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 13 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 13 of 40)
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therein ! " Then he applied his mind and had recourse to the
knowledge of his companions the Mamelukes and he commanded
all his white slaves alight upon the marge of the river for the
purpose of rest, and when they had reposed he asked them, " Who
amongst you will go down to this stream and will over-swim it
and will visit the lord of the Castle and bring us news of it and
tidings of its ownership and discover for us the man to whom
it belongeth ? " But as no one would return him a reply he
repeated his words without any answer and he, when he saw that,
arose forthright and doffed what he had upon him of dress, all
save his shirt only. Then he took his bow and quiver and placing
his clothes with his weapon and arrow-case upon his head he
went down to the river and swam it until he came forth it on the
further side. Here he walked up to the gateway and found an
impregnable entrance all of steel which none might avail to
open, but when he saw the verses thereon inscribed and under-
stood their significance he gave himself joy and was certified of
entering. Then he took from his quiver a pen case and paper
whereupon he inscribed these couplets :

" At your door, O Fountains of weal, I stand => A stranger from home and a-

morning bann'd.
Your grace shall haply forfend my foe o And the hateful band of unfriends

disband :
I have none resort save your gates, the which o With verse like carcanet

see I spann'd :
Ibn Sahl hath 'spied with you safe repair, So for lonesome stranger approach

command ! "

And when Yusuf had ended his writing, he folded the paper and
made it fast to a shaft ; then he took his bow and arming it drew
the string and aimed the arrow at the upper terrace, where it
dropped within the parapet. Now, by the decree of The Decreer



142 Supplemental Nights.

Al-Hayfa was walking there with her women when the shaft fell
between her feet and the paper became manifest, so she caught
sight of it and took it up and opened it, and having read it
understood its significance. Hereat she rejoiced and congratulated'
herself and her cheeks flushed rosy-red, and presently she went
hastily in the direction of the entrance, whilst her women still
looked down from the terrace upon the doorway and saw Yusuf
a-foot before it. They cried out to their lady, "Verily there
standeth below a youth lovely in his youthfulness, with his face
gladdening as the crescent moon of Sha'aban." * But when
Al-Hayfa heard the words of the women she was glad and gave
herself joy and sensed an oppression of pleasure, whilst her vitals
palpitated and she perspired in her petticoat trowsers. 2 Then
she went down to the gateway which she bade be thrown open,
and seeing Prince Yusuf she smiled in his face and welcomed
him and greeted him. He returned her salam with sweetness of
phrase and softness of words, when said she to him, " Well come
and welcome and good cheer to thee, O thou who dost visit us
and takest refuge in our demesne 3 and in our presence, for that
here thou hast immunity and impunity and civility ; " presently
adding, " Enter into this guarded stead and feel thou no fear
from any foe, for thou has wrought thy wish and hast attained
thine aim and hast won thy will, O fair of face and O perfect of
form, O thou whose countenance excelleth the new moon : here
thou hast preserved thy life and art saved from foeman's strife.''
Thereupon she mounted the staircase and he behind her, while
the slave-girls surrounded the twain, and she conversed with him
and cheered him with fair words and welcomed him once- more
till they had entered the Castle saloon, when she took his hand



1 For this allusion see vol. v. 191.

2 This physical -sign of delight in beauty is not recognised in the literature of Europe,
and The Nights usually attributes it to old women.

3 In text " Hima " = the private and guarded lands of a Badawi tribe ; viii. IO2.



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 143

and seated him at the head of the hall. But as Yusuf looked
upon the portalice and the beauty of its building and the
excellence of its ordinance and the high degree of its decorations
which made it like unto the Palaces of Paradise, and as he beheld
that furniture and those couches, with what was over them of
hangings, and the gems and jewels and precious metals which
abounded there, he magnified the matter in his mind and said to
himself, "This place belongeth to none save to a mighty monarch ! "
Then Al-Hayfa bade her women bring a bundle of clothing, and
when they had set it between her hands, she opened it and drew
forth a suit of Daylakian * garments and a caftan of Coptick stuff
(fine linen of Misraim purfled with gold), and bestowed them
upon him, and she bound around his head an or-fringed Shash 2
with either end gem-adorned. And when he donned the dress
his countenance became brilliant and its light shone afar, and
his cheeks waxed red as rose, and she seeing this felt her wits
bewildered and was like to faint. However, she soon recovered
herself and said, " This is no mortal : verily he is naught but of

