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- The Kasidah of Haji Abdu El-Yezdi - 1/14 -


THE KASÎDAH OF HÂJÎ ABDÛ EL-YEZDÎ

TRANSLATED AND ANNOTATED BY HS FRIEND AND PUPIL, F.B.

TO THE READER

The Translator has ventured to entitle a “Lay of the Higher Law” the following composition, which aims at being in advance of its time; and he has not feared the danger of collision with such unpleasant forms as the “Higher Culture.” The principles which justify the name are as follows:—

The Author asserts that Happiness and Misery are equally divided and distributed in the world.

He makes Self-cultivation, with due regard to others, the sole and sufficient object of human life.

He suggests that the affections, the sympathies, and the “divine gift of Pity” are man’s highest enjoyments.

He advocates suspension of judgment, with a proper suspicion of “Facts, the idlest of superstitions.”

Finally, although destructive to appearance, he is essentially reconstructive.

For other details concerning the Poem and the Poet, the curious reader is referred to the end of the volume.

F. B.

Vienna, Nov., 1880.

THE KASÎDAH

I

The hour is nigh; the waning Queen walks forth to rule the later night; Crown’d with the sparkle of a Star, and throned on orb of ashen light:

The Wolf-tail* sweeps the paling East to leave a deeper gloom behind, And Dawn uprears her shining head, sighing with semblance of a wind:

* The false dawn.

The highlands catch yon Orient gleam, while purpling still the lowlands lie; And pearly mists, the morning-pride, soar incense-like to greet the sky.

The horses neigh, the camels groan, the torches gleam, the cressets flare; The town of canvas falls, and man with din and dint invadeth air:

The Golden Gates swing right and left; up springs the Sun with flamy brow; The dew-cloud melts in gush of light; brown Earth is bathed in morning-glow.

Slowly they wind athwart the wild, and while young Day his anthem swells, Sad falls upon my yearning ear the tinkling of the Camel-bells:

O’er fiery wastes and frozen wold, o’er horrid hill and gloomy glen, The home of grisly beast and Ghoul,* the haunts of wilder, grislier men;—

* The Demon of the Desert.

With the brief gladness of the Palms, that tower and sway o’er seething plain, Fraught with the thoughts of rustling shade, and welling spring, and rushing rain;

With the short solace of the ridge, by gentle zephyrs played upon, Whose breezy head and bosky side front seas of cooly celadon;—

’Tis theirs to pass with joy and hope, whose souls shall ever thrill and fill Dreams of the Birthplace and the Tomb, visions of Allah’s Holy Hill.*

* Arafât, near Mecca.

But we? Another shift of scene, another pang to rack the heart; Why meet we on the bridge of Time to ’change one greeting and to part?

We meet to part; yet asks my sprite, Part we to meet? Ah! is it so? Man’s fancy-made Omniscience knows, who made Omniscience nought can know.

Why must we meet, why must we part, why must we bear this yoke of MUST, Without our leave or askt or given, by tyrant Fate on victim thrust?

That Eve so gay, so bright, so glad, this Morn so dim, and sad, and grey; Strange that life’s Registrar should write this day a day, that day a day!

Mine eyes, my brain, my heart, are sad,— sad is the very core of me; All wearies, changes, passes, ends; alas! the Birthday’s injury!

Friends of my youth, a last adieu! haply some day we meet again; Yet ne’er the self-same men shall meet; the years shall make us other men:

The light of morn has grown to noon, has paled with eve, and now farewell! Go, vanish from my Life as dies the tinkling of the Camel’s bell.

II

In these drear wastes of sea-born land, these wilds where none may dwell but He, What visionary Pasts revive, what process of the Years we see:

Gazing beyond the thin blue line that rims the far horizon-ring, Our sadden’d sight why haunt these ghosts, whence do these spectral shadows spring?

What endless questions vex the thought, of Whence and Whither, When and How? What fond and foolish strife to read the Scripture writ on human brow;

As stand we percht on point of Time, betwixt the two Eternities, Whose awful secrets gathering round with black profound oppress our eyes.

“This gloomy night, these grisly waves, these winds and whirlpools loud and dread: What reck they of our wretched plight who Safety’s shore so lightly tread?”

Thus quoth the Bard of Love and Wine,* whose dream of Heaven ne’er could rise Beyond the brimming Kausar-cup and Houris with the white-black eyes;

* Hâfiz of Shirâz.

Ah me! my race of threescore years is short, but long enough to pall My sense with joyless joys as these, with Love and Houris, Wine and all.

Another boasts he would divorce old barren Reason from his bed, And wed the Vine-maid in her stead;— fools who believe a word he said!*

* Omar-i-Kayyâm, the tent-maker poet of Persia.

And “‘Dust thou art to dust returning.’ ne’er was spoke of human soul” The Soofi cries, ’tis well for him that hath such gift to ask its goal.

“And this is all, for this we’re born to weep a little and to die!” So sings the shallow bard whose life still labours at the letter “I.”

“Ear never heard, Eye never saw the bliss of those who enter in


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