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
or hut."
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
his people.
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
from Tariel.
"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
of life."
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
swathes man.
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
for patience!
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."