Thursday, February 18, 2010

King Sindbad

The story below is from night 4 of 'Tales of the Arabian Nights vol 1' the new translation by Malcolm Lyon.


The story of King Sindbad and his falcon

You must know that there was a Persian king with a passion for enjoyment and amusement, who had a fondness for hunting. He had reared a falcon which was his constant companion by night and by day, and which would spend the night perched on his wrist. He would take it hunting with him and he had a golden bowl made for it which he hung round its neck and from which it could drink. One day the chief falconer came to where he was sitting and told him that it was time to go out hunting. The king gave the orders and went off with the falcon on his wrist until he and the party reached a wadi, where they spread out their hunting cordon. Trapped in this was a gazelle and the king threatened that anyone who allowed it to leap over his head would be put to death. When the cordon was narrowed, the gazelle came to where the king was posted, supported itself on its hindlegs and placed its forelegs on its chest as though it was kissing the ground before him. He bent his head towards it and it then jumped over him, making for the open country. He noticed that his men were looking at him and winking at each other and when he asked his vizier what this meant, the man explained: ‘They are pointing out that you said that if anyone let the gazelle jump over his head, he would be killed.’

The king then swore that he would hunt it down and he rode off in pursuit, following the gazelle until he came to a mountain. There it was about to pass through a cleft when the king loosed his falcon at it and the bird clawed at its eyes, blinding and dazing it, so that the king could draw his mace and knock it over with a single blow. He then dismounted and cut its throat, after which he skinned it and tied it to his saddlebow. As this was in the noonday heat and the region was desolate and waterless, both the king and his horse were thirsty by now. The king scouted round and discovered a tree from which what looked like liquid butter was dripping. Wearing a pair of kid gloves, he took the bowl from the falcon’s neck, filled it with this liquid and set it in front of the bird, but it knocked the bowl and overturned it. The king took it and filled it again, thinking that the falcon must be thirsty, but the same thing happened when he put it down a second time. This annoyed him and he went a third time to fill the bowl and take it to his horse, but this time the falcon upset it with his wing. The king cursed at it, exclaiming: ‘You unluckiest of birds, you have stopped me drinking, and have stopped yourself and the horse.’ He then struck off its wing with a blow from his sword, but the bird raised its head as though to say by its gesture: ‘Look at the top of the tree.’ The king raised his eyes and what he saw there was a brood of vipers whose poison was dripping down. Immediately regretting what he had done, he mounted his horse and rode back to his pavilion, bringing with him the gazelle, which he handed to the cook, telling him to take it and roast it. As he sat on his chair with the falcon on his wrist, it drew its last breath and died, leaving its master to exclaim with sorrow for having killed it, when it had saved his life. So ends the story of King Sindbad.

1 comment:

Igneos said...

There is something deeper about this story, something about the way nature and man are related. We can't dominate nature. Nature always wins.