The First Era of Āb-e ḥayāt


#81# It's the first New Year's Day of the world of Urdu poetry. The soul of the speaking spirit--that is, poetry--had come into existence, but it lay sleeping the sleep of a child. Valī came and began to recite ghazals in such a sweet, sweet voice that the child stretched and turned over. And the effect, like a streak of lightning, suddenly ran through every heart. In every house there is talk of poetry. Whatever nobles, whatever aristocrats you see--they sit cudgelling their brains over their verses. As for the words of these elders, you can hear them in their verses. But I'm perplexed: how can I show you their faces? First of all, it's difficult to draw pictures in words. And on top of that, I am crippled in my language. Where can I find the words with which to show you living, lively, speaking, moving pictures of these people, such that Respect cannot even lift its eyes to their dignity, and Love cannot tear its eyes away from their precious forms? Look--the gathering of the mushairah is adorned with nobles and aristocrats. Sober elders and young men sit side by side dressed in long robes and heavy turbans. Someone has only a dagger, someone else has strapped on a sword. Some are so elderly that white beards have made their old age radiant. Some, in their youthfulness, have happened to bid farewell to their beards--now how should they wear beards, for the law of *consistency of style would be broken! Moreover, they are so lively and cheerful that today the gaiety of the elders puts the youthfulness of the young men to shame. Their humor has no other goal except that they should laugh at themselves and give pleasure to others.

In this era Valī is the candle of the gathering, and those present, from Delhi and the Deccan, are nobles and #82# well-born, eloquent speakers of the language. Whatever they see, they see in the light of this language. We should consider their language to be one and the same. But Valī has not made as much use in his poetry of punning and words of double meaning. God knows how the gentlemen of the next generation acquired such a passion for it! Perhaps the style of the dohrā, which was the wild native foliage of the language of India, gave them its color. Although after Valī, hundreds of poetically inclined people in Delhi prepared themselves to produce volumes, I bring into this mushairah some of the elders on whose names the royal canopy of ustad-ship cast its shade in the encounters of that time, and probably this much will be enough of an example of that language, to show the style of the verses. In the poetry of these elders there's no *ostentation. Whatever they see before their eyes, and whatever thoughts it evokes in their hearts, they let fall from their lips. They do not utter convoluted thoughts, farfetched similes, subtle metaphors. Thus their verses too are straightforward and unostentatious. And this proves that every language and its poetry, as long as it is in its childhood, is free of ostentation, widely understandable, and often expressive of the poets' own situations. This causes it to give pleasure. There is no doubt that its idioms are archaic, and its themes too will often be light and commonplace. But the poetry's simplicity and unostentatiousness attract the heart like a God-given beauty: its natural excellence does the work of thousands of adornments. I don't say this myself--I heed the words of the philosophers of the past: that everything contains, in its own various moods, a world of beauty and ugliness. Thus he alone is fully human who can relish the mood of any guise in which beauty shows its youthful vigor, and whois not driven to distraction only by the curls and cheeks of beautiful ones. He cannot be called a good observer who wanders around like a madman only for the sake of the rose and the garden. No! If a blade of grass, or even a well-shaped thorn, should seem attractive, he can be as much ravished by its prickly tip as by a flower.


#83# When this Adam of the race of Urdu poetry came from the Land of Nonexistence [ʿadam], the crown of primacy was placed on his head. The idiom of the time used its jewels to create this crown, and used the fashionable handicraft of themes to enamel it. When he arrived in the realm of Existence, his throne was set up at the head of the mushairah. The hall of his everlasting reputation, which was created by widespread fame--just look at its height and strength! And read the inscriptions that Fame has written on it. The world has moved on for a distance of three hundred years. But to this day these words are still before us, and can clearly be read. Until that time, there were individual verses in Urdu; Valīullāh's auspicious influence bestowed such strength that today the poetry of India is not one step behind Persian poetry. He brought all the meters of Persian into Urdu. He adorned verse with the ghazal, and the ghazal with rhyme and refrain. He arranged his volume according to the refrain. Along with this, he opened a road for the *quatrain, the *verse-set, the *quintain, and the masnavi as well. In the poetry of India, he holds the same rank that in English poetry is held by Chaucer,a and in Persian by Rūdakī,b and in Arabic by Muhalhil. He was not anyone's pupil. And this proves what eloquent ones among the Arabs say: 'Poets are the pupils of God'. To the same effect a European scholar says that a poet is born bringing his poetry with him.

