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rious expeditions, he relates in person to the king, the total defeat of the army of Mazenderan; and in describing the agitation of the enemy before his rout, Sir William Jones has thus made him speak in Roman hexameters.
"Gens est dura, ferox; non aspera sævior errat
The first dynasty of the Persian monarchy does not yield materials for poetry in great abundance. It was too remote from the age of Ferdusi and his contemporaries, either to inspire the one or to interest the others. They would look back with greater delight to the victories gained in a later period of their history, over enemies whose national hostility was not then forgotten, than to the more marvellous conquests of their earliest kings, in which dæmons and giants were the vanquished. In the one case, they would, it is true, indulge that love of the wonderful which is natural to them; but, on the other hand, their personal antipathies and partialities would be excited, and
they would almost identify themselves with the actors in the scenes of the poet's description. So the heroes of Homer, the immediate predecessors of his first auditors, engaged their attention with infinitely greater force, as the victors in a contest which had engendered animosities that had scarcely then subsided, than if he had chosen as his subject the wars of the Titans, or the actions of the earlier heroic age.
The wars between Iran and Touran,' or Persia and Tartary, occupy the principal part of the reigns of the three first princes of the second or Caianian dynasty; and this part of the Shah-námeh has been pointed out by Sir William Jones, as constituting a poem truly epic in the unity of action. Its subject is the overthrow and death of Afrasiab, King of Tartary, who claimed, by force of arms, the throne of Persia, as the descendant of one of the former race of monarchs. was assisted in his invasion by the Chinese and Indian emperors; and, for the machinery of the poem, the demons, giants, and enchanters of Asia appear in subordinate characters on those scenes, which they had been before permitted, with less judgement, to fill as the principal actors. In this part of the Sháh-námeh, we first read of the deeds of Rustem, the Persian Hercules, who placed himself at the head of his country's forces, and, after a series of exploits, the narrative of which is diversified with continual episodes, defeated the confederate monarchs, with the dragons and other monsters who assisted them as allies, and completed his triumph by the expulsion and death of Afrasiab. Were this story detached from the whole poem, it would of itself form a regular epic, as long as the Iliad. It would open with an adventure of Rustem, in which he meets with and espouses a Tartar princess, who bears him a son, named Sohráb, who distinguished himself in the armies of Afrasiab, when that king invaded Persia, and, at last, fell the victim of his father's sword, Rustem being at the head of the Persians, and unknown to his son, before whose birth he had returned to his own country. This is precisely the portion of the work which Mr. Atkinson published with a translation and notes. It is an excellent text book for the young Persian scholar, in a convenient octavo form, and in the typographical execution of the original greatly superior to the specimens that usually issue from the Calcutta press. The translator, we should judge, has been resolved to avoid the dry heartless tone of Champion's version, and has fallen into a style quite as remote from that of his author, who is as remarkable for the energetic simplicity, as he is for the life and raciness of his composition. We here present our readers with an extract, which describes the death of Sohráb, and his recognition of his father. In the first encounter, Sohráb, after carefully inquiring
if his antagonist were Rustem, and hearing his disavowal of that name, was the conqueror, but spared the vanquished hero, on his assurance that such was the Persian custom on the first fall. They both retired from the field, and met the next day to decide the combat.
"Again they met. A glow of youthful grace
Again dismounting, each the other view'd
Thus, as my blood the shining steel pursues,
Thine too shall flow, for Destiny pursues ;
'How oft my heart has throbb'd with strong desire,
Atkinson's Sohráb, a Poem, &c.
The simplicity of Ferdusi's style is entirely lost in these pompous lines; but we have wished, by this and the former example from the rival translator, to let the reader judge for himself of the respective merits of these versions of the early part of the Shah-námeh. We will now proceed to lay before him a slight sketch, accompanied with extracts, of the remaining portion of this extraordinary poem, which have not hitherto been presented to the public. Let us begin with the conclusion of the story we have just quoted, which Mr. Atkinson has unaccountably omitted. After the death of Sohrab, and the due performance of the funeral rites by his afflicted father, the poet introduces the mother as lamenting, in passionate strains, over the untimely fate of her son, embracing his armour, and exhibiting all the signs of frantic grief. In the midst of this description, the translator's edition breaks off abruptly, possibly because he thought that a tragedy (and Sir William Jones, had planned a tragedy on this story) should conclude before the interest is gone by, and that the mother's despair made a good final scene. But Ferdusi, who was not writing a play, though there is great dramatic effect in this tale, thought otherwise, and brought it down to a regular conclusion. In the following passage, the history is taken up where Mr. Atkinson left off; and we may observe, from the mode in which this and other poems in the Shah-númeh begin and end, that the poet did not consider his work as an uninterrupted poem, which would deprive him of all right to be considered, according to the cri-" tics, as an epic poet, but as a series of poems on different events in the history of Persia.
"Then the fond mother, shunning light and air,
In secret wept, and tore her golden hair;
Fled the dear scenes where Sohrab's youth had past,
A year she mourn'd; then, swift as wishes spring,
But know, whatever good or ill betides,
The rolling wheel of Fate, 'tis God who guides;
Here cease my song!-but first, the prophet's name
These lines are an instance of that perpetual disposition to moralize, which is a characteristic of the oriental poets, and which would lead us to suppose the eastern nations to be remarkable for their strict attention to morality, if we did not know their failing in this respect, from other and more certain Sources. The death of Sohráb, by the hands of his father, forms the most interesting episode in the poem, but there is, as in the Iliad, a continual variety of adventures attributed, by turns, to the several heroes of the wars between the Tartars and Persians. One of these heroes is Pajan, who has been called the Paris of Ferdusi. In one of his excursions on the borders of the hostile territory, he espied, at a distance, Manizheh, the daughter of Afrasiab, whose beauty tempted him to brave all dangers, and possess himself of so lovely an object. He had, however, reason to repent of the adventure, for he was made prisoner by the Turks, and confined in a dismal prison, till released by the valour of Rustem. His first view of the damsel, who caused him to suffer this perilous. misfortune, is described with all the enthusiasm of a youthful lover, in his address to the companions of his excursion, when they come in sight of the spot where the princess sported in the midst of her attendant maidens.
"See, where yon plain, in various colours bright,
In waves of silk the glossy corn-fields flow,
The rose breathes incense through her native bower;
VOL. IV. PART II.