three pairs of lovers with space

THE TALE OF KAMAR AL-ZAMĀN AND PRINCESS BUDŪR

 

The Tale of Kamar al-Zamān and Princess Budūr is one of the stories told by Shahrazād to entertain King Shahryār in the mediaeval Arabic The Thousand Nights and One Night. Though it is not a boy-love story, it is rich in allusions to Greek love and thus informative about mediaeval Near Eastern attitudes to it.

The text presented here is mostly from Powys Mathers’ celebrated translation of Mardrus’s translation into French.[1] However, some verses and a long continuation of the story were omitted by Mathers. Where these are of Greek love interest, they have been supplied from the translation by Malcolm Lyons.[2] One short poem also omitted by him, but included by Sir Richard Burton, an earlier translator of the same text, has been taken from Anthony Reid’s anthology of poetry, The Eternal Flame, volume I (Elmhust, New York, 1992).[3] Everything not from Mathers is in blue.

 

The Tale of Kamar al-Zamān and Princess Budūr

Shahrimān, the childless sultān of the Khālidān Islands on the borders of Persia, at last begat a son with the youngest of his women:

The child was so beautiful that his father marvelled and called his name Kamar al-Zamān, moon of the time. As a child he was the most beautiful of created things; as a youth it was easy to be seen that beauty had scattered all the flowers of the garden upon his fifteen years; as he grew older his perfection increased in degree, remaining the same in kind, so that his eyes had all the magic of the eyes of the angels Hārūt and Mārūt and the seduction of the eyes of Tāghūt; and his cheeks were more pleasant to the regard than Spring anemones. His waist was more pliant than a bamboo, finer than a silken thread; but you would have taken his croup for a mountain of moving sand; nightingales sang when they beheld it.

You must not be astonished, then, that his waist sometimes complained of the weight which went below it, and made mouths in its weariness at his behind.

Nevertheless his cheeks remained as fresh as the corol of roses, as pleasant as the evening breeze; so that all the poets of the time tried to paint his beauty. Here is one out of a thousand of the songs they sang:

     Across his cheek with trailing flowers
     The rose has written: “He is ours.”
     And the people cry: “Ah, ah!”

     Crisped on his forehead nobly pale,
     In each black tress the scorpion’s tail
     Has written: “If my venom fail …”
     And the people cry: “Ah, ah!”

     God wrote a new moon in the sky.
     His silver nail paring; but I
     (Who wait the full moon anxiously)
     And the people cry: “Ah, ah!”
[Mathers II 2-3]

Kamar al-Zamān having thus reached fifteen, his father wished him to marry, but the boy expressed great distaste for marriage, so his father waited a year during which his beauty only increased.  As a poet said of him:

      When he appeared, people said: ‘Blessed be God;
     Great is the Lord Who fashioned and formed him.
      He is the king of all the lovely ones,
     And they are all his subjects now.
     His saliva holds melted honey and his teeth form pearls.
     He is perfect and unique in loveliness,
     In which he leads all of mankind astray.
     Beauty has written on his cheek:
     “No one is beautiful but he.”
[Lyons, 171st night]
[4]

Maimunah sees the sleeping Kamar al-Zamān, by Albert Letchford, 1897

Kamar al-Zamān still refusing to marry when his father ordered him to after two years had passed, the latter had the now 17-year-old boy shut up in an old tower that turned out to be haunted by Jinn. There, as recounted on the 176th night, was discovered by an Ifrītah named Maimunah, who was “thunderstruck at his excess of beauty” …

In all her ages of existence she had never seen cheeks so delicately touched with red, eyelids with such long cool shadows, or such assembly of lights as there was upon that perfumed body. She might have made use of the words of the poet: [Mathers II 9]

     I kissed him, and those twin seductions,
     The pupils of his eyes, darkened while his
          cheeks grew red.
[5]
    
     If censurers claim he has a match in
          loveliness,
     Do you, my heart, tell them to produce him.
         
