Richard Francis Burton.

A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) online

. (page 13 of 40)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 13 of 40)
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baldricked myself with my sword and slinging my spear behind
me, mounted and rode forth in quest of her. I fared on fast till,
one night, it was pitch dark and exceeding black, yet I persisted
in the hard task of climbing down Wadys and up hills, hearing on
all sides the roaring of lions and howling of wolves and the cries
of the wild beasts. My reason was troubled thereat and my heart
sank within me ; but for all that my tongue ceased not to call on
the name of Almighty Allah. As I went along thus, sleep over-
took me and the camel carried me aside out of my road, till,
presently, something 3 smote me on the head, and I woke,
startled and alarmed, and found myself in a pasturage full of trees
and streams and birds on the branches, warbling their various
speech and notes. As the trees were tangled I alighted and,
taking my camel's halter in hand, fared on softly with her, till I
got clear of the thick growth and came out into the open country,
where I adjusted her saddle and mounted again, knowing not
where to go nor whither the Fates should lead me ; but, presently,
peering afar into the desert, I espied a fire in its middle depth.
So I smote my camel and made for the fire. When I drew near,
I saw a tent pitched, and fronted by a spear stuck in the ground,
with a pennon flying and horses tethered and camels feeding, and
said in myself, " Doubtless there hangeth some grave matter by
this tent, for I see none other than it in the desert." So I went
up thereto and said, " Peace be with you, O people of the tent,
and the mercy of Allah and His blessing ! " Whereupon there
came forth to me a young man as youths are when nineteen years
old, who was like the full moon shining in the East, with valour
written between his eyes, and answered, saying, " And with thee

1 Arab. "Nafs-i" which here corresponds with our canting "the flesh," the " Old
Adam," &c.

2 Arab. " Atmdrf " used for travel. The Anglo-Americans are the only people who
have the common sense to travel (where they are not known) in their " store clothes "
and reserve the worst for where they are known.

3 e.g., a branch or bough.

* Arab. " Rayah kaimah," which Lane translates a " beast standing " !

The Lovers of the Banu Uzrah. 119

be the Peace, and Allah's mercy and His blessing ! O brother of
the Arabs, methinks thou hast lost thy way ? " Replied I, " Even
so, direct me right, Allah have mercy on thee!" He rejoined,
" O brother of the Arabs, of a truth this our land is infested with
lions and the night is exceeding dark and dreary, beyond measure
cold and gloomy, and I fear lest the wild beasts rend thee in
pieces ; wherefore do thou alight and abide with me this night in
ease and comfort, and to-morrow I will put thee in the right way."
Accordingly, I dismounted and hobbled my she-camel with the
end of her halter ; l then I put off my heavy upper clothes and sat
down. Presently the young man took a sheep and slaughtered it
and kindled a brisk fire ; after which he went into the tent and
bringing out finely powdered salt and spices, fell to cutting off
pieces of mutton and roasting them over the fire and feeding me
therewith, weeping at one while and sighing at another. Then he
groaned heavily and wept sore and improvised these couplets

There remains to him naught save a flitting breath o And an eye whose babe

ever wandereth.
There remains not a joint in his limbs, but what o Disease firm fixt ever

His tears are flowing, his vitals burning ; o Yet for all his tongue still he

All foemen in pity beweep his woes ; Ah for freke whom the foeman

pitieth !

By this I knew, O Commander of the Faithful, that the youth was
a distracted lover (for none knoweth passion save he who hath
tasted the passion-savour), and quoth I to myself, "Shall I ask
him ? " But I consulted my judgment and said, " How shall I
assail him with questioning, and I in his abode ? " So I restrained
myself and ate my sufficiency of the meat. When we had made
an end of eating, the young man arose and entering the tent,
brought out a handsome basin and ewer and a silken napkin,
whose ends were purfled with red gold and a sprinkling-bottle
full of rose-water mingled with musk. I marvelled at his dainty
delicate ways and said in my mind, " Never wot I of delicacy in
the desert." Then we washed our hands and talked a while, after

1 Tying up the near foreleg just above the knee ; and even with this a camel can hop
over sundry miles of ground in the course of a night. The hobbling is shown in Lane
(Nights vol. ii., p. 46).

I2O A If Laylah wa Laylah.

which he went into the tent and making a partition between
himself and me with a piece of red brocade, said to me, " Enter,
O Chief of the Arabs, and take thy rest ; for thou hast suffered
more of toil and travel than sufficeth this night and in this thy
journey." So I entered and finding a bed of green brocade, doffed
my dress and passed a night such as I had never passed in my

life. And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to

say her permitted say.

