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 14 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 14 of 40)
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The L oves of A l-Hayfa and Yusuf. 1 5 3

" A thousand welcomes hail thy coming fain, * Yusuf, dearling son of Sahl's

strain :
We read thy letter and we understood * Thy kingly birth from sand that told

it plain :'
I'm thine, by Allah, I the loveliest maid * Of folk and thou to be my husband

deign :
Bruit of his fair soft cheek my love hath won o And branch and root his beauty

grows amain :
He from the Northern Realms to us draws nigh o For King Mihrjdn

bequeathing ban and bane ;
And I behold him first my Castle seek o As mate impelled by inspiration

.fain.
The land upstirs he and the reign he rules o From East to West, the King my

father slain ;
But first he flies us for no fault of ours o Upon us wasting senseless words and

vain :
E'en so Creation's Lord hath deigned decree, o Unique in Heaven glorified

be He ! " 2

Now when Yusuf heard the words of Al-Hayfa he rejoiced with
exceeding joy and she was gladdened in like manner, after which
he gifted her with all that was upon him of gear and in similar
guise she doffed what dress was upon her and presented it to him. 3
Then she bade the slave girls bring her an especial suit and they
fetched her a second bundle and she clothed Yusuf with what was
therein of sumptuous clothes. After this the Prince abode with
Al-Hayfa as an inmate of her palace for a term of ten days in all
the happiness of life, eating and drinking and enjoying conjugal
intercourse. 4 Presently Almighty Allah (be He extolled and
exalted !) decreed that, when all tidings of Yusuf son of Sahl
were lost, his sire sent in search of him Yahya, 5 his cousin and the
son of his maternal aunt, amongst a troop of twenty knights to

1 Alluding to the " Takht Raml," table of sand, geomantic table?

8 As before noted, her love enables her to deal in a somewhat of prophetic strain.

3 This scene may sound absurd; but it is admirable for its materialism. How often
do youthful- lovers find an all-sufficient pastime in dressing themselves up and playing the
game of mutual admiration. It is well nigh worthy of that "silliest and best of love-
stories " Henrietta Temple.

4 The text bluntly says " Wa Nikah," which can mean nothing else.

5 Scott calls him " Yiah" : vi. 354.



1 54 Supplemental Nights.

track his trail and be taught his tidings until Allah (be He
glorified and magnified !) guided him to the pages who had been
left upon the river-bank. Here they had tarried for ten days
whilst the sunshine burnt them and hunger was exterminating
them ; and when they were asked concerning their lord, they gave
notice that he had swum the stream and had gone up to yonder
Castle and had entered therein. " And we know not (they ended)
whether he be alive or dead." So the lord Yahya said to them,
" Is there amongst you any will cross the current and bring us
news of him ? " but not one of them would consent and they
remained in silence and confusion. So he asked them a second
time and a third time yet none would rise up before him and
hearten him to attempt the dangers of the stream, whereupon he
drew forth his ink case of brass and a sheet of paper and he fell
to writing the following verses :

" This day I have witnessed a singular case o Of Yusuf scion to Sahl's dear

race :
Since he fared at undurn his sire was grieved o And the Palace remained but

an empty place :
I liken the youth to full moon 'mid stars o Disappearing and darkening Earth's

bright face.
'Tis my only fear that his heart is harmed, o Brent by Love-fires lacking of

mercy and grace :
By Allah, albeit man's soul thou rule * Among stranger folk thou art but

an ace ! "

Presently he took a reed and grasping it thrust thereinto the
twisted and folded paper, after which he stopped the hole with
wax ; then, lashing it to the surface of the shaft, he set it upon the
bow-handle and drew the string and shot the bolt in the direction
of the Castle, whither it flew and fell at the foot of the staircase
beside the main entrance. It so fortuned at that time a slave-
girl came forth to fill her pitcher with water and she found the
arrov/ and picked it up and carried it to her lady who was sitting
in the speak-room at converse with Yusuf. Hereupon the Prince



