Treasure Island

Hakīm Abu'l-Qāsim Ferdowsī Tūsī Firdowsi


How Shirwi ascended the Throne



From the Shahnameh
Now when Shirwi sat on the goodly throne,
And donned the royal crown so much desired,
The leaders of the Iranians each drew near
To proffer him the homage due to kings,
Exclaiming: 'Worshipful and honoured Sháh!
Know, God gave thee the crown, and now thou sittest
Securely on the throne of ivory,
And may thy sons and scions have the world.'

Kubád replied: 'Be ever conquering
And happy. Never will we practice ill.
How good is justice with benevolence!
The world will we keep peaceful and cut off
The works of Ahriman by every right,
Ancestral precedent that greateneth
The Glory of our Faith. I will dispatch
A message to my sire and tell him all.
He is in evil odour in the world
Through his ill deeds: let him excuse his faults
To God and turn to custom and the way.
If he shall heed me he will not resent
My conduct. Then will I devote myself
To state affairs and strive to compass justice
Both publicly and privily, do good
Where good is due, and break no poor man's heart.
I need two honest men of goodly speech,
Whose memories are charged with ancient lore.'

He asked the assembly: 'Whom shall I employ?
Who is most shrewd and honest in Iran?'

The warriors suggested by their looks
Two men of lore if they should give consent.
Kubád perceived whom the Iránians
Agreed to choose: one of them was Ashtád,
The other was Kharrád, son of Barzin,
The old-two sages eloquent and heedful.
Kubád addressed them thus: 'O ye wise men,
Ye chiefs experienced and veteran!
Deem not the conduct of the world too toilsome,
Because the Great by travail compass treasure.
It is for you now to approach the Sháh;
Perchance through you he may conform himself.
Appeal to him by instance new or old
As there is need.'

With tears unwilling
Those sages made them ready. When Kharrád,
Son of Barzin, and when Ashtád, who had
Gashasp for sire, had mounted on their steeds,
As bidden, Kubád said: 'Now with right good will
'Tis yours to take the road to Taisafún,
To carry to my glorious sire a message,
And bear it all in mind from first to last.
Say: ''Twas no fault of ours nor did the Iránians
Cause this, but having left the way of Faith
Thou hast thyself incurred God's chastisement,
for, first, no son legitimate will shed
His sire's blood though impure or give assent
Thereto and fill the hearts of upright folk
With pain. Again, thy treasures fill the world,
And thine exactions reach all provinces,
While, thirdly, many horsemen brave and famed
Within Irán who gladdened there have left
Son, country, and their own pure kith and kin,
Have parted, this to Chin, and that to Rúm,
And now are scattered o'er each march and land.
Again, when Caesar, who had done and borne
So much for thee, had given thee a host
And daughter too with treasure and much else.
Desired of thee the Cross of Christ for Rúm,
So that his land might be revived thereby,
How did the Cross of Jesus profit so
Thy treasures when complaisance on thy part
Would have made Caesar glad? But thou didst not
Restore it, hadst not wit enough for that,
Or one to guide thee to humanity.
Again, thy greed was such that wisdom's eye
Was all obscured in thee, and thou didst seize
The chattels of the poor whose curses brought
Ill on thy head. Thou slewest thy mother's brothers.
Two loyal men who gave thy throne a lustre.
Moreover thou hadst sixteen sons whose days
And nights were passed in prison while no chief
Could sleep secure from thee but hid in fear.
Know, that which hath befall'n thee is from God:
Reflect on thy foul deeds. As for myself,
I am but as the instrument in all
This wrong, am but the heading of the tale.
By God, 'twas not my fault, no aim of mine
To wreck the Sháh's throne! Now for all seek grace,
And say so to these chieftains of Irán:
Turn from ill deeds to God-the Guide to good-
Who may abate the woes that thou hast brought
Upon thyself.''

On hearing this the twain
Departed with their hearts all seared and sore
Till, sorrowful and weeping, they arrived
At Taisafùn and in that city sought
The palace of Marúsipand for there
The exalted king resided. Galinúsh
Sat at the palace-gate: thou wouldst have said:-
'Earth is convulsed before him!' He was armed
In helm and breastplate, all the Arab steeds
Wore bards, and all his soldiers were drawn up,
Equipped, and sword in hand. He grasped a mace
Of steel, his heart all fire and storm. Now when
Kharrád, son of Barzin, and when Ashtád,
Son of Gashasp, those ages twain, dismounted,
He rose forthwith, rejoiced to look on them,
And gave them place befitting, hailing them
As famous chiefs. The eloquent Kharrád
First laved his tongue in valour and then said
To Galinúsh: 'Kubád the glorious
Hath donned in peace the Kaian crown. Irán,
Túran and Rúm have tidings that Shirwi
Is seated on the throne of king of kings.
Why this cuirass and helm and massive mace?
Who is thine enemy?'