At such a time our language was, in its expressive power, a child toddling along, who couldn't walk without the support of someone's finger--and whatever steps forward the child took, she took them only through Valī's nurture. At that time the Urdu language was capable of nothing except Hindi dohrās and themes from Bhasha. He introduced into it Persian constructions and Persian themes as well. Valī was a resident of Ahmedabad, Gujarat,c and came from Shāh Vajīh ud-Dīn's famous #84# family. The darkness of our ignorance obscures the level of his learning. Because the education given in families in that period, together with the society of the elders, exerted a certain active effect, so that even a little ability to read and write was sufficient to conceal a lack of learning. Thus from his verses it would appear that he was not acquainted with the rules of prosody or the Arabic language. Nevertheless, his poetry says that his command of Persian was satisfactory. What better proof can there be of his literary style and his poetry, than that he joined one language to the other so seamlessly that by now the times have made a number of drastic changes, but his joining has never been shaken. In learning he had not reached the most accomplished level, but he says,

/Not one heart is devoid [ḳhālī] of desire,

It's proper to say that a vacuum [ḳhalā] is impossible/.

This [Arabic wordplay] is the auspicious effect of a passion for browsing through books, and of the company of the learned. It seems that there was arrogance too in Valī's temperament; for although he did not, as Saudā did, grapple with anyone, he made sneering remarks about his contemporaries, as is clear from the affair of Nāṣir ʿAlī Sarhindī [described below].

Although the primary element of Asian poets is romantic themes, the kind of license that showed a licentious morality was not in evidence in Valī's poetry. On the contrary, in fact: virtue and dignity were his natural qualities. He seems also to have had a store of travel and experience: in a time when even a short trip was reckoned as a major journey, he left his native place and came, along with Abuʾl Maʿālī, to Delhi. Here he became the disciple of Shāh Saʿdullāh 'Gulshan'.d Perhaps he also may have received correction from him in verse. But it was certainly at his instigation that Valī arranged his volumee in the Persian style. His volume is a speaking picture of the mushairahs of that era. Because if today we want to inquire about the state of the nobles' and aristocrats' language at that time, then except for Valī's volume, #85# no one can tell us about it. From his volume we can very well extract the differences between the language of that day and of today: [chart of 24 small spelling and vocabulary changes; list of three sets of rhyme-words that would no longer be permissible]. (Many of the ghazals have no refrain.) Since the spirit of Persian poetry had at just that time entered the body of Urdu, Persian constructions were used together with Indic words, and [the Persian] bar and var, in fact in some places even Persian verbs, vex the mouth. Valī himself was from the Deccan; therefore in his poetry here and there some Dakani words appear as well.

Today, hearing the language of that time, many of our contemporaries laugh. But this is no occasion #86# for laughter. In this event-filled world just such change has always taken place, and just such change will keep on taking place. Today you might laugh at their language; tomorrow people will come who will laugh at your language. If the members of this heedless gathering give far-seeing Wisdom charge of the gathering for a little while, it's time to plan how we today can make our poetry such that our generation's language will remain widely accepted for some additional time. Although what lies ahead of us is shrouded in darkness, we ought to turn around and look at what lies behind us, and reflect: to the extent that the language has made progress, on what principles and in what respect has it taken its forward steps? Come, let's reflect on today's doings and the future prospects, and step forward in the same style. Perhaps some years can be added to the lifespan of our poetry.

