« PreviousContinue »
letter of the rhyme and those where they were given indiscriminately, and he augmented the whole by the addition of about one thousand verses. Rùmi composed not only long kasidas, but short pieces also of admirable beauty, and he has employed in some of them every tone which satire or praise can as
It is thus that he says :
Those generous men bestowed without rebuking, or, if they rebuked, they deferred not their gifts. How many there are, possessing great wealth yet avaricious; whilst others make presents, although obliged to borrow.
In the following lines he expresses a thought which, he says, had never occurred to any poet before him :
Your counsels and your faces and your swords shine like stars when misfortune sheds darkness around. They are signals of guidance, and beacons to dispel the shades of night, when the results of our enterprises are merely objects of conjecture.
Another singular idea of his is expressed thus :
When a man praises another to obtain his gifts and lengthens his eulogium, his intentions are satirical. Had he not judged the water to be low in the well, he would not have taken so long a rope to draw it up.
In the following lines he blames the custom of dyeing the hair black; and, according to Abù 'l-Husain Jaafar Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali al-Hamdani, they contain an idea never expressed before :
When a man's hair continues black, though his youth is worn out, that dark tint will be thought artificial. How then can an old man expect that the factitious blackness of his hair should be considered natural, or that he himself should be taken for a youth?
He once asked a man of rank to render him a service, and although he did not expect any good of him, his request was granted; on this occasion he expressed his feelings in these lines :
I once asked a service of you, and you granted it generously, though I imagined that you would not. By this favour you impose on me the duty of gratitude, and that is more painful for me than to undergo a refusal from you. I never thought that, throughout all the vicissitudes of time, I should see a favour asked of a man like you. Though what I have received from you gives me pleasure, yet to think that it is on such men as you that hopes are to be placed, gives me pain.
These verses are attributed to Ibn Waki at-Tinnisi vol. I. p. 396). To avoid lengthening this article we shall merely state that his poetical works abound with beauties. His birth took place at Baghdad on a Wednesday morning after sunrise, which was the 2nd day of the month of Rajab, A. H. 221 (June, A. D. 836): the house in which he was born is situated in the place which bears the two names of al-Akikiya (2), and the street of al-Khataliya (Darb al-Khalaliya); this house lies opposite to the palace (kasr) of Isa Ibn Jaafar, grandson of al-Mansûr. --In one of his journeys he composed these lines on Baghdad :
In that city, youth and its passions were my consorts, and there I wore the robe of life in its newness. When I call up its image to my mind, I see therein the youthful beauties whom I once loved, and their slender waists gracefully bending (3).
He died at Baghdad on Wednesday, the 28th of the first Jumada, A. H. 283 July, A. D. 896); some however placed his death in 284 or 276. He was interred in the cemetery at the Garden Gate (Bab al-Bustân. The cause of his death is thus related : Al-Kasim Ibn Obaid Allah Ibn Sulaiman Ibn Wahh, the vizir of the imàm (khalif) al-Motadid dreaded incurring the satirical attacks of Ibn ar-Růmi and the outbursts of his malignant tongue; he therefore suborned a person called ) Ibn Firas (4), who gave him a poisoned biscuit, whilst he was sitting in company with the vizir. When Ibn ar-Růmi had eaten it, he perceived that he was poisoned, and rose to withdraw, on which the vizir said to him : “Where are you going?”—“To the place,” replied Ibn ar-Rumi, " where you sent me.”-_“Well,” observed the vizir, “ you will present my “ respects to my father.”—“I am not taking the road to hell;" retorted the poet. He then retired to his house and died some days afterwards. The physician who attended him administered medicines to counteract the effects of the poison, but it was reported that he employed by mistake a wrong drug. It is related by Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad Nistawaih (vol. I. p. 26) that he saw Ibn ar-Rumi at the point of death and asked him how he was, and that the poet answered by reciting these verses:
The physician has made a mistake to my cost,-a mistake like that of the man who went down into the well for water and could not get up again. People will say it was a blunder of the doctor's, but doctors' blunders are strokes well aimed by fate.
The relation which follows was made by the poet Abù Othmân an-Najim: “I “ went to see Ibn ar-Rumi in his illness, and I found him at the last extremity; " on rising to take leave of him, he said to me :
* Abû Othman! you deserve the praises of your people, and your beneficence is readier ' for your friends than your reproaches. Behold thy brother and take thy fill of the *sight; for I am thinking that he shall not see you again, nor you him, once this day is past.'”
The vizir Ibn Obaid Allah was a man greatly feared, and always displaying an excessive propensity to bloodshed; high and low were in dread of him, for he
never discovered a man to be rich without making him suffer for it. He died 489 on the eve of Wednesday, the 10th of the latter Râbî, A. H. 291 (March, A. D.
904), in the khalifate of al-Muktafi (billah), being then somewhat more than thirty years of age. The following verses were made on his death by Abd Allah Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Saad :
We tasted of joy on the evening of the yizir's death, and we shall continue to taste of it for three evenings longer (5). May God grant no mercy to his bones and no blessing to his heir.
