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 28 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 28 of 40)
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joyance of life, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights
and Severer of societies; the Depopulator of palaces and the
Garnerer of graveyards. And men also relate the tale of


THERE was once in days of yore and in ages and times long gone
before, in Ajam-land, a King Shahriman 1 hight, whose abiding-
place was Khordsan. He owned an hundred concubines, but by

* In the Mac. Edit. " Shahzamdn," a corruption of -Shah Zaman = King of the Age.
(See vol. i. 2.)

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 265

none of them had he been blessed with boon of child, male or
female, all the days of his life. One day, among the days, he
bethought him of this and fell lamenting for that the most part
of his existence was past and he had not been vouchsafed a son,
to inherit the kingdom after him, even as he had inherited it from
his fathers and forebears ; by reason whereof there betided him
sore cark and care and chagrin exceeding. As he sat thus one
of his Mamelukes came in to him and said, " O my lord, at the
door is a slave-girl with her merchant, and fairer than she eye
hath never seen." Quoth the King, " Hither to me with merchant
and maid ! " ; and both came in to him. Now when Shahriman
beheld the girl, he saw that she was like a Rudaynian lance, 1 and
she was wrapped in a veil of gold-purfled silk. The merchant
uncovered her face, whereupon the place was illumined by her
beauty and her seven tresses hung down to her anklets like
horses' tails. She had Nature-kohl'd eyes, heavy hips and thighs
and waist of slenderest guise ; her sight healed all maladies
and quenched the fire of sighs, for she was even as the poet
cries :

I love her madly for she is perfect fair, o Complete in gravity and

gracious way ;
Nor overtall nor overshort, the while Too full for trousers are

those hips that sway :
Her shape is midmost 'twixt o'er small and tall ; o Nor long to blame nor little

to gainsay :
O'erfall her anklets tresses black as night o Yet in her face resplends

eternal day.

The King seeing her marvelled at her beauty and loveliness, her
symmetry and perfect grace and said to the merchant, " O Shaykh,
how much for this maiden ? " Replied the merchant, " O my
lord, I bought her for two thousand dinars of the merchant who
owned her before myself, since when I have travelled with her
three years and she hath cost me, up to the time of my coming
hither, other three thousand gold pieces ; but she is a gift from me
to thee." The King robed him with a splendid robe of honour
and ordered him ten thousand ducats, whereupon he kissed his
hands, thanking him for his bounty and beneficence, and went his
ways. Then the King committed the damsel to the tire-women,

1 For a note on this subject see vol. ii. I.

266 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

saying, " Amend ye the case of this maiden l and adorn her and
furnish her a bower and set her therein." And he bade his
chamberlains carry her everything she needed and shut all the
doors upon her. Now his capital wherein he dwelt, was called the
White City and was seated on the sea-shore ; so they lodged her

in a chamber, whose latticed casements overlooked the main.

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her
permitted say.

Nofo fo&w ft toas t!) &eben l^unflrefc anfc f)irtgsmntf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King
after taking the maiden, committed her to the tire-women bidding
them amend her case and set her in a bower, and ordered his
chamberlains to shut all the doors upon her when they had lodged
her in a chamber whose latticed casements overlooked the main.
Then Shahriman went in to her ; but she spake not to him neither
took any note of him. 2 Quoth he, " 'Twould seem she hath been
with folk who have not taught her manners." Then he looked at
the damsel and saw her surpassing beauty and loveliness and
symmetry and perfect grace, with a face like the rondure of the
moon at its full or the sun shining in the sheeny sky. So he
marvelled at her charms of favour and figure and he praised Allah
the Creator (magnified be His might !), after which he walked up
to her and sat him down by her side ; then he pressed her to his
bosom and seating her on his thighs, sucked the dew of her lips,
which he found sweeter than honey. Presently he called for trays
spread with richest viands of all kinds and ate and fed her by
mouthfuls, till she had enough ; yet she spoke not one word. The
King began to talk to her and asked her of her name ; but she
abode still silent and uttered not a syllable nor made him any
answer, neither ceased to hang down her head groundwards ; and
it was but the excess of her beauty and loveliness and the amorous

1 i.t. bathe her and apply cosmetics to remove all traces of travel.