In the volume of the poet of Nature each theme is newer than the next, but this pleasantry is not the least in newness: that the lamp of poetry should be lit in the Deccan, and its stars should rise on the horizon of Delhi. When I reflect on the condition of that epoch and the language of Bhasha, I keep wondering: how did this man of accomplishment [Valī] come to give an example of a new creation in the language of Urdu and the literature of India, and to trace out the contours of a new road for those who followed him? Did he know that the road would be smooth, shops would be built along it, there would be lantern-light, polished shopkeepers would deal in jewels, and it would be given the title of honor Urdū-e Muʿallā? The unfortunate thing is that the historians of our language and the writers of our anthologies of poets have devoted much labor and perspiration to showing Valī to be a saint [valī] who had attained God, but they have not recorded the kind of circumstances from which his individual qualities could be determined--for example, his worldliness or withdrawnness, his settling down or wandering, his ups and downs through the stages of knowledge and action, or the various enjoyable moods of his social gatherings. Rather, on the contrary: they haven't even told the date of his birth and the year of his death. This much is established: that Valī's earliest period is perhaps the latter part of the reign of ʿĀlamgīr, and that he reached Delhi, together with his volume, in the third year of the reign of Muḥammad Shāh.

#87# As a rule, when people have plenty of wealth, and in the midst of luxury and enjoyment their thoughts are drawn somewhat toward virtue, these thoughts are expressed in Sufi dress. At that time the reign of Muḥammad Shāh had intoxicated even the doors and walls with wealth, so that thoughts of Sufism were becoming common. Second, Valī himself was from a noble family of faqirs, and was accustomed to keep company only with faqirs. Third, the parents of the Urdu language--that is, Bhasha and Persian--are Sufis too. These feelings led him into poetic Sufism. And the eagerness of his heart inspired him to seek the honor of moving forward to do something that had never, from ancestral times until then, occurred to anyone. Which was this: to match Persian stride for stride, and compose a whole volume [in Urdu]. His pir's instigation confirms this.

In short, when his volume arrived in Delhi, Eagerness took it with the hands of respect, and Judgment regarded it with the eyes of attention; Pleasure read it aloud. The song disappeared. The qawwals, in mystical gatherings, began to sing and play his ghazals alone. Singers and musicians began to recite them to their patrons. Those who were capable of composition grew eager to produce a volume.

Although it's an occasion for the greatest rejoicing that the high essence of humanity [i.e. Sufism], wearing attractive attire, came into our language, it's a pity that it fell short of any benefit to the country. And the reason was that it didn't come by any intellectual or prescriptive road. On the contrary: it blew in on the breezes of faqir-like enthusiasm or merrymaking. If only it had come in the style of the Shāh nāmah, and spilled the blood of the pleasure-worshipers and pleasure-worship of the court of Muḥammad Shāh, and returned the people of the land to the fields of Timur and Bābur, or with its culture and sophistication brought back to life the time of Akbar!

Although his language has now been entirely given up, his volume is still available everywhere, and still sells--to the point that it has been printed in Paris and London. In addition to ghazals arranged by refrain, it contains: quatrains; verse-sets; two or three quintains; odes; and one short masnavi describing the encounter at Karbala, and another depicting the city of Sūrat. At that time the *lover's complaint did not exist. He left this proud invention #88# to Mīr Sahib. Nor is there any praise of any king or noble. Perhaps, like Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard, he considered writing praise to be a fault. But sometimes, like Ḳhvājah Ḥāfiz̤, he gave his verses glory and majesty with the name of the king of the age. Thus, among the compositions he wrote in Delhi is one ghazal in which he says,

/Delhi has stolen Valī's heart away,

Someone go and tell Muḥammad Shāh/.

He also wrote a pamphlet, Nūr ul-maʿrifat, on a subject related to Sufism. In it he says, 'I am the dust of the feet of the disciples of Muḥammad Nūr ud-Dīn Ṣiddīqī Suhravardī, and a pupil of Shāh Saʿdullāh Gulshan'. But he has not recorded in which activity [i.e., poetry or Sufism] he was a pupil.

