THE KNIGHT IN THE PANTHER SKIN
He who created Heaven and Earth out of his power and might
Inspired every earthly being with His Holy Spirit bright;
Then reigning over the colorful earth became our human right,
1 And in our rulers’ faces we could see His image in plain sight.
Oh Lord, the maker of every form, I beg you to save me now.
Give me sufficient strength so I may set my foot on Satan’s brow.
May you the longings of a lover, lasting till the grave, allow.
2 Dissolve the sins I am carrying thence that make my body bow.
The lance and shield and sword adorn our ruler, lion of our lair.
Behold the sun of our King Tamar – bright of face and dark of hair.
I do not know how I shall hymn her praises. Do I dare to dare?
3 Pleasing gifts should be offered in joy from all who have seen her there.
By shedding tears of blood we praise our King and I’ll say at the start:
I think myself far from the least of those who’ve played a praising part.
A lake of ebony I used as ink, my reed was like a dart.
4 Whoever hears the lines I have written, a spear will pierce his heart!
They bade me to write sweet poetry- to sing her Kingly praises,
Extol her eyebrows, lashes and hair in true poetic phrases.
Her ruby lips and her ranks of teeth: her crystal army dazes.
5 To think a leaden anvil can break the hardest stone amazes.
I’ll need quick tongue and clever skill as well as mastery of speech.
Grant me strength and with Your help I’ll wisely fashion the things I preach
And in this way be sure to keep Tariel out of evil’s reach
6 That we may celebrate three shining heroes, fates tied each to each.
Come sit beside me, listeners – let’s not allow our tears to cease,
Come weep for Tariel, a man whose greatness was beyond increase.
I, Rustaveli, wrote this poem – a man whom fate would not release.
7 Out of a tale, I made a poem, a sparkling diamond centerpiece.
I, Rustaveli, did this deed half-crazed by the presence I crave.
The ruler whom whole armies obey is the reason that I rave.
No cure or remedy exists for the illness my loving gave:
8 The one I love must ease my pain, or this earth will soon be my grave.
An ancient Persian tale I took, and in the Georgian tongue retold.
Until that time, it was an unset pearl; from hand to hand it rolled.
But I transformed it for the one who is so beautiful and bold.
9 To the one who ravished my reason, I have brought poetic gold.
My eyes, though blinded by her light, want nothing else again to see.
I’m running wild. My blazing heart is in love with its destiny.
My body burns – I’ve suffered so… Will someone soothe the soul in me?
10 Our colorful three-part music needs words to sing its praise of thee.
A man should bear without complaint whatever burdens fate gave.
Laborers should always labor, and soldiers should always be brave.
The lover should always love his love and carry love to the grave.
11 A lover should not disdain or reject a love that he might save.
The poet’s art was from the start a branch of wisdom’s mighty tree.
The task of poetry is holy, as all godly men agree,
And verse is pleasant for a worthy man to listen to and see.
12 Long thoughts contained in shorter lines most beautifully expressed may be.
As horses can best test their mettle in a long and rugged race,
And players best boast their skillful moves and hits in a public place,
Long poems test a poet’s skill in giving sweet words their proper space.
13 But if his stock of verse should lessen and he seems to slow his pace,
Then behold the poet. Behold and judge him on the grandest scale
When he is at a loss for words, and poetry begins to fail.
He still should not cut short his story, still should not let language pale:
14 But wield his wordy mallet with skill through the whole heroic tale.
He is not a poet who long ago once wrote a poem or two.
Do not grant versifiers praises only masters should accrue.
Don’t laud someone who writes rough poems, ungainly poems – and very few
15 Though he may bray that he’s the best, the way a donkey tends to do.
The second group writes poems that seem to end almost before they start –
These parsed out, meager poems are far too small to move the human heart.
Their authors are like novice hunters who have yet to learn the art:
16 The prey they prey upon is not big game but smaller than a hart.
Another kind of shorter poem is meant to be a simple song –
It’s good for wooing, joking, making fun, and none of that is wrong.
But though we like to hear such work performed in voices clear and strong,
17 He still should not be called a poet who cannot recite for long.
The poet must not squander song, nor spend his energy in vain.
Over all his heart and poetry, one great love alone should reign.
Because he knows his poems ensure that love’s great glory will not wane,
18 He’ll not expect his lover’s praise for poems wherein his love is plain.
Let everybody know the one I lauded is the same I praise.
This is a task that brings no shame at all, but honor to my days.
The person who is my life is a panther: merciless, she preys.
19 I’ve written above the name of my love, though wrapped in veils it stays.
To deliberate and speak about ideal love is now my goal:
Of all loves, the very hardest to describe, define or extol.
It is Divine Love that inspires us, that raises up our soul.
20 Whoever strives for that kind of love will end up paying a toll.
I’ll talk of desire, stirring the body beyond comprehension,
Praise lovers who love from afar, in unconsummated tension.
Earthly feelings that meet the needs of the flesh let me now mention.
21 Those who don’t sin but love from afar display the best intention.
To describe a lover, the Arabs use a word that means insane,
Because when a lover’s beloved leaves, his reason starts to wane.
Some lovers incessantly try to reach Divine Love, but in vain,
22 Others are content courting maidens, calling lovely what is plain.
A lover’s aspect should be bright, like the sun under which we dwell.
Young and at leisure and generous; wise and prosperous as well.
He should be kind and strong and witty, with eloquent tales to tell.
23 He who falls short is no lover but a man in a lover’s shell.
Love is hard to comprehend. Love is tender, delicate and fine.
Love is nothing akin to lust; true love partakes of the divine.
Love is one thing, desire another – between them, there runs a line.
24 Let the two never be confounded! Listen to these words of mine!
The lover must always be constant, always pure and never crude.
When he is far from his beloved, sighing must not be eschewed.
His heart must yearn for her although she is with sullenness imbued.
25 I hate heartless embracing, the smacking of lips, noisy and rude.
He should not forsake the one with whom he fell in love at the start.
He should not be complacent when happy, nor in hard times, lose heart.
He should run wild for her, and with everything be willing to part.
26 He should not regret a thing, receive willingly even death’s dart.
A lover should not define as love a feeling that is profane.
If his desire should grow today, and tomorrow be on the wane.
Such love is just commonplace minstrelsy, a boyish kind of bane.
27 A lover will give up the world, in order that his love might reign.
The very noblest kind of lover keeps his fervent love concealed.
He doesn’t groan aloud and shame his love; his love stays unrevealed.
He yearns from afar, learns from afar; lets himself to burning yield.
28 When his lady is displeased, he uses reverence as his shield.
He won’t betray the sacred secret, won’t reveal his beloved’s name,
He never utters showy sighs, or “ahs” that put his love to shame.
Nowhere does he make love public, thus incurring his lover’s blame.
29 He feels it joy to suffer for love, he burns in the hottest flame.
Only a fool would trust a man, who reveals the state of his heart,
A man whose noises ensure that both will suffer the selfsame dart.
How can he hope to champion love after such a shameful start?
30 He only profanes his cherished love when he plays a babbler’s part.
I wonder why some make love seem a show, or something that they stole.
They wound thus an already wounded heart: is punishment the goal?
Only a loveless and hateful man would try to exact a toll.
31 But an evil man loves an evil word more than he loves his soul.
If the lover cries and weeps for his love, tears are the lover’s due.
Solitude suits him, the roaming of plains and forests suits him, too.
When he’s by himself, his thought should be of how to worship anew.
32 But when a lover is in the world, he should hide his love from view.
nee there ruled in Arabia, Rostevan, a king by God’s grace,
Thriving, majestic, generous, modest though in the highest place.
So just and merciful, many vassals did his service embrace.
He was a fearless warrior, a peerless speaker, never base.
Rostevan had one child, a daughter, to the world a shining light,
Like unto the stars she was, or a moon that makes the heavens bright.
Whoever looked at her was bereft of his heart and soul and sight.
34 it needs a wise man to praise her with words both masterful and right.
The name of this daughter was Tinatin; let it be known to all!
When she’d grown to be a woman, her beauty held the sun in thrall.
One day the king, in highest spirits, to his viziers sent a call,
35 And he spoke graciously to them when they’d assembled in his hall.
He said: “I need your wisest counsel on a matter I’ll declare:
Every rose will fade and wither, no matter though it once was fair.
The dry rose falls within the garden, a new rose arises there.
36 The sun has set for us, the night is dark. Why should we not despair?
“I grow cold. Old age is like a sickness, a raging plague in me.
It’s the sorrow of the world. Only a few tomorrows we’ll see.
Of what worth is a light when it’s becoming darkness by degree?
37 So let us crown my daughter now. No sun is worthier than she.”
The viziers said, “King, why do you insist that you are old so soon?
For though it’s true our rose has faded, we all know it as a boon.
It still excels in scent and color though its day is far past noon.
38 What kind of star dares offer challenge even to a waning moon?
“Oh, king, please don’t speak thus to us: your rose is not faded today.
Bad counsel from you is better than the good another might say.
It is right to do whatever will make your heartache go away.
39 It is best to give the kingdom to her who holds the sun in sway.
“Although a woman, she is a sovereign, ordained by God’s decree.
We are not flattering you, but even in your absence agree.
Like her radiance, her deeds are as bright as the sunshine to see.
40 Lion’s whelps are equally lions, though female or male they be.”
Avtandil was a general, the commander-in-chief’s own son.
Tall and slim as a cypress was he – his presence, the moon and sun.
His visage was as pure as the clearest crystal; beard he had none.
41 By Tinatin’s luxurious lashes, he found himself undone.
He kept his love-madness hidden, lodged deep within him like a dart.
Whenever he couldn’t see her, though, his rose’s fading would start.
Whenever he saw her, fire blazed, his wound more sharply would smart.
42 Love alone should be blamed – love with the power to break a man’s heart.
When he heard that Tinatin would soon come into her queenly own,
Avtandil felt as if water on torturing flames had been thrown.
He said: “Now her porcelain face more often to me will be shone;
43 Perhaps her presence will cause my pallor’s cure to make itself known.”
The king sent messengers through the country, the happy news to bring:
“I, her father, have by my edict crowned Tinatin as our king.
Like the shining sun, she sheds her light on every person and thing.
44 All her subjects should come behold her, that they may her praises sing!”
All the Arabs arrived – the number of nobles swelled to a crowd.
Avtandil, young general, was there, radiant-faced and unbowed.
And Sograt, vizier, the king’s close adviser with wisdom endowed.
45 When the throne was installed, they said: “It is priceless!” and they were proud.
Tinatin was led in by the joyful king to where the throne stands.
He seated her and set the crown on her head with his own two hands.
He gave her the scepter, clad her in the robes a ruler demands.
46 The maiden seems to be like the sun: all-seeing, she understands.
The king and his reverent retinue stepped back a pace or two,
Men from many places blessed Tinatin: their praises were not few.
Their strong voices blessed her. Cymbals played sweetly, and the bugle blew.
47 Tears slanted down the queen’s raven lashes; she wept, and wept anew.
Tinatin feared she was unworthy to sit on her father’s throne.
With each tear that streaked the rose garden of her cheeks, her doubt was shown.
