Volume V, Chapter XV
Gushtasp & Zardhusht
How Firdausi saw Dakiki in a Dream
Thus was it that one night the poet dreamed:-
He held a cup of wine whose fragrance seemed
Rosewater-like. Dakiki from his stead
Appeared and, speaking of that wine-cup, said
Thus to Firdausi: "Quaff not save thou choose
The fashion of the days of Kai Kaus,
For he that is the monarch of thy choice,
In whom crown, throne, and fortune all rejoice,
Mahmud, the king of kings and conqueror,
Who giveth all a portion of his store,
Shall from today for fourscore years and five
Behold his travail wane, his treasury thrive,
Shall lead to Chin hereafter his array,
And every chief shall ope for him the way.
He will not need to speak an angry word,
All crowns will come to him with one accord.
If o'er this story then hast somewhat striven
Now all that then didst wish to thee is given.
I too told somewhat of this history,
And if then findest it be kind to me.
I sang a thousand couplets of Gushtasp,
Before my day was done, and of Arjasp,
And if my work shall reach the king of kings
My soul will soar o'er sublunary things."
So now the verses that he wrote I give,
For he is gathered to the dust; I live.
How Luhrasp went to Balkh and how Gushtasp sat
upon the Throne
Now when Luhrasp, descending from the throne
Resigned it to Gushtasp, he made him ready
To go to Naubahar in cherished Balkh,
Because he had become God's votary,
And men then held that fane in reverence,
Just as the Arabs reverence Mecca now.
He reached the fane, the Shah, that man of God,
Dismounted there, and there at last he died.
He shut the portal of that glorious fane,
And let no mien enter it, assumed
The woollen raiment of a devotee -
The garniture wherein to worship wisdom -
Put off his armlets, let his hair grow long,
And set himself to serve the all-just Judge.
Upstanding in His presence thirty years,
Such is the way that men should serve the Lord,
He offered supplication to the sun,
According to the custom of Jamshid.
Gushtasp, succeeding to his father's throne,
His Grace, and fortune, donned his father's gift,
The crown, fit ornament of noble men.
"I am," he said, "a Shah that serveth God,
And holy God hath given me this crown
That I might keep the wolves apart the flock.
Toward God's way will we stretch forth our hands,
And to the noble straiten not the world,
But, as hath been the custom of the Shahs,
Convert ill-doers to the Faith of God."
He spread abroad his justice in such wise
That wolf and sheep drank of the stream together.
At length Nahid, illustrious Caesar's daughter,
She whom the noble Shah named Katayun,
Bare him two sons, each like the moon in splendour,
One, famous, glorious Asfandiyar,
A warlike prince and doughty cavalier,
The other, Bishutan, the valiant swordsman,
A famous prince, a shatterer of hosts.
The new Shah, when acknowledged by the world,
Was fain to be another Faridun.
All other kings paid tribute, and the heart
Of every liege was well disposed to trim,
Save King Arjasp, the ruler of Turan,
Who had the divs for servants and admitted
No claim for tribute, would not hear advice,
And since he would not hear was doomed to chains.
He took too tribute from the Shah each year,
But why should one pay tribute to his peer?
How Zarduhsht appeared and how Gushtasp accepted
Thus passed a while, and then a Tree appeared
On earth within the palace of Gushtasp,
And grew up to the roof - a Tree whose roots
Spread far and wide, a Tree with many branches,
Its leafage precept and its fruitage wisdom
flow shall one die who eateth of such fruit
A Tree right fortunate and named Zarduhsht -
The slayer of malignant Ahriman.
Thus said he to the monarch of the world
"I am a prophet and thy guide to God."
He brought a censer, filled with fire, and said:-
"This have I brought with me from Paradise.
The Maker of the world said: 'Take thou this,
And look upon the heaven and the earth,
Because I made them not of dust and water
Behold herein how I created them.
See now if any one could do this thing,
Save I that am the Ruler of the world?
If thou acknowledgest My handiwork
Thou must acknowledge Me to be the Lord.'
Receive His good religion from the speaker,
And learn from him His usage and the way.
See that thou do as he directeth thee,
Choose wisdom, recognise this world as vile,
And learn the system of the good religion,
For kingship is not well when Faith is lacking."
When that good Shah had heard of that good Faith,
And had accepted it and its good customs,
His valiant brother, glorious Zarir,
Who used to vanquish mighty elephants;
The Shah, his father, now grown old at Balkh,
To whose heart worldly things were bitterness;
The mighty chiefs from all the provinces,
The wise physicians and the men of war,
All gathered to the monarch of the earth,
Assumed the cincture and received the Faith.
Then was the Grace of God made manifest,
For evil left the hearts of evil men,
The charnels were fulfilled with light divine,
And seeds were freed from all impurity.
Then mounting to his throne high-born Gushtasp
Dispatched his troops throughout the provinces,
Distributed archmages through the world,
And set up Fanes of Fire. He first established
The Fire of Mihr Barzin; consider well
The system that the realm received from him.
Zarduhsht then planted him a noble cypress
Before the portal of the Fane of Fire,
And wrote upon that noble, straight-stemmed tree:-
"Gushtasp is convert to the good religion";
Thus did he make the noble cypress witness
That wisdom was disseminating justice.
When in this manner many years had passed
The cypress-tree increased in height and girth,
Until that noble tree had grown so great
That e'en a lasso would not compass it.
When it had sent aloft full many a bough
Gushtasp raised over it a goodly palace,
Whereof the height and breadth were forty cubits;
He used no clay or water in the building.
When he had reared the palace of pure gold,
With silvern earth and dust of ambergris,
He painted there a picture of Jamshid,
Engaged in worshipping the sun and moon,
Commanded too a picture to be drawn
Of Faridun armed with the ox-head mace,
And limned there all the potentates. Consider
If other ever had such puissance.
When that famed hall of gold had grown thus goodly
He had its walls inlaid with precious stones,
And set an iron rampart round about.
The king of earth made it his home. He sent
This message through the reahn: "In all the world
What equalleth the cypress of Kishmar?
God sent it down to me from Paradise,
And said: 'Ascend to Paradise therefrom.'
Now hearken, all of you, this rede of mine
Go to the cypress of Kishmar afoot;
Adopt ye all the pathway of Zarduhsht,
And, turning from the images of Chin,
Gird round your loins the cincture in the Grace
And greatness of the monarch of Iran.
Heed not the usance of your predecessors,
Trust in the shadow of this cypress-tree,
And fix your gaze upon the Shrine of Fire,
As bidden by the Prophet of the Truth."
He spread abroad his words throughout the world
Among the men of name and potentates,
And at his bidding all that wore the crown
Turned them toward the cypress of Kishmar;
This holy shrine a paradise was found
Wherein Zarduhsht the Div in fetters bound.
How Gushtasp refused to Arjasp the Tribute for Iran
Time passed. The monarch's star was blessed.
The old, said to the ruler of the world:-
"'Tis not accordant to our Faith for thee
To pay a tribute to the prince of Chin,
Nor consonant with custom and religion.
Moreover I can not assent thereto,
For no one of our Shahs in days of yore
Hath yielded tax and tribute to the Turkmans,
Who all were impotent against Iran."
Gushtasp assented, saying: "I will order
No tribute to be paid."
A valiant div,
On hearing this, went to the king of Chin,
And said to him: "O monarch of the world!
Throughout it all the people great and small
Agree in executing thy commands,
And not one cometh forth against thy spearpoint
Excepting Shah Gushtasp, son of Luhrasp,
Who leadeth out a host against the Turkmans,
Hath made his hostile purpose clear, and wrought
His devilry against a king like thee.
More than a hundred thousand cavaliers
Are mine, and I will bring them if thou wilt.
Go to then, let us follow up his doings;
See that thou fear not to contend with him."
Ajasp, when he had heard the div speak thus,
Descended from the royal Turkman throne,
And, having summoned all the priests, announced
What he had heard to them. "Know ye," said he,
"That God's Grace and pure Faith have left Iran,
Where some old dotard hath appeared who claimeth
To be a prophet, and his words are these:-
'I have come down from heaven, I have come down
From Him who is the Master of the world.
I have beheld the Lord in Paradise,
And all the Zandavasta is His writing;
I saw, moreover, Ahriman in Hell,
But dared not venture near; the Lord then sent me
To teach the monarch of the earth the Faith:
The chief among the nobles of Iran,
The most illustrious son of Shah Luhrasp,
He whom the Iranians call Gushtasp, hath bound
The cincture round his loins, as hath withal
His brother, that courageous cavalier,
The general of Iran, Zarir by name.
All gather to Zarduhsht to be instructed,
And are befooled by that old sorcerer.
All have with one consent embraced his Faith
His cult and ritual fulfil the world.
By such fond methods and buffoonery
Hath he become a prophet in Iran.
Needs must I write a letter to that rebel,
Give him great gifts, for gifts unasked are pleasant,
And say to him: 'Abandon thine ill course,
Be awed before the God of Paradise,
Put far from thee that ancient miscreant,
And hold a feast according to our customs.'
If then he will accept of our advice
Our bonds will not prove galling to his feet;
If he reject it and revive old feuds
We will assemble our disbanded troops,
And, mustering a goodly host, invade
Iran in consequence of these his doings,
And, fearing not the pains and his resistance,
Will bring him to contempt, before us drive,
Put him in chains, and gibbet him alive:'
How Arjasp wrote a Letter to Gushtasp
The warriors of Chin agreed thereto,
And chose, moreover, from themselves two envoys,
The one a mighty man hight Bidirafsh,
Advanced in years, a warlock stout of heart,
The other named Namkhast - a sorcerer -
Whose thoughts were ever bent upon destruction.
The monarch wrote a fair and goodly letter
To that illustrious sovereign and convert:-
"First, I have written in the World-lord's name,
Who knoweth what is manifest and hidden,
This royal letter, worthy of a king.
To brave Gushtasp, the monarch of the earth,
The worshipful and worthy of the state,
The elect, the eldest son of Shah Luhrasp,
Lord of the world and warden of the throne,
This from Arjasp, prince of the mighty men
Of Chin, a world-subduing cavalier,
And chosen hero."
In that royal letter
He wrote fair greetings in the Turkman script:-
"O famed son of the monarch of the world,
Who brightenest the throne of king of kings !
Fresh be thy head, thy soul and body hale,
Thy royal loins tight-girded. I have heard
That thou hast taken to disastrous courses,
And turned bright day to darkness for thyself.
A cozening old man hath come to thee,
Hath filled thy heart with terrors and alarms,
And with his talk of Hell and Paradise
Hath sown the seeds of folly in thy heart.
Thou hast accepted him and his religion,
Hast glorified his doctrine and his rites,
Hast flung aside the customs of the Shahs -
The mighty of the world, thy predecessors -
And wrecked the Faith professed by paladins.
Why dost thou disregard the past and future?
Thou art the son of him on whom of all
The folk the glorious Shah bestowed the crown,
And he chose thee among his choicest ones
In preference to the offspring of Jamshid,
So that, like Kai Khusrau - the man of vengeance -
Thou wast more glorious than the other Kaians.
Thou hadst, famed monarch ! royal might and lustre,
Grace, power, and magnificence, with standards,
Vast armies, elephants caparisoned,
And treasuries fulfilled with goodly havings,
While every chief was well disposed toward thee,
And thou didst shine resplendent in the world -
Ardibihisht with Sol in Aries.
God gave to thee the kingship of the earth,
And all thy chieftains stood before thee. Thou
Didst err, ungratefully, despite His care,
While even after He had made thee Shah
An ancient sorcerer misled thee. When
The news arrived I saw the stars by day
Now have I written thee a friendly letter,
For I am both thy friend and good ally.
When thou hast read it make complete ablution,
And countenance no longer that impostor;
Put off the cincture that is round thy loins,
And quaff with joy the sparkling wine once more.
Cast not aside the usage of the Shahs,
The mighty of the world, thy predecessors.
Now if thou wilt accept this goodly counsel
Thy life shall not be injured by the Turkmans,
Their territory, with Kashan and Chin,
Shall be to thee e'en as Iran itself,
I will bestow on thee the boundless treasures
That I have gotten me by mine own toils,
Fair-coated steeds bedecked with gold and silver,
And trappings all inlaid with gems, and I
Will with the treasures send to thee boy-slaves
And handmaids - pictures all - with crispy locks.
But if thou wilt accept not this my counsel,
Then shalt thou feel my heavy iron bonds,
For I will follow in a month or twain
This letter and will desolate thy realm,
Lead from the Turkmans and from Chin a host,
Whose tents the earth itself will not support,
Will fill the channel of Jihun with musk,
And stanch therewith the waters of the sea,
Consign thy pictured palace to the flames,
And raze thee utterly, both root and branch,
Will set your land on fire from end to end,
And skewer you all together with mine arrows.
Those that are old among the Iranians
Will I make prisoners, will behead the worthless,
And carry off the women and the children
As slaves to mine own land; I will lay waste
Your country and uproot the trees. So much
I had to say. See that thou do thy part,
And lay this letter's counsel to thy heart."
How Arjasp sent Envoys to Gushtasp
Now when the monarch's minister had finished
The letter, all the captains being present,
Arjasp rolled, scaled, and then delivered it
To those old sorcerers, instructing them:-
"Be prudent, go together to his palace,
And, when ye see him on the throne of state,
Both bow yourselves forthwith, and proffer him
The worship that pertaineth unto kings,
With eyes upon the ground. When ye are seated,
Look steadfastly upon his shining crown,
Deliver mine enlightening embassage,
Attend to what he sayeth in reply,
And, having heard the answer every whit,
Kiss ye the ground before him and depart."
Then Bidirafsh, the vengeful, left the presence,
And bare his banner forth toward famous Balkh,
While with him fared Namkhast, his headstrong comrade -
One to be shunned by all that seek for fame.
Arrived at Balkh they went toward the court
Afoot and, drawing nearer to Gushtasp,
Bowed down themselves before him on the threshold.
When they beheld his visage o'er the throne,
As though it were the sun above the moon,
They did obeisance, such as slaves would do,
Before the Shah - the monarch of the happy -
Then gave to him the letter of the king,
The letter written in the Turkman script.
