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From the Shahnameh

Shirwi, a timid, inexperienced youth,
Found that the throne beneath him was a snare,
While readers of mankind saw that 'twas time
For men of might. those that had done the ill,
And had produced that coil, went from the hall
Of audience to the presence of Kubád
To mind him of their infamous designs:--
"We said before and now we say again
Thy thoughts are not on government alone.
There are two Sháhs now seated in one room,
One on the throne and one on its degree,
And when relations grow 'twixt sire and son
They will behead the servants one and all.
It may not be, so speak of it no more."


Shirwi was frightened and he played poltroon
Because in their hands he was as a slave.
He answered: "None will bring him to the toils
Except a man whose name is infamous.
Ye must go homeward and advise thereon.
Inquire: 'What man is there that will abate
Our troubles secretly?'"


The Sháh's ill-wishers
Sought for a murderer to murder him
By stealth, but none possessed the pluck or courage
To shed the blood of such a king and hang
A mountain round his own neck. Everywhere
The Sháh's foes sought until they met with one
Blue-eyed, pale-cheeked, his body parched and hairy,
With lips of lapis-lazuli, with feet
All dust, and belly ravenous; the head
Of that ill-doer was bare. None knew his name
Midst high and low. This villain (may he never
See jocund Paradise!) sought Farrukhzád,
And undertook the deed. "This strife is mine,"
He said. "If ye will make it worth my while
This is my quarry."


"Go and do it then
If thou art able," Farrukhzád replied.
"Moreover open not thy lips herein.
I have a purse full of dinárs for thee,
And I will look upon thee as my son."


He gave the man a dagger keen and bright,
And then the murderer set forth in haste.
The miscreant, when he approached the Sháh,
Saw him upon the throne, a slave attending.
Khusrau Parwiz quaked when he saw that man,
And shed tears from his eyelids on his cheeks
Because his heart bare witness that day
Of heaviness was near. He cried: "O wretch!
What is thy name? Thy mother needs must wail thee."


The man replied: "They call me Mihr Hurmuzd,
A stranger here with neither friend nor mate."


Thus said Khusrau Parwiz: "My time hath come,
And by the hand of an unworthy foe,
Whose face is not a man's, whose love none seeketh."


He bade a boy attending him: "Go fetch,
My little guide! an ewer, water, musk,
And ambergris, with cleaner, fairer robes."


The boy-slave heard, unwitting what was meant,
And so the little servant went away,
And brought a golden ewer to the Sháh
As well as garments and a bowl of water,
Whereon Khusrau Parwiz made haste to go,
Gazed on the sacred twigs and muttered prayers:
It was no time for words or private talk.
The Sháh put on the garments brought, he made
Beneath his breath confession of his faults,
And wrapped a new simarre about his head
In order not to see his murderer's face.
Then Mihr Hurmuzd, the dagger in his hand,
Made fast the door and coming quickly raised
The great king's robe and pierced his liverstead.


Such is the process of this whirling world,
From thee its secret keeping closely furled!
The blameless speaker and the boastful see
That all its doings are but vanity,
For be thou wealthy or in evil ease
This Wayside Inn is no abiding-place;
Yet be offenceless and ensue right ways
If thou desirest to receive just praise.


When tidings reached the highways and bázars:--
"Khusrau Parwiz was slaughtered thus," his foes
Went to the palace-prison of the sad,
Where fifteen of his noble sons were bound,
And slew them there, though innocent, what time
The fortune of the Sháh was overthrown.
Shirwi, the world-lord, dared say naught and hid
His grief though he wept sorely at the news,
And afterwards sent twenty of his guards
To keep his brothers' wives and children safe
Now that the Sháh had been thus done to death.


So passed that reign and mighty host away,
Its majesty, its manhood, and its sway
Such as no kings of kings possessed before,
Or heard of from the men renowned of yore.
It booteth nothing what the wise man saith
When once his head is in the dragon's breath.
Call this world "crocodile" for it doth gnaw
The prey that it hath taken with its claw.
The work of Sháh Khusrau Parwiz is done;
His famous hoards and throne and host are gone.
To put one's trust in this world is to be
In quest of dates upon a willow-tree.
Why err in such a fashion from the way
Alike by darksome night and shining day?
Whate'er thy gains let them suffice thee still
As thou art fain to save thy soul from ill,
And in thy day of strength hold thyself weak;
For kindly impulses and justice seek,
And be intent on good. For what is thine
To give or spend do as thou dost incline;
All else is pain and toil. How goodlier
Than we are friends whose faithfulness is clear!
Such faithfulness of friends is greatly dear.