholding Wept bitterly. They brought an elephant, Like indigo, and set Asfandiyar Thereon. They bare him from his glorious sire, With dust upon his head, to Gumbadan, That stronghold on the mountain-top, conveyed Four iron columns thither and there bound him With rigour. They dethroned him; fortune changed. The Shah set many to keep guard upon him, While seared and sore that gallant paladin Lived for a space in straitest custody, And ever and anon wept bitterly. |p85 Par. 25 How Gushtasp went to Sistan and how Arjasp arrayed his Host the second Time Thus many days passed o'er Asfandiyar, The while Gushtasp departed to Sistan To make the Zandavasta current there, And archimages testify thereto. As soon as the illustrious Shah arrived There went to him the captain of the host, The ruler of Nimruz, whose name was Rustam, A veteran cavalier, another Sam, In company with aged Zal, his sire, With mighty men and those about the court. They carried minstrels in their train withal, And posted them with harps along the route. Thus went they forth to greet the glorious Shah Right jubilantly, and it liked him well. They brought him to Zabul to be their guest, And stood before his presence as his slaves. From him they learned about the Zandavasta, Adopted it, and lighted sacred Fires. Two years passed thus in hospitality; Gushtasp kept feasting with the son of Zal. Throughout the world, wherever there were kings That heard about the doings of the Shah:- "He hath confined Asfandiyar in bonds, Hath galled his elephantine form with iron, And gone to preach the gospel in Zabul To blast the idols with the Cult of Fire," They one and all refused to do his bidding, And brake with him completely. When Bahman Heard that his sire was prisoned by the Shah, And for no fault, Asfandiyar's brave meiny |p86 Came grieving to him with the Kaian princes, Fulfilled with tribulation and dismay, And raised his spirits with their minstrelsy, Not letting him be lonesome in his prison. Then tidings reached the king of Chin: "The Moon Hath fallen from the Archer into ambush. The Shah, wroth with Asfandiyar, dispatched him, Dishonoured, to the hold of Gumbadan, And started for Zabulistan himself From Balkh to stay with Rustam, son of Zal, Whose guest he now is at Zabul, and thus Two years have passed away. Of all the Iranians And soldiery none, saving Shah Luhrasp With seven hundred devotees of Fire, Is left at Balkh." The monarch of Chigil Called out his chiefs and heartened them to fall Upon Luhrasp. "Know ye," 'twas thus he spake, "That Shah Gushtasp hath marched with all his host Sistan-ward and abideth at Zabul No cavalier is left in all his realm. Now is the time for us to seek revenge; We must take order and prepare ourselves. His son, illustrious Asfandiyar, Is fast in heavy bonds. What man is there - A searcher out of mysteries - prepared To undertake the long and arduous road, And, choosing bypaths, shunning public ways, Obtain full tidings of the Iranians? " There was a sorcerer, by name Situh, A rover and explorer. "I," he said, "Am one of tact and used to travelling. What shall I do? Command me as thou wilt" The king of Chin said: "Go thou to Iran, Take heedful note, and roam through all the land. " The spy set forth upon his way and went |p87 To chosen Balkh, the dwelling of the Shah. He saw not Shah Gushtasp therein but found Luhrasp, the devotee; he thereupon Returned and, having done the Khan obeisance, Told all. Arjasp grew joyful at the news, And freed from longsome care, called all his chiefs, And said: "Go, muster our disbanded host." The chieftains of the army went their way To mountains, desert-tracts, and pasture-lands, And summoned to the king his soldiery, The chosen horsemen of his sovereignty. Par. 26 The Words of Dakiki being ended, Firdausi resumeth, praising Shah Mahmud and criticising Dakiki Now, man of eloquence and shrewd ! again Take up the story in thy proper strain. Dakiki to this point had brought his lay When fortune put a period to his day, And, having dealt with him right grievously, Bare off his spirit from this Hostelry, So that these fleeting words of his are all That now remain as his memorial. He stayed not to complete the tale, he penned It not from its beginning to its end. Now give attention to Firdausi's part, Whose words are chaste and pleasing to the heart. What time within my hands this story fell My hook was angling for the fish as well. I scanned the verses and esteemed them weak; In many couplets there was much to seek, But here have I transcribed them that the king May know how inartistic verses ring. |p88 Both jewellers have each a gem to sell; Now let the Shah give ear to what they tell. If thou canst speak but in Dakiki's vein Speak not at all and spare thy nature pain, And, mindful of the bondage and the toil, Ne'er dig in mines whence thou wilt win no spoil. Unless thou art as fluent as a stream Lay not thy hand upon this royal theme; 'Tis better that all food should be abjured Than that thou shouldest spread a tasteless board. A book fulfilled with legends met my view, Its words possessed of character and true, Its stories very ancient and in prose; The wits had never thought of rhyming those, No one had thought of linking line to line - A fact that struck this gladsome heart of mine. Two thousand years had passed the story o'er, Two thousand years and haply countless more, And I began his praises to rehearse, Who showed the way to turn it into verse. Although he only rhymed the veriest mite - One thousand couplets full of feast and fight - He was my pioneer and he alone, In that he set the Shahs upon the throne. From nobles honour and emolument Had he; his trouble was his own ill bent. To sing the praises of the kings was his, And crown the princes with his eulogies, But still he uttered but a feeble strain, And eld through him could ne'er grow young again. I took the story for a lucky-sign; For many a year the travail was all mine, Yet found I no great patron of mine own To shed a lustre on the royal throne - A matter of much discontent to me, But silence was the only remedy. |p89 I had before mine eyes a garth of trees, A dwelling-place for such as live at ease, But not a portal opened on that same, Save only what was royal but in name. Fit for my garden must the portal be; One that was narrow would not do for me. For twenty years I kept my work till I Should find one worthy of my treasury, Until Malimud, the master of the earth, Endowed with Grace and bounty, he whose worth Both Moon and Saturn praise (Abu'l Kasim ! The crown of king of kings is fresh through him), Till he, the world-lord, came and sat him here Upon the throne of justice. Find his peer. His name hath crowned my work, his Grace divine Like ivory made this darkened heart of mine. He passeth all the Shahs that went before, And counteth not as ill the breath of yore. Dinars to him are dust, and him dismay Betideth not in festival and fray, For he from one that seeketh doth withhold Not sword in war-time nor at feast-time gold. May his throne flourish ever and still be The rapture of the spirits of the free ! Par. 27 How the Host of Arjasp marched to Balkh and how Luhrasp was slain Now will we tell the warfare of Arjasp Afresh and by our insight clear the garth Of weeds:- Arjasp had tidings that the Shah Had set forth with his host toward Sistan, And gave commandment that Kuhram, the swordsman, Should lead the troops before him, for Kuhram |p90 Was eldest-born to him and raised his head O'er radiant Sol. Arjasp said: "Choose thee horsemen War-worthy from the host and haste to Balkh, Which hath embittered and o'ercast our days. Those of our foes, those worshippers of Fire, Those Ahrimans, whom thou shalt take, behead, Burn up their homes, and turn their day to night. Smoke from the palace of Gushtasp must rise And lick the azure sky. If thou shalt find Asfandiyar with fetters on his feet Put thou an end to him; part instantly His body and his head, and make the world Re-echo with thy name. Throughout Iran The cities have been left at thy disposal, The foe - the scabbard - left for thee - the sword. I shall not loiter in Khallukh but follow Apace, recall our scattered troops, and lavish My hoarded wealth." Kuhram replied: "Thy bidding Will I perform and pledge my life thereto." When from its waist the sun drew forth its sword, And darksome night drew back its skirts therefrom, There gathered five score thousand of Khallukh About Arjasp - choice cavaliers and swordsmen. Kuhram led forth the army to Iran, While earth grew like an Ethiop's face for gloom, And coming to those marches spread his hands, And overthrew whome'er he saw. The Turkmans Had set their hearts on vengeance, were prepared To pillage and to slay, and as they drew Anear to Balkh spake much and bitterly. Luhrasp heard of Kuhram, was grieved, and fared With travail. Thus he prayed: "Omnipotent ! Thou art supreme o'er time's vicissitudes, Thou art almighty, wise, and merciful, The Master of the shining sun. Preserve |p91 My Faith, my person, and mine energies, My watchful heart and intellect withal, So that I may not perish in their hands A thrall, or in dismay cry out for succour." There was no chief or mace-armed cavalier At Balkh. A thousand came from the bazar, But all unfit for war. Luhrasp assumed His mail what time the Turkman host draw nigh, He left the oratory for the field, And donned the Kaian casque. Old as he was He roared out like a maddened elephant, Bare in his hand an ox-head mace, and dashed To earth therewith a warlock of the chiefs At every charge till all folks said: "This noble Is dealing buffets like Asfandiyar !" Where'er he spurred he mingled dust with blood; The galls were split of all that heard his voice. Kuhram said to the Turkmans: "Fight no longer Against him single-handed, strive amain, Surround him, and roar out like mighty lions." Arose the crash of bills, the shouts of horsemen All eager to monopolize the fray, Whereat Luhrasp, abandoned midst the foe, Invoked in his resourcelessness God's name, For old age and the burning of the sun Oppressed him, and his fortune went to sleep. That veteran, that worshipper of God, Fell headlong, smitten by the Turknrans' arrows; The head that wore the crown came to the dust. Then many cavaliers surrounded him; They hacked his Kaian harness into bits, His body piecemeal with their scimitars. They took him for a youthful cavalier, But when they raised the helmet from his head, And saw his ruddy cheek, his camphor hair, And heavenly visage livid now with iron; |p92 All marvelled at the miracle, exclaiming:- "To think that one so old should sword it thus Had but Asfandiyar himself come hither Our host would have been busy on this plain! Why have we come here with such puny powers, For we have come but as a flock to pasture? " Then to his comrades said Kuhram: "The toil And travail in the fight was due to this, That he who wore the crown was Shah Luhrasp - Sire of Gushtasp, the master of the world. As king of kings he had the Grace of God, And passed his life in feasting and the field, But in old age became a devotee, And plucked his heart away from crown and throne. Now will Gushtasp, whose throne is thus bereaved, Quail for the diadem of king of kings." The host reached Balkh, the world was wrecked with sack And slaughter. Making for the Fane of Fire, For hall and palace decked with gold, they gave Them and the Zandavasta to the flames. The fane had eighty priests, God's worshippers, And all before the Fire the Turkmans slew, And swept that cult away. The Fire, that erst Zarduhsht had litten, of their blood did die; Who slow that priest himself I know not I. |p93 Par. 28 How Gushtasp heard of the Slaying of Luhrasp and led his Army toward Balkh Gushtasp possessed a wife - a prudent dame, Wise, understanding, and high-minded. She, When she had dight herself in Turkman guise, And mounted on a fleet steed from the stable, Departed from the palace and set forth, Aghast at what had happened, toward Sistan. She tarried not to sleep at any stage, And ran a two-days' journey into one. Thus she continued till she reached Gushtasp In grief with tidings of Luhraap, and said:- "Why hast thou tarried this long while and why Didst thou depart from famous Balkh at all? An army from Turan hath reached the city, And turned its people's day to bitterness. All Balkh is full of sack and massacre; Thou must return forthwith." Gushtasp replied:- "What grief is this? Why mourn a single raid? When I march forth all Chin will not withstand me." She answered thus: "Talk not so foolishly; Things of great charge confront us now. The Turkmans Have slain at Balkh Luhrasp, the king of kings, And turned our days to gloom and bitterness, Proceeded thence to Nush Azar and there Beheaded both Zarduhsht and all the archmages, Quenched in whose blood the radiant Fire expired, An outrage not to be accounted lightly. Thereafter they led off thy daughters captive; Take not so grave a matter easily. If there were nothing but Humai's dishonour 'Twould stir a sage's heart, and furthermore |p94 There is thine other daughter, Bih Afrid, Till then kept hidden from a breath of air, Whom they have taken from her golden throne, And plundered of her bracelets and her crown." Gushtasp, on hearing this, was filled with anguish, And showered from his eyelids gall of blood. He called to him the great men of Iran, And told before them all that he had heard, Called for a scribe, put by his crown, avoided His throne, sent cavaliers to every side With letters to his paladins, and said:- "Wash not your heads from soil, distinguish not 'Twixt up and down, and come ye all to court In armour and with mace and Ruman casque." They bore the letter to each paladin That was a mighty man within the realm, And, when from all the Shah's realm there had gathered The troops and valiant horsemen of his host, He gave out pay and, marching from Sistan, Proceeded on his road toward famous Balkh. Arjasp, on hearing that Gushtasp, the world-lord, Had come with army and with crown and throne, Assembled from Turan so vast a host That sun and moon were darkened with the dust. From sea to sea that host extended, none Could see the surface of the waste for troops, And when the dust-clouds of the armies met The earth grew dark and heaven azure-dim. The opposing hosts drew up for battle, armed With, spears and swords and double-headed darts. Upon the Iranian right prince Farshidward Was posted - one that challenged rending lions; Upon the left the warrior Nastur, Son of Zarir - the chief; while at the centre Gushtasp, the world-lord, overlooked his powers. Kuudur was stationed on the Turkman right |p95 With infantry behind him with the baggage; Kuhram, the swordsman, on the left; Arjasp Was at the centre with the main. The din Of trump and drum ascended from both hosts, Earth turned to iron, air to ebony. Thou wouldst have said: "The heavens flee away, And earth is cracking underneath the weight !" The heights of flint bowed at the chargers' neighs And crash of axes; all the waste was full Of heads laid trunkless in the dust and battered By massive maces; swords flashed; arrows rained; The heroes shouted in the fray; the stars Sought flight; the troops grew prodigal of life; Shafts fell around like hail; the wilderness Was all a-groan with wounded trampled down In multitudes beneath the horses' hoof's, The lion's maw their shroud and blood their bier; The trunks were headless and the heads were trunkless; The horsemen were like elephants a-foam, And fathers had no time to mourn for sons. Thus for three days and nights the heavens revolved, All onslaught and reprisal, war and strife; The moon's face reddened with the splash of blood, Such was that battlefield! Then lion-like Strove Farshidward against Kuhram, the swordsman" And was so sorely stricken that the life Passed from his lion-body. Multitudes Were slain amidst the Iranians, the land Was wet with warriors' blood. Now Shah Gushtasp Had eight and thirty sons, bold mountaineers And horsemen on the plain; all were laid low; The Shah's good fortune darkened at a blow. |p96 Par. 29 How Gushtasp was put to Flight by Arjasp At length Gushtasp, when fortune had become So rugged, showed his back. The enemy Pursued him for two stages and were instant To take him captive. In the way before him There lay a mountain full of pasturage, Wherein there were a mill-stream and a mill, And having in its whole circumference But one sole path: thereof Gushttisp was ware, And heart-seared scaled the mountain with his troops, But left a force upon the road behind him. Arjasp, arriving with his host, went round The mountain, but discovered not the path. On all sides they laid leaguer. When the Shah, That noble man, was left without resource His troops lit fires upon the mountain-top, And burnt thorns on the flints; each leader slew A steed and pondered on his helpless plight. The proud Shah, compassed thus, was sore dismayed, And called to him Jamasp, the veteran, Held talk at large about the stars, and said:- "Declare whate'er thou knowest of heaven's will, And wait not to be asked. Thou needs must tell Who is to succour me in this distress." Jamasp, on hearing, rose and said: "Just king If now the Shah will hearken to my words, Confiding in the process of the stars, I will discover to him what I know If he will recognise my truthfulness." The Shah replied: "Whatever secret thing |p97 Thou knowest, tell it to me and be brief; My head may touch the clouds, but heaven's changes I cannot 'scape." Jamasp replied: "0 Shah List to my words and let me have thine ear. Asfandiyar, the glorious, by thy bidding Is wearing chains in this his evil day. If he were set at liberty the Shah Would not be left on this high mountain-top." Gushtasp replied: "0 trusty counsellor, Who art a man of truth and of resource! When in my wrath I put him into bonds - The heavy chains by blacksmiths riveted - I was remorseful all the time and sought With aching heart to find a remedy For having bound him in the audience, Though he was guiltless, at his foeman's charge. I, if I see him on this day of battle, Will give him crown and throne and signet-ring; But who will dare to go to that beloved one, And free the innocent? " Jamasp said: "I Will go, 0 king! because the case is urgent." Gushtasp rejoined: "0 thou fulfilled with wisdom! Thy virtues are as music to my soul; Depart forthwith by night, greet him at largo From me, and say: 'The man that did the wrong Hath left this world with anguish in his heart, While I, who acted as that little-wit Desired, repent that I have done amiss, And will prepare a goodly recompense. Now if thou wilt put vengeance from thy heart, And shalt bring down our foemen's heads to dust, For else the realm and throne have reached their end, And foemen will uproot the Kaian Tree, On thee, if thou shalt come, I will bestow |p98 Crown, treasure, and whate'er I have amassed By toil, and will devote myself to prayer Thenceforth as did my sire Luhrasp, the world-lord. God is my witness to these words of mine, As is Jamasp who is my counsellor.'" Jamasp attired him in Turanian mail, And came down from the heights without a guide. Whenas that man of wisdom reached the, plain He passed the army of the foe by night; To Gumbadan, the hold, he made his way, Preserved from ill hands and his evil day. Par. 30 How Jamasp visited Asfandiyar One of Asfandiyar's exalted sons, Whom he named Nush Azar, was on the ramparts To see who came forth from the Iranian host, And advertise his sire. At sight of any He used to hurry from the walls forthwith. When he perceived Jamisp upon his way, And on his head a fair Turanian helm, He said: "A horseman from Turan hath come I will descend and tell Asfandiyar." He hastened downward from the castle-rampart, And spake on this wise: "Noble paladin ! I see a horseman coming in the distance, And on his head there is a sable helm. I will go see if he is from Gushtasp, Or from Arjasp, a foe. If he shall prove A Turkman then will I cut off his head, And fling his feckless body in the dust." Said great Asfandiyar: "The traveller, Since he is unattended, is but lowly. In sooth he is a warrior from Iran, |p99 And cometh unto us with some dispatch; My sire hath put that helmet on his head In apprehension of our valiant foes." When Nush Azar, the paladin, had heard He went in haste upon the castle-rampart; He recognised Jamasp when close at hand, Descended, and informed his glorious sire:- "Jamasp is at the gate." He had it opened, The sage came in, did reverence and, coming Before Asfandiyar, repeated to him The message of Gushtisp, his sire, in full. Asfandiyar replied: "0 Memory Of this world's heroes, wise, courageous, And of exalted rank! why bow to one In chains, for one in irons, hand and foot, Is not of man's seed, but an Ahrimpn? Thou givest me greeting from the king of kings, So that thy heart is not informed by knowledge, Since it is for Arjasp to greet me now, Because the plain is all Iranians' blood. They bound me innocent. Gurazm forsooth Must be the Shah's son, I be fettered thus Mine irons are my witnesses to God That I have had injustice from Gushtasp, And that Gurazm's words pleased Ahriman. Such was the recompense of all my toil, While for my treasury 'tis stocked with irons. Oh! may I ne'er forget this injury, And stultify my wisdom through thy talk." Jamisp replied: "O speaker of the truth, World-taker, lion-thrower, bent on fame ! If thou art thus heart-wearied of thy sire His throne is overturned; yet for the sake Of pious Shah Luhrasp, slain by the Turkmans In battle, and of those God-fearing priests, |p100 Who had the Zandavasta in their hands, Of whom four score were slaughtered - archimages And sages pure of heart, quenched in whose blood The sacred Fire hath died within the fane - Such ill deeds cannot be accounted lightly. Possess thy heart with sorrow for thy grandsire, Rise in thy wrath and let thy cheeks be pale, For if thou art not stirred up to avenge him Thou art not worshipful and well advised." Asfandiyar made answer to him thus:- "0 famed, high-starred, heroic, and prevailing! Reflect that for the old Luhrasp - that man Of piety, the father of Gushtasp - The son that sought erewhile his father's throne, And his prerogative, will best seek vengeance." Jamasp replied: "If thou wilt not avenge Thy grandsire thou art void of principle. The wise Humai and Bib Afrid, whose faces No breath of air had seen, are in Turan As prisoners, all misery and anguish, And foot it wan of mien." Asfandiyar Thus answered: "Did Humai at any time Remember me in my confinement here? And, further, as for noble Bib Afrid, She never looked on me, as thou mightst say! Why now should I distress myself for them? No one from them hath ever come to me. A father well may see to his own daughters, A sire the better undertake for them." Jamasp replied to him: "0 paladin Thy sire, the world-lord, with his soul all gloom, Is now upon a mountain with his chiefs, With tearful eyes and unfed lips; the Turkmans Beleaguer him; henceforth thou wilt not sea His head and crown. The Maker will condemn |p101 Thy disregard of love and Faith. Thy brethren, For thou hadst eight and thirty - Mountain-pards, And Lions of the plain - all couch in dust And brick, because the foe let none escape." Asfandiyar rejoined: "I used to have Full many a noble brother, and while I Lay bound they all made merry! No one thought Of wretched me! If I take action now What profit, seeing that the foe hath raised The reek from them?" Jamasp, on hearing this, And noting how the captive's heart was seared, Rose to his feet in sorrow and in anger, With anxious heart and eyes fulfilled with tears, And said to him: "O chief of paladins ! Although thy heart and mind are darkened thus, What sayest thou of the case of Farshidward, Who went so heavily on thine account? Where'er he was, at fray or festival, He was all pain and curses on Gurazm; His body hath been slashed with scimitars, Helm and cuirass are cloven, and his soul Is breaking with his love for thee ! Oh! pity His weeping eyes." When Farshidward was named Asfandiyar wept blood, his heart was grieved, He cried: "O wretched, valiant warrior O lion-hearted hero, chieftain, prince ! I have been wounded by those wounds of thine, And I have bathed my cheeks in my heart's blood." When he became composed he asked Jamasp:- "What was thy purpose in concealing this? Give orders that some blacksmiths shall be brought, And let them file the fetters from my feet." Jamasp fetched blacksmiths, and they brought with them |p102 Their heavy hammers and their files of steel. They filed the rings, the rivets, and the chains, And all the bridge-like fetters made in Rum. The bonds took long to file; the captive's heart, Remiss no longer, grew impatient. He said thus to a smith: "Thou awkward lout ! Thou bindest but thou canst not break the bonds !" He drew his hands away, arose in dudgeon, And, stretching out the chains to their full length, Strained with his feet and struggled with his hands, And brake in pieces fetter, ring, and chain. The breaking of his bonds exhausted him, The anguish overcame him and he swooned. That reader of the stars who saw the marvel Was full of praises of the noble prince. Whenas the lusty hero had regained His wits he ranged the bonds and chains before him, And said: "These, presents given by Gurazm Have severed me from fight and festival." With aching body galled and stiff with bondage He went off to the bath. He then demanded The raiment of a king and therewithal The armour of a paladin, and bade "Bring my fleet charger, helm, and scimitar." Now when his eye fell on his steed he called Upon the Giver of all good, and said:- "If I did wrong I have been vexed with bonds, But what hath this my prancing Barbary Done to be starved? Go groom and feed him up." He sent for smiths, the prowest in their trade, Who came, repaired his arms, and hauberks made. |p103 Par. 31 How Asfandiyar saw his Brother Farshidward Night came like vengeful Ahriman, the bells Clanged at the gate, and Indian sword in hand Asfandiyar bestrode his royal steed. He with Bahman and noble Nush Azar Went forth on their long journey while Jamasp, The minister of great Gushtasp, went first As guide. Now when these warrior-cavaliers Had come outside the walls, and reached the plain, Asfandiyar, the chieftain, looked toward heaven, And said: "O Judge whose words are true ! Thou art The Maker, the Almighty, and illumest The spirit of Asfandiyar. If I Prevail and make the world strait for Arjasp, Take vengeance on him for Luhrasp, the Shah, And for the blood of all those blameless chiefs, My very eyes - mine eight and thirty brothers, Whose blood hath dyed the dust upon the plain - I swear by God, the just Judge, to forego Revenge upon my father for my bonds, To build a hundred Fanes of Fire, and weed The world of tyranny. None shall behold A carpet 'neath my feet till I have built A hundred hostels in the wilderness. In parched wastes that no vulture traverseth, And where no onager and other game Set foot, will I have dug ten thousand wells, And plant their mouths with trees. Out of my treasure I will bestow a hundred thousand drachms Upon the poor and every one that asketh. I will convert the erring to the Faith, And will lay low the heads of sorcerers, While in God's presence will I stand and worship; |p104 None ever shall behold me take mine ease." He spake thus and urged on his battle-steed Until he came to Farshidward, beheld him Stretched on the dust in miserable case, His prostrate form confounded by its wounds, And, pouring from his eyes so many tears As filled the wise physician with amazement, Exclaimed: "0 Lion, seeker of the fray! From whom hath this disaster come upon thee? On whom shall I avenge thee in the battle, On Lion of the fray or Crocodile? " Thus Farshidward replied: "0 paladin ! It was Gushtasp that wounded me to death. Could Turkmans, if he had not fettered thee, Have wrought this scath and likewise overthrown Luhrasp, the hoary-headed, and all Balkh? None ever hath beheld or heard of ills Such as Gurazm's words have brought upon us; Yet murmur not, accept thy lot, and prove A fruitful tree, for I shall pass away, But needs must thou abide for evermore. Remember me when I have gone, and glad My spirit by thy bounty. So farewell, Thou chief of paladins ! For ever live, And be of ardent soul." He spake and wanned; That noble Lion, Farshidward, was gone. Asfandiyar clutched at his own cuirass, Marred all the painted silk, and cried: "0 Lord Supreme and holy ! lead me to take vengeance For Farshidward, to send the dust-clouds flying From stones and water, from Arjasp to set The blood a-stream, and give Luhrasp's soul peace." With heart all vengeance and with head distraught He laid his brother's corpse upon the saddle, Then mounted to the heights, his brother's body |p105 Bound on the bay, and said: "What at this present Can I achieve for thee, how raise thy charnel? I have no gold, no silver, and no gems, No bricks, no water, none to build a wall, Nor any tree where I may lay thee down, O noble chief ! to slumber in the shade." He stripped his brother's armour off and used His turban and his jerkin as a shroud, And thence departing came where Shah Gushtasp Had fared so ill. He saw Iranians slain In numbers that concealed the dust and stones, And bitterly bewept those hapless ones whose fortunes were o'erthrown. There where the fight Had been most fierce he saw Gurazm's pale face, His steed o'erthrown beside him where he lay O'erstrewn with dust, and thus Asfandiyar Addressed the slain: "O fool and of ill fortune ! Mark what a wise man of Iran once said, When giving utterance to his secret thoughts:- 'A foe that's wise is better than a friend Albeit in both their wisdom we commend, For wise men think within their powers nor fret Their souls by seeking what they ne'er can get.' Thou soughtest my position in Iran, And broughtest this destruction on the world. Thou hast deprived this kingdom of its lustre, Hast practised artifice and uttered lies, And all the blood poured out in this contention Will be upon thee in the other world." He turned his head, still weeping, from the waste, And came upon the main of Turkman troops. He saw the host extending seven leagues, And such that heaven was aghast thereat. A trench had been constructed round about, More than an arrow's flight in width. This ditch |p106 He managed with a hundred shifts to cross, And reined his steed toward the level ground. The Turkman outpost of some eighty men Were on their rounds about the battlefield. They came upon him with disordered ranks, Came challenging and shouting, and inquired:- "0 lion-man ! what seekest thou by night Upon the battlefield?" He answered them:- "All that ye care for on the battlefield Are sleep and feast. When tidings reached Kuhram 'Asfandiyar hath made his passage through you,' He said to me: 'Take thy sharp scimitar, And bring the Day of Doom upon their souls.'" Then, mindful of the battle with Gushtasp, He drew his scimitar and laid about him, O'erthrew full many of them on the road, And thence departed toward the Shah's abode. Par. 32 How Asfandiyar came to the Mountain to Gushtasp Asfandiyar climbed that high, flinty mountain, And did obeisance when he saw his father, Who seared at heart, arose, kissed, and caressed His son's face, saying: "I thank God, my boy ! That I have seen thee happy and still ardent. Regard me not with anger and dislike, And be not slow to take revenge. Gurazm, Malignant miscreant that he was, obscured My heart toward my son, and ill hath come Upon him for his calumnies, since evil Befalleth evil men for their ill deeds. Now by the Ruler of the world I swear, Who knoweth all things open and concealed, |p107 That if I prosper and o'ercome the foe I will bestow the realm, the crown, and throne On thee, establish many a shrine, and give thee My secret hoards." Asfandiyar replied:- "Let me find favour in the monarch's sight; It will be treasure, throne, and crown to me If he shall be content with me, his slave. The monarch knoweth that when I beheld Upon the field the face of slain Gurazm I shed tears o'er that slanderer and burned To think what anguish he had caused the Shah. Our past mishaps are now but wind to me. Hereafter when I draw my vengeful sword, And set my face to quit this rocky height, I will not leave Arjasp, Ayas, or Chin, Kuhram, Khallukh, or country of Turan." The soldiers, hearing that Asfandiyar Was freed from heavy bondage and ill-fortune, Pressed on, troop after troop, upon the mountain Before their chieftain, while the mighty men, The alien, and akin bowed down to him. Thus spake high-starred Asfandiyar: "Famed swords-men! Draw ye your watered blades, advance to vengeance, And slay the foe." The chieftains blessed him saying:- "Thou art our crown and falchion of revenge We all will pledge our lives for thee and make The sight of thee the rapture of our souls." They spent the night in ordering the host, And getting ready coat of mail and spear. Gushtasp held further talk of fortune's ills With glorious Asfandiyar and set His eyes a-stream in telling of the blood Of all those valiant youths that had been slain |p108 Upon the battlefield, whose princely heads Were now encircled by a crown of gore. That very night the tidings reached Arjasp:- "The son of Shah Gushtasp hath come to him. He hath slain many scouts upon the way, And those that were not slaughtered showed their backs." He was in dudgeon, called to him the magnates, Held converse with Kuhram at large, and said:- "Our thoughts were other of this war what time The host set forth. I said: 'If we can catch That div still chained the world will issue scathless, I shall obtain the Iranian throne, and all Will offer me their homage everywhere.' Now, since that div-begotten hath broke loose, We deal in grief and sighs. None of the Turkmans Can match him in the fight, so let us march, Still blithe and yet unworsted, to Turan While crown and throne are ours." He bade to bring The treasures and the steeds caparisoned - The booty carried off from famous Balkh - And charged Kuhram therewith. Arjasp possessed Four sons, all younger than Kuhram, and these Packed, and then loaded up a hundred camels, Which went, each with a guide, by divers roads. The king was full of terror and of haste, He could not eat or take his ease or sleep. There was among the troops a Turkman named Gurgsar who came before the king, and said:- "0 monarch of the Turkmans and of Chin ! Fling not away thy glory for one man. Yon host is smitten, beaten, and in flight, Its fortune all astound, the Shah himself Is all consumed with grief, his sons are slain, And who hath come except Asfandiyar |p109 To help him? Yet thou break'st thy soldiers' hearts, And woundest by thy words without a battle ! Wise lungs fear not, poltroons cause ruin. No mace Hath fallen on a helm nor arrow struck A barded steed. I will encounter him, If he come forth, and fling him to the dust." Arjasp, on hearing what he said and marking His courage and wise counsel, made reply:- "O warrior eager for the fray! name, birth, And parts are thine. If thou make good thy words, And prowess the corrival of thy tongue, All from this tent up to the sea of Chin, And all the treasures of Iran, will I Bestow on thee; thou shalt command my host, And never will I swerve from thine advice." Forthwith he gave the army to Gurgsar With lordship o'er the more part of the world. Whenas the sun took up its golden shield, And dark night did obeisance, putting off Its musk-black raiment while the world's face grew All ruby-like in tint, a mighty host Descended from the heights. Asfandiyar, The ruler of the world, the valorous, Led on the troops himself. An ox-head mace Depended from his saddle. Shah Gushtasp Was at the centre of the host, his soul Full of revenge upon Arjasp. Moreover, The offspring of Zarir, Nastur, at whom The lion wont to flee the wood, assumed His station on the right as general, And ordered all the battle under him. Gargwi, the warrior, upon the left Came forth as bright as Sol in Aries. Arjasp on his side ranked his troops; the stars Saw not the plain for spears and blue steel swords; The air was full of silken flags. The centre, |p110 Where was Arjasp, seemed ebony; Kuhram Was on the right with trumpets and with tymbals, And on the left the monarch of Chigil, From whom a lion might take heart in fight. When king Arjasp beheld the mighty host Of chosen, lance-armed cavaliers he went, Chose out a height, and thence surveyed the armies On every side. The forces of the foe Frayed him, the world turned black before his eyes. Anon he bade the cameleers to bring A hundred strings of camels from the waste, And said in private to the men of name:- "If this affair prove long, if victory, Success, and glory show not on our side, I and my friends will need for safety's sake To take the road upon these rapid beasts." Now when between the lines Asfandiyar, Like some fierce lion with his lips afoam, Was wheeling like the turning firmament, And brandishing in hand the ox-head mace, Thou wouldst have said: "The whole plain is his steed; His soul is greater than his skin can hold." Arose the war-cry and the clarion's blare; The warriors of the host advanced. "The waste," Thou wouldst have said, "hath grown a sea of blood, And all the air is Pleiad-like with swords." Then brave Asfandiyar rose in his stirrups And shouted, brandishing his ox-head mace Of steel, then, gripping it still tighter, slew Three hundred Turkmans of the central host, Exclaiming: "In revenge for Farshidward This day will I raise dust-clouds from the sea." Then letting his swift charger have the reins He charged against the right wing of the foe, And slaughtered eight score of the warriors. Kuhram, when he beheld it, showed his back. |p111 Asfandiyar exclaimed: "Thus I avenge My grandsire whom my father loved so well," Then turned his reins toward the left, and all The earth became as 'twere a sea of blood. He slew of mighty men eight score and five, All men of name possessed of crowns and wealth. "Thus," said he, "I revenge my noble brothers, Those eight and thirty who have passed away." Arjasp, on seeing this, said to Gurgsar:- "Our warriors in numbers numberless Are slaughtered all; not one of them is left; Not one remaineth still before the line. I know not wherefore thou remainest silent, Or why thou hadst so much to say before." The words aroused the spirit of Gurgsar, And he advanced before the line of battle. Within his hand he bare a royal bow, And poplar arrow with a point of steel. As soon as he was near he aimed his shaft, And struck the paladin upon the chest. Asfandiyar hung over on his saddle So that Gurgsar might deem: "The shaft hath pierced His breastplate, and the prince's