* These pretentious and curious displays of coquetry are not uncommon in handsome
slave-girls when newly bought ; and it is a kind of pundonor to humour them. They
may also refuse their favours and a master who took possession of their persons by brute
force would be blamed by his friends, men and women. Even the most despotic of
despots, Fath Ali Shah of Persia, put up with refusals from his slave-girls and did not, as
w^uld the mean-minded, marry them to the grooms or cooks of the patece.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 267

grace that saved her from the royal wrath. Quoth he to himself,
" Glory be to God, the Creator of this girl ! How charming she
is, save that she speaketh not ! But perfection belongeth only to
Allah the Most High." And he asked the slave-girls whether she
had spoken, and they said, " From the time of her coming until
now she hath not uttered a word nor have we heard her address
us." Then he summoned some of his women and concubines and
bade them sing to her and make merry with her, so haply she
might speak. Accordingly they played before her all manner
instruments of music and sports and what not and sang, till the
whole company was moved to mirth, except the damsel, who
looked at them in silence, but neither laughed nor spoke. The
King's breast was straitened ; thereupon he dismissed the women
and abode alone with that damsel : after which he doffed his
clothes and disrobing her with his own hand, looked upon her
body and saw it as it were a silvern ingot. So he loved her with
exceeding love and falling upon her, took her maidenhead and
found her a pure virgin ; whereat he rejoiced with excessive joy
and said in himself, " By Allah, 'tis a wonder that a girl so fair of
form and face should have been left by the merchants a clean maid
as she is ! "* Then he devoted himself altogether to her, heeding
none other and forsaking all his concubines and favourites, and
tarried with her a whole year as it were a single day. Still she
spoke not till, one morning he said to her (and indeed the love of
her and longing waxed upon him), "O desire of souls, verily
passion for thee is great with me, and I have forsaken for thy sake
all my slave-girls and concubines and women and favourites and I
have made thee my portion of the world and had patience with
thee a whole year ; and now I beseech Almighty Allah, of His
favour, to soften thy heart to me, so thou mayst speak to me. Or,
an thou be dumb, tell me by a sign, that I may give up hope of
thy speech. I pray the Lord (extolled be He !) to vouchsafe me
by thee a son child, who shall inherit the kingdom after me ; for I
am old and lone and have none to be my heir. Wherefore, Allah
upon thee, an thou love me, return me a reply." The damsel
bowed her head awhile in thought, and presently raising it, smiled
in his face ; whereat it seemed to him as if lightning filled the
chamber. Then she said, " O magnanimous liege lord, and

1 Such continence is rarely shown by the young Jallabs or slave-traders ; when older
they Jearn how much money is lost with the chattel's virginity.

268 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

valorous lion, Allah hath answered thy prayer, for I am with
child by thee and the time of my delivery is near at hand, though
I know not if the unborn babe be male or female. 1 But, had I not
conceived by thee, I had not spoken to thee one word." When
the King heard her speech, his face shone with joy and gladness
and he kissed her head and hands for excess of delight, saying,
" Alhamdolillah laud to Lord who hath vouchsafed me the
things I desired ! ; first, thy speech, and secondly, thy tidings that
thou art with child by me." Then he rose up and went forth from
her and, seating himself on the throne of his kingship, in an
ecstasy of happiness, bade his Wazir distribute to the poor and
needy and widows and others an hundred thousand dinars, by way
of thank-offering to Allah Most High and alms on his own
account. The Minister did as bidden by the King who, returning
to the damsel, sat with her and embraced and pressed her to his
breast, saying, " O my lady, my queen, whose slave I am, prithee
what was the cause of this thy silence ? Thou hast been with me
a whole year, night and day, waking and sleeping, yet hast not
spoken to me till this day." She replied, " Hearken, O King of
the Age, and know that I am a wretched exile, broken-hearted and
far-parted from my mother and my family and my brother." When
the King heard her words, he knew her desire and said, " As for
thy saying that thou art wretched, there is for such speech no
ground, inasmuch as my kingdom and good and all I possess are
at thy service and I also am become thy bondman ; but, as for thy
saying : I am parted from my mother and brother and family, tell
me where they are and I will send and fetch them to thee." There-
upon she answered, " Know, then, O auspicious King, that I am called
Julnar 2 the Sea-born and that my father was of the Kings of the

1 Midwives in the East, as in the less civilised parts of the West, have many nostrums
for divining the sex of the unborn child.

