PART III - The Story of Asfandiyar's Fight with Rustam
How Asfandiyar ambitioned the Throne and how
Gushtasp took Counsel with the Astrologers
I heard a story from the nightingale,
Which it reciteth from the lays of old,
How, when Asfandiyar bemused with wine
Came forth in dudgeon from the royal palace,
His mother, Caesar's daughter, Katayun,
Took him to her embrace. When midnight came
He wakened from his drowse, called for the wine-cup,
And babbled to his mother, saying thus:-
"The Shah is treating me injuriously.
He said: 'When by thy valour thou shalt take
Revenge on king Arjasp for Shah Luhrasp,
Shalt free thy sisters from captivity,
And win us high renown throughout the world,
Shalt weed it utterly of malcontents,
And renovate it by thy labours, then
The whole realm and the army shall be thine,
And therewithal the treasure, throne, and crown.'
Now when the sky shall bring again the sun,
And when the Shah shall wake, I will recall
His words to him; my rights must be asserted.
If he shall give to me the crown of kingship
I will adore him to idolatry;
But if he will not and his face shall frown
I swear by God, who stayeth up the sky,
That I will place the crown on mine own head,
And give the land and treasure to the people,
Will make thee lady of Iran and do
The deeds of lions with my strength and courage.
His mother sorrowed at his words. The silk
Upon her turned to thorns. The famous Shtih,
She knew,would give him not throne, crown,'and treasure,
And said to him: "What would thy princely heart
Require yet of the world, my toil-worn son?
The treasure, rule, and conduct of the host
Thou hast already: seek for nothing more !
Thy sire, my son ! hath nothing but the crowd,
While thou hast all the troops and all the realm.
How better were it for the savage Lion
To stand before his sire with girded loins !
When he departeth crown and throne are thine,
Thine greatness, fortune, state."
Replied: "How goodly was the sage's saw !
'Thy secret unto women ne'er confide,
For thou wilt find it in the street outside;
Moreover do not as she biddeth thee,
For woman good at rode thou no'er wilt see.'"
With frowning face and all abashed his mother
Repented of her words. Asfandiyar,
Howbeit, went not to Gushtasp but spent
His time with minstrelsy and boon companions.
He drained the wine-cup for two nights and days,
And took his ease among his moon-faced dames.
Gushtasp upon the third day was informed
About his son's pretension to the state,
That he was growing more resolved and needs
Must have the Kaian crown and throne. Forthwith
He called Jamasp and all Luhrasp's diviners.
They came, their tablets on their breasts, and he
Inquired about the brave Asfandiyar:-
"Is he to have long life? Will he abide
In peace, prosperity, and all delights?
Is he to wear the crown of king of kings,
And will the good and great rely on him? "
The wise man of Iran, on hearing this,
Looked at his ancient astrologic tablets,
While sorrow filled the lashes of his eyes
With tears, and knowledge all his brow with frowns.
He said: "Ill are my days and ill my stars,
And knowledge bringeth ill upon my head.
Would fate had cast me to the lion's claws,
Preventing glorious Zarir; then I
Had not beheld him flung upon the ground,
All dust and blood; or would that mine own sire
Had slain me ere ill fortune reached Jamasp
Although Asfandiyar in combat now
May rend a lion's heart by his attack;
Though he hath cleared the world of enemies,
And knoweth neither fear nor dread in fight;
Though he hath made the world to fear no foe,
And cloven the dragon's form in twain, hereafter
We shall have reason to lament for him,
And taste enough of woe and bitterness."
The Shah exclaimed: "0 admirable man
Speak out and turn not from the path of knowledge.
If he shall fare as did the chief Zarir
To live will be henceforth an ill to me.
Come tell me instantly, for bitterness
Hath come upon me from my questioning,
Whose hand will slay him and so cause the pang
For which I needs must weep?"
"Will not ill fortune roach me too, O King?
His death will be within Zabulistan,
And at the hands of Zal's heroic son!"
The Shah replied: "Give this affair due weight.
If I resign to him the imperial throne,
The treasure, and the crown of majesty,
He will not even see Zabulistan,
And none will know him in Kabulistan;
He will be safe from every turn of fortune,
And favouring stars will be his monitors."
The astrologer rejoined: "Who can escape
The process of the sky? None can avoid
By courage or by might the sharp-clawed Dragon
Above our heads. What is to be will be
Past doubt, the when the wise seek not to know.
Although Surush be lying at his feet
The prince will perish by a great man's hand ! "
The monarch mused, his mind a brake of thoughts;
He pondered on the processes of time,
Which in their turn instructed him in crime.
How Asfandiyar demanded the Kingdom from his Father
When night had gathered up its reins and gone,
And when the dawn had raised its shining spear,
The Shah sat down upon the throne of gold,
And glorious Asfandiyar approached.
He stood before the presence of his sire
in deep concern, slave-like with folded arms,
And when the throng of warriors and nobles
Had gathered round the Shah, and when the archmages
Were ranged in line before his throne, and when
The captains of the host stood ranked before him,
Asfandiyar, the elephantine chief,
Began to vent his grievances, and said:-
'O Shah ! live evermore. 'Upon the earth
The Grace of God is thine. Through thee are love
And justice manifest, and crown and throne
Adorned. A slave am I to thee, my sire
And run to do thy will. Thou knowest how
Arjasp came hither for religion's sake
With cavaliers from Chin, while I had sworn
A mighty oath o'en as God prompted rue:-
'Whoever shall make wreckage of the Faith,
And give his heart to idol-worshipping,
Him will I smite asunder and fear none.'
So when Arjasp came forth to war I shrank not
From fighting that fierce Leopard; yet didst thou
Disgrace me at the instance of Gurazm,
When quaffing royally upon a feast-day,
Didst put my body into heavy bonds,
And blacksmiths riveted my chains and fetters;
Didst send the to the hold of Gumbadan,
And give me up to strangers in contempt.
On quitting Balkh thou wentest to Zabul,
Regarding warfare merely as a feast,
And though consigning Shah Luhrasp to death
Beheldest not the falchion of Arjasp.
Jamasp, when he arrived, saw me in bonds,
And scathed thereby, assured to me the realm
And throne, and pleaded much. I said to him:-
'These heavy chains, these columns, and these shackles
By blacksmiths riveted, will I display
To God upon the Great Day of Account,
And cry to Him against the evil-doer.'
He said to me: 'The blood of all our princes -
Men of high rank and armed with massive maces -
Shot down by arrows on the battlefield;
Thy sisters carried captive; Farshidward,
The noble warrior, o'erthrown and wounded
Upon the field of battle; and the Shah
Himself in flight before the Turkmans, writhing
At having put Asfandiyar in bonds -
Is not thy heart on fire at things like these,
And all this travail, grief, and misery?'
He added much - words fraught with grief and anguish.
I burst my yoke and bonds, and came apace
Before the ruler of the flock. I slew
Unnumbered foes; the Shah approved my deeds.
If I should speak about the Seven Stages
Good sooth ! I ne'er should end. I glorified
The name of Shah Gushtasp, I took the head
Off from Arjasp and brought his wife and children,
His crown and throne and treasure, to this court.
The goods thou placed'st in the treasury;
My capital was blood, my profit toil.
Thou wast so full of promise, oath, and pledge
That I more readily performed thy bidding.
Thou said'st: 'If I shall look on thee again
I will esteem thee dearer than my soul,
And give thee diadem and ivory throne,
Because thy courage meriteth the crown:
Now I am shamed before the mighty men,
Who say: 'Where are thy treasures and thy host?'
What pretext hast thou? What is my position?
For what end have I gone through all the toil?
It is the part of Shahs to keep their word;
They do not break their bonds and covenants.
Now therefore set the crown on thy son's head
As thine own father crowned thee in his stead."
How Gushtasp answered his Son
The Shah replied: "Tis ill to turn from right.
Till now thou hast been better than thy word
The Maker of the world be thine ally.
I see not at this present anywhere
A public or a private foe. What man
Shall catch thy name and shall not writhe thereat?
Did I say writhe? Nay verily not live
Thou hast no peer except the worshipful
And famous son of Zal, who hath for life
Zabulistan, Kabulistan, Ghaznin
And Bust, and is exalted o'er the sky
In valour, but accounteth not himself
A subject and transgresseth my commands
And counsels, stooping not to league with me
Although he was a slave to Kai Kaus,
And was devoted unto Kai Khusrau,
But sayeth of the kingship of Gushtasp:-
He hath a new crown while my crown is old.'
Now thou hast not a rival in the world
Midst Rumans, Turkmans, or our own free folk,
And must set forward to Sistan forthwith,
And put in practice colour, force, and guile,
Lay bare the sword and mace, and bring me Rustam,
The son of Zal, Zawara, Faramarz,
In bonds and suffer none to mount the saddle.
Then by the Judge of all the world, the Source
Of strength, who kindleth star and moon and sun,
Then by the Zandavasta and Zarduhsht,
The good religion, and by Nush Azar,
The Fire and Grace divine, as soon as thou
Accomplishest these things thou shalt not hear
Of further opposition at my hands,
But I will give thee treasure, throne, and casque,
And seat thee crowned upon the state myself."
Asfandiyar replied: "0 worshipful
And noble Shah! thou quitt'st the ancient rule;
Thou shouldst speak measured words. Fight with the king
Of Chin and send dust from his warriors,
But wherefore fight against an aged man,
Whom Kai Kaus dubbed ' Lion-capturer'?
From Minuchihr as far as Kai Kubad
The whole state of Iran rejoiced in him.
Men called him: 'Lord of Rakhsh,' ' World-conqueror,'
'King-maker,' ' Lion-queller.' He is great;
His fame is not a new thing in the world;
He hath his patent from Shah Kai Khusrau,
And if the patents of the Shahs are void
One should not seek for patents from Gushtasp
The Shah replied: "My famed, illustrious son !
Whoe'er hath turned him from the way of God,
His patent is as is the desert-wind.
Thou surely must have heard how Shah Kaus
Went erring at the bidding of Iblis
And, having scaled the sky on eagles' wings,
Fell vilely into water at Sari.
He brought a div's child from Hamavaran,
And made her mistress in the royal bower.
By her malpractice Siyawush was slain,
The day departed from his family.
It is not well to pass the gate of one
That turneth from his fealty to God.
If thou art eager for the crown and throne
Lead forth the host and hie thee to Sistan.
Upon arriving there bind Rustam's hands,
And bring him with the lasso on thine arm.
As for Zawara, Faramarz, and Zal,
See that they set no traps upon thy way.
Bring them afoot and running to my court,
And bring them so that all the troops may see;
Then none hereafter will revolt from us
However he may wish it and repugn."
The chieftain frowned. "Go not about," he said,
"To compass such designs, for neither Zal
Nor Rustam is in question here, but thou
Wouldst rid thee of Asfandiyar; thou art
Concerned about the throne of empiry,
And wouldst be quit of me. Let crown and throne
Of chiefs remain thine own, for me the world
Hath nooks enough, yet I am still thy slave,
And bow my head to thy command and will."
Gushtasp said: "Be not angry. Thou shall have
This greatness yet and therefore be not downcast.
Choose from the army many cavaliers -
All veterans in war. At thy disposal
Are implements of war and troops and money;
'Tis for thy foemen to despond. Without thee
What are the treasure and the host, the throne
Of kingship and the golden casque, to me? "
Asfandiyftr replied: "No host will serve;
The world-lord, if my fate is drawing nigh,
Will not withhold it with his troops! "
The presence of his sire with indignation
Both for the crown's sake and his father's words,
And entered his own hall in doleful wise,
His heart all sorrowful, his lips all sighs.
How Katayan counselled Asfandiyar
Much moved and weeping sun-cheeked Katayun
Went to the glorious Asfandiyar,
Her son, and said to him: "O thou that art
The memory of the heroes of the world!
Bahman hath told me that thou wouldest go
From this Rose-garden to Zabulistan,
And wilt put Rustam, son of Zal, in chains,
That master of the mace and scimitar !
Now hear of all things what thy mother saith:-
Rush not to evil and endeavour it not.
That cavalier of elephantine might
Disdaineth battle with the river Nile,
Dis-sundereth the White Div's liverstead,
And maketh with his sword the sun to stray.
He slew the monarch of Hamivaran
Withal, and none is bold to chide with him.
When he took vengeance on Afrasiyab
For Siyawush he made earth like a sea
With blood. But if I were to talk for ever
I could not tell the tale of his good deeds.
Give not thy head for crown's sake to the winds,
For no one yet was born already crowned.
Thy father is an old man; thou art young -
A mighty man of hardihood and valour.
The whole host's eyes are on thee; plunge not then
Thyself through anger in calamities.
Sistan is not the sole place in the world,
Act not the youth and be not masterful.
Make me not sad in this world and the next,
But hearken to thy loving mother's words."
Asfandiyar replied: "0 loving mother !
Heed what I say: thou knowest Rustam well,
And what thou say'st of his accomplishment
Is true as Zandavasta. Thou mayst search
At large throughout Iran but wilt not find -
A better man; 'twould be a shame to bind him.
Such ill, not good, proceedeth from the Shah!
But still there is no need to break my heart,
Though if thou dost so I will tear it out.
How can I disobey the Shah's command,
Forego a state like this? Grant that my life
Shall finish in Zabul; 'tis Heaven's process
That draweth me thither, and if Rustam yieldeth
He ne'er will hear unfriendly words from me."
His mother's eyes rained blood, she tore her hair,
And cried: "0 mighty, raging Elephant!
Strength maketh thee too prodigal of life.
Thou art no match for elephantine Rustam,
And therefore go not hence without a host.
Take not thy life, on thine own shoulders merely,
To that fierce Elephant; thy will to go
Is also miscreant Ahriman's for thee.
Oh pause ! Take not thy children into Hell,
Or no wise man will call thee well-advised."
The warlike prince made answer: "Not to take them
Would be unwise, for while a youth remaineth
Within the bower his spirit is repressed,
His mind is dark, and, 0 my prudent mother !
I want their help on every battlefield.
There is no need for me to take a host,
Just kith and kin and certain chiefs at most."
How Asfandiyar led a Host do Zabul
At dawn, at cock-crow, from the court-gate rose
The din of drums, the elephantine chief
Gat on his steed and led his powers like wind.
He marched until he came where two roads met;
Then prince and army halted in dismay.
One road led toward the hold of Gumbadin,
The other toward Zabul. The leading camel
Lay down, thou hadst said "wedded to the ground."
The camel-driver smote it on the head,
But for the while the caravan was stayed.
It seemed ill-omened to the atheling,
Who gave commandment to behead the beast
So that the harm might come upon itself,
And he himself not lose the Grace of God.
The warriors cut its head off on the spot,
And turned forthwith the presage on the camel.
Though vexed about the beast, Asfandiyar
Affected to disdain the evil omen,
And said: " When one hath triumphed, and illumed
Earth by his fortune and his eminence,
He ought to senile since good and ill alike
Derive from God."
He then fared toward the Hirmund
But fearful of mishap. As they were wont
They pitched the tent-enclosure while the chiefs
Chose their own camping-ground. The prince set up
Throne and pavilion; thither fared the favoured.
Asfandiyar provided wine and minstrels,
And he and Bishutan sat down together,
Rejoicing his own heart with song and filling
His nobles' hearts with bluster. When old wine
Had made the faces of the warrior-king
And of his lords to blossom like the rose
lie said thus to his friends: " I have abandoned
The Shah's injunctions and his way withal.
