Faridun Reigned Five Hundred Years
How Faridun ascended the Throne
When Faridun attained his wish, and reigned
Supreme on earth, he ordered crown and throne
According to the usance of old times
Within the palace of the king of kings;
And on the first of Mihr, a blessed day,
Set on his head the royal diadem.
In those days, apprehensive of no evil,
All men began to tread the path of God,
Abstaining from contention and observing
A feast inaugurated royally.
Then sages sat rejoicing and each held
A ruby goblet, then the wine was bright,
The new Shah's face was bright and all the world
Itself was brightened as that month began.
He bade men kindle bonfires and the people
Burned ambergris and saffron; thus he founded
Mihrgan. That time of rest and festival
Began with him, and his memorial
Is still the month of Mihr. He banished then
All grief and labour from the minds of men.
He dedicated not a single day
To evil in five centuries of sway,
But yet the world remained not his. Then shun
Ambition and escape from grief, my son
Note well that this world is no property,
And small contentment wilt thou gain thereby.
Now Faranak yet knew not that her child
Had come to be the Shah, or that Zahhak
Had lost the throne and that his power was ended.
At length news of the happy youth arrived
And of his being crowned. She bathed herself
And prostrate in God's presence offered thanks
Because of this most happy turn of fortune,
And uttered maledictions on Zahhak;
Then to all those who were in poverty
And strove to hide it she afforded aid,
But kept alike their secret and her own.
She spent a week on alms till paupers failed;
Another week she feasted all the nobles,
Bedecked her house as it had been a garden
And there received her guests. She then unlocked
The portal of her secret hoards, brought forth
The various treasures that she had amassed,
And purposed to distribute all her store.
It seemed the time to ope the treasury,
For drachms were trifles since her son was Shah.
She made no stint of robes and royal jewels,
Arabian steeds with headstalls wrought of gold,
Habergeons, helmets, double-headed darts,
Swords, crowns and belts. Intent upon her son
She placed her wealth on camels and despatched it
With praises on her tongue. The king of earth
Beheld, accepted it, and blessed his mother.
The leaders of the army when apprised
Sped to the monarch of the world and cried:-
"Victorious Shah and worshipper of God,
To whom be praise! may He give praise to thee.
Thus may thy fortune grow from day to day,
Thus may the fortunes of thy foes be shent,
May heaven make thee still victorious
And mayst thou still be gracious and august."
The wise came to the Shah from, their retreats
And poured before his throne gold mixed with gems;
The nobles too from all his provinces
At that hocktide assembled at his gate,
Where all invoked God's blessing on the crown,
The throne, the diadem, and signet-ring.
With hands upstretched they prayed right heartily:
"May such joy last, the Shah bear fruit for ever."
As time went on he journeyed round the world,
Examining its sights and mysteries,
Marked each injustice and all wasted lands,
Bound evil hands with bonds of kindliness -
A policy that well beseemeth kings -
Bedecked the world like Paradise, and raised
Instead of grass the cypress and the rose-tree.
He reached Tammisha, passing by Amul,l
And built a seat there in the famous chace
Kus is the modern title of the place.
How Faridun sent Jandal to Yaman
Now fifty years had passed, and by good fortune
He had three noble sons fit for the crown,
Of royal birth, as tall as cypresses,
With cheeks like spring, in all points like their father.
Two were the stainless sons of Shahrinaz,
The youngest fair-cheeked Arnawaz had borne;
And though they could outpace an elephant
Their father in his love had named them not.
In time the Shah perceived them fit to rule
And called Jandal, a noble counsellor,
In everything devoted to his lord,
And said: "Go round the world, select three maidens
Of noble lineage worthy of my sons,
In beauty fit to be affined to me
And named not by their sire for fear of talk,
Three sisters in full blood with fairy faces,
Unstained, of royal race, so much alike
In height and looks that folk can scarce discern
Having heard he undertook
The fair emprise, for he was shrewd and upright,
Of plausible address and full of tact.
He left Iran with certain of his friends
To make inquiries and receive reports.
Then when he heard of any chief with daughters
He sought to learn about them privily,
Yet could not find among the wealthy thanes
One fit to be affined to Faridun.
This shrewd and holy man at length reached Sarv -
The monarch of Yaman - with whom he found
The object of his search - three maidens such
As Faridun required. With stately step,
As 'twere a pheasant pacing toward a rose,
He came to Sarv, and having kissed the ground
Explained his coming, praised the king and said:-
"For ever live, exalted sovereign,
Thou ceaseless lustre of the crown and throne! "
The king said: "Be thy praise in every mouth.
What is thy message? What are thy commands?
Art thou ambassador or principal? "
Jandal replied? May every joy be thine,
And ever far from thee the hand of ill.
I come as some poor heathen to convey
A message from Iran. Great Faridun
Saluteth thee by me. Thou ask'st my business
I answer: Mighty Faridun applaudeth thee,
And great are they whom he despiseth not.
He said: 'Say to the monarch of Yaman :-
So long as musk hath scent perfume the throne,
ße thy griefs scattered and thy wealth amassed,
And ever, king of Arabs! mayst thou be
safeguarded by the stars from all mishap.
What thing is there more sweet than life and children?
Yea, they are sweeter than all else beside,
For none is dearer than a child, that bond
Is as no other bond. If any man
Hath three eyes I possess them in my sons,
But know that they are better still than eyes
For those that look on them give thanks. What said
The sage when he defined a proper league?
'"I ne'er ally myself but with my betters."
A sage intent on good will seek his friends
Among his peers, men may be fortunate
But monarchs are not well without a host.
My realm is prosperous, I have treasure, might,
And daring, with three sons who well deserve
To reign - wise, men of knowledge and of prowess,
Without a want or wish unsatisfied.
For these three princes in domestic life
I need three consorts of a royal race,
And I have news (whereon I send in haste)
By means of mine informants that thou hast
Among the ladies that are in thy bower,
O honour-loving king! three maiden daughters
As yet unnamed, whereat my heart rejoiced,
For my three sons of course are nameless still.
'Twere surely well for us to intermingle
These precious gems of two varieties,
Three virtuous maids with three aspiring princes,
Fit joined to fit, no room for scandal there.'
Such is his message; think of thy reply."
The monarch of Yaman drooped like the jasmine
When out of water, thinking: "If these Moons
Are taken from me, and I see them not
About my couch, my day will turn to night.
No need to answer yet; I will consult
With those who share with me the consequence."
He first assigned the ambassador a lodging,
Then having closed the audience sat and pondered.
The monarch summoned from the Bedouins
Full many a chieftain well approved in war,
And made the matter manifest to all:-
"I have as only issue of my wedlock
Three Lights that are resplendent in mine eyes,
And Faridun hath sent an embassage
To spread a goodly snare before my feet;
He would deprive me of these Eyes of mine,
And I would faro consult thereon with you.
The ambassador with thus : ' Thus saith the Shah :-
"I have three princes who adorn my throne
And seek for favour and affinity
With thee by marriage with thy virtuous daughters.'"
If I shall answer, ' Yes,' and mean it not,
'Twill be a lie; to lie is not for kings;
If I shall acquiesce in his request
My heart will be on fire, my face all tears;
And if I shall refuse my heart will feel
His vengeance - not a matter for a jest
From one who is the monarch of the world;
And travellers too have heard of what Zahhak
Hath suffered from him. Now advise me well."
The veteran valiant chiefs thus made reply :-
"We disapprove of veering to each gust.
Be Faridun however great a king
No earringed slaves are we, but say our say
And take the consequence. "lis ours to handle
The bridle and the lance; we make the earth
A winefat with our swords, we make the air
A reed-bed with our spears. If thy three children
Are held so dear unlock thy treasury
My gloomy soul; to see them will rejoice
And shut thy lips; or, if thou wilt use craft,
But fearest Faridun, make such demands
That none shall ever hear the like again."
The king heard while the chieftains said their say,
But felt no less uncertain of his way.
How the King of Yaman Answered Jandal
At length he called the Shah's ambassador
And spake to him at large in gracious words:-
"I am the servant of thy lord; in all
That he commandeth me will I obey.
'thus say to him : ' Exalted as thou art,
Mill thy three sons are precious unto thee;
And kings esteem their own sons very precious
When they are such as ornament the throne.
I grant what thou hast said, I too have children
And judge by them; yet if the mighty Shah
Were to require mine eyes of me, or ask
The kingdom of Yaman and desert-tribes,
It were of lesser moment than for me
to never look upon my children more;
Mill if the Shah wish this I may not walk
have as he biddeth me, and my three children,
if so he will, shall cease to be my kin;
But when shall I behold those princely sons
Who are the lustre of thy crown and throne?
Let those blithe youths come hither and illume
My gloomy soul; to see them will rejoice
My heart, and I will contemplate their shrewdness
But fearest Faridun, make such demands
Then I will give to them my three bright Eyes
According to our customs. Furthermore,
When I perceive that they are upright men,
I will join hand in hand in league with them,
And whensoe'er the Shah would see his sons
They shall return.'"
Jandal, the sweet-voiced speaker
On hearing kissed the throne with reverence,
Then uttering praises hied him to his lord,
To whom he told what he had said and heard.
The monarch bade his sons attend, he spake
About the mission of Jandal, and said:-
"The monarch of Yaman is king of peoples,
Sarv is a cypress throwing lengthy shadows.
He hath three daughters-pearls as yet unpierced -
Who are his crown, for he hath not a son.