radiant form Is wounded," and Gurgsar accordingly Unsheathed his flashing falchion, purposing To smite the head oft' from Asfandiyar; But he, all fearless of disaster, loosed The coiled up lasso from the saddle-straps, And in the Maker's name, the Omnipotent's, Flung it about his foe whose head and neck Were taken in the toils. Asfandiyar Then hurled Gurgsar all quaking to the ground, Secured, firm as a rock, his hands behind him, And, having set a halter round his neck, Dragged him along the ground before the lines, With blood-foam on his lips, toward the camp, |p112 Dispatched him to the Shah's safe custody - That conquering monarch of the golden helm - And said: "Keep this man in the camp-enclosure In bonds and no wise think of slaying him Till we shall see how fortune will incline, And which side gain the day." Departing thence He led his whole host onward to the fray, And shouted to the troops: "Where is Kuhram, Whose flag is seen no more upon the right? Where is Kundur, the swordsman, too - that taker Of Lions who wits wont to pierce the mountains With spears and arrows? " They informed Arjasp:- "Asfandiyar, the hero, hath encountered Gurgsar in fight and ta'en him prisoner, Bold Lion though he was. The atmosphere Is violet-dim with swords of warriors, The banner blazoned with the wolf Lath vanished." That portent grieved Arjasp. He bade to bring The camels and then took the desert-route. He and his courtiers rode those lusty beasts, And led their chargers. Thus he left behind His army still upon the battlefield, While with his lords he fared toward Khallukh. Asfandiyar sent up a battle-shout, The mountain-top re-echoed at his voice. He shouted to the Iranians: "Brandish not Your scimitars of battle fruitlessly, But sheathe them in your foemen's hearts and blood, And pile on earth a mount Karun of slain." The troops, inspired with vengeance, gripped their saddles, And host encountered host. Dust, stones, and grass Were saturate with gore, and had a mill Been standing there the blood had driven it. |p113 The plain was all bestrewn with feet and trunks, With severed heads and fists still grasping swords, While still the cavaliers of war charged on, And gave themselves no time for pillaging. Now when the Turkmans heard: "Arjasp hath fled," The skins upon their bodies burst with grief; Those that had steeds betook themselves to flight, While all the rest threw down their casques and mail, And came in sorrow to Asfandiyar, Came with their eyes like spring. That mighty one Accorded quarter and then ceased to slay. He set a chief to guard them, and thenceforth Grieved not his grandsire's death. He and his troops Came to the Shah, breast, sword, and Ruman casque All blood; it glued the falchion to his hand, And his cuirass had galled him, chest and shoulder. They washed his hand and scimitar in milk, And drew the arrows from his mail, and then The atheling, triumphant and unharmed, Went forth and bathed him. Afterward he called For raiment meet for worshippers and sought The all-righteous Judge. Gushtasp, all fear and awe, Made for a week thanksgiving with his son Before the just Creator of the world. Upon the eighth day, when Asfandiyar Had come again, Gurgsar appeared before him, Despairing of sweet life, and all a-quake With terror like a willow in the wind, And said: "O prince ! my death will not renown thee; I will attend thee as a slave and ever Guide thee to good, abate all future ills, And show thee how to reach the Brazen Hold." The prince bade take Gurgsar bound handfand foot, Just as he was, back to the camp-enclosure, And went to the encampment of Arjasp - |p114 The slayer of Luhrasp - distributed The spoils midst horse and foot, committed all The captives taken to his chiefs, and slew Those that had given the army cause to rue. Par. 33 How Gushtasp sent Asfandiyar the second Time to fight Arjasp Asfandiyar, on his return to camp, Took counsel with the Shah about Luhrasp, And the revenge for Farshidward and all Those men renowned upon the day of battle. To him Gushtasp said: "Thou, 0 mighty man ! Rejoicest while thy sisters are in bondage. Oh ! happy they that died upon the field, Not Irantic with dishonour from the Turkmans ! When men behold me sitting on the throne What will my subjects say? So long as life Endureth I shall weep for this disgrace, And burn within my brain. By most high God, The Omnipotent, I pledge myself - if thou Shalt go without disaster to Turan, Courageously confront the Dragon's breath, And free thy sisters from the Turkmans, I Will yield to thee the crown of empire, treasure Which thou hast earned not, and the throne of greatness." Asfandiyar replied: "May none behold A time devoid of thee. I am a slave To thee, my sire ! I do not seek the kingship" And hold my soul and body as thy ransom. I am not fain to sit upon the throne And rule in person: I will go in quest Of vengeance on Arjasp, spare neither field |p115 Nor fell within Turan, and will restore My sisters from their bondage to their thrones All through the fortune of the exalted Shah, The master of the world." Gushtasp invoked A blessing on him, saying: "Now may wisdom Be with thee ever, in thy going forth May God protect thee, and the throne be thine On thy return." He called the host together From all parts where were warriors or archmages, And from among them chose twelve thousand men, All skilful cavaliers of high renown, Distributing to them a donative That well contented them. He furthermore Bestowed upon Asfandiyar a throne, And such a jewelled crown as monarchs use. Then from the portal of the royal court A shout rose: "Bring the princes' noble steeds. They bore the tent-enclosure to the plain, They bore the eagle-standard, and the host Marched out mid dust that gloomed the radiant sun. From palace plainward went Asfandiyar, And saw an army ready dight for war. |p116 The Story of the Seven Stages |p118 Par. 1 The Praise of Mahmud the great King The Seven Stages will I next set forth In words both novel and of dainty worth. Oh ! may the world's Shah live for ever, may Its potentates be slaves beneath his sway ! He showed his visage like bright Sol above, And graced the surface of the earth with love. Sol was in Aries when first he wore The crown, and East and West rejoiced therefore. The thunder-peal is rolling o'er the hills, And tulip and narcissus throng the rills, The patient tulip, arch narcissus, yea And awesome spikenard and pomegranate gay. The clouds have hearts of fire and tearful eyes, And bursts of anger mix with melodies. The levin flasheth and the waters leap Till at the din thou rousest from thy sleep. Thus wakened look abroad and call the scene Brocade or painted by Mani in Chin, A scene that, bright in sunshine, having spied The tulip and narcissus still wet-eyed, Will laugh and cry: "Ye minxes ! thus again I weep for love of you, not wrath or pain." |p119 Earth hath no laughter while the heaven is dry. I do not call our great king's hand the sky, Which only giveth forth its rains in spring, For such is not the usance of a king. As Sol, when it ariseth gloriously In Aries, such shall the Shah's hand be, For whensoe'er there cometh to his hand A wealth of pearls or musk from sea or land, The radiance that is his he doth not scant To proud-necked monarch and to mendicant. Abu'l Kasim ! our great Shah's hand is still Thus generous alike to good and ill. He never slackeneth in bounteousness, And never resteth on the day of stress, Delivereth battle when the times demand, And taketh heads of monarchs in his hand, But largesseth the humble with his spoils, And maketh no account of his own toils. Oh ! may Mahmud still rule the world, still be The source of bounty and of equity ! Now list to what an ancient sage hath told, And learn the legend of the Brazen Hold. THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 2 THE FIRST STAGE How Asfandiyar slew two Wolves A rustic bard hath spread the board and there Set forth " The Seven Stages " as the fare. He took within his hand a cup of gold, And of Gushtasp and of the Brazen Hold, And of the doings of Asfandiyar, |p120 His journey and the counsels of Gurgsar, Spake thus:-Now when embittered, tongue and soul, Asfandiyar reached Balkh he left his sire, And set out with Gurgsar toward Turan. He marched until he came where two roads met, And camped there with his host, bade spread the board, And furnish wine and harp and minstrelsy, While all the captains of the host drew near, And sat at table with the king of men, By whose directions presently Gurgsar, In miserable plight, was brought before him, And furnished with a golden goblet filled Four times successively. Thereafter said Asfandiyar to him: "Thou luckless one ! I will advance thee to the crown and throne, Will give thee all the kingdom of the Turkmans, And will exalt thee to the shining sun, As soon as I return victorious, If thou wilt tell me truly what I ask, Nor will I harm thy children, kith or kin; But if thou go about to utter lies In any way they will not pass with me, My sword shall cleave thee, and the hearts of all Shall tremble at thy fate." Gurgsar replied:- "0 famous, glorious Asfandiyar! From me the king shall hear naught but the truth, And be it thine to act the kingly part." "Where is the Brazen Hold," Asfandiyar Said, "for its marches march not with Iran? What roads are there to it? How many leagues? How can it be approached without mishap? Say too how many troops there are within it, And tell me what thou knowest of its height." "O kind and glorious Asfandiyar!" Gurgsar replied, "three roads lead hence to what |p121 Arjasp hath titled 'Battlestead.' One route Will take thy troops three months, the second two. The first hath water, grass, and towns, and chiefly Pertaineth to the chieftains of Turan. The second road, that which will take two months, Will furnish for the troops but little provand; There is no grass or water for the beasts, And thou wilt find no camping-grounds. The third Will occupy but seven days; the troops Will reach the Brazen Hold upon the eighth, But that road is all lions, wolves, and dragons, And none can scape their claws; yet mightier Than lion, wolf, and savage dragon are A witch's charms, who raiseth from the deep One to the moon and flingeth to the abyss Another headlong. There are wastes, Simurghs, And bitter frosts which rise like blasts and cut The trees. Then will appear the Brazen Hold, And none e'er saw, or heard of, such another. It toppeth the dark cloud-rack. Arms and troops Abound within it. Waters and a river - A sight to cheer the soul-environ it. The monarch crosseth to the plain by boat When he will hunt, but should he stay within For five score years the plain could furnish naught That he would need, because inside the hold Are tilth and pasture, fruit-trees and a mill." Asfandiyar, on hearing this, was troubled Awhile and sighed, but said: "There is no way For us save this; the short road is the best In this world," and Gurgsar retorted thus:- "0 king! none e'er by puissance and pains Hath made the passage of the Seven Stages Without foregoing life." The chieftain answered:- If thou art with me thou shaft see the heart |p122 And strength of Ahriman. What, sayest thou, Will meet me first? What must I fight for passage?" Gurgsar replied: "0 famed and fearless man ! Two wolves, each like a lusty elephant, A male and female, having horns like stags And all a-gog to make a fight of lions, Broad in the neck and breast and thin of flank, With monstrous elephants' tusks, first will confront thee." Asfandiyar then bade lead back Gurgsar Bound as he was in miserable plight, And blithe himself assumed his Kaian casque, And held his court. When Sol displayed its crown On high, and heaven showed earth its mysteries, The din of drums rose from the royal tent, Earth turned to iron, air to ebony, While in high spirits and with fair array The prince set forward toward the Seven Stages, And toward Turan. When he approached the First He chose a veteran among the host, A watchful man, hight Bishutan, who guarded The army from the foe, and said to him:- "Maintain good discipline among the troops. I am disturbed by what Gurgsar hath said, And will go on. If evil shall befall me It must not come upon my followers." He went and armed; they girthed his night-hued steed. The chief, when he had drawn anigh the wolves, Sat firmly like a mighty elephant. The wolves beheld his breast and neck, his waist, His warrior-handgrip, and his iron mace, And like grim elephants and keen for fight Made at him from the plain. The hero strung His bow and, roaring like a rending lion, |p123 Rained arrows down upon those Ahrimans, And hardily employed the horsemen's sleights. The steel-tipped shafts disabled both the beasts, And neither could approach unscathed. With joy Asfandiyar perceived them growing weak And sore distressed, unsheathed his watered glaive, And charged. He hacked-their heads and made the dust Mire with their blood, lit from his noble steed, Acknowledging his helplessness to God, And washed the wolves' gore from his arms and person, Then sought a spot that had not been defiled Upon the sand and turning toward the sun, With troubled heart and cheeks besmirched with dust, Exclaimed: "0 righteous Judge ! Thou hast bestowed Upon me strength, Grace, prowess. Thou hast laid These beasts upon the dust and to all good Art Guide." When Bishutan came with the host They saw the hero at the place of prayer. The warriors were astonied at his exploit, And all the troops thought: "Shall we call these wolves Or lusty elephants? May such a heart And sword and hand live ever ! Never may The throne of kingship, majesty, and feast, And host lack him." The wary warriors Approached and pitched the tent-enclosure round him; They set a golden board whereat to dine, Partook of victuals and called out for wine. |p124 THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 3 THE SECOND STAGE How Asfandiyar slew two Lions As for Gurgsar his portion was chagrin About those fierce wolves and Asfandiyar, Who bade the prisoner be brought before him. They brought him quaking, with his face all tears. The prince bestowed on him three cups of wine, And asked: "What wonder shall I next behold By thine account?" He answered thus the chief:- "O monarch crowned and leonine of heart ! Upon the next stage lions will assail thee, Such as no crocodile would dare encounter; The lusty eagle, valiant though it be, Will fly not in their path." Asfandiyar Laughed with light heart, and said: "O feckless Turkman! Tomorrow thou shalt see a valiant man Address the lion with the scimitar." When night grew dark the monarch gave command, And they resumed the march. He led the host Apace amid the gloom, blood in his eyes, Despite at heart, and when the sun had doffed Its dusky cloak and donned brocade of gold He reached the station for the brave - the plain Where he must fight the lions. He commanded That Bishutan should come to him, advised him At large, and said: "I go to fight in person, Committing this exalted host to thee." He went his way, and drawing near the lions Turned all the world to darkness in their hearts. |p125 There were a lion and a lioness, And bravely both came forth to fight with him, The lion first. He smote it with his sword; Its face grew coral-hued; 'twas cloven from head To midriff; which appalled the lioness, Yet, like her mate, she came on savagely. The chieftain emote her on the head, which fell And rolled upon the sand. Her paws and breast Were tulip-hued with blood. He bathed himself And, looking to all-holy God alone As his Protector, said: "O righteous Judge! Thou heat destroyed these creatures by my hand:' Meanwhile the troops camp up, and Bishutan Surveyed the lions' breasts and limbs while all Acclaimed Asfandiyar. That valiant leader Thereafter went to his pavilion where They served to that pure prince delicious fare. THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 4 THE THIRD STAGE How Asfandiyar slew a Dragon Asfandiyar then ordered to his presence The luckless and malevolent Gurgasar, Gave him three goblets filled with rosy wine, And, when the wine had cheered that Ahriman, Addressed him thus and said, "Ill-fated wretch Tell what thou knowest of tomorrow's sight." Gurgsar returned reply: "High-minded king May evil-doers ne'er approach to harm thee, Gone hast thou into battle like a fire, And made a shift to over-pass these bales, But know'st not what will come on thee tomorrow, Have mercy then upon thy wakeful fortune, |p126 For when tomorrow thou shalt reach the stage A greater task by far confronteth thee. There will encounter thee an awesome dragon, Whose breath doth draw forth from the deep the fish. A flame of fire proceedeth from its maw; Its body is a mountain made of flint. Now if thou wilt retrace thy steps 'tis well; My very soul is pleading in this counsel. Thou hast not any pity for thyself, And by that token came this host together." Asfandiyar replied: "Thou evil one! I mean to drag thee in thy chains with me To be a witness that this sharp-clawed dragon Escapeth not my trenchant scimitar." At his command some carpenters were fetched, And therewithal some long and heavy beams. He had a goodly wooden carriage built All set about with swords and with a box, Framed by a clever carpenter, whereon That seeker of the diadem sat down, And harnessed to the break two noble steeds' To put it to the proof. He drove awhile In mail, armed with a falchion of Kabul, And helmed for fight. Or ever all was ready For battle with the dragon night grew dark, As 'twere a negro's face, while Luna showed Her crown in Aries. Asfandiyar Gat on his steed Shulak; his noble host Marched after him. Next day when it was light, And night's black flag was furled, the heroic world-lord Assumed his breastplate and resigned the host To glorious Bishutan, had break and box, Wherein he sat, brought forth, attached two steeds Of noble stock, and sped toward the dragon. Afar it heard the rumble and beheld The prancing of the battle-steeds. It came, |p127 Like some black mountain, and thou wouldst have said:- The The sun and moon are darkened." Its two eyes Seemed fountains bright with blood, while from its gullet Fire issued, and like some dark cavern gaped Its jaws. It bellowed at Asfandiyar, Who, seeing the monster, drew his breath and turned To God for help. The horses strove to 'scape , The dragon's mischief, but it sucked them in, Them and the break, and in his box dismayed The warrior. In the dragon's gullet stuck The sword-blades, and blood poured forth like a sea; It could not free its gullet, for the swords Were sheathed within it. Tortured by the points And chariot the dragon by degrees Grew weak, and then the gallant warrior, Arising from the box, clutched his keen glaive With lion-grip and hacked the dragon's brains Till fumes of venom rising from the dust O'erpowered him; he tumbled mountain-like, And swooned away. Then Bishutan and all His mighty host came up in tears and grief Lest ill should have befallen Asfandiyar, The troops all wailed, dismounted, and advanced Afoot while Bishutan came hurrying, And poured rose-water o'er the hero's head. Now when the atheling had oped his eyes He thus addressed the exalted warriors:- "The venom's fumes o'ercame me, for the dragon Ne'er struck me." Rising from the ground like one Awakening from a drunken drowse he sought The water, plunged therein, and bathed, bespeaking A change of raiment from his treasurer. Then in the presence of all-holy God |p128 He wallowed in the dust and wept, exclaiming:- "Who could have slain that dragon if the World-lord Had not assisted him?" His soldiers too Bent to the earth and praised the righteous Judge; But thus to find alive Asfandiyar, Whom he thought dead, was grievous to Gurgsar, THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 5 THE FOURTH STAGE How Asfandiyar slew a Witch Asfandiyar pitched by the water-side His tent-enclosure while the troops camped round him. He set forth wine, called boon-companions, Rose to his feet, and drank to Shah Gushtasp, Commanding too to bring Gurgsar who came. Before him, quaking. Then Asfandiyar Gave him to drink three cups of royal wine, Spake laughingly with him about the dragon, And said: "Thou worthless fellow! now behold How with its breath that dragon sucked us in ! When I go forward for another stage What greater toils and troubles are in store?" Gurgsar replied. "0 conquering prince ! thou hast The fruit of thy good star. When thou alightest Tomorrow at the stage a witch will come To greet thee. She hath looked on many a host, But quailed at none. She turneth waste to sea At will and maketh sunset at mid day, Men call her Ghul, 0 Shah ! Face not her toils In these thy days of youth. Thou hast o'ercome The dragon; now turn back; thou shouldst not bring Thy name to dust." The atheling replied:- |p129 "Tomorrow, knave ! thou shall recount my prowess, For I will break the warlocks' backs and hearts, So will I maul that witch, and trample down Their heads by might of Him, the one just God." When day donned yellow weeds, and this world's Lustre Sank in the west, he marched on, packed the loads, With prayer to God, the Giver of all good, And led the army onward through the night. When Sol had raised its golden casque, begemming The Ram's face, and the Champaign was all smiles, The prince gave up the host to Bishutan, And took a golden goblet filled with wine, Called for a costly lute and, though he went To battle, dight himself its for a feast. He had in view a wood like Paradise; Thou wouldst have said: "The sky sowed tulips there." The sun saw not within it for the trees, And streamlets like rose-water flowed around. He lighted from his steed as seemed him good, And, having chosen him a fountain's marge Within the forest, grasped the golden goblet. Now when his heart was gladdened with the wine The hero took the lute upon his lap, And out of all the fulness of his heart Began to troll this ditty to himself:- "Oh! never is it mine to see Both wine and one to quaff with me, But mine 'tie ever to behold The lion and the dragon bold, And not, from bales' clutch, liberty. Tis not my lot to look upon On earth some glorious fay-cheeked one, Yet now if God will but impart A winsome breaker of the heart The longing of mine own is won." |p130 Now when she heard Asfandiyar the witch Grew like a rose in springtide, saying thus:- "The mighty Lion cometh to the toils With robe and lute and goblet filled with wine." Foul, wrinkled, and malevolent she plied Her magic arts amid the gloom and grew As beauteous as a Turkinan maid, with cheek As 'twere brocade of Chin and musk-perfumed, Of cypress-height, a sun to look upon, With musky tresses falling to her feet. Her cheeks like rosaries, she drew anear Asfandiyar, with roses in her breast. The atheling, when he beheld her face, Plied song and wine and harp more ardently, And said: "O just and only God ! Thou art Our Guide upon the mountain and the waste. I wanted even now a fay-faced maid Of beauteous form as my companion; The just Creator hath bestowed her on me, Oh ! may my heart and pure soul worship Him." He plied her with musk-scented wine and made Her face a tulip-red. Now he possessed A goodly chain of steel which he had kept Concealed from her. Zarduhsht, who brought it down From Paradise for Shah Gushtasp, had bound it About the prince's arm. Asfandiyar Flung it around her neck; her strength was gone; She took a lion's form. The atheling. Made at her with his scimitar, and said:- "Thou wilt not injure me though thou hast reared An iron mountain. Take thy proper shape, For now the answer that I make to thee Is with the scimitar." Within the chain There was a fetid hag, calamitous, |p131 With head and hair like snow, and black of face. With trenchant sword he smote her on the head, Which with her body came down to the dust. Sight failed, so loured the sky when that witch died, While blast and black cloud veiled the sun and moon. The atheling clomb to a hill and shouted As 'twere a thunder-clap. Then Bishutan Came quickly with the host, and said: "Famed prince! No crocodile or witch, wolf, pard and lion, Can stand thy blows, and by that token thou Wilt be exalted still. Oh! may the world Desire thy love!" The head-piece of Gurgsar Flamed at these triumphs of Asfandiyar. THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 6 THE FIFTH STAGE How Asfandiyar slew the Simurgh The atheling laid face upon the ground Awhile before the Maker of the world, Then pitched his camp-enclosure in the wood. They spread the board in fitting mode and then Asfandiyar gave orders to the deathsman:- "Bring hither in his bonds that wretch Gurgsar." They brought him to the prince who, seeing him, Gave him three cups of royal wine. Now when The ruddy wine had gladdened him thus said Asfandiyar: "Thou wretched Turkman ! mark Upon the tree the head of that old witch, 'Who turneth,' so thou saidst, 'the plain to sea, And doth exalt her o'er the Pleiades.' And now what marvel shall I see next stage, |p132 Judged by the standard of this witch?" He answered:- "0 Elephant of war in battle-time! Upon this stage thou hast a harder task Be more than ever cautious and alert. Thou wilt behold a mount, with head in air, And thereupon a bird imperious, One like a flying mountain, combative, And called Simurgh by merchants. With its claws It beareth off the elephant at sight, The pard on land, the crocodile from water, And feeleth not the effort. Weigh it not With wolf and witch. Upon its mountain-horns It hath two young, their wills to hers affined, And when it flieth the earth is impotent, The sun is put to shame. 'Twill profit thee To turn back for thou canst not strive against Simurgh and mountain-height." The hero laughed. "A wonder ! " he exclaimed. "I will sew up Its shoulders with mine arrows, cleave its breast With Indian scimitar, and bring its head From height to dust." When bright Sol showed its back, Which ruffled all the bosom of the west, The chief of warriors led the army forth, And pondered that account of the Simurgh. Thus he and host fared onward all the night. Whenas the shining sun rose o'er the mountains The Lamp of time gave freshness to the earth, Transforming dale and plain. Asfandiyar Gave up the army to its chief and took To steed and box and break. He sped along, Like an imperious blast, and spying in air A peak stayed in its shadow break and steed, |p133 Absorbed in contemplation. The Simurgh Marked from the mount the box, the troops behind it, And all their trumpeting, and, swooping down Like some dark cloud obscuring sun and moon, Essayed to seize the chariot with its talons, As leopard seizeth quarry, but transfixed Its legs and pinions with the swords, and all Its might and glory passed away. It beat Awhile with claws and beak while strength remained, And then was still. On seeing this its young Flew off with screams and weeping tears of blood Down from the eyry, blurring every eye Beneath their shade. When the Simurgh thus sank With all its wounds and bathed steeds, box, and break In blood, Asfandiyar, all armed and shouting, Emerged and hewed to pieces with his sword That bird now mastered, once so masterful; Then prayed thus to the Maker who had given Such mastery to him in good and ill, And said: "0 righteous Judge ! Thou hast bestowed Upon me wisdom, puissance, and prowess, Hast driven out the sorcerers and been My Guide to every good." With that arose The sound of clarions, and Bishutan Set forward with the host. None could behold The desert for the bird, but only saw Its form and talons bathed in blood which covered The earth from range to range, and thou wouldst say "The plain was lost in plumes! " Men saw the prince Blood-boltered, 'twas a sight to fray the moon, And all the captains, cavaliers of war, And mighty men applauded him. Anon Gurgsar heard tidings of that famed chief's triumph, Quaked, paled, and fared with tears and heart all anguish. |p134 The world's king had the tent-enclosure pitched, His joyous warriors round him. Then to dine They spread brocade, took seat, and called for wine. THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 7 THE SIXTH STAGE How Asfandiyar passed through the Snow Asfandiyar, the illustrious prince, then bade Gurgsar to come and gave him in succession Three cups of wine whereat his checks became Like bloom of fenugreek, and then the prince Addressed him: "Miscreant in mind and body ! Observe the doings of this whirling world ! Evanished are Simurgh and lion, wolf And dragon sharp of claw and valorous!" Gurgsar then lifted up his voice and said:- "0 famous, glorious Asfandiyar God is thy Helper, 0 most fortunate ! The royal Tree hath come to fruit; howbeit Tomorrow there confronteth thee a task That none in war expecteth. Thou wilt take No thought of mace or bow or sword, and see No opening for fight, no way of flight, For snow, a spear's length deep, will come upon thee, A crisis will confront thee, thou with all Thy famous army wilt be lost therein, 0 glorious Asfandiyar ! No marvel If thou turn back, nor need my words offend thee; Thou wilt be guiltless of this army's blood, And quit this road for other. Sure am I That earth will rive beneath a mighty blast, The trees be levelled. E'en if thou shalt make At last thy way through to the plain beyond The next stage will be thirty leagues across, |p135 An arid wilderness of dust and sand, Which birds and ants and locusts traverse not. Thou wilt not see a drop of water there; Its soil is ever seething with the sun. A lion cannot pass that sandy waste, Nor swift-winged vulture fly across the sky. No herbage groweth in the arid soil, And that is tutty-like, all shifting sands. Thus wilt thou fare along for forty leagues; Men's souls will fail and horses lose all heart. Thy host then will approach the Brazen Hold, Which thou wilt find upon no fruitful spot. Its soil is in the maw of poverty; Its summit holdeth conclave with the sun. Outside the castle beasts look not for food, The army will not have a horseman left. Though there should come a hundred thousand men, Sword-wielders from Iran and from Turan, And should beleaguer it a hundred years, And shower arrows there, it recketh not How many enemies or few there be; They are but as a knocker on the door." The Iranians heard Gurgsar, were pained, and said:- "0 noble prince ! forbear with all thy might To compass thine own ruin. If things are As said Gurgsar we cannot blink that we Came hither to our death and not to wreck The Turkmans. Thou hast traversed this rough road, And 'scaped disaster from wild beasts. Not one Of all our warriors and heroic Shahs Can reckon up so great a tale of toils As thou hast met with in these Seven Stages. So thank the Maker for it all, and since Thou wilt return victorious thou mayst go Light-hearted to the Shah, while if thou marchest |p136 To war elsewhere the whole state of Iran Will homage thee. So, as Gurgsar saith, hold not Thy person cheaply and involve not all A host in slaughter, for this ancient sky Will play now tricks. Now that we are triumphant And glad there is no need for thee to fling Thine own head to the winds." On hearing this That young, heroic paladin replied "Why fray me thus and open for yourselves The door of terror? Came ye from Iran To counsel then and not for high renown? If this was then the mind of all of you Why did ye gird yourselves to fare with me Since at this miserable Turkman's words Ye tremble like a tree? Where then are all The counsels and the presents of the Shah, The golden girdles, thrones, and diadems, Where all your oaths, your bonds, and covenants By God 'neath favouring stars that now your feet Should falter thus and one march wreck your plans? Turn back then happy and victorious, But as for me may I seek naught but fight. The World-lord is my conquering ally, And fortune's head reclineth on my breast. Now by my manhood I will none of you As comrades whether I am slain or slay, And by my manhood, might of hand, and triumph Will show the foe what prowess is. Withal Ye shall not lack for tidings of my Grace Imperial, famed, and that which I have wrought In His name, who is Lord of Sun and Saturn, Upon this stronghold by my might and manhood." The Iranians looked upon Asfandiyar, Beheld his eyes all wrath, and went before him To make excuses: "Let the prince forgive |137 Our fault if he see fit. Oh ! may our souls And bodies be thy ransom, such hath been, And will remain, our covenant with thee. We grieve for thee, O prince! Our toil and strife Have not reduced us to extremities, And, while a chief surviveth, none of us Will shrink from fight." Their leader, hearing this, Grieved for his words and praised the Iranians. "Prowess," He said, "will show itself. If we return Victorious we shall enjoy the fruits Of our past toil; it will not be forgotten, And your own treasuries shall not be void." The prince took counsel till the world grew cool, And zephyrs wafted from the mountain-top, Then trump and clarion sounded from the court-gate, And all the host set forward, sped like fire, And called upon the Maker. When the dawn Rose o'er the mountain-tops, and night drew o'er Her head her filmy wimple as a veil Against the blazing sun which pressed behind, That mighty host - all mace-men clad in armour - Reached their next stage. It was a glorious day In spring, a day to gladden heart and world. The prince bade pitch the tent and tent-enclosure, Then had the board spread and the wine brought forth. With that there came a fierce blast from the mountains, And sore dismayed him. All the world became Like ravens' plumes, and none knew plain from upland. From that dark cloud descended showers of snow; The earth was filled with snow and raging blast, And o'er the desert for three days and nights The fury of the wind was measureless. The tents and tent-enclosure were soaked through, And not a man could stand or stir for cold. |p138 The air was woof, the snow was like the warp; The chief, resourceless, called to Bishutan:- "This plight of ours is one with misery. I met the dragon's fumings like a man, But strength and manhood now avail us not. Make supplication, all of you, to God ! Call ye upon Him, offer to Him praise, That He may cause these ills to pass from us, Else we are naught henceforth." Then Bishutan Made prayer to God, who is the Guide to good, While all the soldiers lifted up their hands, And offered supplications numberless. Thereon a gentle breeze arose which bare The clouds away and heaven became serene, And when the Iranians had taken heart They offered thanks to God. They stayed three days And, when the world's Light shone upon the fourth, The leader called the officers to him, And apake to them at large and graciously:- "Leave baggage here and take but gear of war. Let every chief that hath a hundred beasts Load half of them with water and supplies, The other half with means of serving them. Leave all the other baggage here, for now The door of God is opened unto us. When any man hath lost all hope in God His portion of success is small indeed; But we by help of God shall overcome That evil-doer and idolater, While ye shall be the richer for yon hold, And all have crowns and treasures." When the sun Drew o'er its head its yellow veil, and when The west became like flower of fenugreek, The warriors, having loaded up the beasts, |p139 Marched with the king of men. Now in the night A sound of cranes came from the sky above. Asfandiyar was wrathful at the sound, And sent this message to Gurgsar: "Thou said'st:- There is no water for thee on this stage, Nor rest nor sloop withal.' Yet cranes give note Above ! Why didst thou make us dread a drought? " Gurgsar replied: "The baggage-beasts will get But brackish water here, and thou wilt find The fountains poisonous, though birds and beasts Use them." The chief said: "In Gurgsar have I A hostile guide." He bade the host proceed. Invoking God they hurried on at speed. THE SEVEN STAGES OF ASFANDIYAR Par. 8 THE SEVENTH STAGE How Asfandiyar crossed the River and slew Gurgsar When one watch of the darksome night had passed There rose a clamour from the plain in front. The young prince, smiling on his charger, rode Forth from the centre of the army vanward. When he had ridden past the troops he saw A deep, unfathomed river. Now a camel, One of the caravan whose cameleer Had kept it in the front, had tumbled in. The chieftain seized and dragged it from the mud, And that malignant Turkman of Chigil quaked. At the bidding of the prince he came - That fell Gurgsar - both seared of heart and fettered. "Base villain ! " said the prince, "why hast thou used This snake-like subtlety? Didst thou not say |p140 'Here thou wilt find no water, and the sun Will burn thee up'? Why didst thou make out water To be but dust and wouldst have wrecked the host, Thou miscreant? " He said: "Thy host's destruction Would be as bright to me as sun and moon. I get from thee but fetters; what should I Wish but thy bale and loss?" The chieftain laughed, Stared, was amazed at him, but showed no wrath, And said: "Gurgsar, thou man of little wit! When I return victorious from the fight Thou shall be captain of the Brazen Hold Far be from me to harm thee. All the realm Is thine if thou wilt give me honest counsel. I will not hurt thy children, kith, or kin." Gurgsar grew hopeful at the words. In wonder He kissed the ground and asked to be forgiven. The prince replied: "Thy words are passed, but water Hath not been turned to land by thy wild talk. Where is the ford? Thou must direct us right." Gurgsar rejoined: "No arrow plumed and pointed, When ironed thus, can find its way across. Thou shalt work magic with the mighty stream If thou wilt but unfetter me." The hero Astonished bade to loose him, and Gurgsar, When he had seized a camel by the halter, Descended to the stream and at a spot That was within his depth essayed the passage. The soldiers followed him in single file. Inflating at Asfandiyar's behest Their water-skins forthwith, and binding them Along the barrels of their beasts of burden, They all plunged in. The host and baggage reached Land, and reforming to the left and right |p141 Marched till the Brazen Hold was ten leagues off. The captain of the host sat down to meat, The slaves attended him with cups of wine And, at that mighty Lion's bidding, brought His tunic, helmet, coat of mail, and sword. In merry pin the hero gave command, And when they brought Gurgsar thus said to him:- "Now that thou hast escaped calamity Good words and truthful will become thee well. When I behead Arjasp and make rejoice The spirit of Luhrasp; when I behead Kuhram, who slaughtered Farshidward and troubled My soldiers' hearts; behead Andariman, Who slaughtered eight and thirty of our chiefs When he prevailed; when for my grandsire's death I