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 26 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 26 of 40)
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so he sighed from his heart-core and improvised these couplets :

Whenas mine eyes behold her loveliness, o My heart is torn with love's own

Ar da shir and Hay at al-Nufus. 245

I wake o'erthrown, castdown on face of earth o Nor can the Princess 1 my

sore torment see.
She turned and ravished this sad Love-thralPd sprite ; o Mercy, by Allah, ruth ;

nay, sympathy !
O Lord, afford me union, deign Thou soothe o My soul, ere grave-niche house

this corse of me ;
I'll kiss her ten times ten times, and times ten o For lover's wasted cheek the

kisses be !

The old woman ceased not to lead the Princess a-pleasuring about
the garden, till they reached the place where the Prince lay
ambushed, when, behold she said, " O Thou whose bounties are
hidden, vouchsafe us assurance from that we fear ! " The King's
son hearing the signal, left his lurking-place and, surprised by the
summons, walked among the trees, swaying to and fro with a
proud and graceful gait and a shape that shamed the branches.
His brow was crowned with pearly drops and his cheeks red as
the afterglow, extolled be Allah the Almighty in that He hath
created ! When the King's daughter caught sight of him, she
gazed a long while on him and noticed his beauty and grace and
loveliness and his eyes that wantoned like the gazelle's, and his
shape that outvied the branches of the myrobalan ; wherefore her
wits were confounded and her soul captivated and her heart trans-
fixed with the arrows of his glaces. Then she said to the old
woman, "O my nurse, whence came yonder handsome youth ?";
and the nurse asked, " Where is he, O my lady ? " " There he is,"
answered Hayat al-Nufus ; " near hand, among the trees." The
old woman turned right and left, as if she knew not of his
presence, and cried, " And pray, who can have taught this youth
the way into this garden ? " Quoth Hayat al-Nufus, " Who shall
give us news of the young man ? Glory be to Him who created
men ! But say me, dost thou know him, O my nurse ? " Quoth
the old woman, " O my lady, he is the young merchant who wrote
to thee by me." The Princess (and indeed she was drowned in
the sea of her desire and the fire of her passion and love-longing)
broke out, " O my nurse, how goodly is this youth ! Indeed he is
fair of favour. Methinks, there is not on the face of earth a
goodlier than he ! " Now when the old woman was assured that
the love of him had gotten possession of the Princess, she said to
her, " Did I not tell thee, O my lady, that he was a comely youth
with a beaming favour ? " Replied Hayat al-Nufus, " O my nurse,

1 English Prin'cess," too often pronounced in French fashion Princes*

246 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

King's daughters know not the ways of the world nor the manners
of those that be therein, for that they company with none, neither
give they nor take they. O my nurse, how shall I do to bring
about a meeting and present myself to him, and what shall I say
to him and what will he say to me ? " Said the old woman,
" What device is left me ? Indeed, we were confounded in this
matter by thy behaviour "; and the Princess said, " O my nurse,
know thou that if any ever died of passion, I shall do so, and
behold, I look for nothing but death on the spot by reason of the
fire of my love-longing." When the old woman heard her words
and saw the transport of her desire for him, she answered, " O my
lady, now as for his coming to thee, there is no way thereto ; and
indeed thou art excused from going to him, because of thy tender
age ; but rise with me and follow me. I will accost him : so shalt
thou not be put to shame, and in the twinkling of an eye affection
shall ensue between you." The King's daughter cried, " Go thou
before me, for the decree of Allah may not be rejected." Accord-
ingly they went up to the place where Ardashir sat, as he were
the full moon at its fullest, and the old woman said to him, " See
O youth, who is present before thee ! 'Tis the daughter of our
King of the age, Hayat al-Nufus : bethink thee of her rank and
appreciate the honour she doth thee in coming to thee and rise out
of respect for her and stand before her." The Prince sprang to
his feet in an instant and his eyes met her eyes, whereupon they
both became as they were drunken without wine. Then the love
of him and desire redoubled upon the Princess and she opened
her arms and he his, and they embraced ; but love-longing and
passion overcame them and they swooned away and fell to the
ground and lay a long while without sense. The old woman,
fearing scandalous exposure, carried them both into the pavilion,
and, sitting down at the door, said to the two waiting-women,
u Seize the occasion to take your pleasure in the garden, for the
Princess sleepeth." So they returned to their diversion. Presently
the lovers revived from their swoon and found themselves in the
pavilion, whereat quoth the Prince, " Allah upon thee, O Princess
of fair ones, is this vision or sleep-illusion ? " Then the twain
embraced and intoxicated themselves without wine, complaining
each to other of the anguish of passion ; and the Prince impro-
vised these couplets :

