Salaman and Absal, by Jami, tr. Edward Fitzgerald, , at sacred-texts.com
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Page 1. Laila, Majnún.—all well-known Types of Eastern Lovers. Shírín and her Suitors figure in Sec. XX.
Page 1. To Cozen the World.—the Persian Mystics also represent the Deity Dice-ing with Human Destiny behind the Curtain.
Page 2. Censor.—"the Appollonius of Keat's Lamia."
Page 2. No Room for Two.—This Súfí Identification with Deity (further illustrated in the Story of Sect. XIX.) is shadowed in a Parable of Jelaladdín, of which here is an outline. "One knocked at the Beloved's Door; and a Voice asked from within, 'Who is there?' and he answered,' It is I: Then the Voice said, This House will not hold Me and Thee.' And the Door was not opened. Then went the Lover into the Desert, and fasted and prayed in Solitude. And after a Year he returned, and knocked again at the Door. And again the Voice asked, 'Who is there?' and he said, 'It is Thyself!' and the Door was opened to him."
Page 3. The Poet's Name.—the name "Jami," also signifying "A Cup." The Poet's Yúsuf and Zulaikha opens also with this Divine Wine, the favourite Symbol of Hafíz and other Persian Mystics. The "Tavern" spoken of is The World.
Page 4. Old Stories.—"Yúsuf and Zulaikha," "Layla and Majnún," etc.
Page 4. Glasses Turn’d to Four.—first notice of Spectacles in Oriental Poetry, perhaps.
Page 4. "The Master," whose Verse is quoted, is Jellalladdín, the Great Sufi Teacher. The "King Himself" is Yacúb Beg, whose Father's Vision appears in the next Section.
Page 7. Sháhzemán.—"Lord of the World, Sovereign; Hasan, Beautiful, Good." Hasan Beg of Western Persia, famous for his Beauty, had helped Jámi with Escort in a dangerous Pilgrimage. He died (as History and a previous line in the Original tell) before Salámán was written, and was succeeded by his Son Yácúb.
Page 8. Yún.—or "Yavan," Son of Japhet, from whom the Country was called "Yúnan,"—Ionia, meant by the Persians to express Greece generally. Sikander is, of course, Alexander the Great, of whose Ethics Jámi wrote, as Nizami of his Deeds.
Page 9. Káf.—the Fabulous Mountain supposed by Asiatics to surround the World, binding the Horizon on all sides.
Page 9. Seráb.—miráge; but, of two Foreign Words, why not the more original Persian? identical with the Hebrew Sháráb; as in Isaiah XV. 7; "The Sháráb (or Miráge) shall become a Lake;"—rather, and better, than our Version, "The parched Ground shall become a Pool."—See Gesenius.
Page 11. The Deluge: in the Kúran God engages to save Noah and his Family meaning all who believed in the Warning. One of Noah's Sons (Canaan or Yam, some think) would not believe. "And the Ark swam with them between waves like Mountains, and Noah called up to his Son, who was separated from him, saying, 'Embark with us, my Son, and stay not with the Unbelievers.' He answered, 'I will get on a Mountain which will secure me from the Water.' Noah replied, 'There is no security this Day from the Decree of God, except for him on whom he shall have Mercy.' And a Wave passed between them, and he became one of those who were drowned. And it was said, 'Oh Earth, swallow up thy waters, and Thou, oh Heaven, withhold thy Rain!' And immediately
the Water abated and the Decree was fulfilled, and the Ark rested on the Mountain Al Judi, and it was said, 'Away with the ungodly People!'—Noah called upon his Lord and said, 'Oh Lord, verily my Son is of my Family, and thy Promise is True; for Thou art of those who exercise Judgment.' God answered, 'Oh Noah, verily he Is not of thy Family; this intercession of thine for him is not a righteous work.'"—Sale's Kurán, Vol. II. p. 21.
Page 13. A Ring to Lead by.—'Mihar,' a Piece of Wood put through a Camel's Nose to guide him by.
Page 14. Sulayman and Balkís.—Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Page 15. "Mussulman" is very usually derived from the same "Salem" element as "Salámán." So "Solomon," etc.
