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There was once, in days of yore and in ages and times long gone before, a King of great power and lord of glory and dominion galore; who had a Wazir Ibrahim hight, and this Wazir's daughter was a damsel of extraordinary beauty and loveliness, gifted with passing brilliancy and the perfection of grace, possessed of abundant wit, and in all good breeding complete. But she loved wassail and wine and the human face divine and choice verses and rare stories; and the delicacy of her inner gifts invited all hearts to love, even as saith the poet, describing her,
"Like moon she shines amid the starry sky, * Robing in tresses blackest ink outvie.
The morning-breezes give her boughs fair drink, * And like a branch she sways with supple ply:
She smiles in passing us. O thou that art * Fairest in yellow robed, or cramoisie,
Thou playest with my wit in love, as though * Sparrow in hand of playful boy were I."
Her name was Rose-in-Hood and she was so named for her young and tender beauty and the freshness of her brilliancy; and the King loved her in his cups because of her accomplishments and fine manners. Now it was the King's custom yearly to gather together all the nobles of his realm and play with the ball. So when the day came round whereon the folk assembled for ballplay, the Minister's daughter seated herself at her lattice, to divert herself by looking on at the game; and, as they were at play, her glance fell upon a youth among the guards than whom never was seen a comelier face nor a goodlier form; for he was bright of favour showing white teeth when he smiled, tall-statured and broad-shouldered. She looked at him again and again and could not take her fill of gazing; and presently said to her nurse, "What is the name of yonder handsome young man among the troops?" Replied the nurse, "O my daughter, the dear fellows are all handsome. Which of them dost thou mean?" Said Rose-in-Hood, "Wait till he come past and I will point him out to thee." So she took an apple and as he rode by dropped it on him, whereupon he raised his head, to see who did this, and espied the Wazir's daughter at the window, as she were the moon of fullest light in the darkness of the night; nor did he withdraw his eyes, till his heart was utterly lost to her, and he recited these lines,
"Was't archer shot me, or was't thine eyes * Ruined lover's heart that thy charms espies?
Was the notched shaft from a host outshot, * Or from latticed window in sudden guise?"
When the game was at an end, and all had left the ground, she asked her nurse, "What is the name of that youth I showed thee?"; and the good woman answered, "His name is Uns al-Wujud;" whereat Rose-in-Hood shook her head and lay down on her couch, with thoughts a-fire for love. Then, sighing deeply, she improvised these couplets,
"He missed not who dubbed thee, 'World's delight,' * A world's love conjoining to bounty's light:
O thou, whose favour the full moon favours, * Whose charms make life and the living bright!
Thou hast none equal among mankind; * Sultan of Beauty, and proof I'll cite:
Thine eye-brows are likest a well-formed Nun, * And thine eyes a Sad, by His hand indite;
Thy shape is the soft, green bough that gives * When asked to all with all-gracious sprite:
Thou excellest knights of the world in stowre, * With delight and beauty and bounty dight."
When she had finished her verses, she wrote them on a sheet of paper, which she folded in a piece of golf-embroidered silk and placed under her pillow. Now one of her nurses had seen her; so she came up to her and held her in talk till she slept, when she stole the scroll from under her pillow; and, after reading it, knew that she had fallen in love with Uns al-Wujud. Then she returned the scroll to its place and when her mistress awoke, she said to her, "O my lady, indeed I am to thee a true counsellor and am tenderly anxious on thy account. Know that love is a tyrant and the hiding it melteth iron and entaileth sickness and unease; nor for whoso confesseth it is there aught of reproach." Rejoined Rose-in-Hood, "And what is the medicine of passion, O nurse mine?" Answered the nurse, "The medicine of passion is enjoyment" Quoth she, "And how may one come by enjoyment?" Quoth the other, "By letters and messages, my lady; by whispered words of compliment and by greetings before the world; all this bringeth lovers together and makes hard matters easy. So if thou have aught at heart, mistress mine, I am the fittest to keep thy secret and do thy desires and carry thy letters." Now when the damsel heard this, her reason flew and fled for joy; but she restrained herself from speech till she should see the issue of the matter, saying within herself, "None knoweth this thing of me, nor will I trust this one with my secret, till I have tried her." Then said the woman, "O my lady, I saw in my sleep as though a man came to me and said: 'Thy mistress and Uns al-Wujud love each other; so do thou serve their case by carrying their messages and doing their desires and keeping their secrets; and much good shall befal thee.' So now I have told thee my vision and it is thine to decide." Quoth Rose-in-Hood, after she heard of the dream,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-second Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Rose-in- Hood asked her nurse after hearing of the dream, "Tell me, canst thou keep a secret, O my nurse?"; whereto she answered, "And how should I not keep secrecy, I that am of the flower of the free?" Then the maiden pulled out the scroll, whereon she had written the verses and said, "Carry me this my letter to Uns al-Wujud and bring me his reply." The nurse took the letter and, repairing to Uns al-Wujud, kissed his hands and greeted him right courteously, then gave him the paper; and he read it and, comprehending the contents, wrote on the back these couplets,
"I soothe my heart and my love repel; * But my state interprets my love too well:
When tears flow I tell them mine eyes are ill, * Lest the censor see and my case fortell,
I was fancy-free and unknew I Love; * But I fell in love and in madness fell.
I show you my case and complain of pain, * Pine and ecstasy that your ruth compel:
I write you with tears of eyes, so belike * They explain the love come my heart to quell;
Allah guard a face that is veiled with charms, * Whose thrall is Moon and the Stars as well:
In her beauty I never beheld the like; * From her sway the branches learn sway and swell:
I beg you, an 'tis not too much of pains, * To call; 'twere boon without parallel.
I give you a soul you will haply take. * To which Union is Heaven, Disunion Hell."
Then he folded the letter and kissing it, gave it to the go- between and said to her, "O nurse, incline the lady's heart to me." "To hear is to obey," answered she and carried the script to her mistress, who kissed it and laid it on her head, then she opened it and read it and understood it and wrote at the foot of it these couplets,
"O whose heart by our beauty is captive ta'en, * Have patience and all thou shalt haply gain!
When we knew that thy love was a true affect, * And what pained our heart to thy heart gave pain,
We had granted thee wished-for call and more; * But hindered so doing the chamberlain.
When the night grows dark, through our love's excess * Fire burns our vitals with might and main:
And sleep from our beds is driven afar, * And our bodies are tortured by passion-bane.
'Hide Love!' in Love's code is the first command; * And from raising his veil thy hand restrain:
I fell love-fulfilled by yon gazelle: * Would he never wander from where I dwell!"
