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Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, by H.G. Raverty, [1868], at

p. 271





Arise, O cupbearer! bring the goblet; for see, the leaves burst forth!
They give, unto the parterre, the happy tidings of the coming of spring.

In thy wine there is the intoxication of uniformity and sincerity,
That changeth my intellect's black and white to one uniform tinge.

Like unto ice, shall the heart of the tale-bearer melt away altogether,
If the beloved, unto me, will show her countenance like the sun.

The black-eyed ones have not the fragrance of constancy within them;
On this point, regarding them, what hope shall any one indulge?

He, who may be existing on affection and love, never, never, dieth;
And the Almighty, too, is competent, my life, eternal to make.

With the whole heart she hath made away; but, even yet, behold
What enchantments, charms, deceits, and spells she employeth still!

What! hath Æabd-ul-Ḳādir, this time, so benefited by her,
That he will place this much confidence in the beloved again?

p. 272


If I have my own friend chosen, with the censure attendant thereon;
The world's calumny and detraction I have accepted likewise.

The pangs of separation from her would not have been so great,
Had I, when enjoying her society, constantly lamented and wept.

Like unto the bee, I would have clasped the rose for ever to my breast,
Had I perceived in it the fragrance of constancy and faith.

They who, without asking, bestow, and mention not the obligation,
The generosity of them, above all others, have I ever preferred.

For this reason, the envious wandereth about from door to door,
Because I have driven him away from the threshold of my abode.

Æabd-ul-Ḳādir, at that time, everlasting life acquired,
When, with the sword of her glances, she deprived me of life.


Behold! the bee and the nightingale great folly commit,
Who, whilst the autumn is impending, give their love to the rose!

For how long shall this lamp in the garden continue to burn?
One day, the cold, boisterous blast of destiny shall extinguish it!

Totally changed to repulsiveness, in the morning becometh
The prettiness of the glow-worm, that, at night, giveth such effulgence and light.

p. 273

The covert polytheist, equally with the open, appeareth unto them;
For when do the sanctified, to the whole or the parts, cast their eyes? *

The rose-bud openeth from the effect of the dew's moisture;
But the humidity of wine rendereth still harder the niggard's heart.

The spectators would declare the many beauties of her countenance;
But amazement calleth out to them the more silent to remain.

Thy pen, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir! became, of musk, the diffuser;
Since thou greatly praisest the curls and ringlets of the fair.


Whether it be chieftainship, or lordliness, or a monarch's sway;
If thou perceivest, they are all fruitless trouble and anxiety.

Without the fair, both life and death, are one and the sane thing;
For the sake of the dear ones, alone, is existence of any usefulness.

By fate, the curls of the beloved must have been destined
For the derangement and disorder of my heart, from the beginning of time.

It is through inebriation, that the goblet hath fallen to the ground:
Account it not rage or anger, O cupbearer! ’tis but the levity of youth.

At the errors of the wise, indignation and reproach are levelled;
But the excuse of fools is their own ignorance and foolishness.

Thou wilt either give some one's dwelling to the flames, or shed his blood;
Seeing that thou hast donned garments of the Arghowān's red hue. 

p. 274

The fire of love shall come forth from the earth over the graves
Of all, whose affection for their love, from the soul itself, proceedeth.

I will leave the walls of the cloister, and go out unto the tavern;
For therein is to be found safety from this, and the next world's ills.

The universe lieth under the seal of content and resignation:
Shouldst thou draw it on thy finger, it is Sulīmān's magic ring. *

The red tears that course each other down thy cheeks, O Æabd-ul-Ḳādir!
Are a sumptuous banquet of rubies for thine own dear friend.


When I beheld the beloved with my rivals associated,
I would cry out and complain, coupled with piercing cries.

The mirror of the heart becometh bright through humility;
Hence, too, the meek and lowly are conjoined with the dust.

’Twas from the heart's anguish, that the nightingale bewailed,
Because he perceived the sharp thorn with the rose entwined.

But like unto a thorn, indeed, every flower my heart pierceth,
Whenever, without thee with me, I enter the parterre.

Through thy curls my heart hath become utterly deranged:
Let not then, O God, any Muslim be with Hind  connected!

p. 275

Folly keepeth the fool ever occupied in delight and pleasure;
But prudence immerseth the wise in the river of care and woe.

Since, at last, departure therefrom is with great grief attended,
Æabd-ul-Ḳādir will have naught to do with this place of spring.


Although it may be bitter, still swallow the wine of thy wrath:
Act not unjustly or tyrannically towards any one, upright man!

The falcon, that drinketh the blood of his quarry, dieth full soon:
Restrain thyself, then, my heart! from such ensanguined food.

There is no need of manacle, or fetter, or dungeon, to restrain them;
For the words of the wise are fettered in the prison of the mouth.