the Hurs of Heaven." Then she bade her women bring food

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

1) Sbi.x f^unUrffc anfc bEbntg - fourtf) tft'g&t,

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

1 In text " Daylaki."

2 A small compact white turband and distinctive sign of the True Believers : see
vol. viii. 8.



144 Supplemental Nights.

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 Al-Hayfa bade
her women bring the food trays, and when they obeyed her bidding
and placed them between the hands of Yusuf, he considered
them and saw that one was made of Yamani onyx and another of
red carnelian and a third of rock chrystal, and they bore platters
of gold and silver and porcelain and jasper. Upon them were
ranged dishes furnished with the daintiest food which perplexed
the wits, and sweetmeats and sumptuous meats, such as gazelle's
haunch and venison and fatted mutton and flesh of birds, all the big
and the small, such as pigeon and rock-pigeon, and greens marinated
and viands roasted and fried of every kind and colour and cheeses
and sugared dishes. Then she seated Yusuf beside her and
served him with all manner cates and confections and conjured
him to fall-to and morselled him until he had eaten his sufficiency ;
after which they twain sat together in laughter and enjoyment
each conjoined to other and both cast in the mould of beauty
and loveliness and brilliancy and stature and symmetric grace as
though in the likeness of a rattan-palm. All thi's and Al-Hayfa
rejoiced in Yusuf, but ever and anon she took thought anent her
sire King Al-Mihrjan and his works and she kept saying in her
mind, " Would Heaven I wot will he wed me to this youth so
charming of inner grace; and, if my father be not satisfied there-
with, I will marry my lover in despite of him." And the while Yusuf
quoth to himself, " Would Heaven I wot how my sire will act in
the business of the concubine whose pucelage I did away, and
would Heaven I knew if he have ridden forth in search of me, or
he have lost sight of me and never asked of me." On this wise
either of the twain spoke to themselves, and neither of them believed
in safety, all unknowing what was predestined to them by Him
who saith to a thing, " Be " and it becometh. So Al-Hayfa and



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 145

Yusuf sat drowned in the depths of thought, withal their joyance
and enjoyment made them clean forget that writ for them by
Fate ; and the Prince gazing upon the greater tray saw graven
upon its edge these couplets :

" For the gathering of friends and familiars design'd o Between hands of Kings
and Wazirs I'm shrin'd :

Upon me is whatever taste loves and joys Of flesh and viands all kinds com-

bin'd :
From me fill thee full of these cates and praise o Thy Lord, the Maker of

all mankind. 1 '

Then the attendants placed bread upon the trays, and the Prince
found writ in moulded letters upon the loaves the couplets that
follow :

" And a loaf new-born from the flour of wheat, o White and piping hot from the

oven-heat :
Quoth to me my chider, Be wise and say o Soothe my heart and blame not,

O friend I greet."

Presently the handmaidens piled upon the trays platters of silver
and porcelain (whereof mention hath been made) containing all
that lip and tongue gratify of the meat of muttons in fry and
Kata-grouse and pigeon-poults and quails and things that fly of
every kind and dye which hungry men can long to espy, and
Yusuf saw inscribed upon the china dishes the following couplets :

" Platters of china fair o That all men's eyne ensnare,

None seeth in this our town China of mould so rare."

Then he looked upon the silver plate and found it graven with
these lines :

" Plate worked in silver of the brightest white o In height of beauty, O thou

joy to sight,
When fully finisht and when perfect made Becometh chargers peerless in

delight."

