Yusuf the potter told me this today, In the cool shadow of the Bhatti Gate, When a red scorpion stung me and I railed , Breaking his mid-day slumber. Yusuf knows The tales of all men's tongues. 'Not His the fault Who fashioned all things fair and fit for man In those six days He laboured. That thy hand Fell on the worn, reh -rotten brick which hid The evil thing, this much was God's design, The beast was fashioned otherwise.' 'I wrapped Fresh melon-rind above my palm and laughed, Because I doubted Yusuf; being young And, so my brother hulwaies tell me, proud. 'In the beginning there were seven days', Growled Yusuf from behind his lime-dyed beard, 'And seven nights. God laboured in the Light, Who is the Light of All Things. By His will, Who is the Power, Eblis from the Pit Had power to labour in the night and make All things for our discomfort. God is great! Alone, afar, at noon-tide Eblis watched, Jealous of God, the All Sustainer's work: Saw the Great Darkness rent in twain and lit With Sun and Moon and Stars—beheld the Earth Heaved upward from beneath the Waters, green And trampled by the Cattle—watched the Sea Foam with the Children of the Waters—heard The voices of the Children of the Woods Across the branches. Saw and heard and feared, And strove thoughout those Seven Nights of Sin To mar with evil toil God's handiwork. O Hassan! Saving Allah there is none More strong than Eblis. Foul marsh lights he made To wander and perplex us—errant stars, Wild devil-ridden meteors bringing plague— Deserts of restless sand-drifts-icebound seas Wherein is neither Life nor power to live— Bound Devils to the snow-capped peaks (These vex Earth with their struggles)—poured undying fire Into the bosoms of the tortured hills, And filled the belly of the Deep with life Unnameable and awful at his will— Sent forth his birds, the owl, the kite, the crow— Grey wolves that haunt our village-gates at dusk: Made he his horses and his councillor The hooded snake-in darkness wove the grass That kills our cattle—made the flowers that suck Man's life like dew drops—evil seeds and shrub That turn the sons of Adam into beasts Whom Eblis snatches from the sword-wide Bridge The thing that stung thee and its kind his hands Fashioned in mockery and bitter hate— Dread beasts by land and water all are his. Each bears the baser likeness of God's work, Distorted, as the shadow of thy face In water troubled by the breeze.' But here An Ape from off the chuppar thatch that hangs Above my stall, dropped swiftly down and stole A double handful of sweet balushai, Then gibbered overhead among his kin. I laughed (albeit half my stall was wrecked). Is he the work of Eblis?' Yusuf stretched One lean forefinger to the painted shrine Where Hanuman the idol leaped and grinned And all his living brethren frisked above:— 'Eblis made Man—behold him-dung and filth And refuse of the Pit. O Hassan! See The men of Eblis worshipped by his sons! Alone, afar, at noon-tide Eblis watched The Seven Soils slow moulded into Man, And feared the living clay God made his lord. Then the last Night of Sin came down and cloaked The young and tender world while Eblis wrought. None knew the secrets of that Night but God. "Tis writ the angels shuddered when they heard Clamour and lamentation through the dark; Cries of huge beasts whom Eblis slew to make His Man more perfect; thunders from the Pit And voices of the Devils and the Djinns Rejoicing. It is written Eblis called Three times to God to stay the flying Night. Allah Al Bari heard him (He is great!). And held three times Her pinions till the cries Ceased and the work was perfect.' Mocking the apes with pellets from his wheel:— Perfect. Then Eblis turned and saw his work When the Great Darkness lifted . Thus he cried Amid the laughter of the Sons of God:— "Lo! what is this I make. Are these his limbs Bent inward tottering 'neath the body's weight? The body crutched by hairy spider arms, Surmounted by a face as who should say Mourning:—Why hast thou made me, wherefore breathed Spirit in this vile body? Let me be:— The strange black lips are working with a cry, A cry and protest while the wrinkled palms Are put forth helplessly and beat the dusk. So did not my great foe when he was made. I saw his eye quicken with sense of power, I saw all wild things crouch beneath that eye; God gave him great dominion over all, And blessed him. Shall I bless my handiwork? After thy kind be fruitful, lust and eat, All rhings I give thee in the Earth and Air Only . . . depart and hide thee in the trees. He rises from the ground to do my will Dumb, limping, crippled. Can the being speak? Stay, Thing, and thank me for thy quickening. The great eyes roll—my meaning is not there Reflected, as God's word was in the Man's. I, Maker, bid thee speak in Adam's tongue, Unto my glory and the scorn of God. * * * * He plucks the grass-tufts aimlessly, and works Palm within palm; then, for a moment's space Breaks off rough bark and casts it on the ground! Accursed, e'en as I am. Yet one curse Shall sink him lower than the lowest. Stay! Man! Inasmuch as thou art made my Man, From all communion in the woodland tongue With beast and bird for ever be debarred. The Oxen bellow in a thousand keys, There is one bellow to the ear of man: The Lion from the rock-rift calls his mate, And Adam hastening folds the fearless flocks, Saying:—He roars for hunger. He is wroth Alas! the light Is flaring forth to mock me. He, my Man, Helpless, uprooting grass. While all the world Is thick with life renewed that fills my ears My last, my greatest work is mockery. Depart O Ape! Depart and leave me foiled!' This tale told Yusuf by the Bhatti Gate, Mocking the Apes with pellets from his wheel. He bade me wrap the melon-rind anew, And trust in God the Fashioner of Good, Seeing the mighty works of Eblis brought A half day's torment at the most—or stole A double handful of sweet balushai.