Before all three of them Surush would kiss
The ground, I ween, if he might have such brides.
These I demanded of their sire for you
And took such order as becometh us.
Your duty now will be to go to him,
But be discreet in all things small and great.
Be complaisant but guarded therewithal,
Heed what he saith and answer courteously.
If he consulteth you advise him well.
Now hearken to my words and ye shall prosper
Among the peoples none can equal Sarv,
For he is fluent, ardent, shrewd, and pure.
Allow him not to find you off your guard,
For wise men work with subtilty. ¡ The first day
He will assign you chief seats at a feast,
Bring forth three sun-faced maids like garths in springy,
All full of grace, of colour, and perfume,
And seat them on the throne, these cypresses
In height and. in appearance so alike
That none could tell their order as to age.
Now of these three the youngest will walk first, .
The eldest last, the other in the midst.
The king will place the youngest maid beside
The eldest youth, beside the youngest prince
The eldest maid, and pair the mid in age.
Know, for 'tis worth your while, that he will ask:-
How range ye in respect of age these damsels? '
Reply: ' The youngest hath the highest place,
The eldest hath a place below her rank,
The mid in age is placed as she should be,
And thou hast failed in this attempt of thine.'"
The pure and high-born three paid all regard
To what their father said, and left his presence
Fulfilled with wisdom and with artifice.
How should the sons by such a father taught
Be ill advised or indiscreet in aught?
How the Sons of Faridun Went to the King of Yaman
They summoned archimages and made ready;
Their retinue was like the starry sky,
All men of name with sunlike countenances.
Sarv, hearing of their coming, decked his host
Like pheasant's plumes, and sent to welcome them
A goodly band of kinsfolk and of magnates.
As those three noble princes reached Yaman
Both men and women met them on their way,
Bestrewing saffron mixed with precious jewels
And mingling musk with wine. The horses' manes
Were drenched therewith, and underneath their feet
Gold coins were flung. A palace was prepared
Like Paradise itself; they overlaid
The bricks with gold and silver; all the hangings
Were of brocade of Rum - a mass of wealth.
There Sarv disposed his guests and by the morn
Had put them at their ease. He brought his daughters,
As Faridun had said, out of their bowers,
Like shining moons too dazzling for the eye,
And ranged them just as Faridun foretold.
Sarv asked the eldest prince? Which is the youngest
Of these three Stars, which is the mid in age,
And which the eldest? Thus distinguish them."
They answered as they had been taught, and so
Sewed up the eyelids of his craft, while he
And all his warriors were lost in wonder.
He saw that his inversion naught availed
And answered, "Yea," and paired the pairs aright.
The introduction ended in betrothal.
The three princesses, blushing for their father,
Went from the presence of the three young princes
In sweet confusion, blushes on their cheek
And many a word of tenderness to speak.
How Sarv proved the Sons of Faridun by Sorcery
Then Sarv assembled boon-companions
And passed the day with minstrels, wine, and talk,
But his three sons-in-law - the sons of Faridun -
Drank not except to him. When wine prevailed,
And sleep and rest were needed, Sarv bade set
Some couches by a fountain of rose-water,
And there the three illustrious athelings
Slept in a garden in a bower of roses,
Which scattered blossoms o'er them, but meanwhile
The sorcerer-king had thought of a device
He left the royal pleasance and prepared
His spells. He brought a frost and mighty blast
To slay the princes; over hill and plain
It froze so sharply that the crows grew numb.
The arch-enchanter Faridun's three sons
Leapt from their couches at the grievous cold;
And by the Grace of God and their own skill,
By kingly magic and their hardihood,
Opposed the spell and kept the frost away.
Now when the sun shone o'er the mountain-tops,
Sarv, anxious to know all, approached in haste
His three exalted sons-in-law in hope
To find their cheeks like lapislazuli,
Congealed with frost, and their emprise defeated,
So that his daughters might remain to him
As his memorial; such was his hope,
But sun and moon were adverse to his wishes,
For he beheld three princes like new moons
Fresh-seated on their royal thrones, and knew
That spells had failed him and his time was lost.
He gave an audience; all the chiefs attended.
He opened and brought forth his ancient treasures,
Disclosing what had been secreted long,
And brought too and committed to their lords
Three maids sun-cheeked, like garths of Paradise
(No archimage ere planted pines like them),
With crowns and trinkets, ignorant of pain,
Unless it be a pain to plait the hair:
They were three new Moons and three warriorkings
He thought with bitterness? The fault is mine,
Not Faridun's, and may I never hear
Of female issue from this royal stock;
He hath a lucky star who bath not daughters,
But he who hath them hath no star to shine."
Then to the assembled sages? Kings may well
Wed Moons. Bear witness all! that I have given
My three Eyes to these men in lawful marriage,
To hold them clear as their own eyes are dear,
And limn them like their own lives in their hearts."
He uttered this aloud and then he bound
On many vigorous camels' lusty backs
The baggage of the brides. Yaman was bright
With gems. The daughters' litters moved in file
With parasols and riches fit for kings.
Sarv ordered everything and said farewell.
Thus did the youths set out upon their way
To Faridun with hearts alert and gay.
How Faridun made Trial of his Sons
When tidings that the princes had returned
Reached Faridun he went to meet them, longing,
By trial of their characters, to end
His boding fears, so changed him to a dragon -
One, thou wouldst say, no lion could escape -
Which hissed and bellowed with its jaws aflame.
As soon as he perceived his three sons near,
Like sombre mountains in a cloud of dust,
He too threw dust about and made it fly,
While earth re-echoed with his bellowings.
He rushed in fury toward his eldest son,
That prince of many virtues, who exclaimed:-
"No man of sense and wisdom thinketh good
To fight with dragons."
Then he showed his back
And fled. The father turned toward the next,
His second son, who when he saw the dragon
Strung up his bow and drew it, saying thus:-
"When fight is toward, what matter if the foe
Be roaring lion or brave cavalier? "
But when the youngest son carne up he looked
Upon the dragon and cried out? Avaunt
Thou art a leopard: ware the lions' path
If e'er the name of Faridun hath reached
Thine ears contend not with us, for we three
Are sons of his, and every one of us
A wielder of the mace, and warrior.
Unless thou turnest from thy waywardness
I will discrown thee of thy loathly face."
The glorious Faridun thus heard and saw,
And having proved their mettle disappeared.
He went away but came back as their sire
With all the pomp and circumstance befitting,
With kettledrums and huge fierce elephants
And bearing in his hand the ox-head mace.
The leaders of the host were at his back,
And all the world was his. The noble princes
Dismounted when they saw the Shah, they ran
To him and kissed the ground, dazed at the din
Made by the elephants and kettledrums.
The father grasped their hands and welcomed them,
Each to his proper place. On his return
He prayed and offered up much thanks to God -
The Author of his weal and of his woe -
Then summoned his three sons and seating them
Upon the throne of majesty spake thus:-
"That loathly dragon which would scorch the world
Was your own father, who desired to prove
Your mettle, and this known returned with joy.
Now in my wisdom I have chosen fit names
For you. Thou art the eldest, be thou Salm
And have thy wish on earth - thou soughtest safety
And didst not shun to flee the monster's maw.
The rash man who despiseth elephants
Or lions - call him frantic and not brave.
My second son, who from the first showed fight,
Whose courage is more ardent than a flame,
Him name we Tur - a lion brave; not even
A mighty elephant could vanquish him.
To dare is all the virtues in his case,
For no faint heart is master of a throne.
The youngest is a man of sleight and fight,
One that can bide his time and yet be prompt.
He chose the middle course 'twixt dust and flame,
The prudent man's. Brave, young, and sensible
He must alone be praised. Be he Iraj,
And may his end be all supremacy,
Because at first he was not choleric,
But at the time of stress his courage grew.
I open now my lips with joy to name
These Arab dames with fairy countenances."
He named the wife of Salm, Arzu; the wife
Of Tur, Mah-i-Azada Khu; the wife
Of blest Iraj, Sahi, to whom Canopus
Was but a slave in beauty. Afterwards
He brought a catalogue embracing all
The stars within the circling sphere of heaven,
Whose aspects readers of the stars had taken,
spread it before him and observed the fortunes
Of his illustrious sons. Salm's horoscope
Was Jupiter in Sagittarius.
Next came the horoscope of glorious Tur -
The Sun ascendant in the Lion's House -
A presage brave; but when the Shah observed
The horoscope of blest Iraj he found
The Moon in Cancer; thus the stars revealed
A destiny of strife and woe. The Shah
Was sorely troubled, with a deep cold sigh
Perceived that heaven loved not his bright-souled son,
And as he mused thereon he could not be
But filled with thoughts of grave anxiety.
Faridun divides the World among his Sons
These secrets known, the Shah divided earth
And made three realms : he joined Rum with the West,
Tur an with Chin, Arabia with Iran.
He first took thought for Salm and gave hire Rum
And all the West, commanding him to lead
An army thither; so Salm took the throne,
And all the West saluted hire as lord.
Next Faridun assigned Turan to Tur
To rule the Turkmans and the land of Chin,
Providing troops; Tur led his army forth,
Arrived, assumed the seat of sovereignty,
Girt up his loins and opened wide his hands.
The nobles showered upon him precious stones,
And all Turan hailed him as king. Iraj
Came last, the sire selected all Iran
For him. This with Arabia and the throne
Of majesty and crown of chiefs he gave,
Perceiving that Iraj deserved to rule.