And portrayed upon the porcelain were all that grow and fly of

geese and poultry. Anon a handmaid brought in hand a knife
VOL. v. K



146 Supplemental Nights.

wherewith to carve the meats, and Yusuf looking at the blade
saw upon it letters gold-inlaid and forming these verses :

" I am blade of finest grain o Wherefrom comes naught of bane :

Fro' my friends aH harm I ward o And thy foes by me be slain ! ''

Hereupon the handmaids ended the ordinance of the table and
set everything in its own stead ; after which the Princess took
seat beside the Prince and said to him, " O my lord, hearten our
heart and deign grace to us and honour us by eating with us:
this indeed be a day of joy for my union with thee and for thy
lighting this my lodging with the splendour of thy semblance so
bright and thy beauty so rare and for thine alighting at my home
and thine opportune kindness and thine inner graciousness, 1 O thou
unique one of the Age and the Time, and O thou who hast no
peer in our day and our tide." Now when Yusuf heard the words
of Al-Hayfa he said to her, "Wallahi, O thou who the moons
adornest and who the sun and the daylight shamest, O lady of
brow flower-bright and of stature elegant-slight, O thou who
passest in beauty and comeliness all mortal beings, O thou with
smile like water sweet and mouth-dews like purest spring and of
speech the softest, I wot thou art the lady of goodness and excel-
lence and generosity and liberality." Then she again fell to
morselling the Prince until they both had a sufficiency of food,
whereupon she bade them fetch water for washing their hands
after meat. And they brought to Yusuf a basin of glittering gold,
when he rejoiced with exceeding exultation the while he was sunk
in meditation, and at times he gazed upon Al-Hayfa and his wits
were bewildered and his senses seduced him to something he would
do with her for the abundance that was in her of beauty and
loveliness. But his reason forbade to him his passion, and quoth
he in his mind, "To everything its own time," And Shahrazad



1 [The words in the text seem to be: " wa Talattuf Alfazak wa Ma'anik al-hisdo
= and for the pleasingness of thy sayings and meanings so fine and fair. ST.]



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 147

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 delect-
able! ' 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



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 Yusuf said,
"To everything its own time, and soothly sayeth the old saw,
Whoso hurrieth upon a matter ere opportunity consent shall at last
repent." Now when they brought the basin before him and therein
stood an ewer of chrystal garnished with gold, he looked at it and
saw graven thereupon the following couplets :

" I'm a Basin gold beautifies o For the hands of the great and the wise :
Abased ' for the cleansing of palms, c Washing hands with the water of eyes."

Thereat he considered the ewer and saw inscribed upon it these
lines :

" O rare the Ewer's form whereon must dote o Our hearts and pupils of out

eyes fain gloat :
Seems ferly fair to all admiring orbs o You seemly body wi' the slender

throat.''

And when he had finished washing his hands and had dried them
with the napkins he pointed at them and spoke these couplets :

1 [The Arabic seems here to contain a pun, the consonantic outline of "Tasht" =
' basin " being the same as of " tashshat " = she was raining, sprinkling. ST.]



148 Supplemental Nights.

t: Groweth my love a-heart and how to hide When o'er the plains of cheek

tear-torrents glide ?
1 veil what love these sobs and moans betray o With narrowed heart I spread

my patience wide.

Farer to the fountain, 1 flow these eyes o Nor seek from other source to be

supplied :

Who loveth, veil of Love his force shall reave, * For tears shall tell his secrets
unespied :

1 for the love of you am bye-word grown, o My lords, and driven to the

Desert-side ;

While you in heart of me are homed, your home ; > And the heart-dweller
kens what there may bide."

When Prince Yusuf had finished his improvisation and the poetry
which he produced, Princess Al-Hayfa bussed him upon the brow,
and he seeing this waxed dazed of his wits and right judgment
fled him and he fell fainting to the floor for a while of time. And
when he came to himself he pondered how she had entreated him
and his Passion would have persuaded him to do with her some-
what but Reason forbad and with her force he overcame himself.
After his improvising Al-Hayfa again saluted him on the front and
cried, " Indeed thou hast done well in thy words, O thou with
Crescent's brow ! " Presently she came for the table of wine and
filling a cup drank it off; then she crowned another goblet and
passed it to Yusuf who took it and kissed it while she improvised
some couplets as follows :

" Thy seduction of lips ne'er can I forbear o Nor deny love-confession for

charms so rare :
O thou aim of my eyes, how my longing stay ? o O thou tall of form and long

wavy hair?
Thy rose-hued cheek showeth writ new-writ * o Dimming wine my cups in thei

rondure bear."