[Lyons, 177th night]
[6]

Appalled that such a boy had been abandoned, Maimunah had just decided to take him under her protection when the lewd Ifrīt Dahnash appeared:

Maimunah was afraid this base Dahnash might see the light in the tower and perpetrate some nameless thing, so she swooped down upon him like a sparrow-hawk and was about to dash him to the ground, when he made a sign of surrender, [... Mathers II 10]

Dahnash appeased Maimunah and told her about a maiden he had seen who refused to marry, the beautiful Budūr, daughter of the king of islands “beyond the confines of China.”

BUT WHEN
THE HUNDRED-AND-EIGHTIETH NIGHT HAD COME

SHE said:

YOUNG MAIMUNAH HEARD his words without replying; when he had finished, she burst into a mocking laugh, dug him in the belly with her wing, and spat in his face, saying: “Your remarks about this young pisser are all very disgusting. I ask myself how you dare to speak of her in the same breath as the handsome youth I love.” Wiping his face, the Ifrīt answered: “Dear mistress, I was absolutely ignorant of the existence of your young friend; and, although I ask your pardon, I will have to see him with my own eyes before I can believe that he rivals the beauty of my princess.” “Will you be quiet, evil one?” cried Maimunah. “My friend is so handsome that, if you saw him even in one of your dreams, you would fall into an epilepsy and bubble like a camel .” “But who and where is he?” asked Dahnash, and the Ifrītah answered: “O beast, he is in the same trouble as your princess, and is shut in the old tower behind which I live; but, if you think you are going to see him without me, disabuse yourself, because I know how wicked you are and would not even trust you to stand guard over the bottom of a holy man. I will show him to you myself, as I want your opinion; but I warn you that if you dare to lie and defy the truth of your own vision, I will tear out your eyes and make you the most miserable of Afārīt. At the same time, I shall expect you to pay a large forfeit if my friend is fairer than your princess, and shall be prepared to do the same myself if the positions are reversed.” “I accept!” cried Dahnash. “Come with me to see the lady Budūr.” “But,” Maimunah objected, “it will be quicker to go to the tower which is just below our feet, and afterwards we can compare.” So the two dropped down until they came to the top of the tower, and then entered the chamber of Kamar al-Zamān by the window.

“Do not move, and above all behave yourself,” said Maimunah to Dahnash, as she went up to the sleeping boy and removed his covering. Then she turned her head and continued: “Look, O evil one, and be careful not to fall on the floor in your emotion.” Dahnash turned his head and then jerked it away in stupefaction; he looked a second time long and long, “Mistress Maimunah,” he said at last, shaking his head, “I find that it was excusable in you to think your friend incomparable, for I have never seen so many perfections in a boy, and I think I may claim to know something about them; and yet I tell you this, the mould which made him was not broken until it had cast a female copy also, Princess Budūr, daughter of Ghayyūr.” [Mathers II 14-15]

Dahnash fetching Budūr, by Edmond Dulac

Maimunah angrily demanded that Dahnash try to prove his point by fetching Budūr. He having done so, they agreed the boy and girl looked extremely similar, but still could not agree which was the most beautiful and agreed to compete for victory through beautiful verse:

The Ifritah bent over the lips of Kamar al-Zamān and kissed them lightly; then, with her hand among his hair, she said:

     This body is born of branches
     And the scent of jasmine:
     No woman was made so.

     Night threw a handful of stars
     Into black tarns:
     No woman was made so.