An anecdote: In the heat of composing in Rekhtah, Valī addressed this verse to Nāṣir ʿAlī Sarhindī, who used the pen-name of ʿAlī:

/It will leap and strike him like a line of lightning

If I write an opening verse to Nāṣir ʿAlī/.

Nāṣir ʿAlī wrote in reply,

/Even if he flies with the power of poetry

Valī will absolutely never reach ʿAlī1/.f

Now I must certainly show, from his poetry, examples of the language of that time. But the custom of our anthology-writers is that when they write about a poet, they record *selections from his verses. And obviously 'the generous inspiration given by poetry to writers is not entirely wasted'. Some of Naz̤īr's verses rival those of Mīr. Thus if when someone discusses Naz̤īr he quotes some selected verses of his, what other idea can the uninformed person acquire, but that Naz̤īr is a poet equal to Mīr? The major evil of this is that years upon years separate us from Valī, so that it becomes difficult for these verses to reveal the state of his true abilities and poetic temperament. I will, with a sincere heart, write down some whole, complete ghazals from his volume, so that the truth about him will become clear. But indeed, if someone's #89# whole ghazals aren't available, then there's no choice. [Ghazals and verses #90# #91# by Valī are presented.]


With the pen-name of Ābrū, and known as Shāh Mubārak, he had the real name of Najm ud-Dīn. He was among the descendants of Shāh Muḥammad Ġhauṡ Gvāliyārī. Although he was a veteran poet, and long-practiced, he used to show his poetry [for correction] to Ḳhān-e 'Ārzū'. Just look at how fair-minded the people of that time were, and what seekers of accomplishment! Shāh Ābrū was counted in his time among the established poets of the language of Rekhtah, and a master of invention in Urdu poetry. That was a time when people used iḳhlāṣ and vasvās, and dhaṛ and sar, together as rhymes, and did not consider it a fault. The refrain was not considered necessary. Indeed, the foundation of poetry rested on punning and on words of double meaning. And the idiom was absolutely never allowed to slip out of one's hands. Shāh Ābrū was blind in one eye. He and Mirzā Jān-e Jānāñ Maz̤har used often to look askance at each other. In fact during their exchanges they even referred to eyes: #92# [one verse by each]. Shāh Kamāl Buḳhārī was a very venerable personage in that day. His son was Pīr Makkhan, and used the pen-name Pākbāz. Shāh Mubārak was very fond of him; thus in his verses he often used to include his name, or some reference to him. Look what a delightful *name-pun he has made: /The world is all whey, and Muḥammad [is] butter [Muḥammad Makkhan]/.

His scholarly attainments are not known. From his poetry it can be deduced that he knew Arabic usage and grammar, and was not unaware of scholarly subtleties. [One verse by Pākbāz, with brief comments, is followed by ghazals and verses #93# #94# #95# by Ābrū.]


#96# His pen-name was Maẓmūn, his name Shaiḳh Sharaf ud-Dīn; he was descended from Shaiḳh Farīd ud-Dīn Shakar Ganj. His original home was in Jājmo, Akbarabad [=Agra]; he came and settled in Delhi. His original profession was soldiery. With the ruin of the [Muġhal] empire, he laid down his arms and contented himself with picking up themes [maẓmūn], and he sat himself down in the Zīnat ul-Masājid [Mosque] in such a way that he rose only when he died. In this [civilian] state too, he was a good-tempered, well-mannered, sociable man. He was numbered among the ustads of the first era, and his own style was theirs--because this style was popular, and great and small all liked it.

How fair-minded and informal the people of that time were! Although Maẓmūn was of mature years, and was older than Ḳhān-e Ārzū, he showed his ghazals to him and received correction from him. Sinus problems had caused him to lose his teeth; thus Ḳhān-e Ārzū called him 'the toothless poet'.

