The Knight in the Tiger Skin by Shot'ha Rust'hveli is recognized as one of the greatest works to have been created by human genius. Eight centuries separate us from the author of this immortal epic, but even today its life-affirming passion, shining humanity and heroic spirit, the ideas of patriotism and internationalism that it embodies and the elevated human feelings and moral ideals it expresses link this great literary monument of the distant past with the spiritual world of all freedom-loving peoples.
Rust'hveli's epic has become part of the heritage of all mankind. No less than the people for whom it was written, Europeans and Asians, Americans and Africans can gain from this work something more than a romantic, knightly tale brilliantly told in verse. This is so due above all to the fact that in the past 100 years Rust'hveli's immortal epic has been translated into many world languages.
For centuries Rust'hveli's work, the product of an unknown world and written in a still unstudied tongue, survived only in the native land of the poet, south of the Caucasus mountains in the gorges of the rivers Chorokhi, Rioni, Kura and Alazani.
For world culture the appearance of The Knight in the Tiger Skin was akin to a major archaeological discovery. The Russian public figure, Yevgeny Bolkhovitinov, was the first person of the larger world to take note of this priceless treasure. Writing in 1802, he observed enthusiastically of the poem that “the scenes of action resemble those of Ariosto's poem Orlando Furioso, but the beauty, the originality of the pictures, the naturalness of the ideas and sensations are Ossianic”.
The Knight in the Tiger Skin was written on the eve of the fatal catastrophe which befell Georgia in the “golden age” of its history, when this small but powerful feudal country stood at the height of its political, economic and spiritual renaissance. Scarcely had the book appeared than Georgia was for many centuries torn from the outside world, its once famed culture known only to very few.
Even in the 19th century, although Rust'hveli's epic had been noted and many had tried to bring it, if only in part, to the knowledge of the world, The Knight in the Tiger Skin remained an enigma to the foreign reader. It was only at the turn of the century that the veil concealing the work was drawn aside.
“As Homer is Greece, Dante Italy, Shakespeare England and Calderon and Cervantes Spain, so Rust'hveli is Georgia. ...A people, if it is great, will create song and carry in its bosom a world poet. Such a monarch of the ages, still unknown to Russians, was Georgia's chosen one, Shot'ha Rust'hveli, who in the 12th century gave his motherland its banner and call – ‘Vephistkaosani’- Wearer of the Snow-Leopard's Skin. This is the best poem about love ever written in Europe, a rainbow of love, a fiery bridge linking heaven and earth.”
These words belong to the poet Konstantin Balmont, who translated The Knight in the Tiger Skin into Russian. He recalls his first encounter with Rust'hveli thus: “I first became acquainted with Rust'hveli amid the expanses of the ocean, not far from the Canary Islands, on an English ship bearing the name of Athene, beautiful goddess of wisdom. On board I met Oliver Wardrop, who gave me an English translation of The Snow-Leopard Skin, of which he had a proof copy, to read. The translation had been done with great affection by his sister, Marjory Scott Wardrop. To touch the Georgian rose amid the immensity of the ocean dawns, with the kindly complicity of Sun, Sea, the Stars, friendship and love, of wild water-spouts and fierce storms, produced an impression which I shall never forget. “
Balmont's translation, the first full and truly poetic rendering of the work, began to appear as early as 1916 in magazine instalments.
The English writer Marjory Scott Wardrop visited Georgia in the 1890s. There she met the outstanding Georgian poet and public figure, Illya Chavchavadze, who introduced her to Rust'hveli's poem. Filled with admiration for the work, she threw herself into study of the Georgian language and in 1912 Shot'ha Rust'hveli was brought to English readers in a prose translation. Thus this ancient Georgian poem appeared almost simultanenusly in two world languages.
In discussing The Knight in the Tiger Skin we must inevitably begin by discussing its author. Who was Shot 'ha Rust 'hveli ? Do Georgian historical writings contain any mention of him ?
The earliest references to Georgia and the Georgian people are to be found in Herodotus, “the father of history”. Still earlier, Homer mentions a Georgian tribe, the Khalibi, while writing of the Trojan war. Descriptions of the state of Iberia and ancient Colchis are contained in the writings of Strabo and many Greco-Roman authors.
The age of Rust'hveli was, in world history, the time when the future captains Dzhebe and Subetey were riding and shooting beneath the burning sun of Central Asia, preparing for the wars to come. Bloody clouds were gathering in the incandescent skies of Mongolia; in the West the third crusade was raging and the terrible Saladin, having defeated the knights of Europe, was entering Jerusalem.
Both the political and spiritual future of Georgia and the life of Rust'hveli himself were bound up with these important parallel processes.
But in the meantime, the “Golden Age” reigned in Rust'hveli's homeland. On the throne sat T'hamar (1184-1213), a queen famed for her intelligence and beauty. Her state was united and strong, resting on the firm foundations, which her great forebear, David Aghmashenebeli (the Builder) (1089-1125), had laid. David had taken advantage of the crusades to expel the Arabs and Turks from his country after 300 years of domination.
Georgia's renaissance was closely linked to both Western and Eastern culture. It was at this time that “Iranian literature met the literature of the North, of Europe, that Leili met Isolda, Buddha the legend of Ahasuerus. Georgia was the land, where these two cultural streams, rushing towards each other, met. The focal point of this meeting, a man endowed with a remarkable lyrical gift, intelligence and passion, was Rust'hveli” (Nikolai Tikhouov).
History has no precise facts for us about the great Georgian poet, but The Knight in the Tiger Skin itself and a handful of other historical and literary documents now at our disposal make it possible to form a definite picture of the poet's personality and of the times in which his work of genius was created.
Shot'ha Rust'hveli's life and the time of creation of his poem exactly coincide, according to the events described in it, with the era of Queen T'hamar , down to the dynastic conflicts that reflected contemporary clashes at court.
It is fortunate that the author refers to himself more than once in his poem, introducing himself as Rust'hveli. “I, Rust'hveli, indited a poem. ... Hitherto the tale has been told as a tale; now is it a pearl of measured poesy. “
Of T'hamar the poet writes: “By shedding tears of blood we praise Queen T'hamar, whose praises I, not iIl- chosen, have told forth.” The lines: “I, Rust'hveli, have composed this work by the folly of my art,” and “I am sick of love, and for me there is no cure from anywhere”, clearly indicate the poet's unspoken love for the queen. Some Georgian scholars of Rust'hveli consider that the amatory conflict conveyed in the poem reflects the personal relations of poet and queen and it is possible that isolated coincidences occur, but we lack the corresponding historical and biographical documents to conclusively prove this.
In fact, we possess no precise historical information on Rust'hveli's character. However, the life of Queen T'hamar is presented relatively fully in ancient Georgian historical writings (“Kartlis tskhovreba”) and, in particular, in the stories by “Basil”, the queen's personal historian and court tutor.
Several people bearing the name Shot'ha appear in historical sources of the 12th and 13th centuries and in ancient deeds. Could it be that one of them is the poet ? Georgian scholars have long investigated this question, settling now on one, now on another Shot'ha as the author of The Knight in the Tiger Skin. (It is only since the examination of the Jerusalem fresco depicting Shot'ha that this dispute may, to a certain extent, be considered settled.) Who, then, was Shot 'ha, the poet from Rustavi ?
Two settlements in Georgia have laid claim to the poet. One lies twenty kilometres from Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, and was known throughout for its metallurgical industry. Eight centuries ago this Rustavi was a large administrative, economic and cultural centre in the kingdom of Georgia.
In 1265 the town was utterly destroyed by the Mongols. The builders of modern Rustavi were confronted by a striking sight while clearing a section of the ancient ruins: the headless skeleton of a young girl separated by some metres from her skull. An axe was in the girl's hands. She had evidently been defending herself from an invading Mongol soldier, who beheaded her with his sword. Beside the girl’s skeleton the remains of her devoted dog were found. On that day, 700 years ago, the Mongols also beheaded the town which considers itself the birthplace of Shot'ha Rust'hveli.
The second Rustavi is a small village in the south of Georgia, on the border with Turkey. This part of the country is sometimes referred to as Meskhetia.
The cliff town of Vardzia, which dates from the l2th century, is located here. This cave complex served both religious and secular purposes and had remarkable frescoes depicting Queen T'hamar and members of her family. Here, too, are found the multi-level Van Caves, cut in the l3th century, and the fortress of T'hmogvi, birthplace of Sargis T'hmogveli, author of the Dilarget'hiani, who is mentioned in The Knight in the Tiger Skin. The fortress of Khertvisi and many other historical monuments, which played a major role in the political and cultural life of ancient Georgia are also located here. Meskhetia gave Georgia's culture many outstanding figures, writers, scholars, artists and philosophers. Scholars confirm that the name Shot'ha was particularly common in this province in the 10th, 11th and l2th centuries.
According to tradition Shot'ha Rust'hveli came from this corner of southern Georgia and many scholars now consider that Shot'ha Rust'hveli was a Meskh from Rustavi in Meskhetia. But which of the Shot'has mentioned in historical sources was the poet ? The majority of Georgian literary sources name the author of the poem as Shot'ha, treasurer of the court of Queen T'hamar.
Rust'hveli figures in popular tradition as a minister of the queen. He is supposed to have been educated first in Georgia, at the academies of Gelati or Ikalto, and then in Athens or on Mount Olympus, where many Georgians studied at that time. The poet became a master of Greek, Arabic and Persian and gained an intimate knowledge of the literature and philosophy of these countries before receiving a high post at the court of Queen T'hamar.
Indeed, his poem indicates that Rust'hveli was well read in the ancient philosophers, including Heraclitus and Empedocles; however, many Georgian scholars now assert that the principal source of his ideas was the writings of such Georgian thinkers as Petrus the Iberian, Ioane Laza, Ioane Moskh (Meskh), Yefrem Mtsyre and Ioane Petritsi, who radically revised the ideas of the ancients.
Academician N. Y. Marr consistently advanced the view that Georgians of the 10th and 11th centuries were studying the same problems which were occupying the most advanced minds in Christian countries of West and East during the period and that they were ahead of Europe inasmuch as they were able to respond before anyone else to the new philosophical trends and possessed a model apparatus of philosophical criticism for the time.
According to the same sources and to popular tradition Shot'ha Rust'hveli travelled widely - as is also evident from The Knight in the Tiger Skin - journeying in his old age to Palestine, there in Jerusalem to die. Georgian scholars now have all the necessary documents to prove conclusively that Rust'hveli was minister of finance at the court of Queen T'hamar.
It is known that as early as the 5th century Georgians founded the Monastery of the Cross in Palestine. For twelve hundred years they carried out a great educational and cultural mission from this monastery until it was captured by the Greeks in the 17th century.
There, in the course of the centuries, a history of the monastery was written and information was compiled on its leading figures, the names of whom were inscribed in a “Memorial Book”. Hundreds of volumes in Georgian, Greek and other languages used at that time by Georgians in Palestine, including the “Memorial Book” and the church calendars, passed into the possession of the Greek church and are now kept in the library of the Greek patriarch in Jerusalem.
Georgian scholars have at their disposal only a number of microfilms, among them copies of the church calendars. One of these microfilms states: “On this Monday the funeral mass of the treasurer, Shot'ha, is to take place.” This entry relates to the first quarter of the 13th century .
For many centuries scholars in the poet's homeland knew nothing of this. In the middle of the 18th century the Georgian public figure, Timote Gabashvili, visited Georgian antiquities in Palestine, among them the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem. Gabashvili described his travels in a book entitled A Journey, in which the following reference to the Monastery of the Cross occurs:
“Below the cupola the columns have been renovated and painted . . . by the treasurer, Shot'ha Rust'hveli, who is himself depicted there as an old man.” Gabashvili conjectured that Shot'ha the treasurer must have been the poet, Shot'ha Rust'hveli. He based his supposition that Rust'hveli was a minister of finance on the traditional legends of the people.
Who destroyed the cupola and columns of the monastery, restored and painted with the assistance of Shot'ha Rust'hveli, and when did this happen ?
The Monastery of the Cross was destroyed and rebuilt, repaired and reconstructed several times in the course of its history. It may be assumed that Shot'ha Rust'hveli arrived in Palestine after the destruction and capture of Jerusalem by the Egyptian sultan, Saladin, during the third crusade. Georgian scholars possess a document written by the Arab historian, Ibn-Sheded, which states that when in 1187 Saladin took Jerusalem, the Monastery of the Cross also fell to him. Queen T'hamar of Georgia offered a ransom of 200,000 dinars for the cloister. Some researchers speculate that the queen sent her minister of finance to Jerusalem on this mission.
Rust'hveli took part in restoring the walls and columns of the Georgian cloister in Palestine, which had been destroyed by Saladin. As a mark of gratitude, Shot'ha himself was depicted on one of the columns of the monastery. Rust'hveli was portrayed in secular dress, kneeling beside St. John Damascene, the great medieval Christian poet, and Maxim the Confessor, who developed Christian philosophy and theology on the basis of neo-Platonism. Of interest here is the fact that in the 7th century Maxim the Confessor opened up the way to the teachings of Dionysius the Areopagite, who was considered a neo-Platonist in the Middle Ages, although he was an orthodox Christian. Dionysius is referred to in The Knight in the Tiger Skin as “Dionos”; his thinking is entirely Christian and philosophical and, Georgian scholars assert, it is this view of the world that was the source of Rust'hveli's poem. The poet may have personally chosen a place for this fresco between these two saints.
All these facts have become known only in recent years, since Georgian scholars obtained a portrait of Shot'ha from Palestine, for the fresco of Rust'hveli about which Timote Gabashvili wrote in the mid-18th century and which was described by the members of a scientific expedition in the 19th century disappeared at the end of the last century. Georgian scholars arriving in Palestine failed to find it. How many secrets were buried together with the portrait! Indeed, everything that has been written above has come to light only since the rediscovery of the fresco. Georgian travellers to Palestine at the turn of the century sadly reported that the whereabouts of the portrait were unknown. The fresco seemed, indeed, to have been irrevocably lost.
This problem began to concern me fifteen years ago, when the idea was conceived of celebrating Rust'hveli's jubilee. I resolved to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the Rust'hveli portrait in Palestine.
Our expedition, which consisted of Akaky Shanidze and Georgy Tsereteli, both members of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, and myself, arrived in Palestine in the autumn of 1959. I have described the scholarly work performed by the expedition in detail in Palestinian Diary and interested readers may refer to this. I shall confine myself here to noting that after careful investigation we succeeded in discovering the Rust'hveli portrait which, fortunately, had been neither erased nor damaged, but was hidden beneath a thick layer of black paint. From the 17th century on, Greek church figures had systematically resorted to actions of this kind to wipe out every distinctively “national” trace from the old Georgian monastery. We cleaned this fresco, which bears the inscription “Rust'hveli”, and brought a copy of it back to Georgia. The Palestine fresco is the most valuable biographical document bearing on the great Georgian poet and thinker that we possess today. The portrait and the J erusalem church calendar helped to conclusively prove that the poet Shot'ha Rust'hveli and the treasurer Shot'ha mentioned in Georgian historical sources and popular legends are one and the same person.
The original of The Knight in the Tiger Skin has been lost. It may have been reduced to ashes in 1225, when the ferocious Djalal-ad-Din put Tbilisi to the torch, or later, when the Mongols burned Christian manuscripts in the squares of the city. It could have been torn to shreds during raids by Persians and Turks. During that dark period much was destroyed and lost in Georgia.
“Mose Khoneli praised Amiran, son of Daredjan; Shavt'heli, whose poem they admired, praised Abdul-Mesia; Sargis T'hmogveli, the unwearying-tongued praised Dilarget'h,” Rust'hveli tells his readers. Where are the Abdul-Mesia, the Dilarget'hiani and many other works now? They have been swallowed up by the black waves of history. Even today we cannot find these literary monuments and traces of them survive only in folklore, in the form of separate fragments, like magnificent ruins of the architectural monuments which are scattered the length of Georgia. It is a cause for great joy that The Knight in the Tiger Skin passed through flame intact.
The most ancient manuscript of Rust'hveli's immortal work extant dates from 1646. A number of earlier records have been preserved in the form of fragments, dating from the 15th century .One such fragment, consisting of only a few lines, was discovered recently during the comprehensive excavation and study of the Van Caves. An inscription by the hand of poetess Anna Rcheulishvili was found on a rock. She refers to her sufferings in words from The Knight in the Tiger Skin: “I am sitting in a castle so lofty that eyes can scarce see the ground.”
As a result of assiduous research work more than 150 manuscripts of The Knight in the Tiger Skin have been discovered and these are now kept in Soviet libraries. But not all these manuscripts are suitable for scholarly purposes.
The Knight in the Tiger Skin was first published in 1712 at the initiative and under the editorship of King Vakhtang, founder of the Georgian printing press. Vakhtang had apparently studied ancient manuscripts of the poem, of which far more existed in his time than now and which evidently dated from earlier period. On the basis of these manuscripts he produced a scholarly edition of the poem.
In the absence of the original the text of The Knight in the Tiger Skin underwent constant changes at the hands of copyists over the centuries. Many “embellishers” inserted new passages into the poem at will or in accordance with the wishes of those who ordered copies from them. In the 16th century a revival began in Georgian culture and literature and the popularity and influence of The Knight in Tiger Skin grew immeasurably. Copyists of the poem made various changes to the plot, while interpolators were revising the poem to bring it ideologically into line with the teachings of the Christian religion. For these reasons the primary text of the poem is distorted in many manuscripts. In subsequent centuries the poem was increasingly “enriched”. The first editor of Rust'hveli's epic had much to do in order to remove obvious insertions from the text and “turn obscurity into clarity”.
Illya Chavchavadze, prominent Georgian writer and public figure of the 19th century, did a great deal to discover the genuine text of the poem. However, even today the process of restoring the text to its definitive form is still continuing. The Georgian people bore its beloved work- The Knight in the Tiger Skin- through the flames of the ages, like “a Banner and a Call”, whose creator, “conducting his lover heroes through all kinds of trials, made them shine in life with such glory that they could never die. Herein lies the advantage of the Georgian genius over his European contemporaries and later poets, just as the Indian, Kalidasa, stands above geniuses of the drama thanks to his Sakuntafa. Here, after all, there is no devilish enchantment of death, but a full harmony of happiness, higher and more perfect than of Europe's geniuses. ..” (Konstantin Balmont). The people felt the spirit and philosophical essence of the poem-felt it and recognised in it the most precious contribution to its spiritual treasure-house. Generations of Georgians have worked and defended their land under this banner and in response to this call : “What is worse than a man in the fight with a frowning face, shirking, affrighted and thinking of death ? In what is a cowardly man better than a woman weaving a web! It is better to get glory than all goods !”
It is characteristic that people were and still are to be found in the inaccessible mountains of Georgia who know all 1,500 verses of Rust'hveli's poem by heart. Worthy of note, too, is the fact that for many centuries The Knight in the Tiger Skin was considered a bride's most valuable dowry. Every Georgian kept a copy of the poem beside his bed, together with the Gospels. Foreign travellers even considered that Georgians had two gods-Christ and Rust'hveli. The priests could not forgive the poet for this and in the centuries to come persecution began of the man whose portrait had, in his lifetime, adorned Christianity's most holy place-the Monastery of the Cross in Jerusalem. According to some sources, in the 18th century almost the entire first edition of his poem was thrown into the Kura River by clerics.
That the love story contained in the poem unfolds in Moslem rather than Christian countries, principally in Arabia and India, was also not to the liking of churchmen. But whatever the forces opposed to it, The Knight in the Tiger Skin survived triumphantly through the centuries and is as popular today as it has ever been.
Rust 'hveli considered love the principal sign of human nature and humanity. His immortal poem is a hymn of love and its dominant note, struck by Rust'hveli with characteristic brevity and philosophical profundity, is the eternal truth that “only love exalts us”.
Let us turn our gaze to the cherished pages of The Knight in the Tiger Skin. But first we must clarify, if only in the most general terms, the soil from which the poem sprang, the spiritual atmosphere in which it flowered. Humanistic ideals and aspirations pervaded Georgia's culture in the age of Rust'hveli. Indeed, if one takes in the whole sweep of the period, one might form the impression that the forces creating Georgian culture before Rust'hveli had, as it were, hastened to erect the walls of this magnificent building so that the poet could crown it with a splendid dome, only a few decades before the fatal catastrophe that broke over his land.
The cultural advance in Georgia was remarkable for the pace of its development, its richness and creative tension. Following the adoption of Christianity, Georgia succeeded in creating more in the period between the 4th and the l2th centuries, amid unending defensive wars and under the constant threat of destruction, than could have been conceived of in so short a span of time. “During my trips to Georgia I saw the monuments of Georgian architecture, frescoes, etc.,” Alexei Tolstoy wrote. “I must say that when I met with these treasures of the 1Oth and 11th centuries I was convinced that Georgia had created all the prerequisites for the Renaissance and had produced works equal to those of Giotto two centuries before Giotto.”
The entire life of the Georgian people was filled with tireless seekings in the field of culture, and especially in that of belles-lettres. In the very first hagiographical works and soon thereafter in religious poetry and historical and philosophical writings as well, clear signs of an interest in man, in his total spiritual and physical being, emerged. Delight in man's beauty, love, which elevates him, and his search for truth began to come thematically to the fore.
Profound knowledge of the works of Aristotle and Plato revealed by Georgian literature of the time was not fortuitous; nor was the emergence in the 5th century, at the heart of religious literature, of highly developed belles-lettres, written in a rich literary language. Georgian culture in the 12th century was distinguished by particular variety and richness. The kingdom's two academies - Gelati and Ikalto -offered their students a general education while also serving as major centres of science and philosophy.
Moreover, as I have already noted, a lofty synthesis of Western and Eastern culture was brought about in Georgia by virtue of its geographical position. All this formed the foundation and walls of the magnificent edifice which would have remained incomplete had not Georgia produced Rust'hveli.
Rust'hveli accomplished and expressed with great power that elevated human ideal of which the medieval world-the medieval world alone could only dream. He raised man to heights inaccessible to his own and subsequent times.
The Gordian knot which medieval thinking, whether religious, philosophical or artistic, was unable to unravel is known to all. This was the gulf that had formed in knowledge between God and the real world, between creator and created. The best minds of the Middle Ages laboured in vain to find the solution to this mystery, but their conclusion was always the same: the deity alone is real, while the created world is only an appearance, an abode of evil and the possession of Satan. Mankind gazed with fascination into this chasm and at the two shores of the gulf without finding a way out of the problem. If philosophers were able to glean hope from a rejection of earthly things, placing their trust solely in “the other shore”, the fate of artists and poets was far more complex and difficult, for the very nature of their work placed them in the here and now, on the earthly shore, while the message conveyed by religion and philosophy was that only the life of the other world was real and everything earthly was worthy only of rejection and condemnation.
This sense of being in a hopeless spiritual dead-end left a deep and sombre mark on the work of medieval artists.
This, then, was the spiritual atmosphere of the age of which Rust'hveli was a witness. One preliminary observation should be made. Let us imagine for a moment that we know nothing of Rust'hveli's view of the world and that we have not studied his poem from this point. Nevertheless, it will be clear to everyone who has read it, even once, that the poet who emerges from its pages could not, simply in terms of his psychological cast of mind and spiritual make-up, have been an adherent of a dualistic concept of life.
A world dislocated and divided was inconceivable to the author of The Knight in the Tiger Skin, just as heroes with divided souls or split natures were inconceivable to him. The characters of The Knight in the Tiger Skin are monolithic, whole, carved, as it were, from huge single blocks of stone. Even when Tariel has lost hope in meeting his beloved, despairs and is on the verge of madness, in flight from life and alone in the desert, he does not cease to be a whole person, for in the situation that has emerged and the circumstances fate has presented him with he cannot act, think or suffer other than as a whole person.
It is clear from what has been noted above that Rust'hveli's position is that of a monist. But what is the nature of this monism ? Can we suppose that Rust'hveli overcame the dualism of his age simply by dismissing the question of the other world and of the very existence of “the other shore” ? This point of view has been expressed by some Georgian scholars, who claim that Rust'hveli was absorbed by this world alone and that the sphere of his interests did not essentially extend beyond the bounds of the earthly.
I believe that thus posing and resolving the question means its over-simplification. The historical approach to this complex issue should not be neglected: there is little profit to be gained from ascribing to a 12th-century poet conclusions of which mankind became firmly convinced only in the course of the last century.
Free, unfettered thought should not be confused with the atheistic and materialistic thought. These domains were quite out of the question in the 12th century. Complex cultural phenomena and philosophical ideas must be explained on the basis of the laws inherent in them and not in terms of laws imposed on them from outside, even if this is done from the most advanced modern point of view and with the best of intentions.
No, Rust'hveli, contrary to the conclusions drawn centuries later by human minds, certainly did not dismiss the question of “the other shore” ; but, despite the dominant tradition of his age, neither did he turn away from the reality of “this shore”, even in theory. Rust'hveli was able to overcome the apparent contradiction, to bridge the gulf. How ?
The gulf was conquered by declaring it - and not the created world - to be an evil, which, in Rust'hveli's concept, was illusory. The gulf dividing creator and creation was only apparent. Anyone who wanted to enter into communion with God must demonstrate the illusoriness of the gulf, that separates man from his creator, by conquering Evil. Only active struggle against evil would give an opportunity for communion with the Almighty.
The world was not created by God for it to be made an abode of evil. The earth, adorned with incomparable and varied beauty, was created for people, since man himself was involved in God and was a part of him, created by him. Without man the unity and harmony of the world was inconceivable. According to Rust'hveli's concept of things, love, even in this world, could bring man into contact with the supreme harmony and thereby make him closer to the divine.
Man was given intelligence in order that he might know the world created for him and make his knowledge an instrument for achieving the supreme goal. For the truly wise man there was no gulf separating heaven and earth: he knew it was the gulf, not the world that was illusory. Apparently essential evil was only the product of ignorance and was overcome by active knowledge, which must not remain “wisdom for its own sake”, but which must be wholly directed towards the affirmation of good, towards the supreme goal of communion with God, towards the highest order and harmony.
It is here that the fundamental difference between Rust'hveli's view of the world and traditional medieval thinking lies. Rust'hveli considered that the world was created by God for man and that man himself was a part of God. It was therefore for man to live, create and act and not to reside in a prison of evil. The world was illuminated by the sun and the sun was the visible image of the creator. The source of all earthly light was God himself.The poet was convinced that one must love a real, living being, not a lifeless symbol of God. Love brought us into contact with the supreme harmony, since it was through love that evil was conquered, the fetters broken and the illusion that creator and man are divided dispelled.
Rust'hveli knew that in order to grasp the supreme truth man should not await heavenly enlightenment in a mystical ecstasy. The creator had endowed man with intelligence with the object of embodying in him His own nature. God and man were united by virtue of intelligence and it was for this very reason that the possibilities of human intelligence were limitless.
There was certainly no need for Rust'hveli to go beyond the bounds of Christian teaching for confirmation of his philosophical ethical ideas. If it was true that the objective seeker after truth could find every one of these principles in religious dogma, how much more so was it the case that they could be grasped by the intuition and wisdom of a poetic genius. It is also by no means impossible that Rust'hveli saw and perceived immeasurably more in Christian ideas than was accessible to ecclesiastical commentators. Of course, none of these truths would have been stamped on the poet's consciousness with such clarity and harmony had he lacked the philosophical experience of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.
Once the gulf dividing creator and created had been overcome and the forces directly raising man to divine perfection revealed (love and wisdom), it inevitably became clear that man's activity had value for existence, both divine and earthly. Hence the vital conclusion that the earthly activity of man as he strives to commune with God is by no means all vanity and confusion in a world of vanity (as was claimed in the theories of the Middle Ages), but an integral part of an inconvertible process of development and movement in an indivisible universe. Ultimately this earthly human activity was contiguous with divine action. But, of course, only that cause which is directed by the active personality, filled with love and wisdom, to the supreme goal, to the divine ideal can itself be divine. Existence un-illuminated by the light of love and intelligence is doomed to stagnation and torment in the prison of evil, where everything is short-lived, illusory and transitory, barren and impotent. There all the laws of earthly life as a whole operate with implacable severity, but in a fog of lovelessness and non-under- standing, since, as we know, according to Rust'hveli's most important philosophical and ethical conclusion, “evil is in this world for a moment, goodness is immutable ,”
This is why, when we say that Rust'hveli raised man to inaccessible heights, we have in mind the idea of humanity and not simply of one man. Tariel and Avt’handil, Nestan and T'hinat'hin and their friends, too, are a living embodiment of this idea. They are truly pinnacles of creation, lords of nature, monarchs of the spirit.
Therein lies the explanation for the constant comparisons between the heroes of the poem and the sun and their frequent personification by the image of the sun. In turning to a general artistic characterisation of the poem, we should direct our attention to a particular circumstance. While the structure of The Knight in the Tiger Skin is extremely complex, being conceived and worked out on several levels, each of these levels is characteristically elaborated with the same thoroughness and consistency. The various levels interpenetrate each other and only by the most painstaking analysis can they be separated.
I believe that in all literature only the smallest handful of works are as perfectly constructed as Rust'hveli's poem. But even more important is that the poem, as conceived and created, presupposes an unusually wide audience. The Knight in the Tiger Skin has always been equally near and dear to the learned scholar and the humble toiler. Both find in the poem words addressed to them, comprehensible to them and dear to them. And each perceives its idea, which today shines with a special light at us, its millions of readers. This idea is simple and great. Rust'hveli reminds us, contemporary men and women, that man and man alone is the greatest value in the world and that he must be fine and perfectly harmonious. His body and soul, his mind, feelings and actions must be fine. It is man's appointed role and hence his obligation to develop within himself such a will that his thoughts and actions are directed towards good and towards noble ends only.
But Rust'hveli also warns us that for man to be truly great, for him to be elevated to heights which are worthy of him, a contemplative and passive humanism, no matter how noble or well-intentioned, is not enough. For “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Only activity-and heroic, self-sacrificing activity, if necessary-eternal, unflinching and tireless action can trample evil underfoot and ensure the triumph of good. “Evil is killed by good, there is no limit to good “' This is what makes a man a man and ensures the triumph of a world order in which true harmony reigns.
To liberate Nestan-Daderjan from captivity, incredible trials had to be undergone, intolerable torments endured, insurmountable obstacles overcome and more than human feats, almost inconceivable for ordinary mortals, carried out. This reflects Rust'hveli's moral maximalism: the poet never abased his heroes with petty tasks, difficulties and obstacles. But even if we leave aside the symbolism contained in the story of Nestan's capture and liberation and read Rust'hveli's poem from a purely modern point of view, in terms of what interests us most, the same wisdom that underlies every level of this sophisticated poem will unfold before us: evil can be subdued only by the active force of triumphant good and good can reign on earth only in irreconcilable and victorious conflict with evil.
This is why The Knight in the Tiger Skin has become a priceless treasure of the people, why this poem has constantly awakened and sustained man's faith in his own powers and in the triumph of good.
The Knight in the Tiger Skin
Translated by M.S.Wardrope
2 Story of Rostevan, King of the Arabians
3 King Rostevan and Avt'handil Go Hunting
4 How the King of the Arabians Saw the Knight Clad in the Tiger Skin
5 T'hinat'hin Sends Avt'handil to Find the Knight
6 Avt'handil's Letter to His Vassals
7 Avt'handil Sets Forth in Quest of the Knight
8 Avt'handil's Tale as Told to Asmat'h in the Cave
9 The Meeting of Tariel and Avt'handil
10 The Telling of His Tale by Tariel When He First Told It to Avt'handil
11 Tariel Tells the Tale of His Falling in Love When He First Fell in Love
12 First Letter Written by Nestan-Daredjan to Her Lover
13 First Letter Written by Tariel to His Beloved
14 Tariel Writes a Letter and Sends a Man to the Khatavians
15 Nestan Summons Tariel to Her
16 The Letter Written by the King of the Khatavians in Answer to Tariel
17 The Meeting of Tariel and Nestan
18 Tariel's Departure for Khataet'hi and Great Battles
19 Letter of Tariel to the King of the Indians When He Triumphed Over the Khatavians
20 Letter of Nestan-Daredjan Written to Her Beloved
21 Tariel's Weeping and Fainting
22 Tariel's Letter in Answer to His Beloved
23 Counsel About Nestan-Daredjan's Marriage
24 Counsel Between Tariel and Nestan-Daredjan and Its Results
25 The Coming to India of Khvarazmsha's Son and His Slaying by Tariel
26 Tariel Hears Tidings of the Loss of Nestan-Daredjan
27 The Story of Nuradin-P'hridon When Tariel Met Himon the Seashore
28 Tariel's Aid to P'hridon, and Their Victory OverTheir Foes
29 P'hridon Tells Tariel Tidings of Nestan-Daredjan
30 The Story of Avt'handiPs Return to Arabia After He Had Found and Parted From Tariel
31 Avt'handiPs Request to King Rostevan, and the Vizier
32 Avt'handiPs Discourse With Shermadin When He Stole Away
33 The Testament of Avt'handil to King Rostevan When He Stole Away
34 Avt'handils Prayer and His Flight
35 King Rostevan Hears of Avt'handils Secret Flight
36 Avt'handils Second Departure and Meeting with Tariel
37 Avt'handil Comes Upon the Unconscious Tariel
38 Tariel Tells of the Killing of the Lion and the Tiger
39 Here Is the Going of Tariel and Avt'handil tothe Cave and Their Seeing of Asmat'h
40 Of the Going of Avt'handil to P'hridon's When He Met Him at Mulghazanzar
41 Of Avt'handils Going to P'hridon's When He Parted From Tariel
42 Avt'handils Departure From P'hridon to Seek Nestan-Daredjan
43 The Story of Avt'handils Arrival in Gulansharo
44 Avt'handils Arrival at P'hatman's; Her Reception of Him and Her Joy
45 P'hatman Becomes Enamoured of Avt'handil; Writes Him a Letter and Sends It
46 The Letter of Love Written by P'hatman to Avt'handil
47 Avt'handil's Letter in Answer to P'hatman's
48 Here Is the Slaying of the Chachnagir and His Two Guards by Avt'handil
49 P'hatman Tells Avt'handil the Story of Nestan-Daredjan
50 The Story of the Capture of Nestan-Daredj an by the Kadjis, Told by P'hatman to Avt'handil
51 The Letter Written by P'hatman to Nestan-Daredjan
52 The Letter Written by Nestan-Daredjan to P'hatman
53 The Letter Written by Nestan-Daredjan to Her Beloved
54 Avt'handil's Letter to P'hridon
55 Avt'handil's Departure from Gulansharo and His Meeting With Tariel
56 Tariel and Avt'handil Go to P'hridon
57 The Counsel of Nuradin-P'hridon
58 The Counsel of Avt'handil
59 The Counsel of Tariel
60 The Taking of the Castle of Kadjet'hi and the Saving of Nestan-Daredjan
61 The Going of Tariel to the King of the Seas
62 The Wedding of Tariel and Nestan by P'hridon
63 Tariel Goes Again to the Cave and Sees the Treasure
64 Here Is the Marriage of Avt'handil andT'hinat'hin by the King of the Arabs
65 Tariel Hears About the Death of the King of India
66 The Arrival of Tariel in India and His Conquest of the Khatavians
67 The Wedding of Tariel and Nestan-Daredjan
HE who created the firmament, by that mighty power
made beings inspired from on high with souls celestial;
to us men He has given the world, infinite in variety we
possess it; from Him is every monarch in His likeness.
O ONE God! Thou didst create the face of every form!
Shield me, give me mastery to trample on Satan, give me
the longing of lovers lasting even unto death, lightening
the sins I must bear thither with me.
OF that lion whom the use of lance, shield and sword
adorns, of the queen, the sun T'hamar, the ruby-cheeked,
the jet-haired, of her I know not how I shall dare to sing
the manifold praise; they who look upon her cannot but
taste choice sweets.
BY shedding tears of blood we praise Queen T'hamar,
whose praises I, not ill-chosen, have told forth. For ink
I have used a lake of jet and for pen a pliant crystal.
Whoever hears, a jagged spear will pierce his heart!
SHE bade me indite sweet verses in her praise, laud her
eyebrows and lashes, her hair, her lips and teeth, cut
crystal and ruby of Badakhshan arrayed in ranks. An anvil
of soft lead breaks even hard stone.
NOW want I tongue, heart and skill for utterance! Grant
me strength! And if I have aid from thee I shall have
understanding, so may we succour Tariel; tenderly indeed
should we cherish his memory and that of the three star-like
heroes wont to serve one another.
COME, let us sit and shed a never-drying tear for Tariel’s
sake. In truth none like him has ever been. I sat me down,
I, Rust'hveli, indited a poem, my heart pierced with a
lance. Hitherto the tale has been told as a tale; now is it a
pearl of measured poesy.
I, RUSTHVELI, have composed this work by the folly of
my art. For her whom a multitude of hosts obey, I lose my
wits, I die! I am sick of love, and for me there is no cure
from anywhere, unless she give me healing or the earth a
THIS Persian tale, now done into Georgian, has hitherto
been like a pearl of great price cast in play from hand to
hand; now I have found it and mounted it in a setting of
verse; I have done a praiseworthy deed. The ravisher of my
reason, proud and beautiful, willed me to do it.
EYES that have lost their light through her long to look
on her anew; lo! my heart is mad with love, and it is my lot
to run about the fields. Who will pray for me ? The burning
of the body sufficeth, let the soul have comfort! The verse
in praise of the three like heroes cannot but affect the hearer.
WITH what Fate gives to a man, therewithal should he be
content, and so speak of it. The labourer should ever work,
the warrior be brave. So, also, should the lover love Love,
and recognise it. Neither must he disdain the love of
another, or that other disdain his.
MINSTRELSY is, first of all, a branch of wisdom; the
divine must be hearkened to divinely, and wholesome is
to them that hearken; it is pleasant, too, if the listener be
a worthy man; in few words he utters a long discourse:
herein lies the excellence of poetry.
LIKE a horse is tested in a great race on a long course,
like a ball-player in the lists striking the ball fairly and
aiming adroitly at the mark, even so is it with the poet
who composes and indites long poems, and reins in his horse
when utterance is hard for him and verse begins to fail.
THEN, indeed, behold the poet, and his poesy will be
manifest. When he is at a loss for words, and verse begins
to fail, he will not weaken the verse, nor will he let the verse
grow poor. Let him strike cunningly with the polo-mallet;
he will show great virtue.
HE who utters, somewhere, one or two verses cannot be
called a poet; let him not think himself equal to great
singers. Even if they compose a few discrepant verse from
time to time, yet if they say, "Mine are of the best!" they
are stiff-necked mules.
SECONDLY, lyrics which are but a small part of poetry
and cannot command heart-piercing word — 1 may liken
them to the bad bows of young hunters who cannot kill
big game; they are able only to slay the small.
THIRDLY, lyrics are fit for the festive, the joyous, the
amorous, the merry, for pleasantries of comrades; they
please us when they are clearly sung. Those are not called
poets who cannot compose a lengthy work.
THE poet must not spend his toil in vain. One should
seem to him worthy of love; he must be devoted to one,
he must employ all his art for her, he must praise her, he must set forth the glory of his beloved; he must wish for nought else, for her alone must his tongue be tuneful.
NOW let all know that I praise her whom I erstwhile
praised; in this I have great glory, I feel no shame. She is
my life; merciless as a leopard is she. Her name I pronounce
hereafter praising her allegorically.
I SPEAK of the highest love-divine in its kind. It is
difficult to discourse thereon, ill to tell forth with tongues.
It is heavenly, upraising the soul on pinions. Whoever
strives thereafter must indeed have endurance of many
SAGES cannot comprehend that one Love; the tongue will
tire, the ears of the listeners will become wearied; I must
tell of lower frenzies, which befall human beings; they
imitate it when they wanton not, but faint from afar.
IN the Arabic tongue they call the lover "madman",
because by non-fruition he loses his wits. Some have
nearness to God, but they weary in the flight; then again,
to others it is natural to pursue lovely women.
TO a lover, beauty, like unto the sun, wisdom, wealth,
generosity, youth and leisure are fitting; he must be
eloquent, intelligent, patient, a conqueror of mighty
adversaries; who is not all these lacks the qualities of a
LOVE is tender, a thing hard to be known. True love is
something apart from lust, and cannot be likened thereto;
it is one thing; lust is quite another thing, and between
them lies a broad boundary; in no way do thou mingle
them—hear my saying!
THE lover must be constant, not lewd, impure and
faithless; when he is far from his beloved he must heave
sigh upon sigh; his heart must be fixed on one from whom
he endures wrath or sorrow if need be. I hate heartless
love-embracing, kissing, loud smacking of the lips.
LOVERS, call not this thing love: when any longs for one
to-day and another to-morrow, bearing parting's pain. Such
base sport is like mere boyish trifling; the good lover is he
who suffers a world's woe.
THERE is a noblest love; it does not show, but hides its
woes; the lover thinks of it when he is alone, and always
seeks solitude; his fainting, dying, burning, flaming, all
are from afar; he must face the wrath of his beloved, and
he must be fearful of her.
HE must betray his secret to none, he must not basely
groan and put beloved to shame; in nought should he
manifest his love, nowhere must he reveal it; for her sake
he looks upon sorrow as joy, for her sake he would willingly
HOW can the sane trust him who noises his love abroad,
and what shall it profit to do this ? He makes her suffer, and
he himself suffers. How should he glorify her if he shame
her with words? What need is there for man to cause pain
to the heart of his beloved!
I WONDER why men show that they love the beloved.
Why shame they her whom they love, her who slays herself
for them, who is covered with wounds ? If they love her not,
why do they not manifest to her feelings of hatred ? Why
do they disgrace what they hate? But an evil man loves
an evil word more than his soul or heart.
IF the lover weep for his beloved, tears are his due.
Wandering and solitude befit him, and must be esteemed
as roaming. He will have time for nothing but to think of
her. If he be among men, it is better that he manifest not
Story of Rostevan, King of the Arabians
THERE was in Arabia Rostevan, a king by the grace of
God, happy, exalted, generous, modest, lord of many hosts
and knights, just and gracious, powerful, far-seeing, himself
a peerless warrior, moreover, fluent in speech.
NO other child had the king save one only daughter, the
shining light of the world, to be ranked with nought but the
sunny group; whoever looked on her, she bereft him of
heart, mind and soul. It needs a wise man to praise her, and
ten thousand times a thousand tongues.
HER name is T'hinat'hin; let it be famous! When she had
grown up to full womanhood, she contemned even the sun.
The king called his viziers, seated himself, proud yet gentle,
and, placing them by his side, began to talk graciously
HE said: "I will declare to you the matter on which we
are to take counsel together. When the flower of the rose is
dried and withered it falls, and another blooms in the lovely
garden. The sun is set for us; we are gazing on a dark, moonless night
"MY day is done; old age, most grievous of all ills. Weighs
on me; if not to-day, then to-morrow I die—this is the way
of the world. What light is that on which darkness attends?
Let us instate as sovereign my daughter, of whom the sun is
THE viziers said: "0 king, why do you speak of your age?
Even when the rose fades we must needs give it its due; it
still excels all in scent and fair colour. How can a star
declare enmity even to the waning moon!
"SPEAK not then thus, 0 king. Your rose is not yet
faded. Even bad counsel from you is better than good
counsel from another. It was certainly fitting to speak
about what your heart desires. It is better. Give the
kingdom to her who prevails against the sun.
"THOUGH indeed she be a woman, still as sovereign she
is begotten of God. She knows how to rule. We say not this
to flatter you; we ourselves, in your absence, often say so.
Her deeds, like her radiance, are revealed bright as
sunshine. The lion's whelps are equal, be they male or female."
AVT'HANDIL was Spaspeti,1 son of the Amirspasalari.2
He was more graceful than the cypress; his presence was like sun and moon. Still beardless, he was to be likened to
famous crystal and enamel. The beauty of the host of
T'hinat'hin's eyelashes was slaying him.
HE kept his love hidden in his heart. When he was absent
and saw her not, his rose faded; when he saw her, the fires
were renewed, his wound smarted more. Love is pitiable; it
makes man heart-slain.
WHEN the king commanded that his daughter should be
enthroned as king, gladness came upon Avt'handil; the
fire that was burning Avt'handil was extinguished. He said
to himself: "Often will it now fall to my lot to gaze upon
her crystal face; perchance I may thus find a cure for my
THE great sovereign of the Arabs published throughout
Arabia an edict: "I, her father, appoint my T'hinat'hin
queen; she shall illumine all, even as the shining sun.
Come and see, all ye who praise and extol!"
ALL the Arabians came; the crowd of courtiers increased.
The sun-faced Avt'handil, chief of ten thousand times a
thousand soldiers, the vizier Sograt, the nearest to the
king of all his attendants. When they placed the throne the
people said: "Its worth is beyond words!"
T'HINAT'HIN, radiant in countenance, was led in by her
sire. He seated her, and with his own hands set the crown on
her head; he gave her the sceptre, and clad her in the royal
robes. The maiden looks on with understanding, all-seeing,
like the sun.
THE king and his armies retired and did homage. They
blessed her and established her as queen, many from many
places told forth her praises; the trumpets were blown and
the cymbals sounded sweetly. The maiden wept, she shed
many tears; she drooped her eyelashes, the tail feathers of
SHE deemed herself unworthy to sit on her father's
throne; therefore she weeps, filling the rose-garden with
tears. The king admonishes her: "Every father hath a peer
in his child," quoth he. "Until now the raging fire in my
bosom has not been extinguished."
HE said: "Weep not, daughter, but hearken to my counsel :
To-day thou art queen of Arabia, appointed sovereign
by me; henceforth this kingdom is entrusted to thee; mayest
thou be discreet in thy doings, be modest and discerning.
"SINCE the sun shines alike on roses and middens, be not
thou weary of mercy to great and small. The generous binds
the free, and he who is already bound will willingly obey.
Scatter liberally, as the seas pour forth again the floods
they have received.
"MUNIFICENCE in kings is like the aloe planted in Eden.
All, even the traitor, are obedient to the generous. It is
very wholesome to eat and drink, but what profits it to
board ? What thou givest away is thine; what thou keepest
THE maiden hearkened discreetly to this her father's
advice, she lent ear, she heard, she wearied not of
instruction. The king drank and sported; he was exceeding joyful. T'hinat'hin contemned the sun, but the sun was like to T'hinat'hin.
SHE sent for her faithful, trusty tutor, and said: "Bring
hither all my treasure sealed by thee, all the wealth
belonging to me as king's daughter. " He brought it; she
gave without measure, without count, inexhaustibly.
THAT day she gave away all she had gathered since her
childhood; she enriched both small folk and great. Then
she said: "I do the deed my father taught me; let none keep
back any of my hoarded treasure."
SHE said: "Go, open whatever treasure there is! Master
of the Horse, lead in the droves of asses, mules, and horses.
He brought them. She gave them away without measure;
she wearied not of generosity. The soldiers gathered together
stuff like pirates.
THEY pillaged her treasury as 'twere booty from Turks;
they carried off her fine, sleek Arab steeds. Her munificence
was like a snowstorm whirling down from the sky; none
remained empty, neither youth nor maiden.
ONE day passed; there was a banquet, food and drink—a
feast of fruit. A great gathering of warriors sat there to
make merry. The king hung his head, and his brow was
furrowed with sadness. They began to discuss this one with
another: "What weighs upon him, and why grieves he ?"
AT the head sat the sun-faced Avt'handil, desirable to
them that look upon him, the agile leader of the hosts;
like a tiger and a lion is he. The old vizier Sograt sat by his
side. They said one to the other: "What ails the king, and
why has he grown pale ?"
THEY said: "Some unpleasant thought has come into the
king's mind, for nothing has happened here to make him
sad." Quoth Avt'handil: "Let us inquire, 0 Sograt, let
him tell us why he is displeased with us; let us venture on
some pleasantry; why hath he shamed us?"
SOGRAT and the graceful Avt'handil arose; each filled his
winecup, and with meek mien drew nigh. Then with
smiling faces they cast themselves on their knees before the
king. The vizier sportively spoke thus, with eloquent
"YOU look sad, 0 king; there is no longer a smile on your
face. Thou art right, for, lo! your daughter with lavish hand
has given away all your rich and costly treasure. Make her
not queen at all; why bring grief on thyself?"
WHEN the king heard him he looked up with a smile. He
marvelled how he had ventured thus, how he dared to speak
such words! "Well hast thou done!" He thanked his vizier.
He confirmed this what he said: "He who lays avarice to
my charge is a lying chatterer.
"THAT afflicts me not, 0 vizier. This it is that troubles
me: Old age draws nigh; I have spent the days of youth,
and nowhere in our dominions is there a man who hath
learned from me the knightly arts.
"IT is true I have a daughter tenderly nurtured, but God
has given me no son; I suffer in this fleeting life. There
is none to be compared with me in archery or at the game
of ball. It is true that Avt'handil resembles me somewhat,
thanks to my teaching."
THE proud youth hearkened modestly to these words of
the king; with bent head he smiled. Well did a smile befit
him; his shining white teeth gleamed like sunshine on a
mead. The king asked: "Why smilest thou? Or why wert
thou shy of me ?"
YET again he said: "Why dost thou laugh at me? What is
laughable in me ?" The youth replied: "I shall tell you if
you grant me leave to speak. With what I say be not
offended, be not wroth, blame me not, call me not bold,
ruin me not for this!"
HE anwered: "How can I take aught thou sayst as
displeasing ?" He took an oath by the sun of T'hinat'hin,
that contemner of the sun. Avt'handil said: "Then will
I speak boldly; vaunt not yourself of your archery, it is
better to speak modestly.
"I, AVT'HANDIL, earth under feet, am an archer before
you; let us lay a wager; let your armies attend as
witnesses. 'Who is like me in the lists ?' said you—vain
indeed is denial !-that is decided by the ball and the field."
"I WILL not let thee thus dispute with me! Say the word,
let us draw the bow; do not shirk. Let us make good men
witnesses of our rivalry; then in the field it will be manifest
whose praises should be sung."