The Shah, on opening the letter, raged
And writhed. He called his counsellor Jamasp,
The chosen chiefs, the captains of the host,
The experienced magnates and the archimages,
Then spread the Zandavasta out before him.
He called his Prophet and archmage, he called
Zarir, his well beloved, his general,
Who was his brother and the chief of all
The warriors, and then world-paladin
Because Asfandiyar, the cavalier,
Was still a youth. Zarir was leader, warden,
The refuge of the world, the horsemen's stay
'Twas his to clear the earth of evil doers,
And couch his lance in battle. Said Gushtasp:-
"Arjasp, the ruler of Turan and Chin,
Hath written unto me in terms like these!"
And he informed them of the scurrile words
Addressed to him by the Turanian king.
"What are your views herein," he said to them,
"What do ye say? How will the matter end?
How very ill-advised was amity
With one who hath so small a stock of wisdom!
My race is from Iraj of holy birth,
While he is sprung from Tur, the sorcerer.
How then can there be peace betwixt us twain,
Although I used to deem it possible?
And now let him that is the most possest
Of reputation speak before the rest."
How Zarir made Answer to Arjdap
Whenas the sovereign had spoken thus,
Zarir, the leader, and Asfandiyar
Unsheathed their scimitars forthwith, and cried:-
"If there be any one in all the world
Who holdeth not Zarduhsht to be a prophet,
Is disobedient and approacheth not
The courtgate of the glorious Shah, nor girdeth
His loins before the splendid throne, rejecting
The way and good religion, and refusing
To be a slave thereto, his life will we
Part from his body with our scimitars,
And set his head upon a lofty stake."
He that was hight Zarir, the Iranian leader,
A hero valiant as the rending lion,
Said to the world's king: "O illustrious!
If I may have permission from the Shah
To give Arjasp, the sorcerer, his answer ...."
And Shah Gushtasp approved thereof: "Go to,"
He said, "arise then, give hilts his reply,
And make his warriors of Khallukh like gleeds."
Zarir, with glorious Asfandiyar,
And with that prosperous minister, Jamasp,
Departed with stern hearts and frowning looks,
And wrote a letter to Arjasp the foul -
A fit response. Zarir, chief of the host,
Took it still open, bare it to the Shah,
And read it out to him. The world-lord marvelled
At that sage general and cavalier,
And at Jamasp, and at Asfandiyar,
Then fastened up the letter, wrote thereon
His name, and called to him the ambassadors.
"Take this," he said, "and bear it to Arjasp.
Henceforth perchance ye will not tread my roads.
Were not safe-conduct for ambassadors
Enjoined expressly in the Zandavasta,
I would have wakened you from drowsihead,
And hung you all alive upon the gibbet,
In order that yon worthless one might learn
That he may not exalt his neck with kings."
He threw the letter at them, saying: "Take it,
And bear it to the Turkman sorcerer.
Say: 'Thy calamity is drawing nigh,
The need for blood and dust hath come upon thee.
Be thy neck smitten and thy spirit wounded,
And may thy bones be scattered on the ground.
Next Dai, God willing, I will habit me
In heavy iron mail, lead forth the host
Against the country of Turan to war,
And ruinate the realm of the Gurgsar.'"
How the Envoys returned to Ajasp with the
Letter of Gushtasp
The monarch of the earth, when he had ended
His speech, sent for his general, greeted him,
Put in his charge the ambassadors, and said:-
"See them beyond the borders of Iran."
The envoys left the presence of Gushtasp,
And went their way with dust upon their heads,
The Shah dismissing them with ignominy.
From glorious Iran they reached Khallukh,
But in Khallukh were still inglorious.
As soon as they perceived the monarch's palace
Afar, surmounted by the sable standard,
They lighted from their proudly pacing steeds,
Their hearts were broken and their eyes were dim.
They went afoot before their sovereign,
With souls all darkness and with livid cheeks,
And gave to him the letter of the Shah -
The answer of Zarir the cavalier.
The letter was unfolded by a scribe,
Who read it to the king of Turkman race.
The writing in the letter of the prince,
The leader of the brave, the warrior-horseman,
Ran: "Thine insulting letter to the Shah
Arrived, and I have listened to and marked
Words that were not becoming thee to utter,
Words that should not be written or divulged,
Not fit to be read out and hearkened to.
Thus spakest thou: 'I will lead forth anon
A host against that jocund land of thine.'
For my part I need not four months or twain
Ere I lead forth my Lions of the fray.
Bring not upon thyself increase of toil,
Because I shall unlock my treasury,
And lead a thousand thousand warriors,
All risen of name, all veterans in fight,
All offspring of Iraj, the paladin,
Not of Afrasiyab, or of the Turkmans,
All moon-faced men, all kings to look upon,
All upright in their stature and their speech,
All worthy of the empire and the throne,
All worthy of the treasure, crown, and host,
All spearmen and all swordsmen, all of them
The leaders and the shatterers of armies,
All brandishing their lances as they ride,
All with my name inscribed upon their signets,
All converts to the Faith, all men of wisdom,
All worthy of the earring and the armlet.
When they are ware that I have bound the drums
Upon the elephants their horses' hoofs
Lay low the heights, and when they arm for battle
They send the dust-clouds flying to high heaven.
Firm as a mountain are they in the saddle,
The hill-tops shatter at them, while among them
For choice there are two warrior-cavaliers -
Zarir, the leader, and Asfandiyar -
Who, when they don their iron panoply,
Bestride the sun and moon, and, when they shoulder
The crashing mace, their Grace illumineth
The Grace and form of others. As they stand
Before the host thou must perforce observe them.
They with their crowns and thrones are like the sun,
Their countenances shine with Grace and fortune.
The other troops and chiefs are like myself -
Approved and chosen of the archimages -
So never fill up the Jihun with musk,
For I will open thy parched treasuries,
And, if it pleaseth God, will trample down
Thy head in fight upon the day of battle."
Arjasp descended from his throne, amazed
At reading this, and bade his generals:-
"Call out the whole host at tomorrow's dawn."
The warriors of the army, chosen men
Of Chin, came to Turan from every quarter.
The monarch had two brothers - Ahrimans -
One hight Kuhram, Andariman the other,
Who both received drums, elephants, and standards,
Bedecked with yellow, red, and violet.
He gave to them three hundred thousand men,
Selected and courageous cavaliers.
He oped the treasury-doors and paid the troops,
Bade blow the trumpets and load up the baggage.
He had Kuhram, his brother, called in haste,
And gave him charge of one wing of the host.
He gave the other to Andariman,
And took his own position in the centre.
There was an aged Turkman named Gurgsar,
To whom the king gave the command in chief
Thou wouldst have said: "He knoweth naught but ill."
To Bidirafsh, the brother of this man,
He sent a banner blazoned with a wolf.
There was a valiant man by name Khashash,
Who fought afoot with lions; him the king
Made leader of the scouts and of the vanguard
They bore his flag as champion of the host.
There was a Turkman who was named Hushdiv;
The monarch sent him to the rear, and said:-
"Keep guard behind the army and if thou
See one deserting slay him on the spot,
And take good heed herein."
Thus in fierce wrath
He fared with full heart and with eyes all tears.
He ravaged as he went, he set on fire
The palaces, and razed trees, root and branch.
That king of infidels led forth his host,
With vengeful heart, against the Iranian coast,
How Gushtasp assembled his Troops
As soon as tidings came to Shah Gushtasp:-
"The ruler of the Turkmans and of Chin
Hath made his preparations and set forth,
Dispatching to the front the brave Khashash,"
He bade his general: "At dawn tomorrow
Array the elephants, lead out the host."
He wrote a letter to his marchlords thus:-
The Khan hath left the pathway of the great.
Come to my court-gate, all ! because my foes
Are at the border."
When the letter reached
Those nobles with this news: "There hath appeared
A foeman who ambitioneth the world,"
Troops gathered at the portal of the Shah,
Out-numbering the grass-blades on the ground.
The warriors of the world girt up their loins
To aid the Kaian Shah, the world-possessor,
And, as he had commanded, all the marchlords
Set forward to the court-gate of the king.
Anon a thousand thousand gathered round
The Shah, that famous and benignant Kaian,
Who visited the camp, reviewed the troops,
And chose the fit. It joyed the glorious Shah,
Whose heart was all astound at such a host.
Neat day Gushtasp went with the archimages,
The chiefs, the great men, and the army-captains,
Unlocked the treasures hoarded by Jamshid,
Gave to the soldiers two years' pay and then,
When he had given mail and rations, sounded
The drums and trumpets, loaded up the baggage,
And ordered to be borne before the host
The conquering standard of the glorious Shahs.
He led the troops to battle with Arjasp -
An army such as none had ever seen.
None could discern the daylight or the moon
For murk of flying dust-clouds, troops, and steeds
Whose neighing and the war-cries drowned the drums.
A multitude of banners were displayed,
And spearheads pierced the clouds like trees that grow
On mountain-tops or like reed-beds in spring.
Upon this wise by Shah Gushtasp's command
The army made its way from land to land.
How Jamasp foretold the Issue of the Battle to Gushtasp
When he had reached Jihun from famous Balkh
The captain of the army made a halt.
The Shah departed from among the troops,
Alighted from his steed and, having mounted
Upon the throne, called unto him forthwith
Jamasp his counsellor, the chief archmage,
The first among the nobles, and the lustre
Both of the great men and the generals.
So pure in person was he, so devout
Of soul, that mysteries were revealed to him.
He was a mighty reader of the stars,
And who in point of knowledge had his standing?
Of him the Shah inquired: "God hath endowed thee
With honest counsel and the good religion.
There is none like thee in the world; in short
The Ruler of the world hath given thee knowledge;
So make thy calculations of the stars,
And tell me all the aspect of affairs.
How will the battle go from first to last,
And which of us will meet disaster here?"
The old Jamasp was grieved, with rueful looks
He said: "I would to God that He, the Just,
Had not bestowed on me this skill and wisdom,
For then the Shah would not have questioned me;
Yet will I speak for, if I answer not,
The king of kings will have me put to death."
The world-lord answered: "By the name of God,
By his - the holy bringer of the Faith -
And by the life of that brave cavalier,
Zarir, and that of great Asfandiyar,
I will not ever do thee injury,
Myself, or bid another so to do.
Say what thou knowest touching this affair,
For thou canst give, and I am seeking, help."
The sage made answer! " 0 illustrious Shah !
May thy crown flourish everlastingly.
Know, Kaian warrior, seeker of renown
When fight shall bring the heroes face to face,
When they shall raise their shouts and battle-cries,
And thou wouldst say: 'They tear up all the mountains,'
The mighty men of valour will advance,
And air grow pitchy with the dust of battle;
Then will the world be darkened in thine eyes,
Fire will fulfil the earth and reek the air,
While mid the blows struck and the massive maces,
Descending like smiths' hammers on the steel,
The twang of bowstring will oppress the brain,
And air re-echo with the charger's neigh;
The heavens will be broken, spheres and vaults,
The standards drenched with gore. Full many sons
Wilt thou see fatherless and fathers sonless
First will Ardshir, that Kaian, the king's son,
The famed and gallant, urge his charger forth,
And fling whoe'er opposeth in the dust,
Unhorsing of the Turkman cavaliers
A number greater than the tale of stars,
Yet in the end be slain and his good name
Erased. The monarch's son, the great Shidasp,
In vengeance then will urge his sable steed,
His Rage, draw his sword, and charging slay full many
A horse and man, but in the end his fortune
Will be abased, and his crowned head be bare.
Then my son will come forward with his loins
Girt with my girdle for Shidasp's avengement,
And go, like Rustam, in between the hosts.
How many men of name and warriors
Of Chin will that brave Lion bring to earth,
And undergo much travail in the fray !
I tell the king of kings that Girami,
What time the Iranians drop the glorious flag
Of Kawa, will behold it from his charger,
All dust and blood, and leaping to the ground
Will raise it bravely, with the scimitar
In one hand and the standard in the other -
The violet standard - and while thus bestead
Will overthrow the foe and root the life
Out of those Ahrimans; then suddenly
An enemy vindictively will strike
One hand off with the trenchant scimitar,
And Girami will seize the violet flag
Between his teeth and hold it therewithal,
While with one hand he maketh foes to vanish
No man hath seen a feat wore wonderful;
Yet will a Turkman with an arrow smite
His breast and bring his head and crown to dust.
Next nobly born Nastur, son of Zarir,
Will urge his charger forward like a lion,
And when at last he shall return in triumph,
With hands that have been stretched out o'er the foe,
Nivzar, the chosen horseman, will go forth,
The world-lord's son, will overthrow three score
Of foemen, and display the mastery
Of paladins; but in the end the Turkmans
Will smite him with their arrows and will fling
His elephantine body to the dust.
Next to advance will be that valiant Lion,
That warrior-horseman who is named Zarir
He will go forth, a lasso in his hand,
Upon his Arab bay, arrayed in breastplate
Of gold resplendent as the moon. The troops
Will be astonied at him. He will take
A thousand warriors of the Turkman host,
Put them in bonds, and send them to the Shah,
And wheresoe'er that prince shall turn his face
He will pour forth his foemen's blood in streams.
No one will take that royal paladin,
Who will confound the monarch of the tents.
Then will Zarir see great Ardshir o'erthrown
With livid cheeks and form like turmeric,
Will bitterly lament him and, grown grim,
Urge his bay Arab onward and will set
In bitter wrath his face against the Khan
Thou wouldest say: 'Ne'er hath he looked on flight
When he shall see Arjasp among the host
He will proclaim the praise of Shah Gushtasp,
O'erthrow the battle of the enemy,
And, looking not to any one on earth,
Proclaim the Zandavasta of Zarduhsht,
And put his kingly confidence in God;
But in the end his fortune will be darkened,
The chosen Tree be felled, for there will come
One, Bidirafsh by name, and make his way
Toward the spear that hath the violet standard,
But, daring not to face the chosen champion,
Will lie in wait for him upon the road,
And bar it like a maddened elephant,
While grasping in his hand a venomed sword.
As prince Zarir returneth from the fight,
And thou wouldst say: 'He cometh from a feast,'
That Turkman will let fly at him an arrow,
Not daring to assail him openly,
And thus the chief of nobles will be lost
Through loathly Bidirafsh, who will bear off
His charger and his saddle to the Turkmans.