Maẓmūn lived until Mirzā Rafīʿ's time. Thus when Maẓmūn died, Mirzā [Rafīʿ] composed a ghazal of which I record the opening verse and the concluding verse:

/The cupbearer has gone, taking the wine; let my cup too be full

Oh God, how can I look on the wine-house with these eyes?/

/Friends, the basis for composing good ghazals is gone--

Maẓmūn has left the world; there remains Saudā, and he's drunk/.

And from this we can know what effect the accomplishment of this accomplished master had on the heart of his age.

Alas, Delhi--may God grant you a place in Paradise! What people arose from your dust, and then returned to it! The late Ustad said one day that in Shaiḳh Maẓmūn's time, some noble came home to the palace, and lay down on a couch. An old female servant had recently been hired. She prepared the huqqah and placed it before him. At that time this verse of Mazmūn's was on the Navab Sahib's lips:

/What have I not done in your love, beloved--

I have shown the patience of Job, and wept like Jacob/.

#97# When she heard this, the servant said, 'May God keep us! On this house itself the 'time of the Prophets' has fallen--what will happen to the poor servants? Come on, let's get away from here!'g

[One Persian verse by Muḳhliṣ Kāshī is followed by six verses of Maẓmūn's.]


His pen-name was Nājī, his name was Sayyid Muḥammad Shākir. As a noble and a Sayyid, he was renowned in his day for his accomplishment in poetry. Poets have accepted him as a pillar of the first rank. #98# He was the supervisor of the household of ʿUmdat ul-Mulk Amīr Ḳhān, who was a prominent member of the court of Muḥammad Shāh. Shāh Mubārak 'Ābrū', while he has praised his poetry, has also hinted at this fact:

/Ābrū, today among the poets

There is no one so sweet-tongued as Shākir/.

But he was very quick-witted and mischievous. He used to bandy words with any passing stranger; and once he pounced on someone, it became difficult for that person to escape. [Ghazals and verses #99# #100# by Nājī are recorded.]

He himself was present at the attack by Nādir and the destruction of the army [of Muḥammad Shāh]. He depicted in a long quintain the atmosphere of the court of Delhi at that time: the wretchedness of the nobles, the flourishing condition of scoundrels, and also the indolence and selfish pleasure-seeking of the Indians. It's a pity that at this time I could lay my hands on only two *stanzas of it:

/They hadn't fought for twenty years,

They lived only through their nurses' prayers,

They brewed strong wines at home, and drank with enjoyment.

In ornament and decoration, apparently they were tigers,

With rich collars around their necks, golden armlets on their arms/

/I fortunately escaped death; otherwise, my doom was sure

For on the flag-bearing elephant, I was a target.

I found no water to drink, there was no food there,

When I searched the whole camp, I only found unhusked rice--

Neither pot, nor kitchen, nor shop, nor provisions and merchants/.


Aḥsan was his pen-name, Muḥammad Aḥsan his name. He too is a contemporary of these people, and speaks the same language. Thus I record one ghazal and two verses of his that have come to hand: [ghazal and verses #101# by Aḥsan].


His pen-name was Yakrang, his name Ġhulām Muṣt̤afā Ḳhān. In the old anthologies he is recorded among the poets of the first generation. But these people were fair-minded, and understood very well the beauty and ugliness of each thing. Therefore, despite how senior and long-practiced he was, in the latter part of his life he used to show his poetry [for correction] to Mirzā Jān-e Jānāñ 'Maz̤har'. But from the poetry of his that is before me, or that I've heard from my elders or seen in anthologies, he was very expert. And in his time, everyone considered him creative and accomplished. And the fine thing is that in the world of affection too he was constant [yakrang] and unique [yaktā]. [Eight verses #102# by Yakrang are presented.] Mirzā Jān-e Jānāñ's being his ustad, and his pupilship, are hinted at:

