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 5 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 5 of 41)
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letter and see what is therein." So she took it and found it to be
a love-letter from her daughter Rose-in-Hood to Uns al-Wujud :
whereupon the ready drops sprang to her eyes ; but she composed

Uns al- Wujud and the Waztr's Daughter. 37

her mind, and, gulping down her tears, said to her husband, " O
my lord, there is no profit in weeping : the right course is to cast
about for a means of keeping thine honour and concealing the
affair of thy daughter." And she went on to comfort him and
lighten his trouble ; but he said, " I am fearful for my daughter by
reason of this new passion. Knowest thou not that the Sultan
loveth Uns al-Wujud with exceeding love ? And my fear hath
two causes. The first concerneth myself; it is, that she is my
daughter : the second is on account of the King ; for that Uns
al-Wujud is a favourite with the Sultan and peradventure great
troubles shall come out of this affair. What deemest thou should

be done?" And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased saying her permitted say.

Ttfofo fofjcn it foas tfje Sfjret f^tmbrcfc anti cbntB - tf)trtJ

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir,
after recounting the affair of his daughter, asked his wife, " What
deemest thou should be done ?" And she answered, " Have
.patience whilst I pray the prayer for right direction." So she
prayed a two-bow prayer according to the prophetic 1 ordinance
|for seeking divine guidance; after which she said to her husband,
'" In the midst of the Sea of Treasures standeth a mountain named
the Mount of the Bereaved Mother (the cause of which being so


called shall presently follow in its place, Inshallah !); and thither
can none have access, save with pains and difficulty and distress;
do thou make that same her abiding-place." Accordingly the
Minister and his wife agreed to build on that mountain a virgin
castle and lodge their daughter therein with the necessary pro-
Vision to be renewed year by year and attendants to cheer and to
serve her. Accordingly he collected carpenters, builders and archi-

1 Arab. " Sunnat," the practice of the Prophet. For this prayer and other silly and
Superstitious means of discovering the "right direction" (which is often very wrongly
directed) see Lane, M. E. chnpt. xi.

2 Arab, " Bahr (sea or river) al-Kunuz: Lane (ii. 576) ingeniously identifies the site with
the Upper Nile whose tribes, between Assouan (Syene) and Wady al-Subu'a are called
the "Kunuz" lit. meaning "treasures" or "hoards." Philoe is still known as the
*' Islet of Anas (for Uns) al-Wujud ;" and the learned and accurate Burckhardt (Travels
in Nubia p. 5,) records the local legend that a mighty King called Al-Wujud built the
Osirian temples. I can give no information concerning Jabal al-Sakla, (Thakla) the Mount
of the woman bereft of children, beyond the legend contained in Night ccclxxix.

38 Aij Laylah wa Laylah.

tects, and despatched them to the mountain, where they builded
her an impregnable castle, never saw eyes the like thereof. Then
he made ready vivers and carriage for the journey and, going in to
his daughter by night, bade her prepare to set out on a pleasure-
excursion. Thereupon her heart presaged the sorrows of separation
and, when she went forth and saw the preparations for the journey,
she wept with sore weeping and wrote that upon the door which
might acquaint her lover with what had passed and with the trans-
ports of passion and grief that were upon her, transports such as
wQuld make the flesh to shiver and hair to stare, and melt the
hardest stone with care, and tear from every eye a tear. And
what she wrote were these couplets :

By Allah, O thou house, if my beloved a morn go by, ;> And greet with signs

and signals lover e'er is wont to fly,
I pray thee give him our salams in pure and fragrant guise, e For he indeed

may never know where we this eve shall lie.
I wot not whither they have fared, thus bearing us afar * At speed, and

lightly-quipt, the lighter from one love to fly :
When starkens night, the birds in brake or branches snugly perched Wail

for our sorrow and announce our hapless destiny :
The tongue of their condition saith, "Alas, alas for woe, o And heavy

brunt of parting-blow two lovers must aby " :
When viewed I separation-cups were filled to the brim s And us with

merest sorrow-wine Fate came so fast to ply,
I mixed them with becoming share of patience self to excuse, But Patience

for the loss of you her solace doth refuse.