The king said: “Every father’s surpassed by his heirs; that much is known.
48 The sight of you has put out the fire that had within me grown.”
Then he said: “Weep not, my daughter, but hear what I’m about to say:
You are an Arabian king, named by me a sovereign today.
From this moment on, this kingdom is yours, to do with as you may.
49 You who do things wisely, be calm now and compose yourself, I pray.
“The sun shines alike on roses and dung, on everything we see.
You, alike to the greatest and the lowly, merciful should be.
The one, who’s getting bound, binds himself; the generous bind the free.
50 The sea’s waters flow in and flow out: be generous like the sea.
“Bounteousness, like Eden’s poplars, is planted in kings to use.
The generous are obeyed even by those with treacherous views.
Whenever food and drink are offered you, accept them – don’t refuse.
51 What you give to others, you will keep; whatever you don’t – you’ll lose.”
The maiden listened: her father’s wise counsel never sated her.
She bent to his words: his teaching never anticipated her.
The king drank and sang, pleased by his daughter and what awaited her.
52 Tinatin made the sun seem flawed, the sun that imitated her.
The new queen then summoned her trusty tutor and was heard to say,
“Bring hither to me now all my treasure, as quickly as you may.
Bring me all my sealed up riches, everything which is mine today.”
53 They did her bidding, and without measure she gave her wealth away.
With seeming pleasure, she dispersed her treasure, everything she had.
Enriching both the low-born and the high-born seemed to make her glad.
She said: “I am doing what I was taught, so do not think me mad.
54 Let no one keep back any treasure, this is as my father bade.”
She ordered them: “Go now and open up my vaults full of treasure.
You, Stable Master, lead in all my horses, such is my pleasure.”
They brought everything she said, and she gave to all without measure,
55 The soldiers were sweeping up riches like pirates at their leisure.
All her wealth, like booty from the Turks, they took as they were able.
They took her pampered Arab stallion, a steed worthy of fable.
Gifts whirled down like a snowstorm falling from the sky to the table.
56 None left empty-handed, not serving maids nor lads from the stable.
One day passed and still the wining and dining in no way decreased.
The great gathering of merry-making troops continued the feast.
The king hung his head and seemed unhappy, to say the very least.
57 People asked each other what ailed him, and their worrying increased.
At the head of one table sat Avtandil, with his face so bright,
Leader of men, swift as a tiger or lion, known for his might,
While Sograt, the worthy vizier, sat proudly at Avtandil’s right.
58 Both wondered aloud, “What ails the king? Why is he so pale tonight?”
”He must be in a bad mood to find no joy in this evening’s sport.
Nothing bad has happened. He’s received no calamitous report,”
Avtandil said. “Let’s ask if he’s mad at us, or someone at court.
59 Approaching him with banter might bring his unhappiness up short.”
So Sograt and slender Avtandil filled their glasses to the brim,
And walked with slow and easy gait to where the king sat looking grim,
And obediently knelt, with smiling faces, in front of him.
60 The wise vizier, in good spirits, spoke lightly, as if on a whim.
“The reason you look so unhappy, king, is one we guess or know.
To see all your treasure squandered must have been a terrible blow.
Your open-handed daughter has let all your vast possessions go.
61 She should not be sovereign! Why did you bring upon yourself such woe?”
The king looked at the vizier with a broad smile when he heard this speech.
He was astonished: how had the vizier dared to so over-reach?
“You speak honestly,” the king said. “I don’t consider it a breach,
62 Though if you think me avaricious, you don’t know whereof you preach.
“What has hurt me, vizier, is not the loss of everything I own,
But knowing I am old, and all the days of my youth have been sown:
And yet there is no man in this whole kingdom that is to me known,
63 Who has learned from me manly arts and thus to my level has grown.
“I’ve tenderly nurtured my daughter, and watched proudly as she grew.
But God hasn’t given me a son who could do the things I do.
There’s none to rival me in archery, that’s the thing I most rue.
64 Only Avtandil is like me at all, because I taught him true.”
Thus spoke the king and the noble lad listened calmly all the while.
He bent his head respectfully, as was his customary style,
But he seemed to light up the plains with the shining white of his smile.
65 The king asked, “Why do you smile? Have I shamed you, or put you on trial?”
”Why do you smile?” he asked again. “Be so kind as to let me know.”
The youth said, “I’ll speak, but do not let my words seeds of anger sow.
Be not offended by what I say, nor let your wrathfulness show.
66 Don’t consider me as insolent, or punish me as a foe.”
Said the king, “I’ll try not to get angry at your honest reply;
I swear on my Tinatin’s life you have no reason to be shy.”
Avtandil said, “Calm words are convincing • all boasting I decry.
67 You shouldn’t boast of your archery skills, and now I’ll tell you why.”
“I’m earth under your feet, but as an archer, you to me must yield.
Let’s wager, your men as witnesses, and see the best man revealed.
You boasted that none could best you, so let our bargain now be sealed.
68 Let them declare the winner when we take our contest to the field.”
The king, ever more cheerful and eloquent, responded with glee.
He joked with the knight, “You’re so bold because you’re like a son to me.
You know I won’t be angry, that’s why you confront me recklessly.
69 I think you’ll need exceptional luck to win, but we’ll have to see.”
“I will not let you thus dispute with me!” the king affirmed with zest.
“Say the word and we will compete: let neither of us shirk the test.
Let’s make good men witnesses as we endeavor to see who’s best.
70 And the archer whose praises should be sung will soon be manifest.”
The answer was not long in coming. “I agree,” Avtandil said.
They no longer acted like warlike men, but joyful youths instead.
They set the terms of the wager, to which each of them would be wed:
71 Whoever is beaten must walk around three days with a bare head.
“We’ve decided to take with us twelve good riders,” the king said when
The feast was over. “To bring the king arrows, another twelve, then.
Your Shermadin alone is equal to all those twenty-four men.
72 They’ll count throws and hits without mistakes or lies, then they’ll count again.”
To the gathered huntsmen, the king said: “From the great plains’ level ground,
Beat in uncountable herds of game, as many as can be found.
Invite soldiers to witness the contest, good men from all around!”
The wassail and banquet then ended with many a pleasant sound.
KING ROSTEVAN AND
AVTANDIL G O HUNTING
t daybreak, Avtandil rode forth, clad in crimson like a flower.
His face was crystal, his mouth a ruby, even at that hour.
Sheathed in chain mail, he sat on his white horse like a golden tower.
He invited the king to come forth and test his skill and power.
The king was arrayed and mounted; they left for the hunt right away.
The soldiers surrounded the field as if it were a siege they lay.
There was much mirth and excitement; armies kept the people at bay.
75 People were waging their own bets; everyone had something to say.
The king ordered his twelve servants: “Come with us, go the way we go.
Prepare quivers of arrows and bring each of us a springy bow.
Where each animal is struck and every arrow falls, you should know.”
76 He finished, and huge herds began arriving in a steady flow.
There came running uncountable herds, herds of every kind of game.
There were deer and goats, antelopes, high-leaping gazelles even came!
The lord and the vassal pursued them. What fairer sight could one name?
77 Behold the bow and arrow! The tireless arm, lifted in aim!
The dust that flew from their horses’ hooves cut off the rays of the sun.
Arrows sped. They slew. Blood soaked into the field before they were done.
As the shafts were lost in shooting, slaves brought more until there were none.
78 After being wounded by them, beasts staggered, unable to run.
Driving the herds of game before them, over blood-soaked ground they sped.
They slew and slaughtered, angering God, by their fierce ambition led.
The fields turned crimson. With animal blood, their faces were streaked red.
79 “He is like a poplar from Eden,” those who watched Avtandil said.
Over the whole of that untraveled plain, they chased stampeding prey.
Until they both came to its farthest edge, where stream and thick woods lay.
The game fled into this forest, where horses could not make their way.
80 Both Rostevan and Avtandil were tired by the end of the day.
Each laughingly said to the other: “You have to admit I won!”
Merry were they; hither and thither they frolicked and had their fun.
Then came the slaves who’d followed them from the start until they were done.
81 The king said: “Who was the better? Be truthful. I don’t want lies spun.”
The slaves said: “We’ll speak plainly. We won’t try to deceive you, forsooth.
You are a great hunter, oh king, but a little long in the tooth.
Slay us at once if you will: we speak nothing but the honest truth.
82 All the beasts he shot fell in their tracks: you were bested by this youth.
“The two of you in the course of the hunt have killed a hundred score.
As many as you have killed today, Avtandil killed twenty more.
Every animal Avtandil aimed at lies dead or at death’s door.
83 But picking your arrows out of the dirt was a usual chore.”
The king heard the words blithely, like the clicking of dice in a game.
He was glad the man he loved like a son had won that day some fame.
He loved Avtandil as the nightingale loyes the rose, without blame.
84 All grief was gone from his heart; smiling, he made merry without shame.
They both sat down to cool themselves at the foot of towering trees.
Soldiers assembled, countless as chaff: they were surrounded by these.
Nearest were the twelve brave slaves who’d won favor not trying to please.
85 The two rested, gazing at the stream, and leaves that moved in the breeze.
THE KING OF THE ARABS
SEES THE KNIGHT
IN THE PANTHER SKIN
warrior sat weeping on the bank of the stream – a strange knight.
Holding his black horse by the reins, he looked strong and ready to fight.
His pearl-studded armor, saddle and bridle were all glossy white.
His ruddy cheeks were wet with tears: they had never seen such a sight.
He wore wrapped around his body a luxurious panther skin
And on his head he wore a panther cap to a helmet akin.
In his hand was a whip thicker than a man’s arm has ever been.
87 The way he looked made them like to look, though looking made their heads spin.
The king said, “That man appears to be a stranger by looks and dress.”
He ordered a servant: “Hurry to him and make him acquiesce.
Convey this message from me, ‘You’re not one of my soldiers, I guess.
88 Whoever you are, approach. I demand that courtesy, no less.'”
He sent a slave to speak to the knight, whose heart was stricken with woe,
Who with downcast head was weeping, and it was clearly not for show.
From the jets of his eyelashes, clear waters could be seen to flow.
89 The slave approached, but could not speak to a knight who was weeping so.
The slave dared not address him, and was unsure whether he should stay.
A sudden loss of courage caused him for a long time to delay.
Then he said: “The king commands your presence. You must not say him nay.”
90 The knight wept on as though he had not heard what the slave had to say.
The woe-stricken knight did not hear a word said by the timid slave.
He was oblivious to the shouts the surrounding soldiers gave.
He was moaning strangely, his heart was in flames – he started to rave.
91 Tears mingled with blood, and flowed forth as from floodgates, wave after wave.
The knight’s mind seemed to have flown away, so deeply was he in thought.
To deliver the message, the persistent slave once again sought.
The weeping stranger heard nothing, he was so terribly distraught.
92 Those rose petal lips did not open as politeness would have taught.
Since the knight did not say anything, the slave to the king returned.
He told Rostevan, “He wants nothing from you: this much I have learned.
My heart was troubled when I saw the way his warrior eyes burned;
93 But he said nothing: all my advances on your behalf, he spurned.”
The king was astounded: the strange knight had angered him to the core.