     To drink the aromatic honey of his mouth ,
     To feed my flesh on his, to feel his hair . . .
     No woman was made so. 
[Mathers II 17]

Still disagreeing, Maimunah and Dahnah invited a third ifrīt to arbitrate. They agreed to test who was more beautiful by seeing who was better able to resist the temptation of the other. Woken first, Kamar al-Zamān determined to marry the still sleeping Budūr, but resisted going further that night than kissing her.  The boy went back to sleep and the girl was awoken to behold lying beside her …

Kamar al-Zamān "slipped a costly diamond ring from one of his fingers on to one of hers, to show that he considered her his wife already, and then regretfully ... went to sleep" (illustration by Benvenuti)

one of the most beautiful of God’s creatures, with eyes that would put to shame the lovely houris. His sweet-tasting saliva was a better cure than any theriac; his mouth was like the ring of Solomon; his lips were coloured like coral; and his cheeks were like red anemones. He fitted the description of the poet:

     He consoled me for the loss of Zainab and Nawar,
     With rosy cheeks growing the myrtle of down.
     I love a tunic-wearing fawn,
     And have no thoughts to love a girl with bracelets.
     He is my public and my private friend;
     She is my friend only within my house.
     You blame me for deserting Zainab and Hind;
     My excuse is clear as dawn to the night traveller.
     Do you want me to be the prisoner of a girl,
     Herself a captive behind walls and out of reach?
[Lyons, 184th night]

Budūr carried home by the ifrīt (by Benvenuti)

After reacting in the same way as Kamar al-Zamān, Budūr was taken home.  Both awoke and found themselves not believed. For three miserable years they pined for one another until Budūr’s foster-brother contrived to find Kamar al-Zamān and bring him to her. They got married, but soon left together to return to the distant kingdom of Shahrimān, whom his lovesick son had abandoned for his quest.

Accidentally separated on their way back, Budūr for safety disguised herself as Kamar al-Zamān, and journeyed on. Arriving at the isle of Ebony, she found it prudent to accept the offer of the King there to marry his daughter, Hayat al-Nufus, and take his throne, everyone believing she was male. Determined to stay, since Kamar al-Zamān was bound to pass that way, Budūr confided in Hayyāt al-Nufus, who was happy to have a loving “sister” instead of husband, promised to guard her secret and accordingly feigned her own deflowering. Budūr promised that Hayyāt al-Nufus could be Kamar al-Zamān’s second wife, so that they would live as three. In the meantime, the two girls enjoyed amorous play together.

Meanwhile, after various adventures, Kamar al-Zamān waited at an olive orchard for a ship bound for the isle of Ebony, whence he was told he would be able to get home. When a ship came, he hid gold treasure he had found and Budūr’s talisman in twenty jars of olives which he put on the ship, but missed catching it himself. When the ship arrived in Ebony, the King, ie. Budūr, bought the olives and, finding her ring, realised Kamar al-Zamān must be the owner of the olives. Summoning the captain of the ship, she ordered him to set sail and fetch the olives’s owner, whose identity she said she recognised from the stuffing in some of the olives.  Explaining why he was wanted, she said:

This wicked cook of mine fled one day, for fear I should punish him for having split a kitchen boy while trying hard and disproportionate embraces upon his form. [Mathers II 78]

The captain was constrained to obey, voyaged back to the olive orchard, seized Kamar al-Zamān, and set sail back:

The captain came up to Kamar al-Zamān, followed by some of his crew, and said: “So you are the lover of boys, who split the child in the King’s kitchen? As soon as we get in, you will find an impaling post ready to return the compliment, unless you would rather be broached in the meanwhile by these jolly fellows, who are filled with abstinence.” As he said this, he pointed to the sailors, who winked at the young man and considered him an excellent windfall.

Although his bonds had been unfastened as soon as the vessel sailed, Kamar al-Zamān had so far said no word; but now, being unable to remain silent under such an accusation, he cried: “I take refuge in Allāh! Are you not ashamed to speak in this way? Pray for the Prophet!” “I do pray for Him,” answered the captain, “I pray that the blessing of Allāh be upon Him and upon his people. Yet it was certainly you who outraged the boy.”

Kamar al-Zamān cried out afresh: “I take refuge in Allāh!” and the captain said: “May Allāh he merciful to us all!” Then exclaimed the prince: “I swear before you all, on the life of the Prophet (upon whom be prayer and peace!) that I understand nothing of what you say, and that I have never set foot in the island to which you are taking me. Pray for the Prophet, good people!” Then all replied according to custom: “May the blessing of Allāh fall upon Him!”