Now when she ended her lines, she mounted and they set forward
with her crossing and cutting over wold and wild and riant dale
and rugged hill, till they came to the shore of the Sea of Treasures -
here they pitched their tents and built her a great ship, wherein,
they went down with her and her suite and carried them over to
the mountain. The Minister had ordered them, on reaching the
journey's end, to set her in the castle and to make their way back
to the shore, where they were to break up the vessel. So they did
his bidding and returned home, weeping over what had befallen.
Such was their case ; but as regards Uns al-Wujud, he arose from
sleep and prayed the dawn-prayer, after which he took horse and
rode forth to attend upon the Sultan. On his way, he passed by
the Wazir's house, thinking perchance to see some of his followers
as of wont ; but he saw no one and, looking upon the door, he
read written thereon the verses aforesaid. At this sight, his senses

Uns al-Wujud and the Waztfs Daughter. 39

failed him ; fire was kindled in his vitals and he returned to his
lodging, where he passed the day in trouble and transports of grief,
without rinding ease or patience, till night darkened upon him, when
his yearning and love-longing redoubled. Thereupon, by way of
concealment, he disguised himself in the ragged garb of a Fakir, 1
and set out wandering at random through the glooms of night,
distracted and knowing not whither he went. So he wandered on
all that night and next day, till the heat of the sun waxed fierce
and the mountains flamed like fire and thirst was grievous upon
him. Presently, he espied a tree, by whose side was a thin thread
of running water ; so he made towards it and sitting down in the
shade, on the bank of the rivulet, essayed to drink, but found that
the water had no taste in his mouth ; 2 and, indeed his colour had
changed and his face had yellowed, and his feet were swollen with
travel and travail. So he shed copious tears and repeated these
couplets :

The lover is drunken with love of friend ; o On a longing that groweth his

joys depend :
Love-distracted, ardent, bewildered, lost c From home, nor may food aught

of pleasure lend :
How can life be delightsome to one in love, And from lover parted, 'twere

strange, unkenned !
1 melt with the fire of my pine for them, o And the tears down my cheek

in a stream descend.
Shall I see them, say me, or one that comes From the camp, who th' afflicted

heart shall tend ?

And after thus reciting he wept till he wetted the hard dry ground ;
but anon without loss of time he rose and fared on again over
waste and wold, till there came out upon him a lion, with a neck
buried in tangled mane, a head the bigness of a dome, a mouth
wider than the door thereof and teeth like elephants' tusks. Now
when Uns al-Wujud saw him, he gave himself up for lost and,
turning 3 towards the Temple of Meccah, pronounced the pro-
fessions of the faith and prepared for death. He had read in

1 A religious mendicant (lit. a pauper), of whom there are two great divisions. The
SharaM acts according to the faith : the others (La Shara'i, or irreligious) are bound by
no such prejudices and are pretty specimen of scoundrels (Pilgrimage i. 22).

2 Meaning his lips and palate were so swollen by drought.

3 It is a pious act in time of mortal danger to face the Kiblah or Meccan temple, as if
Standing in prayer.

40 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

books that whoso will flatter the lion, beguileth him, 1 for that he
is readily duped by smooth speech and gentled by being glorified ;
so he began and said, " O Lion of the forest ! O Lord of the waste !

terrible Leo ! O father of fighters ! O Sultan of wild beasts !
Behold, I am a lover in longing, whom passion and severance have
been wronging ; since I parted from my dear, I have lost my
reasoning gear ; wherefore, to my speech do thou give ear and
have ruth on my passion and hope and fear." When the lion
heard this, he drew back from him and sitting down on his hind-
quarters, raised his head to him and began to frisk tail and paws ;
which when Uns al-Wujud saw, he recited these couplets :

Lion of the wold wilt thou murther me, e Ere I meet her who doomed
me to slavery ?

1 am not game and I bear no fat j * For the loss of my love make*

me sickness dree ;

And estrangement from her hath so worn me down o I am like a shape in a
shroud we see.

thou sire of spoils, 2 O thou lion of war, e Give not my pains to the

blamer's gree.

1 burn with love, I am drowned in tears For a parting from lover, sore

misery !

And my thoughts of her in the murk of night For love hath made my being

As he had finished his lines the lion rose And Shahrazad per-
ceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

foftcn it teas rtje fEfym f^unfcrrti antr Sbtbmts-fourtf)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that as Uns
al-Wujud ended his lines, the lion arose and stalked slowly up to
him, with eyes tear-railing and licked him with his tongue, then
walked on before him, signing to him as though saying, " Follow

1 Still the belief of the Badawi who tries to work upon the beast's compassion : " O
great King I am a poor man, with wife and family, so spare me that Allah spare thee I **
and so forth. If not famished the lion will often stalk off looking behind him as he goes ;
but the man will never return by the same path ; " for," says he, " haply the Father of
Roaring may repent him of a wasted opportunity." These lion-tales are very common,
witness that of Androcles at Rome and a host of others. Una and her lion is another
phase. It remained for M. Jules Gerard, first the chasseur and then the tueur t du lion t
to assail the reputation of the lion and the honour of the lioness.