He said: 'Get this affair of Rustam's over
Bate naught of bondage and humiliation:
I have not acted as my father bade me,
Because the brave and lion-hearted Rustam
Bath many toils in other chieftains' stead
To his account and with his massive mace
Reformed the world. The whole state of Iran
From Shah to slave surviveth to this day
Through him. I need a valiant messenger,
Instructed, wise, and of retentive mind,
A cavalier of Grace divine and lustre,
A man that Rustam will not over-reach.
If Rustam will come hither and illume
My gloomy soul, by graciously allowing me
To bind him, he shall not experience
for his discretion any harm from me.
I wish him well if he will think no ill."
"That is the proper course," said Bishutan,
"Hold thereunto and seek the hurt of none."
How Asfandiyar sent Bahman to Rustam
Asfandiyar then summoned to his presence
Bahman, held talk with him at large, and said :-
" Array thee in brocade of Chin and mount
Thy sable steed, wear too a royal crown,
Bedecked with jewels fit for paladins,
So that whoever seeth may discern thee
Among the notables and, recognising
That thou art one of royal race, invoke
The Maker's blessings on thee. Take five steeds
With golden trappings, and ten archimages,
All men of reputation and degree,
Proceed to Rustam's house, and do thine errand
With right good will. Greet him from us, be kind,
Address him, adding compliments, and say:-
'Let him that groweth great and keepeth all
The world unscathed give thanks to God that He
At all times recogniseth excellence;
Howbeit one that is both great and good,
And keepeth his own heart from frowardness,
Will find his might and riches all the more,
Be happy in this Hostel by the way,
And, by renouncing every sordid aim,
Hereafter compass Paradise. With us
Both good and evil are but transient things
As all of wisdom know. Dark dust at last
Will be our couch, our spirit wing to God.
Those that know Him will toil to serve the Shahs.
And now let us appraise thee faithfully
Without exaggeration or default,
For thou hast lived through countless years and seen
Full many a king on earth. Thou know'st that 'tis
Unseemly to hark back from wisdom's way
For thee who hast such greatness, troops, and treasure
Such noble horses, crown, and throne, all which
Thou hadst from my forefathers for prompt service;
Yet for how long did Shah, Luhrasp possess
The world and yet thou never cam'st to court
And since he gave the kingdom to Gushrasp
Thou hast not recognised the Shah, not written,
Or paid to him the customary service,
Hast never gone to court to do him homage,
Or hailed him as thy Shah. Yet from Hushang
Jamshid, and Faridun who won by valour
The kingship from the offspring of Zahhak,
Until we reach the time of Kai Kubad,
Who set the crown of greatness on his head,
There hath not been a monarch like Gushtasp
In fight, in feast, in counsel or the chase.
He hath received the pure and good religion,
Both error and injustice are no more,
For when the Lord's way shone forth gloriously
Bad doctrine and the Div's way disappeared.
Thereafter when Arjasp came forth to fight,
With troops like pards and chiefs like crocodiles,
And no one knew the number of his host,
Our famous sovereign encountered him,
And made a graveyard of the battlefield,
Till no one could discern the face of earth.
In sooth until the Resurrection Day
The tale will ne'er grow old among the great.
He is the man to break a lion's neck,
And everything is his from east to west,
His from Turan as far as Sind and Rum;
The whole world is a bit of wax to him.
Among the spearmen of the desert too
Full many cavaliers come to his court;
They send him toll and tribute from their realms,
Because they have not strength to fight with him.
This have I said to thee, O paladin!
Because his soul is vext on thine account
In that thou halt not come to his famed court,
Nor recognised his nobles, but hast chosen
A nook wherein thou hid'st thyself; yet how,
Unless they ban all feeling, can our chiefs
Cease to remember thee who hast done good
In all things alway and hast raised thy head
To do the bidding of the Shahs? If any
Should reckon up thy toils they would exceed
Thy treasures; yet no Shah could acquiesce
In what is told of thee. Gushtasp said: "Rustam,
Because of much goods, province, and stored treasure,
Hath tarried at Zabul and grown bemused
With drink, and none hath profit from a drunkard.
Though wanted he is absent from the field,
And loth not see me even at festivals."
The Shah was wroth and aware an oath one day
By bright day and the azure dim of night:-
"None of this chosen host shall look on him
Here in the court unless in bonds." And now
Upon this matter have I left Iran;
The Shah would not allow me time to breathe.
Be circumspect and shun the monarch's wrath
Hast thou not seen the fury in his eyes?
If thou wilt come, obeying my command
And mourning thy remissness in the past,
Than by the sun, the bright soul of Zarir,
And by that noble Lion my father's life,
I swear that I will make the Sha h repent,
And cause the moon and stars to shine again.
Moreover Bishutan will bear me witness
That, having mind and wisdom for my guides,
I oftentimes have tried to pacify
The Shah, though seeing that thou wast to blame.
My father is the lord; I am the liege,
And never will I swerve from his command.
A conclave of thy family should sit,
Consult, and take this matter well in hand.
Allow Zawara, Faramarz, and Zal,
As well as noble and discreet Rudaba,
To hear what I advise in all respects,
And recognise the goodness of my words.
This house must not be wrecked and be the don
Of pards and lions. When I bear thee bound
Before the Shah I will set forth to him
Thy many faults, then rise and bring him back
From wrath and wreak, let no wind blow on thee,
But act as native worth would have of me.'"
How Bahman came to Zal
Bahman, or ever he had heard the words
Of that illustrious prince, went on his way.
He donned a robe of royal cloth of gold,
And placed the crown of greatness on his head,
Then set forth proudly from the camp-enclosure
With standard raised and fluttering behind him.
The atheling went over, the Hirmund -
A noble youth upon a mighty steed.
Immediately the watchman sighted him,
And sent a cry toward Zabulistan
"A gallant, warlike cavalier hath come
Upon a sable steed with golden trappings.
Behind him are attendaint cavaliers,
And he hath passed in safety o'er the stream."
Zal mounted on his saddle instantly,
With lasso in the straps and mace in hand,
Then coming to the watch-tower saw Bahman,
And from his liver drew a deep, cold sigh.
He said: "This is a famous paladin
Of noble rank clad in a royal robe.
In sooth he is a kinsman of Luhrasp,
And may his advent prove our country's weal."
Departing from the watch-tower he approached
The gate and paused distracted on his saddle.
It was not long before Bahman, whose head
Was higher than the turning sky, appeared
And, having no acquaintance yet with Zal,
Waved with his royal arm, and then approaching
Cried: "Noble thane ! where is the son of Zal,
This people's lord, the backbone of our times,
For great Asfandiyar hath reached Zabul,
And pitched his tents upon the river-bank? "
Zal said to him: "0 mine impetuous son!
Dismount, take wine, and rest, for Rustam now
Is coming from the chase with Faramarz,
Zawara, and their retinue. Come then
With these thy cavaliers as honoured guests,
And cheer thy heart with many a draught of wine."
Bahman made answer thus: "Asfandiyar
Enjoined not minstrelsy and boon-companions.
Give me a guide to take me to the chase."
Zal said: "What is thy name? Thou art in haste!
What is thy will? Methinketh that thou art
A scion of Gushtasp or Shah Luhrasp."
Bahman replied to him: "I am Bahman,
Son of the world-lord of the brazen body."
Then noble Zal dismounted and did homage.
Bahman alighted smiling, and the twain
Exchanged their greetings. Earnestly Zal pleaded:-
'Wait here, there is no colour for such haste."
Bahman rejoined: "Not thus must we delay,
And slight the mission of Asfandiyar."
Zal chose a warrior that knew the road,
And sent him with Bahman forth to the chase.
That veteran, hight Shirkhun, went first as guide,
Just pointed to the spot and homeward hied.
How Bahman gave the Message to Rustam
A mountain lay before the youth who urged
His gallant charger thither, then looked down
Upon the chase. The captain of the host
Appeared in sight - a roan like Mount Bistun.
He held a sapling in one hand whereon
An onager was spitted. By his side
Were placed his iron mace and other gear.
Within his other hand he held a goblet
A-brim with wine; his son was in attendance;
Rakhsh roamed about the meadow. There were trees,
Grass, and a stream withal.
"'Tis either Rustam,"
Bahman said, "or the rising sun, for none
In all the world hath looked on such another,
Or heard of such from famous men of old.
I fear me that the brave Asfandiyar
Will not stand up to him, but quit the combat.
So let me kill him with a crag and make
The hearts of Zal and of Rudaba writhe." ,
He loosed a flinty boulder from the height,
And sent it downward from the lofty peak.
Zawara from the hunting-ground beheld it,
And heard the rumble that it made withal.
He shouted: "Paladin and cavalier !
A stone is rolling from the mountain-top!"
But Rustam to Zawira's wonderment
Ne'er moved nor laid aside the onager;
He waited till the stone was close to him,
While all the mountain darkened by its dust,
Then with a kick dispatched it far away,
Whereat Zawara praised him joyfully.
Bahman was sick at heart at Rustam's deed
And, marking both his majesty and mien,
Said: "If the glorious Asfandiyar
Should fight against a man of such renown
He would be vanquished vilely. It were better
For him to deal with Rustam courteously,
Who, if he overcame Asfandiyar,
Would seize on all the country of Iran."
He gat upon his wind-swift steed and quitted
The mountain in a muse, informed the archmages
About the wonder that he had beheld,
And quietly proceeded on his way.
When he was hard upon the hunting-ground
The peerless Rustam spied him as he came,
And asked an archimage: "What man is this?
I take him for a kinsman of Gushtasp."
Then Rustam with Zawara and the rest,
Both great and small, went forth to meet Bahman,
Who swift as smoke alighted from his steed,
Exchanging greetings and all courtesies,
And Rustam said to him: "Until thou tellest
Thy name thou wilt not get thy will of me."
The youth replied: "Renowned Bahman am I,
Son of Asfandiyar, that upright prince."
The paladin embraced him on the spot,
And made excuses for his tardy coming.
Then both with their respective retinues
Set forth for Rustam's camp. Now when Bahman
Was seated he gave greetings for himself
And for the Shah and the Iranians.
"Asfandiyar," he then went on to say,
"Hath journeyed from the court as quick as fire
And, as the Shah, victorious and exalted,
Enjoined him, pitched his camp on the Hirmund.
Now if the noble cavalier will hear me
I have a message from Asfandiyar."
"The Shah's son," Rustam answered, "hath endured
Much and hath travelled far; so first of all
Let us partake of what we have, and then
The world is at thy bidding."
On the board
He laid new bread and hot roast onagor;
Slaves helped Bahman and matchless Rustam parted.
He placed his brother by the prince but summoned
No other nobles to the feast. He put
A second onager before himself -
His customary portion at each meal.
He sprinkled salt, cut up the meat, and ate;
Meanwhile the exalted prince could not but gaze.
He ate a little of his onager,
But not a hundredth part of Rustam's meal;
While Rustam smiled upon him, saying: "Shahs
Possess the state in order to enjoy.
If thou art such a feeble trencherman
How ever didst then pass the Seven Stages?
In what sort, dost thou wield the spear in battle
Who hast, O prince! so little appetite?"
Bahman said: "God forbid a prince should talk
Or eat much. Eating little he is great
In war and ever hath his life in hand."
Then Rustam smiled and cried: "One should not veil
One's manhood from mankind."
Then he filled up
A golden bowl with wine and drank "The free."
He gave another to Bahman, and said:-
"Take this and drink it unto whom then wilt."
Bahman was frayed thereat, and so Zawara
First took a draught thereof and said to him:-
"O scion of the Shah ! may wine and drinker
Rejoice in thee."
Bahman took back the bowl
At once, but that sweet youth was temperate,
And Rustam's appetite, neck, arms, and shoulders
Astounded him. Both mounted, and Bahman
Set forth with noble Rustam and then gave
The message of the prince fair-famed and brave,
How Rustam made Answer to Asfandiyar
When he had heard Bahman the ancient hero
Mused and replied: "Yea I have heard the message
And joy to see thee. Bear Asfandiyar
This answer from me: 'Lion-hearted chief
And famed ! the man whose soul is tenanted
By wisdom seeth matters in the gross,
And when he hath both valour and success,
Possessions, hoarded treasures, majesty,
With heroism and a lofty name,
And is the favourite of noble men,
As then art at this moment in the world,
Should not be evil-minded. Let us worship
God and the right, not grasp the hand of ill.
A word when uttered inexcusably
Is but a tree that hath no fruit or scent,
And if thy soul shall tread the path of greed
Thy travail will be long and profitless.
'Tis well a prince should weigh his words, and well
To have no wish to utter aught amiss.
Thy servant used to joy in all that said:-
"No mother's son is like Asfandiyar.
In courage, wisdom, enterprise, and counsel
He will be greater than his ancestors."
How famous is thy name in Hindustan,
In Chin and Rum and in the land of warlocks !
I thank thee for thy counsels and give praise
By day and in three watches of the night.
I sought of God, what now I joy to find
Accorded me, that I might look upon
Thy cherished face, thy greatness, manhood, love,
That, seated side by side in joy, we twain
Might drain a goblet to the king of kings,
And now I have attained my whole desire -
The wish that I was instant to achieve.
I will appear before thee unattended
To hear from thee the Shah's behest and bring
To thee the patents granted by just Shahs
From Kai Khusrau right back to Kai Kubad.
Now, matchless hero? look upon my case,
My pains and actions, on the goodly deeds
That I have done, my hardship and my travail,
And how I have been servant to the Shahs
From this day backward to the days of old.
If chains are to repay me for these toils,
And ruin from the monarch of Iran,
'Tis well for none to look upon the world,
Or only just to look and tarry not.
I will tell all my secrets when I come,
And speak in tones that all the world may hear.
Then if there should appear a fault in me -
A fault for which I ought to lose my head -
Then I will set a yoke on mine own shoulders,
And come afoot clothed in a leopard-skin;
But inasmuch as I am he that brake
Fierce elephants' necks and flung them to the Nile,
Forbear unseemly words to me and keep
Thy mischiefs to afflict the Div's heart. Say not
What no one e'er path sail, use not thy courage
To encage the wind. The mighty cannot pass
Through fire at all, nor, save they swim, through water;
Thou canst not hide the shining of the moon,
Or mate the fox and lion. Pour not then
Contention o'er my path, who am myself
Adept therein. None hath beheld me fettered,
No savage lion ta'en my post. Act thou
As princes should. Consult not with the Div.
Put from thy heart wrath and revenge for trifles,
And look not on the world with boyish eyes.
Rejoice then, cross the stream, and may God bless thee.
Do honour to my mansion at a feast;
Keep not aloof from me who am thy slave.
Just as I was a liege to Kai Kubad,
So now I joy, both heart and brain, in thee.
If thou wilt come to me with all thy host,
And pass two months with me in merriment,
Both man and beast shall rest from toil, foes' hearts
Grow blind with envy. Beast on land, and fowl
On water, wait thee if thou wilt but stay.
I shall behold thy warrior-might, and thou
Shalt with thy scimitar o'erthrow the lion
And pard. When thou art fain to lead the host
In,nward to the monarch of the brave,
I will unlock the ancient hoards which
Have here collected by my scimitar,
And place at thy disposal everything
That I have gathered by my might of hand.
Take what thou wilt and give the rest away;
Blake not a day like this a grief to me.
Then when the time shall come for thee to go,
And thou art anxious to behold the Shah,
I will not separate my reins from thine, -
And we will go to him in company.
By asking pardon I will soothe his wrath,
And kiss him on the head and feet and eyes.
Then will I ask the great but unjust Shah:-
"Why should these hands of mine be put in bonds?
Retain my words in each particular,
knd tell them to the great Asfandiyar."