Sun riseth sheen from her brilliant brow, o And her cheek shows the rosiest
afterglow :

Ardaskir and Hayat al-Nufus. 247

And when both appear to the looker-on, o The skyline star ne'er for shame

will show :
An the leven flash from those smiling lips, o Morn breaks and the rays dusk

and gloom o'erthrow.
And when with her graceful shape she sways, o Droops leafiest Bdn-tree 1 for

envy low :
Me her sight suffices ; naught crave I more : o Lord of Men and Morn, be her

guard from foe !
The full moon borrows a part of her charms ; o The sun would rival but fails

his lowe.
Whence could Sol aspire to that bending grace ? o Whence should Luna see

such wit and such mind-gifts know ?
Who shall blame me for being all love to her, o 'Twixt accord and discord

aye doomed to woe :
Tis she won my heart with those forms that bend o What shall lover's heart

from such charms defend ?

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to

say her permitted say.

XToto tofjcn it toas tfjc &eben fDuntirctJ nnfc 3f)trtpsecon) Nt'afjt,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the Prince had made an end of his verses, the Princess strained
him to her bosom and kissed him on the mouth and between the
eyes ; whereupon his soul returned to him and he fell to com-
plaining to her of that he had endured for stress of love and
tyranny of longing and excess of transport and distraction and all
he had suffered for the hardness of her heart. Hearing those
words she kissed his hands and feet and bared her head, 2 where-
upon the gloom gathered and the full moons dawned therein. Then
said she to him, " O my beloved and term of all my wishes, would
the day of estrangement had never been and Allah grant it may
never return between us ! " And they embraced and wept
together, whilst she recited these couplets :

1 In dictionaries " Ban" (Anglice ben-tree) is the myrobalan which produces gum
benzoin. It resembles the tamarisk. Mr. Lyall (p. 74 Translations of Ancient Arab
Poetry, Williams and Norgate, 1885), calls it a species of Moringa, tall, with plentiful
and intensely green foliage used for comparisons on account of its straightness and
graceful shape of its branches. The nut supplies a medicinal oil.

2 A sign of extreme familiarity : the glooms are the hands and the full moons are tint

248 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

O who shamest the Moon and the sunny glow : e Thou whose slaught'ring

tyranny lays me low ;

With the sword of a look thou hast shorn my heart, o How escape thy sword-
glance fatal of blow ?
Thus eke are thine eyebrows a bow that shot o My bosom with shafts of

fiercest lowe :
From thy cheeks' rich crop cometh Paradise ; o How, then, shall my

heart the rich crop forego ?
Thy graceful shape is a blooming branch, o And shall pluck the

fruits who shall bear that bough.
Perforce thou drawest me, robst my sleep ; o In thy love I strip me

and shameless show :'
Allah lend thee the rays of most righteous light, o Draw the farthest near

and a tryst bestow :
Then have ruth on the vitals thy love hath seared, o And the heart that flies

to thy side the mo'e!

And when she ended her recitation, passion overcame her and she
was distraught for love and wept copious tears, rain-like streaming
down. This burnt the Prince's heart and he in turn became
troubled and distracted for love of her. So he drew nearer to her
and kissed her hands and wept with sore weeping and they
ceased not from lover-reproaches and converse and versifying,
until the call to mid-afternoon prayer (nor was there aught
between them other than this), when they bethought them of
parting and she said to him, " O light of mine eyes and core of
my heart, the time of severance has come between us twain : when
shall we meet again ? " " By Allah," replied he (and indeed her
words shot him as with shafts), " to mention of parting I am
never fain ! " Then she went forth of the pavilion, and he turned
and saw her sighing sighs would melt the rock and weeping
shower-like tears ; whereupon he for love was sunken in the sea of
desolation and improvised these couplets :

O my heart's desire ! grows my misery o From the stress of love, and what

cure for me ?
By thy face, like dawn when it lights the dark, o And thy hair whose hue

beareth night-tide's blee,
And thy form like the branch which in grace inclines o To Zephyr's* breath

blowing fain and free,
By the glance of thine eyes like the fawn's soft gaze, o When she views pursuer

of high degree,

1 Arab. " Khal'a al-'izar ": lit. = stripping off jaws or side-beard.
z Arab. " Shimal " =the north wind.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 249