3 Abu Ilaris = Father of spoils : one of the lion's hundred titles.

Uns al- Wujud and the Wazi/s Daughter. 41

me." So he followed him, and the beast ceased not leading him
on for a while till he brought him up a mountain, and guided him
to the farther side, where he came upon the track of a caravan
over the desert, and knew it to be that of Rose-in-Hood and her
company. Then he took the trail and, when the lion saw that he
knew the track for that of the party which escorted her, he turned
back and went his way; whilst Uns al-Wujud walked along the
foot-marks day and night, till they brought him to a dashing sea,
swollen with clashing surge. The trail led down to the sandy
shore and there broke off ; whereby he knew that they had
taken ship and had continued their journey by water. So he
lost hope of rinding his lover and with hot tears he repeated
these couplets :

Far is the fane and patience faileth me; o How can I seek them 1 o'er the

abysmal sea ;
Or how be patient, when my vitals burn o For love of them, and sleep waxed

insomny ?
Since the sad day they left the home and fled, o My heart 's consumed by love's

ardency :
Sayhun, Jayhun, 2 Euphrates-like my tears, o Make flood no deluged rain its

like can see :
Mine eyelids chafed with running tears remain, o My heart from fiery sparks

is never free ;
The hosts of love and longing pressed me o And made the hosts of patience

break and flee.
I've risked my life too freely for their love ; o And risk of life the least of ills

shall be.
Allah ne'er punish eye that saw those charms o Enshrined, and passing full

moon's brillancy !
I found me felled by fair wide-opened eyes, o Which pierced my heart with

stringless archery :
And soft, lithe, swaying shape enraptured me c As sway the branches of the


Wi' them I covet union that I win, o O'er love-pains cark and care, a mastery.
For love of them aye, morn and eve I pine, o And doubt all came to me from

evil eyne.

And when his lines were ended he wept, till he swooned away, and
abode in his swoon a long while ; but as soon as he came to him-

1 "They "again for "she."

* Jaxartes and Oxus. The latter (Jayhun or Amu, Oxus or Bactros) is famous for
dividing Iian from Turan, Persia from Tartaria. The lands to its north are known as
Ma wara al-Nahr (Mawerannahar) or "What is behind the stream," =: Transoxiana
and their capitals were successively Samarcand and Bokhara.

42 A If Laylah wa Lay la k.

self, he looked right and left and seeing no one in the desert, he
became fearful of the wild beasts ; so he clomb to the top of a high
mountain, where he heard the voice of a son of Adam speaking
within a cave. He listened and lo ! they were the accents of a
devotee, who had forsworn the world and given himself up to pious
works and worship. He knocked thrice at the cavern-door, but
the hermit made him no answer, neither came forth to him; where-
fore he groaned aloud and recited these couplets :

What pathway find I my desire t'obtain, o How 'scape from care and cark and

pain and bane ?
All terrors join to make me old and hoar o Of head and heart, ere youth from

me is ta'en :
Nor find I any aid my passion, nor A friend to lighten load of bane and

How great and many troubles I've endured ! Fortune hath turned her back I

see unfain.
Ah mercy, mercy on the lover's heart, Doomed cup of parting and desertion

drain !
A fire is in his heart, his vitals waste, o And severance made his reason vainest

How dread the day I came to her abode o And saw the writ they wrote on

doorway lain !
I wept, till gave I earth to drink my grief ; o But still to near and far 1 I did but

feign :
Then strayed I till in waste a lion sprang On me, and but for flattering words

had slain :
I soothed him : so he spared me and lent me aid, o He too might haply of

love's taste complain.
O devotee, that idlest in thy cave, o Meseems eke thou hast learned Love's

might and main ;
But if, at end of woes, with them I league, o Straight I'll forget all suffering and


Hardly had he made an end of these verses when, behold ! the
door of the cavern opened and he heard one say, " Alas, the pity
of it!" 2 So he entered and saluted the devotee, who returned his
salam and asked him, "What is thy name?" Answered the young
man," Uns al-Wujud." "And what caused thee to come hither?"
quoth the hermit. So he told him his story in its entirety,
omitting naught of his misfortunes ; whereat he wept and said,

1 Arab. " Dani wa gharlb " = friend and foe. The lines are partly from the Mac.
Edit, and partly from the Bresl. Edit., v. 55.