He sent to confront the knight the twelve slaves he commanded before.
He commanded: “Go to that strange knight. Take with you weapons of war:
94 Go and bring hither the weeping lion who refuses to roar.”
The slaves went forth in clattering armor; to the knight, they drew near.
At this, the weeping knight started up, and looked around without fear.
He saw the slave warriors coming, each with a bow or a spear.
95 He said aloud only, “Woe is me, that I should find myself here.”
Then he passed both his hands over his eyes, and did not further cry.
He made fast his saber and his quiver. His eyes, they saw, were dry.
\ He mounted. The slaves knew it was their last chance to stop him or try.
96 He was about to wend his way onward, and not even say why.
The twelve slaves then sought to pull that knight down from his ebony steed.
He fell on them – even their foes would have pitied their plight, indeed:
He beat one against another; some he slew did not even bleed.
97 Some he smote with his whip – cleaved them to the breastbone with lightning speed.
Q k .
The king was furious; he called upon his soldiers to give chase.
Till his pursuers caught up to him, the knight did not turn his face,
But everyone who overtook him, he left for dead in that place.
98 He threw down man after man. Rostevan lamented the disgrace.
The king and Avtandil pursued the knight, meaning to make him yield.
Proud and haughty, the strange knight kept on galloping across the field.
His horse seemed to fly. His pursuers pursued till their senses reeled.
99 The knight looked back just once and must have seen King Rostevan revealed.
When he saw the king, he struck his horse; what came next was strange but true:
In the blink of an eye, he had vanished: he disappeared from view.
He could have sunk in an abyss or flown to heaven’s gate and through.
100 They sought, but found no trace of his course: there was nothing they could do.
His hoof prints they sought in the soil, and marveled that they could find none.
Leaving no trace, he had vanished, like many a Devi has done.
The soldiers mourned their dead, and bandaged all their wounded, every one.
101 The king said: “I have seen cause for grief; my joy has set like the sun.”
He said: “God wearies of the happiness that hitherto was mine:
Therefore has He turned my sweet drink into the bitterest of wine;
He has deeply wounded me; as I draw near my life’s finish line,
102 I bow and say to Him: ‘All grace and all will and desire are Thine.'”
Thus he spoke, and turned away, leaving the rest saddened by his tone.
No one galloped gaily across the field; groan was mingled with groan.
The hunting party dispersed at that: everyone went off alone.
103 Some thought him right; others, God forgive them, thought weakness had been shown.
The king went into his bedchamber sad and frowning, feeling ill.
None followed except the one like his own son, namely Avtandil.
Everyone went his own way; the household dispersed, as households will.
104 All merriment ceased, as did the lute; even the sweet harp was still.
News had come to Tinatin of how her sad father retreated.
She rose and came to the door; she with whom the bright sun competed.
She asked the chamberlain: “Is he asleep or awake and seated?”
105 He answered: “His color has faded; he sits brooding, defeated.
“Avtandil is with him, sitting in front of him in a low chair.
The strange knight they pursued today: this is the cause of all his care.”
Tinatin said: “Now is not a good time for me to go in there.
106 If he asks, say: ‘She was here a moment ago, but went somewhere.'”
Time passed; and the king inquired: “Where is my daughter Tinatin?
Where is my solace and jewel, my life’s source, my help through thick and thin?”
The chamberlain said: “She was here, face paler than it’s ever been.
107 She learned of your sadness and turned back, unsure whether to go in.”
“Go, call her; how can I bear to be absent from her?” the king said.
“Say to her: ‘Why did you turn back, leaving the king as if for dead?
Come back. Drive off grief, heal his heart. You are the bread on which he’s fed.
108 Come back, and your father will tell you the reason his joy has fled.'”
Tinatin did as her father wished: she rose and came right away.
Her face shone like a high-riding moon when night has vanquished the day.
Her father sat her down and kissed her, then said what he had to say.
109 “Daughter, why did you not come here before? Why did you stay away?”
The maiden said: “Oh father king! Seeing you frown, who dares ask why?
Few dare to approach you when you are sad, even those far from shy.
This sadness of yours casts shadows on the highest stars in the sky.
110 A man, I think, should seek to solve problems, not sit alone and cry.”
“The sight of you brings me joy, and being near you brings me relief,”
He answered. “My child, however much this sad affair brings me grief,
You calm that grief like a balm; I’m no longer shaking like a leaf.
111 After what’s happened, my groans are justified, that’s my firm belief.
”A matter of some hours ago, I saw a magnificent knight;
The firmament, the bounds of the earth, he illumined with his light.
I could not find out for whom he wept, nor the nature of his plight.
112 I summoned him. He didn’t come: I was angry when he took flight.
“When he saw me, he wiped the tears from his eyes, and rode away fast.
When I ordered him seized, he destroyed all my men, down to the last.
He saluted me like some spirit on whom evil has been cast.
113 Even now I don’t know: was he real, this man who left us aghast?
“Did I see him, or was he part of a dream? I really don’t know.
He killed every slave and soldier I sent for him: he made blood flow.
He had to have been flesh, but if he was flesh, then where did he go?
114 I was happy till now by God’s grace; now He sees me as a foe.
“God’s tender mercies at length have become to me like so much gall;
I have forgotten the past, when joy was great and sorrow was small.
Words intended to console me will only make my spirits fall.
115 However long my days may be, I’ll not again rejoice at all.”
“Let me offer my humble words,” his daughter Tinatin replied,
“I think to rail like this against God or fate is a sign of pride.
Why accuse of bitterness He who for us will always provide?
116 And why would He who created good, create evil by its side?
“This is my advice to you: you are a ruler, you are a king:
Wide is the realm within which you have power over everything.
Send out men to learn about this knight, and their tidings to you bring.
117 To learn if this man be mortal, bid your scouts to their horses spring.”
Rostevan liked what Tinatin had said, and he found her words wise.
He put his hand on her cheek. Again and again, he kissed his prize.
Then he said, “I shall follow your words, daughter – do as you advise.
118 All is as God wills it: my savior out of earth has made me rise.”
Men were summoned and sent forth to the far corners of field and plain.
The king commanded them to seek the knight and spare themselves no pain.
“Search for him,” he said. “Let nothing hinder you or make you refrain.
119 Send letters where you cannot go, and pray your search may not be vain.”
The men did as he bid: about a year they looked as best they might.
They sought him again and again; they looked everywhere for that knight.
None of God’s creatures had seen him: he seemed to have vanished from sight.
120 Then weary to the bone, they came home, failure on them like a blight.
The slaves said: “King, we have wandered hither and yon over your land.
There is no part of our part of the world one of us has not scanned.
No one admitted seeing this knight when we made of them demand.
121 We return joyless, knowing this was not the conclusion you planned.”
“My daughter Tinatin told me the truth,” they heard the king respond.
“A Devil has played one of his tricks, of which devils are so fond.
This knight has been sent here as my foe; he has flown down from beyond.
122 Henceforth, I’ll let go of grief, and thus slip free of his cursed bond.”
Thus he spoke, and all rejoiced to have their king feel once again free.
After the best musicians entertained with song and minstrelsy,
The king gave gifts to everyone: as generous as he could be.
123 Among all the living, nobody could be more giving than he.
TINATIN SENDS AVTANDIL
TO LOOK FOR THE KNIGHT
vtandil sat alone in his room, to all bad feelings immune:
He was sitting at a harp and singing, sounding a merry tune.
Tinatin’s ebony slave came in and said: “I pray, sir, go soon:
She who calls you is slim as a poplar; her face is like the moon.
Avtandil rejoiced when he heard his dearest dream was coming true.
He arose and put on his best garments and brightest coat, still new.
He had longed to meet her; they’d never met alone as lovers do.
125 It’s thrilling to be with beauty, to have your beloved with you.
Avtandil came openly to Tinatin: he was bold and proud.
He came openly to her for whom he had sometimes wept aloud.
His peerless loved one sat mournfully as if with lightning endowed.
126 Her brightness would have eclipsed the moon or stars in a lustrous crowd.
She wore that evening an ermine mantle, suitable for a queen,
And priceless red veils the likes of which Avtandil had never seen.
The flash of her brilliant eyes beneath heart-piercing lashes was keen.
127 She had long, thick hair and a white neck, glimpses of which he could glean.
Looking at him through her crimson veil, pensive and thoughtful she stayed.
She greeted him softly, and bade him sit down: he gladly obeyed.
The slave gave him a low seat; he sat calmly in front of the maid.
128 And face to face, he gazed on her, full of great joy and unafraid.
Tinatin said: “By what I’m going to tell you, I’ve been distressed.
I would wish not to speak about it but cannot avoid this test.
Do you know the reason you are summoned here? Have you perhaps guessed?
129 Why I feel so overwhelmed? Why you were brought here at my behest?”
The knight said: “My mood now is so bright, nothing dark can find a chink.
If the bright moon meets the brighter sun, it will fade away and shrink.
You have caught me at a loss: I am no longer able to think.
130 Please tell me why you’re distraught and what will pull you back from the brink.”
Then the maiden replied with elegant, well-chosen words, and said:
“Many times you could have been near me. I kept you away instead.
I wonder how you got what you wanted this time, with no tears shed.
131 But first I’ll name the malady by which, like a plague, I am bled.
“I’m sure you remember when you and Rostevan killed so much game.
The strange knight you all saw weeping vanished as quickly as he came.
Since then I have been prey to thoughts of him, and wondering his name.
132 I beg you – search the bounds of sky for him, and thereby you’ll earn fame.
“Though this is the first time I have been able to converse with thee,
Yet from afar have I perceived your great and certain love for me.
I know that on my account your eyes from tears have seldom been free.
133 Love holds you prisoner; your heart’s a captive – that much I can see.
“This service I bid you do benefits you in two ways, it’s clear.
First, you’re a knight and such a test as this hardens you against fear.
Second, you’re in love with me, and this quest shall make you doubly dear.
134 Go then, and seek that strange weeping knight, be he far or be he near.
“By seeking this knight, you’ll strengthen your love for me and, when you’re done,
You shall have delivered me from grief, and crippled the evil one,
Planted violets of hope in my heart, strewn roses one by one;
135 Then return and I shall come to meet you, my lion and my sun.
”Seek for three years the one I bid you seek, constant and not jaded;
If you find him, come gaily: your victory shall be paraded.
And if you fail, I shall know he was a vision my mind braided.
136 You shall return and find your rosebud unwithered and unfaded.
“I shall not wed now any husband but you, this much I can swear:
Even if the sun becomes man, incarnate for me, and stands there.
If I don’t stay true to you, may I be caught in a hellish snare;
137 May my love for you kill me if I give you reason to despair.”
The knight replied: “Oh sun, whose eyelashes are made of darkest jet.
What have I said to you or done, that you doubt my worth even yet?
I longed for death; you have renewed my will to live. I’m in your debt.
138 I obey you like a slave; your commandment I shall not forget.”
He went on: “Oh sun, since God created you a sun in the sky,
The heavenly planets obey your commandments, or humbly try,
The words you’ve given me are my greatest reward, and you know why.
