View Full Version : Xxxix

June 1st, 2008, 09:56 PM

Stanza 1.—It is related that Ghiyasuddin Purabi, who succeeded his father to the throne of Bengal in the year 1367, fell sick. During his illness he was nursed by three faithful handmaidens whose names were Cypress, Tulip, and Rose, and owing to their care he eventually recovered. The rest of the Sultan's ladies were jealous of the gratitude that the three maidens had earned from Ghiyasuddin, and nicknamed them contemptuously "the three bath women," because they had washed the King's body while he was ill. He therefore determined to do them honour by commemorating their devotion in a poem, and to this end he composed the first line of a couplet, and ordered the poets of his court to complete the ode. The line ran thus: "Sāki hadis-i-sarvo gul o lāleh miravad"—Cup-bearer, a tale runs of a Cypress, a Rose, and a Tulip. But the poets were unable to perform the task to the King's satisfaction, and at length some one suggested that the line should be sent to Hafiz of Shiraz, the fame of whose great skill had reached Bengal. This was accordingly done, and Hafiz composed the ode here translated, with which the Sultan (whose taste seems to have turned towards the discursive in poetry) was much delighted. The three cups of wine are an allusion to the three maidens who washed the King's body; the parrots of India are the court poets of Ghiyasuddin, and the Persian sweetmeat is the ode that Hafiz sent to Bengal.

Stanza 4.—Samir. Al Samiri belonged, say the Mahommadans, to a certain tribe among the Jews called the Samaritans, whence his name. In this the Mahommadans strangely betray their ignorance of history, for the Samaritans were not formed into a people, nor did they bear that name, until many ages later. Some say that he was a proselyte, but a hypocritical one, and originally of Kerman or some other country. His real name was Musa ibn Dhafar. He was a magician and an alchemist. Pharaoh employed him as a rival to Moses when the latter worked miracles with his hand and his staff, but Al Samiri was unable to show wonders as great as those performed by Moses. It was he and not Aaron, according to Mahommadan tradition, who cast the golden calf. The calf was made of the ornaments of gold and silver and other materials which the Israelites had borrowed from the Egyptians; for Aaron, who commanded in his brother's absence, having ordered Al Samiri to collect those ornaments from the people, who carried on a wicked commerce with them, and to keep them together till the return of Moses, Al Samiri, understanding the founder's art, put them all together into a furnace, to melt them down into one mass, which came out in the form of a calf. The Israelites, accustomed to the Egyptian idolatry, paying a religious worship to this image, Al Samiri went further, and took some dust from the footsteps of the horse of the angel Gabriel, who marched at the head of the people, and threw it into the mouth of the calf, which immediately began to low, and became animated; for such was the virtue of that dust. (Sale, Notes to second and twenty-second chapters of the Koran.) Al Simiri is mentioned by name in the twenty-second chapter of the Koran: "Al Samiri led them astray."