8 Arabic (which has no written " g") from Pers. Gulnar (Gul-i-anar) pomegranate-
flower, the " Gulnare" of Byron who learnt his Orientalism at the Mekhitarist (Armenian)
Convent, Venice. I regret to see the little honour now paid to the gallant poet in the
land where he should be honoured the most. The systematic depreciation was begun by
the late Mr. Thackeray, perhaps the last man to value the noble independence of Byron's
spirit ; and it has been perpetuated, I regret to see, by better judges. These critics
seem wholly to ignore the fact that Byron founded a school which covered Europe from
Russia to Spain, from Norway to Sicily, and which from England passed over to the two
Americas. This exceptional success, which has not yet fallen even to Shakespeare's lot,
was due to genius only, for the poet almost ignored study and poetic art. His great mis-
fortune was being born in England under theGeorgium Sidus. Any Continental people
would have regarded him as one of the prime glories of his race.

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 269

Main. He died and left us his reign, but while we were yet
unsettled, behold, one of the other Kings arose against us and took
the realm from our hands. I have a brother called Salih, and my
mother also is a woman of the sea ; but I fell out with my brother
" The Pious " and swore that I would throw myself into the hands
of a man of the folk of the land. So I came forth of the sea and
sat down on the edge of an island in the moonshine, 1 where a
passer-by found me and, carrying me to his house, besought me of
love-liesse ; but I smote him on the head, so that he all but died ;
whereupon he carried me forth and sold me to the merchant from
whom thou hadst me, and this was a good man and a virtuous ;
pious, loyal and generous. Were it not that thy heart loved me
and that thou promotedest me over all thy concubines, I had not
remained with thee a single hour, but had cast myself from this
window into the sea and gone to my mother and family ; but I was
ashamed to fare themwards, being with child by thee ; for they
would have deemed evilly of me and would not have credited me,
even although I swore to them, an I told them that a King had
bought me with his gold and made me his portion of the world
and preferred me over all his wives and every thing that his right

hand possessed. This then is my story and the Peace ! " And

Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her
permitted say.

Koto fo&en it foas t&e &efaen f^un&relf an& Jforttet!)

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Julnar 2 the Sea-born, answering the question of King Shahriman,
told him her past from first to last, the King thanked her and
kissed her between the eyes, saying, " By Allah, O my lady and
light of mine eyes, I cannot bear to be parted from thee one hour ;
and given thou leave me, I shall die forthright What then is to
be done ? " Replied she, " O my lord, the time of my delivery

1 Arab. " Fi al-Kamar," which Lane renders "in the moonlight." It seems to me
that the allusion is to the Comorin Islands ; but the sequel speaks simply of an island.

2 The Mac.Edit. misprints Julnar as Julnaz (so the Bui. Edit. ii. 233), and Lane's Jullanar
is an Egyptian vulgarism. He is right in suspecting the " White City " to be imaginary ;
but its sea has no apparent connection with the Caspian. The mermen and mermaids
appear to him to be of an inferior order of the Jinn, termed Al-Gha\vwasah, the Divers,
who fly through air and are made of fire which at times issues from their mouths.

