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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: While we were at Sariah 3 with the governor thereof there came before him a youth with the fragrance of saffron upon him. So the assembly stood up for him and, out of respect, he was seated in the chief place; but awe of him hindered me from asking him his name. Then he began and said to the governor: 'What hast thou done with yesterday's discussion, perhaps thou hast relegated it to oblivion?' 4 He said: 'God forbid! but there has hindered me from attaining to it a reason which it is impossible to explain, and one whose wounds 5 cannot be healed?' Said the intruder: 'Sirrah, the delay in the fulfilment of this promise has been long, and I shall not find thy morrow regarding it other than thy to-day, or

p. 176

thy to-day concerning it other than thy yesterday. In promise breaking, I can only compare thee to the Salix Aegyptia tree whose blossoms fill the eye, but there is no fruit there.'

Said ‘Ísá ibn Hishám: When he had reached this point, 1 I cut him short and said: 'God guard thee, art thou not al-Iskanderí?' He answered: 'And perpetual may thy preservation be, how excellent is thy sagacity!' Then I said: 'Welcome to the commander of speech and to the stray of the generous. 2 I have searched for it till I found it, and sought it till I obtained it.' Then we became mutually friendly till the highland attracted me and the lowland swallowed him. I ascended and he descended, and I fared eastwards and he westwards. After his departure, I said:--

'O would that I knew of a brother 3 whose hands were straitened, but whose fame was extensive:
Last night he passed with me, but where will he pass this our night?
May poverty not prosper, 4 for he is its exile, and, owing to poverty, I have been deprived of him.
I will surely place over it, in Khalaf ibn Aḥmad, one who will destroy it.'



175:3 Sariah: A town in Tabaristan (Mazandaran) and the seat of the governor during the rule of the Ṭáhirides.

175:4 Oblivion: Probably an allusion to Qur’án, xix, 23.

175:5 Whose wounds: That is, the effects of his inability to perform what he had promised.

176:1 This point: Literally, this place.

176:2 The stray of the generous--That is the stray camel of the generous to which ‘Ísá ibn Hishám here compares al-Iskanderí.

176:3 O would that I knew of a brother: Metre, kamil.

176:4 May poverty not prosper: Literally, may the milk of poverty not flow copiously!

Next: XLVIII. Maqama of Tamín