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
united you.
. "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
news again.
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
formerly sworn.
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.