The Loves of A I- Hay fa and Yusuf. \ $5

hent the reed in hand and broke it and drew forth the paper which
he opened and read and comprehended. Hereupon he wept with
exceeding great weeping until he fell to the floor a-faint and the
Princess took the note from his grasp and perused it, and it was
hard upon her, so she bade them beat the slave-girl who brought
the writ with an hundred blows and they bastinadoed, her till
she lost her senses. But when Yusuf recovered, he thought of his
pages and his people and his homestead and his family and he
cried to Al-Hayfa, " Wallahi, I have sinned with a great sin when
I left my suite in the desert ; and Satan garred me forget them
and the wine made me mindless of them and banished from my
thought my folk and my home. And now 'tis my desire to fare
and look upon my pages and to forgather with Yahya my cousin,
the son of the King's sister and greet them and dismiss them to their
homesteads, after which I will return to thee forthright." Quoth
she, " By Allah, I may not patient myself away from thee a single
hour otherwise shall my spirit depart my body, and I conjure thee
by the Almighty that thou bid me return to them a reply ! "
Quoth Prince Yusuf, " What news wilt thou give them ? An thou
say that I never came to thee none will believe ; for indeed my

pages saw me passing into thy Palace 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



antt t'gfjtfet!J

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



1 56" Supplemental Nights.

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 said to the Princess Al-Hayfa, " Indeed my pages saw me
passing into the Palace and have given him ! tidings to that effect."
And she responded to him with fairest response and tenderness of
terms and gem-like verse. Then she took her ink-case and paper
and a brazen pen and would have written but he forbade her, say-
ing by way of deprecation, " This be not the right rede ! An thou
return a reply my slaves will take it and will bear it to my native
country and will inform the folk of all our adventure : 'tis better
far that I fare to them myself and greet them and going with them
to my own country satisfy my sire, after which I will return to thee
in hottest haste. And do not thou on this wise, for we fear lest
our affair be made public and this our case be reported to thy royal
father, and it prove hard to him by reason that all such talk in the
case of the Kings is to them mighty grievous. Moreover, when he
shall be acquainted with the truth he will either transport thee to
his presence or he shall place over this Palace guards who may
forbid thee from me and forbid me from thee, and this shall be a
cause of our separation each from other." But Al-Hayfa shrieked
aloud when she heard these words and wept and wailing said, " O
my lord, prithee take me with thee, me and my handmaids and all
that be in this my Palace." Said he, " I will not delay from thee
save for the space of my wayfare an I live and Allah Almighty
preserve me." Hereat she wept with loud weeping and groaned,
and love-longing surged up in her and she fell to repeating the
following couplets :

" Rain, O mine eyeballs, gouts of blood beshed o From clouds of eyelids e'en as

grass turns red .
O mighty bane that beatest on my bones o And oh heart-core, that melts with

fire long-fed !

1 Arab. " Akhbaru-hu," alluding to the lord Yahya."



The Loves of Al-Hayfa and Yusuf. 157

My soul's own dearling speedeth on his march o Who can be patient when

his true love sped?
Deal kindly with my heart, have ruth, return o Soon to my Castle nor be long

misled."

And when Al-Hayfa had ended her verse, Yusuf wept with sore
weeping and cried, " By Allah, I had intended to return to thee
after I had fared to them and had settled the matter in hand. But
suffer me dismiss those who have come for me and seek reunion with
thee, Inshallah an it be the will of Allah Almighty." Then lie
farewelled her and doffed what he had of dress, and when Al-Hayfa
asked him, " Wherefore take off these clothes ? " he answered l " I
will not inform anyone of our news, and indeed this dress mostly
befitteth womenkind." Then he went forth from her with a grief-
bound heart and she wept and cried, " Help ! Help ! " 2 and all
her women shrieked and shed tears over parting with him. But
as soon as Yusuf passed out of the palace-door he took off the
gown which was upon him and turband'd it around his head
together with his bow and quiver, and he stinted not to stem the
stream until he had reached the further bank where he found and
greeted the lord Yahya and his Mamelukes. They all kissed his
hand, and his cousin enquired of him, " What is the cause of thy
disappearing from these thy men for a space of ten days ? " He
replied, " By Allah, O son of my aunt, when I went up to yonder
Palace, I found there a Youth of the sons of the kings, who wel-
comed and greeted me as a guest and honoured me with the
highmost honour and favoured me with the fullest favour. But
when I would have taken leave of him, the air smote me 3 and fell
upon my loins and laid me up so that I feared to swim the stream