270 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

is at hand and my family needs must be present, that they may
tend me; for the women of the land know not the manner of
child-bearing of the women of the sea, nor do the daughters of
the ocean know the manner of the daughters of the earth ; and
when my people come, I shall be reconciled to them and they will
be reconciled to me." Quoth the King, " How do the people of
the sea walk therein, without being wetted ?"; and quoth she, " O
King of the Age, we walk in the waters with our eyes open, as do
ye on the ground, by the blessing of the names graven upon the
seal-ring of Solomon David- son (on whom be peace!). But, O
King, when my kith and kin come, I will tell them how thou
boughtest me with thy gold, and hast entreated me with kindness
and benevolence. It behoveth that thou confirm my words to
them and that they witness thine estate with their own eyes and
they learn that thou art a King, son of a King." He rejoined, " O
my lady, do what seemeth good to thee and what pleaseth thee ;
and I will consent to thee in all thou wouldst do." The damsel con-
tinued, " Yes, we walk in the sea and see what is therein and behold
the sun, moon, stars and sky, as it were on the surface of earth ;
and this irketh us naught. Know also that there be many peoples
in the main and various forms and creatures of all kinds that are
on the land, and that all that is on the land compared with that
which is in the main is but a very small matter." And the King
marvelled at her words. Then she pulled out from her bosom
two bits of Comorin lign-aloes and, kindling fire in a chafing-dish,
chose somewhat of them and threw it in, then she whistled a loud
whistle and spake words none understood. Thereupon arose a
great smoke and she said to the King, who was looking on, " O
my lord, arise and hide thyself in a closet, that I may show thee
my brother and mother and family, whilst they see thee not ; for
I design to bring them hither, and thou shalt presently espy a
wondrous thing and shalt marvel at the several creatures and
strange shapes which Almighty Allah hath created." So he arose
without stay or delay and entering a closet, fell a-watching what
she should do. She continued her fumigations and conjurations
till the sea foamed and frothed turbid and there rose from it a
handsome young man of a bright favour, as he were the moon at
its full, with brow flower-white, cheeks of ruddy light and teeth
like the marguerite. He was the likest of all creatures to his
sister and the tongue of the case spoke in his praise these two
couplets :

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 271

The full moon groweth perfect once a month o But thy face each day we see

And the full moon dwelleth in single sign, o But to thee all hearts be a

dwelling stead.

After him there came forth of the sea an ancient dame with hair
speckled gray and five maidens, as they were moons, bearing a
likeness to the damsel hight Julnar. The King looked upon them
as they all walked upon the face of the water, till they drew near the
window and saw Julnar, whereupon they knew her and went in to
her. She rose to them and met them with joy and gladness, and
they embraced her and wept with sore weeping. Then said they
to her, " O Julnar, how couldst thou leave us four years, and we
unknowing of thipe abiding place ? By Allah the world hath
been straitened upon us for stress of severance from thee, and we
have had no delight of food or drink ; no, not for one day, but
have wept with sore weeping night and day for the excess of our
longing after thee !" Then she fell to kissing the hands of the
youth her brother and her mother and cousins, and they sat with
her awhile, questioning her of her case and of what had betided
her, as well as of her present estate. " Know," replied she, " that,
when I left you, I issued from the sea and sat down on the shore
of an island, where a man found me and sold me to a merchant,
who brought me to this city and sold me for ten thousand dinars
to the King of the country, who entreated me with honour and
forsook all his concubines and women and favourites for my sake
and was distracted by me from all he had and all that was in his
city." Quoth her brother, " Praised be Allah, who hath reunited us
with thee ! But now, O my sister, 'tis my purpose that thou arise
and go with us to our country and people " When the King
heard these words, his wits fled him for fear lest the damsel accept
her brother's words and he himself avail not to stay her, albeit he
loved her passionately, and he became distracted with fear of
losing her. But Julnar answered, " By Allah, O my brother, the
mortal who bought me is lord of this city and he is a mighty King
and a wise man, good and generous with extreme generosity.
Moreover, he is a personage of great worth and wealth and hath
neither son nor daughter. He hath entreated me with honour and
done me all manner of favour and kindness ; nor, from the day of
his baying me to this time have I heard from him an ill word to
hurt my heart ; but he hath never ceased to use me courteously ;
doing nothing save with my counsel, and I am in the best of case

272 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

with him and in the perfection of fair fortune. Furthermore, were
I to leave him, he would perish ; for he cannot endure to be parted
from me an hour ; and if I left him, I also should die, for the
excess of the love I bear him, by reason of his great goodness to
me during the time of my sojourn with him ; for, were my father
alive, my estate with him would not be like my estate with this
great and glorious and puissant potentate. And verily, ye see
me with child by him and praise be to Allah, who hath made me
a daughter of the Kings of the sea, and my husband the mightest
of the Kings of the land, and Allah, in very sooth, he hath com-
pensated me for whatso I lost. And Shahrazad perceived the

dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Nofo fofcen it foas t&e jfceben f^unfcrefc antJ JFortn-first

