Richard Francis Burton.

The book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 5) online

. (page 4 of 41)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 5) → online text (page 4 of 41)
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plained in vol. i., 75. "Pars" is the origin of "Persia"; and there is a hit at
the prodigious lying of the modem race, whose forefathers were so famous as truth-
tellers. " I am a Persian, but I am not lying now," is a phrase familiar to every

The Loony Horse. 27

held in prison and his weeping and wailing, the Prince at once
devised a device whereby he might compass his desire ; and pre-
sently the guards of the gate, being minded to sleep, led him into
the jail and locked the door. So he overheard the Persian weeping
and bemoaning himself, in his own tongue, and saying, "Alack, and
alas for my sin, that I sinned against myself and against the King's
son, in that which I did with the damsel ; for I neither left her nor
won my will of her ! All this cometh of my lack of sense, in that
I sought for myself that which I deserved not and which befitted
not the like of me.; for whoso seeketh what suiteth him not at all,
falleth with the like of my fall." Now when the King's son heard
this, he accosted him in Persian, saying, " How long will this weep-
ing and wailing last? Say me, thinkest thou that hath befallen thee
that which never befel other than thou ? " Now when the Persian
heard this, he made friends with him and began to complain to
him of his case and misfortunes. And as soon as the morning
morrowed, the warders took the Prince and carried him before their
King, informing him that he had entered the city on the previous
night, at a time when audience was impossible. Quoth the King
to the Prince, " Whence comest thou and what is thy name and
trade and why hast thou travelled hither ? " He replied, " As to
my name I am called in Persian Harjah; 1 as to my country I come
from the land of Pars ; and I am of the men of art and especially
of the art of medicine and healing the sick and those whom the
Jinns drive mad. For this I go round about all countries and
cities, to profit by adding knowledge to my knowledge, and when-
ever I see a patient I heal him and this is my craft." 2 Now when
the King heard this, he rejoiced with exceeding joy and said,- " O
excellent Sage, thou hast indeed come to us at a time when we
need thee." Then he acquainted him with the case of the Princess,
adding, " If thou cure her and recover her from her madness, thou
shalt have of me everything thou seekest." Replied the Prince,

1 There is no such name : perhaps it is a clerical error for " Har jah "= (a man of) any
place. I know an Englishman who in Persian called himself " Mirza Abdullah-i-
Hichmakani " = Master Abdullah of Nowhere.

2 The Bres. Edit. (loc. cit.) gives a comical description of the Prince assuming the
dress of an astrologer-doctor, clapping an old book under his arm, fumbling a rosary of
beads, enlarging his turband, lengthening his sleeves and blackening his eyelids with
antimony. Here, however, it would be out of place. Very comical also is the way in
which he pretends to cure the maniac by " muttering unknown words, blowing in her face,
biting her ear," etc.

28 Alf Laylah wa LaytaK.

"Allah save and favour the King: describe to me all thou hast
seen of her insanity and tell me how long it is since the access
attacked her ; also how thou earnest by her and the horse and the
Sage." So the King told him the whole story, from first to last,
adding, " The Sage is in goal." Quoth the Prince, " O auspicious
King, and what hast thou done with the horse?" Quoth the King,
" O youth, it is with me yet, laid up in one of my treasure-cham-
bers," whereupon said the Prince within himself, " The best thing I
can do is first to see the horse and assure myself of its condition.
If it be whole and sound, all will be well and end well ; but, if its
motor-works be destroyed, I must find some other way of deliver-
ing my beloved." Thereupon he turned to the King and said to
him, " O King, I must see the horse in question : haply I may find
in it somewhat that will serve me for the recovery of the damsel."
"With all my heart," replied the King, and taking him by the
hand, showed him into the place where the horse was. The Prince
went round about it, examining its condition, and found it whole
and sound, whereat he rejoiced greatly and said to the King,
" Allah save and exalt the King ! I would fain go in to the
damsel, that I may see how it is with her ; for I hope in Allah to
heal her by my healing hand through means of the horse." Then
he bade them take care of the horse and the King carried him to
the Princess's apartment, where her lover found her wringing her
hands and writhing and beating herself against the ground, and
tearing her garments to tatters as was her wont ; but there was no
madness of Jinn in her, and she did this but that none might
approach her. When the Prince saw her thus, he said to her, " No,
harm shall betide thee, O ravishment of the three worlds ; " and!
went on to soothe her and speak her fair, till he managed to
whisper, " I am Kamar al-Akmar ; " whereupon she cried out with
a loud cry and fell down fainting for excess of joy ; but the King
thought this was epilepsy 1 brought on by her fear of him, and by
her suddenly being startled. Then the Prince put his mouth to
her ear and said to her, " O Shams al-Nahar, O seduction of the
universe, have a care for thy life and mine and be patient and
constant ; for this our position needeth sufferance and skilful con-j
trivance to make shift for our delivery from this tyrannical King.
My first move will be now to go out to him and tell him that thou

