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 7 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 7 of 41)
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Uns at-Wujiid and the Wazir's Daughter. 57

the Wazir Ibrahim and kissed his hands. The Minister entered
and found in the courtyard, among the serving-men, a Fakir, which
was Uns al-Wujud, but he knew him not and said, "Whence
cometh yonder wight ? " Quoth they, " He is a merchant, who
hath lost his goods, but saved himself; and he is an ecstatic." 1 ho
the Wazir left him and went on into the castle, where he found
no trace of his daughter and questioned her women, who answered,
" We wot not how or whither she went ; this place misliked her
and she tarried in it but a short time." Whereupon he wept sore
and repeated these couplets :

Ho them, the house, whose birds were singing gay, * Whose sills their wealth

and pride were wont display !
Till came the lover wailing for his love, * And found thy doors wide open to

the way ;
Would Heaven I knew where is my soul that erst * Was homed in house,

whose owners fared away !
'Twas stored with all things bright and beautiful, * And showed its porters

ranged in fair array :
They clothed it with brocades a bride become ; 2 * Would I knew whither went

its lords, ah, say !

After ending his verses he again shed tears, and groaned and
bemoaned himself, exclaiming, " There is no deliverance from the
destiny decreed by Allah ; nor is there any escape from that which
He hath predestined ! " Then he went up to the roof and found
the strips of Ba'albak stuff tied to the crenelles and hanging down
to the ground, and thus it was he knew that she had descended

1 Arab. " Majzub " =. drawn, attracted (literally) ; the popular term for one absorbed
in the contemplation of the Deity. During this process the soul is supposed to quit the
body leaving the latter irresponsible for its actions. I remember a scandal being caused
in a village near Tunis by one of these men who suddenly started up from his seat in a
dusty corner and, in presence of a small crowd of people, had connection with a she-
donkey. The supporters of the holy man declared that the deed was proof positive of
his exceptional holiness ; but there were lewd fellows, Moslems Voltaireans, who had
their doubts and held that the reverend man had so acted " for the gallery." A similar
story is told with due reserve by the late Abbe Hamilton in his book on the Cyrenaic.
There are three grand divisions of the Sufis ; (i) Mukiman, the stationaries ; (2) Sdlikan,
the travellers, or progressives, and (3) Wasilan, those who reach the desired end. And
No. 2 has two classes : the Salik-i-majzub, one progressing in Divine Love ; and the
other, who has made greater progress, is the Majzub-i-Salik (Dabistan iii. 251).

2 Arab. "Sundus," a kind of brocade (low Lat. brocare, to figure cloth), silk worked
in high relief with gold and silver. The idea is figurative meaning it was hung outside
and inside with fine stuff, like the Ka'abah, the " Eride of Meccah." The "lords"
means simply the lost girl.

$8 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

thence and had fled forth, as one distracted and demented with
desire and passion. Presently, he turned and seeing there two
birds, a gor-crow and an owl he justly deemed this an omen of ill ;
so he groaned and recited these couplets :

I came to my dear friends' door, of my hopes the goal, * Whose sight mote

assuage my sorrow and woes of soul :
No friends found I there, nor was there another thing * To find, save a corby-

crow and an ill-omened owl.
And the tongue o' the case to me seemed to say, "Indeed * This parting two

lovers fond was cruel and foul ! "
So taste thou the sorrow thou madest them taste and live * In grief: wend thy

ways and now in thy sorrow prowl ! "

Then he descended from the castle-roof, weeping, and bade the
servants fare forth and search the mount for their mistress ; so.
they sought for her, but found her not. Such was their case ; but
as regards Uns al-Wujud, when he was certi-fied that Rose-in-Hood
was indeed gone, he cried with a great cry and fell down in a
fainting-fit, nor came to himself for a long time, whilst the folk
deemed that his spirit had been withdrawn by the Compassionat-
ing One ; and that he was absorbed in contemplation of the
splendour, majesty and beauty of the Requiting One. Then,
despairing of finding Uns al-Wujud, and seeing that the Wazir
Ibrahim was distracted for the loss of his daughter, the Minister
of King Dirbas addressed himself to return to his own country,
albeit he had not attained the object of his journey, and while
bidding his companion adieu, said to him, " I have a mind to take
the Fakir with me ; it may be Allah Almighty will incline the
King's heart to me by his blessing, for that he is a holy man ; and
thereafter, I will send him to Ispahan, which is near our country."
" Do as thou wilt," answered Ibrahim. So they took leave of each
other and departed, each for his own mother land, the Wazir of
King Dirbas carrying with him Uns al-Wujud - And Shahrazad
perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

tofjm it foas tfy ^m Hun&rrti an* 3igf)tttJ)