How Bahman returned
Bahman, when he had heard what Rustam said,
Departed with the holy archimages,
But Rustam - peerless chieftain - stayed awhile
Upon the road and, having called Zawara
And Faramarz, said thus: "Depart to Zal
And to the fair Moon of Zabulistan,
And say to them: "One who ambitioneth
The world hath come - Asfandiyar. Set up
Within our halls a golden throne, and place
For him apparel such as monarchs wear,
As on the occasion with Shah Kai Kaus,
But let the audience - hall be grander still.
Prepare ye somewhat too by way of food
There must not be a lack of things to eat,
For the Shah's son hath come to us, hath come
In a revengeful mood intent on war.
He is a famous warrior and brave prince,
And heedeth not a wilderness of lions.
I go to him, and if he will accept
Mine invitation there is hope for all.
If I shall find him well disposed toward me
I will present him with a crown of rubies,
And not withhold from him my treasures, jewels,
Bards, mace, and sword. If I return despondent,
Because I have not a white day with him,
Thou knowest that my twisted lasso bringeth
The heads of savage elephants to bonds."
Zawira said to him: "Have no such thought
Men do not seek to fight without a cause.
I know not any king in all the world
For rede and courage like Asfandiyar;
Ill deeds proceed not from a man of wisdom,
And he hath not.received a wrong from us."
Zawira went to Zal. For his part Rustam,
Bestirred himself and hurried to the Hirmund,
His head all dazed with fear of coming ill,
Drew rein and waited for Bahman to greet him.
Now when Bahman had reached the tent-enclosure,
And stood before the presence of his father,
The glorious Asfandiyar inquired:-
What What answer did the famous hero give thee? "
Bahman, on hearing, sat before his sire,
Narrated all his tidings point by point
And, having given Rustam's greeting first,
Told all about the message and reply
Before his father, told what he had seen,
Or noted privily. "I never saw,"
He said, "in any company a man
Like elephantine Rustam. He possesseth
A lion's heart, the bulk of elephant,
And haleth from the Nile the crocodiles. -
He now is on the bank of Hirmund,
Without his armour, helmet, mace, or lasso,
And fain would see the Shah. I do not know
His purpose as to thee."
Wroth with Bahman, disgraced him in full court,
And said to him: "Men of exalted rank
Should not confide in women; furthermore
The employ of children in affairs of moment
As messengers is neither brave nor valiant.
Where ever hast thou looked on warriors,
Who hast heard not a charger's tramp? By making
An elephant of war of Rustam thou
Wilt break the spirit of our famous host."
In private he spake much to Bishutan,
And said: "This noble Lion of the fight
Will act the youngster and, I will engage,
Hath not a wrinkle yet in spite of age! "
The Meeting of Rustam and Asfandiyar
The glorious Asfandiyar bade set
A golden saddle on his sable steed;
Then from his famous troops a hundred horsemen
Set forth with him. His charger neighed on one hand,
And Rakhsh upon the other. Matchless Rustam
Lit from his steed, advanced to greet the hero,
And, greeting over, said: "I prayed to God -
The only God - that He would be thy Guide,
And thou with thy great men and troops withal
Hast reached us safe and sound. Come let us sit,
Use gracious terms, then give a good reply.
My witness, be assured, is God himself,
And wisdom is my guide in what I say,
For I shall gain no glory from this matter,
Nor will I tell a lie in any case,
That now were I to gaze on Siyawush
I should not look so happy as I do,
For thou resemblest nobody but him,
That wearer of the crown, that world-bestower.
Blest is the Shah who hath a son like thee !
Thy sire may glory in thy height and face.
Blest are the people of Inin, the slaves
Of thine unsleeping fortune and thy throne.
Ill-starred is he who seeketh thee in fight
From throne and fortune he will come to dust.
May all foes' hearts be filled with fear of thee,
And thine ill-wishers' riven, may thy fortune
Prevail through all thy years and thy dark nights
Be as the day to thee."
Thereat alighted from his royal steed,
Embraced the hero's elephantine form,
Called many blessings down on him, and said:-
"Thank God, 0 chief of paladins! that I
Behold thee glad and bright of mind. 'Tis well
That we should praise thee and that this world's heroes
Should be as dust before thee. He is blest
That hath a son like thee, for he beholdeth
A fruitful Branch, and blest is he that hath
A stay like thee, for he will be unscathed
By evil fortune! When I looked on thee
I called to mind that leader of the host,
That cavalier and Lion - Zarir."
"Thou paladin and world-lord shrewd and ardent !
I have one wish, 0 prince ! a wish which granted
Would make me well content, and 'tis that thou
Shalt visit me in state and make my soul
Bright at the sight of thee. Though there be naught
Worth thine acceptance we will do our best."
Asfandiyar replied: "Thou memory
Of this world's heroes! he that hath a name
Like thine will prove a joyance to Iran
As one whose counsel must not be transgressed,
His land and home not slighted. Ne'ertheless,
I may not swerve in public or in private
From what the Shah commanded, and he did not
Instruct me to abide within Zabul,
Or with the nobles of that warlike land.
Act so that thou mayst take of fortune's fruit;
Go thou the way the monarch biddeth thee.
Delay not thou to put thy feet in fetters;
Those of the king of kings are no disgrace,
And when I bear thee bound before the Shah
The evil will rocoil on him. Meanwhile
Thy bondage will have hurt me to the soul,
I shall have waited on thee like a slave.
I will not leave thee in thy bonds till night;
No harm at all shall come upon thy life.
Dost thou suspect foul play, O paladin?
Beyond all doubt the Shah will do no wrong,
And he hath told me: 'I will give to thee
Mine ivory throne, my treasures, and my grown!
When I shall set that crown upon my head
I will entrust the whole world to thy hands.
Before the all-just God I do no wrong,
Nor shall I shame in presence of the Shah.
When thou returnest to Zabulistan,
What time the gardens blossom with the rose,
Thou shalt receive such precious gifts from me
As will adorn thy land."
"O noble man !"
Said Rustam, "I have prayed the almighty Judge
That I might glad my heart by seeing thee,
But how can I give ear to these thy words?
We both are men of rank, one old, one young,
Two paladins both wise and vigilant;
But I am fearful of the evil eye,
And that our heads will wake from pleasant dreams.
The Div is making way betwixt us two
To warp thy heart by means of crown and throne.
A thing like this would be a shame to me,
One that would last for ever, that a leader,
One high-born and a chieftain such as thou art,
A noble Lion and a mighty man,
Should come not for a while to mine abode,
Or be my guest within these coasts. If thou
Wilt banish this contention from thy thoughts,
And do thy best to exorcise the Div,
I will adorn my soul by sight of thee,
And do whate'er thou biddest save these bonds,
For they are utter shame, defeat, and outrage.
No one shall see me bound while I survive
My life on that. Enough!"
Replied: "O memory of this world's heroes !
Thy words are truth, not falsehood, and men gain
No lustre from deceit; still Bishutan
Is cognisant of all the Shah's commands
When I set forth. 'Bestir thyself,' he said,
'As touching Rustam. Be thy whole concern
To fight or bind him.' If now I shall go,
A blithe, triumphant guest, to visit thee
In thine own home, and from the Shah's commands
Thou turn thy neck, 'twill mar mine own day's lustre.
For one thing I shall fight thee and employ
The leopard's instinct in that fight, forget
The bond of bread and salt, and cast a slur
Upon the honour of my lineage;
While if I disobey the Shah the fire
Will be my dwelling in the world to come.
Yet, since thou wishest, let us pass one day
With wine in hand. Who knoweth what may chance
Tomorrow, so we need not talk thereof? "
Said Rustam: "I will do so. I will go
And doff my road-dress. For a week have I
Been hunting and been eating onager
Instead of lamb. When things are ready call me,
And sit down with thy kinsmen at the board."
Hurt and concerned he mounted, hurried home,
Beheld the face of Zal, the son of Sam,
The son of Nariman, and said: "Famed chief !
I have been visiting Asfandiyar,
And seen a horseman like a straight-stemmed cypress,
A man of wisdom, dowered with grace and Glory.
Thou wouldest say: 'Shah Faridun, the hero,
Bequeathed to him both might and understanding.'
His presence bettereth hearsay: there doth shine
From him the Grace imperial and divine."
How Asfandiyar summoned not Rustam to the Feast
When Rustam left the bank of the Hirmund
The great Asfandiyar sat lost in thought,
And Bishutan, his counsellor, anon
Came to the camp-enclosure. Said the hero:-
"We have dealt lightly with a grave affair
I have no business in the house of Rustam,
And he for his part should not look on me.
If he come not I will not summon him;
Else, should one of us die, the other's heart
Would burn with anguish for the slain, his head
Shed tears for friendship's sake."
"Who hath a brother like Asfandiyar,
Famed chief? By God, when first I saw you two,
And neither of you tried to make a quarrel,
My heart became like early spring thereat,
As much for Rustam as Asfandiyar;
But as I looked more deeply I perceived
The Div controlling wisdom's path. Thou knowest
What Faith and honour bid, the laws of God,
And thine own sire's intent. Restrain thyself.
Do life no hurt, and hear thy brother's words.
I heard what Rustam said: his greatness matched
His courage, and thy fetters will not gall him.
He heedeth not thy Grace divine and state.
The chief of cavaliers, the son of Zal,
Will not put his head lightly in the net.
The matter, as I fear, will be prolonged
For evil, being 'twixt two haughty men.
Thou art a great man, wiser than the Shah,
And abler both in skill and bravery.
If one would feast, the other strive for vengeance,
Consider which the more deserveth praise."
The prince replied: "If I shall not obey
The Shah I shall be censured in this world,
And God will call me to account hereafter.
I would not sell both worlds for Rustam's sake;
No man will sew up his own eyes and heart."
The other said: "The outcome of good counsel,
Will profit thy pure body and thy soul.
I have said all. Now choose thee which is best;
A prince's heart should be above revenge."
The chieftain bade the cooks to spread the board,
But saidlto no one: "Summon Rustam hither."
The eating done he took the cup in hand,
Spake of the Brazen Hold, of his own manhood,
And drank in honour of the king of kings,
While Rustam stayed within his palace-walls,
Remembering his promise to eat bread.
Now when a long while passed and no one came,
Though Rustam often looked along the road,
And when the time for feasting had gone by,
The hero's dignity could brook no more.
He smiled and said: "My brother! deck the board,
And summon to the feast the men of birth.
If 'tis the custom of Asfandiyar
To treat us with such superciliousness
As to invite and then not summon us,
Hope for no good from him."
He spake. They decked
The board and, having eaten, rose. Then staid
The heroic paladin to Faramarz
"Bid saddle Rakhsh as they would do in Chin.
I shall go back and tell Asfandiyar
'Prince though thou art, remember: he that breaketh
His plighted word hath in himself effaced
The pathway that the great and good have traced.'"
How Asfandiyar excused himself for not summoning
Rustam to the Feast
Then like an elephant he mounted Rakhsh,
Whose neighings could be heard two miles away,
And hurried to the river, where the troops
Pressed eagerly to see him, while the hearts,
Of those that saw him loved him. All exclaimed:-
"This noble chief resembleth none but Sam,
The cavalier. An iron hill is he
Upon the saddle and thou wouldest say
That Rakhsh is Ahriman's own mount, and were
A mighty elephant his opposite
Then splash its head with mourning hues. The king
Must have a witless pate to give up one
That is possessed of Grace divine and prowess -
A moonlike chieftain like Asfandiyar -
To slaughter for the sake of crown and throne.
He groweth greedier with age and fonder
Of signet and of diadem."
Drew near, Asfandiyar went forth to meet him.
Said Rustam: "Paladin and glorious youth,
But of new-fangled manners ! so thy guest
Was thought unworthy of the summoning
Thy promise is a promise and no more.
Attend to what I say, and be not hasty
Without a cause with one advanced in years.
Thou thinkest far too highly of thyself,
And art too haughty to the chiefs. Good sooth !
Thou boldest me but light in point of courage,
And slight in counsel and in understanding.
Know that I am the Rustam of the world,
The lustre of the race of Nariman.
I make the Black Div gnaw his hand, I lay
The heads of sorcerers low. The mighty men
That saw mine iron corslet, and that great
And roaring Lion that I rode, abandoned
The field without a blow and on the plain
Threw down their bows and arrows - valiant horsemen
And fighters like Kamus, the warrior,
Or like the Khan of Chin, whom with coiled lasso
I haled from saddle and bound head andifoot.
The warden of the Shahs am I, the stay
Of brave men everywhere. Mistake me not
Because I begged a boon, nor deem that thou
Art higher than heaven. Thy royal Grace and state
Led me to seek thy rede and fellowship,
And I desire not that a prince like thee
Should have his fortunes ruined by my hand,
Because heroic Sam is mine ideal,
At whose approach the lion fled the wood,
And I am his memorial on earth,
O valiant, royal prince Asfandiyar!
Long have I been the chief of paladins,
But never spent a day in evil-doing,
Have purged the world of foes and undergone
Abundant toil and stress. I thank my God
That in these latter days I have beheld
My peer - a glorious Shoot who will take vengeance
On infidels amid the world's applause."
Then smiling on him said Asfandiyar
"O son of Sam, the horseman! thou wast hurt
In that no summons came whereas I took
Some credit to myself. Be not displeased
Because I spared thee on so hot a day
So long a journey, for I said: 'At dawn
I will set out to offer mine excuses;
Then shall I have the joy of seeing Zal,
And be for once quite happy !' But since thou
Hast of thine own self undergone the toil,
Hast left thy home and come across the plain,
Sit down to rest thyself, take up the cup,
And make no show of wrath and bitterness."
Asfandiyar placed Rustam on his left,
Such was the way in which he did the honours !
Then said the veteran: "This is not my place;
Let me have that to which I am entitled.".
The prince said to Bahman upon his right:-
Give Give him the seat as he demandeth it."
Then Rustam in his wrath said to the prince
"Look on me fairly and with open eyes;
Regard my prowess and illustrious stock,
For I am of the seed of valiant Sam.
Though thou hast no seat that befitteth me
I have the Grace, my triumphs, and my prudence."
Thereat the prince gave orders to his son
To place a golden seat upon, the dais,
And with a scented orange Rustam came,
And took his seat but he was all aflame.
How Asfandiyar spoke Shame of the Race of Rustam
Then thus to Rustam spake Asfandiyar:-
"O lion-hearted chieftain of renown!
Now I have heard a tale from archimages,
The mighty men and sages wise of heart,
That Zal is one of evil race, a div
By birth, and hath no better origin.
They kept him for a while concealed from Sam,
And thought the child a Doomsday to the world.
His head and hair were white, the rest was dark.
Sam at the sight of him was in despair,
And bade them take the young child to the sea
That birds and fish might have him for their prey.
Then the Simurgh came with spread wings but saw
That 'twas no proper child with Grace divine.
She bore him off to where she had a nest,
She carried him away to serve as food,
And threw him in contempt before her young
That they might finish him at feeding-time.
When they attempted to devour the child
They were afraid and would not batten on him,
But passed him over as he was so vile,
And turned away; though ravenous the Simurgh
Could not quite stomach such a thing as Zal,
But made him free of the nest though nobody
Was pleased to see him. He ate carrion
That she rejected, and his wretched body
Was raimentless. She came to love the child,
And thus the heaven turned o'er him for a season.
When he had fared on carrion for a while
She carried him all naked to Sistan,
Where Sam, who had no child, adopted him
Through folly, dotage, and stupidity.
The Shahs and glorious, great men of my race,
My benefactors and mine ancestors,
Then took him up and furnished him withal.
Thus many years passed o'er him; he became
A Cypress, one whose head was out of reach;
It put forth branches and its fruit was Rustam,
Who by his manhood, skill, and mien thus scaled
The sky, in such wise seized on royalty,
Increased in power, and took to villainy."