“Am I to understand, then,” continued the captain, “that you have never been a cook and never split a child in your life?” Kamar al-Zamān spat indignantly on the deck, saying: “I take refuge in Allāh! I shall answer no more.” “That is as you like,” said the captain, “my business will be done when I hand you over to the King. If you are innocent, you must get out of your scrape in the best way you can.”[7] [Mathers II 79-80]

By the time the ship reached Ebony, Budūr had devised a plan for their mutual safety, which would prevent Kamar al-Zamān recognising her, explaining to Hayyāt al-Nufus that she did “not wish him to betray us in the sight of any who see one day’s gardener made King upon the next”, (though she later said it was done for amusement). She had him bathed and sumptuously dressed, then, once the transformed youth had made the intended impression on the courtiers, appointed him her wazīr:

Kamar al-Zamān by Rene Bull, 1898

When the dīwān rose, Kamar al-Zamān went aside and reflected deeply, saying to himself: “The honour and friendship with which this young King has loaded me in the presence of all his people must certainly have some cause. But what is it? The sailors who brought me here said that I was accused of having harmed a boy; and the King, instead of punishing me, sends me to the hammām and richly rewards me. What can lie behind so strange a happening? ... As Allah lives, I have found the reason, and it is a wicked one! The King, who is young and handsome, must think that I am a lover of boys and has treated me thus splendidly on that account. But I swear that I will never undertake such duties. I will discover his plan and, if he wishes either himself or myself to suffer the shameful thing, I will return all his gifts and go back to my garden.”

Kamar al-Zamān went to Budūr and said: “O auspicious King, you have loaded your slave with honours and positions which are usually only accorded to the white hairs of wisdom, while I am still a young boy. If there be not some unknown reason behind all this, then the thing passes my understanding.”

Budūr smiled and looked at Kamar al-Zamān with languorous eyes, saying: “O handsome wazīr, there is, as you say, a reason behind all this; it is the sudden fire which your beauty has lighted in my heart. The colouring of your cheeks is both calm and delicate; I am quite in love with the colouring of your cheeks. If you let me have what I want from you, I shall honour you even further with gifts and favours, and young as you are I shall appoint you vizier, just as the people made me their ruler, although I too am young. These days, there is nothing remarkable in the young becoming leaders. How well the poet has expressed it:

     It is as though our age belongs to the tribe of Lot,
     Who have a passion for advancing the young.”
[Lyons, 216th night]
[8]

“Allāh lengthen the days of Your Majesty,” said Kamar al-Zamān, “but your slave has a wife whom he loves with his whole heart, weeping for her throughout every night since Fate has parted them. Your slave requests permission to journey on across the sea, after having given back those delightful things with which you wish to honour him.”

Budur took the young man’s hand, saying: “Be seated, O fairest of wazīrs. Do not speak of departure; rather stay here with one who burns for the beauty of your eyes and who is very ready, if you return his passion, to seat you on the throne beside himself. I, even I, only became King because of the love which the old King bore me and the complacence with which I answered it. Gentle youth, you must learn something of the customs of our country; for it is one in which beauty is the sole title to eminence…”

At this point Shahrazād saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.

BUT WHEN
THE TWO-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-SECOND NIGHT
HAD COME

SHE said:

“DO NOT FORGET this truth of one of our greatest poets:

          Our time recalls the age of Lot,
          The Friend of Allah, who had got
               A beard
     On cheeks like roses bending to the waters;
          When angels came to visit him
          He kept the lovely cherubim
               Nor feared
     To throw the naughty populace his daughters.
          God recompensed his charming fault,
          By turning his good wife to salt,
               A dame
     With shrewish tongue and feminine opinions.
          Our age like his, as I repeat.
          Has learnt to cultivate one sweet
               Clear flame
     For little boys and paint-and-perfume minions.”