Then she folded the letter and gave it to the nurse, who took it and went out from her mistress to seek the young man; but, as she would fare forth, the chamberlain met her and said to her, "Whither away?" "To the bath," answered she; but in her fear and confusion, she dropped the letter, without knowing it, and went off unrecking what she had done; when one of the eunuchs, seeing it lying in the way, picked it up. When the nurse came without the door, she sought for it, but found it not, so turned back to her mistress and told her of this and what had befallen her. Meanwhile, the Wazir came out of the Harim and seated himself on his couch; whereupon behold, the eunuch, who had picked up the letter, came in to him, hending it in hand and said, "O my lord, I found this paper lying upon the floor and picked it up." So the Minister took it from his hand, folded as it was, and opening it, read the verses as above set down. Then, after mastering the meaning, he examined the writing and knew it for his daughter's hand; whereupon he went to her mother, weeping so abundant tears that his beard was wetted. His wife asked him, "What maketh thee weep, O my lord?"; and he answered, "Take this letter and see what is therein." So she took it and found it to be a love-letter from her daughter Rose-in-Hood to Uns al-Wujud: whereupon the ready drops sprang to her eyes; but she composed her mind, and, gulping down her tears, said to her husband, "O my lord, there is no profit in weeping: the right course is to cast about for a means of keeping thine honour and concealing the affair of thy daughter." And she went on to comfort him and lighten his trouble; but he said, "I am fearful for my daughter by reason of this new passion. Knowest thou not that the Sultan loveth Uns al- Wujud with exceeding love? And my fear hath two causes. The first concerneth myself; it is, that she is my daughter: the second is on account of the King; for that Uns al-Wujud is a favourite with the Sultan and peradventure great troubles shall come out of this affair. What deemest thou should be done?"--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-third Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir, after recounting the affair of his daughter, asked his wife, "What deemest thou should be done?" And she answered, "Have patience whilst I pray the prayer for right direction." So she prayed a two-bow prayer according to the prophetic ordinance for seeking divine guidance; after which she said to her husband, "In the midst of the Sea of Treasures standeth a mountain named the Mount of the Bereaved Mother (the cause of which being so called shall presently follow in its place, Inshallah!); and thither can none have access, save with pains and difficulty and distress: do thou make that same her abiding-place." Accordingly the Minister and his wife agreed to build on that mountain a virgin castle and lodge their daughter therein with the necessary provision to be renewed year by year and attendants to cheer and to serve her. Accordingly he collected carpenters, builders and architects and despatched them to the mountain, where they builded her an impregnable castle, never saw eyes the like thereof. Then he made ready vivers and carriage for the journey and, going in to his daughter by night, bade her prepare to set out on a pleasure-excursion. Thereupon her heart presaged the sorrows of separation and, when she went forth and saw the preparations for the journey, she wept with sore weeping and wrote that upon the door which might acquaint her lover with what had passed and with the transports of passion and grief that were upon her, transports such as would make the flesh to shiver and hair to stare, and melt the hardest stone with care, and tear from every eye a tear. And what she wrote were these couplets,
"By Allah, O thou house, if my beloved a morn go by, * And greet with signs and signals lover e'er is wont to fly,
I pray thee give him our salams in pure and fragrant guise, * For he indeed may never know where we this eve shall lie.
I wot not whither they have fared, thus bearing us afar * At speed, and lightly-quipt, the lighter from one love to fly:
When starkens night, the birds in brake or branches snugly perched * Wail for our sorrow and announce our hapless destiny:
The tongue of their condition saith, 'Alas, alas for woe, * And heavy brunt of parting-blow two lovers must aby':
When viewed I separation-cups were filled to the brim * And us with merest sorrow-wine Fate came so fast to ply,
I mixed them with becoming share of patience self to excuse, * But Patience for the loss of you her solace doth refuse."
Now when she ended her lines, she mounted and they set forward with her, crossing and cutting over wold and wild and riant dale and rugged hill, till they came to the shore of the Sea of Treasures; here they pitched their tents and built her a great ship, wherein they went down with her and her suite and carried them over to the mountain. The Minister had ordered them, on reaching the journey's end, to set her in the castle and to make their way back to the shore, where they were to break up the vessel. So they did his bidding and returned home, weeping over what had befallen. Such was their case; but as regards Uns al- Wujud, he arose from sleep and prayed the dawn-prayer, after which he took horse and rode forth to attend upon the Sultan. On his way, he passed by the Wazir's house, thinking perchance to see some of his followers as of wont; but he saw no one and, looking upon the door, he read written thereon the verses aforesaid. At this sight, his senses failed him; fire was kindled in his vitals and he returned to his lodging, where he passed the day in trouble and transports of grief, without finding ease or patience, till night darkened upon him, when his yearning and love-longing redoubled. Thereupon, by way of concealment, he disguised himself in the ragged garb of a Fakir, and set out wandering at random through the glooms of night, distracted and knowing not whither he went. So he wandered on all that night and next day, till the heat of the sun waxed fierce and the mountains flamed like fire and thirst was grievous upon him. Presently, he espied a tree, by whose side was a thin thread of running water; so he made towards it and sitting down in the shade, on the bank of the rivulet, essayed to drink, but found that the water had no taste in his mouth; and, indeed his colour had changed and his face had yellowed, and his feet were swollen with travel and travail. So he shed copious tears and repeated these couplets,
"The lover is drunken with love of friend; * On a longing that groweth his joys depend:
Love-distracted, ardent, bewildered, lost * From home, nor may food aught of pleasure lend:
How can life be delightsome to one in love, * And from lover parted, 'twere strange, unkenned!
I melt with the fire of my pine for them, * And the tears down my cheek in a stream descend.
Shall I see them, say me, or one that comes * From the camp, who th' afflicted heart shall tend?"
And after thus reciting he wept till he wetted the hard dry ground; but anon without loss of time he rose and fared on again over waste and wold, till there came out upon him a lion, with a neck buried in tangled mane, a head the bigness of a dome, a mouth wider than the door thereof and teeth like elephants' tusks. Now when Uns al-Wujud saw him, he gave himself up for lost, and turning towards the Temple of Meccah, pronounced the professions of the faith and prepared for death. He had read in books that whoso will flatter the lion, beguileth him, for that he is readily duped by smooth speech and gentled by being glorified; so he began and said, "O Lion of the forest! O Lord of the waste! O terrible Leo! O father of fighters! O Sultan of wild beasts! Behold, I am a lover in longing, whom passion and severance have been wronging; since I parted from my dear, I have lost my reasoning gear; wherefore, to my speech do thou give ear and have ruth on my passion and hope and fear." When the lion heard this, he drew back from him and sitting down on his hindquarters, raised his head to him and began to frisk tail and paws; which when Uns al-Wujud saw, he recited these couplets,
"Lion of the wold wilt thou murther me, * Ere I meet her who doomed me to slavery?