And thy waist down borne by the weight of hips, o These so heavy and that

lacking gravity,
By the wine of thy lip-dew, the sweetest of drink, o Fresh water and musk in

its purity,

gazelle of the tribe, ease my soul of grief, o And grant me thy phantom in

sleep to see 1

Now when she heard his verses in praise of her, she turned back
to him and embracing him, with a heart on fire for the anguish
of severance, fire which naught save kisses and embraces might
quench, cried, " Sooth the byword saith, Patience is for a lover
and not the lack thereof. There is no help for it but I contrive a
means for our reunion." Then she farewelled him and fared
forth, knowing not where she set her feet, for stress of her love ;
nor did she stay her steps till she found herself in her own
chamber. When she was gone, passion and love-longing re-
doubled upon the young Prince and the delight of sleep was
forbidden him, and the Princess in her turn tasted not food and
her patience failed and she sickened for desire. As soon as
dawned the day, she sent for the nurse, who came and found her
condition changed and she cried, " Question me not of my case ;
for all I suffer is due to thy handiwork. Where is the beloved of
my heart ? " " O my lady, when oV<? b? have thee ? Hath he
been absent from thee more than this night ? " " Can I endure
absence from him an hour ? Come, find some means to bring us
together speedily, for my soul is like to flee my body," " O my
lady, have patience till I contrive thee some subtle device,
whereof none shall be ware." " By the Great God, except thou
bring him to me this very day, I will tell the King that thou hast
corrupted me, and he will cut off thy head ! " "I conjure thee,
by Allah, have patience with me, for this is a dangerous matter ! "
And the nurse humbled herself to her, till she granted her three
days' delay, saying, " O my nurse, the three days will be three
years to me ; and if the fourth day pass and thou bring him not,

1 will go about to slay thee." So the old woman left her and
returned to her lodging, where she abode till the morning of the
fourth day, when she summoned the tirewomen of the town and
sought of them fine dyes and rouge for the painting of a virgin
girl and adorning ; and they brought her cosmetics of the best.
Then she sent for the Prince and, opening her chest, brought out
a bundle containing a suit of woman's apparel, worth five thousand
dinars, and a head-kerchief fringed with all manner gems. Then

2 50 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

said she to him, " O my son, hast thou a mind to foregather with
Hayat al-Nufus ? "; and he replied, " Yes." So she took a pair of
tweezers and pulled out the hairs of his face and pencilled his
eyes with Kohl. 1 Then she stripped him and painted him with
Henna 2 from his nails to his shoulders and from his insteps to his
thighs and tattooed 3 him about the body, till he was like red
roses upon alabaster slabs. After a little, she washed him and
dried him and bringing out a shift and a pair of petticoat-trousers
made him put them on. Then she clad him in the royal suit
aforesaid and, binding the kerchief about his head, veiled him
and taught him how to walk, saying, " Advance thy left and
draw back thy right." He did her bidding and forewent her, as
he were a Houri faring abroad from Paradise. Then said she
to him, "Fortify thy heart, for thou art going to the King's
palace, where there will without fail be guards and eunuchs at
the gate; and if thou be startled at them and show doubt or
dread, they will suspect thee and examine thee, and we shall

1 An operation well described by Juvenal

Ilia supercilium, modica fuligine tactum,
Obliqua producit acu, pingitque, trementes
Attolens oculos.

Sonnini (Travels in Egypt, chapt. xvi.) justly remarks that this pencilling the angles of
the eyes with Kohl, which the old Levant trade called alquifoux or arquifoux, makes
them appear large and more oblong ; and I have noted that the modern Egyptian
(especially Coptic) eye, like that of the Sphinx and the old figures looks in profile as
if it were seen in full (Pilgrimage i. 214).

2 The same traveller notes a singular property in the Henna-flower that when smelt
closely it exhales a " very powerful spermatic odour," hence it became a favourite with
women as the tea-rose with us. He finds it on the nails of mummies, and identifies it
with the Kupros of the ancient Greeks (the moderns call it Kene or Kena) and the
Borpus rffi Kvrrpov (Botrus cypri) of Solomon's Song (i. 14). The Hebr. is " Gopher,"
a well-known word which the A. V. translates by "a cluster of camphire (?) in the vine-
yards of En-gedi"; and a note on iv. a 3 ineptly adds, "or, cypress." The Revised
Edit, amends it to " a cluster of henna-flowers." The Solomonic (?) description is very
correct ; the shrub affects vineyards, and about Bombay forms floe hedges which can be
smelt from a distance.