Every mild and gentle being, who clemency's armour weareth,
Is not pierced with the arrows of fortune's reverses and mishaps.

He who falleth from the heart's high rock is dashed to atoms:
Let not the Almighty, then, cast any one from such a rock as this!

Though men, in origin are one, yet their diversity is excessive;
Since one is equal to one, one to a hundred, one to a thousand others.

For a single dinār * a hundred pearls may be purchased;
And a single pearl is, likewise, for a hundred dinārs bought.

p. 276

Whether monarch, or whether nobles, thou thyself shalt outvie them;
For thou, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir! on any one, placest not thy hopes.


Why scornest thou me, O fair one! who so ill-favoured am?
’Tis destiny's doings that made me ungraceful; thee, lovely to behold!

Come once again, and upon the flowers cast thine eyes once more,
O zephyr of the morn! that thou mayest unclose the folded bud anew!

In thy absence, the rose would tear its own breast into a hundred shreds;
And the cypress, O charmer! from separation, would in tears dissolve.

Why, O rose! turnest thou thy face away from the lovelorn nightingale?
For even with these charms of thine, his wails have famous made thee.

When thou castest the fragrant æūd * into the fire, it yieldeth more perfume;
And I will constancy increase, if thou thy injustice shouldst augment.

Thou art the sun of beauty, and all these other beauteous ones are stars:
They will into nothingness vanish, if thou shouldst show thy face.

p. 277

Thou always designatest Æabd-ul-Ḳādir as hypocrite and deceiver;
But mayest thou, elsewhere, a more sincere lover find than he!


Was it a pearl that was observed the nose jewel within,
Or was it a sparkling dew-drop upon the Arghowān's breast?

Musk-deer from far-off Khut̤an are both those eyes of thine,
That ever graze the spikenard and sweet basil upon.

I can discover naught on earth in comparison to thine eyebrows;
But I have found somewhat of similarity in the heaven's arch.

What connection is there between pearls and the teeth of the dear one?
Those are in the oyster's bosom—the teeth are in her mouth.

Because the poets were wont with thy lips to compare it,
The ruby became mortified, and fled back to the mine,

No one is capable of giving an explanation of their sweetness;
For the ambrosial nectar of Paradise is indigenous to thy lips.

When I look upon thy face, I am at the Almighty's works amazed,
Seeing that He preserveth thee safe and uninjured from its glow. *

I have well examined the display of the flowers of the universe;
But there is no flower like thee in any one of its parterres.

In gratitude, that He hath bestowed such curls upon thee,
By them, draw out those immersed in the well of thy chin! 

p. 278

Those in thy presence, from modesty, know not what to say;
Whilst those absent, describe thee by metaphor and simile.

Close well, then, thine eyes, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir! all things upon;
And then, within thyself, do thou the whole universe survey!


At last, he will depart from it, his heart with anguish seared;
Bootlessly, then, the gardener prideth himself on this parterre!

They who may have entered within the tavern of the world,
Shall all, in their turn, drink out of death's fatal cup!

He merely guardeth the portion of others, for they will take it;
Wherefore, then, is the rich man of his wealth so very vain?

He doth not revel, like the nightingale, among the roses;
But he sitteth perched, like a crow, a rotten carcass upon.

Sovereigns search about for it, but by beggars it is found;
Whether it be rest, or tranquillity; or peace, or repose.

The radiance of the lamp cannot be found within the tomb,
Except thou shouldst the lamp of sighs carry with thee there.

These are red tears thou seest, by unhappy Majnūn * shed;
For the tulip hath not bloomed, either in upland or in mead.

Set out, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir! upon the path of inexistence;
Haply thou mayest find therein trace of the dear one's door!


Whereas the oyster with a single drop of rain-water is satisfied, 
Its priceless pearls go out into every country, and every clime.

p. 279

If thou seek after honour, be then with thy lot content!
Shouldst thou to eminence aspire, of what thou hast, liberally give!

The ties of the wealth of the world are the bonds of Hell;
Hence the free and noble placed it on the palms of their hands.

L have with mine own eyes well watched the world's people—
One amasseth wealth with great avarice; another wasteth it away.

Since life itself is not perpetual, what then advantageth it,
Though one, in magnificence, a Sulīmān, or an Aṣaf * be?

A man's superiority, in wisdom and knowledge consisteth;
The beast's, in grazing; and on hay, and on grass, growing fat.

If thou art magnanimous, pain not the hearts of others;
But make thine heart the target of the arrows of good and bad!

O Æabd-ul-Ḳādir! have the fear of God ever before thee;
For unto them that fear, He hath said, "Fear thou not!" 


This exclamation from the nightingale at day-dawn reached my ear—
"O rose! thy merriment hath plunged me into sorrow and tears!"