take revenge in all ways; when I make The lions' maws their tombs and gratify The Iranian warriors' lust; when I stitch up Their livers with mine arrows and take captive Their wives and children, shall I call then glad Or grieved thereat? Tell all thy heart to me." Heart-straitened, hostile both in speech and soul, Gurgsar retorted: "How long wilts thou use Such converse? Be accursed and justly so. May every evil star control thy life, Thy waist be cut asunder with the sword, Thy gory body flung upon the dust, The earth thy bed, the grave thy winding-sheet." Roused by his words, and raging at the oaf, The prince smote with an Indian sword his head, And clave him, crown to midriff. To the river They flung him presently, and that malignant Grew food for fishes. Then Asfandiyar Gat on his steed, girt up his warrior-loins In wrath, and mounted on a height to view The hold. He saw a mighty iron rampart |p142 Extending over forty leagues by three, But saw not any earth or water there. The wall was broad enough for cavaliers To gallop round upon it four abreast. Whenas Asfandiyar beheld that wonder He heaved a sigh, and said: "I cannot capture A place like that ! I suffer for my sins. Alas for all my fighting and my toil ! Repentance is the only fruit thereof." He looked around upon the waste and saw Two Turkmans coursing with four hounds. Descending With spear in hand he unhorsed both the Turkmans, Brought them upon the heights and questioned them:- "What is this splendid hold? How many horsemen Are there within?" They told about Arjasp At large and of the hold. "Observe," they said, "How long and wide it is ! One gate is toward Iran and one toward Chin, while m it are A hundred thousand swordsmen - all renowned, Exalted cavaliers - yet all of them Are slaves before Arjasp and bow the head To his command and counsel. There is provand fast all compute with stores of grain in case Fresh food should fail, while if the monarch closed The gates for ten years there is food enough, Great though his host is, while, if he so willed, A hundred thousand noble cavaliers Would come to him from Chin and from Machin. He hath no need of aught from any one, For he possesseth provand and defenders." They spake. His Indian sword the chieftain drew, And put to death the simple-minded two. |p143 Par. 9 How Asfandiyar went to the Brazen Hold in the Guise of a Merchant Thence he departed to his camp-enclosure. They cleared the place of strangers, Bishutan Came to Asfandiyar, and they discussed The war. That warrior said: "We might assail This hold in vain for years unless indeed I take upon me to demean myself, And try a stratagem against the foe. Be thou upon the watch here night and day, And guard the army from the enemy. A man, I wean, is held in high esteem, And worthy of a realm and lofty throne, Who feareth not a host of enemies In battle, pard on mount or crocodile In water, but proceedeth now by craft And now by force, whiles mounting, whiles descending. I shall approach the hold in merchants' guise, And none will know me for a paladin. All craft will I employ and con all lore. Dispense not thou with watchmen and with scouts, And never let thy vigilance relax. If in the day the watch shall spy a smoke, Or in the night a bonfire like the sun, The Lustre of the world, then be assured That 'tis my doing, not my foeman's ruse; So order thou the army and march hence, With coat of mail, with helm, and massive mace; Set up my flag without delay and take Thy station at the centre of the host; Charge with the ox-head mace, and bear thee so That folk will hail thee as Asfandiyar." He called the head-man of the cameleers, |p144 Caused him to kneel to Bishutan, and said:- "Bring me a hundred beasts with ruddy hair, Beasts fit to carry burdens, sound and strong." Ten of these beasts he loaded up with gold, Upon five more he put brocade of Chin, Another five had various kinds of gems, A golden throne and massive crown. He brought Forth eighty pairs of chests, whose fastenings Were all concealed from sight, and therewithal Made choice of eight score of his mighty men - Such men as would not make his purpose known - And, having hidden them within the chests, Bound on the baggage and set forth. He bade Some twenty of his nobles skilled in sword-play To take the conduct of the caravan, And turned these nobles into cameleers. With slippered feet, a blanket thrown about him, And freighted with the jewels, gold, and silver, The chieftain went in haste toward the hold, And journeyed in the guise of chafferers. He led the way, and when the sound of bells Rose from the caravan the chiefs inside The hold grew ware of it, held talk at large, Were all a-gog, and said: "A merchantman, Who selleth at dinar's worth for a drachm, Hath come." The dealers and the nobles went To buy, and asked the owner: "What hast thou Of use within these bales?" He made reply:- "The first thing is for me to see your king, And show my wares to him. When he commandeth I will display them to your eyes." He loaded |p145 One of the camels and himself proceeded To see how he could make his market quickly. He took a goblet filled with royal gems, And many a piece of gold to give in largess, Some signets set with ruby and with turquoise, A steed, and ten bales of brocade of Chin. He draped the goblet in a piece of silk, Perfumed throughout with musk and spicery, He donned a dress of beautiful brocade, Sought for an introduction to Arjasp, And at the interview strewed gold, and said:- "May wisdom mate with kings! A merchant! My sire was Turkman and my mother Persian. I purchase from Turan, bear to Iran, And also to the desert of the brave. I have with me a caravan of camels, And deal in stuff's, in clothes, and furniture, In jewels, crowns, and other valuables. I left my goods outside the hold, assured That all are safe with thee. If thou wilt let The cameleers conduct the caravan Within the hold thy fortune will protect me From every ill, and I shall sleep beneath The shadow of thy love." Arjasp replied:- "Be happy and secure from every ill; No one shall do thee hurt within Turan, Nor when thou goest to Machin and Chin." At his command they gave Asfandiyar Within the Brazen Hold a spacious dwelling - A warehouse with a mansion at its back - And thither brought the baggage from the plain That he might make the warehouse a bazar, And keep his goods in safety. They departed, And led the camels, after loading them. |p146 A shrewd man asked: "What is inside the chests? A cameleer replied: "Our wits, for we Must carry there themselves." Asfandiyar Prepared the warehouse, decking it to look Like flowers in spring. On all side buyers sprang up, And there was busy trafficking within it. The night passed by. At dawn Asfandiyar Went to the palace to the king, there kissed The ground before him, praised him much, and said "I and my cameleers have made all haste To bring the caravan and baggage in, And there are crowns and bracelets suitable For an exalted king, so let him bid His treasurer inspect my stock, for all The warehouse is in order. I shall be Content if he will take what seemeth best, The king's part is acceptance and the merchant's Excuse and praise." Arjasp smiled, showed him favour, Assigned him a more honourable seat, And asked: "What is thy name?" He said: "Kharrad, A merchant, traveller, and well to do." The king replied: "O noble man ! concern not Thyself with more excuses. Ask no longer, For audience through the chamberlain, but come Before me when thou wilt." He then inquired About the labours of the road, Iran, The Shah, and host. Asfandiyar replied:- "My journey hath been five months' pain and toil." The king said: "In Iran what tidings were there Both of Asfandiyar and of Gurgsar?" He said: "My gracious lord! folk speak of them, |p147 Each as his fancy is: 'Asfandiyar,' Said one, 'is in revolt for injuries Inflicted by his sire.' Another said:- 'He is advancing by the Seven Stages In haste to fight Arjasp; he will attempt War with Turan and boldly seek revenge.'" Arjasp replied with smiles: "No man of age And knowledge of the world would talk like that! If vultures e'en approach the Seven Stages Then call me Ahriman and not a man." The warrior heard and, having kissed the ground, Came from the palace of Arjasp rejoicing, Then opening the noted warehouse-doors He filled the hold with din of chaffering, And seemed so occupied that he deceived The eyes of all. Scarce for dinars took he The worth of drachms and traded recklessly. Par. 10 How the Sisters of Asfandiyar recognised him Now when the bright sun set and buying ceased The sisters of Asfandiyar descended Lamenting from the palace to the street, And bearing water-jars upon their shoulders. They came heart-broken and in deep dejection Toward Asfandiyar who, when he saw That monstrous spectacle, concealed from view His features from his sisters, for his heart Misdoubted how they might comport themselves, And so he hid his face behind his sleeve. They both drew near him and the cheeks of each Were running with the torrents from their eyes. The hapless ones began to question him - That wealthy man of merchandise - and said:- |p148 "May all thy days and, nights be prosperous, The nobles be before thee as thy slaves What tidings hast thou from Iran, brave chief ! Both of Gushtasp and of Asfandiyar? We twain, the daughters of the king of kings, Are captives in the hands of wicked men, And carry water, bare-foot and unveiled. Our sire hath merry days and peaceful nights, While we fare naked in the throng. How blest Is she that hath a shroud to cover her ! The tears that we are shedding are of blood Be our physician and relieve our pain. If thou canst tell us aught of Shah and home Our bane here will be changed to antidote." He gave a cry beneath his robe that made The damsels shake with terror: thus he said:- "I would that there were no Asfandiyar, And no one in the world to care for him. Would there were no Gushtasp, that unjust Shah May crown and girdle never see his like! Perceive ye not that I am trading here, And toiling that I may support myself? " When glorious Humai had heard his voice She recognised him and took heart again, But, though she recognised his voice, she kept The knowledge to herself and stood before him As stricken to the heart as theretofore, And pouring down the tear-drops on her cheeks. Her feet and countenance were foul with dust, Her soul was filled with terror of Arjasp. The gentle warrior saw that Humai Had recognised him and he thereupon Revealed his countenance, his tearful eyes, His heaving breast, and visage like the sun. The process of the world astonished him, He bit his lips in dudgeon and addressed |p149 His sisters thus: "Restrain your tongues awhile, For hither have I come to war and win Renown by toil. Can any's sleep be sweet Whose daughter is a water-bearing slave? May heaven father, and earth mother, her This lot I praise not I." The young man left The warehouse, hurried to Arjasp, and said:- "O king! be happy, master of the world, And live for ever. While upon my journey I chanced upon a deep sea all unknown To merchantmen. A whirlwind rose thereon; The boatman said: 'I mind me of no like.' On board we all were wretched and in tears, Consuming for our persons and our lives. I swore by God, the one and only Judge:- If I escape from this with life to shore Then will I hold a feast in every realm That hath a monarch to rule over it, Invite all cordially to be my guests, And pour my very soul out for their sakes. I will give more or less to all who ask, And hold the mendicant exceeding dear.' Now let the monarch show me special favour, And honour this request of mine today; I have arranged to make his army's chiefs - Those whom the world's king honoureth - my guests, And by so doing set my mind at ease." Arjasp, that witless man, was well content On hearing this; his head was filled with folly. He bade: "Let every one of high degree, And all the noblest of the army, visit The dwelling of Kharrad today as guests, And, if he giveth wine, bemuse yourselves: Then said Asfandiyar: "King, hero, sage The high-priest and the ruler of the world |p150 My house is small, thy palace is too grand. The rampart of the hold will do for us; 'Tis early summer. I will light a fire, And glad the nobles' hearts with wine." Arjasp Said: "Go the way that pleaseth thee; the host Is king at home." The paladin rejoicing Conveyed a mass of firewood to the ramparts. They slaughtered steeds and sheep, and carried them Up to the summit of the hold. The wood Sent up a smother that obscured the sky. He brought forth wine and, when they had partaken, Each reveller became a slave thereto. The chiefs all left bemused; to steady them, While in their cups, each clutched a narciss-stem. Par. 11 How Bishutan assaulted the Brazen Hold The night came and a conflagration blazed, Whose burning scorched the sky. When from the look-out The watchman saw the flames by night, and day Made thick with smoke, he left his post and came Exultingly, and " mated to the wind," Thou wouldst have said. On reaching Bishutan He told what he had seen of fire and fume. Said Bishutan: "A valiant warrior In courage passeth elephants and lions." He sounded corn-pipe, flute, and brazen cymbal; The blare of trumpets went up from his door. The army from the plain approached the hold, And bright Sol Bloomed with dust. The troops were all In mail and helm, their livers seethed with blood. |p151 When news spread in the hold: "A host hath come, And all the world is hidden by dark dust," The place rang with the name "Asfandiyar"; The tree of bale was bearing colocynth. Arjasp armed for the fray and rubbed his hands Together vehemently. "Let Kuhram, The lion-catcher," thus he bade, "take troops, Mace, scimitar, and shaft." He told Turkhan:- "Exalted chief! speed forth with troops for fight. Take thou ten thousand of the garrison, All men of name and battle-loving swordsmen, Discover who are our antagonists, And why it is that they attack us thus." Turkhan, the chief, with an interpreter Went in all haste to that side of the hold. He saw a host equipped with arms and armour, Their flag a leopard on a sable ground. Their leader Bishutan was at the centre, And all his troops' hands had been bathed in blood. He held Asfandiyar's own mace and rode A noble steed; he seemed to be none other Than brave Asfandiyar, and there was none But hailed him monarch of Iran. He ranked The troops to right and left till none saw daylight. Such were the blows of spears with flashing points That thou hadst said: "Blood runneth from the clouds." The forces on both sides advanced to battle, All who were men of war and loved the fray. Then Nush Azar, the swordsman, galloped forth, And offered combat to the enemy. The noble chief Turkhan went out to him To bring his head down trunkless to the ground. When Nush Azar beheld him on the field He clapped his hand upon his sword and drew it; He cut Turkhan asunder at the waist, |p152 And filled Kuhram's heart with dismay and anguish; Then in like fashion fell upon the centre, Where great and small were all alike to him, Thus those two armies battled, each with each, While dust collected in a cloud above them. In full flight from the host the chief Kuhram Made for the hold, and said before his sire:- "0 famous monarch, glorious as the sun ! A mighty host hath come forth from Iran; Their leader is a doughty warrior, Who by his stature is Asfandiyar. None like him hath approached the hold before. He beareth in his hand the spear which thou Beheld'st him grasping at fort Gumbadan." The words distressed the heart of king Arjasp, Because the old feud had revived again. He gave the Turkmans orders: "Go Ye forth Upon the plain in mass, surround the foe, Roar like great lions, let none live, and name not Iran again." The soldiers marched away With wounded hearts and eager for the fray. Par. 12 How Asfandiyar slew Arjasp Asfandiyar, when night was growing dark, Arrayed himself again in fighting-gear, Undid the chest-lids that more air might come To those inside, and brought kabab and wine With other provand, battle-mail, and raiment. When they had eaten he supplied to each Three cups of wine, which gladdened them, and said:- |p153 "This night is one of bale. Hence we may well Win fame. Put forth your powers. Quit you like men, And from calamities make God your refuge." Then of those warriors adventurous He formed three troops, one in the stronghold's midst To combat any that they met, the second To move upon the gate and take no rest From strife and bloodshed, while he told the third:- "I must not find hereafter any trace Of those that revelled with me yesternight, So take your daggers and behead them all." He went with twenty valiant men of war In haste, committing to them other work, Went boldly to the palace of Arjasp, Arrayed in mail and roaring like a lion. Humai, when these shouts reached her in the palace, Came rushing with her sister Bih Afrid, Their cheeks all hid by tears, to meet the chiefs. Asfandiyar perceived that spring - like pair As he approached. "Like flying dust-clouds speed," Thus spake that lion-man, "to my bazar With all its wealth, for 'tis upon my way, And wait till in this fight I lose my head Or win a crown." This said, he turned from them, And vengeful sought the palace of Arjasp. He entered with an Indian sword in hand, And slaughtered all the nobles that he saw. The audience-chamber of that famous court Was blocked, its floor was like a billowing sea, So many were the wounded, stunned, and slain. Arjasp awoke, was troubled at the din, Arose in fury, donned his coat of mail And Ruman helm, a bright glaive in his hand, The war-cry on his lips and rage at heart. Asfandiyar rushed from the palace-gate, |p154 And, clutching with his hand a glittering sword, Cried to Arjasp: "Now will this merchantman Supply thee with a sword that cost dinars. I give it as a present from Luhrasp, And on it is impressed Gushtasp's own seal. When thou shalt take it thine heart's blood will flow, And thy next stage will be beneath the dust." They closed in strife outrageous, foot to foot With sword and dagger, striking whiles at waist And whiles at head. Arjasp failed 'neath the blows; He was a mass of wounds; his huge form sank, And then Asfandiyar behoaded him. Such is the fashion of life's changeful day Thou hast by turns its sweetness and its bane. Why dote upon this Hostel by the Way? Grieve not, thou canst not, as thou know'st, remain. Asfandiyar, freed from Arjasp, commanded To kindle torches and to fire the palace He raised its reek to Saturn. Having charged The eunuchs with the womenfolk he carried Them all away - the Lustre of the place - And set a seal upon the treasury-door, No one opposing him. He sought the stables, He mounted there with Indian sword in hand, And of the Arab horses bade his men To saddle such as liked him. There went forth A cavalcade of eight score warriors, Approven horsemen on the day of battle. He furnished mounts, moreover, for his sisters, And marched forth from the court-gate of Arjasp, But left a few Iranians, men of name, With noble Sawa in the hold. "When we," He said, "have gone outside the walls, have gone, I and my noble warriors, to the plain, Secure the gate against the Turkman troops, And may my good star aid me. When ye think |p155 That I have joined our noble troops outside, Then let the watchmen from the look-out cry:- 'Blessed be the head and crown of Shlih Gushtasp.' And when the Turkman troops come toward the hold, In flight retreating from the battlefield, Then ye shall throw the head of king Arjasp Before them from the tower of the watch." The valiant hero rushed upon the plain, And slaughtered all the Turkmans that he found. As he approached the troops of Bishutan They saw and praised him in amaze that he, Who was so young, should show such bravery. Par. 13 How Asfandiyar slew Kuhram Whenas the moon had left her silvern throne, And when three watches of the night had passed, The watchman shouted lustily, proclaiming:- "Gushtasp, the Shah, hath gained the victory, And may Asfandiyar be ever young. May heaven, moon, and fortune be his helpers, Who hath in vengeance for Luhrasp beheaded Arjasp and, adding lustre to our Grace And customs, cast him down from throne to dust, And made the name and fortune of Gushtasp Resplendent." Hearing such a cry the Turkmans All listened while Kuhram grew dark of heart By reason of that watchman, was astonied, And spake thus to Andariman: "How clear This cry is in the night ! What, sayest thou, Can be the cause? Let us consult, for who Would dare to bawl thus by the monarch's couch And after dark? What tricks might such an one |p156 Play in the day of battle and thus bring Our nobles into straits ! So send and have His head cut off, whoever he may be. If one of our own household is our foe, And he is backing up our enemies With evil words and evil presages, Then will we brain him with an evil mace." Now when the cry went on persistently Kuhram was stricken to the heart with anger Against the watch whose utterance, spread abroad In such a fashion, filled the nobles' ears. The soldiers said: "The shouts increase, beyond A watchman's ! Let us drive the foemen forth And after take this host." Kuhram was straitened At heart about that watchman, writhed, and frowned. He told the troops: "These men have filled my heart With dread about the king. We must return At once, past question. What may happen after I know not." So that night they left the field, Whereat Asfandiyar, with ox-head mace And mailed, pursued them. When Kuhram had reached The portal of the hold, and saw the Iranians Pursuing, "What is left us," he exclaimed, "Unless to fight with brave Asfandiyar? Unsheathe and send your message by the sword." But fortune frowned and those famed chiefs fared ill. The two hosts raged and smote each other's heads Till morning came, and then the chiefs of Chin Had had their day. Ascending to the ramparts The warriors of Asfandiyar inside |p157 The hold flung down therefrom the severed head Of brave Arjasp - the king that slew Luhrasp. The Turkmans fought no longer, from their host Arose a cry, and all the troops unhelmed. The two sons of Arjasp wept and consumed As in fierce fire, while all the army knew What they must weep for on that evil day. They said: "Alas! thou gallant heart, thou prince, Thou chief of lions, hero, warrior May he who slew thee perish on the field Of vengeance, may his day be gone for ever! To whom shall we intrust our families? Whose standard shall we have upon our right? Now that the dais is bereaved of king Let crown and host not be." The soldiers longed For death, and from Khallukh up to Taraz Was universal anguish. In the end They all of them advanced to certain death, Advanced in armour with their helms and casques. Rose from the battlefield the sound of strife, The air above was like a dusky cloud. The slain lay everywhere in heaps, the plain Was thick with trunkless heads and limbs; elsewhere Lay hands and maces, while a wave of blood Rose at the portal of the hold, and who Could tell left hand from right? Asfandiyar Advanced; Kuhram, the captain of the host, Opposed him; and those warriors grappled so That thou hadst said: "They are one!" The peerless chief Took by the waist Kuhram, whirled him aloft - A wondrous feat - and dashed him to the ground While all the Iranian army roared applause. They bound his hands and bore him off in shame, |p158 And all his splendid armament dispersed. Then maces fell like hail, the earth was full Of Turkmans, and the air was charged with death; Heads showered beneath the swords like leaves from trees; One side lost all, the other gained a throne; Blood dashed in billows on the battlefield; Here heads were trampled and there heads were crowned. The world is fain to keep its secret still, And no man really wotteth of its will. Those that had noble chargers fled the field, Those in the Dragon's gullet strove in vain. Few of Turan or Chin were left and none Of name. All flung away their mail and helms, And all had blood-drops in their eyes. They made All haste to come before Asfandiyar With eyes like early spring. The general Shed blood unmercifully, and the host Approved the want of mercy that he showed; He gave no quarter to a warrior, And had the wounded slaughtered past account; No noted warrior of Chin remained, No prince was left surviving in Turan. They moved the camp-enclosure and the tents, And left the whole field to the slain. He reared Before the palace-gate two lofty gibbets Whence twisted lassos fell. From one he hung Andariman head-downward, from the other His brother living, sent out troops on all sides, And when they lighted on some chieftain's seat His orders were that they should burn it down They wrecked thus all the cities of Turan; No man of name was left in any place, And not a horseman in Turan or Chin. |p159 Thou wouldst have said: "There rose a murky cloud, And poured down fire upon the battlefield." The atheling, with matters in this trim, Brought wine and gathered all the chiefs to him. Par. 14 How Asfandiyar wrote a Letter to Gushtasp and his Answer Asfandiyar called for a scribe and told The story of his stratagem and fight. The illustrious scribe sat on the throne and bade His Turkman slave to bring him silk of Chin And pen which having inked, he lauded first The Master of the Moon, the Lord of Saturn, Of Venus and the Sun, of elephant, Of ant, of victory, and Grace divine, The Lord of the imperial diadem, The Lord of right direction and good gifts, The Lord of place and counsel: "May the name Of Shah Gushtasp for ever live through Him, Luhrasp have all his will in Paradise! I reached Turan and by a road which I Shall never praise. If I narrated all Youth's locks would age with grief, but when the Shah Is so disposed I will expound the plan Of my campaign; his sight will gladden me, And I shall revel in these longsome toils. The Brazen Hold, by means of the devices That I employed to compass my revenge, Is void both of Arjasp and of Kuhram, Is void of all save wailing, grief, and mourning. I have spared none; the herbs upon the plain No longer bear; the lion and wolf devour The brains, and lusty pards the hearts, of men. Oh! may the crown of Shah Gushtasp illume |p160 The sky, and Shah Luhrasp make earth a rosebed." They set the signet of Asfandiyar Upon the letter and made choice of riders, Whom that young ruler sent forth to Iran On beasts that went apace with lips afoam. He tarried till he should receive the answer, Repressing all a self-willed man's impatience, And in a little while the answer came, A key whereby his fetters were unlocked. It opened thus: "Established may he be That seeketh good. The rightly minded sage Will compass in adversity God's praise." It further said: "I pray the one just God That He may guide thee ever. I have planted In Paradise a Tree that is more bearing Than any set by Faridun. Its fruit Is gold and rubies and its leafage beauty And Grace. Its summit chafeth on high heaven; Its roots withal are precious. May this Tree Abide for ever, flourishing of stem, And glad of heart - the favourite of fortune ! As for thy words: 'By craft and subtlety I sought for vengeance for my grandsire's death, And then for thy description of the bloodshed, And of thine exploits in the fight - the persons Of kings are precious though renown may come From strife and travail. Guard thy person well And wisdom too, for wisdom nourisheth The mind with knowledge. Thirdly thou hast said Of all these thousands I have spared not one.' Be thy heart ever warm and merciful, Be temperate in soul and soft in voice. Let it not be thy business to shed blood, Or fight with chieftains, saving for revenge, Because the bloodshed hath surpassed all bounds In this thy wreak for eight and thirty brothers. |p161 But in that, though thy grandsire in old age Had banished craft and ill will from his heart, Since they shed his blood thou hast shed theirs too, And closed with them like lions when they fight, For that be ever fortunate and happy, And do the dictates of thy soul and wisdom. I long to look upon thy face and mind So doughty and so shrewd. On reading this Bid thy troops mount, and come back with thy chiefs To court." The speedy dromedaries went, And all Iran re-echoed with the news. Now when they had returned the cameleers Came to the exalted chief who had no peers. Par. 15 How Asfandiyar returned to Gushtasp Asfandiyar, when he had read the letter, Distributed dinars and made an end, Reserving but the treasure of Arjasp, While lavishing the treasures of his kinsmen The troops were all enriched beyond compute. On plain and mountain there were steeds and camels, All brand-marked by the monarch of Turan. Ten thousand head of these Asfandiyar Collected from the plain and mountain-top, And bade his men to load of them a thousand With gold out of the royal treasury, Three hundred with brocade and thrones and casques, Five score with musk, with ambergris, and jewels, Five score with crowns and splendid diadems, One thousand with brocaded tapestries, Three hundred with the native stuffs of Chin, With hides both raw and tanned and painted silks |p162 He furnished litters with brocaded curtains, And carried off from Chin two troops of girls, With cheeks like spring and tall as cypress-trees, With reed-like waists and pheasant-like in gait. A hundred ladies, beautiful as idols, Went with the sisters of Asfandiyar. Five ladies of the kindred of Arjasp - His mother, his two sisters, and two daughters - Toiled on in misery and wretchedness, In pain and grief and stricken to the heart, And, finally, he fired the Brazen Hold; The tongue of flame ascended to high heaven. He razed the castle-ramparts to the ground, And sent the dust up from the land of Chin. He gave his three young sons a force each, saying:- "Take various roads, and fortune be with you. If any shall insult you on your way Cut off the head of such remorselessly. March ye in haste toward the desert-track, And raise your spear-points to the shining sun. I shall myself go by the Seven Stages To hunt the lion. Make what speed ye may, But I shall take my time, shall occupy The road's end, and expect you in a month." Asfandiyar went with his famous troops To hunt along the Seven Stages' route. As soon as he approached the frozen stage He saw his baggage lying all about. The air was sweet, the earth was beautiful Thou wouldst have said: "'Tis spring in summertime He gathered all the goods that he had left, And marvelled that he was so fortunate. As he was drawing nearer to Iran - The land of Lions and of warriors - He whiled away two weeks with hawks and cheetahs, Distressed with travail and the longsome road, |p163 And kept a watch for his three noble sons, Whose long delay in coming angered him, But when the armies and the sons arrived He smiled on all, and said: "My journey done, I was anangered at your tarrying." The three sons kissed the ground and made reply:- "Who hath a father in the world like thee?" He went thence toward Iran and bare off all The treasures to his valiant countrymen. The folk decked all the cities of the land, And called for wine, for harp, and for musicians. They draped the walls with hangings and showered musk And ambergris from overhead. The air Resounded with the voice of minstrelsy, And earth was full of horsemen armed with spears. Gushtasp made merry when he heard the news, And pledged the tidings in a cup of wine. At his command all that were with the host, And all the great men of the provinces, Assembled at the palace-gate with drums. The chiefs went out to meet Asfandiy4r. His sire, moreover, with illustrious sages, The great, the wise, and the archmages, went With beaming countenance toward his son, And all the city talked of little else. Now when the prince beheld his father's face His heart grew merry and his spirit bright. He urged his black steed forward from the ranks, That steed which set a-blaze the flames of war, And, having lighted down, embraced his sire, Who, wondering at his exploits, praised him much, Thus saying: "Ne'er may time and earth lack thee. Thence went they to the palace of the Shah In popularity with all the world. Gushtasp prepared the palace and the throne; |p164 His great good fortune made his heart rejoice. They spread the banquet in the halls. The Shah Said to the chamberlain: "Invite the lords." The boon-companions camp from every aide To that imperial Shah. The royal wine In crystal goblets gave to those that quaffed A lustre like the sun's; upon their cheeks The hush of wine was burning, and the hearts Of evil wishers died and were consumed. The son drank modestly his father's health, The father in like manner pledged his son, And asked him how he passed the Seven Stages. Asfandiyar replied: "Nay, ask me not Such questions in the banquet-hall. Tomorrow Will I relate the story in thy presence, Wise king of men ! Tomorrow thou wilt hear In soberness and own that God hath triumphed." Each one among the guests that grew bemused Went homeward clinging to a moon-faced page. Told is the story of the Stages Seven, Peruse it in His name - the Lord of Heaven, Lord of the sun and of the shining moon, Him who alone hath power for bale or boon. If this tale please our conquering monarch's eye I set my saddle on the circling sky. The time to quaff delicious wine is now, For musky scents breathe from the mountain-brow, The air resoundetli and earth tr availeth, And blest is he whose heart drink gladdeneth, He that hath wine and money, bread and sweets, And can behead a sheep to make him meats. These have not I. Who hath thorn, well is he. Oh ! pity one that is in poverty ! The garth is strewn with rose-leaves and each hill With tulip and with hyacinth, and still |p165 The nightingale complaineth in the close, And at its plaining burgeoneth the rose. At night it never ceaseth to complain; The rose is overcharged by wind and rain. I see the cloud's sighs and its tears, but why The narciss should be sad I know not I. The nightingale bemocketh rose and cloud; Perched on the rose it carolleth aloud. I wist not which of them it holdeth dear, But from the cloud a lion's roar I hear. The cloud's robe sundereth and from its form Fire flasheth, and the tear-drops of the storm Bear witness for themselves upon the ground Before the imperious sun. Who shall expound The descant of the nightingale, disclose The purport of its quest beneath the rose? But mark it at the dawning of the day, If thou wouldst list to its heroic lay, Bewailing dead Asfandiynr, for he Surviveth only in that threnody. A-nights the cloud with Rustanr's voice doth flaw The heart of elephant and lion's claw. |p167 PART III The Story of Asfandiyar's Fight with Rustam Par. 1 How Asfandiyar ambitioned the Throne and how Gushtasp took Counsel with the Astrologers I heard a story from the nightingale, Which it reciteth from the lays of old, How, when Asfandiyar bemused with wine Came forth in dudgeon from the royal palace, His mother, Caesar's daughter, Katayun, Took him to her embrace. When midnight came He wakened from his drowse, called for the wine-cup, And babbled to his mother, saying thus:- "The Shah is treating me injuriously. He said: 'When by thy valour thou shalt take Revenge on king Arjasp for Shah Luhrasp, Shalt free thy sisters from captivity, And win us high renown throughout the world, Shalt weed it utterly of malcontents, And renovate it by thy labours, then The whole realm and the army shall be thine, And therewithal the treasure, throne, and crown.' Now when the sky shall bring again the sun, And when the Shah shall wake, I will recall His words to him; my rights must be asserted. If he shall give to me the crown of kingship I will adore him to idolatry; But if he will not and his face shall frown I swear by God, who stayeth up the sky, |p168 That I will place the crown on mine own head, And give the land and treasure to the people, Will make thee lady of Iran and do The deeds of lions with my strength and courage. His mother sorrowed at his words. The silk Upon her turned to thorns. The famous Shtih, She knew,would give him not throne, crown,'and treasure, And said to him: "What would thy princely heart Require yet of the world, my toil-worn son? The treasure, rule, and conduct of the host Thou hast already: seek for nothing more ! Thy sire, my son ! hath nothing but the crowd, While thou hast all the troops and all the realm. How better were it for the savage Lion To stand before his sire with girded loins ! When he departeth crown and throne are thine, Thine greatness, fortune, state." Asfandiyar Replied: "How goodly was the sage's saw ! 'Thy secret unto women ne'er confide, For thou wilt find it in the street outside; Moreover do not as she biddeth thee, For woman good at rode thou no'er wilt see.'" With frowning face and all abashed his mother Repented of her words. Asfandiyar, Howbeit, went not to Gushtasp but spent His time with minstrelsy and boon companions. He drained the wine-cup for two nights and days, And took his ease among his moon-faced dames. Gushtasp upon the third day was informed About his son's pretension to the state, That he was growing more resolved and needs Must have the Kaian crown and throne. Forthwith He called Jamasp and all Luhrasp's diviners. They came, their tablets on their breasts, and he Inquired about the brave Asfandiyar:- |p169 "Is he to have long life? Will he abide In peace, prosperity, and all delights? Is he to wear the crown of king of kings, And will the good and great rely on him? " The wise man of Iran, on hearing this, Looked at his ancient astrologic tablets, While sorrow filled the lashes of his eyes With tears, and knowledge all his brow with frowns. He said: "Ill are my days and ill my stars, And knowledge bringeth ill upon my head. Would fate had cast me to the lion's claws, Preventing glorious Zarir; then I Had not beheld him flung upon the ground, All dust and blood; or would that mine own sire Had slain me ere ill fortune reached Jamasp Although Asfandiyar in combat now May rend a lion's heart by his attack; Though he hath cleared the world of enemies, And knoweth neither fear nor dread in fight; Though he hath made the world to fear no foe, And cloven the dragon's form in twain, hereafter We shall have reason to lament for him, And taste enough of woe and bitterness." The Shah exclaimed: "0 admirable man Speak out and turn not from the path of knowledge. If he shall fare as did the chief Zarir To live will be henceforth an ill to me. Come tell me instantly, for bitterness Hath come upon me from my questioning, Whose hand will slay him and so cause the pang For which I needs must weep?" Jamasp replied:- "Will not ill fortune roach me too, O King? His death will be within Zabulistan, And at the hands of Zal's heroic son!" |p170 The Shah replied: "Give this affair due weight. If I resign to him the imperial throne, The treasure, and the crown of majesty, He will not even see Zabulistan, And none will know him in Kabulistan; He will be safe from every turn of fortune, And favouring stars will be his monitors." The astrologer rejoined: "Who can escape The process of the sky? None can avoid By courage or by might the sharp-clawed Dragon Above our heads. What is to be will be Past doubt, the when the wise seek not to know. Although Surush be lying at his feet The prince will perish by a great man's hand ! " The monarch mused, his mind a brake of thoughts; He pondered on the processes of time, Which in their turn instructed him in crime. Par. 2 How Asfandiyar demanded the Kingdom from his Father When night had gathered up its reins and gone, And when the dawn had raised its shining spear, The Shah sat down upon the throne of gold, And glorious Asfandiyar approached. He stood before the presence of his sire in deep concern, slave-like with folded arms, And when the throng of warriors and nobles Had gathered round the Shah, and when the archmages Were ranged in line before his throne, and when The captains of the host stood ranked before him, Asfandiyar, the elephantine chief, Began to vent his grievances, and said:- 'O Shah ! live evermore. 