This section is from the book "Stories From The Thousand And One Nights", by Edward William Lane and Stanley Lanepoole. Also available from Amazon: Stories From Thousand And One Nights: The Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
How often have I stood [in fight] 1 and how often slain! and to how many things have I been a witness! And how often have I eaten t and how often drunk! and how often have I heard the songs of beauteous damsels 1
And how often have I ordered t and how often forbidden t and how many strong fortresses are seen, Which I have besieged and searched, and from which I have taken the lovely females* ornaments!
But in my ignorance I transgressed to obtain things wished for, which proved at last to be frail. Then consider attentively thy case, O man, before thou shalt drink the cup of death; For after a little while shall the dust be poured upon thee, and thou wilt be lifeless.
And the Emir Musa. and those who were with him, wept. Then he drew near to the dome-crowned chamber, and, lo, it had eight doors of sandal-wood, with nails of gold, ornamented with stars of silver set with various jewels. And over the first door were inscribed these verses:
What I have left, I left not from generosity; but through the sentence and decree operating upon man.
Long time I lived, happy and enraged, defending my asylum like a fierce lion.
I was never quiet, nor would I bestow a mustard-seed, by reason of my avarice, though I were cast into the fire.
Thus did I until I was smitten by the decree of the glorious Deity, the Creator, the Maker.
When my death was appointed soon to take place, I could not prevent it by my numerous stratagems; My troops that I had collected availed not, and none of my friends aided me, nor my neighbour.
Throughout my whole life was I wearied in my journey to the grave, now in ease, and now in difficulty. So, when the purses have become laden, shouldst thou accumulate dinar upon dinar, It will pass before the morning to another, and they will have brought thee a camel-driver and a grave-digger; And on the day of thy judgment, lone shalt thou meet God, laden with sin and crimes and heavy burdens. Then let not the world deceive thee with its beauty; but see what it hath done to thy family and neighbour.
And when the Emir Musa heard these verses, he wept again so violently that he became insensible; and after he had recovered, he entered the chamber covered with the dome, and beheld in it a long tomb, of terrible appearance, whereon was a tablet of iron of China; and the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad drew near to it, and read its inscription; and, lo, on it was written,In the name of God, the Eternal, the Everlasting throughout all ages: in the name of God, who begetteth not, and who is not begotten, and unto whom there is none like: in the name of God, the Mighty and Powerful: in the name of the Living who dieth not.
To proceed:-O thou who arrivest at this place, be admonished by the misfortunes and calamities that thou beholdest, and be not deceived by the world and its beauty, and its falsity and calumny, and its fallacy and finery; for it is a flatterer, a cheat, a traitor. Its things are borrowed, and it will take the loan from the borrower: and it is like the confused visions of the sleeper, and the dream of the dreamer, as though it were the sarab6 of the plain, which the thirsty imagineth to be water: the Devil adorneth it for man until death. These are the characteristics of the world: confide not therefore in it, nor incline to it; for it will betray him who dependeth upon it, and who in his affairs relieth upon it. Fall not in its snares, nor cling to its skirts. For I possessed four thousand bay horses in a stable; and I married a thousand damsels, of the daughters of Kings, high-bosomed virgins, like moons; and I was blessed with a thousand children, like stern lions; and I lived a thousand years, happy in mind and heart; and I amassed riches such as the Kings of the regions of the earth were unable to procure, and I imagined that my enjoyments would continue without failure. But I was not aware when there alighted among us the terminator of delights and the separator of companies, the desolator of abodes and the ravager of inhabited mansions, the destroyer of the great and the small and the infants and the children and the mothers. We had resided in this palace in security until the event decreed by the Lord of all creatures, the Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the earths, befell us, and the thunder of the Manifest Truth assailed us, and there died of us every day two, till a' great company of us had perished. So when I saw that destruction had en-tered our dwellings, and had alighted among us, and drowned us in the sea of deaths, I summoned a writer, and ordered him to write these verses and admonitions and lessons, and caused them to be engraved upon these doors and tablets and tombs. I had an army comprising a thousand thousand bridles, composed of hardy men, with spears, and coats of mail, and sharp swords, and strong arms; and I ordered them to clothe themselves with the long coats of mail, and to hang on the keen swords, and to place in rest the terrible lances, and mount the high-blooded horses. Then, when the event appointed by the Lord of all creatures, the Lord of the earth and the heavens, befell us, I said, O companies of troops and soldiers, can ye prevent that which hath befallen me from the Mighty King? But the soldiers and troops were unable to do so, and they said, How shall we contend against Him from whom none hath secluded, the Lord of the door that hath no door-keeper? So I said, Brinf to me the wealth. (And it was contained in a thousand pits, is each of which were a thousand hundred-weights of red gold, and in them were varieties of pearls and jewels, and there was the like quantity of white silver, with treasures such as the Kings of the earth were unable to procure.) And they did so; and when they had brought the wealth before me, I said to them, Can ye deliver me by means of all these riches, and purchase for me therewith one day during which I may remain alive? But they could not do so. They resigned themselves to fate and destiny, and I submitted to God with patient endurance of fate and affliction until He took my soul, and made me to dwell in my grave. And if thou ask concerning my name, I am Kush the son of Sheddad the son of 'Ad the Greater.