Its languid effect is far more exquisite than its intoxication;
But the sleepy languor of thine eyes exceedeth that of wine.

The fair ones of the present day are worshippers of Mammon—
In their alley, without wealth's appliances, place not thy foot!

p. 280

My love for the dear one increaseth from thy detractions;
Then, O traducer! as much as thy heart desireth disparage her!

From distressing thoughts and cares the mind becometh distracted;
But the heart acquireth comfort from reliance and resignation.

May the Almighty never leave those eyes from albugo free,
Which, when thy face may be visible, shall look upon a rose!

Thou art, when seated, the light of the whole assembly:
What matter, then, tho’ the dawn of day the lamp extinguish?

When thou givest me wine, laugh heartily, O cupbearer!
Learn thou this from the merry gurgle of the flask of wine!

There is, doubtless, a difference in the sight of the beholders;
And if not so, the parts are by no means distinct from the whole. *

Metaphorically, this world is like unto eternity's bridge;
Then, O Æabd-ul-Ḳādir, do thou over it swiftly pass!


In the world, there is no perfection without declination;
Then, on account of declination, mourn, O perfect man!

The dread of separation was as bitter as absence itself;
Hence from association I never any pleasure derived.

From thee, the sun luminous grew, and from it the moon:
Who then, with thy face shall the full moon compare?

At thy departure, my very soul even deserteth the body;
But do not thou for a moment leave me, O image of my love!

p. 281

Since I did not die when separated from her; on meeting,
I am so ashamed that I am unable to look her in the face.

The same who hath inflicted the wound upon my heart,
Hath also applied the soft bandage thereunto.

Shouldst thou pass the alley of the beloved of my heart,
Deliver, O zephyr of the morning! this message unto her—

"Tho’, without thee, I am not one moment from sorrow free;
Yet, ever joyful and gay, may the Almighty keep thee!"

With much sorrow, many loving ones have been torn away—
May God never send unto us the Ghowās year * again!

The fragrance of musk and amber emanateth from every word,
When Æabd-ul-Ḳādir praiseth that black mole of thine.


The flowers of spring have put forth their blossoms in garden and in mead:
On the house-tops there are flowers, in the lanes, and in the hedges too.

The stones, the bushes, the thorns, the weeds—all are by flowers hidden:
Of every blemish and defect the flowers have the concealers become.

Wherever the eyesight may be directed, all, all are flowers there—
Flowers in front, and flowers behind—flowers on every side.

p. 282

No single spot whatever is of fragrant flowers left devoid—
Flowers in the market, flowers in the wilds, flowers in the hills.

The nightingale, to revel and disport, with a loud voice, crieth out;
For the spring passeth away, and every moment the flowers fade and decay!

The youths and maidens, in their gambols and revelry, place
Flowers in their hair, flowers in their bosoms, flowers in their turbans.

The entire person of the beloved is of fragrant flowers composed—
Her feet are flowers, her hands flowers, her sweet face flowers also.

Let the wine be rosy, the goblet rosy, the wine-flask rosy likewise!
The cupbearer a flower, the associates flowers, the scene all flowers too!

When she smelleth unto a flower, let great caution be observed,
Lest on her tender, delicate lips, the flower a wound should inflict.

Gentle and simple, they have filled with delight by their display—
The flowers have, on every one, a load of obligation conferred.

But though flowers may have bloomed of a thousand hues,
No flower hath been seen like unto the beloved one of my heart.

That they thus heartily laugh, with such gladness and such glee,
What! of autumn's near approach, are not the flowers aware?

Since in them may be seen the emblem of his own loved one;
Æabd-ul-Ḳādir thus remembereth the flowers in his strains.


The folks of the world give us their admonitions most unjustly;
For every man pleaseth himself according to his own mind.

p. 283

What have others to do with us, forsooth, that they restrain us,
If, for the sake of the beloved, we sacrifice life and goods?

When love, like a mighty river, hath overflowed the heart,
Doth any one attempt a dam to raise on the face of the flood?

By the severance of all worldly concerns, sanctity is acquired;
But not by saddling oneself with worldly obligations and ties.

Involuntarily, and impulsively, the heart is given to the fair:
This matter is not brought about by counsel, or such like things.

The brutes chew the cud upon their food; but it behoveth man
To ruminate upon every word that issueth from his mouth.

As long, O Æabd-ul-Ḳādir! as thy strains may be repeated,
From them flow so many varying, and delightful sweets.


If the surface of thy face be not soiled, be under no concern;
And the mirror of my heart, too, is not by rust affected.

Whosoever cometh near pitch, becometh defiled;
Then get thee away behind me, O thou so very white!

He, whose heart hath consumed in the flames of love,
What apprehension need he have of the fire of Hell?

She would make the dark night one of moonlight to her lover,
If the moon-faced one would draw aside the veil from her face.