'Upon the earth The Grace of God is thine. Through thee are love |p171 And justice manifest, and crown and throne Adorned. A slave am I to thee, my sire And run to do thy will. Thou knowest how Arjasp came hither for religion's sake With cavaliers from Chin, while I had sworn A mighty oath o'en as God prompted rue:- 'Whoever shall make wreckage of the Faith, And give his heart to idol-worshipping, Him will I smite asunder and fear none.' So when Arjasp came forth to war I shrank not From fighting that fierce Leopard; yet didst thou Disgrace me at the instance of Gurazm, When quaffing royally upon a feast-day, Didst put my body into heavy bonds, And blacksmiths riveted my chains and fetters; Didst send the to the hold of Gumbadan, And give me up to strangers in contempt. On quitting Balkh thou wentest to Zabul, Regarding warfare merely as a feast, And though consigning Shah Luhrasp to death Beheldest not the falchion of Arjasp. Jamasp, when he arrived, saw me in bonds, And scathed thereby, assured to me the realm And throne, and pleaded much. I said to him:- 'These heavy chains, these columns, and these shackles By blacksmiths riveted, will I display To God upon the Great Day of Account, And cry to Him against the evil-doer.' He said to me: 'The blood of all our princes - Men of high rank and armed with massive maces - Shot down by arrows on the battlefield; Thy sisters carried captive; Farshidward, The noble warrior, o'erthrown and wounded Upon the field of battle; and the Shah Himself in flight before the Turkmans, writhing At having put Asfandiyar in bonds - |p172 Is not thy heart on fire at things like these, And all this travail, grief, and misery?' He added much - words fraught with grief and anguish. I burst my yoke and bonds, and came apace Before the ruler of the flock. I slew Unnumbered foes; the Shah approved my deeds. If I should speak about the Seven Stages Good sooth ! I ne'er should end. I glorified The name of Shah Gushtasp, I took the head Off from Arjasp and brought his wife and children, His crown and throne and treasure, to this court. The goods thou placed'st in the treasury; My capital was blood, my profit toil. Thou wast so full of promise, oath, and pledge That I more readily performed thy bidding. Thou said'st: 'If I shall look on thee again I will esteem thee dearer than my soul, And give thee diadem and ivory throne, Because thy courage meriteth the crown: Now I am shamed before the mighty men, Who say: 'Where are thy treasures and thy host?' What pretext hast thou? What is my position? For what end have I gone through all the toil? It is the part of Shahs to keep their word; They do not break their bonds and covenants. Now therefore set the crown on thy son's head As thine own father crowned thee in his stead." Par. 3 How Gushtasp answered his Son The Shah replied: "Tis ill to turn from right. Till now thou hast been better than thy word The Maker of the world be thine ally. I see not at this present anywhere |p173 A public or a private foe. What man Shall catch thy name and shall not writhe thereat? Did I say writhe? Nay verily not live Thou hast no peer except the worshipful And famous son of Zal, who hath for life Zabulistan, Kabulistan, Ghaznin And Bust, and is exalted o'er the sky In valour, but accounteth not himself A subject and transgresseth my commands And counsels, stooping not to league with me Although he was a slave to Kai Kaus, And was devoted unto Kai Khusrau, But sayeth of the kingship of Gushtasp:- He hath a new crown while my crown is old.' Now thou hast not a rival in the world Midst Rumans, Turkmans, or our own free folk, And must set forward to Sistan forthwith, And put in practice colour, force, and guile, Lay bare the sword and mace, and bring me Rustam, The son of Zal, Zawara, Faramarz, In bonds and suffer none to mount the saddle. Then by the Judge of all the world, the Source Of strength, who kindleth star and moon and sun, Then by the Zandavasta and Zarduhsht, The good religion, and by Nush Azar, The Fire and Grace divine, as soon as thou Accomplishest these things thou shalt not hear Of further opposition at my hands, But I will give thee treasure, throne, and casque, And seat thee crowned upon the state myself." Asfandiyar replied: "0 worshipful And noble Shah! thou quitt'st the ancient rule; Thou shouldst speak measured words. Fight with the king Of Chin and send dust from his warriors, But wherefore fight against an aged man, |p174 Whom Kai Kaus dubbed ' Lion-capturer'? From Minuchihr as far as Kai Kubad The whole state of Iran rejoiced in him. Men called him: 'Lord of Rakhsh,' ' World-conqueror,' 'King-maker,' ' Lion-queller.' He is great; His fame is not a new thing in the world; He hath his patent from Shah Kai Khusrau, And if the patents of the Shahs are void One should not seek for patents from Gushtasp The Shah replied: "My famed, illustrious son ! Whoe'er hath turned him from the way of God, His patent is as is the desert-wind. Thou surely must have heard how Shah Kaus Went erring at the bidding of Iblis And, having scaled the sky on eagles' wings, Fell vilely into water at Sari. He brought a div's child from Hamavaran, And made her mistress in the royal bower. By her malpractice Siyawush was slain, The day departed from his family. It is not well to pass the gate of one That turneth from his fealty to God. If thou art eager for the crown and throne Lead forth the host and hie thee to Sistan. Upon arriving there bind Rustam's hands, And bring him with the lasso on thine arm. As for Zawara, Faramarz, and Zal, See that they set no traps upon thy way. Bring them afoot and running to my court, And bring them so that all the troops may see; Then none hereafter will revolt from us However he may wish it and repugn." The chieftain frowned. "Go not about," he said, "To compass such designs, for neither Zal Nor Rustam is in question here, but thou |p175 Wouldst rid thee of Asfandiyar; thou art Concerned about the throne of empiry, And wouldst be quit of me. Let crown and throne Of chiefs remain thine own, for me the world Hath nooks enough, yet I am still thy slave, And bow my head to thy command and will." Gushtasp said: "Be not angry. Thou shall have This greatness yet and therefore be not downcast. Choose from the army many cavaliers - All veterans in war. At thy disposal Are implements of war and troops and money; 'Tis for thy foemen to despond. Without thee What are the treasure and the host, the throne Of kingship and the golden casque, to me? " Asfandiyftr replied: "No host will serve; The world-lord, if my fate is drawing nigh, Will not withhold it with his troops! " He quitted The presence of his sire with indignation Both for the crown's sake and his father's words, And entered his own hall in doleful wise, His heart all sorrowful, his lips all sighs. Par. 4 How Katayan counselled Asfandiyar Much moved and weeping sun-cheeked Katayun Went to the glorious Asfandiyar, Her son, and said to him: "O thou that art The memory of the heroes of the world! Bahman hath told me that thou wouldest go From this Rose-garden to Zabulistan, And wilt put Rustam, son of Zal, in chains, That master of the mace and scimitar ! Now hear of all things what thy mother saith:- |p176 Rush not to evil and endeavour it not. That cavalier of elephantine might Disdaineth battle with the river Nile, Dis-sundereth the White Div's liverstead, And maketh with his sword the sun to stray. He slew the monarch of Hamivaran Withal, and none is bold to chide with him. When he took vengeance on Afrasiyab For Siyawush he made earth like a sea With blood. But if I were to talk for ever I could not tell the tale of his good deeds. Give not thy head for crown's sake to the winds, For no one yet was born already crowned. Thy father is an old man; thou art young - A mighty man of hardihood and valour. The whole host's eyes are on thee; plunge not then Thyself through anger in calamities. Sistan is not the sole place in the world, Act not the youth and be not masterful. Make me not sad in this world and the next, But hearken to thy loving mother's words." Asfandiyar replied: "0 loving mother ! Heed what I say: thou knowest Rustam well, And what thou say'st of his accomplishment Is true as Zandavasta. Thou mayst search At large throughout Iran but wilt not find - A better man; 'twould be a shame to bind him. Such ill, not good, proceedeth from the Shah! But still there is no need to break my heart, Though if thou dost so I will tear it out. How can I disobey the Shah's command, Forego a state like this? Grant that my life Shall finish in Zabul; 'tis Heaven's process That draweth me thither, and if Rustam yieldeth He ne'er will hear unfriendly words from me." His mother's eyes rained blood, she tore her hair, |p177 And cried: "0 mighty, raging Elephant! Strength maketh thee too prodigal of life. Thou art no match for elephantine Rustam, And therefore go not hence without a host. Take not thy life, on thine own shoulders merely, To that fierce Elephant; thy will to go Is also miscreant Ahriman's for thee. Oh pause ! Take not thy children into Hell, Or no wise man will call thee well-advised." The warlike prince made answer: "Not to take them Would be unwise, for while a youth remaineth Within the bower his spirit is repressed, His mind is dark, and, 0 my prudent mother ! I want their help on every battlefield. There is no need for me to take a host, Just kith and kin and certain chiefs at most." Par. 5 How Asfandiyar led a Host do Zabul At dawn, at cock-crow, from the court-gate rose The din of drums, the elephantine chief Gat on his steed and led his powers like wind. He marched until he came where two roads met; Then prince and army halted in dismay. One road led toward the hold of Gumbadin, The other toward Zabul. The leading camel Lay down, thou hadst said "wedded to the ground." The camel-driver smote it on the head, But for the while the caravan was stayed. It seemed ill-omened to the atheling, Who gave commandment to behead the beast So that the harm might come upon itself, And he himself not lose the Grace of God. The warriors cut its head off on the spot, |p178 And turned forthwith the presage on the camel. Though vexed about the beast, Asfandiyar Affected to disdain the evil omen, And said: " When one hath triumphed, and illumed Earth by his fortune and his eminence, He ought to senile since good and ill alike Derive from God." He then fared toward the Hirmund But fearful of mishap. As they were wont They pitched the tent-enclosure while the chiefs Chose their own camping-ground. The prince set up Throne and pavilion; thither fared the favoured. Asfandiyar provided wine and minstrels, And he and Bishutan sat down together, Rejoicing his own heart with song and filling His nobles' hearts with bluster. When old wine Had made the faces of the warrior-king And of his lords to blossom like the rose lie said thus to his friends: " I have abandoned The Shah's injunctions and his way withal. He said: 'Get this affair of Rustam's over Bate naught of bondage and humiliation: I have not acted as my father bade me, Because the brave and lion-hearted Rustam Bath many toils in other chieftains' stead To his account and with his massive mace Reformed the world. The whole state of Iran From Shah to slave surviveth to this day Through him. I need a valiant messenger, Instructed, wise, and of retentive mind, A cavalier of Grace divine and lustre, A man that Rustam will not over-reach. If Rustam will come hither and illume My gloomy soul, by graciously allowing me To bind him, he shall not experience for his discretion any harm from me. |p179 I wish him well if he will think no ill." "That is the proper course," said Bishutan, "Hold thereunto and seek the hurt of none." Par. 6 How Asfandiyar sent Bahman to Rustam Asfandiyar then summoned to his presence Bahman, held talk with him at large, and said :- " Array thee in brocade of Chin and mount Thy sable steed, wear too a royal crown, Bedecked with jewels fit for paladins, So that whoever seeth may discern thee Among the notables and, recognising That thou art one of royal race, invoke The Maker's blessings on thee. Take five steeds With golden trappings, and ten archimages, All men of reputation and degree, Proceed to Rustam's house, and do thine errand With right good will. Greet him from us, be kind, Address him, adding compliments, and say:- 'Let him that groweth great and keepeth all The world unscathed give thanks to God that He At all times recogniseth excellence; Howbeit one that is both great and good, And keepeth his own heart from frowardness, Will find his might and riches all the more, Be happy in this Hostel by the way, And, by renouncing every sordid aim, Hereafter compass Paradise. With us Both good and evil are but transient things As all of wisdom know. Dark dust at last Will be our couch, our spirit wing to God. Those that know Him will toil to serve the Shahs. And now let us appraise thee faithfully |p180 Without exaggeration or default, For thou hast lived through countless years and seen Full many a king on earth. Thou know'st that 'tis Unseemly to hark back from wisdom's way For thee who hast such greatness, troops, and treasure Such noble horses, crown, and throne, all which Thou hadst from my forefathers for prompt service; Yet for how long did Shah, Luhrasp possess The world and yet thou never cam'st to court And since he gave the kingdom to Gushrasp Thou hast not recognised the Shah, not written, Or paid to him the customary service, Hast never gone to court to do him homage, Or hailed him as thy Shah. Yet from Hushang Jamshid, and Faridun who won by valour The kingship from the offspring of Zahhak, Until we reach the time of Kai Kubad, Who set the crown of greatness on his head, There hath not been a monarch like Gushtasp In fight, in feast, in counsel or the chase. He hath received the pure and good religion, Both error and injustice are no more, For when the Lord's way shone forth gloriously Bad doctrine and the Div's way disappeared. Thereafter when Arjasp came forth to fight, With troops like pards and chiefs like crocodiles, And no one knew the number of his host, Our famous sovereign encountered him, And made a graveyard of the battlefield, Till no one could discern the face of earth. In sooth until the Resurrection Day The tale will ne'er grow old among the great. He is the man to break a lion's neck, And everything is his from east to west, His from Turan as far as Sind and Rum; |p181 The whole world is a bit of wax to him. Among the spearmen of the desert too Full many cavaliers come to his court; They send him toll and tribute from their realms, Because they have not strength to fight with him. This have I said to thee, O paladin! Because his soul is vext on thine account In that thou halt not come to his famed court, Nor recognised his nobles, but hast chosen A nook wherein thou hid'st thyself; yet how, Unless they ban all feeling, can our chiefs Cease to remember thee who hast done good In all things alway and hast raised thy head To do the bidding of the Shahs? If any Should reckon up thy toils they would exceed Thy treasures; yet no Shah could acquiesce In what is told of thee. Gushtasp said: "Rustam, Because of much goods, province, and stored treasure, Hath tarried at Zabul and grown bemused With drink, and none hath profit from a drunkard. Though wanted he is absent from the field, And loth not see me even at festivals." The Shah was wroth and aware an oath one day By bright day and the azure dim of night:- "None of this chosen host shall look on him Here in the court unless in bonds." And now Upon this matter have I left Iran; The Shah would not allow me time to breathe. Be circumspect and shun the monarch's wrath Hast thou not seen the fury in his eyes? If thou wilt come, obeying my command And mourning thy remissness in the past, Than by the sun, the bright soul of Zarir, And by that noble Lion my father's life, I swear that I will make the Sha h repent, And cause the moon and stars to shine again. |p182 Moreover Bishutan will bear me witness That, having mind and wisdom for my guides, I oftentimes have tried to pacify The Shah, though seeing that thou wast to blame. My father is the lord; I am the liege, And never will I swerve from his command. A conclave of thy family should sit, Consult, and take this matter well in hand. Allow Zawara, Faramarz, and Zal, As well as noble and discreet Rudaba, To hear what I advise in all respects, And recognise the goodness of my words. This house must not be wrecked and be the don Of pards and lions. When I bear thee bound Before the Shah I will set forth to him Thy many faults, then rise and bring him back From wrath and wreak, let no wind blow on thee, But act as native worth would have of me.'" Par. 7 How Bahman came to Zal Bahman, or ever he had heard the words Of that illustrious prince, went on his way. He donned a robe of royal cloth of gold, And placed the crown of greatness on his head, Then set forth proudly from the camp-enclosure With standard raised and fluttering behind him. The atheling went over, the Hirmund - A noble youth upon a mighty steed. Immediately the watchman sighted him, And sent a cry toward Zabulistan "A gallant, warlike cavalier hath come Upon a sable steed with golden trappings. Behind him are attendaint cavaliers, And he hath passed in safety o'er the stream." |p183 Zal mounted on his saddle instantly, With lasso in the straps and mace in hand, Then coming to the watch-tower saw Bahman, And from his liver drew a deep, cold sigh. He said: "This is a famous paladin Of noble rank clad in a royal robe. In sooth he is a kinsman of Luhrasp, And may his advent prove our country's weal." Departing from the watch-tower he approached The gate and paused distracted on his saddle. It was not long before Bahman, whose head Was higher than the turning sky, appeared And, having no acquaintance yet with Zal, Waved with his royal arm, and then approaching Cried: "Noble thane ! where is the son of Zal, This people's lord, the backbone of our times, For great Asfandiyar hath reached Zabul, And pitched his tents upon the river-bank? " Zal said to him: "0 mine impetuous son! Dismount, take wine, and rest, for Rustam now Is coming from the chase with Faramarz, Zawara, and their retinue. Come then With these thy cavaliers as honoured guests, And cheer thy heart with many a draught of wine." Bahman made answer thus: "Asfandiyar Enjoined not minstrelsy and boon-companions. Give me a guide to take me to the chase." Zal said: "What is thy name? Thou art in haste! What is thy will? Methinketh that thou art A scion of Gushtasp or Shah Luhrasp." Bahman replied to him: "I am Bahman, Son of the world-lord of the brazen body." Then noble Zal dismounted and did homage. Bahman alighted smiling, and the twain Exchanged their greetings. Earnestly Zal pleaded:- 'Wait here, there is no colour for such haste." |p184 Bahman rejoined: "Not thus must we delay, And slight the mission of Asfandiyar." Zal chose a warrior that knew the road, And sent him with Bahman forth to the chase. That veteran, hight Shirkhun, went first as guide, Just pointed to the spot and homeward hied. Par. 8 How Bahman gave the Message to Rustam A mountain lay before the youth who urged His gallant charger thither, then looked down Upon the chase. The captain of the host Appeared in sight - a roan like Mount Bistun. He held a sapling in one hand whereon An onager was spitted. By his side Were placed his iron mace and other gear. Within his other hand he held a goblet A-brim with wine; his son was in attendance; Rakhsh roamed about the meadow. There were trees, Grass, and a stream withal. "'Tis either Rustam," Bahman said, "or the rising sun, for none In all the world hath looked on such another, Or heard of such from famous men of old. I fear me that the brave Asfandiyar Will not stand up to him, but quit the combat. So let me kill him with a crag and make The hearts of Zal and of Rudaba writhe." , He loosed a flinty boulder from the height, And sent it downward from the lofty peak. Zawara from the hunting-ground beheld it, And heard the rumble that it made withal. He shouted: "Paladin and cavalier ! A stone is rolling from the mountain-top!" |p185 But Rustam to Zawira's wonderment Ne'er moved nor laid aside the onager; He waited till the stone was close to him, While all the mountain darkened by its dust, Then with a kick dispatched it far away, Whereat Zawara praised him joyfully. Bahman was sick at heart at Rustam's deed And, marking both his majesty and mien, Said: "If the glorious Asfandiyar Should fight against a man of such renown He would be vanquished vilely. It were better For him to deal with Rustam courteously, Who, if he overcame Asfandiyar, Would seize on all the country of Iran." He gat upon his wind-swift steed and quitted The mountain in a muse, informed the archmages About the wonder that he had beheld, And quietly proceeded on his way. When he was hard upon the hunting-ground The peerless Rustam spied him as he came, And asked an archimage: "What man is this? I take him for a kinsman of Gushtasp." Then Rustam with Zawara and the rest, Both great and small, went forth to meet Bahman, Who swift as smoke alighted from his steed, Exchanging greetings and all courtesies, And Rustam said to him: "Until thou tellest Thy name thou wilt not get thy will of me." The youth replied: "Renowned Bahman am I, Son of Asfandiyar, that upright prince." The paladin embraced him on the spot, And made excuses for his tardy coming. Then both with their respective retinues Set forth for Rustam's camp. Now when Bahman Was seated he gave greetings for himself And for the Shah and the Iranians. |p186 "Asfandiyar," he then went on to say, "Hath journeyed from the court as quick as fire And, as the Shah, victorious and exalted, Enjoined him, pitched his camp on the Hirmund. Now if the noble cavalier will hear me I have a message from Asfandiyar." "The Shah's son," Rustam answered, "hath endured Much and hath travelled far; so first of all Let us partake of what we have, and then The world is at thy bidding." On the board He laid new bread and hot roast onagor; Slaves helped Bahman and matchless Rustam parted. He placed his brother by the prince but summoned No other nobles to the feast. He put A second onager before himself - His customary portion at each meal. He sprinkled salt, cut up the meat, and ate; Meanwhile the exalted prince could not but gaze. He ate a little of his onager, But not a hundredth part of Rustam's meal; While Rustam smiled upon him, saying: "Shahs Possess the state in order to enjoy. If thou art such a feeble trencherman How ever didst then pass the Seven Stages? In what sort, dost thou wield the spear in battle Who hast, O prince! so little appetite?" Bahman said: "God forbid a prince should talk Or eat much. Eating little he is great In war and ever hath his life in hand." Then Rustam smiled and cried: "One should not veil One's manhood from mankind." Then he filled up A golden bowl with wine and drank "The free." He gave another to Bahman, and said:- "Take this and drink it unto whom then wilt." |p187 Bahman was frayed thereat, and so Zawara First took a draught thereof and said to him:- "O scion of the Shah ! may wine and drinker Rejoice in thee." Bahman took back the bowl At once, but that sweet youth was temperate, And Rustam's appetite, neck, arms, and shoulders Astounded him. Both mounted, and Bahman Set forth with noble Rustam and then gave The message of the prince fair-famed and brave, Par. 9 How Rustam made Answer to Asfandiyar When he had heard Bahman the ancient hero Mused and replied: "Yea I have heard the message And joy to see thee. Bear Asfandiyar This answer from me: 'Lion-hearted chief And famed ! the man whose soul is tenanted By wisdom seeth matters in the gross, And when he hath both valour and success, Possessions, hoarded treasures, majesty, With heroism and a lofty name, And is the favourite of noble men, As then art at this moment in the world, Should not be evil-minded. Let us worship God and the right, not grasp the hand of ill. A word when uttered inexcusably Is but a tree that hath no fruit or scent, And if thy soul shall tread the path of greed Thy travail will be long and profitless. 'Tis well a prince should weigh his words, and well To have no wish to utter aught amiss. Thy servant used to joy in all that said:- "No mother's son is like Asfandiyar. |p188 In courage, wisdom, enterprise, and counsel He will be greater than his ancestors." How famous is thy name in Hindustan, In Chin and Rum and in the land of warlocks ! I thank thee for thy counsels and give praise By day and in three watches of the night. I sought of God, what now I joy to find Accorded me, that I might look upon Thy cherished face, thy greatness, manhood, love, That, seated side by side in joy, we twain Might drain a goblet to the king of kings, And now I have attained my whole desire - The wish that I was instant to achieve. I will appear before thee unattended To hear from thee the Shah's behest and bring To thee the patents granted by just Shahs From Kai Khusrau right back to Kai Kubad. Now, matchless hero? look upon my case, My pains and actions, on the goodly deeds That I have done, my hardship and my travail, And how I have been servant to the Shahs From this day backward to the days of old. If chains are to repay me for these toils, And ruin from the monarch of Iran, 'Tis well for none to look upon the world, Or only just to look and tarry not. I will tell all my secrets when I come, And speak in tones that all the world may hear. Then if there should appear a fault in me - A fault for which I ought to lose my head - Then I will set a yoke on mine own shoulders, And come afoot clothed in a leopard-skin; But inasmuch as I am he that brake Fierce elephants' necks and flung them to the Nile, Forbear unseemly words to me and keep Thy mischiefs to afflict the Div's heart. Say not |p189 What no one e'er path sail, use not thy courage To encage the wind. The mighty cannot pass Through fire at all, nor, save they swim, through water; Thou canst not hide the shining of the moon, Or mate the fox and lion. Pour not then Contention o'er my path, who am myself Adept therein. None hath beheld me fettered, No savage lion ta'en my post. Act thou As princes should. Consult not with the Div. Put from thy heart wrath and revenge for trifles, And look not on the world with boyish eyes. Rejoice then, cross the stream, and may God bless thee. Do honour to my mansion at a feast; Keep not aloof from me who am thy slave. Just as I was a liege to Kai Kubad, So now I joy, both heart and brain, in thee. If thou wilt come to me with all thy host, And pass two months with me in merriment, Both man and beast shall rest from toil, foes' hearts Grow blind with envy. Beast on land, and fowl On water, wait thee if thou wilt but stay. I shall behold thy warrior-might, and thou Shalt with thy scimitar o'erthrow the lion And pard. When thou art fain to lead the host In,nward to the monarch of the brave, I will unlock the ancient hoards which Have here collected by my scimitar, And place at thy disposal everything That I have gathered by my might of hand. Take what thou wilt and give the rest away; Blake not a day like this a grief to me. Then when the time shall come for thee to go, And thou art anxious to behold the Shah, I will not separate my reins from thine, - And we will go to him in company. By asking pardon I will soothe his wrath, |p190 And kiss him on the head and feet and eyes. Then will I ask the great but unjust Shah:- "Why should these hands of mine be put in bonds? Retain my words in each particular, knd tell them to the great Asfandiyar." Par. 10 How Bahman returned Bahman, when he had heard what Rustam said, Departed with the holy archimages, But Rustam - peerless chieftain - stayed awhile Upon the road and, having called Zawara And Faramarz, said thus: "Depart to Zal And to the fair Moon of Zabulistan, And say to them: "One who ambitioneth The world hath come - Asfandiyar. Set up Within our halls a golden throne, and place For him apparel such as monarchs wear, As on the occasion with Shah Kai Kaus, But let the audience - hall be grander still. Prepare ye somewhat too by way of food There must not be a lack of things to eat, For the Shah's son hath come to us, hath come In a revengeful mood intent on war. He is a famous warrior and brave prince, And heedeth not a wilderness of lions. I go to him, and if he will accept Mine invitation there is hope for all. If I shall find him well disposed toward me I will present him with a crown of rubies, And not withhold from him my treasures, jewels, Bards, mace, and sword. If I return despondent, Because I have not a white day with him, |p191 Thou knowest that my twisted lasso bringeth The heads of savage elephants to bonds." Zawira said to him: "Have no such thought Men do not seek to fight without a cause. I know not any king in all the world For rede and courage like Asfandiyar; Ill deeds proceed not from a man of wisdom, And he hath not.received a wrong from us." Zawira went to Zal. For his part Rustam, Bestirred himself and hurried to the Hirmund, His head all dazed with fear of coming ill, Drew rein and waited for Bahman to greet him. Now when Bahman had reached the tent-enclosure, And stood before the presence of his father, The glorious Asfandiyar inquired:- What What answer did the famous hero give thee? " Bahman, on hearing, sat before his sire, Narrated all his tidings point by point And, having given Rustam's greeting first, Told all about the message and reply Before his father, told what he had seen, Or noted privily. "I never saw," He said, "in any company a man Like elephantine Rustam. He possesseth A lion's heart, the bulk of elephant, And haleth from the Nile the crocodiles. - He now is on the bank of Hirmund, Without his armour, helmet, mace, or lasso, And fain would see the Shah. I do not know His purpose as to thee." Asfandiyar, Wroth with Bahman, disgraced him in full court, And said to him: "Men of exalted rank Should not confide in women; furthermore The employ of children in affairs of moment As messengers is neither brave nor valiant. |p192 Where ever hast thou looked on warriors, Who hast heard not a charger's tramp? By making An elephant of war of Rustam thou Wilt break the spirit of our famous host." In private he spake much to Bishutan, And said: "This noble Lion of the fight Will act the youngster and, I will engage, Hath not a wrinkle yet in spite of age! " Par. 11 The Meeting of Rustam and Asfandiyar The glorious Asfandiyar bade set A golden saddle on his sable steed; Then from his famous troops a hundred horsemen Set forth with him. His charger neighed on one hand, And Rakhsh upon the other. Matchless Rustam Lit from his steed, advanced to greet the hero, And, greeting over, said: "I prayed to God - The only God - that He would be thy Guide, And thou with thy great men and troops withal Hast reached us safe and sound. Come let us sit, Use gracious terms, then give a good reply. My witness, be assured, is God himself, And wisdom is my guide in what I say, For I shall gain no glory from this matter, Nor will I tell a lie in any case, That now were I to gaze on Siyawush I should not look so happy as I do, For thou resemblest nobody but him, That wearer of the crown, that world-bestower. Blest is the Shah who hath a son like thee ! Thy sire may glory in thy height and face. Blest are the people of Inin, the slaves Of thine unsleeping fortune and thy throne. Ill-starred is he who seeketh thee in fight |p193 From throne and fortune he will come to dust. May all foes' hearts be filled with fear of thee, And thine ill-wishers' riven, may thy fortune Prevail through all thy years and thy dark nights Be as the day to thee." Asfandiyar Thereat alighted from his royal steed, Embraced the hero's elephantine form, Called many blessings down on him, and said:- "Thank God, 0 chief of paladins! that I Behold thee glad and bright of mind. 'Tis well That we should praise thee and that this world's heroes Should be as dust before thee. He is blest That hath a son like thee, for he beholdeth A fruitful Branch, and blest is he that hath A stay like thee, for he will be unscathed By evil fortune! When I looked on thee I called to mind that leader of the host, That cavalier and Lion - Zarir." Then Rustam:- "Thou paladin and world-lord shrewd and ardent ! I have one wish, 0 prince ! a wish which granted Would make me well content, and 'tis that thou Shalt visit me in state and make my soul Bright at the sight of thee. Though there be naught Worth thine acceptance we will do our best." Asfandiyar replied: "Thou memory Of this world's heroes! he that hath a name Like thine will prove a joyance to Iran As one whose counsel must not be transgressed, His land and home not slighted. Ne'ertheless, I may not swerve in public or in private From what the Shah commanded, and he did not Instruct me to abide within Zabul, Or with the nobles of that warlike land. Act so that thou mayst take of fortune's fruit; |p194 Go thou the way the monarch biddeth thee. Delay not thou to put thy feet in fetters; Those of the king of kings are no disgrace, And when I bear thee bound before the Shah The evil will rocoil on him. Meanwhile Thy bondage will have hurt me to the soul, I shall have waited on thee like a slave. I will not leave thee in thy bonds till night; No harm at all shall come upon thy life. Dost thou suspect foul play, O paladin? Beyond all doubt the Shah will do no wrong, And he hath told me: 'I will give to thee Mine ivory throne, my treasures, and my grown! When I shall set that crown upon my head I will entrust the whole world to thy hands. Before the all-just God I do no wrong, Nor shall I shame in presence of the Shah. When thou returnest to Zabulistan, What time the gardens blossom with the rose, Thou shalt receive such precious gifts from me As will adorn thy land." "O noble man !" Said Rustam, "I have prayed the almighty Judge That I might glad my heart by seeing thee, But how can I give ear to these thy words? We both are men of rank, one old, one young, Two paladins both wise and vigilant; But I am fearful of the evil eye, And that our heads will wake from pleasant dreams. The Div is making way betwixt us two To warp thy heart by means of crown and throne. A thing like this would be a shame to me, One that would last for ever, that a leader, One high-born and a chieftain such as thou art, |p195 A noble Lion and a mighty man, Should come not for a while to mine abode, Or be my guest within these coasts. If thou Wilt banish this contention from thy thoughts, And do thy best to exorcise the Div, I will adorn my soul by sight of thee, And do whate'er thou biddest save these bonds, For they are utter shame, defeat, and outrage. No one shall see me bound while I survive My life on that. Enough!" Asfandiyar Replied: "O memory of this world's heroes ! Thy words are truth, not falsehood, and men gain No lustre from deceit; still Bishutan Is cognisant of all the Shah's commands When I set forth. 