Farhod and Shirin by Alisher Navoi

Farhod and Shirin
by Alisher Navoi
An artist decorating Chinese silk fabrics embroidered patterns as follows:
The breathtaking landscapes of China held such beauty that even those intricately embroidered patterns created by Chinese craftsmen gave into jealousy, even the paradisal gardens of that realm gazed on in envy. The ruler of that realm was a Khan of great renown that truly the appellation Kagan better befit his reign. The domains under his rule encompassed two worlds. His throne lifted to the seven skies. Concerning the size of his forces, his troops numbered more than there is sand on earth, even stars in the sky. As for his wealth, it dwarfed the Iranian King Farridin’s holdings; his treasury a hundred thousand times greater than that of Qorun’s treasure house. His heavenly castle stood supreme and higher than the sky above us. Moghul Khans stood as slaves before him and those other Kings engaged in the conquering of distant lands always made sure to share a portion of those territories as spoils with him. He was a generous as the sea. The riches he gifted held more value than any goldmine could produce. In truth, his munificence defied belief; all other rulers paled in comparison.
The Creator created him without equal in the world and peerless among Kings. The ancient world in its in perpetual rotation formed him in such a singular manner that he was without child. Hence, although his crown was adorned with the most radiant pearl, he was in desperate need of another. The Khan had hundreds of varieties of flowers in his garden of hope yet he still yearned for another. The two worlds benefitted from the light of his visage, but he desired the shine of yet one more apple of his eye.
The Khan said to himself: “The world is not eternal. The foundations of our castle in which we live and work remains unsettled. If a man rules for a thousand years and becomes the King of the four corners of the world, inevitably, in the end he will drink deep his wine from the bowl of nihilism and before he takes leave of this world understand that life is too, too short. At that moment the King in his omniscience and prestige or the beggar in his destitution both depart this life as equals with a nary a difference between them. And as such, how can the holder of the crown unable to leave a pearl—an offspring to survive him—live with a shred of pride?
If a child is the pearl, the father and mother are the mother-of-pearl keeping it safe in their bosom. Can a sea without pearls or mothers-of-pearls be truly called the sea? It would only be an endless and bitter reservoir. It might also resemble a drunkard, becoming brutal, splashing foam from his mouth, and marking his displeasure with a frown.  The Cypress in the garden is a very beautiful tree, but, since it bears no fruit, it provides no benefit. A tree that has nothing but beauty is like firewood.
If a cloud does not benefit the world, it would be nothing more than mere fog suspended in the heavens. When lightning strikes one only sees its flash; when upon its cessation it leaves no trace. When fire is extinguished one should not give into despair as it is no great feat but to kindle the flame from its embers. I am but the fire set alight not the lightening strike. The marks on my body come from that fire. I permit those burning spots on my being in fear that time might completely extinguish the fire in my hearth. It is indeed pitiable that through these travails I have ruled China for so many years to only one day pass from this earth only to be replaced by a stranger!
If he steps foot in my palace, invades my bedroom and graps his hands onto my troops and the motherland, or if he is to bold to takes a refresh himself in my inner-sanctum, would that not mean that time had turned my fresh dawn to dark night?! I gathered all this treasure and wealth through so many hardships, but his activity will solely be to throw it all away. Imagine how my enemies would cast aspersions on my character, causing me great anguish! What would happen to my manhood and honor? All of my sufferings arise from the fact that I have no son. I wish God would aid me in my burden and gift me a son who would replace me ridding me of such pains, making me deliriously happy.”
The Khan spoke incessantly regarding this topic praying to God to grant him a son. When he wept, tears flowed like diamonds. He only wished that a newborn son would appear to him among those brilliants. With that in mind his generosity abounded and his wealth flowed freely. He tried to assuage the pain of those without sons and patronized those who lost their fathers—all for the sole purpose of receiving his own son! The Khan seemed oblivious that mere humans cannot change what is written in his or her destiny.
When a man seeks achievement, he often hopes to one day profit from it. One should not wonder that with that desire he will achieve his goal. A vast majority of diamonds take on the cast of red like a ruby only to find upon taking it in your arms it was merely a worthless cinder. Nature has created many of its gifts with the allure of yellow. Yet those very gifts that appear to be golden leaves reveal themselves as a sheet of flame. When the outcome of seeking one’s desire remains still obscure, one must make right with their destiny.
The Kagan’s sole purpose was a child and so eventually his prayers were granted. A new moon was born in his bedroom. No, not a moon, but a shining sun came into the world. As if a fervent red rose bloomed in his flower garden. No, no, not a rose but the beam of wail has opened its face. One could say that time placed a wonderful ring with a fiery, brilliant red ruby upon his finger for all to see. Inscribed upon the ring were the secrets of love making it an amulet that cured the pains of passion and amour.
No, no not a ring or a ruby, but a pearl was presented to him which illuminated the night. Not a pearl but a wonderful diamond which cast its light into the world. His whole being was twined with the temperament of fidelity and his chest cleaved by the blade of destiny. One could see the tears welled up in his eyes and one could see the steam rise in each of his breaths. On his forehead the light of love shone portending his complete devotion. It was a baby boy sanctioned by the heavens as the King over those who suffer and versed in the Fires of Anguish cast down by Angels. Lovers were frightened as soon as he came into being. As if Siyovush fashioned him in the furnace. Overcome with joy, men of faithfulness raucous and celebratory congratulated each other.
Looking upon this pearl, the father smiled filled with delight, the gleam of teeth visible to all. Overcome with joy, he gifted tons and tons of pearly, hence provoking lamentations from the seas and the mines. The whole of the land was adorned for the coming festivities. All the decorations were the largesse of China. A Herald then announced across the land: “All the Walls of China should be hung with the most beautiful and elegant fabrics! All of them should be made of silk! We must also embroider them with lovely Chinese tableaus painted on stones!”
As the people started celebrating the solemn occasion with various customs and rituals the whole country turned into a vast picture gallery. The people were permitted to pursue all desires without rebuke.
A grand banquet unseen in the ancient world was organized for the people of the land. The renowned feasts of the Iranian Kings, Kayoniys, represented not one hundredth of its lavishness. The tablecloth was as big as the sky. There were countless sweet breads and delicious food served at the table. All desires and wishes of the people were considered with three years worth of taxes expended in pursuit of their needs. The people were elated, reveling in their repast, and giving themselves to abandon—within the bounds of their society.
Upon hearing the din of entertainment and joy in his domain, the caravan of distress and hardship quickly vanished its burdens in tow. Pleasure replaced decrepitude for eternity as jubilance replaced the furrows on the faces of all. Villages took the bearing of townspeople. Wine lifted grief from the peoples’ hearts, as if the red elixir won over even the blackest of sorrows.
Come closer, hey, cup-bearer, give me red wine and sing for us in this festival. Make me also wine-lover like the people of Chin, pass me a porcelain bowl brimming with a fine vintage so that I will get lost in drunkenness as well.
Translated by A’zam Obid
Edited by Mark reece
(To be continued)