How all the princes, prudent, wise, and shrewd,
All hailed him as the master of Iran!
As marchlords thus these men of noble birth
Acceded to their thrones in peace and mirth.
How Salm grew Envious of Iraj
Much time rolled on, while fate reserved its secrets,
Till wise Shah Faridun was worn with age
And strewed with dust the Garden of his Spring.
This is the common lot of all mankind -
Man's strength is weakness when he groweth old.
Then gloom began to gather in the state,
The princes of the realm waxed turbulent.
Immersed in greed Salm changed in heart and mind.
He sat in conclave, for he much misliked
His sire's apportionment, which gave Iraj
The throne of gold. In rancour and with frowns
He hurried off a camel-post, an envoy,
To give this message to the king of Chin:-
"Live ever glad and happy! Know, great king
Of Turkmans and of Chin! that our shrewd hearts
Did ill to acquiesce when we were wronged
Though we are cypress-tall our souls are base.
Mark with discerning heart this tale of mine;
None such hath reached thee from the days of old:-
Three sons were we who graced our father's throne,
And now the youngest hath the chiefest place!
Since I am first in wisdom and in years
Such fortune doth befit my signet-ring,
While if crown, throne, and diadem should pass
From me, O king! should they not deck thyself?
Shall both of us continue thus aggrieved
By that injustice which our father did
In giving to Iraj Iran, Yaman,
And Araby; the West and Rum to me;
To thee the wastes of Turkestan and Chin?
The youngest hath Iran; I cannot brook
This settlement; thy father must be mad."
The message filled Tur's brainless head with wind,
And savage as a lion he replied :-
"Heed well my words and tell them to thy lord:-
'It was when we were youths, O most just king!
That we were cheated by our father thus.
This is a tree which his own hands have set;
The fruit is blood, the leafage colocynth;
So let us meet and parley as to this,
Fix on our course of action and raise troops.'"
Now when the envoy brought this answer back
The face of that veiled secret was laid bare,
This brother came from Chin and that from Rum,
And, poison. being mixed with honey thus,
They met together to deliberate
The matter both in council and in state.
How Salm and Tur sent a Message to Faridun
They chose a priest, a shrewd, bright, heedful man
And plausible, and then excluding strangers
Concerted plans. Salm put their case in words,
Washed off' all filial reverence from his eyes,
And thus addressed the envoy: "Hence away,
In spite of dust and tempest, swift as wind
To Faridun and heed not aught beside.
On reaching him greet him in both our names
And say: 'In heaven and earth the fear of God
Should equally prevail, the young may hope
To see old age, but hoar hairs turn not black.
By long abiding in this straitened place
Thou straitenest the long home for thyself.
All-holy God bestowed the world upon thee
From yonder bright sun unto sombre earth,
Yet didst thou choose to act in mere caprice,
Not heeding His commands, and to entreat
Thy sons with scath and fraud instead of justice;
For thou hadst three, wise, brave, and youths no longer,
And though no excellence appeared in one
So that the others should bow down to him,
Yet one thou blastedst with a dragon's breath,
Another's head thou raisedst to the clouds
On one thine eyes reposed with joy, and he
Now bath the crown and is beside thy couch,
While we who are as good as he by birth
Are deemed unworthy of the royal throne.
O upright judge and monarch of the world!
May justice such as this be never blessed!
If then his worthless head shall be discrowned,
Earth rescued from his sway, and thou wilt give him
Some corner of the world where he may sit
Like us in anguish and oblivion - well
Else will we bring the Turkman cavaliers
And eager warriors of Rum and Chin -
An army of the wielders of the mace -
In vengeance on Iran and on Iraj.'"
The priest at this harsh message kissed the ground,
Then turned and mounted swift as wind-borne flame.
When he approached the court of Faridun
And marked the cloud-capt buildings from afar,
Which stretched from range to range, while at the gate
Chiefs sat and those of highest rank behind
The curtain, on the one side pards and lions
Chained, on the other fierce war-elephants,
While from that noble band of warriors
The noise that rose was like a lion's roar,
"It must be heaven," he thought, "and not a court
The troops around it are a fairy host! "
The wary watchman went and told the Shah :-
"A man of noble mien and high estate
Hath come as envoy to the Shah."
His servants raise the curtain and bring in
The envoy, when dismounted, to the court,
Who when he saw the face of Faridun,
Saw how the Shah engrossed all eyes and hearts,
His stature cypress-like, his face a sun,
His hair like camphor and his rose-red cheeks,
His smiling lips, his modest countenance,
And royal mouth, which uttered gracious words,
Did reverence and wore the ground with kisses.
The Shah commanded him to rise and sit
Upon the seat of honour due to him,
Then asked him first about the noble pair:-
"Enjoy they health and happiness? " and next
About himself? Art weary with long travel
O'er hill and plain? "
He answered? Noble Shah!
May none behold the world without thee! Those
Of whom thou speakest are as thou wouldst wish,
And live but by thy name. Thy slave am I,
Albeit all unworthy and impure.
The message that I bring to thee is harsh
And sent in anger by no fault of mine,
But if my lord commandeth I will tell
The message sent by two imprudent youths."
The Shah commanded him to speak and heard
The embassage delivered word by word.
How Faridun Made Answer to His Sons
When he had heard, the Shah's brain seethed with anger.
"O man of prudence! " thus he made reply,
"Thou needest no excuse, for I have eyes
And have discerned this for myself already.
Tell mine unholy and abandoned sons -
This pair of Ahrimans with dregs of brains :-
''Tis well that ye reveal your natures thus
And send a greeting worthy of yourselves;
For if your brains are empty of my teaching,
And ye have no idea what wisdom is,
Not fearing God, ye could not well do other.
My hair was once as black as pitch, my stature
Was cypress-tall, my face was like the moon.
The sky which bath bent down this back of mine
Is yet unfallen and revolveth still
So time will bend you too, and even that
Which bendeth you itself will not endure.
Now by the highest name of holy God,
By yon bright sun, and by the teeming ground,
By throne, by crown, by Venus and the moon,
I never cast an evil look upon you.
I called the sages into conference,
The archimages and astrologers;
Abundant time was spent therein that so
We might divide the earth with equity;
I had no object but to deal with fairness;
There was no knavery from first to last;
My secret motive was the fear of God,
My longing to fulfil all righteousness;
Since earth was given to me full of men
It was no wish of mine to scatter them;
I said: "On each of my three lucky Eyes
Will I bestow a populous dominion."
If Ahriman hath now seduced your hearts
From mine advice to dark and crooked ways,
Consider if the Omnipotent will look
With approbation on this deed of yours.
One proverb will I speak if ye will hear :-
"The crop that ye have sown that shall ye reap."
He that instructed me was wont to say :-
"Our other home is that which will endure."
But your lusts sit where reason should be throned.
Why are ye thus confederate with the Div?
I fear that in that Dragon's clutch your bodies
And souls will part. Now that I leave the world
It is no time for wrath and bitterness;
Yet thus he saith - the man consumed with years,
Who had three sons, three men of noble birth:-
By hearts released from passions dust is held
As precious as the wealth of king of kings;
But whoso selleth brother for the dust
Men rightly say that he was bastard-born.
The world hath seen and will see men like you
In plenty; but it cottoneth to none.
Now if ye know aught of avail with God
To save you on the Day of Reckoning,
Seek that, make it the provand for the way
And be less careful for the things of earth!'"
The envoy hearing kissed the ground and went;
Thou wouldst have said: "His way-mate is the wind."
The envoy being gone the Shah resumed
His seat, then called his noble son Iraj
And told both what had chanced and what might be:-
Those Those sons of mine with hearts intent on war
Have set themselves against us from the West.
Their stars dispose them to delight in ill;
Besides their troughs are in two provinces,
Whose fruit is savagery. They will enact
The brother's part while thou shah wear the crown,
And when thy ruddy face is pale in death
Will shun thy pillow. If thou puttest love
Before the sword thy head will ache with strife,
For from both corners of the world my sons
Have shown their real intent. If thou wouldst fight
Make ready, ope the treasury, bind the baggage;
Secure the cup while thou art breaking fast,
For if not they will sup on thee, my son!
Thou needst not earthly helpers, throe allies
Are truth and innocence."
The good Iraj
Gazed on that loving Shah, his glorious sire,
And said: "My lord! consider how time passeth
Like wind above us. Why should wise men fret?
It withereth the cheek of cercis-bloom,
It darkeneth the radiant spirit's eyes;
It is at first a gain and then a pain;
And when the pain is done we pass away.
Since then our couch is dust, our pillow brick,
Why plant to-day a tree whose roots will ever
Be drinking blood, whose fruit will be revenge?
The earth hath seen and will see many lords
With scimitar and throne and signet-ring
Like us; but they who wore the crown of old
Made not a habit of revenge. I too,
The king permitting, will not live in ill.
I want not crown and throne. I will approach
My brothers in all haste and unattended,
And say: ' My lords, dear as my soul and body!
Forbear your anger and abandon strife:
Strife is unlovely in religious men.
Why set your hopes so much upon this world?
How ill it used Jamshid who passed away
At last, and lost the crown and throne and girdle!
And you and I at length must share his lot.
Live we in joy together and thus safe
From foes: I will convert their vengeful hearts:
What better vengeance can I take than that? "
The Shah replied? Thy brethren, my wise son!