139 Since your rays shine generously on it, my rose shall never die.
“How could I regret being in the service of one such as you?
I will not delay, but will leave tomorrow: accept this as true.
The misery of my heart has turned into happiness undue.
140 There’s nothing more precious to me than this – that you my life renew.”
They promised each other and many a solemn oath they both swore.
They confirmed vows to each other, and made promises by the score.
The grief they had borne lightened until it was easy to ignore.
141 Like white lightning reflected, their teeth flashed, and their bright eyes said more.
They sat together, they made merry, saying all there was to say.
In their clear faces, ruby lips and jet-black eyes, their hearts held sway.
The knight said: “All go mad who gaze on you as I have done today;
142 The fire whose source is you has turned my fond heart to ashes gray.”
The youth got up to leave, but kept looking back, unable to part.
His eyes were dazed: every backward glance was like a love-poisoned dart.
Hail rained down and froze the rose; in his body, he felt trembling start.
143 Urged on by his great love, he had tied his heart to another’s heart.
He thought, “Sun, the rose suffers when it’s separated from your light.
My crystal and ruby are duller than amber: they are not bright.
What shall I do when, for a long time, you will not be in my sight?
144 To die for my beloved will become the one rule of this knight.”
He lay down and wept. He wiped away his tears – his weeping increased.
Like an aspen in a strong wind, he swayed; his trembling never ceased.
He fell asleep and dreamed his beloved was with him at a feast.
145 He startled and cried out, his sorrow twenty times greater at least.
Sadness grew in his separation from his love, though it was short.
He shed pearl tears: his cheeks softened, and seemed then of a paler sort.
When day dawned he appareled himself to ensure a fair report.
146 He mounted his horse, and went looking for an audience at court.
He sent a chamberlain with a message to give to the king’s hand.
The message said: “Oh king, I venture to say what I understand:
All of the earth is subject to your sword and under your command.
147 Now, if it be thy will, I shall go on a quest throughout the land:
“To the farthest reaches of your ruling, there quickly shall I go.
I shall make Tinatin known by piercing the heart of every foe.
The loyal shall rejoice, the disobedient shall I bring low.
148 I shall often send you news; in sending gifts, I shall not be slow.”
The king thought to himself gratefully, in words that were like a song,
“Oh lion Avtandil, in looking for battle, you are not wrong.
Your words and acts show you to be a man both sensitive and strong.
149 Your wish is here granted, but what shall I do if you tarry long?”
The knight came in, did homage, and had many words of thanks to say:
“Oh king, single out noble others for your highest praise, I pray.
If God lightens for me the gloom of going my separate way,
150 I’ll rejoice at seeing you again on some future joyful day.”
The king thereupon embraced Avtandil and kissed him like a son.
As a loving parent and child, like unto them there have been none.
The knight rose and went away: for Rostevan, all delight seemed done.
151 He, so wise and kind of heart, wept for him whose journey had begun.
So young Avtandil rode out into the world, a courageous knight.
Twenty days he journeyed, many a day he made one with the night
He was meant to be the treasure of the world, its most joyous sight,
152 His mind was always on Tinatin, she for whom his love burned bright.
Wherever Avtandil went, he made people forget to be sad.
Everywhere, nobles gave him gifts, and shared with him the best they had.
This knight went quickly. He did not waste a moment, this sun-faced lad.
153 Just to be with him people thought was reason enough to be glad.
His strong city struck terror in men of hostile regions or race.
Like a mortarless wall, a surrounding cliff stretched up into space.
Avtandil spent near that city a full three days in pleasant chase
154 And appointed his pupil Shermadin the vizier of that place.
This was he of whom previously we had occasion to write,
His faithful childhood companion, ever devoted, as was right.
Till then, he had been unaware of the fire burning the knight.
155 Avtandil told him the solemn promise made by the maiden bright.
He said: “Loyal Shermadin, today I feel ashamed before you.
You’ve always done your best to do whatever I asked you to do.
You know me well but do not know what tears I have shed hitherto.
156 Now she for whom 1 once suffered makes happiness spring up anew.
”I am slain by love for our queen, who daily more beautiful grows.
Hot tears from the narcissus of my eyes made moist the frosted rose.
I have taken it as my duty to keep secret all my woes.
157 Now that she bids me hope, I have no doubt my heart’s joyfulness shows.
“She said to me: ‘Go, Avtandil, and bring me news of that lost knight.
When you return, I shall fulfill your heart’s desire as best I might.
I want no other husband, though he be an aloe of delight.’
158 Her speaking thus gave me the balm of my heart, until then bound tight.
“First, I wish to be my lady’s loyal knight for all my life’s span.
A vassal should be faithful, and serve his ruler as best he can.
My heart is no longer black: she has quenched the fire she began.
159 A man must not swerve before misfortune, but meet it like a man.
“Of all lords and vassals, you and I are as close as we can be.
Therefore I have come that you may hear the news directly from me:
As temporary lord and chief of my armies, I appoint thee:
160 There’s no one else to whom I could give this responsibility.
“In my stead, lead our soldiers into battle; help them conquer fear,
Send our messengers to court, making the state of our homeland clear.
Write letters for me and give people gifts priceless or at least dear.
161 When you are in charge, don’t let anyone know my absence from here.
“Go hunting in my stead, and do not let our army fall asleep.
Wait here for me three years, telling no one the secret you now keep.
If I return unfaded, my gratitude you shall surely reap.
162 And if I should not come back by then, mourn and grieve for me, and weep.
“If three years pass without my return, tell the king that I am dead.
Announce my death; show him your distress in saying what must be said.
Say: ‘He entered the valley whence none emerge, whither all are led.’
163 Give to the poor my treasure – gold, silver, copper. Let them be fed.
”Thus you shall help me. In this way you shall do me the greatest boon.
I pray that you think of me often, and do not forget me soon.
Pray for my soul; make sure my path onward with provisions is strewn.
164 Remember my youth. Let your heart for me play a motherly tune.”
When the servant heard this, alarm and concern caught him by surprise.
Like a cascade of glistening pearls, hot tears then fell from his eyes.
He said, “To say I am glad and worthy would be to utter lies.
165 I know, though, you won’t stay. To try to hinder you would not be wise.
“But I don’t think to govern in your stead is possible for me.
How can I undertake the lordship? How can I resemble thee?
I hate thinking of you alone: I’d rather earth my cradle be.
166 Can we not then both steal forth, that I may stay in your company?”
The knight said: “I’ll speak openly; the truth has no need of a shield.
A lover should be alone when he decides to wander the field.
No one gets a pearl for free, simply because he’s seen it revealed.
167 A treacherous man should be pierced with a lance, and thus made to yield.
“To whom could I entrust my lordship but you, the worthiest one?
Who else could see the things that need doing and ensure they are done?
Fortify the marches: let me not hear that our enemies won.
168 Perhaps I’ll return, if I be not lost in the tale God has spun.
“Whether singly or in a group, fate takes away all who are born.
Loneliness won’t matter if heaven’s powers their help have foresworn.
If I haven’t come back in three years, don funeral garb and mourn.
169 I’ll give you a letter: my courtiers will not treat you with scorn.”
TO His V\SSALS
vtandil wrote his vassals a letter to tell them what he planned:
“My dedicated tutors, retainers, servants – my trusty band!
You, who are like my shadows whenever I give any command,
Hearken to my instructions, wherever this finds you in our land.
“I’m leaving you but do not think it’s just that I have restive grown.
I, the earth beneath your feet, am a different man than you’ve known:
I’ve stopped drinking and merry-making and will go out on my own.
171 For sustenance, I’ll rely on bow and arrow and the skill I’ve shown.
“What makes me need to go abroad I’m not at liberty to say.
I go alone and for at least three years will journey as I may.
Good tutors, servants, and pupils, I ask one thing of you today:
172 Don’t let this realm be shaken by our enemies while I’m away.
“I have appointed loyal Shermadin to be lord in my stead,
Until I manage to return or he should learn that I am dead.
He’ll shine upon you like the sun, so roses keep their white or red.
173 Wrong-doing will melt away like the wax which flaming candles shed.
“Surely you know I have brought him up like my own brother or son.
You must obey him as if he were Avtandil, the only one.
When he sounds the trumpet, do whatever he says I would have done.
174 If I’m not back at the appointed time, all merry-making shun.”
Thus in writing did the eloquent one his intentions confide.
Then he tied gold around his waist, and dressed himself for a long ride.
The soldiers lined up; he said, “I am ready to depart” with pride.
175 Then they came forth; he wasted not a moment tarrying inside.
He said: “Let all disperse: henceforth, I can accept nobody’s aid.”
He also told the slaves to leave, and they reluctantly obeyed.
He then withdrew alone, and hastened through the rushes unafraid.
176 His beloved slayer, Tinatin, in his mind’s eye always stayed.
He galloped across the plain; soon he was lost to the soldiers’ sight.
Who was capable of catching him before he vanished in night?
Only his slayer whom swords could not harm, only his heart’s delight.
177 He was heavy-laden with grief for her who occasioned his flight.
The soldiers tried hard to find their lord, but could not find him, of course.
When they couldn’t find the sun-faced, their faces grew pale with remorse.
Their joy turned to heaviness when they lost the one who’d been its source,
178 They galloped and they searched everywhere, whoever had a swift horse.
“Oh lion, whom can God give us to replace you in your going?”
They brought in messengers from far away; their distress kept growing.
They could learn nothing of him; he had passed from anyone’s knowing.
179 His disheartened men became distraught: their hot tears began flowing.
Courtiers came together in a crowd beyond counting or ken.
Shermadin read aloud Avtandil’s letter to all of them then.
When they heard it, all of them experienced deep grieving again.
180 There was not tearless heart, nor an unbruised breast among these men.
They said: “Though the news he has left us is quite troublesome and new.
There’s no one better to whom he could give his seat and throne than you.
Of a truth, we shall obey whatever you command us to do.”
181 They made the servant lord and did him homage – all, not just a few.
AVTANDIL SETS FORTH
IN QUEST OF THE KNIGHT
ay Dianos by Ezra the wise, be my witness at this time.
That it’s a pity when the rose is encrusted with frost and rime.
When the slender one, more beautiful than rubies, guiltless of crime,
Turns wanderer and leaves his home, on a quest he believes sublime.
Avtandil travelled over the plain as fast as if he had wings.
He traveled far into foreign lands, and saw there marvelous things.
But separation from his sun had left his heart wounded with stings.
183 He said, “If she were near, I’d not shed the tears grief usually brings.”
Snow had fallen, freezing and bruising the rose so young and slender.
At times, he clutched his knife as if his own heart he meant to render.
He said: “Destiny has increased my grief and turned my heart tender.
184 I’ve given up joy: harp, lyre and flute I have had to surrender.”
In the absence of its sun, the rose shrank and faded more and more,
He told his heart to be patient, so it never completely tore.
He journeys through foreign places: up mountains and along the shore,
185 He befriends wayfarers: his pleas for tidings they could not ignore.
He cries while searching, his tears a river flowing into the sea.
The ground seems like a couch to him; his arm a soft pillow might be.