How Rustam answered Asfandiyar, praising his own
Rare and his Deeds
Then Rustam answered, saying: "Hold thy peace !
Why speak'st thou such provocatory words?
Thy heart is growing into frowardness,
The utterance of thy soul is that of divs.
Speak what befitteth the great kings; the Shah
In speaking swerveth not from what is right.
The world-lord knoweth that the son of Sam
Is great and hath both knowledge and fair fame.
Again, Sam was the son of Nariman,
Which hero was the son of Kariman,
And thus they run back to Garshasp, while all
Are scions of Jamshid. Thine ancestors
Obtained the crown through us, else none had named them.
'Twas I who brought Kubad, the chosen one
Of all the people, out of Mount Alburz,
And but for that he had remained a subject,
Not having treasure, host, or puissance.
In sooth thou must have heard reports of Skin,
Who had the fairest taino of all his time:-
First, how there was a dragon once at Us,
A dragon from whose clutches none could 'scape;
A crocodile in water and a leopard
On land, its breath would soften mountain-flints,
Would broil the fishes' heads in water-ways,
Would scorch the vultures' feathers in mid-air,
And suck in elephants with its breath. Glad hearts
Were saddened at the thought thereof. And next,
There was a fearful and malicious div,
Whose body was on earth and head in heaven,
Because the sea of Chin reached but his middle;
The sun itself shone with diminished lustre.
He used to take up monsters from the deep
And, towering o'er the orbit of the moon,
Broil them upon the sun while turning heaven
Was all dissolved in tears. These two great Pests
Were rendered lifeless and consumed before
The sword of Sam, the hero. Then again,
My mother was the daughter of Mihrab,
Who made the realm of Sind so prosperous,
And was the fifth descendant from Zahhs,k,
Who raised his head above all other kings.
Who hath a nobler origin than this?
A wise man will not turn from truth: the honour
Of all the world is mine, and other heroes
Must seek to win it back from me. Again,
Mine earliest patent is from Kai Kaus;
Thou canst not find a pretext on that score.
I have one too from righteous Kai Khusrau,
Like whom no Kaian ever girt his loins.
My wanderings have covered all the earth,
And many an unjust monarch have I slain.
Whenas I crossed the waters of Jihan
Afrasiyab fled from Turan to Chin.
When Kai Kaus went to Mazandaran
My father Zal had much to say thereon.
Thou knowest how that Shah fared with the divs,
And in his blindness cried out from his soul.
Alone I journeyed to Mazandanin;
The nights were gloomy and the leagues were long.
I did not spare the White Div or Arzhang,
Pulad, son of Ghundi, or Bid or Sanja.
Moreover for our monarch's sake I slew
My wise and valiant boy. There hath not been
Another warrior like Suhrab in strength,
In courage, and approof in war. In sooth
Above six hundred years have passed away
Since I was severed from the reins of Zal;
I have been always paladin in chief,
In public or in private 'twas all one.
Just as it was with noble Faridun,
Who set the crown of greatness on his head,
Dethroned Zahhak and brought him, head and crown,
To dust; and secondly, as Sim, my grandsire,
Engrossed the craft and knowledge of the world;
So, thirdly, since I girded up my loins
The person of the monarch hath had rest.
There never were such days of happiness,
The wanderers' feet were never so secure,
As when my will prevailed throughout the world,
And I used scimitar and massive mace.
I speak in order that thou mayst know all,
For thou art prince and nobles are thy flock;
Yet in respect of age thou art a youth,
Though with the Grace of Kai Khusrau. Thou seest
None but thyself and know'st not secret matters.
Now, having talked much, turn we for relief
To wine and hunt therewith the soul of grief."
How Asfandiyar boasted of his Ancestry
Asfandiyar, on hearing Rustam's words,
Smiled and his heart began to beat with joy.
He answered: "I have listened to thy toils,
Thy pains, thy combats, and anxieties.
Now hearken to the gests that I have done,
Whereby I raised my head above the noble.
'Twas for the Faith that first I girt my loins,
And cleared the earth of idol-worshippers
Our warriors could not see the world for slain.
Gushtasp was mine immediate ancestor,
Who was himself begotten by Luhrasp;
Luhrasp again was son of king Aurand,
Who at that time possessed both fame and rank.
Aurand was of the seed of Kai Pashin,
Blessed by his father who was Kai Kubad -
A Shah of wisdom and of upright heart;
Pursue my race thus to Shah Faridun,
The root of kings and glory of the throne.
My mother is, moreover, Caesar's daughter,
Who is the crown upon the Rumans' head
And sprung from Salm - a glorious lineage,
Instinct with justice, precedent, and Grace.
Salm was the son of valiant Faridun,
Who carried off the ball from all the kings
For valour. I assert what none gainsay,
Though many quit the way and few are in it,
That in the presence of mine own forebears,
Those mighty men devout and glorious,
Thou and thy grandsire were but servitors.
I do not seek to best thee but thou hadst
Thy kingship from the Shahs, who were my sires,
For zealous service. Wait while I tell all,
Then if there be a falsehood point it out.
Since Shah Luhrisp gave to Gushtasp the throne
I have been girt with valour and success,
And I have slain the perverts from the Faith
Upon the plains of Chin and of Turan.
Then later on, when through Gurazm's words
My father bound and banned me from the feast,
Ill reached Luhrasp by reason of my bonds
The Turkmans hid the earth. Then to the hold
Of Gumbadan the veteran Jamasp
Came with a message and in soldier's garb.
When he arrived and saw how I was bound,
Saw how my mind and heart were pierced by care,
He sent for blacksmiths to deliver me
Out of my heavy bondage, but their work
Was far too slow for me because my heart
Yearned for the scimitar. My heart was straitened
I shouted at them, wrenched me from their grasp,
Rose to my height from where I sat and brake
My bonds with mine own hands, then sought the field
Whereon the fortunes of Gushtasp were lost;
And when Arjasp fled with his famed array
Before me I girt up my loins with manhood,
And went like raging lion in pursuit.
As for the Seven Stages thou hast heard
Of mine adventures with the lions there
And with that Ahriman, and how I entered
The Brazen Hold by guile and quelled a world,
Hast heard about my doings in Turan,
And all the toil and hardship that I bare.
Good sooth, no onager o'er hath endured
Such from a pard, nor maw of crocodile
From sailors' nuglo. On a mountain-top,
Sequestered by its height from all the throng,
There was a hold. I found the people all
Idolaters and dazed like men bemused.
Since Tur, the son of valiant Faridun,
No man had robbed the hold of its repute.
I took that fortress by my bravery,
I cast the images upon the ground,
And set alight the Fire there that Zarduhsht
Brought in a censer out of Paradise.'
Victorious through the just, the only God,
I came again in such case to Iran
That we had no foe left in all the world,
And not a Brahman in his idol-house.
In all my battles I have fought unaided;
No one hath shared with me the cares of war.
Now, seeing that we have so long converst,
Tilt up the wine-cup if thou art athirst."
How Rustam vaunted his Valour
Then Rustam spake thus to Asfandiyar:-
"My deeds remain as my memorial;
So now in simple justice hear the words
Of one whose name is known - an ancient man
If I had gone not to Mazandaran
And borne my massive mace upon my shoulder,
Where would have been blind Giv, Gudarz, and Tus,
And our exalted Shah - that sport of grief?
Who had torn out the White Div's heart and brain?
Who had sufficient trust in his own arm?
Who would have rescued Kai Kaus from bonds,
And have restored him to the lofty throne
Whereto from heavy chains I carried him -
The fortune-favoured darling of Iran?
I cut the heads from off the sorcerers;
They saw no bier, no shroud, no burial.
Mine only helpers in those fights were Rakhsh,
And my sharp sword which meteth out the world.
Then when Kaus went to Hamavaran,
Where they made fast his feet in heavy fetters,
I took an army of Iranians,
Drawn from wherever there were prince and chief,
Slew in the fight that folk's king, and made void
Their famous throne. The monarch of the world -
Kaus himself - was captive and his heart
Was stricken by anxiety and travail.
Meanwhile Afrasiyab was in Iran
Together with his host and famous chiefs.
Then it was I who rescued Kai Kaus
As well as Tus, Giv, and Gudarz, and brought them
Back to Iran out of Hamavaran,
Brought all the paladins and men of name.
One dark night as I went before the troops
In search of fame, not rest, Afrasiyab
Discerned my fluttering flag and heard Rakhsh neigh
Abandoning Iran he made for Chin,
And justice and thanksgiving filled the world.
Had blood come from the neck of Kai Kaus
How could he have begotten Siyawush?
Had saintly mother not borne Kai Khusrau,
Who would have named Luhrasp for Shah? Why vaunt
About his crown, the armlets and the throne
Of Shah Gushtasp who saith: 'Go, bind the hands
Of Rustam'? Not high heaven itself shall bind them !
From boyhood up to now in mine old age
I have not borne such words from any man.
To make excuses and beg off would shame me;
To speak thus mildly is a degradation."
Asfandiyar smiled at his violence
And, reaching out and gripping,Rustam's hand,
Said: "Rustam of the elephantine form !
Thou art what all have represented thee; ,
Thine arm is mighty as a lion's thigh,
Thy breast and limbs are like a lusty dragon's,
Thy waist is fine and slender as the pard's,
And such a chieftain beareth off the day."
He squeezed the hand of Rustam as he spake,
But yet the youth made not the old man writhe;
Though gall exuded from his finger-nails
Good sooth the hero writhed not with the pain.
Then Rustam grasped the prince's hand in his,
And said: "0 prince and worshipper of God
How blessed is the famous Shah Gushtasp
To have a son such as Asfandiyar !
How blest is he who getteth one like thee
He addoth to the glory of the world !"
He spako and grasped the other's hand until
The prince's face became as red as blood,
Till blood and water oozed out from his nails,
And he was frowning, though he laughed and said:-
"Famed Rustam ! drink today. In fight tomorrow
Thou wilt have pain and think no more of feasting.
Or ever I shall saddle my black steed,
And place the royal helm upon my head,
I will unhorse thee with my spear: thereafter
Thou wilt not seek for battle and revenge.
Then will I bind thy hands, bear thee before
The Shah, and say: 'I saw no fault in him,'
Will intercede for thee and urge all pleas,
Will set thee free from sorrow, pain, and travail,
And thou shalt have instead both good and treasure."
Then Rustam, smiling at Asfandiyar,
Said: "Thou shalt have enough of combating.
Where hast thou seen the fights of warriors?
Where hast thou felt the wind of massive maces?
If such then be the aspect of the sky
Love will be veiled between two men at least;
We shall have war. instead of ruddy wine,
Use lasso, bow, and strategy, require
The roar of drum instead of voice of harp,
And greet each other with the sword and mace.
Then shalt thou, glorious Asfandiyar
Behold the rush and pulsing of the fight.
Tomorrow when I come upon the field,
And in the battle man opposeth man,
I will unhorse thee with a firm embrace,
And carry thee away to glorious Zal,
Then seat thee on the famous ivory throne,
And crown thee with the heart - rejoicing crown,
Which I myself received from Kai Kubad,
And may his soul rejoice in Paradise
I will unlock my treasury fulfilled
With precious things and lay my hoards before thee,
Put all thy troops past want and raise to heaven
Thy crown, then seek the presence of the Shah
In state rejoicing, boldly set the crown
Upon thy head as thanks to Shah Gushtasp,
Then gird me as I have been girt erewhile
Before the Kaians, renovate my heart
With joy, and make the Garden's surface weedless.
Men's bodies will not keep their souls within
When thou art Shah and I am paladin."
How Rustam drank Wine with Asfandiyar
Asfandiyar replied: "More talk is useless.
My belly craveth, half the day is over,
And we have had much talk of combating.
Bring ye the table and what food ye have,
But summon nobody that talketh much!"
Now when the board was spread, and Rustam ate,
They were astonied at his appetite.
Asfandiyar and all the other heroes
Set lambs in front of him on every side.
He ate them all, whereat the prince and people
Were lost in wonder. Then the prince commanded:-
"Bring cups and ruddy wine for him, and we
Will note how he will hold forth in his cups,
And prate of Kai Kaus. "
The drawer brought
A goblet filled with wine of ancient vintage,
And Rustam drank it to the king of kings;
He drained that golden fountain dusty-dry.
The young cup-bearer brought the cup again -
The same with royal wine replenished -
And matchless Rustam whispered to the boy:-
"We want no water on the table here.
Why dolt thou mingle water in the cup,
And weaken this old wine? "
Thus to the server: "Bring a bowlful neat."
He had the wine brought, summoned minstrel:
And gazed astound on Rustam.
When noble Rustam was all flushed with wine,
Asfandiyar said thus to him: "Live happy
While time shall last. May both the wine and meat
Agree with thee, and right be thy soul's provand."
To him said Rustam: "Prince! may wisdom ever
Be thine admonisher. What wine soe'or
I drink with thee is good and nourisheth
My prudent soul. If thou wilt ban this strife,
Wilt magnify thy majesty and wisdom,
Wilt leave the plain and come to mine abode,
Wilt for a season be my joyous guest,
I will accomplish all that I have said,
And set before thee wisdom as a guide.
Pause for a while and strive not after ill;
Show courage and regain thy common sense."
Asfandiyar, the hero, thus rejoined:-
"Sow not a seed that ne'er will grow. Tomorrow
Thou shall behold the accomplishment of heroes
What time I gird my girdle for the fray.
Moreover do not glorify thyself;
Go home and fit thee for tomorrow's work.
Thou shall perceive that in the ranks of war
I am the same as in my revelry.
Attack me not upon the battlefield;
Hear mine advice; go not about to fight.
Thou shalt see prowess greater than my words;
Let it not prove a cause of grief to me.
Accept of all the counsel that I give
Submit to fetters at the Shah's command
What time we quit Zabul and seek Iran,
And come before the monarch of the brave."
Then grief made Rustam ponder, and the world
Was like a wood before his eyes. He thought:-
"For me to give my hands up to his bonds,
Or rise up in my might and injure him,
Are courses both inglorious and bad,
Both novel and ill precedents. Moreover,
My name will suffer from his bonds while I
By slaying him shall end but ill myself,
And all that tell the tale throughout the world
Will never let my blame grow obsolete,
Thus saying: 'Rustam 'scaped not from a youth
Who went forth to Zabul and bound his hands.'
Then all my fame will turn to infamy,
I shall be smirched and be in evil odour;
While if he shall be slain upon the field
My face will pale in prosencu of all kings,
And men will say: 'He slow the youthful prince
For speaking harshly.' I shall be accursed,
When I am dead, and called ' old infidel.'
Again, if I shall perish by his hand
Zabulistan will lose both hue and scent,
Zal's seed will perish and no Zabuli
Gain fame thenceforth. Still men at least shall quote
Good words from me when I have passed away,
And if I left but one good word untried,
Past doubting, wisdom's self would take my life."
Then to that haught man thus he spake: "Concern
Hath made my visage wan. Why speak so much
Of bonds? I fear that thou wilt suffer hurt
Therefrom unless the will of heaven be other
The swift sky's purpose is above surmise.
Thine are divs' counsels, thou wilt not receive
Wise words. Thou art a man of simple heart
And versed not in the world. Know that thy hurt
Is aimed at secretly, for while Gushtasp
Hath crown and throne he will not grow aweary
Of life and fortune, but will keep thee running
About the world and make thee face all dangers.
He hath examined all the earth, and made
An ax of wisdom and a bill of wit,
To find a chief that will not quail to fight thee,
That thou mayst perish by that hand, and he
Still may retain the crown and lofty throne.