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Wazir
of King Dirbas carried with him Uns al-Wujud who was still
insensible. They bore him with them on mule-back (he unknow-
ing if he were carried or not) for three days, when he came to

Uns al- Wujud and the Wazir's Daughter. 59

himself and said, " Where am I ? " " Thou art in company with
the Minister of King Dirbas," replied they and went and gave
news of his recovering to the Wazir, who sent him rose-water and
sherbet of sugar, of which they gave him to drink and restored
him. Then they ceased not faring on till they drew near King
Dirbas's capital and the King, being advised of his Wazir's coming,
wrote to him, saying, " If Uns al-Wujud be not with thee, come
not to me ever." Now when the Wazir read the royal mandate^
it was grievous to him, for he knew not that Rose-in-Wood
was with the King, nor why he had been sent in quest of Uns
al-Wujud, nor the King's reasn for desiring the alliance ; whilst
Uns al-Wujud also knew not whither they were bearing him or
that the Wazir had been sent in quest of him ; nor did the Wazir
know that the Fakir he had with him was Uns al-Wujud himself.
And when the Minister saw that the sick man was whole, he said
to him, " I was despatched by the King on an errand, which I have
not been able to accomplish." So, when he heard of my return, he
wrote to me, saying : Except thou have fulfilled my need enter
not my city." " And what is the King's need ? " asked Uns al-
Wujud. So the Wazir told him the whole tale, and he said, " Fear
nothing, but go boldly to the King and take me with thee ; and I
will be surety to thee for the coming of Uns al-Wujud." At this
the Wazir rejoiced and cried, " Is this true which thou sayest ? "
" Yes," replied he ; whereupon the Wazir mounted and carried
him to King Dirbas who, after receiving their salutations said to
him, " Where is Uns al-Wujud ? " Answered the young man, " O
King, I know where he is." So the King called him to him and
said, " Where ? " Returned Uns al-Wujud, " He is near-hand and
very near ; but tell me what thou wouldst with him, and I will
fetch him into thy presence." The King replied, " With joy and
good gree, but the case calleth for privacy." So he ordered the
folk to withdraw and, carrying Uns al-Wujud into his cabinet,
told him the whole story ; whereupon quoth the youth, " Robe me
in rich raiment, and I will forthright bring Uns al-Wujud to thee."
So they brought him a sumptuous dress, and he donned it and
said, " I am Uns al-Wujud, the World's Delight, and to the envious
a despite "; and presently he smote with his glances every sprite,
and began these couplets to recite :

My loved one's name in cheerless solitude aye cheereth me e And driveth off
mv desperance and long despondency:

60 A If Laylah iva Lay la h.

I have no helper J but rny tears that ever flow in fount, o And as they flow,

they lighten woe and force my grief to flee.
My longing is so violent naught like it ere was seen ; o My love-tale is a

marvel and my love a sight to see :

I spend the night with lids of eye that never close in sleep, o And pass in pas-
sion twixt the Hells and Edens heavenly.
I had of patience fairish store, but now no more have I ; o And love's sole

gift to me hath been aye-growing misery :
My frame is wasted by the pain of parting from my own, And longing

changed my shape and form and made me other be.
Mine eyelids by my torrent tears are chafed, and ulcerate, o The tears, whose

flow to stay is mere impossibility.
My manly strength is sore impaired for I have lost my heart; o How many

griefs upon my griefs have I been doomed to dree !
My heart and head are like in age with similar hoariness By loss of Beauty's

lord, 2 of lords the galaxy:
Despite our wills they parted us and doomed us parted wone, e While they

(our lords) desire no more than love in unity.
Then ah, would Heaven that I wot if stress of parting done, o The world

will grant me sight of them in union fain and free
Roll up the scroll of severance which others would unroll o Efface my

trouble by the grace of meeting's jubilee !
And shall I see them homed with me and in cup-company, * And change my

melancholic mood for joy and jollity?

And when he ended his verses the King cried aloud, " By Allah,
ye are indeed a pair of lovers true and fain and in Beauty's heaven
of shining stars a twain : your story is wondrous and your case
marvellous." Then he told him all that had befallen Rose-in-
Hood ; and Uns al-Wujud said, " Where is she, O King of the
age ? " " She is with me now," answered Dirbas and, sending for
the Kazi and the witnesses, drew up the contract of marriage
between her and him. Then he honoured Uns al-Wujud with
favours and bounties and sent to King Shamikh acquainting him
with what had befallen, whereat this King joyed with exceeding
joy and wrote back to the following purport. " Since the ceremony
of contract hath been performed at thy court, it behoveth that
the marriage and its consummation be at mine." Then he made
ready camels, horses and men and sent them in quest of the
pair ; and when the embassy reached King Dirbas, he gave the

1 Arab, "Ayn " lit. eye, also a fount, "the eye of the landscape" (a noble simile) j
and here a helper, guard, assistant.

