I came across this poem today, just by chance. Isfahan has come up in my reading several times recently, and here it is again (though spelled the Dutch way). The original poem is by the Dutch poet, P N van Eyck (1887-1954); this translation is by Kate Ashton, though I have found many others here, as it was the subject of a translation competition recently.
Death and the Gardener:
In rushed my gardener from this morning's dew,
White as a ghost seeking refuge, "Sir, Sir, a word with you!
Down in the rose arbour, pruning shoot after shoot,
I glanced around and Death behind me stood.
I jumped, and hastened off along the other side,
But yet caught a glimpse of his raised scythe.
Master, your horse, let me forthwith be gone,
Before sunset I shall reach Ispahan!"
This afternoon (he was long galloped thence)
I met Death in the cedar'd park and hence
Asked outright, for silent sentinel stood he, "Pray why
At early light did you my servant terrify?"
With a grimace came his reply, "No vain threat dismayed
Your gardener and forced him flee. I was amazed
At dawn to find still calmly working here this man,
He who this evening I must claim in Ispahan."
It's not the greatest poem in the world, but I like the underlying idea a lot; it reminds me of Borges' Tale of Two Dreamers in A Universal History of Infamy, in which a dreamer finds .. but, actually, I'll let you read it for yourself - it's only a page long! The illustrations today are two miniature paintings I bought in Bokhara, but they come from the Persian tradition, the origin of the story in the poem.