Shall imprecations be upon the crown,
And by that token shalt thou couch in dust?
Wilt thou expose my soul to obloquy?
Why wilt thou not consider in thy heart?
Thou art the source of trouble to thyself
Though injured not at heart by any foe.
Act not, 0 prince ! act not so boyishly,
Delight not so in ill, our hearts aggrieve not,
Nor bring calamity on both our souls;
Have some respect for God and for my face,
And act not as a traitor to thyself.
There is no need at all for thee to fight,
To struggle or contend or strive against me.
'Tis Destiny that hath been driving thee
With this thy host to perish by my hand,
While I shall leave an ill name in the world.
Oh ! may Gusht:isp's own end be also ill!"
When proud Asfandiyar had heard these words
He thus returned reply: "0 noble Rustam!
Mark well the saying of a sage of yore,
What time he married wisdom to his soul:-
"An aged deceiver is a fool indeed
Howe'er successful and possessed of rede.'
Thou practisest upon me so to keep
The collier from thy neck, and wouldst that all
Who hear this should believe thy specious words,
Call me a man whose purpose isimalign,
Call thee a wise man and beneficent,
And say thus: 'Rustam came in all good will,
With invitations, and held out great hopes,
But still the chief rejected what he said,
And would consent to nothing but a fight;
He treated Rustam's wishes with contempt,
And kept his own tongue charged with bitterness.
Know that I will not disobey the Shah,
Though 'twere to win the crown and diadem.
My good and evil in this world depend
On him; he is my Hell and Paradise.
May that which thou hast eaten nourish thee,
And may it work destruction to thy foes.
Go home in safety, tell what thou hast heard,
Prepare for fight, and bandy not more talk.
Come forth at dawn, use every ruse of battle,
And make an end. Tomorrow thou shalt see
The world turn black before then on the field,
Know how the heroes fight, and what a day
Of battle and contention really is."
Then Rustam said: "0 seeker after fame !
Since such a wish as this hath come to thee,
Upon swift Rakhsh will I perform the part
Of host and physic thee with club and mace.
Thou hast heard people saying in thy land,
And grown self-confident because of it:-
'The swords of warriors on the battlefield
Will ne'er avail against Asfandiyar.'
Tomorrow thou shalt see my pointed spear,
As well as somewhat of my horsemanship,
And afterward thou wilt not seek to fight
Upon the battlefield with men renowned."
The valiant youth with laughter on his lips -
A laughter that humiliated Rustam -
Replied: "0 thou that seekest after fame
Thou hast been angered quickly by our talk.
Tomorrow, when thou comest on the field,
Thou wilt be more informed about the doings
Of men that are men. I am not a mountain,
Nor is my steed. I shall not be attended,
And, saving for the name of God, shall have
No help from blow of shaft and scimitar.
Thy mother, should thy head go down the blast
Through mace of mine, will weep for pain of heart,
And, if thou art not slain upon the field
Of battle, I will bind and carry thee
Bound to the Shah that such a slave as thou
May seek not fight with him as thou dost now."
How Rustam returned to his Palace
As Rustam went forth from the tent-enclosure
He stood before the entry for awhile,
And thus addressed the tent: "0 house of hope!
Blest were the days that saw Jamshid within thee.
Great wert thou in the time of Kai Kaus,
And in the days of favoured Kai Khusrau;
But now the door of Grace is shut upon thee,
For one unworthy sitteth on thy throne."
Asfandiyar, the hero, heard the words,
Strode forth to noble Rustam, and spake thus:-
"Why art thou angry with the tent-enclosure,
Thou well-advised? Well might a man of sense
Bestow upon Zabulistan the name
Of 'Babblestead.' Why need a guest abuse
His host because the guest is weary of him?
Time was," he went on to the tent-enclosure,
'When thou hast held Jamshid in thine embrace,
Who left the way of God and forfeited
Good days on earth and jocund Paradise.'
The day too was when thou for Shah Kaus
Didst serve as veil and shelter for the troops,
Kaus who sought to know God's mysteries,
And hankered to investigate the stars !
The earth was all convulsed on his account,
And filled with depredation, sword, and arrow.
Gushtasp is now thine owner, and Jamasp
Is standing in his presence. At his side
Is seated on one hand Zarduhsht who brought
The Zandavasta out of Paradise;
Upon the other Bishutan, the brave
And good, not seeking this world's weal and woe;
In front is glorious Asfandiyar,
The man in whom the wheel of fortune joyeth,
In whom the hearts of good men live; the bad
Turn slaves through terror of his scimitar."
The valiant cavalier passed through the gate.
Asfandiyar looked after him and, when
He had departed, said to Bishutan:-
"I must admit his manliness and prowess.
I have not looked on such a horse and horseman,
And know not how this combat will result.
A mighty elephant upon Mount Gang
Is he if he doth come forth armed to battle.
His Grace and comeliness surpass his height,
Yet will he see, I fear, a fall tomorrow.
The Glory of his countenance inflameth
My heart, but still I will not sever it
From our just Shah's behest. When Rustam cometh
Upon the field tomorrow I will dim
Said Bishutan: "List to my words
I say to thee, my brother! do not so.
I said to thee before, I say again,
And will not purge my heart of what is right,
Aggrieve not any, for a noble man
Will not submit to injury and wrong.
Take rest tonight and at tomorrow's dawn
Go unattended to his palace, there
Let us enjoy some days of happiness,
And answer every question that he raiseth.
Among the mighty and among the mean
No good is done that is not done by him.
He will not turn away from thy commands,
For I perceive that he is true to thee.
Why struggle so in vengeance and in wrath?
Wash vengeance from thy heart, ire from thine eyes."
Asfandiyar returned this answer: "Thorns
Are growing in the corner of the Rose-bed."
He said moreover: "Surely these thy words
Become not a professor of the Faith
If thou art minister of all Iran,
The heart, the ears, and eyes of valiant men,
Canst thou approve a course however wise
That bringeth injury upon the Shah?
Then all my cares and toils have turned to wind,
And all the doctrine of Zarduhsht is wrong,
Which teacheth us that those who disobey
The Shah's commands shall have their place in Hell.
Thou bid'st me oft: 'Be disobedient,
Reject thou the commandment of Gushtasp.'
Thou sayest it, but how can I convert
Yea into nay through any words of thine?
If then hast fears about my person I
Now will relieve thee of them. No one dieth
Save at his fated time, and wholly then
One that hath made no name. Tomorrow thou
Shalt see my dealings on the battlefield
With this brave Crocodile."
"Thou talk'st so much of fight, O chief ! because
The foul Iblis hath ceased to wish thee ill
Since thou cam'st hither with the sword and mace.
Thou hast given the Div an entry to thy heart,
And hearkenest not to me, thy counsellor.
I see thy heart obscured, thy head fulfilled
With strife, and rend my clothes. Oh ! how can I
Relieve my heart of terror once for all?
Of two such men, such warriors and brave Lions,
How can I know which body will go under?"
Still vapouring though full of misery
The noble prince returned him no reply.
How Zal counselled Rustam
Now Rustam coming to his palace saw
No remedy but fight. Zawara came
And found him wan and gloomy. Rustam said:-
"Go bring mine Indian sword, cuirass, and helm
Of battle, bring my bow and massive bards,
My lasso, mighty mace, and tiger-skin."
Zawara bade the treasurer produce
What Rustam named, who, seeing his fighting-gear,
Cried with a sigh and with dejected head:-
"O war-cuirass ! thou hast had rest awhile
From fight; but now a fight confronteth thee.
Prove strong and lucky wear for me at all times.
Oh! what a battlefield is this, for roaring
Two Lions, valiant both, will meet in battle!
And how now will Asfandiyar proceed,
And show what sport amid the blast of war?"
When Zal heard Rustanr's words the old man's brain
Grew anxious, and he said: "Famed paladin !
What words are these that make me dark of soul?
Since first thou mounted'st on the battle-saddle
Thou hast been single-hearted and sincere;
It hath not irked thee to obey the Shahs.
I fear me that thy day is near its close,
And that thy star is falling into sleep,
That this will overthrow the race of Zal,
And cast our wives and children to the dust.
If thou art slain in battle by the hand
Of such a youth as is Asfandiyar,
Zabulistan will have no land or water
Left, and our eminence will be engulfed;
While if mishap through this befalleth him
Not e'en thy fame exalted will be left thee,
For they that tell hereof will shatter it,
And say: ''Twas he that slew the youthful prince
For having spoken to him scurvily.'
Now either stand before him as his liege,
Or, if thou wilt not do so, quit thy home.
Seek some obscure retreat unknown to him
That no one in the world may hear thy name,
For such an evil sot would gloom thy soul.
Beware then of this monarch of the world,
Buy back again thy words with toil and treasure,
Prefer brocade of Chin to battle-ax,
Prepare gifts also for his troops, and use
Thy riches to redeem thyself from him.
As soon as he departeth from the Hirmund
Mount lofty Rakhsh and, feeling no misgivings,
Attend Asfandiyar upon his journey
That thou mayst see the Shah's face once again.
How shall he act ill when he seeth thee?
Will wrong become the monarch of Iran?"
"0 ancient hero!" Rustam answered him,
"Take not such things so lightly. Now have I
Been long a man and known much good and ill.
I reached the divs within Mazandaran,
I fought the horsemen of Hamavaran,
I fought Kamus too and the Khan of Chin,
Although earth trembled underneath his steed.
Now if I flee Asfandiyar do thou
Resign the flowers and palace of Sistan.
With God, the Fosterer, to aid shall I
Quail at Gushtasp and at Asfandiyar?
Old as I am yet on the day of battle
I will bring down the orbed moon's head to dust.
What are a hundred mighty elephants,
Or fields of men, when on the battle-day
I don my tiger-skin? Thou speak'st of prayers
I have not spared them and have read to him
Subjection's roll. He doth misprize my words,
And turneth from both wisdom and my counsel;
But now if he will stoop his head from Saturn,
And give me salutations heartily,
I will not grudge him gums or other treasures,
Or mace and sparth and coat of mail and sword;
But all that I can say hath no effect,
And in our talk we merely clutch the wind.
Tomorrow, if he is resolved to fight,
Have not thy heart in pain about his life,
Because I will not grasp my trenchant sword,
But with my lasso take his noble head;
I will not wheel about upon the field;
He shall not feel my sparth or spear-thrust; I
Will cut off his retreat, clutch him amain
About the waist, and hug him from the saddle,
Bestow on him the kingship of Gushtisp,
Will bring and set him on our splendid throne,
And afterward fling wide the treasury's door.
When he hath been my guest three days and when,
Upon the fourth, the Lustre of the world
Hath doffed the robe of lapis lazuli,
And when the Cup of Topaz showeth, forthwith
In company with him will I regird
My self, set face toward Gushtasp, will set .
The prince upon the famous ivory throne,
Will crown him with the heart-delighting crown,
Gird mine own loins before him as a slave,
And only seek to carry out his will.
Thou knowest, thou rememberest my brave deeds
Performed before the throne of Kai KubAd,
Yet now thou biddest me to skulk away,
Or yield me unto bonds if I am bidden! "
Zal smiled to hear the words that Rustam spake,
And shook his head awhile in meditation,
Then answered Rustam, saying: "0 my son!
These words of thine have neither head nor tail,
And only lunatics on hearing thee
Could give assent to thy distempered speech.
Thou art Kubad when seated on a mountain
In dudgeon, lacking throne, crown, wealth, and treasure.
Oppose not then the Shah, a chief and one
With rede and ancient treasures, or one like
Asfandiyar, whose name Faghfur of Chin
Inscribeth on his signet. ' I will take,'
Thou sayest, ' from the saddle to my breast
Asfandiyar and bring him to Zal's palace'!
No man advanced in years should speak like that;
Haunt not the portal of thine evil star.
Now have I told thee what my counsel is,
As thou dost know, 0 leader of the people?"
He spake, stooped to the earth, praised the Almighty,
And said: "Thou Judge supreme ! avert from us
The ills of fortune ! "
Thus he made request
Until the sun rose o'er the mountain-crest.
How Rustam fought with Asfandiyar
When day came Rustam donned his coat of mail
With his protecting tiger-skin withal,
He tied his lasso to the saddle-straps,
He mounted on his elephantine steed,
And, having bidden Zawara come, hold talk
At large about the troops, and said: "Depart,
Be marshal of the host, and take thy station
On yonder sand-hills."
So Zawara went,
And mustered all the troops on the parade
To lead them to the field. When matchless Rustam
Came from his palace, spear in hand, they all
Blessed him, and said: "May charger, sparth, and saddle
Ne'er lack thee."
Rustam followed by Zawara,
His second in the state, went to the Hirmund
The soldiers vaunted but his soul was sad.
His brother and the troops both halted there,
But he advanced toward the Iranian host,
First saying to Zawara privily:-
"E'en at this present I would stay from battle
The hands of that beguiling reprobate,
And make a pathway for his soul to light,
But still I fear that we shall come to blows,
And after that I know not what will be.
Remain thou here and keep the troops in hand;
I go to see what fortune will bring forth.
If I shall find him wroth then by that token
I shall not call chiefs from Zabulistan,
But shall engage with him in single combat;
I would not have one of the army injured.
Victorious fortune always favoureth
The man whose heart is on the side of justice. "
He passed the river, mounted on a height,
And marvelled at the process of the world;
He called and said: "0 brave Asfandiyar
Thine opposite hath come; prepare thyself."
Asfandiyar, when he had heard the words
Which that old, battle-seeking Lion spake,
Laughed and replied: "Behold I made me ready
Or ever I arose from sleep."
To bring helm, breastplate, spear, and ox-head mace.
These brought, he clothed his shining breast and donned
His Kaian casque, then bade his sable steed
Be saddled and led forth, which when he saw
He in the might and puissance that he had
Stood on the ground the butt-end of his spear,
And vaulted to the saddle as a leopard
Will leap upon the back of onager
And madden it. The soldiers marvelled at him,
And called down blessings on their noble chief,
Who went and, drawing nigh to peerless Rustam,
Saw him upon his charger unattended,
And spake thus from his steed to Bishutan:-
"I want no friend or mate in fighting him,
For since he is alone I too will go
Alone and mount upon yon lofty height."
They both went forth to battle in such wise
That thou hadst said: "The world hath done with
As they drew near, the old man and the young,
Both noble Lions and both paladins,
Their steeds neighed; thou hadst said: "The field is rent!'
And Rustam shouted: "Happy, prosperous prince!
Be not so wroth and fierce, but hear for once
A wise man's words: if thou desirest fight
And bloodshed, and such stir and strife, permit
That I lead forth the horsemen of Zabul
With hauberks from Kabul upon their breasts,
And do thou likewise bid the Iranians,
That men may know the jewel from the mite.
Let us bring them to battle on the field,
And for our own parts tarry for a while;
Thus there will both bloodshed and fierce fighting
According to thy wish."
Replied: "Why talk so much to no avail?
Thou camest from thy palace at the dawn,
And from this lofty hill didst challenge me.
Why now hast thou befooled me? In good sooth
Thou hast perceived that thine own fall is near.
Why should I fight against Zabulistan?
Why should Iran fight with Kabulistan?
May no such disposition e'er be mine.
It is not in accordance to my creed
That I shall give Iranians to be slain,
Or crown myself. I go forth first in battle
Albeit to leopard's claws. If thou hast need
Of helpers send for them; such help not me.
God will help me in fight and fortune smile
Upon mine undertaking. Thou dost challenge;
And I am willing; let us fight it out
Between ourselves unhelped, and we shall then
See if the charger of Asfandiyar
Will go toward the stable riderless,
Or if the charger of the challenger
Will turn toward Rustam's halls without its lord."
