Void lay the world, in nothingness concealed,
Without a trace of light or life revealed,
Save one existence which second knew-
Unknown the pleasant words of We and You.
Then Beauty shone, from stranger glances free,
Seen of herself, with naught beside to see,
With garments pure of stain, the fairest flower
Of virgin loveliness in bridal bower.
No combing hand had smoothed a flowing tress,
No mirror shown her eyes their loveliness
No surma dust those cloudless orbs had known,
To the bright rose her cheek no bulbul flown.
No heightening hand had decked the rose with green,
No patch or spot upon that cheek was seen.
No zephyr from her brow had fliched a hair,
No eye in thought had seen the splendour there.
Her witching snares in solitude she laid,
And love's sweet game without a partner played.
But when bright Beauty reigns and knows her power
She springs indignant from her curtained bower.
She scorns seclusion and eludes the guard,
And from the window looks if doors be barred.
See how the tulip on the mountain grown
Soon as the breath of genial Spring has blown,
Bursts from the rock, impatient to display
Her nascent beauty to the eye of day.
When sudden to thy soul reflection brings
The precious meaning of mysterious things,
Thou canst not drive the thought from out thy brain;
Speak, hear thou must, for silence is such pain.
So beauty ne'er will quit the urgent claim
Whose motive first from heavenly beauty came
When from her blessed bower she fondly strayed,
And to the world and man her charms displayed.
In every mirror then her face was shown,
Her praise in every place was heard and known.
Touched by her light, the hearts of angels burned,
And, like the circling spheres, their heads were turned,
While saintly bands, whom purest at the sight of her,
And those who bathe them in the ocean sky
Cries out enraptured, "Laud to God on high!"
Rays of her splendour lit the rose's breast
And stirred the bulbul's heart with sweet unrest.
From her bright glow its cheek the flambeau fired,
And myriad moths around the flame expired.
Her glory lent the very sun the ray
Which wakes the lotus on the flood to-day.
Her loveliness made Laila's face look fair
To Majnún, fettered by her every hair.
She opened Shírín's sugared lips, and stole
From Parvíz' breast and brave Farhád's the soul.
Through her his head the Moon of Canaan raised,
And fond Zulaikha perished as she gazed.
Yes, though she shrinks from earthly lovers' call,
Eternal Beauty is the queen of all;
In every curtained bower the screen she holds,
About each captured heart her bonds enfolds.
Through her sweet love the heart its life retains,
The soul through love of her its object gains.
The heart which maidens' gentle witcheries stir
Is, though unconscious, fired with love of her.
Refrain from idle speech; mistake no more:
She brings her chains and we, her slaves, adore.
Fair and approved of Love, thou still must own
That gift of beauty comes from her alone.
Thou art concealed: she meets all lifted eyes;
Thou art the mirror which she beautifies.
She is that mirror, if we closely view
The truth- the treasure and the treasury too.
But thou and I- our serious work is naught;
We waste our days unmoved by earnest thought.
Cease, or my task will never end, for her
Sweet beauties lack a meet interpreter.
Then let us still the slaves of love remain
For without love we live in vain, in vain.
Jámí, "Yúsuf and Zulaikha". trans. Ralph T. H. Griffith. Ballantyne Press 1882. London. p.19-22