Nofo fofien it foa tfce Sbft f^un&retr antr Jltnttfetf)

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Jamil
spoke, saying : Never in my life passed I a night like that. I
pondered the young man's case, till the world was dark and all
eyes slept, when I was aroused by the sound of a low voice, never
heard I a softer or sweeter. I raised the curtain which hung be-
tween us and saw a damsel (never beheld I a fairer of face), by the
young man's side and they were both weeping and complaining,
one to other of the pangs of passion and desire and of the excess
of their longing for union. 1 Quoth I, " By Allah, I wonder who
may be this second one ! When I entered this tent, there was
none therein save this young man." And after reflection I added,
" Doubtless this damsel is of the daughters of the Jinn and is
enamoured of this youth ; so they have secluded themselves with
each other in this solitary place." Then I considered her closely
and behold, she was a mortal and an Arab girl, whose face, when,
she unveiled, shamed the shining sun, and the tent was lit up by
the light of her countenance. When I was assured that she was
his beloved, I bethought me of lover-jealousy ; so I let drop the
curtain and covering my face, fell asleep. As soon as it was dawn
I arose and donning my clothes, made the Wuzu-ablution and
prayed such prayers as are obligatory and which I had deferred.
Then I said, " O brother of the Arabs, wilt thou direct me into
the right road and thus add to thy favours ? " He replied, " At
thy leisure, O chief of the Arabs, the term of the guest-rite is

1 As opposed to "Severance" in the old knightly language of love, which is now
apparently lost to the world. I tried it in the Lyrics of Camoens and found that I
was speaking a forgotten tongue, which mightily amused the common sort of critic and

The Lovers of the Banu Uzrah. 121

three days, 1 and I am not one to let thee go before that time." So
I abode with him three days, and on the fourth day as we sat
talking, I asked him of his name and lineage. Quoth he " As for
my lineage, I am of the Banu Odhrah ; my name is such an one,
son of such an one and my father's brother is called such an one."
And behold, O Commander of the Faithful, he was the son of my
paternal uncle and of the noblest house of the Banu Uzrah.
Said I, " O my cousin, what moved thee to act on this wise,
secluding thyself in the v/aste and leaving thy fair estate and that
of thy father and thy slaves and handmaids ? " When he heard
my words, his eyes filled with tears and he replied, " Know, O my
cousin, that I fell madly in love of the daughter of my father's
brother, fascinated by her, distracted for her, passion-possessed as
by a Jinn, wholly unable to let her out of my sight. So I sought
her in marriage of her sire, but he refused and married her to a
man of the Banu Odhrah, who went in to her and carried her to
his abiding-place this last year. When she was thus far removed
from me and I was prevented from looking on her, the fiery pangs
of passion and excess of love-longing and desire drove me to for-
sake my clan 2 and friends and fortune and take up my abode in
this desert, where I have grown used to my solitude." I asked,
"Where are their dwellings ?" and he answered, " They are hard
by, on the crest of yonder hill ; and every night, at the dead time,
when all eyes sleep, she stealeth secretly out of the camp, unseen
of any one, and I satisfy my desire of her converse and she of
mine. 8 So I abide thus, solacing myself with her a part of the
night, till Allah work out that which is to be wrought ; either I
shall compass my desire, in spite 4 of the envious, or Allah will

1 More exactly three days and eight hours, after which the guest becomes a friend,
and as in the Argentine prairies is expected to do friend's duty. The popular saying is,
" The entertainment of a guest is three days ; the viaticum (jaizah) is a day and a
night, and what so exceedeth this is alms."

2 Arab. '"Ashirah." Books tell us there are seven degrees of connection among the
Badawin : Sha'ab, tribe or rather race, nation (as the Anazah) descended from a common
ancestor : Kabilah the tribe proper (whence Its Kabylts} ; Fasilah (sept), Imarab, Ashirah
(all a man's connections) ; Fakhiz (lit. the thigh, i.e., his blood relations) and Batn
(belly) his kith and kin. Practically Kabilah is the tribe, Ashfrah the clan, and Bayt
the household ; while Hayy may be anything between tribe and kith and kin.

* This is the true platonic love of noble Arabs, the Ishk 'uzrf, noted in vol. ii., 104.

* Arab. " 'Ala raghm," a favourite term. It occurs in theology ; for instance, when the
Shi'ahs are asked the cause of such and such a ritual distinction they will reply, " Ala
raghmi '1-Tasannun " : lit. = to spite the Sunnis.