AVT'HANDIL obeyed; they ceased their discourse. They
laughed, they sported like children, lovingly and becomingly
they behaved. They fixed the wager, and laid down this
condition: Whoever shall be beaten, let him go bareheaded
for three days.
THE king commanded, moreover: "Let twelve slaves be
chosen to attend us, twelve to give me arrows and wait
upon me; Shermadin alone is for thee; he is equal to
them. Let them count the shots and the hits, and give
a faithful, unerring report."
TO the huntsmen he said: "Travel over the plain, beat in
many droves, go yourselves to do this, invite the soldiers
to look on, assemble and close round!" The festivity and
banquet broke up; there were we pleasantly merry.
1 Spaspeti-captain of the troops.
King Rostevan and Avt'handil Go Hunting
EARLY in the morning Avt'handil came forth like a
well-grown lily; he was clad in crimson, his face was of
crystal and ruby, over his face was a golden veil, he was
fair in huntsman's apparel. He rode upon a white steed; he
invited the king to come forth.
THE king was arrayed, he mounted, they set out for the
chase. The people surrounded the field, they made a ring
round about it; there was much mirth and excitement; the
armies kept the ground. For their wager were they hooting
and striving together.
THE king commanded the twelve slaves: "Come,
accompany us, bring us the swift bows, prepare the arrows,
compare what is struck and keep count of the shots.
" Game began to come in from every corner of the plain.
HERDS of game, innumerable, flocked in: stags, goats,
wild-asses, high-leaping chamois. Lord and vassal pursued
them; what sight could be fairer! Behold the bow, the
arrow, and the untiring arm!
THE dust from their horses' tracks cut off the sun's rays.
They slew, their arrows sped, blood flowed through the
field; as the shafts were shot away the slaves brought
more of them. The beasts wounded by them could not take
THEY ran through that field; they drove the herd before
them. They slew and exterminated, they made wroth the
God of the heavens, the fields were dyed crimson with
the blood they shed from the beasts. Those who watched
Avt'handil said: "He is like an aloe-tree planted in Eden."
THEY coursed over the whole of that plain only they had
travelled over. There on the farther edge of the plain
flows a stream; on the bank of the stream are rocks. The
game fled into the wood, where horse could not follow.
They were tired in spite of their strength.
EACH laughingly said to the other: "'Tis I that have won!"
Merry were they; they sported, hither and thither they
frolicked. Then came the slaves who had tarried, and
the king said; "Tell the truth; we seek not flattery from
THE slaves said: "We shall speak the truth; think not we
shall deceive you, 0 king; we may by no means liken you
to him. Slay us at once if you will, it matters not; we
cannot help you in any way. We observed the beasts
stricken by him; they could not move forward a step.
"TOGETHER ye have slain in all a hundred score, but
Avt'handil killed more by a score; he missed not even one
at which he aimed his bow, but we cleaned up many of
your arrows which left blots on the earth."
THE king heard this with as little concern as the result
of a game of backgammon, he rejoiced so at the victory
of his foster-son; he loved him as the rose loves the
nightingale; smiling he made merry, all grief was gone
from his heart.
THERE they both sat to cool themselves at the foot of
the trees; the soldiers assembled and stood round them,
countless as chaff; near them were the twelve slaves, bravest
of the brave. As they sported they gazed at the stream
and the edge of the glens.
How the King of the Arabians Saw
the Knight Clad in the Tiger's Skin
THEY saw a certain stranger knight; he sat weeping on
the bank of the stream, he held his black horse by the rein,
he looked like a lion and a hero; his bridle, armour and
saddle were thickly bedight with pearls; the rose of his
cheek was frozen in tears that welled up from his
HIS form was clad in a coat of tiger's skin with the
fur outside; his head, too, was covered with a cap of
tiger's skin; in his hand he held a whip thicker than a man's
arm. They looked and liked to look at that wondrous sight.
A SLAVE went forth to speak to the knight of the
woe-stricken heart, who, weeping with downcast head,
seems not a spectacle for jesting; from the jet channel of
his eyelashes rains a crystal shower. When the slave
approached, he could by no means bring himself to speak
THE slave was much perturbed; he dared not address him.
A long time he gazed in wonder till his heart was
strengthened; then he said: "The king commands thee to
attend him." The slave came near, and greeted him gently;
the knight wept on and heard not, he knew not that the
slave was there.
HE heard not a word of the slave, nor what he said; he
was wholly unconscious of the shouting of the soldiers, he
was sobbing strangely, his heart burnt up with fires; tears
were mingled with blood, and flowed forth as from
BY his head! His mind was wafted elsewhither. Once
again the slave uttered the king's message, but the knight
ceased not from weeping and heard him not, nor was the
rose-bouquet of speech plucked from his lips.
SINCE he answered not, the slave went back and said to
Rostevan: "I have told him what you said, but he will not
listen. Mine eyes were dazzled as by the sun; my heart was
sorely troubled. I could not make him hear a word though
I have tarried there so long."
THE king wondered, he was wroth, he was vexed in heart
against him. He sent the twelve slaves standing before him;
he commanded: "Take weapons of war in your hands; go
and bring hither him who sits yonder."
THE slaves went forth, they drew nigh to him, their
armour clanked. Then indeed the knight started up, he wept
still more woefully; he raised his eyes and looked round,
he saw the band of warriors. But once he said, "Woe is me!"
and spoke no word more.
HE passed his hands over his eyes, he wiped away the
hot tears, he made fast his sabre and quiver, and braced his
strong arms. He mounted his horse—why should he heed the
words of slaves ? He wended his way elsewhither, and healed
not their troubles.
THE slaves stretched forth their hands to seize that
knight; he fell upon them—alas! even their enemies would
have pitied them; he beat one against another, he slew
them without raising his hand, some with his whip he
smote, cleaving them down to the breast.
WRATHFUL was the king, and annoyed; he shouted to the
slaves. The youth looked not back nor heeded his pursuers
till they were upon him; as many as overtook him he made
to look like dead men, he threw down man on man;
Rostevan lamented thereat.
THE king and Avt'handil mounted to follow the youth.
Proud and haughty, his form swayed to and fro, his steed
was like Merani,1 the sun shone brightly on the field; he
perceived that the king pursued him.
WHEN he saw that the king was come, he struck his horse
with his whip; in that very moment he was lost, our eyes
see him not; he seemed to have sunk into an abyss or flown
to heaven; they sought, but could find no trace of his
HIS footprints they sought, and marvelled to find no
trace. Thus, leaving no vestige, the man passed away like
a Devi.2 The soldiers mourned for their dead; they hastened
to bind up the wounded. The king said: "I have seen cause
for loss of joy."
HE said: "God is weary of the happiness I have had
hitherto, therefore He turns my pleasure into the gall of
bitterness; He has wounded me unto death, none can cure
me. I am grateful, such are His will and desire."
THUS he spoke, and returned; he went frowning away.
They summoned not to the lists; groan was mingled with
groan. Each ceased from the chase wherever he was following
it. Some said: "He is right!" Others said: "0 God!"
THE king went into his bedchamber sad and frowning.
He considered Avt'handil like his son and none else followed
him; all went away, the household dispersed; merriment
ceased, the castanet and the sweet harp.
THINATHIN heard other father's great sadness. She
rose and came to the door; she with whom the sun strove
asked the chamberlain: "Sleeps he or wakes he?" He
answered: "He sits brooding; his colour has suffered a
"AVT'HANDIL alone is present; he sits in a chair before
him. They have seen a certain stranger knight; this is the
cause of his melancholy." T'hinat'hin said: "I will now
depart; it is not time for me to go in. When he asks for me,
say: 'She was here but now.'"
TIME passed; he inquired: "What doth the maiden, my
solace and jewel, my water of life?" The chamberlain
replied: "She came, pale-faced, but now; she learned of
your sadness and went away, but she is ready to come to
HE said: "Go, call her; how can I bear absence from her!
Say unto her: 'Why didst thou turn back, 0 life of thy
father? Come, drive away my grief, heal my wounded heart.
I will tell thee wherefore my joy is fled.'"
T'HINAT'HIN rose and came; she did as her father wished.
The light of her face is like the splendour of the moon. Her
father set her by his side, and, kissing her tenderly, gently,
said: "Why earnest thou not to me ? Wert thou waiting till
I sent for thee ?"
THE maiden said: "0 king, who, however venturesome,
would dare to approach you aware that you were frowning ?
This sadness of yours upsets even the lights of heaven.
Let a man seek to solve the difficulty; this, I think, would
be better than grieving."
HE answered: "0 my child, however much this sad affair
grieves me, thy sight and nearness cause me joy. My grief
is dissipated as if I had taken an electuary. I believe that
when thou knowest thou too wilt justify my sighing and
"I MET a certain beautiful, wondrous youth, his ray
enlightened the firmament and the bounds of the earth.
I could not find out why he was afflicted, nor for whom he
wept. He came not to see me; I was irritated and quarrelled
"WHEN he saw me, he mounted his horse and wiped the
tears from his eyes. I cried out that he must be seized; he
utterly destroyed my men; like an evil spirit, he was lost
to me, he saluted me not like a man. Even now I know not
whether he was real or a vision.
"I WONDER, what has happened ? How was it and what
have I seen ? He has killed my warriors and shed torrents of
blood. Can one believe him a human being when he has so
completely disappeared! God was wont to protect me but
now he has forsaken me.
"HIS tender mercies at length have become thus bitter
to me; I have forgotten the past days of my joy. Every one
will make me sad and comfort me no more. However long
my days may be, I can no more rejoice."
THE maid replied: "Deign to hearken to my uttered
words. 0 king, why repine at God or Fate! Why accuse of
bitterness the All-seeing, who is tender to all! And why
should the Creator of good make evil!
"IF this knight was indeed a man of flesh wandering
over the earth, others must have seen him; they will appear
to instruct you. If not, it is a devil who has appeared to
you to disturb your joys. Refrain from sadness. Why art
thou become cheerless ?
"THIS is my advice: Thou art king, ruler over kings;
wide is your boundary, boundless is your power; send
everywhere men with news of this story; soon shall you
know whether this youth be a mortal or not."
HE commanded men and sent them forth even to the four
corners of the heavens, saying: "Go, spare yourselves no
pains; search, hunt for that youth, let nothing hinder you;
send a letter whither ye cannot go nor attain."
THE men went, they wandered about for a year; they
looked, they sought that youth, they inquired again
and again. They could find none of God's creatures who had
seen him. Wearied in vain, they returned.
THE slaves said: "0 king, we have wandered over the
lands, yet could we not find that youth, so we could not
rejoice; we could meet no living man who had seen him;
we have not been able to serve you, now devise some other
THE king replied: "My daughter, my child, spoke truth.
I have seen a hideous, unclean spirit; he has been sent as
my foe, flying down from heaven. Grief is fled from me;
I care nothing for all that."
THUS he spoke, and sporting was increased with rejoicing;
they called the minstrel and the acrobat wherever they
were found, many gifts were distributed, he summoned all
to the throne-room. What other did God create with
1 Merani—the Pegasus of Georgian legend.
2 Devi—a djinn.
Thinat'hin Sends Avt'handil to Find the Knight
AVTHANDIL sat alone in his chamber, clad only in
an undergarment; he was singing and making merry,
before him stood a harp. To him came T’hinat'hin's black
slave, and said: "She of the aloe form, the moon-faced one,
sends for thee."
AVT'HANDIL was glad to hear this joyful news. He rose
and donned his best and brightest coat. He rejoiced to meet
the rose; they had never yet met alone. Pleasant is it to gaze
on beauty, and be near one beloved.
PROUDLY and boldly Avt'handil came to her, he was
ashamed of none. He will see her for whom the tear of woe
full oft had flowed. The peerless one sat mournful, she shone
like lightning, her rays eclipsed the moon.
HER fair form was clad in unlined ermine, she wore
negligently veils whose price it were hard to tell; but her
black, heart-piercing eyelashes and the thick, long tresses
which embraced her white throat were her real adornments
PENSIVE she sat in her red veil; she quietly greeted
Avt'handil, and gently bade him be seated. The slave placed
a seat; he sat down modestly and respectfully. Face to face
he gazed on her, full of great joy.
AND the maiden answered: "I am frightened, I fear this
misery, I should like to be silent, but have no strength and
no patience, yet I know the cause that makes thee call me
here, my face remains sad and my reason seems lost."
THE knight said: "How indeed can I speak to one so
dread! If the moon meet the sun it is consumed, it fades
away. I am no longer at leisure to think; I fear for myself.
Tell me, then, why you are sad and what will relieve you."
THE maiden replied with elegant words, not ill-chosen,
saying: "Since thou hast hitherto remained far from me,
amazed at what has seemed impossible to thee, I must first
tell thee of the malady which afflicts me, as a plague.
"DOST thou remember, when thou and Rostevan killed
game in the plain, how ye saw a certain stranger youth who
wiped his tears away ? Since then I have been a prey to
thoughts of him. I beg thee to search for him, to seek him
within the bounds of the sky.
"ALTHOUGH I have been unable to hold converse with
thee hitherto, yet from afar have I perceived thy love for
me; I know that without pause the hail has fallen from
thine eyes upon thy cheek. Thou art made prisoner by love;
thy heart is taken captive.
"THIS service of mine which I bid thee do befits thee for
these two reasons: First, thou art a knight, among all
flesh there is none like unto thee; secondly, thou art in love
with me, this is true and no slander. Go, seek that
brother-in-arms, be he near or far.
"THEREBY shalt thou strengthen my love for thee; by
delivering me from my sadness, thou shalt cripple the
foul demon; plant the violet of hope in my heart, strew
roses; then come, 0 lion, I shall meet thee like a sun; meet
"SEEK three years him whom thou hast to seek; if thou
find him, come gaily telling thy victory. If thou find
him not, I shall believe he was a vision. Thou shalt meet
the rosebud unwithered, unfaded.
"I SWEAR if I wed any husband but thee, even should
the sun become man, incarnate for my sake, may I be cut
off for ever from Paradise, may I be swallowed up in Hell,
love for thee would slay me, piercing my heart with a
THE knight replied: "0 sun, who causest the jet to
blink, what else can I answer, or what can I come to know ?
I awaited death; thou hast renewed my will to live. I shall
certainly obey thee like a slave in service."
AGAIN he spoke: "0 sun, since God has created thee a
sun, so that the heavenly planets obey thee wherever they
may be, I have heard from you that which has overwhelmed
me with grace; my rose shall not wither, thy ray shines
generously upon it."
ONCE more they made an oath together, they promised
each other, they confirmed it and discoursed much, with
many a word; what grief they had borne until now became
easy. Their white teeth flashed white lightning as if
THEY sat together, they made merry, they talked simply
of a hundred things, they spoke with their crystal and ruby
faces and jet eyes. The knight said: "Those who gaze upon
thee become mad; my heart is burned to ashes by the fire
that conies from thee."
THE youth went away, but he could not bear parting
from her, he looked back, his eyes were dazed, crystal hails
down and freezes the rose, his graceful form was trembling;
he had heart for heart, he had lent his to love.
HE said to himself: "0 sun, separation from thee is
thus early manifested on the rose: my crystal and ruby have
faded, I am become yellower than amber. What shall I do,
then, when I cannot see thee for a long time ? This shall be
my law: death for the beloved is fitting."
HE lay down on his bed, he weeps, it is difficult for
him to wipe away the tears, he shivered and swayed, like
an aspen in the wind; when he fell into a slumber he
dreamed his beloved was near; he starts, he cries out loud,
his suffering increases twentyfold.
SEPARATION from his beloved made him jealous. Tears
like pearls were shed upon the rose, making it tender. When
day dawned he apparelled himself, fair to look upon; he
mounted his horse, set out and came to court for an
HE sent a chamberlain into the hall of audience with
a message from him to the king, saying: "0 king, I venture
to tell you what I have thought: all the face of the earth
is subjected to you by your sword; now, if it be better,
I shall make known these tidings to all the vicinage.
"I WILL go, I shall travel, I shall wage war, I shall go
to the rounds of the marches, I shall, by piercing the
heart of your enemies, announce T'hinat'bin's accession;
I shall cause the obedient to rejoice, the disobedient will
I make to weep, I shall send you gifts incessantly, I shall
not be sparing of greeting."
THE king expressed his great gratitude; he said: "0 lion,
stretching thine arm in battle irks thee not. Behold, this
thy counsel is matched by thy valour. Thou mayst go,
but what shall I do if it happen that thou tarry long ?"
THE knight came in; he did homage, and spoke some
words of thanks: "0 monarch, I wonder that you should
deign to praise me. Now God will perchance lighten for
me the darkness of separation, and let me see again in joy
your joyful face."
THE king hung upon his neck and kissed him like a son;
like unto them have none been, neither upbringer nor
upbrought. The knight rose and went away, to him their
day seemed separated; Rostevan, wise and soft-hearted,
wept for him.
AVT'HANDIL set out, a brave knight marching boldly;
twenty days he journeyed, many a day he made one with
the night. She is the joy of the world, she is treasure and
due; he puts not away the thought of T'hinat'hin, of her for
whom the flame burns.
WHENEVER he came there was rejoicing in the kingdom,
nobles met him, they gave generous gifts; the sun-faced had
not wasted time in his rapid journey. The drums of joy met
them that came into his presence.
HE had a strong city to strike terror in the marches;
outside was a rock, I tell thee, with an unmortared wall.
The knight spent there three days in the pleasant chase; he
invited his pupil, Shermadin, to sit in council with him.
THIS is the slave Shermadin, mentioned above, brought
up with Avt'handil, faithful and self-sacrificing to him.
He knew not hitherto of the fire which burned the knight;
now Avt'handil revealed the hopeful words of the sun.
HE said: "Lo, Shermadin, for this I am ashamed before
thee; thou knowest all my affairs and hast given heed to
them; but hitherto thou hast not known what tears I have
shed; in her from whom I had suffering I now find joy.
"I AM slain by love and longing for T'hinat'hin; from
the narcissi hot tears moistened the frosted rose; I could
not till now show my hidden woe, now has she bidden me
hope, therefore thou seest me joyful.
"SHE said to me: 'Learn news of that lost knight, then
come, I shall fulfil thy heart's desire; I want no husband
save thee, even if a planted tree falls to my lot.' She gave
me the balm of my heart until that moment burned.
"FIRST, I am a knight; I wish to go forth to serve my
lady. Faithfulness to kings is fitting, vassal must act as
vassal; then, she has extinguished the fire, my heart is
no longer consumed to soot; a man must not bend before
misfortune, but meet it like a man.
"OF all lords and vassals thou and I are most friendly;
therefore I entreat thee to hear this from mine own mouth;
in my stead I appoint thee lord and chief over mine armies,
I could not entrust this matter to others.
"LEAD forth the soldiers to battle, rule the nobles,
send messengers to court telling the state of affairs, write
letters in my stead, present priceless gifts; why should it
be known that I am not here ?
"REPRESENT me in military duties and in the
hunting-field, wait here for me three years, keep my secret;
perchance indeed I shall return, my aloe-tree shall not
fade; but if I come not back, mourn me, weep for me, utter
"TELL the king forthwith-it is not a desirable
deed-announce my death to him, be as if thou art drunk;
say to him: 'For him is come to pass the thing which
none escape.' Give to the poor my treasure—gold, silver
"THUS shalt thou help me after the best fashion, by this
thou shalt aid me most; do not forget me soon, think
me often, take good thought of provision for me, pray for
my soul. Remember my childhood; let thy heart be
motherly towards me."
WHEN the slave heard this he wondered, he was alarmed,
from his eyes the hot tears poured like pearls. He said:
"How can the heart deprived of thee rejoice? I know thou
wilt not stay; so I cannot hinder thee in this matter.
"WHY didst thou say thou wouldst appoint me in thy
stead ? How can I undertake the lordship, how can I imitate
thee or resemble thee ? It were better that the earth cradled
me too than that I should have to think that thou art
alone; rather let us both steal forth, I will accompany thee,
take me with thee."
THE knight replied: "Hearken unto me, I tell thee truth
without any falsehood; when a lover would roam the fields
alone he must wander; a pearl falls to the lot of none
without buying and bargaining. An evil and treacherous
man should be pierced with a lance.
"TO whom could I tell my secret? Save thee, none is
worthy. To whom can I entrust the lordship save thee,
who else can do it well ? Fortify the marches that the enemy
may not encamp near. Perchance I shall return, if God
make me not to be wholly lost.
"HAZARD kills equally be it one or a hundred. Loneliness
can matter nought if the group of the heavenly powers
protect me. If I come not hither in three years, then will
it beseem thee to mourn and wear funeral garb. I will give
thee a letter, whoever is my courtier must obey thee."
Avt’handils Letter to His Vassals
HE wrote as follows: "My vassals, my instructors and
some my pupils, faithful, trusty and tried, attentive to my
behests like shadows, hearken to my letter all assembled!
"GIVE ear! I, Avt'handil, earth beneath your feet, write
this unto you; with mine own hand have I written this
epistle. For a little while I have preferred roaming to
drink and song; for bread and meat I shall trust to my bow
"I HAVE in hand a certain matter which makes me
journey to a far country; I depart alone, and this year
shall I travel. I ask you only this: I beseech you let me find
the realm unshaken by the foe.
"I HAVE in hand a certain matter which makes me
journey to a far country; I depart alone, and this year
shall I travel. I ask you only this: I beseech you let me find
the realm unshaken by the foe.
"YOU know, too, how he has grown up with me like a
brother and like a son; you must obey him as if he were
Avt'handil; let him make to sound the trumpet, do
everything as I have hitherto done; if I come not at the
time appointed, mourning and not laughter will be seemly
THE eloquent and nice-worded one ended this letter, he
tied gold round his waist, habited himself to travel alone;
he said: "I shall mount in the plain." The soldiers formed
in line, then they came forth; he tarried no time indoors.
HE said: "Let all go hence; herein I need none as a
partisan." He sent the slaves away also, he remained by
himself, alone he withdrew himself, he hastened through
the rushes. His slayer, T'hinat'hin, is always in his thoughts.
HE galloped over that plain; he was lost to the soldiers'
sight. What human being might have seen him and pursued
him, his sword could not harm him; his arm was hampered.
He was heavy laden with a burden of grief for her sake.
WHEN the soldiers hunted and sought their lord, and
could no longer find the sun-faced, their countenances
paled, their great joy turned into heaviness, they ran
everywhere to seek him, whoever had a swift horse.
"0 LION, whom can God put in thy place!" They ran and
brought out other messengers from elsewhere; they could
learn nothing of him; he passed from that place. His
disheartened hosts shed hot tears.
SHERMADIN assembled together the courtiers and nobles;
he showed them the letter in which Avt'handil had told
them his tidings. When they heard it, all remained
heart-pierced, they beat themselves, there was not
a tearless heart, not an unbruised breast.
ALL said: "Though our state without him is irksome to us,
to whom save thee could he give his seat and throne ? Of
a truth we shall obey thee, whatever thou commandest
any of us." They made that vassal lord; all did him
Avt'handil Sets Forth in Quest of the Knight
DIONISI1 the wise, Ezros2 bear me witness in this:
It is pitiable when the rose wherewith the ruby of
Badakhshan is not to be compared, and whereto a reedstem
serves as form, becomes covered with rime and frostbitten;
wherever he wanders abroad he is wearied of abodes.
AVT'HANDIL travelled over that plain at a flying pace,
he left the bounds of the Arabs, he journeyed in foreign
lands; but separation from his sun had taken away part of
his life. He said: "If I were near her now I should not shed
FRESH snow had fallen, and, freezing on the rose,
blasted it. He wished to strike his heart; sometimes he
uplifted his knife. He said: "The world has increased my
grief ninety, a hundredfold. I have gone away from all
rejoicing, from harp, lyre and pipe."
THE rose separated from its sun faded more and more.
He said to his heart: "Be patient!" Thus he fainted not
wholly. He journeyed through passing strange places on
his quest, he asked tidings of wayfarers, he was friendly
AVTHANDIL, shedding tears which flowed to increase
the sea, seeks him everywhere. The land seems to him a
couch, his arm his pillow. He says to himself: "0 beloved, I
am far from thee, my heart stays with thee; I lament,
for thy sake death would be joy to me."
HE journeyed over all the face of the earth, he went
thoroughly over it, so that beneath heaven was no place
left where he had not been; but he met none who had heard
tidings of him he sought; meanwhile three years save three
months had passed.
HE arrived in a certain dreadful country, exceeding rough;
for a month he saw no man, no son of Adam. Neither
Vis nor Ramin3 saw such woe like unto his. By day and by
night he thought of her, his beloved.
HE reached as a resting-place the slope of a great high
mountain; thence appeared a plain which it would take
seven days to cross. At the foot of the mountain flowed
a river that could not be bridged; both sides were covered
down to the water's edge with forests.
HE goes up, turns round and counts the time, the remaining
days-he has two months left. He sighs at this, he rejoices
not. "Alas! if the thing were revealed!" Again he is timid
in heart by reason of this. No man can turn evil to good;
none can be born again of himself.
HE became thoughtful; he stood to consider the matter.
He said to himself: "If I return thus, why have I spent so
much time in the field ? What can I dare say to my star,
how I have spent the days ? I have learned not even
gossip regarding him I seek.
"IF I return not, I must spend yet more time in the quest,
if I can learn no tidings of him I seek; when the time
agreed upon with Shermadin is past, his cheeks will be
bathed in tears; he will go and tell the king whatsoever
things are fitting.
"HE will tell him of my death, as I myself bade him.
Then would there be mourning, weeping; bitter would the
matter be for them. Thereafter should I return after
travelling everywhere." On this he thinks, weeping,
distressed in mind.
HE said: "0 God, why make Thy judgments crooked
because of me ? Why, alas! should I have made such a
journey in vain? Thou hast rooted up joys from my heart;
Thou hast given griefs a nest there. All my days my tears
will never cease."
THEN he said, "Patience is better," and communed thus
with himself: "Let me not die a day too soon, cast not
down my heart; without God I can do nothing, my tears
flow in vain. No one can change that which is decreed; that
which is not to be will not be."
HE said to himself: "Die, for thee it is better than
shameful life. Thou wilt go back; T'hinat'hin, who
brightens the sunny day, will meet thee; she will ask thee
for tidings of that sun; what does groaning avail?" Thus
thinking, he forthwith sets out for the reedy, watery edge
of the wood.
"SURELY have I passed by in turn all beings under the
sun, but regarding that man nought can I learn anywhere.
Doubtless they who called him a Kadj4 spoke truth. Now
tears avail me not; why should I weep in vain ?"
AVT'HANDIL descended the mountain, he crossed river
and woods, he put his steed to a gallop towards the plain;
the murmur of the water and trees annoys him; the power
of his arms and his pride were spent; the crystal field with the
jetty growth was beautiful.
HE resolved to return, he sighed and groaned; he turned
towards the plain; he traced out the road with his eyes; for
a month he has seen no human being anywhere; there were
terrible wild beasts, but he hunted them not.
THOUGH Avt'handil was become wild with heartgroaning
and sighing, yet he wished to eat, after the wont
of Adam's race; he killed game with his arrow, with arm
longer than Rostom's5; he alighted on the edge of the reedy
ground and kindled a fire with a steel.
HE let his horse pasture while he roasted the meat. He
saw six horsemen coming towards him. He said: "They
look like brigands; else what good is to be found ? No other
human being has ever been here."
HE took his bow and arrow in his hand, and went gaily
towards them. Two bearded men were leading their
beardless brother; his head was wounded, his heart had
swooned from loss of blood; they wept and grieved; alas!
his spirit was almost fled.
HE called out: "Brothers, who are ye? I took you for
brigands." They replied: "Be calm, help us and put out
the fire; if thou canst not help us, add grief to our grief,
and make it complete; weep with us who need pity,
scratch thy cheeks too."
AVT'HANDIL approached; he spoke to the men with the
grieved hearts. They told him their story, speaking with
tears: "We are three brothers, for this we shed bitter
tears; we have a large fortified town in the region of
"WE heard of good hunting ground, we went forth to the
chase, countless soldiers accompanied us, we dismounted on
the bank of a stream; the hunting pleased us, for a month
we went not away; we killed wild beasts without measure
in the plain, on the mountain and on the ridge.
"WE three brothers shamed the archers with us, so we
three vied still one with another; 'I kill best, I am better
than thou,' thus each pushed his claim with words; we
could not manifest the truth, we wrangled, we strove with
"TO-DAY we sent away the soldiers loaded with stags'
hides. We said among ourselves: 'Let us judge truly who of
us is mightier with his arm.' We remained alone, we were
private, we killed in our own sight, we shot not before
"WE had three armour-bearers with us; we ordered the
soldiers to go away, mistrusting nought; we hunted over
plain, through wood and den, we slaughtered the wild
beast, and not even a bird flew up.
"SUDDENLY there appeared a knight, morose and gloomy
of visage, seated on a black horse, black as Merani; his
head and form were clad in a tiger's skin with the fur
outside, and beauty such as his has ne'er been seen by man
"WE gazed upon his rays, we scarce could support the
brightness, we said: 'He is a sun on the earth; we cannot
say in heaven.’ We wished to seize him, we were
venturesome and tried; this is the cause of our sighs,
"I, THE eldest man, earnestly begged my younger brothers
to give me this man to fight, my next brother praised his
horse, this one only asked leave to conquer him. We
granted him this as his due. As we went towards him he
came forward unchanged, calmly and in beauty.
"RUBY mingled with crystal beautified the pale roses of
his cheeks. His tender thoughts towards us turned to
wrath, he explained nothing, neither did he let us go, he
showed not any consideration for us at all, with his whip
he ripened us who had spoken tartly to him.
"WE gave him over to our youngest brother, we elders
kept back, he seized upon him: 'Stand!' Thus he spake to
him with his tongue. The knight held no sword in his hand,
so we moved away; he struck him on the head with his
whip, we saw the blood flow indeed.
"WITH a stroke of his whip he cleft his head thus, like
a corpse he became lifeless, like earth he was brought to
earth; thus he humbled, levelled with the ground, him who
had been audacious to him. Before our eyes he went away,
bold, severe and haughty.
"HE turned not back again; he went away quietly and
without haste. Lo! There he rides-look! Like the sun and
moon." The weeping ones joylessly showed him far off to
Avt'handil; there only appeared his black steed carrying
along that sun.
BEHOLD, it befell Avt'handil that his cheeks need no
longer be covered with snow from tears, since he had not
passed so much time abroad in vain; when a man attains the
thing wished for, when he must find what he sought, then
need he no longer remember past woes.
HE said: "Brothers, I am a wanderer without a place. To
seek that knight I have gone far from the home of my
upbringing. Now from you I have learned what it was by
no means easy to discover. May God never again give you
cause to grieve.
"AS I meet my wish, my heart's desire, so even may God
not let your brother suffer." He showed them his
resting-place. "Go at your ease," said he, "give him
repose in the shade, rest your weary selves."
THUS he spoke and went his way, he spurred on his horse,
he flew like a hawk not hindered by the string, or like the
moon meeting the sun, the sun apparelled in cloth of gold,
for this cause he has extinguished his burning fires.
HE drew nearer, he bethought himself how he might
contrive the meeting: "Senseless converse yet more enrages
a madman. If a wise man would compass a difficult deed,
he must not lose his presence of mind and tranquillity.
"SINCE your man is so unreasoning and dazed that he
suffers not any to speak with him or look on him, if I go up
we shall meet only to slaughter each other, either he will
kill me or I shall kill him; he will be still more hidden."
AVT’HANDIL said: "Why should I suffer so many woes in
vain ? Whatever he is, it cannot be that he has no nest; let
him go whithersoever he will, whatever walls encompass
him there shall I seek him if my powers fail not."
TWO days and nights they fared, one behind, one before,
wearied by day and by night, eating no food; nowhere they
paused, not one moment of time, from their eyes tears
flowed, moistening the plains.
ONE day they travelled, and at eventide high rocks
appeared. In the rocks were caves, in front a stream flowed
down, it was not possible to say how many rushes were at
the water's edge, tall trees whose tops eye could not reach
rose high against the rock.
THE knight made for the cave; he passed the streams and
rocks. Avt'handil alighted from his horse, he betook himself
to the great trees, he climbed up to look, at the foot he
tethered his horse, thence he watched; that knight went
WHEN the knight, the tiger-skin-clad, passed the woods,
a maiden dressed in a black mantle came forth to the door
of the cave, she wept aloud, her tears uniting with the sea;
the knight dismounted, with his arms he embraced her neck.
THE knight said: "Sister Asmat'h, our bridges are fallen
into the sea; we shall never, timely, come upon the track
of her for whom fires burn us." Thus he spoke and beat his
hands upon his breast; the tears rained down. The maiden
swooned, he embraced her; they wiped each other's tears of
THE forest became thicker from the tearing of their hair;
each embraced the other, the youth the maid, and the
maid the youth; they wailed, they lamented, the rocks
reechoed their voices; Avt'handil gazed in wonder on their
THAT maid composed her soul, she endured the wound of
her heart, she led the steed into the cave, she took off
its trappings, she unbuckled the knight, she ungirded his
armour. They went in. That day they did not come out
AVT'HANDIL was surprised. "How am I to know this
story?" said he. Day dawned. The maiden came forth clad
in the same colour; she put the bridle on the black horse,
she furbished it with the end of her veil; she saddled the
horse, she carried the armour quietly, with no clattering.
IT was the custom, it seems, with that knight never
to tarry longer. The maiden wept and beat her breast, she
tore her thick hair; they embraced each other, he kissed her
and mounted his horse. Asmat'h, already gloomy, became
more gloomy still.
AVT'HANDIL once more saw near him the face of that
man, his moustaches had hardly grown, he was without a
beard. "Is it not the sun of heaven?" said he. He smelt the
smell of the aloe wafted on the wind. For him the killing of
a lion was just as easy as for a lion to kill a goat.
HE rode out the same road he had come in by the day
before, he passed the rushes, he went beyond, far into the
plain. Avt'handil gazed in wonder; secretly he was hidden
in the tree. He said: "God has managed this matter
exceeding well for me.
"HOW could God have done better for me than this? I
will seize the maid, I will make her tell me the story of
that knight; I shall also tell her all mine, I shall make her
know the truth. I shall not smite the knight with the
sword, nor shall I have to be pierced by him."
1 Dionysius, the Areopagite.
3 The story of the love of Vis and Ramin, of which the scene is laid in Merv, is the oldest novel in the world. It is by the Persian poet Fakhrud-din Gurgani.
4 Kadj—a sorcerer
5 A character in The Book of Kings (Shah-Nameh), by Firdausi, a Persian poet of the tenth century.
Avt'handils Tale as Told to Asmath in the Cave
HE came down and loosed his horse, which he had tied
to the tree, he mounted and rode up; the door of the cave
was open, the heart-shaken, tear-flooded maiden ran out
thence; she thought the rose-faced, crystal-haloed one was
SHE knew not the face, it was not like the face of that
knight; swiftly she turned, with a cry she made for rock and
tree; the knight leaped from his horse, seized her like a
partridge in a net; the rocks resounded with the maid's
SHE yielded not to that knight; even the sight of him
was hateful. Like a partridge under an eagle she fluttered
hither and thither; she called on a certain Tariel for help,
but he succoured her not. Avt'handil threw himself on his
knees; he entreated her with his fingers.
HE said: "Hush! what ill can I do thee? I am a man of
Adam's race. I have seen those roses and violets grown pale.
Tell me something of him. Who is the cypress-formed, the
halo-faced ? I shall do nought else to thee, be comforted,
cry not thus loudly."
THE weeping girl said—and her speech was more like
discussion than complaint.—"If thou be not mad, let me go;
if thou art mad, return to reason. Now thou lightly askest
me to tell thee a very hard matter; try not in vain, look
not to me to tell his story."
AGAIN she said: "0 knight, what wilt thou, or what
dost thou request of me ? This thing cannot be even written
with the pen. Once thou shalt say 'Tell me!' a hundred
times I shall tell thee 'No!' As smiling is better than
weeping, so I prefer mourning to song."
"MAIDEN, thou knowest not whence I come, what woes I
have endured! For as long as I have sought tidings, from
none have I heard them. I have found thee; however much
my words may annoy thee, I cannot let thee go till thou tell
me. Be not bashful with me."
THE maiden said: "Why have I fallen in with thee? Who
am I ? Or who art thou ? The sun is not near me, this thou
knewest, 0 hoarfrost, therefore thou thus annoyest me;
long discourse is tedious, so I shall speak shortly to thee;
on no account shall I tell thee aught, do whatsoever thou
YET again he adjured her, he threw himself on his knees
before her, but nought could he win from her; he wearied of
entreaty, his indignation mounted to his face, blood flowed
to his eyes, he arose, he drew her by the hair, he put a
knife to her throat.
THUS he spoke: "How can I forgive thee so much ill-will ?
If I weep, shall the tear be in vain. It is better for thee
to tell me, I shall trouble thee no more; if not, may God
slay mine enemy as I slay thee!"
THE maid replied: "Thou hast done exceeding ill to
think of using force. If thou kill me not I shall not die;
I am hale and alive. Why shall I tell thee anything until
the time when I shall no longer see woes, and if thou kill
me I shall have no head to converse with thee.
AGAIN she said: "Oh, why didst thou find me! Who art
thou that speakest with me ? Who ? I cannot be made to tell
this story with living tongue. I will make thee kill me at
mine own wish; like a despised letter, easily shalt thou
"THINK not that death would be suffering to me, for it
would free me from weeping; it is the drier-up of the ford of
tears; the whole world seems to me as straw, even so do I
weigh it; I know not who thou art, that I should tell thee
THE knight said to himself: "Thus shall I not make her
speak, I must think of some other way; it is better to ponder
the matter." He let her go, and sat down apart; he wept, he
began to shed tears. He said to the maiden: "I have angered
thee; now I know not, alas! how I shall survive."
THE maiden sat morose, she is sulky, she is not yet
sweetened. Avt'handil sits below weeping; no longer does he
speak. In the rose-garden the pool of tears is dammed up.
The maiden, too, weeps over yonder, her heart softening
She pitied the weeping knight, therefore her hot tears
flowed, but she sat, strange to the stranger, she spake
not. The knight perceived that her hasty thoughts towards
him were calmed; with flowing tears he entreated her;
he arose and bent his knee before her.
HE said: "I know that now I am by no means to hope
from thee; I have angered thee; I remain a stranger to thee
and thus lonely; yet even now I have hope for myself from
thee, for it is said that sin shall be forgiven unto seven
"THOUGH my beginning in service has pleased thee ill,
it is fitting to pity the lover; understand thou this: from
any other, whomsoever, I can have no aid, none is my
strength. I yield thee my life for my heart's sake. What
more can I do?"
WHEN the maid heard from the knight of his love, with
heart sobs she began to shed tears a hundredfold more;
again she raised her voice in wailing, she smiled not. God
gave Avt'handil his wish, his heart's comfort.
HE said to himself: "These words have changed her
colour; doubtless her tears flow faster for that she is mad
for someone." He spoke once more: "0 sister, a lover is
pitied even by his foes; thou, too, knowest that he himself
seeks death, he shuns it not.
"I AM a lover, a madman to whom life is unbearable.
My sun sent me to seek that knight. Even a cloud not
reach me where I have been on that quest. I have found thy
heart; his to thee, thine to him.
"HIS face I have imprinted on my heart like a holy
picture. For him mad, cut off, have I given up all my joy.
One of two things do thou to me: make me a prisoner or set
me free, give me life or slay me, adding grief to grief."
THE maiden spoke to the knight a word more pleasant than her first: "What thou hast now thought of is much better; just now thou didst sow enmity in my heart, now thou hast found in me a friend more sisterly than a sister.
"THEN, since thou hast thought of love as thine aid,
henceforth it will not be that I shall not be thy servant;
if I devote not myself to thee, I shall make thee mad, I
shall make thee sad; I shall die for thy sake if I find not
some means to help thee.
"NOW, whatever I tell thee, if thou wilt be obedient to
me therein thou shalt meet whatever thou seekest, thou
shalt certainly not fail; if thou hearkenest not to me thou
shalt not find, let thy tears flow as will;
with the world shall come upon thee, thou shalt die, thou
shalt be put to shame."
THE knight replied: "This only resembles one thing: Two
men were journeying somewhere along some road; the one
who was behind saw the one in front fall into a well. He
came up, called down, weeps and cries 'Woe!'
"THUS he spoke: 'Comrade, stay there, wait for me, I
go to bring ropes, I want to pull thee out.' The man who
was beneath laughed, he marvelled greatly, he shouted up:
'Unless I wait, whither can I flee from thee, whither can
"NOW, sister, thou boldest the rope about my neck;
without thee I can undertake nothing; whatever thou doest
to me rests with thee, thou art balm to the mad. Otherwise
who would bind his sound head with hay-ropes ?"
THE maid replied: "Thy discourse, 0 knight, pleases me.
Doubtless thou art some good knight, worthy of the praise
of the wise. Since thou hast heretofore suffered such griefs,
hearken to what I tell thee, and thou hast found what thou
"NOWHERE can news of that knight be found. If he
himself tell thee not it will not be told; none other shouldst
thou believe. If thou canst wait so long, wait until he come.
Be calm; freeze not the rose, let not be snowed up in
"I WILL tell thee our names if thou wishest to know
them: Tariel is the name of that distracted knight; I am
called Asmat'h, whom the hot fire burns, sigh upon sigh,
not once alone, but many times.
"MORE words about him than these I cannot tell thee. The
elegant, slender-formed roams the plain. I eat, alas! alone
of the meat brought by him from the chase. He may come
anon, I know not, or he may tarry a long time.
"I ENTREAT thee to wait; go not elsewhere. When he
comes I shall plead with him; it may be I shall be able to
do something. I shall make you known to each other; I shall
make him love thee. He himself will tell thee his story; thou
shalt make thy beloved to rejoice."
THE knight listened to the maid, he was obedient, he
submitted. Thereupon they looked round, they heard a
splash from the glen, they saw the moon come forth from
the water, its rays beaming. They hastened back: they
made no long tarrying there.
THE maid said: "0 knight. God give thee soon what thou
desirest; but make thyself unseen, hide thyself inside. No
human being is disobedient to that knight; perchance I
may so contrive that the sight of thee anger him not."
THE maiden hastily hid Avt'handil secretly in the cave.
That knight alighted from his horse; his quiver and sword
adorn him. They wept aloud, their tears flowing even to the
sea. Avt'handil gazed forth, himself hidden from view.
THE bath of tears turned the crystal to the colour of
jasper. A long time the knight and that black-robed maiden
wept. She unbuckled his armour and took it in; she also led
in the horse. They were silent; the black knife of jet cut
off the tears.
AVT'HANDIL watched, a prisoner but now freed from
his dungeon. The maid laid down the tiger's skin, the
knight sat upon it, he sighs with added grief; the jetty
eyelashes are plaited by tears of blood.
THAT maiden betook herself to the lighting of a gentle
fire with a steel; she thought he would eat meat roasted,
whole; she gave it to him, he bit off a piece, it was difficult
for him to eat, he had not strength; he began to spit it
HE lay down a little, he fell asleep, but only for a short
time; he was afraid, he screamed aloud, he leaped up as
if dazed, he cried and incessantly beat his breast with a
stone and his head with a stick; the maiden sits apart
looking at him, and scratches her face.
"WHY hast thou returned?" she asked. "Tell me what has
happened to thee." He answered: "I came upon a certain
king hunting; he had countless soldiers, heavy weighed their
baggage, he hunted in that plain where beaters were
"IT was melancholy for me to see men, the fire flamed
up still more; I came not near to meet him; I pitied myself.
I returned pale from them. I hid in the wood. I thought:
'If he pursues me no more, I shall go away at daybreak
tears sprang forth a hundredfold, ten
thousandfold more THE maiden's. She said: "Thou roamest alone with
wild beasts in the deep forest, thou approachest no man for
converse and entertainment; thou canst not help her thus;
why dost thou waste thy days in vain ?
"THOU hast fared over the whole face of the earth; how
couldst thou not find one man in whom to take pleasure,
and who could be with thee without making thee mad,
though it would not lessen thy grief? If thou diest and she
perisheth, what doth this profit thee ?"
HE said: "0 sister, this is like thy heart, but for this
wound there is no balm upon earth. Who can find such
a man as hath not yet come into the world ? My joy is
death, the severance of flesh and soul.
"WHERE, why should God cause a man to be born under
the same planet as I, even if I desired his companionship
and converse ? Who could bear my woes, or even attempt it ?
Save thee, sister, I have no human being anywhere."
THE maid said: "Be not angry with me, I fear and entreat
thee; since God has appointed me thy vizier, I cannot
conceal the best that I know in the matter: to go to
extremes is of no use; thou hast overstepped the bounds."
THE knight replied: "I know not what thou askest of me;
tell me clearly. How can I create a man for my service
without God? God needs me to be unhappy; what can I do?
Of a truth I am become as a wild beast, to this pass have
I brought myself."
THE maid again spoke: "I have harassed thee with
overmuch advice, but if I could find a man who would
come to thee of his own free will, who would stay near
thee, who would rejoice thee by his acquaintance, wilt
thou swear not to kill him nor do him any hurt ?"
HE answered: "If thou wilt show him to me, greatly
shall I rejoice at sight of him. I swear by the love of her
for whose sake I wander mad in the fields, I shall do nought
unpleasing, I shall never cause any bitterness to him; I
shall be pleasant and love him, and do all I can to be
The Meeting of Tariel and Avt'handil
THE maid rose and went to bring that knight. "He is
not angry," quoth she, to encourage him. She took him by
the hand and led him forth, like the full moon. When
Tariel saw him he thought him like the sun.
TARIEL met him. They were both fit to be ranked as
suns, or as the moon in heaven, cloudless, spreading her
rays on the plain beneath. Compared with them the
aloe-tree was of no worth; they were like the seven planets;
to what else shall I liken them ?
THEY kissed each other, they were not bashful at being
strangers; they opened the rose, from their lips their white
teeth shone transparent. They embraced each other's neck,
together they wept; their jacinth, which was worth rubies,
they turned into amber.
THE knight turned, he grasped Avt'handil's hand in his
hand; they sat down together, and wept long with hot tears.
Asmat'h calmed them with wonderful words: "Slay not
yourselves; darken not the sun with your eclipse."
TARIEL'S rose was only covered with a light frost, not
frozen. He said to Avt'handil: "Haste, tell me thy secret.
Who art thou ? Whence art thou come ? Where is thy home ?
As for me, death has forgotten me; even by it am I
AVT'HANDIL gave answer; beautiful are his words:
"0 lion and hero Tariel, thou who behavest gently, I am an
Arabian, from the court of Arabia; I am consumed by love,
unquenchable fire burns me.
"I LOVE the daughter of my lord; her lusty-armed servants
now view her as their queen. Though thou knowest me not,
I have seen thee, if thou wilt call it to mind. Dost thou
remember when thou slowest the strong-armed slaves ?
"WE saw thee roaming in the plain, and we came upon
thee. My lord was angry with thee, and we quarrelled fiercely
with thee. We called thee, thou earnest not, we pursued
thee with soldiers; thou didst dye the fields crimson with
the blood thou madest to flow.
"THOU didst cut the heads of all with a whip, without
a sword. The king mounted, thou wert lost to us, we could
not cut off thy track; like a Kadj thou wert hidden, the
slaves were terrified. This enraged us still more; we were
"THE king became gloomy; you know that a monarch
also has humours. They looked for thee, they sought thee
everywhere, they traced a map. They could find none who
had seen thee, neither young nor old. Now she has sent me,
she to whom neither sun nor ether is to be compared.
"SHE said to me: 'Learn for me news of that vanished sun;
then will I do that which thou desirest.' She told me that
for three years the stream of tears was to flow without
her; dost thou not marvel that I could bear the lack of
the sight of her smile?
"UNTIL now I have seen no man who saw thee. I saw
Kurds who spoke rudely with joy; thou didst strike them
with thy whip; one thou madest like a corpse; they whose
brother was dying told me."
TARIEL recalled their bygone fight. He said: "I remember
the affair, though it happened long ago. I saw thee and
thy master together at the chase. I was weeping because I was
thinking, alas! of my destroyer.
"WHAT did you want with me ? What did you desire ?
What had we in common? You, mighty, were sporting;
we bathed our cheeks in tears. When you set the slaves
upon me you dared to take me; now, methinks, instead of
capturing me you bare away corpses.
"I LOOKED round when I saw thy lord approach me, I had
pity on his kingship; therefore I laid not my hands upon
him, I fled before your eyes, I said nothing. My horse looks
an invisible spirit, to what else can I compare him ?
"BEFORE a man can blink or wink the eye, I can flee
that which I know to be unpleasant. Those Kurds, on the other
hand, I did not consider myself unjust to them; their
overbearance and my prowess ill became them.
"NOW thou art come with good intent, the sight of thy
face rejoices nie, 0 cypress-tormed, sunlike-faced, brave as
a hero; but thou hast toiled, thou art not untried by
trouble; hard is it to find a man abandoned by God in
AVTHANDIL said: "How dost thou praise me, thou
worthy of the praise of the tongue of the wise ? What am
I to deserve such praise from thee ? Thou art the image of
the one sun, the light of heaven above, for the misery of
the flowing of so many tears cannot change thee.
"THIS day has made nie forget her who darkened my heart.
I renounce her service; дs for that, it shall be as thou
wishest. Thus, though a jacinth is better, still a thousand
times more do I desire enamel. I shall stay near thee till
death, more than this I desire not."
TARIEL said: "Thy heart now is warm to me. I am
amazed. What service worthy of thine attachment have I
done for thee ? But such is the law: lover pities lover.
Thou art parted from thy beloved; what can recompense
thee for this ?
"THOU art come forth to seek me in thy lady's service.
God has made thee find me. Thou also hast endeavoured
manfully. But how shall I teil thee why I am thus
wandering ? If I speak of it, hot fire will fire me; I shall
become a flame, a smoke."
UPON this Tariel was silent, burned and enflamed. He
said to Asmat'h: "Since thou hast been near me all the
time, how dost thou not know that this bruised bruise
is incurable ? Anew this weeping knight burns nie; I am his
debtor for tears.