From time to time, every thing hath gone out of my heart,
Save the remembrance of the fair, that will never depart.

’Tis from the wails of the nightingale it is thus so affected—
This rose-bud, that rendeth its garment into shreds.

p. 284

All else is a mere vail, save the love of the Deity:
Then, O Æabd-ul-Ḳādir, do thou no other love pursue!


On ascending to the terrace-roof of wealth, show thou no arrogance;
But always have before thine eyes the fear of falling therefrom!

It hath raised up many, and dashed them again to the ground:
Fortune's wheel raiseth uppermost, that it may again cast down.

At the outset, acquire thou the wings of affection and love,
If of soaring in the heavens thou the intention nourish.

They whose hearts beauty's face may not with love inspire,
Their countenances are not worthy even to be looked upon!

I would say, I should go and consort with the dogs at her door;
But she would not, even then, one day, say to me " Come here!"

Since mine eyes became not blind, * from the absence of my love,
With all my heart I am now willing they should go out of my head.

Through contentment, and not through gold, is opulence acquired:
The whiteness of the heart is essential, not the whiteness of the hair.

Thou hast rendered it sweeter than Persian, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir!
Although the Pus’hto language was so bitter before.


Since the heart is torn from it, in the end, in anguish and woe,
Why do people set their hearts this fleeting world upon?

p. 285

From this garden's roses, constancy's fragrance emanateth not:
Most unjustly do the nightingales hazard their hearts upon them.

Since the thought of the curls of the beloved is dishevelled and deranged,
Let my heart be disordered for ever! let it never be composed!

So hard, so pitiless, and so regardless, as is that heart of thine,
There will be none other like it, the whole universe within!

Wherever its ravisher may be, there will the heart be also;
For when do the heart-ravishers in their breasts retain their hearts?

Why hast Thou, O God! my heart filled with a giddy fair one's love?
That, though guiltless of any fault, every moment the heart afflicteth.

Proximity and remoteness—conjunction and separation—will be all one to him,
Whose heart hath a place acquired in immateriality's abode.

The flames of Hell I accept, with all my heart, a hundred times over;
But God forbid that in separation's fire the heart be consumed!

Eat! drink wine! raise the song! do all, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir!
But this one thing—do not thou the heart of the Muslim afflict!


O cupbearer! unto me such a cup of forgetfulness give,
That on quaffing it I may oblivious and insensate become!

p. 286

Reproached and reviled by the world, to the deserts and wilds I flee;
Like even unto Majnūn, I make the wilderness my home.

The fruit of its aims and desires, it shall then eat therefrom,
When the grain, in the earth, shall itself to extinction give.

Since it is filled with the conceptions of the faces of the fair,
The picture gallery of Mānī, * this mind of mine must be.

My heart becometh, through envy and jealousy, to pieces torn,
When her fingers draw the comb through her flowing hair.

For a minstrel, in the spring-time, I have no necessity;
The sweet melody of the nightingale is sufficient for me.

Nightly, in my dwelling, with this intent, I gather a party together,
That possibly, under this plea, the charmer might attend.

As an inducement, that he should risk his life to obtain it,
The diver desireth that the oyster-shell a pearl should contain.

A hundred times over, Æabd-ul-Ḳādir would sacrifice it for her,
If, by parting with his head, he might his loved one obtain.


273:* See Introduction, page xi.

273:† See note at page 111.

274:* The magic ring of Solomon, which was supposed to reveal all things.

274:† India, the country of dark people, is compared to the dark curls of the beloved.

275:* The name of a gold coin current in Persia and Arabia, a ducat.

276:* The æūd, or wood aloes, celebrated for its fragrance.

277:* Alluding to the rosy colour of the cheeks.

277:† The dimple of the chin.

278:* See note at page 29.

278:† The pearl is supposed to be produced from a single drop of rain-water.

279:* The name of a great man, supposed to have been Solomon's prime minister.

279:† And God said unto him, "O Moses! draw near and fear not, for thou art safe."—Al Ḳur’ān.

280:* See Introductory Remarks, page xi.

281:* According to the Abjad, or an arrangement of the letters of the Arabic alphabet for numbers in chronograms, the letters gh, w, ā, and s, signify the year 1097 of the Hijrah (a.d. 1685), in which a terrible plague is said to have raged throughout Afghānistān and the adjacent countries.

284:* From excessive weeping.

286:* A celebrated Persian painter, who, about the middle of the third century of our era, gave out that he was the promised paraclete of our Lord; and soon established a numerous sect known as Mānīchæans. He fled into Tartary through fear of the Persian king Shāpūr (Sapor), where he amused himself by drawing a number of singular figures in a book called Ertāng; and, on his return, told his disciples that he had obtained it from the angels in Heaven, where he pretended to have been during his retreat.

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