Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Jaffár

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)

  • Shelley, take this to thy dear memory;—
  • To praise the generous is to think of thee.

  • JAFFÁR, the Barmecide, the good Vizier,

    The poor man’s hope, the friend without a peer,

    Jaffár was dead, slain by a doom unjust;

    And guilty Hároun, sullen with mistrust

    Of what the good and e’en the bad might say,

    Ordained that no man living from that day

    Should dare to speak his name on pain of death.—

    All Araby and Persia held their breath.

    All but the brave Mondeer: he, proud to show

    How far for love a grateful soul could go,

    And facing death for very scorn and grief

    (For his great heart wanted a great relief),

    Stood forth in Bagdad, daily, in the square

    Where once had stood a happy house; and there

    Harangued the tremblers at the scimitar

    On all they owed to the divine Jaffár.

    “Bring me this man,” the Caliph cried. The man

    Was brought—was gazed upon. The mutes began

    To bind his arms. “Welcome, brave cords!” cried he;

    “From bonds far worse Jaffár delivered me;

    From wants, from shames, from loveless household fears;

    Made a man’s eyes friends with delicious tears;

    Restored me—loved me—put me on a par

    With his great self. How can I pay Jaffár?”

    Hároun, who felt that on a soul like this

    The mightiest vengeance could but fall amiss,

    Now deigned to smile, as one great lord of fate

    Might smile upon another half as great.

    He said, “Let worth grow frenzied, if it will:

    The Caliph’s judgment shall be master still.

    Go; and since gifts thus move thee, take this gem,

    The richest in the Tartar’s diadem,

    And hold the giver as thou deemest fit.”

    “Gifts!” cried the friend. He took; and holding it

    High towards the heavens, as though to meet his star,

    Exclaimed, “This too I owe to thee, Jaffár!”