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
by him.
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
hitherto fading."
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
like his.
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
either case.
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
desired one.
"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
to carrion."
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
mercy ?
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.