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The Maqámát of Badí‘ al-Zamán al-Hamadhání, tr. W.J. Prendergast [1915] at


‘ÍSÁ IBN HISHÁM related to us and said: When I was returning from Yemen and making for my native land, a fellow-traveller joined me with his baggage and we journeyed together for three days, until the highland attracted me, and the lowland swallowed him. So I ascended and he descended. I fared eastwards and he went westwards, but I regretted separating from him after the mountain and its ruggedness took possession of me, and the vale and its depth seized him.

'By Heavens! separation from him left me desiring him, and he left me suffering from his absence after him. Now when I parted from him, he was a man of wealth and beauty, of goodly appearance and perfection. Well, Time dealt us its

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blows, but I pictured him to myself at all times, and called him to mind every moment, and I did not think Time would help me to him or through him, till I carne to Shiráz.

'Now one day, while I was in my chamber, 1 suddenly there appeared before me an old man, whose countenance poverty had marred, 2 whose lustre Time had entirely exhausted, whose erectness 3 disease had bent, and whose nails destitution had clipped; with a face more wretched than his actual state, and a garb more dreadful than his condition, with dry gums and parched lips, muddy feet, with a blistered hand, 4 with canine teeth that misfortune had destroyed, and a bitter existence. And he saluted me. My eye disdained him, but I returned his greeting. So he said: 'O God make us better than we are suspected to be.' Therefore I smoothed out for him the wrinkles of my face, 5 opened my ear to him and said: 'Proceed 6 with thy story!' Then he said: 'I have suckled thee on the breast of covenant, and shared with thee the rein of protection 7 and, in the opinion of the wise, acquaintance is sacred and friendship is kinship.' I then said: 'Art thou a fellow-townsman, or a fellow-tribesman?' He said: 'Nought unites us save the land of exile, and nothing binds us together but the relationship of neighbourhood.' Then I asked: 'Which road bound us both with one cord?' He replied: 'The road to Yemen.' Said ‘Ísá ibn Hishám: So I asked: 'Art thou Abú’l Fatḥ al-Iskanderí?' He replied: 'I am that person.' I said:

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[paragraph continues] 'How thin thou art become since parting from me, and thou hast changed beyond my recognition; therefore lay before me thy whole case and the cause of thy disordered condition.' He said: 'I have married a beautiful woman of base stock, 1 and I am afflicted with a daughter by her. So because of her I am in affliction, and she has despoiled me of my living and sapped my youthful vigour.' I said: 'Why dost thou not absolutely divorce her and be at rest?' 2


129:4 Shiráz: The capital of the province of Fárs situated 112 miles from Bushire and 220 parasangs from Nishapur.

130:1 My chamber: Literally, an enclosure for camels.

130:2 had marred: Literally, had covered with dust.

130:3 Whose erectness: Literally, whose lance, which is a figure for straightness.

130:4 And a blistered hand: Cf. I had ground at the mill till both my hands were blistered (Musnad, p. 106).

130:5 I smoothed out for him the wrinkles of my face: That is, I ceased to knit my brows and to frown.

130:6 Proceed: also and . It is a word denoting a desire for one to speak. With ﮦ quiescent, , it is used for chiding or checking, and means sufficient for thee is such a thing.

130:7 The rein of protection: An allusion to the co-partnership of two persons in one particular thing exclusive of the rest of the articles or property of either.

131:1 A beautiful woman of base stock: Literally, the greenness of a dungheap. Cf. Hebrew ‏דֹמן‎ dung, i.e. of the enclosure where the camels were kept during the stay of the tribe at a certain place. When the tribe moved on, the place became covered with rich but rank green grass, very pleasant to the eye but coarse and unpalatable. A tradition of the Prophet says: 'Beware of the green dungheaps', which he explained to signify 'a beautiful woman of base stock.' See Ḥarírí, i, 48; and Arab Proverbs, i, 48.

131:2 Why dost thou not absolutely divorce her? See Qur’án, ii, 229-30.

This maqáma does not conclude with the conventional lines of poetry.

Next: XXXIII. The Maqáma of Ḥulwán