“Write a song about us,” said the Queen, and stamped her foot, and swung her head imperiously.
The wazir (who was also a poet most accomplished) bowed lowly and murmured (as is the way of things), “All my songs have been about you, O My Queen, O My Light.”
The Queen narrowed her eyes slyly. “You oily rogue! You flatterer!”
The wazir coughed and nodded and bowed yet more lowly, and said nothing.
“We are tired of your songs and your pretty phrases, O you poets,” said the Queen, “that speak in generalities and swaddling metaphors! Cannot your words be straight, and your images true?”
“It is not the way of poets,” murmured the wazir.
“Then let it henceforth be the way of poets,” said the Queen, “or of you, at any rate, my wazir. You are the first poet, you have our ‘delicate, curling ear, as graceful as the swelling sea,’ was it not? You remember that man, what was his name?”
“That might perhaps have been Adoppa,” murmured the wazir, who knew the man quite well, and detested him for his foul breath and his odious rhymes.
“Yes, that was the man,” said the Queen. “You are as far beyond Adoppa as the sun from the sunflowers, and yet from you we have no effigies, no poesy glamour to while our lonesome nights, no tender thoughts to ease the pain of royalty.”
“It is not the way of poets,” murmured the wazir. “Not the true way.”
“You know much of poetry,” said the Queen, “and little of Queens. Write us a poem, my wazir, and write it well, and write it true, and write it soon. Or lose your position, and your head.”
“Yes, O My Queen, O Dawn’s Fairest Light,” murmured the wazir, and withdrew in some anxiety.