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 16) online

. (page 12 of 40)
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 16) → online text (page 12 of 40)
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again I will favour thee with my counsel, ho thou the King!"
Al-Mihrjan replied, " Upon me be its rebuilding an thou wilt
honour me with thy advice, ho thou the Voice ! " Hereupon
Iblis fell to lying with him and saying, " Verily I am thine aider
in building thee a palace by the river Al-Kawa'ib, 2 O thou will of
me and desire of me ! " (Now the folk heard these words spoken
aloud.) Then Al-Mihrjan arose from his sleep joyful and cheerful
and when morning came he summoned the Mathematicians and
Architects and Masons and bade them rebuild the Monastery of
the Archers ; so they obeyed his bidding until they had completed
it in the handsomest fashion and with the best of workmanship.
After that the King ordered they construct for his daughter Al-Hayfa
a palace unsurpassed by any edifice and perfectly builded and



1 In text " Dayr Nashshabah," a fancy name.

2 So in text : the name is unknown to me: its lit. meaning would be, "of high-
breasted Virgins."

VOL. V. I



1 30 Supplemental Nights.

decorated, hard by the river Al-Kawa'ib ; moreover that it should be
situate in a wady, a hill-girt plain through which meandered the
stream. So they obeyed his bidding and laid its foundations and
marked with large stones the lines thereof which measured a
parasang of length by a parasang of breadth. Then they showed
their design to the King, who gathering together his army returned
with them to the city. Presently the Architects and Master-
masons fell to building it square of corners and towering in air
over the height of an hundred ells and an ell ; and amiddlemost
thereof stood a quadrangular hall with four-fold saloons, one
fronting other, whilst in each was set apart a cabinet for private
converse. At the head of every saloon a latticed window pro-
jected over the garden whereof the description shall follow in its
place ; and they paved the ground with vari-coloured marbles and
alabastrine slabs which were dubbed with bezel stones and onyx l
of Al-Yaman. The ceilings were inlaid with choice gems and
lapis lazuli and precious metals : the walls were coated with white
stucco painted over with ceruse 2 and the frieze was covered with
silver and gold and ultramarine and costly minerals. Then they
set up for the latticed windows colonnettes of gold and silver and
noble ores, and the doors of the sitting chamber were made of



1 In text " Al-Jay'a," which is a well-omened stone like the 'Akik = carnelian. The
Arabs still retain our mediaeval superstitions concerning precious stones, and of these
fancies I will quote a few. The ruby appeases thirst, strengthens cardiac action and
averts plague and "thunderbolts." The diamond heals diseases, and is a specific
against epilepsy or the " possession" by evil spirits : this is also the speciality of the
emerald, which, moreover, cures ophthalmia and the stings of scorpions and bites of
venomous reptiles, blinding them if placed before their eyes. The turquoise is
peculiarly auspicious, abating fascination, strengthening the sight, and, if worn in a
ring, increasing the milk of nursing mothers : hence the blue beads hung as necklaces to
cattle. The topaz (being yellow) is a prophylactic against jaundice and bilious diseases.
The bloodstone when shown to men in rage causes their wrath to depart : it arrests
hemorrhage, heals toothache, preserves from bad luck, and is a pledge of long life and
happiness. The "cat's-eye " nullifies Al-Ayn = malign influence by the look, and worn
in battle makes the wearer invisible to. his foe. This is but a '' fist-full out of a donkey-
load," as the Persians say : the subject is a favourite with Eastern writers.