What man will then be foremost to avenge him?
Anon this famous, mighty host will close,
Like wolves and lions, on the foe, and earth
Will in the mellay blush with warriors' blood,
Their faces all be wan, the bravest tremble,
The army's dust will hide the sun and moon,
While flashes from the spearheads, swords, and arrows
Will glisten as the stars among the clouds.
Then Bidirafsh, that valiant miscreant,
Will go forth like a wolf that raveneth,
And, holding in his hand the envenomed glaive,
Will urge his steed like some mad elephant.
By his hand will a multitude of troops,
And those the choicest of the Shah's, be slain.
Then will the glorious Asfandiyar,
With troops behind and God to succour him,
In blood-stained raiment and with soul fulfilled
By hate bring Doomsday down on Bidirafsh,
Smite with an Indian sword a single blow,
And hurl down half his body from the saddle.
Then with his iron mace in hand the prince
Will illustrate his Grace and majesty,
Will break the foemen with a single charge,
And shall he let them go when they are broken?
Nay, with a spearpoint will he gather them,
And scatter them abroad in utter ruin,
While in the end the king of Chin will flee
Before Asfandiyar, that glorious Kaian,
And in his flight will snake toward Turan,
Heart-broken and in tears, and cross the waste
With but a scanty following, while the Shah
Will be triumphant and the foe destroyed.
Know, 0 thou chosen chief of sovereigns!
What I have said will not be otherwise.
From me thou wilt hear nothing more or less;
Regard me not henceforth with louring looks.
I have not said the things that I have said
Save at thy bidding, O victorious Shah !
And as for what the glorious Shah hath asked
Of that deep sea and dark abysm of fate,
I have not kept back aught that I have seen,
Else why should I have told the Shah these secrets? "
Now when the Shah, the master of the world,
Heard this revealed he sank back on his throne,
And dropped the golden mace; thou wouldst have said:-
"His Grace and majesty alike are gone."
He fell upon his face and swooned away,
He spake no word and uttered not a sound.
The monarch when his sense returned to him
Descended from his throne, wept bitterly,
And " What to me," he said, "are throne and kingship
When all my day shall have been turned to gloom,
My Moons, brave cavaliers, and princes gone?
What need have I for empiry and fortune,
For puissance and host, for crown and throne,
When those that I love best, the most renowned,
The chosen of the host, shall have departed,
And from my body pluck my wounded heart?"
Then to Jamisp he said: "Since things are so,
When it is time to go forth to the battle,
I will not call upon my valiant brother,
I will not burn mine aged mother's heart.
I will forbid his going to the fight,
And give the host to glorious Gurazm.
Those of blood Kaian with my youthful sons,
Who all arc as my body and my soul,
Now will I call before me, will prevent
Their arming and will seat them in my presence.
How can the points of poplar arrows reach
These rocks and mountains higher than high heaven?
The sage replied: "Most gracious, glorious Shah
If these be not before the army, helmed,
Who will dare face the warriors of Chin?
Who will retrieve the Grace and holy Faith?
Rise from this dust, be seated on the throne,
And ruin not the Grace of sovereignty,
For 'tis God's purpose which no shift can stay;
The Maker of the world is not a tyrant.
Thou wilt not profit by indulging grief,
For that which shall be is as good as done.
Distress thy heart no more then but acknowledge
The justice of the Maker of the world."
He gave much counsel while the Shah gave ear,
Grew like the sun, and mounted to his throne,
And as he sat his purpose was confirmed
To fight the ambitious monarch of Chigil;
Oppressed with thought he gat no sleep that night,
And was all eagerness for war and fight.
How Gushtasp and Arjasp arrayed their Hosts
Gushtasp, according to Jamasp's advice,
When morning breathed and starlight disappeared,
Led down his chosen warriors to the field,
And, at the season when the scent of roses
Is wafted houseward by the breath of dawn,
Dispatched according to the Iranian custom
His scouts on every side. A cavalier
Approached and said: "0 monarch of the world !
The enemy is nigh. So great a host
Ne'er came before from Turkistan or Chin.
They have encamped hard by and pitched their tents .
On mountains, dales, and plains. Their general
Hath sent out scouts, and his and thine have met."
Thereat high-born Gushtasp, the valiant Shah,
Called for his general - glorious Zarir -
And gave to him the standard, saying: "Haste
Array the elephants and arm the troops."
The general went forth and ranged his host,
All fain to battle with the king of Chin.
Gushtasp gave one wing to Asfandiyar,
With fifty thousand chosen cavaliers,
Because he had an elephantine breast
And lion's heart. Upon the other wing
He stationed a select and goodly band,
And gave it to the cherished warrior,
Who was the son and equal of the Shah,
The high, exalted, and exultant prince,
To whom the Shah had given the name Shidasp;
While fifty thousand valiant cavaliers
He gave to glorious Zarir, the leader,
Assigning him the centre, for he was
A savage Lion and the Shah's own equal.
The rearguard he entrusted to Nastur,
Of glorious race, the Lustre of Zarir.
The army thus arrayed, the Shah, o'ercome
With grief and spent with labour, sought the height,
Sat down upon his fair, resplendent throne,
And thence surveyed the army.
The monarch of the cavaliers of Chin,
In like wise ranged his forces and dispatched
A hundred thousand horsemen of Khallukh,
All brave and tried, to Bidirafsh, who had,
As general, the drums and golden standard,
Entrusting one wing of the host to him,
Whom not a lion loose would face. He gave
The other to Gurgsir, and gave withal
A hundred thousand chosen cavaliers.
In like wise in the centre of the host
He posted a select and goodly band,
And gave them to that stubborn sorcerer,
Namkhast by name, the son of Hazaran.
With chosen horsemen five score thousand strong,
Whose prowess was renowned throughout the world,
He took his own post rearward in reserve,
O'erlooking every portion of his powers.
He had one son, a man of high repute,
A veteran and pre-eminent in war,
A noble cavalier by name Kuhram
Above whose head much heat and cold had passed;
This son of his he set to oversee
The army and direct the strategy.
The Beginning of the Battle between the Iranians and
Turanians, and how Ardshir, Shiru, and Shidasp were
Now when that night had passed and it was day,
And when the world-illuming sun shone forth,
The troops of both hosts mounted on their saddles,
While Shah Gushtasp observed them from the height.
What time the glorious Shah saw from the mountain
The warriors in their saddles he desired
Bihzad, his sable charger, to be brought
Thou wouldst have said: "'Tis surely Mount Bistun ! "
They put the bards thereon, and then he mounted.
Whenas they set the battle in array,
And champion challenged champion, first they sent
A shower of arrows like a springtide hail,
Such that the sun's course was invisible!
Who will believe that hath not seen that marvel?
The fountain of the sun was garnitured
With javelin-heads that sparkled like a river!
One would have said: "The sky is overcast,
And from the clouds are raining diamonds,"
While through the mace-men and the javelin-men,
Who charged on one another, all the air
Assumed the hue of night and all the earth
Was inundate with gore. First came Ardshir,
That goodly horseman and the world-lord's son,
Like some mad elephant upon the field;
Thou wouldst have said: "Can it be Tus the chief?"
Thus wheeled he before the host, not knowing
What sun and moon decreed. An arrow struck him
Upon the loins, transfixed his Kaian mail,
And that prince tumbled headlong froth his bay,
His stainless form defiled and smirched with blood.
Woe for that fair face radiant as the moon,
Which never more the wise Shah looked upon!
Then came like flying dust high-born Shiru,
Whose heart was full and visage wan, before
The line of battle, bearing in his hand
A venomed sword; he roared as 'twere a lion,
Brought down like on ager full many a foe,
And in his vengeance for that royal horseman
Slew fifty score of hostile cavaliers;
But as he was returning from the fray,
When thus he had incarnadined the earth,
There came an arrow at his nape; the princ e
Fell. Woe for that brave, noble warrior,
Who died and nevermore beheld his sire !
The next to sally forth was prince Shidasp,
One like the moon, a man of royal mien.
He, seated on a steed like indigo,
Fleet as gazelle and huge as elephant,
Rushed on the field of battle, whirled and brandished
His lance as 'twere a twig, held in his steed,
And shouted, saying: "Which is bold Kuhram,
Whose look is as the look of wolf and tiger?"
A div advanced, exclaiming: "I am one
To bite the famished lion."
Then they wheeled
With lances, and the Shah's son speared the Turkman,
Dismounted him, and, cutting off his head,
Flung down his goodly girdle to the dust;
Then wheeled before the warriors of Chin,
As though he were a mountain on the saddle.
In sooth eye never saw a roan so goodly;
His beauty drew all eyes. Howbeit a Turkman
Let fly at him an arrow, and that prince,
That offspring of the Shah, went to the winds.
Woe for that lost one reared so daintily,
Whose face his father was no more to see !
How Girami, Jamasp's Son, and Nivzar were slain
Then of the leaders of the host went forth
The brave son of Jamasp the minister,
A valiant horseman, Girami by name,
Like to the son of Zal, the son of Sam.
Upon a chestnut charger fleet and trusty
He stood before the battle of the men
Of Chin, and, having prayed to God the Judge,
"Who of you," said he, "is of lion-heart
To come against my life-destroying spear?
And where is that o'erweening sorcerer,
Namkhast by name, the son of Hazaran?"
Namkhast went forth to him: thou wouldst have said:-
"That charger hath a mountain on its back!"
Those two accomplished horsemen wheeled about
With mace and lance, with shaft and scimitar,
But gallant Girami had lion's strength;
That valiant cavalier could not withstand him,
And, though a man of battle, took to flight
On seeing that Kaian puissance and keen sword;
Then Girami rode onward in fierce wrath,
With heart all raging to avenge the fallen,
And fell upon the centre of the foe.
Anon a blast rose from the mountain-skirt
As those two armies mingled in the mellay
And sent the dark dust flying. In the turmoil
That followed 'twixt the hosts, amid the strokes
Of scimitars and sable clouds of dust,
Fell from the Iranians' hands the splendid standard
Of Kawa. Girami beheld that flag,
All indigo of hue, which they had flung
From elephant-back, dismounting lifted it,
Shook off the dust, and cleared the soil away.
Now when the warriors of Chin beheld him
Raise from the ground that flagstaff famed and dear,
And, after having cleansed it, bear it off,
Their bravest warriors surrounded him,
And, thus assailing him on all sides, struck
One hand off with a scimitar. He seized
The flag of Faridun a between his teeth
And, strange to tell, plied with the other hand
His mace ! At last they slew him wretchedly,
And flung him vilely on the burning dust.
Alas for that brave, warlike cavalier
That ancient sage beheld him not again.
Immediately went forth Nastur, the Lion,
A warrior, Kaian-born, son of Zarir
He slew a countless multitude of foes,
For he had learned to battle from his father,
And in the end returned victorious
And glad, and stood again before his sire.
Next there went forth the chosen cavalier,
Nivzar, son of the monarch of the world.
He rode a charger fleet of foot - a steed
Of thousands - came to that dark battlefield,
And shouted, saying: "Chosen warriors !
What man of name is there among you all,
What valiant, veteran wielder of the spear?
Let him confront me now with lance in hand,
Because a man of mettle fronteth you."
The cavaliers of Chin rushed forth at him,
And strove to overthrow him. Brave Nivzar,
Who was the finest horseman in the world,
Like some wroth elephant and rending lion,
Kept wheeling round the warriors of Chin
Thou wouldst have said: "He rolleth up the earth ! "
He slaughtered sixty warriors world-renowned,
And nurtured all upon the dust of battle,
But in the end an arrow from a bow
Struck him as it had been a flash from heaven.
He fell from that fleet steed of goodly hue,
And died. Behold the end of combating !
Alas ! that noble cavalier and Lion,
Who fell in vain - the image of his sire -
And woe is me for that fair face and form !
Now when that goodly cavalier was slain
The myriad warriors that were around
Engaged in every quarter of the field,
And raised the dust-clouds from earth's face. Two sennights
Passed in that fight for not a horseman slept,
The earths were filled with slain and wounded men,
The passage of the wind was barred by dust,
The dales and deserts were in tulip-dress,
And blood flowed over waste and wilderness.
How Zarir, the Brother of Gushtasp, was slain by Bidirafsh
In these encounters two weeks passed away,
And all the while the fighting grew more fierce.
Then brave Zarir advanced before the host,
Bestriding his huge chestnut, threw himself
Upon the encampment of the enemy,
Like blazing fire and wind amid the grass,
Slew, and dispatched them to their last repose
None that beheld withstood him. Then Arjasp,
Perceiving that the prince had slaughtered many
Of name, cried loudly to his warriors:-
"What ! will ye let Khallukh go to the winds?
We have been fighting for two weary weeks,
And still I see no prospect of the end.
The warriors of Shah Gushtasp have slain
Full many a man of name among our troops,
And now Zarir is in the midst of you,
As 'twere a fierce wolf or a rending lion,
And he hath slaughtered all my followers,
My noble Turkmans and my men of war
We must devise a remedy for this,
Or trudge back to Turan, for if this man
Continue thus he will not leave Ayas,
Khallukh or Chin: What man of you in quest
Of fame will show among the troops, go forth
Man-like, alone, and compass world-renown?
I will bestow on him my daughter's hand,
And give to him the conduct of my host."
The soldiers answered not a word, for all
Feared that Wild Boar. Immediately Zarir
The chief, the paladin of paladins,
Advancing as he were a furious wolf,
Fell on them like a maddened elephant,
Or lion, slaughtering and overthrowing.
Arjasp, beholding this, was so astound
That day turned dark to him. Again he said -
"0 great, brave princes, warriors of Chin !
Regard ye not your kindred and allies,
Nor yet the wounded groaning 'neath the feet
Of one who is as a consuming fire,
With Sim's mace and the arrows of Arish,
Whose flames e'en now are burning up my host,
And scorching all my kingdom? Who is there
Among you all, one puissant of hand,
To go against yon maddened Elephant?
Whoever will attempt yon warrior-slayer,
And hurl him from his steed, upon that man
Will I bestow a treasury full of gold,
And raise his helmet higher than the sky."