I am not game and I bear no fat; * For the loss of my love makes me sickness dree;
And estrangement from her hath so worn me down * I am like a shape in a shroud we see.
O thou sire of spoils, O thou lion of war, * Give not my pains to the blamer's gree.
I burn with love, I am drowned in tears * For a parting from lover, sore misery!
And my thoughts of her in the murk of night * For love hath make my being unbe."
As he had finished his lines the lion rose,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-fourth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as Uns al- Wujud ended his lines, the lion arose and stalked slowly up to him, with eyes tear-railing and licked him with his tongue, then walked on before him, signing to him as though saying, "Follow me." So he followed him, and the beast ceased not leading him on for a while till he brought him up a mountain, and guided him to the farther side, where he came upon the track of a caravan over the desert, and knew it to be that of Rose-in-Hood and her company. Then he took the trail and, when the lion saw that he knew the track for that of the party which escorted her, he turned back and went his way; whilst Uns al-Wujud walked along the foot-marks day and night, till they brought him to a dashing sea, swollen with clashing surge. The trail led down to the sandy shore and there broke off; whereby he knew that they had taken ship and had continued their journey by water. So he lost hope of finding his lover and with hot tears he repeated these couplets,
"Far is the fane and patience faileth me; * How can I seek them o'er the abyssmal sea;
Or how be patient, when my vitals burn * For love of them, and sleep waxed insomny?
Since the sad day they left the home and fled, * My heart's consumed by love's ardency:
Sayhun, Jayhun, Euphrates-like my tears, * Make flood no deluged rain its like can see:
Mine eyelids chafed with running tears remain, * My heart from fiery sparks is never free;
The hosts of love and longing pressed me * And made the hosts of patience break and flee.
I've risked my life too freely for their love; * And risk of life the least of ills shall be.
Allah ne'er punish eye that saw those charms * Enshrined, and passing full moon's brilliancy!
I found me felled by fair wide-opened eyes, * Which pierced my heart with stringless archery:
And soft, lithe, swaying shape enraptured me * As sway the branches of the willow-tree:
Wi' them I covet union that I win, * O'er love-pains cark and care, a mastery.
For love of them aye, morn and eve I pine, * And doubt all came to me from evil eyne."
And when his lines were ended he wept, till he swooned away, and abode in his swoon a long while; but as soon as he came to himself, he looked right and left and seeing no one in the desert, he became fearful of the wild beasts; so he clomb to the top of a high mountain, where he heard the voice of a son of Adam speaking within a cave. He listened and lo! they were the accents of a devotee, who had forsworn the world and given himself up to pious works and worship. He knocked thrice at the cavern-door, but the hermit made him no answer, neither came forth to him; wherefore he groaned aloud and recited these couplets.
"What pathway find I my desire t'obtain, * How 'scape from care and cark and pain and bane?
All terrors join to make me old and hoar * Of head and heart, ere youth from me is ta'en:
Nor find I any aid my passion, nor * A friend to lighten load of bane and pain.
How great and many troubles I've endured! * Fortune hath turned her back I see unfain.
Ah mercy, mercy on the lover's heart, * Doomed cup of parting and desertion drain!
A fire is in his heart, his vitals waste, * And severance made his reason vainest vain.
How dread the day I came to her abode * And saw the writ they wrote on doorway lain!
I wept, till gave I earth to drink my grief; * But still to near and far I did but feign:
Then strayed I till in waste a lion sprang * On me, and but for flattering words had slain:
I soothed him: so he spared me and lent me aid, * He too might haply of love's taste complain.
O devotee, that idlest in thy cave, * Meseems eke thou hast learned Love's might and main;
But if, at end of woes, with them I league, * Straight I'll forget all suffering and fatigue."
Hardly had he made an end of these verses when, behold! the door of the cavern opened and he heard one say, "Alas, the pity of it!" So he entered and saluted the devotee, who returned his salam and asked him, "What is thy name?" Answered the young man, "Uns al-Wujud." "And what caused thee to come hither?" quoth the hermit. So he told him his story in its entirety, omitting naught of his misfortunes; whereat he wept and said, "O Uns al- Wujud, these twenty years have I passed in this place, but never beheld I any man here, until yesterday, when I heard a noise of weeping and lamentation and, looking forth in the direction of the sound, saw many people and tents pitched on the sea-shore; and the party at once proceeded to build a ship, in which certain of them embarked and sailed over the waters. Then some of the crew returned with the ship and breaking it up, went their way; and I suspect that those who embarked in the ship and returned not, are they whom thou seekest. In that case, O Uns al-Wujud, thy grief must needs be great and sore and thou art excusable, though never yet was lover but suffered love-longing." Then he recited these couplets,
"Uns al-Wujud, dost deem me fancy-free, * When pine and longing slay and quicken me?
I have known love and yearning from the years * Since mother-milk I drank, nor e'er was free.
Long struggled I with Love, till learnt his might; * Ask thou of him, he'll tell with willing gree.
Love-sick and pining drank I passion-cup, * And well-nigh perished in mine agony.
Strong was I, but my strength to weakness turned, * And eye-sword brake through Patience armoury:
Hope not to win love-joys, without annoy; * Contrary ever links with contrary.
But fear not change from lover true; be true * Unto thy wish, some day thine own 'twill be.
Love hath forbidden to his votaries * Relinquishment as deadliest heresy."
The eremite, having ended his verse, rose and, coming up to Uns al-Wujud, embraced him,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-fifth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the eremite having ended his verse, rose and coming up to Uns al-Wujud embraced him, and they wept together, till the hills rang with their cries and they fell down fainting. When they revived, they swore brotherhood in Allah Almighty; after which said Uns al-Wujud, "This very night will I pray to God and seek of Him direction anent what thou shouldst do to attain thy desire." Thus it was with them; but as regards Rose-in-Hood, when they brought her to the mountain and set her in the castle and she beheld its ordering, she wept and exclaimed, "By Allah, thou art a goodly place, save that thou lackest in thee the presence of the beloved!" Then seeing birds in the island, she bade her people set snares for them and put all they caught in cages within the castle; and they did so. But she sat at a lattice and bethought her of what had passed, and desire and passion and distraction redoubled upon her, till she burst into tears and repeated these couplets,
"O to whom now, of my desire complaining sore, shall I * Bewail my parting from my fere compelled thus to fly?