The combatants agreed that none should aid.
Long while they fought together with their spears,
And from their breastplates poured down blood amain.
Thus they continued till the spear-points brake,
And they were forced to use their scimitars;
They grew more instant, wheeled to left and right,
And, when their stout swords shivered with the strokes,
Reached out and, drawing sparth from saddle, showered
Blows as stones shower a-down a precipice.
Wroth as two lions raging they belaboured
Each other. When the hafts brake, and their hands
Were weaponless, they clutched their leathern girdles
While both their speedy chargers strove to fly.
Asfandiyar grasped Rustam's belt, and Rustam
Asfandiyar's. Those two exalted heroes,
Both men of elephant-body, tugged amain,
Yet neither Lion budged. Both cavaliers
Were all distraught, both steeds fordone, with fight.
Within their mouths the blood and dust were blent
In foam, on man and horse the mail was rent.
How the Sons of Asfandiyar were slain by Zawara
When Rustam, son of Zal, had tarried long,
Becase the heroes fought no little while,
Zawara led his troops across the river -
An army seared of heart and keen for strife.
He cried to the Iranians: "Where is Rustam?
Why should we hold our peace on such a day?
It was to fight with Rustam that ye came,
Came to the gullet of the Crocodile.
Ye would bind Rustam's hands! No sitting still
For us on such a field ! "
He cursed and spike
Unseemly words. A famous cavalier,
Son of Asfandiyar, was full of wrath
Thereat. He was a youth bight Nush Azar,
A leader of the host and masterful.
This noble raged against the Sigzian,
And loosed his lips to utter foul abuse.
"Fool of a Sigzian ! " said he, "know'st thou not
That every one that cherisheth the Faith
Rejecteth all self-seeking manfully,
And liveth on the bidding of the Shahs?
Asfandiyar, the hero, ordered us
Not to engage in battle with you dogs.
Who then will disobey his hestand counsels,
And who be bold to break his fealty?
But if ye will commit this wickedness,
And take upon you to provoke a fight,
Ye shall behold for once what warriors are,
When armed with swords and spears and massive maces.
Zawara gave his troops command: "Lay on,
And crown yon chieftains with a crown of blood."
Forth to the front he went, the din of war
Rose, and they slew Iranians numberless,
While Nush Azar, on seeing this, made ready,
Bestrode his noble dun and, Indian sword
In hand, advanced. Upon the other side
A warrior came - the refuge of the host,
A chief. That famous one was named Alwa -
A dashing cavalier and masterful.
Him Nush Azar espied, drew sword, and smote
His foeman's head, who came from steed to dust.
Zawara spurred his warhorse, neared, and cried
To Nush Azar: "Him hast thou slain and now
Stand fast thyself! I do not call Alwa,
With his spear he smote the head
Of Nush Azar, who tumbled to the ground.
The day turned 'gainst his host when he was slain.
His youthful brother Mihr-i-Nush, a swordsman,
In tears, with troubled heart, in dudgeon spurred
His elephantine steed and from the centre
Advanced before the lines with lips a-foam
Through anguish, while for his part Faramarz,
Like maddened elephant, came, Indian sword
In hand, and closed with noble Mihr-i-Nush
While both hosts shouted. Both antagonists
Were noble youths - a prince and paladin;
They were as fierce as lions combative,
And with their swords belaboured one another.
Though Mihr-i-Nush was active on the field
He had not strength to fight with Faramarz.
The young prince raised his sword and hoped to lay
His famous foeman's head upon the dust,
But struck the blow upon his own steed's neck
So that it came down headlong to the ground,
And Faramarz dispatched him thus unhorsed;
The battlefield was reddened with his blood.
Now when Bahman beheld his brothers slain,
And all the soil beneath them turned to mire
With gore, he came up to Asfandiyar,
When he was in the hottest of the fight,
And said to him: "O ardent sire! a host
Of Sigzians hath comp forth to strive with us
Thy two sons - Nush Azar and Mihr-i-Nush -
Have yielded wretchedly their lives to them.
Thou lightest here while we are in distress,
Our youths and princes shrouded by the dust.
Eternal shame will rest upon our race
Through what these fools have done."
The shrewd chief's hear
Was full of rage, his lips were full of sighs,
His eyes of tears. "0 offspring of the Div ! "
He said to Rustam, "wherefore hast thou left
The common path of right? Didst thou not say:-
'I will not bring the army to the fight'?
Thou hast no sense of honour and of shame.
Hast thou no reverence for me or God?
Dost thou not dread His Day of Reckoning?
Dost thou not know that they who break their pledge
Will have no worship with their fellow-men?
Two Sigzians have slaughtered my two sons,
And still they turn not from their blind misdoings.
When Rustam heard it he was sorely troubled
And, trembling like the branches of a tree,
Swore by the Shah's own life and head, by sun,
And by the scimitar and battlefield:-
"I never gave commandment for this fight,
Nor do I praise the door of this thing.
Now will I bind my brother's hands, who showed
The way to ill, and bring too Faramarz
In manacles before the pious Shah.
Slay them in vengeance for thy noble sons,
And be not wroth for this insensate act ! "
Asfandiyar replied: "For me to shed
A snake's blood for a peacock's is not well
Or seemly, and it hath no precedent
With mighty Shahs. Thou villain ! guard thyself
Because thy time hath come, and I will mix
Thy thighs and Rakhsh's body with mine arrows,
As milk is mixed with water, that no slave
Henceforth may dare to shed his master's blood.
If thou survivest I will bind thy hands,
And carry thee forthwith before the Shah;
But if thou diest by mine arrow-points
Take it in vengeance for my nolble sons."
Then Rustam: "What availeth all this talk
Unless it be to make our glory less?
And now to God, to every good the Guide,
Turn thee for shelter and in Him confide."
How Rustam fled to the Heights
They took their bows and shafts of poplar wood;
The sun's face lost its lustre; but, while Rustam
And Rakhsh both suffered injury whenever
A shaft was loosened from the prince's hand,
The shafts of Rustam injured not the prince,
And noble Rustam, in bewilderment
At such a contest, said: "The warrior,
Asfandiyar, hath got a form of brass! "
When Rakhsh was growing weak beneath those arrows,
And neither horse nor warrior were whole,
The rider lighted wind-like from his steed,
And set his noble face toward the heights,
While wounded Rakhsh went on his homeward way,
And so became a stranger to his lord.
The blood was pouring down from Rustam's body,
That Mount Bistun was weak and all a-tremble.
Asfandiyar laughed out at seeing it,
And cried: "0 famous Rustam ! why hath strength
Departed from the maddened Elephant?
Why is the iron Mountain pierced by arrows?
Oh ! whither have thy mace and manhood gone,
Thy Grace divine and eminence in war?
Why hast thou fled away and scaled the heights
Because thou heard'st a mighty Lion's voice?
Art thou not he that caused the divs to wail,
And singed wild beasts with flashes from his sword?
Why hath the elephant of war turned fox,
And grown thus impotent in fight? "
Perceived the stop of glossy Rakhsh, who came
From far all wounded, and the world grew dark
Before his eyes. He went forth to the scene
Of strife, lamenting, and beheld the form
Of elephantine Rustam wounded thus,
With all the wounds undressed, and said to him:-
"Up, mount my steed, and I will don for thee
The breastplate of revenge."
He answered: "Go
To Zal and say: 'The glory of Sam's race
Is gone. Look to the remedy therefor,
And for these grievous wounds. If I survive
Tonight the arrows of Asfandiyar
It will, I wot, O Zal! be even so
As if my mother gave me birth today!'
When then hast gone let Rakhsh be all thy care,
And I will follow though I tarry long."
Zawara turned away intent on Rakhsh.
Asfandiyar abode awhile, then cried:-
"Famed Rustam ! wherefore standest all this time
Upon the heights? Who will direct thy steps?
Fling down thy bow, put off thy tiger-skin,
And loose the girdle from thy loins. Repeat,
And yield thy hands to bondage; so shalt thou
Receive from this tune forth no hurt from me.
I will conduct thee wounded to the Shah,
And not impute thine acts to thee as crimes;
But if thou wilt fight on then make thy will,
Appointing somebody to be the marchlord,
And ask God's pardon for thine own ill-doing;
It may be that He will forgive thy faults,
And guide thee when thou quit'st this Wayside Inn."
But Rustam made reply: "It is too late,
Our hands are shortened both for good and ill;
Go back to thine own troops, for none is faro
To fight when it is night, and as for me
I will return to mine own palace now,
Refresh myself and slumber for a while,
Bind all my wounds and call some of my kin -
Zawara, Faramarz, Zal, and the others
Of name - and now I will perform thy best,
For loyalty to thee is righteousness."
Asfandiyar, the brazen-bodied, said:-
"Old, self-willed reprobate ! thou art a man,
A great and strong one, knowing many shifts,
And charms and counsels. I have marked thy falseness
All through, and long to see thine overthrow,
But still I give thee quarter for this night;
Thou shalt go home; but dally not with guile.
Do as I bid and never bandy words
With me again."
Then Rustam answered him:-
"I will make shift to charm my wounds away."
He left the presence of Asfandiyar,
Who watched to see how Rustam would proceed.
Sore wounded as he was he crossed the river;
Those arrow-wounds enforced him to dispatch.
When he had crossed the river like a boat
He prayed to God for succour for his body,
And said: "O Thou, the just and holy Judge!
If I shall perish by these wounds of mine
What noble will avenge me, who take up
My rede, my courage, and my precedents?"
Asfandiyar was gazing after him,
And, having seen him reach the farther bank,
Exclaimed: "They say that he is not a man
He is a mighty, raging Elephant ! "
Then added in amaze: "Almighty Judge
It was Thy will to make him of this sort,
Who art the Author both of earth and time."
He went his way, and from his tent-enclosure
Rose wailings. Bishutan came out lamenting
For gallant Nush Azar and Mihr-i-Nush.
The prince's camp-enclosure was all dust,
And every noble had his raiment rent.
Asfandiyar, alighting from his steed,
Clasped to his breast the heads of those two slain,
And said; "Alas ye two young warriors!
Where have your souls gone from these forms of yours?
Then said he unto Bishutan: "Arise,
And weep no more the slain. I see no good
In pouring blood. We should not cling to life.
We all are born to die, both old and young, '
And when we pass may wisdom succour us."
On teaken litters holding golden coffins
He sent those corpses to the Shah, his sire,
The master of the crown, and with this message:-
"This branch of thy design hath borne its fruit.
Thou didst launch forth the boat upon the water
By seeking for the servitude of Rustam.
When thou behold'st the bier of Nush Azar
And Mihr-i-Nush be less intent on wrong.
The bull Asfandiyar is in his hide
I know not what the future may bring forth."
He sat upon his throne in grief and mourning,
And pondered Rustam's words. Then spake he thus
To Bishutan: "The Lion cowereth
Before the brave man's grip. Today when I
Saw Rustam like an elephant in stature
And mien I offered praise to holy God,
The Author of our hopes and of our fears,
Who in His providence had formed him thus.
Praise be to Him, the Maker of the world !
What actions once were Rustam's, he that used
To drop his fish-hook in the sea of Chin
And land the crocodile, and with his breath
Suck in the leopard on the waste!' Yet I
Have wounded him with arrows till the ground
Hath come to be a puddle with his blood.
He left the field afoot, he scaled the heights,
And armed and armoured hurried to the river.
He made the passage, wounded as he was,
With all his body full of arrow-heads;
But still methinketh, when he reacheth home,
His soul will quit it and to Saturn roam."
How Rustam took Counsel with his Kin
Now Rustam for his part regained his palace
Where Zal beheld him in his grievous plight.
Zawara too and Faramarz shed tears,
And were consumed by sorrow for his wounds.
Rudaba, when she heard the others' cries,
Began to pluck her hair and tear her face.
Zawara came and, loosing Rustam's girdle,'
Removed his armour and the tiger-skin,
While all the skilful gathered at the door,
But Rustam bade to take them first to Rakhsh.
Shrewd Zal plucked his own hair and laid his cheeks
On Rustam's wounds, and cried: "That I should live
Hoar-headed to behold my dear son thus!"
Then Rustam said: "What booteth to bewail?
That which hath happened is by Heaven's decree.
The matter now confronting me is harder,
Moro fearful to my soul, for ne'er have I
Beheld the equal of Asfandiyar,
The brazen-bodied, for courageousness
In time of battle. I have roamed the world,
And wetted both of sights and mysteries.
I took the White Div by the waist and hurled him
Down to the ground as 'twere a willow-branch.
My poplar shafts were wont to pierce an anvil,
And scorn a shield. I often hit with them
The armour of Asfandiyar, but they
Proved thorns 'gainst stone ! Again, the pards on seeing
My sword would skulk beneath the rocks and yet
It will not cleave the breastplate on his breast,
Or den a bit of silk upon his head !
However oft too I excuse myself,
That I may warm that stony heart of his,
He only seeketh to disgrace me more
By words and actions full of arrogance.
Thank God ! night came, and when he could not see
I 'scaped this Dragon's claws. I know not how
To seek release. Mine only course, methinketh,
Tomorrow will be to abandon Rakhsh,
And fare to where the prince will find me not.
Let him strew heads within Zabulistan
He will grow weary of the work in time,
Though not soon sick of ill."
Zal said: "Alas!
My son ! give ear and, talking done, grow calm.
There is a way from all contingencies
On earth save death which is itself away.
I know of one resource; use it, for I
Herein will summon the Simurgh to aid.
If for the future she will be my guide
Our lands and borders will be saved for us;'
Else by Asfandiyar that brave knave's hand
Will utter ruin come upon our land."
How the Simurgh succoured Rustam
When both were set on this bold project Zal,
The well-beloved, went to a lofty height,
And carried from the palace censers three
Containing fire. With him went three brave sages.
Now when the wizard reached the top he drew
Forth from brocade a plume of the Simurgh
And, having raised a flame within a censer,
Consumed therein a portion of the feather.'
Whenas the first watch of the night had passed
Thou wouldst have said: "The face of air is darkened."
And gazing from the eminence Zal saw it
Filled with the fluttering plumes of the Simurgh.
Just then the bird, surveying from the air
And seeing fire ablaze with Zal before it
Set seared and sad, swooped down upon the dust.
Beholding the Simurgh he praised her greatly,
And did obeisance, filling up the censers
With incense in her presence and surcharging
His cheeks with his heart's blood. Said the Simurgh:-
"What was't, O king ! that made thee need these fumes? "
Zal answered: "May the ills that miscreants
Have brought upon me fall upon my foes.
The body of the lion-hearted Rustam
Hath been bewounded, and my care for him
Hath fettered me. In short his injuries
Raise fears about his life; none hath beheld
A man so stricken; thou wouldst say withal
That Rakhsh is dying, he is writhing so
With anguish from the shafts. Asfandiyar
Hath come against our land and knocketh only
Upon the door of war. He asketh not
For land or crown or throne, but he would have
The tree yield root and fruit !"
Said the Simurgh:-
"O paladin ! be not distressed hereat,
But let me presently see Rakhsh and him,
The exalted chief who meteth out the world."
Then Zal sent one to Rustam with these words:-
"Make shift, I prithee, to bestir thyself,
And give, moreover, orders that they bring
Rakhsh instantly to the Simurgh:'
Came to the height to that sagacious bird
She said: "O mighty, raging Elephant !
By hand of whom hast thou grown thus distressed?
Why didst thou seek to fight Asfandiyar?