Still no man answered him a word. Arjasp
Was in amazement and his cheeks grew pale.
He spake the third time to the troops, but when
No answer came to him he held his peace.
At last the lusty Bidirafsh advanced -
The foul, that dog, that warlock, that old wolf -
And spake thus to Arjasp: "0 mighty Sun,
In root and stem like to Afrasiyab !
Thee have I brought my life and I have made it,
Sweet as it is, thy shield. I will confront
Yon raging Elephant. If I shall seize,
And fling him to the dust before the king,
Let me be leader of this countless host."
Thereat Arjasp rejoiced, praised Bidirafsh,
Gave his own steed and saddle to that chief,
And therewithal a keen two-headed dart
Of steel that would have pierced an iron mountain.
That foul enchanter with the loathly form
Went toward Zarir, the leader of the folk,
But seeing from afar his fearsome fury,
His beard besoiled, his eyes fulfilled, with dust,
A mace like Sim the hero's in his hand,
And slain before him heaped up like a mountain,
Adventured not to face him openly,
But skirmished round him stealthily and hurled
Unseen at him the double-headed dart.
His royal mail was pierced, his kingly form
Bedrenched with blood. He tumbled from his steed.
Woe for that youthful, royal cavalier
Foul Bidirafsh alighted, stripped the prince,
And bare off to the king the horse and girdle,
The standard and the goodly, jewelled crown,
While all the army shouted and paraded
The standard on an elephant. Gushtasp,
What time he looked forth from the mountain-top,
Saw not amid the dust that Moon of chief's,
And said: "I fear me that the full-orbed Moon,
That ever gave a lustre to the host -
My valiant brother, glorious Zarir,
Who used to overthrow the angry lion -
Hath been dismounted, for the warriors
Have ceased from charging and the princes shout not
Perchance that chief of nobles hath been slain.
Speed to the battlefield a mounted man
Toward yonder sable standard and discover
My royal brother's case, because my heart
Is full and seared for him."
Thus fared the world's king
Till one, whose eyes poured blood-drops, came and said:-
"The Turkman horsemen wretchedly have slain
Thy Moon, the guardian of thy crown and host,
Him that was paladin of paladins -
Zarir the cavalier - for Bidirafsh,
The chief of all the warlocks of the world,
Hath overthrown him and borne off the standard."
The world's king, hearing of that slaying, felt
Death visible. Down to the feet he rent
His robe, strewed dust upon his jocund crown,
And said to sage Jamasp: "What shall I say
To Shah Luhrasp? How can I send to court
A messenger? How tell mine ancient sire?
Alas! that royal warrior ! Alas !
Gone like the bright moon midst the clouds! Bring
Luhrasp's Gulgun and set thereon my saddle."
He made him ready to avenge his brother,
And carry on his Faith and precedent,
But " Pause!" said his experienced minister,
"Thy going to revenge is ill-advised."
So, as that prescient minister enjoined,
The Shah alighted and resumed the throne,
Thus saying to his troops: "What Lion is there
To take revenge for glorious Zarir,
And, urging forth his stood with that intent,
Retrieve my brother's saddle and his charger?
I swear before the Master of the world -
The oath of upright and of noble men -
That whosoe'er shall go forth from the army,
On him will I bestow Humai, my daughter."
But not a man came forward from the host,
And not a single warrior left his post.
How Asfandiyar heard of the Slaying of Zarir
Thereafter tidings reached Asfandiyar:-
"Zarir, that princely cavalier, is slain.
Thy father, overcome by grief for him,
Now purposeth to take revenge himself."
The famous hero wrung his hands, and said:-
"What ill doth fortune spare us? When I saw
Zarir in fight I ever feared this day.
Woe for that horseman, warrior, and chief,
Whom fortune hath discrowned ! Who slew that prince,
That valiant Elephaht? Who plucked from earth
That iron Mount? "
Resigning to a brother
Flag, troops, and his own station, he advanced
Himself and reached the centre, girt his loins,
And seized the royal standard. Now he had
Five brothers, the adornments of the throne,
All men of high renown, the Shah's compeers.
They held Asfandiyar in reverence,
Because it was his wont to shatter hosts.
That Mainstay of the troops said to those nobles:-
"Ye men of name and scions of the Shah !
Attend to what I say, observe it well,
And trust the Faith of God, the Lord of all.
Know then, ye princes ! that this is the day
Which will discern the false Faith from the true.
See that ye fear not death or anything,
For none will die but at his fated time,
And if so be that fated time hath come,
What is more glorious than to die in battle?
Heed not the slain, seek not for further help,
And count not heads. Put not your trust in flight,
And be not terrified at combating.
In battle let your lances' points be low,
Strive for a space and quit you manfully.
If ye will do as I have bidden you
My soul will still be stayed within my body,
Your name will be renowned throughout the world,
And all the host of yon old Wolf will perish."
While matters fared thus with Asfandiyar
His father shouted from the mountain-top:-
"Ye men of name and warriors of mine,
Who are as mine own body and my soul !
Fear ye not arrows, swords, and javelins,
Because there is no fleeing from our fate.
By God's Faith and by brave Asfandiyar,
And by the soul of that loved cavalier,
Zarir, alighted now in Paradise,
Luhrasp the Shah hath written unto me,
And I have pledged me to that ancient man,
That, if good fortune giveth me the day,
I will bestow, when I shall quit the field,
The crown and throne upon Asfandiyar;
I will bestow the royal crown on him.
Just as my sire bestowed the realm on me,
While Bishutan shall have the host, and I
Will crown him with a crown of royalty."
How Asfandiyar went to battle with Arjasp
Asfandiyar, the elephant-bodied hero,
Lord of the throne and terrible of form,
Heard what his father shouted from the mountain,
And hung his head for sorrow. Spear in hand
He came, bent modestly before his sire,
And then, as 'twere a div escaped from bond,
Bestrode a stately grey, like blast on rose-leaves
Fell on the foe, slew, and beheaded them,
While all that saw him died of fright. Nastur,
Son of Zarir the horseman, left his tent,
Went to the keeper of the steeds and bade
To bring him forth one fresh and fleet and broad
Of buttock, like a caracolling mountain.
He set a golden saddle on its back,
And harnessed it and put the bards thereon.
He bound a Kaian lasso to the straps,
Then mounted, after he had armed himself,
And spear in hand rode to the battlefield.
Thus faring till he reached the scene of strifo
He sought to light upon his slaughtered sire.
He hasted, put his charger to its speed,
Exacting vengeance, slaying as he went,
Arid when he saw one of the Iranian race
Would ask that noble of the host, and say:-
"Where was it that Zarir, my father, fell -
That warrior, that doughty cavalier ?"
There was a certain man, Ardshir by name,
A horseman, one of worth, a hero-taker,
Of whom the youth inquired. That warrior
Directed him to where his slain sire lay.
"He fell," so spake Ardshir, "amid the host,
Hard by yon sable standard. Thither haste,
And thou mayst look upon his face once more."
The prince urged on his steed and as he went
He slaughtered foes and dealt destruction round.
He rushed along until he reached his sire,
And, when he saw the corpse upon the dust,
All heart and reason left him. From his saddle
He threw himself upon his father's body,
And thus addressed it: "0 my shining Moon,
The lustre of my heart and eyes and soul !
What toil and trouble hadst thou in my nurture,
And whom didst thou commit me to in dying?
Since Shah Luhrasp bestowed the host upon thee,
And gave Gushtasp the throne and diadem,
Thou hast administered the troops and realm,
And battled with a will. Thy fame on earth
Is bright as thou couldst wish, yet thou art slain
While still unsatisfied; but I will seek
Thy brother, that auspicious Shah, and say:-
'Descend thou from that goodly throne of thine.
Thy conduct is unworthy of my father;
Go forth then and avenge him' on the foe.'"
Longwhile he mourned, then mounted. With exclaims
He sought the Shah upon the goodly throne.
"Life of thy father," said the king of kings,
"Why hast thou filled thine eyes with tears?"
The Kaian-born: "0 monarch of the world !
Go and avenge my sire, because my lord,
His black beard music-perfumed, is left to lie
Upon the arid dust ! "
Now when the Shah
Heard, daylight blackened to him and the world
Loured on its lord; his elephantine form
Shrank, and " Bring forth," he said, "my sable steed,
My battle-mail, and casque, because today
In wreak for him will I pour warriors' blood
In many a stream and light a fire whose reek
Shall reach to Saturn!"
When the warriors
Saw from the field - the hosts' dark scene of strife -
Their sovereign arming, and that he would go
To seek revenge, they said: "The king of kings,
And master of the world, will not go forth
To battle, seeking wreak, with our consent,
Else what need is there to array the host?"
The noble minister addressed the Shah,
And said: "Thou shouldst not go upon the field.
Give to Nastur the steed that thou wouldst mount,
And send him forth to battle with the foe,
For better than thou canst will he require
The vengeance that is owing for his sire."
How Nastur and Asfandiyar slew Bidirafsh
The Shah then gave his steed Bihzad, his helm
Of steel, and sable breastplate to Nastur,
The slaughtered prince's son who, armed and mounted,
Rode forth between the opposing hosts and, halting
Before the battle of the enemy,
Heaved from his breast a deep, cold sigh, and cried:-
"Nastur am I, the offspring of Zarir
The lion dareth not encounter me.
Where is that warlock Bidirafsh who holdeth
The flag of Kawa? "
As no answer came
He urged along night-hued Bihzad, and slew
Full many a valiant warrior of the host,
While no one went forth to encounter him;
On this side too the brave Asfandiyar
Slew of them past all counting and compute.
Whenas the king of Chin beheld Nastur -
That youthful paladin of Kaian race -
He cried out to his troops: "What man is this,
This spearman so accomplished, who hath slain
My chiefs in numbers numberless, unless
Zarir, the cavalier, hath come to life -
He that came out against me at the first,
And urged his charger in this selfsame way?
Where is the chosen warrior Bidirafsh?
He ! summon him before me, and right soon."
Then Bidirafsh went forth at once, he bare
The violet flag, was mounted on the charger
Of prince Zarir, and wore the prince's mail.
Advancing in his pride toward Nastar,
That royal youth, the lustre of the host,
He grasped the selfsame sword of watered steel
Wherewith he had o'orthrown Zarir. They wheeled -
Zarir's son and that chief of Turkman warlocks -
Contending with their scimitars and arrows.
Men told the glorious Asfandiyar,
The Shah's son, of their combating, who made
All haste to go to them. Now when that chief
Of sorcerers beheld this, and perceived
What man now was advancing to assail him,
He urged his charger from amid the fray,
And hurled his baneful weapon at the prince
To darken if he might that radiant face;
It missed the prince, who caught it in his hand
And pierced - a hero's stroke - his foeman's liver,
So that the point came out the other side.
Thus Bidirafsh fell from his steed and perished,
Experiencing the might of Kaian birth.
Asfandiyar dismounted from his steed,
And stripping off the armour of Zarir -
The noble hero - from that ancient warlock,
Whose head he severed from its trunk withal,
He carried off the prince's glossy charger,
The flag, and head of worthless Bidirafsh.
The Kaian army raised a shout, all sent
Their clarnour through the skies: "The prince hath triumphed,
Hath overthrown the foe, gone forth, and brought
The dun steed back!"
The prince, that valiant horseman,
Brought to the Shah Zarir's horse and presented
The head of that old warlock. Thus he slew
The slayer as by law and wont is due.
How Arjasp fled from the Battle
When great Asfandiyar had taken vengeance,
And saddled him the charger of Zarir,
He rode back proudly to the battlefield,
Formed three divisions of the Kaian host,
And gave one to the warrior Nastur
Of glorious birth - the lustre of the troops;
The second - all Iranian warriors
And chieftains - he entrusted to his brother,
And kept the third beneath his own command,
Whose voice was as it were a thundering cloud.
Nastur of stainless birth, the exalted chief,
And Nush Azar, the valiant paladin,
Both bound themselves together solemnly
"Although the foeman's sword shall cleave the earth
We will not come back from the fight alive,
And let those miscreants escape our grasp."
When they had spoken thus and made secure
Their saddle-girths they went forth to the battle.
Now, as they urged their chargers from the lines,
The heroes and the young men of Iran
All came on too and decked the world with mail.
They slew so many horsemen that they cramped
The battlefield. The mill-wheels turned in blood
That streamed from hill and plain. Arjasp, beholding
Advanced with his own chiefs and warriors.
Asfandiyar, the hero-slayer, couched
His lance against those divs of Turkman race,
And sewed them breast to back till he had slain
Full many a haughty chief. Although the Khan
Saw none to aid, and none who dared oppose
Asfandiyar, but that his troops withdrew
Demoralised, he kept his post till eve
Amid the rout, then fled toward the waste.
The Iranians pressed the countless troops of Chin,
And slaughtered them in numbers everywhere,
For, strange to tell! not one showed pity there !
How the Turkmans received Quarter from Asfandiyar
The Turkman troops saw that Arjasp had fled,
That swords were flashing on all sides of them,
And all the chiefs, alighting from their steeds,
Came to the presence of Asfandiyar,
The hero, flung away their Turkman bows,
And doffed their mail. They said to him in anguish:-
"If now the prince will give his servants quarter
We will accept his Faith, will seek instruction
Therein, and all do worship to the Fires."
The Iranian soldiery regarded not
Their words and smote and slaughtered till the world
Shone with their blood, but when Asfandiyar
Had heard the Turkmans' cries he granted quarter
For life and limb. That elephantine hero,
That princely scion of the royal race,
Made proclamation to his glorious host:-
"Iranian nobles ! spare the men of Chin.
Now that our enemies have been o'erthrown
Restrain your hands from further massacre.
Give these dogs quarter, for they have enough
Of anguish, scorn, and strait, make no more prisoners,
Put none in bonds, and let all bloodshed cease;
Charge not, nor trample on the slain. Go round
And reckon up the wounded. By Zarir's soul,
Make no more prisoners, and tarry not
For long upon your battle-steeds."
On hearing what their leader said to them,
Gave themselves up to tendering the wounded.
They went back to their camp, beat kettledrums,
Because they had returned victorious,
And all that night slept not for joy, for Rustam
Himself might own to such a victory.