2 Arab. " Wa Rahmata-hu ! " a form now used only in books.

Uns al- Wujud and the Wazir's Daughter. 43

** O Uns al- Wujud, these twenty years have I passed in this place,
but never beheld I any man here, until yesterday, when I heard
a noise of weeping and lamentation and, looking forth in the
direction of the sound, saw many people and tents pitched on
the sea-shore ; and the party at once proceeded to build a ship, in
which certain of them embarked and sailed over the waters. Then
some of the crew returned with the ship and breaking it up, went
their way ; and I suspect that those who embarked in the ship and
returned not, are they whom thou seekest. In that case, O Uns
al-Wujud, thy grief must needs be great and sore and thou art
excusable, though never yet was lover but suffered love-longing.**
Then he recited these couplets :

Uns al-Wujud, dost deem me fancy-free, * When pine and longing slay and

quicken me ?
I have known love and yearning from the years * Since mother-milk I drank,

nor e'er was free.
Long struggled I with Love, till learnt his might ; * Ask thou of him, he'll tell

with willing gree.
Love-sick and pining drank I passion-cup, * And well-nigh perished in mine

Strong was I, but my strength to weakness turned, * And eye-sword brake

through Patience armoury :
Hope not to win love-joys, without annoy ; * Contrary ever links with

But fear not change from lover true ; be true * Unto thy wish, some day thine

own 'twill be.
Love hath forbidden to his votaries * Relinquishment as deadliest heresy.

The eremite, having ended his verse, rose and, coming up to
Uns al-Wujud, embraced him, - And Shahrazad perceived the
dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Koto tofjm it teas, t&t ^fjrce l^unHretJ antJ

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the eremite,
having ended his verse, rose and coming up to Uns al-Wujud
.embraced him, and they wept together, till the hills rang with
their cries and they fell down fainting. When they revived, they
swore brotherhood * in Allah Almighty ; after which said Uns al-
Wujud, " This very night will I pray to God and seek of Him direc-

1 Before noted. The relationship, like that of foster-brother, has its rights, duties
and privileges.

44 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

tion anent what thou shouldst do to attain thy desire." Thus it
was with them ; but as regards Rose-in-Hood, when they brought
her to the mountain and set her in the castle and she beheld its
ordering, she wept and exclaimed, " By Allah, thou art a goodly
place, save that thou lackest in thee the presence of the beloved ! " 2
Then seeing birds in the island, she bade her people set snares
for them and put all they caught in cages within the castle ; and
they did so. But she sat at a lattice and bethought her of what
had passed, and desire and passion and distraction redoubled upon
her, till she burst into tears and repeated these couplets :

to whom now, of my desire complaining sore, shall I * Bewail my parting

from my fere compelled thus to fly ?

Flames rage within what underlies my ribs, yet hide them I * In deepest
secret dreading aye the jealous hostile spy :

1 am grown as lean, attenuate as any pick of tooth,' * By sore estrange-

ment, absence, ardour, ceaseless sob and sigh.
"Where is the eye of my beloved to see how I'm become * Like tree stripped

bare of leafage left to linger and to die.
They tyrannised over me whom they confined in place * Whereto the lover of

my heart may never draw him nigh :
I beg the Sun for me to give greetings a thousandfold, * At time of rising and

again when setting from the sky,
To the beloved one who shames a full moon's loveliness, * When shows that

slender form that doth the willow-branch outvie.
If Rose herself would even with his cheek, I say of her * " Thou art not like

it if to me my portion thou deny : " 4

1 Arab. " Istikharah," before explained as praying for direction by omens of the
rosary, opening the Koran and reading the first verse sighted, etc., etc. At
Al-Medinah it is called Khirah and I have suggested (Pilgrimage, ii. 287) that it is a
relic of the Azlam or Kidah (divining arrows) of paganism. But the superstition is
not local : we have the Sortes Virgilianse (Virgil being a magician) as well as Coranicaei

2 Arab. Wujud al-Habib, a pun, also meaning, " Wujiid my beloved."

3 Arab. " Khilal," as an emblem of attenuation occurring in Al-Hariri (Ass. of
Alexandria, etc.) ; also thin as a spindle (Maghzal), as a reed, and dry as a pair of
shears. In the Ass. of Barka'id the toothpick is described as a beautiful girl. The
use of this cleanly article was enjoined by Mohammed: "Cleanse your mouths with
toothpicks ; for your mouths are the abode of the guardian angels ; whose pens are
the tongues, and whose ink is the spittle of men ; and to whom naught is more un-
bearable than remains of food in the mouth." A mighty apparatus for a small
matter ; but in very hot lands cleanliness must rank before godliness.