He thinks, “Beloved, though I’ve traveled far, my heart has stayed with thee.
186 And a death suffered in thy service would be like a joy to me.”
He journeyed over the face of the whole earth: he went everywhere.
Beneath all of heaven there was no place that had not seen him there,
But he met none who had even heard of the knight who was his care.
187 Meanwhile, three years had almost passed, leaving only three months to spare.
He arrived in a certain dreary country, exceedingly bleak:
For a month he saw no one at all, no one with whom he could speak.
Vis nor Ramin saw such woes as fate on him decided to wreak.
188 Night and day he thought of Tinatin, and the knight she’d bade him seek.
He reached a resting place at the top of a mountain – a flat ledge
Looking down on a plain that took a week to cross without a sledge.
At the foot of the mountain flowed a thin stream, its banks lined with sedge.
189 Both sides were covered thickly with forest, down to the river’s edge.
He rode along the stream, counting the days as a condemned man would.
He had two months of questing left: he sighed at this, as well he should.
“What if I have to go home without finding him, as well I could?
190 No man can be born again of himself, or turn evil to good.”
He became thoughtful: to many vacillations he had to yield.
He thought: “If I fail, I’ll be mad I spent so much time in the field.
What can I say to my star -1, the one knight to whom she appealed?
191 About the man I seek, it seems even gossipers’ lips are sealed.
“If I return not and spend more time in the quest than I have set,
Spend more than three years and still no tidings of him manage to get,
The time agreed on with Shermadin will pass, his cheeks will be wet.
192 He’ll go and tell the king some unknown evil end I must have met.
“He’ll tell him of my death, as I myself strictly bade him to do.
They too will start weeping and mourning, full of bitterness and rue.
Then, after traveling everywhere, I’ll return out of the blue.”
193 He starts to weep as such thoughts in his consciousness begin to brew.
He said: “0 God, how could your right judgment of me somehow turn wrong?
Why have you turned to futility a quest that took me so long?
Why have you rooted joy from my heart, and let nested grief grow strong?
194 Now I won’t be able to stop weeping: tears will come in a throng.”
He told himself: “Better than living a shamed life will be to die.
If you return, you’ll be met by her, bright as the sun in the sky.
When she asks you about that knight, you’ll feel wretched, and want to cry.”
195 Thus he mused, walking next to the swampy wood, where the ground was dry.
He said: “Be patient!” and thought about things in a different way.
“Let my heart not weaken, let me not die before my dying day.
Without God I can do nothing. Tears are vain, as is what I say.
196 No one can change destiny: nothing comes which is not on its way.
“I know every place under heaven because I have been through there.
But regarding that man, no word of him did I hear anywhere.
Doubtless they who called him an apparition were just being fair.
197 Now tears avail me not, and useless weeping’s something to beware.”
Avtandil came down the mountain, crossed the stream, gave his horse full rein.
Lost in a dream of rattling stirrups, the knight cantered toward the plain.
All of his power and pride had been spent, and had been spent in vain.
198 The field of his face, jet-shaded, was beautiful and without stain.
He resolved to return; he sighed and groaned; he struggled with his mind.
He turned from the plain and followed the road as though he were half-blind.
In the last month, no human at all had he been able to find
199 He’d seen beasts but not chased them, even those of the horrible kind.
Though he’d roamed like a beast thus far, not worrying about eating,
Now, as is the wont of men, hunger made thoughts of all else fleeting.
He killed game. Arms longer than Rostom’s, if they were competing.
200 He kindled fire with flint, and out of reeds prepared his seating.
He let his horse graze while he roasted the meat until it was done.
Suddenly, he saw six horsemen coming towards him at a hard run.
He said: “They look like brigands. This region’s a place good people shun.
201 What other reason could explain their riding? I can think of none.”
He went to meet them with bow and arrow in hand, ready to shoot.
Two men were leading a third, looking back as if they feared pursuit.
The third was nearly dead; the amount of blood he’d lost was acute.
202 It seemed a branch of some battle had borne bitter and bloody fruit.
He called: “Say who you are: I took you for thieves a moment prior.”
They said: “Be calm. Help us, please, and put out your combative fire.
If you can’t help, please at least grieve with us our situation dire.
203 Weep with us! Scratch your cheeks! Our dear brother is about to expire!”
Avtandil came closer; he spoke to the men who were grieving so.
They told him their story. As they spoke, their tears continued to flow.
“The more our brother weakens, the more our grief continues to grow.
204 Our town’s far away in Khataeti, a name you doubtless know.
“We heard of good hunting grounds, and went forth eagerly to the chase,
We rested by a stream; countless soldiers were with us at that place.
The hunting pleased us, for a month we didn’t leave our stream-bank base.
205 We killed beasts on the plain, the mountain, on the ridges – every place.
“We brothers were the best shots: we made the archers with us feel shame.
And after that, the three of us vied with each other shooting game.
‘I kill best, I am better than you,’ each of us began to claim.
206 We quarreled among ourselves, each thinking the others were to blame.
“We ordered all the soldiers, loaded with deer hides, to leave today.
‘Let us see who of us has the strongest arm,’ we began to say.
We alone stayed behind and hunted: no one else has seen us slay.
207 We have killed only the game we saw, with no slaves to drive the prey.
”There are only the three of us and these three armor-bearers, too.
We let them stay when the soldiers left, not certain what we would do.
We hunted over the plains; in thickets and glens, the beasts we slew.
208 We slaughtered the wild ones, until not even the smallest bird flew.
“Suddenly he appeared, morose and gloomy of visage, a knight.
He sat on his horse, his black stallion, the way a demi-god might.
His head and trunk were clad in a panther skin both starry and bright.
209 Beauty such as his had never before been in anyone’s sight.
“We gazed upon his brilliance: it seemed to us to burn every eye.
We said, ‘He is a sun on earth: we need not seek it in the sky.’
We really wanted to capture him, and dared each other to try.
210 That is the reason we moan and weep. That is the reason we sigh.
“I was eldest: taking him captive was thus accorded to me.
My next brother asked for his horse, as great a mount as you could see.
He, the wounded, asked to subdue the knight: he got us to agree.
211 We rode towards him and he rode toward us, as serenely as could be.
“Ruby and crystal made the pale roses of his face seem to dim.
His great beauty made our desire for his capture rise to the brim.
212 He paid us no heed – his look was still impassive, not at all grim;
He bruised to ripeness with his whip any who spoke tartly to him.
“Our brother went on. We left it to him and further did not go.
Our brother said, ‘Stop!’ and grabbed the knight as one grabs a worthy foe.
We thought our brother the match of a swordless knight. We didn’t know.
213 He struck our brother on the head with his whip, and we saw blood flow.
“With a stroke of his whip, he cleft our brother’s head nearly in two:
He was like a corpse, earth brought to earth. There was nothing we could do.
It was our youngest brother the strange knight leveled and almost slew.
214 He rode past us, bold, severe and haughty: his sword he never drew.
”He turned not back again: quietly, without haste, his way he took.
And, lo! There he rides, as serenely as the sun and moon – just look!”
The brothers pointed him out, although with weeping their bodies shook.
215 Avtandil could only make out his great steed, blacker than a rook.
When he saw that horse, the tears within Avtandil started to dry.
He had been questing for three years and the sun on that horse was why.
A man who’s about to get his wish, who believes success is nigh,
216 No longer needs to remember past woes: his mind will let them fly.
Avtandil said: “Brothers, I am a wanderer without a place,
I left my home to seek that knight, who had vanished without a trace.
Now from you I have learned where he is. I’m near the end of my chase.
217 May God never give you more cause to grieve. May you thrive in His grace.
“I have met my heart’s desire with the sight of that knight in the trees.
So may God not let your brother suffer more wounding or disease.”
He showed the brothers his resting-place: “I beg you, stay at your ease,
218 Give your wounded one rest in the shade. Do here whatever you please.”
Then he spurred his horse and galloped away, with no more time to talk.
He seemed to fly over the ground, as fast as might an unstrung hawk.
Like the moon on its way to meet the sun, Avtandil did not balk.
219 He was like a moon consumed by the sun’s light, like a grassy stalk.
As Avtandil drew nearer, he thought how best to approach the knight.
Reckless address, he thought, might provoke the stranger to raging spite.
He needed to approach the task at hand the way a wise man might.
220 He must not do anything rash, but keep his mind tranquil and bright.
“Since the knight ahead is so unreasoning and his mood so chill
That he suffers no one to speak or even look at him at will,
If I accost him out here, one of us will die and one will kill.
221 If he’s the one remaining alive, he’ll hide with even more skill.”
Avtandil said: “Why should I suffer for the sake of a vain quest?
Whatever he is, it cannot be that he has no home, no nest.
I will let him go now and within whatever walls he finds rest,
222 I’ll seek him there if my powers are up to this ultimate test.”
Two days and two nights they kept riding, one in front and one behind.
Both were weary day and night, neither thought of the food they might find.
They rode without stopping; the thought of a pause never came to mind.
223 From their eyes, hot tears flowed, moistening the plains. They rode as if blind.
Finally, they came to a cliff on the evening of the third day.
In the cliff was a cave: a stream flowed down from it a little way.
Rushes edged the stream, how many it was not possible to say.
224 And trees so high that the eye could not see their topmost branches sway.
The knight passed the rocks and made for the cave whence the stream had its source.
Avtandil rode to the tallest tree, got down and tethered his horse.
He climbed high enough so that he could see the entire watercourse.
225 He watched as the strange knight kept riding, shedding manly tears perforce.
The knight in the panther skin rode out of the woods: his face was grave.
A black-caped maiden appeared at once: tears began her cheeks to lave.
Her abundant tears were like a river flowing wave after wave.
226 The knight dismounted and embraced the maiden who’d come from the cave.
The knight said: “Sister Asmat, all our bridges are lost in the sea.
We couldn’t find her – the one for whom fires burn hotly in me.”
Beating his breast with his hands, with his tears raining down, so spoke he.
227 The maiden swooned. They wiped away each other’s tears repeatedly.
The forest itself turned thicker now from the tearing of their hair.
The youth, the maid – and the maid, the youth: each embraced each other there.
They wailed, they lamented; the cliffs re-echoed their sounds of despair.
228 Avtandil gazed in wonder at them from his temporary lair.
The maiden calmed down, mastered the pain that held her heart in a rack.
She led the knight’s mount into the cave, and took off its noble tack.
She unbuckled the knight’s armor from his arms and legs, front and back.
229 Then knight and maiden went in the cave, and the day passed into black.
“How can I learn their story?” Avtandil wondered to no avail.
Day dawned: the maiden came forth in the same black cape; her face was pale.
She put the bridle on the horse, cleaned it with the end of her veil.
230 She saddled the horse, and noiselessly carried out the knight’s chain mail.
It seemed to be the custom of that knight never at length to rest.
The black-mantled maiden tore her thick hair; she wept and beat her breast.
The knight embraced and kissed her, then mounted his horse and rode off west.
231 Asmat, already gloomy, became, it seemed, by despair possessed.
Avtandil saw clearly the face of the knight in the panther coat.