2 Or white lead: in the text it is"Sapidaj," corresponding with the " Isfidaj " ofj
vol. vi. 126.



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 131

4

chaunders-wood alternating with ebony which they studded with
jewels and arabesque'd with gold and silver. Also they placed in
each sitting-room a pillar of Comorin lign-aloes and the best of
sandal-wood encrusted with gems; and over the speak-room they
threw cupolas supported upon arches and connecting columns and
lighted in the upper part by skylights of chrystal and carnelian
and onyx. And at the head of each saloon was a couch of juniper-
wood whose four legs were of elephants' ivories studded with
rubies and over each was let down a hanging * of golden weft and
a network of gems, whilst higher than the whole was a latticed
casement adorned with pearls which were threaded upon golden
wire and curtains bearing scented satchels of ambergris. The
furniture of the divans was of raw silk stuffed with ostrich-down
and the cushions were purfled with gold. The floors of all the
saloons were spread with carpets and rugs embroidered with
sendal, and in the heart of the Great Hall amiddlemost the four
saloons rose a marble jet-d'eau, square of shape, whose corners
were cunningly wrought and whose floor and marge were set with
gems of every hue. They also placed upon the edges of that
fountain figures fashioned of gold and silver representing all
manner birds and beasts, each modelled according to his several
tint and peculiar form ; their bellies too were hollow and from the
fountain was conducted a conduit which led the water into their
insides and caused it gush from their mouths so that they jetted
one at other like two hosts about to do battle. After this the
same water returned to the middle of the fountain and thence
flowed into the gardens, of which a description will follow in its
place. 2 Also the walls of the Great Hall were variegated with
wondrous pictures in gold and lapis lazuli and precious materials



1 In the text '< Bashkhanah " : corr. of the Pers. " Peshkhdnah "= state-tents sent
forward on the march.

2 This phrase, twice repeated, is the regular formula of the Rawl or professional
reciter; he most unjustifiably, however, neglects the " Inshallah."



t 3 2 Supplemental Nights.

of every kind, and over the doors of the sitting-places they hung
candelabra of chrystal with chains of gold wherein were set jewels
and jacinths and the costliest stones ; after which they inscribed
upon the entrance of the speak-rooms couplets to the following
purport :

" Clear and clean is our stance from slanderous foe ; o And from envious

rival whose aim is blame :
None hither may come save the cup-boy, and eke o Cup-comrades who never

our fame defame."

Upon the chandeliers themselves were inscribed these lines :

" I am raised in reverence high o'er head o For they see that my gift is the

boon of light :
I'm a pleasure to eyesight, so up with you all, o O Seers, and joy ye the joys

of my sight."

And upon the Palace-door was inscribed the following quatrain :

" This Mansion's adorned o As delight to man's eye ;

O'er its door writ is ' Welcome,' o So safely draw nigh."

And when they had finished this inscription over the doorway,
they went forth from the entrance which stood at the head of the
Great Hall and proceeded to a square of large space abounding in
trees and enjoyable for rills ; and they surrounded it with a
fencing-wall built of rough stone which they stuccoed over and
figured with various paintings. Then they planted this garden
with all manner fruit-bearing trees and fragrant herbs and flowers
and firstlings of every kind and hue and they trained the branches
after a wonderful fashion, leading under their shade leats and
runnels of cool water ; and the boughs were cunningly dispread so
as to veil the ground which was planted with grains of divers sorts
and greens and all of vegetation that serveth for the food of man.
Also they provided it with a watering wheel whose well was
revetted with alabaster 1 And Shahrazad was surprised by the

1 The revetment of the old wells in Arabia is mostly of dry masonry.



The Loves of Al-Hayfa and Yusuf. 133

dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say.
Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, " How sweet is thy story,
O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable ! " Quoth she,
" And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on
the coming night an the King suffer me to survive ? " Now when
it was the next night and that was



Sbtx f^tmiireli anH Sbixtn-sebentf) Ntgijt,

DUNYAZAD said to her "Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short

the watching of this our latter night ! ' : She replied: With

love and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting
and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the
Architects set up in that palace-garden a water-wheel whose well
was revetted with alabaster and whose wood-work and wheel
were of chaunders-wood, whilst its pitchers were of fine porcelain
and its cordage * was of raw silk. And when they were free of
this work they edified amongst the scented shrubs and blossoms
a towering dome based upon four-square walls of variegated
marbles and alabasters studded with carbuncles 2 and its ceiling
was supported upon columns of the finest stone with joinery of
lign-aloes and sandal, and they dubbed its cupola with jewels and
precious stones and arabesque'd 3 it with gold and silver. Then
they made therein four saloons more, each fronting other, and
at the head of one and all was a latticed window impending
over the bloomy shrubs and fragrant herbs ; the colonnettes of



' [Ar. " Tawanis," with a long final to rhyme with " Kawadls," instead of the usual
"Tawanis," pi. of " Taunas," which Dozy (Suppl. s.v.) identifies with the Greek
TWOS in the sense of cable. ST.!