* The sense is ambiguous. Lane renders the verse : "Thou resemblest it (rose) not
of my portion" and gives two explanations " because he is of my portion," or, " because
his cheek cannot be rosy if mine is not." Mr. Payne boldly translates

"If the rose ape his cheek, "Now God forfend," I say, "That of my portico
aught to pilfer thou shouldst try."

Uns al-\Vujud and the WaziSs Daughter. 45

His honey-dew of lips is like the grateful water draught * Would cool me when

a fire in heart upflameth fierce and high :
How shall I give him up who is my heart and soul of me, * My malady my

wasting cause, my love, sole leach of me ?

Then, as the glooms of night closed around her, her yearning
increased and she called to mind the past and recited also these
couplets :

'Tis dark : my transport and unease now gather might and main, And love-i

desire provoketh me to wake my wonted pain :
The pang of parting takes for ever place within my breast, * And pining makes

me desolate in destitution lain.
Ecstasy sore maltreats my soul and yearning burns my sprite, * And tears

betray love's secresy which I would lief contain :
I weet no way, I know no case that can make light my load, * Or heal my

wasting body or cast out from me this bane.
A hell of fire is in my heart upflames with lambent tongue * And Lazl's

furnace-fires within my liver place have ta'en.

thou, exaggerating blame for what befel, enough * I bear with patience

whatsoe'er hath writ for me the Pen !

1 swear, by Allah, ne'er to find aught comfort for their loss ; * 'Tis oath of

passion's children and their oaths are ne'er in vain.

O Night ! Salams of me to friends and let to them be known * Of thee true
knowledge how I wake and waking ever wone.

Meanwhile, the hermit said to Uns al-Wujud, " Go down to the
palm-grove in the valley and fetch some fibre." ! So he went and
returned with the palm-fibre, which the hermit took and, twisting
into ropes, made therewith a net, 2 such as is used for carrying
straw ; after which he said, "O Uns al-Wujud, in the heart of the
valley groweth a gourd, which springeth up and drieth upon its
roots. Go down there and fill this sack therewith ; then tie it
together and, casting it into the water, embark thereon and make
for the midst of the sea, so haply thou shalt win thy wish ; for
whoso never ventureth shall not have what he seeketh." " I hear

1 Arab. "Iff" (not "fibres which grow at the top of the trunk," Lane ii. 577) ; but
the fibre of the fronds worked like the cocoa-nut fibre which forms the now well-
known Indian "coir." This "Iff" is also called " filfil " or "fulfil" which Dr.
Jonathan Scott renders "pepper" (Lane i. 8) and it forms a clean succedaneum for
one of the uncleanest articles of civilisation, the sponge. It is used in every Hammatn
and is (or should be) thrown away after use.

8 Arab. "Shinf;" a coarse sack, a ' gunny-bag;" a net compared with such

46 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

and obey," answered Uns al-Wujud. Then he bade the hermit
farewell after the holy man had prayed for him; and, betaking
himself to the sole of the valley, did as his adviser had counselled
him ; made the sack, launched it upon the water, and pushed from
shore. Then there arose a wind, which drave him out to sea, till
he was lost to the eremite's view ; and he ceased not to float over
the abysses of the ocean, one billow tossing him up and another
bearing him down (and he beholding the while the dangers and
marvels of the deep), for the space of three days. At the end of
that time Fate cast him upon the Mount of the Bereft Mother,
where he landed, giddy and tottering like a chick unfledged, and
at the last of his strength for hunger and thirst ; but, finding there
streams flowing and birds on the branches cooing and fruit-laden
trees in clusters and singly growing, he ate of the fruits and drank
of the rills. Then he walked on till he saw some white thing afar
off, and making for it, found that it was a strongly fortified castle.
So he went up to the gate and seeing it locked, sat down by it ;
and there he sat for three days when behold, the gate opened and
an eunuch came out, who finding Uns al-Wujud there seated, said
to him, " Whence earnest thou and who brought thee hither ? "
Quoth he, " From Ispahan and I was voyaging with merchandise
when my ship was wrecked and the waves cast me upon the farther
side of this island." Whereupon the eunuch wept and embraced
him, saying, " Allah preserve thee, O thou friendly face ! Ispahan
is mine own country and I have there a cousin, the daughter of my
father's brother, whom I loved from my childhoood and cherished
with fond affection ; but a people stronger than we fell upon us in

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 5 of 41)