"HOW can man find that which has not been created by
God ? Therefore has my heart been born in the embers of a
glowing furnace. My path has been cut ofF, I am bound in
a net, caught in a snare. Of my feasts—only straw for my
bed and my nabadi1 remain.
"BUT merciful God, whom the sun has made known to us,
has accorded me two blessings to-day: the first is that two
lovers will be reunited by me, and the second that mayhap
the flaming fire will be unable to consume me."
HE said to the knight: "Whatever man takes to himself
a brother—ay, or a sister—must have not care of death and
trouble for their sake. How should God save the one if He
cause not the other to perish ? Listen, and I shall teil thee
whatever befall me."
HE said to Asmat'h: "Come, sit down here, bring water
with thee, sprinkle me when fainting, bathe my breast. If
thou seest me a corpse, weep for me, sob ceaselessly, dig
a grave for me, here let the earth cradle me."
HE sat down unbuttoned to teil his tale; he laid bare his
shoulders. Like the sun clad in clouds he sat; a long time
he shed no ray. He could not open his lips to speak; he
clenched them. Then he drew his breath, cried out, hot tears
HE sobbed: "O beloved, mine own, lost to me! My hope and
life, my thought, my soul, my heart! Who cut thee off I
know not, O heart a hundred times kindled!"
1 Nabadi-a shaggy cloak of goat-skin.
The Telling of His Tale by Tariel When He First Told It to Avt'handil
"HEARKEN, give heed to the hearing of my tidings,
discourses and deeds such that I can scarce utter them!
She who maddens me, for whom I am overpowered by
melancholy, for whom flow streams of blood, from her I
never expect comfort.
"THOU knowest, as every man knows, of India's seven
kings. P'harsadan possessed six kingdoms; he was sovereign,
generous, rich, bold, ruier over kings, in form a lion, in
face a sun, a conqueror in battle, a leader of squadrons.
"MY father sat on the seventh throne, king, terror of
adversaries; Saridan was his name; not underhanded in
the destruction of enemies, none dared offend him either
openly or secretly; he hunted and made merry, careless
"HE hated solitude; it created hosts of cares in his heart.
He said to himself: 'By conquest I have taken from foes
the vicinage of the marches, I have chased them forth
everywhere, I am seated in power, I have pomp and might';
he said: 'I will go and enjoy the favour of King P'harsadan.'
"HE resolved to despatch an envoy to P'harsadan; he
sent a message saying: Thou hast the rule of all India; now
I also wish to exhibit before you the power of my heart;
may the glory of my faithfui Service remain !'
"P'HARSADAN, on hearing those tidings, made great
jubilation. He sent a message: ''I, ruier of the lands, give
thanks to God, because thou, a king like me enthroned in
India, hast done this; now come, I shall honour thee like
a brother and parent.'
"HE bestowed on him one kingdom well worthy of a good
knight, also the dignity of Amirbar-the Amirbar in India is
also Amirspasalari; when he sat as king, he was not absolute:
he only lacked the overlordship, in all eise he was sovereign lord.
"THE king considered my father equal with himself; he
said: 'I wager that no man has an Amirbar like mine.'
They waged war and they hunted; they forced their enemies
to make peace. I am not like him, as no other man is like me.
"THE king and the sun-like queen had no child, for this
they were sad; a time came when the armies were seized
with alarm thereat. Woe befall that cursed day when I was
given to the Amirbar! The king said: 'I shall rear him as my
son; he is even of mine own race.'
"THE king and queen took me as their child, they brought
me up as lord of all the soldiers and countries, they gave me
wise men to instruct me in the behaviour and deportment
of kings. I grew up, I became like the sun to look upon, like
a lion in
"ASMAT'H, tell me whatever thou knowest to be false in
my story! When I was five years old I was like an opened
rosebud; to me it appeared no labour to slay a lion-it was
like a sparrow. P'harsadan cared not that he had no son.
"ASMAT'H, thou art witness of my pallor! I was fairer in
beauty than the sun, as the hour of dawn than darkness.
Those who saw me said: 'He is like a nursling of Eden.'
My person now is but a shadow of what it was then.
"I WAS five years old when the queen became with child."
When he had said this the youth sighed, and weeping said:
"She bare a daughter." He was like to faint; Asmat'h
sprinkled water on his breast. He said: "She for whom
these flames now burn me was like the sun even then.
"THE tongue with which I now speak cannot utter the
praise of her. P'harsadan sat down to announce the good
news with jubilation and pomp. From everywhere came
kings bringing many kinds of gifts. They gave away
treasure; they filled the soldiers with presents.
"MISSIVE followed missive when the queen was confined.
Many messengers came, all India was informed. The moon
and the sun rejoiced, the sky sparkled with joy, every
human being was happy and frohcked in merriment.
"THE guests at the birth festivities separated. They began
to rear nie and the maiden; even then she was like the
sun's rays augmented threefold; the king and queen loved
us and looked on us alike. Now shall I utter the name of her
for whom my heart is consumed by flame."
THE knight swooned when he sought to mention her name.
Avt'handil also wept; his fire made his heart like soot. The
maiden revived Tariel; she sprinkled water on his breast.
He said: "Hearken! but this truly is the day of my death.
"THAT maiden was called by the name Nestan-Daredjan.
When she was seven years old she was a gentle and wise maid,
moon-like, not equalled by the sun in beauty; from her how
can the heart bear Separation, even if it were adamant or
"SO she grew up, and I was able to go to battle. Since
the king looked upon the maid as the heir to the kingship.
he gave me back into the hands of my father. When I was
of that age I played at ball, I hunted, I killed a lion like a
"THE king built a house, and in it a dwelling for the
maid; for stone he used bezoar, cut jacinths and rubies; in
front was a little garden and a fountain of rose-water for
bathing; there abode she for whose sake a furnace of flame
"DAY and night cut aloes poured forth their incense from
censers. Sometimes she sits in the tower; sometimes she
descends to the garden when it is shaded. Davar was the
king‘s sister, a widow who had been wedded in Kadjet‘hi;
to her the king gave his child to be taught wisdom.
„THE palace was curtained with cloth of gold and costly
brocades; none of us saw her how she became crystal and
rose of face; Asmat‘h and two slaves she had, they played
backgammon. There her shape was formed; she grew up like
a tree in Gabaon.
"I WAS fifteen years old. The king brought me up as a
son; by day I was betцre him, and he did not even give me
leave to sleep at home. In power a lion, to the eye a sun,
in form I was like one reared in Eden; they lauded the feats
done by me in archery and in the lists.
"THE arrow I shot siew beasts and game; returned from
the plain, I played at ball in the moedan1; then I went
home, I used to make a feast, accustomed continually to
rejoice. Now Fate has sundered me from the crystal-
MY father died; the day ofhis death was come. This
event brought to nought all sign of merriment for
P‘harsadan; it rejoiced those whoni terror or fear of him
as a foe exhausted; the loyal began to mourn and his
encmies began to rejoice.
„I SAT in the dark for a year, annihilated by Fate; by
day and by night I groaned, calmed by none; then courtiers
came to draw me from the dark, they told me the king‘s
command; he said: 'Son Tariel, wear mourning no longer!
"'WE are even more grieved than thou at the loss of our
peer.' He gave a hundred treasures, and commanded that
I should put off my black raiment. He gave me all the
lordship that had belonged to my father. Thou shalt be
Amirbar; fulfil the duties ofthy father.‘
I WAS inflamed; inextinguishable furnaces burned me
for my father‘s sake. The courtiers Standing betore me
led me out from the dark; the monarchs of India made
jubilation at my coming forth; they met me afar off, they
kissed me with regard like parents.
„THEY seated me near their thrones, they honoured me
like their son, they both told me gently of my Obligation
ofduty; I was recaicitrant, and to behave as my father had
done seemed a horror to me. They would take no denial: I
submitted, and did homage to them дs Amirbar.
"MANY years have passed, I know not how to teil you, it is
so difficult to relate. Variable, inconstant, the worid always
does evil. The sparks from its anvil burn me incessantly."
1 Moedan-public square.
Tariel Tells the Tale of His Falling
in Love When He First Fell in Love
WHEN he had wept for some time he again began to tell
his tale: „One day the king and I had come home from the
chase, and he said: „Let us see my daughter!" He took me
by the hand.. . . Does it not surprise thee that I live when
I remember that time ?
"I SAW the garden fairer indeed than all places of delight:
the voice of birds was heard, sweeter than a siren‘s, there
were many fountains of rose-water for baths, over the door
were hung curtains of cloth of gold.
SLIM cypress encircled the emerald wall of the courtyard.
The king dismounted and drew near to the bezoar-stone
tower. He entered; the great palace was hung with rugs.
My soul, how can you endure the piercing lances of those
"HE king ordered me to take some durajis1 and carry
them to the maiden. I took them and went to burn myself
at a flame. Then I began to pay the debt of Fate. It needs
a lance of adamant to pierce a heart of rock.
"I KNEW he wished none to see his sun-like one; I stood
outside, and the king went in through the curtain of the
door; I could see nothing, I only heard the sound of talk;
he commanded Asmat‘h to take the durajis from the
"ASMAT‘H drew aside the curtain; I stood outside the
curtain. I saw the maiden; a lance pierced my mind and
heart. Asmat‘h came, I gave her the durajis, she took them
from me who was burned with fire. Ah me! since then in
eternal fires I burn!"
NOW failed that light which despises even the sun; he
could teil no more, he fainted, groaning bitterly. Avt‘handil
and Asmat‘h wept; the vicinage re-echoed their voices. They
said gloomily: "The arms that brought to nought heroes are
become useless, alas !"
ASMAT‘H sprinkled water upon him, Tariel came back to
consciousness; for a long time he could not speak,
melancholy bound and overcame his heart; he sat down
and moaned bitterly, his tears were mingled with the
earth; he said: "Woe is me! what a great agitation is her
memory to me!
"TRUSTERS in this ephemeral worid have their pick of
her gifts, they are lucky, but at last are not spared her
treachery; I praise the prudence of those sages who oppose
her. Hearken to my tidings if life remain in me!
"THEY took in the durajis, I could make no way for
myself. I fell, I fainted, force was fled from mine arms and
shoulder. When I came back to life I heard the voice of
weeping and woe; the household surrounded me like one
who is embarking on a ship.
"I LAY in a fair bed in a great chamber; the king and
queen wept over me with undrying tears, they scratched
their faces with their hands, tearing their cheeks; mullahs
sat round, they called my sickness bewitchment of
"WHEN the king saw mine eyes open he embraced my
neck; he said to me with tears: 'My son, my son, dost thou
indeed live? Speak one word!" I could give no answer; like
a madman I was greatly affrighted. Again I fell into a faint;
blood rushed into my heart.
"ALL the muqris2 and mullahs watched round me, in their
hands they held the Koran, all ofthem read; they thought
I was struck by the Adversary of mankind, I know not of
what they raved. For three days I was lifeless;
inextinguishable fires burned me.
„THE doctors also marvelled, saying: „What manner of
sickness is this ? Nothing medicable afflicts him; some
melancholy has laid hold of him. " Sometimes I leaped up
like a madman, I uttered idle words. The queen poured
forth tears enough to make a sea.
„FOR three days was I in the palace neither alive nor
dead; then understanding caine back to ine, I remembered
what had befallen me; I said: „Alas! in what a plight am
I, despairing of life! „I prayed the Creator for patience;
I ventured to make a discourse of entreaty.
„I SAID: '0 God! abandon me not, hearken to my
supplication, give me strength to endure that I may rise a
little; to stay here will reveal my secret; let me reach horne!"
He did so and I mended; I steeled my wounded heart.
"I SAT up. . . . Many men were come from the king, they
carried back the good news: "He sits up!" The queen ran in,
the king came running bareheaded, he knew not what he
did, he glorified God, all others were silent.
„THEY sat down on either side ofme; I sipped some
soup, I said: „My lord, now my heart is stronger. I long to
mount a horse, to see river and field. „They brought me a
horse, I mounted, the king went with me.
„WE went forth; we passed by the moedan and the
riverbank. I went home, I sent back the king, who
accompanied me to the threshold of the house. I went in;
I feit worse, woe was added to woe; I said to myself: „I
would die! What more can Fate do to me!"
"THE bath of tears changed the crystal to saffron colour;
ten thousand knives cut my heart still more. The doorkeeper
of the bedchamber entered, he called out the treasurer;
I said to myself: 'What news does he know, either this one
or that one ?'
"IT is Asmat'h's slave.' 'What knows he?' I called.
'Ask!' He came in. He gave me a love-letter. I read it.
I was surprised that I could diminish the burning of my
heart; I had no suspicion of her, my heart burned with
melancholy for this.
"I WAS surprised wherefore I was loved, or how Asmat'h
dared to declare it to me. But, thought I, disobedience
avails not, she will denounce me for silence, she will lose
hope of me, then will she reproach me. I wrote what answer
was fitting to enamourment.
"DAYS passed, and heart burned me still more with
flame. I no longer watched the soldiers going to the plain
to sport. I could not go to court. Many physicians began to
come. Then I began to pay the joys and debts of the world.
"THE physicians could do nothing for me; the twilight
of darkness fell upon my heart. No one else discovered the
burning of the hot fire. They blamed my blood. The king
ordered them to bleed my arm; I let it be done, so as to
hide my sufferings, to let none suspect.
"AFTER my arm was bled I lay melancholy alone in my
bed. My slave came in; I glanced at him to ask what he
wanted. 'It is Asmath's slave,' said he. I told him to bring
him in. I thought in my heart: 'What has she found in me,
or who is she ?'
"THE slave gave me a letter; I read it slowly. I learned
from the letter that she wished to come quickly to me.
I wrote in reply: 'It is time. Thou art right to be surprised.
I shall come if thou wantest me; suspect me not of tardiness
"I SAID to my heart: 'Why do such lances make thee thus
melancholy ? I am Amirbar, king: all the Indians are
subject to me. If it come to their knowledge they will
weight the deed a thousand times; if they find it out they
will not let me travel in their regions.'
"A MAN came from the king saying he wished to hear
the news. I ordered him in; the king commanded me to be bled.
I said: 'My arm has been bled; I have begun to mend. I
come to your presence; it is fitting for me to rejoice the
more for this again.'
"I; he girded WENT to court. The king said: 'Now, do this no more!'
He seated me quiverless on a horse not my loins.
He mounted, he let fly the falcons, the durajis shrank with
fear, the archers formed in ranks said: 'Bravo! Bravo!'
"WE made a feast at home that day for those who had been
in the plain; the singers and minstrels were not dumb; the
king gave away many precious stones praised as unique;
none of those present were left dissatisfied that day.
"I STROVE, but could not keep myself from melancholy;
I thought on her, the fire burned into a larger flame in my
heart. I took my comrades with me, I sat down; they called
me an aloe-tree; I drank and feasted to hide my misery
"MY treasurer of the household whispered in mine ear:
'A certain woman asks if she can see the Amirbar; veils
cover her face, worthy of the praise of the wise.' I replied:
'Take her to my chamber; she is invited by me.'
"I ROSE up; those sitting at the banquet prepared to
depart. 'By your leave,' said I, 'do not rise; I shall not
tarry long.' I went forth and entered the chamber, a slave
stood on guard at the door, I nerved my heart to suffer
"I HALTED at the door; the woman came forward to
meet me and did me homage. She said to me: 'Blessed is he
whoever is worthy to come before thee!' I marvelled;
whoever saluted a lover ? I thought: 'She knows not how
to make love; and she knew she would sit quiet.'
"I ENTERED, sat down on the sofa, she came to the edge
of the carpet, not daring to sit near me for she did not
judge herself worthy. I said: 'Why do you remain there
when you are seeking for my love ?' The maiden answered
nothing, she was calculating her words.
"SHE said to me: 'This day makes my heart to burn with
a flame of shame. Thou thinkest I came hither to thee for
that purpose, but I find cause for hope in the fact that I
have not waited long for thee; I cannot say if I am worthy
of this. God's mercy fails me.'
"SHE rose; she said to me: 'I am bashful of thee, my
reason is perplexed. Suspect me not of what has been said
by command of my mistress; such great boldness is in order
to please her heart. This letter will tell thee for whom I
2 Muqris-an Arabian word meaning learned expounders of the Mussulman doctrine.
First Letter Written by Nestan-Daredjan to Her Lover
"I SAW the letter; it was from her for whom fire consumes
my heart. The sunbeam wrote: 'O lion! let not thy wound
appear. I am thine. Die not, but I hate vain fainting. Now
Asmat'h tells thee all that is spoken by me.
'"PITIFUL fainting and dying, what love dost thou think
this! It is better to exhibit to the beloved deeds of heroism.
All dwellers in Khataet'hi are our tributaries; now their
ill-will towards us cannot be borne by us.
'"I WAS desirous to wed thee even before, but hitherto
I have not found opportunity to speak. The other day
I saw thee deprived of reason sitting in the litter; then I
heard all that had befallen thee.
""I WILL tell thee truth; hearken to this that I say to
thee: Go, do battle with the Khatavians, exhibit thyself to
me in a goodly manner, this is better for thee. Weep idly
no more; why moisten more the rose! What more can the
sun do to thee! Behold, I have turned thy darkness to
First Letter Written by Tariel to His Beloved
"ASMATH spoke to me boldly, she was not timid.
What can I tell of myself, who I was, how can I estimate my
joy? My heart was beating, it trembled, it failed me, my
face became crystal again, rubies flamed in my cheeks.
"WITH mine eyes I gazed upon the letter written by her.
I wrote in answer: 'O moon, how indeed can the sun surpass
thee! May God not give me that which is not like thee! I
feel as in a dream; I cannot believe in my survival.'
"I SAID to Asmat'h: 'I cannot devise more answer than
this. Say thus to her: "0 sun! since thou art arisen as a
light for me, behold thou hast revived me who was dead;
I shall faint no more henceforth, whatever be the service
I am a liar if I shun it.'"
"ASMAT'H said to me: 'She told me: "Let us do thus,
thus were it better: Whoever sees thee will discover nothing
of my discourse with him; he will come to see me as if he
were making love to thee." She entreated me to tell the
Amirbar so to behave.'
"THIS counsel pleased me, the wisdom of the heart of
her whom even the sun took care not to gaze on; she had
given to me to hear the refined conversation of her in whose
rays daylight was like darkness.
"I GAVE Asmat'h choice jewels with a golden cup. She
said to me: 'No, I do not want them; I have these to
satiety.' She took one ring weighing a drachma: 'This is
enough for a token; I am full of other bracelets.'
"THE maid arose and went forth. The spears spared my
heart, joy lightened my darkness, the fire which had burned
me was extinguished. I went in and sat down at the banquet
where my comrades were drinking; joyful, I distributed
gifts, the jubilation increased."
Tariel Writes a Letter and Sends
a Man to the Khatavians
"I SENT a man to Khataet'hi and a letter from me; I
wrote: "The king of the Indians is of a truth powerful from
God; every hungry soul of those faithful to him is sated;
whosoever is disobedient will have himself to blame.
'"BROTHER and lord, by you we will not be embittered.
When you see this command wend hither; if you come not
we shall come; we will not steal upon you. It is better you
should come to us, spill not your own blood.'
"I SENT the man, I gave my heart up yet more to
rejoicing, I made merry at court; the fire unbearable in its
burning was extinguished. Then the world. Fate, gave me
lavishly what I desired; now I am mad, so that I annoy
even the wild beasts if I approach them.
"AT first the plan of roaming, then reason soothed me.
I feasted with my comrades, but the greatness of desires
hindered me from joy; sometimes they filled me with
melancholy, I uttered curses against Fate."
Nestan Summons Tariel to Her
"ONE day, on my return from the king's palace, I came
to my chamber. I sat down and thought of her, slumber
fell not upon mine eyes, I had the letter of hope, therefore
was I merry. The doorkeeper called the slave; he told him
a secret matter
"'IT is Asmat'h's slave,' quoth he. I ordered him to be
brought into the chamber. She wrote to me that she whose
knife had pierced my heart commanded me to come. Joy
lightened my darkness; she loosened my chains. I went, I
took the slave, I spoke not at all with him.
"I ENTERED the garden; I met none to speak to me. The
maid met me merry, smiling; she said: 'I have bravely
extracted the thorn from thy heart, it is no longer therein;
come and see thy rose unfaded, unwithered.'
"THE maid with an effort raised the heavy curtain; there
stood a palankeen adorned with choice rubies where sat she
whose face was like the sun flashing; her eyes, like inky
lakes, looked beautifully at me.
"A LONG time I stood, and she spoke no word to me whom
she yearned for; she only looked at me sweetly as at an
intimate. She called Asmat'h, they spoke together; the maid
came and whispered in my ear: 'Now go; she cannot say
anything to thee.' Again the flame reduced me to soot.
"ASMATH led me forth, I went out, I passed the curtain.
I said: '0 Fate, who not long ago didst heal my heart, thou
gavest me hope then; why hast thou scattered my joy? My
heart is still more devastated again by the pain of parting."'
"ASMAT'H promised me comfort. We walked through the
garden; she said to me: 'Let not the brand be thus seen
upon thy heart because of thy going; shut the terrace of
sorrows, open the door of joy. She is ashamed to speak;
therefore she behaves with dignity.'
"I SAID: '0 sister, I think this heart-balm is from thee. I adjure thee, part me not from life, extinguish this flame with tidings, cut me not off from letters, send them ceaselessly; if thou learnest something for me I think thou wilt not keep it hidden from me.'
"I MOUNTED my horse, I went thence, a stream flowed
from the channel of tears. I went to bed; maddened, I had
no power to sleep. I, the crystal and ruby, became bluest
indigo. I preferred night; I wished not for the dawn of day
"THE men that had been sent returned from Khataet'hi—it
was time for them to come—they brought a proud and
insolent message: 'We are no cowards, neither are our keeps
unfortified. Who is your monarch ? What lord is he over
The Letter Written by the King of
the Khatavians in Answer to Tariel
"HE wrote: 'I, Ramaz the king, write a letter to thee,
Tariel. I marvelled at what was written in the letter penned
by thee. How dost thou summon thither me who am lord
over many peoples! I will look at no other letter which
comes from thee.'
"I COMMANDED the soldiers to be summoned; I sent
forth the Lord of the Marches. They gathered together the
armies of India more numerous than the stars, from near
and far all hastened towards me, plain, rock and waste
were altogether filled with soldiers.
"THEY came swiftly; they made no tarrying at home. I
held a review; the good order of the troops pleased me—their
alertness and valour, beautifully drawn up in squadrons, the
speed of their steeds, their Khvarazmian1 armour.
"I RAISED the royal standard with flag of red and black.
I commanded the countless troops to set out in the morning.
I myself wept, I mourned exceedingly my evil fate: 'If I see
not the sun I know not how I can ever depart.'
"I WENT in. The sadness of my pensive heart was
increased unto me; burning tears welled forth from mine
eyes like a pool. 'My luckless fate,' said I, 'has never yet
ruled. Why did my hand lay hold of the rose since thus it
could not cull it!"
1 Khvarazmia, the Khanate of Khiva.
The Meeting of Tariel and Nestan
"A SLAVE entered; a wondrous thing befell me. He gave
to me in my exceeding grief a letter from Asmat'h; she
wrote: 'Thy sun for whom thou longest calls thee. Come!
This better than to weep there and moan at the deed of
"SO much did I rejoice as was fitting. It was twilight,
I went forth, I entered the garden gate; where Asmat'h had
first met me, there she appeared standing; she said with a
smile: 'Enter; the moon awaits thee, the lion.'
"I ENTERED the house reared beautiful with terrace
upon terrace, the moon shone forth surrounded with rays
of light at the full; within the curtain she sat clad in green
raiment, majestic and rare, wondrous of face and form.
"I WENT in and stood on the edge of the carpet; the fire
in me began to be quenched, the darkness of my heart was
lightened, joy rose up like a column. She rested upon a
cushion—she was far fairer than the sun's rays-she hid her
face from me, she looked up a moment to see me.
"SHE commanded: 'Asmat'h, beg the Amirbar to be
seated!' She placed a cushion opposite her to be praised
as the sun; I sat down, I gave up to joy my heart abused
by Fate. I marvel that my life stays in me while I speak the
words she said.
"SHE said to me: 'Last time thou wert ill-pleased that
thou wert sent away without being spoken to. I, at parting,
as the sun, withered thee up like a flower of the field. Thou
wert doomed to shed tears from the narcissus-pool; but
for me, bashfulness and reserve are necessary towards the
"THOUGH great modesty befits a woman towards a man,
yet is it much worse not to speak and to hide woes; if
I smile outwardly I felt inwardly secret grief; last time
I sent the maid I gave her a true message.
'"WHAT we two have hitherto known of each other, even
now know me thine by these firm promises; I assure thee of
this by great vows and oaths; if I deceive thee may God
make me earth, may I not sit in the nine heavens!
"'GO, attack the Khatavians, fight and make raids; may
God grant that thou be victorious, come back to me of
good cheer. But what shall I do until it falls to my lot to
look upon thee again! Give me thy heart undivided forever;
take mine for thyself.'
"'NOW that of which thou hast deemed me worthy no
human being deserves; this grace is unexpected, from God
this does not surprise me; thy rays have flooded my dark
heart and made it translucent; thine shall I be till the earth
cover my face.'
"UPON the book of oaths I swore and she swore to me;
thus she confirmed her love to me: 'If any save thee giv
pleasure to my heart may God slay me, henceforth thus
will I speak to myself, thus will I train myself.'
"I STAYED some time before her, we spoke sweet words,
we ate some pleasant fruit, talking one to the other; then
weeping and shedding tears I rose to depart, the beauties of
her rays were spread like light in my heart.
"IT irked me to go far from her crystal and ruby and
enamel. The world was renewed to me, I had an abundance
of joy; that light appearing in ether as sun seemed to be
mine; now I am surprised that being separated from her
I have still a heart like a steep rock."
Tariel's Departure for Khataet'hi and Great Battles
"IN the morning I mounted, I commanded the trumpet and
bugle to be sounded; I cannot tell thee of all the armies
nor of their readiness to mount; I, a lion, set forth for
Khataet'hi, none can accuse me of cowardice; the soldiers
marched without a road, they followed no track.
"I CROSSED the boundaries of India, I went on a
considerable time; a man met me from Ramaz, the khan
over Khataet'hi; he repeated to me a message conciliatory
to the heart: ""Your Indian goats are able to eat even our
"HE presented me with astounding treasures as a gift
from Ramaz; he said: " 'He entreats thee, destroy us not,
it is not a thing thou shouldst do; put us on our oath,
thereby are our necks bound with twigs, without
devastation we shall deliver over to thee ourselves our
children and possessions.
"'FORGIVE us in that we have sinned against thee, we
ourselves repent; by God, if thou wouldst have mercy on
us, bring not thine armies hither, destroy not our land, let
not the heavens fall upon us in wrath; we give thee our
castles and cities, let a few knights come with thee.'
"I PLACED my viziers at my side, we discussed and
counselled; they said: 'Thou art young, therefore we sages
venture to say to thee, alas! they are exceeding treacherous;
we have seen it indeed once already; may they not slay thee
treacherously, may they not bring on us woe!
"WE counsel thus: Let us go forth with brave heroes
only, let the soldiers follow close behind us, let them be
apprised of the tidings by a man; if they be true-hearted,
trust them, make them swear by God and heaven; if they
submit not to thee, pour forth thy wrath and moreover
the wrath of heaven upon them.'
"THIS advice counselled by the viziers pleased me; I
returned a message: 'O King Ramaz, I know thy decisions;
life is better than death to thee. We shall not be stopped by
stone walls. I will leave the soldiers, I will come with a few,
towards thee will I march.'
"I TOOK with me three hundred of the soldiers, good
brave knights, I went forth and left all the army; I said:
'Wherever I shall go, march over the same fields, follow
me closely, help me, I shall call you if I need help.'
"I TRAVELLED three days; another man of the same
khan met me, again he presented me with many beautiful
robes; he said: 'The khan wishes thee to be near him, proud
and mighty one; when he meets thee then shalt thou know
many such gifts.'
"YET more he said: 'What I have told thee is true. I
myself come forward to meet thee, I haste to see thee.' I
said, 'Tell the khan: Certainly, by God, I shall do your
commandment, tenderly shall we meet each other, we
shall be like father and son.'
"DEPARTED thence I alighted on the bounds of a
certain deep forest; again messengers came, they were not
shy to salute me, they brought fair steeds as a present to
me, they said: 'Of a truth the king would desire to see thee.'
"THEY said to me: 'The king informs thee: I myself also
come towards thee; having left my house, early to-morrow I
shall meet thee.' I kept the messengers, I put up a felt tent
not a rich one; I received them very amiably, they lay
down together like groomsmen.
"NO good deed done to a man can pass away thus. A certain
man returned; he came to me and said secretly: 'I owe you
a great debt hard for me to pay; I cannot forsake and
"I WAS to some extent brought up by your father. I
heard the treachery planned for you; I ran to let you know
of it. It would grieve me to see the elegant-formed, the
rose-faced, a corpse. I will tell thee all; hearken to me, be
"THAT thou be not vainly deceived, these men are
traitors to thee; in one place are hidden for thee one
hundred thousand troops, then in another place are thirty
thousand; that is why they call upon thee to hasten; if thou
take not measures at once mischance will come upon thee.
"THE king will come a little way to meet thee whose
admirers can never cease; secretly they will be clad in
armour; thou trusting them while they cajole thee the
soldiers will make smoke, on all sides they will surround,
as it is when ten thousand strike one so must they
"I SPOKE pleasantly to the man and gave him thanks:
'If I am not slain I shall repay thee for this according to
thee desires. Now let not thy comrades suspect; go, be
with them. If I forget thee may I be surely lost.'
"I TOLD no human being; I kept it secret like gossip.
What is to be will be; all advice is equal. But I sent men
towards the armies though the way was long; I gave the
message: 'Come quickly, hasten over mountain and hill.'
"IN the morning I gave a sweet message to the messengers.
They were to tell King Ramaz: 'I am coming to meet thee;
come, I also come soon.' Another half-day I journeyed on;
I took no heed of trouble; there is a providence, if I am to
be killed to-day where below can I hide myself!
"I MOUNTED a certain peak; I saw dust in the plain. I
said to myself: 'King Ramaz is coming; though he has
spread a net for me, my sharp sword, my straight lance,
will pierce their flesh.' Then I spoke to my troops; I set
forth a great plan.
"I SAID: 'Brothers, these men are traitors to us; why
should the power of your arms be weakened on that account ?
Those who die for their kings, upwards their spirits fly!
Now let us engage the Khatavians. Why should we gird on
the sword in vain !'
"PROUDLY, with fierce words, I commanded them to don
armour; we clad ourselves for fight in chain coats of mail
with shoulder-pieces; I formed squadrons, I set out, I went
in great haste; that day my sword cut in pieces mine
"WE approached. They perceived that our forms were
clad in armour. A man came with a message from the
king; he said: 'We look upon your treachery as untimely,
now we see your armour, this causes us displeasure.'
"I SENT back a message: 'I too know what thou hast
contrived for me; you have made certain plans, but they
will not come to pass; give orders, come and fight me as is
the law and custom, I have taken my sword in my hand
to slay you.'
"WHEN the messenger came, why did they send yet
another ? They made smoke for the soldiers, they made plain
what was hid, they came forth from ambush, they advanced
from both sides, they formed into many ranks, though,
thank God, they could not harm me.
"I TOOK a lance, I applied my hand to helming myself,
I was eager for the fray to break them, I extended a
stadium's length, I made ranks and advanced in a long line.
They drew up innumerable cohorts, they stood calm and
"WHEN I came near they looked at me: 'He is a madman,'
said they. I, strong-armed, made my way thither where the
main body of the army stood; I pierced a man with my
lance, his horse I overturned, they both departed from the
sun, the lance broke, my hand seized the sword; I praise,
0 sword, him who whetted thee
"I SWOOPED in like a falcon among a covey of grey
partridges, I threw man upon man, I made a hill of men
and horses; the man thrown down by me spins like a
dragon-fly; I completely destroyed at one onslaught the
two front squadrons.
"CROWDING they surrounded me, about me was a great
fight; when once I struck none could stand, I made blood
spurt forth as from a fountain, he whom I clove hung on
his horse like a saddle-bag, wherever I was they fled from
me, they were wary of me.
"AT the evening hour their watchman cried forth from
the summit: 'Stand no longer, let us go, heaven looks again
on us in wrath, a terrible dust is coming, we should beware
of this, let not their countless tens of thousands of
soldiers completely destroy us.'
"MY soldiers whom I had not brought with me, when
they heard of it, set out, they travelled day and night
without stopping, neither plain nor mountain could contain
them; they appeared, they beat the kettledrum, the
trumpet sounded aloud.
THE enemy saw them, they started to flee, we raised
a shout, we pursued over the fields in which we had fought
our battle. I unhorsed King Ramaz; we found each other
with swords. We captured all his armies; we slew them not.
"THOSE who fled were overtaken by the rearguard, they
began to seize them, to throw down the terrified, the
vanquished; Tariel's troops had a reward for their
sleeplessness and night-watching; the prisoners, even
those that were unwounded, ceased not to wail like sick
"WE dismounted to rest on the battle-field. I had
wounded my arm with the sword; it seemed to me a mere
scratch. My armies came to see me and praise me, they
could not speak, they knew not how to express their
"THE glories which they thrust upon me were sufficient
for one man; some blessed me from afar, some tried to
kiss me; those nobles who had trained me wept over me,
they saw that which had been cut by my sword, they
"I SENT soldiers everywhere to bring in booty; they came
together loaded. I was proud of myself; I had dyed the
plain with the blood of those who had sought to slay me.
I did not fight at the gate of the cities; I seized them
without a battle.
"I SAID to Ramaz: 'I have learned of thy treacherous
deed; now that thou art captured justify thyself; fortify
not strongholds, count them all into my hand; else, why
should I overlook thy guilt towards me?"
RAMAZ said to me: 'I have no more power left; give
me one of my lords over whom I may have lordship; I will
send him to the guardians of the castles; let me speak with
them; I will give all into thine hands, since I make it thy
"I GAVE him a lord, I sent knights with him, I caused
all the governors of fortresses to be brought before me,
they gave the strongholds into my hands; thus I made them
repent the war. With what can I compare the abundance
"THEN I went in to travel through and inspect Khataet'hi;
publicly they presented me with the keys of the treasuries;
I settled the country, I commanded: 'Be ye without fear,
the sun shall not burn you, be assured you will be left
"I EXAMINED the treasuries one by one from end to end;
I should be weary if I mentioned all the wondrous kinds of
treasures. I saw together a short cloak and veil; if thou
didst see it thou wouldst desire to know its name.
"I COULD not learn what stuff it was nor what kind of
work; everyone to whom I showed it marvelled and said
it was a divine miracle; neither was the basis of the tissue
like that of brocade nor carpet, its strength was as if it had
been wrought like iron-I might say tempered in fire.
"I PUT them aside as a present for her whose ray
enlightened me; I chose as a gift for the king whatever was
best: a thousand mules and camels, all strong-limbed, I
sent them loaded; he also learned the good news."
Letter of Tariel to the King of the Indians When He Triumphed Over the Khatavians
"I WROTE a letter: 'O king, great is your good fortune!
The Khatavians plotted treachery to me, though it fell on
them to their hurt; therefore am I tardy in telling you m
true tidings. I have captured the king; I come to thee with
spoil and prisoners.'
"WHEN I had put everything in order I set out from
Khataet'hi. I took the treasures, I despoiled the kingdom,
I could not get enough camels, I loaded bullocks with the
burdens; I had found glory and honour, for what I had
desired that had I obtained.
"I LED away captive the King of Khataet'hi. I came to
India, sweet was the meeting with my foster-father; what
eulogy he uttered to me cannot be repeated, for me to tell
it were unseemly; he undid mine arm, he bound it with a
"FAIR tents stood pitched in the moedan for him who
desired to speak with and gaze upon me. That day the king
who rested there spread a banquet, he caressed me, sitting
near me he gazed at me.
THAT night we spent in feasting; pleasantly we made
merry there. In the morning we left the moedan; we entered
the city. The king commended: ‘Call the soldiers, assamble
them, show me this day the Khatavians, lead in the
"I LED in King Ramas captive before him. The king
looked sweetly on him as on a son whom he had cradled.
It made the deceitful and treacherous one seem deserving,
and this is the excess of heroism in a brave man.
"HE entered the King of the Khatavians, he caressed
him, he conversed with him for a long time in a fitting
manner; at dawn I was called, he spoke to me a
compassionate word: ‘Shall I pardon the Khatavian, my
"I ventured to replay: ‘Since God forgive the sinner,
be you also mercifule to him whose might is brought to
nought.’ He said to Ramaz: ‘Know that I send thee hence
nought. ‘He said to Ramaz: ‘Know that I send thee hence
forgiven, but show not thyself before me again disgraced.’
"HE levied a tribute of a hundred times a hundred
drachmas, all in Khatavian money, also brocades and
satins; then he clad him and all his courtiers, and sent them
away with pardon in place of wrath.
"THE Khatavian thanked him, bent, paid lowly homage;
he said: 'By God, I repent my treachery towards you;
if ever I sin against you again then kill me.' He departed
and took all his folk with him
"A MAN of the king's came; it was dawn, and the morning
grey was past; he brought a message: 'For three months
have I been separated from thee, I have eaten no game
killed by arrow in the field; if thou be not tired come
forth, though it be time to be tired.'
"I APPARELLED myself, I went into the hall of audience:
a pack of harriers met me, all the space round the hall was
full of falcons. The king sat decked in beauty like the sun;
he rejoiced at the coming of me, the lovely and fair.
"HE said secretly to his wife, but unknown to me: 'To
gaze on Tariel returned from war is desirable, he brings
light to the onlooker's heart, however dark it may be;
whatever I ask thee to do, do it without delay.
"NOW, without consulting thee I have thought of a plan;
but thou too must know it: Since the maid is to be queen,
and has been so nominated by us ourselves, whoever shall
even to-day; seat her by thy side, both of you meet us in the
palace, I shall come joyful
"WE hunted over plain, mountain-foot and hill; there was
a multitude of hounds, falcons and hawks. We returned
early without having gone a stage from the long road. They
did not play at ball; they broke up two games.
"FOLK eager to gaze on me filled the city, the bazaar
and roofs; tasselled robes adorned me who had
finished the war; I was a pale-hued rose bathed in
tears, he who looked on me swooned; true is this, and no
"THE velis I had found in the city of the Khatavians I
bound round me, they became me, I meddened stil more
the heart of the mad. The king dismounted; we entered
the apartments of my foster-parents. I saw the flash of her
cheeks like sunlight, I trembled.
"THE form of that sun was clad in robes of orange; behind
her was a host of eunuches in cohorts and lines;with light
she quite filled house,street and quarter; there, amid the
roses, shone in beauty coral- pearl twins.
"I WHO had fought and been woonded had mine arm hung
from my neck in a sling. The qween rose from her throne
and came forward to meet me. She kissed me hard like a
son, she made my rose cheek blue; she said to me:
‘Henceforth expect not the foe to engage thee.’
"NEAR at hand they made place for me, there where it
pleased me; opposite sat the sun for whome my heart was
dying. Stealthily I looked at her, she looked at me; no other
conversevwas there; when I tore away mine eyes from her,
thereby was life made hateful to me.
"THERE was drinking and feasting on a scale fitting to
their might, such another rejoicing eye has not seen,
goblet and cup were all of turquoise and ruby; the king
gave order that no drunk man be suffered to depart.1
"BEING there I gave myself up to an excess of joy; when
she gazed at me and I at her, my fire began to be
extinguished. I called upon my wild, mad heart to have a
care of me. How exceedingly pleasant it is to look face
to face on the beloved!
"THE minstrels ceased to sing. ‘Be silent!’ They bent
their heads. The king said to me: ‘Son Tariel, how can we
tell thee how we rejoice! we are in bliss, therefore our
adversaries are woeful; right are thine admirers, not idly
do they vaunt.
" NOW, thought it is fitting that we should clothe thee
who art mightly in glory, we clothe thee not, we doff not
those robes beauteously adorning thee. Now thou whose
rays are spread abroad hast a hundred treasures from us,
thou thyself canst have sewn what thou desirest, be not
bashful before us.’
"THEY gave me all treasures with the hundred keys
that locked them. I blessed them for those treasures and
paid them my respects. Rising, they kissed me, shining
like two suns. How can I describe the gifts they presented to
"HE sat down again joyful, drinking and singing increased,
again the feast went on, the lyre and tinkling of harps.
The queen retired when day met twilight and until
evening joy was not joy.
"WE broke up; we could no more endure the drinking of
double goblets. I went into my chamber, my perception
became like that of one dazed; I had no power in me, made
prisoner as I was, to extinguish that fire. I remembered,
and the memory of being gazed on by her rejoiced me."
"A SLAVE came; he told me true tidings: ‘A veiled woman
asks tidings of you.’Then I knew at once, I leaped up in
all haste, with trembling heart; she came in, I saw Asmat’h,
who was coming towards me.
"FOR the sake of her whom I am dying I was pleased
to see Asmat’h, as if I saw herself. I hindered her from
doing me homage, I kissed her, I took her hand and seated
her near me on my couch, and greeted her: ‘Blessed art
thou, come as a shoot from the aloe-tree!
"TELL me news of her; speak to me of nought else.’
She said to me: ‘I will tell thee truth; now from me thou
shalt not hear words uttered merely to give pleasure. To-day
ye saw each other, and tenderly were pleased; now again she
commands to make known news of her through me.’
1They were to be tended in the palace
Letter of Nestan-Daredjan Written to Her Beloved
"SHE gave me a letter, I gazed on it; it was from the
light of the face of the lands. She wrote: 'I have
the loveliness of thy gem-like brilliancy; fair wert thou
returned from battle, after urging on thy horse; not ill
seems to me the cause of the flow of my tears.
"IF God hath given me my tongue it befits me to use
it for thy praise; dead for thy sake I can by no means
speak, for lacking thee I die. The sun made a little garden
of rose and jet, as a garden for the lion; by thy sun, my
self pertains to none save thee.
"THOUGH thou hast shed a stream of tears yet have they
not flowed in vain; henceforth weep no more, put away
grief from thee. Those who look upon thee curse
unrestrained those who look upon me. Veil me with that
which but now was bound round thee.
"GIVE me the veils that sometime adorned thee; when
thou seest me, thou also shalt be pleased that that which
is thine adorns me. Bind on thine arm this bracelet if thou
honourest what is mine, and such another night thou
shalt not pass as long as thou livest."
Tariel’s Weeping and Fainting
HERE Tariel become like a wild beast, weeps, his grief
increases a thousandfold; he said: "I have the armlet which
she formerly bound on her arm!" He undid it, took it off,
man cannot estimate its worth, he pressed it to his lips, he
swooned and fell like a corpse.
He lay more lifeless than a corpse at the door of the tomb.
On both sides are seen bruises from his fist which he had
struck on his breast. A stream of blood flows from
Asmat'h's scratched cheeks; she poured water on him
again, she succoured him, the sound of gurgling water is
AVTHANDIL, too, sighed bitterly; he gazed on the
unconscious form. Asmat'h multiplied her groans; her tears
hollowed out the stones. Then she restored him to
consciousness, his fires she quenched with water; he said:
"I live; this passing world even now is drinking my blood."
PALE he sat up, he stared with his eyes like one dazed;
the rose was become quite saffron and wan; a long time he
neither spoke nor looked at them; he was mightily oppressed
that he remained alive and died not.
HE said to Avt'handil: "Hearken! Though I have the mind
of a madman, I will tell thee my tale and that of her who
has buried me. It seems to me a joy to meet the friend
thou hast not met. It surprises me that I am alive, that I
"THE sight of Asmat'h, in whom I trusted as in a sister,
pleased me. When I had seen the letter, she gave me this
armlet, I bound it on mine arm at once, I doffed from my
head that strange and rare thing of some strong, black stuff,
Tariel's Letter in Answer to his Beloved
"I WROTE: 'O sun! thy ray beaming forth from thee
struck my heart; my alertness and boldness are brought
to nought; mad for thee, I have perceived thy beauty and
loveliness; with what service can I pay thee in exchange for
"THEN when thou didst make me to survive and sufferedst
me not to be wholly sundered from life, now this time I
compare with that time. I have received thine armlet; I
have bound it round mine arm. How can I show my joy as
much as is fitting ?
"OF a truth I offer thee, lo! the veil which thou
demandest; also a cloak, of the same stuff, the like of which
thou wilt not find. Leave me not to swoon, help me, succour
me, come! Whom can I submit to in this world save thee ?'
"THE maid arose and forsook me. I lay down and fell
pleasantly asleep, but I shivered, I saw my beloved in my
sleep; I awoke, I had her no more, life was a burden to me:
thus I passed the night, I heard not her voice."
Counsel About Nestan-Daredjan's Marriage
"EARLY in the morning they summoned me to the palace,
when day was yet at the dawn. I rose; I learned their
tidings and went at the same moment. I saw them both
sitting with three viziers. When I entered they bade me
be seated; I sat down before them on a chair.
"THEY said to me: 'God has brought old age upon us so
that we are exhausted, the time of age approaches us,
youth has passed from us. We have no son, but we have a
daughter whose rays fail us not; we care not for the lack
of a son, we are reconciled to that.
"NOW we want a husband for our daughter. Where shall
we find him to whom we may give our throne, whom we
may form in our image, make him ruler of the kingdom,
guardian of the realm, that we be not destroyed, that we
may not let our enemies whet their swords for us ?'
"I SAID: 'How can your heart not feel the want of a son!
But she who is like the sun suffices for our hope.
Whomsoever you choose as son-in-law, he will rejoice
greatly. What more can I say ? You yourselves know what
will be fitting.'
"WE began to take counsel on the matter. I tried to keep
my heart firm though it was weakened; I said to myself:
'I shall say nothing and can do nothing to hinder this.'
The king said: 'There is Khvarazmsha, King of the
Khvarazmians, if he would give us his child for ours ther
is none like him.'
"IT was clear that they had settled it beforehand; they
glanced at each other, their words also were guarded; it was not for me to venture to say anything to hinder them, only I became as earth and cinders; my heart quivered to and fro.
"THE queen said: 'Khvarazmsha is a king reigning with
power. Who could be better than his son for our son-in-law!
' How could I dare to dispute since they themselves desired
it! I added assent. The day of the overthrow of my soul
"THEY sent a man to Khvarazmsha asking for his son.
Their message was: 'Our whole realm is without an heir.
there is one daughter fit for childbearing. not to be wedded
abroad; if thou wilt give us thy son for her. wait not tor
"THE man arrived loaded with short cloaks and veils.
Khvarazmsha rejoiced with great joy; he said: 'From God
has befallen us that which we desired; what other child
like unto her could we take to our arms ?"'
"AGAIN they sent other men to bring the bridegroom;
they entreated him: 'Tarry not, come at our demand.'
I was wearied after exercise at ball-playing, and went to my
chamber to rest; sadness entered into my heart, I began to
Counsel Between Tariel and
Nestan-Daredjan and Its Results
"EXCESSIVE melancholy approached my heart as if to
strike with a knife, but when Asmat'h's slave entered I sat
proud and strong. He gave me a letter; in it was written:
'She who is like an aloe-tree in form commands thee to
come hither soon without putting off time.'
"I MOUNTED, went forth, entered the little garden, as
thou canst imagine, with a full measure of joy; I passed
through the little garden and arrived at the tower; I saw
Asmat'h standing at the foot; I looked and saw that she
had been weeping, tear stains could be seen on her cheeks;
I was sad, and did not ask; she was troubled by desire for
"I SAW her frowning; this oppressed me exceedingly, She
no longer smiled on me as she had formerly smiled: She
said no word to me, only her tears showered down: thereby
she wounded me the more, she healed not mv wounds.
"SHE carried my thoughts very far away. She led me into
the tower and raised the curtain. I went in, I saw that moon,
every woe forsook me, the ray fell on my heart, but my heart
was not melted.
"THE light falling upon the curtain was not light; her
face was carelessly covered by the golden veil I had given
her; the peerless one, apparelled in that same green garment,
was seated in a reclining position on the couch; a shower of
tears fell on her face flashing with radiance.
"SHE crouched, like a tiger on the edge of a rock, her
face flashing fury; no longer was she like the sun, the moon
an aloe-tree planted in Eden. Asmat'h seated me far off"; my
heart was struck as by a lance. Then she sat erect with
frowning brows, angry, enraged.
"SHE said to me: 'I marvel why thou art come, thou
breaker of thy binding oath, fickle and faithless, thou
forsworn; but high Heaven will give thee guerdon and
answer for this!' I said: 'How can I reply to what I know
"I SAID: 'I cannot answer thee if I know not the truth.
Wherein have I sinned, what have I done, I senseless and
pale?' Again she said to me: 'What shall I say to thee, false and treacherous one! Why did I let myself be deceived,
woman-like! For this I burn with flame.
"KNOWEST thou not of the bringing of Khvarazmsha
to wed me? Thou wert sitting as counsellor, thy consent to
this was given, thou hast broken thine oath to me, the
firmness and bindingness thereof. Would to God I might bring thy cunning to nought!
"REMEMBEREST thou when thou didst sigh "Ah! Ah!"
when thy tears bathed the fields, and the physicians and
surgeons brought thee medicines ? What else is there that
resembles a man's falsehood ? Since thou hast denied me,
I, too, will renounce thee. Let us see who will be the more
"I TELL thee this: Whosoever shall rule India I have
the rule also, whether they go trackless or by the road! It
may not be thus! Now thou hast fallen into error. Thine
opinions are like thee—even so untrue!
"WHILE I live, by God, thou shalt no more dwell in
India. If thou seekest to tarry, the soul shall be parted
from thy body! None other shalt thou find like me, even
though thou stretch thy hand unto heaven!'" When the
knight had ended these words he wept, moaned, and said:
HE said: "When I heard this from her, hope revived in me
exceedingly; once more mine eyes had power to look upon
her light; now I have lost it, why art thou not surprised tha
dazed I live ? Woe to thee, fleeting world! Why seekest thou
to drain my blood ?