And presently she added : 3



1 In Arab. " Ya Waiid " : see vol. iii. 56.

2 The growing beard and whisker being compared with black letters on a white ground.

3 In the text these seven couplets form one quotation, although the first three rhyme
in uru and the second four in iru.



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 149

" I hid his phantom, by the Lord, but showed * My looks the blush his scented

cheek had sent :
How veil the joy his love bestows, when I * To blood-red 1 tears on cheek give

open vent,
When his uplighted cheek my heart enfires As though a-morn in flame my

heart were pent ?
By Allah, ne'er my love for you I'll change o Though change my body and to

change consent."

And when Al-Hayfa had finished her improvisation and her
poetry, Yusuf drained the goblet and after kissing it returned it to
her; but he was as one a-swoon. Then she took it from him and
he recovered and presently declaimed for her the following

couplets :

"A maiden in your tribe avails my heart with love to fire 2 o And how can I

a hidden bear the love my eyes declare ?
The branches of the sand-hill tree remember and recall What time she softly

bent and showed a grace beyond compare ;
And taught me how those eyne o'erguard the roses of her cheek and knew

to ward them from the hand to cull her charms would dare."



1 This "diapedesis" of bloodstained tears is frequently mentioned in The Nights :
and the " Bloody Sweat " is well-known by name. The disease is rare and few have
seen it, whilst it has a certain quasi-supernatural sound from the " Agony and bloody
sweat " in the Garden of Gethsemane. But the exudation of blood from the skin was
described by Theophrastus and Aristotle and lastly by Lucan in these lines :

Sic omnia membra

Emisere simul rutilum pro sanguine virus.
Sanguis erant lachrymae, etc.

Of Charles IX. of France Mezaray declares " Le sang lui rejaillait par hs pores et tous
les conduits de son corps, but the superstitious Protestant holds this to be a "judgment."
The same historian also mentions the phenomenon in a governor condemned to die ; and
Lombard in the case of a general after losing a battle and a nun seized by banditti
blood oozed from every pore. See Dr. Millingen's " Curiosities of Medical Experience,"
p. 485, London, Bentley, 1839.

2 [I read this line : " Fi Hayyi-kum Taflatun|hama '1-Fawadu bi-hd (Basil) " and trans-
late : In your clan there is a maiden of whom my heart is enamoured. In the beginning
of the next line the metre requires " tazakkarat," which therefore refers to "Aghsun,"
not to the speaker : " the branches remember (and by imitating her movements show
that they remember) the time when she bent aside, and her bending, graceful beyond
compare, taught me that her eyes kept watch over the rose of her cheek and knew how
to protect it from him who might wish to cull it." This little gem of a Mawwal makes
me regret that so many of the snatches of poetry in this MS. are almost hopelessly
corrupted. ST.]



50 Supplemental Nig hts.

As soon as Yusuf had finished his improvisation and what of
poetry he had produced, Al-Hayfa took seat by his side and fell
to conversing with him in sweetest words with softest smiles, the
while saying, " Fair welcome to thee, O wonder of beauty and
lovesome in eloquence and Oh charming in riant semblance and
lord of high degree and clear nobility: thou hast indeed illumined
our place with the light of thy flower-like forehead and to our
hearts joyance hast thou given and our cares afar hast thou driven
and eke our breasts hast made broad ; and this is a day of festival
to laud, so do thou solace our souls and drain of our wine with us
for thou art the bourne and end and aim of our intent." Then
Al-Hayfa took a cup of chrystal, and crowning it with clear-strained
wine which had been sealed with musk and saffron, she passed it
to Prince Yusuf. He accepted it from her albeit his hand trembled
from what befel him of her beauty and the sweetness of her poetry
and her perfection ; after which he began to improvise these
couplets :

" O thou who drainest thy morning wine o With friends in a bower sweet

blooms enshrine
Place unlike all seen by sight of man In the lands and gardens of best

design ,

Take gladly the liquor that quivers in cup o And elevates man, this clean Maid

of the Vine :
This goblet bright that goes round the room Nor Chosroes held neither

Nu'uman's line.
Drink amid sweet flowers and myrtle's scent o Orange-bloom and Lily and