122 A If Laylah wa Laylah,

determine for me and He is the best of determinators." Now
when the youth told me his case, O Commander of the Faithful,
I was concerned for him and perplexed by reason of my jealousy
for his honour; so I said to him, "O son of my uncle, wilt thou
that I point out to thee a plan and suggest to thee a project,
whereby (please Allah) thou shalt find perfect welfare and the way
of right and successful issue whereby the Almighty shall do away
from thee that thou dreadest ? " He replied, " Say on, O my
cousin " ; and quoth I, " When it is night and the girl cometh, set
her on my she-camel which is swift of pace, and mount thou thy
steed, whilst I bestride one of these dromedaries. So will we fare
on all night and when the morrow morns, we shall have traversed
wolds and wastes, and thou wilt have attained thy desire and won
the beloved of thy heart. The Almighty's earth is wide, and by
Allah, I will back thee with heart and wealth and sword." - And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her per-
mitted say.

to&en it toas tfje >ix J^untrcefc anfc J^tnetB^first Jitg&t,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Jamil
advised the elopment and night journey, promising his aid as long
as he lived, the youth accepted and said, "O cousin, wait till I
take counsel with her, for she is quick-witted and prudent and hath
insight into affairs." So (continued Jamil) when the night darkened
and the hour of her coming arrived, and he awaiting her at the
appointed tide, she delayed beyond her usual time, and I saw him
go forth the door of the tent and opening his mouth, inhale the
wafts of breeze that blew from her quarter, as if to snuff her per-
fume, and he repeated these two couplets :

Breeze of East who bringest me gentle air o From the place of sojourn where

dwells my fair :
O Breeze, of the lover thou bearest sign, o Canst not of her coming some

signal bear ?

Then he entered the tent and sat weeping awhile ; after which he
said to me, " O my cousin, some mischance must have betided the
daughter of mine uncle, or some accident must have hindered her
from coming to me this night," presently adding, " But abide
where thou art, till I bring thee the news." And he took sword

The Lovers of the Banu Uzrah. 123

and shield and was absent a while of the night, after which he
returned, carrying something in hand and called aloud to me. So
I hastened to him and he said, " O my cousin, knowest thou what
hath happened ? " I replied, " No, by Allah ! " Quoth he, " Verily,
I am distraught concerning my cousin this night ; for, as she was
coming to me, a lion met her in the way and devoured her, and
there remaineth of her but what thou seest." So saying, he threw
down what he had in his hand, and behold, it was the damsel's
turband and what was left of her bones. Then he wept sore and
casting down his bow, 1 took a bag and went forth again saying,
41 Stir not hence till I return to thee, if it please Almighty Allah "
He was absent a while and presently returned, bearing in his hand
a lion's head, which he threw on the ground and called for water.
So I brought him water, with which he washed the lion's mouth
and fell to kissing it and weeping ; and he mourned for her ex-
ceedingly and recited these couplets :

Ho thou lion who broughtest thyself to woe, o Thou art slain and worse

sorrows my bosom rend !
Thou hast reft me of fairest companionship, o Made her home Earth's

womb till the world shall end.
To Time, who hath wrought me such grief, I say, o " Allah grant in her stead

never show a friend ! "

Then said he to me, "O cousin, I conjure thee by Allah and the
claims of kindred and consanguinity 2 between us, keep thou my
charge. Thou wilt presently see me dead before thee; where-
upon do thou wash me and shroud me and these that remain of
my cousin's bones in this robe and bury us both in one grave and
write thereon these two couplets :

On Earth surface we lived in rare ease and joy o By fellowship joined in one

house and home.
But Fate with her changes departed us, o And the shroud conjoins us in

Earth's cold womb.

1 In the text " Al-Kaus " for which Lane and Payne substitute a shield. The bow had
not been mentioned \>\\\.n'imforte, the Arab reader would say. In the text it is left
at home because it is a cowardly, far-killing weapon compared with sword and lance.
Hence the Spaniard calls and justly calls the knife the " bravest of arms " as it wants a
man behind it.

2 Arab. " Rahim" or " Rihm"= womb, uterine relations, pity or sympathy, which
may here be meant.

124 -Atf Laylah wa Laylah.