Are set on fight while thou wouldst have a feast.
I cannot but recall this saw to mind:-
It is no marvel if the moon is bright.'
An answer such as throe becometh well
Thy virtuous self; thou art for brotherhood
And love, but doth a prudent roan expose
His priceless life and head to dragon's breath,
Since naught but biting venom cometh thence
By nature? Yet, if such be thy resolve,
Take order for thy going and set forth.
Select a retinue among the troops
To go with thee, and I will write a letter,
With sorrow in my heart, to those two men.
Oh! may thy safe return rejoice my sight,
For when I look on thee my soul is bright."
How Iraj Went to His Brothers
The great Shah wrote a letter to the lord
Of all the West and to the king of Chin,
Wherein he offered first his praise to God
Who is and will be to eternity,
And then went on? This letter of good counsel
Is for two Suns at their meridian,
Two men of weight and courage, kings of earth,
One monarch of the West, the other of Chin,
From him who hath surveyed the world throughout,
To whom mysterious things have been disclosed,
Who brandisheth the sword and massive mace,
Who addeth lustre unto famous crowns,
Who turneth into night the light of day,
Who openeth the hoards of hope and fear,
To whom all labours have grown easy, one
In whom all splendour hath displayed itself.
I do not ask of you your diadems,
Your hoarded treasures, thrones, or palaces
My wish is, after all my weary toils,
That my three sons should dwell in peace and love.
The brother as to whom your hearts are sore
(Though none hath felt a chilling breath from him)
Doth come in haste because of your chagrin,
And of his eagerness to see you both.
He hath resigned his kingship for your sakes -
An action worthy of the noblest men -
And taking to the saddle from the throne
Hath girt his loins that he may do you service.
Now since he is the youngest of the three
He hath a right to love and tenderness.
Hold hire in honour, and repent yourselves;
As I have fed his body feed his soul,
And after he hath been with you awhile
Send my beloved one back to me:'
The letter with the signet of the .Shah.
Iraj set forth with such attendants only,
Both young and old, as were imperative;
And Salm and Tur, when he was drawing nigh,
Unwitting of their dark design, led forth
The troops to meet him as their custom was.
When they beheld their brother's face of love
They showed to him an altered countenance,
And bent on quarrel gave the peaceful one
A greeting but not such as he desired.
Two hearts were full of vengeance, one was calm
Thus all three brothers sought their royal tents.
The troops saw, as they looked upon Iraj,
That he was worthy of the throne and crown,
And could not rest because the love of him
Possessed their hearts e'en as his face their eyes;
And when, dispersing, mate went off with mate,
Their talk in private was about Iraj :-
"This is the one to be the king of kings!
May none beside him have the crown of might.
Salm from apart was spying on the troops,
Their doings made him heavy, and he sought
His royal tent with a revengeful heart,
With liver full of blood, and frowning brows.
He had the enclosure cleared while he and Tur
Sat with their counsellors, and talked at large
Of kingship, crown, and all the provinces;
And in the midst thereof Salm said to Tur
"Why have the soldiers scattered into groups
Didst thou not mark how, when we were returning,
The soldiers as they passed along the road
Could not refrain from looking at Iraj?
Our troops when they came back were altered men.
He turned my heart to gloom, thoughts thronged, I saw
That henceforth they would wish no Shah but him.
Unless thou shah uproot him thou wilt fall
From throe exalted throne beneath his feet."
In such a mind they closed the interview
And spent the night devising what to do.
Haw Iraj was Slain by His Brothers
Now when the veil was lifted from the sun,
As morning dawned and slumber passed away,
The hearts of that insensate pair were eager
To do their deed of shame; they proudly strode
Toward their royal brother's tent. Iraj,
Who saw them coming, met them tenderly.
They went with him inside the tent. The talk
Ran on the why and wherefore of his coming.
Tur said to him? Since thou art youngest born
Why shouldst thou take the crown of power?
Possess the throne of princes and Iran
While I am bondslave at the Turkman's gate?
Thine eldest brother chafeth in the West
While thou art crowned and walkest over treasure,
For thus did our aspiring sire apportion
The world in favour of his youngest son."
Iraj made answer in a holier strain :-
"O mighty chieftain, lover of renown!
Seek peace if thou wouldst have thy heart at ease.
I do not want the royal crown or throne,
The style of monarch or the Iranian host;
I do not want Iran, the West, or Chin,
The kingship or the broad expanse of earth.
When majesty produceth naught but strife
One needs must weep o'er such supremacy.
Although thou ridest on the heaven above,
A brick will be thy pillow in the end.
For my part, though the master of Iran,
I am aweary both of crown and throne,
And yield to you the diadem and signet,
So hate me not; there is no feud between us,
No heart need ache through me. I will not have
The world against your will, and though I dwell
Far from your ken I ever act as younger:
My Faith is naught without humanity."
Tur heard the words and little heeded them,
But, angry that Iraj should speak and caring
No jot for peace, he rose up with a cry
And then advancing suddenly, and grasping
The massive seat of gold, he smote Iraj,
Who pleaded for his life? Hast thou no fear
Of God, nor any reverence for thy sire?
Is this indeed thy purpose? Slay me not,
Be not thou reckoned with the murderers,
For in the end my blood will be required.
And henceforth thou shah find no trace of me.
Canst thou approve and reconcile these twain -
To be a murderer and live thyself?
Oh! hurt not e'en the poor grain-dragging ant,
For it hath life, and sweet life is a joy.'
I will choose some retreat and earn my bread;
Why gird thy loins to take a brother's life?
Why set on fire our aged father's heart?
Wouldst have the world? Thou hast it. Shed not blood
Provoke not God, the Ruler of the world."
Tur heard him speak but answered not a word
His heart was full, his head was vapouring.
He drew a dagger from his boot, he robed
Iraj in blood, and with the keen bright blade
Entrenched the royal breast. The lofty Cypress
Fell, the imperial girdlestead was broken,
The blood ran down that face of cercis-bloom,
And thus the young illustrious monarch died!
Tur with his dagger cut the prince's head
From the elephantine form and all was over.
O world! since thou hadst nursed him tenderly
Yet didst not spare his life at last, I wis
Not who thy secret favourites may be,
But needs must weep for such an act as this.
Thou too, O man distracted and distraught,
Whose heart the world hath seared and caused to bleed
If, as with these, revenge is in thy thought
Take warning by these persecutors' deed.
They filled the head with musk and ambergris
And sent it to the aged world-divider
With these words? Look upon thy darling's head -
The inheritor of our forefathers' crown -
And give it crown or throne as pleaseth thee."
The royal and far-shadowing Tree had fallen,
And those two miscreants went their way in spleen,
One unto Rum, the other unto Chin.
How Faridun Received Tidings of the Murder of Iraj
The eyes of Faridun were on the road,
Both host and crown were longing for the prince
But when the time arrived for his return
How did the tidings reach his father first?
He had prepared the prince a turquoise throne
And added jewels to his crown. The people
Were all in readiness to welcome him
And called for wine and song and minstrelsy.
They brought out drums and stately elephants,
And put up decorations everywhere
Throughout his province. While the Shah and troops
Were busied thus a cloud of dust appeared,
And from its midst a dromedary ridden
By one in grief who uttered bitter cries;
He bore a golden casket, and therein
The prince's head enwrapped in painted silk.
The good man came with woeful countenance
To Faridun and wailed aloud. They raised
The golden casket's lid (for every one
Believed the words of him who bore it wild)
And taking out the painted silk beheld
Within the severed head of prince Iraj.
Down from his steed fell Faridun, the troops
All rent their clothes, their looks were black, their eyes
Blanched with their horror, for the spectacle
Was other far than that they hoped to see.
Since in this wise the young king came again
The troops that went to meet him thus returned -
Their banners rent, their kettledrums reversed,
The warriors' cheeks like ebony, the tymbals
And faces of the elephants all blackened,
The prince's Arabs splashed with indigo.
Both Shah and warriors fared alike on foot,
Their heads all dust; the paladins in anguish
Bewailed that noble man and tore their arms.
Be on thy guard as touching this world's love
A bow is useless if it be not bent.
The process of the turning sky above
Is, favouring first, to plunder in the event.
'Twill countenance an open enemy
While those who seek its favour are denied.
One goodly counsel I address to thee:
Let no love for it in thy heart abide.
The troops heart-seared, the Shah with cries " Alas!
Alas!" went toward the garden of Iraj
Where he delighted to hold festival
On any royal anniversary.
The monarch entered bearing his son's head,
Beheld the hauzes and the cypresses,
The trees a-bloom, the willows and the quinces,
Saw too and strewed dark dust upon the throne
Imperial but unprinced and lustreless
While up to Saturn rose the soldiers' wail.
He cried " Alas! Alas!" plucked out his hair,
He poured down tears, he tore his face and girt
Around his loins a rope besmirched with blood.
He fired the house wherein Iraj had dwelt,
Destroyed the rose-beds, burnt the cypress-trees
And closed up once for all the eye of joy.
He placed the prince's head upon his breast,
And said with head turned God-ward? Righteous Judge!
Look down upon this murdered innocent,
Whose severed head is here before me now,
While foreign lions have devoured his body.
Do Thou so burn up those two miscreants' hearts
That they may never see a bright day more.
So pierce and sear the livers of them both
That even beasts of prey shall pity them.