2 In Arab. " Hajarata '1-Bahraman."

3 In text "Zamakii-ha."



1 34 Supplemental Nights.

those casements were silvern whilst the shutters were of sandal-
wood plated and studded with precious metals ; and over the
lintels thereof was an ornamental frieze of gold inscribed with
lines of verse which shall be described in its due place. And
they inlaid that frieze with rubies and jacinths until it made the
cupola resemble the domes of Paradise. Moreover they trained
the flowering shrubs and the perfumed herbs to overrun with
their tendrils the casements in the drum of the dome, and when
they had completed the work and had embellished it with all
adornments they pierced for it an entrance and ranged around
it three ramparts which, built up with large stones, were in
breadth seven cubits. Then they edified for the Palace an
impregnable gateway of Chinese steel whereunto led flights of
alabastrine steps which were continued to the highmost parts, and
lastly they derived the river Al-Kawa'ib till it surrounded the
edifice on every side and encircled it as signet-ring girdeth
finger or wristlet wrist. Now when the Architects and Master-
masons had made an end of building the Palace and its domes
and. had finished laying out and planting the parterres, they went
in to King Al-Mihrjan and kissing ground between his hands
informed him thereof ; and he, receiving this report, at once took
his daughter, Al-Hayfa, and mounting horse, he and the Lords
of his land rode forth till they reached the river Al-Kawa'ib
which ran at three days' distance from his capital. When he
arrived there and looked upon the Palace and its elevation in
fortalice-form he was pleased therewith and so were all of his
suite and retinue ; whereupon he went up to it and beholding the
ordinance and the ornamentation and the cupolas and the gardens
and the edification and embellishment of the whole, he sent for
the Architects and Master-masons and the artificers whom he
thanked for their work, and he bestowed upon them robes of honour
and gifted and largessed them and assigned to them rations and
pay and allowances. So they kissed ground before him and



The Loves of Al-HayJa and Yttsuf. 135

went their ways. Then King Al-Mihrjan and his host withdrew
within the Palace, and he bade serve up the trays of viands
and sumptuous food for a banquet, after which he and his abode
three days in eating and drinking and diversion and disport ;
and he gave robes of honour to his Wazirs and Emirs and the
Grandees of his kingdom, and in fine issued orders for their
departure. When they went forth from him, he commanded to
summon Al-Hayfa and her women with all their belongings ;
and she, having made act of presence and having ascended to
the Palace and considered it with its beauty and artifice and
ornamentation, was pleased and rejoiced therein. The father
abode with her three days, and then farewelling her returned to
his capital ; and she on his departure bade her slave-girls dis-
tribute the couches about the saloons placing in each one a seat
of ebony plated with glittering gold, whose legs were of elephant's
ivory, and over one and all they reared canopies of silk and
brocade adorned with jewels and precious metals and bespread
them with mattresses and cushions and pillows, and over the
floor of the palaces they laid down carpets whereupon was
orfrayed this couplet :

" O Friend hereon seated be blythe and gay o Unless hereto bound and debarred
of way." 1

Then they set upon them settees for seats whereupon were
inscribed these couplets :

" O Seat, be thy beauty increased evermore ; o Fair fall thee with happiness

choice and meet ;
An I fail in life through my slip and sin, o To-morrow in Heav'n I'll give

thee seat.''

Then 2 the attendants decorated the whole Palace until it became

1 I can see little pertinence in this couplet : but that is not a sine qu& non amongst
Arabs. Perhaps, however, the Princess understands that she. is in a gorgeous prison
and relieves her heart by a cunning hint.

2 I again omit " Saith the Reciter of this marvellous relation," a formula which
occurs with unpleasant reiteration.



136 Supplemental Nights.

like unto one of the Mansions of Heaven, and when the women
had done her bidding Al-Hayfa was much pleased, so she took
one of the slave-girls by the hand and walked with the rest of
them around the Palace considering its artifice and its embellish-
ment, especially the paintings which covered the walls ; and they
rejoiced thereat, marvelling at the cunning decorations and they
were grateful to the Architects who had builded and presented all
these representations. And when Al-Hayfa reached the terrace-
roof of the Palace she descended by its long flight of steps which
led to the river-side, and bidding the door be thrown open she
gazed upon the water which encircled it like ring around finger or
armlet round arm, and admired its breadth and its swiftness of
streaming ; and she magnified the work and admired the gateway
of steel for its strength and power of defence and sued for

pardon of Almighty Allah. 1 And Shahrazad was surprised by

the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted
say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, " How sweet and tasteful
is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable ! "
Quoth she, " And where is this compared with that I would
relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to
survive ? " Now when it was the next night and that was



fc ^un&nft anli &EbentUt|) tf tgfjt,



DUNYAZAD said to her, ts Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be
other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the
watching of this our latter night ! She replied : - With love
and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting

1 i.e. she cried " Astaghfiru 'llah (which strangers usually pronounce "Astaffira
'Hah ") ; a pious exclamation, humbling oneself before the Creator, and used in a score
of different senses, which are not to be found in the dictionaries.



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 137

and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Al-Hayfa
sued pardon of Allah the Great and took refuge with the Almighty
from Satan the Atoned, after which said she, " There is no diverter
to whatso is doomed by the Lord nor availeth aught of solicitude
against that commanded by the Omnipotent, the All-puissant ; and
His power is upon me with His destiny and needs must it come
to pass." Then she called for a pencase of gold and she wrote for
placing over the gateway of the Palace the following couplets i 1

Behold here's a mansion like " Home of Delight " o Whose sight heals the

sick and abates all blight :
Here are roe-like maidens with breasts high raised o And with charms of the

straightest stature bedight :

Their eyes prey on the lion, the Desert's lord, o And sicken the prostrate love-
felled plight :
Whomso their glances shall thrust and pierce o Naught e'er availeth

mediciner's might :

Here Al-Hayfd scion of noble sire o E'en craven and sinner doth fain invite ;
And here for the drunken wight there abide * Five pardons 2 and bittocks of

bread to bite.
My desire is the maiden who joys in verse, * All such I welcome with me to

alight,
And drain red wine in the garth a-morn o Where beasts and birds alf in pairs

unite ;
Where rose and lily and eglantine o And myrtle with scent morning-breeze

delight,
Orange bloom, gillyflower and chamomile o With Jasmine and palm-bud, a

joyful site.
Whoso drinketh not may no luck be his o Nor may folk declare him of

reason right !
Wine and song are ever the will of me But my morning wine lacks a

comrade-wight.
O who brightenest the Five 3 do thou rise and fetch o By night for my use

olden wine and bright :



1 In vol. viii. 183, there are two couplets of which the first is here repeated.

2 [Here the translator seems to read "Khams Ghaffar," = five pardoners, where
however, grammar requires a plural after "khams." I take " khams" to be a clerical
error for " Khamr" = wine, and read the next word '"ukar," which is another name
for wine, but is also used adjectively together with the former, as in the Breslau Edition
iv. 6: "al-Khamr al-'ukar " = choice wine. ST.]

3 I understand this as the cupbearer who delights the five senses.



138 Supplemental Nights.

O thou reading this writ, prithee comprehend : o Cross the stream I swear

thee by God's All-might !
This is House of Honour may none gainsay: o Cup-comrade shall be who

shall self invite ;
For within these gates only women wone, o So of men-folk here thou hast

naught to affright.

When Al-Hayfa had finished her writing and what she had im-
provised of verse and couplets, she bade close the entrance of the
Palace and went up, she and her women, to the higher apartments ;
and the while she was drowned in thought and fell to saying,
" Would Heaven I knew an this mighty guard and ward will
defend Al-Mihrjan and would I wot if this fortalice will fend off
Fate and what fain must be." , Then she enjoined her women to
high diet and the drinking of wine and listening to intimate con-
verse and the hearing of songs and musical instruments and
gladness and gaiety for a while of time ; and she felt herself safe
from the shifts of chance and change. Such was her case but now
we will recount (Inshallah !) what further befel her. 1 In the land
of Sind was a King hight Sahl 2 and he was of the Monarchs of
might, endowed with puissance and prepotency and exalted degree,
abounding in troops and guards and overruling all that fair region.
Now Allah (be He extolled and exalted !) had vouchsafed him a son
than whom was none in his age fairer of semblance : beautiful ex-
ceedingly was he, with a face brighter far than the full moon ; and he
was of tongue eloquent and of pluck puissant, valorous, formidable.
Also he was mighty fond of wine mere and rare and of drinks in
the morning air and of converse with the fair and he delighted in
mirth and merriment and he was assiduous in his carousing which



he would never forego during the watches of the night or the

1 In the original we have, " Saith the Sayer of this delectable narrative, the strange
and seld-seen (and presently we will return to the relation full and complete with its
sense suitable and its style admirable), anent what befel and betided of Destinies pre-
destinate and the will of the Lord preordinate which He decreed and determined to His
creatures." I have omitted it for uniformity's sake.

