translated by Arthur Geroge Warner and Edmond Warner
From the Shahnameh
'Tis but crude policy when women rule,
But yet there was a lady--Púrándukht--
Surviving of the lineage of Sásán,
And well read in the royal volume: her
They seated on the throne of sovereignty,
The Great strewed jewels over her, and then
She spake upon this wise: "I will not have
The people scattered, and I will enrich
The poor with treasure that they may not bide
In their distress. God grant that in the world
There may be none aggrieved because his pain
Is my calamity. I will expel
Foes from the realm and walk in royal ways."
She made search for Pirúz, son of Khusrau,
Who was delated by an alien.
Whereat she chose some warriors from the host
Who brought Pirúz before her. She exclaimed:--
"Foul-purposed miscreant! thou shalt receive,
As infamous, the guerdon for thy deeds."
She bade bring from the stalls a colt unbroken,
And bound, firm as a rock, Pirúz thereto
Without a saddle and with yoke on neck.
The vengeful lady had that untamed steed
Brought to the riding-ground and thither sent,
With lassos coiled up in their saddle-straps,
A band of warriors to urge the colt
To utmost speed, to strive from time to time
To throw Pirúz and ever roll itself
Upon the ground. That colt won much applause
Until with skin in shreds and dripping blood
Pirúz gave up the ghost right wretchedly.
Why having done wrong seekest thou for justice?
Nay, ill for ill: that is the course of right.
Púrándukht ruled the world with gentleness;
No wind from heaven blew upon the dust,
But when six months had passed beneath her sway
The circle of her life bent suddenly;
For one week she was ailing, then expired,
And took away with her a fair renown.
Such is the process of the turning sky,
So potent while so impotent are we!
If thine be opulence or poverty,
If life affordeth gain or loss to thee,
If thou shalt win what thou desirest so,
Or disappointed be in wretchedness,
And whether thou be one of wealth or woe,
Both woe and wealth will pass away no less.
Reign as a Sháh a thousand years, five score,
For sixty years or thirty, ten or four,
It cometh to one thing, when all is done,
If thou hadst many years or barely one.
Oh! may thine actions thine own comrades be,
For they in every place will succour thee.
Let go thy clutch upon this Wayside Inn
Because a goodlier place is thine to win.
If thine endeavour be to learning given
Thou wilt by knowledge roam revolving heaven.