Page 16. The Eye's Baby: literally, Mardumak—the Mannikin, Or Pupil, of the Eye, corresponding to the Image so frequently used by our old Poets.
Page 17. Years and Courage: the same Persian Word serving for Both.
Page 17. The Ball.—the Game of Chúgán, for Centuries the Royal Game of Persia, and adopted (Ouseley thinks) under varying modifications of Name and Practice by other Nations, was played by Horsemen, who, suitably habited, and armed with semicircular-headed Bats or Sticks so short the Player must stoop below the Saddle-bow to strike, strove to drive a Ball through a Goal of upright Pillars. See Frontispiece and Appendix.
Page 18. Fitting The Cord.—bows being so gradually stiffened, to the Age and Strength of the Archer, as at last to need five Hundredweight of Pressure to bend, says an old Translation of Chardin, who describes all the Process up to bringing up the String to the Ear, "as if to hang it there" before Shooting. Then the First Trial was, who could shoot highest; then, the Mark, etc.
"Premièrement, à bander l’arc; dont l’Art consiste à le bien tenir, à le bander, et à laisser partir la Corde à l’aise, sans que la main gauche qui tient l’arc, et qui est toute étendue, ni la main droite qui manie la Corde, remuent le moins du monde. On en donne d’abord d’aises à bander; puis de plus durs par degrès. Les maitres de ces Exercises apprennent à bander l’arc devant soi, derrière soi, à coté de soi, en haut, en bas—bref, en cent postures différentes, toujours vite et aisement. Ils ont des arcs fort difficiles à bander, et, pour essayer la force, on les pend contre un mur à une Cheville, et on attache des poids à la Corde de l’arc à l’endroit où l’on appuie la coche de la Flêche. Les plus durs portent cinque cents pesant avant d’être bandés," etc.—Sir John Chardin, Vol. III. 437. He elsewhere says, "La bonté d’un Arc consiste, comme on le dit en Perse, en ce que d’abord il soit rude à bander, jusqu’ à ce que la Flêche soit à moitié dessus; et qu ’ensuite il soit mou et aisé, jusqu’ à ce que le bout de la Flêche soit entré dans la Corde."
Page 19. The Pleiads.—i.e. compactly strung, as opposed to Discursive Rhetoric, which is compared to the scattered Stars of The Bier and its Mourners, or what we call The Great Bear. This contrast is otherwise prettily applied in the Anvari Soheili—"When one grows poor, his Friends, heretofore compact as The Pleiads, disperse wide asunder as The Mourners."
Page 19. Hátim's Bounty.—The Persian Type of Liberality, infinitely celebrated.
Page 20. An Alien Shah.—the Hero of the Story being of Yúnan—Ionia, or Greece generally, (the Persian Geography not being very precise,)—and so not of The Faith.
Page 21. Adorning the Bows: with dark Indigo Paint, as the Archery Bow with a thin Papyrus-like Bark.
Page 21. A Grain of Musk.—a 'Patch,' sc.—"Noir comme le Musc."—De Sacy.
Page 23. Fortune's Shadow.—alluding to the Phœnix, the Shadow of whose wings foretold a Crown upon the Head it passed over.
Page 27 and elsewhere—The Throne is spoken of as 'under Foot.' The Persepolitan Sculpture still discovers its King keeping his Chair as Europeans do with a separate Footstool. But in Jámi's time The Throne was probably of the same Fashion that Chardin saw Solíman twice crowned on 200 years after—perhaps the very same—"Un petit Tabouret carré," 3 feet high, Golden and Jewelled, on which the Prince gathers up his feet in Oriental fashion, so as it serves for Throne and Footstool too. "Ce Tabouret, hors le Temps qu’il sert à cette Céremonie se garde avec grand Soin dans le Trésor Royal qui est au Donjon de la Forteresse d’Ispahan," where also, to prove the Conservatism of Persia so far as Habits go," J’ai’vu," he says, "des Habits de Tamurlan; ils sont taillés tout comme ceux qu’on fait aujourd’hui, sans aucune difference." So the Mirrors used in Persia 200 years ago were commonly of polished Metal, just as Jámi so often describes. [Solíman's 2nd Coronation came about because of his having fallen so ill from Debauchery, that his Astrologers said his first must have taken place under an Evil conjunction of Stars—so he must be crowned again—which he was—Chardin looking on both times.]