Flames rage within what underlies my ribs, yet hide them I * In deepest secret dreading aye the jealous hostile spy:
I am grown as lean, attenuate as any pick of tooth, * By sore estrangement, absence, ardour, ceaseless sob and sigh.
Where is the eye of my beloved to see how I'm become * Like tree stripped bare of leafage left to linger and to die.
They tyrannised over me whom they confined in place * Whereto the lover of my heart may never draw him nigh:
I beg the Sun for me to give greetings a thousandfold, * At time of rising and again when setting from the sky,
To the beloved one who shames a full moon's loveliness, * When shows that slender form that doth the willow-branch outvie.
If Rose herself would even with his cheek, I say of her * 'Thou art not like it if to me my portion thou deny:'
His honey-dew of lips is like the grateful water draught * Would cool me when a fire in heart upflameth fierce and high:
How shall I give him up who is my heart and soul of me, * My malady my wasting cause, my love, sole leach of me?"
Then, as the glooms of night closed around her, her yearning increased and she called to mind the past and recited also these couplets,
"'Tis dark: my transport and unease now gather might and main, * And love-desire provoketh me to wake my wonted pain:
The pang of parting takes for ever place within my breast, * And pining makes me desolate in destitution lain.
Ecstasy sore maltreats my soul and yearning burns my sprite, * And tears betray love's secresy which I would lief contain:
I weet no way, I know no case that can make light my load, * Or heal my wasting body or cast out from me this bane.
A hell of fire is in my heart upflames with lambent tongue * And Laza's furnace-fires within my liver place have ta'en.
O thou, exaggerating blame for what befel, enough * I bear with patience whatsoe'er hath writ for me the Pen!
I swear, by Allah, ne'er to find aught comfort for their loss; * "Tis oath of passion's children and their oaths are ne'er in vain.
O Night! Salams of me to friends and let to them be known * Of thee true knowledge how I wake and waking ever wone."
Meanwhile, the hermit said to Uns al-Wujud, "Go down to the palm- grove in the valley and fetch some fibre." So he went and returned with the palm-fibre, which the hermit took and, twisting into ropes, make therewith a net, such as is used for carrying straw; after which he said, "O Uns al-Wujud, in the heart of the valley groweth a gourd, which springeth up and drieth upon its roots. Go down there and fill this sack therewith; then tie it together and, casting it into the water, embark thereon and make for the midst of the sea, so haply thou shalt win thy wish; for whoso never ventureth shall not have what he seeketh." "I hear and obey," answered Uns al-Wujud. Then he bade the hermit farewell after the holy man had prayed for him; and, betaking himself to the sole of the valley, did as his adviser had counselled him; made the sack, launched it upon the water, and pushed from shore. Then there arose a wind, which drave him out to sea, till he was lost to the eremite's view; and he ceased not to float over the abysses of the ocean, one billow tossing him up and another bearing him down (and he beholding the while the dangers and marvels of the deep), for the space of three days. At the end of that time Fate cast him upon the Mount of the Bereft Mother, where he landed, giddy and tottering like a chick unfledged, and at the last of his strength for hunger and thirst; but, finding there streams flowing and birds on the branches cooing and fruit-laden trees in clusters and singly growing, he ate of the fruits and drank of the rills. Then he walked on till he saw some white thing afar off, and making for it, found that it was a strongly fortified castle. So he went up to the gate and seeing it locked, sat down by it; and there he sat for three days when behold, the gate opened and an eunuch came out, who finding Uns al-Wujud there seated, said to him, "Whence camest thou and who brought thee hither?" Quoth he, "From Ispahan and I was voyaging with merchandise when my ship was wrecked and the waves cast me upon the farther side of this island." Whereupon the eunuch wept and embraced him, saying, "Allah preserve thee, O thou friendly face! Ispahan is mine own country and I have there a cousin, the daughter of my father's brother, whom I loved from my childhood and cherished with fond affection; but a people stronger than we fell upon us in foray and taking me among other booty, cut off my yard and sold me for a castrato, whilst I was yet a lad; and this is how I came to be in such case."--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-sixth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the eunuch who came forth from the castle, where Rose-in-Hood was confined, told Uns al-Wujud all his tale and said:--"The raiders who captured me cut off my yard and sold me for a castrato; and this is how I came to be in such case." And after saluting him and wishing him long life, the eunuch carried him into the courtyard of the castle, where he saw a great tank of water, surrounded by trees, on whose branches hung cages of silver, with doors of gold, and therein birds were warbling and singing the praises of the Requiting King. And when he came to the first cage he looked in and lo! a turtle dove, on seeing him, raised her voice and cried out, saying, "O Thou Bounty-fraught!" Whereat he fell down fainting and after coming to himself, he sighed heavily and recited these couplets,
"O turtle dove, like me art thou distraught? * Then pray the Lord and sing 'O Bounty-fraught!'
Would I knew an thy moan were sign of joy, * Or cry of love-desire in heart inwrought,--
An moan thou pining for a lover gone * Who left thee woe begone to pine in thought,--
Or if like me hast lost thy fondest friend, * And severance long desire to memory brought?
O Allah, guard a faithful lover's lot * I will not leave her though my bones go rot!"
Then, after ending his verses, he fainted again; and, presently reviving he went on to the second cage, wherein he found a ringdove. When it saw him, it sang out, "O Eternal, I thank thee!" and he groaned and recited these couplets,
"I heard a ringdove chanting plaintively, * 'I thank Thee, O Eternal for this misery!'
Haply, perchance, may Allah, of His grace, * Send me by this long round my love to see.
Full oft she comes with honeyed lips dark red, * And heaps up lowe upon love's ardency.
Quoth I (while longing fires flame high and fierce * In heart, and wasting life's vitality,
And tears like gouts of blood go railing down * In torrents over cheeks now pale of blee),
'None e'er trod earth that was not born to woe, * But I will patient dree mine agony,
So help me Allah! till that happy day * When with my mistress I unite shall be:
Then will I spend my good on lover-wights, * Who're of my tribe and of the faith of me;
And loose the very birds from jail set free, * And change my grief for gladdest gree and glee!'"
Then he went on to the third cage, wherein he found a mockingbird which, when it saw him, set up a song, and he recited the following couplets,
"Pleaseth me yon Hazar of mocking strain * Like voice of lover pained by love in vain.
Woe's me for lovers! Ah how many men * By nights and pine and passion low are lain!
As though by stress of love they had been made * Morn-less and sleep-less by their pain and bane.