Why kindle thine own breast? "
Zal said to her:-
"O queen of love! since thou hast shown to us
Thy holy face, say where shall I take refuge
If Rustam be not healed? They will lay waste
Sistan, will turn it to a lair for leopards
And lions, and our race will be uprooted.
Now in what manner shall we deal with Rustam? "
The bird surveyed and sought to heal the wounds,
Sucked them and, drawing forth eight arrow-heads,
Stroked with her feathers on the wounded parts,
And Rustam was restored to might and Grace.
She said: "Bind up thy hurts and for a week
Shun danger, moisten one of these my feathers
With milk and stroke therewith inside the wounds."
She in like manner having called for Rakhsh
Employed her beak on him to make him whole,
And drew out from his neck six arrow-heads -
All that there were. Rakhsh neighed. The crownbestower
Laughed for delight.
"O elephantine one!"
Said the Simurgh, "thou art most famed of folk.
Why didst thou seek to fight Asfandiyar,
The brazen-bodied and illustrious?"
He made reply: "He talked of binding me,
Else I had not been vexed, but I prefer
Death to disgrace if in my present straits
I shun the fight."
She said: "Tis no disgrace
To stoop to dust before Asfandiyar,
Because he is a warrior and a prince,
A holy man who hath the Grace of God.
If then wilt make a covenant with me,
Be penitent for having sought the fight,
And seek not triumph o'er Asfandiyar,
The work of war or moment of revenge,
But make submission to him on the morrow,
And proffer soul and body for his ransom,
Then if his time be coining to an end
No doubt he will regard not thine excuses.
For such an issue I will furnish thee,
And sunward raise thy head."
When Rustam heard
He joyed and put away all thought of strife;
He said: "I will not disobey thy words
Although the air rain swords upon my head."
Said the Simurgh to him: "I will declare
In love to thee the secret of the sky
Whoe'er shall shed that hero's blood will be
Himself pursued by fortune. Furthermore
Throughout his life he will abide in travail,
Find no escape therefrom, and lose his treasures,
Be luckless in this world and afterward
In pain and anguish. If thou art content
With this, and present triumph o'er thy foe,
I will reveal to thee this night a wonder,
And bar for thee the lip from evil words."
"I am content," he said to her, "and now
Say what thou wilt. We leave the world behind
As our memorial and pass away,
And there is nothing left of any man ,
Save the report of him. If I shall die
With fair fame all is well with me, but fame
I must have for the body is for death."
"Go and mount Rakhsh," she said, "and choose a dagger,
A bright one."
When he heard he girt his loins
And, mounting, fared until he reached the seal
And saw the air all dark with the Simurgh.
When Rustam had arrived beside the waters
That noble bird descended, and he saw,
Sprung from the soil and with its head in air,
A tamarisk, and on it perched that fowl
Imperious. She showed him a dry path,
The scent of musk exhaling from her breath,
Then bidding him come near to her she stroked
The feathers of her wing upon his head.
"Choose out the straightest, longest, slenderest bough,"
She said to him, "because this tamarisk
Is fatal to Asfandiyar; so hold not
This wood of small account. Let it be straightened
Before the fire, choose good, old arrow-heads,
And fit it with three feathers and two points.
Now have I shown thee how to work him woe:"
When Rustam had cut off the branch he went
Back from the sea toward his hall and hold
With the Simurgh still acting as his guide,
And, as she kept above his head, she said:-
"Now when Asfandiyar shall seek to fight thee
Petition him, ask him to do thee right,
And knock not at the door of loss. Perchance
Soft words may turn him, and he may recall
Old times, for thou hast lived so long in toil
And hardship for the great. If he reject
All that thou canst advance, and if he treat thee
As one of little worth, string up thy bow,
And set thereon this shaft of tamarisk,
This fosterling of bane. Aim at his eyes,
Straight, with both hands as one that worshippeth
The tamarisk, and Destiny will bear
The arrow thither straight. He will be blinded,
And fortune rage at him."
Then the Simurgh,
Embracing Zal as woof embraceth warp
In bidding him farewell, took flight content,
While Rustam, when he saw her in the air,
Took order to prepare a goodly fire,
And straightened out thereby the tamarisk wood.
He fitted arrow-heads upon the shaft,
And fixed the feathers to the finished haft.
How Rustam went back to fight Asfandiyar
When dawn brake from the heights, and dark night's waist
Arched, Rustam armed himself and much invoked
The Maker. When he reached the famous host,
For war and vengeance on Asfandiyar,
The hero, good at need, cried in reproach:-
"O lion-heart ! how long wilt slumber thus,
For Rustam hath already saddled Rakhsh?
Arouse thee from thy pleasant sleep and close
In fight with Rustam eager for the fray."
Now when Asfandiyar heard Rustam's voice
All earthly weapons seemed of no avail,
And thus he said to Bishutan: "The Lion
Adventureth not against a sorcerer.
I did not think that Rustam would bear home
His coat of mail, his tiger-skin, and casque,
While as for Rakhsh, his mount, its breast was hidden
By arrow-heads! Now I have heard that Zal,
The devotee of sorcerers, extendeth
E'en to the sun his practices, surpasseth
All warlocks in his wrath, and sorteth not
Bishutan replied in tears:-
"Be care and wrath thy foe's. What hath come o'er thee
That thou art wan to-day? Thou must have passed
A sleepless night ! What in the world can ail
These heroes that they must increase such toils?
Whose fortune hath gone halt I know not I
In that it ever bringeth feud on feud ! "
Asfandiyar, the hero, donned his mail,
Advanced toward famous Rustam and, on seeing
His face, exclaimed: "Now may thine honour perish!
Perchance thou hast forgot, thou Sigzian !
Thy foeman's bow and breast? Thou hast been healed
By Zal's enchantments; otherwise the charnel
Had sought for thine embrace. But thou hast gone,
Hast used unholy arts, and hastenest thus
To fight with me. Today will I so maul thee
That Zal shall see thee living never more."
"O Lion never satiate of fight!"
Said Rustam, "reverence holy God, the World-lord,
And fling not heart and wisdom to the abyss.
I have not come today for fighting's sake,
But for excuse, for honour, and for fame.
Thy whole contention with me is unjust,
And thou art closing both the eyes of wisdom.
By just Zarduhsht and by the good religion,
By Nush Azar, the Fire, and Grace divine,
By sun, by moon, and by the Zandavasta,
I prithee turn thy heart from mischief's path.
Keep not in memory the words that passed,
Though they would cause a man to burst his skin.
Come then and see the place of mine abode,
For thou hast lost all power upon my life.
I will unlock the door of ancient treasures,
Which I have gotten me in my long day,
And load them on mine own beasts. Give thou them
All to thy treasurer to drive before him.
Moreover I will travel by thy aide
And, if thou biddeat, go before the Shah.
Then if he slayeth me I am content,
Content too if he biddeth me be bound.
Consider what the wise man said of old:-
'May none be wedded to a luckless star.'
I will try all expedients in the hope
That fortune may distaste thee with this strife."
Asfandiyar replied: "I am not one
To use deceit in time of war or fear:
Thou pratest much of hall and house, much lavest
The face of peace. If still thou wilt live on
First wear my chains."
Then Rustam loosed again
His tongue, and said: "O prince! renounce injustice.
Blast not my name, degrade not thine own soul,
For ill alone can come of this contention.
A thousand royal jewels will I give thee,
As well as crown with armlet and with earrings;
Will give to thee a thousand sweet-lipped youths
To minister to thee by day and night;
Will give a thousand damsels of Khallukh
To be the glorious graces of thy crown;
I will unbar for thee the treasury
Of Sam, the son of Nariman, and Zal,
O peerless one ! amass thee all their wealth,
And from Kabulistan bring men withal
To do thy will and chase thy foes in fight.
Then like a bond-slave will I go before thee,
Go to the presence of the wreakful Shah;
But, 0 my prince ! put vengeance from thy heart,
Make not thyself an ambush for the Div.
Thou hast another power than that of bonds;
Thou art my monarch and thou servest God.
Doth ill become thee, for thy bonds would shame me
For ever? "
But Asfandiyar replied:-
"How long wilt thou talk idly? 'Quit,' thou sayest,
'God's path and what the veteran Shah commandeth.'
But he that goeth from the Shah's behest
Defraudeth God. Choose either fight or bond,
And cease to utter words that are but fond."
How Rustam shot Asfandiyar in the Eyes with an Arrow
When Rustam knew that humbleness availed not
Before Asfandiyar he strung his bow,
And set therein the shaft of tamarisk
With baneful points, and said: "O Lord of sun
And moon, who makest knowledge, Grace, and strength
To wax ! Thou seest my mind pure in intent,
My soul, and self control, for much I toil
To turn Asfandiyar from strife. Thou knowest
That his contention is unjust, and how
His traffic with ins is all fight and prowess;
So visit not my crime with retribution,
O Maker of the moon and Mercury!"
Asfandiyar perceived him tarrying long
From strife, and said to him: "0 famous Rustam !
Thy soul is satiate of fight, but now
Thou shaft behold the arrows of Gushtasp,
Luhrasp's own arrow-heads and lion-heart."
Then Rustam quickly fitted to his bow
The tamarisk-shaft as the Simurgh had bidden;
He struck Asfandiyar full in the eyes,
And all the world grew dark before that chief;
The straight-stemmed Cypress bent, intelligence
And Grace abandoned him. The pious prince
Fell prone, his bow of Chach dropped from his hands.
He clutched his black steed by the mane and crest;
The battlefield was reddened with his blood.
Said Rustam: "Thou hast brought this evil seed
To fruit ! Thou art the man who said'st: 'My form
Is brazen, and I dash high heaven to earth.'
Yet through one arrow hast thou turned from strife,
And fallen swooning on thy noble charger.
Moreover now thy head will come to dust,
And thy fond mother's heart will burn for thee."
Meanwhile the famous prince had tumbled headlong
Down from his black steed's back and lay awhile
Till he recovered consciousness, sat up
Amid the dust, and - listened. Then he seized
The arrow by its end and drew it out,
Drew it out soaked in blood from point to feather.
When presently the tidings reached Bahman:-
"The Grace divine of empire is obscured,"
He went to Bishutan and said: "Our war
Hath wedded woe, the mighty Elephant's body
Hath come to dust, and this distress hath turned
The world to an abyss for us."
Ran from the army to the paladin.
They saw the warrior with his breast all blood,
And with a gory arrow in his hand.
Then Bishutan cast dust upon his head
And rent his raiment, uttering loud cries;
Bahman rolled in the dust and rubbed his cheeks
Upon the yet warm blood.
"What chief or noble knoweth this world's secrets
Since an Asfandiyar, who for the Faith
So bravely drew the scimitar of vengeance,
Who purged the world of foul idolatry,
And never set his hand to work injustice,
Hath perished in the heyday of his youth?
The head that wore the crown hath come to dust,
While o'er the bad man's head, who bringeth anguish
Upon the world and harroweth the souls
Of noble men, unnumbered seasons pass,
Because he seeth not mischance in war."
The two youths took his head upon their breasts,
And wiped away the gore, while Bishutan,
With cheeks all tears of blood and heart all anguish,
Made lamentation over him, and said:-
"Alack, O warrior Asfandiyar,
The world-lord and the progeny of kings
Who tore this warrior-mountain from its place?
Who overthrew this furious Lion? Who drew
The tusks redoubted of this Elephant,
And flung him to the waters of the Nile?
Is our race blasted by the evil eye,
For evil surely is for those that do it?
Where are thy courage, thine intelligence,
Thins usages, thy strength, thy star, thy Faith?
Where is thy splendid equipage in war?
Where is thy gracious voice at festivals?
What time thou purged'st all the world of foes
Thou feared'st not the lion or the div,
And now, when thou shouldst profit by the work,
I see thee bite the dust ! "
Made answer wisely: "Shrewd and prosperous man!
Distract not thou thyself before me thus,
For sky and moon allotted me this fate.
Dust is the dead man's couch; bewail not then
So grievously my slaughter. Where are now
Hushang, Jamshid, and Faridun? They came
From wind and vanished in a breath! Thus too
Have mine own ancestors, pure-born, elect,
And high and holy, gone and left their room
To us. None stayeth in this Wayside Inn.
In this world have I toiled exceedingly
In public and in private to establish
The way of God and wisdom as the guide
Thereto, but when through me the enterprise
Had grown illustrious, and when the hands
Of Ahriman were barred from wickedness,
Fate stretched its lion's claws and brought me down
As though an onager ! And now my hope
Is that in Paradise my heart and soul
May reap what they have sown. The son of Zal
Hath slain me not by prowess. Mark what I
Have in my hand - a shaft of tamarisk!
That wood hath closed my lifetime by the practice
Of the Simurgh and of resourceful Rustam,
While Zal himself, the adept in grammarye,
Performed the sorceries."
Spake of that matter Rustam writhed and wept
For agony and, coming to the prince,
Stood pierced by grief and very sorrowful,
Then spake to Bishutan and said in anguish:-
"One should acknowledge prowess in a man.
'Tis as he said; he did not change from prowess
To guile. In sooth 'twas through some felon div
That fate assigned to me this grievous lot,
For since for prowess' sake I girt my loins,
And sought to fight with chiefs, I have not seen
Arrayed in hauberk and with war-cuirass
A cavalier like to Asfandiyar.
When, after trial of his bow, his breast,
And grip, I left the battle in despair
I sought a shift in mine extremity'
To save my head from him for good and all.
I set his destiny upon my bow,
And when his day bad come I shot the arrow.
Had fortune been with him how could a shaft
Of tamarisk avail me any whit?
We all shall have to leave this darksome earth;
No caution will prolong our lives one breath.
Good sooth, for this I shall be marked for ill,
And live in story with the tamarisk still !"
How Asfandiyar told his last Wishes to Rustam
Then thus to Rustam spake Asfandiyar:-
"My time is at an end. Avoid me not,
Arise and come to me, since all our schemes
Are changed, that thou mayst hear my last requests
Upon my son's behalf - my chiefest Pearl.
Use all thine efforts to establish him,
Endowing him with greatness as his guide."
The matchless Rustam hearkened to his words,
Dismounted, wailing, and approached on foot.
He poured down tears of blood for very shame,
And muttered to himself lugubriously.
When Zal gat tidings of that battlefield
He set forth from his palace, like the wind.
Zawara too and Paramarz went forth,
Like madmen, tolthe indicated spot.
A wail ascended from that scene of strife:-
The The faces of the sun and moon are darkened."
Zal spake to Rustam, saying: "0 my son!
I weep for thee betimes in pain of heart,
For I have heard from readers of the stars,
From archimages, and the men of lore:-
"The slayer of Asfandiyar shall be
The prey, of fortune, while he liveth see
Both pain and stress, and pass to misery!'"
Thus spake Asfandiyar to Rustam, saying:-
"Thou art not author of mine evil fortune.
This was my fate; what was to be hath been;
None knoweth the secrets of yon azure vault.
Not Rustam or Simurgh or bow and arrow
Have robbed my body of its life in battle,
For that hath been the doing of Gushtasp,
And little blessing hath my soul for him.
He said to me: 'Go and burn up Sistan;
From this time forth I would have no Nimruz.'
He laboured that the army, crown, and treasure
Should stay with him, and I abide in toil;
And now do thou with loving heart receive .
From me the charge of this my noble son,
Bahman, wise, watchful, and my minister,
And what thou hearest from me bear in mind.
Keep him in gladness in Zabulistan,
Remembering what evil men may say,
Instruct him to array the host and order
The chase, the combat, and the festival,
The revel, minstrelsy, and polo; make
A great man of him both in deed and word.
Jamasp, once famed, and may he prosper never
Said that Bahman would keep my name alive,
And be a greater king, and that his seed
Would be illustrious and deserve to reign."