"I LOOKED, and saw on the lectern the Koran lying open:
I raised it, I stood up, and, praising God and afterwards
her, said: '0 sun, thou burnedst me, and in truth my sun
is set; since thou slayest me not, I will venture to make
thee some answer:
"IF what I tell thee, these words, be falsely cunning,
may Heaven itself be wrathful with me, may all the sun ‘s rays be turned against me! If thou considerest me worthy
to be judged, I have done no ill.' She said: 'What thou
knowest, speak!' She nodded to me.
"THEN again I ventured to say: 'If I, 0 sun, have broken
my vow to thee, may God now forthwith show His anger b
hurling a thunderbolt from heaven upon me! Who save
thee has for me a face like a sun, a form like a tree ? So how
can I remain alive if a lance strike my heart!
'"THE sovereigns summoned me to court, they held a
solemn council, beforehand they had appointed that youth
as thy husband; even if I had opposed it I could not prevent
it, I should have been a fool for my pains; I said to myself:
"Agree with them for the nonce; it is better for thee to
fortify thy heart."
"HOW could I dare to forbid it, since P'harsadan
understands not, knows not that India shall not remain
masterless! It is 1 alone who am India's owner; none other
has any right. I know not him whom he will bring hither,
nor who is mistaken in this matter.
"I SAID: "I can do nothing in this; I shall contrive
some other means." I said: "Be not assailed by a multitude
of thoughts." My heart was like a wild beast; a thousand
times I was ready to fly to the fields. To whom can I give
thee ? Why shouldst thou not take me ?'
"I SOLD soul for heart's sake; thus the tower became
for me a market.' That rain which at first had frozen the
rose became milder; I saw pearl in the coral, round about
the pearl the coral was tenderly enfolded; she said: 'Why do
I, too, judge this to be right?
"I DO not believe thee to be treacherous and faithless,
a denier of God, not thankful to Him; entreat of him myself
and lordship in gladness over India; I and thou shall be
sovereigns - that is the best of all matches!'
"THE wrathful, enraged one became tender to me; either
the sun was on earth or the full-faced moon; she set me
near her, she caressed me, hitherto unworthy of this, she
conversed with me; thus she extinguished the fire kindled
"SHE said to me: 'The prudent should never hasten, he
will contrive whatever is best, he will be calm under the
passing world. If thou suffer not the suitor to come in to
India, woe if the king be wroth with thee, thou and he will
quarrel, India will be laid waste.
"ON the other hand, if thou allow the bridegroom to
come in, if he wed me, if it so fall out, we shall be
sundered each from other, our gay garb will be turned to
mourning, they will be happy and glorious, our sufferings
will be magnified a hundredfold. This shall not be said, that
the Persians1 hold sway in our court."
' Khvarazma was a province of Persia.
"I SAID: 'May God avert the wedding of thee by that
youth! When they come into India and I discover their
quality, I shall show forth to them my strong-heartedness
and prowess; I shall so slay them that they become of no account!'
"SHE spoke to me saying: 'A woman should act in a
womanly way as befits her sex; I cannot have thee shed
much blood, I cannot become a wall of division. When they
come, slay the bridegroom without killing his armies. To
do true justice makes even a dry tree green.
"THUS do, my lion, most excellent of all heroes; slay
the bridegroom stealthily, take not soldiers, slaughter not
his armies like cattle or asses; how can a man bear the
burden of much innocent blood!
"WHEN thou hast killed him, tell thy lord, my father,
say to him "I could never let India be food for the
Persians; it is mine own heritage, never will I give up even
a drachm of it; if thou wilt not leave me in peace I will
make a wilderness of thy city!"
"SAY not that thou wantest my love or desirest me, so
will the righteousness of thy deed seem the greater; the
king will then entreat thee in the most desperate and
abject manner; I shall give myself into thy hands, reigning
together will suit us.'
"THIS counsel and advice pleased me exceedingly; I
boasted that I would wield my sword for the slaying of my
foes. Then I rose to depart. She began to entreat me to sit
down; I longed to do so, but could not bring myself to
clasp and embrace her.
"I TARRIED some time, then I left her, but I became like
one mad, Asmat'h went in front of me; I shed hot tears;
my grief increased a thousandfold, my joy was reduced to
one; then I went unwillingly away, and so I went slowly."
The Coming to India of Khvarazmsha's Son and His Slaying by Tariel
"A MAN came. 'The bridegroom cometh,’ announced he;
but, wretched man! he knew not what God was preparing
for him. The king looked pleased, he spoke no woeful words;
he bade me sit near him; 'Come,' said he, and inclined his head.
"HE said to me: 'For me this is a day of joy and merriment.
Let us celebrate the wedding in a palace as befits our
sister Nestan; let us send a man, let us have all the
treasures brought from every part, generously let us
distribute, let us till them with treasure; avarice is
"I SENT in all directions men carrying treasure. The
bridegroom also came, they were no laggards; our men met
them from inside, from outside came the Khvarazmians;
the sum of their soldiers could not be contained even by
"THE king commanded: 'Prepare the moedan with tents,
let the bridegroom rest, let him tarry there a little while;
the other armies can go thither without thee to see him,
thou shalt see him here, go not, the knights will be sufficient
to see him.'
"I RAISED on the moedan tents of red satin. The
bridegroom arrived, he dismounted; it seemed not like
Easter Eve; those inside began to go out, there was a host
of courtiers there, the soldiers began to form in ranks
according to their regions.
"I WAS wearied, as is the wont of one who has done duty:
tired, I turned homeward, and wished to sleep. A slave
came and gave me a letter from Asmat'h the sweet: 'Come
quickly! She who is like a full-grown aloe commands thee.'
"I DISMOUNTED not; I went quickly obedient. Asmat'h
had been weeping; I asked her: 'Why flow thy tears ?'
She said to me: 'Being engaged in thy defence, how can I
avoid weeping? How can I justify thee unceasingly,
whatever kind of advocate I may have become!'
"WE went in, we saw her seated on a cushion, her brows
puckered; the sun could not more illume the vicinage than
she. I stood before her. She said to me: 'Why standest
thou there ? The day of battle comes—or, wert thou forsaking
me, wert thou false to me and deceiving me again ?'
"I WAS angered, I said nothing, hastily I went out again:
I called back: 'Now shall it be seen if I did not wish it!
Am I become so cowardly that a woman urges me to fight ?'
I went home, I concerted his slaughter, I was not idle.
"I COMMANDED a hundred servants: 'Prepare for battle!'
We mounted, we passed through the city without letting
anyone perceive us. I went into the tent. It is a horror to
tell with the tongue how the bridegroom was lying; I
killed that youth without shedding of blood, though it was
necessary for blood to flow.
"I CUT the tangled edge of the tent, I tore it, I seized
the youth by his legs and struck his head on the tent-pole.
Those lying at the door cried; their lamentation was
marvellous. I mounted my horse, departed, my coat of
chain-mail protected me.
"AN alarm was raised against me; there was cry to pursue
me. I went on, they began to follow, I slew my pursuers.
I had a strong city, impregnable to the foe; I reached it
safely, pleasantly, unhurt.
"I SENT a man, I made known to all the soldiers: 'Let
all who will aid me come hither!' My pursuers did not weary
of coming in the depth of dark night; when they
recognised me they kept their heads whole.
"I AROSE at daybreak; I apparelled myself when night
dawned into morn. I saw three lords sent by the king; he
sent a message, saying: 'God knows I have fostered thee
like my son; why hast thou thus changed my rejoicing
into heaviness ?
"WHY didst thou make Khvarazmsha's innocent blood to
fall on our house! If thou didst desire my daughter, why
didst thou not tell me so ? Thou hast made life distasteful
to me, thine aged foster-father; thou thyself hast brought
it about that thou remainest not with me till the day of
"IN answer I sent a message: 'O king, I am stronger than
copper, and this alone hinders me from being destroyed by
the fire and flame of death; but, as you know, a king should be
a doer of justice; by your sun! I am far from desiring your
"THOU knowest how many palaces and thrones are in
India; I am the sole heir left, all has fallen into your hands.
all their heirs have died out, their heritage remains to you:
by right the throne belongs to none but me.
"I SWEAR by your virtue, I cannot flatter you, now this
is not just: God gave thee no son; thou hast an only
daughter. If thou appointedst Khvarazmsha king, what
would have been left for me in exchange ? Can another king
be seated on the throne of India while I wear my sword ?
"I WANT not thy daughter, marry her, rid her of me.
India is mine, to no man else will I give it; whoever
contests my right, him will I cause to be uprooted from the
earth; kill me! if I need any foreign helpers.'
Tariel Hears Tidings of the Loss of Nestan-Daredjan
"I SENT those men. I was mad in mind; since I could
learn nought of her I grew more inflamed with grief. I went
to look from a wall I had built overlooking the plain. I
learned a dreadful thing, though I lost not my head.
"TWO pedestrians appeared, I went to meet them; it was
a woman with a slave; I recognized who was coming, it
was Asmat'h, with dishevelled head, blood flowing from her
face; no more did she call to me smiling, nor did she greet
me with a smile.
"WHEN I saw her I became perturbed; my mind was
maddened. I cried from afar: 'What has befallen us, why
does the fire consume us ?' She wept pitifully, she could
hardly utter words, she said to me: 'God had engirt the
sphere of the heavens in wrath for us!'
"I CAME near, I enquired again: 'What has happened to
us? Tell me the truth.' Again she wept aloud piteously,
again the flame burned her; for a long time she could
speak no word to me, not the tenth part of her griefs; her
breast was dyed crimson with the blood trickling from
"THEN she said to me: 'I will tell thee, why should I
hide it from thee ? But inasmuch as I shall make thee to
rejoice, so have mercy upon me, suffer me not to live,
let me not survive, I entreat thee, have pity on me, save me
from the passing world, fulfil thy duty to thy God.'
"SHE said to me: 'When thou slowest the bridegroom and
the alarm was raised, the king heard it, he leaped up, he
was sore stricken thereat; he called for thee, he ordered thee
to be summoned, in a loud voice he cried; they sought
thee, they could not find thee at home, and thereat the
"THEY told him: "He is not here; he has somewhere
passed the gates." The king said: "I know, I know, too well
I understand; he loved my daughter, he shed blood in the
fields, and when they saw each other they could not refrain
"NOW, by my head! I will slay her who is called my
sister; I told her God's will, she has caught her in the devil's
net; what have those wicked lovers given or promised her ?
If I allow her to remain alive I renounce God; this is ready
for her punishment."
"SELDOM was it the king's wont to swear by his head,
and when he thus swore he brake not his oath, forthwith he
fulfilled it. Someone—who knows who ?-who heard this
wrath of the king told it to Davar the Kadj, who knows
even heaven by her sorcery.
"SOME enemy of God told Davar, the king's sister:
"The brother hath sworn by his head, he will not leave thee
alive, the people know it." She spoke thus: "The good God
knows that I am innocent, and let that same people know
who it is that slays me and for whose sake I am slain."
"MY mistress was the same as when thou didst leave her,
head was still wrapped in thy veils, beautifully they became
her. Davar spoke words such as I had never heard: "Harlot,
thou harlot, why didst thou slay me ? I think thou too shalt
"WANTON, harlot woman, why didst thou cause thy
bridegroom to be slain, or why dost thou make me pay for
his blood with mine ? My brother shall not slay me in
vain for what I have done, what I have made thee do!
Now God grant thou mayst never meet him whom thou
didst incite to hinder this!"
"SHE seized her, dragged her along, tore her long hair,
wounded her, bruised her, fiercely she frowned; Nestan
could make no answer, but only sighed and moaned, a
black woman was of no avail, she could not heal her
"WHEN Davar was sated with beating and bruising, two
slaves with Kadj-like faces came forth; they brought an ark,
they spoke rudely to her, they put that sun inside, thus
was she made prisoner.
"SHE said to them: "Go and lose her in the middle
of the great seas. Do not show her frozen water, let not
this water be slippery." Gleefully they began to laugh,
screaming with joy. All this I saw, nor did I die of it;
stronger than rock am I.
"THEY passed the windows towards the sea, immediately
she was out of sight. Davar said: "Who would not stone me
for doing this? Who? Before P'harsadan slay me, I shall die.
Life is wearisome to me!" She struck herself with a knife,
died, fell in a stream of blood.
"WHY marvel'st thou not to see me alive, unpierced by
a lance! Now do to me what befits a bringer of such
tidings; by the Most High, deliver from this unbearable
life me who have not yet ceased to breathe.' Her tears fell
piteously, undiminished, undrying.
"I SAID: 'Sister, why should I kill thee, or what is thy
fault ? What shall I do in return for the debt I owe her ?
Now I devote myself to seek her wherever rock and water
are found.' I became quite petrified; my heart grew like
"EXCESSIVE horror maddened me; fever and trembling
came upon me. I said to myself: 'Die not! To lie idle is of
no avail; better is it to roam forth to seek her, to run and
wander in the fields. Has come the time for thee, who wishest
to go with me!'
"I WENT in, I arrayed myself quickly, accoutred I
mounted my horse. A hundred and sixty good knights
serving me a long time joined me, we passed forth from the
gates in order of battle. I went to the seashore, I saw a ship,
the master of the ship saw me apparelled.
"I ENTERED the ship, I went out to sea, I cruised amidst
the sea. I let no ship from any quarter pass unseen. I
waited, but I heard nothing. Mad as I was I became still
more maddened; God hated me so that He forsook me
"THUS I spent a year-twelve months which were to me
like twenty—but I found no man, even in a dream, who
had seen her. All those who were attendant upon me were
dead and perished. I said: 'I cannot defy God; what He
wills even that will I do.'
"I WAS weary of tossing on the seas, so I came ashore.
My heart had become altogether like a beast's, I hearkened
to no counsel; all those who were left to me in my
misfortune have been scattered from me, but God abandons
not a man thus forsaken by Fortune.
"ONLY this Asmat'h and two slaves remained with me as
my comforters and counsellors. I could learn no news of
Nestan, not even the weight of a drachm. Weeping seemed
to me as joy, and streams of tears flowed down."
The Story of Nuradin-P'hridon When Tariel
Met Him on the Seashore
"I LANDED by night; I came ashore where gardens were
seen. It seemed as if there were a city; we came near, on
one side the rocks were hollowed out. The sight of men gave
me no pleasure; brands were imprinted on my heart. I
dismounted to rest at a spot where there were lofty trees.
"I FELL asleep at the foot of the trees; the slaves brake
bread. Then I woke sad, the soot of sorrow made night in
my heart; in so long a time I had learned nought, neither
gossip nor sooth; my tears pressed from mine eyes wet
"I HEARD a shout. I looked round, a knight cried out
haughtily, he was galloping along the seashore, he was hurt
by a wound, his sword was broken and soiled, blood flowed
down; he threatened his foes, was wrathful, cursed,
"HE sat upon a black steed, the same which I now posses;
like the wind he swept along, enraged, wrathful. I sent
a slave to tell him I was desirous to meet him; I bade him
say: 'Stand! Declare unto me who angers thee, O lion!'
"HE spoke not to the slave, nor did he hear a word.
Hastily I mounted, I went along to meet him; I overtook
him, I came before him, I said: 'Stay, hearken to me! I too
wish to know thine affair.' He looked at me, I pleased him,
he checked his course.
"HE looked me over, and said to God: 'How hast Thou
made such a tree!' Then he said to me: 'Now will I tell thee
what thou askest me: Those enemies whom I had hitherto
esteemed as goats have proved lions to me; they fell upon
me traitorously when I was unready, I could not don mine
"I SAID: 'Stand, be calm, let us dismount at the foot of
the trees! A goodly knight withdraws not when cuts are
given with the sword.' I led him with me; we went away
fonder than father and son. I marvelled at the tender
beauty of the knight.
"ONE of my slaves was a surgeon, he bound up the
wounds, he drew out the arrowheads so that the wounds
hurt not. Then I asked: 'Who art thou, and by whom was
thine arm hurt?' He set himself to tell me his story; he
"FIRST he said to me: 'I know not what thou art, nor to
what I can liken thee. What has thus consumed thee, or
who first made thee full? What has turned thee sallow who
wert planted rose and jet ? Why has God put out the candle
lighted by Himself?
"NEAR by is the city of Mulghazanzar, which belongs to
me. My name is Nuradin P'hridon, I am the king ruling
there; here where ye are stationed is my boundary. I have
little, but in all its parts it is of excellent quality.
"MY grandfather shared his territory between my father
and uncle. In the sea is an island, this he said was my share
. it had fallen into the hands of that uncle whose sons have
now wounded me; the hunting remained to them, they
quarrelled with me.
'TO-DAY I went forth to the chase, I hunted on the
seashore, I wished to hunt with falcons, so I took not many
beaters; I told the troops: "Wait for me till return." I kept
no more than five falconers.
"I WENT by ship; from the sea came forth a creek. I
considered as nothing those divided from me; I said to
myself: "Why should I take precautions against mine own
folk ?" They seemed timid to me; their multitude appeared
not. I hunted and hallooed; I withheld not my voice.
"OF a truth, they were wroth to think I scorned them
thus; they secretly surrounded me with soldiers, they
blocked the roads to the ship; mine own uncle's sons rode at
their head, waving their arms they rushed on my soldiers
"I HEARD them; I perceived the outcry and the flashing
of swords. I begged a boat of the boatmen; but once I
called out "Woe is me!" I went into the sea, warriors met
me like wavers, they would have overwhelmed me, but
could not compass it.
"YET more great hosts approached me from behind,
from this side and that they came upon me, from one
side they could not overpower me. When those in front
could not come near me, from the back they shot at me: I
trusted in my sword-it broke, my arrow were exhausted.
"THEY engirt me; I could do no more. I made my horse
leap over from the boat, I crossed the sea by swimming,
those who beheld me were amazed; they slew all who were
with me, I left them there; whoever pursued me could not
confront me, when I turned I made them turn.
"NOW that will be whatever is God's will. I think my
blood will not be unavenged. May I have the power to
bring my boast to fulfilment! I will make their existence
a lamentation evening and morning. I will call the crows
and ravens and make a banquet of them!'
"THAT youth won me to like him; my heart went out
toward him. I said to him: 'There is no need at all for thee
to hasten; I too will go with thee, there will they be slain;
we two warriors shall surely not be afraid of them!'
"THIS also I said: 'Thou hast not heard my tale; I shall
tell it to thee more fully when we have time.' He said to me:
'What joy can weigh against this to me! To the day of my
death my life will be devoted to thy service!'
"WE went to his fair, though small, city. The troops
met him; for him they covered their heads with dust, they
scratched their faces and threw away the fragments like
splinters; they embraced him, they kissed his sword, its
hilt and ring.
"AGAIN I pleased; I his new friend seemed fair to him.
They spoke my praises: '0 sun, thou art a bringer of fine
weather to us!' We went and saw his fair, rich city. Every
form was clad in broad brocade."
Tariel’s Aid to P’hridon, and Their
Victory Over Their Foes
"HE was healed, and able to fight and use horse and
armour. We prepared galleys and the number of a host of
troops; it needed a man to pray to God for some aid for
those who gazed upon them.—Now will I tell thee of that
knight's battle, the punisher of his adversaries.
"I PERCEIVED their design, and saw them donning their
headgear. Ships met me, I know not if there were eight in
all; swiftly I threw myself upon them; they began to row;
I struck one of the ships with my heel and upset it; like
women they bewailed themselves.
"I BETOOK myself to yet another, and seized the prow of
the ship with my hand; I drowned them in the sea, I slew
them; they had no opportunity for battle. The rest fled
from me, they made for their harbour; all who saw me
marvelled, they praised me, they hated me not.
"WE crossed the sea, we landed. Mounted they threw
themselves on us. Again we engaged; there began the
vicissitudes of battle. P'hridon's bravery and agility
pleased me then; in warfare a lion, in face a sun, that
"WITH his sword he cast down both his cousins, he cut
their hands clean off; thus he crippled them; he led them
away bound by the arms; the one did not abandon the two.
He made their knights to weep, his knights to vaunt themselves.
"THEIR soldiers fled from us, we threw ourselves upon
them, we scattered them; swiftly we seized the city, we
wasted not time; we broke their legs with stones, we tanned
their skin to leather. Kill me, if it was possible to empty the
treasure both by lading and stowing!
"P'HRIDON inspected the treasures and put his seals
upon them; he himself led away his two vanquished
cousins; he shed their blood in exchange for his, and
poured it out on the fields. Of me he said: 'Thanks to God
who has planted aloe-trees!'
"WE went back to P'hridon's. The triumph exhibited by
the citizens was heard; jugglers there laid hold on the heart
of beholders. All uttered praise to me and Nuradin, in a
panegyric; they said to us: 'Through the strength of your
right arms their blood still flows !'
"THE soldiers acclaimed P'hridon as king and me as king
of kings, themselves as subjects and me as sovereign of
them all. I was gloomy, they could never find me culling
roses; they knew not my story, there it was not lightly
P’hridon Tells Tariel Tidings of Nestan-Daredjan
"ONE day the king and I went forth to the chase; we
climbed upon a cape jutting out into the sea. P'hridon
said to me: 'I will tell thee how, when we were out riding
for sport, I once saw a wonderful thing from this cape.'
"I BADE him speak, and P'hridon told me even this tale:
'One day I wished to hunt, I mounted this steed of mine. In
the sea it seemed a duck and on the land a falcon; I stood
here and watched the flight of the hawk thitherward.
"'NOW and then as I climbed uphill I gazed out to sea.
I perceived a small thing far away on the sea, going so
swiftly that nothing of its kind could equal it; I could not
make it out; in my mind I marvelled at these two things.
'"I SAID to myself: "What is it ? To what can I liken it ?
Is it bird or beast ?" It was a boat tented over with many-
folded stuff; a steersman guided it. I fixed mine eyes upon
it, and there in an ark sat the moon; I would have given
her the seventh heaven as habitation.
"'TWO slaves as black as pitch crept out, they put ashore
a maiden, I saw her thick-tressed hair, the lightning that
flashed from her-to what colours can it be likened ?-would
illumine the earth and make the sunbeams of no account.
'"JOY made me hasten, quiver, stagger. I loved that
rose who is not frozen by the snow. I resolved to engage
them, I said: "Let me go towards them; what creatures
can fly away from my black steed ?"
'"I PRESSED my horse with my heel. There was a noise
and rustling among the rushes. I could not reach her,
however much I used the spur; they were gone. I came to
the seashore and looked round, she appeared only as a last
ray of the setting sun, she went farther away, she was gone
from me, therefore was I consumed by flame.'
"This I heard from P'hridon; heat was added to my fire.
I threw myself down from my horse, I wholly abased
myself; with mine own blood shed from my cheeks I
anointed myself. Kill me! That anyone but I should have
seen that tree!
"THIS behaviour of mine astonished P'hridon, it seemed
passing strange to him; but he was exceedingly pitiful to
me, by weeping he placated me, like a son he soothed me,
he pled with me, treated me with deference, and,
pearl-like, hot tears sprang from his eyes.
"'ALAS! What have I, misguided, madly told thee?' I
said: 'It matters not, grieve not for that! She was my moon;
for her the fire consumes me hotly. Now will I tell thee my
tale, since thou thyself wishest to have me as comrade.'
"I TOLD P'hridon all that had befallen me. He said to
me: 'What have I, mistaken, shamed, said to thee ? Thou
mighty king of the Indians, wherefore art thou come to me ?
A royal seat and throne become thee, a whole palace.'
"AGAIN he said to me: 'To whom God gives for form a
young cypress, from him He withdraws the spear, though
at first He lacerates his heart therewith. He will grant us
His mercy. He will thunder it from heaven. He will turn
our sorrow to joy. He will never grieve us.'
"WE went back tearful; we sat down alone together in
the palace. I said to P'hridon: 'Save thee, none is mine aid.
God has not sent thy like to earth, and since I know thee
what more do I want ?
"'THOU hadst no friend until the time when thou didst
meet me; use now thy tongue and mind to counsel me in
this: What can I do? What is the best thing to bring joy to
her and me ? If I can do nought I shall not survive a
"HE said to me: 'What better fate could I have from God
than this ? Thou art come to be gracious to me, king,
sovereign of India. Needs it that after this I should desire
any gratitude ? I stand before thee as a slave to obey thee
'"THIS city is the highway for ships coming from al
parts, an emporium of much foreign news of all kinds.
Here shall we hear of the balm to assuage the fire which
burns thee. God grant that these woes and pains pass
'"WE will send out sailors who have fared on the sea before;
let them find for us that moon for whose sake grief is not
lacking to us; until then be patient, so that thy mind
torture thee not; grief will not last for aye, shall not joy
"THAT very instant we called men, we settled the business;
we commanded them: 'Go with ships, sail over the sea, seek
her out for us, fulfil the desire other lover; undergo a
thousand hardships for this, not merely seven or eight.'
"HE appointed men wherever there were havens for ships;
he gave orders: 'Seek out everywhere, wheresoever you hear
of her.' Waiting seemed to me a consolation, my pains
became-lightened; absent from her I felt joy, and for the
sake of that day I am ashamed.
"P'HRIDON set up a throne for me in the place for the
overlord. He said to me: 'Hitherto have I erred, I could not
comprehend what I should have understood; thou art the
great king of the Indians; who can please thee ?
Wherewithal ? How ? Who is the man who would not be thy
"WHY should I lengthen the story? From all sides came
the seekers of news, empty, and wearied of empty places;
they had learned nothing at all, they knew not any news.
As for me, afresh the undrying tear flowed still more from
"I SAID to P'hridon: 'How this day seems horrible to me,
I have God for my witness thereto; to speak thereof is hard
for me; without thee night and day alike seem eventide to
me; I am loosed from all joy, my heart is bound with grief.
'"NOW since I may no longer expect any news of her,
I can no longer stay; give me leave, I seek thy permission.'
When P'hridon heard this he wept, he watered the field with
blood, and said: 'Brother, from this day vain is all my joy!'
"THOUGH they tried very hard, they could not hold me
back; his armies came before me on bended knees, they
embraced me, kissed me, wept and made me weep. 'Go not
away; let us be your slaves so long as life is ours.'
"1 SPOKE thus: 'Parting from you is very hard for me also.
but it is hardly possible for me to have joy without her.
I cannot forsake my captive Nestan, whom you yourselves
pity greatly; let none of you hinder me, I will not stay nor
be held back by any.'
"THEN P'hridon brought and gave me this horse of mine;
he said: 'Behold! this steed is given to you, the sun-faced,
the cypress; more I know thou desirest not, who could
despise such a gift ? This will please thee by its breaking-in
and its swiftness.'
"P'HRIDON escorted me; as we went we both shed tears;
there we kissed each other, with cries we parted, all the host
lamented for me, truly, in their hearts, not with the tongue;
our severing was like that of foster-parent and child.
"DEPARTED from P'hridon, I went on the quest, again
I fared so that I missed nought on land or out at sea; but
I met no man who had seen her, and my heart became
wholly maddened, I was like a wild beast.
"I SAID to myself: 'No longer shall I rove and sail in vain;
perchance the company of beasts may make my heart forget
grief.' I said seven or eight words to my slaves and to this
Asmat'h: 'I know I have brought grief upon you; you have
good reason to murmur against me.
"NOW go and leave me, provide for yourselves, look no
longer on the hot tears flowing from mine eyes.' When they
heard such discourse they said to me: 'Alas! Alas! let not
our ears hear what thou sayest!
'"LET us not see any master or lord apart from thee, may
God not sunder us from your horse's footprints! We would
gaze upon you, a fair and adorable spectacle.' Fate,
forsooth, makes a man listless, however valiant he may be.
"I COULD not send them away; I hearkened to the words
of my slaves, but I forsook the haunts of human tribes, the
retreats of goats and stags seemed a fitting abode for me;
I roamed, I trod every plain below and hill above.
"I FOUND these manless caves, hollowed out by Devis
I combated them, I destroyed them, they could by no
means prevail against me; they killed my slaves, ill had they
buckled on their coats of mail. The passing world made me
gloomy; its showers again bespattered me.
"BEHOLD, brother! since that day am I here, and here I
die. Mad I roam the fields; sometimes I weep and
sometimes I faint. This maid will not abandon me; she too
is burned by fire for Nestan's sake. I have no other resource
to try but death.
"SINCE a beautiful tiger is portrayed to me as her image.
for this I love its skin, I keep it as a coat for myself; this
woman sews it, sometimes she sighs, sometimes she groans.
Since I cannot kill myself, in vain is my sword whetted.
"THE tongues of all the sages could not forth-tell her
praise. Enduring life, I think upon my lost one. Since then
I have consorted with the beasts, calling myself one of
them; I am suitor for death, nought else I entreat of God."
HE beat his face, he rent it, he tore his cheeks of rose; the
ruby turned to amber, the crystal was shattered.
Avt'handil's tears flowed too; one by one they dripped from
his lashes. Then the maid soothed Tariel; on bended knee
she besought him.
TARIEL, calmed by Asmat'h, said to Avt'handil: "I have
made everything pleasant for thee, I who never found
pleasure for myself. I have told thee the tale of mine
irksome life; now go and see thy sun, thou whose time for
meeting is nigh."
AVT'HANDIL said: "I cannot bear to part from thee: if
I separate from thee tears indeed will flow from mine eyes,
Verily I tell thee-be not wroth at this boldness-she for
whose sake thou diest will not be comforted thereby.
"WHEN a physician—however praiseworthy he be—falls
sick, he calls in another leech, another skilled in the pulse;
him he tells what illness inflaming him with fire afflicts him.
Another knows better what is useful advice for one.
"LISTEN to what I say to thee; I speak to thee as a sage
and not as a madman; a hundred times must thou give
heed, once sufficeth not. A man so furious of heart can do
nought well. Now I desire to see her for whose sake hot
fire consumes me.
"I SHALL see her, I shall confirm her love for me, I shall
tell her what I have learned; nought else have I to do.
I beseech thee to assure me, for God and heaven's sake, let
us not abandon one another, make me swear and make thou
an oath to me.
"IF thou promise me that thou wilt not go hence, I shall
assure thee by an oath that for nought shall I forsake thee;
I shall come again to see thee, I shall die for thee, for thee
shall I rove. If God will, I shall make thee cease to weep
thus for her for whom thou diest!"
HE answered: "How is it that thou, a stranger, so lovest
me, a stranger ? It is as hard for thee to part from me as for
the nightingale from the rose. How can I forget thee, how
can I cease to remember thee! God grant that I may again
see thee, full-grown young aloe-tree.
"IF thy form remain a tree, and thy face turn round to see
me, my heart will not flee into the fields, it will become
neither a deer's nor a goat's. If I lie to thee or cheat thee,
may God judge me in wrath! Thy presence will charm away
my sadness and dissolve it!"
HEREUPON they swore, the frank friends, those jacinths
of amber hue, wise-worded but mad-minded. They loved
each other; forever would affection's flame burn their hearts.
That night the fair comrades spent together.
AVT'HANDIL wept with him; fast fell the tears. When
day dawned he went forth, kissed him and parted from him.
Tariel was so grieved that he knew not what to do.
Avt'handil wept, too, as he rode through the rushes.
ASMAT'H went down with Avt'handil, she conjured him
with an oath, she kneeled, she wept, she bent her fingers in
entreaty, she besought him to come back soon; as a violet.
so she faded. He replied: "O sister, of what can I think save
"SOON shall I come; I shall not forsake thee nor waste time
at home. But let him not go elsewhere; let not that fair
form wander. If I come not hither in two months I shall be
doing a shameful thing; be assured that I am fallen into
The Story of Avthandil's Return to Arabia After He Had Found and Parted From Tariel
WHEN he was gone thence sadness was surely slaying him;
he scratched his face, he froze the rose of his cheeks, his
hand became thorny; all the beasts licked up the blood that
flowed from him. His swift pace shortened the long course.
HE came there where he had parted from his armies. They
saw him, they knew him, they rejoiced in such manner as
was fitting. They told the good tidings to Shermadin too;
men quickly ran to him: "He is come for whose sake
hitherto joy has been embittered to us."
HE went to meet him, he embraced him, he put his mouth
on Avt'handil's hand, pouring forth tears he joyfully kissed
the shedder of tears in the field. Thus he spoke: "O God, do
I see really or darkly ? How am I worthy of this, that mine
eyes should gaze upon thee safe and sound!"
THE knight saluted him low, he put face upon face, he said:
"I thank God that no grief afflicts thee!" The lords did
homage, whoever was worthy kissed him; there was great
jubilation, great and small alike rejoiced.
THEY came where a dwelling-house had been built; all the
city was assembled to see him; forthwith he sat down to
feast, gay, proud, merry; an assemblage of tongues could not
fully describe the joy of that day.
HE told Shermadin, he narrated to him all he had seen—how
he had found that knight whom he likened to the sun.
Avt'handil was hampered by tears; he said with half-closed
eyes: "Without him it seems to me alike to dwell in palace
SHERMADIN told him all the home news: "None knows of
thy departure; whatever thou toldst me so have I done."
He went not thence that day, he feasted and rested; at dawn
he mounted, he set out when the sun enlightened the day.
HE sat no more at feasting, nor stayed he again private;
Shermadin, the bearer of good tidings, went to announce
Avt'handil's arrival; swiftly he fared, in three days he made
a ten days' journey. That lion Avt'handil rejoiced that he
was to see the sun's rival.
HE sent a message: "O king, proud art thou in might and
majesty! I venture to tell thee this thing with fear, respect
and precaution: I esteemed myself worthless in that I had
learned nought of that knight, now I know and will tell thee
all; I come in joy and safety."
ROSTEVAN is a king, proud, puissant, imperious, so
Shermadin delivered all his message in person: "Avt'handil
comes to the royal presence having found that knight." The
king said: "Now I know that which I entreated and prayed
for from God."
SHERMADIN made report to Thinat'hin, that nightless
light: "Avt'handil conies to thy presence; he brings thee
pleasing news." Thereat, light flashed forth from her, even
braver than the sun's. She gave him a gift, and robes to all
THE king mounted and went to meet the knight who was
coming thither, for this honour the sun-faced one incurred
a great debt of gratitude; joyous and warm-hearted they met,
and some of the multitude of lords seemed as if drunken.
WHEN he approached, the knight alighted and did homage
to the king. Rostevan, possessed by excess of joy, kissed him.
Glad-hearted and merry they entered the royal hall; all
there assembled rejoice at the arrival of the knight.
AVTHANDIL, the lion of lions, did homage to her, the sun
of suns; there the crystal, rose and jet were beautified by
tenderness; her face was brighter than heaven's light;
a dwelling-house was no fit abode for them, the sky itself was
their proper palace.
THAT day they made a feast; drinking and eating they made
abundant. The king gazes on the knight, as a tender father
on a son. They were both beautified by a snowfall of fresh
snow, a dew on the rose; generously they gave gifts, pearls
like small coin.
THE drinking was done, the drinkers separated each to his
own home; they suffered not the lords to go, they set the
knight near before them. The king inquires, and he relates
what trials he had undergone, and then what he had seen
and heard concerning the stranger.
"WHEN I speak of him, be not astonished if I ceaselessly
lament, saying: 'Ah me!' To the sun alone can I liken him,
or the face of him, the extinguisher of the mind of all who
see him; a wilted rose among thorns, alas! he is far away!
"WHEN the unendurable world makes a man suffer grief,
the reed becomes like a thorn, the enamel turns to saffron
colour." While Avt'handil was telling this his cheeks were
bedewed with tears. He told in detail the story he had heard
"HAVING captured the caves in battle, he has for his
house the abode of the Devis. He has the damsel of his
beloved as his attendant. He is clad in tiger's skin; he
despises brocade and cloth of gold. No more sees he the
world; an ever-new fire consumes him."
WHEN he had finished the story—the matter of his grief-
the sight of the light of that sun, not ugly to look upon,
gladdened him. They praised his rose-like hand which had
been firmly held. "This prowess is sufficient for thee since
thou art the undoer of grief."
T'HINAT'HIN rejoiced at the hearing of this news. That
day she was merry at the drinking, and eating was not
wearisome to her. Avt'handil met in his bedchamber
T'hinat'hin's slave who spoke wisely. She ordered him to
come to her. Tongue cannot tell how pleased he was.
THE knight went joyful, tender, not ill content, the lion
who had roamed the fields wilh the lions of the field and had
lost his colour, a knight of the world, in quality a gem and
a beautiful ruby of first water, but for heart's sake
he had exchanged heart for heart.
BOLD sits the sun upon her throne, majestic,
unconstrained, a fair aloe planted in Eden, generously
watered by Euphrates' stream; the jetty hair and the
eyebrow thickets adorned the crystal and ruby. Who am
I that I should praise her ? It needs the myriad tongues of
Athenian sages to praise her fitly.
SHE set the joyful knight before her with his chair, they
both sat full of gladness to converse as befitted them; they
spoke with dignity and fluency, not with unpolished words.
She said: "Thou hast found him in whose quest thou hast
seen misfortunes ?"
HE answered: "When the world gives a man his heart's
desire, it befits not to recall grief which is as a day that is
past. I found the tree, an aloe in form, watered by the
stream of the world; there I found the face which was like
the rose, but now is wan.
"THERE saw I the cypress, the rose-like, whose power was
spent; he says: 'I have lost the crystal, and that where the
crystal unites with enamel.' I burn for him because, like me,
unendurable fire consumes him." Then again he told the
story he had heard from Tariel.
HE recounted all his misfortunes and sorrows by the road
during the quest. Then he told her how God had thought
him worthy to find what he desired. "World, life, man, all
seems to him as to a beast; alone he roams mad with the
brutes, he weeps in the field.
"ASK me not what praise can I speak, how couldst thou
understand from me! Nothing can please one who has seen
him; the eyes of the beholders are weakened as by the
brilliance of the sun; the rose is become saffron, now the
violet is gathered in nosegays."
HE told her in detail what he knew, what he had seen,
heard: "Like a tiger he has a trail, and for house and abode
a cave; a damsel is there ready to cherish him, to maintain
his life and bear his sorrows. Alas! The world makes all
dwellers in the world to shed tears!"
WHEN the maiden heard this story she had attained the
fulfilment of her will; her moon-like face shone as 'twere
with radiance at the full. She said: "What answer can I
make to give comfort to him, and pleasure, and what is the
balm for the healing of his wound ?"
THE knight replied: "Who has confidence in a rash man?
He for my sake sacrifices himself to be burned, he who must
not be burned. I have appointed the time of my return;
I have promised him to sacrifice myself for him. I swear it
by my sun whom I contemplate as a sun!
"A FRIEND should spare himself no trouble for his friend's
sake, he should give heart for heart, love as a road and
a bridge. Then, again, the grief of his beloved should be
a great grief to a lover. Lo! without him joy is nought to
me, and myself I hold of none account."
THE sun-like one said: "All my heart's desire is fulfilled:
first thou art come in safety having found that which was
lost, then the love implanted by me in thee has grown, I
have found balm for my heart hitherto burned.
"THE passing world treats every man like the weather,
sometimes there is sunshine and sometimes the sky thunders
forth in wrath; hitherto grief has been upon me, now this
gladness is my lot; since the world has joy in it why should
any be sad!
"THOU dost well not to break the oath thou didst swear;
it is necessary to fulfil strong love for a friend, to seek for
his cure, to know the unknown. But tell me, what shall I,
luckless, do if the sun of my heaven be hidden!"
THE knight replied: "By nearness to thee I have united to
seven woes eight. Vain is it for one who is frozen to blow on
water to warm himself therewith; vain is the love, the kiss
from beneath, of the sun at its setting. If I be near thee,
once is it woe, and if I go far from thee a thousandfold woe.
"WOE is me if I wander where, alas! the flame burns the
roamer; my heart is the target of an arrow, a dart is shot
to pierce it; the term of my life seems by this day to be
shortened to one-third; I long for a refuge, but the time is
past for seeking shelter against troubles.
"I HAVE heard your discourse, I have understood what
you command; the thorn reveals the rose, why should
I prick myself with prickles ? But, 0 sun, become altogether
a sun for me, and let me carry with me some hopeful token
THE knight, sweetly and in sweet-sounding language
giving good for good, spoke on this theme like a pleasant
instructor to a pupil. The maiden gave him a pearl, she
fulfilled his desire, and God grant that their present joy be
WHAT is better than for a man to approach the jet to the
crystal and ruby, or to plant in the garden the aloe near the
cypress, to water it and make a tree of it, to cause joy to the
gazer and sorrow to him who cannot look thereon ? Woe to
the parted lover! He will be groaning, moaning, groaning.
THEY found all their joy in gazing at each other. The
knight went away, sundered from her he went dazed in
heart; the sun wept tears of blood more abundant than the
sea, and said: "The world is insatiable, alas! in the drinking
of my blood!"
THE knight went melancholy away, he beats his breast
and so bruises it, for love makes a man weep and melts his
heart. When a cloud hides the sun the earth is shadowed, so
parting from his beloved makes twilight again, not morning.
BLOOD and tears mingled made channel upon channel on
his cheeks. He said: "My sun is by no means satisfied with
me because I sacrifice myself to her comfort. I marvel how
the black eyelash brands the heart of diamond. Until I see
her, O world, I wish for no joy from thee.
"HIM who yesterday was an aloe planted, watered and
fully grown in Eden, him to-day the passing world thrusts
through with her lance, pierces with her knife. To-day my
heart is caught in a net of unquenchable fire. Now know I the way of the world; it is a tale and nonsense."
THUS speaking, the tears gush forth, he trembles and
shudders; with heart-sigh, with deep groan, his form bends
and sways. Converse with the beloved is embittered by
parting. Alas! 0 passing world! The end enshrouds and
THE knight went and sat in his chamber; sometimes he
weeps, sometimes he swoons, but in spirit he is near his
beloved, he is not cut off from her. Like verdure in hoarfrost
the hue of his face fades; see how soon lack of sun is
apparent on the rose!
ACCURSED is the heart of man, greedy, insatiable;
sometimes the heart desiring joys endures all griefs; blind
is the heart, perverse in seeing, not at all able to measure;
no king, nor even death itself, can master it.
WHILE he spoke to his heart hearty words, he took the
pearls, the love-token of his sun, which had engirt the arm
of his sun, and were comparable to her teeth; he put them
to his mouth, he kissed them, his tears flowed like byssus.
WHEN day dawned there came an inquirer calling him to
the court; the knight went forth, proud, gentle, not having
slept, unrefreshed by sleep. A host of spectators who had
hastened stood crowding one upon another. The king was
arrayed for the field; drum and clarion were prepared.
THE king mounted. How can the pomp of those times be
told now ? By reason of the beating of the copper drums no
word was heard by the ears. The hawks darkened the sun;
hither and thither coursed the hounds; that day the fields
were dyed purple with the blood shed by them.
THEY hunted, they returned joyful, having traversed the
meadow; they took in with them lords, princes and all the
hosts. The king sat down; he found the couches and all the
pavilions adorned; harp harmonized with castanets, there
was a full choir.
THE knight sat near the king, one questioned, the other
replied; the crystal and ruby of their lips shone transparent. the lightning of their teeth flashed; those who were worthy sat near, they listened; afar off the hosts were grouped:
none dared speak without mention of Tariel.
THE knight departed sad at heart, his tears flowed on the
fields; nought save his love passed before his eyes;
sometimes he rises, sometimes he lies down. How can one
sleep who is mad! Whose heart e'er hearkened to a praver
HE lies down; he says: "What can I imagine as any
consolation for my heart ? I am sundered from thee, thou
tree, in form as a reed, reared in Eden, thou joy of thy beholders, cause of woe to them that cannot gaze on thee.
Since I am unworthy to see thee manifestly, would that
I might behold thee in a dream."
THUS spake he, weeping, with flowing tears. Once more
he addressed his heart: "Patience is like the fountain-head
of wisdom. If we endure not what can we do ? How can we
adapt ourselves to anguish ? If we desire happiness from God
we must accept griefs also."
AGAIN he says: "0 heart, however much thou hast the
desire for death it is better to bear life, sacrificing self for
her; but hide it, let not the flame of thy fire be seen again.
It ill befits a lover to expose his love."
Avt’handil’s Request to King Rostevan, and the Vizier
WHEN day dawned the knight arrayed himself and went
forth early. He says: "I would that my love be not revealed.
that I may conceal it!" For patience he prays: "Contrive
something for my heart!" The moon-like one mounted his
horse; he went to the house of the vizier.
THE vizier heard of it, went to meet him: "The sun is
risen upon my house; this day, meseems, a presentiment of
joy announced to me this good news." He met Avt'handil,
saluted him, respectfully addressed to the perfect one
perfect praise. A welcome guest should have a cheerful
THIS host, not listless, ill-disposed or idle, helped the
knight to dismount; they stretched on the floor under his
feet a Cathayan rug. The knight illumined the house as the
sun's beam the universe. They said: "To-day the western
gale has wafted us the fragrant odour of roses."
HE sat; they that looked on him truly maddened their
hearts. They who gazed on him accounted it an honour to
swoon for his sake; many sighs were uttered, not once but
a thousand times; they were ordered to depart, they went
away, the household was thinned out.
WHEN the household was gone, the knight addressed the
vizier; quoth he: "In the council chamber nought will ever
be hidden from thee; in every matter of state the king does
what thou desirest, and agrees with thee. Now hearken to
my woes; cure me with what will heal me.
"THE fire of yon knight burns me, the flame that consumes
him afflicts me; I am slain by longing and by not seeing
the object of my desire; he would not grudge his life for me;
what is due must be paid; one must love a generous
"THE sight of him caught my heart as in a net, therein
it stays; my patience, too, remains with him; in that he
burns those near him. God created him indeed a sun.
Moreover, Asmat'h is become a sister to me, more than
a born sister.
"WHEN I departed 1 swore with a fearful oath: 'I shall come
again, I shall see thee not with a face despised of foes;
thou art of darkened heart, I shall seek light for thee.'
It is time for me to go, therefore am I burned with hot fire.
"ALL this I tell thee truly, not with braggart speech; he
awaits me, and I cannot set forth. This it is that adds to the
hot fires; I cannot break my vow, I mad cannot abandon
him mad. When and where did ever a breaker of oaths
"GO to the palace, report on my behalf to King Rostevan
what I have told thee. By his head I swear to thee, Vizier
Ustasra, if he keep me not captive I shall not stay; if he
keep me captive what can he make of me ? Help me; let
not the fire hurt and destroy my heart!
"SAY from me: 'Let every mouth which is not speechless
praise thee! Let God, the means of light, make known to
thee how I fear thee. But that knight, an aloe-tree in form,
burned me with fire; forthwith he took away my heart, in
no wise could I keep it.
"'NOW, 0 king, for me existence lacking him is utterly
impossible; he, the dauntless, has my heart. Of what avail
am I here ? If I can be of any service to him, to you first
will the glory belong; if I fail to accomplish aught for him
I shall set my heart at rest, mine oath will not have been
"'LET not my going anger or grieve your heart. Let that
befall my head whate'er God wills. May He grant you the
victory, and send me your servant back to you; but if
I return not may you still reign, may your foes be
YET again the sun-faced one says to the vizier: "I have
shortened my speech. Now speak thus to the king till others
come in to inform him, pleasantly entreat for me my congee,
summon up thy courage, and a hundred thousand red pieces
shall be bestowed on thee as a bribe."
THE vizier said with a smile: "Keep thy bribe for thyself:
for me it is sufficient favour from thee that thou hast found
the road hither. How can I dare tell the king what I have
now heard from you! I know of a truth he will fill me with
favours, and gain is not disagreeable!
"BY his head! he will slay me straightway: I doubt
whether he will delay even a moment. Thy gold will remain
with thee, but for me, luckless, there will be earth for a
grave. Slay me! What is of equal value with life to a man!
The thing cannot be said and I cannot say it, however much
anyone should reproach me.
"THIS road leads to no aim. How can I, luckless, lay down
my life for thee? He will despoil me or kill me. He will say:
'How dost thou speak these words ? Why didst thou not
guess all there is to be done ? Why art thou such a
madman ?' Life is better than loot ; this I even now learn.
"EVEN if the king permit thee to depart, why should the
hosts also be deceived ? Why should they let thee go, why
should they be hoodwinked, or why should they be removed
far from their sun ? If thou depart, our foes will become
bold, will even themselves with us; but this must not be, as
sparrows cannot change to hawks."
THE knight wept; with tears he spoke: "Must I strike
a knife into my heart! O vizier, it is apparent in thee thou
knowest not what love is, nor hast thou in others seen
friendship or oath. Or if thou hast seen surch, how canst thou
prove that without him my joy is possible?
"THE sun has turned. I knew not what would make the sun
turn. Now let us help him; it is better for us, in return he
will warm our day. No one knows mine affairs like myself;
what embitters me, what sweetens me. The discourse of
idle men greatly grieves a man.
"OF what profit can I be to the king or his hosts since I am
mad now, and my tears flow unceasingly! It is better that
I go away; I will not break my word; oaths prove a man.
What man has borne grief that Tariel has not?
"Now, o vizier, how can thy cursed heart be calm in this
juncture! Iron in my place would become wax and vot hard
rock; I cannot repay his tears, even if Gihon1 flowed from
mine eyes. Help me if thou wouldst desire help from me.
1 River in Messopotamia
"IF he give me not leave I shall steal away, unknown shall
I depart from him; as it intreats me so shall I deliver my
Heart to be consumed by fire. I know he will do nothing to
Thee because of me, if he be not disposed to exile thee.
Promise me-whatever may happen to thee- ‘I shall
Sacrifice myself to be tortured!’"
THE vizier said: "Thy fire consumes me also with fire.
I can no longer look on thy tears, the world itself vanishes;
sometimes speech is better than silence, sometimes by
speaking we spoil things. T shall speak; if I die it matters
not, my life will be sacrificed for thee."
WHEN the vizier had said this he arose and went to the
palace. He saw the king arrayed; the sun-like face looked
straight upon him. He was afraid, he dared not tell him
unpleasing news; perplexed he stood, he thought not on
THE king saw the vizier struck dumb by sadness. He said:
"What grieves thee ? What knowest thou ? Why art thou
come sad?" He answered: "I know nothing at all, but I am
indeed wretched. You will be justified in slaying me when
you hear the astounding news.
