The Lion and Lizard do keep
In Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
And Bahram, great hunter – the Wild Ass
Stamps above his Head, but cannot break his Sleep
Original (Edward FitzGerald‘s translation, 1859
They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
The Courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep:
And Bahram, that great Hunter–the Wild Ass
Stamps o’er his Head, but cannot break his Sleep
Le lion et le lézard gardent
Dans les cours où Jamshyd a glorifié et a bu profond:
Et Bahram, grand chasseur – l’âne sauvage
Timbres au-dessus sa tête, mais ne peut pas déranger son sommeil
Der Löwe und die Eidechse behalten
In Palästen, wo Jamshyd glorifizierte und tief trank:
Und Bahram, großer Jäger – der Wilde Esel
Stempelt seine Füße über seinen Kopf, aber seinen Schlaf nicht brechen kann
Jamshyd, legendary king (shah) of the earliest dynasty ruling ancient Persia, residing in his court at Persepolis, is said to have inspired the arts of civilization. Because of his arrogance he was deposed.
Bahram Gur is another legendary figure and lived much later, the fifteenth shah of the Sasanian Empire, ruling from 420 to 438, whose nickname “Gur” means “wild ass”. Legend says that Bahram gained the throne after withstanding a trial involving two lions. Bahram suggested to the nobles that the royal crown and attire be placed between two lions. The one who retrieved them by killing the lions then recognized as the shah. Bahram was victorius. Fitzgerald in a footnote to these lines says that Bahram sank in a swamp and died while pursuing his gur (wild ass).
Lion and lizard symbolize the opposing qualities of strength and deception, or courage and trickery.
Jamshyd, long gone, slumbers on and cannot be brought back to life.