He was a sun of heaven, with a young moustache, no beard of note.
His smell was the welcome fragrance of poplars on the wind afloat.
232 That knight could kill a lion as easy as lions kill a goat.
The knight rode out the same road he’d come in by the previous day.
He passed the rushes, rode onto the plain that stretched so far away.
Avtandil thought of following him but decided he should stay.
233 He said: “God has managed this well for me. I will not say him nay.
“How could God have done any more to make sure that my quest goes right?
I’ll make the maiden tell me the tale of him I wanted to smite.
I will tell her my story as well, and make sure she feels no fright.
234 1 am not willing to let myself kill or be killed by that knight.”
AVTANDIL TELLS HIS STORY
vtandil climbed down the tree and got on the horse he had untied.
It did not take him long to reach the cave, its door still open wide.
The tear-flooded maiden came out at once: she didn’t try to hide.
She thought the rose-faced, crystal-haloed knight had come back to her side.
But this knight’s face was strange, unlike that of the other she found fair.
Swiftly she turned and she ran, her cries echoed from the high cliff there.
The knight leaped from his horse and seized her like a partridge in a snare.
236 The rocks resounded with the maiden’s howls: it seemed her heart would tear.
She yielded not to Avtandil: he was too hateful in her sight.
Like a partridge pinioned by an eagle, she fluttered left and right.
She kept calling on ‘Tariel’ for help in her desperate plight
237 Avtandil knelt and with exposed throat, entreated her not to fight.
He said: “Maiden, please! I wish you no harm. Don’t take me for a knave.
Is ‘Tariel’ the knight who just left? It’s his life story I crave.
I have seen him cypress-formed and shining-faced, rosy-cheeked and brave.
238 Don’t be afraid and don’t cry out. Your plight at this time isn’t grave.”
The girl said – more as if she were debating than making a plea –
“If you are mad, return to reason! If you aren’t, then set me free!
This is no easy matter, this boon you so lightly ask of me.
239 Don’t ask me to tell you his tale: this thing you ask for cannot be.
” 0 knight, do you know what it is you’ve asked of me?” she said again.
“The story of that other knight cannot be written with the pen.
To the plea ‘Tell me!’ I’ll say ‘No!’ though it be to a hundred men.
240 I prefer silent grief to saying what’s clearly beyond your ken.”
“Maiden, you don’t know where I come from or the sorrows I have seen.
For a long time I sought news of him, but no tidings could I glean.
Now I’ve found you, and no matter what hurt to you my words may mean,
241 I won’t let you go till you say what you know, even though you’re keen.”
The maiden said: “I am a humble servant: what is that to you?
You have caught me now because the sun is not near, isn’t that true?
Long discourse is tedious, so the words I give you will be few:
242 I won’t tell you the tale you want to hear, no matter what you do.”
He begged again: he threw himself on his knees and did not arise.
He wearied of pleading: naught could he win from her, not tears, not sighs.
His indignation mounted to his face, and blood flowed to his eyes,
243 He got up and grabbed her hair; now his knife against her fair throat lies.
He said, “How can I forgive you when you express so much ill-will?
You make me weep: shall they be in vain, then, these tears you’ve made me spill?
It is better for you to tell me, and suffer no further ill.
244 If not, may God kill my enemies as I now a maiden kill!”
The maiden said, “The death you have in mind for me is savage and cruel
You’d make a maiden hale and hearty bleed out in a bloody pool.
To tell you anything before I’m released would mark me a fool.
245 And people who are headless do not answer questions as a rule.”
Then she said, “Who do you think I am? What evil fate drove you here?
I won’t tell you the tale you want as long as I live, is that clear?
I would rather willingly let you kill me, and die without fear,
246 Let you tear me up like a useless letter penned by someone dear.
”Do not think death is a suffering from which I’m trying to keep.
Death would be for me a freedom, the freedom from needing to weep.
The world to me is no more than a bale of straw. I hold it cheap.
247 I don’t know you. Why should I speak to you of matters I hold deep?”
The knight thought: “Thus I cannot make her speak. I need to let her go.
I must think of a way to persuade her that I am not her foe.”
He released her and sat down. He began to weep, let his tears flow.
248 He said: “I have angered you, maiden. How to soothe you, I don’t know.”
The maiden sits morose, resentful: she has not yet warmed to him.
Avtandil sits below her. Unspeaking, he weeps. His face is grim.
The rose garden of his face is flooded with tears, up to the brim.
249 The maiden’s heart is softened: down her face, too, tears begin to swim.
Her hot tears were flowing now for the knight weeping so close at hand.
But she sat silent, strange to the stranger, waiting to understand.
The knight then understood his tears her maiden’s sympathies had fanned.
250 With yet more tears, he came to her, and knelt down on the rocky land.
He said: “I know I’ve proved myself unworthy of a sister’s trust,
Since I’ve angered you and stayed a stranger. Reject me as you must.
I put myself, though, at your mercy, humble at your feet like dust.
251 For it is said repentant sinners are forgiven by the just.
“Though at the start I did not show any benevolence to you,
Yet as a lover I can still claim your pity, is it not true?
This is my only defense: all other defenses I eschew.
252 I give you my life for the sake of my heart. What more can I do?”
When the maiden heard from the knight of his love, she wept even more.
Sobbing, she began shedding tears that seemed to flow from her heart’s core.
Again she began wailing, as if she lay at agony’s door.
253 The knight was glad. The tale he wanted from her lips would surely pour.
He said to himself: “My plea changed her mood and washed away her fears.
Doubtless her love for someone is the cause of her copious tears.”
He said: “You know, lovers are pitied even by those wielding spears;
254 You know, too, a lover seeks death. When death draws nigh, a lover cheers.
“I am a lover, a madman, living a life I cannot bear.
My sun told me to find that knight and to bring him with me back there.
Even a cloud could not reach some of the places I’ve dared to dare.
255 That you’re dedicated to him, and he to you, I am aware.
“His face was imprinted on my heart by the one I hope to wed.
Seeking him brought me no joy, but sorrow upon sorrow instead.
Make me your captive, or tell me story for which I have pled.
256 Either grant me life or add grief to my grief, and leave me for dead.”
The maiden spoke to the knight words much more pleasant than at the start.
“It’s better to speak of love as you do now, with passion and art.
Before, your speaking did nothing but sow enmity in my heart,
257 Now you have made of me a friend, ready to play a sister’s part.
“Since you have now spoken openly of love, which before you hid,
Because of your loving words, I’ll serve you, despite what you first did.
I shall devote myself to you, of sadness I shall see you rid.
258 I’ll die for your sake if I don’t find a way to do as you bid.
“You should heed whatever I tell you, and this is the reason why:
If you listen, you’ll be successful in whatever thing you try.
And if you disregard me, you’ll fail, no matter how hard you cry.
259 Bitter regret will consume you. You will curse your fate and you’ll die.”
The knight said: “This reminds me of a common story people tell:
Two men were walking single-file by a road; the one in front fell.
The one behind saw the one in front had fallen into a well.
260 He came up and started weeping. “Woe is us!” he began to yell.
”Thus he instructed his fallen friend: ‘Comrade, stay there, wait for me,
I’m going away to get some ropes, and then I will rescue thee.
The man who had fallen in the well laughed at his friend’s loud decree.
261 He shouted up: ‘I have to wait. Whither do you think I can flee?’
“Sister, your rope is around my neck: of that I can have no doubt.
And, like the man who fell in the well: your commands I will not flout.
Whatever you decide to do, you are like balm to this mad lout.
262 You’re my one chance: if you don’t pull me from this well, I won’t get out.”
The maiden said: “Your story, oh knight, has pleased me in the extreme.
You are a good knight and worthy of praise by the wise it would seem.
I pitied you as soon as I knew love’s suffering was your theme.
263 If you listen and do as I say, you shall realize your dream.
“Nowhere can news of this knight be found, though this fact may make you grieve.
He alone knows his story; there’s nobody else you can believe.
If you can wait here until he returns, you may your goal achieve.
264 Be calm. Let not an avalanche of tears you of your rose relieve.
“I will tell you our names, part of the tale for whose telling you yearn.
Tariel is the name of that knight whose story you seek to learn.
I’m called Asmat, she in whom a hot fire continues to burn,
265 Who keeps sighing sigh after sigh, seeing sorrow at every turn.
“What words I can use to describe him are necessarily few.
Powerful and fierce, he scours the plains. That much you already knew.
He goes and brings me back my food. The meat I eat is what he slew.
266 He may return soon or tarry away, a delay you will rue.
“I entreat you not to go anywhere, to wait here for the knight.
When he returns, I will plead with him; I will tell him of your plight.
I will make him like you. You two will be like brothers, as is right.
267 He’ll tell you his tale and you’ll be beloved in your beloved’s sight.”
The knight listened to the maiden and said he would wait with her then.
The next moment, both heard the sound of water splashing in the glen.
They saw Tariel ford the stream, like a moon coming from its den.
268 They hastened to the cave. Tariel came riding across the fen.
“God seems right away to have given you what you want,” Asmat said.
“But every person who tried confronting him abruptly is dead.
I beg you to make yourself unseen in the cave a while instead.
269 I’ll talk to him. Maybe he’ll tell you the story for which you’ve pled.
Asmat took Avtandil inside the cave, and every knightly trace
That knight turned over to her, his horse and weapons of manly grace.
They wept together. Tears could have flowed to the sea from either face.
270 Avtandil stood by the window, having been hidden in that place.
His crystal face darkened to amber as he let his hot tears go.
Black-robed Asmat cried, too. She and Tariel kept on weeping so.
Everything he had, horse and armor, she found the right place to stow.
271 They quieted. Their lashes’ jet knives cut off all their teary flow.
Avtandil watched from the window; his prison had an open door.
The maiden laid for Tariel mats of panther skin on the floor;
Tariel sat on a mat and sighed. Tears of grief began to pour:
272 His jet lashes seemed plaited together with tears of blood and gore.
The maiden took a small flint and with that lit a little fire.
She cooked a game bird whole, thinking that would be Tariel’s desire.
He took a small bite of what she served, then of eating seemed to tire.
273 Tariel spat the unchewed food out: the state he was in seemed dire.
He lay down and fell asleep for a while, then wakened with a groan;
He started, and screamed; he leaped up as if he were dazed and alone.
Weeping, he beat his head with a stick and beat his breast with a stone.
274 Asmat also scratched her face: in this way, her sympathy was shown.
”Why have you come back so soon?” she asked. “Did something awful occur?”
‘1 came upon a certain king hunting,” he said, answering her.
‘He had many soldiers with him, and heavily-laden they were.
275 Game-beaters scattered in every direction, to make killing sure.
“The sight of men stoked my grief: it flamed up more than I thought it could.
I could not bring myself to meet the king, although I knew I should.
I felt sorry for myself and turned away: I hid in the wood.
276 I thought: ‘If he stops pursuit, slipping away at dawn would be good.'”
The maiden’s tears sprang forth a hundredfold. She cried as in despair,
“You roam alone with beasts in the forest, communing with them there.
You don’t speak to anyone but me; with no one else do you share.