Oh! grant me, Thou that judgest righteously
So long a respite from the day of death
That I may see descended from Iraj
One born to fame, and girded to avenge.
Let him behead those two injurious men
As they beheaded him who wronged thorn not,
And when I have beheld it let rue go
Where earth shall take the measure of my height.'
He wept thus many days and bitterly.
His pillow was the dust, his bed the ground
Until the herbage grew about his breast
And both those lustrous eyes of his were dimmed.
He gave no audience, but without surcease
Cried out with bitterness? O gallant youth!
No wearer of a crown hath ever died
As thou hast died, thou famous warrior!
Thou vast beheaded by vile Ahriman;
The maw of lions was thy winding-sheet."
Wails, sobs, and cries robbed e'en the beasts of sleep,
While men and women gathered into crowds
In every province, weeping and heart-broken.
How many days they sat in their distress -
A death in life of utter hopelessness!
How a Daughter was Born to Iraj
A while passed and the Shah went in to view
Iraj's bower, inspected it and marked
The moon-faced beauties who resided there.
He saw a slave of lovely countenance,
Whose name was Mah Afrid. Iraj had loved her,
And fate decreed that she should bear him fruit.
The Shah rejoiced because she was with child,
Which gave hire hope of vengeance for his son,
But when her time was come she bore a daughter,
And hope deferred hung heavy on the Shah.
He nursed the babe with joy and tenderness,
And all the folk began to cherish her
As she increased in stature and in charms.
Thou wouldst have said to her the tulip-cheeked :-
"Thou art Iraj himself from head to foot."
When she was old enough to wed - a Pleiad
In countenance with hair as black as pitch -
Her grandsire chose Pashang to be her spouse
Pashang was brother's son to Faridun,
Descended from a noble ancestry,
A hero of the seed of Shah Jamshid,
Meet for the kingship, diadem, and throne;
And in this way no little time passed on.
The Birth of Minuchihr
Mark what a wonder yon blue vault revealed
When nine months had elapsed! That virtuous dame
Brought forth a son fit for the crown and throne,
Who from his tender mother's womb was brought
Without delay before the mighty Shah.
The bearer said: "O master of the crown!
Let all thy heart be joy: behold Iraj! "
The world-divider's lips were full of smiles;
Thou wouldst have said: "His own Iraj doth live."
He clasped the noble child and prayed the Almighty :
Oh! would that I might have mine eyes again,
That God would show to me this infant's face."
He prayed so earnestly that God vouchsafed
To give his sight back. When with open eyes
He gazed on that new-comer's face he cried:
"Be this day blest and our foes' hearts plucked out! "
He brought bright wine and splendid cups and called
That babe of open visage Minuchihr,
And said: "From two pure parents there hath come
A proper branch to fruit."
He reared the babe
So tenderly that not a breath passed o'er him.
The slave that carried him upon her breast
Trod not the ground, for underneath her feet
The purest musk was strewn, and as she walked
A sunshade of brocade was o'er her head.
Years passed, no ill befell him from the stars;
Meanwhile the famous monarch taught the child
All those accomplishments that kings require.
When Faridun had got back sight and heart,
And all the world was talking of the boy,
His grandsire gave to him a golden throne,
A princely turquoise crown, a massive mace
And treasury-key with thrones, torques, casques, and girdles,
A bright-hued tent-enclosure of brocade
With tents of, leopard-skin, such Arab steeds
With golden furniture, such Indian scimitars
With golden sheaths, such store of casques and breast-plates,
With buttoned hauberks made in Rum and bows
From Chach and poplar shafts and shields from Chin
And double-headed javelins of war
Thus Faridun bestowed his hard-won treasures,
Convinced that Minuchihr was well deserving,
And felt his own heart full of love for him.
He summoned all his paladins and nobles,
Who came intent on vengeance for Iraj,
And offered homage, showering emeralds
Upon his crown. On that great new-made feast
The sheep and wolf walked side by side on earth.
The leaders were Karan, the son of Kawa,
The chief Shirwi, the fierce and lion-like,
Garshasp the noble swordsman, Sam the champion,
The son of Nariman; Kubad, Kishwad, -
He of the golden helm-and many more
Illustrious men, - the safeguards of the world -
And when the work of gathering troops was done
The Shah's head towered over every one.
How Salm and Tur had Tidings of Minuchihr
When those two miscreants Satin and Tur had heard :-
"The throne of king of kings is bright again,"
They feared their star would sink and sat together
In anxious thought; those wretches' day was darkened
And they resolved to send to ask forgiveness.
They chose a man persuasive, wise, and modest,
To whom they made a passionate appeal,
And fearful of a downfall opened wide
The treasury of the West. From that old hoard
They chose a crown of gold. They housed the elephants.
What wagons did they fill with musk and ambergris,
Brocade, dinars, and precious furs and silks!
On high-necked elephants the embassage
Went from the West in state toward Iran.
The courtiers added tokens of regard,
And when there was as much as heart could wish
The envoy came prepared to start. The kings
Gave him this embassy to Faridun,
Invoking first of all the name of God:-
"May valiant Faridun for ever live
On whom God hath bestowed the royal Grace,
Be his head flourishing, his person loved,
His genius higher than heaven! I present
A case committed to me by two slaves
At this high portal of the king of kings.
Know that two ill-disposed and lawless men,
Whose eyes are wet with shame before their sire,
Repentant, seared at heart, and much to blame,
Now seek how best they may excuse themselves;
Till now they had no hope of being heard.
What do they say? Their words, wise Shah! are these:-
Let him that did the evil bear the brunt,
And live in pain of heart and self-reproach
As we are doing now, O noble Shah
Thus was it written down for us by fate
And by decree of fate the sequel came;
Fen world-consuming lions and fierce dragons
Escape not from the net of destiny.
Again - the foul Div bade us put aside
All terror of the Worldlord from our hearts,
He took possession of two wise men's brains,
And mightily prevailed against us both;
And now our hope is that perchance the Shah
May yet forgive us, and impute the wrong
To ignorance in us, next to high heaven
That is at once our shelter and our scath,
And thirdly to the Div that in our midst
Is girded runner-like to work us ill.
Now, if the great king's head no longer harboureth
Revenge on us, our good faith shall be evident.
Let him send Minuchihr and, as an escort,
A mighty army to his suppliants,
With this intent that we may stand as slaves
Before him dutifully; thus our tears
May wash the tree that springeth of revenge,
Our offering shall be our tears and groans,
And when he groweth up our hoards and thrones.'"
How Faridun Received His Sons' Message
Charged with these words, and doubting what would follow,
The envoy reached the portal of the Shah
With treasures of all kinds on elephants.
When Faridun was told he gave command
To spread brocade of Rum upon the throne
Of king of kings and have the royal crown
Prepared, then took his seat as he had been
An upright cypress 'neath a full-orbed moon
In fitting state with crown and torque and rings.
Blest Minuchihr sat by him crowned, the nobles
Stood ranked in double file in robes of gold,
With golden mace and girdle, making earth
Another sun. On one side pards and lions
Were chained, on the other huge war-elephants.
Then from the palace issued bold Shapur
To introduce Salm's envoy, who on seeing
The palace-gate alighted and ran forward.
As soon as he drew near to Faridun
And saw the diadem and lofty throne,
He bent until his visage touched the ground.
The noble Shah, the monarch of the world,
Bade him be seated on a golden seat.
He did obeisance to the Shah and said :-
"O glory of the crown and throne and signet!
Thy throne's steps make the earth a rosary,
And thy fair fortune brighteneth the age.
We serve the dust that is beneath thy feet
And only live since thou wilt have it so."
These praises caused the Shah's face to relax,
Whereat the envoy spake of clemency
With great craft, and the Shah gave ear to him
While he repeated those two murderers' words,
Endeavouring to keep the truth concealed
And make excuses for their wickedness,
Inviting Minuchihr to visit them
When they would wait upon him as his slaves,
Give him the crown and throne of majesty
And purchase back from him Iraj's blood
With wealth, brocade, dinars, and jewelry.
The monarch heard the speech and answered it;
hike key to lock so did the answer fit.
How Faridun made Answer to his Sons
The Shah, when he had heard the message sent
By his two wicked sons, said to the envoy:-
"Canst thou conceal the sun, and clearer still
Are shown the secrets of those miscreants' hearts?
I have heard all thy words; now mark mine answer.
Tell those two shameless and unholy men,
Unrighteous, ill-affectioned, and impure,
That their vain words avail them not, and I
Have also something that I faro would say:-
'If thus your love for Minuchihr hath grown
Where is the body of his famous sire -
Iraj? The maw of wild beasts hideth it,
His head is in a narrow casket laid,
And they who made a riddance of Iraj
Now seek to shed the blood of Minuchihr!
Ye shall not see his face but with an army
And with a casque of steel upon his head,
With mace and Kawian standard while the earth
Is darkened by his horses' trampling hoofs;
With leaders like Karan, who loveth fight,
Shapur - the valiant backbone of the host -
And by his side Shidush the warrior,
Shirwi the lion-strong as pioneer,
King Taliman, and Sarv, king of Yaman,
To head the forces and direct the war;
And we will drench with blood, both leaf and fruit,
The tree sprung out of vengeance for Iraj.