When night had passed away, and blood still ran
On wilderness and waste, the famous Kaian,
Escorted by the captains of the host,
Went forth to look upon the battlefield.
He wandered midst the slaughtered, shedding tears
O'er any known to him, but when he saw
His brother's corpse flung vilely on the field
He rent the royal raiment that he wore
And, lighting from his glossy steed Shulak,
Clutched at his beard with both his hands, and cried:-
"Prince of the warriors of Balkh ! by thee
My whole life hath been turned to bitterness.
Alaek ! O gracious form! O chief! O prince
O warlike cavalier ! O chosen hero -
My column and the curtain of the realm,
The Kaian lustre and the army's crown!"
He came near, raised the body from the dust,
And with his own hands wiped the dead man's face;
Then placed the body on a golden bier
Zarir, thou wouldst have said, had ne'er been born.
The Iranian nobles and his own young kinsmen
He laid upon their biers, and gave command
To count the slain and carry off the wounded.
They searched the battlefield, the plains, and mountains,
The waste and ways. Of soldiers of Iran
Were thirty thousand slain; of men of name
Eleven hundred and three score and six;
One thousand and two score of name were wounded,
And 'scaped the trampling of the elephants.
A hundred thousand of the enemy
Were slain, eight hundred of them chiefs and nobles;
The wounded were three thousand and ten score.
Shun, if thou canst, such ill scenes evermore.
How Gushtasp returned to Balkh
The famous Kaian, the triumphant Shah,
Went from the battlefield toward his throne,
And bade Nastur: "Tomorrow at the dawn
Conduct the army toward our glorious realm."
That chosen chieftain had the tymbals sounded
At daybreak, and the army packed the baggage.
They turned back to the country of Iran,
Stout-hearted and prepared to fight again.
They passed by no one either killed or wounded,
But bore the wounded to Iran and gave them
To skilful leeches. Now on his return
The monarch of the world bestowed Humai,
His glorious daughter, on his eldest son,
And gave illustrious Nastur the host,
According to the usage of the Persians,
Gave him ten thousand of that noble race,
World-questing horsemen, wielders of the lance,
Gave him command, and said: "O gallant spearman!
Go forth against the monarch of the Turkmans,
Pass through Ayas and through Khallukh, and slay
All that thou takest to avenge thy sire."
The Shah supplied whate'er Nastur required,
Not taking either count or reckoning,
And thereupon Nastur led forth the host,
While Shah Gushtasp sat on his throne and state,
And, placing on his head the Kaian crown,
Gave audience unto all the host. He opened
His treasury and decked the troops with wealth,
Gave cities to the chieftains, sovereignties
And dignities to those deserving them;
He passed none over, gave to each his due,
And after that dismissed them to their homes.
Then mounting on his throne for secret conclave,
And sitting on the seat of king of kings,
He bade inaugurate a Fane of Fire,
And use for fuel Indian aloe-wood.
They made the floor thereof pure gold throughout;
The dust was ambergris, the fuel aloe.
He fashioned All by rules of art, he called
The place "The Mansion of Gushtasp," and made
Jamasp its archmage. To his governors
He wrote: "The Lord hath not abandoned us,
For He hath turned our night's gross murk to day,
And given us conquest to our full content.
Arjasp was shamed, we triumphed. Who can know
To do this save the Maker of the world?
On hearing of the victory of your Shah
Present your tribute to the priests of Fire."
When Caesar, King of Rum, received the news:-
The Shah hath conquered and Arjasp is worsted,"
He sent an embassy with precious gifts
Of slave-boys and of steeds caparisoned;
The king of Barbaristan and kings of Hind
Sent tribute too as did the kings of Sind.
How Gushtasp sent Asfandiyar to all the Provinces, and
how the Folk received from him the good Religion
One day the illustrious and fair-fortuned hero,
When seated on the glorious Kaian throne,
Gave audience to the elect of all his realm,
The magnates, and the princes of birth royal.
Asfandiyar, the hero, came before
The presence, ox-head mace in hand and wearing
A Kaian casque above that shining moon,
His face. He stood before the presence, slave-like,
With head depressed and folded arms. Gushtasp
Saw and esteemed his face o'er life and world,
And smiling said: "O brave Asfandiyar !
Dost thou not long for fight?"
That gallant swordsman
Replied: "'Tis thine to bid because thou hast
The kingship and the world."
The famous Kaian
Gave him a golden crown, unlocked for him
The treasures, and committed to his charge
The conduct of Iran, because he had
The might of paladins, gave standard, wealth,
And host, and said: "Thy season for the throne
Is not yet. Mount thy saddle and convert
All nations to the Faith."
The Shah's son went -
A hero-slaying swordsman - with his host
To all the nations. Over Rum he passed,
And Hiudustan, passed ocean and the Gloom,
And published the evangel by command
Of God, the All-provider. When folk learned
About the good Faith they received its rites,
Adorned themselves therewith, and sought instruction.
They burned the idols on their thrones, they kindled
Tho Fire in stead thereof, and all dispatched
This letter to the Shah: "We have accepted
The Faith delivered by Asfandiyar,
And donned the girdle. He hath ordered all.
Thou ahouldst not now ask tribute of us, we
Have been converted and profess the Faith.
Send us the Zandavasta of Zarduhsht."
When he had read the letter of the kings
He sat upon his throne and called his peers.
He sent the Zandavasta to each clime,
To every man of name and every chief,
And ordered that the famous paladin
Should go to all four quarters of the world.
Now no one, wheresoe'er that prince appeared
Dared to go forth to meet him in the fight,
But all folk placed themselves at his command,
While evil-doers vanished utterly.
Asfandiyar, when all had recognised
His sire, loosed from his loins the golden girdle,
Sat like a monarch on the royal seat,
And for a season rested with his host,
But called to him his brother Farshidward
And, having summoned troops and warriors,
Bestowed on him dinars and drachms in plenty,
Gave Khurasan to him and so dismissed him.
Now when a while had paused, and when the world
Had grown all pure and convert to the Faith,
Asfandiyar thus advertised his sire,
And said: "Illustrious and victorious Shah
By God's Grace I have purged the world, and spread
The shadow of the eagle through the climes;
Moreover men no longer fear each other,
And no one is in lack of gold and silver.
The world hath grown as bright as Paradise
And populous, and all the fields are tilled;
Our cavaliers have made it all their own,
The husbandmen are at their husbandry."
The world wagged on awhile with matters thus,
And evil was no longer obvious.
How Gurazm spake Evil of Asfandiyar
Mine author saith that when the Shah bestowed
A royal crown upon Asfandiyar
There was a certain noble hight Gurazm,
A famous war-worn warrior, who cherished
A secret enmity against the prince.
I know not why it was, but I have heard
That this man was a kinsman of Gushtasp's,
And always ill-disposed toward his son,
And, when that prince's fame was noised abroad,
Was wont to slander and belittle him.
Once at the dawn of day the famous Shah,
While sitting in the banquet-hall at ease,
Gave audience to the chosen of his host,
The magnates, kings, and others of high birth.
Gurazm sat, his visage passion-pale
And heart all black with hate, before the Shah,
The glorious one. Now mark the villain's conduct
What time the converse turned upon the prince,
For thereupon he wrung his hands, and cried:-
"A wicked son is like an enemy,
And, being such, should win advancement never.
An archimage, a holy man, hath told us:-
'A puissant son, if he becometh great,
Will alter for the worse his sire's estate;
A slave that is disloyal to his lord
Should be beheaded as his just reward.'"
Gushtasp asked what the riddler meant, and said:-
"What is this riddle? Who doth know the answer?'
The slanderous Kaian said: "'Twere indiscreet
To tell it now."
The great king cleared the hall,
And said to that deceiver: "Come to me,
Reveal the whole to me and what my son,
That man of serpent faith, concealeth from me."
Gurazm, the ill-disposed, made answer thus:-
"To do the right thing is the part of wisdom.
The Shah hath satisfied mine every wish,
And I must keep no secrets from the Shah.
I will not keep my counsel back from him,
E'en though it proveth unacceptable,
I will in no wise keep it from my lord,
Though he should let me never speak again,
Because for me to speak, although he hear not,
Is better than to hide from him the secret.
Know then, O world-lord ! that Asfandiyar
Is clearly bent on battle, troops have flocked
In multitudes, and all men turned, to him.
His purpose is to put thee into bonds;
He cannot bear that thou shouldst be the Shah,
And, when he hath laid hands on thee and bound thee,
Will make the whole world subject to himself.
Thou knowest that Asfandiyar is one
That hath no peer in battle, and when he
Hath coiled his lasso up the sun itself
Will not dare meet him. I have told thee truly
What I have heard; so now be well-advised;
To counsel and take action are for thee."
Now when Gurazm spake thus before the Shah
That famous warrior was all astound,
And said: "Whoever saw a thing so monstrous? "
In dudgeon he began to hate his son;
He quaffed no wine withal, forwent his pleasures,
Refused the feast, and heaved deep, chilling sighs;
He could not sleep for thinking all that night,
Possessed by wrath against Asfandiyar.
As soon as dawn breathed from the mountain-tops,
And starlight disappeared, he called to him
Jamasp, that man of much experience,
His minister in chief, and said: "Approach
Asfandiyar, call him forthwith, conduct him
To me, and say: 'A great affair is toward,
And therefore come, O leader of the realm !
Thy presence is required, and for my part,
When thou art absent, nothing prospereth.'"
He wrote an urgent letter in these words:-
"O noble, glorious Asfandiyar !
I have dispatched the old Jamasp to thee,
Who can remember to have seen Luhrasp.
When thou beholdest him gird up thy loins,
And come with him upon swift-footed steeds.
If thou art lying down spring to thy feet, _
And if thou shalt be standing tarry not"
Charged with the letter of the Shah in haste
That wise man crossed the hills and trod the waste.
How Jamasp came to Asfandiyar
Asfandiyar was in the desert hunting
When some one shouted that the Shah had sent
Jamasp. He mused and laughed uneasily.
He had four noble sons, all fair of face
And doughty cavaliers, the eldest hight
Bahman, the second Mihr-i-Nush, the third
Azar Afruz - a wary warrior -
The youngest Nush Azar; 'twas he that built
The Fane of Fire. Bahman said to his father,
That king of earth: "May thy head flourish ever!
My lord was laughing with a hollow laugh,
I know not why."
"My son! one cometh to me from the Shah,
Who is displeased with me and hath some grudge
Against his slave."
The noble youth said: "Why?
What hast thou done against our sovereign lord?"
Asfandiyar made answer: "O my son
I know of no offence against my father,
Unless it is that I have taught the Faith,
Have lighted sacred Fires throughout the world,
And purified it with my trenchant sword.
What can have made the Shah's heart wroth with me?
In sooth the Div must have seduced his heart,
For he is mad enough to wish to bind me!"
Now while Asfandiyar was thus engaged
The dust of the advancing troops appeared.
He saw it from the mountain-top afar
And, knowing that the messenger had come,
Went forth at once to meet him. When they spied
Each other on the way they both alighted
Down from their prancing steeds, and warrior
And elder fared afoot. The glorious
Asfandiyar inquired: "How is the Shah,
The sage Jamasp made answer:-
"He is both well and happy."
Then he kissed
The prince upon the head and gave the letter,
Informing him with Irankness of the case,
And saying: "The Div hath led the Shah astray."
Asfandiyar said to that man of wisdom:-
"What seemeth to thee best for me herein?
If I set out with thee to go to court
My father will entreat me scurvily,
And if I go not with his officer
I shall no longer be a loyal liege.
Devise some remedy, thou ancient sage!
I may not rest in this bewilderment"
The sage replied: "O prince of paladins,
So young in body and so old in knowledge !
Thou knowest that the best love of a son
Is not so tender as a father's wrath.
Thou must set forward, that is mine advice,
For, whatsoe'er he doth, he is the Shah."
This they agreed upon and went their ways,
The messenger and the exalted prince,
Who made Jamasp alight when they had reached
A goodly seat whereafter both drank wine.
Next day Asfandiyar sat on his throne
And, when he had brought forth the muster-roll,
Entrusted all the army to Bahman,
And setting forth with certain warriors,
His girdle girt, his crown upon his head,
Back to the court-gate of the great Shah sped.
How Gushtasp imprisoned Asfandiyar
The Shah on hearing that Asfandiyar,
His son, had come, crowned with the Kaian casque,
Called to his presence high and low alike,
And spread the Zandavasta out before him.
He seated all the archmages and then summoned
The royal swordsman. With extended hands
The hero came, approached the presence, did
Obeisance, and stood slave-like with bent head
And folded arms. The king of kings addressed
The archmages, chiefs, and leaders of the host.
"Suppose," he said, "that any noble man
Shall rear a son with pains, provide him nurses
While needing suckling, crown him with a crown
Of gold, and guard him till he waxeth lusty,
Teach him till he becometh venturesome,
And undergo no little pains to make
That son a cavalier expert in war;
Suppose that noble youth attaineth manhood,
And is as bright as new gold from the mine,
That all that seek for favours ask of him,
And that he is the theme of every speaker,
Shall prove a good, victorious cavalier,
And foremost when folk meet for fight or feast,
Shall place the whole world underneath his feet,
And well deserve the royal diadem,
Shall, when victorious, spread forth limbs and boughs,
The while his father, then grown old, shall sit
Within his palace, keeping but one crown
And throne, and stay at home to mind the goods;
Suppose that son with world and flag and host
Shall grudge his sire e'en one gold crown and throne
Hath any of you heard of such a thing
As that the son for that one throne and crown
Should purpose to cut off his father's head,
Should make an insurrection with his troops,
And whet his heart to fight against his sire?
What say ye, ancient men? What is the course
The father well may take with such a son? "
The chosen chiefs replied: "O monarch ! never
Have we to take account of such a case -
The father living and the son attempting
His throne! Call nothing more preposterous."
The world-lord answered: "Here there is a son
Who hath designs upon his father's life.
Him will I bind as well he hath deserved,
And on such wise as none hath bound another."
The son exclaimed: "O Shah of noble race
How ever could I hanker for thy death?
I do not know, O Shah! of any wrong
That I have done to thee at any time.
By thine own life, imperious sovereign !
When ever did I harbour such designs?