When I went daft for him who conquered me * And pined for him who proved of proudest strain,
My tears in streams down trickled and I cried * 'These long-linkt tears bind like an adamant-chain:'
Grew concupiscence, severance long, and I * Lost Patience' hoards and grief waxed sovereign:
If Justice bide in world and me unite * With him I love and Allah veil us deign,
I'll strip my clothes that he my form shall sight * With parting, distance, grief, how poor of plight!"
Then he went to the fourth cage, where he found a Bulbul which, at sight of him, began to sway to and fro and sing its plaintive descant; and when he heard its complaint, he burst into tears and repeated these couplets.
"The Bulbul's note, whenas dawn is nigh, * Tells the lover from strains of strings to fly:
Complaineth for passion Uns al-Wujud, * For pine that would being to him deny.
How many a strain do we hear, whose sound * Softens stones and the rock can mollify:
And the breeze of morning that sweetly speaks * Of meadows in flowered greenery.
And scents and sounds in the morning-tide * Of birds and zephyrs in fragrance vie;
But I think of one, of an absent friend, * And tears rail like rain from a showery sky;
And the flamy tongues in my breast uprise * As sparks from gleed that in dark air fly.
Allah deign vouchsafe to a lover distraught * Someday the face of his dear to descry!
For lovers, indeed, no excuse is clear, * Save excuse of sight and excuse of eye."
Then he walked on a little and came to a goodly cage, than which was no goodlier there, and in it a culver of the forest, that is to say, a wood-pigeon, the bird renowned among birds as the minstrel of love-longing, with a collar of jewels about its neck marvellous fine and fair. He considered it awhile and, seeing it absently brooding in its cage, he shed tears and repeated these couplets,
"O culver of copse, with salams I greet; * O brother of lovers who woe must weet!
I love a gazelle who is slender-slim, * Whose glances for keenness the scymitar beat:
For her love are my heart and my vitals a-fire, * And my frame consumes in love's fever-heat.
The sweet taste of food is unlawful for me, * And forbidden is slumber, unlawfullest sweet.
Endurance and solace have travelled from me, * And love homes in my heart and grief takes firm seat:
How shall life deal joy when they flee my sight * Who are joy and gladness and life and sprite?"
As soon as Uns al-Wujud had ended his verse,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-seventh Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as soon as Uns al-Wujud had ended his verse, the wood-culver awoke from its brooding and cooed a reply to his lines and shrilled and trilled with its thrilling notes till it all but spake with human speech; and the tongue of the case talked for it and recited these couplets,
"O lover, thou bringest to thought a tide * When the strength of my youth first faded and died;
And a friend of whose form I was 'namoured, * Seductive and dight with beauty's pride;
Whose voice, as he sat on the sandhill-tree, * From the Nay's sweet sound turned my heart aside;
A fowler snared him in net, the while * 'O that man would leave me at large!' he cried;
I had hoped he might somewhat of mercy show * When a hapless lover he so espied;
But Allah smite him who tore me away, * In his hardness of heart, from my lover's side;
But aye my desire for him groweth more, * And my heart with the fires of disjunction is fried:
Allah guard a true lover, who strives with love, * And hath borne the torments I still abide!
And, seeing me bound in this cage, with mind * Of ruth, release me my love to find."
Then Uns al-Wujud turned to his companion, the Ispahahi, and said, "What palace is this? Who built it and who abideth in it?" Quoth the eunuch, "The Wazir of a certain King built it to guard his daughter, fearing for her the accidents of Time and the incidents of Fortune, and lodged her herein, her and her attendants; nor do we open it save once in every year, when their provision cometh to them." And Uns al-Wujud said to himself, "I have gained my end, though I may have long to wait." Such was his case; but as regards Rose-in-Hood, of a truth she took no pleasure in eating or drinking, sitting or sleeping; but her desire and passion and distraction redoubled on her, and she went wandering about the castle-corners, but could find no issue; wherefore she shed tears and recited these couplets,
"They have cruelly ta'en me from him, my beloved, * And made me taste anguish in prison ta'en:
They have fired my heart with the flames of love, * Barred all sight of him whom to see I'm fain:
In a lofty palace they prisoned me * On a mountain placed in the middle main.
If they'd have me forget him, right vain's their wish, * For my love is grown of a stronger strain.
How can I forget him whose face was cause * Of all I suffer, of all I 'plain?
The whole of my days in sorrow's spent, * And in thought of him through the night I'm lain.
Remembrance of him cheers my solitude, * While I lorn of his presence and lone remain.
Would I knew if, after this all, my fate * To oblige the desire of my hear will deign."
When her verses were ended, she ascended to the terrace-roof of the castle after donning her richest clothes and trinkets and throwing a necklace of jewels around her neck. Then binding together some dresses of Ba'albak stuff by way of rope, she tied them to the crenelles and let herself down thereby to the ground. And she fared on over wastes and waterless wilds, till she came to the shore, where she saw a fisherman plying here and there over the sea, for the wind had driven him on to the island. When he saw her, he was affrighted and pushed off again, flying from her; but she cried out and made pressing signs to him to return, versifying with these couplets,
"O fisherman no care hast thou to fear, * I'm but an earth-born maid in mortal sphere;
I pray thee linger and my prayer grant * And to my true unhappy tale give ear:
Pity (so Allah spare thee!) warmest love; * Say, hast thou seen him-my beloved fere?
I love a lovely youth whose face excels * Sunlight, and passes moon when clearest clear:
The fawn, that sees his glance, is fain to cry * 'I am his thrall' and own himself no peer:
Beauty hath written, on his winsome cheek, * Rare lines of pregnant sense for every seer;
Who sights the light of love his soul is saved; * Who strays is Infidel to Hell anear:
An thou in mercy show his sight, O rare! * Thou shalt have every wish, the dearest dear,
Of rubies and what likest are to them * Fresh pearls and unions new, the seashell's tear:
My friend, thou wilt forsure grant my desire * Whose heart is melted in love's hottest fire.
When the fisherman heard her words, he wept and made moan and lamented; then, recalling what had betided himself in the days of his youth, when love had the mastery over him and longing and desire and distraction were sore upon him and the fires of passion consumed him, replied with these couplets,
"What fair excuse is this my pining plight, * With wasted limbs and tears' unceasing blight;
And eyelids open in the nightly murk, * And heart like fire-stick ready fire to smite;
Indeed love burdened us in early youth, * And true from false coin soon we learned aright:
Then did we sell our soul on way of love, * And drunk of many a well to win her sight;
Venturing very life to gain her grace, * And make high profit perilling a mite.
'Tis Love's religion whoso buys with life * His lover's grace, with highest gain is dight."
