Rudaki and his poem: The account from Chahar Maqala II

Continuing the tale of Master Rudaki and his poem from the Chahar Maqala…..

So the Amir Nasr bin Ahmad saw Mihragan and its fruits, and was mightily pleased therewith. Then the narcissus began to bloom, and the raisins were plucked and stoned in Malin, and hung in lines, and packed in store-rooms; and the Amir and his army moved into the two group of hamlets called Ghura and Darwaz. There he saw mansions of which each one was like highest paradise, having before it a garden or pleasure ground with a northern aspect. There they wintered, while the Mandarin oranges began to arrive from Sistan and the sweet oranges from Mazandaran; and so they passed the winter in the most agreeable manner.

When [the second] spring came, the Amir sent the horses to Badghis and moved his camp to Malin [to a spot] between two streams. And when summer came and the fruits again ripened, Amir Nasr ibn Ahmad said,”Where shall we go for the summer?For there is no pleasanter place of residence than this. Let us wait till Mihrgan.” And when Mihrgan came, he said, “Let us enjoy Mihrgan at Herat and then go“; and so from season to season he continued to procrastinate, until four years had passed in this way. For then it was the heyday of the Samanian prosperity, and the land was flourishing, the kingdom unmenaced by foes, the army loyal, fortune favourable, and heaven auspicious; yet withal the Amir‘s attendants grew weary, and desire for home arose in them, while they beheld the king quiescent, the air of Herat in his head and the love of Herat in his heart; and in the course of conversation he would compare, nay, prefer Herat to the Garden of Eden, and would exalt its charms above those of a Chinese temple [or Chinese Spring].

So they perceived that he intended to remain there for that summer also. Then the captains of the army and nobles of the kingdom went to Master Abu Abdi’llah Rudagi, than whom there was none more honoured of the kings’s intimates, and none whose words found so ready an acceptance. And they said to him, “We will present thee with five thousand dinars if thou wilt contrive some artifice whereby the king may be induced to depart hence, for hearts are craving for our wives and children, and our souls are like to leave us for longing after Bukhara.Rudagi agreed; and, since he had felt the Amir‘s pulse and understood his temperament, he perceived that prose would not affect him, and so had to recourse to verse. He therefore composed a qasida; and when the Amir had taken his morning [evening ?]cup, came in and sat down in his place; and, when the musicians ceased, he took up the harp, and, playing the “Lover’s Air,” began this elegy :-

Booye juye Mulian ayaad hami
Yaad-e-yaar-e-mehrbaan ayaad hami

[For all my unilingual or Farsi-ignorant friends, I translate:

The Ju-yi Mulian we call to mind,
We long for those dear friends long left behind.

Then he strikes a lower key, and sings:-

To be continued…..

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