Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “With Sa’di in the Garden.” I. Mahmud and Ayaz: A Paraphrase on Sa’Di

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Edwin Arnold 1832–1904

From “With Sa’di in the Garden.” I. Mahmud and Ayaz: A Paraphrase on Sa’Di


THEY mock’d the Sovereign of Ghaznin: one saith,

“Ayaz hath no great beauty, by my faith!

A Rose that ’s neither rosy-red nor fragrant,

The Bulbul’s love for such astonisheth!”

This went to Mahmud’s ears; ill-pleas’d he sate,

Bow’d on himself, reflecting; then to that

Replied: “My love is for his kindly nature,

Not for his stature, nor his face, nor state!”

And I did hear how, in a rocky dell,

Bursting a chest of gems a camel fell;

King Mahmud wav’d his sleeve, permitting plunder,

But spurr’d his own steed onward, as they tell.

His horsemen parted from their Lord amain,

Eager for pearls, and corals, and such gain:

Of all those neck-exalting courtiers

None except Ayaz near him did remain.

The King look’d back—“How many hast thou won,

Curl’d comfort of my heart?” He answer’d “None!

I gallop’d up the pass in rear of thee;

I quit thee for no pearls beneath the sun!”

Oh, if to God thou hast propinquity,

For no wealth heedless of His service be!

If Lovers true of God shall ask from God

Aught except God, that ’s infidelity.

If thine eyes fix on any gift of Friend,

Thy gain, not his, is thy desire’s end:

If thy mouth gape in avarice, Heaven’s message

Unto Heart’s ear by that road shall not wend.