[An alternate poet said:][9]

      I spoke of a pledge of union and he said to me:
     “How much longer will you talk in this hurtful way?”
     But when I showed him a dinar, he changed his tune,
     And said: “How can one escape what fate decreed?” [Lyons, 216th night]

A poet with a boy by his side enouncing a similar (but adapted) poem in Pasolini's film Arabian Nights (2014

When Kamar al-Zamān heard these verses and recognised their trend, he blushed like a coal under the bellows, and said: “O King, your slave must confess that he has no taste or aptitude for such things; he is too slight to bear weights and measures which would break the back of an old porter.”

The lady Budūr laughed heartily at this, and continued: “I do not understand your backwardness, delicious lad. Listen and I will tell you about the thing. Either you are a major or a minor: if you are a minor, you have no responsibilities and cannot be blamed for anything you do; if you are a major (and, to hear you discourse so well, I imagine you to be so), why do you hold back, for you are master of your own body and may do with it what you will? Nothing happens which was not written; and I myself might more reasonably be backward, seeing that I am smaller than you are. But, on the contrary, I apply these charming verses to myself:

     As the boy looked at it, my thing
          Moved and he whispered: It is splendid!
     Do let me try its love-making.”
[10]
        
          I answered: “Such an act is reprehended;
     In fact, a lot of people call it awful.”
          He said: “Oh, they—oh, they!
     With me all things are lawful.”
          And I was too polite to disobey.

Kamar al-Zamān saw the light change to darkness before him as he heard these lines; he lowered his eyes, saying: “O glorious King, you have many young women and beautiful virgins in your palace; no other monarch has ever possessed the like. Why then would you neglect all these for me? Do you not know that it is lawful to use women in any way which desire, curiosity or experiment may suggest to you?”

Budūr smiled, looking sideways at the prince through half-shut eyes. “Nothing could be more true, O wise and handsome wazīr,” she retorted, “but when taste changes desire, when our senses become refined and our humours alter their direction, what is to be done? Yet let us leave a discussion which is certain to come to nothing, and listen together to the verses which our chief poets have made upon this subject. One of them has said:

     Come with me to the fruit-seller’s green shade:
     Here on cool palm-leaves you may see displayed
          Ripe figs with their emotional brown bums;
     And in the place of honour you may find
     The small and rosy sycamore’s behind.
          Yea, fruit of sycamore for each who comes.

A second has said:

          Ask the girl whose breasts grow big,
          While consciousness invades her fig,
          Why she prefers the taste of lemons
          To pomegranates and water-melons!

Another has said:

          Though my full and present joys
          Are concerned with tender boys,
          Taste for women never ends
          And my less observant friends
          When they see me go without
          Think I have become devout.

Another has said:

     You are unique in beauty; your love is my religion
     Which I prefer above all other creeds.
     Because of you I have abandoned women,
     So that people think today I am a monk.
[Lyons, 216th night]
[11]

Another has said:

     Brown-breasted Zainab , Hind whose hair is dyed
          With youthful art, both say that I neglect them
     By finding roses in my friend’s backside
          Fairer than any rose which ever decked them;
     Hind cannot tempt my senses to abide,
          And Zainab’s razored slice cannot affect them;
     Even their bottoms now entice in vain
     One who has learnt of muscles and a mane.
[12]

Another has said:

     Who says this fawn of boyish grace
          Is lovely as a girl,
               Commits a blasphemy:
                    There is a difference.
     You take a girl at face to face,
          But the fawn has to curl
               Round and stoop pleasantly:
                    There is a difference.

[Another has said:]

     God made the penis round, to fit
          The arsehole (also round to match it).
     If meant to fill a female slit,
          He would have formed it like a hatchet.
[Reid I 289][13]

Another has said:

     I freed you, child, because your flank.
     Cannot conceive an answer to my wooing;
     Oh, I abominate those tunnelled fats
     Which at the first excitement of my pranks,
     Even before I know what I am doing,
     Hurry indecently to birth
     And fill the suffering earth
     With ranks and ranks and ranks and ranks
     Of useless brats.