2 Meaning " The easy-tempered." Scott (vi. 354) writes" Sohul."



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 139

wards of the day. Now for the abundance of his comeliness and
the brilliancy of his countenance, whenever he walked abroad in
the capital he would swathe his face with the Litham, 1 lest wax
madly enamoured of him the woman-kind and all creation, where-
fore he was named the Veiled Yusuf of Beauty. It chanced one
night as he sat carousing with his boon companions that the wine
prevailed over him and he became sprightly and frolicsome ; so
he went forth from the door of his cabinet in a state of drink,
understanding naught and knowing nothing of that he did.
He wandered about the rooms belonging to his father and there
he saw a damsel of the paternal concubines standing at the door of
her bower and his wine so mastered him that he went up to her and
clasped her to his bosom and threw her backwards upon the floor.
She cried aloud to the royal Eunuchs who stood there looking on at
him, not one of them, however, dared arrest him or even draw
near him to free the girl, so he had his will of her and abated her
maidenhead after which he rose up from off her and left her all
bleeding 2 from his assault. Now this slave-girl had been gifted to
his sire and Yusuf left her to recover her condition when he would
have visited her again, but as soon as he had returned to his apart-
ment (and he not knowing what he had done) the Eunuchs took
the damsel (she bleeding as before) and carried her to King Sahl
who seeing her in such case exclaimed, " What man hath done
this to her ?" Said they, "'Tis thy son Yusuf;" and he, when he
heard the words of his slaves, felt that this matter was hard upon
him and sent to fetch the Prince. They hastened to bring him,
but amongst the Mamelukes was one lovingly inclined to the youth



1 In text "Litam = the rnouth-band for man: ii. 31, etc. The " Mutalathsimin '* in
North Africa are the races, like the Tawarik, whose males wear this face-swathe of
cloth;

" Drowned in her blood," says the text which to us appears hyperbole run mad.
So when King Omar (vol. ii. 123) violently rapes the unfortunate Princess Abrlzah <4 the
blood runs down the calves of her legs." This is riot ignorance, but that systematic
exaggeration which is held necessary to impressionise an Oriental audience.



Supplemental Nights.

who told him the whole tale and how his father had bade the
body-guards summon him to the presence. And when Yusuf had
heard the words of the Mameluke he arose in haste and baldrick'd
his blade and hending his spear in hand he went down to the
stables and saddled him a steed of the noblest blood and likeliest
strain ; then he mounted and, taking with him a score of Mamelukes
his pages, he sallied forth with them through the city gate and
rode on unknowing what was concealed from him in the Secret

Purpose. And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day

and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth
her sister Dunyazad, " How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and
how enjoyable and delectable ! " Quoth she, " And where is this
compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an
the King suffer me to survive." Now when it was the next night
and that was

an&

DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short

the watching of this our latter night!" She replied: With

love and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King,
the director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting
and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that Prince
Yusuf, son of King Sahl, went forth the city all unknowing
whither he should wend and to what part he should turn, and he
ceased not faring with his merry men for ten full-told days, cutting
across the wold and wild and the valley and the stone-clad hill,
and he was perplext as to his affair. But whilst he was still
journeying he came upon the river Al-Kawa'ib and he nrew in
sight of the castle of Al-Hayfa, which stood amiddlemost that
'mighty stream with its height and bulk and defensive strength.
Hereupon quoth Yusuf to himself, " By Allah, none founded this



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 141

puissant fortalice in such power and prepotency and forcefulness
save tor a mighty matter and a cause of much consequence.
Would Heaven I wot to whom this belongeth and who dwelleth



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 16) → online text (page 12 of 40)