The Lamp of the Full Moon

The land was ruled by a sultan,

Who named his young daughter,

For the light that the full moon spilt on the ground;

 

The lamp was found by found by the princess;

Hidden deep within the desert sand,

An lamp of a strange golden metal,

Encrusted with grains of sand,

Emptied of both oil and wick,

Resounding with a hollow echo when tapped;

She polished the lamp with her embroidered shawl;

The lamp split open, cracked like an almond shell,

Spilling out beams of light and columns of smoke,

A djinn climbed forth from the broken metal;

He spoke in a voice that boomed and thundered,

“Who wakes me from this cursed slumber?”

The princess’s voice shook as she spoke— “I do!”

And that was all it took for it to begin;

This great and powerful being was brought to humility,

The djinn now called her “Mistress,”

And promised to bring her anything in the world,

Only if this sultan’s daughter would ask it of him;

But was this spirit hiding some other truth behind this promise?

Her brow furrowed—“What are your conditions?”

And the djinn, stern voiced, unmoved as a stone cliff,

“Your wishes number but three, oh princess.”

To the princess, but three was more than enough.

The young princess, struck with shock and delight!

And the girl closed the djinn into its bronze prison,

And ran back to her palace, in its own way a prison,

And the sultan’s daughter began to wish,

Asking for a new life, one far away,

Out of the palace walls and into the city;

She had often left the palace in the guise of a stranger,

And she felt that she could live this new life with ease;

But oh, that princess knew not what she asked;

When she awoke, she found herself a different girl;

Very different walls surrounded her now;

Her bright silks and damasks had changed,

Hanging about her form as rough and filthy rags;

Her face was caked in mud and dirt, 

And her hair looked as strings and crawled with insects,

And she considered the price that she was now to pay;

She wandered the streets of her kingdom as no one;

And as no one, she saw the people’s suffering—

The scarcity, their gnawing hunger,

That ached and burned inside their bellies,

An ache that now did burn inside her own;

She asked a boy in the market place,

A tailor’s son who called himself Aladdin,

She asked him— “Why do we suffer so?”

And he spoke then of the strange famine,

A famine that plagued the common people,

But did not plague those that live in the palaces;

And so she polished the lamp a second time,

With the patched hem of this unfamiliar shawl,

And asked that the djinn return her to the palace;

Those familiar marble walls were far better, she thought,

Than these dusty, muddy streets;

So the djinn did as the princess commanded,

And he returned her to her glittering home,

And the princess thought of the tailor’s son,

“So that,”—she wondered—“was the life that boy knows,

The only life he has ever known,”

And her heart felt as though it might rip itself to pieces;

“O, why did I not think to help them,

or any of them at all!”

She thought of all her possessions

All of her jewels and her gold and silver—

No, they may perhaps be enough for a few cities,

But what of the whole kingdom?

Those in the farthest reaches of her land, what of them?

She thought of the nobles, and thought to have them help,

To make them help, for they did not help before,

And so she summoned the djinn one last time,

For her final wish— “Can you change their hearts?

Change the hearts of those men and women of birth,

That they would be wise and compassionate,

And act on the virtue of charity,”

But the djinn bowed and shook his head,

For he could not deny the free will of the heart;

The princess did not understand, but she soon saw,

“No, for it is not truly charity if it is not indeed a gift;

So, then, what must I do?”

Oh, if they could only have seen—

And then she knew what to wish;

So then she asked— “Let the nobles of her kingdom,

In their palaces with their finery and their gold,

Have opened eyes that see with compassion,

That they may perhaps one day help each other,

With joy and out of their free will…”

 

So, the lamp was named for the princess;

They called it, "The Lamp of the Full Moon,"

For the nobles now saw the effects of their greed,

As if by the light of the full moon,

And their hearts were changed;

 

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