No one hath sought revenge for him as yet
Because I saw the back of fortune bent
It seemed not good to me to lay my hands
In battle on mine own two sons; but now
From that same Tree which enemies have felled
A fruitful Offshoot hath sprung up; for like
An angry lion Minuchihr shall come,
With loins girt ready to avenge his sire,
Together with the leaders of the troops -
Such chiefs as Sam the son of Nariman,
Garshasp, son of Jamshid - and hosts to reach
From hill to hill, and trample down the world.'
Next for their pleading that 'the Shah must wash
His heart from vengeance, and forgive our crime,
Because the sky so turned o'er us that wisdom
Was troubled, and affection's seat obscured:'
I have heard all the unavailing plea,
And now that patience is fordone I answer :-
No man that soweth seed of violence
Shall see good days or jocund Paradise.
If ye are pardoned by All-holy God
What need ye fear about a brother's blood?
The wise esteem the self-excuser guilty.
Revere ye not the glorious Lord of all?
Your hearts are black, your tongues speak glozing words;
He will requite you for it in both worlds.
And thirdly, since ye sent an ivory throne
And torquoise crown on mighty elephants,
With purses full of divers-coloured gems,
Am I to balk revenge, to wash away
The blood and sell the prince's head for gold?
Nay! perish first throne, diadem, and Grace
Worse than a dragon's offspring is the man
Who taketh money for a priceless head.
Shall any say: "The sire in his old age
Is putting price upon his son's dear life? "
As for these gifts of yours - I need them not.
But wherefore utter I so many words?
Your hoary-headed sire will not ungird
The loins of his revenge while life endureth.'
Thy message have I heard. Hear my reply,
Retain it every whit and get thee gone."
The messenger grew pale at this dread speech
And at the bearing of prince Minuchihr,
Leapt up in fear and mounted instantly.
The noble, youthful envoy shrewdly saw :-
"Revolving heaven in no long time will furrow
The visages of Tur and Salm."
Like rushing wind, his head full of the message,
His heart of bodings. When he saw the West,
With camp-enclosures stretched upon the plain,
He made his way toward Salm's pavilion
Of painted silk with other tents around,
Where sat both kings in conclave. Word was passed :-
"The envoy hath returned."
Approached and took him to the royal presence.
They had a special seat prepared for him
And asked for tidings of the new-made Shah,
Of crown and throne and of Shah Faridun,
His host, his warriors, and his dominions,
And of the aspect of the turning sky :-
"What favour showeth it to Minuchihr?
Who are the nobles? Who is minister?
What treasures have they? Who hath charge
The envoy said: "The portal of the Shah
Beholdeth that which bright spring seeth not,
For 'tis the jocund Spring of Paradise
Where ground is ambergris and bricks are gold.
The roof above his palace is a heaven,
And Paradise is in his smiling face.
When I approached his lofty residence
Its roof was telling secrets to the stars.
On this hand there were lions, and on that
Were elephants. The world itself was placed
Beneath his throne. Upon his elephants
Were seats of gold, and round the lions' necks
Were jewelled torques. The tymbal-players stood
Before the elephants while trumpets blared.
Thou wouldst have said: ' The precincts seethe, earth shouteth
To heaven: I came before that well-loved Shah,
And saw a lofty turquoise throne where sat
A monarch like a moon. Upon his head
He wore a sparkling ruby coronet.
His hair was white as camphor, and his cheeks
Were like the petals of the rose. His heart
Is full of clemency, his speech is kind;
He is the hope and fear of all the world.
Thou wouldst have said: ' Jamshid doth live again.'
A Shoot from that tall Cypress - Minuchihr,
Like Tahmuras, the Binder of the Div,
Sat on the Shah's right hand: thou wouldst have said:-
'He is the heart and soul of that great Shah.'
There Kawa stood, the skilled among the smiths,
With one before him well beseen in war -
His son, Karan by name, the warrior,
The watchful chief, the conqueror of hosts;
The minister - Sarv, monarch of Yaman,
The treasurer - victorious Garshasp,
Were there. The sum within the treasuries
Appeareth not. None ever saw such greatness.
Around the palace were two lines of troops
With golden maces and with golden helms.
Before them there were leaders like Karan,
The son of Kawa, that experienced captain,
And warriors - ravening Lions like Shirwi,
And bold Shapur, the elephantine chief.
When on the elephants they bind the drums
The air becometh ebon with the dust.
If these men come to fight us hill and plain
Will be confounded; these men have revenge
At heart; their faces frown; they purpose war."
The envoy having further told the message
Of Faridun, those tyrants' hearts grew sore,
Their faces blue as lapislazuli.
They sat consulting, but had naught determined
When Tur spake thus? Farewell to peace and joy
We must not let this hardy lion's whelp
Grow bold and sharp of fang. Will such a youth
Lack prowess, being taught by Faridun?
When grandson communeth with grandsire thus
Some devilry is sure to come of it.
Prepare we then for war and that with speed."
They hurried out their cavalry and mustered
Troops from the West and Chin, whence hubbub rose
And all flocked to the kings - a multitude
Whose star of fortune was no longer young.
Two hosts empanoplied marched, on Iran
With mighty elephants, much precious store,
And those two murderers intent on war.
How Faridun sent Minuchihr to fight Tur and Salm
The Shah was told, "A host hath crossed Jihun,"
And bade prince Minuchihr to pass the frontier
Toward the desert, thus advising him :-
"A youth predestined to be fortunate
May happen to ensnare a mountain-sheep
While hunters are before and pards behind;
But having patience, prudence, sense, and wits,
He will take savage lions in his toils,
And now my foes in these my closing days
I would chastise, and wield a sword of fire."
"Great Shah! " said Minuchihr, "may fate keep ill
For any foe that cometh to attack thee
May he betray himself both soul and body.
Lo! I will don a coat of Ruman mail
To leave no part exposed, and then in quest
Of vengeance on the battlefield will send
The dust of yon host sunward. None of theta
Hold I a man: dare they contend with me? "
He ordered that Karan, who loved the fray,
Should cross the frontier to the desert, taking
The camp-enclosure and the imperial standard.
Then as troop followed troop the hills and plains
Heaved like the sea, the day was dark with dust,
And thou hadst said: "The sun is azure-dim."
A clamour rose enough to deafen ears
Though keen, the neighing of the Arab steeds
Rose high above the tymbals' din. Two lines
Of mighty elephants stretched from the camp
For two miles, sixty carried seats of gold
Inlaid with gems, three hundred bore the baggage,
Three hundred were in iron panoply
That hid all but their eyes.
They left Tammisha
And bore the camp-enclosure to the waste.
Karan the avenger was the general,
The host three hundred thousand cavaliers.
The men of name marched mailed, with massive maces,
All bold as angry lions and all girded
For vengeance for Iraj; their steel-blue swords
Were in their hands and Kawa's standard led them.
Then Minuchihr with him who loved the fray,
Karan, went from the forest of Narwan,
Reviewed and ranged his host on those broad plains.
He gave the army's left wing to Garshasp;
Upon the right was brave Sam with Kubad,
Who set the battle in array. The prince
With Sarv was in the centre, whence he shone
Moon-like, or as the sun o'er some high hill.
Led by Karan, with champions such as Salm,
The Iranian army fought. Kubad was scout,
The heroes of the house of Taliman
Were ambuscaders, and the host was decked
In bridal trim with lion-warriors
And din of drums.
Men bore the news in haste
To Tur and Salm: "The Iranians armed for fight
Are marching toward the desert from the forest,
Their livers' blood afoam upon their lips."
That pair of murderers with a huge array
Set forth intent on vengeance and drew up
Their host upon the plain : they made the Alans
And sea their base. Kubad the scout advanced,
And Tur on hearing that came forth like wind,
And said to him: "Return to Minuchihr
And say to him : ' Thou bastard just made Shah
What though there was a daughter to Iraj,
Hast thou a right to signet, crown, and throne?'"
"Yea, I will take thy message." said Kubad,
"In Chine own words and style, but thou wilt quake
To think hereafter of this monstrous speech.
'Twill not be strange if even savage beasts
Bewail you day and night, for from Narwan
To Chin are warlike, vengeful cavaliers.
A glimpse of our bright swords and Kawa'S standard
Will make your hearts and brains burst in dismay
Ye will not know a valley from a hill."
Tur heard and turned away in silent dudgeon,
While blest Kubad went back to Minuchihr
And told the insulting words. The young prince laughed.
"None but a fool," he said, "would talk like this.
But praise to Him - the Lord of both the worlds -
Who knoweth all things secret or revealed!
He knoweth that my grandsire was Iraj,
As blessed Faridun assureth me,
But when I show my person in the fight
My birth and prowess will approve themselves.
Now by the Grace of Him who ruleth sun
And moon I will not leave Tur power to wink,
But show his trunkless head to all the host;
I will avenge my blessqd sire upon him
And turn his kingdom upside down."
And issued orders to prepare a feast.
How Minuchihr attacked the Host of Tur
When the bright world grew dark and scouts dispersed
About the plain, Karan the warrior
And Sarv the counsellor, who led the host,
Observed? This will be Ahriman's own fight,
A day of martial deeds and vengeance-seeking."
A proclamation issued to the troops :-
Omen of name and Lions of the Shah!
Gird up your loins, be vigilant, and may
The Almighty guard you. Whosoe'er is slain
Will go to Paradise washed clean from sin;
While they who shed the blood of warriors
Of Rum and Chin, and take their lands, shall have
Eternal fame, the Grace of archimages;
The Shah will give them thrones and diadems,
Their chieftain gold and God prosperity.