1 Here I presume a "Kdla" (quoth he) is omitted; for the next sentence seems
appropriate to Yusuf.

8 In Arab. " Tastaghf s " = lit. crying out " Wa Ghausah ! " Ho, to my aid !

3 The "Zug" or draught which gave him rheumatism not a romantic complaint for
a young lover. See vol. ii. 9. But his power of sudden invention is somewhat enviable,
and lying is to him, in Hindustani phrase, " easy as drinking water."



158 Supplemental Nights.

and the unease that was upon me increased, and such is the reason
of my delaying away from you." Then he took horse together
with Yahya and the pages, and they all sought their homes and
cut across the wilds and the wastes and the vales and the
stony hills until they drew near to their destination and their city
rose clear before eyes of them. As soon as they reached it the tidings
were told to King Sahl 1 who made ready for faring forth, he and
the lords of his land, to meet and greet his son and heir Yusuf ;
and meanwhile he bade decorate the capital with the choicest
decorations and ornaments and adornments. The lieges gave one
another joy of their Prince's safe return, and clothed their city in
gala-guise, and the father having met the son alighted from his
steed and embraced him and kissed him between the eyes, and
personally conducting him up to the Palace did him due honour
and largessed him ; and so great and lasting was their joy that the
day of arrival became high holiday. As soon as night fell, Prince
Yusuf repaired to his own Palace where he was met by his mother
and his women who were as full moons a-rising ; and the spouses
numbered three, besides forty concubines. However he turned
away from them and he lay alone that night moaning even as
moaneth the dove for the loss of her mate ; and he regarded not
one of those wives and lemans, and he passed the dark hours in
brooding over the loss of his beloved, and in weeping and in the

reciting of poetry, 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 Who evidently ignored or had forgotten the little matter of the concubine, so that
incident was introduced by the story-teller for mere wantonness.



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 159



anto

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

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 passed
the night weeping and improvising verse, but he let not fall a word
of explanation fearing lest he divulge his secret ; and his spouses
supposed that he was wroth with his sire and knew not what there
was in his vitals of exceeding desire to Al-Hayfa. But when
brake the day he was roused and gazing upon the rise of awaking
Dawn he pondered the happy mornings which had passed ; so he
wept and complained and moaned like the culver and he fell to
reciting these couplets :

" No joy but you in house and home I know o Save bitter heart and tears that!
ever flow ;

Nor with mine eyes I view aught save yourselves Whenas in lowe of love-
desire I glow :

My heart enjoys but gust and greed for you, o Mine eyelids own no joy save
wake and woe :

O blaming me for them, av?unt, by God o Nor leave me fancy-free, worst gift
of foe ! "

And when Yusuf has finished his poetry he fell into a fainting tit

>{

and he quivered as quivereth the fowl with cut throat, 1 and he came

"il

not to himself save when the sun had arisen arraying the lowlands
with its rays. Then he waxed wood and sat with eyes at the ground,

%

a-gazing and not accosting anyone nor answering aught, and lastly
he took to his pillow. These tidings presently reached the King
his father, who accompanied by the Lords of his land came to him

Lin text " Mazbuh " = slaughtered for food.^



160 Supplemental Nights.

and after greeting him said, " O my son, whom I would ransom
with my life, what contagion hath come upon thee of disease,
and whereof dost thou complain ? " Quoth he, " my father, the
air hath struck me and hath cut my joints," * and quoth his father,
" O my son, Almighty Allah vouchsafe ease thee of this thy
disease." Then the King mounted and went forth from him, and
sent a leach which was a Jew 2 of wits penetrating and sagacious.
The man went in to him, and sitting beside him felt his joints and
asked him of his case ; but he held his peace nor would return
aught of reply. So the Israelite knew that he was a lover and in
the depths of love bedrowned ; accordingly he left him and told the
King that the Prince had no complaint save that he was a hot
amourist and distraught of vitals. Hereupon his mother came to
Yusuf and said, " O my son, fear Almighty Allah for thy soul, and
have some regard for thy wives and concubines and yield not to
thy passions which will mislead thee from the path of Allah."
But he deigned not answer her. In this condition he remained
until three days sped, taking no taste of meat or drink, nor finding
pleasure in any stead, nor aught of rest a-bed. Presently he bade
summon a Mameluke of the Mamelukes Hilal hight, and asked
him, " O Hilal, say me wilt thou be my companion in travel ? "
whereto the other answered, " Yea, verily, O my lord, to hear is
to obey thee in all thou devisest and desirest." Hereupon the
Prince bade him saddle a steed of the purest blood, whose name
was "The-Bull-aye-ready-and-for-Battle-day'Steady" 3 a beast which