Another has said:      

     A wife is that unpleasant thing which gets you
     To lie with her and, when no child is born,
     Ignores your deathly lassitude and frets you
     By saying in a voice of peevish scorn:
     “If being hard for women so upsets you,
     I promise you another kind of horn.”

Another has said:

          A man lifts up his arms to God
          Asking that bliss
          Be his;
          A woman lifts her legs in air
          With the same prayer.
          Is it not odd?

And yet another has said:

          Some women think, because they have
          Bottoms like men, that they can save
          Their faces by analogy.
          I showed one child her fallacy
          The other day, or rather night;
          She showed a grotto sweet and tight,
          And when I said: “That’s out of fashion,”
          Instead of flying in a passion
          She turned quite round and smiled. “I know
          That modern men do not do so;
          See, I am up-to-date,” she said.
          “Although you turn your maidenhead,
          I am unworthy,” answered I,
          “Of such great hospitality.”

Hearing all these poems, Kamar al-Zamān thought that there could be no doubt as to the intentions of the King, and decided that it would be useless to resist any further. Also he was a little tempted to experience for himself this new fashion of which the poets spoke.

At this point Shahrazād saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.

BUT WHEN
THE TWO-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-FOURTH NIGHT
HAD COME

SHE said:

SO HE ANSWERED: “King of time, I ask you to promise me that we shall do the thing together once and once only. If I consent, it is that I may show you how much better it would be to return to the old fashion. I beg you to give me a formal undertaking that you will not ask me to commit a second time an act for which I ask Allāh’s pardon in advance.” “I give you my formal promise,” cried Budūr, “and I also pray to the Merciful One that He may lead us from the darkness of error into the light of true wisdom. Nevertheless it is absolutely necessary that we try the thing once, for the reason which the poet gives:

     The good, the friends of Allāh , countless times
     Accuse us of unknown and nameless crimes.
     God says false accusation is a sin,
     Come let us save them from it, dear. Begin!

With that she rose and dragged the prince towards the great mattress, as he tried to defend himself a little and shook his head, sighing: “There is no refuge save in Allāh! This would not happen if He did not mean it to.” Hurried by the impatient princess, he took off his baggy trousers and linen drawers, and found himself, in the twinkling of an eye up-ended by the King upon the mattress. The supposed Sultān clasped him, saying: “You are about to know a night such as the angels could not give you. Oh, close your legs . . . Give me your hand, put it between my thighs to waken the sleeping child!” “I do not dare!” said Kamar al-Zamān, and the King answered: “I will help you.”

When Kamar al-Zamān felt his hand touching the King’s thighs, he realised that he had found something very delicious, softer than butter and sweeter than silk; so he explored high and low on his own account and found a dome, which seemed both animated and delightful. But, though he let his fingers wander everywhere, he could not find a minaret. He said to himself: “The works of God are hidden; how can there be a dome without a minaret? I think this charming King is neither man nor woman, but a white eunuch. That is much less interesting.” He presently said aloud: “O King, I do not know how it is, but I cannot find the child!”

At this point Shahrazād saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.

BUT WHEN
THE TWO-HUNDRED-AND-THIRTY-FIFTH NIGHT
HAD COME

SHE said:

BUDŪR BURST INTO such a peal of laughter that she almost fainted. [Mathers II 82-90]

She then revealed herself to her husband, and all went as hoped, with Kamar al-Zamān reigning as King with both girls as his wives. In Mathers’s version, this was the happy ending of the story:

Shahrazād and Sultan Shahryār by Ferdinand Keller, 1880

Then King Shahryār, whose sadness had quite disappeared at the opening sentences of the tale of Budūr and who had heard it through with the greatest attention, said : “O Shahrazād, I must confess that the tale which you have just told pleased me, even rejoiced me, even incited me to find out more about that new fashion which Budūr described in prose and verse. If the stories which you promise us contain explanatory details of this unknown pastime, you may begin at once.”

But at this point Shahrazād saw the approach of morning and discreetly fell silent.