'Bestir thyself,' he said, 'As touching Rustam. Be thy whole concern To fight or bind him.' If now I shall go, A blithe, triumphant guest, to visit thee In thine own home, and from the Shah's commands Thou turn thy neck, 'twill mar mine own day's lustre. For one thing I shall fight thee and employ The leopard's instinct in that fight, forget The bond of bread and salt, and cast a slur Upon the honour of my lineage; While if I disobey the Shah the fire Will be my dwelling in the world to come. Yet, since thou wishest, let us pass one day With wine in hand. Who knoweth what may chance Tomorrow, so we need not talk thereof? " Said Rustam: "I will do so. I will go And doff my road-dress. For a week have I Been hunting and been eating onager Instead of lamb. When things are ready call me, And sit down with thy kinsmen at the board." Hurt and concerned he mounted, hurried home, |p196 Beheld the face of Zal, the son of Sam, The son of Nariman, and said: "Famed chief ! I have been visiting Asfandiyar, And seen a horseman like a straight-stemmed cypress, A man of wisdom, dowered with grace and Glory. Thou wouldest say: 'Shah Faridun, the hero, Bequeathed to him both might and understanding.' His presence bettereth hearsay: there doth shine From him the Grace imperial and divine." Par. 12 How Asfandiyar summoned not Rustam to the Feast When Rustam left the bank of the Hirmund The great Asfandiyar sat lost in thought, And Bishutan, his counsellor, anon Came to the camp-enclosure. Said the hero:- "We have dealt lightly with a grave affair I have no business in the house of Rustam, And he for his part should not look on me. If he come not I will not summon him; Else, should one of us die, the other's heart Would burn with anguish for the slain, his head Shed tears for friendship's sake." Said Bishutan "Who hath a brother like Asfandiyar, Famed chief? By God, when first I saw you two, And neither of you tried to make a quarrel, My heart became like early spring thereat, As much for Rustam as Asfandiyar; But as I looked more deeply I perceived The Div controlling wisdom's path. Thou knowest What Faith and honour bid, the laws of God, And thine own sire's intent. Restrain thyself. Do life no hurt, and hear thy brother's words. |p197 I heard what Rustam said: his greatness matched His courage, and thy fetters will not gall him. He heedeth not thy Grace divine and state. The chief of cavaliers, the son of Zal, Will not put his head lightly in the net. The matter, as I fear, will be prolonged For evil, being 'twixt two haughty men. Thou art a great man, wiser than the Shah, And abler both in skill and bravery. If one would feast, the other strive for vengeance, Consider which the more deserveth praise." The prince replied: "If I shall not obey The Shah I shall be censured in this world, And God will call me to account hereafter. I would not sell both worlds for Rustam's sake; No man will sew up his own eyes and heart." The other said: "The outcome of good counsel, Will profit thy pure body and thy soul. I have said all. Now choose thee which is best; A prince's heart should be above revenge." The chieftain bade the cooks to spread the board, But saidlto no one: "Summon Rustam hither." The eating done he took the cup in hand, Spake of the Brazen Hold, of his own manhood, And drank in honour of the king of kings, While Rustam stayed within his palace-walls, Remembering his promise to eat bread. Now when a long while passed and no one came, Though Rustam often looked along the road, And when the time for feasting had gone by, The hero's dignity could brook no more. He smiled and said: "My brother! deck the board, And summon to the feast the men of birth. If 'tis the custom of Asfandiyar To treat us with such superciliousness As to invite and then not summon us, |p198 Hope for no good from him." He spake. They decked The board and, having eaten, rose. Then staid The heroic paladin to Faramarz "Bid saddle Rakhsh as they would do in Chin. I shall go back and tell Asfandiyar 'Prince though thou art, remember: he that breaketh His plighted word hath in himself effaced The pathway that the great and good have traced.'" Par. 13 How Asfandiyar excused himself for not summoning Rustam to the Feast Then like an elephant he mounted Rakhsh, Whose neighings could be heard two miles away, And hurried to the river, where the troops Pressed eagerly to see him, while the hearts, Of those that saw him loved him. All exclaimed:- "This noble chief resembleth none but Sam, The cavalier. An iron hill is he Upon the saddle and thou wouldest say That Rakhsh is Ahriman's own mount, and were A mighty elephant his opposite Then splash its head with mourning hues. The king Must have a witless pate to give up one That is possessed of Grace divine and prowess - A moonlike chieftain like Asfandiyar - To slaughter for the sake of crown and throne. He groweth greedier with age and fonder Of signet and of diadem." When Rustam Drew near, Asfandiyar went forth to meet him. Said Rustam: "Paladin and glorious youth, But of new-fangled manners ! so thy guest Was thought unworthy of the summoning |p199 Thy promise is a promise and no more. Attend to what I say, and be not hasty Without a cause with one advanced in years. Thou thinkest far too highly of thyself, And art too haughty to the chiefs. Good sooth ! Thou boldest me but light in point of courage, And slight in counsel and in understanding. Know that I am the Rustam of the world, The lustre of the race of Nariman. I make the Black Div gnaw his hand, I lay The heads of sorcerers low. The mighty men That saw mine iron corslet, and that great And roaring Lion that I rode, abandoned The field without a blow and on the plain Threw down their bows and arrows - valiant horsemen And fighters like Kamus, the warrior, Or like the Khan of Chin, whom with coiled lasso I haled from saddle and bound head andifoot. The warden of the Shahs am I, the stay Of brave men everywhere. Mistake me not Because I begged a boon, nor deem that thou Art higher than heaven. Thy royal Grace and state Led me to seek thy rede and fellowship, And I desire not that a prince like thee Should have his fortunes ruined by my hand, Because heroic Sam is mine ideal, At whose approach the lion fled the wood, And I am his memorial on earth, O valiant, royal prince Asfandiyar! Long have I been the chief of paladins, But never spent a day in evil-doing, Have purged the world of foes and undergone Abundant toil and stress. I thank my God That in these latter days I have beheld My peer - a glorious Shoot who will take vengeance On infidels amid the world's applause." |p200 Then smiling on him said Asfandiyar "O son of Sam, the horseman! thou wast hurt In that no summons came whereas I took Some credit to myself. Be not displeased Because I spared thee on so hot a day So long a journey, for I said: 'At dawn I will set out to offer mine excuses; Then shall I have the joy of seeing Zal, And be for once quite happy !' But since thou Hast of thine own self undergone the toil, Hast left thy home and come across the plain, Sit down to rest thyself, take up the cup, And make no show of wrath and bitterness." Asfandiyar placed Rustam on his left, Such was the way in which he did the honours ! Then said the veteran: "This is not my place; Let me have that to which I am entitled.". The prince said to Bahman upon his right:- Give Give him the seat as he demandeth it." Then Rustam in his wrath said to the prince "Look on me fairly and with open eyes; Regard my prowess and illustrious stock, For I am of the seed of valiant Sam. Though thou hast no seat that befitteth me I have the Grace, my triumphs, and my prudence." Thereat the prince gave orders to his son To place a golden seat upon, the dais, And with a scented orange Rustam came, And took his seat but he was all aflame. Par. 14 How Asfandiyar spoke Shame of the Race of Rustam Then thus to Rustam spake Asfandiyar:- "O lion-hearted chieftain of renown! |p201 Now I have heard a tale from archimages, The mighty men and sages wise of heart, That Zal is one of evil race, a div By birth, and hath no better origin. They kept him for a while concealed from Sam, And thought the child a Doomsday to the world. His head and hair were white, the rest was dark. Sam at the sight of him was in despair, And bade them take the young child to the sea That birds and fish might have him for their prey. Then the Simurgh came with spread wings but saw That 'twas no proper child with Grace divine. She bore him off to where she had a nest, She carried him away to serve as food, And threw him in contempt before her young That they might finish him at feeding-time. When they attempted to devour the child They were afraid and would not batten on him, But passed him over as he was so vile, And turned away; though ravenous the Simurgh Could not quite stomach such a thing as Zal, But made him free of the nest though nobody Was pleased to see him. He ate carrion That she rejected, and his wretched body Was raimentless. She came to love the child, And thus the heaven turned o'er him for a season. When he had fared on carrion for a while She carried him all naked to Sistan, Where Sam, who had no child, adopted him Through folly, dotage, and stupidity. The Shahs and glorious, great men of my race, My benefactors and mine ancestors, Then took him up and furnished him withal. Thus many years passed o'er him; he became A Cypress, one whose head was out of reach; It put forth branches and its fruit was Rustam, |p202 Who by his manhood, skill, and mien thus scaled The sky, in such wise seized on royalty, Increased in power, and took to villainy." Par. 15 How Rustam answered Asfandiyar, praising his own Rare and his Deeds Then Rustam answered, saying: "Hold thy peace ! Why speak'st thou such provocatory words? Thy heart is growing into frowardness, The utterance of thy soul is that of divs. Speak what befitteth the great kings; the Shah In speaking swerveth not from what is right. The world-lord knoweth that the son of Sam Is great and hath both knowledge and fair fame. Again, Sam was the son of Nariman, Which hero was the son of Kariman, And thus they run back to Garshasp, while all Are scions of Jamshid. Thine ancestors Obtained the crown through us, else none had named them. 'Twas I who brought Kubad, the chosen one Of all the people, out of Mount Alburz, And but for that he had remained a subject, Not having treasure, host, or puissance. In sooth thou must have heard reports of Skin, Who had the fairest taino of all his time:- First, how there was a dragon once at Us, A dragon from whose clutches none could 'scape; A crocodile in water and a leopard On land, its breath would soften mountain-flints, Would broil the fishes' heads in water-ways, Would scorch the vultures' feathers in mid-air, |p203 And suck in elephants with its breath. Glad hearts Were saddened at the thought thereof. And next, There was a fearful and malicious div, Whose body was on earth and head in heaven, Because the sea of Chin reached but his middle; The sun itself shone with diminished lustre. He used to take up monsters from the deep And, towering o'er the orbit of the moon, Broil them upon the sun while turning heaven Was all dissolved in tears. These two great Pests Were rendered lifeless and consumed before The sword of Sam, the hero. Then again, My mother was the daughter of Mihrab, Who made the realm of Sind so prosperous, And was the fifth descendant from Zahhs,k, Who raised his head above all other kings. Who hath a nobler origin than this? A wise man will not turn from truth: the honour Of all the world is mine, and other heroes Must seek to win it back from me. Again, Mine earliest patent is from Kai Kaus; Thou canst not find a pretext on that score. I have one too from righteous Kai Khusrau, Like whom no Kaian ever girt his loins. My wanderings have covered all the earth, And many an unjust monarch have I slain. Whenas I crossed the waters of Jihan Afrasiyab fled from Turan to Chin. When Kai Kaus went to Mazandaran My father Zal had much to say thereon. Thou knowest how that Shah fared with the divs, And in his blindness cried out from his soul. Alone I journeyed to Mazandanin; The nights were gloomy and the leagues were long. I did not spare the White Div or Arzhang, |p204 Pulad, son of Ghundi, or Bid or Sanja. Moreover for our monarch's sake I slew My wise and valiant boy. There hath not been Another warrior like Suhrab in strength, In courage, and approof in war. In sooth Above six hundred years have passed away Since I was severed from the reins of Zal; I have been always paladin in chief, In public or in private 'twas all one. Just as it was with noble Faridun, Who set the crown of greatness on his head, Dethroned Zahhak and brought him, head and crown, To dust; and secondly, as Sim, my grandsire, Engrossed the craft and knowledge of the world; So, thirdly, since I girded up my loins The person of the monarch hath had rest. There never were such days of happiness, The wanderers' feet were never so secure, As when my will prevailed throughout the world, And I used scimitar and massive mace. I speak in order that thou mayst know all, For thou art prince and nobles are thy flock; Yet in respect of age thou art a youth, Though with the Grace of Kai Khusrau. Thou seest None but thyself and know'st not secret matters. Now, having talked much, turn we for relief To wine and hunt therewith the soul of grief." Par. 16 How Asfandiyar boasted of his Ancestry Asfandiyar, on hearing Rustam's words, Smiled and his heart began to beat with joy. He answered: "I have listened to thy toils, Thy pains, thy combats, and anxieties. |p205 Now hearken to the gests that I have done, Whereby I raised my head above the noble. 'Twas for the Faith that first I girt my loins, And cleared the earth of idol-worshippers Our warriors could not see the world for slain. Gushtasp was mine immediate ancestor, Who was himself begotten by Luhrasp; Luhrasp again was son of king Aurand, Who at that time possessed both fame and rank. Aurand was of the seed of Kai Pashin, Blessed by his father who was Kai Kubad - A Shah of wisdom and of upright heart; Pursue my race thus to Shah Faridun, The root of kings and glory of the throne. My mother is, moreover, Caesar's daughter, Who is the crown upon the Rumans' head And sprung from Salm - a glorious lineage, Instinct with justice, precedent, and Grace. Salm was the son of valiant Faridun, Who carried off the ball from all the kings For valour. I assert what none gainsay, Though many quit the way and few are in it, That in the presence of mine own forebears, Those mighty men devout and glorious, Thou and thy grandsire were but servitors. I do not seek to best thee but thou hadst Thy kingship from the Shahs, who were my sires, For zealous service. Wait while I tell all, Then if there be a falsehood point it out. Since Shah Luhrisp gave to Gushtasp the throne I have been girt with valour and success, And I have slain the perverts from the Faith Upon the plains of Chin and of Turan. Then later on, when through Gurazm's words My father bound and banned me from the feast, Ill reached Luhrasp by reason of my bonds |p206 The Turkmans hid the earth. Then to the hold Of Gumbadan the veteran Jamasp Came with a message and in soldier's garb. When he arrived and saw how I was bound, Saw how my mind and heart were pierced by care, He sent for blacksmiths to deliver me Out of my heavy bondage, but their work Was far too slow for me because my heart Yearned for the scimitar. My heart was straitened I shouted at them, wrenched me from their grasp, Rose to my height from where I sat and brake My bonds with mine own hands, then sought the field Whereon the fortunes of Gushtasp were lost; And when Arjasp fled with his famed array Before me I girt up my loins with manhood, And went like raging lion in pursuit. As for the Seven Stages thou hast heard Of mine adventures with the lions there And with that Ahriman, and how I entered The Brazen Hold by guile and quelled a world, Hast heard about my doings in Turan, And all the toil and hardship that I bare. Good sooth, no onager o'er hath endured Such from a pard, nor maw of crocodile From sailors' nuglo. On a mountain-top, Sequestered by its height from all the throng, There was a hold. I found the people all Idolaters and dazed like men bemused. Since Tur, the son of valiant Faridun, No man had robbed the hold of its repute. I took that fortress by my bravery, I cast the images upon the ground, And set alight the Fire there that Zarduhsht Brought in a censer out of Paradise.' Victorious through the just, the only God, |p207 I came again in such case to Iran That we had no foe left in all the world, And not a Brahman in his idol-house. In all my battles I have fought unaided; No one hath shared with me the cares of war. Now, seeing that we have so long converst, Tilt up the wine-cup if thou art athirst." Par. 17 How Rustam vaunted his Valour Then Rustam spake thus to Asfandiyar:- "My deeds remain as my memorial; So now in simple justice hear the words Of one whose name is known - an ancient man If I had gone not to Mazandaran And borne my massive mace upon my shoulder, Where would have been blind Giv, Gudarz, and Tus, And our exalted Shah - that sport of grief? Who had torn out the White Div's heart and brain? Who had sufficient trust in his own arm? Who would have rescued Kai Kaus from bonds, And have restored him to the lofty throne Whereto from heavy chains I carried him - The fortune-favoured darling of Iran? I cut the heads from off the sorcerers; They saw no bier, no shroud, no burial. Mine only helpers in those fights were Rakhsh, And my sharp sword which meteth out the world. Then when Kaus went to Hamavaran, Where they made fast his feet in heavy fetters, I took an army of Iranians, Drawn from wherever there were prince and chief, Slew in the fight that folk's king, and made void |p208 Their famous throne. The monarch of the world - Kaus himself - was captive and his heart Was stricken by anxiety and travail. Meanwhile Afrasiyab was in Iran Together with his host and famous chiefs. Then it was I who rescued Kai Kaus As well as Tus, Giv, and Gudarz, and brought them Back to Iran out of Hamavaran, Brought all the paladins and men of name. One dark night as I went before the troops In search of fame, not rest, Afrasiyab Discerned my fluttering flag and heard Rakhsh neigh Abandoning Iran he made for Chin, And justice and thanksgiving filled the world. Had blood come from the neck of Kai Kaus How could he have begotten Siyawush? Had saintly mother not borne Kai Khusrau, Who would have named Luhrasp for Shah? Why vaunt About his crown, the armlets and the throne Of Shah Gushtasp who saith: 'Go, bind the hands Of Rustam'? Not high heaven itself shall bind them ! From boyhood up to now in mine old age I have not borne such words from any man. To make excuses and beg off would shame me; To speak thus mildly is a degradation." Asfandiyar smiled at his violence And, reaching out and gripping,Rustam's hand, Said: "Rustam of the elephantine form ! Thou art what all have represented thee; , Thine arm is mighty as a lion's thigh, Thy breast and limbs are like a lusty dragon's, Thy waist is fine and slender as the pard's, And such a chieftain beareth off the day." He squeezed the hand of Rustam as he spake, But yet the youth made not the old man writhe; |p209 Though gall exuded from his finger-nails Good sooth the hero writhed not with the pain. Then Rustam grasped the prince's hand in his, And said: "0 prince and worshipper of God How blessed is the famous Shah Gushtasp To have a son such as Asfandiyar ! How blest is he who getteth one like thee He addoth to the glory of the world !" He spako and grasped the other's hand until The prince's face became as red as blood, Till blood and water oozed out from his nails, And he was frowning, though he laughed and said:- "Famed Rustam ! drink today. In fight tomorrow Thou wilt have pain and think no more of feasting. Or ever I shall saddle my black steed, And place the royal helm upon my head, I will unhorse thee with my spear: thereafter Thou wilt not seek for battle and revenge. Then will I bind thy hands, bear thee before The Shah, and say: 'I saw no fault in him,' Will intercede for thee and urge all pleas, Will set thee free from sorrow, pain, and travail, And thou shalt have instead both good and treasure." Then Rustam, smiling at Asfandiyar, Said: "Thou shalt have enough of combating. Where hast thou seen the fights of warriors? Where hast thou felt the wind of massive maces? If such then be the aspect of the sky Love will be veiled between two men at least; We shall have war. instead of ruddy wine, Use lasso, bow, and strategy, require The roar of drum instead of voice of harp, And greet each other with the sword and mace. Then shalt thou, glorious Asfandiyar Behold the rush and pulsing of the fight. Tomorrow when I come upon the field, |p210 And in the battle man opposeth man, I will unhorse thee with a firm embrace, And carry thee away to glorious Zal, Then seat thee on the famous ivory throne, And crown thee with the heart - rejoicing crown, Which I myself received from Kai Kubad, And may his soul rejoice in Paradise I will unlock my treasury fulfilled With precious things and lay my hoards before thee, Put all thy troops past want and raise to heaven Thy crown, then seek the presence of the Shah In state rejoicing, boldly set the crown Upon thy head as thanks to Shah Gushtasp, Then gird me as I have been girt erewhile Before the Kaians, renovate my heart With joy, and make the Garden's surface weedless. Men's bodies will not keep their souls within When thou art Shah and I am paladin." Par. 18 How Rustam drank Wine with Asfandiyar Asfandiyar replied: "More talk is useless. My belly craveth, half the day is over, And we have had much talk of combating. Bring ye the table and what food ye have, But summon nobody that talketh much!" Now when the board was spread, and Rustam ate, They were astonied at his appetite. Asfandiyar and all the other heroes Set lambs in front of him on every side. He ate them all, whereat the prince and people Were lost in wonder. Then the prince commanded:- "Bring cups and ruddy wine for him, and we Will note how he will hold forth in his cups, And prate of Kai Kaus. " The drawer brought |p211 A goblet filled with wine of ancient vintage, And Rustam drank it to the king of kings; He drained that golden fountain dusty-dry. The young cup-bearer brought the cup again - The same with royal wine replenished - And matchless Rustam whispered to the boy:- "We want no water on the table here. Why dolt thou mingle water in the cup, And weaken this old wine? " Said Bishutan Thus to the server: "Bring a bowlful neat." He had the wine brought, summoned minstrel: And gazed astound on Rustam. At departure, When noble Rustam was all flushed with wine, Asfandiyar said thus to him: "Live happy While time shall last. May both the wine and meat Agree with thee, and right be thy soul's provand." To him said Rustam: "Prince! may wisdom ever Be thine admonisher. What wine soe'or I drink with thee is good and nourisheth My prudent soul. If thou wilt ban this strife, Wilt magnify thy majesty and wisdom, Wilt leave the plain and come to mine abode, Wilt for a season be my joyous guest, I will accomplish all that I have said, And set before thee wisdom as a guide. Pause for a while and strive not after ill; Show courage and regain thy common sense." Asfandiyar, the hero, thus rejoined:- "Sow not a seed that ne'er will grow. Tomorrow Thou shall behold the accomplishment of heroes What time I gird my girdle for the fray. Moreover do not glorify thyself; Go home and fit thee for tomorrow's work. Thou shall perceive that in the ranks of war |p212 I am the same as in my revelry. Attack me not upon the battlefield; Hear mine advice; go not about to fight. Thou shalt see prowess greater than my words; Let it not prove a cause of grief to me. Accept of all the counsel that I give Submit to fetters at the Shah's command What time we quit Zabul and seek Iran, And come before the monarch of the brave." Then grief made Rustam ponder, and the world Was like a wood before his eyes. He thought:- "For me to give my hands up to his bonds, Or rise up in my might and injure him, Are courses both inglorious and bad, Both novel and ill precedents. Moreover, My name will suffer from his bonds while I By slaying him shall end but ill myself, And all that tell the tale throughout the world Will never let my blame grow obsolete, Thus saying: 'Rustam 'scaped not from a youth Who went forth to Zabul and bound his hands.' Then all my fame will turn to infamy, I shall be smirched and be in evil odour; While if he shall be slain upon the field My face will pale in prosencu of all kings, And men will say: 'He slow the youthful prince For speaking harshly.' I shall be accursed, When I am dead, and called ' old infidel.' Again, if I shall perish by his hand Zabulistan will lose both hue and scent, Zal's seed will perish and no Zabuli Gain fame thenceforth. Still men at least shall quote Good words from me when I have passed away, And if I left but one good word untried, Past doubting, wisdom's self would take my life." Then to that haught man thus he spake: "Concern |p213 Hath made my visage wan. Why speak so much Of bonds? I fear that thou wilt suffer hurt Therefrom unless the will of heaven be other The swift sky's purpose is above surmise. Thine are divs' counsels, thou wilt not receive Wise words. Thou art a man of simple heart And versed not in the world. Know that thy hurt Is aimed at secretly, for while Gushtasp Hath crown and throne he will not grow aweary Of life and fortune, but will keep thee running About the world and make thee face all dangers. He hath examined all the earth, and made An ax of wisdom and a bill of wit, To find a chief that will not quail to fight thee, That thou mayst perish by that hand, and he Still may retain the crown and lofty throne. Shall imprecations be upon the crown, And by that token shalt thou couch in dust? Wilt thou expose my soul to obloquy? Why wilt thou not consider in thy heart? Thou art the source of trouble to thyself Though injured not at heart by any foe. Act not, 0 prince ! act not so boyishly, Delight not so in ill, our hearts aggrieve not, Nor bring calamity on both our souls; Have some respect for God and for my face, And act not as a traitor to thyself. There is no need at all for thee to fight, To struggle or contend or strive against me. 'Tis Destiny that hath been driving thee With this thy host to perish by my hand, While I shall leave an ill name in the world. Oh ! may Gusht:isp's own end be also ill!" When proud Asfandiyar had heard these words He thus returned reply: "0 noble Rustam! Mark well the saying of a sage of yore, |p214 What time he married wisdom to his soul:- "An aged deceiver is a fool indeed Howe'er successful and possessed of rede.' Thou practisest upon me so to keep The collier from thy neck, and wouldst that all Who hear this should believe thy specious words, Call me a man whose purpose isimalign, Call thee a wise man and beneficent, And say thus: 'Rustam came in all good will, With invitations, and held out great hopes, But still the chief rejected what he said, And would consent to nothing but a fight; He treated Rustam's wishes with contempt, And kept his own tongue charged with bitterness. Know that I will not disobey the Shah, Though 'twere to win the crown and diadem. My good and evil in this world depend On him; he is my Hell and Paradise. May that which thou hast eaten nourish thee, And may it work destruction to thy foes. Go home in safety, tell what thou hast heard, Prepare for fight, and bandy not more talk. Come forth at dawn, use every ruse of battle, And make an end. Tomorrow thou shalt see The world turn black before then on the field, Know how the heroes fight, and what a day Of battle and contention really is." Then Rustam said: "0 seeker after fame ! Since such a wish as this hath come to thee, Upon swift Rakhsh will I perform the part Of host and physic thee with club and mace. Thou hast heard people saying in thy land, And grown self-confident because of it:- 'The swords of warriors on the battlefield Will ne'er avail against Asfandiyar.' Tomorrow thou shalt see my pointed spear, |p215 As well as somewhat of my horsemanship, And afterward thou wilt not seek to fight Upon the battlefield with men renowned." The valiant youth with laughter on his lips - A laughter that humiliated Rustam - Replied: "0 thou that seekest after fame Thou hast been angered quickly by our talk. Tomorrow, when thou comest on the field, Thou wilt be more informed about the doings Of men that are men. I am not a mountain, Nor is my steed. I shall not be attended, And, saving for the name of God, shall have No help from blow of shaft and scimitar. Thy mother, should thy head go down the blast Through mace of mine, will weep for pain of heart, And, if thou art not slain upon the field Of battle, I will bind and carry thee Bound to the Shah that such a slave as thou May seek not fight with him as thou dost now." Par. 19 How Rustam returned to his Palace As Rustam went forth from the tent-enclosure He stood before the entry for awhile, And thus addressed the tent: "0 house of hope! Blest were the days that saw Jamshid within thee. Great wert thou in the time of Kai Kaus, And in the days of favoured Kai Khusrau; But now the door of Grace is shut upon thee, For one unworthy sitteth on thy throne." Asfandiyar, the hero, heard the words, Strode forth to noble Rustam, and spake thus:- "Why art thou angry with the tent-enclosure, Thou well-advised? Well might a man of sense Bestow upon Zabulistan the name |p216 Of 'Babblestead.' Why need a guest abuse His host because the guest is weary of him? Time was," he went on to the tent-enclosure, 'When thou hast held Jamshid in thine embrace, Who left the way of God and forfeited Good days on earth and jocund Paradise.' The day too was when thou for Shah Kaus Didst serve as veil and shelter for the troops, Kaus who sought to know God's mysteries, And hankered to investigate the stars ! The earth was all convulsed on his account, And filled with depredation, sword, and arrow. Gushtasp is now thine owner, and Jamasp Is standing in his presence. At his side Is seated on one hand Zarduhsht who brought The Zandavasta out of Paradise; Upon the other Bishutan, the brave And good, not seeking this world's weal and woe; In front is glorious Asfandiyar, The man in whom the wheel of fortune joyeth, In whom the hearts of good men live; the bad Turn slaves through terror of his scimitar." The valiant cavalier passed through the gate. Asfandiyar looked after him and, when He had departed, said to Bishutan:- "I must admit his manliness and prowess. I have not looked on such a horse and horseman, And know not how this combat will result. A mighty elephant upon Mount Gang Is he if he doth come forth armed to battle. His Grace and comeliness surpass his height, Yet will he see, I fear, a fall tomorrow. The Glory of his countenance inflameth My heart, but still I will not sever it From our just Shah's behest. When Rustam cometh |p217 Upon the field tomorrow I will dim His day." Said Bishutan: "List to my words I say to thee, my brother! do not so. I said to thee before, I say again, And will not purge my heart of what is right, Aggrieve not any, for a noble man Will not submit to injury and wrong. Take rest tonight and at tomorrow's dawn Go unattended to his palace, there Let us enjoy some days of happiness, And answer every question that he raiseth. Among the mighty and among the mean No good is done that is not done by him. He will not turn away from thy commands, For I perceive that he is true to thee. Why struggle so in vengeance and in wrath? Wash vengeance from thy heart, ire from thine eyes." Asfandiyar returned this answer: "Thorns Are growing in the corner of the Rose-bed." He said moreover: "Surely these thy words Become not a professor of the Faith If thou art minister of all Iran, The heart, the ears, and eyes of valiant men, Canst thou approve a course however wise That bringeth injury upon the Shah? Then all my cares and toils have turned to wind, And all the doctrine of Zarduhsht is wrong, Which teacheth us that those who disobey The Shah's commands shall have their place in Hell. Thou bid'st me oft: 'Be disobedient, Reject thou the commandment of Gushtasp.' Thou sayest it, but how can I convert Yea into nay through any words of thine? If then hast fears about my person I |p218 Now will relieve thee of them. No one dieth Save at his fated time, and wholly then One that hath made no name. Tomorrow thou Shalt see my dealings on the battlefield With this brave Crocodile." Said Bishutan:- "Thou talk'st so much of fight, O chief ! because The foul Iblis hath ceased to wish thee ill Since thou cam'st hither with the sword and mace. Thou hast given the Div an entry to thy heart, And hearkenest not to me, thy counsellor. I see thy heart obscured, thy head fulfilled With strife, and rend my clothes. Oh ! how can I Relieve my heart of terror once for all? Of two such men, such warriors and brave Lions, How can I know which body will go under?" Still vapouring though full of misery The noble prince returned him no reply. Par. 20 How Zal counselled Rustam Now Rustam coming to his palace saw No remedy but fight. Zawara came And found him wan and gloomy. Rustam said:- "Go bring mine Indian sword, cuirass, and helm Of battle, bring my bow and massive bards, My lasso, mighty mace, and tiger-skin." Zawara bade the treasurer produce What Rustam named, who, seeing his fighting-gear, Cried with a sigh and with dejected head:- "O war-cuirass ! thou hast had rest awhile From fight; but now a fight confronteth thee. Prove strong and lucky wear for me at all times. |p219 Oh! what a battlefield is this, for roaring Two Lions, valiant both, will meet in battle! And how now will Asfandiyar proceed, And show what sport amid the blast of war?" When Zal heard Rustanr's words the old man's brain Grew anxious, and he said: "Famed paladin ! What words are these that make me dark of soul? Since first thou mounted'st on the battle-saddle Thou hast been single-hearted and sincere; It hath not irked thee to obey the Shahs. I fear me that thy day is near its close, And that thy star is falling into sleep, That this will overthrow the race of Zal, And cast our wives and children to the dust. If thou art slain in battle by the hand Of such a youth as is Asfandiyar, Zabulistan will have no land or water Left, and our eminence will be engulfed; While if mishap through this befalleth him Not e'en thy fame exalted will be left thee, For they that tell hereof will shatter it, And say: ''Twas he that slew the youthful prince For having spoken to him scurvily.' Now either stand before him as his liege, Or, if thou wilt not do so, quit thy home. Seek some obscure retreat unknown to him That no one in the world may hear thy name, For such an evil sot would gloom thy soul. Beware then of this monarch of the world, Buy back again thy words with toil and treasure, Prefer brocade of Chin to battle-ax, Prepare gifts also for his troops, and use Thy riches to redeem thyself from him. As soon as he departeth from the Hirmund Mount lofty Rakhsh and, feeling no misgivings, Attend Asfandiyar upon his journey |p220 That thou mayst see the Shah's face once again. How shall he act ill when he seeth thee? Will wrong become the monarch of Iran?" "0 ancient hero!" Rustam answered him, "Take not such things so lightly. Now have I Been long a man and known much good and ill. I reached the divs within Mazandaran, I fought the horsemen of Hamavaran, I fought Kamus too and the Khan of Chin, Although earth trembled underneath his steed. Now if I flee Asfandiyar do thou Resign the flowers and palace of Sistan. With God, the Fosterer, to aid shall I Quail at Gushtasp and at Asfandiyar? Old as I am yet on the day of battle I will bring down the orbed moon's head to dust. What are a hundred mighty elephants, Or fields of men, when on the battle-day I don my tiger-skin? Thou speak'st of prayers I have not spared them and have read to him Subjection's roll. He doth misprize my words, And turneth from both wisdom and my counsel; But now if he will stoop his head from Saturn, And give me salutations heartily, I will not grudge him gums or other treasures, Or mace and sparth and coat of mail and sword; But all that I can say hath no effect, And in our talk we merely clutch the wind. Tomorrow, if he is resolved to fight, Have not thy heart in pain about his life, Because I will not grasp my trenchant sword, But with my lasso take his noble head; I will not wheel about upon the field; He shall not feel my sparth or spear-thrust; I |p221 Will cut off his retreat, clutch him amain About the waist, and hug him from the saddle, Bestow on him the kingship of Gushtisp, Will bring and set him on our splendid throne, And afterward fling wide the treasury's door. When he hath been my guest three days and when, Upon the fourth, the Lustre of the world Hath doffed the robe of lapis lazuli, And when the Cup of Topaz showeth, forthwith In company with him will I regird My self, set face toward Gushtasp, will set . The prince upon the famous ivory throne, Will crown him with the heart-delighting crown, Gird mine own loins before him as a slave, And only seek to carry out his will. Thou knowest, thou rememberest my brave deeds Performed before the throne of Kai KubAd, Yet now thou biddest me to skulk away, Or yield me unto bonds if I am bidden! " Zal smiled to hear the words that Rustam spake, And shook his head awhile in meditation, Then answered Rustam, saying: "0 my son! These words of thine have neither head nor tail, And only lunatics on hearing thee Could give assent to thy distempered speech. Thou art Kubad when seated on a mountain In dudgeon, lacking throne, crown, wealth, and treasure. Oppose not then the Shah, a chief and one With rede and ancient treasures, or one like Asfandiyar, whose name Faghfur of Chin Inscribeth on his signet. ' I will take,' Thou sayest, ' from the saddle to my breast Asfandiyar and bring him to Zal's palace'! No man advanced in years should speak like that; Haunt not the portal of thine evil star. Now have I told thee what my counsel is, |p222 As thou dost know, 0 leader of the people?" He spake, stooped to the earth, praised the Almighty, And said: "Thou Judge supreme ! avert from us The ills of fortune ! " Thus he made request Until the sun rose o'er the mountain-crest. Par. 21 How Rustam fought with Asfandiyar When day came Rustam donned his coat of mail With his protecting tiger-skin withal, He tied his lasso to the saddle-straps, He mounted on his elephantine steed, And, having bidden Zawara come, hold talk At large about the troops, and said: "Depart, Be marshal of the host, and take thy station On yonder sand-hills." So Zawara went, And mustered all the troops on the parade To lead them to the field. When matchless Rustam Came from his palace, spear in hand, they all Blessed him, and said: "May charger, sparth, and saddle Ne'er lack thee." Rustam followed by Zawara, His second in the state, went to the Hirmund The soldiers vaunted but his soul was sad. His brother and the troops both halted there, But he advanced toward the Iranian host, First saying to Zawara privily:- "E'en at this present I would stay from battle The hands of that beguiling reprobate, And make a pathway for his soul to light, But still I fear that we shall come to blows, And after that I know not what will be. Remain thou here and keep the troops in hand; |p223 I go to see what fortune will bring forth. If I shall find him wroth then by that token I shall not call chiefs from Zabulistan, But shall engage with him in single combat; I would not have one of the army injured. Victorious fortune always favoureth The man whose heart is on the side of justice. " He passed the river, mounted on a height, And marvelled at the process of the world; He called and said: "0 brave Asfandiyar Thine opposite hath come; prepare thyself." Asfandiyar, when he had heard the words Which that old, battle-seeking Lion spake, Laughed and replied: "Behold I made me ready Or ever I arose from sleep." He bade To bring helm, breastplate, spear, and ox-head mace. These brought, he clothed his shining breast and donned His Kaian casque, then bade his sable steed Be saddled and led forth, which when he saw He in the might and puissance that he had Stood on the ground the butt-end of his spear, And vaulted to the saddle as a leopard Will leap upon the back of onager And madden it. The soldiers marvelled at him, And called down blessings on their noble chief, Who went and, drawing nigh to peerless Rustam, Saw him upon his charger unattended, And spake thus from his steed to Bishutan:- "I want no friend or mate in fighting him, For since he is alone I too will go Alone and mount upon yon lofty height." They both went forth to battle in such