"MY mourning neither adds to my grief nor surpasses it;
I am afraid, though an envoy has no care for fear. Now
Avt'handil bids thee farewell, he entreats, he wrangles not;
he says that for him the world and life are nought without
WITH timorous tongue he told him all he knew. He added,
thereafter: "How canst thou know by such words in what
a plight I saw him and how his tears flowed ? Though you
should let your wrath fall forthwith on me, you are just."
WHEN the king had heard this he was wroth, he lost his
senses, his colour waned and he became terrible, he would
have terrified onlookers. He cried: "What has made a
madman of thee ? Who else would have related this ? It is
the plight of a bad man to learn early what is evil.
"TRAITOR-LIKE, thou hast told me of this as if it were
a merry matter; what more could anyone do to me save
slay me faithlessly, treacherously ? Madman, how couldst
thou employ thy tongue to dare to speak thus to me now!
Such a madman as thou art is unworthy to be vizier or
"SHOULD not a man spare his lord what is irksome, when
he stupidly chatters stupid speech ? Why were mine ears not
deafened before hearing such a thing! If I kill thee, my neck
must bear the responsibility for thy blood!"
AGAIN he spake: "If thou hadst not now been sent hither
by him, by my head! I had cut off thy head, let there be no
doubt of this! Go, withdraw! Look at the mad, stupid,
desperate improper fellow! Brave word, brave man, brave
the deed done by him!"
HE bent down, he threw chairs, he hit the wall and
shattered them; he missed his aim, but for the vizier's sake
he made the chairs like diamond, not willow-like. "How
couldst thou tell me of the going of him who plaited the
aloe-tree branches!" Hot tears hollowed out channels in the
vizier's white cheeks.
THE wretched vizier hurried away; he dared say no more.
He crept off crestfallen like a fox; his wounded heart pains
him. He comes in a courtier, he goes out gloomy, so much
does the tongue dishonour him. A foe cannot hurt a foe
as a man harms himself.
HE said: "What more will God show me like unto my
woes ? Why was I deceived ? Why was I darkened ? Would
that someone might enlighten me! Whoever announces
anything so boldly to a sovereign, my evil days stand upon
him too; how can he ever enjoy peace!"
THE disgraced vizier went away in black luck. Gloomily,
sad-faced, he said to Avt'handil: "What thanks can I give
thee! Thanks to thee, what a courtier am I become! Alas!
I have lost my peerless self by mine own fault!"
HE begs the bribe and behaves sportively, albeit his tears
were not dry. I marvel why he spends his time in making
jokes, why he is not grieved in heart! Quoth he: "He who
gives not what he promised quarrels with the Mourav1. It is
said: 'A bribe settles matters even in hell.'
1 Mourav—the headman of a town.
"HOW he took the matter, what he said to me, it is not to
be told by me. What evil, what stupidity, what idiocy, what
madness he attributed to me! I myself am no longer worthy
of the name of man; no longer have I sense. At this I
marvel—why he slew me not; God must have given him
"I KNEW too what I did; it happened not to me by
mistake. I had pondered, I knew he would be wroth with
me, therefore is my grief increased. None can avoid
vengeance for a deed done by Providence. Still, for thy sake
death seems joy to me; my woes are not in vain."
THE knight replied: "It is wholly impossible for me not to
depart. When the rose withers the nightingale then dies;
he must seek a dewdrop of water, for the sake of this he
must rove everywhere, and if he cannot find it what will he
do or wherewith shall he soothe his heart ?
"WITHOUT him I cannot bear to sit or lie. I will choose
to roam like the beasts, with them to run. Why does
Rostevan desire me who am in such a state to fight his
adversaries! It is better to have no man at all than to have
a dissatisfied one.
"I WILL tell him once again; now, however angry the king
may be, surely he can judge how my heart burns and
flames. If he grant me not leave, I shall steal away when
hope is gone. If I die, my portion and world will be
WHEN they had conversed, the vizier made a banquet
befitting them; he played the host, gave fair gifts to the
fair guest, he enriched his attendants, both youths and
greybeards. They parted; the knight went home as the sun
THE form of the sun-faced Avt'handil was like that of
a cypress; he bound up a hundred thousand pieces of gold,
three hundred pieces of gold brocade—he was generous
and open-handed—sixty precious rubies and jacinths, the
colour of which could not displease. He sent a man to carry
these presents from him.
AVT'HANDIL sent a message to the king saying: "How
can I give or bestow on thee that which befits thee ? What
return can I think of for the debts I owe thee ? Tf I survive
I shall die for thee; I shall make myself thy slave. I shall
repay love with love, with a like weight."
HOW can I tell his peerlessness, valour, and praise him!
He was a man fitting and worthy even of such a deed. Thus
should service be, as much as lies in one's power. When
a man is in trouble then needs he brother and kinsman.
Avt’handil’s Discourse With Shermadin When He Stole Away
THE sun-faced, dispenser of light, speaks to Shermadin and
says: "This day is hope, the comforter of my heart, that
thou wilt show what thou canst do for me." It needs
a reader and a listener for the praise of this story of them.
HE says: "Rostevan did not grant me leave, he hearkened
not even to a word from me; he knows not wherein one's
being lies and how one's life is in another. Without Tariel in
truth I live not, neither abroad nor at home. What
unrighteous deed has God ever forgiven to anyone ?
"THOUGH I resolved not to forsake him, and my decision
is final-every liar and traitor insults God by his lies-the
heart seeing not him weeps and sighs, moans and groans,
it comes not near to any joy, it shudders, grows sullen,
shuns all mankind!
"THREE are the ways of showing friendship by a friend:
First, the wish for nearness, impatience of distance; then
giving and not grudging, unweariedness in liberality; and
attention and aid, roaming in the fields to help him.
"BUT why should I lengthen speech; it is time to shorten it
Now to steal away is the healing of this bruised heart.
Hearken to what I shall entreat so long as thou hast time in
my company, and fortify thyself in observance of w hat
I have already taught thee.
"NOW prepare as first leader to serve the sovereigns,
manifest thy valour and integrity in all things. Take care
of my household, command my troops, repeat anew the
service, the attention thou hast hitherto shown.
"KEEP my foes out of the marches, let not thy might fail
in aught, grudge no good to the loyal, may they that are
false-hearted towards thee be slain; if I return, well shall
thy due be repaid to thee by me; service to a master is
WHEN he heard this, the hot tear flowed from Shermadin's
eyes. Quoth he: "Wherefore should I be affrighted by
sorrow in loneliness! But what shall I do without thee—
twilight will fall on my heart! Take me with thee to serve
thee; I will help thee however thou wishest.
"WHO has heard of so great wandering by one alone! Who
has heard of a knight holding back from his lord in trouble!
Thinking thee lost, what shall I, useless, do here ?" The
knight answered: "I cannot take thee, however many tears
"HOW can I disbelieve thy love for me! But the thing
cannot be; thus time has taken up arms against me. To
whom can I entrust my house; save thee, who is fit ? Calm
thy heart, believe me, I cannot take thee! I cannot!
"SINCE I am a lover I must run mad alone in the fields.
Should not one with blood-stained tears roam alone!
Errantry is the business of lovers; how can one wait till he
is grown old ? This world is such, be thou assured thereof
"WHEN I am far from thee, think of me, love me. I fear
not my foes; I shall take care of myself. A brave man must
be of good cheer, he must not mope in grief; I hate when a
man does not stop at a shameful deed.
"I AM such an one who considers this world as an old
cucumber, one to whom death for a friend seems a sport
and a play. I have left my sun, she grants me leave, why
should I linger! Then, if I leave my sun can I not leave my
. "NOW give thee my testament addressed to Rostevan.
I will confide thee to him, and entreat him to care for thee
as befits one brought up by me. Should I die, slay not
thyself; do not the deed of Satan; weep thereupon, fill the
channel of the eyes."
The Testament of Avt'handil to King Rostevan When He Stole Away
HE sat down to write the will, thus piteously inditing:
"0 king! I have stolen away in quest of him I must seek.
I cannot remain sundered from him, the kindler of my fires.
Forgive me and be merciful to me like as God.
"I KNOW that in the end thou wilt not blame this my
resolve. A wise man cannot abandon his beloved friend.
I venture to remind thee of the teaching of a certain
discourse made by Plato: 'Falsehood and two-facedness
injure the body and the soul.'
"SINCE lying is the source of all misfortunes, why should
I abandon my friend, a brother by a stronger tie than born
brotherhood ? I will not do it! What avails me the
knowledge of the philosophizing of the philosophers!
Therefore are we taught that we may be united with the
choir of the heavenly hosts.
"THOU hast read how the apostles write of love, how
they speak of it, how they praise it; know thou it and
harmonize thy knowledge: 'love exalteth us,' this is as it
were the tinkling burden of their song; if thou conceive not
this how can I convince ignorant men ?
"HE who created me, even He gave me power to overcome
foes; He who is the invisible Might, the Aid of every
earthly being, who fixes the bounds of the finite, sits
immortal God as God, He can in one moment change a
hundred into one and one into a hundred.
"WHAT God wills not will not become fact. The violet
fades, the rose withers, if they cannot gaze on the sunbeams;
every lovely thing is desirable for the eye to gaze on. How
can I endure the lack of him, or how can life please me!
"HOWEVER angry thou art, forgive me that I have not
kept your command; enthralled, I had no power to fulfil it.
No! To go was the remedy for the flaming of my furnaces.
Wherever I may be, what matters it to me if I have but my
"SADNESS avails thee not, nor useless flow of tears. The
deed which is inevitably decreed above cannot be avoided.
It is a law with men that they should struggle and suffer
woes, and no creature of flesh hath power to thwart
"WHATEVER God has predestined to come to pass upon
me let it be fulfilled, and when I return my heart will no
longer remain ashes. May I see you also joyful in majesty
and manifold wealth. What I can do for him is my glory,
and this is sufficient booty for me.
"0 KING, this is my decision. Slay me! if anyone can
disapprove! 0 king, can it be that my going grieves thee!
I cannot be false, I cannot do a cowardly deed; he would
shame me when we meet face to face in that eternity
whereto we both shall come.
"MINDFULNESS of a friend ne'er doeth us harm.
I despise the man who is shameless, false and treacherous.
I cannot be false; I cannot do it for a mighty king. What is
worse than a hesitant, tardy-going man!
"WHAT is worse than a man in the fight with a frowning
face, shirking, affrighted and thinking of death! In what is
a cowardly man better than a woman weaving a web! It is
better to get glory than all goods!
"A NARROW road cannot keep back Death, nor a rocky
one; by him all are levelled, weak and strong-hearted; in
the end the earth unites in one place youth and greybeard.
Better a glorious death than shameful life!
"AND now I fear, 0 king, to make this request to you:
mistaken, mistaken is he who expects not death
momentarily; it which unites us all comes alike by day and
by night. If I see thee not living, life will be fleeting for me.
"IF the passing world, the destroyer of all, destroy me,
an orphan I shall die travelling, unmourned by parent, nor
will those who brought me up, nor the friend whom I trust,
enshroud me; then indeed will your merciful, tender heart
have pity on me.
"I HAVE countless possessions weighed by none: Give the
treasure to the poor, free the slaves; enrich every orphan
without means; they will be grateful to me, remember me,
bless me; I shall be thought of.
. "WHATEVER is not worthy of being kept in your
treasury, give part to build orphan homes, part to build
bridges; be not sparing in the spending of mine estate for
me; T have none save thee to quench the hot fires.
"HENCEFORTH thou shalt learn no more news from me,
herewith I commit my soul to thee; this letter tells thee so,
without flattering thee; the devil's deeds shall not seduce
my soul, it will prevail; forgive me and pray for me; what
can be exacted from me dead ?
"I ENTREAT thee, 0 king, for Shermadin my chosen
servant. This year he hath an added day1 of grief. Comfort
him with the favour I was wont to favour him withal; make
not the tears to flow from his eyes welling with blood.
1 In Georgian naki, the extra day in leap year.
"MY testament is ended, written by mine own hand.
Behold, mine upbringer, I have parted from thee; I am gone
away with maddened heart. Let not the sovereigns be
grieved for my sake, be ye not clad in gloom, but be ye in
your sovereignty feared by foes."
WHEN he had made an end of writing he gave the will to
Shermadin. He said: "Convey this wisely to the king; none
can excel thee in any service." He embraced him and wept
over him bloody-hued tears.
Avt'handil's Prayer and His Flight
HE prayed and said: "Great God of earths and heavens,
who sometimes punishest, sometimes art ready to reward,
Unknowable and Unspeakable, Lord of lordships, give me
to endure longings, 0 ruler of heart-utterances!
"GOD, God, I beseech Thee, who govern'st the deeps and
heights; Thou didst create love. Thou hast decreed its law;
the world has sundered me from mine excellent sun; uproot
not the love sowed by her for me!
"GOD, God, merciful, I have none beside Thee; from Thee
I beg aid on the road, however long I travel; shelter me
from the mastery of foes, the turmoil of the seas, the evil
one by night! If I survive, T shall serve Thee, I shall offer
sacrifice to Thee."
WHEN he had prayed, he mounted his horse and privily
passed through the gates; he sent back Shermadin, albeit
he made great lamentations. The vassal weeps and beats his
breast; his blood flowed over the rocks. What can rejoice
the vassal deprived of the sight of his lord!
NOW will I begin another tale; I will attend the parting
knight. There was no audience that day for the wrathful
Rostevan. When day dawned he rose sullen; he was as if he
poured flame from his face; he commanded the vizier to be
called; thither they led him pale with fear.
King Rostevan Hears of Avt'handil's Secret Flight
WHEN he saw the vizier arrived with reverence in the hall
of audience, Rostevan said: "I recall not what thou saidst
yesterday; thou didst annoy and enrage me, for a long time
I could not compose my soul, therefore did I scold thee,
vizier, heart of hearts.
"I REMEMBER not what Avt'handil wanted, nor why
I treated thee so ill! Truly say the sages: 'Spite is net of
woes!' Never act in such a way! Consider the matter
carefully. Now, tell me what thou saidst! Speak and repeat
AGAIN the vizier submitted his speech of yesterday. When
Rostevan heard it, he made no lengthy answer: "If I think
thee not mad may I be the Jew Levi! Let me hear no more
of this, else I wholly give thee up!"
WHEN the vizier went forth to seek, he could not find the
enamel one, Avt'handil; only the slaves with flowing tears
told of his flight. The vizier said : "I cannot go to court;
I should remember former days. Whoever is daring let him
dare; I repent what I have already said."
WHEN the vizier came not, the king again sent a man; the
man learned the news and stood outside, none dared report
the departure. Rostevan began to suspect, therefore grief
increased tenfold. He said: "Doubtless he who alone
overpowers hundreds has stolen away!"
. WITH bent head he meditated; in his heart was great
gloom. He sighed and looked up; he commanded a slave:
"Go, let that villain come hither and tell me now; let
him enter." When the vizier came back his colour paled and he
AGAIN the vizier entered the audience chamber, gloomily,
not gaily. The king inquired: "Is the sun gone away,
become inconstant like the moon?" The vizier told him all,
how Avt'handil had gone away secretly: "The sun no
longer shines on us; the weather is not bright!"
WHEN the king heard this, he cried out with an exceeding
great cry, he lamented, he said: "Alas, my foster-son, my
dazed eyes shall see thee no more!" He made the onlookers
to marvel by scratching his face and tearing his beard.
"Whither art thou gone, and where hast thou lost those
pillars of light ?
"IF thou hast thyself, none will think thee a wanderer;
but as for me, what can I do, 0 foster-son ? Now cells befit
me as an abode; thou hast left me orphaned, me whose
wretched heart longs for thee. Till I am reunited to thee,
tongues cannot tell my sufferings!
"WHEN shall I see thee joyous returning from the chase?
I shall no longer see thee after the game of ball, graceful in
form, a faultless gem! No more shall I hear thine alluring
voice. Now without thee, alas! what shall I do with the
throne and the whole palace ?
"I KNOW that hunger will not kill thee, however far thou
roamest thy bow will provide thee, and thine arrowheads.
Perchance God in His mercy will again lighten our woes;
but if I die, 0 foster-son, by whom shall I be mourned!"
A NOISE was heard, a great host of men had assembled;
there is a crowd of courtiers at the palace, seizing their
beards with their hands; all rend and strike themselves, the
sound of their slapping is heard. They said: "Darkness is
upon us, accursed, since our sun is gone from the sky!"
WHEN the king saw his lords, he complained to them with
tears and groaning. He said: "'You see our sun has made his
rays quite rare to us! In what have we annoyed him,
wherein have we sinned, why has he parted from us, why
forsaken us! How can any take for us the leadership of the
hosts he maintained!"
ALL wept, lamented; then at length they grew calm. The
king commanded: "Ask! is he alone, or with a squire ?"
The vassal Shermadin came fearfully, shamefacedly; he
gave the testament, he wept, life seemed to him but loss.
. HE said: "I found this written by him in his chamber;
weeping slaves stood there, they tore hair and beard; he is?
stolen away alone, neither youth nor greybeard is near him;
if you slay me it will be just, an unseemly life irks me.
WHEN they read the testament, again they wept a long
time. Then the king commanded: "Let not my troops don
gay colours. Let us make the downtrodden, the orphan? and
widows, to pray; let us help them that God may give him
paths of peace!"
Avt'handil's Second Departure and Meeting with Tariel
WHEN the moon is far from the sun, distance makes her
bright; when she is near, his ray consumes her—she is
repelled, she cannot approach. But sunlessness dries up the
rose and lessens its colour. Not seeing the beloved renews in
us our old grief.
NOW will I begin the story of that knight's departure. He
goes away and weeps with boiling heart; it cannot be said
that his tears diminished. Every moment he turned back:
he prayed that he might find his sun-like one in sun-like
beauty. He gazed, he could not detach his eyes; if he tore
them away he lost consciousness.
WHEN he was near fainting, he had no power to move his
tongue, but tears run from his eyes, pouring forth as from
a spring. Sometimes he turns; he looks for means to bear
his pains. When he goes forward he knows not whither his
horse has borne him.
HE said: "O mine own! Let him who is far from thee and
yet silent be accursed; since my mind remains with thee,
let my heart also return to thee; the weeping eyes, too, wish
and long to see thee. It is better that the lover should be
subjected as much as may be to love!
"WHAT shall I do till I am united to thee, or in what
thinkest thou I shall find joy!I would slay myself but that
I doubt it would displease thee, but it would grieve thee to
hear I was no longer living. Come then and let us living give
our eyes to the shedding of tears."
HE wept and repeated: "Ten lances have pierced my
heart! An army of Indians-the dense thicket of her
eyelashes—has slain me. Her jet eyes lend her beauty. But
why have they overcome me ? Eyelashes, eyes, teeth, lips
and black hair are the cause of my suffering."
HE said: "0 sun, who art said to be the image of the sunny
night of Him who is One in unity of being and Everlasting.
whom the heavenly bodies obey to the jot of a second, turn
not away my good fortune; hear my prayer till our meeting,
mine and hers!
"THOU whom former philosophers addressed as the image
of God, aid me, for I am become a captive, iron chains bind
me! I, seeker of crystal and ruby, have lost coral and
enamel; formerly I could not endure nearness, now I regret
THUS he consumed himself; like a candle he melted. The
fear of being too late made him hasten; he wandered on.
When night fell, he found delight in the rising of the stars;
he compared them to her, he rejoiced, he gazed on them. he
held converse with them.
HE says to the moon: "I adjure thee in the name of thy
God, thou art the giver of the plague of love to lovers; thou
hast the balm of patience to make them bear it; hear my prayer to unite me with the face fair, through thee, like thine own."
NIGHT rejoiced him, day tortured him, he awaited the
sunset. When he saw a stream he dismounted; he gazed on
the rippling of the water, with it he united the rivulet of
blood from the lake of tears; again he set out, he hasted
onward on his road.
ALONE he lamented; he who was like the aloe-tree in form
wept. He killed a goat in the plain where he came to a rocky
place, roasted and ate of it and went on, sun-faced, martial
in heart. He said: "I forsook roses, and behold me here
I CANNOT now tell the words then spoken by that knight,
or what he discoursed and lamented with such elegance.
Sometimes his eyes reddened with their tears, the rose of his
cheeks scratched by his nail. When he saw the caves he was
glad; he went up to the door of the cave.
WHEN Asmat'h perceived him, she went to meet him, her
tears fell fast; she rejoiced so greatly that she will never
have such joy again. The knight dismounted, embraced her,
kissed her, and conversed with her. When a man has waited
for a man, the coming pleases him wondrously.
THE knight said to the damsel: "Where and how is thy
lord ?" The damsel wept with tears which might have fed
the sea. She said: "When thou wert gone, he roamed about,
for it irked him to be in the cave; now I know nought of
him, either by sight or tidings."
THE knight was pained as if some lance had struck him
in the midst of his heart. He said to Asmat'h: "0 sister, not
thus should a man be! How could he break his oath!
I deceived him not; how could he be false to me! If he could
not keep it, why did he promise ? If he promised me, why
did he lie ?
"SINCE save for him I counted not this world as grief,
why did he forget me when I departed ? Why could he not
endure, what troubled him ? How dared he break the oath
he had sworn ? But why should I marvel at evil from my
AGAIN the maiden spoke: "Thou art justified in such
sorrow; but when thou shalt judge aright—suspect me not of
complaisance—is not heart needed to fulfil oath and promise ?
He, bereft of heart, awaits only the curtailment of his days.
"HEART, mind and thought depend one upon another.
When heart goes the others also go and follow it. A man
deprived of heart cannot play the man; he is chased forth
from men. Thou sawest not, thou knowest not, what fires
"THOU art right in murmuring that thou art separated
from thy sworn brother, but how can it be told into what
plight he fell, how can I tell thee the fact ? Tongue will fail,
will be exhausted, the aching heart will ache still more. Thus
think I, for I saw, I luckless born.
"HITHERTO none has heard in story of sufferings like
unto his; such torture would affright not only men, but
even stones; sufficient for a fountain are the tears that have
flowed from his eyes. Whatever you say, you are right; one
is wise in another's battle.
"WHEN he went forth, burned, consumed with fires,
I asked him: 'Tell me, his adopted sister, what will
Avt'handil do when he comes ?' He replied: 'Let him come
to seek me, me useless for his sake. I shall not leave this
vicinage; I will not break my promise to him.
"'My vow I will not break, that oath will I not belie;
I shall wait till the time appointed, however much the
channels of tears may flow. If he find me dead, let him bury
me, let him say Alas! and mourn. If I meet him living, let
him marvel, for my life is doubtful.'
"HENCEFORTH the sundering of the sun and the
mountain-top hath befallen me, only I must shed tears
moistening the plains; maddened, I am tortured by the
exceeding multiplication of groans; death has forgotten me,
behold the deed of Fate!
"THIS true saying is written on a stone in China: 'Who
seeks not a friend is his own foe!' Now that to which
nor rose nor violet could be likened is become saffron. If thou
seekest, then, seek him; do what befits thee."
THE knight said: "Thou art right in not justifying me in
murmuring against him. But bethink thee what service
I have done as one prisoner of love to another: I fled from
my home, like a stag seeking water I seek him and think of
him, I wander from field to field.
"THE crystal pearl-shells guard the ruby-hued pearl and
apparel it; from her I have gone away, I could not stay
near her, I could not make her happy, nor could I be happy;
by my privy flight I have angered the equals of God, in
return for their favours I have troubled their hearts.
"MY lord and upbringer, by the grace of God living in
might, paternal, sweet, merciful, a sky snowing graciousness,
to him have I been faithless; I went away, verily I forgot
all, and guilty toward him, I no longer await any good thing
"ALL this afflicts me thus, 0 sister, for his sake. I have not
deceived him, but am come a wayfarer by night and day.
Now he is gone somewhere, he for whom I am consumed
with fire, wearied in vain and weeping I sit with a sad face.
"SISTER, the hour and time give me no more leisure for
converse. I repent not the past, early will I fulfil the word
of the wise; I go, I will seek, either shall I find him or bring
death early upon me; otherwise, since I am thus doomed
by Fate, what can I embolden myself to say to God."
No more than this he said: he wept and went his way. He
passed the caves, crossed the water, went through the reeds
and came to the plain. The wind blowing over the fields
froze the rose to a ruby hue. "Why givest thou me this
plague?" He reproached Fate for this.
HE said: "0 God, wherein have I sinned against thee, the
Lord, the All-Seeing ? Why hast Thou separated me from
my friends ? Why didst Thou lure me on to such a fate ?
One thinking of two, I am in a parlous plight; if I die I shall
not pity myself, my blood be on my head!
"MY friend cast a bunch of roses on my heart, and so
wounded it; that oath fulfilled by me he kept not. If,
0 passing world, thou partest me from him, my joy is past,
to mine eyes another friend were reviled and shamed."
THEN he said: "I marvel at the spleen of a man of sense;
when he is sad, of what avail is a rivulet from the terraced
roof? It is better to choose, to ponder over the fitting deed.
Now for me, too, it is better to seek that sun-like one,
reed-like in form."
THE knight, weeping, besprinkled with tears, set himself
to search; he seeks, he calls, he cries aloud, watching by
night as by day; for three days he traversed many a
mountain pass, reedy thicket, forest and field; he could not
find him; sad he went, unable to learn any tidings.
HE said: "O God, wherein have I sinned against Thee?
How have I displeased Thee so greatly ? Why bring this
fate upon me ? What torture hast Thou sent upon me!
Judge me, O Judge, hearken to my prayer; shorten my
days, thus turn my woes to joy!"
Avt’handil Comes Upon the Unconscious Tariel
WEEPING and pale, the knight went his way and spoke;
he mounted a certain hill, the plain appeared in sunshine
and shadow. He saw a black horse standing with the bridle
on his neck on the edge of the rushes. He said:
"Undoubtedly it is he; of that there can be no doubt."
WHEN he saw, the heart of the knight leaped up and was
lightened; here to him, distressed, joy became not tenfold,
but a thousandfold; the rose of his cheeks brightened its
colour, the crystal of his face became crystal indeed, the
jet of his eyes grew jetty; like a whirlwind he galloped
down, he rested not from gazing at him.
WHEN he saw him, Tariel was indeed grieved; Tariel sat
with drawn face in state near unto death, his collar was
rent, his head was all torn, he could no longer feel, he had
stepped forth from the world.
ON one side lay a slain lion and a blood-smeared sword,
on the other a tiger stricken down a lifeless corpse. From
his eyes, as from a fountain, tears flowed fiercely forth; thus
there a flaming fire burned his heart.
HE could not even open his eyes, he had wholly lost
consciousness, he was come nigh to death, he was far
removed from joy. The knjght calls him by name, he tries
to rouse him by speech; he cannot make him hear; he leaped
towards him; the brother shows his brotherliness.
HE wipes away TariePs tears with his hand, he cleansed
his eyes with his sleeve; he sits down near by and only calls
him by name; he says: "Know'st thou not me, Avt'handil,
for thy sake wandering and mad ?" But he heard little,
staring with fixed eyes.
THIS is all thus, even as related by me. He wiped away
the tears from his eyes, he somewhat recalled him to
consciousness; then only he knew Avt'handil, kissed him,
embraced him, treated him as a brother. I declare by the
living God none like him was ever born.
HE said: "Brother, I was not false to thee, I have done
what I swore to thee; unparted from my soul I have seen
thee, thus have I kept my vow; now leave me; till death
I shall weep and beat my head, but I entreat thee for
burial, that I be not yielded to the beasts for food."
THE knight replied: "What ails thee? Why doest thou an
evil deed ? Who hath not been a lover, whom doth the
furnace not consume ? Who hath done like thee among the
race of other men! Why art thou seized by Satan, why kill
thyself by thine own will ?
"IF thou art wise, all the sages agree with this principle:
'A man must be manly, it is better that he should weep as
seldom as possible; in grief one should strengthen himself
like a stone wall. ‘Through his own reason a man falls into
"THOU art wise, and yet knowest not to choose according
to the sayings of the wise. Thou weepest in the plain and
livest with the beasts; what desire canst thou thus fulfil ?
If thou renounce the world thou canst not attain her for
whose sake thou diest. Why bindest thou a hale head, why
openest thou the wound afresh ?
. "WHO hath not been a lover, whom hath the furnace not
consumed ? Who hath not seen pains, who faints not for
somebody ? Tell me, what has been unexampled! Why
should thy spirits flee! Know'st thou not that none e'er
plucked a thornless rose!
"THEY asked the rose: 'Who made thee so lovely in form
and face ? I marvel why thou art thorny, why finding thee is
pain!' It said: 'Thou findest the sweet with the bitter;
whatever costs dear is better; when the lovely is cheapened
it is no longer worth even dried fruit.'
"SINCE the soulless, inanimate rose speaks thus, who then
can harvest joy who hath not first travailed with woe?
Who hath ever heard of aught harmless that was the work
of devilry ? Why dost thou murmur at Fate ? What hath it
done unexampled ?
"HEARKEN to what I have said, mount, let us go at ease.
Follow not after thine own counsel and judgement; do that
thou desirest not, follow not the will of desires; were it not
better thus I would not tell thee, mistrust not that I shall
flatter thee in aught."
TARIEL said: "Brother, what shall I say to thee? Scarce
have I control of my tongue; maddened, I have no strength
to hearken to thy words. How easy to thee seems patience
of the suffering of my torments! Now am I brought close
to death; the time of my joy draws nigh.
"DYING, for her I pray; never shall I entreat her with my tongue. Lovers here parted, there indeed may we be united, there again see each other, again find some joy. Come, O friends, bury me, cast clods upon me!
"HOW shall the lover not see his love, how forsake her!
Gladly I go to her; then will she wend to me. I shall meet
her, she shall meet me; she shall weep for me and make me
weep. Inquire of a hundred, do what pleaseth thine heart,
in spite of what any may advise thee.
"BUT know thou this as my verdict, I speak to thee words
of truth: Death draws nigh to me, leave me alone, I shall
tarry but a little while; if I be not living, of what use am
I to thee ? If I survive, what canst thou make of me, mad ?
Mine elements are dissolved; they are joining the ranks of
"WHAT thou hast said and what thou speakest I
Understand not, nor have I leisure to listen to these things.
Death draws nigh me maddened; life is but for a moment.
Now the world is grown distasteful to me—more than at any
time heretofore. I, too, go thither to that earth whereon the
moisture of my tears flows.
"WISE! Who is wise, what is wise, how can a madman act
wisely ? Had I my wits such discourse would be fitting. The
rose cannot be without the sun; if it be so, it begins to fade.
Thou weariest me, leave me, I have no time, I can endure
AVT'HANDIL spoke again with words of many kinds. He
said: "By my head! If thou diest what good will it do to
her! Do it not! It is not the better deed. Be not thine own
foe!" But he cannot lead him away; he can do nothing
at all by speech
THEN he said: "Well, since thou wilt by no means hearken
to me, I will not weary thee; my tongue has hitherto spoken
in vain. If death be better for thee, die! Let the rose
wither - they all wither! One thing only I pray thee, grant
me this"—for this his tears were flowing—
"WHERE the Indians1 engird the crystal and rose with
a hedge of jet—from this am I parted; hastily I went, not
quietly. The king cannot keep me by his paternal converse.
Thou wilt not unite with me, thou wilt renounce me; now
how can I speak my joy!
" SEND me not heart-sore away, grant me one desire:
Mount once thy steed, let me see thee, ravisher of my soul.
on horseback: perchance: perchance then this present grief will flee
away, I shall go and leave thee, let thy will be done!"
HE entreated him: "Mount!" He begged and prayed him,
he entreated him eight times. He knew that riding would
chase away his sadness, that he would bend the reedy stem,
and make a tent of the jet eyelashes. He made Tariel
obedient; it pleased Avt'handil; Tariel sighed not nor
HE said plainly: "I will mount; bring forward my horse."
Avt'handil brought the horse and gently helped him to
mount; he did not make him pant with haste; he took him
towards the plain, he made his graceful form to sway. Some
time they rode; going made him seem better.
AVT'HANDIL entertains him, and speaks fair words to
him; for Tariel's sake he moved his coral-coloured lips in
speech. To hear him would make young the aged ears of
a listener. He put away melancholy; he took unto himself
WHEN the elixir of grief perceived the improvement, joy
not to be depicted lightened his rose-like face—he,
Avt'handil, the physician of the reasonable, but despair of
the foolish, spoke words of reason to him who spoke
THEY began to converse; he spoke a frank word: "One
thing will I say to thee: Open to me what is secret. This
armlet of her by whom thou art wounded—how much dost
thou love it ? How dost thou prize it ? Tell me, then let me
HE said: "How can I tell thee the likeness of that
incomparable picture! It is my life, the giver of my groans,
better to me than all the world-water, earth and tree. To
hearken to that to which one should not listen is more bitter
AVT'HANDIL said: "I truly expected thee to say this.
Now, since thou hast said it, I will answer thee, and think
not I shall flatter thee; to lose Asmat'h were worse than the
loss of that armlet. I commend not thy behaviour in
choosing the worser
"THIS armlet thou wearest is golden, molten by the
goldsmith, inanimate, lifeless, speechless, unreasoning;
thou no longer wantest Asmat'h! Behold a true judgement!
First, she, luckless, was with Nestan; then she is thine own
"BETWEEN you and Nestan she formed a bond, by thee
she has been called sister; she was the servant who
contrived your meeting, while she herself was worthy of
being summoned by thee; she, upbringer of her and brought
up by her, she is mad for Nestan, and thou forsakest her,
wretched woman, and wilt not see her? Bravo! a just
HE said: "What thou sayest is only too true. Pitiable is
Asmat'h, who thinks of Nestan and sees me. I thought not
to live; thou art come in time to quench the fires. Since
I still survive, come, let us see, albeit I am still dazed."
HE obeyed. Avt'handil and the Amirbar set out. I cannot
achieve the praise of their worth: teeth like pearls, lips
cleft roses. The sweetly discoursing tongue lures forth the
serpent from its lair.
THEREUPON Avt'handil says: "For thy sake will I
sacrifice mind, soul, heart; but be not thus, open not thy
wounds afresh. Learning avails thee not if thou do not what
the wise have said; of what advantage to thee is a hidden
treasure if thou wilt not use it ?
"GRIEVING is of no use to thee; if thou art sorrowful
what good will it do thee ? Know'st thou not that no man
dies save by the will of Providence ? Awaiting the sunbeams
the rose fades not in three days. Luck, endeavour and, if
God will, victory shall be thy lot."
TARIEL replied: "This teaching is worth all the world to
me. The intelligent loves the instructor; he pierces the heart
of the senseless. But what shall I do, how can I endure
when I am in excessive trouble ? My griefs have hold of thee
too. If, then, thou justify me not shall I not wonder?
"WAX hath an affinity with the heat of fire, and therefore
is lighted; but water hath no such affinity if wax fall into
water it is quenched. Whatever thing afflicts someone
himself, in that will he hold for the sake of others too.
Why know'st thou not once for all in what way my heart
1 Black eyelashes.
Tariel Tells of the Killing of the Lion and the Tiger
"WITH my tongue will I relate to thee in detail all that
hath befallen me; then indeed with wise heart judge the
truth. I expected thee, awaiting thee was irksome to me,
I could no longer endure the cave, I wished to ride in the
"I CAME up that hill, I had traversed these reeds; a
lion and a tiger met, they came together; they seemed to
me to be enamoured, it rejoiced me to see them; but what
they did to each other surprised me, horrified me.
"I CAME up the hill, the lion and tiger came walking
together; they were to me like a picture of lovers, my
burning fires were quenched. They came together and
began to fight, embittered they struggled; the lion pursues,
the tiger flees. They were not commended by me.
"FIRST they sported gaily, then they quarrelled flercehy;
each struck the other with its paw, they had no fear of
death; the tiger lost heart, even as women do: the lion
fiercely pursued, none could have calmed him.
"THE behaviour of the lion displeased me. I said: 'Thou
art out of thy wits. Why annoy'st thou thy beloved? Fie on
such bravery!"' I rushed on him with my bared sword, I
gave him to be pierced by the spear, I struck his head,
I killed him, I freed him from this world's woe.
"I THREW away my sword, I leaped down, I caught the
tiger with my hands, I wished to kiss it for the sake of her
for whom hot fires burn me. It roared at me, and worried me
with its blood-shedding paws. I could bear no more; with
enraged heart I killed it too.
"HOWEVER much I soothed it, the tiger became not
calm. I grew angry, I brandished it, dashed it on the ground,
shattered it. I remembered how I had striven with my
beloved. Yet my soul tore not itself altogether out of me.
Why, then, art thou astonished that I shed tears!
"BEHOLD, brother! I have told the woes that grieved me.
Life itself befits me not. Why didst thou wonder that I am
thus fordone ? I am sundered from life, death is become shy
of me." So the knight ended his story, sighed, and wept
Here is the Going of Tariel and Avt’handil to the Cave, and Their Seeing of Asmat'h
AVT'HANDIL also wept with him and shed tears. He said:
"Be patient, die not, rend not altogether thy heart. God
will be merciful in this, though sorrow hath not shunned
thee; if He had willed to part you. He would not first have
. "MISCHANCE pursues the lover, embitters life for him;
but to him who at first bears woe it yields joy at last. Love
is grievous, for it brings thee nigh unto death; it maddens
the instructed, it teaches the untaught."
THEY wept and went on; they wended their way to the
cave. When Asmat'h saw them she rejoiced indeed; she met
them, she wept, her tears wore channels in the rocks. Thev
kissed and wept aloud; each pressed the other to tell his
ASMAT'H said: "O God, Thou who canst not be expressed
by man's tongue! Thou art the fullness of all; Thou
finest us with Thy sun-like radiance. If I praise Thee, how
can I praise Thee ? What can I say in praise of Thee, who
art not to be praised by the intellect ? Glory to Thee! Thou
hast not slain me by the shedding of tears for them."
TARIEL said: "Ah, sister! for this have my tears flowed
here. For that it erstwhile made us smile, the passing world
makes us weep in turn; 'tis an old law of the world, not
one newly to be heard of! Alas! were it not for pity of thee,
death would be my joy.
"IF he be athirst, what sane, reasonable man would pour
away water! I marvel why I am soaked in tears from mine
eyes! Lack of water slays, water flows never dried. Alas!
the opened rose, the beauteous pearl, is lost!"
AVT'HANDIL, too, was reminded of his sun and beloved.
He said: "0 mine own, how can I remain living without
thee! Apart from thee my life is for me pitiable. Who can
tell thee how I suffer, or how sore a fire burns me!
"HOW can the rose think, 'If the sun go away I shall not
wither' ? Or what, alas! will be our lot when the sun sets
behind the hill ? Heart, it is better for thee to harden
thyself, petrify thyself wholly. Perchance it may happen
to thee to see her; let not thy spirit be utterly spent!"
THEY calmed their souls, they were silent, fire burned
both. Asmat'h followed, went in; like them, a furnace
consumed her. She stretched out the tiger's skin he
formerly used. They both sat down; they spoke of
whatever pleased them.
THEY roasted meat and made a meal fitting the occasion;
there the meal was breadless, and there was no multitude of
vassals. They begged Tariel to eat; he had not power to
eat; he chewed a morsel, spat it out, he hardly swallowed
the weight of a drachm.
PLEASANT it is when man converses agreeably with man;
he will listen to what is said, not let it pass in vain; thus
the fire which burns so greatly is somewhat quenched;
great comfort it is to speak of troubles when a man has the
THAT night those lions, those heroes, were together,
they conversed, and each revealed to the other his woes;
when day dawned they began again many-worded
conversations; they heard again from each other the oath
TARIEL said: "Why speak many words ? For that which
thou hast done for me. God is surety for the debt. Oath for
oath is enough; remembrance, friendship for a departing
friend, are not the deed of a drunken man.
"NOW be merciful to me, make me not burn again in
hottest fires; the flame which consumes me is not kindled
by a steel; thou canst not extinguish it for me, thou thyself
shalt be burned by the law of the creation of the world.
Go, return, go back thither, to the place where thy sun is.
"To cure me seems hard even to Him who created
me—understand ye who hear!—therefore I roam mad in
the fields. Once I too was a doer of what befits the
reasonable; now the turn of madness has fallen to my
lot, and so I am mad."
AVT'HANDIL said: "What can I say in answer to this
thou hast said ? Thou thyself hast spoken as a man sagely
instructed. How is it not possible for God again to cure
the wound! He is the upbringer of everything planted or
"WHY should God do this, create such as you and not
unite you, part you, madden thee with weeping ? Mischance
pursues the lover. Look well into the matter, know it. If
you meet not each other again, then slay me!
"WHO else is a man save he that will endure what is
grievous? How can one let himself be bent by grief! What
subject of conversation is this! Fear not. God is generous
though the world be hard! Learn then what I teach thee;
I make bold to tell thee that he who will not learn is an ass.
"HEED what thou hearest; let this suffice for teaching.
I asked leave of my sun to come away to you; I said to
her: 'Since he made cinders of my heart I am no longer
of use to thee, I will not stay; what else need I tell thee in
many words ?'
"SHE said: 'I am content, thou art doing well and bravely,
the attention thou showest to him I accept as a service
to me.' At her request I came away. I am not drunk nor
intoxicated! If I now return what shall I say ? 'Why art
thou come back like a coward ?' will be her greeting.
"BETTER than such discourse is this, hearken to what I
say: The man who is to do a difficult deed must be
reasonable, the rose withered for lack of sun cannot make
provision for itself; if thou art no longer of any use to
thyself, be of use to me; brother must act brotherly to
"WHEREVER thou wilt, stay there after thy rule: if
thou wilt with wise heart, if thou wilt with maddened mind.
With that loveliness of mien, that grace of form, do but
strengthen thyself, die not, be not consumed by the flame!
"I BEG no more from thee: in a year's time meet me in
this same cave, when I have gathered news from every
quarter. As a token of that time I give thee the season when
these roses shall again bloom abundantly; the sight of the
roses will make thee start as at the bark of a dog.
"IF I exceed that time and come not hither to the cave,
then know that I am not alive, undoubtedly I shall have
died. It will be a sufficient token of this if thou shed
tears for me. Then rejoice if thou wilt, or if thou wilt
increase thy grief.
"NOW perchance wilt thou sorrow for the sake of what I
have told thee ? I go far from thee, and I know not
whether horse or ship may fail me. No! lack of speech
avails not. I am not silent like a beast; I know not what
God will do to me, nor the ever-revolving sky."
TARIEL said: "I will weary thee no more, nor say too
much; thou wilt not listen to me however much I lengthen
my discourse. If your beloved will not follow thee, follow
thou him; do whatever he wills. In the end every hidden
thing shall come to light.
"WHEN thou art convinced, then thou shall know the
difficulty of mine affairs; for me it is all one, roaming or
not roaming; what thou hast told me that will I do, however
much madness torture me. But if long days befall me in
thine absence, what shall I do ?"
THEY ended their discourse; they gave that promise to
each other. They mounted, rode out, each killed game in
the plain. They returned, their tearful hearts wept again;
the thought of the parting on the morrow added grief to
READERS of these verses, your eyes also are shedding
tears! What, alas! shall heart do without heart, if heart
part from heart! Absence and parting from a friend are
the slayers of a man. Who, indeed, knows not, understands
not, how hard is that day!
MORNING dawned; they mounted and said farewell to
the maiden. From the eyes of Tariel, Asmat'h and
Avt'handil tears flowed. The cheeks of all three hung out
flags of crimson. Those lions ever made wild by grief went
out to the beasts.
THEY descended from the caves and went away crying
aloud with flowing tears. Asmat'h weeps and laments: "0
lions! whose tongues can chant lamentations for you! The
sun has burned and consumed you heavenly stars. Alas for
my woes so great! Alas the sufferings of life!"
THOSE knights, departed thence, travelled that day
together. They came to the seashore, there they tarried,
they travelled not through dry land. That night they parted
not; again they shared their fire. They wept for the absence
from each other; they bewailed it.
AVT'HANDIL said to Tariel: "The channel of the flow
of tears is dried! Why didst thou separate from P'hridon,
the giver of this steed ? Thence are tidings and means to be
learnt regarding that beautiful sun. Now I go thither; teach
me the way to thy sworn brother."
TARIEL teaches him by word the direction of the road to
P'hridon's. He made him understand as well as he could by
his power of speech: "Go towards the east; fare even unto
the seashore. If thou seest him tell him of me; he will ask
news of his brother."
THEY killed a goat and dragged it after them, they made
a fire on the seashore, they sat down and ate such a meal as
was fitting to their grief. That night they were together;
they lay together at the root of a tree. I curse the
treacherous passing world, sometimes generous, sometimes
AT dawn they rose to part, they embraced each other.
The things said by them then would have melted anyone
who heard. They shed on the fields tears from the eyes like
waters from a spring. Long they stand in a close embrace,
breast was welded to breast.
WITH tears and face-scratching and tearing of hair
they parted; one goes up, the other goes down; roadless
they ride by bridle-paths through the rushes; as long as they
saw each other, with drawn faces they shouted; looking
upon their frowns the sun would frown too.
Of the Going ofAvt’handil to P'hridon's
When He Met Him at Mulghazanzar
ALAS! O world, what ails thee ? Why dost thou whirl us
round ? What habit afflicts thee ? All who trust in thee weep
ceaselessly like me. Whence and whither earnest thou ?
Where and whence uprootest thou ? But God abandons not
he man forsaken by thee.
AVT'HANDIL, parted from Tariel, weeps; his voice reaches
to the heavens. Quoth he: "The stream of blood which
flowed anew flows once again. Now is parting as hard as
union will be till we meet in heaven. Men are not all equal:
there is a great difference between man and man."
THEN the beasts of the field drank their fill of the tears
he shed there; he could not quench the furnace, he burned
with frequent fire. Again the thought of T'hinat'hin fills
him all the more with grief; the coral-rooted crystal shines
on the rose of the lips.
THE rose is faded, it withers, the branch of the aloe-tree
quivers, the cut crystal and ruby are changed into
lapis-lazuli: He strengthened himself against death;
against him il vaunted not itself. He said: "Why should I
wonder at darkness since thou, O sun, hast abandoned me!"
HE said to the sun: "O sun, I compare thee to the cheeks
of T'hinat'hin, thou art like her and she is like thee, ye
light mountain and valley. The sight of thee rejoices me,
a madman, therefore unweariedly I gaze on thee; but why
have you both left my heart cold, unwarmed ?
"THE absence of one sun for a month in winter freezes
us; I, alas! have parted from two; how, then, should my
heart not be harmed ? Only a rock perceives not, is never
hurt! A knife cannot cure a wound; it cuts or causes a
WENDING his way he laments to the sky, he speaks; to
the sun he says: "O sun, to thee I pray, thou mighty of
the mightiest mights, who exaltest the humble, givest
sovereignty, happiness; part me not from my beloved, turn
not my day to night!
"COME, O Zual1, add tear to tear, woe to woe; dye my
heart black, give me to thick gloom, heap upon me a heavy
load of grief as on an ass; but say to her: 'Forsake him not!
Thine he is, and for thee he weeps.'
"0 MUSHT'HAR2, I entreat thee, thou just, perfect
judge, come and do justice, heart takes counsel with heart;
twist not justice, destroy not thus thy soul. I am righteous, judge me, why wouldst thou wound afresh me wounded for her!
"COME,O Marikh3, mercilessly pierce me with thy
spear, dye me and stain me red with the flow of blood; tell
her my sufferings, let her hear them with the tongue; thou
knowest what I am become, no longer my heart hath joy.
"COME, Aspiroz4, aid me somewhat; she has consumed me
with the flame of fires, she who encircles the pearl with
lip of coral; thou beautifiest the fair with such charm as
thine; one like me thou abandonest and maddenst.
"OTARID5! save thee none other's fate is like to mine.
The sun whirls me, lets me not go, unites with me and
gives me over to burning. Sit down to write my woes! For
ink I give thee a lake of tears, for pen I cut for thee a trim
form, slim as a hair.
"COME, O Moon, take pity on me; I wane and am wasted
like thee; the sun fills me, the sun, too, empties me;
sometimes I am full-bodied, sometimes I am spare. Tell her
my tortures, what afflicts me, how I faint. Go, say: 'Forsake
him not!' I am hers, and for her sake I die.
"BEHOLD, the stars bear witness, even the seven confirm
my words: the sun, Otarid, Musht'har and Zual faint for
my sake; moon, Aspiroz, Marikh, come and bear me
witness; make her hear what fires consume me
NOW he says to his heart: "As the tear still flows, and
is not dried, what avails it to slay thyself! It is clear
thou hast fraternized with the devil as a brother. I myself
know that she who maddened me has for hair the tail of a
raven; but if thou bearest not grief what is the enduring
"IF I remain, this is better for me"-he speaks of the
uncertainty of life—"perchance it will be my lot to see the
sun, I shall not forever cry Alas!" He sang with sweet
voice; he checked not the channel of tears. Compared to
his voice even the voice of the nightingale was like an
WHEN the knight's song was heard, the beasts came to
listen; by reason of the sweetness of his voice even the
stones came forth from the water, they hearkened, they
marvelled, when he wept they wept; he sings sad songs,
tears flow like a fount.
ALL living creatures on earth came to applaud: game
from the rocks, fishes in the water, crocodiles in the sea,
birds from the sky, from India, Arabia, Greece, Orientals
and Occidentals, Russians, Persians, Franks and Egyptians
1 Zual – Saturn, planet of woe.
2 Musht'har Jupiter, planet of justice
3 Marikh—Mars, planet of vengeance.
4 Aspiroz - Venus, planet of healing
5 Otarid - Mercury, planet of learning.
Of Avt’handil’s Going to P’hridon's
When He Parted From Tariel
WEEPING the knight went seventy days along the road to
the seashore. Afar off he saw in the sea boatmen
approaching; he waited and asked: "Who are you, I beg
you to tell me this: Whose realm is this or whose voice
doth it obey?"