2 "Lord" for lady, i.e. she.

Uns al-Wujud and the WaziSs Daughter. 6 1

lovers much treasure and despatched them to King Shamikh's
court with a compan)' of his own troops. The day of their arrival
was a notable day, never was seen a grander ; for the King gathered
together all the singing-women and players on instruments of
music and made wedding banquets and held high festival seven
days ; and on each day he gave largesse to the folk and bestowed
on them sumptuous robes of honour. Then Uns al-Wujud went in
to Rose-in-Hood and they embraced and sat weeping for excess
of joy and gladness, whilst she recited these couplets :

Joyance is come, dispelling cark and care ; * We are united, enviers may

The breeze of union blows, enquickening * Forms, hearts and vitals, fresh

with fragrant air:
The splendour of delight with scents appears, * And round us ' flags and drums

show gladness rare.
Deem not we're weeping for our stress of grief; * It is for joy our tears as

torrents fare :
How many fears we've seen that now are past ! And bore we patient what

was sore to bear :
One hour of joyance made us both forget o What from excess of terror grey'd

our hair.

And when the verses were ended, they again embraced and ceased
not from their embrace, till they fell down in a swoon, And
Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her per-
mitted say.

Xofo fofjen it foas tfje Wyw. ^untteu anfc Cigf)tg-fitst Ni<$t,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Uns
al-Wujud and Rose-in-Hood embraced when they foregathered
and ceased not from their embrace, till they fell down in a swoon
for the delight of reunion ; and when they came to themselves,
Uns al-Wujud recited these couplets :

How joyously sweet are the nights that unite, o When my dearling deigns keep

me the troth she did plight ;
When union conjoins us in all that we have, And parting is severed and

sundered from sight,

1 Arab. " Fi'1-khawafik " = in the four quarters or among the flappers (standards) or
amid palpitations of heart. The bride alludes to a festal reception in a town, with burning
incense, drums, flags, etc., etc.

62 A If Laylah wa Laylah,

To us comes the world with her favour so fair, o After frown and aversion and

mighty despight !
Hath planted her banner Good Fortune for us, o And we drink of her cup ifl

the purest delight.
We have met and complained of the pitiful Past, o And of nights a full many

that doomed us to blight.
But now, O my lady, the Past is forgot ; o The Compassionate pardon the Past

for unright !
How sweet is existence, how glad is to be ! o This union my passion doth only


And when he ended his verses they once more embraced, drowned
in the sea of passion ; and lay down together in the private apart-
ment carousing and conversing and quoting verses and telling
pleasant tales and anecdotes. On this wise seven days passed
over them whilst they knew not night from day and it was to them,
for very stress of gaiety and gladness, pleasure and possession, as
if the seven days were but one day with ne'er a morrow. Nor did
they know the seventh day, 1 but by the coming of the singers and
players on instruments of music ; whereat Rose-in-Hood beyond
measure wondered and improvised these couplets :

In spite of enviers' jealousy, at end o We have won all we hoped of the

friend :
We've crowned our meeting with a close embrace o On quilts where new

brocades with sendal blend ;
On bed of perfumed leather, which the spoils o Of downy birds luxuriously

But I abstain me from unneeded wine, o When honey-dews of lips sweet must

can lend :
Now from the sweets of union we unknow Time near and far, if slow or fast

it wend,
The seventh night hath come and gone, O strange ! o How went the nights we

never reckt or kenned ;
Til), on the seventh wishing joy they said, o " Allah prolong the meet of friend

with friend ! "

When she had finished her song, Uns al-Wujud kissed her, more
than an hundred times, and recited these couplets :

1 In Egypt the shorter " honey-moon " lasts a week ; and on the seventh day (pop.
called Al-Subu'a) bride and bridegroom receive visits with all ceremony, of course in
separate apartments. The seventh day (like the fortieth, the end of six months and the
anniversary) is kept for births and deaths with Khatmahs (perlections) of the Koran
" Saylah " family gatherings and so forth. The fortieth day ends the real honey-mooa
See Nieht dccxcii.