But thou art Shah; 'tis thine to order; I
Am thine, and bonds and prison rest with thee.
Bid them to bind or slay me as thou wilt;
My heart is honest and my mind submiss."
The king of kings exclaimed: "Bring hither chains,
Bind him, and falter not."
They brought in blacksmiths,
Yoke, chains, and heavy shackles, and then bound him,
Both hand and foot, before the king, the world-lord,
So straitly fettered him that all beholding
Wept bitterly. They brought an elephant,
Like indigo, and set Asfandiyar
Thereon. They bare him from his glorious sire,
With dust upon his head, to Gumbadan,
That stronghold on the mountain-top, conveyed
Four iron columns thither and there bound him
With rigour. They dethroned him; fortune changed.
The Shah set many to keep guard upon him,
While seared and sore that gallant paladin
Lived for a space in straitest custody,
And ever and anon wept bitterly.
How Gushtasp went to Sistan and how Arjasp arrayed
his Host the second Time
Thus many days passed o'er Asfandiyar,
The while Gushtasp departed to Sistan
To make the Zandavasta current there,
And archimages testify thereto.
As soon as the illustrious Shah arrived
There went to him the captain of the host,
The ruler of Nimruz, whose name was Rustam,
A veteran cavalier, another Sam,
In company with aged Zal, his sire,
With mighty men and those about the court.
They carried minstrels in their train withal,
And posted them with harps along the route.
Thus went they forth to greet the glorious Shah
Right jubilantly, and it liked him well.
They brought him to Zabul to be their guest,
And stood before his presence as his slaves.
From him they learned about the Zandavasta,
Adopted it, and lighted sacred Fires.
Two years passed thus in hospitality;
Gushtasp kept feasting with the son of Zal.
Throughout the world, wherever there were kings
That heard about the doings of the Shah:-
"He hath confined Asfandiyar in bonds,
Hath galled his elephantine form with iron,
And gone to preach the gospel in Zabul
To blast the idols with the Cult of Fire,"
They one and all refused to do his bidding,
And brake with him completely.
Heard that his sire was prisoned by the Shah,
And for no fault, Asfandiyar's brave meiny
Came grieving to him with the Kaian princes,
Fulfilled with tribulation and dismay,
And raised his spirits with their minstrelsy,
Not letting him be lonesome in his prison.
Then tidings reached the king of Chin: "The Moon
Hath fallen from the Archer into ambush.
The Shah, wroth with Asfandiyar, dispatched him,
Dishonoured, to the hold of Gumbadan,
And started for Zabulistan himself
From Balkh to stay with Rustam, son of Zal,
Whose guest he now is at Zabul, and thus
Two years have passed away. Of all the Iranians
And soldiery none, saving Shah Luhrasp
With seven hundred devotees of Fire,
Is left at Balkh."
The monarch of Chigil
Called out his chiefs and heartened them to fall
Upon Luhrasp. "Know ye," 'twas thus he spake,
"That Shah Gushtasp hath marched with all his host
Sistan-ward and abideth at Zabul
No cavalier is left in all his realm.
Now is the time for us to seek revenge;
We must take order and prepare ourselves.
His son, illustrious Asfandiyar,
Is fast in heavy bonds. What man is there -
A searcher out of mysteries - prepared
To undertake the long and arduous road,
And, choosing bypaths, shunning public ways,
Obtain full tidings of the Iranians? "
There was a sorcerer, by name Situh,
A rover and explorer. "I," he said,
"Am one of tact and used to travelling.
What shall I do? Command me as thou wilt"
The king of Chin said: "Go thou to Iran,
Take heedful note, and roam through all the land. "
The spy set forth upon his way and went
To chosen Balkh, the dwelling of the Shah.
He saw not Shah Gushtasp therein but found
Luhrasp, the devotee; he thereupon
Returned and, having done the Khan obeisance,
Told all. Arjasp grew joyful at the news,
And freed from longsome care, called all his chiefs,
And said: "Go, muster our disbanded host."
The chieftains of the army went their way
To mountains, desert-tracts, and pasture-lands,
And summoned to the king his soldiery,
The chosen horsemen of his sovereignty.
The Words of Dakiki being ended, Firdausi resumeth,
praising Shah Mahmud and criticising Dakiki
Now, man of eloquence and shrewd ! again
Take up the story in thy proper strain.
Dakiki to this point had brought his lay
When fortune put a period to his day,
And, having dealt with him right grievously,
Bare off his spirit from this Hostelry,
So that these fleeting words of his are all
That now remain as his memorial.
He stayed not to complete the tale, he penned
It not from its beginning to its end.
Now give attention to Firdausi's part,
Whose words are chaste and pleasing to the heart.
What time within my hands this story fell
My hook was angling for the fish as well.
I scanned the verses and esteemed them weak;
In many couplets there was much to seek,
But here have I transcribed them that the king
May know how inartistic verses ring.
Both jewellers have each a gem to sell;
Now let the Shah give ear to what they tell.
If thou canst speak but in Dakiki's vein
Speak not at all and spare thy nature pain,
And, mindful of the bondage and the toil,
Ne'er dig in mines whence thou wilt win no spoil.
Unless thou art as fluent as a stream
Lay not thy hand upon this royal theme;
'Tis better that all food should be abjured
Than that thou shouldest spread a tasteless board.
A book fulfilled with legends met my view,
Its words possessed of character and true,
Its stories very ancient and in prose;
The wits had never thought of rhyming those,
No one had thought of linking line to line -
A fact that struck this gladsome heart of mine.
Two thousand years had passed the story o'er,
Two thousand years and haply countless more,
And I began his praises to rehearse,
Who showed the way to turn it into verse.
Although he only rhymed the veriest mite -
One thousand couplets full of feast and fight -
He was my pioneer and he alone,
In that he set the Shahs upon the throne.
From nobles honour and emolument
Had he; his trouble was his own ill bent.
To sing the praises of the kings was his,
And crown the princes with his eulogies,
But still he uttered but a feeble strain,
And eld through him could ne'er grow young again.
I took the story for a lucky-sign;
For many a year the travail was all mine,
Yet found I no great patron of mine own
To shed a lustre on the royal throne -
A matter of much discontent to me,
But silence was the only remedy.
I had before mine eyes a garth of trees,
A dwelling-place for such as live at ease,
But not a portal opened on that same,
Save only what was royal but in name.
Fit for my garden must the portal be;
One that was narrow would not do for me.
For twenty years I kept my work till I
Should find one worthy of my treasury,
Until Malimud, the master of the earth,
Endowed with Grace and bounty, he whose worth
Both Moon and Saturn praise (Abu'l Kasim !
The crown of king of kings is fresh through him),
Till he, the world-lord, came and sat him here
Upon the throne of justice. Find his peer.
His name hath crowned my work, his Grace divine
Like ivory made this darkened heart of mine.
He passeth all the Shahs that went before,
And counteth not as ill the breath of yore.
Dinars to him are dust, and him dismay
Betideth not in festival and fray,
For he from one that seeketh doth withhold
Not sword in war-time nor at feast-time gold.
May his throne flourish ever and still be
The rapture of the spirits of the free !
How the Host of Arjasp marched to Balkh and how
Luhrasp was slain
Now will we tell the warfare of Arjasp
Afresh and by our insight clear the garth
Of weeds:- Arjasp had tidings that the Shah
Had set forth with his host toward Sistan,
And gave commandment that Kuhram, the swordsman,
Should lead the troops before him, for Kuhram
Was eldest-born to him and raised his head
O'er radiant Sol. Arjasp said: "Choose thee horsemen
War-worthy from the host and haste to Balkh,
Which hath embittered and o'ercast our days.
Those of our foes, those worshippers of Fire,
Those Ahrimans, whom thou shalt take, behead,
Burn up their homes, and turn their day to night.
Smoke from the palace of Gushtasp must rise
And lick the azure sky. If thou shalt find
Asfandiyar with fetters on his feet
Put thou an end to him; part instantly
His body and his head, and make the world
Re-echo with thy name. Throughout Iran
The cities have been left at thy disposal,
The foe - the scabbard - left for thee - the sword.
I shall not loiter in Khallukh but follow
Apace, recall our scattered troops, and lavish
My hoarded wealth."
Kuhram replied: "Thy bidding
Will I perform and pledge my life thereto."
When from its waist the sun drew forth its sword,
And darksome night drew back its skirts therefrom,
There gathered five score thousand of Khallukh
About Arjasp - choice cavaliers and swordsmen.
Kuhram led forth the army to Iran,
While earth grew like an Ethiop's face for gloom,
And coming to those marches spread his hands,
And overthrew whome'er he saw. The Turkmans
Had set their hearts on vengeance, were prepared
To pillage and to slay, and as they drew
Anear to Balkh spake much and bitterly.
Luhrasp heard of Kuhram, was grieved, and fared
With travail. Thus he prayed: "Omnipotent !
Thou art supreme o'er time's vicissitudes,
Thou art almighty, wise, and merciful,
The Master of the shining sun. Preserve
My Faith, my person, and mine energies,
My watchful heart and intellect withal,
So that I may not perish in their hands
A thrall, or in dismay cry out for succour."
There was no chief or mace-armed cavalier
At Balkh. A thousand came from the bazar,
But all unfit for war. Luhrasp assumed
His mail what time the Turkman host draw nigh,
He left the oratory for the field,
And donned the Kaian casque. Old as he was
He roared out like a maddened elephant,
Bare in his hand an ox-head mace, and dashed
To earth therewith a warlock of the chiefs
At every charge till all folks said: "This noble
Is dealing buffets like Asfandiyar !"
Where'er he spurred he mingled dust with blood;
The galls were split of all that heard his voice.
Kuhram said to the Turkmans: "Fight no longer
Against him single-handed, strive amain,
Surround him, and roar out like mighty lions."
Arose the crash of bills, the shouts of horsemen
All eager to monopolize the fray,
Whereat Luhrasp, abandoned midst the foe,
Invoked in his resourcelessness God's name,
For old age and the burning of the sun
Oppressed him, and his fortune went to sleep.
That veteran, that worshipper of God,
Fell headlong, smitten by the Turknrans' arrows;
The head that wore the crown came to the dust.
Then many cavaliers surrounded him;
They hacked his Kaian harness into bits,
His body piecemeal with their scimitars.
They took him for a youthful cavalier,
But when they raised the helmet from his head,
And saw his ruddy cheek, his camphor hair,
And heavenly visage livid now with iron;
All marvelled at the miracle, exclaiming:-
"To think that one so old should sword it thus
Had but Asfandiyar himself come hither
Our host would have been busy on this plain!
Why have we come here with such puny powers,
For we have come but as a flock to pasture? "
Then to his comrades said Kuhram: "The toil
And travail in the fight was due to this,
That he who wore the crown was Shah Luhrasp -
Sire of Gushtasp, the master of the world.
As king of kings he had the Grace of God,
And passed his life in feasting and the field,
But in old age became a devotee,
And plucked his heart away from crown and throne.
Now will Gushtasp, whose throne is thus bereaved,
Quail for the diadem of king of kings."
The host reached Balkh, the world was wrecked with sack
And slaughter. Making for the Fane of Fire,
For hall and palace decked with gold, they gave
Them and the Zandavasta to the flames.
The fane had eighty priests, God's worshippers,
And all before the Fire the Turkmans slew,
And swept that cult away. The Fire, that erst
Zarduhsht had litten, of their blood did die;
Who slow that priest himself I know not I.
How Gushtasp heard of the Slaying of Luhrasp and
led his Army toward Balkh
Gushtasp possessed a wife - a prudent dame,
Wise, understanding, and high-minded. She,
When she had dight herself in Turkman guise,
And mounted on a fleet steed from the stable,
Departed from the palace and set forth,
Aghast at what had happened, toward Sistan.
She tarried not to sleep at any stage,
And ran a two-days' journey into one.
Thus she continued till she reached Gushtasp
In grief with tidings of Luhraap, and said:-
"Why hast thou tarried this long while and why
Didst thou depart from famous Balkh at all?
An army from Turan hath reached the city,
And turned its people's day to bitterness.
All Balkh is full of sack and massacre;
Thou must return forthwith."
"What grief is this? Why mourn a single raid?
When I march forth all Chin will not withstand me."
She answered thus: "Talk not so foolishly;
Things of great charge confront us now. The Turkmans
Have slain at Balkh Luhrasp, the king of kings,
And turned our days to gloom and bitterness,
Proceeded thence to Nush Azar and there
Beheaded both Zarduhsht and all the archmages,
Quenched in whose blood the radiant Fire expired,
An outrage not to be accounted lightly.
Thereafter they led off thy daughters captive;
Take not so grave a matter easily.
If there were nothing but Humai's dishonour
'Twould stir a sage's heart, and furthermore
There is thine other daughter, Bih Afrid,
Till then kept hidden from a breath of air,
Whom they have taken from her golden throne,
And plundered of her bracelets and her crown."
Gushtasp, on hearing this, was filled with anguish,
And showered from his eyelids gall of blood.
He called to him the great men of Iran,
And told before them all that he had heard,
Called for a scribe, put by his crown, avoided
His throne, sent cavaliers to every side
With letters to his paladins, and said:-
"Wash not your heads from soil, distinguish not
'Twixt up and down, and come ye all to court
In armour and with mace and Ruman casque."
They bore the letter to each paladin
That was a mighty man within the realm,
And, when from all the Shah's realm there had gathered
The troops and valiant horsemen of his host,
He gave out pay and, marching from Sistan,
Proceeded on his road toward famous Balkh.
Arjasp, on hearing that Gushtasp, the world-lord,
Had come with army and with crown and throne,
Assembled from Turan so vast a host
That sun and moon were darkened with the dust.
From sea to sea that host extended, none
Could see the surface of the waste for troops,
And when the dust-clouds of the armies met
The earth grew dark and heaven azure-dim.
The opposing hosts drew up for battle, armed
With, spears and swords and double-headed darts.
Upon the Iranian right prince Farshidward
Was posted - one that challenged rending lions;
Upon the left the warrior Nastur,
Son of Zarir - the chief; while at the centre
Gushtasp, the world-lord, overlooked his powers.