1 Arab. " Sar'a "= falling sickness. Here again we have in all its simplicity the old
nursery idea of " possession " by evil spirits.

The Ebony Horse. 29

art possessed of a Jinn and hence thy madness ; but that I will
engage to heal thee and drive away the evil spirit, if he will at once
unbind thy bonds. So when he cometh in to thee, do thou speak
him smooth words, that he may think I have cured thee, and all
will be done for us as we desire." Quoth she, " Hearkening and
obedience ; " and he went out to the King in joy and gladness,
and said to him, " O august King, I have, by thy good fortune,
discovered her disease and its remedy, and have cured her for
^hee. So now do thou go in to her and speak her softly and treat
her kindly, and promise her what may please her ; so shall all thou
desirest of her be accomplished to thee." - And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Jioto fofjen ft foas tf)E f)ree l^unttefc anfc

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the
Prince feigned himself a leach and went in to the damsel and
made himself known to her and told her how he purposed to
deliver her, she cried " Hearkening and obedience ! ' He then fared
forth from her and sought the King and said, " Go thou in to her
and speak her softly and promise her what may please her; so
shall all thou desirest of her be accomplished to thee." Thereupon
the King went in to her and when she saw him, she rose and
kissing the ground before him, bade him welcome and said, " I
admire how thou hast come to visit thy handmaid this day;"
whereat he was ready to fly for joy and bade the waiting-women
and the eunuchs attend her and carry her to the Hammam and
make ready for her dresses and adornment. So they went in to
her and saluted her, and she returned their salams with the goodliest
language and after the pleasantest fashion ; whereupon they clad
her in royal apparel and, clasping a collar of jewels about her neck,
carried her to the bath and served her there. Then they brought
her forth, as she were the full moon ; and, when she came into
the King's presence, she saluted him and kissed ground before him ;
whereupon he joyed in her with joy exceeding and said to the
Prince, " O Sage, O philosopher, all this is of thy blessing. Allah
increase to us the benefit of thy healing breath ! " l The Prince

1 Arab. " Nafahat "= breathings, benefits, the Heb. Neshamah opp. to Nephesh
(soul) and Ruach (spirit). Healing by the breath is a popular idea throughout the East
and not unknown to Western Magnetists and Mesmerists. The miraculous cures of the

3o A If Laylah wa Laylah.

