Posts tagged ‘dispute between day and night’

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dispute Between Day and Night by Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi

Day and Night, who each can yield
Joy and solace to the earth,
Thus contended for the field,
Claiming both the highest birth—
Night spoke frowningly: ”Twas I
Who from all eternity
Ruled the chaos of the world,
When in dim confusion hurled.
The fervent prayer is heard at night;
Devotion flies day’s glaring light.
Twas night, the Mount when Moses left;
At night was Lot avenged by fire:
At night the moon our prophet cleft,
And saw Heaven’s might revealed entire.
The lovely moon for thirty days
Spreads radiant glory from afar:
Her charms for ever night displays,
Crowned, like a queen, with many a star:
Her seal-bearer is Heav’n, a band
Of planets wait on her command.
Day can but paint the skies with blue,
Night’s starry hosts amaze the view.
Man measures time but by the moon;
Night shrouds what day reveals too soon.
Day is with toil and care oppressed,
Night comes, and with her, gentle rest.
Day, busy still, no praise can bring,
All night the saints their anthems sing;
Her shade is cast by Gabriel’s wing!

The moon is pure, the sun’s broad face
Dark and unsightly spots deface:
The sun shines on with changeless glare,
The moon is ever new and fair.’

Day rose, and smiled in high disdain:
‘Cease all this boasting, void and vain;
The Lord of heaven, and earth, and thee,
Gave me a place more proud than thine,
And men with joy my rising see,
And hail the beams that round me shine.
The holy pilgrim takes by day
To many a sacred shrine his way;
By day the pious fast and pray;
And solemn feasts are held by day.

On the last day the world’s career is run,
As on the first its being was begun.

Thou, Night, art friendly, it may be,
For lovers fly for help to thee.
When do the sick thy healing see?

Thieves, by thy aid, may scatheless prowl;
Sacred to thee the bat and owl;
And, led by thee, pale spectres grimly howl!

I sprang from heaven, from dust art thou;
Light crowns my head with many a gem,
The collier’s cap is on thy brow—
For thee a fitting diadem.
My presence fills the world with joy;
Thou com’st all comfort to annoy.
I am a Moslem white my vest:
Thou a vile thief, in sable drest
Out, negro-face ! dar’st thou compare
Thy cheeks with mine, so purely fair?
Those ” hosts of stars,” thy boast and pride,
How do they rush their sparks to hide,
How to their native darkness run,
When, in his glory, comes the sun!

True, death was first; but, tell me, who
Thinks life least worthy of the two?
‘Tis by the moon the Arab counts;
The lordly Persian tells his year
By the bright sun, that proudly mounts
The yielding heavens, so wide and clear.
The sun is ruddy, strong, and hale;
The moon is sickly, wan, and pale.
Methinks ’twas ne’er in story told
That silver had the worth of gold!
The moon, a slave, is bowed and bent,
She knows her light is only lent;
She hurries on, the way to clear
Till the great Shah himself appear

What canst thou, idle boaster, say
To prove the night excels the day?
If stubborn still, let Him decide
With whom all truth and law abide;
Let Nasur Ahmed, wise as great,
Pronounce, and give to each his state.’

From: Costello, Louisa Stuart, The Rose Garden of Persia, 1899, Gibbings and Company, London, pp. 48-53.
(https://archive.org/details/rosegardenofpers00costiala)

Date: c1070 (original in Persian); 1845 (translation in English)

By: Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi (c1000-c1080)

Translated by: Louisa Stuart Costello (1779-1870)