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
consumed him.
"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
from God.
"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!"