Sacred Texts  Islam  Index  Previous  Next 

Salaman and Absal, by Jami, tr. Edward Fitzgerald, [1904], at


When the Sharp-witted Sage
Had heard these Sayings of The Shah, he said,
"Oh Shah, who would not be the Slave of Lust
"Must still endure the Sorrow of no Son.
"—Lust that makes blind the Reason; Lust that makes
"A Devil's self seem Angel to our Eyes;
"A Cataract that, carrying havoc with it,
"Confounds the prosperous House; a Road of Mire
"Where whoso falls he rises not again;

p. 13

"A Wine of which whoever tastes shall see
"Redemption's face no more—one little Sip
"Of that delicious and unlawful Drink
"Making crave much, and hanging round the Palate
"Till it become a Ring to lead thee by
"(Putting the rope in a Vain Woman's hand),
"Till thou thyself go down the Way of Nothing.
"For what is Woman I A Foolish, Faithless Thing
"To whom The Wise Self-subjected, himself
"Deep sinks beneath the Folly he sets up.
"A very Káfir in Rapacity;
"Clothe her a hundred Years in Gold and Jewel,
"Her Garment with Brocade of Susa braided,
"Her very Night-gear wrought in Cloth of Gold,
"Dangle her Ears with Ruby and with Pearl,
"Her House with Golden Vessels all a-blaze,
"Her Tables loaded with the Fruit of Kings,
"Ispahan Apples, Pomegranates of Yazd;
"And, be she thirsty, from a Jewell’d Cup
"Drinking the Water of the Well of Life
"One little twist of Temper,—all you've done

p. 14

"Goes all for Nothing. 'Torment of my Life!'
"She cries, 'What have you ever done for me!'—
"Her Brow's white Tablet—Yes—’tis uninscrib’d
"With any Letter of Fidelity;
"Who ever read it there? Lo, in your Bosom
"She lies for Years—you turn away a moment,
"And she forgets you—worse, if as you turn
"Her Eye should light on any Younger Lover."

Once upon the Throne of Judgment,
Telling one another Secrets,
Sat Sulayman and Balkís;
The Hearts of Both were turn’d to Truth,
Unsullied by Deception.
First the King of Faith Sulayman
Spoke—"Though mine the Ring of Empire,
a Never any Day that passes
"Darkens any one my Door-way
"But into his Hand I look
"And He who comes not empty-handed
"Grows to Honour in mine Eyes."
After this Balkís a Secret
From her hidden Bosom utter’d,
Saying—"Never Night or Morning
"Comely Youth before me passes
"Whom I look not longing after;
"Saying to myself, 'Oh were he
"Comforting of my Sick Soul!—'"

"If this, as wise Ferdúsi says, the Curse
"Of Better Women, what should be the Worse?"

Click to enlarge

Next: VII