augury doggerel

Friday, March 14, 2003


I'm reading from the Arabian Nights, Burton's translation, Bennett Cerf's little Modern Library edition, one Andy Mahoney's used copy. Thanks, Andy, whoever you are, for taking no fluorescent marker to it and for leaving no triple-underlined schoolboy notes ("Man vs Society!") in the margins.

And so again each night, Shahrazad the wise and beautiful must tell her terrible king a story that will delay another day her beheading and the beheading of young women after her. After 1001 nights, she shows him the three boys she has born him � she has done more than speak through these nights � and she begs the king mercy for their sake. The king confesses he has long before pardoned her, and they live

in all pleasance and solace of life and its delights, for indeed Allah the Most High had changed their annoy into joy; and on this wise they continued till there took them the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies, the Desolator of dwelling-places and Garnerer of graveyards, and they were translated to the ruth of Almighty Allah; their houses fell waste and their palaces lay in ruins and Kings inherited their riches.

But I skip ahead. Shahrazad is talking. She gives us other sons: Aladdin, Ali Baba, Sindbad.


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