THEY answered: "O fair efface and form, strange and
pleasing to us thou seemest, therefore with praise we
address thee; hereunto is the boundary of the Turks,
marching with the border of P'hridon, whose men we are: of
him shall we tell thee, if we faint not from gazing on thee.
"NURADIN P'hridon is king of this our land, a knight
brave, generous, mighty, on horseback a swift racer; none
has power to harm so fair a sun; he is our lord, he like the
beams spread forth from heaven."
THE knight said: "My brethren, in you have 1 happed upon
good men. I seek your king, teach me whither I should go.
How shall I go, when shall I come thither, how long is the
road?" The boatmen guided him; they left not the shore.
THEY reported to him: "This is the road going to
Mulghazanzar, there our king will meet thee, he of the swift
arrow, the keen sword. Thou shalt arrive there ten days
hence, O thou of the cypress form, ruby in hue. Alas! why
dost thou, a stranger, burn us strangers, why consumest
thou us like a flame of fire!"
THE knight said: "I marvel, brethren, why you are
heart-slain for me, or how the faded winter roses can
please you thus! If you had seen us then when we sat
proud, uncrippled, we charmed them that gazed on us, with
us they sat joyful."
THEY departed, the knight turned to pursue his road, he
whose form is like the cypress, whose heart is like iron. He
puts his horse to a canter, he discourses, he speaks aloud
to comfort himself; the narcissi thunder, it rains tears,
they lave the crystal and the enamel.
WHATEVER strangers he met on the road served him,
were subservient to him; they came to gaze on him, they
courted him, it was hard for them to let him go, scarce
could they bear parting, they gave him a guide for the road,
whatever he asked they told him.
HE neared Mulghazanzar; soon he ended the long road. In
the plain he saw an army of soldiers, and they were seen to
be destroying game; on all sides a chain was formed, they
encircled the outside of the field; they shot and shouted,
they mowed down beasts like standing corn.
HE met a man, he asked him tidings of that host; he
said : "Whose is this sound of trampling and stir?" He
answered: "P'hridon the monarch, King of Mulghazanzar,
hunts, he holds the edge of the sedgy plain engirt."
MATCHLESS in mien he went towards the troops, he
became merry, how can I ever tell the beauty of that
knight! Those who are parted from him he makes to freeze,
like the sun he burns them that are met with him; he
maddens, if they look on him, those who gaze, his form
sways like a tree.
IN the very midst of the hosts an eagle soared from
somewhere. The knight urged on his horse, he emboldened
himself, he feared not; he drew his bow and let the arrow
fly; the eagle fell and blood flowed from it; he dismounted
and clipped its wings; calmly he remounted, he panted not.
WHEN they saw him, the archers ceased to shoot; they
broke the circle, they came, they pressed upon him, they
fainted, from all sides they surrounded him, some followed
behind. They dared not ask him: "Who art thou?" nor
could they say aught to him.
IN the meadow was a hill, on it stood P'hridon; forty
men worthy to shoot with him attended him; thither
Avt'handil made his way, after him followed the centre of
the host. P'hridon marvelled. "What are they doing?"
said he; he was angry with his armies.
P'HRIDON sent out a slave, saying: "Go, see the armies,
what they are doing, why they have broken the circle,
whither blind-like they go." The slave swiftly reached
them, he saw the cypress, the sapling form; he stood, his
eyes became dazed, he forgot the words he had to say.
AVT'HANDIL perceived that this man was come to learn
news of him. He said: "I beg thee to convey this message
to thy lord from me: 'I am a stranger, wanderer, far
removed from my home, sworn brother to Tariel, sent to
THE slave went to P'hridon to tell him his message. He
said: "I have seen a sun arrived, he seems like the
lightener of day. I think even sages would be maddened
if they saw him anywhere. Quoth he: 'I am Tariel’s brother,
come to join the brave P'hridon."'
WHEN he heard the name of Tariel, P'hridon's woes were
lightened, from his eyes tears sprang forth, his heart grew
more agitated, a blast froze the rose, from his eyelashes
whirled snowstorms. They met each other, each was
praised by the other, not dispraised.
HASTILY P'hridon came down from the ridge; he
descended to meet Avt'handil. When he looked on him he
said: "If this be not the sun, who is it ?" Avt'handil outdid
the praise P'hridon had heard from the slave. They both
dismounted; joy made tears gush up.
THEY embraced; they were not shy for being strangers.
The knight seems peerless to P'hridon, and P'hridon
pleases the knight. Any onlookers who saw them would
despise the sun. Slay me! if another like them will ever be
bargained for or sold in the bazaar.
WHAT knights arc there like P’hridon! But near him is
one whom praises still more benefit; the sun makes the
planets invisible when they come near; a candle gives no
light by day, but its rays shine by night.
THEY mounted their horses and set out for P'hridon's
palace. The chase was broken up; they made an end of
the slaying of beasts. From all sides the troops thronged to
gaze on Avt'handil; they said: "What creature can compare
with him ?"
THE knight said to P'hridon: "Thou art eager, I know,
to hear my tidings. I will tell thee who I am, whence I come,
inasmuch as thou wishest to know, also whence I know
Tariel and why I spoke of our brotherhood. He calls me
brother; 'Thou art my brother,' quoth he, though I am
scarce worthy to be his slave.
"I AM King Rostevan's vassal, a knight nurtured in
Arabia, Spaspeti; by name they call me Avt'handil, I am
a noble of great family, reared as son of the king, one to be
respected, bold, none dares meddle with me.
"ONE day the king mounted, went forth to hunt; in the
plain we saw Tariel, he poured forth tears watering the
fields; we were astonished, he surprised us, we called and
he came not, he made us angry; we knew not how fire
"THE king shouted to the troops to seize him, and he was
irritated; without trouble he slew, battle was not hard for
him; of some he broke the arms and legs, some he slew
outright; there they learned that the course of the moon is
not to be turned back.
"THE king, greatly indignant, perceived that the troops
could not capture him; himself he mounted and went
against him, the haughtily unfearing. When Tariel knew it
was the king, then he avoided his sword, he gave the bridle
to his horse, he was lost to our eyes.
"WE sought and could find no trace; we believed it
devilry. The king was sad, forbad drinking, feast and
banquet. I could not endure lack of certainty about his
story. I stole away in quest of him, fire burned me, and
"THREE years I sought him; I enjoyed not even sleep. I
saw Khatavians he had mauled; they showed him to me. I
found the yellowish rose, faint-rayed, pale-tinted; he
welcomed me and loved me like a brother, like a son.
"HE took the caves from the Devis after great bloodshed.
There Asmat'h attends the solitary, none else is with
him; ever the old fire burns him, it is not newly roused.
Groaning befits one parted from him, a black-mourning
kerchief bound round the head.
"ALONE in the cave tearful, tear-stained damsel weeps.
The knight hunts game for her as a lion for its whelp;
he brings it and thus he feeds her. He cannot rest in one
place. Save Asmat'h he desires not the sight of any of man's
"TO me, a stranger, he pleasantly narrated his wondrous
and pleasing story; he told me his tale, and his beloved's.
What woe he has suffered this tongue of a madman cannot
now tell; longing slays him, and lack of the sight of his
"LIKE the moon he unceasingly roams, he rests not; he
sits on that horse thou gavest him, he never alights; he
sees no speaking being, like a wild beast he shuns men.
Woe is me, remembering him; alas for him dying for her
"THE fire of that knight burns me, I am consumed with
hot fire: I pitied him, and I became mad, my heart grew
furious; I wished to seek remedies for him by sea and land.
I returned and saw the sovereigns, whose hearts were
"I ENTREATED leave of absence; the king was enraged
at me, and fell into sadness. I deserted my soldiers, therefore
they there cried, 'Woe!' I stole away, I freed myself from
the flood of tears of blood. Now I seek balm for him;I turn
about hither and thither.
"HE told me tidings of thee, how he had made brotherhood
with thee. Now have I found thee, peerless, worthy to be
praised by the tongue, counsel me where it is better to seek
that heavenly sun, the joy of those who gaze on her, the
disturber of those that cannot see her."
NOW P'hridon speaks, utters the words spoken by that
knight; both in unison lamented in a threnody worthy of
praise; sobbing, they wept with impatient hearts, there
the roses were sprinkled by the water of tears dammed up
in the jungle.
AMONG the soldiers there arose the sound of great weeping,
the scratching of the face by some, the casting away of
the veils. P'hridon weeps, laments aloud the seven years'
separation. Alas! the inconstancy and falsity of this vain
P'HRIDON laments: "How can we tell forth thy praise,
thou who canst not be praised, thou inexpressible one!
0 sun of the earth, who transferrest the sun of the
firmament from its course, joy, life, quickener of them that
are near thee; light of the planets of heaven, consumer and
"SINCE I was removed from thee, life has been hateful to
me. Though thou hast no leisure for me I long for thee; to
thee lack of me seems joy, it oppresses me greatly. Life
without thee is empty; the world is become hateful to me."
P'HRIDON uttered these words in a beautiful lament.
They grew calm, they were silent; they rode with no sign
of song. Avt'handil is fair to beholders in his ethereal
loveliness; he covers the inky lakes of his eyes with the jet
ceiling of his lashes.
THEY entered the city, there they found the palace
adorned in perfection, with all the officers of state mustered,
the slaves delicately apparelled were in faultless order;
they were enraptured and ravished in heart with Avt'handil.
THEY entered and held a great court, not a privy council;
on this side and on that side ten times ten lords were
ranged; apart sat the two together; who can tell forth their
praise? Here enamel, there jet, adorned the crystal and ruby
of their faces.
THEY sat, they banqueted, they multiplied the best
liquor; they entertained Avt'handil as kinsman treats
kinsman; they brought beautiful vessels, all quite new.
But the heart of those who looked on that youth, alas! was
given to flame.
THAT day they drank, they ate, there was a banquet for
the tribe of drinkers. Day dawned; they bathed Avt'handil;
there lies abundance of satin; they clad him in raiment
worth many thousands of drachmas; they girded him with a
girdle of inestimable worth.
THE knight tarried some days, though he could not brook
delay; he went out hunting with P'hridon and sported, he
slew alike from far and near whatever offered itself to his
hand; his archery put every bowman to shame.
THE knight said to P'hridon: "Hear what I have now to
tell thee. Parting from you seems to me like death, and
thereby shall I harm myself; but I, unhappy, have not time
to stay; another fire also consumes me. A long road, an
urgent deed I have to do, I shall be very late.
"RIGHT is he who sheds tears at parting from. thee. Today
without fail I depart, therefore it is that another fire burns
me; to tarry is a mistake of a traveller, he will do well
to teach himself this; lead me to the seashore where thou
sawest that sun."
P'HRIDON answered: "Nothing shall be said by me to
hinder thee. I know thou hast no more time; another lance
pierces thee. Go! God will guide thee, may thy foes be
destroyed! But tell me, how shall I bear the lack of thee ?
"THIS I venture to tell thee: It is not fitting that thou
go away alone, I will give thee knights with thee to serve
and attend thee, armour and bedding, a mule, a horse.
If thou take not these thou wilt have trouble, tears will
flow on the rose cheeks."
HE brought out four slaves, trustworthy in heart,
complete armour for each man, with armpieces and
greaves, sixty pounds of the red gold, full weight, not with
any shortage, a peerless stallion with complete harness.
ON a strong-legged mule he packed bedding. He set out,
and P'hridon mounted and went forth with him also. Now
fire burned and consumed him who awaited the parting.
He laments: "If the sun were near us, winter could not
THE rumour of the knight's departure spread, they gave
themselves up to grief; the burgesses flocked together, those
who sold silk goods like those who sold fruit; the voice of
their lamentation was like thunder in the air; they said:
"We are removed from the sun; come, let us close our eyes."
THEY passed through the city, they went on, they came
to the seashore where P'hridon had formerly seen the sun
seated; there they shed a rivulet of blood from the lake of
tears. P'hridon tells the story of that shining captive.
"HITHER the two Negro slaves brought by ship the sun,
white-teethed, ruby-lipped - a black sight! I spurred my
horse, I determined to steal her by sword and arm; they saw
me from afar, they soon fled from me, the boat seemed like a
THEY embraced each other, they multiplied the springs
of tears; they kissed, and both their fires were renewed;
the inseparable sworn brothers parted like brothers.
P'hridon remained, the knight went away, the form the
slayer of gazers.
Avt'handil's Departure From P'hridon to Seek Nestan-Daredjan
THE knight speaks as he goes on his way like the full
moon; there is the thought of T'hinat'hin to gladden his
heart. He says: "I am far from thee; alas! the falseness of
the cursed passing world! Thou hast the healing balsam for
"WHY doth the ardour of grief for the heroes continually
burn me ? Why is my heart of rock and cliff become a hard
rock? Even three lances cannot show a bruise on me. Thou
art the cause that this world is thus envenomed for me."
AVT'HANDIL fares on alone to the seashore with the
four slaves, with all his might he seeks balm for Tariel;
weeping by day and night he pours forth pools of tears; all
the world seems to him as straw, even as straw in weight.
WHEREVER he sees travellers walking by the shore he
addresses them, he asks tidings of that sun. He roamed a
hundred days. He went up a hill; camels loaded with stuff
appeared; merchants distressed stood in perplexity on the
A COUNTLESS caravan was there on the seashore, they
were distressed, they were gloomy, they could neither stand
nor go forward. The knight greeted them; they hailed him
with praise. He asked: "Merchants, who are ye ?" They
began to converse.
USAM was the chief of the caravan, a wise man. He uttered
respectfully a perfect eulogy, he invoked blessings on
Avt'handil and praised his manners; he said: "0 sun,
thou art come as our life and comforter. Dismount; we will
tell thee our story and business!"
HE dismounted. They said: "We are Bagdad merchants,
holders of the faith of Mohammed; we never drink new
wines; we haste to trade in the city of the Sea-King; we are
rich in wholesale goods, we have no cut pieces of stuff.
"HERE on the seashore we found a man lying senseless;
we succoured him till he could speak clearly with his tongue.
We asked him: 'Who art thou, stranger? What business
dost thou follow after ?' He said to us: 'If ye go on they
will slay you. It is well that I still live!'
"HE said: 'From Egypt we set out with a caravan and a
guard, we embarked upon the sea laden with many kinds of
stuff, there pirates in ships with sharp iron-pointed wooden
rams slew us. All was lost; I know not how I came hither."
"0 LION and sun, this is the reason of our standing here. If we return, our loss will be a hundredfold; if we embark. alas! they may slay us, we have no strength for battle. We cannot stay, we cannot go, the power to maintain ourselves is gone from us."
THE knight said : "Whoever grieves is nought, and strives
in vain; whatever conies from above, we cannot avoid its
coming. I am surety for your blood, I take upon myself
what you shall shed; whoever fights with you, my sword will
wear itself out on your foes."
THEY of the caravan were filled with great joy; they
said: "He is some knight, some hero, not timid like us, he
has self-confidence, let us be calm in heart." They
embarked, they went on board ship, they set out from the
WITH pleasant weather they journeyed without hardship;
their conveyer, Avt'handil, leads them with brave heart. A
pirate ship appeared with an exceedingly long flag; that ship
had an iron-shod ploughshare with beam of wood for
THE pirates yelled and came on, they shouted and
trumpeted; the caravan was afraid of the multitude of
those warriors. The knight spoke: "Fear not their hardihood;
either I slay them all or this is the day of my death.
"NOUGHT undecreed can they do to me, even if all the
hosts on earth engage me; if it be decreed, I shall not
survive, the spears are ready for me, neither strongholds nor
friends, not even brothers, can save me; who knows this
is stout-hearted like me.
"YOU merchants are cowards, unskilled in war. Lest they
slay you with the arrow from afar, shut the doors behind
you. Behold me alone how I fight, how I use my lion-like
arms; see how I make the blood of the corsair's crew flow."
WITH gesture like a swift tiger he clad his form in
armour; in one hand he held an iron mace. He stood forth
with dauntless heart in the front of the ship, and as he slew
onlookers with his gaze, so he slew foes with his sword.
THOSE warriors yelled; their voices were uninterrupted.
They thrust the beam upon which was the ploughshare.
The knight stood fearless at the head of the ship, he
trembled not; he struck with the mace, he broke the beam,
the lion's arm swerved not.
THE beam was destroyed, and Avt'handil remained with
ship unshattered. Those warriors feared, they sought a way
to shelter, they could not contrive it in time; he leaped on
his foes, threshing them down round about him; there was
not left there living man unbacked by him.
WITH intrepid heart he slew those warriors like goats;
some he threw down on the ship, some he cast into the sea;
he threw one upon another, eight upon nine and nine upon
eight; those who were left were hidden among the corpses,
they stifled their cries.
AS much as his heart desired was he victorious in the
fight with them. Some humbly adjured him: "Slay us not,
by thy faith!" Those he slew not, he enslaved them,
whoever survived his wounds. Truly saith the Apostle:
"Fear makes love."
0 MAN! boast not of thy strength, brag not drunken
like! Might is of none avail if the power of the Lord aid
thee not. A tiny spark overcomes, and burns up great trees,
If God protect thee, it cuts alike well whether thou strike
with a log or a sword.
THERE Avt'handil saw their great treasures. He grappled
twin-like ship to ship. He called the caravan. Usam was merry when he saw, he rejoiced, he lamented not, he spoke a eulogy in his praise, he gave form to great imaginings.
PRAISERS ofAvl'handil need even a thousand tongues;
even they could not tell how fair he appeared after the
fight. The caravan shouted, saying: "Lord, thanks to Thee!
The sun has shed down on us his beams; the dark night has
broken into day for us."
THEY came up to him, they kissed his head, face, feet,
hand; they spoke praise unstinted to the fair, the
praiseworthy; the sight of him maddens the wise man as
well as the fool! "We all are saved by thee in so hard a
THE knight said: "Thanks to God, the Creator, Maker of
all, by whom the heavenly powers decree what is to be done
here; 'tis they that do all deeds hidden and some revealed.
It is necessary to everyone to believe; a wise man has faith
in the future.
"GOD hath deigned to spare your blood, so many souls!
I, alas! vain earth, what am I ? Of myself, what can I do ?
Now I have slain your foes, I have fulfilled what I spoke;
I have brought you the ship complete with its wealth as a
PLEASANT it is when a good knight has won the battle,
when he has surpassed his comrades who were with him.
They congratulated him, they praised him, in this state they
were ashamed. The wound becomes him well, but little
was he hurt.
THAT day they looked at that ship of the corsairs, they
put not off till the morrow. How could they count the
quantity of treasure lying there! They conveyed it to
their ship, they completely emptied the pirate ship; they
smashed i.t up and burned some of it; the wood they
bartered not for the drachma.
USAM conveyed to Avt'handil a message from the
merchants: "We are strengthened by thee; we know our
baseness. Whatever we have is thine, of this there can be
no doubt; whatever thou givest us, let it be ours, we have
made an assembly here."
THE knight announced: "0 brothers, but now ye heard it:
the stream which flowed from your eyes has been perceived
by God, He hath saved you alive. What am I? What joy,
alas! have I given you ? What could I do with whatever
you gave me ? I have myself and my horse!
"AS much treasure as I desired to amass I had of mine
own, countless priceless coverlets of silk. What use could I
make of yours? What do I want? I am but your companion.
Moreover, I have some other dangerous business.
"NOW, of this countless treasure I have found here, take
what you each wish; I shall be a claimant against none.
One thing I entreat: grant my request, one not to be
mistrusted; I have a certain matter to be kept hidden
"TILL the time comes, speak not of me as if I were not
your master. Say, 'He is our chief,' call me not knight.
I will clothe myself as a merchant, I will begin chaffering;
keep the secret, by the brotherhood between us."
THIS thing very greatly rejoiced the caravan; they came
and saluted him, saying: "It is our hope-the very request
we should have made to you, you yourself have made to
us—that we may serve him whose face we acknowledge as
the face of the sun."
THENCE they departed and travelled on, they wasted no
time; they met fair weather, they sailed ever pleasantly;
they delighted in Avt'handil, they sang his praises; they
presented him with a pearl of the tint of the knight's
The Story of Avt’handil’s Arrival in Gulansharo
AVT’HANDIL crossed the sea; with stately form went he.
They saw a city engirt by a thicket of garden, with
wondrous kinds of flowers of many and many a hue. In
what way canst thou understand the loveliness of that land!
WITH three ropes they moored the ship to the shore of
those gardens. Avt'handil clad his form in a cloak and sat
on a bench. They brought out men that were porters, hired
with drachmas. That knight bargains, acts as chief of the
caravan, and thereby conceals himself.
THITHER came the gardener of him at whose garden
they had anded; with ecstasy he gazes at the knight's face
flashing like lightning. Avt'handil hailed him, he spoke to
the man with faultless words: "Whose men are ye, who are
ye ? How call they the king reigning here ?
"TELL me all in detail," quoth the knight to that man;
"what stuff is dearer, or what is bought up cheap ?" He
said: "I see, thy face seems to me like the face of the sun.
Whatever I know I will tell thee truly; I will by no means
inform thee crookedly.
"THE Sea Realm is this, ten months' travel in extent, this
is the city of Gulansharo, full of much loveliness. Hither
everything fair cometh by ships sailing from sea to sea.
Melik Surkhavi rules, perfect in good fortune and wealth.
"EVEN if he be old, a man is rejuvenated by coming
hither; drinking, rejoicing, tilting and songs are unceasing;
summer and winter alike we have many-hued flowers;
whoever knoweth us cnvieth us, even they who are our
"GREAT merchants can find nought more profitable than
this: They buy, they sell, they gain, they lose; a poor man
will be enriched in a month; from all quarters they gather
merchandise; the penniless by the end of the year have
wares laid by.
"I AM gardener to Usen, chief of the merchants. I shall
tell thee somewhat of the manner of his ordinance: This is
his garden, your resting-place for the day; first it is
necessary to show him all the fairest of your goods.
"WHEN great merchants arrive they see him and give
him gifts, they show him what they have, elsewhere they
cannot unpack their goods; for the king they set aside the
best, they straightway count out the price; thereupon he
frees them to sell as they please.
"HIS duty it is to receive such honourable folk as you, he
orders the caterers how to entertain them fitly; he is not
now here, what avails it me to speak of him ? To meet you
and carry you away with him, pressing you politely, is the
way he should treat you.
"P'HATMAN Khat'hun, the lady, his wife, is at home,
a hospitable hostess, amiable, not rough. I shall inform her
of your arrival, she will take you in as one of her own folk,
she will send a man to meet you, you shall enter the city
AVT'HANDIL said: "Go, do whatever thou desirest."
The gardener runs, he rejoices, sweat pours down to his
breast. He tells his tidings to the lady: "I boast of this:
a youth comes, to them that look on him his rays seem like
"HE is some merchant, chief of a great caravan, wellgrown
like a cypress, a moon of seven days, his coat and the fold
of his coral-hued turban become him; he called me, asked
me tidings and the tariff for the purchase of goods."
DAME P'hatman rejoiced; she sent ten slaves to meet him:
they prepared the caravanserais, she stored their wares. The rose-cheeked, crystal and ruby, enamel, jet, entered: they who looked on him compared his feet to the tiger's, hi-palms to the lion's paws.
THERE was a hubbub, the hosts of the town all assembled :
they pressed on this side and on that, saying: "How shall we gaze on him ?" Some were carried away by desire, some had their souls reft from them; their wives grew wearv of them, their husbands were left contemned.
Avt'handil’s Arrival at Ph’atman's; Her Reception of Him and Her Joy
P'HATMAN, Usen's wife, met him in front of the door,
joyful she saluted him, she showed her pleasure; they
greeted each other, they went in and seated themselves. As
I have observed, his coming annoyed not Dame P'hatman.
DAME P'hatman was attractive to the eye, not young but
brisk, of a good figure, dark in complexion, plump-faced,
not wizened, a lover of minstrels and singers,
a wine-drinker; she had abundance of elegant gowns and
THAT night Dame P'hatman entertained him right well.
The knight presented beautiful gifts; they that received
them said: "They are worthy!" P'hatman's entertainment
of him was worth while; by God! she lost not. When they
had drunken and eaten, the knight went out to sleep.
IN the morning he showed all his wares, he had them all
unpacked; the fairest were laid aside for the king, he had
the price counted out; he said to the merchants: "Take
them away!" He loaded them, and had them carried away.
He said: "Sell as ye will; reveal not who I am!"
THE knight was clad as a merchant; he was by no means
dressed in his proper raiment. Sometimes P'hatman calls
on him, sometimes he visits P'hatman. They sat together;
they conversed with refined discourse. Absence from him
was death to P'hatman, as Ramin's was to Vis.
P'hatman Becomes Enamoured of Avt'handil:
Writes Him a Letter and Sends It
BETTER, for him who can bear it, is aloofness from
woman; she plays with thee and pleases thee, she wins thee
over and trusts thee; but in a trice she betrays thee, she
cuts whatever pierces; so a secret should never be told to
DESIRE of Avt'handil went into the heart of Dame
P'hatman, love grew from more to more, it burned her like
fire, she essayed to conceal it, but could not hide her woes,
she said: "What am I to do, what will avail me ?" She
rained, she poured forth tears.
"If I tell him this, alas! he will be worth, even the sight of
him will become rare to me; if I tell him not, I cannot
endure it, the fire will become more intense. I will speak,
let me die or live, let one or other be my lot! How can the
physician cure him who tells not what hurts him ?"
SHE wrote a piteous letter to be presented to that youth
concerning her love, revealing her sufferings, moving and
shaking the listeners' heart, a letter to be kept, not to be
idly torn up.
The Letter of Love Written by P’hatman to Avt’handil
"O SUN, since it pleaspd God to create thee a sun, thus
a joy and not a desirer of woes to them removed from thee,
a burner of those near united, a consumer of them with fire,
thy glance seems sweet to the planets, a thing to be boasted
"THEY that gaze on thee become enamoured of thee; for
thy sake piteously they faint. Thou art the rose; I marvel
why nightingales quiver not on thee. Thy beauty withers
the flowers, and mine too are fading. If the sunbeams reach
me not timely I am quite scorched.
"GOD is my witness that I fear to tell you this, but,
luckless, what can I do for myself? I am quite parted from
patience; the heart cannot constantly endure the piercing
of the black lashes! If by any means thou canst help me,
then help, lest I lose my wits.
"TILL an answer to this letter reaches me, till I know if
thou wilt slay me or reassure me - till then shall I endure life.
however much my heart pains me. Oh for the time when life
or death will be decided for me!"
DAME P'hatman wrote and sent the letter to the knight.
The knight read it as if it were from a sister or kinswoman;
he said: "She knows not my heart. Who is she who courts
the lover of her whose I am ? The beloved I have-how can
I compare her beauty to this one's ?"
SAID he: "What hath the raven to do with the rose, or
what have they in common ? But upon it the nightingale
has not yet sweetly sung. Every unfitting deed is brief, and
then it is fruitless. What says she? What nonsense she talks!
What a letter she has written!"
THIS kind of thought he thought in his heart. Then said
he to himself: "Save thee I have no helper. For the sake of
that for which I am a wanderer, since I wish to seek her
I will do everything by which I can find her; what else
should my heart heed !
"THIS woman sits here seeing many men, a keeper of
open house and a friend to travellers coming hither from
all parts. I will consent, she will tell me all; however much
the fire burns me with its flames, perchance she will be of
some use to me; I shall know how to pay my debt to her."
HE said: "When a woman loves anyone, becomes intimate
with him and gives him her heart, shame and dishonour she
weighs not, being wholly accursed; whatever she know she
declares, she tells every secret. It is better for me. I will
consent; perchance I shall somewhere find out the hidden
AGAIN he said: "None can do aught if his planet favour
him not; so what I want I have not, what I have I want
not. The world is a kind of twilight, so here all is dusky.
Whatever is in the pitcher, the same flows forth."
Avt’handil's Letter in Answer to P'hatman's
"THOU hast written to me; I have read thy letter in
praise of me. Thou hast anticipated me, but the burning of
the fire of love afflicts me more lhan thee. Thou wishest,
I too want thy company uninterrupted. Our union is agreed
since it is the desire of both."
I CANNOT tell thee how P'hatman's pleasure increased.
She wrote: "The tears I, absent from thee, have shed
suffice. Now I shall be unaccompanied, here shalt thou
find me alone; hasten my union with thee, to-night when
evening falls. Come!"
THAT very night when the letter of invitation was
presented to the knight, when twilight was falling and he
was going, another slave met him on the way with the
message: "Come not to-night; thou shalt find me unready
for thee." This vexed him, he turned not back, he said:
"What sort of thing is this ?"
THE invited guest went not back again on the withdrawal
of his invitation. P'hatman sits troubled. Avt'handil the
tree-like went in alone. He perceived the woman's
uneasiness, he saw it forthwith on his going in; she could
not reveal it from fear, and also out of complaisance for
THEY sat down together and began to kiss, to sport
pleasantly, when a certain elegant youth of graceful mien
appeared standing in the doorway. He entered; close
behind followed a slave with sword and shield. When he
saw Avt'handil he felt afraid as before a rocky road.
WHEN P'hatman saw, she was afraid, she shook and fell
a-trembling. The stranger gazed with wonder at them lying
caressing; he said: "I will not hinder, 0 woman ... but
when day breaks I shall cause thee to repent that thou hast
had this youth.
"THOU hast shamed me, 0 wicked woman, and made me
to be despised, but to-morrow thou shalt know the answer
to be paid for this deed; I shall make thee to devour thy
children with thy teeth; if fail to do this, spit upon my
beard, let me run mad in the fields!"
THUS he spake, and the man touched his beard and went
out of the door, P'hatman began to beat her head, her
cheeks were scratched, the gurgling of her tears flowing like
a fountain was heard. She said: "Come, stone me with stone,
let the throwers approach!"
SHE laments: "I have, alas! slain my husband, I have
killed off my little children, I have given away as loot our
possessions, the peerless cut gems! I am separated from my
dear ones! Alas! the upbringer! Alas! the upbrought! I have
made an end of myself; shameful are my words!"
AVT'HANDIL hearkened to all this in perplexity. He said:
"What troubles thee, what say'st thou, why dost thou thus
lament, why did that youth threaten thee, what fault found
he in thee ? Be calm; tell me who he was and on what errand
THE woman replied: "0 lion! I am mad with the flow of
tears; ask me no more tidings, nought can I tell thee with
my tongue. I have slain my children with mine own hand,
therefore can I no more be gay; impatient for thy love
I have slain myself.
"THIS kind of thing certainly should happen to the utterer
of idle words, the chatterer who cannot hide a secret, the
witless, mad, raving. 'Help me with your lamentations!'
This will I say to all who see me. A physician cannot cure
one who drinks his own blood!
"DO one thing of two: desire nothing more than this: If
thou canst kill that man, go, slay him secretly by night:
thus shalt thou save me and all my house from slaughter:
return, I will tell thee all, the reason why I shed tears.
"IF not, take away thy loads on asses this very night,
escape from my neighbourhood, gather everything for
flight. I doubt my sins will fill thee too with woe. If that
knight go to court he will make me eat my children with my
WHEN Avt'handil, the proud, gifted with bold resolve
heard this, he arose and took a mace-how fair, how hold is
he! "To ignore this matter would be remissness on my
part!" said he. Think not any living is his like; there is none
other like unto him!
TO P'hatman he said: "Give me a man as instructor, as
guide, let him show me the road truly, else I want no helper;
I cannot look on that man as a warrior and mine equal.
What I do I shall tell thee; wait for me, be calm!"
THE woman gave him a slave as guide and leader. Again
she cried out: "Inasmuch as the hot fire is to be cooled, if
thou slay that knight to assuage the irritation of my heart,
he has my ring, I entreat thee to bring it hither."
AVT'HANDIL of the peerless form passed the city. On the
seashore stood a building of red-green stone; in the lower
part fair palaces, then above terrace upon terrace, vast,
beautiful, numerous, hanging one over the other.
THITHER is the sun-faced Avt'handil led by his guide,
who says to him in a low voice: "This is the palace of him
thou seekest." He shows it to him, and says: "Seest thou
him standing on yonder terraced roof? Know this, there he
lie? to sleep; or thou shalt find him sitting."
. BEFORE the door of that luckless youth lay two guards.
Avt'handil passed, he stole in without making a sound; he
put a hand on each of their throats, forthwith he slew them,
he struck head upon head, brain and hair were mingled.
Here Is the Slaying of the Chachnagir and His Two Guards by Avt’handil
THAT youth lay alone in his chamber with angry heart.
Bloody-handed Avt'handil, strong in stature, entered, he
gave him no time to rise, privily he slew him, we could not
have perceived it; he laid hold of him, struck him on the
ground, slew him with a knife.
.HE is a sun lo them that gaze on him, a wild beast and
a terror to those that oppose him. He cut off the finger with
the ring, he hurled him down to the ground; he threw him
from the window towards the sea, he was mingled with the
sands of the sea; for him nowhere is there a tomb, nor spade
to dig his grave.
NOT a sound of their slaughter was heard. The sweet rose
came forth; whereby could he have been so embittered ?
This is a marvel to me, how he could thus steal his blood!
As he had lately come, by the same road went he away.
WHEN the lion, the sun, the sweelly-speaking knight, came
into P'hatman's house, he announced: "I have slain him;
no more will that youth see sunny day; thy slave himself I
have as witness; make him swear an oath in God's name
that I did the deed; behold the finger and the ring, and
I have my knife bloodied.
"NOW tell me of what thou spakest, why thou wert so
furiously enraged. With what did that man threaten thee?
I am in great haste to know it." P'hatman embraced his
legs: "I am not worthy to look on thy face; my wounded
heart is healed; now am I ready to extinguish my fires.
"I AND Usen with our children are now born anew. 0 lion,
how can we magnify thy praises! Since we may boast that
his blood is spilt, I will tell thee all from the beginning;
prepare to listen."
P'hatman Tells Avt'handil the Story of Nestan-Daredjan
"IN this city it is a rule that on New Year's Day no
merchant trades, none sets out on a journey; we all
straightway begin to deck and beautify ourselves; the
sovereigns make a great court banquet.
"WE, great merchants, arc bound to take presents to court;
the sovereigns must give gifts befitting us. For ten days
there is heard everywhere the sound of the cymbal and
tambourine; in the moedan, tilting, ball-play, the stamping
"MY husband, Usen, is the leader of the great merchants,
I lead their wives; I need none to invite me; rich or poor,
we give presents to the queen; we entertain ourselves
agreeably at court, we come home merry.
"NEW Year's Day was come, we gave our gifts to the
queen; we gave to them, they gave to us, we filled them,
we were filled. After a time we went forth merry, at our
will; again we sat down to rejoice, we behaved as we wished.
"AT eventide I went into the garden to sport; I took the
ladies with me, it behoved me to entertain them; I brought
with me minstrels, they discoursed sweet song; I played
and gambolled like a child, I changed veil and hair.
"THERE in the garden were fair mansions beautifully
built, lofty, with a prospect on every side, overhanging the
sea. Thither I led the ladies, them that were with me; anew
we made a banquet, we sat pleasantly, joyously.
"MERRY, I entertained the merchants' wives, pleasantly,
in a sisterly way. While drinking, without any cause
a distaste came upon me. When they perceived me thus,
they separated, all that sat at meal. I was left alone; some
sadness fell on my heart like soot.
"I OPENED the window and turned my face to the road,
I looked out, I shook off the sadness growing within me.
Far away I saw something small, it floated in the sea,
methought a bird or beast; to what else could I liken it ?
"FROM afar I could not recognize it; when it came near
it was a boat; two men clad in black, and black also of
visage, on either side stood close; only a head appeared:
they came ashore, that strange sight astonished me.
"THEY beached the boat; they landed in front of the
garden. They looked thither, they looked hither, if any
anywhere observed them, they saw no creature, nothing
alarmed them. Secretly I watched them; I was quiet
"WHAT they landed from the boat in a chest-they took
off the lid—was a maiden of wondrous form, who stepped
forth; on her head was a black veil, beneath she was clad in
green. It would suffice the sun to be like her in beauty.
"WHEN the maiden turned towards me, rays rose upon
the rock; the lightning of her cheeks flashed over land and
sky; I blinked mine eyes, I could no more gaze on her than
on the sun; I closed the door on my side; they could not
perceive that they were watched.
"I CALLED for slaves who waited upon me; I pointed:
'See what beauty the Indians hold captive! Steal down, go
forth, quietly, not racing hastily. If they will sell her to
you, give them the price, whatever they may be wanting.
"'IF they will not give her to you, let them not take her
away, capture her from them, slay them, bring hither that
moon, do the errand well, use your best endeavour!' My
slaves stole down from above as if they flew; they chaffered,
they sold not. 1 saw the blacks looked right ill pleased.
"I STOOD at the window; when I saw they would not sell her, I cried: 'Slay them!' They seized them and cut off their heads, they threw them out into the sea; they turned back, they guarded the maiden. I went down to meet her, I took her, she had not tarried long on the seashore.
"HOW can I tell thee her praise! what loveliness! what
delicacy! I swear she is the sun; 'tis untrue that the sun is
sun! Who can endure her rays, who can delineate her! If
she consume me, lo! I am ready, no preparation is needed
WHEN she had ended these words, P'hatman rent her face
with her hands; Avt'handil, too, wept, he shed hot tears;
they forgot each other, for her sake they became as mad;
the spring of tears flowing down from above melted the
slight new-fallen snow of the cheek.
THEY wept. The knight said: "Break not off! Conclude!"
P'hatman said: "I received her; I made my heart faithful
to her. I kissed her every part, and thereby I wearied her.
I seated her on my couch, I caressed her, I loved her.
"T SAID to her: 'Tell me, 0 sun, who thou art or of what
race a child! Whither were those Ethiops taking thee, lady
of the Pleiads of heaven ?' To all these words she made no
answer. I saw a hundred springs of tears dropping from her
"WHEN I pressed her with questions, with much discourse,
she wept with gentle voice, sobbing from the heart; a stream
flowed through the jetty trough other lashes from the
narcissi, upon the crystal and ruby. Gazing at her I burned,
I became dead-hearted.
"SHE said to me: 'To me thou art a mother, better than
a mother. Of what profit can my story be to thee ? It is but
the tale of chatterer. A lone wanderer am I, overtaken by
an unhappy fate. If thou ask me aught, may the might of
the All-Seeing blame thee!'
"I SAID to myself, 'It is not fitting untimely to summon
and carry off the sun; the captor will become mad and
wholly lose his wits. A request should be timely, the making
of every entreaty. How know I now that it is not a time to
converse with this sun!'
"I LED away that sun-faced one already praised, I cannot
call her upraised. By the longing I have for her, and by her
sun, I hardly could hide the ray of that sun! I enveloped
her in many fold of heavy brocade, not thin stuff." The tear
hails down, the rose is frost-bitten, from the lashes blows
a snowy blast.
"I LED into my home that sun-faced one, an aloe-tree in
form. For her I furnished a house, therein I put her very
secretly, I told no human being, I kept her privily, with
precaution; I caused a Negro to serve her; I used to enter,
I saw her alone.
"HOW, alas! can I tell thee of her strange behaviour! Day
and night weeping unceasing and flowing of tears! I
entreated her: 'Hush!' For but one moment would she
submit. Now without her how do I live; alas! woe is me!
"WHEN I went in, pools of tears stood before her; in the
inky abyss of her eyes were strewn jetty lances, from the
inky lakes into the bowls full of jet there was a stream, and
between the coral and cornelian glittered the twin pearls of
"BY reason of the ceaseless flow of tears I could not find
time for inquiry. If I asked even, 'Who art thou ? What
brought thee into this plight ?' like a fountain, a rivulet of
blood gushed forth from the aloe-tree. No human being
could endure more, unless made of stone.
"NO coverlet she wanted, nor mattress to lie upon, she was
ever in her veil and one short cloak, her arm she placed as
a headrest and reposed thereon. With a thousand entreaties
T could scarce persuade her to eat a little.
"BY-the-by, I will tell thee of the wonder of the veil and
cloak: I have seen all kinds of rare and costly things, but
I know not of what sort of stuff hers were made, for it had
the softness of woven material and the firmness of forged metal.
"THUS that lovely one tarried long in my house. I could
not trust my husband; I feared he would inform. I said to
myself: 'If I tell him, I know the rascal will betray my
secret at court.' Thus I thought at my frequent goings in
and comings out.
"I SAID to myself: 'If I tell him not, what am I to do, what
can I do for her ? I know not in the least what she wants,
nor what any could do to help her. If my husband finds
out, he will slay me, nothing can save me; how can I hide
that sun-like light!
'"I, ALAS! what can I do alone! The burning of my fire
increases. Come, I will trust him, I will not wrong Usen:
I will make him swear not to betray me; if he give me full
assurance, he cannot doom his soul, he will not be an oath-breaker!'
"ALONE I went to my husband; I frolicked and fondled
him. Then I said to him: 'I will tell thee something, but
first swear to me thou wilt tell no human being, give me a
binding oath.' He swore a fearful oath: 'May 1 beat my
head on the rocks!
"'WHAT thou tellest me I will reveal to no soul, even unto
death, neither to old nor young, friend nor foe!' Then I told
all to that kindhearted man, Usen: 'Come, I will lead thee
to a certain place here; come, 1 will show thee the sun's
"HE rose to accompany me, we departed, we entered the
palace gates. Usen marvelled; he even quaked when he saw
the sunbeams. He said: 'What hast thou shown me, what
have I seen, what is she, of what stuff? If she be verily an
earthly being, may God's eyes look upon me with wrath!'
"1 SAID : 'Nor know I aught of her being a creature of
flesh; I have no knowledge more than I have told thee. Let
me and thee ask who she is, and who is at fault that such
madness afflicts her; perchance she will tell us somewhat,
we will pray her to do us this great kindness.'
"WE went in, we both had a care to show her respect. We
said: '0 sun, for thy sake a furnace of flame burns us. Tell
us what is the cure for the waning moon, what hath
ensaffroned thee who art ruby-like in hue?'
"WHETHER she heard or hearkened not to what we said
we know not; the rose was glued together, it showed not the
pearl; the serpents of her locks were twined in disorder;
when she turned her face away, the sun was eclipsed by the
dragon, it dawned not upon us.
"BY our converse we could not induce her to answer. The
tiger-panther sits sullen-faced, we could not comprehend
her wrath; again we annoyed her, she wept tears flowing
like a fountain, and, 'I know not! Let me alone!' quoth she;
this only with her tongue she said to us.
"WE sat down and wept with her and poured forth tears.
What we had spoken to her made us sorry; how could we
venture to say aught else ? We could scarce persuade her
to be quiet, we calmed her, we soothed her; we offered her some fruit, but we could not make her eat at all.
"USEN said: 'She has wiped away a multitude of woes
from me. Those cheeks are fit for the sun; how can they be
kissed by man! Most right is he who sees not her if his
sufferings be increased a hundred-and-twenty-fold. If I
prefer my children may God slay them!'
"A LONG time we gazed at her, then we went forth with
sighs and moans; to be with her seemed to us joy, parting
grieved us greatly. When we had leisure from affairs of
trade we used to see her. Our hearts were inextricably
prisoned in her net.
"AFTER some time had passed, and nights and days were
sped, Usen said to me: 'I have not seen our king since the
day before yesterday; if thou advisest me, I will go and see
him, I will go and pay my court and present gifts." I replied
'Certainly, by God, since such is your desire.'
"USEN set out pearls and gems on a tray. I entreated him,
saying: 'At court thou wilt meet the drunken court folk.
Kill me! if thou be not wary of the story of that maid.'
Again he swore to me: 'I will not tell it, may swords strike
"USEN went; he found the king sitting feasting. Usen is
the king's boon companion, and the king is his well-wisher.
The king called him forward; he accepted the gifts he had
brought. Now behold the tipsy merchant, how hasty, rash
and ill-bred he is!
"WHEN the king had drunk before Usen many
double-goblets, still they quaffed and again filled more
tankards and beakers; he forgot those oaths; what to him
were Korans and Meccas! Truly is it said: 'A rose befits not
a crow, nor do horns suit an ass!'
"THE great king said to the witless, drunken Usen: 'I
marvel much whence thou gettest these gems to give us,
where thou findest huge pearls and peerless rubies. By my
head! I cannot return thee one-tenth for thy gifts!'
"USEN saluted, and said: '0 mighty sovereign, shedder
of beams from above, 0 nourisher of creatures, 0 sun!
Whatever else I have, whose is it, be it gold or treasure ?
What brought I forth from my mother's womb? By you it
has been granted to me.
" 'BY your head! I make bold to say that gratitude for
gifts beseems you not. I have somewhat else, a daughter-in-
law for you, a bride to unite to your son; for this
undoubtedly you will thank me when you see the sun's
like; then will you oftener say: "Happiness is ours!"'
"WHY should I lengthen speech? He brake his oath, the
power of religion; he told of the finding of the maid
portrayed by gazers as a sun. This pleased the king greatly;
it gave gaiety to his heart. He ordered her conveyance to
court and the fulfilment of Usen's utterance.
"PLEASANTLY 1 was sitting here at home; hitherto I
had not sighed. At the door appeared the chief of the king’s
slaves, he brought with him sixty slaves, as is the custom
of kings; they came in, I was much astonished, I said:
'This is some high affair of state.'
"THEY greeted me: 'P'hatman,' said he, 'it is the
command of the equal of the sun: that maid like two suns
whom Usen presented to-day, now bring her to me, I shall
take her with me; we have not far to go.' When I heard
this, the heavens overwhelmed me, with wrath hill struck
"THEREUPON in amazement I inquired: 'What maid do
you want, which?' They said to me: 'Usen presented one
with a face flashing with lightning.' There was nought to
be done; the day of the taking away of my soul was fixed.
I trembled, I could not rise, neither could I remain sitting.
"I WENT in; I saw that lovely one weeping and flooded in
tears. I said: '0 sun, seest thou fully how black Fate hath
played me false! Heaven is turned towards me in wrath,
I am despoiled, I am wholly uprooted; I am denounced, the
king asketh for thee, therefore am I heartbroken.'
"SHE said to me: 'Sister, marvel not, however hard this
may be! Luckless Fate hath ever been a doer of ill upon me;
if some good had befallen me thou mightest have wondered.
what marvel is evil ? All kinds of woe are not new to me,
old are they.'
"HER eyes poured forth frequent tears like pearls. She
rose as fearless as if she were a tiger or a hero; joy no longer
seemed joy nor did woe seem woe to her. She begged me to
cover her form and face with a veil.
"I SENT into the treasure-house on which no price was set;
I took out gems and pearls as much as I could, every single
separate one was worth a city. I went back; I girded them
round the waist other for whose sake my heart was dying.
"I SAID: '0 my dear one! Perchance this sort of thing
may somewhere be of use to thee!' I gave that face, the
sun's peer, into the hands of the slaves. The king was
warned, he met her; the kettledrum was beaten, there was
hubbub. She went forward with bent head, calm, saying
"ONLOOKERS flocked upon her, there was trampling and
uproar; the officers could not hold them back, there was no
quiet there. When the king saw her, cypress-like, coming
towards him, he said in amazement: '0 sun, how art thou
brought hither ?'
"SUN-like, she made those who gazed on her to blink. The
king deigned to say: ' I have seen, she hath turned me into
one who has seen nought. Who but God could imagine her?
Right is he who is in love with her if he, alas! roam mad in
"HE seated her at his side, he talked to her with sweet
discourse; quoth he: 'Tell me who art thou, whose art thou,
of what race art thou come ?' With her sun-like face she
gave no answer; with bowed head, of gentle mien, sorrowful
"WHATEVER he said, she hearkened not to the king.
Elsewhere was her heart; of somewhat else she thought.
The roses were glued together; she opened not the pearl.
She made them that looked on her wonder, what else could
"THE king said: 'What can we think of? With what can
we comfort our heart ? There can be no opinion save these
two: Either she is in love with someone, she is thinking of
her beloved, save him she has no leisure for any, to none
can she speak.
'"Or she is some sage, lofty and high-seeing; joy seems not
joy to her, nor sorrow when it is heaped on sorrow, as a
table she looks on misfortune and happiness alike; she is
elsewhere, elsewhere she soars, her mind is like a dove's.
"'GOD grant my son come home victorious. I will have for
his homecoming this sun ready for him; perchance he will
make her say something, and we also shall know what is
revealed; till then, let the moon rest with waning ray far
sundered from the sun.'
"OF the king's son I will tell thee: a good, fearless youth,
peerless in valour and beauty, fair in face and form; at that
time he was gone forth to war, there had he tarried long;
for him his father prepared her, the star-like one.
"THEY brought her and apparelled her form in maidenly
garb; on it was seen many a ray of glittering gems, on her
head they set a crown of a whole ruby, there the rose w as
beautified by the colour of the transparent crystal.
"THE king commanded: 'Deck the chamber of the princess
royal.' They set up a couch of gold, of red of the Occident.
The great king himself, the lord of the whole palace, arose
and set thereon that sun, the joy of the heart of beholders.
"HE commanded nine eunuchs to stand guard at the door.
The king sat down to a feast befitting their race; to Usen he
gave immeasurable gifts as a return for that peer of the sun;
they made trumpet and kettledrum to sound for the
increasing of the noise.
"THEY prolonged the feasting; the drinking went on
exceeding long. The sun-faced maiden says to Fate: 'What
a murderous Fate have I! Whence am I come hither, to
whom shall I belong, for whose sake am I mad ? What shall
I do ? What shall I undertake ? What will avail me ? A very
hard life have I!'
"AGAIN she says: 'I will not wither the rose-like beauty.
I will attempt somewhat; perchance God will protect me
from my foe. What reasonable man slays himself before
death comes? When he is in trouble, then it needs that the
intelligent should have his wits !'
"SHE called the eunuchs, and said: 'Hearken, come to
reason! You are deceived, mistaken as to my royalty; your
lord is in error in desiring me for a daughter-in-law. In vain,
alas! sounds he for me the trumpet, the kettledrum and
. '"I AM not suited to be your queen; elsewhither leads my
path. God keep man far from me, be he sun-faced, cypress-
formed ! You beg of me something different; my business is
of another kind. With you my life beseems me not.