3 Hardly the equivalent of the Arab. " Kataba " (which includes true tattooing with
needles) and is applied to painting "patches" of blue or green colour, with sprigs and
arabesques upon the arms and especially the breasts of women. " Kataba " would also
be applied to striping the fingers with Henna which becomes a shining black under a
paste of honey, lime and sal-ammoniac. This "patching" is alluded to by Strabo and
Galen (Lane M. E. chapt ii.) ; and we may note that savages and barbarians can leave
nothing of beauty unadorned ; they seem to hate a plain surface like the Hindu silver-
smith, whose art is shown only in chasing.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nitfus. 251

both get into grievous trouble and haply lose our lives : where-
fore an thou feel thyself unable to this, tell me." He answered,
" In very sooth this thing hath no terrors for me, so be of good
cheer and keep thine eyes cool and clear." Then she went out
preceding him till the twain came to the palace-gate, which was
full of eunuchs. She turned and looked at him, as much as to
say, " Art thou troubled or no ? " and finding him all unchanged,
went on. The chief eunuch glanced at the nurse and knew her
but, seeing a damsel following her, whose charms confounded
the reason, he said in his mind, " As for the old woman, she
is the nurse ; but as for the girl who is with her there is none
in our land resembleth her in favour or approacheth her in
fairness save the Princess Hayat al-Nufus, who is secluded and
never goeth out. Would I knew how she came into the streets
and would Heaven I wot whether or no 'twas by leave of the
King ! " Then he rose to learn somewhat concerning her and
well nigh thirty castrates followed him ; which when the old
woman saw, her reason fled for fear and she said, " Verily, we
are Allah's and to Him we shall return ! Without recourse

we are dead folk this time." And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Note fo&en ft foas t&e S>*ben HunUreb anfc TOrtg-t&frU

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
the old nurse saw the head of the eunuchry and his assistants
making for her she was in exceeding fear and cried, " There is no
Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the
Great ! Verily we are God's and unto him we shall return ;
without recourse we be dead folk this time." When the head
eunuch heard her speak thus, fear gat hold upon him, by reason
of that which he knew of the Princess's violence and that her
father was ruled by her, and he said to himself, " Belike the King
hath commanded the nurse to carry his daughter forth upon
some occasion of hers, whereof she would have none know; and
if I oppose her, she will be wroth with me and will say: This
eunuch fellow stopped me, that he might pry into my affairs.
So she will do her best to kill me, and I have no'call to meddle
in this matter." So saying, he turned back, and with him the
thirty assistants who drove the people from the door of the

252 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

palace; whereupon the nurse entered and saluted the eunuchs
with her head, whilst all the thirty stood to do her honour and
returned her salam. She led in the Prince and he ceased not
following her from door to door, and the Protector protected
them, so that they passed all the guards, till they came to the
seventh door: it was that of the great pavilion, wherein was
the King's throne, and it communicated with the chambers of
his women and the saloons of the Harim, as well as with his
daughter's pavilion. So the old woman halted and said, " Here
we are, O my son, and glory be to Him who hath brought us
thus far in safety ! But, O my son, we cannot foregather with
the Princess except by night ; for night enveileth the fearful."
He replied, "True, but what is to be done ? " Quoth she, " Hide
thee in this black hole," showing him behind the door a dark and
deep cistern, with a cover thereto. So he entered the cistern,
and she went away and left him there till ended day, when she
returned and carried him into the palace, till they came to the
door of Hayat al-Nufus's apartment. The old woman knocked
and a little maid came out and said, " Who is at the door ? "
Said the nurse, " 'Tis I," whereupon the maid returned and
craved permission of her lady, who said, " Open to her and let
her come in with any who may accompany her." So they
entered and the nurse, casting a glance around, perceived that
the Princess had made ready the sitting-chamber and ranged
the lamps in row and lighted candles of wax in chandeliers of
gold and silver and spread the divans and estrades with carpets
and cushions. Moreover, she had set on trays of food and
fruits and confections and she had perfumed the place with
musk and aloes-wood and ambergris. She was seated among
the lamps and the tapers and the light of her face outshone the
lustre of them all. When she saw the old woman, she said to
her, " O nurse, where is the beloved of my heart ? "; and the
other replied, " O my lady, I cannot find him nor have mine
eyes espied him ; but I have brought thee his own sister ; and
here she is." Cried the Princess, " Art thou Jinn-mad? What
need have I of his sister? Say me, an a man's head irk him,
doth he bind up his hand ? " The old woman answered, " No,
by Allah, O my lady ! But look on her, and if she pleases
thee, let her be with thee." Then she uncovered the Prince's
face, whereupon Hayat al-Nufus knew him and running to him,
pressed him to her bosom, and he pressed her to his breast.