/The one whose grief of heart has some emotional effect

Even if he is young, he is my elder [pīr]/

/They fit nicely into the ears of beautiful ones--

It's as if the words of Yakrang are pearls/

/Don't consider him, my friend, to be like others--

Muṣt̤afā Ḳhān is a yakrang [= unique; or steadfast] lover/

/In your absence, oh sandalwood-colored one,

To me, this life is a headache/.2

Hearing these things, God knows what the people of our refined age will say. Some won't even care. And some will call [such wordplay] nonsense and close the book. But don't you consider these things vulgarly amusing. Close your eyes for just a moment, and open the eyes of your imagination. Look--those elders of the time of Muḥammad Shāh are seated, wearing court dress. And despite this seriousness and propriety, they are smiling and reciting verses to each other and enjoying themselves. Will love for those radiant faces not enter your heart, and will the emotional effect of their poetry allow you to remain seated? Will the enthusiasm of love not kiss their hands? [Mīr 'Soz':]

/Those faces--oh God, in what land do they dwell

Those whom now the eyes long ardently, vainly, to see?/

My friends, it is worth reflecting that the situation their poetry is in before you is the same as your poetry is destined to be in tomorrow before others. If a thing is widely accepted at one time, there's no certainty that it will be so at another time as well. Just think: if we today should go with our style and dress into the gatherings of these elders, and read our poetry, then what would those serious and revered people say? They would look at each other and smile, as if they considered us mean and shallow. If anything displeased those elders, only this much of a sign was sufficient. In order to show the accuracy of this opinion, and the style and dress of that age, I copy a passage from Daryā-e lat̤āfat. Sayyid Inshā-jī, whose every word is full of wit, records the conversation of an elderly Mīr Sahib of his time with a courtesan. They both live in Delhi, #103# and are talking in Lucknow. [A brief speech of welcome from the courtesan is quoted.]

Now the way Sayyid Inshā portrays the Mīr Sahib, first take a look at it. And just keep in mind too that this was an ancient of advanced years. He was a lively, colorful individual, not really a grave, God-fearing, pious person. Despite this, what opinions he had about new styles and habits, and new manners and modes of speech! [A brief Persian account of the Mīr Sahib's appearance and attire is quoted, followed by:]

Ajī Bī Nūran! What are you saying! You are the comfort of my life. But what can I say--ever since I left Delhi, my heart has been a bit downcast. And when you speak of reciting verses--there's no pleasure even in this any more, that you should make me recite. In Rekhtah the ustad was Shāh Valī, the favor of Shāh Gulshan Sahib #104# was on him. Then Miyāñ Ābrū and Miyāñ Nājī and Miyāñ Ḥātim. Then, best of all, Mirzā Rafīʿ us-Saudā. And Mīr Taqī Sahib, then Hazrat Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard Sahib, may God make his grave cool, who was my ustad too. All those people are now done for, and even those who could properly appreciate them have one foot in the grave. Now there are these Lucknow types--their poets are just like their rogues! And such is the state of affairs even in Delhi. 'Lineage and upbringing will tell.' Fie upon it! What kind of a great poet is this Miyāñ Jurʾat? If you ask me, when did your Rāʾe Mān become a poet, and what has Raẓā Bahādur composed? And the other is Miyāñ Muṣḥafī, who is absolutely illiterate. If you ask him just to analyze [a basic Arabic sentence], he brings his pupils along and comes to fight with you. And look at Miyāñ Ḥasrat. He's given up his distillations of aniseed and pomegranate sherbet [used by pharmacists] and entered the realm of poetry! And poor Mīr Inshāʾallāh Ḳhān, the son of Mīr Māshāʾallāh Ḳhān, used to be a Parizad--I too used to go to stare at him. Now lately he's gone and turned into a poet, and criticizes the colloquial speech of Mirzā Maz̤har Jān-e Jānāñ Sahib! And most of all, let me tell you one more: Saʿādat Yār T̤ahmāsp's son considers himself the Anvarī of Rekhtah. His pen-name is Rangīn. He's composed a qiṣṣah. He's called that masnavi Dilpażīr, and in it he has used the language of whores. He is dying of love for Mīr Ḥasan. Although the late Mīr Ḥasan didn't know what he was doing either--he didn't really compose the masnavi of Badr-e Munīr, it's as if he was just selling aphrodisiac snake-oil. Why, how could you call that poetry! All the people of Delhi and Lucknow, whether women or men, recite:

/She went tripping away from there, lifting the hem of her skirt,

Causing her ankle-bracelets to tinkle together/.