And when he ended his verse, he moored his boat to the beach and said to her, "Embark, so may I carry thee whither thou wilt." Thereupon she embarked and he put off with her; but they had not gone far from land, before there came out a stern-wind upon the boat and drove it swiftly out of sight of shore. Now the fisherman knew not whither he went, and the strong wind blew without ceasing three days, when it fell by leave of Allah Almighty, and they sailed on and ceased not sailing till they came in sight of a city sitting upon the sea-shore,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-eighth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the fisherman's craft, carrying Rose-in-Hood, made the city sitting upon the sea-shore, the man set about making fast to the land. Now the King of the city was a Prince of pith and puissance named Dirbas, the Lion; and he chanced at that moment to be seated, with his son, at a window in the royal palace giving upon the sea; and happening to look out seawards, they saw the fishing- boat make the land. They observed it narrowly and espied therein a young lady, as she were the full moon overhanging the horizon- edge, with pendants in her ears of costly balass-rubies and a collar of precious stones about her throat. Hereby the King knew that this must indeed be the daughter of some King or great noble and, going forth of the sea-gate of the palace, went down to the boat, where he found the lady asleep and the fisherman busied in making fast to shore. So he went up to her and aroused her, whereupon she awoke, weeping; and he asked her, "Whence comest thou and whose daughter art thou and what be the cause of thy coming hither?"; and she answered, "I am the daughter of Ibrahim, Wazir to King Shamikh; and the manner of my coming hither is wondrous and the cause thereof marvellous." And she told him her whole story first and last, hiding naught from him; then she groaned aloud and recited these couplets,
"Tear-drops have chafed mine eyelids and rail down in wondrous wise, * For parting pain that fills my sprite and turns to springs mine eyes,
For sake of friend who ever dwells within my vitals homed, * And I may never win my wish of him in any guise.
He hath a favour fair and bright, and brilliant is his face, * Which every Turk and Arab wight in loveliness outvies:
The Sun and fullest Moon lout low whenas his charms they sight, * And lover-like they bend to him whene'er he deigneth rise.
A wondrous spell of gramarye like Kohl bedecks his eyne, * And shows thee bow with shaft on string make ready ere it flies:
O thou, to whom I told my case expecting all excuse, * Pity a lover-wight for whom Love-shafts such fate devise!
Verily, Love hath cast me on your coast despite of me * Of will now weak, and fain I trust mine honour thou wilt prize:
For noble men, whenas perchance alight upon their bounds, * Grace-worthy guests, confess their worth and raise to dignities.
Then, O thou hope of me, to lovers' folly veil afford * And be to them reunion cause, thou only liefest lord!"
And when she had ended her verses, she again told the King her sad tale and shed plenteous tears and recited these couplets bearing on her case,
"We lived till saw we all the marvels Love can bear; * Each month to thee we hope shall fare as Rajab fare:
Is it not wondrous, when I saw them march amorn * That I with water o' eyes in heart lit flames that flare?
That these mine eyelids rain fast dropping gouts of blood? * That now my cheek grows gold where rose and lily were?
As though the safflower hue, that overspread my cheeks, * Were Joseph's coat made stain of lying blood to wear."
Now when the King heard her words he was certified of her love and longing and was moved to ruth for her; so he said to her, "Fear nothing and be not troubled; thou hast come to the term of thy wishes; for there is no help but that I win for thee thy will and bring thee to thy desire." And he improvised these couplets,
"Daughter of nobles, who thine aim shalt gain; * Hear gladdest news nor fear aught hurt of bane!
This day I'll pack up wealth, and send it on * To Shamikh, guarded by a champion-train;
Fresh pods of musk I'll send him and brocades, * And silver white and gold of yellow vein:
Yes, and a letter shall inform him eke * That I of kinship with that King am fain:
And I this day will lend thee bestest aid, * That all thou covetest thy soul assain.
I, too, have tasted love and know its taste * And can excuse whoso the same cup drain."
Then, ending his verse, he went forth to his troops and summoned his Wazir; and, causing him to pack up countless treasure, commanded him carry it to King Shamikh and say to him, "Needs must thou send me a person named Uns al-Wujud;" and say moreover "The King is minded to ally himself with thee by marrying his daughter to Uns al-Wujud, thine officer. So there is no help but thou despatch him to me, that the marriage may be solemnized in her father's kingdom." And he wrote a letter to King Shamikh to this effect, and gave it to the Minister, charging him strictly to bring back Uns al-Wujud and warning him, "An thou fail thou shalt be deposed and degraded." Answered the Wazir, "I hear and obey;" and, setting out forthright with the treasures, in due course arrived at the court of King Shamikh whom he saluted in the name of King Dirbas and delivered the letter and the presents. Now when King Shamikh read the letter and saw the name of Uns al-Wujud, he burst into tears and said to the Wazir "And where, or where, is Uns al-Wujud?; he went from us and we know not his place of abiding; only bring him to me, and I will give thee double the presents thou hast brought me." And he wept and groaned and lamented, saying these couplets,
"To me restore my dear; * I want not wealth untold:
Nor crave I gifts of pearls * Or gems or store of gold:
He was to us a moon * In beauty's heavenly fold.
Passing in form and soul; * With roe compare withhold!
His form a willow-wand, * His fruit, lures manifold;
But willow lacketh power * Men's hearts to have and hold.
I reared him from a babe * On cot of coaxing roll'd;
And now I mourn for him * With woe in soul ensoul'd."
