Page:The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night - Volume 3.djvu/35

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O my lord! verily the bath is the Paradise [1] of this world." Replied the Overseer, "Allah vouchsafe to thee such Paradise, and health to thy sons and guard them from the evil eye! Do ye remember aught that the eloquent have said in praise of the bath.?" Quoth Taj al-Muluk, "I will repeat for thee a pair of couplets;" and he recited,

The life of the bath is the joy of man's life, [2] * Save that time is short for us there to bide: A Heaven where irksome it were to stay; * A Hell, delightful at entering-tide.”

When he ended his recital, quoth Aziz, "And I also remember two couplets in praise of the bath." The Overseer said, "Let me hear them," so he repeated the following,

"A house where flowers from stones of granite grow, * Seen at its best when hot with living lows: Thou deem'st it Hell but here, forsooth, is Heaven, * And some like suns and moons within it show."

And when he had ended his recital, his verses pleased the Overseer and he wondered at his words and savoured their grace and fecundity and said to them, "By Allah, ye possess both beauty and eloquence. But now listen to me, you twain!" And he began chanting, and recited in song the following verses,

"O joy of Hell and Heaven! whose tormentry * Enquickens frame and soul with lively gree: I marvel so delightsome house to view, * And most when 'neath it kindled fires I see: Sojourn of bliss to visitors, withal * Pools on them pour down tears unceasingly."

  1. Jannat al-Na'ím (Garden of Delight); the fifth of the seven Paradises made of white diamond; the gardens and the plurality being borrowed from the Talmud. Mohammed's Paradise, by the by, is not a greater failure than Dante's. Only ignorance or pious fraud asserts it to be wholly sensual; and a single verse is sufficient refutation: "Their prayer therein shall be 'Praise unto thee, O. Allah!' and their salutation therein shall be 'Peace!' and the end of their prayer shall be, 'Praise unto God, the Lord of all creatures"' (Koran x. 10-11). See also lvi. 24-26. It will also be an intellectual condition wherein knowledge will greatly be increased (lxxxviii viii. 17-20). Moreover the Moslems, far more logical than Christians, admit into Paradise the so-called "lower animals."
  2. Sed vitam faciunt balnea, vine, Venus! The Hammam to Easterns is a luxury as well as a necessity; men sit there for hours talking chiefly of money and their prowess with the fair; and women pass half the day in it complaining of their husbands' over-amativeness and contrasting their own chaste and modest aversion to camel congress.