This vizir had a brother named Abû Muhammad al-Hasan, whom he and his father outlived, and some verses (which we shall give lower down) were composed on this event by Abù 'l-Harith an-Naufali, or rather by al-Bassâmi, a poet whose life will be found immediately after this.— I have since read in as-Samâni's Zail (supplement), where he gives the life of the chamberlain (al-bawwab) Ali Ibn Mukallad Ibn Abd Allah Ibn Karâma, that Abû 'l-Harith an-Naufali said: “I de“ tested al-Kasim Ibn Obaid Allah for an injustice which he had done me, and, “ on the death of his brother al-Hasan, I composed these verses and placed " them in the mouth of Ibn Bassâm al-Bassâmi.” Before this passage, as-Samâni inserts these words : “ Abû Bakr as-Sůli (6), who was so remarkable for “ his social talents, mentions that he had seen Abû 'l-Hårith and that he was a “man of veracity."— The verses are:
Say to the father of al-Kåsim, now suffering under his loss: "Fortune has shown thee
strange events; thou losest a son who was an ornament to the world, and another sur“vives, filled with turpitude and vices. The life of this one is as bad as the death of “that; in neither case hast thou escaped misfortune."
The following verses were composed also on the same subject by a poet whom I have since discovered to be this same Abû 'l-Harith :
Speak to the father of al-Kåsim, now suffering under his loss, and exclaim aloud : “O “ thou who hast met a double misfortune! thou hast lost a son who was an ornament, but “ turpitude survives (in the other), and what turpitude! The life of this one is as the “ death of that : strike thy head with thy hands (in despair).”
(1) This Ibn Abdûs is probably the same who bore the surname of al-Jihshiảri. See vol. II. p. 137. The author of the Fihrist makes mention also of an Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abdůs, a grammarian and a native of Kufa, who composed some works on poetry, prosody, and grammar. (Fihrist, fol. 120. A third Ibn Abdùs was a Koran-reader (see vol. I. p. 28); and a fourth was concerned in Ibn as-Shalmaghâni's affair (see vol. I.
Abû 'l-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Nasr Ibn Mansur Ibn Bassåm, generally known by the surname of al-Bassâmi, was a poet of great celebrity (1). His mother Umama was daughter to Hamdûn an-Nadim (2). His (poetry) was transmitted down orally by Abû Bakr as-Sůli, Abû Sahl Ibn Ziad, and others who had learned portions of it by heart. The elegance of his verses and the subtilty of his genius entitled him to an eminent rank amongst the poets, but he was particularly noted for the keenness of his tongue and his natural turn for satire: none indeed
him; princes and vizirs, high and low, nay even his own father, brothers, and other members of the family had to suffer from his attacks. To his father he addressed the following lines :
Were you to live the lives of twenty eagles, do you think I could die and let you survive? If I outlive you a single day, I shall show my grief by rending the bosom of—thy purse.
In another of his pieces he says:
When greyness cast a veil over my head, I abandoned the pursuit of vain amusements and of love. O for the days of my youth and their pleasures! O that the days of youth could be retrieved with money! Renounce all amorous follies, O my heart! and forget the passion which warmed thee; now, that grey hairs are come, thou art good for nothing! Cast a parting look on the world; the time for journeying forth approaches and the hour of farewell is come. Misfortunes keep guard over man; and, after his misfortunes, he leaves only a transient reputation behind.
Ile once asked the vizir Ibn al-Marzubån (3) for the present of a horse, but was refused, on which he pronounced these lines :
Your avarice refused me a vile broken-down horse, and you shall never see me ask for him again. You may say that you reserve him for your own use, but that which you ride was never created by God to be reserved (4).
The following verses were composed by him on the kåtib Asad Ibn Jahwar :
Curses light on Fortune! she has brought strange things to pass! and having effaced the last vestiges of polite learning and refined taste, she gives us kalibs whom I should send back to school, could I lay my hands on them. Behold an example of this in Asad Ibn Jahwar who assumes the air of an able kâtib.
In another piece he says:
When at Sarat (5), we purloined some nights (of pleasure) from the vigilance of adverse fortune, and they now serve as dates in the sad pages of our life (6), and as titles announcing future joys and hopes to be fulfilled.
Ilis father Muhammad Ibn Nasr enjoyed a large fortune and lived in a style of princely magnificence (V); he was remarkable for his manly and generous character, the elegance of his person, the delicacy of his table, the splendour of his dress, and the richness of the furniture which embellished his palace.— It is related that the vizir al-Kasim Ibn Obaid Allah went one day to al-Motadid, whom he found playing at chess, and overheard him repeating this verse:
The life of this one is as the death of that; in neither case hast thou escaped misfortune.
See vol. II. p. 300). The khalif then raised his eyes, and perceiving, with some confusion, that al-Kasim was present, he said to him: “Kåsim! cut Ibn Bas“ sâm's tongue off, so that it wound you no more (8). Al-Kasim immediately hastened away to cut out the poet's tongue, but al-Motadid, being informed of