wise That thou hadst said: "The world hath done with feastings." As they drew near, the old man and the young, |p224 Both noble Lions and both paladins, Their steeds neighed; thou hadst said: "The field is rent!' And Rustam shouted: "Happy, prosperous prince! Be not so wroth and fierce, but hear for once A wise man's words: if thou desirest fight And bloodshed, and such stir and strife, permit That I lead forth the horsemen of Zabul With hauberks from Kabul upon their breasts, And do thou likewise bid the Iranians, That men may know the jewel from the mite. Let us bring them to battle on the field, And for our own parts tarry for a while; Thus there will both bloodshed and fierce fighting According to thy wish." Asfandiyar Replied: "Why talk so much to no avail? Thou camest from thy palace at the dawn, And from this lofty hill didst challenge me. Why now hast thou befooled me? In good sooth Thou hast perceived that thine own fall is near. Why should I fight against Zabulistan? Why should Iran fight with Kabulistan? May no such disposition e'er be mine. It is not in accordance to my creed That I shall give Iranians to be slain, Or crown myself. I go forth first in battle Albeit to leopard's claws. If thou hast need Of helpers send for them; such help not me. God will help me in fight and fortune smile Upon mine undertaking. Thou dost challenge; And I am willing; let us fight it out Between ourselves unhelped, and we shall then See if the charger of Asfandiyar Will go toward the stable riderless, Or if the charger of the challenger Will turn toward Rustam's halls without its lord." |p225 The combatants agreed that none should aid. Long while they fought together with their spears, And from their breastplates poured down blood amain. Thus they continued till the spear-points brake, And they were forced to use their scimitars; They grew more instant, wheeled to left and right, And, when their stout swords shivered with the strokes, Reached out and, drawing sparth from saddle, showered Blows as stones shower a-down a precipice. Wroth as two lions raging they belaboured Each other. When the hafts brake, and their hands Were weaponless, they clutched their leathern girdles While both their speedy chargers strove to fly. Asfandiyar grasped Rustam's belt, and Rustam Asfandiyar's. Those two exalted heroes, Both men of elephant-body, tugged amain, Yet neither Lion budged. Both cavaliers Were all distraught, both steeds fordone, with fight. Within their mouths the blood and dust were blent In foam, on man and horse the mail was rent. Par. 22 How the Sons of Asfandiyar were slain by Zawara and Faramurz When Rustam, son of Zal, had tarried long, Becase the heroes fought no little while, Zawara led his troops across the river - An army seared of heart and keen for strife. He cried to the Iranians: "Where is Rustam? Why should we hold our peace on such a day? It was to fight with Rustam that ye came, Came to the gullet of the Crocodile. |p226 Ye would bind Rustam's hands! No sitting still For us on such a field ! " He cursed and spike Unseemly words. A famous cavalier, Son of Asfandiyar, was full of wrath Thereat. He was a youth bight Nush Azar, A leader of the host and masterful. This noble raged against the Sigzian, And loosed his lips to utter foul abuse. "Fool of a Sigzian ! " said he, "know'st thou not That every one that cherisheth the Faith Rejecteth all self-seeking manfully, And liveth on the bidding of the Shahs? Asfandiyar, the hero, ordered us Not to engage in battle with you dogs. Who then will disobey his hestand counsels, And who be bold to break his fealty? But if ye will commit this wickedness, And take upon you to provoke a fight, Ye shall behold for once what warriors are, When armed with swords and spears and massive maces. Zawara gave his troops command: "Lay on, And crown yon chieftains with a crown of blood." Forth to the front he went, the din of war Rose, and they slew Iranians numberless, While Nush Azar, on seeing this, made ready, Bestrode his noble dun and, Indian sword In hand, advanced. Upon the other side A warrior came - the refuge of the host, A chief. That famous one was named Alwa - A dashing cavalier and masterful. Him Nush Azar espied, drew sword, and smote His foeman's head, who came from steed to dust. Zawara spurred his warhorse, neared, and cried |p227 To Nush Azar: "Him hast thou slain and now Stand fast thyself! I do not call Alwa, A horseman." With his spear he smote the head Of Nush Azar, who tumbled to the ground. The day turned 'gainst his host when he was slain. His youthful brother Mihr-i-Nush, a swordsman, In tears, with troubled heart, in dudgeon spurred His elephantine steed and from the centre Advanced before the lines with lips a-foam Through anguish, while for his part Faramarz, Like maddened elephant, came, Indian sword In hand, and closed with noble Mihr-i-Nush While both hosts shouted. Both antagonists Were noble youths - a prince and paladin; They were as fierce as lions combative, And with their swords belaboured one another. Though Mihr-i-Nush was active on the field He had not strength to fight with Faramarz. The young prince raised his sword and hoped to lay His famous foeman's head upon the dust, But struck the blow upon his own steed's neck So that it came down headlong to the ground, And Faramarz dispatched him thus unhorsed; The battlefield was reddened with his blood. Now when Bahman beheld his brothers slain, And all the soil beneath them turned to mire With gore, he came up to Asfandiyar, When he was in the hottest of the fight, And said to him: "O ardent sire! a host Of Sigzians hath comp forth to strive with us Thy two sons - Nush Azar and Mihr-i-Nush - Have yielded wretchedly their lives to them. Thou lightest here while we are in distress, Our youths and princes shrouded by the dust. |p228 Eternal shame will rest upon our race Through what these fools have done." The shrewd chief's hear Was full of rage, his lips were full of sighs, His eyes of tears. "0 offspring of the Div ! " He said to Rustam, "wherefore hast thou left The common path of right? Didst thou not say:- 'I will not bring the army to the fight'? Thou hast no sense of honour and of shame. Hast thou no reverence for me or God? Dost thou not dread His Day of Reckoning? Dost thou not know that they who break their pledge Will have no worship with their fellow-men? Two Sigzians have slaughtered my two sons, And still they turn not from their blind misdoings. When Rustam heard it he was sorely troubled And, trembling like the branches of a tree, Swore by the Shah's own life and head, by sun, And by the scimitar and battlefield:- "I never gave commandment for this fight, Nor do I praise the door of this thing. Now will I bind my brother's hands, who showed The way to ill, and bring too Faramarz In manacles before the pious Shah. Slay them in vengeance for thy noble sons, And be not wroth for this insensate act ! " Asfandiyar replied: "For me to shed A snake's blood for a peacock's is not well Or seemly, and it hath no precedent With mighty Shahs. Thou villain ! guard thyself Because thy time hath come, and I will mix Thy thighs and Rakhsh's body with mine arrows, As milk is mixed with water, that no slave Henceforth may dare to shed his master's blood. If thou survivest I will bind thy hands, And carry thee forthwith before the Shah; |p229 But if thou diest by mine arrow-points Take it in vengeance for my nolble sons." Then Rustam: "What availeth all this talk Unless it be to make our glory less? And now to God, to every good the Guide, Turn thee for shelter and in Him confide." Par. 23 How Rustam fled to the Heights They took their bows and shafts of poplar wood; The sun's face lost its lustre; but, while Rustam And Rakhsh both suffered injury whenever A shaft was loosened from the prince's hand, The shafts of Rustam injured not the prince, And noble Rustam, in bewilderment At such a contest, said: "The warrior, Asfandiyar, hath got a form of brass! " When Rakhsh was growing weak beneath those arrows, And neither horse nor warrior were whole, The rider lighted wind-like from his steed, And set his noble face toward the heights, While wounded Rakhsh went on his homeward way, And so became a stranger to his lord. The blood was pouring down from Rustam's body, That Mount Bistun was weak and all a-tremble. Asfandiyar laughed out at seeing it, And cried: "0 famous Rustam ! why hath strength Departed from the maddened Elephant? Why is the iron Mountain pierced by arrows? Oh ! whither have thy mace and manhood gone, Thy Grace divine and eminence in war? Why hast thou fled away and scaled the heights |p230 Because thou heard'st a mighty Lion's voice? Art thou not he that caused the divs to wail, And singed wild beasts with flashes from his sword? Why hath the elephant of war turned fox, And grown thus impotent in fight? " Zawara Perceived the stop of glossy Rakhsh, who came From far all wounded, and the world grew dark Before his eyes. He went forth to the scene Of strife, lamenting, and beheld the form Of elephantine Rustam wounded thus, With all the wounds undressed, and said to him:- "Up, mount my steed, and I will don for thee The breastplate of revenge." He answered: "Go To Zal and say: 'The glory of Sam's race Is gone. Look to the remedy therefor, And for these grievous wounds. If I survive Tonight the arrows of Asfandiyar It will, I wot, O Zal! be even so As if my mother gave me birth today!' When then hast gone let Rakhsh be all thy care, And I will follow though I tarry long." Zawara turned away intent on Rakhsh. Asfandiyar abode awhile, then cried:- "Famed Rustam ! wherefore standest all this time Upon the heights? Who will direct thy steps? Fling down thy bow, put off thy tiger-skin, And loose the girdle from thy loins. Repeat, And yield thy hands to bondage; so shalt thou Receive from this tune forth no hurt from me. I will conduct thee wounded to the Shah, And not impute thine acts to thee as crimes; But if thou wilt fight on then make thy will, Appointing somebody to be the marchlord, And ask God's pardon for thine own ill-doing; |p231 It may be that He will forgive thy faults, And guide thee when thou quit'st this Wayside Inn." But Rustam made reply: "It is too late, Our hands are shortened both for good and ill; Go back to thine own troops, for none is faro To fight when it is night, and as for me I will return to mine own palace now, Refresh myself and slumber for a while, Bind all my wounds and call some of my kin - Zawara, Faramarz, Zal, and the others Of name - and now I will perform thy best, For loyalty to thee is righteousness." Asfandiyar, the brazen-bodied, said:- "Old, self-willed reprobate ! thou art a man, A great and strong one, knowing many shifts, And charms and counsels. I have marked thy falseness All through, and long to see thine overthrow, But still I give thee quarter for this night; Thou shalt go home; but dally not with guile. Do as I bid and never bandy words With me again." Then Rustam answered him:- "I will make shift to charm my wounds away." He left the presence of Asfandiyar, Who watched to see how Rustam would proceed. Sore wounded as he was he crossed the river; Those arrow-wounds enforced him to dispatch. When he had crossed the river like a boat He prayed to God for succour for his body, And said: "O Thou, the just and holy Judge! If I shall perish by these wounds of mine What noble will avenge me, who take up My rede, my courage, and my precedents?" Asfandiyar was gazing after him, And, having seen him reach the farther bank, |p232 Exclaimed: "They say that he is not a man He is a mighty, raging Elephant ! " Then added in amaze: "Almighty Judge It was Thy will to make him of this sort, Who art the Author both of earth and time." He went his way, and from his tent-enclosure Rose wailings. Bishutan came out lamenting For gallant Nush Azar and Mihr-i-Nush. The prince's camp-enclosure was all dust, And every noble had his raiment rent. Asfandiyar, alighting from his steed, Clasped to his breast the heads of those two slain, And said; "Alas ye two young warriors! Where have your souls gone from these forms of yours? Then said he unto Bishutan: "Arise, And weep no more the slain. I see no good In pouring blood. We should not cling to life. We all are born to die, both old and young, ' And when we pass may wisdom succour us." On teaken litters holding golden coffins He sent those corpses to the Shah, his sire, The master of the crown, and with this message:- "This branch of thy design hath borne its fruit. Thou didst launch forth the boat upon the water By seeking for the servitude of Rustam. When thou behold'st the bier of Nush Azar And Mihr-i-Nush be less intent on wrong. The bull Asfandiyar is in his hide I know not what the future may bring forth." He sat upon his throne in grief and mourning, And pondered Rustam's words. Then spake he thus To Bishutan: "The Lion cowereth Before the brave man's grip. Today when I Saw Rustam like an elephant in stature And mien I offered praise to holy God, The Author of our hopes and of our fears, |p233 Who in His providence had formed him thus. Praise be to Him, the Maker of the world ! What actions once were Rustam's, he that used To drop his fish-hook in the sea of Chin And land the crocodile, and with his breath Suck in the leopard on the waste!' Yet I Have wounded him with arrows till the ground Hath come to be a puddle with his blood. He left the field afoot, he scaled the heights, And armed and armoured hurried to the river. He made the passage, wounded as he was, With all his body full of arrow-heads; But still methinketh, when he reacheth home, His soul will quit it and to Saturn roam." |p234 Par. 24 How Rustam took Counsel with his Kin Now Rustam for his part regained his palace Where Zal beheld him in his grievous plight. Zawara too and Faramarz shed tears, And were consumed by sorrow for his wounds. Rudaba, when she heard the others' cries, Began to pluck her hair and tear her face. Zawara came and, loosing Rustam's girdle,' Removed his armour and the tiger-skin, While all the skilful gathered at the door, But Rustam bade to take them first to Rakhsh. Shrewd Zal plucked his own hair and laid his cheeks On Rustam's wounds, and cried: "That I should live Hoar-headed to behold my dear son thus!" Then Rustam said: "What booteth to bewail? That which hath happened is by Heaven's decree. The matter now confronting me is harder, Moro fearful to my soul, for ne'er have I Beheld the equal of Asfandiyar, The brazen-bodied, for courageousness In time of battle. I have roamed the world, And wetted both of sights and mysteries. I took the White Div by the waist and hurled him Down to the ground as 'twere a willow-branch. My poplar shafts were wont to pierce an anvil, And scorn a shield. I often hit with them The armour of Asfandiyar, but they Proved thorns 'gainst stone ! Again, the pards on seeing My sword would skulk beneath the rocks and yet It will not cleave the breastplate on his breast, Or den a bit of silk upon his head ! |p235 However oft too I excuse myself, That I may warm that stony heart of his, He only seeketh to disgrace me more By words and actions full of arrogance. Thank God ! night came, and when he could not see I 'scaped this Dragon's claws. I know not how To seek release. Mine only course, methinketh, Tomorrow will be to abandon Rakhsh, And fare to where the prince will find me not. Let him strew heads within Zabulistan He will grow weary of the work in time, Though not soon sick of ill." Zal said: "Alas! My son ! give ear and, talking done, grow calm. There is a way from all contingencies On earth save death which is itself away. I know of one resource; use it, for I Herein will summon the Simurgh to aid. If for the future she will be my guide Our lands and borders will be saved for us;' Else by Asfandiyar that brave knave's hand Will utter ruin come upon our land." Par. 25 How the Simurgh succoured Rustam When both were set on this bold project Zal, The well-beloved, went to a lofty height, And carried from the palace censers three Containing fire. With him went three brave sages. Now when the wizard reached the top he drew Forth from brocade a plume of the Simurgh And, having raised a flame within a censer, Consumed therein a portion of the feather.' Whenas the first watch of the night had passed |p236 Thou wouldst have said: "The face of air is darkened." And gazing from the eminence Zal saw it Filled with the fluttering plumes of the Simurgh. Just then the bird, surveying from the air And seeing fire ablaze with Zal before it Set seared and sad, swooped down upon the dust. Beholding the Simurgh he praised her greatly, And did obeisance, filling up the censers With incense in her presence and surcharging His cheeks with his heart's blood. Said the Simurgh:- "What was't, O king ! that made thee need these fumes? " Zal answered: "May the ills that miscreants Have brought upon me fall upon my foes. The body of the lion-hearted Rustam Hath been bewounded, and my care for him Hath fettered me. In short his injuries Raise fears about his life; none hath beheld A man so stricken; thou wouldst say withal That Rakhsh is dying, he is writhing so With anguish from the shafts. Asfandiyar Hath come against our land and knocketh only Upon the door of war. He asketh not For land or crown or throne, but he would have The tree yield root and fruit !" Said the Simurgh:- "O paladin ! be not distressed hereat, But let me presently see Rakhsh and him, The exalted chief who meteth out the world." Then Zal sent one to Rustam with these words:- "Make shift, I prithee, to bestir thyself, And give, moreover, orders that they bring Rakhsh instantly to the Simurgh:' When Rustam Came to the height to that sagacious bird She said: "O mighty, raging Elephant ! |p237 By hand of whom hast thou grown thus distressed? Why didst thou seek to fight Asfandiyar? Why kindle thine own breast? " Zal said to her:- "O queen of love! since thou hast shown to us Thy holy face, say where shall I take refuge If Rustam be not healed? They will lay waste Sistan, will turn it to a lair for leopards And lions, and our race will be uprooted. Now in what manner shall we deal with Rustam? " The bird surveyed and sought to heal the wounds, Sucked them and, drawing forth eight arrow-heads, Stroked with her feathers on the wounded parts, And Rustam was restored to might and Grace. She said: "Bind up thy hurts and for a week Shun danger, moisten one of these my feathers With milk and stroke therewith inside the wounds." She in like manner having called for Rakhsh Employed her beak on him to make him whole, And drew out from his neck six arrow-heads - All that there were. Rakhsh neighed. The crownbestower Laughed for delight. "O elephantine one!" Said the Simurgh, "thou art most famed of folk. Why didst thou seek to fight Asfandiyar, The brazen-bodied and illustrious?" He made reply: "He talked of binding me, Else I had not been vexed, but I prefer Death to disgrace if in my present straits I shun the fight." She said: "Tis no disgrace To stoop to dust before Asfandiyar, Because he is a warrior and a prince, A holy man who hath the Grace of God. If then wilt make a covenant with me, |p238 Be penitent for having sought the fight, And seek not triumph o'er Asfandiyar, The work of war or moment of revenge, But make submission to him on the morrow, And proffer soul and body for his ransom, Then if his time be coining to an end No doubt he will regard not thine excuses. For such an issue I will furnish thee, And sunward raise thy head." When Rustam heard He joyed and put away all thought of strife; He said: "I will not disobey thy words Although the air rain swords upon my head." Said the Simurgh to him: "I will declare In love to thee the secret of the sky Whoe'er shall shed that hero's blood will be Himself pursued by fortune. Furthermore Throughout his life he will abide in travail, Find no escape therefrom, and lose his treasures, Be luckless in this world and afterward In pain and anguish. If thou art content With this, and present triumph o'er thy foe, I will reveal to thee this night a wonder, And bar for thee the lip from evil words." "I am content," he said to her, "and now Say what thou wilt. We leave the world behind As our memorial and pass away, And there is nothing left of any man , Save the report of him. If I shall die With fair fame all is well with me, but fame I must have for the body is for death." "Go and mount Rakhsh," she said, "and choose a dagger, A bright one." When he heard he girt his loins |p239 And, mounting, fared until he reached the seal And saw the air all dark with the Simurgh. When Rustam had arrived beside the waters That noble bird descended, and he saw, Sprung from the soil and with its head in air, A tamarisk, and on it perched that fowl Imperious. She showed him a dry path, The scent of musk exhaling from her breath, Then bidding him come near to her she stroked The feathers of her wing upon his head. "Choose out the straightest, longest, slenderest bough," She said to him, "because this tamarisk Is fatal to Asfandiyar; so hold not This wood of small account. Let it be straightened Before the fire, choose good, old arrow-heads, And fit it with three feathers and two points. Now have I shown thee how to work him woe:" When Rustam had cut off the branch he went Back from the sea toward his hall and hold With the Simurgh still acting as his guide, And, as she kept above his head, she said:- "Now when Asfandiyar shall seek to fight thee Petition him, ask him to do thee right, And knock not at the door of loss. Perchance Soft words may turn him, and he may recall Old times, for thou hast lived so long in toil And hardship for the great. If he reject All that thou canst advance, and if he treat thee As one of little worth, string up thy bow, And set thereon this shaft of tamarisk, |p240 This fosterling of bane. Aim at his eyes, Straight, with both hands as one that worshippeth The tamarisk, and Destiny will bear The arrow thither straight. He will be blinded, And fortune rage at him." Then the Simurgh, Embracing Zal as woof embraceth warp In bidding him farewell, took flight content, While Rustam, when he saw her in the air, Took order to prepare a goodly fire, And straightened out thereby the tamarisk wood. He fitted arrow-heads upon the shaft, And fixed the feathers to the finished haft. Par. 26 How Rustam went back to fight Asfandiyar When dawn brake from the heights, and dark night's waist Arched, Rustam armed himself and much invoked The Maker. When he reached the famous host, For war and vengeance on Asfandiyar, The hero, good at need, cried in reproach:- "O lion-heart ! how long wilt slumber thus, For Rustam hath already saddled Rakhsh? Arouse thee from thy pleasant sleep and close In fight with Rustam eager for the fray." Now when Asfandiyar heard Rustam's voice All earthly weapons seemed of no avail, And thus he said to Bishutan: "The Lion Adventureth not against a sorcerer. I did not think that Rustam would bear home His coat of mail, his tiger-skin, and casque, While as for Rakhsh, his mount, its breast was hidden By arrow-heads! Now I have heard that Zal, The devotee of sorcerers, extendeth |p241 E'en to the sun his practices, surpasseth All warlocks in his wrath, and sorteth not With wisdom." Bishutan replied in tears:- "Be care and wrath thy foe's. What hath come o'er thee That thou art wan to-day? Thou must have passed A sleepless night ! What in the world can ail These heroes that they must increase such toils? Whose fortune hath gone halt I know not I In that it ever bringeth feud on feud ! " Asfandiyar, the hero, donned his mail, Advanced toward famous Rustam and, on seeing His face, exclaimed: "Now may thine honour perish! Perchance thou hast forgot, thou Sigzian ! Thy foeman's bow and breast? Thou hast been healed By Zal's enchantments; otherwise the charnel Had sought for thine embrace. But thou hast gone, Hast used unholy arts, and hastenest thus To fight with me. Today will I so maul thee That Zal shall see thee living never more." "O Lion never satiate of fight!" Said Rustam, "reverence holy God, the World-lord, And fling not heart and wisdom to the abyss. I have not come today for fighting's sake, But for excuse, for honour, and for fame. Thy whole contention with me is unjust, And thou art closing both the eyes of wisdom. By just Zarduhsht and by the good religion, By Nush Azar, the Fire, and Grace divine, By sun, by moon, and by the Zandavasta, I prithee turn thy heart from mischief's path. Keep not in memory the words that passed, Though they would cause a man to burst his skin. Come then and see the place of mine abode, For thou hast lost all power upon my life. |p242 I will unlock the door of ancient treasures, Which I have gotten me in my long day, And load them on mine own beasts. Give thou them All to thy treasurer to drive before him. Moreover I will travel by thy aide And, if thou biddeat, go before the Shah. Then if he slayeth me I am content, Content too if he biddeth me be bound. Consider what the wise man said of old:- 'May none be wedded to a luckless star.' I will try all expedients in the hope That fortune may distaste thee with this strife." Asfandiyar replied: "I am not one To use deceit in time of war or fear: Thou pratest much of hall and house, much lavest The face of peace. If still thou wilt live on First wear my chains." Then Rustam loosed again His tongue, and said: "O prince! renounce injustice. Blast not my name, degrade not thine own soul, For ill alone can come of this contention. A thousand royal jewels will I give thee, As well as crown with armlet and with earrings; Will give to thee a thousand sweet-lipped youths To minister to thee by day and night; Will give a thousand damsels of Khallukh To be the glorious graces of thy crown; I will unbar for thee the treasury Of Sam, the son of Nariman, and Zal, O peerless one ! amass thee all their wealth, And from Kabulistan bring men withal To do thy will and chase thy foes in fight. Then like a bond-slave will I go before thee, Go to the presence of the wreakful Shah; But, 0 my prince ! put vengeance from thy heart, Make not thyself an ambush for the Div. |p243 Thou hast another power than that of bonds; Thou art my monarch and thou servest God. Doth ill become thee, for thy bonds would shame me For ever? " But Asfandiyar replied:- "How long wilt thou talk idly? 'Quit,' thou sayest, 'God's path and what the veteran Shah commandeth.' But he that goeth from the Shah's behest Defraudeth God. Choose either fight or bond, And cease to utter words that are but fond." Par. 27 How Rustam shot Asfandiyar in the Eyes with an Arrow When Rustam knew that humbleness availed not Before Asfandiyar he strung his bow, And set therein the shaft of tamarisk With baneful points, and said: "O Lord of sun And moon, who makest knowledge, Grace, and strength To wax ! Thou seest my mind pure in intent, My soul, and self control, for much I toil To turn Asfandiyar from strife. Thou knowest That his contention is unjust, and how His traffic with ins is all fight and prowess; So visit not my crime with retribution, O Maker of the moon and Mercury!" Asfandiyar perceived him tarrying long From strife, and said to him: "0 famous Rustam ! Thy soul is satiate of fight, but now Thou shaft behold the arrows of Gushtasp, Luhrasp's own arrow-heads and lion-heart." Then Rustam quickly fitted to his bow The tamarisk-shaft as the Simurgh had bidden; He struck Asfandiyar full in the eyes, And all the world grew dark before that chief; |p244 The straight-stemmed Cypress bent, intelligence And Grace abandoned him. The pious prince Fell prone, his bow of Chach dropped from his hands. He clutched his black steed by the mane and crest; The battlefield was reddened with his blood. Said Rustam: "Thou hast brought this evil seed To fruit ! Thou art the man who said'st: 'My form Is brazen, and I dash high heaven to earth.' Yet through one arrow hast thou turned from strife, And fallen swooning on thy noble charger. Moreover now thy head will come to dust, And thy fond mother's heart will burn for thee." Meanwhile the famous prince had tumbled headlong Down from his black steed's back and lay awhile Till he recovered consciousness, sat up Amid the dust, and - listened. Then he seized The arrow by its end and drew it out, Drew it out soaked in blood from point to feather. When presently the tidings reached Bahman:- "The Grace divine of empire is obscured," He went to Bishutan and said: "Our war Hath wedded woe, the mighty Elephant's body Hath come to dust, and this distress hath turned The world to an abyss for us." They both Ran from the army to the paladin. They saw the warrior with his breast all blood, And with a gory arrow in his hand. Then Bishutan cast dust upon his head And rent his raiment, uttering loud cries; Bahman rolled in the dust and rubbed his cheeks Upon the yet warm blood. Said Bishutan:- "What chief or noble knoweth this world's secrets Since an Asfandiyar, who for the Faith So bravely drew the scimitar of vengeance, |p245 Who purged the world of foul idolatry, And never set his hand to work injustice, Hath perished in the heyday of his youth? The head that wore the crown hath come to dust, While o'er the bad man's head, who bringeth anguish Upon the world and harroweth the souls Of noble men, unnumbered seasons pass, Because he seeth not mischance in war." The two youths took his head upon their breasts, And wiped away the gore, while Bishutan, With cheeks all tears of blood and heart all anguish, Made lamentation over him, and said:- "Alack, O warrior Asfandiyar, The world-lord and the progeny of kings Who tore this warrior-mountain from its place? Who overthrew this furious Lion? Who drew The tusks redoubted of this Elephant, And flung him to the waters of the Nile? Is our race blasted by the evil eye, For evil surely is for those that do it? Where are thy courage, thine intelligence, Thins usages, thy strength, thy star, thy Faith? Where is thy splendid equipage in war? Where is thy gracious voice at festivals? What time thou purged'st all the world of foes Thou feared'st not the lion or the div, And now, when thou shouldst profit by the work, I see thee bite the dust ! " Asfandiyar Made answer wisely: "Shrewd and prosperous man! Distract not thou thyself before me thus, For sky and moon allotted me this fate. Dust is the dead man's couch; bewail not then So grievously my slaughter. Where are now Hushang, Jamshid, and Faridun? They came From wind and vanished in a breath! Thus too |p246 Have mine own ancestors, pure-born, elect, And high and holy, gone and left their room To us. None stayeth in this Wayside Inn. In this world have I toiled exceedingly In public and in private to establish The way of God and wisdom as the guide Thereto, but when through me the enterprise Had grown illustrious, and when the hands Of Ahriman were barred from wickedness, Fate stretched its lion's claws and brought me down As though an onager ! And now my hope Is that in Paradise my heart and soul May reap what they have sown. The son of Zal Hath slain me not by prowess. Mark what I Have in my hand - a shaft of tamarisk! That wood hath closed my lifetime by the practice Of the Simurgh and of resourceful Rustam, While Zal himself, the adept in grammarye, Performed the sorceries." When Asfandiyar Spake of that matter Rustam writhed and wept For agony and, coming to the prince, Stood pierced by grief and very sorrowful, Then spake to Bishutan and said in anguish:- "One should acknowledge prowess in a man. 'Tis as he said; he did not change from prowess To guile. In sooth 'twas through some felon div That fate assigned to me this grievous lot, For since for prowess' sake I girt my loins, And sought to fight with chiefs, I have not seen Arrayed in hauberk and with war-cuirass A cavalier like to Asfandiyar. When, after trial of his bow, his breast, And grip, I left the battle in despair I sought a shift in mine extremity' To save my head from him for good and all. |p247 I set his destiny upon my bow, And when his day bad come I shot the arrow. Had fortune been with him how could a shaft Of tamarisk avail me any whit? We all shall have to leave this darksome earth; No caution will prolong our lives one breath. Good sooth, for this I shall be marked for ill, And live in story with the tamarisk still !" Par. 28 How Asfandiyar told his last Wishes to Rustam Then thus to Rustam spake Asfandiyar:- "My time is at an end. Avoid me not, Arise and come to me, since all our schemes Are changed, that thou mayst hear my last requests Upon my son's behalf - my chiefest Pearl. Use all thine efforts to establish him, Endowing him with greatness as his guide." The matchless Rustam hearkened to his words, Dismounted, wailing, and approached on foot. He poured down tears of blood for very shame, And muttered to himself lugubriously. When Zal gat tidings of that battlefield He set forth from his palace, like the wind. Zawara too and Paramarz went forth, Like madmen, tolthe indicated spot. A wail ascended from that scene of strife:- The The faces of the sun and moon are darkened." Zal spake to Rustam, saying: "0 my son! I weep for thee betimes in pain of heart, For I have heard from readers of the stars, From archimages, and the men of lore:- "The slayer of Asfandiyar shall be The prey, of fortune, while he liveth see Both pain and stress, and pass to misery!'" |p248 Thus spake Asfandiyar to Rustam, saying:- "Thou art not author of mine evil fortune. This was my fate; what was to be hath been; None knoweth the secrets of yon azure vault. Not Rustam or Simurgh or bow and arrow Have robbed my body of its life in battle, For that hath been the doing of Gushtasp, And little blessing hath my soul for him. He said to me: 'Go and burn up Sistan; From this time forth I would have no Nimruz.' He laboured that the army, crown, and treasure Should stay with him, and I abide in toil; And now do thou with loving heart receive . From me the charge of this my noble son, Bahman, wise, watchful, and my minister, And what thou hearest from me bear in mind. Keep him in gladness in Zabulistan, Remembering what evil men may say, Instruct him to array the host and order The chase, the combat, and the festival, The revel, minstrelsy, and polo; make A great man of him both in deed and word. Jamasp, once famed, and may he prosper never Said that Bahman would keep my name alive, And be a greater king, and that his seed Would be illustrious and deserve to reign." The matchless Rustam, hearing, stood and laid His right hand on his breast in acquiescence. "E'en if I die I will not fail herein," He said, "but bring thy words to pass, will set Bahman upon the famous ivory throne, And crown him with the heart-illuming crown. Asfandiyar, on hearing Rustam's words, Replied to him: "O ancient paladin ! Know this, and God Himself will bear me witness Who is my leader to the good religion, |p249 That in despite of all thy noble acts, And of thy head exalted by brave deeds, Thy fame now hath been turned to infamy, And earth grown clamorous for me. Herefrom Crooked grew thy spirit's lot; so willed the Maker." Then spake he thus to Bishutan: "A shroud Is all I need of this world. When I quit This Wayside Inn take order for the host, And lead it home. When thou hast reached Iran Say to my sire: 'Since thou hast gained thine end Dissemble not; the age is all thine own; Thy name is written now on every signet. I had some hope of better things from thee, Though such a crime befitted thy dark soul. Reformed by me and by the sword of justice The world was purged of miscreants' villainies, And, with the good Faith stablished in Iran, Both majesty and kingship called for me; But thou didst apeak me fair before the nobles, And privily dispatch me to be slain. Now thou hast gained thy heart's desire herein; Take order then and sit with heart at ease, And, since thou art secure, ban death itself, And hold high revel in thy royal halls. The throne is thine, the stress and toil are mine; Thine is the crown and mine are bier and shroud. What said the rustic minstrel old and tried? "Death followeth hard upon the arrow-point." Trust not in treasure, crown, and throne. My soul Will have its eyes on thy career, and when Thou comest, and we go before the Judge Together, we will plead and hear His sentence.' When thou hast left Gushtasp say to my mother:- This time 'twas Death that challenged me to fight, And mail is only wind before his arrows, For they would penetrate a mount of steel. |p250 0 loving mother ! follow me with speed; Grieve not for my sake nor aggrieve thy soul. Show not thy face unveiled before the folk, Or lift the winding-sheet to gaze on mine, For such a sight will but increase thy woe, And men of wisdom will commend thee not.' Say likewise to my sisters and my wife, Those wise and noble dames who shared with me My private hours: 'Farewell for evermore ! Ill hath befall'n me through my father's crown; To him my death hath been the key of treasures. Behold I have sent Bishutan to him To shame his gloomy soul.'" He apake, then gasped:- "This wrong hath come upon me from Gushtasp." With that his pure soul parted from his body, Which lay shaft-stricken on the darksome dust, While Rustam, with his head and face besmirched With dust, rent all his raiment o'er the prince, And cried: "Alack ! 