King Shahryār said to himself: “As Allāh lives, I will not kill her until I have heard many more details of the new fashion, for at present it seems to me both obscure and complicated.”[14] [Mathers II 93]

 

In sharp contrast, the story in Burton and Lyons’s version continues, with high drama taking up another thirty-two nights of story-telling. Budūr bore Kamar al-Zamān a son al-Amjad, while Hayyāt al-Nufus bore him a son al-As’ad.  By the time these beautiful youths were nearly seventeen, they were inseparable. Soon, however, each had advances made on him by the other’s mother, who had fallen in love with him. Both youths rejected these with horror, so their mothers protected themselves from Kamar al-Zamān’s wrath by pretending they had been raped by the other’s son.  The furious King ordered both his sons to be executed in the desert, but his treasurer, to whom he entrusted this task, found himself unable to carry it out, faked their deaths and got them to escape.

Eventually the half-brothers came to a Zoroastrian city where al-As’ad was captured by fire-worshippers, while al-Amjad met a beautiful woman ready for a tryst with whom he ended up in the fine house of an absent owner, evidently prepared for a fine meal. Then …

the owner arrived. He was a mamluk and, as the king’s equerry, he was one of the leading men of the city. He had got the room ready for his own pleasure as a place where he could relax in private with his chosen companions. That day, he had invited a youth whom he loved to visit him and it was for him that he had made these preparations. The mamluk’s name was Bahadur and he was open-handed, generous and liberal in conferring gifts and favours. [Lyons, 231st night]

There are no allusions to Greek love in the remainder of this story.

 

[1] The Thousand Nights and One Night. The edition used here is the revised one published in 4 vols., London, 1941.

[2] The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights, 3 volumes, Penguin, London, 2008.

[3] Volume I, published in Elmhust, New York in 1992.

[4] The poem was omitted by Mathers, though also included in Sir Richard Burton’s translation of the 171st night. Burton translates the last line as “I testify there is none good but He”, and comments in a footnote: “Another audacious parody of the Moslem "testification" to the one God, and to Mohammed the Apostle.”

[5] “The eyes are supposed to grow darker under the influence of wine and sexual passion.” [Footnote to Burton’s translation]

[6] This poem was included by Mathers and Sir Richard Burton (in the 177th night of his version), but Mathers’ version is so inaccurate that it has been replied by Lyons, here the most eloquent of the three.

[7] In Burton and Lyons’ version, Budūr had pretended to the captain that Kamar al-Zamān was wanted for stealing from her and this is what the captain accused him of on board the ship. There is no mention of “splitting” a boy.

[8] All this taken from Lyons was entirely omitted by Mathers, though included by Burton, 216th night.

[9] This poem is given by Lyons (and, in different words, by Burton) instead of Mathers's preceding one, presumably indicating that Mathers (via Mardrus) was here translating from a different Arabic source.

[10] Mathers has translated these three lines inaccurately.  In Lyons’ translation (here, as usual, simply more modern than Burton’s), they read (216th night):
     My tool is large, but the young boy says:
     “Strike like a hero to the inmost parts.”

[11] This poem was omitted by Mardrus, but likewise included by Burton in his 216th night.

[12] This poem resembles nothing in the more accurate translations of this night by Burton and Lyons. However, some of it is similar to the poem they give on the 184th night, qv.

[13] Unusually, this poem is omitted by Lyons (as well as Mardrus), though included by Burton.  Reid’s translation has been preferred as more eloquent than Burton’s, and, in this case, also accurate.

[14] Thus concludes Mathers’ version of the story.  Shahrazād fulfilled the King’s wish for another story about the “new fashion” of Greek love by beginning The Tale of Alā al-Dīn Abū Shāmāt fourteen nights later, having somewhat disappointed him by telling him in the meantime The Tale of Happy-Handsome and Happy-Fair, which had only a little pederastic innuendo.
     By contrast, in the version followed by Burton and Lyons, Shahryār said nothing about the “new fashion”, and indeed the import of such a comment would have been lost considering the length of the continuing story.