Kuudur was stationed on the Turkman right
With infantry behind him with the baggage;
Kuhram, the swordsman, on the left; Arjasp
Was at the centre with the main. The din
Of trump and drum ascended from both hosts,
Earth turned to iron, air to ebony.
Thou wouldst have said: "The heavens flee away,
And earth is cracking underneath the weight !"
The heights of flint bowed at the chargers' neighs
And crash of axes; all the waste was full
Of heads laid trunkless in the dust and battered
By massive maces; swords flashed; arrows rained;
The heroes shouted in the fray; the stars
Sought flight; the troops grew prodigal of life;
Shafts fell around like hail; the wilderness
Was all a-groan with wounded trampled down
In multitudes beneath the horses' hoof's,
The lion's maw their shroud and blood their bier;
The trunks were headless and the heads were trunkless;
The horsemen were like elephants a-foam,
And fathers had no time to mourn for sons.
Thus for three days and nights the heavens revolved,
All onslaught and reprisal, war and strife;
The moon's face reddened with the splash of blood,
Such was that battlefield! Then lion-like
Strove Farshidward against Kuhram, the swordsman"
And was so sorely stricken that the life
Passed from his lion-body. Multitudes
Were slain amidst the Iranians, the land
Was wet with warriors' blood. Now Shah Gushtasp
Had eight and thirty sons, bold mountaineers
And horsemen on the plain; all were laid low;
The Shah's good fortune darkened at a blow.
How Gushtasp was put to Flight by Arjasp
At length Gushtasp, when fortune had become
So rugged, showed his back. The enemy
Pursued him for two stages and were instant
To take him captive. In the way before him
There lay a mountain full of pasturage,
Wherein there were a mill-stream and a mill,
And having in its whole circumference
But one sole path: thereof Gushttisp was ware,
And heart-seared scaled the mountain with his troops,
But left a force upon the road behind him.
Arjasp, arriving with his host, went round
The mountain, but discovered not the path.
On all sides they laid leaguer. When the Shah,
That noble man, was left without resource
His troops lit fires upon the mountain-top,
And burnt thorns on the flints; each leader slew
A steed and pondered on his helpless plight.
The proud Shah, compassed thus, was sore dismayed,
And called to him Jamasp, the veteran,
Held talk at large about the stars, and said:-
"Declare whate'er thou knowest of heaven's will,
And wait not to be asked. Thou needs must tell
Who is to succour me in this distress."
Jamasp, on hearing, rose and said: "Just king
If now the Shah will hearken to my words,
Confiding in the process of the stars,
I will discover to him what I know
If he will recognise my truthfulness."
The Shah replied: "Whatever secret thing
Thou knowest, tell it to me and be brief;
My head may touch the clouds, but heaven's changes
I cannot 'scape."
Jamasp replied: "0 Shah
List to my words and let me have thine ear.
Asfandiyar, the glorious, by thy bidding
Is wearing chains in this his evil day.
If he were set at liberty the Shah
Would not be left on this high mountain-top."
Gushtasp replied: "0 trusty counsellor,
Who art a man of truth and of resource!
When in my wrath I put him into bonds -
The heavy chains by blacksmiths riveted -
I was remorseful all the time and sought
With aching heart to find a remedy
For having bound him in the audience,
Though he was guiltless, at his foeman's charge.
I, if I see him on this day of battle,
Will give him crown and throne and signet-ring;
But who will dare to go to that beloved one,
And free the innocent? "
Jamasp said: "I
Will go, 0 king! because the case is urgent."
Gushtasp rejoined: "0 thou fulfilled with wisdom!
Thy virtues are as music to my soul;
Depart forthwith by night, greet him at largo
From me, and say: 'The man that did the wrong
Hath left this world with anguish in his heart,
While I, who acted as that little-wit
Desired, repent that I have done amiss,
And will prepare a goodly recompense.
Now if thou wilt put vengeance from thy heart,
And shalt bring down our foemen's heads to dust,
For else the realm and throne have reached their end,
And foemen will uproot the Kaian Tree,
On thee, if thou shalt come, I will bestow
Crown, treasure, and whate'er I have amassed
By toil, and will devote myself to prayer
Thenceforth as did my sire Luhrasp, the world-lord.
God is my witness to these words of mine,
As is Jamasp who is my counsellor.'"
Jamasp attired him in Turanian mail,
And came down from the heights without a guide.
Whenas that man of wisdom reached the, plain
He passed the army of the foe by night;
To Gumbadan, the hold, he made his way,
Preserved from ill hands and his evil day.
How Jamasp visited Asfandiyar
One of Asfandiyar's exalted sons,
Whom he named Nush Azar, was on the ramparts
To see who came forth from the Iranian host,
And advertise his sire. At sight of any
He used to hurry from the walls forthwith.
When he perceived Jamisp upon his way,
And on his head a fair Turanian helm,
He said: "A horseman from Turan hath come
I will descend and tell Asfandiyar."
He hastened downward from the castle-rampart,
And spake on this wise: "Noble paladin !
I see a horseman coming in the distance,
And on his head there is a sable helm.
I will go see if he is from Gushtasp,
Or from Arjasp, a foe. If he shall prove
A Turkman then will I cut off his head,
And fling his feckless body in the dust."
Said great Asfandiyar: "The traveller,
Since he is unattended, is but lowly.
In sooth he is a warrior from Iran,
And cometh unto us with some dispatch;
My sire hath put that helmet on his head
In apprehension of our valiant foes."
When Nush Azar, the paladin, had heard
He went in haste upon the castle-rampart;
He recognised Jamasp when close at hand,
Descended, and informed his glorious sire:-
"Jamasp is at the gate."
He had it opened,
The sage came in, did reverence and, coming
Before Asfandiyar, repeated to him
The message of Gushtisp, his sire, in full.
Asfandiyar replied: "0 Memory
Of this world's heroes, wise, courageous,
And of exalted rank! why bow to one
In chains, for one in irons, hand and foot,
Is not of man's seed, but an Ahrimpn?
Thou givest me greeting from the king of kings,
So that thy heart is not informed by knowledge,
Since it is for Arjasp to greet me now,
Because the plain is all Iranians' blood.
They bound me innocent. Gurazm forsooth
Must be the Shah's son, I be fettered thus
Mine irons are my witnesses to God
That I have had injustice from Gushtasp,
And that Gurazm's words pleased Ahriman.
Such was the recompense of all my toil,
While for my treasury 'tis stocked with irons.
Oh! may I ne'er forget this injury,
And stultify my wisdom through thy talk."
Jamisp replied: "O speaker of the truth,
World-taker, lion-thrower, bent on fame !
If thou art thus heart-wearied of thy sire
His throne is overturned; yet for the sake
Of pious Shah Luhrasp, slain by the Turkmans
In battle, and of those God-fearing priests,
Who had the Zandavasta in their hands,
Of whom four score were slaughtered - archimages
And sages pure of heart, quenched in whose blood
The sacred Fire hath died within the fane -
Such ill deeds cannot be accounted lightly.
Possess thy heart with sorrow for thy grandsire,
Rise in thy wrath and let thy cheeks be pale,
For if thou art not stirred up to avenge him
Thou art not worshipful and well advised."
Asfandiyar made answer to him thus:-
"0 famed, high-starred, heroic, and prevailing!
Reflect that for the old Luhrasp - that man
Of piety, the father of Gushtasp -
The son that sought erewhile his father's throne,
And his prerogative, will best seek vengeance."
Jamasp replied: "If thou wilt not avenge
Thy grandsire thou art void of principle.
The wise Humai and Bib Afrid, whose faces
No breath of air had seen, are in Turan
As prisoners, all misery and anguish,
And foot it wan of mien."
Thus answered: "Did Humai at any time
Remember me in my confinement here?
And, further, as for noble Bib Afrid,
She never looked on me, as thou mightst say!
Why now should I distress myself for them?
No one from them hath ever come to me.
A father well may see to his own daughters,
A sire the better undertake for them."
Jamasp replied to him: "0 paladin
Thy sire, the world-lord, with his soul all gloom,
Is now upon a mountain with his chiefs,
With tearful eyes and unfed lips; the Turkmans
Beleaguer him; henceforth thou wilt not sea
His head and crown. The Maker will condemn
Thy disregard of love and Faith. Thy brethren,
For thou hadst eight and thirty - Mountain-pards,
And Lions of the plain - all couch in dust
And brick, because the foe let none escape."
Asfandiyar rejoined: "I used to have
Full many a noble brother, and while I
Lay bound they all made merry! No one thought
Of wretched me! If I take action now
What profit, seeing that the foe hath raised
The reek from them?"
Jamasp, on hearing this,
And noting how the captive's heart was seared,
Rose to his feet in sorrow and in anger,
With anxious heart and eyes fulfilled with tears,
And said to him: "O chief of paladins !
Although thy heart and mind are darkened thus,
What sayest thou of the case of Farshidward,
Who went so heavily on thine account?
Where'er he was, at fray or festival,
He was all pain and curses on Gurazm;
His body hath been slashed with scimitars,
Helm and cuirass are cloven, and his soul
Is breaking with his love for thee ! Oh! pity
His weeping eyes."
When Farshidward was named
Asfandiyar wept blood, his heart was grieved,
He cried: "O wretched, valiant warrior
O lion-hearted hero, chieftain, prince !
I have been wounded by those wounds of thine,
And I have bathed my cheeks in my heart's blood."
When he became composed he asked Jamasp:-
"What was thy purpose in concealing this?
Give orders that some blacksmiths shall be brought,
And let them file the fetters from my feet."
Jamasp fetched blacksmiths, and they brought with them
Their heavy hammers and their files of steel.
They filed the rings, the rivets, and the chains,
And all the bridge-like fetters made in Rum.
The bonds took long to file; the captive's heart,
Remiss no longer, grew impatient.
He said thus to a smith: "Thou awkward lout !
Thou bindest but thou canst not break the bonds !"
He drew his hands away, arose in dudgeon,
And, stretching out the chains to their full length,
Strained with his feet and struggled with his hands,
And brake in pieces fetter, ring, and chain.
The breaking of his bonds exhausted him,
The anguish overcame him and he swooned.
That reader of the stars who saw the marvel
Was full of praises of the noble prince.
Whenas the lusty hero had regained
His wits he ranged the bonds and chains before him,
And said: "These, presents given by Gurazm
Have severed me from fight and festival."
With aching body galled and stiff with bondage
He went off to the bath. He then demanded
The raiment of a king and therewithal
The armour of a paladin, and bade
"Bring my fleet charger, helm, and scimitar."
Now when his eye fell on his steed he called
Upon the Giver of all good, and said:-
"If I did wrong I have been vexed with bonds,
But what hath this my prancing Barbary
Done to be starved? Go groom and feed him up."
He sent for smiths, the prowest in their trade,
Who came, repaired his arms, and hauberks made.
How Asfandiyar saw his Brother Farshidward
Night came like vengeful Ahriman, the bells
Clanged at the gate, and Indian sword in hand
Asfandiyar bestrode his royal steed.
He with Bahman and noble Nush Azar
Went forth on their long journey while Jamasp,
The minister of great Gushtasp, went first
As guide. Now when these warrior-cavaliers
Had come outside the walls, and reached the plain,
Asfandiyar, the chieftain, looked toward heaven,
And said: "O Judge whose words are true ! Thou art
The Maker, the Almighty, and illumest
The spirit of Asfandiyar. If I
Prevail and make the world strait for Arjasp,
Take vengeance on him for Luhrasp, the Shah,
And for the blood of all those blameless chiefs,
My very eyes - mine eight and thirty brothers,
Whose blood hath dyed the dust upon the plain -
I swear by God, the just Judge, to forego
Revenge upon my father for my bonds,
To build a hundred Fanes of Fire, and weed
The world of tyranny. None shall behold
A carpet 'neath my feet till I have built
A hundred hostels in the wilderness.
In parched wastes that no vulture traverseth,
And where no onager and other game
Set foot, will I have dug ten thousand wells,
And plant their mouths with trees. Out of my treasure
I will bestow a hundred thousand drachms
Upon the poor and every one that asketh.
I will convert the erring to the Faith,
And will lay low the heads of sorcerers,
While in God's presence will I stand and worship;
None ever shall behold me take mine ease."
He spake thus and urged on his battle-steed
Until he came to Farshidward, beheld him
Stretched on the dust in miserable case,
His prostrate form confounded by its wounds,
And, pouring from his eyes so many tears
As filled the wise physician with amazement,
Exclaimed: "0 Lion, seeker of the fray!
From whom hath this disaster come upon thee?
On whom shall I avenge thee in the battle,
On Lion of the fray or Crocodile? "
Thus Farshidward replied: "0 paladin !
It was Gushtasp that wounded me to death.
Could Turkmans, if he had not fettered thee,
Have wrought this scath and likewise overthrown
Luhrasp, the hoary-headed, and all Balkh?
None ever hath beheld or heard of ills
Such as Gurazm's words have brought upon us;
Yet murmur not, accept thy lot, and prove
A fruitful tree, for I shall pass away,
But needs must thou abide for evermore.
Remember me when I have gone, and glad
My spirit by thy bounty. So farewell,
Thou chief of paladins ! For ever live,
And be of ardent soul."
He spake and wanned;
That noble Lion, Farshidward, was gone.
Asfandiyar clutched at his own cuirass,
Marred all the painted silk, and cried: "0 Lord
Supreme and holy ! lead me to take vengeance
For Farshidward, to send the dust-clouds flying
From stones and water, from Arjasp to set
The blood a-stream, and give Luhrasp's soul peace."
With heart all vengeance and with head distraught
He laid his brother's corpse upon the saddle,
Then mounted to the heights, his brother's body
Bound on the bay, and said: "What at this present
Can I achieve for thee, how raise thy charnel?
I have no gold, no silver, and no gems,
No bricks, no water, none to build a wall,
Nor any tree where I may lay thee down,
O noble chief ! to slumber in the shade."
He stripped his brother's armour off and used
His turban and his jerkin as a shroud,
And thence departing came where Shah Gushtasp
Had fared so ill. He saw Iranians slain
In numbers that concealed the dust and stones,
And bitterly bewept those hapless ones
whose fortunes were o'erthrown. There where the fight
Had been most fierce he saw Gurazm's pale face,
His steed o'erthrown beside him where he lay
O'erstrewn with dust, and thus Asfandiyar
Addressed the slain: "O fool and of ill fortune !