1 i.e. " I suffer from an acute attack of rheumatism "a complaint common in even
the hottest climates.

2 Needless to say that amongst Moslems, as amongst Christians, the Israelite medicine-
man has always been a favourite, despite an injunction in the " Dinim " (Religious Con-
siderations) of the famous Andalusian Yiisuf Caro. This most fanatical work, much
studied at Tiberias and Safet (where a printing-press was established in the xvith cen-
tury) decides that a Jewish doctor called to attend a Goi (Gentile) too poor to pay him is
bound to poison his patient if he safely can.

3 Lit. " The Bull-(Taur for Thaur or Saur)-numbered-and-for-battle-day-lengthened."
In p. 30 this charger is called, "The-bull-that-spurneth-danger-on battle-day." See



The Loves of Al-Hayfa and Yusuf. 161

was a bye-word amongst the folk. The Prince waited until the
first third of the night had gone by when he mounted the courser
and placed Hilal his Mameluke upon the crupper, and they cut
once more the wilds and the wastes until they sighted hard-by the
river Al-Kawa'ib and the Castle of Al-Hayfa rising from its waters.
Hereupon Yusuf fell to the ground in a swoon, and he when he
recovered said to Hilal, " Do thou ungirth the horse's saddle and
hide it within the cave amid the rocks ; " and the Mameluke did as
he was bidden and returned to him. Herewith Prince Yusuf tur-
band'd himself with his clothes and those of his man, and backing
the horse bade Hilal hang on by its tail, then the beast breasted
the stream and ceased not swimming with them until it reached
the farther side. There Yusuf dismounted and knocked at the door
when a confidential handmaid established in the good graces of her
mistress, 1 came down and threw it open, after which she embraced
him and kissed his hands and his breast and his brow between the
eyes. Then she ran up and informed thereof her lady who with
wits bedazed for excess of joy hurried down to him and threw her
arms round his neck, and he threw his arms round hers, and she
clasped him to her bosom, and he clasped her to his, and he kissed
her and she kissed him, and they exchanged accolades, after which
they both of them fell fainting to the floor until the women who
stood by thought that they had been reaped by Death, and that
their latest hour had been doomed. But when they recovered
from their swoon they complained and wept, each lamenting to
other the pains of parting, and lastly she asked him concerning
Hilal, and he answered, " This is a Mameluke of the number of my
Mamelukes." So she marvelled how two men had come upon one



vol. vi.270 for a similar compound name, The-Chul-who-eateth-man-we-pray-Allah-for-

safety.

1 In text "Al-Jiiriyah radih," the latter word being repeated in p. 282, where it is
Radih a P.N. [Here also I would take it for a P.N., for if it were adjective to
"al-Jdriyah " it should have the article.~Sr.]

VOL. V. L



162 Supplemental Nights.

horse, 1 and quoth she to him, " O Yusuf, thou hast indeed tortured
me with thine absence ; " and quoth he to her, " By Allah (and
beside Him God there is none !) my hand never touched or woman
or aught of feminine kind or of she-Jinn or Jinn kind, but in
me desire for thee ever surged up, and wake and in vitals a fiery
ache." Then the Princess bade her handmaids wend with Hilal in
a body to the garden, and when they obeyed her bidding she arose

and walked forth with Yusuf. And Shahrazad was surprised by

dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say.
Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, '' How sweet and tasteful 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

te tx p^untfttlf anli 15tgi)tg=fourt?) J=itgf)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

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
walked forth with Yusuf and led him to the saloon of session where
they passed their day in privacy, he and she, and right joyous was
the joy of them twain. After this the Prince abode with her thirty
full-told days in merriment prime and pleasure and wine. But
when that time had elapsed, she said to him, " O light of my eyes,
do thou arise and go up with me to the highmost post of the
Palace that we may look upon this flow of stream and command
a view of these mounts and mountains and these wilds and valleys

1 The " Radif," or back-rider, is common in Arabia, esp. on dromedaries when going
to the Razzia : usually the crupper-man loads the matchlock and his comrade fires it.