replied, " O King, for the completion of her cure it behoveth that
thou go forth, thou and all thy troops and guards, to the place
where thou foundest her, not forgetting the beast of black wood
which was with her ; for therein is a devil ; and, unless I exorcise
him, he will return to her and afflict her at the head of every
month." "With love and gladness," cried the King, " O thou Prince
of all philosophers and most learned of all who see the light of
day." Then he brought out the ebony horse to the meadow in
question and rode thither with all his troops and the Princess, little
weeting the purpose of the Prince. Now when they came to the
appointed place, the Prince, still habited as a leach, bade them set
the Princess and the steed as far as eye could reach from the King
and his troops, and said to him, " With thy leave, and at thy word,
I will now proceed to the fumigations and conjurations, and here
imprison the adversary of mankind, that he may never more return
to her. After this, I shall mount this wooden horse which seemeth
to be made of ebony, and take the damsel up behind me ; where-
upon it will shake and sway to and fro and fare forwards, till it
come to thee, when the affair will be at an end ; and after this thou
mayst do with her as thou wilt." When the King heard his words,
he rejoiced with extreme joy ; so the Prince mounted the horse,
and, taking the damsel up behind him, whilst the King and his
troops watched him, bound her fast to him. Then he turned the
ascending-pin and the horse took flight and soared with them
high in air, till they disappeared from every eye. After this the
King abode half the day, expecting their return ; but they returned
not. So when he despaired of them, repenting him greatly of that
which he had done and grieving sore for the loss of the damsel, he
went back to the city with his troops. He then sent for the Persian
who was in prison and said to him, "O thou traitor, O thou villain,
why didst thou hide from me the mystery of the ebony horse ?
And now a sharper hath come to me and hath carried it off,
together with a slave-girl whose ornaments are worth a mint of
money, and I shall never see anyone or anything of them again ! "
So the Persian related to him all his past, first and last, and the

Messiah were, according to Moslems, mostly performed by aspiration. They hold that
in the days of Isa physic had reached its highest development, and thus his miracles were
mostly miracles of medicine ; whereas, in Mohammed's time, eloquence had attained its
climax and accordingly his miracles were those of eloquence, as shown in the Koran and

The Ebony Horse. 31

King was seized with a fit of fury which well-nigh ended his life,
He shut himself up in his palace for a while, mourning and
afflicted ; but at last his Wazirs came in to him and applied them-
selves to comfort him, saying," Verily, he who took the damsel is
an enchanter, and praised be Allah who hath delivered thee from
his craft and sorcery ! " And they ceased not from him, till he
was comforted for her loss. Thus far concerning the King; but as
for the Prince, he continued his career towards his father's capital
in joy and cheer, and stayed not till he alighted on his own palace,
where he set the lady in safety ; after which he went in to his
father and mother and saluted them and acquainted them with her
coming, whereat they were filled with solace and gladness. Then

he spread great banquets for the towns-folk And Shahrazad

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

Nofo fo&en it toas tfje Qfym |^untJtJ anb &tbentp=first

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the King's
son spread great banquets for the towns-folk and they held high
festival a whole month, at the end of which time he went in to the
Princess and they took their joy of each other with exceeding joy.
.3ut his father brake the ebony horse in pieces and destroyed its
mechanism for flight ; moreover the Prince wrote a letter to the
Princess's father, advising him of all that had befallen her and
informing him how she was now married to him and in all health
and happiness, and sent it by a messenger, together with costly
presents and curious rarities. And when the messenger arrived at
the city which was Sana'a and delivered the letter and the presents
to the King, he read the missive and rejoiced greatly thereat and
accepted the presents, honouring and rewarding the bearer hand-
somely. Moreover, he forwarded rich gifts to his son-in-law by
the same messenger, who returned to his master and acquainted
him with what had passed ; whereat he was much cheered. And
after this the Prince wrote a letter every year to his father-in-law
and sent him presents till, in course of time, his sire King Sabur
deceased and he reigned in his stead, ruling justly over his lieges
and conducting himself well and righteously towards them, so that
the land submitted to him and his subjects did him loyal service ;
and Kamar al-Akmar and his wife Shams al-Nahar abode in the
enjoyment of all satisfaction and solace of life, till there came to

$2 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

them the Destroyer of delights and Sunderer of societies ; the
Plunderer of palaces, the Caterer for cemeteries and the^Gatnerer
of graves. And now glory be to the Living One who dieth not
and in whose hand is the dominion of the worlds visible and in-
visible ! Moreover I have heard tell the tale of


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 abun-
dant 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, a Robing in tresses blackest ink

The morning-breezes give her boughs fair drink, s And like a branch she

sways with supple ply :
She smiles in passing us. O thou that art Fairest in yellow robed, or era*