Page 27. Rakhsh.—"Lightning.' The name of Rustam's famous Horse in the Shah-Nameh.
Page 27. "Kai" which almost signifies "Gigantic King," properly belongs to Khusrau, 3rd King of the Kaianian Dynasty; but is here borrowed for Parvíz as a more mythical Title than Shah or King.
Page 27. Khusrau Parvíz (Chosroc The Victorious), Son of Noshíravan The Great; slain, after Thirty Years of Prosperous Reign, by his Son Shirúeh, who, according to some, was in Love with his Father's Mistress Shírín. See further, Section XXI., for one of the most dramatic Tragedies in Persian History.
Page 28. The Pen of "Kûn"—"Esto!"—The famous Passage of Creation stolen from Genesis by the Kurán.
Page 28. Seven and Four: Planets?—adding Sun, Moon, and the Nodal Dragon's Head and Tail; according to the Sanscrit Astronomy adopted by Persia.
I have proposed "The Planets" for those mysterious "Seven and Four." But there is a large Choice, especially for the ever mystical "Seven"—Seven Commandments; 7 Climates; 7 Heavens, etc. The "Four" may be the 4 Elements, or even the 4 acknowledged Mahommedan Gospels—namely, The Pentateuch, Psalms, New Testament, and Kurán. For Salámán, though fabled 'not' of The Faith, yet allegorically represents The Mirror of all Faith, and as The original Form of the Human Soul might be intuitively enlightened with all the Revelations that were to be—might even be, in esoteric Sufíism, The Come and Coming Twelfth Imám who had 'read' all the previous Eleven; it being one Doctrine in the East that it is ever the 'Last' and most perfect Prophet who was 'First' Created and reserved in the Interior Heaven nearest to God till the Time of his Mission should come.
Sir John Chardin quotes Seven Magnificats written in gold upon azure over Shah Abbas’ Tomb in the great Mosque at Kóm—composed, he says, "par le docte Hasan-Cazy," mainly in glory of Ali the Darling Imám of Persia, but of which the First Hymn "est tout de Mahomet." This has some passages so very parallel with the Sage's Address to Salámán, that (knowing how little worth such parallels are, especially in a Country where Magnificent Titles of Honour are stereotyped ready to be lavished on Prophet or Khan) nevertheless really seemed borrowed by "le docte Hasan-Cazy," who probably was hard set to invent any new. They show at least how Jámi saluted his 'Alien' Prince with Titles due to Mahomet's Self, and may perhaps light any curious Reader to a better understanding of these Seven and Four. He calls Mahomet "Infaillible Expositeur des Quatre Livres"—those Gospels;—[So Sir John: but the Kurán being one, this looks rather addrest to Ali than Mahomet.]-
[paragraph continues] "Conducteur des huit mobiles" the 8 Heavens of the Planets, says the Editor; "Gouverneur des Sept Parties" the Climates; "Archetype des Choses créées; Instrument de la Creation du Monde: le plus relevé de la race d’Adam. Ce Peintre incomprehensible, qui a tiré tout d’un seul Coup de Pinceau 'Koun Fikoun,' n’a jamais fait un si beau portrait que le Globe de ton Visage."
Page 29. The Ten Intelligences.—this passage finds its explanation in the last Section.
Page 32. Gau and Mahi.—The Bull and Fish—the lowest Substantial Base of Earth. "He first made the Mountains; then cleared the Face of Earth from Sea; then fixed it fast on Gau; Gau on Mahi; and Mahi on Air; and Air on what? on Nothing; Nothing upon Nothing, all is Nothing—Enough." Attar quoted in De Sacy's Pendnamah, XXXV.
Page 32. The Sidereal Dragon, whose Head, according to the Pauránic (or Poetic) Astronomers of the East, devoured the Sun and Moon in Eclipse. "But we know," said Ramachandra to Sir W. Jones, "that the supposed Head and Tail of the Dragon mean only the Nodes, or Points formed by Intersections of the Ecliptic and the Moon's Orbit." Sir W. Jones’ Works, Vol. IV. P. 74.