Mark what a wise man of Iran once said,
When giving utterance to his secret thoughts:-
'A foe that's wise is better than a friend
Albeit in both their wisdom we commend,
For wise men think within their powers nor fret
Their souls by seeking what they ne'er can get.'
Thou soughtest my position in Iran,
And broughtest this destruction on the world.
Thou hast deprived this kingdom of its lustre,
Hast practised artifice and uttered lies,
And all the blood poured out in this contention
Will be upon thee in the other world."
He turned his head, still weeping, from the waste,
And came upon the main of Turkman troops.
He saw the host extending seven leagues,
And such that heaven was aghast thereat.
A trench had been constructed round about,
More than an arrow's flight in width. This ditch
He managed with a hundred shifts to cross,
And reined his steed toward the level ground.
The Turkman outpost of some eighty men
Were on their rounds about the battlefield.
They came upon him with disordered ranks,
Came challenging and shouting, and inquired:-
"0 lion-man ! what seekest thou by night
Upon the battlefield?"
He answered them:-
"All that ye care for on the battlefield
Are sleep and feast. When tidings reached Kuhram
'Asfandiyar hath made his passage through you,'
He said to me: 'Take thy sharp scimitar,
And bring the Day of Doom upon their souls.'"
Then, mindful of the battle with Gushtasp,
He drew his scimitar and laid about him,
O'erthrew full many of them on the road,
And thence departed toward the Shah's abode.
How Asfandiyar came to the Mountain to Gushtasp
Asfandiyar climbed that high, flinty mountain,
And did obeisance when he saw his father,
Who seared at heart, arose, kissed, and caressed
His son's face, saying: "I thank God, my boy !
That I have seen thee happy and still ardent.
Regard me not with anger and dislike,
And be not slow to take revenge. Gurazm,
Malignant miscreant that he was, obscured
My heart toward my son, and ill hath come
Upon him for his calumnies, since evil
Befalleth evil men for their ill deeds.
Now by the Ruler of the world I swear,
Who knoweth all things open and concealed,
That if I prosper and o'ercome the foe
I will bestow the realm, the crown, and throne
On thee, establish many a shrine, and give thee
My secret hoards."
"Let me find favour in the monarch's sight;
It will be treasure, throne, and crown to me
If he shall be content with me, his slave.
The monarch knoweth that when I beheld
Upon the field the face of slain Gurazm
I shed tears o'er that slanderer and burned
To think what anguish he had caused the Shah.
Our past mishaps are now but wind to me.
Hereafter when I draw my vengeful sword,
And set my face to quit this rocky height,
I will not leave Arjasp, Ayas, or Chin,
Kuhram, Khallukh, or country of Turan."
The soldiers, hearing that Asfandiyar
Was freed from heavy bondage and ill-fortune,
Pressed on, troop after troop, upon the mountain
Before their chieftain, while the mighty men,
The alien, and akin bowed down to him.
Thus spake high-starred Asfandiyar: "Famed swords-men!
Draw ye your watered blades, advance to vengeance,
And slay the foe."
The chieftains blessed him saying:-
"Thou art our crown and falchion of revenge
We all will pledge our lives for thee and make
The sight of thee the rapture of our souls."
They spent the night in ordering the host,
And getting ready coat of mail and spear.
Gushtasp held further talk of fortune's ills
With glorious Asfandiyar and set
His eyes a-stream in telling of the blood
Of all those valiant youths that had been slain
Upon the battlefield, whose princely heads
Were now encircled by a crown of gore.
That very night the tidings reached Arjasp:-
"The son of Shah Gushtasp hath come to him.
He hath slain many scouts upon the way,
And those that were not slaughtered showed their backs."
He was in dudgeon, called to him the magnates,
Held converse with Kuhram at large, and said:-
"Our thoughts were other of this war what time
The host set forth. I said: 'If we can catch
That div still chained the world will issue scathless,
I shall obtain the Iranian throne, and all
Will offer me their homage everywhere.'
Now, since that div-begotten hath broke loose,
We deal in grief and sighs. None of the Turkmans
Can match him in the fight, so let us march,
Still blithe and yet unworsted, to Turan
While crown and throne are ours."
He bade to bring
The treasures and the steeds caparisoned -
The booty carried off from famous Balkh -
And charged Kuhram therewith. Arjasp possessed
Four sons, all younger than Kuhram, and these
Packed, and then loaded up a hundred camels,
Which went, each with a guide, by divers roads.
The king was full of terror and of haste,
He could not eat or take his ease or sleep.
There was among the troops a Turkman named
Gurgsar who came before the king, and said:-
"0 monarch of the Turkmans and of Chin !
Fling not away thy glory for one man.
Yon host is smitten, beaten, and in flight,
Its fortune all astound, the Shah himself
Is all consumed with grief, his sons are slain,
And who hath come except Asfandiyar
To help him? Yet thou break'st thy soldiers' hearts,
And woundest by thy words without a battle !
Wise lungs fear not, poltroons cause ruin. No mace
Hath fallen on a helm nor arrow struck
A barded steed. I will encounter him,
If he come forth, and fling him to the dust."
Arjasp, on hearing what he said and marking
His courage and wise counsel, made reply:-
"O warrior eager for the fray! name, birth,
And parts are thine. If thou make good thy words,
And prowess the corrival of thy tongue,
All from this tent up to the sea of Chin,
And all the treasures of Iran, will I
Bestow on thee; thou shalt command my host,
And never will I swerve from thine advice."
Forthwith he gave the army to Gurgsar
With lordship o'er the more part of the world.
Whenas the sun took up its golden shield,
And dark night did obeisance, putting off
Its musk-black raiment while the world's face grew
All ruby-like in tint, a mighty host
Descended from the heights. Asfandiyar,
The ruler of the world, the valorous,
Led on the troops himself. An ox-head mace
Depended from his saddle. Shah Gushtasp
Was at the centre of the host, his soul
Full of revenge upon Arjasp. Moreover,
The offspring of Zarir, Nastur, at whom
The lion wont to flee the wood, assumed
His station on the right as general,
And ordered all the battle under him.
Gargwi, the warrior, upon the left
Came forth as bright as Sol in Aries.
Arjasp on his side ranked his troops; the stars
Saw not the plain for spears and blue steel swords;
The air was full of silken flags. The centre,
Where was Arjasp, seemed ebony; Kuhram
Was on the right with trumpets and with tymbals,
And on the left the monarch of Chigil,
From whom a lion might take heart in fight.
When king Arjasp beheld the mighty host
Of chosen, lance-armed cavaliers he went,
Chose out a height, and thence surveyed the armies
On every side. The forces of the foe
Frayed him, the world turned black before his eyes.
Anon he bade the cameleers to bring
A hundred strings of camels from the waste,
And said in private to the men of name:-
"If this affair prove long, if victory,
Success, and glory show not on our side,
I and my friends will need for safety's sake
To take the road upon these rapid beasts."
Now when between the lines Asfandiyar,
Like some fierce lion with his lips afoam,
Was wheeling like the turning firmament,
And brandishing in hand the ox-head mace,
Thou wouldst have said: "The whole plain is his steed;
His soul is greater than his skin can hold."
Arose the war-cry and the clarion's blare;
The warriors of the host advanced. "The waste,"
Thou wouldst have said, "hath grown a sea of blood,
And all the air is Pleiad-like with swords."
Then brave Asfandiyar rose in his stirrups
And shouted, brandishing his ox-head mace
Of steel, then, gripping it still tighter, slew
Three hundred Turkmans of the central host,
Exclaiming: "In revenge for Farshidward
This day will I raise dust-clouds from the sea."
Then letting his swift charger have the reins
He charged against the right wing of the foe,
And slaughtered eight score of the warriors.
Kuhram, when he beheld it, showed his back.
Asfandiyar exclaimed: "Thus I avenge
My grandsire whom my father loved so well,"
Then turned his reins toward the left, and all
The earth became as 'twere a sea of blood.
He slew of mighty men eight score and five,
All men of name possessed of crowns and wealth.
"Thus," said he, "I revenge my noble brothers,
Those eight and thirty who have passed away."
Arjasp, on seeing this, said to Gurgsar:-
"Our warriors in numbers numberless
Are slaughtered all; not one of them is left;
Not one remaineth still before the line.
I know not wherefore thou remainest silent,
Or why thou hadst so much to say before."
The words aroused the spirit of Gurgsar,
And he advanced before the line of battle.
Within his hand he bare a royal bow,
And poplar arrow with a point of steel.
As soon as he was near he aimed his shaft,
And struck the paladin upon the chest.
Asfandiyar hung over on his saddle
So that Gurgsar might deem: "The shaft hath pierced
His breastplate, and the prince's radiant form
Is wounded," and Gurgsar accordingly
Unsheathed his flashing falchion, purposing
To smite the head oft' from Asfandiyar;
But he, all fearless of disaster, loosed
The coiled up lasso from the saddle-straps,
And in the Maker's name, the Omnipotent's,
Flung it about his foe whose head and neck
Were taken in the toils. Asfandiyar
Then hurled Gurgsar all quaking to the ground,
Secured, firm as a rock, his hands behind him,
And, having set a halter round his neck,
Dragged him along the ground before the lines,
With blood-foam on his lips, toward the camp,
Dispatched him to the Shah's safe custody -
That conquering monarch of the golden helm -
And said: "Keep this man in the camp-enclosure
In bonds and no wise think of slaying him
Till we shall see how fortune will incline,
And which side gain the day."
He led his whole host onward to the fray,
And shouted to the troops: "Where is Kuhram,
Whose flag is seen no more upon the right?
Where is Kundur, the swordsman, too - that taker
Of Lions who wits wont to pierce the mountains
With spears and arrows? "
They informed Arjasp:-
"Asfandiyar, the hero, hath encountered
Gurgsar in fight and ta'en him prisoner,
Bold Lion though he was. The atmosphere
Is violet-dim with swords of warriors,
The banner blazoned with the wolf Lath vanished."
That portent grieved Arjasp. He bade to bring
The camels and then took the desert-route.
He and his courtiers rode those lusty beasts,
And led their chargers. Thus he left behind
His army still upon the battlefield,
While with his lords he fared toward Khallukh.
Asfandiyar sent up a battle-shout,
The mountain-top re-echoed at his voice.
He shouted to the Iranians: "Brandish not
Your scimitars of battle fruitlessly,
But sheathe them in your foemen's hearts and blood,
And pile on earth a mount Karun of slain."
The troops, inspired with vengeance, gripped their
And host encountered host. Dust, stones, and grass
Were saturate with gore, and had a mill
Been standing there the blood had driven it.
The plain was all bestrewn with feet and trunks,
With severed heads and fists still grasping swords,
While still the cavaliers of war charged on,
And gave themselves no time for pillaging.
Now when the Turkmans heard: "Arjasp hath fled,"
The skins upon their bodies burst with grief;
Those that had steeds betook themselves to flight,
While all the rest threw down their casques and mail,
And came in sorrow to Asfandiyar,
Came with their eyes like spring. That mighty one
Accorded quarter and then ceased to slay.
He set a chief to guard them, and thenceforth
Grieved not his grandsire's death. He and his troops
Came to the Shah, breast, sword, and Ruman casque
All blood; it glued the falchion to his hand,
And his cuirass had galled him, chest and shoulder.
They washed his hand and scimitar in milk,
And drew the arrows from his mail, and then
The atheling, triumphant and unharmed,
Went forth and bathed him. Afterward he called
For raiment meet for worshippers and sought
The all-righteous Judge. Gushtasp, all fear and awe,
Made for a week thanksgiving with his son
Before the just Creator of the world.
Upon the eighth day, when Asfandiyar
Had come again, Gurgsar appeared before him,
Despairing of sweet life, and all a-quake
With terror like a willow in the wind,
And said: "O prince ! my death will not renown thee;
I will attend thee as a slave and ever
Guide thee to good, abate all future ills,
And show thee how to reach the Brazen Hold."
The prince bade take Gurgsar bound handfand foot,
Just as he was, back to the camp-enclosure,
And went to the encampment of Arjasp -
The slayer of Luhrasp - distributed
The spoils midst horse and foot, committed all
The captives taken to his chiefs, and slew
Those that had given the army cause to rue.
How Gushtasp sent Asfandiyar the second Time to
Asfandiyar, on his return to camp,
Took counsel with the Shah about Luhrasp,
And the revenge for Farshidward and all
Those men renowned upon the day of battle.
To him Gushtasp said: "Thou, 0 mighty man !
Rejoicest while thy sisters are in bondage.
Oh ! happy they that died upon the field,
Not Irantic with dishonour from the Turkmans !
When men behold me sitting on the throne
What will my subjects say? So long as life
Endureth I shall weep for this disgrace,
And burn within my brain. By most high God,
The Omnipotent, I pledge myself - if thou
Shalt go without disaster to Turan,
Courageously confront the Dragon's breath,
And free thy sisters from the Turkmans, I
Will yield to thee the crown of empire, treasure
Which thou hast earned not, and the throne of greatness."
Asfandiyar replied: "May none behold
A time devoid of thee. I am a slave
To thee, my sire ! I do not seek the kingship"
And hold my soul and body as thy ransom.
I am not fain to sit upon the throne
And rule in person: I will go in quest
Of vengeance on Arjasp, spare neither field
Nor fell within Turan, and will restore
My sisters from their bondage to their thrones
All through the fortune of the exalted Shah,
The master of the world."
A blessing on him, saying: "Now may wisdom
Be with thee ever, in thy going forth
May God protect thee, and the throne be thine
On thy return."
He called the host together
From all parts where were warriors or archmages,
And from among them chose twelve thousand men,
All skilful cavaliers of high renown,
Distributing to them a donative
That well contented them. He furthermore
Bestowed upon Asfandiyar a throne,
And such a jewelled crown as monarchs use.
Then from the portal of the royal court
A shout rose: "Bring the princes' noble steeds.
They bore the tent-enclosure to the plain,
They bore the eagle-standard, and the host
Marched out mid dust that gloomed the radiant sun.
From palace plainward went Asfandiyar,
And saw an army ready dight for war.
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