The Loves of Al-Hayfa and Yusuf. 163

wherein wander the gazelles." Thereupon the twain fared together
and solaced themselves with the spectacle of the antelopes browsing
on the desert growth, when quoth Al-Hayfa, " Ah, O my lord,
would I had for captive one of these herding roes to keep
beside me in the Palace," and quoth he, " By the rights of thine
eyes, and the night of their pupils, I indeed will fill the place with
them." Hereupon he went forth from her in haste, albeit she hung
on to him and forbade him from that, and she invoked upon herself
a mighty strong invocation, yet would he not be stayed, but taking
his horse and saddling it he left his Mameluke Hilal in the Castle
and swam the stream upon his steed, and rode through the wold in
quest of the gazelles. He ceased not chasing them till he had
taken three, 1 which he tied fast and slung upon his courser and rode
back until he had reached the river-bank, and Al-Hayfa sat looking
at him as he pounced upon and snatched up the roes from his
courser's back like a lion and she wondered with extreme wonder-
ment But when he had made. sure of his place on the water-side
and purposed returning to the palace, lo and behold ! he saw a
batel 2 manned by sundry men coming towards him down-stream
from the direction of his capital. Now Al-Hayfa, who was in her
bower, expected the craft to be sent, bearing rarities and presents,
by her sire King Al-Mihrjan ; and Yusuf, when he looked upon
its approach, was certified that it came from her father. So he
delayed going down to the river till he had seen what action might
be taken by the batel, but when the Princess sighted it she made
sure of its coming from her sire, so she bade bring paper for note
and a pen of brass wrought wherewith she wrote in verse and lastly
indited to Yusuf these couplets :

" O my need, thou hast left me a-field to fare * When come is a craft which our
men doth bear:



1 The text has " thirty," evidently a clerical error.

2 Arab. "Sakhtilr" for " Shakhtur," vol. vii. 362.



164 Supplemental Nights.

I deem she be sent by Al-Mihrjdn o And it brtngeth of provaunt a goodly

share :
So loiter a little, then back to us * And obey my bidding, O Beauty rare. " *

Then she made fast the paper to a shaft and setting it upon a
bow-handle drew the string aiming high in air, and the arrow fell
between the feet of the Prince, who seeing it took it up and read
the writ and comprehended its meaning and full significance.
So he hung back and he turned to wandering amongst the
mountains, but anon he said in himself, " There is no help but
that I discover this matter." Then he dismounted from his steed
and stabled it in a cave hard-by, and having loosed the antelopes
he propped himself against a rock and fell to gazing upon the
batel, which ceased not floating down until it made fast at the
Palace gate. Hereupon there issued from it a youth, singular of
comeliness, whom Al-Hayfa greeted and embraced, and forth-
right led within her Palace. Presently came forth from the batel
the four pages that were therein, and amongst them was a man
hight Mohammed ibn Ibrahfm, one of the King's cup-companions,
whereas the youth she had embraced was her cousin, named
Sahlub, the son of her maternal aunt. But when Yusuf looked
upon this lover-like reception, his wits were wildered and the
sparks started from his eyes, and he deprecated and waxed
care-full and indeed he was like one Jinn-mad, and he cried,
" Wallahi, I will stay away from them this night and see whatso
they do." Now Al-Hayfa had left her trusty handmaid at the
Palace gate, saying to her, " Tarry here alone : haply Yusuf shall
return during the dark hours, when do thou open to him the
door." Then she returned to her guests and bade serve the table
of wine and seated Sahlub and Ibn Ibrahim, and took seat



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 14 of 40)