In the exuberance of youth, as it usually happens and as thou knowest, I was on the closest terms of intimacy with a sweetheart who had a melodious voice and a form beautiful like the moon just rising.
He, the down of whose cheek drinks the water of immortality,
Whoever looks at his sugar lips eats sweetmeats.
I happened to notice something in his behaviour which was contrary to nature and not approved of by me. Accordingly I gathered up my skirt from him and, picking up the pieces of the chess-game of friendship, recited:
‘Go and do as thou listest.
Thou hast not our head; follow thine.’
I heard him saying when he went away:
‘If the bat desires not union with the sun
The beauty of the sun will not decrease.’
Saying this, he departed and his distress took effect on me:
I lost the time of union and man is ignorant
Of the value of delightful life before adversity.
Return. Slay me. For to die in thy presence
Is more sweet than to live after thee.
Thanks be to the bounty of God, he returned some time afterwards but his melodious voice had changed, his Joseph like beauty had faded, on the apple of his skin dust had settled as upon a quince so that the splendour of his beauty had departed. He wanted me to embrace him. I complied and said:
‘On the day when thou hadst a beauteous incipient beard
Thou drovest him, who desired the sight, from thy sight.
Today thou camest to make peace with him
But hast exhibited Fathah and Zammah.
His fresh spring is gone and he has become yellow.
Bring not the kettle because our fire is extinguished.
How long wilt thou strut about, showing arrogance,
Imagining felicity which has elapsed?
Go to him who will purchase thee.
Coquet with him who asks for thee.
They said: “Verdure in the garden is pleasing.”
He knows it who utters these words.
Namely, heartfelt affection for that green line
Fascinates the hearts of lovers more and more.
Thy garden is a bed of leeks.
The more thou weedest it the more they grow.
Whether thou pluckest out thy beard or not
This happiness of youthful days must end.
Had I the power of life as thou of the beard
I would not let it end till resurrection-day.
I asked and said: What has befallen the beauty of thy face
That ants are crawling round the moon?
He replied, smiling: “I know not what is the matter with my face.
Perhaps it wears black as mourning for my beauty.”’
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