Page 33. "Iram Garden." "Mahomet," says Sir W. Jones, "in the Chapter of The Morning, towards the end of his Alcoran, mentions a Garden called 'Irem,' which is no less celebrated by the Asiatic Poets than that of the Hesperides by the Greeks. It was planted, as the Commentators say, by a King named Shedád,"—deep in the Sands of Arabia Felix—"and was once seen by an Arabian who wandered far into the Desert in search of a lost Camel."
Page 34. Wámik.—Another Typical Lover of Azra, a Virgin.
Page 35. A Mirror.—mythically attributed by the East—and in some wild Western Avatar—to this Shah's Predecessor, Alexander the Great.
[paragraph continues] Perhaps (V. Hammer thinks) the Concave Mirror upon the Alexandrian Pharos, which by Night projected such a fiery Eye over the Deep as not only was fabled to exchange Glances with that on the Rhodian Colossus, and in Oriental Imagination and Language to penetrate "The World," but by Day to Reflect it to him who looked therein with Eyes to see. The Cup of their own Jamshíd had, whether Full or Empty, the same Property. And that Silver Cup found in Benjamin's Sack—"Is not this it in which my Lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he Divineth?—Gen. XLIV. 5. Our Reflecting Telescope is going some way to realize the Alexandrian Fable.
Page 35. The Cup of Happiness and Tears. κρατηρα μακρον ἡδονης καὶ δακρυων κιρνωντες εξεπινον αχρις ες μεθην.
Page 36. Hurl’d Him, Etc.—One Story is that Khusrau had promised if Firhád cut through a Mountain, and brought a Stream through, Shírín should be his. Firhád was on the point of achieving his Work, when Khusrau sent an old Woman (here, perhaps, purposely confounded with Fate) to tell him Shírín was dead; whereon Firhád threw himself headlong from the Rock. The Sculpture at Beysitún (or Besitún), where Rawlinson has decyphered Darius and Xerxes, was traditionally called Firhád's.
Page 36. Will Discharged.—He Mesmerizes Him!—See also further on this Power of the Will in Sections XXIII. and XXVI.
Page 38. The Minion.—"Shah" and "Sháhid" (Mistress)—a sort of Punning the Persian Poets are fond of.
Page 41. Anguish.—
Page 44. "Zuhrah." The Planetary and Celestial Venus.
Page 45. The Spirit.—"Maany." The Mystical pass-word of the Súfís, to express the Transcendental New Birth of The Soul.
Page 46. My Son.—one sees Jámi taking Advantage of his Allegorical Shah to read a Lesson to the Real—whose Ears Advice, unlike Praise, scarce ever reached unless obliquely. The Warning (and doubtless with good Reason) is principally aimed at the Minister.
Page 49. The Story is of 'Generals,' though enacted by 'Particulars.'
Page 50. "These Intelligences are only another Form of the Neo-Platonic Dæmones. The Neo-Platonists held that Matter and Spirit could have no Intercourse—they were, as it were, 'incommensurate.' How then, granting this premise, was Creation possible? Their answer was a kind of gradual Elimination. God the "Actus Purus," created an Œon; this Œon created a Second; and so on, until the Tenth Œon was sufficiently Material (as the Ten were in a continually descending Series) to affect Matter, and so cause the Creation by giving to Matter the Spiritual 'Form.'
Similarly we have in Sufíism these Ten Intelligences in a corresponding Series, and for the same End.
There are Ten Intelligences, and Nine Heavenly Spheres, of which the Ninth is the Uppermost Heaven, appropriated to the First Intelligence; the Eighth, that of the Zodiac, to the Second; the Seventh, Saturn, to the Third; the Sixth, Jupiter, to the Fourth; the Fifth, Mars, to the Fifth; the Fourth, The Sun, to the Sixth; the Third, Venus, to the Seventh; the Second, Mercury, to the Eighth; the First, The Moon, to the Ninth; and The Earth is the peculiar Sphere of the Tenth, or lowest Intelligence, celled The Active.''