So this wretched Rangīn too has composed a qiṣṣah of this type. Someone should ask him, 'Brother, granted that your father was a troop-commander. But the poor man knew how to wave a spear and brandish a sword. Where did you get the ability to compose poetry?' And because he consorted with prostitutes, there was a great deal of rakishness in Rangīn's character--so that he abandoned Rekhtah itself, and invented reḳhtī! So good men's daughters and daughters-in-law would read it and grow impassioned, and he could disgrace himself with them. Why, what is this poetry?

/Please just find out, for Rangīn's house,

How many pennies it would cost from here in a palanquin/

#105# Although he is a man, he says, 'May it not happen that wretched [feminine] I would be abused!' And he's composed a book in which he has written down the language of women--in which are terms like ūpar vāliyāñ, chīleñ, ūpar vālā chand, ujlī dhobin, and so on.

Think of those venerable elders--they used to say all this and more about Muṣḥafī, and Sayyid Inshā, and Jurʾat. And how can we ourselves award to our speech, and our creativity, and our inventions, the certificate [sarṭīfikiṭ] of perpetual popularity, and be so proud of it? The new people who will come after us--God knows how many faults they will find in it! Well, this has always happened in every time, and the same thing will go on happening.


The first era is broken up. We ought to see off these gracious presiding figures with thanks, for as they rise to depart they leave places vacant for other gracious participants. They were the establishers of invention, and the masters of correction. Whatever they did in the speech of the land, they did well. Whatever tasks remained, they left for those with subtle discrimination. Every house usually looks topsy-turvy after a gathering, but they left the house decorated in such a way that those coming after them would have to think hard to create adornments and decorations. Now is not the time for further conversation--for the adorners of the second era have arrived.

a Chaucer was born in A.D. 1328 and died in A.D. 1400. Here, that was the time of the Tuġhluq dynasty.

b Rūdakī is the first Persian poet. He lived between the third and fourth centuries A.H., and at the court of the Samanid kings he used to receive extraordinary rewards through their appreciation.

c See the anthology of Ḥakīm Qudratullāh Ḳhān 'Qāsim'. But it is surprising that Mīr Taqī, in his anthology, has written 'Aurangabad'.

d Shaiḳh Saʿdullāh Gulshan was among the good poets, and was a contemporary of Mirzā Bedil. Two Persian verses of his are a memorial to him: [two verses].

e See the anthology of Fāʾiq, which is specifically concerned with the poets of the Deccan and was written there.

1 Theologically, a mere saint [valī] could never attain the level of ʿAlī, to whom all Sufi gnosis is ascribed.

f See the anthology of Fāʾiq. But the verse is also contained in the volume of ʿAzīz Dakanī. Perhaps ʿAzīz Dakanī didn't like Valī's sneering remark, and so in answer he composed this. It became famous among the people under the name of Nāṣir ʿAlī.

g In Delhi the poor faqirs used to solicit people, 'I have a family--I'm poor--the time of the Prophets has fallen upon me--for God's sake, give me something!'. This originated because the person on whom great difficulties fall becomes dearer to God. Because prophets are dearest to God, more difficulties fall on them. The difficulties that fell on the Prophets have fallen on nobody else. Gradually 'the time of the Prophets' and 'the difficulties of the Prophets' came to mean great difficulties. Just look--such things were so common in those days that old women and female servants used to derive subtleties and delicate pleasantries. Now--there's nobody left but God.

2 A paste made of sandalwood was often used to soothe a headache.