Then he wept with sore weeping and, entering the tent, was absent
awhile, after which he came forth, groaning and crying out. Then
he gave one sob and departed this world. When I saw that he
was indeed dead, it was grievous to me and so sore was my
sorrow for him that I had well-nigh followed him for excess of
mourning over him. Then I laid him out and did as he had
enjoined me, shrouding his cousin's remains with him in one robe
and laying the twain in one grave. I abode by their tomb three
days, after which I departed and continued to pay frequent pious
visits 1 to the place for two years. This then is their story, O
Commander of the Faithful ! Al-Rashid was pleased with Jamil's
story and rewarded him with a robe of honour and a handsome
present. And men also tell a tale concerning


CALIPH Mu'AwiYAH was sitting one day in his palace 8 at
Damascus, in a room whose windows were open on all four
sides, that the breeze might enter from every quarter. Now it
was a day of excessive heat, with no breeze from the hills
stirring, and the middle of the day, when the heat was at its
height, and the Caliph saw a man coming along, scorched by
the heat of the ground and limping, as he fared on barefoot.
Mu'awiyah considered him awhile and said to his courtiers,
" Hath Allah (may He be extolled and exalted !) created any
miserabler than he who need must hie abroad at such an hour
and in such sultry tide as this ? " Quoth one of them, " Haply
he seeketh the Commander of the Faithful ; " and quoth the

1 Reciting Fatihahs and so forth, as I have described in the Cemetery of Al-Medinah
(Si. 300). Moslems do not pay for prayers to benefit the dead like the majority of
Christendom and, according to Calvinistic Wahhabi-ism, their prayers and blessings are
of no avail. But the mourner's heart loathes reason and he prays for his dead instinctively
like the so-termed " Protestant." Amongst the latter, by the bye, I find four great
Sommith, (i) Paul of Tarsus who protested against the Hebraism of Peter; (2) Mo-
hammed who protested against the perversions of Christianity j (3) Luther who protested
against Italian rule in Germany, and lastly (4) one (who shall be nameless) that protests
against the whole business.

* Lane transfers this to vol. i. 520 (notes to chapt. vii.) ; and gives a mere abstract
as of that preceding.

3 We learn from Ibn Bat Utah that it stood South of the Great Mosque and afterwards
became the Coppersmiths' Bazar. The site was known as Al-Khazra (the Green) and
the building was destroyed by the Abbasides. See Defremery and Sanguinetti, i. 206,

The Badawi and his Wife. 125

Caliph, " By Allah, if he seek me, I will assuredly give to him,
and if he be wronged, I will certainly succour him. Ho, boy !
Stand at the door, and if yonder wild Arab seek to come in to
me, forbid him not therefrom." So the page went out and pre-
sently the Arab came up to him and he said, " What dost thou
want ? " Answered the other, " I want the Commander of the
Faithful," and the page said, " Enter." So he entered and saluted

the Caliph, And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

Nofo fo&m it foas tfje gbix f^untotb an& Nfaetg-scomft

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
page allowed him to enter, the Badawi saluted the Caliph, who
said to him, " Who art thou ? " Replied the Arab, " I am a man
of the Banu Tamfm." " And what bringeth thee here at this
season ? " asked Mu'awiyah ; and the Arab answered, " I come to
thee, complaining and thy protection imploring." " Against
whom ? " " Against Marwan bin al-Hakam, 2 thy deputy," replied
he, and began reciting :

Mu'dwiyah, 3 thou gen'rous lord, and best of men that be ; o And oh, thou

lord of learning, grace and fair humanity,
Thee-wards I come because my way of life is strait to me : o O help ! and let

me not despair thine equity to see.
Deign thou redress the wrong that dealt the tyrant whim of him o Who better

had my life destroyed than made such wrong to dree.

1 This great tribe or rather nation has been noticed before (vol. ii. 170). The name
means " Strong," and derives from one Tamim bin Murr of the race of Adnan, nat.
circ. A.D. 121. They hold the North-Eastern uplands of Najd, comprising the great
desert Al-Dahna and extend to Al-Bahrayn. They are split up into a multitude of
dans and septs; and they can boast of producing two famous sectarians. One was
Abdullah bin Suffer, head of the Suffrtyah ; and the other Abdullah bin Ibaz (Ibadb)
whence the Ibdziyah heretics of Oman who long included her princes. Mr. PaJgrave
wrongly writes Abadeeyah and Biadeeyah and my "Bayazi" was an Arab vulgarism
used by the Zanzibarians. Dr. Badger rightly prefers Ibaziyah which he writes
Ibadhiyah (Hist, of the Imams, etc.)

8 Governor of Al-Medinah under Mu'awiyah and afterwards (A.H. 64-65 == 683-4)
fourth Ommiade. Al-Siyuti (p. 216) will not account him amongst the princes of (be
Faithful, holding him a rebel against Al-Zubayr. Ockley makes Ibn al-Zubayr nintl
and Mar win tenth Caliph.