Now when the dawn is breaking and the sun
Half risen gird upon your valiant loins
Your maces and your daggers of Kabul,
Take up your stations and preserve your ranks."
The captains of the host, the valiant chiefs,
Drew up before the lion-prince and said:-
"We are but slaves and live to serve the Shah,
Will do his will and with our swords make earth
Run like Jihun."
They went back to their tents
All purposing revenge.
Now when day broke,
Upheaving night's mid gloom, the prince assumed
His station at the centre of the host
With coat of armour, sword, and Ruman helm.
The soldiers shouted lifting to the clouds
Their spears. He duly ordered all the troops,
The left, the right, the centre, and the wings.
With heads all anger and with brows all frowns
They rolled up earth in marching. It resembled
A ship upon the waves and thou hadst said:-
"It sinketh fast!" From his huge elephant
He dropped a ball, earth heaved like azure sea,
The drummers marched before the elephants
With roar and din like lions in their rage,
While from the sounds of pipe and clarion
Thou wouldst have said: "It is a festival."
The troops moved mountain-like and both hosts shouted.
Anon the plain ran blood : thou wouldst have said
That tulips sprang up. Mighty elephants
Stood as on coral columns in the gore.
They fought till night, till Minuchihr, who won
The love of all, obtained the victory;
Yet fortune in one stay abideth not,
Now honey and now gall make up man's lot.
The hearts of Tur and Salm were deeply moved
By grief. They listened for a night-surprise,
But no one came e'en when night turned to day,
And they themselves were anxious for delay.
How Tur was Slain by the Hand of Minuchihr
Noon passed. With vengeful hearts the brothers met
For consultation; mid their foolish schemes
They said: "Let us attempt a night-attack
And fill the desert and the plain with blood."
That night those miscreants drew their army out,
Bent on a camisade. The Iranian scouts
Gat news thereof, and sped to Minuchihr
To tell him so that he might post his troops.
That shrewd man heard and planned a counter-ruse.
He left Karan the host and led himself
An ambuscade with thirty thousand warriors,
All men of name. Tur came at night and brought
One hundred thousand men prepared for fight,
But found the foe arrayed with banners flying
And saw that battle was his sole resource.
A shout rose from the centres of the hosts,
The horsemen made the air a cloud of dust
And steel swords flashed like lightning: thou hadst said :-
"They make air blaze, earth gleam like diamonds."
The clashing of the steel went through the brain,
While flame and blast rose cloudward. Minuchihr
Sprang from his ambush and surrounded Tur,
Who wheeled and fled mid wailings of despair
From his own troops. Prince Minuchihr pursued,
Hot for revenge, and cried: "Stay, miscreant,
Who lovest fight so well and cuttest off
The heads of innocents! Know'st not that all
Desire revenge on thee? "
He hurled a dart
Against Tur's back, whose sword fell from his grasp.
Then Minuchihr like wind unseated him,
Cast him to earth, slew him, cut off his head,
And left the body for the beasts of prey;
Then went back to his camp to contemplate
That symbol of a fall from high estate.
How Minuchihr wrote to Announce his Victory to Faridun
Then Minuchihr wrote to Shah Faridun
About the war - its fortunes good and ill -
And first he spake of Him who made the world -
The Lord of goodness, purity, and justice :-
"Praise to the Worldlord who bath succoured us
Men find no other helper in their straits.
He is the Guide, he maketh hearts rejoice
And changeth not throughout eternity.
Next, praises be to noble Faridun -
The lord of crown and mace, possessed of justice,
The Faith and Grace, crown and imperial throne.
His fortune is the source of righteousness,
His throne of beauty and of excellence.
By virtue of thy Grace I reached Turan,
Arrayed the host and fought by day and night
Thrice fiercely in two days. I heard that Tur
Designed a night-attack and wanting power
Relied on craft; so I arranged an ambush
And left him nothing but the wind to clutch.
He fled, I followed, and o'ertaking him
Pierced through his armour with a javelin,
And took him from his saddle like the wind.
I flung him as I would a serpent down
And from his worthless body smote the head,
Which lo! I send my grandsire, and forthwith
Will set about a stratagem for Salm.
Since Tur had placed within a golden casket
His royal brother's head in foul contempt,
And had no ruth or reverence for him, God,
Who made the world, delivered Tur to me,
And I have slain him as he slew Iraj;
And will lay waste his realm and dwelling-place."
The letter done he sent a cameleer,
Who sped like wind with cheeks suffused with shame
And hot tears in his eyes for Faxidun;
How should he like to be the carrier
Of Tur's head to the monarch of Iran?
Though dead sons were perverse their fathers mourn them;
But as the crime was great and unprovoked,
And as the avenger was both young and brave,
The messenger approached with confidence
And laid the head of Tur before the Shah,
Who prayed to God, the righteous Judge, to pour
On Minuchihr his blessings evermore.
How Karan took the Castle of the Alans
News of the fight and of that Moon's eclipse
Reached Salm, who purposed making a retreat
Upon a lofty castle in his rear;
Such are the ups and downs which fortune hath!
Now Minuchihr had thought of this and said:-
"If Salm declineth battle his retreat
Will be upon the hold of the Alans,
And therefore we must occupy the road,
For if he hath the fortress of the sea
No one will wrench him from his foothold there.
It is a place whose head is in the clouds,
'Twas built by cunning from the ocean's depths,
Is furnished well with treasures manifold
And overshadowed by the eagle's wing.
I must make haste to execute my plan
And ply both rein and stirrup."
This he told
Koran, who, as he knew, would keep the secret.
That chief replied? O gracious sovereign!
If to the least of all his warriors
The Shah vouchsafeth to entrust a host,
I will secure Salm's only gate for combat
Or for retreat. For this exploit I need
Tur's royal standard and his signet-ring,
Then will I make a shift to seize the hold
And go to-night; but keep the matter close."
He chose six thousand veterans of name,
Who when the sky grew ebon placed the drums
Upon the elephants, and full of fight
Set forward toward the sea. Karan resigned
The army to Shirwi and said: "I go
Disguised as envoy to the castellan
To show to him the signet-ring of Tur.
When I am in the castle I will raise
The standard, and will make the blue swords gleam.
Approach ye then the hold, and when I shout
Make onset and lay on."
He left the host
Hard by the hold while he himself advanced,
And when he reached the castle told his tale,
Showed to the castellan Tur's signet-ring
And said: "I come from Tur, who bade me not
Stop to draw breath, and said: ' Go to the castellan
And say to him? Be watchful day and night,
Share both in weal and woe, guard well the castle,
Be vigilant, and if Shah Minuchihr
Shall send his troops and standard 'gainst the hold
Assist each other, and put forth your strength;
And may ye overthrow the enemy."
The castellan heard this and recognised
The signet-ring; they oiled the castle-gates
He saw the seeming, but he saw no more.
Mark here the rustic poet's moralising:
"No one but He alone who placed the heart
Within can see its secrets. Be our part
To labour at the duty of the day;
So be the good and evil what they may,
Mine only duty is to say my say."
The castellan re-entered with Karan,
Who loved the fight, the guileless with the guileful.
This chieftain, though prepared for stratagems,
Sealed friendship with a stranger, and in folly
Gave both his head and castle to the winds.
He thus addressed his son - a warrior-pard :-
"My son, who art so skilful and adroit
Do nothing rashly and in ignorance,
But ponder well and mark from first to last
The homed words of one that is a stranger,
Especially in times of war and strife.
Search well and live in dread of ambuscades,
Look deeply whatsoe'er the matter be,
And how a chieftain shrewd of intellect,
By leaving some small detail unexplored,
And not considering the foemen's craft,
May render up his fortress to the winds."
At break of day Karan, who loved the fight,
Set up a standard like the moon full-orbed;
He shouted and made signals to Shirwi
And his exalted chiefs. Shirwi perceiving
The royal standard made toward the hold,
Seized on the gate, threw in his troops and crowned
The chiefs with blood. Here was Karan and there
Shirwi, the sword above, the sea below.
By noon the castle's form and castellan's
Had vanished. Thou couldst see a cloud of smoke,
But ship and castle were invisible.
Fire blazed, wind blew, rose horsemen's shouts and cries
For help. At sunset hold and plain were level,
And twice six thousand of the foe were slain.
A pitchy reek rose o'er a pitchy shore
And all the surface of the waste ran gore.
How Kakwi, the Grandson of Zahhak, attacked the Iranians
Karan returned and told the prince, who said:-
"May horse and mace and saddle ne'er lack thee.
When thou hadst gone another host approached,
Led by a young and battle-loving chief,
A grandson of Zahhak, and called, I hear,
Kakwi - an infidel - with haughty horsemen
And men of name a hundred thousand strong,
And slaughtered many of our lion-warriors.
Salm now is bent on fight since this ally
Hath come to help him from Gang-i-Dizhhukht.
They tell me that he is a warlike div,
In battle unappalled and strong of hand.
I have not reached him in the combat yet,
Nor ta'en his measure with the warriors' mace,
But when he cometh next to fight with us
I will essay him and will try his weight."
Karan replied: "O prince! who can confront thee
In battle? If he were a pard his skin
Would burst upon him at the thought of fight.
Who is Kakwi? What is Kakwi? Thy foes
Will never play the man. I will devise
A shrewd device in this emergency
That none like vile Kakwi may ever come
Henceforth to fight us from Gang-i-Dizhhukht."
The noble prince replied: "Be not concerned.