Uns al- Wtyitd and the Wazir's Daughter. 63

O day of joys to either lover fain ! o The loved one came and freed from lonely

pain :
She blest me with all inner charms she hath ; o And companied with inner

grace deep lain :
She made me drain the wine of love till I, o Was faint with joys her love had

made me drain :
'We toyed and joyed and on each other lay; o Then fell to wine and soft

melodious strain :
And for excess of joyance never knew, o How went the day and how it came

Fair fall each lover, may he union win o And gain of joy like me the amplest

Nor weet the taste of severance' bitter fruit o And joys assain them as they us

assain !

Then they went forth and distributed to the folk alms and presents
of money and raiment and rare gifts and other tokens of generosity;
after which Rose-in-Hood bade clear the bath for her 1 and, turning
to Uns al-Wujud said to him, " O coolth of my eyes, I have a mind
to see thee in the Hammam, and therein we will be alone together."
He joyfully consented to this, and she let scent the Hamman with
all sorts of perfumed woods and essences, and light the wax-
candles. Then of the excess of her contentment she recited these
couplets :

O who didst win my love in other date o (And Present e'er must speak of past

estate) ;
And, oh ! who art my sole sufficiency, o Nor want I other friends with me to

mate :
Come to the Hammam, my light of eyes, c And enter Eden through Gehenna-

gate !
We '11 scent with ambergris and aloes-wood o Till float the heavy clouds with

fragrant freight ;
And to the World we '11 pardon all her sins o And sue for mercy the Com-

passionate ;
And I will cry, when I descry thee there, o " Good cheer, sweet love, all

blessings on thee wait ! "'

Whereupon they arose and fared to the bath and took their
pleasure therein ; after which they returned to their palace and
there abode in the fulness of. enjoyment, till there came to them

1 I have noted the popular practice, amongst men as well as women, of hiring ths
Hammam for private parties and picnicking in it during the greater part of the day. In
this tale the bath would belong to the public and it was a mere freak of the bride to
bathe with her bridegroom. " Respectable" people do not.

9 She speaks in the last line as the barber or the bathman.

64 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies ; and glory
be to Him who changeth not neither ceaseth, and to whom every-
thing returneth ! And they also tell a tale of


ABU NOWAS one day shut himself up and, making ready a richly-
furnished feast, collected for it meats of all kinds and of every
colour that lips and tongue can desire. Then he went forth, to
seek a minion worthy of such entertainment, saying, " Allah, my
Lord and my Master, I beseech Thee to send me one who befitteth
this banquet and who is fit to carouse with me this day ! " Hardly
had he made an end of speaking when he espied three youths
handsome and beardless, as they were of the boys of Paradise, 2
differing in complexion but fellows in incomparable beauty ; and
all hearts yearned with desire to the swaying of their bending
shapes, even to what saith the poet :

I passed a beardless pair without compare # And cried, " I love you, both you

ferly fair ! "
"Moneyed?" quoth one : quoth I ,"And lavish too ;" * Then said the fair pair,

Ptre t c'est noire affaire.

Now Abu Nowas was given to these joys and loved to sport
and make merry with fair boys and cull the rose from every
brightly blooming cheek, even as saith the bard :

Full many a reverend Shaykh feels sting of flesh, * Loves pretty faces, shows

at Pleasure's depot :
Awakes in Mosul, 3 land of purity ; * And all the day dreams only of Aleppo.*

So he accosted them with the salutation, and they returned his

1 Here the "Ana" begin ; and they mostly date themselves. Of the following forty
nine, Lane (vol. ii. p. 578 et seq.) gives only twenty-two and transfers them to notes in
chapl. xviii. He could hardly translate several of them in a work intended to be popular.
Abu Nowas is a person carefully to be avoided ; and all but anthropological students
are advised to- 'skip" over anecdotes in which his name and abominations occur.

2 Arab. "Ghilman," the counterpart, I have said, of the so-called " Houris."

3 Mosul boasts of never having been polluted with idolatrous worship, an exemption
which it owes to being a comparatively modern place.

4 The Aleppines were once noted for debauchery; and the saying is still " Halabi
Shelebi " (for Chelebi) = the Aleppine is a fellow fine.

Abu Nowas with the Three Boys. 65

greeting with civility and all honour and would have gone their
several ways, but he stayed them, repeating these couplets :

Steer ye your steps to none but me * Who hath a mine of luxury :

Old wine that shines with brightest blee * Made by the monk in monastery ;
And mutton-meat the toothsomest * And birds of all variety.