Thou playest with my wit in love, as though o Sparrow in hand of playful boy

were I. 2

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 Ln 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. 3 So

1 Lit. " The rose in the sleeves or calyces." I take my English equivalent from
Jeremy Taylor, " So I have seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood,"

2 These lines are from the Bresl. Edit. (v. 35.) The four couplets in the Mac. Ediu
are too irrelevant.

8 Polo, which Lane calls "Goff."

uns al-Wujud and the WaziSs Daughter. 33

when the day came round whereon the folk assembled for ball-
play, 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, where-
upon 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 1 from a host outshot, o 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," o A world's love conjoin-
ing to bounty's light : 2

O thou, whose favour the full moon favours, o Whose charms make life and
the living bright !

Thou hast none equal amongst mankind ; e Sultan of Beauty, and proof I'll
cite :

1 Arab. " Muffawak " = well-notched, as its value depends upon the notch. At the
end of the third hemistich Lane's Shaykh very properly reads "baghtatan" (suddenly)
for " burhatan " ~ during a long time.

2 "Uns" (which the vulgar pronounce Anas) " al-Wujiid " = Delight of existing
things, of being, of the world. Uns wa jud is the normal pun = love-intimacy and
liberality ; and the paranomasia (which cannot well be rendered in English) re-appears
again and again. The story is throughout one of love ; hence the quantity of verse.


34 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

Thine eye-brows are likest a well-formed Nun, 1 a And thine eyes a Sd, 2 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, o 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 gold-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 re-
turned 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 enjoy-
ment." 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 ; 3 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 re-
strained 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

' The allusion to a "written N " suggests the elongated not the rounded form of tha
letter as in Night cccxxiv.

8 The fourteenth Arabic letter in its medial form resembling an eye.

J This is done by the man passing his fingers over the brow as if to wipe off persplra-
tioo ; the woman acknowledges it by adjusting her head-veil with both hands. As a
rule in the Moslem East women make the first advances ; and it is truly absurd to see a
great bearded fellow blushing at being ogled. During the Crimean war the fair sex of
Constantinople began by these allurements but found them so readily accepted by the
Giaours that they were obliged to desist.

Uns al- Wujud ana the Wazir's Daughter. 3 5

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.

fohcn it foas tfje 3T|)rft ^untorefc anfc ^Ebcntp=scconlJ

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 ?' M
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 ; c But my state interprets my love too

well :
When tears flow I tell them mine eyes are ill, c Lest the censor see and my

case foretell,
I was fancy-free and unknew I Love ; o But 1 fell in love and in madness

1 show you my case and complain of pain, o Pine and ecstasy that your

ruth compel :
! write you with tears of eyes, so belike o They explain the love come my

heart to quell ;
Allah guard a face that is veiled with charms, c Whose thrall is Moon and the.

Stars as well :
In her beauty I never beheld the like ; e From her sway the branches leart

sway and swell :
I beg you, an 'tis not too much of pains, o To call; 2 'twere boon without

I give you a soul you will haply take. o To which Union is Heaven, Dis*

union Hell.

Then he folded the letter and kissing it, gave it to the go-between

1 The greatest of all explorers and discoverers of the world will be he who finds a
woman confessing inability to keep a secret.
1 The original is intensely prosaic and so am I.

36 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

and said to her, "O nurse, incline thy 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 :

whose heart by our beauty is captive ta'en, Have patience and all thou

shall haply gain !
When we knew that thy love was a true affect, o And what pained our heart

to thy heart gave pain,
We had granted thee wished-for call and more ; o But hindered so doing the

When the night grows dark, through our love's excess o Fire burns our vitals

with might and main :>
And sleep from our beds is driven afar, o And our bodies are tortured by

"Hide Love!" in Love's code is the first command; c And from raising his

veil thy hand restrain :

1 fell love-fulfilled by yon gazelle : o 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 Tetter,, 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

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 5) → online text (page 4 of 41)