The matchless Rustam, hearing, stood and laid
His right hand on his breast in acquiescence.
"E'en if I die I will not fail herein,"
He said, "but bring thy words to pass, will set
Bahman upon the famous ivory throne,
And crown him with the heart-illuming crown.
Asfandiyar, on hearing Rustam's words,
Replied to him: "O ancient paladin !
Know this, and God Himself will bear me witness
Who is my leader to the good religion,
That in despite of all thy noble acts,
And of thy head exalted by brave deeds,
Thy fame now hath been turned to infamy,
And earth grown clamorous for me. Herefrom
Crooked grew thy spirit's lot; so willed the Maker."
Then spake he thus to Bishutan: "A shroud
Is all I need of this world. When I quit
This Wayside Inn take order for the host,
And lead it home. When thou hast reached Iran
Say to my sire: 'Since thou hast gained thine end
Dissemble not; the age is all thine own;
Thy name is written now on every signet.
I had some hope of better things from thee,
Though such a crime befitted thy dark soul.
Reformed by me and by the sword of justice
The world was purged of miscreants' villainies,
And, with the good Faith stablished in Iran,
Both majesty and kingship called for me;
But thou didst apeak me fair before the nobles,
And privily dispatch me to be slain.
Now thou hast gained thy heart's desire herein;
Take order then and sit with heart at ease,
And, since thou art secure, ban death itself,
And hold high revel in thy royal halls.
The throne is thine, the stress and toil are mine;
Thine is the crown and mine are bier and shroud.
What said the rustic minstrel old and tried?
"Death followeth hard upon the arrow-point."
Trust not in treasure, crown, and throne. My soul
Will have its eyes on thy career, and when
Thou comest, and we go before the Judge
Together, we will plead and hear His sentence.'
When thou hast left Gushtasp say to my mother:-
This time 'twas Death that challenged me to fight,
And mail is only wind before his arrows,
For they would penetrate a mount of steel.
0 loving mother ! follow me with speed;
Grieve not for my sake nor aggrieve thy soul.
Show not thy face unveiled before the folk,
Or lift the winding-sheet to gaze on mine,
For such a sight will but increase thy woe,
And men of wisdom will commend thee not.'
Say likewise to my sisters and my wife,
Those wise and noble dames who shared with me
My private hours: 'Farewell for evermore !
Ill hath befall'n me through my father's crown;
To him my death hath been the key of treasures.
Behold I have sent Bishutan to him
To shame his gloomy soul.'"
He apake, then gasped:-
"This wrong hath come upon me from Gushtasp."
With that his pure soul parted from his body,
Which lay shaft-stricken on the darksome dust,
While Rustam, with his head and face besmirched
With dust, rent all his raiment o'er the prince,
And cried: "Alack ! 0 valiant cavalier,
Whose grandsire was a warrior Shah, whose sire
A king ! I had a good name in the world,
But through Gushtasp mine end is infamous."
Long while he wept and then addressed the slain:-
"0 monarch peerless, matchless in the world!
Thy soul hath passed to Paradise above,
And may thy foeman reap what he hath sown."
Zawara said to him: "Make not thyself
Dependent on the mercy of this prince.
Hast thou not heard this adage from the sage,
Who quoteth from the sayings of old times:-
'If thou shalt take a lion's whelp to rear
'Twill grow ferocious when its teeth appear,
And, soon being set on prey and waxen tall,
Will fall upon its feeder first of all'?
Both sides will be perturbed by evil wrath,
Whence first the ill will come upon Iran,
Since such a monarch as Asfandiyar
Was slain; then thou wilt see thine own ill day,
Zabulistan. will suffer from Bahman,
The veterans of Kabulistan will writhe.
Mark this, that, when he cometh to be king,
Forthwith he will avenge Asfandiyar."
To him said Rustam: "No one, bad or good,
Can strive with heaven. So will I choose my course
That wisdom, seeing, will restore my fame.
Fate will avenge if he doth wickedly,
But do not thou provoke the evil eye."
How Bishutan bare the Coffin of Asfandiyar to Gushtasp
Then Rustam made a goodly iron coffin;
He draped the outside with brocade of Chin,
And smeared with pitch the inside, sprinkling it
With musk and spicery. He made withal
The winding-sheet of gold-inwoven brocade,
While all that noble company lamented.
When he had shrouded that resplendent form,
And crowned it with a turquoise coronet,
They sealed the narrow coffin and the Tree
So fruitful and so royal was no more.
Then Rustam chose him forty camels, each
Clad in a housing of brocade of Chin.
One of the camels bore the prince's coffin
With camels right and left, and guards behind
With hair and faces rent. One theme alone
Possessed their tongues and souls - Asfandiyar.
Before the cavalcade went Bishutan.
Asfandiyar's black charger had been docked,
Both mane and tail, its saddle was reversed,
And from it there were hung his battle-mace,
His famous helm withal, aurtout and quiver
And head-piece. They set forward, but Bahman
Stayed at Zabul and wept with tears of blood.
Him matchless Rustam carried to the palace,
And tendered as his life.
News reached Gushtasp:-
"The famous prince's head hath been o'erthrown !"
He rent his robes, his crowned, head came to dust,
A bitter wail rose from Iran, the world
Rang with Asfandiyar. Throughout the realm,
Where'er the tidings came, the nobles doffed
Their crowns. Gushtasp exclaimed: "0 pure of Faith !
Time and the earth will not behold thy like,
For ever since the days of Minuchihr
There hath not come a chief resembling thee
Who fouled the sword and fulled the Faith, and kept
The world on its foundations:'
In their wrath
The nobles of Iran put off all awe
For Shah Gushtasp, and cried: "Thou luckless one !
To save thy throne thou sentest to Zabul,
For slaughter there, the great Asfandiyar
That thou mightst don the crown of all the world.
May thy head shame to wear the crown of Shahs,
Hot-foot thy star desert thee !"
In a body
They left the palace, and the monarch's crown
And star were in the dust.
Now when the mother
And sisters of Asfandiyar had heard,
They name forth from the palace with their daughters,.
Unveiled, with dust-fouled feet, and raiment rent.
When Bishutan came weeping onlhis way,
And after him the coffin and black steed,
The women hung on him, wept tears of blood,
And cried: "Undo this narrow coffin's lid,
Let us too see the body of the slain."
He stood among the women, full of grief,
Mid groans and sobs and beatings of the cheeks.
Then said he to the smiths: "Bring sharp files hither,
For this is Resurrection Day to me."
He oped the covering of the narrow coffin,
And gave fresh cause for weeping. When the mother
And sisters of Asfandiyar beheld
His visage steeped in musk, and sable beard,
The hearts of those chaste ladies crisp of lock
Filled to o'erflowing, and they swooned away.
Revived, they prayed to glorious Surush,
Departed from the pillow of the prince,
And went with wailing to his sable steed,
Whosemeck and head they fondled lovingly,
And Katayun flung dust thereon. The prince
Had ridden that charger on the fatal day,
And perished on its back. The mother said:-
"0 thou of luckless feet ! the Kaian prince
Was slain on thee. Whom wilt thou bear to battle
Henceforth and yield up to the Crocodile?"
They clasped its neck and strewed its head with dust,
The host's cries reached the clouds, and Bishutan
Approached the palace. Coming to the throne
He kissed it not, nor did the Shah obeisance,
But cried: "O chief of chiefs! the sign hath come
Of thine undoing. Herein thou hast done ill
To thine own self by robbing kings of breath.
Both Grace and wisdom have abandoned thee,
And thou wilt suffer chastisement divine.
Thy main support is shattered, famous Shah
And henceforth thou wilt grasp but wind alone.
To keep thy throne thou giv'st thy son to slaughter,
And may thine eye behold not crown and fortune.
The world is full of foes and evil men,
Thy crown will not endure eternally,
Abuse will be thy portion in this world,
And inquisition at the Judgment Day."
This said, he turned his face toward Jamasp,
And cried: "0 impious wretch and ill of rede!
Thou never speakest aught, but lying words,
And thou hast made thy fame by knavery.
Thou art the cause of feud between the Kaians,
And settest them the one against the other.
Thou canst not teach them aught but wickedness,
To break away from good and take to ill.
In this world thou hast sown one seed, and thou
Wilt reap the fruits in public and in private.
A magnate hath been slaughtered through thy words
Thou saidst: 'The lifetime of the great is over.'
Thou didst instruct the Shah in evil ways,
Old ill-adviser and malevolent!
Thou saidst: 'Asfandiyar the hero's life
Is lying in the grasp of famous Rustam.'"
This said, he loosed his tongue and weeping told
The counsel and last wishes of the dead,
And told too how the prince had given Bahman
To Rustam's keeping. Bishutan told all.
The Shah, on hearing those last words, repented
About the matter of Asfandiyar.
The nobles having gone forth from the palace,
Humai and Bih Afrid approached their sire,
And in his presence tore their cheeks and plucked
Their hair in sorrow - for their brother, saying:-
"0 famous monarch ! heed'st thou not at all
Asfandiyar's decease, who was the first
To venge Zarir and take the Onager
Out of the Lion's claws, exacted vengeance
Upon the Turkmans and restored thy sway?
But thou didst bind him at a slanderer's words
With heavy yoke and iron bars and lasso.
While he was in his bonds Luhrasp was slain,
And all the army's fortune overthrown.
When from Khallukh Arjasp arrived at Balkh
Our lives were rendered bitter by distress.
Us, who had ne'er appeared unveiled, he bore
Uncovered from the palace to the street,
Quenched Nush Azar established by Zarduhsht,
And laid his hand upon the sovereignty.
Thou sawest what thy son achieved by valour;
He made thy foes breath, vapour, flying dust,
Restored us to thee from the Brazen Hold,
And guarded both thine army and thy realm;
But thou,didst send him to Zabul and give him
No lack of counsel and of parting words
With the intent that he should perish there
To win the crown. The world was grieved and mourned him.
It was not the Simurgh or Zal or Rustam
That slew him; it was thou, so do not weep!
May thine own hoary beard cry shame upon thee,
Who, merely in the hope of reigning on,
Hast slain thy son. There hath been many a world-lord
Before thee, worthy of the royal throne
They gave not child nor any of their kin,
Or their allies or household, to be slain."
Thereat the Shah spake thus to Bishutan:-
"Rise and fling water on my daughters' fire."
Then Bishutan departed from the palace,
And took,the ladies, saying to his mother:-
"Why mourn him sleeping well and happily,
Tired of the land and of the lord thereof?
Why is thy heart in grief on his account,
For now his conversation is in Heaven? "
The mother took her son's rede and therewith
Resigned her to the justice of the Lord.
For one year afterward in every dwelling
Were wailing and lament throughout Iran;
Both morn and eve the folk mourned bitterly
The tamarisk arrow and Zal's sorcery.
How Rustam sent Bahman back to Iran
Bahman stayed in Zabulistan, enjoying
The hunting-field and wine among the roses,
While Rustam taught that enemy of his
To ride, to quaff; and play the monarch's part,
In all things holding him above a son,
And, night and day, embracing him with smiles.
Now when performance was allied to promise,
And when Gushtasp had no door of revenge
Still open, Rustam wrote in deep distress
Of all the matter of Asfandiyar.
The letter first called blessings down on those
Who take excuses and forego revenge,
Then "God is witness " he went on to say,
"And Bishutan herein hath been before me,
How much I pleaded with Asfandiyar
That so he might abandon thoughts of fight.
I offered him my treasure and my realm,
But he preferred all trouble for himself.
His fate was such that when it stood revealed
My heart was filled with pain and love withal.
Heaven turned above us to the destined end,
And Destiny regardeth none. Bahman,
The atheling, is with me now and he
Outshineth even mine own Jupiter.
I have instructed him in kingly parts,
And paid the debt of thy son's last request
With wisdom. If the Shah will undertake
To pardon me, and to forget the past,
All - soul and body - that I have are his,
Both crown and treasure and both brain and skin."
Whenas this reached the monarch of the world
He was perturbed in presence of his lords,
And Bishutan came forth to testify,
Repeating all the words that Rustam used,
His grief, his counsel, and his last appeal,
And goodly offer of his realm and treasure.
The famous Shah was reconciled to Rustam,
And ceased thenceforth to inflame his heart with sorrow.
He wrote forthwith a letter in response,
He set a tree within the garth of greatness,
And said thus: "From the circle of high heaven
What time calamity is imminent
Can any keep it back by circumspection
Though much inclined to wisdom? Bishutan
Hath told me what thy real intentions were,
And by thy goodness thou hast touched my heart;
But who escapeth from the turning sky?
A wise man dwelleth not upon the past;
Thou art as ever thou hast been or better;
Thou art the lord of Hind and of Kannuj.
Ask whatsoever thou desirest more
By way of throne and signet, sword and casque."
As bidden by Gushtasp the messenger
Conveyed that answer quickly. It rejoiced
The famous paladin who felt his heart
Released from care.
Meanwhile young prince Bahman
Grew into lofty stature; he was wise,
Instructed, masterful, and shone with more
Than royal Grace and state. Jamasp, aware
That both for good and ill the sovereignty
Would come upon Bahman, said to Gushtasp:-
"0 Shah most worshipful! regard Bahman.
He hath the teaching that his father wished,
And hath arrived at man's estate with lustre;
But he hath tarried long abroad, and none
Hath read to him a letter from thyself.
Thou shouldest write to him a letter like
A tree within the garth of Paradise.
What other memory is left to thee
To banish sorrow for Asfandiyar?"
This thing seemed good to Shah Gushtasp who gave
Command to glorious Jamasp, and said:-
"Indite me now a letter to Bahman,
And one to glory-loving Rustam, saying:-
'Thank God, 0 paladin of paladins!
That thou hast made us glad and cleared our mind.
Our grandson, who is dearer than our life,
Is more renowned for wisdom than Jamasp,
And hath acquired with thee both skill and counsel,
Send of thy favour home.'"
That to Bahman
Ran thus: "When thou halt read this quit Zabul,
For we desire to see thee; so make ready,
And tarry not."
Shrewd Rustam, when the scribe
Had read the letter to him, was rejoiced.
Of what he had within his treasury -
Surtouts and daggers made of watered steel,
Bards, bows and arrows, sparths and Indian hangers,
Fresh aloes, camphor, musk, and ambergris,
Gold, silver, jewelry, brocaded stuffs,
With raiment in the piece, slaves of ripe age
And unripe, golden girdles, silvern bridles,
And two gold cups a-brim with precious stones,
All these he gave Bahman, and they that bore them
Accounted for them to his treasurer.
The matchless Rustam journeyed with Bahman
Two stages, then dispatched him to the Shah.
The face of Shah Gushtasp was dim with tears
What time he gazed upon his grandson's face.
He said: "Thou art Asfandiyar himself,
Thou art like no one in the world but him."
The Shah bestowed on him the name Ardshir,
On seeing what great courage he possessed.
He was a stalwart warrior, strong of hand,
A wise man, well-instructed, and devout,
And with his fingers dressed beside his legs
His fists extended lower than his knees.
The Shah awhile made proof of him and marked
His bearing. On the field, at feast, and chase
He proved a warrior like Asfandiyar,
And never tried the patience of Gushtasp,
Who ever gazed upon him with emotion,
And said: "The World-lord gave him unto me,
Gave him to me because I was in trouble.
May my Bahman live evermore since I
Have lost my noble, brazen-bodied son."
The conflicts of Asfandiyar are o'er;
May our Shah's head live on for evermore,
His heart from travail ever be at rest,
And may the age conform to his behest,
Glad be his heart, his crown uplifted high,
And round his foe's neck may his lasso lie.
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