Thou art exhausted with thy late exploit,
Thy marching and revenge; it is my turn
To do the fighting : breathe awhile, great chief! "
The din of trump and pipe arose without,
The tymbals sounded and the horsemen's dust
Made air pitch-black and earth like ebony.
Thou wouldst have said: "These Diamonds have life,
These maces and these javelins have tongues! "
Shouts rose around and arrows fledged the air
Like vulture's wings, blood grouted hand to hilt
And spurted from the murk; thou wouldst have said :-
"The earth will rise in waves and whelm the sky."
Kakwi the chieftain raised the battle-shout
And came forth like a div, while Minuchihr
Advanced with Indian sword in hand. Both raised
A cry that rent the hills and frayed the hosts.
Thou wouldst have said: "These chiefs are elephants,
Both terrible, both girt, both bent on vengeance."
Kakwi thrust at the girdle of the prince,
Whose Ruman helmet shook : his mail was rent
Down to the belt so that his waist appeared.
The prince's falchion struck Kakwi's cuirass
And clove it by the neck, and thus they fought
Till noon like pards and puddled earth with blood.
As day declined the prince, sufficed with fight,
Reached out and gripping firmly with his legs
Caught with all ease the girdle of Kakwi,
Dragged from his steed his elephantine form,
Flung him upon the burning sand and gashed
His chest and bosom with the scimitar.
Thus went that Arab to the winds a prey;
His mother bare him for so ill a day!
How Salm fled and was Slain by the Hand of Minuchihr
Kakwi being dead, the master of the West,
Whose stay was broken, ceased to seek revenge
And sought to gain his stronghold in his flight,
But when he reached the sea saw not a spar
Of any vessel there. The Iranian host,
Though clogged by killed and wounded on the plain,
Pursued apace, while Minuchihr, all wrath
And vengeance, cast his fleet white charger's mail
And pressed on till within the foemen's dust
And hard upon the king of Rum he cried :-
"Thou who art guilty of the blackest crime,
Who murderedst thy brother for his crown!
Hast thou obtained it? Whither wilt thou flee?
I bring thee now, O king! a crown and throne
The royal Tree'hath come to bearing fruit.
Fly not the throne of greatness! Faridun
Hath got a new throne ready for thine use.
The tree which thou bast planted beareth now,
And thy breast shall receive the produce of it;
If thorns, the tree was planted by thyself;
If painted silk, the weaving was thine own."
As thus he spake he urged his steed along
And in another moment overtook
And clave the king asunder from the neck,
Then bade the head be set upon a spear,
While all admired his might and warlike arm.
Salm's troops were scattered like a flock by snow
And wandered aimlessly in companies
Amid the wastes, the caverns, and the hills.
They bade one wary, wise, and eloquent
To go to Minuchihr forthwith and say
On their behalf: "We are thy subjects all
And only tread the earth to do thy will.
Among us there are some possessed of herds,
And some of tilth and palaces. To fight
Was not our interest but our king's command;
We came as soldiers, not to seek revenge.
We are the Shah's slaves now and bow our heads
To do his will and pleasure. If he willeth
Revenge and bloodshed we can but submit.
We all are guiltless and we all come in,
So let him do as seemeth good to him,
For he is master of our guiltless lives."
Thus spake the sage, the chief in wonder answered :-
"I cast my passions and exalt my name.
What is not God's is Ahriman's and evil;
Be all such banished from my sight, and may
The divs be punished for their sins. Ye all
Are either foes or friends and mine allies,
But innocent and guilty both are spared
Since God bath given us victory. 'Tis the day
Of justice, wrong bath ceased, the leaders' heads
Are safe from falling now. Seek brotherhood
And use it for a charm, put off from you
The implements of war, be wise and pure
In Faith, secure from ill, and banish vengeance.
Now in your dwellings wheresoe'er they be,
In Chin, Turan, or in the land of Rum,
Let all the virtues form your pedestal
And be your homes those of enlightened minds."
The great chiefs praised that noble, upright prince,
And proclamation issued from his tent :-
"Ye paladins whose counsel prospereth
Shed no more needless blood, the tyrants' fortunes
Then all the troops of Chin
Fell prostrate, brought their arms and gear of war
To Minuchihr, and as they passed him piled
A mountain of horse-armour, helms, and breastplates,
Of maces and of Indian scimitars,
While Minuchihr the chieftain graciously
Entreated each one as his rank might be.
How the Head of Salm was sent to Faridun
The hero called a courier, gave to him
The head of Salm, the monarch of the West,
And wrote to tell his grandsire of the fight
And strategy, first giving God the praise
And then the Shah: "Praise to the conquering World-lord
From whom are virtue, power, and Grace! His blessing
Is now on Faridun, that wise, brave Shah,
Who hath released us from the bonds of ill,
And hath the wisdom and the Grace of God.
We are avenged upon the cavaliers
Of Chin. We lay in ambush for their lives.
Strong in the Shah with our avenging scimitars
We smote the heads off those unrighteous men,
Who both were reeking with Iraj's blood;
We purged the surface of the earth with steel.
Lo! I am coming like the wind behind
My letter, and will tell thee all that passed."
He sent Shirwi, the aspiring veteran,
Back to the hold, and said? Explore the booty,
Act as thou seest best, and take the Shah
The spoil upon high-crested elephants."
He bade the drummers and the pipers fare
Forth from the royal tent, and from that hold
In Chin marched inland back to Faridun.
As he approached Tammisha on his way
His grandsire longed to look at hire. The blast
Of clarions ascended from the gate,
The host began to march out. Faridun,
That man of wakeful fortune, decked the backs
Of all the elephants with turquoise thrones,
And golden litters with brocade and gems.
A world of banners, yellow, red, and blue,
Waved overhead. The host marched toward Sari,
Like black clouds from the waters of Gllan,
With golden bridles and with golden girdles,
With silvern stirrups and with golden bucklers,
With treasures, elephants, and precious stores,
In readiness to welcome Minuchihr.
Now as that prince approached the royal host
His grandsire went afoot to welcome him,
As did the men of Gil like lions loose,
With torques of gold and helmets black as musk.
The Iranians followed on behind the Shah,
Each like a savage lion, troops went first,
The elephants and lions in the midst,
Behind the elephants more valiant troops.
Whenas the flag of Faridun appeared
The host of Minuchihr deployed in line.
That youthful prince, that sapling just producing
Its earliest fruits, dismounted from his steed.
He kissed the ground and blessed the monarch's throne,
His diadem and crown and signet-ring,
But Faridun commanded him to mount,
Kissed him and grasped his hand.
Returning home sent word to Sdm, the son
Of Nariman: "Come presently," for Sam
Had come from Hindustan to help to fight
Against the sorcerers, and brought withal
A mighty store of gold and precious things
Above whate'er the Shah required of him -
Such myriads of jewels and dinars
That no accountant could have reckoned them.
Sam, when he reached the monarch of the world,
Saluted both the old Shah and the young.
The famous monarch seated Sam beside him,
The great king seated the great paladin,
And said: "I put my grandsire in thy charge,
For I must now depart. Help him in all
And make him show a prowess like thine own."
The great Shah lightly laid the young man's hand
In that world-paladin's, looked up and said:-
"Almighty God! Just Judge who sayest sooth
Thou saidst : 'I am the Almighty, the just Judge,
The Help of the oppressed in their distress.'
Right hast Thou done me, Thou hast holpen me
And given me both crown and signet-ring.
God! Thou hast granted me my whole desire;
Now take me to the other world - a better
Than this - because I would not that my soul
Should tarry longer in this narrow sphere."
Shirwi the chieftain with the spoils approached
The palace of the Shah, who lavished all
The booty on the troops.
He gave directions,
Two days ere Mihr, for Minuchihr to sit
Helmed on the throne of gold, with his own hands
Crowned the young prince, and gave his last commands.
The Death of Faridun
This done, the great king's day and fortune changed,
The leafage withered on the royal tree;
He quitted crown and throne and with the heads
Of those three kings beside him lived in tears
And in austerities: his plaint was this
"My days are changed and darkened by these three,
Who were my heart's delight and grief withal,
Thus slain before me miserably, in hatred,
And as my foes would wish. Such ills befell them
Through their perversity and evil deeds;
They disobeyed me and the world frowned on them."
His heart was full, his face all tears till death.
Though Faridun is gone there is his name
Still left through all the years that have passed by;
He was, my son! all excellence and fame -
One who found profit in adversity.
Then Minuchihr put off the royal crown,
He girt a blood-stained girdle round his loins,
And reared a charnel as the Shahs were wont
Of ruddy gold and lapislazuli.
They placed a throne of ivory within
And hung a crown above it, visited
The dead to say farewell, as was the use
And ritual, then shut the charnel-door
In such ill case that dear one left the world
One sennight Minuchihr gave up to grief,
His eyes were full of tears, his cheeks were pale,
And for a sennight city and bazar
Were mourning with their mourning sovereign.
O world which art all wind and levity
The man of wisdom hath no joy of thee.
Thou fosterest each one with thy caress,
No matter if his life be more or less,
But when thou willest to revoke the trust
What reekest thou of coral or of dust?
Man' when the world hath snapped in twain the cord
Of this world for thee, be thou liege or lord,
Thy griefs and pleasures as a dream appear
Vex not thy heart then to continue here.
Blest is the man who, whether king or thrall,
Bequeatheth good as his memorial!
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