"'WITHOUT fail I shall slay myself, I shall strike a knife
into my heart; your lord will kill you, you will have no time
of tarrying in the world. This then is better: I will give you
the weighty treasure wherewith my waist is girded, let me
steal away, let me go free, lest you regret.'
"SHE undid the pearls and gems that girdled her; she
doffed, too, the crown, transparent, of a whole ruby; she
gave them, she said: 'Take them, with burning heart I
implore you; let me go, and you will have paid a great debt
to your God!'
. "THE slaves were greedy for her costly treasure, they
forgot the fear of the king as of a bellman, they resolved to
let her of the peerless face escape. See what gold doth. that
crook from a devilish root!
"GOLD never gives joy to them that love it; till the day
of death greed makes them gnash their teeth. Gold comes
in and goes out, they murmur at the course of the planets
when it is lacking; moreover it binds the soul here, and
hinders it from soaring up.
"WHEN the eunuchs had ended the matter as she wished,
one took off his garment and gave it to her; they passed
through other doors because the great hall was full of
drunken men. The moon remained full, unswallowed by the
"THE slaves, too, disappeared; they stole forth with her.
The maiden knocked at my door, and asked for me,
P'hatman. I went, I knew her, I embraced her, was I not
surprised! She would not come in with me at all, saying:
'Why dost thou invite me F I regretted it.
"SHE said to me: 'I have bought myself with what thou
gavest me. May God in return reward thee with heavenly
favour! No longer canst thou hide me, let me go, send me
off swiftly on horseback ere the king get wit and send men
to gallop in pursuit.'
"SWIFTLY I entered the stable, I loosed the best steed,
I saddled it, set her upon it; cheerful was she, not sighing.
She was like the sun, the best of heaven's lights, when it
mounts the lion. My labour was lost; I could not harvest
what I had sown.
"THE day drew down to evening, the rumour spread, her
pursuers came; inside the city was a state of siege, they
raised a hue and cry; they questioned me, I said: 'If you
find her there in the house where I am, may I be guilty
towards the kings and answerable for their blood.'
"THEY sought, nought could they discover, they returned
abashed. From that time the king and all his familiars
mourn. Behold the palace folk; they are clad in raiment
dyed violet colour. The sun went away from us; since then
we lack light.
"NOW I shall narrate to thee anon the whereabouts of that
moon, but first of all I will tell thee why that man
threatened me. I, alas! was his she-goat; he was my he-goat.
Timidity slurs a man, and wantonness a woman.
"I AM not content with my husband, for he is lean and
ill-favoured; this man, the Chachnagir,1 was a gentleman
high at court; we loved each other, though I shall wear no
mourning weeds for him; would that one might give me
a cup of his blood to sip!
' Chachnagir-official taster of food and wine at the king's court.
"LIKE a woman, like a fool, I told him this story of the
coming of that sun to me, and of her stealing away like
a fox; he threatened me with exposure, not like a friend,
like a foe. Now when I think of him as a corpse, ah! how
relieved am I!
"WHENEVER we quarrelled alone he menaced me. When
I called thee I did not think he was at home; he had arrived,
he told me of his coming. Thou also wert coming; I was
afraid, so I begged thee: 'Do not come !' I sent a slave to
"YOU turned not back, you came, you brought beams of
light to me; you both met, you were assembled to fight
over me, so I feared, I could think of no way. He, alas!
desired my death in his heart, and not only with his
"IF thou hadst not slain him, and if he had gone forthwith
to court, in his wrath he would have denounced me, for
his heart was burned as with fire; the angry king would
have cleared away my house at one swoop, he would, 0
God! have made me eat my children, then he would have
stoned me with stone.
"GOD reward thee in return-what thanks can I render thee!
thee who hast delivered me safe from that serpent's gaze!
Now henceforth I can be happy in my star and Fate! No
longer do T fear death! Ha! ha! What has befallen me!"
AVTHANDIL said: "Fear not! Even in the book it is thus
written: 'Of all foes the most hateful is the friend-foe; if a
man be wise, he will not heartily confide.' Fear no more
from him, now is he corpse-like.
"TELL me the same story-since thou spedst the maiden,
all the tidings thou hast learned or heard of her." Again
P'hatman spoke weeping; again the tear flowed from her
eyes. Quoth she: "The ray which sun-like illumined the
fields was brought to nought."
The Story of the Capture of Nestan-Daredjan
by the Kadjis, Told by P'hatman to Avt'handil
WOE, O passing world, in falsehood thou art like Satan,
none can know aught of thine, where thy treachery is. That
face apparent as a sun-where hast thou it hidden ? Whither
hast thou taken it? Therefore I see that in the end all seems
vain, wherever anything may be.
P'HATMAN said: "The sun was departed from me, the
light of all the world, life and existence, the gain of my
hands; from that time unceasingly the burning of hot fires
afflicted me, I could not dry the spring of tears flowing forth
from mine eyes.
"HOUSE and child became hateful to me, I sat with
cheerless heart; waking I thought of her, when I fell asleep
I thought other in my drowsiness. The oath-breaker Usen
seems to me of the infidels in faith; the accursed one cannot
approach me, to be near me with his cursed face.
"ONE day at eventide, just at sunset, I passed the guards,
the door of the asylum caught mine eye; I was in a reverie,
sadness at the thought of her was slaying me; I said:
'Cursed is the vow of every man!'
"FROM somewhere there came a wandering slave with
three companions, the slave clad as a slave, the others in
coarse travelling garb; they brought food and drink which
they had bought in the city for a drachma. They drank,
they ate, they chattered, thus they sat merry.
"I HEARKENED to them, I watched them. They said:
'Pleasantly we rejoiced, but though here we arc joined as
comrades, yet are we strangers, none of us knows who
another is or whence we arc come; we must at least tell one
another our stories with our tongues.'
"THOSE others told their tales as is the wont of wayfarers.
The slave said: '0 brothers, providence is a celestial thing;
I harvest for you pearls, you sowed but millet; my story
is better than your stories:
"I AM the slave of the exalted king, the ruler of the
Kadjis. It chanced that he was struck by a sickness which
prevailed over him; the helper of the widow, the comforter
of the orphan, was dead to us; now his sister, better than
a parent, rears his children.
"'DULARDUKHT is a woman, but a rock, like a cliff, her
slave is wounded by none, but he wounds others. She had
little nephews: Rosan and Rodia; now she is seated as
sovereign of Kadjet'hi, "the Mighty" is she called.
"WE heard news of the death overseas of her sister. The
viziers were distressed, they refrained from assembling
a privy council: "How can we venture to report the
extinction of a face which was the light of the lands? " –
Roshak is a slave, the chief of many thousand slaves.
"ROSHAK said: "Even if I be killed for mine absence,
I shall not be at the mourning! I go into the plain, I will
reave, I will fill myself with booty; I shall come home
enriched, I shall be back in good time. When the sovereign
goes forth to bewail her sister, I too will accompany her."
"HE said to us, his underlings: "I will go, come with me!"
He took of us a hundred slaves, all chosen by him. By day
in the sunlight we reaved, by night also we watched; many
a caravan we broke up, we unloaded the treasure for
"ONE very dark night we were wandering over the plains;
there appeared to us certain great lights in the midst of the
field; we said: "Is it the sun strayed down from heaven to
earth!" Perplexed, we gave our minds to torturing thought
"SOME said: "It is the dawn!" Others said: "It is the
moon!" We, drawn up in fighting array, moved towards
it-I saw it from very near-we made a wide circuit round it,
we came and surrounded it. From that light came a voice
speaking to us.
'"IT said to us: "Who are you, O cavaliers? Tell me your
names! From Gulansharo I go, a messenger to Kadjet'hi
have a care of me." When we heard this we approached,
we formed a circle round about. A certain sun-faced rider
appeared before our eyes.
"'WE gazed at the brilliant face flashing out lightning, its
glittering spread itself over the surroundings like the sun;
rarely she spoke to us with some gentle discourse, then from
her teeth the ray lighted up her jetty lashes.
"'AGAIN we addressed that sun with sweet-discoursing
tongue; she was not a slave, she spoke falsely, this we
perceived. Roshak discovered that it was a damsel; he rode
by her side; we did not let her go, we made bold to keep her
in our hands.
"AGAIN we asked: "Tell us the true story of that sun-like
light of thine. Whose art thou, who art thou, whence
comest thou, enlightener of darkness ?"" She told us nought;
she shed a stream of hot tears. How pitiable is the full moon
swallowed by the serpent!
"NEITHER plain tale nor secret, she told us nought,
neither who she was, nor by whom she had been
treacherously treated; angrily she spoke with us, sullen,
on the defensive, like an asp attacking onlookers with her
"ROSHAK ordered us: "Ask not, it seems nought is to be
said now; her business is a strange one and difficult to be toid.
The good fortune of our sovereign is to be desired by
creatures, for God giveth her whatever is mosi marvellous.
"THIS damsel has been destined to us by God that we
might bring her; we will take her as a gift, Dulardukht will
render us very great thanks; if we conceal it, we shall be
found out, and our sovereign is proud: first, it is an offence
to her, then it is a great disgrace."
"WE agreed, we prolonged not the discussion. We
returned, we made for Kadjet'hi, leading her with us; we
ventured not to speak directly to her, nor did we annoy her.
She weeps; with embittered heart she laves her cheeks in
"'I SAID to Roshak: "Give me leave; soon again shall I
attend you. At present I have some business in the city of
Gulansharo." He granted me leave. Hereabout I have some
stuff to be carried oil, I will take it with me, I will go and
"THIS story of the slave greatly pleased those men.
I heard it; the stream from the pool of tears dried up in me.
I guessed, I recognized every sign of her who is my life;
this gave me a little comfort, like a drachma's weight.
"I LAID hold of that slave and set him close before me.
I asked him: 'Tell me what thou wert saying; I, too, wish
to hear.' He told me again the same as I had heard thence.
This story enlivened me; me, struggling in soul, it preserved
"I HAD two black slaves full of sorcery, by their art they
go and come invisible; I brought them out, I despatched
them to Kadjet'hi. I said; 'Tarry not; give me tidings of her
by your deeds.'
"IN three days they came and told me, swiftly had they
trod the road: 'The queen, who was ready to go over the
sea, has taken her. None can fix his eyes to gaze upon her,
as upon the sun. The queen has betrothed her as wife to the
little boy Rosan.
"WE shall wed her to Rosan," this is the decree of Queen
Dulardukht, "at present I have not leisure for the wedding,
now is my heart consumed with fire; when I return home
I will make a daughter-in-law of her who is praised as
heaven's sun." She has set her in the castle; one eunuch
'"DULARDUKHT took with her all those skilled in
sorcery, for perilous is the road, her foes are ready for the
fray; she has left at home all her bravest knights. She will
tarry; but little time has already passed.
"THE city of the Kadjis has hitherto been unassailable by
foes; within the city is a strong rock, high and long; inside
that rock is hollowed out a passage for climbing up. Alone
there is that star, the consumer of those who come in touch
"AT the gate of the passage are continually on guard
knights not ill-favoured, there stand ten thousand heroes
all of ihe chosen knights, at each of the three city gates
three thousand.' O heart, the world hath condemned thee;
I know not, alas! whal binds thee."
WHEN Avt'handil, the sun-faced but woeful, heard the»e tidings he was pleased, he showed nothing else. The lovely creature rendered thanks to God: "Somebody's sister has told me joyful news!"
HE said to P'hatman: "Beloved, thou art worthy to be
loved by me, thou hast let me hear a welcome story, not
with louring looks; but let me hear more fully about
Kadjet'hi; every Kadj is fleshless, how can it become
"PITY for that maiden kindles me and burns me with
flame; but I marvel what the fleshless Kadjis can do with
a woman!" P'hatman said: "Hearken to me! Truly I see
thee here perplexed. They are not Kadjis, but men who put
their trust in steep rocks," quoth she.
"THEIR name is called Kadji because they are banded
together, men skilled in sorcery, exceeding cunning in the
art, harmers of all men, themselves unable to be harmed by
any; they that go out to join battle with them come back
blinded and shamed.
"THEY do something wondrous, they blind the eyes of
their foes, they raise fearful winds, they make the ship to
founder midst the seas, they run as on dry land, for they
clean dry up the water; if they wish they make the day
dark, if they wish they enlighten the darkness.
"FOR this reason all those that dwell round about call
them Kadjis, though they, too, are men fleshly like us.'
Avt'handil thanked her: "Thou hast extinguished my hot
flames; the tidings just told me have pleased me greatly."
AVTHANDIL, shedding tears, magnifies God with his
heart; he said: "0 God, I thank Thee, for Thou art the
Comforter of my woes, who wast and art, Unspeakable,
Unheard by ears: Your mercy is suddenly spread forth
FOR the knowledge of this story he magnified God with
tears. P'hatman thought of herself; therefore she was again
burned up. The knight kept his secret, he lent himself to
love; P'hatman embraced his neck, she kissed his sun-like
That night P'hatman enjoyed lying with Avt'handil; the
knight unwillingly embraces her neck with his crystal neck:
remembrance of T'hinat'hin slays him, he quakes with
secret fear, his maddened heart raced away to the wild
beasts and ran with them.
AVT'HANDIL secretly rains tears, they flow to mingle with
the sea; in an inky eddy floats a jetty ship. He says:
"Behold me, 0 lovers, me who have a rose for mine own!
Away from her, I, the nightingale, like a carrion-crow, sit on the
THE tears which flowed there from him would have melted
a stone, the thicket of jet dammed them up, there is a pool
on the rose-field. P'hatman rejoiced in him as if she were
a nightingale; if a crow find a rose it thinks itself a
DAY dawned; the sun whose rays were soiled by the world
went forth to bathe. The woman gave him many coats,
cloaks, turbans, many kinds of perfumes, fair clean shirts.
"Whatsoever thou desirest," said she, "put on: be not shy
AVT’HANDIL said : "This day will I declare mine affair."
The wearing of merchant garb had hitherto been his resolve.
That day wholly in knightly raiment he apparelled his brave
form; he increased his beauty, the lion resembled the sun.
P'HATMAN prepared a meal, to which she invited
Avt'handil. The knight came in adorned, gaily, not with
louring looks. P'hatman looked, she was astonished that he
was not in merchant garb; she smiled at him: "Thus is it
better for the pleasure of them that are mad for thee."
P'HATMAN exceedingly admired his beauty. He made no
answer, he smiled to himself: "It seems she does not
recognize me!" How did he consider P'hatman foolish! He
looked on her as on an equal, for he had no choice.
WHEN they had eaten they separated, the knight went
home; having drunk wine, he lay down merry, pleasantly he
fell asleep. At eventide he awoke; he shed his rays across the
fields. He invited P'hatman: "Come, see me, I am alone,
P'HATMAN went, Avt'handil heard her voice making
moan; she said: "Undoubtedly I am slain by him whose
form is like an aloe-tree." He set her at his side; he gave her
a pillow from his carpet. The shade from the caves of the
eyelashes overshadows the rose-garden.
AVT’HANDIL said: "0 Fhatman, I know thee; thou wilt
tremble at these tidings like one bitten by a serpent; but
hitherto thou hast not heard the truth concerning me; my
slayers are black lashes, trees of jet.
"THOU thinkest me some merchant, master of a caravan;
I am the Spaspeti of the exalted King Rostevan, chief of
the great host befitting him; I have the mastery over many
treasures and arsenals.
"I KNOW thee to be a good friend, faithful, trusty .-He has
one daughter, a sun the enlightener of lands; she it is who
consumes me and melts me; she sent me, I forsook my
master, her father.
"THAT damsel thou hadst—to seek that same damsel, that
substitute for the sun, I have gone over the whole world;
I have seen him who roves for her sake, where he, pale
lion, lies wasting himself, his heart and strength."
AVT’HANDIL told all his own tale to P'hatman, the story
of the donning of the tiger hide by Tariel. He said: "Thou
art the balm of him thou has not yet seen, the resource of
him of frequent eyelash, ruffled like a raven's wing.
"COME, P'hatman, and aid me, let us try to be of use to
him, let us help them, perchance those stars shall receive
joy. All men who shall know it, all will begin to praise us.
Surely again will it befall the lovers to meet.
"BRING me that same sorcerer slave, I will send him to
Kadjet'hi, we will make known to the maiden all the tidings
known to us, she also will inform us of the truth, we will do
what she chooses. God grant you may hear that the
kingdom of the Kadjis is vanquished by us."
P'TIATMAN said: "Glory to God, what things have
befallen me! This day I have heard tidings equal to
immortality!" She brought the sorcerer slave, black as a
raven, and said: "I send thee to Kadjet'hi; go, thou
hast a long journey.
"NOW will appear advantage for me from thy sorcery,
speedily quench the furnace of the burning of my fires, tell
that sun the means for her cure." He said: "To-morrow I
shall give you full news of what you wish."
The Letter Written by P'hatman to Nestan-Daredjan
P'HATMAN writes: "0 star, heavenly sun of the world,
consumer and griever of all them that are afar from thee,
elegant and eloquent in words, lovely, fair-tongued,
crystal and ruby both welded in one!
THOUGH thou gavest me not to hear thy story, I have
learnt the truth, thereby hath my heart been comforted.
Console with news Tariel, who is become mad for thee!
May you both attain your desire, may he be a rose and thou
"HIS sworn brother is come in quest of thee, Avt'handil,
an Arab knight renowned in Arabia, Spaspeti of King
Rostevan, to be contemned of none. Write news of thyself,
thou proud one, wise in understanding!
"FOR this purpose have we sent this slave to your
presence: We would know tidings of Kadjet'hi. Have the
Kadjis come home ? We wish to know in detail the number
of warriors there. Who are thy guards, and who is their
"WHATEVER thou knowest concerning that place. write
to us, make il known. Then send some token for thy lover.
All the sorrow thou hast had hitherto, change it into jov!
May it please God that I unite the lovers so befitting each
"GO, O letter, hasten, if swift be thy knee! I envy thee,
thou goesi to see the crystal, jest and rubies. In Fate
thou art happier than I, O letter; the eyes other who
consumes me will look upon thee. If thou hearest of my
life after thee, shalt thou not pity me!"
P'HATMAN gave the letter to that cunning sorcerer: "Give
this letter to the sun-like maiden!" The wizard donned a
certain green mantle over his form: in that very moment
he was lost to view, he flew over the roofs.
HE went like an arrow shot by a swift-bowed archer.
When he reached Kadjet’hi it was just dusk twilight.
Invisible he passed the multitude of knights guarding the
gates. He gave to that sun the greeting of her who longed
HE passed the closed gates of the castle as if they had
been open; the Negro entered, the black-faced, long-haired,
cloaked; that sun was affrighted, she thought it was
somewhat to harm her; the rose was changed to saffron
and the violets to sky blue.
THE Kadj said: "Whom think'st thou me to be, and why
swoonest thou thus ? I am P'hatman's slave despatched to
thy presence, this letter will justify me, I speak not falsely
to thee. Let the sun's rays come forth, 0 rose, fade not so
THE sun-faced marvelled at P'hatman's wonderful news;
she split her almonds, the jets quivered with the rod of jet.
The slave gave her the letter with his own hand. She sighs,
she reads the letter, she wets it with her hot tears.
SHE asked the slave: "Tell me, who is my seeker, or who
knows me to be alive, treading the earth ?" He said:
"I will venture to tell you only what I know. When thou
wentest forth, since then hath our sun been darkened.
"HENCEFORTH P'hatman's heart hath been torn by
lances; the tears she shed are such as to be united to the
seas. Once already I brought news of thee to her. I call
God to witness that for her since then the tear hath not
"NOW there came a certain knight, fair efface; in detail
she told him all, what trouble you are in; he with hero-like
arm is thy seeker; they sent me, they entreated me to
hasten with ceaseless haste."
THE maiden said: "What thou hast said, 0 man, seems to
me to be truth. How could P'hatman know from whom I
was carried away! Doubtless somewhere is he who burns me
with fire. I will write to her; thou also shalt tell how my
The Letter Written by Nestan-Daredjan to P'hatman
THE sun-faced writes; "0 dame, 0 mother, better than a
mother to me! See what the world hath done to me, its
thrall! Alas! there is added to those griefs of mine still
another! Now that I have seen thy missive it hath greatly
"THOU didst save me from two sorcerers; thou didst
alleviate my woes. Now I am thus held here by the whole
force of the Kadjis; a whole realm, many thousand heroes,
guard me alone. I'll befell me, my counsels and resolves.
"WHAT other tidings hence can I write to thee? The Queen
of the Kadjis is not come, nor will the Kadjis yet come; but
countless hosts guard me, and with what bravery! What!
the quest for me! It is not possible, believe me!
"WHOEVER is come seeking me is wearied in vain; he
suffers, he is consumed, he is kindled for me, a flame like
fire burns him. But I envy him, he hath seen the sun, thus
is he not frozen. Without him, alas! what great pity my
"FORMERLY I told thee not my story, I hid it from thee
for that my tongue could not speak it; I spared myself
woes. I entreat thee, beg my beloved to have pity and not
come in search of me, write to him, send him a message.
"WHAT afflicts me is enough, let him not slay me with a
woe equal to this: I should see him a corpse, I should die a
double death. None can help me, I know this for a truth;
this is no gossip. If he will not hearken to thee, stone me
with a heap of black stone!
"THOU didst ask me to send a token, show this: I send
a cutting from the veils he gave me; these veils for his sake
are a fair sight to me, though in colour they are black, like
The Letter Written by Nestan-Daredjan
to Her Beloved
NOW she sobbing, weeping, writes to her beloved;
quenching with her tears the intense fires that consumed
him. She wrote a letter piercing the heart of the hearers.
She splits the rose; there appears the translucent crystal.
"O MINE own! this letter is the work of my hands; for pen
I have my form, a pen steeped in gall; for paper I glue
thy heart even to my heart; 0 heart, sad heart, thou art
bound, loose not thyself, now be bound!
"THOU seest, 0 mine own! of what deeds the world is a
doer. However much light shines, for me it is but darkness.
The wise know the world, therefore they despise it, to them
it is contemptible. My life without thee, woe is me! how
exceeding hard it is!
"THOU seest, mine own! how Fate and cursed time hath
parted us; no longer do I glad see thee, my glad loved one;
what, indeed, can the heart rent by thee do without thee!
My thought manifests now to thee what was hidden.
"BY thy sun! until now I thought not thou wert alive; as
for me, methought my life and all my resource had passed
away. Now when I hear news of thee, I magnify the
Creator and humble myself before God. All mine erstwhile
grief I weigh as joy.
"THY life is sufficient for my heart to hope in, a heart
all wounded and so consumed ? Think of me, remember me
as one lost to thee; I sit nursing the love I planted.
"NOW, 0 mine own, my story is not to be written to thee
by me; the tongue will tire, none that hear will believe!
P'hatman took me from sorcerers; may God protect her;
Now again the world hath done what befits it.
"WORLD hath now added worse woe to my woe, mv ill
luck was not appeased by these manifold afflictions; and
again it delivered me into the hands of the Kadjis, hard
to combat; Fate hath done to us, mine own, all that hath
"I AM sitting in a castle so lofty that eyes can scarce
see the ground; the road enters by a passage, over it stand
guards; day and night knights miss not their turn as
sentries, they will kill those that engage them, like fire wil
l they envelop them.
"SURELY thou thinkest not that these are of the same
kind as other warriors ? Slay me not with woes worse than
the present! I shall see thee dead, I shall be burnt up like
tinder by steel. Since I am sundered from thee, renournce
me with a heart harder than rock itself.
"BELOVED, sorrow not with such grief! Tell me, can
there be fur me another with the form of an aloe-tree! Life
without thee is nought for me, henceforth I should be full
of regret; either I would cast myself down from the rock
or slay myself with a knife.
"BY thy sun! thy moon will fall to the lot of none save
thee! By thy sun! to none shall she fall though triple suns
shone forth! Here would I dash myself down; the great
rocks are very nigh to me. To thee would I commit my
soul; perchance wings would be given to me by Heaven.
"ENTREAT God for me; it may he He will deliver me
from the travail of ihe world and from union with fire,
water, earth and air. Let Him give me wings and I shall fly
up, I shall attain my desire—day and night I shall gaze on
the sun's rays flashing in splendour.
"THE sun cannot be without thee, for thou art an atom of it; of a surety thou shalt adhere to it as its zodiac, and not as one rejected. There shall I seek thee; I shall liken thee to it, thou shalt enlighten my darkened heart. If my life was bitter, let my death be sweet!
"DEATH is no longer grievous to me, since it is to thee
I commit my soul; but I have laid thy love in my heart,
and there it rests. When I think of parting from thee, for me
wound is added to wound. Weep not and mourn not for me,
O mine own, for love of me!
"GO, betake thyself to India, be of some help to my
father, who is straitened by foes, helpless on all sides;
comfort the heart of him who suffers separation from me.
Think of me weeping for thy sake with undrying tears.
"WHATEVER complaint I have made against my Fate is
sufficient complaint. Know this, that true justice goeth
from heart to heart; for thy sake will I die, the ravens will
call me! 1 shall suffice for thy weeping and suffering.
"LO, mark the token from the veil that was thine; from
one end I have cut off a strip, O mine own; this is all that
is left to me in place of that great hope; in wrath the
wheel of the seven heavens hath turned upon us."
WHEN she had finished this letter written to her beloved,
she cut off a fringe from those veils; bareheaded, the
thick, long locks other hair became her well, the scent
blows from the aloe, breathing through ihe raven's wings.
THAT slave departed, journeying to Gulansharo; in one
instant he reached P'hatman's, he travelled not many
days. When this matter so dear to him had been
accomplished, Avt'handil with hands upraised thanks God.
with full understanding, not as one bemused.
HE said to P'hatman: "The thing desired is timely
finished for me; thy great zeal for my sake is still
unrecompensed. I go, I have no leisure to tarry longer,
last year's time is come. Swiftly shall T lead into Kadjet'hi
him who will annihilate and destroy them."
THE lady said: "O lion, the fire now becomes hotter; my
heart will be sundered from its light, thereby will it be
darkened; hasten, grieve not for me, the madman will still
remain mad. Should the Kadjis arrive before you, going
thither will be made difficult for you."
THE knight called P'hridon's slaves who attended him.
He said: "Corpses hitherto, now indeed are we enlivened;
we are renewed by the hearing of what we wished. I shall
show you our enemies wounded and thereby woe-stricken.
"GO and tell P'hridon this unvarnished story. I cannot
see him, I am hurried, my road is one of haste. Let him
strengthen his great voice to make it still more bold. I will
give you all the precious tissues taken by me as booty.
"GREAT is the debt laid upon me by you; I will show my
gratitude in another way when I join P'hridon again. For
the nonce, take away all that was reft from the pirates;
I can give you no more than this, I know that so I shall
seem to you niggardly.
"I HAVE no home near; I have no power to dispense
gifts." He gave them a ship full, beautiful things, a host in
number. He said: "Go, take them away, travel the road to
that same region. Give this letter from me, his sworn
brother, to P'hridon."
Avt'handil’s Letter to P’hridon
HE wrote: "Exalted P'hridon, supremely blest, king of
kings, lion-like in stout-heartcdness, O sun, recklessly
shedding rays, mighty, joyous, spiller of the blood of
foes—thy youngest brother from far, far away barks thee a
"I HAVE seen troubles, and I have, too, received recompense
for what pains I have suffered. Well hath fallen out the
matter planned by me: I have truly learned the story of that
face likened to a sun, the sustainer of that lion who was
buried under the earth.
"THE sovereign of the Kadjis has that sun; she is captive
in Kadjet'hi. To go thither seems to me sport, though the
road is one of battle. From the narcissi a rain of crystal
falls; the rose is wet with rain. The Kadjis are not yet with
the maid, but countless is their host.
"GLAD in heart I rejoice, for this my tear will not flow
in channels. Wherever thou and thy brother are the
difficult will be made easy; whatever you may desire you
will certainly do it, you shall not fail; not only no man can
stand againsL you, I Lrow that even a rock will soften
"NOW pardon me, I cannot see thee, so I have passed afar
off; I have no leisure to linger on the road, for that moon is
captive. Soon shall we come merry; rejoice at the sight of
us! What more than this can I say to thee: help thy brother
in brotherly fashion.
"THE attachment of these slaves is beyond reward;
pleasantly have they served me, and your heart, too, will
be pleased at this. Why should he be praised who hath
sojourned long with you? Every like gives birth to like;
this is a saying of the sages."
HE wrote this letter, he tied it up and rolled it; rose
and violel he gave it to P'hridon's slaves; he communicate
he should do; the open door of coral showed its pearls to
AVT’HANDIL searched; he found a ship of that region
where Tariel was. That sun with the face of a full moon
prepared to set out; but to leave the woeful-hearted
P'hatman was a heaviness to him; those who parted from
him shed a rivulet of blood.
P'HATMAN, Usen and the slaves weep with hot tears.
They said: "O sun, what hast thou done to us ? Thou
didst burn us with hot fires, why darkenest thou us with
the gloom of' thine absence ? Bury us with the hands that
must bury us by thy departure."
Avt’handil’s Departure from Gulansharo, and His Meeting With Tariel
AVT'HANDIL has crossed the seas in a certain ship for
travellers. He rides glad-hearted all alone. To meet Tariel
with such tidings rejoices him. With hands uplifted, with
his heart he hopes in God.
SUMMER was come, from the Earth came forth verdure,
the token of the rose bursting into bloom, the time of their
tryst, the change of course by the sun, its sitting on the
Cancer. He sighed when he saw the flower long time unseen
The sky thundered and the cloud rained crystal dew; he
kissed the rose with his rose-like lips; he said: "I gaze on
you with tenderly-observant eye; I rejoice to have converse
with you in her stead."
WHEN he thought on his friend, the bitter tears flowed;
he travelled those weary ways towards Tariel, deserted and
pathless, unknown regions; lion and tiger of the reedy
thickets he slew wherever he saw them.
THE caves came in sight, he was glad, he recognized them.
He said: "These be the rocks where my friend is, he for
whom my tears have flowed. I am indeed worthy to see him
face to face, to relate to him what I have heard. If he be
not come, what shall I do? Vain will have been my travail.
"If he be come, doubtless he would not tarry within; he
would go somewhere into the plain, like a wild beast he
would roam in the fields; it is better for me to go round by
the rushes."He bethought himself, he looked about; thus
he spoke and turned, he went toward the plains.
HE canters along and sings with merry heart; he shouts to
him by name with cheerful voice. He went a little Farther,
there appeared the sun in full splendour, at the edge of the
rushes stands Tariel with sharp sword.
TARIEL had slain a lion; its blood anoioted his sword.
He stood dismounted at the rushes; his hourse was
not with him. He heard Avt’handil’s shout, he was
astonished; he looked at him, recognized him, started, ran
towards him, bounded.
TARIEL flung aside his sword and went towards his
adopted brother. The knight alighted from his horse; he
seemed more radient than the sun. They kissed each other;
their necks were as if riveted together. There was the sugary
sound of the rose frequently opening.
TARIEL, weeping, uttered polished, exquisite words – the
tear of blood dyed the jetty thickets crimson, the fountain
of tears, many streams, waters the aloe: "Since I have seen
thee, what mailers it to me if eight pains oppress me?"
TARIEL weeps and Avt'handil was speaking to him
laughing, he smiles, he opens his coral, the flash from his
teeth quivers; he said: "I have learned tidings which will
please thee; now the flower will be renewed, the rose
TARIEL said: "0 brother, what which rejoices me to-day
is enough, in seeing thee I have seen all my comfort,
whatever other balm God gives; hast thou not heard: How
can man find in the world that which is not of Heaven's
WHEN Tariel was not convinced, Avt'handil was ill at
ease, he could no longer delay to tell the tale; he hastened,
he drew forth the veil of her on whose lips the rose blooms;
when Tariel saw, he recognized it, seized upon, started.
HE recognized the letter and the fringe of the veil and
unfolded them, he pressed them to his face; he fell, a rose
pale in hue, his spirits fled, he drooped his lashes of jet.
Neither Quaissi1 nor even Salaman2 could bear sorrows
AVT'HANDIL gazes at Tariel lying lifeless; he flew to
him, he set about helping him, the sweetly-speaking; he
could not be of avail to the consumed one, completely
burned up with fire; her tokens had laid hold of his life.
AVT'HANDIL sat down to weep; he mourns with
melodious voice, full of the tears his raven locks, he sweeps
them from the crystal roof, he brake the ruby polished with
a hammer of adamant, thence issue streams which I likened
to coral in hue.
HE scratches his face; blood flows from his cheeks while
gazing at Tariel. "What I have done neither madman nor
fool hath done. Why did T in my haste pour water on a fire
difficult to quench! The heart struck hastily by exceeding
joy cannot bear it.
"I HAVE slain my friend! What befits me disgraced? I
blame myself for a deed not thought out with heed. A
stupid man cannot do well in a difficult matter. It is said:
'Chidden slowness is better than praised haste.'"
TARIEL lay unconscious, as if scorched. Avt'handil rose,
he passed through the rushes in search of water; he found
the lion's blood, he carries it to quench the flame, he
sprinkled it on Tariel's breast; the lapis lazuli became
AVT'HANDIL sprinkled the breast of that lion with the
lion's blood. Tariel started up, the ranks of the race of
India moved, he opened his eyes, he received power to sit
up; blue seems the ray of the moon diminished in ray by the
WINTER makes the roses fade, their leaves fall; the ardour
of the summer sun burns them, they bemoan the drought.
but upon them nightingales complain with lovely voice;
heat consumes, frost freezes; the wounds hurt them in
EVEN so is it hard to deal with the heart of man; it is
mad alike both in grief and in joy; it is always wounded,
the passing world is never whole for him. He only can
trust ihis world who is his own foe.
TARIEL gazed again on the writing of his slayer; he
reads, though the reading other letter maddens him; his
tears blind him to the light, dark seems the beam of day.
Avt'handil rose, he began to speak with rough words.
HE said: "Such behaviour is unworthy of an instructed
man! Why should we weep now ? It behoves us to set about
the making of smiles. Arise, let us go in quest of that lost
sun. Soon shall I lead thee to her; I must bring thee to thy
"WHAT joy befits us, therewithal let us first rejoice.
Then let us mount and set out, let us go towards Kadjet'hi.
Be our swords our guides, let us make them turn their
backs: untroubled shall we return, we shall reduce them
THEN Tariel asks for tidings; he no longer swooned. He
looked up, he raised his eyes, the black and white lightning
glittered, as a ruby by the sun so was his colour increased.
Who is worthy that towards him the sky turn ever in
TO Avt'handil he gave thanks; he conversed with him:
"How shall 1 speak thy praise, worthy to be praised by the
wise! Like a spring up on a mountain thou hast watered
the flower of the plain; thou hasi cul off for me the flow of
tears of the pool of the narcissi.
"I CAN never make thee a return; may the God of heaven
repay thee! May He in my stead reward thee from His
height!" They mounted and went home; they made great
rejoicing. Now the world will indeed state Asmat'h so long
AT the door of the cave Asmat'h sits alone, not fully
dressed; when she had looked she recognized Tariel, and
with him a knight on a white horse; both were sweetly
singing like songster nightingales. Immediately she
recognized them, she rose hastily, bare but for her smock.
HITHERTO she had ever seen him come to the cave
weeping, now she wondered to behold him singing, laughine;
seized with fear she rose, her understanding was like a
drunkard's; she heard not yet the news she so longed for.
WHEN they saw her they shouted to her, laughing and
showing their teeth: "Ho! Asmat'h! God's mercy is comp
down on us from on high; we have found the lost moon;
what we desired that have we done; now we shall have our
fires quenched by Fate, our sorrows turned to joy."
AVT'HAJMDIL alighted from his horse to embrace Asmat'h:
she laid hold of the aloe, pliant to the touch was its branch;
she kisses his neck and face; she sheds tears. "Tell me what
thou hast discovered, what thou hast done. Beseeching
thee, I weep on the field."
AVT'HANDIL gave to Asmal'h the letter of her charge,
the aloe with faded branch, the pale moon. He said: "See
the writing other who hath passed through troubles; the
sun approaches us, it hath given us the putting away of
WHEN Asmat'h saw the letter she knew Nestan's hand;
she marvelled, fear seized her, she quakes like one possessed, from head to foot overwhelming wonder laid hold on her; she says: "What have I seen, what do I hear, is it indeed true?"
AVT'HANDIL said: "Fear not, this story is true, joy is
given to us, all sore grief is put away from us, the sun is
come nigh us, darkness is no longer dark for us. Good hath
overcome ill; the essence of good is lasting."
THE King of the Indians merrily spoke somewhat with
Asmat'h; they embraced each other, joy made them weep;
the raven's tail dropped light dew upon the rose. God
forsaketh not man if man comprehend this.
THEY gave God great thanks. They said: "Thou hast done
to us what was best; now we recognize that your mouth
would not have adjudged to us the worst." The King of the
Indians, with uplifted hand, joyously shouted this. Merry
they went into the caves; Asmat'h made ready somewhat
for their refreshment.
TARIEL said to Avt'handil: "Hearken to these words: 1
will tell thcc something, think me not a tedious narrator.
Since the time when I captured the caves and slew droves of
Devis, their precious treasury lies here.
"NEVER have I seen it, for I have not wished to do so.
Come and let us open it; let us see how much treasure there
is." Tt pleased him; both arose, nor did Asmat'h stay seated.
They broke down forty doors; it was no great struggle for
THEY found unequalled treasure, hitherto unseen by
their eyes. There stood a heap of jewels of fair workmanship.
There were seen pearls each as big as a ball for play. Who
could make account of the gold not to be numbered by
INSIDE those forty rooms were full. They found an
armoury built for storing armour; there all kinds of armour
were placed like preserves; therein was a coffer, sealed,
UPON it was written: "Here lieth wondrous armour:
chain helmet, habergeon, steel-cutting sword. If the Kadjis
attack the Devis it will be a hard day. Whoever openeth
at any other time is a slayer of kings!"
THEY opened the coffer; they found in it three suits of
armour fit for three warrior knights to don; coats of mail,
swords, helmets, greaves of like sort; they were in emerald
nests, as it were shrines.
EACH clothed himself with each, they tested them on
themselves; chain helmet and habergeon nought could
dent; they struck the swords on iron, they cut it like
cotton-thread. I tell you they prize them more than all
the world; they would not barter them for it.
THEY said: "As a sign this is enough for us; we are in
good luck. God has gazed on us with His eye, looking down
from above." They took up that armour, each put it on his
neck; they bound up one set with leather thongs to
present to P'hridon.
THEY took with them some gold, some rare pearls; they
went forth, they sealed up the forty treasuries. Avt'handil
said: "Henceforth will I fasten my palm to the sword;
no-where shall I go to-night, when day dawns I shall not
NOW, painter, limn the sworn brothers more steadfast
than brothers, these lovers of stars, excelled by none, both
heroic knights renowned in bravery. When they go to
Kadjet'hi you shall see a battle of piercing lances.
1 Quaissi, i. e., Madjnun, the lover of Leila, in the poem Leila
and Madjnun, by Nizami,
2 Salaman, the hero of the Arabian story Salomon and Absal.
Tariel and Avt’handil Go to P’hridon
WHEN day dawned they set out; they took Asmat'h with
them. Till they came to Nuradin's land they mounted her
behind them; there a merchant gave them a horse for a
price in gold, he made not a gift of it. As guide Avt'handil
sufficed; whom else need he take!
THEY wended their way and met with Nuradin's herdsmen,
they saw the herd of horses; it pleased them, who had come
for P'hridon. There said the Hindoo to Avt'handil: "I will
have thee do a good piece of fooling: Come, let us play a
joke on P'hridon, let us chase his herd.
"WE will carry off the herd, he will come and hear that
the herd is reaved; he will prepare to do battle, to dye the
plain with gore. Suddenly he will recognize us, he will be
surprised, he will calm his heart. Pleasant is good joking;
it makes even the proud merry."
THEY began to seize the steeds, P'hridon's finest. There
the herdsmen made a torch, they struck steel. They
shouted: "Who are ye, knights, who do such high deeds?
This herd is his who strikes the foe with his sword without
making him to sigh."
THEY seized their bows, they pursued the herdsmen; the
herdsmen shrieked aloud, they raised their voices: "Help,
help! Brigands are massacring us!"" They made an outcry,
they united, they appealed to P'hridon, they were not
P'HRIDON arrayed himself, he mounted, he rode forth in
full array. They made an outcry, they united, the regiment
covered the fields. Those suns whom winter could not
freeze came forward; they were covered up, helmets hid
WHEN Tariel knew P'hridon, "Now have I seen him I
want," said he; he raised his helm, he smiled, he laughed;
he said to P'hridon: "What dost thou wish ? Why doth our
coming annoy thee? Bad host! Thou meetest us to fight."
P'HRIDON swiftly dismounted; he fell down and saluted.
They also alighted, they embraced—ay, kissed him. P'hridon
with upraised hand gave God measureless thanks. The
lords also kissed them, whoever knew them.
P'HRIDON said: "Why tarried ye? I expected ye sooner.
I am ready; I shall not lag in any service of yours!" It
seemed as if two suns and a moon were united there; they
beautified one another. They set out, they departed.
AT P'hridon's fairly-builded house they both alighted;
he sits down beside his sworn brother Avt'handil; Tariel sat
on a throne covered in cloth of gold. To P'hridon, renowned
as a hero, they presented that armour.
THEY said: "At this time we have no other gifts for
thee, but we have many other fair things lying in a place
we wot of." He laid his face to the ground, he wasted no
time: "Such a gift to me is worthy of you."
THAT night they rested as P'hridon's guests; baths he
gave them, he gave them gifts of garments in plenty, he
clad their beauty in beauty, each garment fairer than the
other; he gave them rare jewels and pearls in a golden
HE said: "This is the speech of a bad host; 'tis as if
hospitality to you, wise ones, wearied me as if you were
mad; but tarrying now avails not, it is better to travel the
long road; if the Kadjis outstrip us there is a risk of trouble.
"WHY should we use great hosts? We want good and few;
three hundred men suffice us, let us go swift like runaways;
in Kadjet'hi for fighting the Kadjis we shall put basket-hilts
on our swords; soon shall we find her whose pleasant aloe
form will slay us.
"ONCE aforetime I was in Kadjet'hi; you shall see it,
and you, too, shall find it strong; on all sides round about
is rock, a foe may not come up to it; if we may not go in
privily, it is impossible to engage openly; so we need no
army, the squadron cannot follow us secretly."
WITH what he said, they too agreed. They left there the
maiden Asmat'h; P'hridon bestows a gift upon her. They
took with them three hundred horsemen equal to heroes.
At the last God will give the victory to all who have been
ALL three sworn brothers crossed the sea. P'hridon knows
the way; going day and night they travel. P'hridon said:
"Now are we coming nigh the regions of Kadjet'hi;
henceforth we must travel by night so that we be not
THE three behaved according to this advice of P'hridon's;
when it was daylight they stopped, and by night they went
swiftly on. They arrived; the city appeared; they could not
count the guards; outside was a rock, the noise of the
sentinels in crowds increased.
AT the gate of the passage ten thousand braves kept
guard. Those lions saw the city; the shining moon stood
upon it. They said: "Let us advise what is best, now is
choice difficult; a hundred can overcome a thousand if
they choose the best way."
THE COUNSEL OF NURADIN - P’HRIDON
P’HRIDON said: "I will speak a word, I think I am not at
fault: We are few, the city is only expungable by many; we
have not strength for a direct attack – this is no time for
boasting – in a thousand years we could not anywhere win
in if they shut the gate against us.
IN my childhood my tutors instructed me in rope dancing,
they taught me tricks, they made me leap, they
trained me, I used to go along a rope so that eyes could not
follow me; whatever little boys looked at me they also
desired to do it.
NOW, whichever of you knows best how to cast a noose,
let us throw the end of a long rope to that tower, it seems
as easy for me to cross as a field; I shall make it a trouble
to you to find a sound man inside.
TO me it seems nought to cross in armour, no trouble
to bear a shield; nimbly shall I leap down inside, strike
like a wind, slay the soldiers; I shall open, you will see the
opening of the gate, you too come thither where you hear
the uproar of alarm."
The Counsel of Avt’handil
AVT'HANDIL said: "Ha, P'hridon! friends cannot
complain of thee; thou hast hope in thy lion-like arms,
wounds hurt not thee; thou counsellest hard counsel to
make foes lament; but hearest thou not how very near the
"WHEN thou goest over, the garrison will hear the
clatter of thine armour, they will perceive thee, they will
cut the cord, of this thou must be assured. Everything will
turn out ill for thee; only the vain attempt will remain to
thee. That counsel is of no value; let us help ourselves in
some other way.
"THIS is better; you stay hidden in ambush. These men
will not lay hands on a traveller coming into the town. I
will dress myself as a merchant, I will do a treacherous
deed; I will load a mule with helmet, hauberk and sword.
"IT is of no use for the three of us to go in, there is risk
that they would perceive it; I shall go alone as a merchant,
and well shall I win in unnoticed; secretly shall I don
mine armour, I shall appear, I shall deceive them. God
grant that I may make channels of blood to flow generously
"WITHOUT any difficulty I shall remove the guards inside;
you strike outside the gate, all like heroes; I shall shatter
the locks, I shall open, stone and mortar will not stop me. If
aught else would he better, say so; I am for a plan of this
The Counsel of Tariel
TARIEL said: "I recognize your heroism exceeding that
of heroes; your counsel and advice is like your own
stout-heartedness; I know you desire fierce fight, not a vain
brandishing of swords, when the battle becomes perilous
then are ye men.
"BUT let me too have some choice in the matter. The
sound will be heard by her who maddens me; like the sun
she will be standing aloft; you will have fierce fight, she
will see me as a non-combatant! This will be a slur on me.
Nay, speak no flattering words!
"BETTER than that counsel is this-let us do as I say:
Let us divide the men by hundreds; when night turns to
dawn let the three of us start out from three places,
swiftly let us urge on our horses; they will send out to
encounter us, we shall seem insignificant to them, we shall
lend a powerful palm to the sword.
"SWIFTLY shall we engage them, we shall get round them;
they will not be able to shut the gates against us; one of
the three will go in, the others from outside will strike the
foe that is outside; that one who is inside will fall on those
within, making their blood now; again let us lay hold of the
arms mightily used by us!"
P'HRIDON said: "I understand, I perceive, I know what it
Is. None could forestall at the gates that horse that once
was min. when I gave it I knew not that we should want
to mount guard over the Kadjis in Kadjet'hi; if so, I tell
thee I would by no means have given it to thee, such is
P'HRIDON, the gay, jests with such discourse as this;
thereupon they, the eloquent, wise-worded ones, laugh, they
joke one with another, with merriment beseeming them.
They dismounted and arrayed themselves; they mounted
their excellent steeds.
AGAIN they interchanged words, not tart to the mouth.
They resolved on that plan proposed by Tariel. They
divided among them by hundreds the men, all equal to
heroes. They mounted their horses; they covered their
heads with their helmets.
The Taking of the Castle of Kadjet'hi and
the Saving of Nestan-Daredjan
I SAW those heroes shining with rays excelling the sun;
those three are covered by the seven planets with a column
of light. Tariel with slender form sits on the black horse;
they consumed their foes in fight as their admirers by
NOW, this is what I shall say is their image and likeness:
When clouds rain down, and the stream pours from the
mountains, it comes and glides through the glens, turmoil
and uproar is heard; but when it unites with the sea then is
it even so calm.
THOUGH P'hridon and Avt'handil are unrivalled in valour,
yet to engage with Tariel is to be desired of none; the sun
hides even the planets, nor do the Pleiads shine. Now give
heed, O listener; thou shalt hear of fierce fights.
THE three split up into three, one for each gate; with them
they had three hundred men all equal to heroes. That
night they hastily made a reconnaissance, not illusory. Day
dawned, they appeared, they set forth, they each had his
FIRST they went quietly in the guise of some travellers;
those inside could not perceive, they could not meet them
alertly, they had no fear in their hearts, quietly they stood
at ease. They approached; for the time being they covered
over their helmets.
SUDDENLY they spurred their horses, their whips
swished. When they saw, they opened the gates, a tumult
came forth from the city. The three set out in three different
directions, thus risking their lives. They played on fifes and
drums; they made the trumpets sound shrill.
THEN the measureless wrath of God struck Kadjet'hi.
Cronos,1 looking down in anger, removed the sweetness of
the sun; to them also in wrath turned round the wheel and
circle of heaven. The fields could not contain the corpses;
the army of the dead was increasing.
THE sound of Tariel's mighty voice made men unwounded
faint, he rent the armour, the strength of the chain-mail
was brought to nought; they attacked the gates on three
sides, they found no difficulty in cutting them down; when
they entered the city they began swiftly to destroy the
AVT'HANDIL and the lion P'hridon met inside, they
had wholly destroyed the enemy, whose blood flowed in
streams; they shouted and saw each other, they rejoiced
greatly; they said: "How goeth it with Tariel?" Their eyes
roved round seeking him.
NONE of them knew; they could hear nought of Tariel.
They wended to the castle gate, no care had they for the
foe; there they saw a bank of armour, shattered chips of
sword-blades, the ten thousand guards lifeless, like dust.
ALL the castle guard lay like sick men, every one wounded
from head to foot, their armour rent in pieces, the castle
gates open, the fragments of the gates flung aside. They
recognized Tariel's handiwork, they said: "This is his
THEY found the roads prepared, they entered and crept
up the passage; they saw: the moon was freed from the
serpent to meet the sun; he raised his helmet, his reedy hair
thrown back became him well, breast was glued to breast,
neck was riveted to neck.
THEY embraced each other, they kissed and shed tears;
they were like when Musht'har and Zual are united. When
the sun surrounds the rose it becomes fair and reflects the
rays. They that have hitherto seen griefs will henceforth
THEY kissed each other, they stood neck-welded; again
full oft they glued the roses of the opened lips. Now
Avt'handil and P'hridon came forth also, the three sworn
brothers were gathered together; they gave greeting to that
sun. they presented themselves as they were called on.