1 The address, without the vocative particle, is more emphatic ; and the P.N.
Mu'awiyah seems to court the omission.

126 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

He robbed me of my wife Su'd and proved him worst of foes, Stealing

mine honour 'mid my folk with foul iniquity ;
And went about to take my life before th' appointed day Hath dawned which

Allah made my lot by destiny's decree.

Now when Mu'awiyah heard him recite these verses, with the
fire flashing from his mouth, he said to him, " Welcome and fair
welcome, O brother of the Arabs ! Tell me thy tale and acquaint
me with thy case." Replied the Arab, " O Commander of the
Faithful, I had a wife whom I loved passing dear with love none
came near ; and she was the coolth of mine eyes and the joy of
my heart ; and I had a herd of camels, whose produce enabled
me to maintain my condition ; but there came upon us a bad
year which killed off hoof and horn and left me naught. When
what was in my hand failed me and wealth fell from me and I
lapsed into evil case, I at once became abject and a burden to
those who erewhile wished to visit me ; and when her father
knew it, he took her from me and abjured me and drove me
forth without ruth. So I repaired to thy deputy, Marwan bin
al-Hakam, and asked his aid. He summoned her sire and ques-
tioned him of my case, when he denied any knowledge of me.
Quoth I, " Allah assain the Emir ! An it please him to send
for the woman and question her of her father's saying, the truth
will appear." So he sent for her and brought her ; but no
sooner had he set eyes on her than he fell in love with her ; so,
becoming my rival, he denied me succour and was wroth with
me, and sent me to prison, where I became as I had fallen from
heaven and the wind had cast me down in a far land. Then
said Marwan to her father, "Wilt thou give her to me to wife,
on a present settlement of a thousand dinars and a contingent
dowry of ten thousand dirhams, 1 and I will engage to free her
from yonder wild Arab ! " Her father was seduced by the bribe
and agreed to the bargain ; whereupon Marwan sent for me and
looking at me like an angry lion, said to me, " O Arab, divorce
Su'ad." I replied, " I will not put her away ; " but he set on me
a company of his servants, who tortured me with all manner ol
tortures, till I found no help for it but to divorce her. I did so
and he sent me back to prison, where I abode till the days of her

1 This may also mean that the $oo were the woman's "mahr" or marriage dowry
and the ,250 a present to buy the father's consent.

The Badawi and his Wife. 127

purification were accomplished, when he married her and let me
go. So now I come hither in thee hoping and thy succour
imploring and myself on thy protection throwing." And he
spoke these couplets :

Within my heart is fire o Whichever flameth higher ;

Within my frame are pains o For skill of leach too dire.

Live coals in vitals burn o And sparks from coal up spire :

Tears flood mine eyes and down o Coursing my cheek ne'er tire :
Only God's aid and thine o I crave for my desire !

Then he was convulsed, 1 and his teeth chattered and he fell
down in a fit, squirming like a scotched snake. When Mu'awiyah
heard his story and his verse, he said, " Marwan bin al-Hakam
hath transgressed against the laws of the Faith and hath vio-
lated the Harim of True Believers ! " And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

fo&en it foas tfje &t'x ^untrrefc anfc Ntnetp=tfn'rti

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that
when the Caliph Mu'awiyah heard the wild Arab's words, he said,
" The son of Al-Hakam hath indeed transgressed against the laws
of the Faith and hath violated the Harim of True Believers,"
presently adding, " O Arab, thou comest to me with a story, the
like whereof I never heard ! " Then he called for inkcase and
paper and wrote to Marwan as follows : Verily it hath reached
me that thou transgresseth the laws of the Faith with regard to
thy lieges. Now it behoveth the Wali who governeth the folk to
keep his eyes from their lusts and stay his flesh from its delights.
And after he wrote many words, which (quoth he who told me
the tale) I omit, for brevity's sake, and amongst them these
couplets :

Thou wast invested (woe to thee !) 2 with rule for thee unfit ; <* Crave thou of
Allah pardon for thy foul adultery.

Th* unhappy youth to us is come complaining 'mid his groans o And asks re-
dress for parting-grief and saddened me through thee.

1 Quite true to nature. See an account of the quasi-epileptic fits to which Syrians
are subject and by them called Al-Wahtah in "The Inner Life of Syria," i. 233.

2 Arab " Wayha-k" here equivalent to Wayla-k. M. C. Barbier de Meynard renders
the first " mon ami " and the second "miserable."

126 A// Laylah "jua Laylah.

An oath have I to Allah sworn shall never be forsworn ; Nay, for I'll

do what Faith and Creed command me to decree.

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 13 of 40)