Then eat of these and drink of those * Old wines that bring you jollity :
And have each other, turn by turn, * Shampooing this my tool you see. 1

Thereupon the youths were beguiled by his verses and consented

to his wishes And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and

ceased to say her permitted say.

STofo foljen it toas tf>e tf)ree f^unfrrefc antJ 1Etc$tg - scccm& Nifif)!,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Abu Nowas beguiled the youths with his verse, they consented to
his wishes, saying, " We hear and obey ; " and accompanied him
to his lodging, where they found all ready that he had set forth
in his couplets. They sat down and ate and drank and 'made
merry awhile, after which they appealed to Abu Nowas to decide
which of them was handsomest of face and shapeliest of form.
So he pointed to one of them and, having kissed him twice over,>
recited the following verses :

I'll ransom that beauty-spot with my soul ; * Where's it and where is ''a

money-dole? 2
Praise Him who hairless hath made that cheek * And bid Beauty bide in

that mole, that mole !

Then he pointed to another and, kissing his lips, repeated these
couplets :

And leveling weareth on his cheek a mole * Like musk, which virgin camphor

ne'er lets off it :
My peepers marvel such a contrast seeing ; * And cried the Mole to me,

"Now bless the Prophet." 3

1 Mr. Payne omits the last line. It refers to what Persian boys call, in half-Turkish
phrase, " Alish Takish," each acting woman after he has acted man. The best wine
is still made in monasteries and the so-called Sinai convent is world-famous for its
" Raki" distilled from raisins.

2 i.e. what a difference there is between them !

9 Arab. "Salli ala '1-Nabi," a common phrase; meaning not only praise him to
avert the evil eye ; but also used when one would impose silence upon a babbler.
The latter will shuffle off by ejaculating "Al"and continue his chatter (Pilgrimage
ii. 279).


66 A If Lay la h tva Lay la ft.

Then he pointed to the third and, after kissing him half a score
times repeated these couplets :

Melted pure gold in silvern bowl to drain * The youth, whose ringers wore a

winey stain :
He with the drawers l served one cup of wine, * And served his wandering

eyes the other twain.
A leveling, of the sons of Turks, 2 a fawn * Whose waist conjoins the double

Mounts Honayn. 3
Could Eve's corrupting daughters* tempt my heart * Content with two-fold

lure 'twould bear the bane.
Unto Diyar-i-Bakr(" maid-land" 5 ) this one lures ; * That lures to two-mosqued

cities of the plain. 6

Now each of the youths had drunk two cups, and when it came
to the turn of Abu Nowas, he took the goblet and repeated these
couplets :

Drink not strong wine save at the slender dearling's hand ; * Each like to

other in all gifts the spirit grace :
For wine can never gladden toper's heart and soul, * Unless the cup-boy show

a bright and sparkling face.

Then he drank off his cup and the bowl went round, and when it
came to Abu Nowas again, joyance got the mastery of him and he
repeated these couplets :

For cup-friends cup succeeding cup assign, * Brimming with grape-juice,

brought in endless line,
By hand of brown-lipped 7 Beauty who is sweet * At wake as apple or musk

finest fine. 8
Drink not the wine except from hand of fawn * Whose cheek to kiss is

sweeter than the wine.

Presently the drink got into his noddle, drunkenness mastered
him and he knew not hand from head, so that he lolled from

1 Arab. " Sukat " (plur. of Saki, cupbearer, our old "skinker") : the pure gold (tibr)
is the amber-coloured wine, like the Vino d'oro of the Libanus.

2 That is, fair, white and red : Turkish slaves then abounded at Baghdad.

3 A Wady near Meccah where one of Mohammed's battles was fought. The line
means his waist is a tohread connected broad breast and large hind quarters.

4 Arab. "Zauri" which may mean crooked, alluding to the well-known rib,

6 A pun. Bakr was the name of the eponymus chief and it also means virgin, as in
Abu Bakr.

6 Arab. " Jdmi'ayn " two cathedrals, any large (and consequently vicious) city.

7 Arab. "Alma," before noticed: I cannot translate "damask-lipped" to suit
European taste.

6 Sherbet flavoured with musk or apple to cool the mouth of "hot coppers."

Abu Nowas with the Three Boys. 6?

side to side in joy and inclined to the youths one and all,
anon kissing them and anon embracing them leg overlying leg.
And he showed no sense of sin or shame, but recited these

couplets :

None wotteth best joyance but generous youth When the pretty ones

deign with him company keep :
This sings to him, sings to him that, when he wants * A pick-me-up ' lying

there all of a heap :
And when of a leveling he needeth a kiss, * He takes from his lips or a draught

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 7 of 41)