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Julnar the
Sea-born told her brother all her tale, adding " Allah hath not cut
me off, but hath compensated me for whatso I lost. Now this
King hath no issue, male or female, so I pray the Almighty to
vouchsafe me a son who shall inherit of this mighty sovran that
which the Lord hath bestowed upon him of lands and palaces and
possessions." Now when her brother and the daughters of her
uncle heard this her speech, their eyes were cooled thereby and
they said, " O Julnar, thou knowest thy value with us and thou
wottest the affection we bear thee and thou art certified that thou
art to us the dearest of all creatures and thou art assured that we
seek but ease for thee, without travail or trouble. Wherefore, an
thou be in unease, arise and go with us to our land and our folk ;
but, an thou be at thine ease here, in honour and happiness, this
is our wish and our will ; for we desire naught save thy welfare in
any case." 1 Quoth she, " By Allah, I am here in the utmost ease
and solace and honour and grace ! " When the King heard what
she said, he joyed with a heart set at rest and thanked her silently
for this ; the love of her redoubled on him and entered his heart-
core and he knew that she loved him as he loved her and that she
desired to abide with him, that she might see his child by her.
Then Julnar bade her women lay the tables and set on all sorts
of viands, which had been cooked in kitchen under her own eyes,

1 Arab. " 'Ala Kulli hal," a popular phrase, like the Anglo-American "anyhow "'

Julnar the Sea-born and her Son. 273

and fruits and sweetmeats, whereof she ate, she and her kinsfolk.
But, presently, they said to her, " O Julnar, thy lord is a stranger
to us, and we have entered his house, without his leave or weeting.
Thou hast extolled to us his excellence and eke thou hast set
before us of his victual whereof we have eaten ; yet have we not
companied with him nor seen him, neither hath he seen us nor
come to our presence and eaten with us, so there might be between
us bread and salt." And they all left eating and were wroth with
her, and fire issued from their mouths, as from cressets ; which
when the King saw, his wits fled for excess of fear of them. But
Julnar arose and soothed them and going to the closet where was
the King her lord, said to him, " O my lord, hast thou seen and
heard how I praised thee and extolled thee to my people and hast
thou noted what they said to me of their desire to carry me away
with them ? " Quoth he, " I both heard and saw : May the
Almighty abundantly requite thee for me ! By Allah, I knew not
the full measure of thy fondness until this blessed hour, and now
I doubt not of thy love to me ! " Quoth she, " O my lord, is the
reward of kindness aught but kindness ? Verily, thou hast dealt
generously with me and hast entreated me with worship and I have
seen that thou lovest me with the utmost love, and thou hast done
me all manner of honour and kindness and preferred me above all
thou lovest and desirest. So how should my heart be content to
leave thee and depart from thee, and how should I do thus after
all thy goodness to me ? But now I desire of thy courtesy that
thou come and salute my family, so thou mayst see them and they
thee and pure love and friendship may be between you ; for know,
O King of the Age, that my brother and mother and cousins love
thee with exceeding love, by reason of my praises of thee to
them, and they say : We will not depart from thee nor go to
our homes till we have foregathered with the King and saluted
him. For indeed they desire to see thee and make acquaintance
with thee." The King replied, " To hear is to obey, for this is my
very own wish." So saying, he rose and went in to them and
saluted them with the goodliest salutation ; and they sprang up to
him and received him with the utmost worship, after which he sat
down in the palace and ate with them ; and he entertained them
thus for the space of thirty days. Then, being desirous of returning
home, they took leave of the King and Queen and departed with
due permission to their own land, after he had done them all pos-
sible honour Awhile after this, Julnar completed the days of her


274 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

pregnancy and the time of her delivery being come, she bore a
boy, as he were the moon at its full ; whereat the utmost joy
betided the King, for that he had never in his life been vouchsafed
son or daughter. So they held high festival and decorated the
city seven days, in the extreme of joy and jollity : and on the
seventh day came Queen Julnar's mother, Farashah Right, 1 and

brother and cousins, whenas they knew of her delivery. And

Shahrazad perceived the light of day and ceased to say her per-
mitted say.

Nofo tofien it foas t&e &ebm f^unfcreti anti jpottg.-sccontj Jtft'

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Julnar
was brought to bed and was visited by her people, the King
received them with joy at their coming and said to them, " I said

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 28 of 40)