0 valiant cavalier, Whose grandsire was a warrior Shah, whose sire A king ! I had a good name in the world, But through Gushtasp mine end is infamous." Long while he wept and then addressed the slain:- "0 monarch peerless, matchless in the world! Thy soul hath passed to Paradise above, And may thy foeman reap what he hath sown." Zawara said to him: "Make not thyself Dependent on the mercy of this prince. Hast thou not heard this adage from the sage, Who quoteth from the sayings of old times:- 'If thou shalt take a lion's whelp to rear 'Twill grow ferocious when its teeth appear, And, soon being set on prey and waxen tall, Will fall upon its feeder first of all'? Both sides will be perturbed by evil wrath, |p251 Whence first the ill will come upon Iran, Since such a monarch as Asfandiyar Was slain; then thou wilt see thine own ill day, Zabulistan. will suffer from Bahman, The veterans of Kabulistan will writhe. Mark this, that, when he cometh to be king, Forthwith he will avenge Asfandiyar." To him said Rustam: "No one, bad or good, Can strive with heaven. So will I choose my course That wisdom, seeing, will restore my fame. Fate will avenge if he doth wickedly, But do not thou provoke the evil eye." Par. 29 How Bishutan bare the Coffin of Asfandiyar to Gushtasp Then Rustam made a goodly iron coffin; He draped the outside with brocade of Chin, And smeared with pitch the inside, sprinkling it With musk and spicery. He made withal The winding-sheet of gold-inwoven brocade, While all that noble company lamented. When he had shrouded that resplendent form, And crowned it with a turquoise coronet, They sealed the narrow coffin and the Tree So fruitful and so royal was no more. Then Rustam chose him forty camels, each Clad in a housing of brocade of Chin. One of the camels bore the prince's coffin With camels right and left, and guards behind With hair and faces rent. One theme alone Possessed their tongues and souls - Asfandiyar. Before the cavalcade went Bishutan. Asfandiyar's black charger had been docked, Both mane and tail, its saddle was reversed, |p252 And from it there were hung his battle-mace, His famous helm withal, aurtout and quiver And head-piece. They set forward, but Bahman Stayed at Zabul and wept with tears of blood. Him matchless Rustam carried to the palace, And tendered as his life. News reached Gushtasp:- "The famous prince's head hath been o'erthrown !" He rent his robes, his crowned, head came to dust, A bitter wail rose from Iran, the world Rang with Asfandiyar. Throughout the realm, Where'er the tidings came, the nobles doffed Their crowns. Gushtasp exclaimed: "0 pure of Faith ! Time and the earth will not behold thy like, For ever since the days of Minuchihr There hath not come a chief resembling thee Who fouled the sword and fulled the Faith, and kept The world on its foundations:' In their wrath The nobles of Iran put off all awe For Shah Gushtasp, and cried: "Thou luckless one ! To save thy throne thou sentest to Zabul, For slaughter there, the great Asfandiyar That thou mightst don the crown of all the world. May thy head shame to wear the crown of Shahs, Hot-foot thy star desert thee !" In a body They left the palace, and the monarch's crown And star were in the dust. Now when the mother And sisters of Asfandiyar had heard, They name forth from the palace with their daughters,. Unveiled, with dust-fouled feet, and raiment rent. When Bishutan came weeping onlhis way, And after him the coffin and black steed, The women hung on him, wept tears of blood, |p253 And cried: "Undo this narrow coffin's lid, Let us too see the body of the slain." He stood among the women, full of grief, Mid groans and sobs and beatings of the cheeks. Then said he to the smiths: "Bring sharp files hither, For this is Resurrection Day to me." He oped the covering of the narrow coffin, And gave fresh cause for weeping. When the mother And sisters of Asfandiyar beheld His visage steeped in musk, and sable beard, The hearts of those chaste ladies crisp of lock Filled to o'erflowing, and they swooned away. Revived, they prayed to glorious Surush, Departed from the pillow of the prince, And went with wailing to his sable steed, Whosemeck and head they fondled lovingly, And Katayun flung dust thereon. The prince Had ridden that charger on the fatal day, And perished on its back. The mother said:- "0 thou of luckless feet ! the Kaian prince Was slain on thee. Whom wilt thou bear to battle Henceforth and yield up to the Crocodile?" They clasped its neck and strewed its head with dust, The host's cries reached the clouds, and Bishutan Approached the palace. Coming to the throne He kissed it not, nor did the Shah obeisance, But cried: "O chief of chiefs! the sign hath come Of thine undoing. Herein thou hast done ill To thine own self by robbing kings of breath. Both Grace and wisdom have abandoned thee, And thou wilt suffer chastisement divine. Thy main support is shattered, famous Shah And henceforth thou wilt grasp but wind alone. To keep thy throne thou giv'st thy son to slaughter, And may thine eye behold not crown and fortune. The world is full of foes and evil men, |p254 Thy crown will not endure eternally, Abuse will be thy portion in this world, And inquisition at the Judgment Day." This said, he turned his face toward Jamasp, And cried: "0 impious wretch and ill of rede! Thou never speakest aught, but lying words, And thou hast made thy fame by knavery. Thou art the cause of feud between the Kaians, And settest them the one against the other. Thou canst not teach them aught but wickedness, To break away from good and take to ill. In this world thou hast sown one seed, and thou Wilt reap the fruits in public and in private. A magnate hath been slaughtered through thy words Thou saidst: 'The lifetime of the great is over.' Thou didst instruct the Shah in evil ways, Old ill-adviser and malevolent! Thou saidst: 'Asfandiyar the hero's life Is lying in the grasp of famous Rustam.'" This said, he loosed his tongue and weeping told The counsel and last wishes of the dead, And told too how the prince had given Bahman To Rustam's keeping. Bishutan told all. The Shah, on hearing those last words, repented About the matter of Asfandiyar. The nobles having gone forth from the palace, Humai and Bih Afrid approached their sire, And in his presence tore their cheeks and plucked Their hair in sorrow - for their brother, saying:- "0 famous monarch ! heed'st thou not at all Asfandiyar's decease, who was the first To venge Zarir and take the Onager Out of the Lion's claws, exacted vengeance Upon the Turkmans and restored thy sway? But thou didst bind him at a slanderer's words With heavy yoke and iron bars and lasso. |p255 While he was in his bonds Luhrasp was slain, And all the army's fortune overthrown. When from Khallukh Arjasp arrived at Balkh Our lives were rendered bitter by distress. Us, who had ne'er appeared unveiled, he bore Uncovered from the palace to the street, Quenched Nush Azar established by Zarduhsht, And laid his hand upon the sovereignty. Thou sawest what thy son achieved by valour; He made thy foes breath, vapour, flying dust, Restored us to thee from the Brazen Hold, And guarded both thine army and thy realm; But thou,didst send him to Zabul and give him No lack of counsel and of parting words With the intent that he should perish there To win the crown. The world was grieved and mourned him. It was not the Simurgh or Zal or Rustam That slew him; it was thou, so do not weep! May thine own hoary beard cry shame upon thee, Who, merely in the hope of reigning on, Hast slain thy son. There hath been many a world-lord Before thee, worthy of the royal throne They gave not child nor any of their kin, Or their allies or household, to be slain." Thereat the Shah spake thus to Bishutan:- "Rise and fling water on my daughters' fire." Then Bishutan departed from the palace, And took,the ladies, saying to his mother:- "Why mourn him sleeping well and happily, Tired of the land and of the lord thereof? Why is thy heart in grief on his account, For now his conversation is in Heaven? " The mother took her son's rede and therewith |p256 Resigned her to the justice of the Lord. For one year afterward in every dwelling Were wailing and lament throughout Iran; Both morn and eve the folk mourned bitterly The tamarisk arrow and Zal's sorcery. Par. 30 How Rustam sent Bahman back to Iran Bahman stayed in Zabulistan, enjoying The hunting-field and wine among the roses, While Rustam taught that enemy of his To ride, to quaff; and play the monarch's part, In all things holding him above a son, And, night and day, embracing him with smiles. Now when performance was allied to promise, And when Gushtasp had no door of revenge Still open, Rustam wrote in deep distress Of all the matter of Asfandiyar. The letter first called blessings down on those Who take excuses and forego revenge, Then "God is witness " he went on to say, "And Bishutan herein hath been before me, How much I pleaded with Asfandiyar That so he might abandon thoughts of fight. I offered him my treasure and my realm, But he preferred all trouble for himself. His fate was such that when it stood revealed My heart was filled with pain and love withal. Heaven turned above us to the destined end, And Destiny regardeth none. Bahman, The atheling, is with me now and he Outshineth even mine own Jupiter. I have instructed him in kingly parts, |p257 And paid the debt of thy son's last request With wisdom. If the Shah will undertake To pardon me, and to forget the past, All - soul and body - that I have are his, Both crown and treasure and both brain and skin." Whenas this reached the monarch of the world He was perturbed in presence of his lords, And Bishutan came forth to testify, Repeating all the words that Rustam used, His grief, his counsel, and his last appeal, And goodly offer of his realm and treasure. The famous Shah was reconciled to Rustam, And ceased thenceforth to inflame his heart with sorrow. He wrote forthwith a letter in response, He set a tree within the garth of greatness, And said thus: "From the circle of high heaven What time calamity is imminent Can any keep it back by circumspection Though much inclined to wisdom? Bishutan Hath told me what thy real intentions were, And by thy goodness thou hast touched my heart; But who escapeth from the turning sky? A wise man dwelleth not upon the past; Thou art as ever thou hast been or better; Thou art the lord of Hind and of Kannuj. Ask whatsoever thou desirest more By way of throne and signet, sword and casque." As bidden by Gushtasp the messenger Conveyed that answer quickly. It rejoiced The famous paladin who felt his heart Released from care. Meanwhile young prince Bahman Grew into lofty stature; he was wise, Instructed, masterful, and shone with more Than royal Grace and state. Jamasp, aware That both for good and ill the sovereignty |p258 Would come upon Bahman, said to Gushtasp:- "0 Shah most worshipful! regard Bahman. He hath the teaching that his father wished, And hath arrived at man's estate with lustre; But he hath tarried long abroad, and none Hath read to him a letter from thyself. Thou shouldest write to him a letter like A tree within the garth of Paradise. What other memory is left to thee To banish sorrow for Asfandiyar?" This thing seemed good to Shah Gushtasp who gave Command to glorious Jamasp, and said:- "Indite me now a letter to Bahman, And one to glory-loving Rustam, saying:- 'Thank God, 0 paladin of paladins! That thou hast made us glad and cleared our mind. Our grandson, who is dearer than our life, Is more renowned for wisdom than Jamasp, And hath acquired with thee both skill and counsel, Send of thy favour home.'" That to Bahman Ran thus: "When thou halt read this quit Zabul, For we desire to see thee; so make ready, And tarry not." Shrewd Rustam, when the scribe Had read the letter to him, was rejoiced. Of what he had within his treasury - Surtouts and daggers made of watered steel, Bards, bows and arrows, sparths and Indian hangers, Fresh aloes, camphor, musk, and ambergris, Gold, silver, jewelry, brocaded stuffs, With raiment in the piece, slaves of ripe age And unripe, golden girdles, silvern bridles, And two gold cups a-brim with precious stones, All these he gave Bahman, and they that bore them Accounted for them to his treasurer. |p259 The matchless Rustam journeyed with Bahman Two stages, then dispatched him to the Shah. The face of Shah Gushtasp was dim with tears What time he gazed upon his grandson's face. He said: "Thou art Asfandiyar himself, Thou art like no one in the world but him." The Shah bestowed on him the name Ardshir, On seeing what great courage he possessed. He was a stalwart warrior, strong of hand, A wise man, well-instructed, and devout, And with his fingers dressed beside his legs His fists extended lower than his knees. The Shah awhile made proof of him and marked His bearing. On the field, at feast, and chase He proved a warrior like Asfandiyar, And never tried the patience of Gushtasp, Who ever gazed upon him with emotion, And said: "The World-lord gave him unto me, Gave him to me because I was in trouble. May my Bahman live evermore since I Have lost my noble, brazen-bodied son." The conflicts of Asfandiyar are o'er; May our Shah's head live on for evermore, His heart from travail ever be at rest, And may the age conform to his behest, Glad be his heart, his crown uplifted high, And round his foe's neck may his lasso lie. |p260 THE STORY OF RUSTAM AND SHAGHAD |p261 Par. 1 The Prelude The tale of Rustam's slaying I present In mine own words but based on document. There was an ancient man, hight Azad Sarv, Who erst lived with Ahmad, Sahl's son, at Marv. |p262 A paladin in form and face was he, And storied in the royal legendry. His head was full of speech, his heart of lore, His tongue of phrases of the days of yore. From Stim, the son of Nariman, he drew His line and many a fight of Rustam's know. What I received from him I will rehearse, And interweave it, word with word, in verse. If in this Wayside Inn I still shall bide, With mind and wisdom acting as my guide, I will complete this story of the past, And then on earth my record too will last. In his name then who hath made earth his own - Mahmud, that glory of the crown and throne, Lord of Iran, Turan, and Hind, through whom The world hath grown to be like silk of Min! He lavisheth his treasures which will be Replenished by his fame and policy, And he is mighty and in future ages Will live upon the lips of all the sages. The world is full of his memorials - Wars, bounties, buntings, lore and festivals - But they among mankind are blest the most, Who look upon his crown, his court, and host. Mine ears and feet begin to fail at length; Old age and want have robbed me of my strength; Misfortune hath so fettered me that I Mourn stress of years and evil destiny; Yet am I ever instant in the praise Of our just world-lord all my nights and days, And all the folk are one with me in that, Though faithless and malign, for since he sat Upon the royal throne he hath subdued, The hand of evil and the gate of feud, Restraining him that doth presumptuously, However overweening he may be, |p263 While bountifully largessing the sage That heedeth the prescriptions of his age. I raise him in this world a monument, Which, while men live, shall be still evident In this my story of the Shahs of old, Of bygone horsemen and the great and bold, Compact of feast and fight, of ancient lore And rede, of many a gest of days of yore, Of knowledge, Faith, of scruple and advice, And guidance furthermore to Paradise. Of all the things that earn our monarch's praise, The things of ehiefest profit in his clays, This best will serve to keep his memory rife, And live as part and parcel of his life, And I am hoping.to live too till I Receive his gold that, when I come to die, I too may leave my monument with things . Drawn from the treasury of the king of kings. And now I turn back to the words of Sarv, The Light of Sahl, son of Mahan, at Marv. Par. 2 How Rustam went to Kabul on behalf of his Brother Shaghad Thus saith the ancient sage, that storied man Of parts and eloquence:- Behind Zal's curtains There dwelt a slave - a harpist and reciter - And this handmaiden bore to him a son As radiant as the moon, a horseman Sam In form and aspect, and a cause of joy To all that noble house. The astrologers And men of science - chosen cavaliers Both from Kabul and from Kashmir, alike The worshippers of God and of the Fire - Went with their Ruman tables in their hands, |p264 And each one took the aspect of the sky As to its favour toward the little child. The gazers found a portent in the stars, And looked at one another. Then they said To Zal, the son of Sam, the cavalier:- "O thou remembered by the stars of heaven! We have explored the secret of the sky 'Tis unpropitious to this little child, For when this pretty infant shall grow up, And reach the days of strength and hardihood, He will destroy the family of Sam, The son of Nariman, and wreck their sway. Through him Sistan will be fulfilled with uproar, Iran embroiled, and all folks' days embittered, But afterward his tarriance will be brief." Zal, son of Sam, was grieved thereat, invoked The Judge of all, and prayed: "O Guide of men, Sustainer of the turning sky, my Refuge And Stay in everything, who showest me What rede to follow and what way to go, And madest heaven and the stars withal, Have we misdoubted of such excellence? Be ours contentment, rest, and happiness." The chieftain gave his son the name of Shaghad. He kept the child till he was weaned and grew Observant, full of charm, and talkative; Then, when the boy was growing strong of limb, Dispatched him to the monarch of Kabul. Now when Shaghad became a lofty Cypress In height, a horseman puissant with the lasso And mace, that potentate took note of him, Esteemed him fit for royal crown and throne, Rejoiced to look on him and on account Of his high birth bestowed on him a daughter, And with that noble daughter sent besides Fit presents from the spacious treasury, |p265 And guarded him, as he were some fresh apple, That ill might not befall him from the stars. The nobles of Iran and Hindustan. Had much to say of Rustam, for he took An ox-skin full of money from Kabul Each year as tribute, wherefore when the king Had made Shaghad his son-in-law he thought That Rustam of Zabul would heed no more The money from that time; so when 'twas due, And taken as before, Kabulistan Was deeply moved. His brother's conduct vexed Shaghad who spake not of it publicly, But told the king in private: "I am weary Of this world's doings. I can not respect A brother who hath no regard for me. Not recking whether he be wise or mad, An elder brother or an alien, Let us concert a plan of snaring him, And win us in the world a name thereby." They plotted till they soared above the moon In their imaginations. Hear the sage:- The The evil that men do they live to rue." One night until the sun rose o'er the mountains Sleep came not to the twain, and thus they said:- "We will destroy his glory in the world, And fill the heart and eyes of Zal with tears." Shaghad said to the monarch of Kabul:- "If we would do full justice to our scheme Prepare a festival, invite the nobles, And call for wine and harp and minstrelsy. |p266 While we are in our cups speak coldly to me, And then insult me. I, dishonoured thus, Will set forth for Zabulistan, complain About the monarch of Kabulistan Before my brother and before my sire, And call thee both discourteous and ill-natured. Then Rustam will be wroth on mine account, And come to our famed city. Then do thou Select upon his route a hunting-ground, And there dig divers pitfalls large enough To, take both him and Rakhsh, and plant long swords, With spears and blades of steel with double edges, The handles downward and the points erect, About the bottoms of the pits. Of these . It will be better to make ten than five If thou desirest to be freed from care. Employ a hundred cunning workmen, dig The pits, and keep the secret from the wind; Then make the surface good and hold thy peace." The monarch went, put prudence from his mind, And made a feast as that insensate said, Invited great and small throughout Kabul, And seated them before a well-spread board. When they had eaten they prepared for revel, Arid called for wino and harp and minstrelsy. Now when folks' Beads were flown with royal wine Shaghad designedly grew insolent, And spake thus to the monarch of Kabul:- "I am exalted over all the folk; With Rustam for my brother, Zal for father, What nobler strain can any one possess? " The king seemed wroth and said: "Why do I keep This matter so long hidden? Thou art not By race from Sam, the son of Nariman, And neither Rustam's brother nor his kin. Zal, son of Sam, hath never mentioned thee; |p267 How then shall such an one be called thy brother? Thou art slave-born, a menial at his gate, And Rustam's mother would not own thy claim." Shaghad, as angered at the monarch's words, Departed in a passion to Zabul With certain of Kabul in company, Revenge at heart and sighs upon his lips. He reached his glorious father's court, his heart All machination and his head all vengeance. Zal at the instant that he saw his son, So tall and stately, with such Grace divine And thews received him kindly, questioned him, And sent him on to Rustam presently. That paladin rejoiced at seeing him, To see him sage and of an ardent soul, And said to him: "The seed of Sam, the Lion, Produceth only strong and valiant men. How do things stand betwixt Kabul and thee? What doth he say of Rustam of Zabul? " Shaghad replied: "Nay, speak not of the king. He used to treat me kindly and to bless me Whene'er he saw me; now he seeketh a quarrel Against me in his cups and holdeth high His head o'er all. He humbled me in public, And showed his evil bent. He said to me:- 'How long shall we submit to pay this tribute? Are we unable to resist Sistan? Henceforth I will not mention Rustam; I Am equal to him both in strength and parts.' He further said: 'Thou art no son of Zal, Or if thou art so he himself is naught.' My heart was pained because of those chiefs present, And so with pallid cheeks I left Kabul." When Rustam heard it he was wroth, and said:- "No matter lieth hidden for all time. Have no more thought of him or of his realm, |p268 And may his crown and sovereignty both perish. I will destroy him for his words and wring His heart and eyes, will scat thee on his throne In joy, and lay in dust his head and fortune." He entertained Shaghad for many days, Assigned a stately palace for his use, And from his array chose the fittest men - Those famed in battle-bidding them prepare To leave Zabul and occupy Kabul. When all was ready, and the paladin Freed from anxiety, Shaghad approached That man of war, and said: "Think not of fighting The monarch of Kabul. Were I to limn Thy name on water rnerely none would rest Or slumber there, for who would venture forth To strive with thee, or who abide thy coming? Sure am I that the monarch is repentant, That he would fain atone for my departure, And even now is sending from Kabul Picked chiefs in numbers to apologise." Then Rustam answered him: "That is the way. Against Kabul I need no host of men; Zawara with a hundred cavalry And infantry of name will do for me." Par. 3 How the King of Kabul dug Pits in the Hunting-ground and how Rustam and Zawara fell therein Now when ill-starred Shaghad had left Kabul The monarch hurried to the hunting-ground, And took a hundred sappers, men of note Among the troops. They honeycombed the chase With pits, arranging them beneath the rides, And in them set haft-downward hunting-spears, |p269 Swords, double-headed darts, and scimitars, And made a shift to mask the openings That neither man nor eye of beast might see them. When Rustam had set forward in all haste Shaghad dispatched a rapid post to say "The elephantine hero hath come forth Without an army. Come to him and ask To be forgiven." The monarch of Kabul, Pleas on his tongue and poison in his soul, Came from the city and, on seeing Rustam, Alighted from his steed, advanced a-foot, Took off the Indian turban that he wore, And clasped his naked head between his hands, Drew off his boots and in his deep abasement Made his eyelashes drip with his heart's blood. He laid his cheeks upon the dusty ground, Excusing his behaviour to Shaghad, And saying: "If thy slave was drunk or crazy, And seemed rebellious in his senselessness, Vouchsafe to pardon this offence of mine, And let me be anew as once I was." Bare-footed, dust on head, his heart all guile, He went before the chief, who pardoned him His fault, increased his standing, bade him cover His head and feet, mount saddle, and proceed. There was hard by the city of Kabul A pleasant, fertile spot with wood and water, And there they willingly encamped. The king Provided provand lavishly and furnished A pleasant banquet-house, brought wine, called minstrels, And placed the chiefs on royal thrones. Thereafter He spake to Rustam thus: "When thou wouldst hunt I have a district where on plain and hill Game throngeth. Wild sheep, onager, gazelle Fill all the waste. One with a speedy steed |p270 Will capture there gazelle and onager; One should not overlook that pleasant place." Now Rustam grew excited at his talk Of watered plain, of onager, and game, For, when one's fate approacheth, anything Will lead the heart wrong and pervert the mind. This whirling world of ours behaveth thus, And will not make its secrets known to us. The crocodile in water, pard on land, And battle-braving Lion deft of hand, Are in death's clutch no less than ant and fly; To tarry here transcendeth subtlety. He bade to saddle the steeds and fill the waste With hawks and falcons, cased his royal bow, And rode out to the plain, he and Shaghad. Zawara too was of the company, And many another of their noble friends. The retinue were scattered in the chase, But all to quarters where no pits wore digged, While Rustam and Zawara took the path Among the pits because Fate willed it so. Rakhsh sniffed fresh earth, spun like a ball, and shied, Suspicious of the smell, and tore the ground To pieces with his iron shoes. Howbeit That fleet steed picked his steps right warily So as to make his way between two pits; But Rustam's heart was filled with wrath at Rakhsh, And fortune veiled discretion from his eyes. He raised his hunting-whip and in his dudgeon Lashed Rakhsh though lightly and thus flurried him Just as, environed by the pits, he sought To 'scape Fate's clutch. Two of his feet went through; He had no purchase; all below was spear And sword; no pluck availed; escape was none; And so the haunches of the mighty Rakhsh, And Rustam's legs and bosom, were impaled; |p271 Yet in his manhood he uplifted him, And from the bottom bravely gained the brim. Par. 4 How Rustam slew Shaghad and died When Rustam wounded as he was looked forth, And saw the hostile visage of Shaghad, He recognised the author of the plot, And that the traitor was his foe, and said:- "0 man of black and evil destiny! Thine action hath laid waste a prosperous land; But thou shalt yet repent thee of this thing, Writhe for this wrong, and never see old age." The vile Shaghad replied: "The wheel of heaven Hath dealt with thee aright. For what a while Hast thou engaged in bloodshed, strife, and pillage On all sides ! Now thy life shall end, and thou Shalt perish in the toils of Ahriman." With that the monarch of Kabul came up Upon his way toward the chase, beheld The elephantine warrior thus wounded, With all his wounds unbound, and said to him:- "0 thou illustrious leader of the host What hath befallen thee on the hunting-field? I will depart forthwith, bring hither leeches, And weep in tears of blood on thine account; No need to weep though if thou art made whole." But matchless Rustam answered: "Crafty villain! The time for leech is passed. Weep no blood-drops For me. Though thou liv'st long the end will come; None can evade the sky. My Grace divine Surpasseth not Jamshid's, and he was sawn Asunder by a foe, or Faridun's, |p272 Or Kai Kubad's - those mighty, high-born Shahs - And when had come the time of Siyawush Gurwi, the son of Zira, cut his throat. Kings of Iran and Lions in the fight Were they, and they have gone. We have outstayed them, And loitered like great lions on our way; But Faramarz my son - mine Eye - will come And will require my vengeance at thy hands." He said to foul Shaghad: "Since such an ill Hath come on me unease my bow for me, And let it serve as mine interpreter. String it and lay it by me with two arrows. It is not fit that lions on the prowl, And coming on the plain in quest of quarry, Shall see me fallen here and sorely wounded, For evil will betide me, and my bow Will stay their rending me alive. My time Is come, I lay my body in the dust." Shaghad drew near, uncased the bow, and strung it. He drew it once, then laid it down by Rustam, And laughed exulting at his brother's death. The matchless hero clutched it lustily, Though tortured by the anguish of his wounds, What while Shughad in terror at those arrows Made haste to shield himself behind a tree - An ancient plane still boughed and leaved but hollow - And there behind it skulked the miscreant. When Rustam saw this he put forth his hands, Sore wounded as he was, and loosed a shaft. He pinned his brother and the tree together, And gladdened in the article of death. Shaghad, when he was stricken, cried out " Ah ! " But Rustam had not left him time to suffer, And cried: "Now God be praised, and I have known Him |p273 Through all my years, that even when my soul Hath reached my lips day hath not turned to night O'er my revenge, but He hath given me strength Before my death to wreak me on this traitor." He spake, his soul departed from his body, And all the folk bewailed him bitterly. Within another pit Zawara died; Remained no horseman high or low beside? Par. 5 How Zal received News of the Slaying of Rustam and Zawara, and how Faramarz brought their Coffins and set them in the Charnel-house One of those noble cavaliers escaped, And made his way on horseback and a-foot. When he had reached Zabulistan he said:- "The mighty Elephant is with the dust, So are Zawara and the escort too, And not another horseman hath escaped!" Rose from Zabulistan a cry against The foe and monarch of Kabulistan, Zal scattered dust upon his shoulders, tore His breast and face, and cried: "Alas! alas! Thou elephantine hero! would that I Were in my winding-sheet! Zawara too, That noble warrior, that valiant Dragon, That famous Lion! Luckless, cursed Shaghad Hath dug up by the roots that royal Tree. Who could imagine that a wretched Fox Would meditate revenge in yonder land Upon a Lion? Who can call to mind Such a misfortune, who could bear to hear From his instructor that a Lion like Rustam I1ad died in dust and through a fox's words? |p274 Why died I not before them wretchedly? Why am I left as their memorial? Why need I life and fame now that the seed Of me, the son of Sam, hash been uprooted? 0 chieftain! lion-taker! hero ! lord! 0 man of valour and world-conqueror !" He sent an army under Faramarz Against the monarch of Kabul forthwith, To gather those slain bodies from the dust, And give the world good cause for sorrowing. When Faramarz arrived before Kabul He found no man of name within the city. They all had fled, the people were in tears, And seared with grief for world-subduing Rustam. Then Farimarz went to the hunting-ground - The plain wherein the pitfalls had been dug. He ordered that a stretcher should be brought, And to lay out thereon that noble Tree, Unloosed that belt which marked a paladin, And stripped the body of its royal raiment. Then first of all they laved in tepid water The bosom, neck, and beard right tenderly, Burned musk and ambergris before the corpse, And sewed up all the gashes of its wounds, Poured o'er the head rose-water and disposed The purest camphor over all the form. Then, when they had arrayed it in brocade, They requisitioned roses, musk,and wine. The man who sewed the shroud shed tears of blood On combing out that beard of camphor hue. Two stretchers scarce sufficed to hold the body; Was it a man's trunk or a shady tree's? They fashioned out of teak a goodly coffin With golden nails and ivory ornaments. The apertures were all scaled up with pitch, Which they o'erlaid with music and spicery. |p275 They drew Zawara's bodly from the pit Washed it, sewed up the gashes that they found, And placed it in a shroud made of brocade. They sought about to find an elmtree-trunk, And skilful carpenters went forth and cut Some mighty planks therefrom. They drow the body Of Rakhah out of the pit - that steed whose like None had beheld on earth - a two days' task, And then they hoised it on an elephant. Kabulistan up to Zabulistan Was like a place of public lamentation, And men and women stood there in such throngs That none had room to move, and so they passed The coffins on from hand to hand and thought, Such were their multitudes, the travail wind. They reached Zabul in two days and a night, And neither bier was seen to tonch the ground. The death of Rustam filled the age with wailing; Thou wouldst have said: "The very waste is moved!" They made the charnel-house within a garden, And raised the summit of it to the clouds. They set two golden thrones there face to face; It was the blessed hero's place of rest. Then all of those who were his servitors, The free by birth and honest-hearted slaves, When they had mingled musk and roses poured them Out at the elephantine hero's feet, And every one exclaimed: "0 famous man Why need'st thou gifts of musk and ambergris? Thou hast no part in sovereignty and feast, No longer toilest in the battle-tide, No longer lavishest thy gold and treasure. In sooth such things are worthless in thy sight. Be happy now in jocund Paradise, For God compacted thee of manliness |p276 And justice." Having closed the charnel's door They left him there. That famed, exalted Lion Had passed away. Beside the door they made A tomb for Rakhsh as of a horse upstanding. What wouldst thou with this Wayside Inn - this gain Of treasure first but in the end of pain? Serve God or Ahriman yet still thou must, Though made of iron, crumble into dust, Yet lean to good while here thou shalt abide, Elsewhere perchance thou wilt be satisfied. Par. 6 How Faramarz led an Army to avenge Rustam and slew King of Kabul When Faramarz had made an end of mourning He led his whole host onward to the plains, And having opened Rustam's dwelling-place Provided pay and outfit for the troops. At dawn the noise of clarions arose, Of kettledrums withal and Indian bells. Kabul-ward from Zabul he led a boat That veiled the sun. The ruler of Kabul Heard of those chieftains of Zabulistan, And massed his scattered troops. The earth grew iron, Air azure-dim. He marched 'gainst Faramarz, And light departed from the sun and moon. When those two hosts confronted, and the world Rang with the shouting of the warriors, Within the woods the lions lost their way Frayed by the throng of steeds, the dust of troops. A wind arose, the azure dust-clouds whirled, And earth seemed one with heaven. Faranrarz Came forth and charged the centre of the foe, The world was darkened by the horsemen's dust, |p277 The monarch of Kabul was taken captive, And all his mighty armament dispersed. The warriors of Zabulistan like wolves Attacked the enemy on every side, Pursuing those that fled away, and slaying So many warriors and haughty chiefs Of Sind and Hind, that all the field turned mire, And all the troops of Hind and Sind were scattered They gave up land and home, abandoning Both wife and child. The monarch of Kabul, All bathed in blood, was flung within the tower Upon an elephant, and Faramarz Led on his army to the hunting-ground Whereon the pits were dug. He bare with him The foe in chains and two score more withal - Kin to the king and idol-worshippers. He tore the monarch's back to strips until The bones showed bare, then hung him, foul with dust, His mouth all blood, head-downward in a pit, And burned his forty kin; then sought Shaghad, There made a conflagration mountain-high, And burned him with the plane and ground beneath. The troops returning to Zabulistan Took all the ashes of Kabul to Zal. When Faramarz had cut the tyrant off He made a Zabuli king in Kabul, Where no one of the royal stock remained That had not read the patent of his sword. He came back from Kabul all seared and smarting The brightness of his days was overcast. Zabulistan and Bust lamented loudly, And no one wore a robe unrent. The folk All came to welcome Faramarz again With bosoms lacerate and full of pain. |p278 Par. 7 How Rudaba lost her wits through Mourning for Rustam For one year there was mourning in Sistan, And all the folk were clad in black and blue. Upon a day Rudaba said to Zal:- "Lament and wail because of Rustam's death, For surely since the sun hath lit the world No man hath seen a darker day than this." "0 foolish woman ! " Zal replied to her, "The pain of fasting passeth that of grief." Rudaba was enraged and swore an oath:- Henceforth Henceforth my body shall not sleep or eat. It may be that my soul will see again The soul of Rustam midst yon company." She fasted for a week that she might hold Communion with his soul. Her eye grew,dim Through abstinence, her noble body pined. For fear of harm slaves followed her about. Ere that week ended she had lost her wits, And in her frenzy sorrow turned to feasting. She went forth to the kitchen in the night, And saw a serpent lying dead in water. With trembling eagerness she seized its head, And was about to eat. The attendants snatched it, And clasping her withdrew her from that place Of unclean hands, bare her to her apartments, And, having set her in her wonted seat, Brought forth a trencher and set food thereon. She ate of all till she was satisfied, And then they spread soft garments under her. She slept and rested from her care and trouble, From grief at death and sorrows of possession. As soon as she awoke she asked for food, And they provided her abundantly. |p279 When sense returned to her she said to Zal:- "That word of thine consorted well with wisdom; Grief at a death and feast and festival Are one to him that cateth not nor sleepeth. Our son hath gone and we shall follow him. Trust we the Maker's justice." She bestowed Her treasures on the poor, and prayed to God:- "0 Thou who art above both name and place! Cleanse from all fault the soul of matchless Rustam, Assign him Paradise for his abode, And joyance of the fruits that here he sowed." Par. 8 How Gushtasp gave the Kingdom to Bahman and died Since matchless Rustam's life hath ceased to be I will present another history. When fortune's face grew louring to Gushtasp He called Jamasp before the throne, and said:- "Time hath inspired in me so much remorse About the matter of Asfandiyar That all my days are passed unjoyously, And I am troubled by the vengeful stars. Now after me Bahman will be the Shah, With Bishutan as confidant. Reject not Bahman's behests, but serve him loyally, And be his guide in every circumstance, For he is worthy of the crown and throne." The Shah then gave Bahman the treasury-key, And, sighing deeply, said: "My work is over; The floods have overtopped me. I have sat As Shah for six score years and never seen My peer; and now do thou bestir thyself, Be just to every one and, being just, |p280 Exempt from grief. Make glad and keep the wise Near thee, but make the world dark to thy foes, And follow right for that ne'er causeth loss. I who have undergone much pain and travail Resign to thee throne, diadem, and treasure." He spake, his lifetime ended, and his past Bare I no more fruit. They made a charnel-house Of ebony and ivory, and hung His crown above his throne. He had his share Of treasure and of toil, and, after joying In sweet and antidote, found bane at last. If such is life whence do its pleasures spring? Death equaleth the beggar and the king. Enjoy thy having, shun ill-enterprise, And hearken to the sayings of the wise. My