277 You’re wasting time: this way, you cannot help the one for whom you care.
“Over the whole face of the earth, you have made journeys without end;
And yet you could not find one man worthy enough to be your friend?
You have woes enough; be glad if God should a worthy ally send.
278 If you and she both die, who will your tragic situation mend?”
He said: “Sister, your heartily spoken kind words bespeak your worth.
But, alas, there’s no balm for this wound I have, there’s nothing but dearth.
The man who could be my companion, I fear has not yet seen birth.
279 My friend is death, when the soul departs and the body turns to earth.
“Would God really let a man be born under the same stars as I,
With whom I would want companionship and converse? I don’t see why.
Who could bear even a portion of my woes? Who would even try?
280 You are the only one with whom I will the bonds of friendship tie.”
The maid said: “I beg and entreat you not to be angry with me:
Since God appointed me your adviser, I’ll say now what I see.
To go to extremes is wrong, that’s the truth as I hold it to be.
281 It’s not the company of men, but aloneness you need to flee.
”Her seeker should have far more foresight than what you are saying shows.
You’re a man not a beast, yet it is the beasts’ company you chose.
Better you befriend a man, be happy with how your friendship grows.
282 Don’t die like a nightingale, pecking on the petals of a rose.”
The knight replied: “I don’t know what you’re asking of me. Please be clear.
I can’t create a friend for myself. God would need to bring him here.
If God wanted me happy in this way, an ally would appear.
283 Instead, as you said, He’s led me to become like a beast, I fear.”
Asmat replied: “I have harassed you with advice. I will be still.
But if I could find a man who’d come to you of his own free will,
And stay beside you, and you found enjoying his friendship a thrill,
284 Would you swear not to do him any harm, not to let his blood spill?”
He answered: “If you show me such a man, truly, I shall be glad.
I swear this by the love of her for whose sake I have wandered mad.
I shall do nothing to make him bitter or cause him to be sad.
285 I’ll love him so much, he will think me the best friend he ever had.”
THE MEETING OF TARIEL
he maiden then went and took Avtandil’s hand and brought forth the knight;
“He is not angry,” she said, hoping to cleanse his mind of all fright.
\ She took him and led him forth. Like the full moon, Avtandil was bright;
Tariel thought him most like the sun, shining with heavenly light.
Thus Tariel met Avtandil, both as bright as the sun that day,
Or the moon who spreads on the plains beneath ray after cloudless ray.
Even a poplar would not have seemed as tall and slender as they.
287 They were most, I think, like the seven planets, as they go their way.
They were not bashful and kissed; each knew the other was not a foe.
They opened their lips, those roses; they allowed their white teeth to show.
They embraced each other; together they wept, they let their tears flow.
288 As they wept, their ruby-red jacinth seemed bathed in an amber glow.
Tariel turned and he grasped Avtandil’s hand firmly in his own,
Then they sat together and wept, more hot tears than either had known.
Asmat calmed them with words when she saw how sorrowful they had grown:
289 “Don’t punish yourselves, nor darken the sun with too mournful a tone.”
Tariel’s rose was by now frozen only to a slight degree;
He said to Avtandil: “Unlock your secret: let words be your key.
What is your name and where is your home? What sort of knight might you be?
290 I am one who’s been abandoned; even death has forgotten me.”
Avtandil gave answer at once, and beautifully did he speak:
“Tariel, for a lion and hero, your demeanor is meek.
I am an Arab. In Arabia, I have castles unique.
291 I am consumed by fire; I suffer the havoc love can wreak.
“I’ve fallen in love with my lord’s daughter, to whom none can compare.
Even the powerful view her as their king, strong as she is fair.
I saw you once, but I know that’s something of which you’re unaware.
292 You killed the slaves we sent after you, as many as we could spare.
“We’d been hunting when we came upon you, roaming across the plain.
My lord was angry with you, and wanted you brought to him in vain.
We pursued you with soldiers and called you: no answer did you deign.
293 You died the fields crimson that day with all the blood you made to drain.
“Without a sword, with just a whip, you split every pursuer’s head.
We all gave chase but couldn’t catch you, no matter how fast we sped.
Then you vanished like a Kadji, and terror in the slaves was bred.
294 This enraged us still more: some of us wanted your blood to be shed.
“Monarchs want their wishes fulfilled at once: the king was in despair.
He commanded that you be found: far and wide did his best scouts fare.
No matter where they went, neither young nor old said they’d seen you there.
295 Now she’s sent me, she to whom neither sun nor ether can compare.
“She told me: ‘Bring back news for me of that suddenly vanished knight,
Thereupon I will do that which you desire, as is only right.’
She told me that for three years I should search, weeping far from her sight.
296 Do you not wonder that I could bear not seeing her smile so bright?
“Until recently, no one was able to give me news of you.
Not long ago, I met three robbers, and they spoke as robbers do.
With your slashing whip, you brought close to death one of the robber crew.
297 The brothers of the dying man said this, and I believe it true.”
Tariel recalled their bygone fight. When he spoke, his voice was low.
He said: “I recall our meeting, though it happened a while ago.
I saw you and your master hunting together, that much I know.
298 I thought of my beloved destroyer, and tears began to flow.
“What did I have in common with you? Why was my capture so dear?
You were mighty, intent on sport. Down my cheeks ran tear after tear.
When you set armed slaves upon me, all of you wanted me dead, I fear.
299 But instead of having me killed, you had many corpses to clear.
“I looked around when your lord was approaching, and I simply fled.
I had pity on his lordship, didn’t want his blood to be shed.
I didn’t lay my hands on him, and there was nothing to be said.
300 My horse is so fast he seems to vanish, that’s the way he was bred.
“Before any man can blink, before he can even wink his eye,
I can flee from any man I don’t like. My speedy steed is why.
I did not want to talk to those robbers, so why on earth should I?
301 But they did wrong taunting a knight on his own, who has stopped to cry.
“Your intention’s good, and the sight of you as pleasing as can be.
You’re as bright as the sun, and tall and slender as a cypress tree.
You have suffered much and have toiled a lot – that anyone can see.
302 It’s hard to find a man abandoned by God in heaven, like me.”
Avtandil said: “You praise me, but you are worthy of higher praise.
You speak as if I had done great service for you in recent days.
You are cast in the image of the sun, so brightly shine your rays.
303 Tearful misery doesn’t alter your beauty or noble ways.
“Meeting you has made me forget that woman whose love is a dart.
I have left her service. If you wish, attachment to you may start.
I prefer your jacinth: with the pearl of pearls, I’m willing to part.
304 I’ll stay with you until my death – that is the desire of my heart.”
Tariel said, “Your eloquence has touched me and warmed my heart through.
But what service worthy of your attachment have I done for you?
In the course of things, one lover pities another. That is true.
305 But if I take you from your beloved, what recompense is due?
“You’ve traveled far to find me here. Because of her request, you came.
God led you to me because you were manful and brave in her name.
But how can I tell you the reason I have wandered without aim?
306 If I speak of this, I shall be burned: I will turn into a flame.”
Asmat said: “Have your tears quenched that fire? Did you really think they would?
It’s not my place to urge your speaking, but I truly think you should.
This lovesick knight is ready to give up everything for your good.
307 If you told him why you suffer, I know he’d help you if he could.
“He begged me at first to tell him your tale: I didn’t fail that test.
God forbid, how could my tongue submit to the knight’s urgent behest?
I don’t think it would ease your pain if you your history confessed.
308 But if it’s what heavenly Providence wants, it must be the best.”
At this, Tariel fell silent – and the hot fire in him turned low.
He asked Asmat: “You’ve been with me for so long, how could you not know
This wound I carry will never be cured, but continue to grow?
309 This knight’s tears have burned me; my tears have once again begun to flow.
“But God has ultimately been, I know, both merciful and wise.
Today He sent my way two great blessings, and both as a surprise.
For my sake, He binds us together and our loving souls He ties.
310 And, when I tell my story, He may allow me death as a prize.
“When one takes to himself a sister or brother,” Tariel said,
“He won’t shy from death or hardships to which his friendship led.
How can God save one unless his friend pays the penalty instead?
311 I’ll tell you my story, no matter how many tears I shed.”
He said to Asmat: “Come, sit down here, keep some water close at hand.
If I should faint, sprinkle water on my breast. Do you understand?
Weep for me, cry ceaselessly, if I die before the tale is spanned.
312 Dig a grave for me; let the earth cradle me in this foreign land.”
Before he began, he opened his shirt: his shoulders were laid bare.
Like the sun clad in clouds, he sat a long time as though unaware.
His jaw was tightly clenched as though he could not speak, or did not dare.
313 Then he drew his breath: hot tears sprang forth and he cried out in despair.
He sobbed: “Oh my lost beloved, beyond the reach of any art!
My hope and my life, my thought, my soul, from whom I was forced to part!
Who cut you off I do not know, oh tree planted at Eden’s start!
314 Still the fire has not consumed you, a hundred times kindled heart!
TARIEL TELLS HIS STORY
earken, and to the telling of my history pay careful heed.
The story is of things it is hard to express, both word and deed.
She who took away my mind will not soothe me in my time of need.
I feel great grief for her: that is the reason I readily bleed.
“There are in India seven realms, as everyone is aware;
The great sovereign, Parsadan, ruled over six of the kingdoms there.
He was generous, rich, proud, ruling over kings beyond compare,
316 Sun-faced leader of conquering armies, a lion in his lair.
“My father, a terror to all his foes, sat on the seventh throne.
Saridan was his name, and for many victories he was known.
Openly or in secret, offenses to him dared not be shown.
317 He hunted and made merry, this king: heedless of Fate had he grown.
“But anguish swelled his heart as he grew bored in his isolation.
He said to himself: ‘I’ve conquered in battle many a nation.
My foes are gone but all my power no longer brings elation.
318 I’ll swear service to King Parsadan, and take a lower station.’
“Thus, to King Parsadan he swiftly sent an envoy on his way.
And the message he carried said: ‘All India is in your sway.
I also desire to show you the power of my heart today.
319 And henceforth I in glorious steadfast service to you shall stay!’
”Parsadan felt jubilation, hearing the news the envoy brought.
He sent word back: ‘I, ruler of lands, thank God for this joy unsought.
You, like me a king in India, a wonderful thing have wrought.
320 Come visit me and I’ll honor you like a brother, as I ought.’
“Then Parsadan made my father of one entire realm the head,
And Amirbar of the fleet as well, so the whole navy he led.
He was also made army commander by what Parsadan said.
321 And he performed all these duties so well none could serve in his stead.
“Parsadan thought my father equal to him in what he was due.
He said, ‘I’m sure no other ruler has an Amirbar like you.’
They hunted and waged war: their foes readily made peace with the two.
322 I’m not like my father, as no other man is like me or you.
“The king and queen were childless, with no heir to inherit the throne.
They knew, too, because of their state, alarm in the armies had grown.
Cursed be the day when my father’s seed in my mother was sown.
323 The king said: ‘I’ll rear him as my son; his race is even my own.’
“The king and queen took me as their child; as their offspring, I was raised.
I was to be lord of all the realms: I was constantly appraised.