Said Galinúsh:-
'O veteran! may all thy doings prosper.
Thou art concerned about my tender frame
Because I am in iron garniture.
I bless thee for thy kindness: thou deservest
That I shall sprinkle jewels over thee.
Thy words are naught but good, and may the sun
Be thine associate in the world. Declare
Why thou hast come, then look for my reply.'

He thus gave answer: 'Glorious Kubád
Commisioned me to bear Khusrau Parwiz
A message and if now thou wilt ask audience
I will deliver what the world-lord said-
That monarch of the flock.'

Said Galinúsh:-
'Who can remember words so well as thou,
O worshipful? yet nathless Sháh Kubád
Gave me full many a counsel touching this,
And charged me, saying: 'Let none have by day
Or night an audience of Khusrau Parwiz
Unless thou hearest what the messenger
Hath got to say in Persian new or old.''

Ashtád said: 'I hold not my message secret,
O fortunate! It is: 'The sword is fruiting,
And nuzzling princes' heads.' In this regard
Now ask for audience of Khusrau Parwiz
That we may tell the message of the Sháh.'

This hearing Galinúsh arose, made fast
His mail, went to the Sháh with folded arms,
As servants should, and said thus: 'Love for ever,
O Sháh! May evil never vex thy heart.
There cometh by Ashtád and by Kharrád,
Son of Barzin, a message from the Sháh
From court.'

Khusrau Parwiz laughed out and said:-
'Speak wiser words for if he be the king
Then what am I, and why am I within
This narrow prison, and why need'st thou ask
That I shall grant an audience unto any,
Be their words false or true?'

So Galinúsh
Returned to those two warriors, reported
The answer of the paladin, and said:-
'Now go with folded arms, declare your message,
And hearken his reply.'

Those sages twain
Of honest speech inswathed their visages
In sashes brought from Chin and, when they saw
The Sháh, did reverence and waited long
What while he sat upon a lofty throne
Adorned with effigies of sheep and wolves,
Impleached with gold and gems, with under him
A couch of yellow broidery. He leaned
On cushions hued like lapis-lazuli,
Held a fine quince and drowsed there all amort.
When he beheld those chiefs supreme in wisdom
He roused himself and secretly invoked
God's help. He laid that fine quince on the cushions
That he might welcome those two wayfarers.
The quince slipped from the cusions, rolled unbruised
Upon the couch and thence from throne to floor.
Ashtád ran, took it up, wiped off the dust,
And laid the quince upon his head. The world-lord
Turned from Ashtád that he might neither see
Nor scent the quince. they set it on the throne,
And stood themselves. The matter of the quince
Perturbed Khusrau Parwiz who boded ill,
Looked up to heaven and said: 'O truthful Judge!
Who can establish one whom Thou o'erthrowest,
Who join what Thou hast broken? When bright fortune
Departeth from a race it bringeth sorrow
Because the day of joy is passed away.'

Then to Ashtád: 'Now for thine ambassage
From mine unnatural child of ill repute,
And from that handful of conspirators,
My hateful and black-hearted enemies.
Malignant fools are they and in their folly
Most wretched. Fortune will desert our race;
None will rejoice again; the crown and throne
Will pass to those unfit; this royal Tree
Will be destroyed; the Base will be exalted;
The spirits of the Great grow sorrowful.
The majesty will bide not with our sons,
Or with our kindred or posterity;
Their friends all be their chiefest enemies,
Revilers and destroyers of the race.
This quince hath made the secret evident;
The throng of king of kings will bear no fruit.
Now tell to me the words that thou hast heard:
I count his less than water in the stream.'

Then those two men released their tongues to speak,
And told all that Kubád, his son, had said,
Not keeping e'en a whisper back from him.
The king of kings, when he had heard the message,
Writhed with distress and heaved a deep, cold sigh.
Then said he to those chiefs: 'Hear is my response,
And bear it to the young prince, every word.
Say: 'Quit thine own misdeeds ere blaming others'.
What thou hast uttered are they words of thine?
A murrain on the prompter! Speak not so
As to rejoice thy foe with thy fool's talk.
And let him learn that thou hast not the wisdom
To furnish speech with knowledge from thy brains.
If thy trust is in words that profit not
Thou mak'st default in soul and wisdom too.
He that shall call thee wicked, then acknowledge
Thee to be world-lord, should not sit before thee.
And order matters whether great or small.
Think not in future of such messages
Or thou wilt cause thy foemen to rejoice.
My state hath been appointed me by God:
My hopes are set upon the other world.
And thou by these thy charges which are lies
Will gain no glory in the nobles' eyes.''

Submitted: Friday, April 20, 2012

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