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
no more."
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
than vinegar!"
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
adopted sister.
"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
judgement indeed!"
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
melts ?"

1 Black eyelashes.