THE sun met them with lovely, laughing face, the proud
one kissed her helpers with gentle mien, she humbly gave
them thanks with dainty words; both together talked with
THEY greeted Tariel too, that tree like an aloe sapling,
they wished him joy of the victory, they asked news of one
another; it irked them not, they regretted not, for their
armour had not failed them; they themselves had quit
themselves as lions, those that fought against them had been
as hinds and goats.
OUT of the three hundred men, a hundred and sixty came
in with them; it grieves P'hridon for his troops, but on the
other hand he rejoiced; they sought out and suffered not
to live whatever adversaries were left. What treasures
they found, now how can their number be told!
THEY collected mules, camels, whatever they could find
that was swift, they loaded three thousand with pearls and
gems, every gem cut, jacinths and rubies; they placed that
sun in a palanquin, precautions are taken by them.
THEY appointed sixty men to guard the castle of
Kadjet'hi. They led away that sun—hard would it be to
ravish her from them-they set out for the City of the Seas,
though long is the way thither. They said: "We must see
P'hatman; we owe her a due recompense."
1 Cronos—Saturn (Greek).
The Going of Tariel to the King of the Seas
TO the presence of the King of the Seas he sent a messenger
of good tidings; he bade him announce: "I, Tariel, come,
vanquisher of foes, their destroyer and slayer; from
Kadjet'hi I bring my sun, piercer of me with lances; I
desire to see thee with honour, as father and parent.
"NOW I have the land of the Kadjis and their hoards. O
king, all that is good hath happened to me from you: my sun
was freed by P'hatman, she was a mother and a sister to
her. What can I give thee in return for this? I hate vain
"COME, see us before we have passed thy land. I present
to thee outright the kingdom of the Kadjis, accept it from
me; let thy men be posted there, hold castle strongly. I am
in haste, I cannot come to see thee, come thou forth, wend
"ON my behalf tell Usen, P'hatman's husband, to send her,
the sight of her will please her she freed; whom else can she
desire to see more than her who is brighter than the sun,
even as a crystal is brighter than pitch!"
WHEN Tariel’s man was received by the ruler of the
seas-it is the custom that the heart is agitated by startling
tidings-he gave thanks and glory to God the Just Judge.
Straightway he mounted; he needed no other messenger.
HE loaded baggage, he appointed the making of their
wedding, he takes a number of pretty things, a great
quantity of jet. He has P'hatman with him, they made a
journey of ten days: the sight of the lion and the sun, the
light of the lands, rejoices him.
AFAR off the three met the great King of the Seas,
they dismounted, he humbly kissed them, they were encompassed
by a host of troops; they rendered praise to Tariel, he gave
a thousand thanks, when they saw the damsel the King of
the Seas was fascinated by her crystal-halo rays.
SLOW fire consumed Dame P'hatman at the sight of her,
she embraced her, she covered with kisses her hand, foot,
face, neck; she said: "O God, I will serve Thee, since my
darkness is lightened for me; I recognize the shortness of
evil, Thy goodness is everlasting."
THE maiden embraced P'hatman; sweetly she speaks, not
angry; "God hath enlightened my rent, faded heart; now
am I as full as formerly I was waning; the sun hath shed
his beams upon me, therefore I appear a rose unfrozen."
THE King of the Seas celebrated there an exceeding great
wedding; he thanked Tariel too for Kadjet'hi; he would not
let them go for seven days; generously he dispensed gifts,.
the treasure he had loaded; they wore out by treading upon
it the scattered gold coin as if it were a bridge.
THERE stood a heap of silk, brocade and satin. He gave
to Tariel a crown, a price could not be set on it, of a whole
jacinth, yellow, exceeding pure, likewise a throne of gold,
HE presented to Nestan-Daredjan a mantle adorned with
gems, red jacinths, rubies of Badakhshan and rubies; they
both sat, the maid and the youth, with faces flashing
lightning; they that looked on them burned with new fire.
HE presented to Avt'handil and P'hridon measureless great
gifts, a valuable saddle, an excellent horse, to each a
jewelled coat shedding rare-hued rays; they said: "What
thanks can we utter! Prosperous be your state!"
TARIEL rendered thanks with his tongue in fair words:
"Greatly have I been pleased, O king; first at seeing you,
then you have filled us with many fair kinds of gifts; I wot
we did well not to pass by afar off from you."
THE King of the Seas says: "O king, lion, valorous, life
of those near you, slayer from afar of those that cannot look
on you, what can I give you like unto yourself, O fair to
look upon! When I am away from you what shall avail me,
O desirable to be gazed on !"
TARIEL said to P'hatman: "I adopt thee as my sister.
O sister, great is mine unpayable debt to thy heart! Now
whatever treasure of the Kadjis I have brought with me
from Kadjet'hi I give it to thee, take it, I sell it not."
DAME P'hatman made obeisance, she proffered exceeding
great thanks: "O king, thy sight burns me with
unquenchable fire. When I shall be away from thee what
shall I do! Thou wilt leave me like one bereft of sense. Ah,
blessed are those near thee; woe to him that cannot gaze on
THE three radiant ones spoke to the King of the Seas;
their teeth were crystals, their lips as pearl-shells. "When
we are deprived of you we desire not merrymakings, flutes,
harps and kettledrums. But give us leave, it is time, let us
depart, we are in haste.
"BE our father, parent and hope! But this indeed we
beseech of thee: grant us a ship!" The king said: "T grudge
not to give myself to earth for yon; since thou art in haste,
what can I say to thee! Go! Thine arm be thy guide!"
THE king fitted out a ship on the shore. Tariel set out;
those who were parted shed tears, they beat their heads,
they tore their hair and beards and cast them away.
P'hatman's tears in their flow even augmented the sea.
THE three sworn brothers crossed the seas together,
again they confirmed by their word what they formerly
affirmed; singing and laughter were beseeming to them,
who were not ignorant thereof; the ray from their lips shone
upon the planks of crystal.
THENCE they sent a man to Asmat'h as a messenger of
good tidings; also to P'hridon's chief to tell them of the
fight: "He comes hither, as the sun he rises high, reinforcing
the planets; we erstwhile frozen shall be frozen now no
THEY seated that sun in a palanquin; they wended their
way along the coast. They sported like children; the passing
away of woe gladdened them. They came where was the
land of the hero Nuradin, they were met, they heard the
sound of frequent song.
THERE all P'hridon's lords met them. Asmat'h, full of
joy, whose wounds no longer appeared, was riveted to
Nestan-Daredjan so that axes could not unloose them.
Now she had ended all her faithful services.
NESTAN-DAREDJAN embraces her, kisses her face with
her mouth. She said: "Mine own, woe is me, I have filled
thee too with grief. Now God hath granted us grace, I
acknowledge His boundless bounty. I know not with what
I can repay so great a heart as thine!"
ASMAT'H said : "Thanks be to God, I have seen the roses
unfrozen. At length understanding hath thus revealed things
hidden. Death itself seems to me life when I see you happy.
Better than all friends are suzerain and vassal? that love one another!"
THE lords did homage, they rendered great praise: "Since
God hath caused us to rejoice, blessed is His divinity; He
hat shown us your face, no longer doth the burning of fires
consume us; even He that gave the wound. He hath the
power to heal it."
THEY came and put their mouths on their hands; thus
they kissed them. The king Tariel said: "For our sake have
your brethren sacrificed themselves. They have found joy in
eternity, a reality and no dream. They have attained
communion with the One; their glories are increased a
"THOUGH their death is sore to me and grievous, yet the
great immortal gift hath there fallen to their lot." This he
spake, gently he wept, and the rain of tears was mingled
with the snow. Boreas blows from the narcissi; January
freezes the rose.
THERE all wept when they saw him in tears; whoever had
lost any kinsman moaned, weeping and sobbing. All were
hushed. Then they said respectfully to Tariel: "Since sages
liken thee to the sun, it befits them that look upon you to
be merry; wherefore should they lament!
"WHO is worthy of your so great weeping and sorrow ?
Death for your sake is far better than walking upon the
earth!" Then P'hridon said to the king: "Make not
bitterness to thyself from aught. May God in return render
to thee a thousand joys!"
AVTHANDIL also sympathized; he speaks with great
sorrow. They rendered praise, and said: "Let us now yield
ourselves to smiling; since the lost lion has found the
vanished sun, no more will we weep what is deplorable, no
longer will we set canals in our eyes."
THITHER they went where is the great city Mulghazanzar.
They played trumpet and kettledrum, there was trampling
and uproar; the sound of drum and copper drum blended
fairly; the burgesses crowded round, they left the bazaar.
THE merchants came from their rows, on all sides there is
a host of onlookers; the officers kept a wide space round
them, they had arms in their hands; families came crowding
in, causing trouble to the officers; their entreaty is to be
allowed there to look upon them.
AT P'hridon's they alighted, they saw a pleasing palace,
many slaves with golden girdles met them, they have
nought but gold brocade as a carpet for their feet; they
threw up gold above their heads, the crowd marching there
picked it up in heaps.
The Wedding of Tariel and Nestan by P'hridon
THEY placed for the maid and the youth a throne white
and coral-hued, prettily sprinkled with red and yellow gems:
for Avt'handil one of mingled yellow and black; they came,
they sat down. The spectators, I ween, were impatient for
THE minstrels came forth; the sound of sweet singing was
heard. They made the wedding; the presentation of soft silk
stuffs was multiplied by P'hridon, the good entertainer, not
an abashed host. A smile, a tooth-glimpse, beautifies
THEY brought out incomparable gifts from the wealthy
P'hridon: nine pearls in size like a goose's egg; also one
gem like to the sun with augmented ray: before it at night
a painter could have painted a picture.
LIKEWISE he presented to each a necklace to throw over
the neck, of gems cut into spheres, of whole jacinths. He
also brought a tray scarcely to be held in the hand. a gift
for the lion Avt'handil from the generous P'hridon.
THAT tray is full of plump pearls; he gave all to
Avt'handil, with not unseemly words. The house was filled
with brocade and soft cloth of gold; Tariel the proud gave
thanks with sweet words.
FOR eight days P'hridon made measureless wedding
festivities, every day they offer priceless presents prepared;
Day and night castanets and harp cease not to sound.
Behold a youth and a maiden worthy each of the other have
attained each other.
TARIEL one day spake to P'hridon words of the heart:
"Your heart is more mine than that of a born brother; my
life would not be a fitting return, nor the gift of my soul;
dying I found from you the balm for my wound.
"THOU knowest of Avt'handil's self-sacrifice for my sake;
now I would serve him in return; go, ask will reveal
what he wants; as he hath quenched my furnace, even so
hath his burned enough.
"SAY to him : 'O brother, what will repay thee for the
grief thou hast seen for my sake ? God will grant thee His
grace imaged forth from on high. If I cannot do something
desirable for thee, contrived for thy sake, I will not see my
house, nor hall, nor hut.
"NOW tell me what thou wishest of me, or in what I can
help thee. I choose that we go to Arabia; be thou my guide.
Our swords and sweet words will arrange our business. If
thou be not united to thy wife I will be not husband to
WHEN P'hridon told Avt'handil Tariel's message, he
laughed, he smiled, mirth beautified him. He said: "Why
want I a helper ? 1 am not hurt by a wound from any. The
Kadjis possess not my sun, nor doth lack of joy afflict her.
"My sun sits upon a throne, powerful by the will of God,
respected and honoured, proud, harmed by none, she is by
no means oppressed by Kadjis, nor by the sorcery of wizards.
Why should I want help with regard to her ? Expect me
not to speak flattering words.
"WHEN Providence shall come for me, heavenly being
from above, if God wills, shall visit my heart, consolations
for the furnace; then indeed the radiances of the flashing of
the sun will be my lot when I am dying; till that time be
come, vain are my runnings to and fro.
"GO and report to Tariel the answer spoken by me: 'What
thanks are needed, O king, however great is thy compassion;
even from my mother's womb am I born to be your servant,
and, by God, let me be but earth till thou be recognized
"THOU hast said: "I desire thy union to thy beloved'"
This is like your compassionate heart. There my sword cuts
not, nor breadth of tongue. It is etter for me to await the
deed of yon celestial Providence.
"THIS is my wish and my desire, that I may see thee
powerful in India, enthroned upon the thrones, the heavenly
planet, too, sitting by thy side, the face flashing lightning;
that your foes be exterminated, that no adversary appear
'"WHEN these the desires of my heart have been fulfilled
to me, then indeed shall I go to Arabia, it will befall me to
be near that sun; when she wills she shall quench the
burnings of this fire for me. Nought else do I wish from you,
I hate all kinds of flattery.'"
WHEN P'hridon reported to Tariel these words of the
knight, he said: "That will I not do; for that it needs no
wizard. As he found the cause of the existence of my life,
even so he too shall see the valour of a brother in his favour.
"GO, speak on my behalf words not of adulation; 'I will
not remain without seeing thy foster-father. I suspect I slew
many servants beloved by him. 1 will only beg forgiveness,
and so I shall return.'
"SPEAK thus: 'send me no more messages. Tomorrow I
Shall not fail to set out; I shall have no more of the word
"if"; the King of the Arabs will not make my words to be
of no avail: pleasantly shall I beg his daughter, I shall
entreat of him, I shall persuade him.'"
P'HRIDON told Avt'handil Tariel's message: "Hi will not
stay." quoth hi; "vain is it for thee to speak of waiting !"
It oppressed him: again the smoke and glow burned his
heart. Thus respect is due to kings, devotion from knights.
AVT'HANDIL went to beseech Tariel on bended knee; he
embraces his feet, he kisses them, he no longer looks up to
his waist. He says: "What I have sinned against Rostevan
this year is enough; make me not again to be a breaker,
a shatterer of loyalty.
"WHAT thou desirest God's justice will not give thee. How
can I dare do a treacherous deed to my foster-father, how
can I undertake aught against him who for my sake is
become pale, how can the servant use his sword upon his
"SUCH a deed will make discord between me and my
beloved. Woe is me if she become angry, displeased, if
wrath compel her heart! Then will she even stint me of
tidings, and make me languish for a sight of her. No man of
flesh can exact forgiveness for me."
TARIEL, that radiant sun, spake laughing. He took
Avt'handil's hand, raised him, set him on his feet: "Thy
help hath done me every good, but it is better that thou
also shouldst rejoice my joy with thine.
"I GREATLY hate too much fear, respect and ceremony
in a friend, I hate unbroken sternness, gloominess, majesty;
if one be a hearty friend let him tend towards me; if not,
I for myself, he for himself, separation is much better.
"I KNOW the heart of thy beloved with regard to thee:
the visit of me who have met thee will not displease her. Now I can venture to speak somewhat plausibly to the king: I only desire to see the desirable sight of them.
"THIS only will I say to him entreatingly and respectfully:
that he should give thee his daughter of his free will. Since
the end is union, how can you endure separation ? Beautify
each other; fade not apart."
WHEN Avt'handil knew from Tariel that he would not be
hindered from going, he ventured not to dispute, he added
thereto assent, P'hridon counted over select men as a
convoy; he set out with them, of course he travelled the
road with them.
Tariel Goes Again to the Cave and Sees the Treasure
THIS hidden thing Divons1 the sage reveals: "God sends
good. He creates no evil. He shortens the bad to a moment,
He renews the good for a long time, and His perfect self He
makes more perfect. He degrades not Himself."
THOSE lions, those suns, set out from P'hridon's country.
They lead with them the sun-faced, the maiden, the amazing
to beholders; the raven's tail, ordered, hangs coiled by the
crystal; beauty, tenderness, there adorned the ruby of
THAT sun sat in a palanquin, and thus they made her fare.
They followed the chase; there caused they blood to flow.
Wherever they came upon a land they were the joy of
beholders, they went forth to meet them, gave gifts,
eulogized, reviled them not.
IT was as if the sun sat in the firmament amid moons.
Many days they journeyed, merry, sagely discoursing,
within those great plains on all sides unattained of men.
They reached the neighbourhood of that rock where Tariel
TARIEL said: "It is seemly that I should be your host this
day. Thither will I go where I was while madness afflicted
me. There will Asmat'h entertain us; she hath store of
smoked meat. When I give you fair gifts you shall praise
the variety of the treasure."
THEY went in; they dismounted in that cave of the great
rocks. Asmat'h had venison; she carves it for the guests.
They were merry, they joked at the passing of those deeds:
they thanked God that He had turned their days of woe to
THEY explored the hill abounding in caves, merry they
played; they found those treasures sealed up by Tariel,
uncounted by any, apprehended by none; they say not with
dissatisfied hearts: "We lack!"
HE gave many fair gifts, to each what was fitting; then he
enriched P'hridon's people, army and generals alike; every
man was enriched, all those who came with them, but there
lay so much treasure it seemed still untouched by man.
HE said to P'hridon: "Hard will it be for me to pay the
debt I owe thee; but it is said: 'A man who is a doer of good
loseth not in the end.' Now the treasure, as much as lieth
here or is to be found, let it all be thine, take it away, as it
belongs to thee."
P'HRIDON humbly did homage, he expressed exceeding
gratitude: "O king, why thinkest thou me stupid and thus
mazed ? Every enemy seems to thee as straw, however much
he may be like a thick cudgel. My joy lasts but so long as
I shall be a gazer on thee."
P'HRIDON made men go back to bring camels to take
away all this treasure to his home. Now they set out thence
on the road leading to Arabia. Avt'handil is a minished
moon by longing to be united with the sun.
WHEN many days were passed they reached the boundaries
of Arabia; they saw villages, castles, frequent,
uninterrupted; those dwelling therein had clothed their
forms in blue and green, all are bathed in tears for
TARIEL sent a man to the presence of King Rostevan to
say: "I venture, 0 king, to wish you the fulfilment of your
desires; I, King of the Indians, come to your royal court;
I will show thee the rosebud, unfaded, unplucked.
"FORMERLY the sight ofme-the ground under your
feet-made you angry: thou didst ill in attempting to capture
me, to urge thy horse against me; I showed thine armies
some sign of anger, I massacred many slaves,
servants of your palace.
"NOW therefore I come before you, I have gone out of my
way; you will pardon me that in which I sinned against
thee, let thy wrath be sufficient. We have no offerings, as
P'hridon and his knights can testify; the only gift I have
brought you is your Avt'handil."
TONGUE cannot shortly te11 how they rejoiced when the messenger of these good tidings come to the king; the brilliancy of three rays was added to T'hinat'hin's checks, the shadow of eyebrows and lashes makes fairer the crystal and ruby.
THEY beat the kettledrums and peals of joyous laughter
were heard, the soldiers ran hither and thither, they
desired to run to meet them, they began to lead out the
horses and to bring out saddles, a multitude of knights,
swift-armed, stout-hearted, mounted.
THE king mounted, the princes and the armies entire go
to meet them; whoever hears, others from diverse parts
come to his presence; all give thanks to God, they raise their
voices, they say: "Evil hath no existence; good things are
ever ready for thee!"
WHEN they met and the meeters perceived each other,
Avt'handil said with tender words to Tariel: "Behold,
seest thou the dust-dyed plains ? Therefore a furnace
consumes me, my heart is fevered and sad.
"THERE is my foster-father; he is come to meet you.
I cannot go thither, I am ashamed, a furnace consumes my heart; living man hath never been shamed as I am. What you intend to do for me you know, also P'hridon who is beside you."
TARIEL said ; "Thou dost well to show respect to thy lord.
Now stay, come not thither, stay alone without me. I will
go; I will tell the king of thy hiding. With God's help I
think I shall soon unite thee to that sun with the form of an
THE lion Avt'handil tarried there; a little tent was put up.
Nestan-Daredjan also stayed there, the amazer of beholders;
the zephyr of her eyelashes is wafted like a north-east wind.
The King of the Indians departed, straight, not secretly.
P'HRIDON went with him; of a truth they were a long
time crossing the field. Tariel went forward alone, his
figure swayed. The king knew of their coming; he
dismounted and did homage to the bold one strong as a
lion; he does honour to the King of the Indians as a father.
TARIEL also did homage; he goes to kiss, to greet. The
king kissed his neck to give pleasure to his lips; in wonder
he speaks, in order to embolden him; "Thou art the sun;
separation from thee turns day into night."
THE king marvelled at his beauty and good looks, he gazes
with wonder on his face, he praises the hardihood of his
arms. Then P'hridon also greeted him; he did homage to
the king, to the king eager for the sight of Avt'handil.
THE king shrinks from praising Tariel, and is discouraged.
Tariel says; "O king, hereby is my heart subjected to thee;
I marvel how you can think thus of my worth; since
Avt'handil is thine, how can any other please thee!
"DOST thou not wonder at not seeing him, and at his
tarrying! Come and let us sit down, 0 king, pleasant is this
meadow of verdure; I will venture to tell you the reason
why I could not bring him before you; I have a favour to
ask of you, now I must beg leave of you."
THE kings sat down; the multitude of the host stood
round. A smile brighter than a lamp flits over Tariel’s face;
the sight maddens the beholders of his bearing and gestures.
He began to relate to the king a speech wisely chosen:
"0 KING, 1 hold myself unworthy to mention this, but I
am come before you to entreat, to beg; he himself beseeches
who seems a sun-like shedder of rays, he who is my light and
"NOW we both venture to approach thee with prayer and
entreaty. Avt'handil gave me balm befitting him; he forgot
that woes quite equal to ours afflicted him. I will not weary
thee; a long story is beyond our powers.
"YOUR children love each other, the maid loves him and
he the maid; therefore I think on him pitiful, tearful and
wan, on bended knee I entreat thee, let them no longer be
consumed by flame, but give your daughter to the
strong-armed, stout-hearted one.
"NO more than this will I ask of thee, neither short nor
long." He drew forth his handkerchief, tied it round his
neck, rose up, bent his knee, besought him as a teacher.
It astonished all men who heard this story.
WHEN he saw Tariel on his bended knees, the king was
dismayed; he went back a long way, he did homage, he fell
down to the earth. He said: "0 monarch, all my joy is
blown away from me; this abasement of you thus has
saddened for me the sight of you.
"HOW could it be that man should not grant thee whatever
thou desirest, or that I should grudge my daughter if thou
didst wish to devote her to death or slavery even! If you
had ordered it from your home, not even then would my
tears flow; none other can she find like him if she fly up
even to heaven!
"I COULD not find a better son-in-law than Avt'handil.
Myself I have given the realm to my daughter, she has it
and it befits her; the rose blooms anew, my flower is blown.
What objection can I make? Only let him be satisfied!
"IF thou wert to marry her to some slave, even then I
would not grudge her to thee. Who could refuse thee, how
could any save a madman quarrel with thee! If I loved not
Avt'handil, why did I thus yearn for him? Verily, 0 God,
I am in Thy presence, this is confirmed by me."
WHEN Tariel heard this speech from the king, he bowed
himself, humbly did homage, fell on his face. Then the king
did homage to him, he came forward, he stood before him.
They thanked each other, nor were they at all annoyed.
P'HRIDON mounted, he galloped as herald of good tidings
to Avt'handil-indeed, he also rejoiced at this great joy-he
went and took him, led him and accompanied him; but he
is abashed before the king, darkly he shed his beam.
THE king arose, met him; the knight dismounted when the
king came; in his hands he had a handkerchief, therewith
he hid his face. The sun was concealed by a cloud, it grew
gloomy, the rose was chilled; but how could anything hide
THE king would have kissed him, tears no longer flow,
Avt'handil embraced his feet, the ray streams down; the
king said: "Arise, be not ashamed, thou hast revealed thy
prowess; since thou art loyal to me, be not ashamed; why
shouldst thou be ashamed before me ?"
HE embraced him, he kissed him all over his face; he said:
"Thou hast quenched my hot fire, though tardily hast thou
appeared to me as water; to her who has herded in the jet
and the vicinity of the eyelashes lo-morrow I shall unite
thee, O lion, with the sun, come quickly to her."
THE king embraced the neck of that lion and hero-like one,
he seats him close, he speaks to him, kisses him, gazes on his
face. That sun so met royalty, as he was worthy of it. Then
is joy pleasant, when a man hath passed through grief.
THE knight says to the king: "I marvel that thou speakest
of something else, why thou desirest not to see the sun, or
why thou delayest! Meet her gaily, conduct her to your
house; be clothed in her rays, set them around as a light."
HE told Tariel also; they mounted and went to meet the
lady. The cheeks of those three Goliaths were dyed to sun
colour; they met what they desired, they found what they
sought; they had handled their swords, not girded them
idly on their loins.
DISMOUNTING afar off, the king greeted the lady, the
lightning flashing from her cheeks blinded his eyes; she met
him, sitting in the palanquin she kissed him. The king began
a eulogy; he was wholly bereft of his wits.
HE said: "0 sun, how shall I praise thee, O light, and
maker of good weather! For thy sake understandings are
mad, and not for nought. O sun-like and moon-like, to what
planet do they liken thee! No longer do I wish to look on
you, O ye roses and violets!"
ALL they that saw her marvelled at the shedding of her
rays. Like a sun she blinded the eyes of the onlookers by
the sight of her light; wheresoever she appeared crowds
came running towards her; burned by her they found the
comfort of their hearts in gazing.
THEY mounted, they all went homewards, they have the
seven planets to compare with that sun; her beauty is
incomprehensible, it is beyond their understanding. Soon
they came to the place of the king's dwelling-house.
. THEY came in, they saw T'hinat'hin, the bestower of woe
on them that look on her; the wearing of the purple
beautified the sceptre and crown-bearer; the radiance of her
face rested on the faces of the new-comers. The King of the
Indians entered, that hero-like sun.
. TARIEL and his wife humbly saluted the maid, they met,
kissed and held pleasant converse, they illumined that hall,
they made not the light to fade; they turned crystal and
ruby of Badakhshan into cheeks, jet into eyelashes.
THINAT’HIN invited them up to the lofty royal throne.
Tariel said: "Sit thou; it is desired by the Supreme Judge;
this day more than all days thy throne benefits thee, I seat
the lion of lions beside thee, the sun of suns."
BOTH took him by the hand and set him on her throne;
they placed Avt'handil by the side of her for desire of whom
he was slain; she is better than the seen and the unseen,
better than all sights. Think not any were like them in love,
not even Ramin and Vis.
THE maiden was bashful and astonished to have
Avt'handil seated by her side; her colour paled and her
heart shot forth a tremor from within. The king said:
"Child, why art thou so bashful before me ? The sages say
that love in its end will not fail.
"NOW, children, God grant you a thousand years' length
of life, happiness, prosperity, glory, and, moreover, freedom
from ills; may heaven not make you fickle, may it fall to
your lot to be steadfast like it, may my fate to be have the
earth heaped over me by your hands."
THEN the king commanded the armies to do homage to
Avt'handil: "This is your king," quoth he, "such was God's
will. This day he hath my throne, I have old age like an
infection. Serve him as well as you have served me, keep my
THE soldiers and the lords bent, humbly they did homage;
they said: "Let us be as the earth to them that dispose of
our lives, them who magnify those of us who are obedient,
who liken the disobedient unto corpses, who make the arms
of foes to fail and encourage our hearts!"
TARIEL too spoke with a eulogy the glorification of hope;
he said to the maiden: "You are united, no longer the heat
of fires burns thee, thy husband is my brother, I desire too
that you be my sister, I will bring to nought those who are
false and opposed to thee."
1 Dionysius, the Areopagite.
Here Is the Marriage of Avt'handil
and T’hinat’hin by the King of the Arabs
THAT day Avt'handil sits as lord and is high king;
tendernesses beautify Tariel who sits with him. Nestan-
Daredjan, the amazer of onlookers, is with T'hinat'hin; it is
as if heaven had bent down to earth, and two suns are
THEY began to bring bread to plenish the armies; beeves
and sheep arc slain more abundant than moss. There was
made an offering of presents, fitting to them. The ray of the
faces of them all lightens like the sun.
THE bowls were of jacinth, the cups were of ruby;
moreover, wondrously coloured vessels bear passing
wondrous seals. The panegyrist of that wedding would be
praised by the sages. O inlooker, thou wouldst have said
unto thy heart: "Be not loosed, be bound there!"
THE minstrels approached from all sides, there was heard
the sound of the cymbal; heaped like a hillock of gold and
cut rubies of Badakhshan; for drinkers flows a fountain of
wine from a hundred runlets, like a canal; from twilight to
dawn, there was noise, the time of mourning passed.
NONE remained without a gift, neither lame nor crippled;
pearls rolled to and fro, scattered, thrown about; satin and
solid gold were of none account, to be carried away. For
three days the King of the Indies was as a groomsman to
ON the morrow the King of the Arabs again entertains; he
is not listless. He said to Tariel: "Pleasant it is to gaze on
thy sun! Thou art king of all kings, and she queen. It
behoves us to be your slaves, to pierce our ears for earrings.
"NOW, O king, it is not fitting that we should sit on a level
with you!" The royal throne Rostevan placed for Tariel,
and another couch apart; he placed Avt'handil and his wife
gifts for Tariel; they lie in a heap.
THE King of the Arabs plays the host, he does nothing but
entertain; sometimes he approaches these, sometimes those,
he stands not upon his royal dignity; he gives, and all
praise his ungrudging generosity. P'hridon sits near
Avt'handil, as one accustomed to kingship.
THE King Rostevan did honour to the daughter of the
Indies and her husband, he gave them love and gifts, as to
a son and daughter-in-law; it is impossible to tell even a
tenth of what he gave, to each a sceptre, purple and jewelled
STILL he gave to both gifts fitting their fate; a thousand
gems like the eggs of a Romany hen; then a thousand pearls
like a dove's egg; a thousand steeds, in size each like a hill.
TO P'hridon he gave nine trays full to the brim with pearls,
nine steeds richly saddled. The King of the Indians does
homage with dignity, wise, not drunkenly; he gave thanks
soberly though he had drunk of the wine.
WHY should I lengthen speech? The days of one month
passed. They sported, they ceased not at all from drinking.
To Tariel they presented wondrous jewels of ruby stone
Their radiance like the sun's covers them all.
TARIEL was like a rose, and a light snow shower fell from
his eyes; he sent Avt'handil to Rostevan to ask for leave;
he gave him this message: "To be near thee is enough for
me as full joy, but enemies hold my kingdom, I know they
are eating up the land.
"THE knowledge and art of the learned destroy the
unlearned. I think any hurt to me would bring somewhat of
sadness unto you too. I go that tarrying here may not bring
evil upon me, soon again may I see you happy, may God's
will grant it!"
ROSTEVAN said: "0 king, why art thou so bashful?
Whatever is best for you do it, look into it, examine it.
Avt'handil will accompany thee, go with a great host; rend
in pieces and cut up your enemies and them that are
AVT'HANDIL said to Tariel those two words that
Rostevan had said. Tariel said: "Speak not thus; guard the
rows of crystal. How canst thou, O sun, depart from the
newly united moon!" Avt'handil said: "I shall not be
seduced by thee with this.
"OF a truth thou wishest not to forsake me while thou
goest away slandering me, saying: 'He loveth his wife,
forsooth; he hath forsaken me, 'twas like him!' Am I to
remain sundered from thee and an object of pity to myself!
For a man to forsake his friend!. . . Ugh! Ugh! he will do
TARIEL'S smile is like the sprinkling of crystal from
roses. He said: "Absent from thee I bewail myself more than
thou. Since thou wishest it, come away with me, accuse me
not of flattery." Avt'handil commands troops to be
summoned to him from all sides.
HE assembled the armies of Arabia, no time is wasted;
eighty thousand men were all arrayed, man and horse
clad in armour of Khvarazmia. The King of the Arabs eats
the gall of bitterness at their separation.
PARTING each from other, both maidens, the adopted
sisters, sworn with the oath of sisterhood, trusting in each
other's word, with breast welded to breast, with neck
riveted to neck, wept. The onlookers, too, had their hearts
WHEN the moon is on a level with the star of dawn, both
shine equally; should one go away, the other also is
removed; if it go not away, the sky will make it remove; to
look at them the inlooker must become a hill and a
HE who created them such. He Himself shall sunder them,
though of their own will they desire not parting. They glue
together and cleave the rose, they weep and tears flow; all
those who parted from them thought their lives of no
NESTAN-DA REDJAN said : "Would that 1 had never come
to know thee! Separated from the sun I should not now be
thus melted by parting. Thou shalt know tidings of me; let
me have news of thee, speak to me in letters. As I am
burned up for thy sake, thou shalt melt for mine."
T'HINAT'HIN said: "O sun, delight of them that gaze on
thee! How can I give thee up, or how can I endure parting
Instead of praying for days from God, I shall desire death.
Mayst thou have as many days as I shall shed tears!"
AGAIN they kissed each other, those ladies parted; she
who was left there could not take her eyes away from her
who was gone; she too looks back, therefore flames
consumed her. I cannot write down a tenth part of that
I could wish!
ROSTEVAN at their departure was made more mad than
madmen; a thousand times he says, "Woe is me!" not
merely once doth he sigh; hot flows the spring of tears, as if
a cauldron were being heated. Tariel’s face is drawn, the
soft snow falls gently, it wastes away.
THE king crushed Tariel’s rose with embracing and
kissing. Quoth he: "Your presence hitherto seems like a
dream to me; when thou art gone afar from me I shall
remain with my sufferings twentyfold increased. Life
was given to us by thee; by thee also shall we be slain."
TARIEL mounted and parting from the king gave him a
farewell greeting; all the soldiers shed tears moistening the
meadows, they said: "The sun hastes to greet thee, haste
thou too to meet him." He said: "For your sake I weep
more than Sala."1
THEY set out and departed with many troops and much
baggage—Tariel, P'hridon, Avt'handil, all elegant in form;
he had eighty thousand men with worthy steeds; the three
went on, helpful one to another.
THE three went their way—God can never create their like
again! They were met; none dared withstand them. In the
plain they tarried for dinner when morning was past. As
was fitting they feasted; they drank wine, not buttermilk.
Tariel Hears About the Death of the King of India
ON the summit of the mountain, a great caravan appeared,
men and mules were all in black; the tresses of their hair
were woven round their heads. The king commandcth:
"Bring them here, we must tarry yet a while."
THEY brought those merchants and their chief. The king
asked: "Who are you, why are your bodies robed in black?"
The men answered: "Such is the custom in the countries
from which we come. We came to India from Egypt and
have travelled a long way."
TARIEL, P'hridon and Avt'handil rejoiced to hear that
those merchants had come from India; they feigned
indifference and abandoned themselves not to their
feelings. Tariel began to speak to them in a foreign language,
they did not understand Indian and they also answered in
THEY said: "Give us, O merchants, some tidings from
India." Those answered: "The wrath of God has fallen on
India from on high. and great and small shed tears which
fall from their eyes drop by drop; the sages living among
them have lost their minds."
THE chief of the merchants spake to them in words of
great eloquence: "P'harsadan, King of India, was a happy
king. He had a daughter, a star, more sun than the sun.
Her teeth were pearls, her form the aloe-tree, her cheeks
were rubies from Badakhshan, her hair was raven black.
"DEARLY did that maid and the Amirbar love one
another. The Amirbar killed the bridegroom, news of it
spread rapidly. A tempest raged devastating all of India.
From her childhood this maiden had been reared by her
"HER aunt was a Kadj, most cunning in matters of sorcery.
Thus she undertook a most fearful task, depriving the earth
of sun. And she, unfortunate one, died being unworthy of
life. The maiden disappeared, she planted elsewhere the
shoot of the aloe-tree.
"HAVING learned this, the Amirbar, the lion, set forth
in quest of the sun. He disappeared, the sun was dimmed in
India, the moon was tarnished; both are lost, there is no
hope of finding them. The king said: ''O God, why dost them
burn me on a slow fire!'
"THE king was wrathful, to find them was beyond his
power; the sound of the cymbals and harps gave place to
woe. A brief time more he endured the burning of the
furnace. Now he too is dead, the processions and the sound
of footsteps have come to an end."
HAVING conveyed these tidings the merchant continued to
speak. The woman cried out violently, and tore the veil
from her head. Tariel too cried out, disclosing what had
been hidden. A torrent flowed from the narcissi, the snow
KILL me, if the sun could disobey the bare-headed woman!
Her fragrance is like unto the perfume of the rose, she, the
bare-headed one, is like a poppy. If even the sage praiseth
her, they will tell him: "Stop!" as to a donkey. Her teeth
are like twin-pearls set in a crystal shell.
BITTERLY the woman laments her father's death, she is
like a nightingale. She tears her hair which streams about
her, her eyes are filled with tears; the rose become saffron,
the ruby is like moss. A cloud covers the sun, dimming its
SHE scratches her face, she tears her hair, she weeps and
wails in a clamorous voice. Blood and tears flow in torrents
from her eyes. "O father, let me die for thy sake! I, thy
unworthy child, I have done nought for thee, in nothing
have I pleased you.
"MY father, who is no more, was the light of my eyes. Who
will bring thee mv tidings, consoling thy heart therewith!
O sun, of what use is thy light, why dost thou shine of the
world! O world, why dost not perish! O mountain, why
yearn to rise aloft!"
TARIEL lament? weeping: "O master, what is this I hear!
I marvel that the gun still shines, that it manifests no grief!
You are dead, sun of everything living, the world is no
longer yours. For God's sake be merciful, forgive me the
grief I have brought upon you!"
ONCE again they spake: "Tell us the rest of this tale!"
The merchants answered: "O protector, a great battle is
being fought in India. The troops of the Khatavians came,
they surrounded the town, a certain King Ramaz is their
"ALTHOUGH the queen is still alive, she is more dead
than the dead. The Indian troops are fighting, yet have they
already abandoned all hope. All the fortresses on the
boundaries are taken and destroyed. O sun, shed your rays,
see how unclement is the weather.
"ALL those living there and we amongst them made
ourselves black robes. We presented ourselves to Ramaz and
made ourselves known as Egyptians; our king is great, and
therefore Ramaz wished to maintain peace with him. He
released us, we set forth, he caused us no harm."
HAVING heard this Tariel set forth in haste; in one day
he traversed a three days' journey; he raised his banner,
nor did he shield himself. Now look how staunch is his
The Arrival of Tariel in India and His
Conquest of the Khatavians
TARIEL arrived in India; hills were there and the crest of
a great mountain; countless troops appeared, he marvelled
at their number. Tariel said: "O knights, what hope do you
give me! I swear by God and by your happiness that I shall
soon be free of them.
"THESE troops have already felt the edge of my sword:
once they engaged in battle with me, I pierced their armour,
I crushed them utterly." Avt'handil said: "Why speak
words of violence ? We shall make dust of them and trample
them under our feet."
PROUDLY they made ready for battle, acting most
dexterously; they mounted their best steeds and gave rein
to them; they urged the steeds to outdistance one another.
Those who looked on them praised. They galloped down
the slope over the crest of the mountain, flinging up columns of
THE front ranks of the warriors came upon the guard of
the Khatavians. Tariel’s warriors put them to flight, they
pursued them, they threw them from their horses and
brought them to Tariel and Avt'handil. Those cried:
"Whose men are ye?"
THEY answered: "O, lord, we have been deceived, we were
sent here as guards, we are warriors of King Ramaz."
Tariel commanded: "Go, ye wrathful fools, go, inform your
master: "They come, those brave of heart.'
"SAY: 'It is the order of Tariel, the proud and mighty king,
the courageous lord who strikes fear into his enemies: thine
own guards will bring thee tidings of me, fear will not save
thee from death, grief is of no avail.
"'WHO but a madman would think of intimidating the
great! How didst thou dare to make an assault on India,
thou maddest of the mad! I have come- the fire that shall
utterly consume thee. I shall blunt my sharpened steel on
THE guards went, each trying to outdistance the other.
They related everything to Ramaz, they could hold back
nothing: "The king of India has come, he commands
excellent warriors; who can hide himself from them ? One of
them alone is worth two of any other."
TARIEL raised his banner and the flag of his country. The
banner of the Arabian king was also raised: all know that
the lance is the weapon of the Arabs. P'hridon, the sun, is
there too, the knight who spilled a pool of blood.
THEY went a little farther, five hundred horsemen
appeared. The Arabian knights who were there wished to
engage in battle. Tariel said to them: "Do not thus". He
made them to sue for forgiveness. The horsemen came up,
Ramaz appeared, he had no armour, nor had he even a
HE embraced the legs of Tariel’s horse; sinking to his
knees he began to entreat Tariel. He said to him: "Pity me
for the sake of Him who created thee; do not let me live, let
them carry me away dead. Fate has so smitten my heart
that it must belong to you.
"TEN years have passed since you departed, since you
disappeared. The birds are without a master, the eagle has
broken its wings; that is why I have undertaken this affair
over which we are contending. Long since has the world
been lost to me as one loses at a game of dice."
THEY all swore by the Almighty, fell on their knees
before him: "For the sake of Him who created thee thus, do
not kill." Tariel became pensive, Ramaz fell on his face
before him. God giveth joy to repentant sinners, what man
then can but forgive ?
STUDYING the writings of the sages, I found the
following: The greatest courage for a man is not to kill his
conquered enemy, but to stop in time—if you want to be
truly brave, remember these words.
THEREAT Tariel's heart softened, he was righteous, like
unto God. He said: "I shall kill no more; if the conquered
is seized with fear. he will twist aright what was wrongly
twisted. Now I have set right all that was wrong."
THEY all made obeisance to him and blessed him, they
implored God to make greater their joy. They were saved
from death, having received life from Tariel. Tariel's
sword is unappeased, it hungers for the flesh of the warriors.
MUSHT’HAR appeared in order to see Tariel. With his
gentleness Tariel calmed the fire of his wrath. They came
to gaze at him; the troops of Ramaz could scarce find place.
In India a light like unto a column descended from the
A MAN came to these troops as a messenger: "He will not
kill you, he has mercy on you." All blessed him. They
sounded the bell and joyously they said: "He has come, that
knight who single-handed has killed so many."
THEY went forth to meet Tariel, they greeted him from
afar. The Indians recognized their banner among the troops
who raised their flag aloft, but they did not dare to trust
them. They said: "They are plotting some treacherous
deed." They expected not Tariel, they bathed in tears.
TARIEL drew closer and cried: "It is I your king! My star
is high, her eyes flashing lightning. From on high the
Almighty has given the wings of an eagle—come forth, I
cannot endure to have you so far."
ONLY then did they recognize Tariel, they began to run
up from all sides. The terraced roofs and great walls
beamed with light. They conversed in loud voices, crying:
"Our ailment has left us, now the Almighty, hitherto
wrathful, has shown us His mercy!"
THEY opened the door, they brought the keys: all those
who came to look upon them were dressed in mourning.
The woman and the knight both wept, the roses of the
garden were moistened; they screamed, they beat their heads, their raven hair fell on the crystal.
. THE pupil, as was fitting, lost his senses for his master, the
tears that fell from his eyes were more burning than fire;
he beat his head, screamed, wept with fearful grief. He
raked the thicket of jet with a crystal rake.
WHEN he saw the viziers of the court apparelled in
mourning, once again Tariel uttered a shrill cry. Blood and
tears flowed from his eyes in torrents. The viziers came and
embraced him as a brother, as a son.
THE lords embraced him, they expressed their sympathy
to the bridegroom and bride. The maid lost consciousness;
she did not venture to lament for her father; the branches
fell from the rose bush, no one could raise it. You could not
meet there a laughing or a smiling man.
THE queen ran forth to see them. "Who is weeping and
why weep you?" quoth she. She was angry and said: "God
hath changed His wrath to mercy, we must thank Him, we
have no time for grief, no time to say 'Alas'."
SHEDDING hot tears she embraced Tariel. She said: "My flaming fire is out.
now a slow fire consumes me; he silent,
be calm, hear my tidings; God, who makes joyful the orphans, hath rejoiced me sending thee back alive."
THE weeping maiden addressed her mother: "O mother,
what must I do! When I left thee, in red and yellow raiment
wert thou clad, but now I see thee in black. My father has
abandoned his throne. Alas, no longer does he sit thereon!"
Her mother dried the maiden^s tears: "Do not weep, be
silent, ill-omened one!"
SHE kissed her face and the delicate roses of her lips. She
crushed the rose with her mouth, she drowned the aloe-tree.
She said to Nestan-Daredjan: "Why should we speak
ill-omened words? We must all enjoy a thousand felicities,
not merely one."
WHEN some time had passed, the lords came to do homage,
presenting themselves. Those suns came forth to meet them
and embraced them with heartfelt love. They kissed and
greeted each one separately.
AVT'HANDIL and P'hridon expressed their sympathy to
the queen. Tariel said; "O queen, you do not know them.
They are our saviours, we have no time at present for
lengthy discourse. We both have received life through
THEY rose and went into the town, they entered their
palace. The queen said a few words, addressing them as it
were: "God hath destroyed our foes, no more can they do
us harm; therefore am I joyous and glad of heart."
SHE commanded: "Put off your mourning, beat the drums
and the cymbals, let a great noise and exultation come from
our court, engirdle your brocades with golden belts. Laugh
and sing, let the murmuring of your tears cease."
The Wedding of Tariel and Nestan-Daredjan
THE queen took the bride and the bridegroom by the hand,
she placed them together on the royal throne, she
abandoned her sadness, she made staunch her womanly
heart, she changed her grief into joy, she obliged no one
to weep any longer.
TARIEL and his bride, sitting together on the royal throne,
suited each other, the woman suited the knight; whose
mind or whose tongue can express their praise—what son of
Adam can be like them ?
THE queen attired herself, she doffed her black garments,
she prepared gay robes for the lords, rejoicing the eye. She
dressed them all, augmenting their joy. Quoth she: "Let us
forget grief since joy has come to us."
WHAT Tariel and his wife had desired fell to their lot,
seven royal thrones, seats of joy, incomparable; this present
solace makes them forget their sufferings, A man
unacquainted with sorrow cannot find pleasure in joy.
SEE the two sitting together; even the sun could not be
better! They blow the trumpet and proclaim him king,
copper drums make the voices sound sweet; they give him
the key of the treasuries, they gave themselves into his
hands as subjects. "This is our king!" they cried, and they
THEY caused two thrones to be prepared for Avt'handil
and P'hridon, they sat royally thereon, they extolled their
majesty, what other human beings did God create like
them! They related their sorrows; they revealed them to all.
THEY drank, ate, made merry, they increased the
household; as befits a wedding so did they celebrate it;
to both they gave presents, equally to each. They gathered
together treasure to give to the poor.
ALL the Indians considered Avt'handil and P'hridon to be
helpers. "From you every good happens to us," said they
ceaselessly; they looked upon them as lords, whatever they
willed that they did, they came before them continually to
pay court to them.
THE King of the Indians said to Asmat'h, the sharer of
his sorrows: "What thou hast done, neither upbringer nor
upbrought hath done. Now I enthrone thee over one-seventh
part of the kingdom of India, thine let it be, serve us,
sweet to the sweet!
"WHOMSOEVER thou desirest as husband wed him, rule
the kingdom, henceforth serve us, be subject to us."
Asmat'h covered his feet with kisses. "From thee is my
power," quoth she; "what can I find, what better service
can I have than thine!"
THE three sworn brothers tarried together a few days.
They sported, they received more incomparable gifts;
what rare pearls, what excellent horses! But longing for
T'hinat'hin made Avt'handil to show lines on his face.
TARIEL perceived that longing of the knight for his
wife. He said: "Of a truth thy heart is angered against me.
Now woe is me! Thought hath made of thy seven griefs
eight. T shall be separated from thee; the passing world
grudges me my joy."
THEN P'hridon begged leave of him. "I will go home,"
quoth he; "my foot will oft tread this court and land if
thou wilt command me as an elder to a younger. I shall
desire thee as the deer the fountain."
AS presents for Rostevan, Tariel made Avt'handil take
with him beautiful short robes, also a vessel full of cut
gems, not spoons, not ladles. "Take them from me, go,"
quoth he, "disobey me not!" Avt'handil said: "T know not
how I shall survive without thee!"
THE lady Nestan sent to the lady T'hinat'hin a short
cloak and a veil; who save her was worthy of such
garments! A jewel-he who carried it off could not say:
"I have carried it in vain !"-at night it gives light like the
sun; it is visible wherever thou lookest.
AVT'HANDIL mounted, he departed, he said farewell to
Tariel, the flame of the fire of separation burned them
both; all the Indians wept, the tear moistened the mead.
Avt'handil said: "The poison of this world slays me!"
P'HRIDON and Avt'handil journeyed together for a few
days; the road separated them, each went his way weeping;
the things they had planned had turned out well for them;
Avt'handil came to Arabia, he had not seen troubles in
THE Arabs came forth to meet him, he beautified the
realm; he saw his sun, the affliction of his desires fled; he
sat with her on the throne, he rejoiced at the joy of the
onlookers. The Most High from above endowed his crown
THOSE three sovereigns loved one another, they visited
one another, their desires were fulfilled, they that disputed
their rule were put to the sword, they enlarged their
kingdoms, they were sovereign, they increased their might.
THEY poured down mercy like snow on all alike, they
enriched orphans and widows and the poor did not beg,
they terrified evil-doers; the lambs did not suck from
strange ewes, within their dominions the goat and the wolf
THEIR tale is ended like a dream of the night. They are
passed away, gone beyond the world. Behold the treachery
of time; to him who thinks it long, even for him it is of a
moment, I, a certain Meskhian bard, the bard Rust'hveli,
I write this.
FOR David,1 god of the Georgians, whom the sun serves in
his course, I have put this story into verse, for his
entertainment who strikes terror from East to West,
consuming those who are traitors to him. rejoicing those
who are loyal.
HOW shall I sing David's deeds, heroic, loud-sounding,
these wondrous tales of strange, foreign monarchs! Old-time
customs and deeds, praises of those kings, have I found
and done into verse. Thus have we chattered!
THIS is such a world as is not to be trusted hy any; it
is a moment to the eyes of men. and only long enough for
the blinking of the eyelashes. What seek you, what do you ?
Fate is an insulter. For him whom Fate deceives not it is
better to be in both worlds.
MOSE Khoneli praised Amiran, son of Daredjan; Shavt'heli,
whose poem they admired, praised Abdul-Mesia; Sargis
T'hmogveli, the unwearying-tongued, praised Dilarget'h;
Rust'hveli praised Tariel, for whom his tear unceasing
1David-the consort of Queen T'hamar.
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