Then, turning to the Wazir who had brought the presents and the missive, he said, "Go back to thy liege and acquaint him that Uns al-Wujud hath been missing this year past, and his lord knoweth not whither he is gone nor hath any tidings of him." Answered the Minister of King Dirbas, "O my lord, my master said to me, 'An thou fail to bring him back, thou shalt be degraded from the Wazirate and shall not enter my city. How then can I return without him?'" So King Shamikh said to his Wazir Ibrahim, "Take a company and go with him and make ye search for Uns al-Wujud everywhere." He replied, "Hearkening and obedience;" and, taking a body of his own retainers, set out accompanied by the Wazir of King Dirbas seeking Uns al-Wujud.--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Seventy-ninth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ibrahim, Wazir to King Shamikh, took him a body of his retainers and, accompanied by the Minister of King Dirbas, set out seeking Uns al-Wujud. And as often as they fell in with wild Arabs or others they asked of the youth, saying, "Tell us have ye seen a man whose name is so and so and his semblance thus and thus?" But they all answered, "We know him not." Still they continued their quest, enquiring in city and hamlet and seeking in fertile plain and stony hall and in the wild and in the wold, till they made the Mountain of the Bereaved Mother; and the Wazir of King Dirbas said to Ibrahim, "Why is this mountain thus called?" He answered, "Once of old time, here sojourned a Jinniyah, of the Jinn of China, who loved a mortal with passionate love; and, being in fear of her life from her own people, searched all the earth over for a place, where she might hide him from them, till she happened on this mountain and, finding it cut off from both men and Jinn, there being no access to it, carried off her beloved and lodged him therein. There, when she could escape notice of her kith and kin, she used privily to visit him, and continued so doing till she had borne him a number of children; and the merchants, sailing by the mountain, in their voyages over the main, heard the weeping of the children, as it were the wailing of a woman bereft of her babes, and said, 'Is there here a mother bereaved of her children?' For which reason the place was named the Mountain of the Bereaved Mother." And the Wazir of King Dirbas marvelled at his words. Then they landed and, making for the castle, knocked at the gate which was opened to them by an eunuch, who knew the Wazir Ibrahim and kissed his hands. The Minister entered and found in the courtyard, among the serving- men, a Fakir, which was Uns al-Wujud, but he knew him not and said, "Whence cometh yonder wight?" Quoth they, "He is a merchant, who hath lost his goods, but saved himself; and he is an ecstatic." So the Wazir left him and went on into the castle, where he found no trace of his daughter and questioned her women, who answered, "We wot not how or whither she went; this place misliked her and she tarried in it but a short time." Whereupon he wept sore and repeated these couplets,
"Ho thou, the house, whose birds were singing gay, * Whose sills their wealth and pride were wont display!
Till came the lover wailing for his love, * And found thy doors wide open to the way;
Would Heaven I knew where is my soul that erst * Was homed in house, whose owners fared away!
'Twas stored with all things bright and beautiful, * And showed its porters ranged in fair array:
They clothed it with brocades a bride become; * Would I knew whither went its lords, ah, say!"
After ending his verses he again shed tears, and groaned and bemoaned himself, exclaiming, "There is no deliverance from the destiny decreed by Allah; nor is there any escape from that which He hath predestined!" Then he went up to the roof and found the strips of Ba'albak stuff tied to the crenelles and hanging down to the ground, and thus it was he knew that she had descended thence and had fled forth, as one distracted and demented with desire and passion. Presently, he turned and seeing there two birds, a gor-crow and an owl he justly deemed this an omen of ill; so he groaned and recited these couplets,
"I came to my dear friends' door, of my hopes the goal, * Whose sight mote assuage my sorrow and woes of soul:
No friends found I there, nor was there another thing * To find, save a corby-crow and an ill-omened owl.
And the tongue o' the case to me seemed to say, * 'Indeed This parting two lovers fond was cruel and foul!
So taste thou the sorrow thou madest them taste and live * In grief: wend thy ways and now in thy sorrow prowl!'"
Then he descended from the castle-roof, weeping, and bade the servants fare forth and search the mount for their mistress; so they sought for her, but found her not. Such was their case; but as regards Uns al-Wujud, when he was certified that Rose-in-Hood was indeed gone, he cried with a great cry and fell down in a fainting-fit, nor came to himself for a long time, whilst the folk deemed that his spirit had been withdrawn by the Compassionating One; and that he was absorbed in contemplation of the splendour, majesty and beauty of the Requiting One. Then, despairing of finding Uns al-Wujud, and seeing that the Wazir Ibrahim was distracted for the loss of his daughter, the Minister of King Dirbas addressed himself to return to his own country, albeit he had not attained the object of his journey, and while bidding his companion adieu, said to him, "I have a mind to take the Fakir with me; it may be Allah Almighty will incline the King's heart to me by his blessing, for that he is a holy man; and thereafter, I will send him to Ispahan, which is near our country." "Do as thou wilt," answered Ibrahim. So they took leave of each other and departed, each for his own mother land, the Wazir of King Dirbas carrying with him Uns al-Wujud,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Eightieth Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir of King Dirbas carried with him Uns al-Wujud who was still insensible. They bore him with them on mule-back (he unknowing if he were carried or not) for three days, when he came to himself and said, "Where am I?" "Thou art in company with the Minister of King Dirbas," replied they and went and gave news of his recovering to the Wazir, who sent him rose-water and sherbet of sugar, of which they gave him to drink and restored him. Then they ceased not faring on till they drew near King Dirbas's capital and the King, being advised of his Wazir's coming, wrote to him, saying, "If Uns al-Wujud be not with thee, come not to me ever." Now when the Wazir read the royal mandate, it was grievous to him, for he knew not that Rose-in-Hood was with the King, nor why he had been sent in quest of Uns al-Wujud, nor the King's reason for desiring the alliance; whilst Uns al-Wujud also knew not whither they were bearing him or that the Wazir had been sent in quest of him; nor did the Wazir know that the Fakir he had with him was Uns al-Wujud himself. And when the Minister saw that the sick man was whole, he said to him, "I was despatched by the King on an errand, which I have not been able to accomplish. So, when he heard of my return, he wrote to me, saying, 'Except thou have fulfilled my need enter not my city.'" "And what is the King's need?" asked Uns al-Wujud. So the Wazir told him the whole tale, and he said, "Fear nothing, but go boldly to the King and take me with thee; and I will be surety to thee for the coming of Uns al-Wujud." At this the Wazir rejoiced and cried, "Is this true which thou sayest?" "Yes," replied he; whereupon the Wazir mounted and carried him to King Dirbas who, after receiving their salutations said to him, "Where is Uns al-Wujud?" Answered the young man, "O King, I know where he is." So the King called him to him and said, "Where?" Returned Uns al-Wujud, "He is near-hand and very near; but tell me what thou wouldst with him, and I will fetch him into thy presence." The King replied, "With joy and good gree, but the case calleth for privacy." So he ordered the folk to withdraw and, carrying Uns al-Wujud into his cabinet, told him the whole story; whereupon quoth the youth, "Robe me in rich raiment, and I will forthright bring Uns al-Wujud to thee." So they brought him a sumptuous dress, and he donned it and said, "I am Uns al-Wujud, the World's Delight, and to the envious a despite"; and presently he smote with his glances every sprite, and began these couplets to recite,
"My loved one's name in cheerless solitude aye cheereth me * And driveth off my desperance and despondency:
I have no helper but my tears that ever flow in fount, * And as they flow, they lighten woe and force my grief to flee.
My longing is so violent naught like it ere was seen; * My love- tale is a marvel and my love a sight to see:
I spend the night with lids of eye that never close in sleep, * And pass in passion twixt the Hells and Edens heavenly.
I had of patience fairish store, but now no more have I; * And love's sole gift to me hath been aye-growing misery:
My frame is wasted by the pain of parting from my own, * And longing changed my shape and form and made me other be.