fellow-travellers have gone while I Remain and tell at large of days gone by. Each traveller hath reached his place of rest, And, if he sought the good, achieved his quest. Let virtue, virtue only, grasp thy hand That thou mayst list to those that understand. The doings of Bahman I now essay, And will recount thee things long passed away. |p281 Par. 1 XVI BAHMAN, SON OF ASFANDIYAR HE REIGNED NINETY-NINE YEARS |p283 How Bahman sought Revenge for the Death of Asfandiyar Whenas Bahman sat on his grandsire's throne He girt his girdle round him, oped his hands, Bestowed a donative upon the troops, And granted many a march and many a province. He held a conclave of the men of wisdom, The great men, and the officers of state, And thus he said: "Ye all, both old and young, Whoever hath an understanding mind, Wot of the slaying of Asfandiyar, Of fortune's changes both for good and ill, Of Rustam's deeds while yet he lived and those Of Zal, the sorcerer, that ancient man. Now Faramarz in public and in private Desireth naught but vengeance on ourselves, While my head acheth and my heart is full, And I too think of nothing but revenge Two warriors - Nush Azar and Mihr-i-Nush - Have given up their lives so wretchedly ! By that same token too Asfandiyar - A man without a peer in all the world - Was slaughtered in Zabulistan. The beasts Of prey and chase went wild with grief for him. Yea, for the slaughter of Asfandiyar The pictures in the palace weep for woe, And for the blood of those our noble ones, Our youths and gallant cavaliers withal. No man that springeth from pure stock will leave His finest jewel lying in the ditch, But will come forward, like Shah Faridun (And while such men exist all will be well) |p284 Who made Zahhak, in that he slew Jamshid, To cease among the warriors of the world. For vengeance Minuchihr led from Amul A mighty host 'gainst Tur and valiant Salm, Invaded Chin, took vengeance for his grandsire, And levelled earth up to the hills with slain.' When Kai Khusrau escaped Afrasiyab He made the world run river-like with blood. My sire avenged the slaying of Luhrasp, And like achievements should be told of me. In vengeance for his father, Faramarz Exalted to the shining sun his head, Marched on Kabul, required revenge for Rustam, And levelled to the dust its fields and fells. No man could recognise the land for blood They made the horses trample on the slain. More call have I to take revenge whourge My steed against the elephant and lion, Because thou wilt not see amongst earth's heroes Another horseman like Asfandiyar. What are your.views? What answer do ye give In this regard? Strive to advise me well." Thereat the assembled loyal lieges cried:- "Thy slaves are we and have fulfilled our hearts With love toward then. Then art more,instructed Than we about the past and mightier. . Do whatsoe'er thou wilt so long as fame And Grace divine accrue to thee thereby. No one will disobey thee; who will dare?" Bahman, thus answered by his host, grew keener For vengeance and made ready to invade Sistan. This settled, the assembly rose. At dawn the drums beat and the sky grew ebon With dust of troops whereof there marched along Sword-wielding horsemen five score thousand strong. |p285 Par. 2 How Bahman put Zal in Bonds Now when Bahman,was drawing nigh the Hirmund He choose him out an envoy, one of rank, Entrusted to him various messages, And sent him on to Zal, the son of Sam, To say: "My lot is bitter in the world Through what hath happened to Asfandiyar, And through the vengeance owing for Nush Zad And Nush Azar - two loved and high-born princes. I mean to ease my heart of this old grudge, And make the rivers of Zabul run blood." The messenger arrived and gave the message To Zal, whose heart grew wed to pain and grief, And he returned this answer: "If the Shah Is thus concerned about Asfandiyar, Then let him know that what was was to be, And that the matter filled my heart with anguish. Thou wast thyself exposed to good and ill, And hadst from me all profit and no loss. Now Rustam swerved not from thy sire's commands, But, as thou sawest, bare a loyal heart. Thy sire, that great and noble prince, was fey, And thereupon waxed over-bold. The lion And dragon of the wood can not escape The clutch of Fate. Thou must have heard, good sooth, What deeds of valour Sam, the cavalier, Accomplished in the past, and thus porsevered Down to the days of Rustam, who then drew The trenchant scimitar and wrought with valour Before thine ancestors in times of strife Withal he was the humblest of thy nurses As well as of the mightiest of thy host. |p286 Now miserably hath he passed away, And all Zabulistan is full of tumult. If now thou wilt forbear to war with us, Wilt think upon our case considerately, Wilt come and, putting vengeance from thy heart, Enchant our land with loving kindliness, I will present to thee upon thy coming Sam's wealth, brocade, dinars, his golden girdles, And golden harness, for thou art the Shah; The nobles are thy flock." He gave the envoy A steed, dinars, and many other gifts. Now when the noble envoy reached Bahman, He told what he had heard and seen with Zal. Bahman, the fortune-favoured, when he heard, Rejected the excuse, was very wroth, And reached the city with an aching heart, With vengeful thoughts and sighs upon his lips. Then Zal, the son of Sam the cavalier, Attended meanly by two horsemen, went To meet Bahman and, coming to the presence, Alighted from his roadster, did obeisance, And spake thus, saying : " Wise and prudent Shah ! Deign to regard us with the eye of wisdom. By all the services that we have paid, And by our care for thee when thou wast young, Forgive us, speak no more about the past, Be great and seek not vengeance for the slain." Enraged with Zal, whose hopes were foiled, Bahman Put him forthwith in fetters, heeding not What minister or treasurer might say. Then from the halls of Zal, the son of Sam The cavalier, they loaded up the camels With money and with jewels in the rough, With thrones and tapestries, whate'er there was, With golden tissue and with golden crowns, |p287 With silvern tissue and with belts and earrings. They took the Arab horses trapped with gold, The Indian scimitars with golden sheaths, The prisoners and sacks of drachms, of musk, And camphor, aid the treasures more or less That Rustam had collected by his toil From Shahs and chiefs. Bahman delivered all Zabulistan to pillaging and then Gave crowns and purses to his mighty men. Par. 3 How Faramarz fought with Bahman and was put to Death At Bust, upon the frontier, Faramarz, In dudgeon for his grandsire, steeped his hands In vengeance, gathered troops, marched 'gainst Bahman And oft recalled the wars of matchless Rustam. When news of this had reached the monarch's ears He raged upon the throne of king of kings, Packed up the baggage, called the troops to horse, Marched to the burial-place of Rustam's race, And tarried there two weeks. Then with the din Of trumpets and of Indian bells the mountains Shook to their cores, heaven bathed the world in pitch, And from that pitch the arrows showered like hail, While at the clash of ax and twang of bow The earth out-quaked the sky. Three days and nights Upon that field steel swords and maces rained, And clouds of dust collected overhead. Upon the fourth day there arose a storm Thou wouldst have said: " The day and night are on The blast was in the face of Faramarz. The world-lord joyed and, following up the dust With trenchant sword, brought Doomsday on the foe. The men of Bust, the warriors of Zabul, The gallant swordsmen of Kabulistan, |p288 Had not a horseman left upon the field, No chief was left of all those men of name, For one by one they turned their backs in flight, And shamefully deserted Faramarz. The battlefield was heaped up mountain-like By slain struck down pell mell from both the hosts. Albeit with a paltry band of heroes Right bravely Faramarz still faced the foe, Himself a lion and a lion's whelp, With all his body hacked by scimitars, Until at length that noble warrior Was ta'en by brave Ardshir who carried him Before Bahman. That vengeful monarch gazed Upon him for a while but would not spare, Bade rear a gibbet and hung Faramarz Alive thereon, his elephantine form Head-downward. Then in wreak, with arrow-rain, Bahman, that famous Kaian, had him slain. Par. 4 How Bahman released Zal and returned to Iran Now noble Bishutan, the minister, Was sorely troubled by this butchery, And rising in the world-lord's presence said:- "Just monarch I if revengement was thy due, And 'twas thy heart's desire, that wish of thine Is perfected in loss. Cease to enjoin Raid, slaughter, turmoil, strife. Approve them not, Refrain thyself, fear God, and think of us. Consider well the turns of fortune's wheel, How it exalteth this man to the clouds, And putteth that man into sorry plight. Thy sire, that world-lord and the army's Lustre, Did he not go Nimruz-ward for a bier, |p289 And did not Rustam too when at Kabul Go to the chase and perish in a pit? While thou dost live, O king of pure descent! Vex not a man of birth, for if the son Of Sam, the son of Nariman, shall cry Against his bondage to the great All-giver, Thou wilt be pinched, successful as thou art, When he appealeth to the Omnipotent. To Rustam, warder of the Kaian throne, Who used to gird his loins for every toil, Thou vast indebted for this crown and not To Shah Gushtasp or to Asfandiyax. Trace downward from the days of Kai Kubad To those of Kai Khusrau of holy rede; All owed their greatness to his scimitar, And held the mightiest his inferiors. If thou art wise release Zal from his bonds, And turn thy heart back from the evil way." The Shah repented of those deeds of his When he had heard the words of Bishutan. A proclamation issued from his court:- "Ye paladins, ye just and upright men ! Make preparations for returning home, And keep from pillage and from massacre." He bade them to release the feet of Zal From bonds and give him much good counselling. They built a charnel-house to hold the slain, Such was the rede of righteous Bishutan. When Zal returned from prison to his palace His noble spouse wept o'er him bitterly, And cried: "Alack thou brave, heroic Rustam, Thou scion of the hero Nariman ! When yet thou wast alive who recognised Gushtasp as Shah? But now thy hoards are sacked, Zal hath been captive, and thy son slain vilely By showers of arrows ! Oh ! may none e'er see |p290 Another day like this, and may the earth Be void of offspring from Asfandiyar." Now tidings of this matter reached Ballman, As well as glorious Bishutan, who grieved For her; his cheeks grow wan at her complainings. He spake thus to Bahman: "0 youthful Shah, As 'twere a new moon in the midst of heaven ! At daybreak lead thy host forth from this land, For matters here are grave and troublesome. May evil eyes be distant from thy crown, And may thy whole time be a festival. The king of kings should stay not long beneath The roof of Zal, the son of Sam the hero." Whenas the hills became like sandarach, And when the sound of drums rose from the courtgate, The monarch led the array from Zabul Toward Iran - the country of the brave. He rested, sat rejoicing on the throne, And ruled the world by precedent and justice. Great was the largess that the poor received, And many men rejoiced in him or grieved. Par. 5 How Bahman married his own daughter Humai and appointed his Successor Bahman possessed one lion-taking son, on whom he had bestowed the name Sasan; He had withal a daughter named Humai, Considerate, accomplished, and discreet. They used to call her by the name Chihrzad Her father's greatest joy was seeing her. He took her for his wife, which in the Faith |p291 That thou call'st olden was a goodly deed. Humai, that heart-refreshing shining Moon, In course of time grew pregnant by the Shah. Now when six months had passed she 'gan to ail, And he, at seeing this, fell sick himself, And, prostrated with suffering, summoned her. He summoned too the nobles and the magnates, And, seating them where great men use to sit, Thus said: "This chaste Humai hath had small joy Of this world, and I leave her crown, high throne, The host, the treasure, and preeminence. She shall be my successor in the world, She and the babe withal that she shall bear, For, whether it shall prove a son or daughter, It shall succeed to crown and throne and girdle. Sasan, on hearing this, was all astound His heart was darkened by his father's words, And, like a pard, in three days and two nights He journeyed from Iran abroad in shame, And reached in haste the town of Nishapur In dudgeon and an alien from his sire. He asked a lady of high rank in marriage, But kept himself down level with the dust, Withheld the secret of his Kaian birth, And spake to no one of his quality. His chaste wife bare to,him a holy son, Whose steps were happy and whose birth was blest, A son to whom he gave the name Sasan, And died anon. Whenas the child grew up, And saw his home a prey to poverty, He tended for the king of Nishapur The herds that roamed at will o'er plain and mountain, And was for long the herdsman of the king His dwelling was on height and wilderness. Now turn I to Humai to tell her case When she, Bahman deceased, assumed his place. |p292 XVII HUMAI |p294 Par. 1 How Humai cast away her son Darab on the River Farat in an Ark Bahman died of his malady and ceased To be concerned about the crown and throne. Humai came, set the crown upon her head, And ordered things anew, admitted all The army to her court and, opening The portal of her treasures, gave dinars. In rede and justice she excelled her sire The whole world prospered through her equity. She said: " Be this crown glorious, our foes' hearts Uprooted, our profession every good, And may none see distress and care through us. I will enrich all mendicants and those Who earn their own subsistence by their toil, And harass not the great possessed of treasure." Whenas the time of her delivery came She kept it from the people and the host, Because she loved the throne of sovereignty, And found it profit to possess the world. She bare a son in secret, kept it close, And had the little Treasure hid away, Procured for nurse a woman of free birth, |p295 Pure, full of modesty, and other virtues, And privily made o'er to her the babe, That Shoot so flourishing and full of promise, And, when they asked Humai about her son, She used to say: " The noble child is dead." Moreover she assumed the royal crown, And held the throne in triumph and in joy. She sent her hosts where'er were hostile chiefs, And was apprised of everything that passed For good or evil in the world around. She only sought for what was just and good, And ordered all the world aright; her justice Safeguarded it; it spake of her alone. Thus eight months passed away, but when the boy Began to favour the departed Shah She ordered that a skilful carpenter Should choose material for fine joinery, And make a goodly ark of seasoned wood. They smeared it with a coat of pitch and musk, And lined it softly with brocade of Rum, Bedaubing it without with lime and wax. She placed within a pillow for a bed, And filled it full of pearls of splendid water. They poured in quantities of ruddy gold, Mixed with cornelians and emeralds. They bound one jewel, such as kings might wear, Upon the arm of that unweanèd child And, when the little one was fast asleep, His nurse, so deft of hand, went wailingly, Disposed him tenderly inside the ark, Enwrapped him warmly in fine silk of Chin, And then they made the cover water-tight With lime, pitch, wax, and musk. When midnight cam They carried forth the ark, without a word, And, hasting from Humpi, set it adrift Upon the stream of the Farat. Two men |p296 Ran after it to notice how the suckling Fared on the stream. The ark went like a boat, And those that watched had to bestir themselves. Now when the morning rose above the mountains The ark brought up beside a watercourse, Where was a laundering-place; the workers there Had made with stones the channel's inlet narrow. A launderer beheld the little ark, Ran up, and drew it from the laundering-place. When he had oped the ark, and had removed The coverings, he stood in wonderment, Wrapped it in heaps of clothes and hurried off, All eager expectation and delight, Whereat a watcher ran to tell the mother Of ark and launderer. Said that shrewd queen:- "Thou must keep hidden that which thou hast seen." Par. 2 How the Launderer brought up Darab Now when the launderer came back from the stream At that untimely hour his wife exclaimed:- "Is this thy husbandry to bring the clothes Half dried? Whoe'er will pity thee for such work?" The launderer, heart-withered then by grief Because his own bright little one was dead, For whom his wife was all disconsolate With lacerated cheeks and darkened soul, Replied: "Cheer up ! Henceforth for thee to wail Will be but scurvy, for if my good wife Can keep a secret I will tell a thing Upon the watercourse, against the stone Whereon I beat the clothes and rinse them out When I have finished cleaning them, I spied An ark, and hidden in it was a babe - |p297 A little one that thou wilt love at sight As soon as ever I uncover it. 'Tis true that we have had one of our own, Though for a little while and he is dead, But now thou hast one unawares - a son All furnished with dinars and jewelry!" With that he set the clothes upon the ground, And lifted up the cover of the ark. The launderer's wife beheld and in her wonder Exclaimed: "God bless it ! " for she saw a cheek Aglow amid the silk - Bahman's own image! His pillow was all pearls of finest water, With emeralds and cornelians for his footstool; Upon his left hand there were red dinars, And on his right hand jewels in profusion. The woman suckled him immediately, Rejoicing over that entrancing babe, Whose beauty and whose wealth consoled her heart. The launderer said to her: "We must be ever Prepared to give our lives up for this child, Because he is the son of some great man, May be a king himself." The launderer's wife Cared for the child as it had been her kin, As it had been her very son indeed, And on the third day named the babe Darab, Because they found his cradle in the stream.' It happened that one day the careful wife Was talking to her lord of many things, And said to him: "How wilt thou use these gems? Let wisdom be thy counsellor therein." "Good wife !" the launderer answered, "hoarded jewels |p298 And dust are one to me. 'Tis best for us To quit this city, move out to the plains, Relieved from straits and hardship, and reside Within some city, where folk know us not, Content and affluent." At morn he packed, Departed, and forgot those fields and fells. They bore Darab with there and earried naught Beside except the gold and jewelry. They journeyed from the place for three score leagues, They made their home within another city, And there within that alien city lived Like wealthy folk. A famous magnate dwelt Therein, and unto him the launderer sent One of the jewels, taking in return Apparel, gold, and silver. Thus he did Until he had exchanged them nearly all, And there remained one ruby in the house Of what the ark had held for good or ill. One day the wife, who was the manager, Said to her master: "We need work no longer. Since thou hast made thy fortune give up trade." He answered her: "Good wife and guide! thou speakest Of trade. Well, what is better? Trade is ever The first concern. Tend well Darab and mark What time will yet produce for thee through him." They cherished him so dearly that he felt No ill from any blast. When heaven had wheeled Above him for some years he grew to be A youth of stature and of Grace divine, And wrestled with his playmates in the street, Where none could match him as to bulk and strength, Yea, all combined against him and were worsted ! The launderer grumbled at these escapades, Which made the outlook gloomy for the shop, |p299 And said: "Now beat these clothes upon the stone; 'Tis no disgrace to thee to learn a craft," And when Darab, as usual, left the work, And ran away, the launderer used to weep In tears of blood and wasted nearly all His time in searching countryside and city, And coming on the boy with bow in hand, His breast extended and his thumbstall on, Would seize the bow and cry indignantly:- "0 thou destructive and pugnacious Wolf! Why dost thou hanker after bow and arrows? Why art thou set on evil while so young? " Thereat Darab would answer: "O my father ! Thou turn'st the brightness of my life to gloom. Provide me first of all with men of lore, That I may get by heart the Zandavasta, And then command my toils for trade and stream, But do not yet require this drudgery." The launderer, having often rated him, At last consigned him to the care of teachers. He learned accomplishments, grew masterful, And wholly past fault-finding and reproach. "My father," said he to his foster-sire, "This laundry business is not fit for me; Be not at all concerned on mine account, But bring me up to be a cavalier." The launderer thereupon selected one Of good repute and skilled in horsemanship, And long committed to his charge the youth, Who learnt from him whate'er was requisite - The way to handle rein and lance and buckler, And wheel his charger on the battlefield, To play at polo, shoot with bow and arrow, And outwit foes, till he attained such might That leopards would not close with him in fight. |p300 Par. 3 How Darab questioned the Launderer's Wife about his Parentage, and how he fought against the Rumans One day Darab said to the launderer:- "Albeit that I never mention it Affection stirreth not in me for thee, Nor is my face like thine. I feel astounded Whene'er thou call'st me son and seatest me Beside thee in the shop." The launderer said:- "What words are these? Alack for all the pains Bestowed on thee ! If then out-classest me Seek for thy sire; thy mother hath thy secret." It happened that the launderer one day Went from the house and hastened to the stream. Darab made fast the door and then approached The goodwife, took in hand his scimitar, And said to her: "Attempt not to deceive me, And to obscure the issue; speak the truth In answer to my questions. How am I Related to you both and wherefore dwelling Thus with a launderer?" In fright the woman Begged for her life And called on God for succour. She said: "Seek not my blood, and I will tell thee All as then biddest." She recounted all, With neither reticence nor subterfuge, About the ark, the infant yet unweaned, About the golden coins and royal jewels, And said: "We were but simple working-folk Quite unrelated to the quality. What wealth we have is all derived from thine; Through thee we rose froth low to high estate. We are but slaves and thine is to command What wilt thou? We are thine both soul and body." Darab stood in amaze on hearing this, Plunged in profound surmise. He said to her:- "both anything remain of all that wealth, Or hath the launderer spent the whole of it? Is there enough still left to buy a horse In this our day of lowliness and want?" The woman said: "There is and more than that, And there are money, land, and fruitful gardens." She gave him all the money that she had, And showed to him the precious uncut gem. He spent the money on a noble steed, A lasso, mace, and saddle of low price. There was a prudent marchlord, one of weight, A magnate well approved and well advised, To whom Darab betook himself with soul O'erclouded and perturbed. The marchlord held him In highest estimation; no disaster Befell him any whit. Now as it chanced An army marched from Rum to levy war Upon that prosperous land, that frontier-chief Was slain in battle and his army worsted. In those days when the tidings reached Humai:- "The Ruman hath set foot upon our border," There lived a warrior hight Rashnawad - A captain of the host and sprung from such. She ordered: "Let him lead a host toward Rum, And waste the country with the scimitar." To that end Rashnawad assembled troops, Assigned the mustering place and gave out rations; Darab heard, joyed, went, and enrolled his name. When many troops had gathered, and the muster Had been completed, glorious Humai, Accompanied by well affected chiefs, |p302 Came from the palace to review the host, To count the numbers, and go through the names Upon the registers. She tarried long On that broad plain while many troops marched past, And when she spied Darab, his Grace divine, His bearing, and the steel mace on his shoulder, When thou hadst said: "He filleth all the plain, And earth is subject to his prancing steed," When too she marked his breast and lovesome face, The mother's milk stirred in her, and she asked:- "Whence is this cavalier who is possessed Of such great limbs and is so tall and straight? Me seemeth that he is a Ulan of name, Discreet and yet a warlike cavalier, A gallant heart, illustrious and mighty; But his equipment is not worthy of him." When narrowly she had surveyed Darab, And had approved of all that host, she chose A favourable season by the stars Upon the captain of the host's behalf, As was the fitting course. What time the leaders Were of one mind they led the army forth And left Humai. She sent out watchful spies To keep her well informed and certified About thu army's case for good and ill, And cut short all surmises of mishaps. Thus stage by stage the army marched on Rum; Its flying dust-clouds filled the heavens with gloom. Par. 4 How Rashnawad learned the Case of Darab It happened that one day a mighty tempest, With thunderings and lightnings, rain and turmoil, Brake o'er the host and troubled Rashnawad; The earth was flooded and the welkin roared; |p303 Men everywhere were fleeing from the downpour, And making for some shelter on the waste. Darab, like others, was discomfited, And sought to escape the storm. He looked around, Beheld a heap of ruins, and observed A lofty vault, though old and ri.nnous, One that had borne the brunt of wind and weather, Still standing in their midst. He slept perforce Therein for he was all alone and friendless. The general was going on his rounds, And passing by the vault, when from the waste A voice fell on his ear and rrlade him quail For his own life; it was a voice that said:- "O ruined vault! be very circumspect Be careful of the monarch of Iran. He had!not any shelter, friend, or mate, And so he came and slumbered under thee." Thought Rashnawad: "'Tis thunder on the blast." Then from the desert came the voice again "O vault! " it said, "close not the eye of wisdom, For 'neath thee is the son of Shah Bahman. Fear not the rain and keep these words in mind." A third time that same voice came to his ear; His heart was strangely straitened at the sound. He asked a counsellor: "What thing is this? Some one must needs go thither. Ascertain Who is reposing there in such concern About himself." They went and saw a youth Of prudent aspect and heroic mien, His charger and his garments wet and worn, And he was couching on the darksome dust. They told the general, whose heart was stirred, And he commanded: "Summon him forthwith, And make him hear." They cried: "Awake, thou sleeper! |p304 Arouse thee from thy slumber on the dust." He mounted, and at once the vault fell in! The leader of the army of the Shah, On witnessing a portent such as that, And having scanned Darab from head to foot, Went with him quickly to the camp-enclosure, Exclaiming: "0 just Judge, the only God I None hath beheld this wonder heretofore, Or heard of such from the experienced chiefs." Then garments were supplied at his behest, And a pavilion got in readiness. They made a fire huge as a hill and burned Much aloe-wood and musk and ambergris. Whenas the sun rose o'er the mountain-tops The general made all ready for the march. He bade an archimage - his chief adviser - To bring a change of raiment, Arab steed With golden trappings, mail, and gold-sheathed sword. These he presented to Darab, and asked "0 lion-hearted man and warrior ! Who art thou? Of what country and what race I 'Twere well that thou shouldst tell me all the truth." DArAb, on hearing this, narrated all, Disclosing every secret of his past; Just as the goodwife had acquainted him, So told he everything to Rashnawad, About the ark, the ruby on his arm, The money and brocade that lay beside him, And of his rest and slumber in the vault. Then Rashnawad dispatched a man forthwith, And to that messenger he said: "Bring hither, As swift as wind, both Mars and Venus, bring The launderer, his wife, and signet-ring." |p305 Par. 5 How Darab fought against the Host of Rum This said, he broke up camp and marched on Rum. He made Darab the leader of the scouts, And issued to them lances tipped with steel. The scouts drew near to Rum, and from that side The warden of those marches came to meet them. All unawares they countered. Battle's dust Arose forthwith. They mixed in fight and shed Blood like a river. When Darab beheld That warrior-host he came like flying dust, And slew so many of the troops of Rum That thou badst said: "The world hath grasped its sword." He went forth like a lion, under him A Dragon, in his hand a Crocodile. Thus fared he till he reached the Rumans' camp, And rushed upon it like an angry lion. Earth seemed a sea of Ruman blood; wherever His falchion led him went the atheling. Returning from his triumph o'er the Rumans He came to Rashnawad, the noble leader, And had from him much praise: "May our Shah's host Ne'er lack thee. When we quit the land of Rum, And when the host is home, thou shalt receive Such favours from the Shah that thou wilt be The richer both by treasure and a crown." They spent the night in ordering the troops, And furbishing the weapons of the horsemen; Then as the sun rose o'er the gloomy dales, And. earth became as 'twere a lamp agleam, The two opposing armies met again, And darkened with their dust the rising sun; But when Darab advancing led the charge, |p306 And gave his fleet steed rein, there tarried not A single man before the Ruman lines, While of the warrior-swordsmen few survived. He came upon the centre like a wolf, And scattered utterly that great array. Assailing then the right wing of the foe He carried off abundant arms and spoil, And cut in pieces all the troops of Rum None of their champions seemed himself at all The warriors of Iran came with a rush, Like lions, in his wake right valiantly, And slew so many of the Ruman host That all the field was puddled into clay. DArAb slew forty of the Christian prelates' Among the magnates and bare off the Cross= At those great deeds the heart of RashnawAd, The paladin, swelled with delight. He blessed And greatly praised Darab, and favoured him The more while blessing him. Night came, the world Grew pitch-like, and the host returned from fight. The general rested in the Rumans' camp, And loosed the girdle from his loins. He spent The night apportioning the ample spoil, And all the army was enriched thereby. He sent DdrAb a messenger to say:- "0 man of lion-heart and good at need! Consider now what thou wilt please to take, And of this spoil what is of use to thee Whatever doth not please thee give away; Thou art more glorious than the lord of Rakhsh. Darab, on seeing this, was well content, |p307 And for form's sake retained a spear himself, Dispatching all the rest to Rashnawad, And said: "Mayst thou be conquering and happy." Whenas the sun's orb left the darksome west The sky donned black brocade and when one watch Had passed, and all the sentinels were set, Their challenges ascended in a roar As 'twere of lions loose. Now when the sun Took up its golden shield, and when the troops Awoke, the warriors of Iran girt up Their loins, were instant to pursue the Rumans, Made sparks flash from their trenchant scimitars, And gave up all the cities to the flames. They sent the dust up both from land and people; None e'er recalled to mind those fields and fells. A miserable wail went up from Rum, For men abandoned that delightful land, While Caesar had not wherewithal for vengeance, And all the faces of his chiefs were wan. An envoy came to Rashnawad to say:- "If thou, the just, hast not abandoned justice Our warriors have had enough of war; The head of Rum's good fortune is brought low. If thou desirest tribute we will do Thy bidding and will make new terms with thee." Moreover Caesar sent abundant gifts, With purses, captives, and all manner of wealth, And Rashnawad received them as enough, The money and the jewels in the rough. Par. 6 How Humai recognizes her Son Thence they departed homeward joyfully, Darab, the worshipful, and Rashnawad, |p308 Who halted when he reached the ruined vault, Whereunder he had seen Darab asleep. The launderer, with his goodwife and the jewel, Were there already, fearful of disgrace. The general summoned them forthwith; they prayed To God for succour arid appeared before him. When Rashnawad beheld the man and wife He questioned them; they called the facts to mind, And told him all the truth about the matter, About the ark, about the uncut gem, Their toils, their nurture of the sucking-child, Their troubles, and the process of events. Then Rashnawad said to the man and wife:- "Success and gladness be for ever yours, For none on earth hath seen so strange a thing, Or even heard of such from archimages." Immediately that man of upright mind Indited an epistle to Humai About Darab, the storm, his sleeping-place, His prowess on the battlefield withal, And also what the launderer had told About the ark, the infant, and the treasures. He told about the voice that he had heard, How he was troubled by the sound, and how, Just when Darab had mounted on his steed, The vault had fallen in. He told it all, Dispatched a courier like the blast for speed, Gave to his charge the ruddy gem, and said:- See See that thou art the waymate of the wind." Like wind he went and bare Humai the ruby. He gave the letter and repeated all The words of Rashnawad. When she had read The letter, and beheld the gem, she wept; She knew that, on the day when she reviewed The troops, the gracious youth, whom she had marked Of mighty stature and with cheeks like spring, |p309 Could be none other than her son indeed - A noble and a fruitful Branch of hers. Humid said weeping to the messenger:- "There hath arrived a master for the world. I was not free from care, but was concerned About the question of the sovereignty. I quailed before the world's Judge, having shown Ingratitude to Him, for He had given me A son whom I renounced and cast away Upon the waters of Farüt. 'Twas I That bound this jewel on his arm, misprising The child because his sire was gone. Now God Hath given him back to me through Rashnawad, And with victorious fame." They showered a treasure Of gold, and mingled jewels, musk, and wine. Humai gave largess to the indigent, And the next sennight oped her hoarded drachms. Where'er she knew there were a Fane of Fire, The Zandavasta, and the Sada I feast, There she bestowed her treasure in like wise, And lavished gifts through all the provinces. Upon the tenth day, early in the morning, The general appeared before the Shah, And with him were the chieftains and her son, But they concealed the case from every one. Par. 7 How Humai seated Durab upon the Throne The Shah let down the curtain of the court, And for one sennight gave no audience. She caused a golden throne to be prepared, |p310 With two seats made of lapis lazuli And turquoise, with a crown all royal gems, A pair of armlets, a bejewelled torque, And an imperial robo of cloth of gold, Wherein were woven divers kinds of jewels. Before the Shah there sat astrologers To search the stars to find a lucky day. So on the Shahrivar of month Bahman, At dawn, the Shah gave audience to Darab. She filled a cup with rubies and another With ruddy gold, and, when Darab approached The hall of audience, went afar to meet him, Did him obeisance, showered on him those jewels Fit for a king, and wept blood on her breast, Embraced him, kissed him, and caressed his face, Then brought and set him on the golden throne, And scanned him wonderingly. When he was seated She came, gold crown in hand, kissed him and crowned him, Assuring all men that the crown was his. When he was thus illustrate with the crown Humai began to profler her excuses, And said: "As touching what is past, know this That all hath turned to wind. 'Twas brought about By youth, access to treusure, woman's way, A sire deceased, a Shah without a guide. If still she wrongeth thee yet let it pass, For mayst thou have no seat except the throne Of kingship." He made answer to his mother:- "Thou hast the royal temperament, and 'tis No wonder if thy heart be moved, but why Still harpest thou upon a single fault? May He that made the world approve of thee, And anguish fill the hearts of all thy foes. |p311 This story shall be my memorial, And ne'er grow obsolete upon the roll." The blest Humai did reverence, and said "Thou shall endure as long as crown endureth." She gave command to the high priest to call The men of learning out of every province, And further bade that of the troops all those Of name, the illustrious Lions wielding swords, Should homage that famed world-lord as the Shy: As they called blessings down upon his crown, And scattered jewels thereupon, Humai Described what she had done in secrecy, And all the anguish that her act had caused her. "Know ye," she added, "that of Shah Bahman This is the sole memorial on earth. Ye all must walk according to his bidding, For he is shepherd, warriors are his flock; His are the majesty, the diadem, And kingship: all must look to him for succour." Then from the palace rose a shout for gladness Because they saw a glorious Branch sprout forth; The Shah himself was hidden under jewels, The world was filled with justice and with joy, And no one reeked of sorrow and of care. Then was it that Humai addressed the chiefs, And said: "Ye noble and accomplished sages I give my son the treasure and the throne - To me a toil of two and thirty years. Rejoice ye then, submit to his commands, And breathe but at his bidding." When Darab Joyed in the crown of majesty, and donned The diadem in peace, the launderer Came with his wife apace. They said to him:- Blest be thy sitting on the Kaian throne, 0 monarch of the world! and be the hearts |p312 Darab bade bring Ten purses filled with gold, a goblet rich With gems, five bales of raiment of all kinds, And gave them to the folk that had so toiled For him. "O busy launderer!" he said, "Be still engrossed in business. It may be Thou yet mayst light upon another ark, And on another infant like Darab !" They went away invoking with their lips God's blessing on the monarch of Iran. Then set the launderer's star; he sought again His shop and carried lye upon the plain.