Halim the Potter from the rainy Hills,— Under the diamond coronetted pines, The dun, rain sodden clouds that jewel them, The snake plants hooded tongued and venemous The briers and the orchids—sends his word. His Greeting to the Father whence he gained First, Life and then such Knowledge of The Craft As is his portion. For a double gift A double greeting. Though alas! the Reed But bears the message coldly, and no gift From Halim's hand to yours accompanies. Yet he, being set about with many thoughts Because the Day is lucky (So they hold Who say Man's Day of Trouble is a thing Not to be disregarded lightly, kept Year after year, when as the Day returns, With such observance as the Life demands— To the great Life great Joy, the Little less. The work alone is worthy—not the Day Or Birth or Death or—Softly. Who am I Halim, to hold a fancy thus?) He searched For gifts but after saw the thought was vain Knowing fit weapons of The Craft were thine, And the Sage Councillor that burns and dies Within the chillam Phoenix fashion, born Anew in greater labours fresher power Than the unholpen brain could hope for—this Was also thine; and so he held his hand Knowing there were no other gifts. He writes Instead his letter to the man who made Him and his knowledge—so the gift returns In some poor fashion to the giver. First Behind the Purdah (since I write to thee Thee only, and the Munshi's at my side, My thumb and two first fingers cannot blab) The Mother and the Child—which last e'en now Toils at her fancies in the lower room, Weaving a mighty empire out of ghosts As I red armies from the coarser clay— Are fain of Thee because they know and feel How daily upwards runs the silver thread Up from the silver pellet—which the men Beyond the seas have impiously set As record of Gehenna's torments writes;— 'Take heed Because ye are the Chosen, yet all skill Concentres not in Islam, Swine and dogs Have knowledge of the weather more than ye— Learn from them, praising Allah.' So they learn Your torment, written in the accursed tongue That babbles daily and is past my power To riddle—for my work is otherwise— Than Munshis babes and Babus. So they learn Your daily torment and would have you here, Save that the old distemper of the Hills When clouds are lowest, holds The Mother fast A little space. I doubt not that the drugs Of them who know not Islam (—Read again The Prophet's sentence, though thou knewest it Before I knew the platter from the cup—) Will heal her shortly—all three sides are well Of our small square but that they lack the fourth. I mostly O my Father! for what e'er The Women wish, my loss is most of all Seeing that it is double and I lose My Master Craftsman with my Father. Look! Thou knowest (no man better) how the clay Bends inward on the wheel, bends breaks and falls If my hand run the pitcher lip too high. Yea, one nail's breadth beyond the guide—Thou knowest How the raw clay—removed the potter 's hand— Falls inward also—whether formed or not (I can but choose the similes I know) (And know thou seest the meaning ere I write.) As with the clay so with the potter—Close Too close the likeness—thus my young mind thinks— Two months ago, I held my skill was mine Admitting hastily a certain hint A council here and there. Perhaps one touch On spout or belly ere we fired the kiln Thy hint, thy council and thy Touch. No more Than just so much as made (Why blink the truth?) The bad thing good; the drunken pitcher straight A thing desirable in the front of the stall. My workmanship thou saidst—and I believed It was so small a touch, so slight a word. I threw the wet clay—marred it. Now I see! The hand went and the clay thereafter fell Uncouthly. These two months have shown the Truth. It may be that thou knewest it before. I learnt it lately, toiling at a vase To do me credit. For myself alone. (Was this the cause of failure ...It may be) Because I loved the labour and no gold Should draw it from me. 'Twas a noble vase. (I recollect you gave the first design A clean and noble fashioning thereto) The thing has failed—not wholly failed. I learnt Much that I should have learnt before alas! The fair lip sprouted into useless length (Who said I needed mud-banks for chirags?) And all the belly blistered 'neath my hands With shapes of Afrits, Shaitans, Djinns and ghouls 'I could not help it' so I told myself And knew I lied—Thou knowest more than I. But the distorted vessel still remains Against your coming. Does not Yusuf say 'Even the marred and unclean clay keep thou As record of past error. Hand and brain May both take warning?' I have kept my work For judgment. I can only see the faults The Remedy is hidden. It may be My pitcher lip exceeds the nail's breadth. This At least is certain that the raw clay bends Into ignoble shapes without thy hand The vase has taught me. O! make haste and come, I can but mar the good, grey, clay till then And Know I mar it, and would mar it more But for past councils. Halim Yusuf's Son.