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

p. 172


‘ÍSÁ IBN HISHÁM related to us and said: I was on my way back from Yemen and making for my native land. I was journeying in a night when nothing auspicious save the hyena passed from the left, and nothing inauspicious from the right save a lion. Now when the blade of the morning was drawn, and the brow of the orb of day came forth, there appeared before me on the bare plain a rider fully armed. There seized me because of him, what seizes an unarmed person from the like of him when he advances. But I put on a bold front, stood and said: 'Perish thy mother! Stand! Before thou canst attain thy object thou wilt have to endure wounds of steel, strip the tragacanth of its leaves, and face the pride of an Azdite. 1 I am for peace 2 if thou wilt, but who art thou?' He answered: 'Peace hast thou found and a travelling companion according to thy desire.' I then said: 'Thou hast answered well.' So we travelled on and, when we had become mutually intimate and exchanged confidences, the story revealed Abú’l Fatḥ al-Iskanderí, and he asked me concerning the most generous of kings I had met. So I mentioned the kings of Syria and the generous ones among them, the kings of ‘Iráq and the noble ones of them, and the Amirs of

p. 173

the provinces, and I extended 1 the enumeration to the kings of Egypt. I narrated what I had seen and I recounted to him the benevolent acts of the kings of Yemen and the favours of the kings of Ṭá’if, and I concluded the praise of all by mentioning Saif al-Daula. Then he recited saying:--

'O nocturnal traveller 2 by the stars of the night, praising them,
Had he but seen the sun, he would not have considered them to be of any importance,
And, O praiser of the streams, I grant thou hast not visited the encircling ocean, but dost thou know nothing of it?
He who has seen the pearl will not compare a stone with it,
And whoever has seen a Khalaf will not think of any other man.
Visit him and thou wilt visit a king who has been given four, 3
That no one has acquired, so observe him and thou wilt see,
His days are bright and his countenance is as the moon,
His determination is like Fate and his gifts like rain;
I ceased not to praise people whom I thought
To be the purity of the age but, compared with him, they were turbid.'

Said ‘Ísá ibn Hishám: So I asked: 'Who is this compassionate and generous king?' He replied: 'How can that be which the imagination cannot grasp, and how can I express that which reason will not accept? Now, when was there a king who disdained noble men when they gave silver 4 while gold, a thousand pieces of it, is the easiest thing for him to give and nothing vexes him but evil words?' 5 And a mountain of collyrium is

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decreased by the style, then how is it this bountiful giving does not affect his fortune? And can there be a king, who, in the matter of bounty, is referable to squandering, and, in the matter of character, to sublimity, and, in the matter of religion, to devotion, and, in the matter of royalty, to universal empire, and, in the matter of origin, to the most ancient, and, in the matter of descendants, to the most recent?

'Would that I knew 1 what he, whose gracious qualities these are, expects to get more by reaching the Pleiades.'



172:1 An Azdite: Azd the name of a famous Arab tribe to which the typical Arab heroes, Shanfara and Taabbata Sharrn, and the accomplished scholar and poet Ibn Duraid belonged.

172:2 I am for peace: Literally, I am peace.

173:1 extended: Literally, I drove.

173:2 O nocturnal traveller: Metre, basit.

173:3 Four: That is, four things.

173:4 Silver: Literally, dirhems.

To obtain the required sense in line 11, p. 229 (Text) for read .

173:5 Evil words: For this meaning of the word cf. , p. 174 He held his tongue from a thousand words and then uttered the wrong thing. Cf. Letters, p. 339, and:

'He who reviles me with evil words, his reward will be a hundred thousand (of them).'

For another extraordinary eulogy on Khalaf see p. 433 of the Letters and p. 58 of the Diwán. Khalaf's cruel treatment of his sons, his treachery towards the governor of Kirman, and the murder of the Qáḍí Abú Yúsuf show that he was not the paragon of excellence Hamadhání makes him appear to be. See Ibn al-Athír, ix, 58-9.

174:1 Would that I knew: Metre. basít.

Next: XLVI. The Maqama of the Yellow