Mine eyelids by my torrent tears are chafed, and ulcerate, * The tears, whose flow to stay is mere impossibility.
My manly strength is sore impaired for I have lost my heart; * How many griefs upon my griefs have I been doomed to dree!
My heart and head are like in age with similar hoariness * By loss of Beauty's lord, of lords the galaxy:
Despite our wills they parted us and doomed us parted wone, * While they (our lords) desire no more than love in unity.
Then ah, would Heaven that I wot if stress of parting done, * The world will grant me sight of them in union fain and free--
Roll up the scroll of severance which others would unroll-- * Efface my trouble by the grace of meeting's jubilee!
And shall I see them homed with me in cup-company, * And change my melancholic mood for joy and jollity?"
And when he had ended his verses the King cried aloud, "By Allah, ye are indeed a pair of lovers true and fain and in Beauty's heaven of shining stars a twain: your story is wondrous and your case marvellous." Then he told him all that had befalled Rose-in- Hood; and Uns al-Wujud said, "Where is she, O King of the age?" "She is with me now," answered Dirbas and, sending for the Kazi and the witnesses, drew up the contract of marriage between her and him. Then he honoured Uns al-Wujud with favours and bounties and sent to King Shamikh acquainting him with what had befallen, whereat this King joyed with exceeding joy and wrote back the following purport. "Since the ceremony of contract hath been performed at thy court, it behoveth that the marriage and its consummation be at mine." Then he made ready camels, horses and men and sent them in quest of the pair; and when the embassy reached King Dirbas, he gave the lovers much treasure and despatched them to King Shamikh's court with a company of his own troops. The day of their arrival was a notable day, never was seen a grander; for the King gathered together all the singing- women and players on instruments of music and made wedding banquets and held high festival seven days; and on each day he gave largesse to the folk and bestowed on them sumptuous robes of honour. Then Uns al-Wujud went in to Rose-in-Hood and they embraced and sat weeping for excess of joy and gladness, whilst she recited these couplets,
"Joyance is come, dispelling cark and care; * We are united, enviers may despair.
The breeze of union blows, enquickening * Forms, hearts and vitals, fresh with fragrant air:
The splendour of delight with scents appears, * And round us flags and drums show gladness rare.
Deem not we're weeping for our stress of grief;* It is for joy our tears as torrents fare:
How many fears we've seen that now are past! * And bore we patient what was sore to bear:
One hour of joyance made us both forget * What from excess of terror grey'd our hair."
And when the verses were ended, they again embraced and ceased not from their embrace, till they fell down in a swoon,--And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
When it was the Three Hundred and Eighty-first Night,
She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Uns al- Wujud and Rose-in-Hood embraced when they foregathered and ceased not from their embrace, till they fell down in a swoon for the delight of reunion; and when they came to themselves, Uns al- Wujud recited these couplets,
"How joyously sweet are the nights that unite, * When my dearling deigns keep me the troth she did plight;
When union conjoins us in all that we have, * And parting is severed and sundered from sight,
To us comes the world with her favour so fair, * After frown and aversion and might despight!
Hath planted her banner Good Fortune for us, * And we drink of her cup in the purest delight.
We have met and complained of the pitiful Past, * And of nights a full many that doomed us to blight.
But now, O my lady, the Past is forgot; * The Compassionate pardon the Past for unright!
How sweet is existence, how glad is to be! * This union my passion doth only incite."
And when he ended his verses they once more embraced, drowned in the sea of passion; and lay down together in the private apartment carousing and conversing and quoting verses and telling pleasant tales and anecdotes. On this wise seven days passed over them whilst they knew not night from day and it was to them, for very stress of gaiety and gladness, pleasure and possession, as if the seven days were but one day with ne'er a morrow. Not did they know the seventh day, but by the coming of the singers and players on instruments of music; whereat Rose-in-Hood beyond measure wondered and improvised these couplets,
"In spite of enviers' jealousy, at end * We have won all we hoped of the friend:
We've crowned our meeting with a close embrace * On quilts where new brocades with sendal blend;
On bed of perfumed leather, which the spoils * Of downy birds luxuriously distend.
But I abstain me from unneeded wine, * When honey-dews of lips sweet musk can lend:
Now from the sweets of union we unknow * Time near and far, if slow or fast it wend,
The seventh night hath come and gone, O strange! * How went the nights we never reckt or kenned;
Till, on the seventh wishing joy they said, * 'Allah prolong the meet of friend with friend!'"
When she had finished her song, Uns al-Wujud kissed her, more than an hundred times, and recited these couplets,
"O day of joys to either lover fain! * The loved one came and freed from lonely pain:
She blest me with all inner charms she hath; * And companied with inner grace deep lain:
She made me drain the wine of love till I, * Was faint with joys her love had made me drain:
We toyed and joyed and on each other lay; * Then fell to wine and soft melodious strain:
And for excess of joyance never knew, * How went the day and how it came again.
Fair fall each lover, may he union win * And gain of joy like me the amplest gain;
Nor weet the taste of severance' bitter fruit * And joys assain them as they us assain!"
Then they went forth and distributed to the folk alms and presents of money and raiment and rare gifts and other tokens of generosity; after which Rose-in-Hood bade clear the bath for her and, turning to Uns al-Wujud said to him, "O coolth of my eyes, I have a mind to see thee in the Hammam, and therein we will be alone together." He joyfully consented to this, and she let scent the Hammam with all sorts of perfumed woods and essences, and light the wax-candles. Then of the excess of her contentment she recited these couplets,
"O who didst win my love in other date * (And Present e'er must speak of past estate);
And, oh! who art my sole sufficiency, * Nor want I other friends with me to mate:
Come to the Hammam, O my light of eyes, * And enter Eden through Gehenna-gate!
We'll scent with ambergris and aloes-wood * Till float the heavy clouds with fragrant freight;
And to the World we'll pardon all her sins * And sue for mercy the Compassionate;
And I will cry, when I descry thee there, * 'Good cheer, sweet love, all blessings on thee wait!'"
Whereupon they arose and fared to the bath and took their pleasure therein; after which they returned to their palace and there abode in the fulness of enjoyment, till there came to them the Destroyer of Delights and the Sunderer of societies; and glory be to Him who changeth not neither ceaseth, and to whom everything returneth! And they also tell a tale of...
[Go to Abu Nowas With the Three Boys and the Caliph Harun Al-Rashid]
Burton, Richard (1821-1890). The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London. 1885-1888. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. V. Gutenberg Vol. VII. Gutenberg Vol. VIII. Gutenberg Vol. IX. Gutenberg Vol. X. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM