Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Welcome - Farīd ud-Dīn ʿAṭṭār

One night Shah Mahmúd, who had been of late
Somewhat distempered with Affairs of State,
Strolled through the Streets disguised, as wont to do—
And coming to the Baths, there on the Flue
Saw the poor Fellow who the Furnace fed
Sitting beside his Water-jug and Bread.
Mahmúd stept in—sat down—unasked took up
And tasted of the untasted Loaf and Cup,
Saying within himself, “Grudge but a bit,
And, by the Lord, your Head shall pay for it!”
So, having rested, warmed and satisfied
Himself without a Word on either side,
At last the wayward Sultan rose to go.
And then at last his Host broke silence—“So?—
Art satisfied? Well, Brother, and Day
Or Night, remember, when you come this Way
And want a bit of Provender—why, you
Are welcome, and if not—why, welcome too.”—
The Sultan was so tickled with the whim
Of this quaint Entertainment and of him
Who offered it, that many a Night again
Stoker and Shah forgathered in that vein—
Till, the poor Fellow having stood the Test
Of true Good-fellowship, Mahmúd confessed
One Night the Sultan that had been his Guest:
And in requital of the scanty Dole
The poor Man offered with so large a soul,
Bid him ask any Largess that he would—
A Throne—if he would have it, so he should.
The Poor Man kissed the Dust, and “All,” said he,
“I ask is what and where I am to be;
If but the Shah from time to time will come
As now, and see me in the lowly Home
His presence makes a Palace, and my own
Poor Flue more royal than another’s Throne.”

Farīd ud-Dīn ʿAṭṭār (full name: Abū Ḥamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm)  (c. 1145–c. 1221) Persia (ancient Iran)
Translated by Edward Fitzgerald
Source: Source: The World’s Best Poetry, ed. by Bliss Carman, et al. Philadelphia: John D. Morris & Co., 1904

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