Nizami - Laili and Majnun - 14
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
LAILÎ AND MAJNÛN - A POEM FROM THE ORIGINAL PERSIAN OF NIZAMI [Translated by JAMES ATKINSON, ESQ.] XIV.
Who wanders near that palmy glade,
Where the fresh breeze adds coolness to the shade?
'Tis Majnûn;—he has left his father's tomb,
Again 'mid rocks and scorching plains to roam,
Unmindful of the son's meridian heat,
Or the damp dewy night, with unshod feet;
Unmindful of the forest's savage brood,
Howling on every side in quest of blood;
No dread has he from aught of earth or air,
From den or eyry, calm in his despair:
He seems to court new perils, and can view
With unblench'd visage scenes of darkest hue;
Yet is he gentle, and his gracious mien
Checks the extended claw, where blood has been;
For tiger, wolf, and panther, gather round
The maniac as their king, and lick the ground;
Fox and hyena fierce their snarling cease;
Lion and fawn familiar meet in peace;
Vulture and soaring eagle, on the wing,
Around his place of rest their shadows fling;
Like Sulaiman, o'er all extends his reign;*
His pillow is the lion's shaggy mane;
The wily leopard, on the herbage spread,
Forms like a carpet his romantic bed;
And lynx and wolf, in harmony combined,
Frisk o'er the sward, and gambol with the hind.
All pay their homage with respect profound,
As if in circles of enchantment bound.
Among the rest, one little fawn
Skipp'd nimbly o'er the flowery lawn;
And, beautifully delicate,
Sprang where the admiring maniac sate:
So soft, so meek, so sweetly mild,
So shy, so innocently wild,
And, ever playful in his sight,
The fondling grew his great delight;
He loved its pleasing form to trace,
And kiss its full black eyes and face,
Thinking of Lailî all the while;
For fantasies the heart beguile;
And with th' illusive dream impress'd,
He hugg'd the favorite to his breast:
With his own hand the fawn he fed,
And choicest herbs before it spread;
And all the beasts assembled there
Partook of his indulgent care,
And, day and night, they, unconstrain'd,
In wondrous harmony remain'd.
And thus, throughout the world, we find
'Mid brutes, as well as humankind,
A liberal hand, a friendly voice,
Bids e'en the savage heart rejoice.
There is a curious story told
Of a despotic king, of old,
Which proves ferocious beasts endued
With a deep sense of gratitude.
The king had in his palace-bounds
A den of man-devouring hounds;
And all on whom his anger fell
Were cast into that dreadful cell.
Among the courtiers there was one,
For wisdom, wit, and shrewdness known,
Long in the royal household nursed,
But still he always fear'd the worst,
Thinking the fatal day might come
For him to share an equal doom;
And, therefore, by a dexterous scheme,
His life endeavour'd to redeem.
Unseen, by night, he often stood
And fed the hounds with savoury food;
And well their bounteous friend they knew,
And in their hearts attachment grew;
When, just as he, prophetic, thought,
The king his death unfeeling sought;
Sternly his good old courtier blamed,
And to the ravenous dogs condemn'd.
'Twas night when in the den he cast
His victim for a dog's repast:
Next morn, unshamed by such a deed,
(Dooming the innocent to bleed,)
He sent a page to look for him,
Torn, he expected, limb from limb:
The wondering keeper who obey'd
The king, and not a trice delay'd,
Now, hastening to the presence, cried,
“O king! his virtue has been tried;
He bears an angel's blessed charm,
And God protects his life from harm:
Untouch'd, though fetter'd fast, I found him,
The dogs all fondly fawning round him!”
The king was struck with wonderment
At this miraculous event;
And seeing, in that horrid cell,
The guiltless courtier safe and well,
He ask'd, with tears profusely shed,
By what strange spell he was not dead?
“No juggling words had I to say;
I fed the bloodhounds every day;
And thence their gratitude arose,
Which saved me from my cruel foes.
But I have served thee many a year,
And for it thou hast sent me here!
A dog has feeling—thou hast none—
A dog is thankful for a bone;
But thou, with hands in blood imbrued,
Hast not one spark of gratitude.”
Abash'd, the despot saw his crimes,
And changed his frightful course betimes.