Ardashir and Hay at al-Nufus. 253

Then they both fell down in a swoon and lay without sense a
long while. The old woman sprinkled rose-water upon them
till they came to themselves, when she kissed him on the mouth
more than a thousand times and improvised these couplets :

Sought me this heart's dear love at gloom of night ; o I rose in honour till he

sat forthright,
And said, " O aim of mine, O sole desire c In such night-visit' hast

of guards no fright ? "
Replied he, " Yes, I feared much, but Love o Robbed me of all my

wits and reft my sprite."
We dipt with kisses and awhile clung we o For here 'twas safe ; nor

feared we watchman-wight :
Then rose we parting without doubtful deed o And shook out skirts

where none a stain could sight.

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to

say her permitted say.

Note fofjm (t foas tfte &cben f^untrrrti anfc i)ittgfouttf) tf fgftt,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
her lover visited Hayat al-Nufus in her palace, the twain embraced
and she improvised some happy couplets beseeming the occasion.
And when she had ended her extempore lines she said, " Is it
indeed true that I see thee in my abode and that thou art my
cup-mate and my familiar?" Then passion grew on her and love
was grievous to her, so that her reason well-nigh fled for joy and
she improvised these couplets :

With all my soul I'll ransom him who came to me in gloom o Of night, whilst

I had waited long to see his figure loom ;
And naught aroused me save his weeping voice of tender tone o And whispered

I, " Fair fall thy foot and welcome and well come ! "
His cheek I kissed a thousand times, and yet a thousand more ; * Then clipt

and clung about his breast enveiled in darkling room.
And cried, " Now verily I've won the aim of every wish So praise and

prayers to Allah for this grace now best become."
Then slept we even as we would the goodliest of nights * Till morning came

to end our night and light up earth with bloom.

As soon as it was day, she made him enter a place in her apart-
ment unknown to any and he abode there till nightfall, when she
brought him out and they sat in converse and carouse. Presently

254 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

he said to her, " I wish to return to my own country and tell my
father what hath passed between us, that he may equip his
Wazir to demand thee in marriage of thy sire." She replied, " O
my love, I fear, an thou return to thy country and kingdom, thou
wilt be distracted from me and forget the love of me ; or that
thy father will not further thy wishes in this matter and I shall
die. Meseems the better rede were that thou abide with me and
in my hand-grasp, I looking on thy face, and thou on mine, till
I devise some plan, whereby we may escape together some night
and flee to thy country ; for I have cut off my hopes from my own
people and I despair of them. He rejoined, " I hear and obey ; "
and they fell again to their carousal and conversing. He tarried
with her thus for some time till, one night, the wine was pleasant
to them and they lay not down nor did they sleep till break of
day. Now it chanced that one of the Kings sent her father a
present, and amongst other things, a necklace of union jewels,
nine-and-twenty grains, to whose price a King's treasures might
not suffice. Quoth Abd-al-Kadir, " This riviere beseemeth none
but my daughter Hayat al-Nufus ; " and, turning to an eunuch,
whose jaw-teeth the Princess had knocked out for reasons best
known to herself, 1 he called to him and said, " Carry the necklace
to thy lady and say to her : One of the Kings hath sent thy
father this, as a present, and its price may not be paid with
money ; put it on thy neck." The slave took the necklace,
saying in himself, " Allah Almighty make it the last thing she
shall put on in this world, for that she deprived me of the benefit
of my grinder-teeth ! " ; and repairing to the Princess's apart-
ment, found the door locked and the old woman asleep before the
threshold. He shook her, and she awoke in affright and asked,
" What dost thou want ? " ; to which he answered, " The King
hath sent me on an errand to his daughter." Quoth the nurse,
" The key is not here, go away, whilst I fetch it ; " but quoth
he, " I cannot go back to the King without having done his

1 A violent temper, accompanied with votes de fait and personal violence, is by

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 26 of 40)