Eglantine,
And Rose and Apple whose cheek is dight o In days that glow with a fiery

shine ;
"Mid the music of strings and musician's gear o Where harp and pipe with the

lute combine ;
An I fail to find her right soon shall I o Of parting perish foredeemed to die ! *

Then Al-Hayfa responded to him in the same rhyme and measure

'...
and spake to him as. follows :

' O thou who dealest in written line * Whose nature hiding shall e'er decline ;



The Loves of At- Hay fa and Yusuf. 151

And subdued by wine in its mainest might Like lover drunken by strains

divine, 1
Do thou gaze on our garden of goodly gifts o And all manner blooms that in

wreaths entwine ;

See the birdies warble on every bough o Make melodious music the finest fine.
And each Pippet pipes 2 and each Curlew cries o And Blackbird and Turtle

with voice of pine ;

Ring-clove and Culver, and eke Hazdr, o And Katd calling on Quail vicine ;
So fill with the mere and the cups make bright o With bestest liquor, that boon

benign ;
This site and sources and scents I espy * With RizwaVs garden compare defy.'

And when Al-Hayfa had ended her improvisation and what she
had spoken to him of poetry, and Yusuf had given ear to the
last couplet, he was dazed and amazed and he shrieked aloud and
waxed distraught for her and for the women that were beside
and about her, and after the cry he fell fainting to the ground.
But in an hour 3 he came to, when the evening evened and the
wax candles and the chandeliers were lighted, his desire grew
and his patience flew and he would have risen to his feet and
wandered in his craze but he found no force in his knees. So

he feared for himself and he remained sitting as before. And

Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and
ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dun-
yazad, " How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and
how enjoyable and delectable!" Quoth she, "And where is this



1 In the text " Sima'a," lit. hearing, applied idiomatically to the ecstasy of Darwayshes
when listening to esoteric poetry.

2 The birds mentioned in the text are the "Kumri" (turtle-dove), the " Shabaytar"
[also called "Samaytar" and "Abu al-'Ayzar"= the father of the brisk one, a long-
necked water bird of the heron kind. ST.], the Shuhrur (in MS. Suhriir) = a blackbird j,
[the Christians in Syria call St. Paul " Shuhrur al-Kanfsah," the blackbird of the Church,
on account of his eloquence. ST.], the "Karawan," crane or curlew (Charadrius
adicnemus] vol. vi. i ; the " Hazar," nightingale or bird of a thousand songs, vol. v.
48; the " Hamam," ruffed pigeon, culver, vol. v. 49; the "Kata," or sandgrouse,
vols. i. 131, iv. in, etc. ; and the "Samrnan' 1 or quail, Suppl. vol. vi. 66.

3 The "Sa'ah," I may here remark, is the German Shmde, our old "Stound," some-
what indefinite but meaning to the good Moslem the spaces between prayer times. The
classical terms, Al-Zuha (undurn-hour, or before noon) and Maghrib = set of sun, become
in Badawi speech Al-Ghaylah = siesta-time and Ghaybat al-Shams. (Doughty, index.)



1 52 Supplemental Nights.

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

anfc

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 when Yusuf remained
sitting as before, Al-Hayfa asked him saying, " How art thou
hight, O dearling of my heart and fruit of my vitals ? " Here-
upon he told her his name and the name of his sire, and related
to her the whole of what had befallen him, first and last, with the
affair of the concubine and his faring forth from his own city and
how he had sighted her Palace and had swum the stream and shot
the shaft that carried the paper, after which he recited to her
these couplets :

" I left my home for a fair young maid o Whose love my night with its light

array'd ;
Yet wot I not what her name may be o Thus ignorance mating with union

forbade.

But when of her gifts I was certified o Her gracious form the feat easy made ;
The King of Awe sent my steps to her o And to union with beauty vouchsafed

me aid :
Indeed disgrace ever works me shame o Tho' long my longing to meet I'm

afraid."

When Al-Hayfa heard his name her great love to him waxed
greater. Then she took the lute upon her lap and caressed it with
her finger-tips when it sighed and sobbed and groaned and moaned 1
and she fell to singing these verses :

I ^^-.j _-.-_. r ___.

1 For the beautiful song of the lute, referred to here, see vol. viii. 281.



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 13 of 40)