Ayaz, afflicted with the Evil Eye,
Fell ill. For safety he was forced to lie
Sequestered from the court, in loneliness.
The king (who loved him) heard of his distress
And called a servant. "Tell Ayaz." he said.
"What tears of sympathy I daily shed."
Tell him that I endure his suffering,
And hardly comprehend I am the king;
My soul is with him (though my body is here)
And guards his bed solicitous with fear;
Ayaz, what could this Evil Eye not do,
If it destroys such loveliness as you!"
The king was silent; then again he spoke:
"Go quickly as a fire, return like smoke;
Stop nowhere, but outrun the brilliant flash
That lights the world before the thunder's crash.
Go now; if you so much as pause for breath
My anger will pursue you after death."
The servant scuttled off, consumed with dread,
And like the wind arrived at Ayaz' bed -
There sat his sovereign, by the patient's head!
Aghast, the servant trembled for his life
And pictured in his mind the blood-smeared knife.
"My king," he said, "I swear, I swear indeed.
That I have hurried her with utmost speed -
Although I see you here I cannot see
How in the world you have preceded me;
Believe my innocence, and if I lie
I am a heathen and deserve to die."
His sovereign answered him: "You could not know
The hidden ways by which we lovers go;
I cannot bear my life without his face,
And every minute I am in this place.
The passing world outside is unaware
Of mysteries Ayaz and Mahmoud share;
In public I ask after him, although
Behind the veil of secrecy I know
Whatever news my messengers could give;
I hide my secret and in secret live".
Conference of the Birds - Farid Aldin Attar