They brought wise men to teach me kingship, and the wise men were amazed.
324 I grew to be a lion, like the sun to look at, and was praised.
“Asmat, if you notice any falsehood in my words, let me know.
At age five, I looked like a rose in full bloom, a blossom to show.
I could kill a lion as if it were weak, with a single blow.
325 Parsadan did not seem to care no child on him would Fate bestow.
“I was five when the queen grew great with child: so soon was I undone.”
Tariel was weeping: “She bore a lovely daughter, not a son.”
He seemed very faint. Asmat sprinkled him with water like a nun.
326 He said: “From her birth, she for whom flames burn me was of sunlight spun!
”When the Queen was in labor, the latest news everywhere did go.
Message followed message, till all of India was in the know.
The sun and the moon were exultant; the sky brightened with their glow.
327 Every living soul was happy and they let their happiness show.
“I am not fit to praise her: after this confession, grant me shrift.
The king announced her birth with joy: most subjects felt their spirits lift.
From everywhere came kings, bringing every kind of wonderful gift.
328 They gave treasure away to soldiers: this was not a time for thrift.
“Birthday jubilation ceased. They began to rear me and the maid.
Even then she was like the sun’s rays, woven in a trebled braid.
The king and queen loved us alike and watched over us as we played.
329 Now I’ll say her name for whom passion has of my heart ashes made.”
Tariel fainted when he tried to mention his beloved’s name.
Avtandil also wept; Tariel’s fire charred his heart with flame.
Asmat revived him: she sprinkled water over his inert frame.
330 He said then: “This is truly the day of my death, for which you came.
“Just saying her name – Nestan-Daredjan – imagine how I feel!
By seven, she was gentle and wise, the maid before whom I kneel.
She was moonlike: not even the beautiful sun had her appeal.
331 How could a heart bear to part with her, even if it were forged steel!
“Till I was old enough to fight, she and I grew together there.
Since the king looked upon his daughter as his kingship’s rightful heir,
He gave me back to my father when I grew up, as he thought fair.
332 I played. I hunted. I killed, like a cat, a lion in his lair.
“Asmat, you are a witness to how my sadness has made me ail.
I outshone the sun, as dawn is lovelier than dusk without fail.
Those who saw me always said: ‘He from heavenly regions must hail.’
333 I am a shadow of my former self: my woes have turned me pale.
”Then for his daughter, the king had built a tower of precious stone
Where she could live safely: inside was a jacinth and ruby throne,
In front, a fountain for bathing, of the sweetest rosewater known:
334 There she resided, for whose sake flame has consumes me to the bone.
“Fresh-cut aloes poured forth incense from censers every day and night.
She sits in the garden shade those days when the sunshine is too bright.
The king’s sister had wed in Kadjeti, a name to conjure fright:
335 The king asked Davar, now widowed, to teach his Nestan wrong from right.
“The palace was curtained throughout with golden cloth and rich brocade,
So none of us saw her any more – our rose-faced, porcelain maid;
She had Asmat and two servants with her: backgammon games they played;
336 There she grew up tall and slender, like a fir in Gabaon shade.
“I was fifteen years old. The king had raised me to be like a son.
He wanted me with him from the moment a new day had begun.
I seemed reared in Eden, strong as a lion; to the eye, a sun.
337 In horse races and archery, all lauded the feats I had done.
“Because of my errorless arrows, countless beasts were quickly slain.
And I played ball in the fields with friends when I returned from the plain.
When home, I partook of feasts; I lived my life in a merry vein.
338 But Fate ripped me from my porcelain beloved, and life is pain.
“My father died. The day of his death was a day deeply to mourn.
Because of this event, from his merriment, Parsadan was torn.
While in all who trembled in fear of him, great happiness was born.
339 The loyal grieved; their enemies rejoiced and responded with scorn.
“For a year, darkness enveloped me. I’d been abandoned by Fate.
Day and night, I groaned, unsoothable by those who came to my gate.
Courtiers came and told me what the king had said about my state.
340 He had said, ‘Tariel, my son, let your grief and mourning abate.
'”We are even sadder than you are by the loss of our good friend.’
He sent me many gifts and said my days of wearing black should end.
He said in my father’s duties the rest of my life I should spend.
341 The honor of being Amirbar did he to me then extend.
“Then my grief for my father flared up even more strongly inside.
Courtiers led me out of the darkness where I wanted to hide.
The king and queen of India greeted my coming forth with pride.
342 They met me halfway along the road, kissed me like parents, and cried.
“They honored me as their beloved son, seated me near the throne.
They told me gently of the obligations into which I’d grown.
I feared my father’s footsteps would lead me into the great unknown.
343 They persisted until as Amirbar I had them homage shown.
“I was of the Indians and many others master and lord.
I punished all who threatened my people; I was by foes abhorred.
I hosted many feasts, ruled happily with my people’s accord.
344 I hunted and dressed my soldiers in the best dress I could afford.
“I don’t know what happened after that: many years have passed since then.
But I’ll tell you whatever of my tale remains within my ken!
Deceitful and treacherous Fate does nothing but evil to men.
345 And I know that its hot embers will burn me again and again.”
THE STORY OF TARIELS
FALLING IN LOVE
hen he had wept for some time, he began to tell his tale anew.
“The king and I were coming back from hunting as we used to do.
He took my hand and said, ‘Let’s go and see my daughter, just us two.’
I remember that, and still keep living. Doesn’t that surprise you?
“As the king commanded, with pheasants to the maiden I came.
I took the birds and we went to her. I went to burn in the flame.
So I began to pay the debt of my good luck, riches, and fame.
347 To pierce a heart of rock, only a lance of adamant can claim.
“I saw the garden, and more than any other place, it was fair.
Of birdsong which sounded sweeter than sirens, I became aware.
There were fountains of rosewater for baths, seemingly everywhere.
348 Velvet curtains richly embroidered were hung over the door there.
“I knew that the king didn’t want his sun-like daughter to be seen.
He went in through the heavy curtains and I stood outside a screen.
I could see nothing. Only a phrase or two of talk could I glean.
349 The king then told Asmat to take from me the pheasants fresh and clean.
“I was outside the screen when she drew the curtains. I am not blind!
Thus I saw the maiden Nestan, and a lance pierced my heart and mind!
Then Asmat asked me -1 was burning! – for the game birds and was kind.
350 Alas! Ever since, to an eternal furnace I’ve been confined!
”Then disappeared that glorious light which outshone even the sun!”
He groaned bitterly and fainted, his story for the moment done.
Avtandil and Asmat sat weeping at the tragic tale he’d spun.
351 They said: “Those arms that fought so well, alas, are now of use to none!”
Asmat sprinkled Tariel with water. He regained consciousness.
For a while he could not speak grief so heavy on his heart did press.
He sat down and moaned bitterly; his tears the earth around did bless.
352 He said: “Alas, her memory brings only sorrow and distress!
People who trust in Fate are allowed to choose from her gifts at first.
They enjoy good luck awhile, till she turns her back on those she nursed.
I praise prudent sages who are in Fortune’s treacheries well versed:
353 Hearken to me if I survive the sorrow with which I’m accursed.”
He resumed, “They took in the birds; all I wanted was to be warm.
I fainted, fell. Strength fled my shoulders and arms as if from a storm.
I came to. People were weeping. Sad rites they’d begun to perform.
354 As if embarking on a ship, the household surrounded my form.
“Then I found myself in a great chamber, lying on a soft bed.
Both the king and the queen wept over me. Unceasing tears they shed.
They scratched their faces with their hands, and tore at the hair on their head.
355 Mullahs declared I’d been bewitched: Beelzebub wanted me dead.
“When the king saw me open my eyes, he gave me a warm embrace.
‘My son, my son, are you still alive?’ he said with tears on his face.
I couldn’t speak. I was a terrified madman, afraid of grace.
356 I fainted again. Blood rushed into my heart. I could hear it race.
“All the holy elders and mullahs sat around me, deep in thought.
In their hands, each held the Koran, the holy book each one had brought.
They believed I was possessed. Such was the nonsense those elders taught.
357 For three days, I was lifeless. In undying fire I was caught.
”The doctors marveled, too, saying: ‘What kind of sickness can this be?’
They said it wasn’t treatable, that grief had taken hold of me.
Sometimes I leapt up as if mad, and mumbled a meaningless plea.
358 The queen poured forth enough tears over my body to make a sea.
“For three days, neither alive nor dead, I lay under palate care.
Then I regained my senses. I recalled why they’d taken me there.
I said to myself, ‘What a plight I am in! Of life I despair!’
359 I asked the Creator for patience. I addressed to him a prayer.
“I said: ‘God, hear my plea. Don’t abandon me. Let your mercy show!
You can give me strength to endure, restore a little life, I know.
To stay here will reveal my secret. Let me therefore homeward go!’
360 I steeled my wounded heart. God mended me, though my healing was slow.
“I sat up. The king’s servants and courtiers were truly amazed;
They carried back the good news: ‘He’s sitting up!’ The queen ran in, dazed.
The king ran in behind her – bareheaded, as if completely crazed.
361 All around the palace chamber where I was, God was being praised.
“They handed me a soothing drink. The king and queen looked on with pride.
I said: ‘Lord, my heart is much stronger now. I feel able to ride.
I long to mount a good horse and travel the kingdom far and wide.’
362 They brought me a horse and I mounted him. The king rode by my side.
“We went forth: the public square and riverbank – we passed them both by.
When we reached my house, the king turned back. I watched him go with a sigh
I went inside and with that act piled one more woe on woe piled high.
363 I said to myself that it would be best if I could simply die.
“The porcelain of my face grew dark, and tears continued to pour.
And it was as if ten thousand knives were piercing my heart still more.
The bedchamber guard said to the steward someone was at the door.
364 I wondered: ‘Are they bringing news, or is this something to ignore?’
”They told me that it was Asmat’s servant when I went to inquire.
This servant then entered and handed me a letter of desire.
I was surprised. What was there that could help to quench my heart’s fire?
365 My heart was very sad, but I didn’t suspect anything dire.
“I was surprised that Asmat loved me and dared this love to declare.
To ignore the letter would not be right. She would think me unfair.
If I didn’t answer, she would lose hope, and fall into despair.
366 I wrote a gentleman’s light-hearted answer to her then and there.
“Long days passed. The fire in my heart showed no sign of running short.
I could no longer watch soldiers on the plains engage in their sport.
Many physicians came to me. I was too ill to go to court.
367 Fate brought no joys: I’d become someone Fate was determined to thwart.
“The doctors could do nothing. A dark twilight on my heart now pressed,
I was on fire because of love, but nobody knew or guessed.
They blamed my blood. The king decided bleeding my arm would be best;
368 I let it be done to hide the suffering I had not confessed.
“I was in my chamber, dispirited after my arm was bled.
My servant came in. I asked what he wanted. He came near and said
That Asmat’s servant had returned. ‘Allow her to enter,’ I said.
369 I disapproved of the spirit by which I thought Asmat was led.
“Her servant handed me a letter and I read it without haste.
She said she wanted to meet with me; on this, her letter was based.
I wrote: ‘I’m sorry I’ve delayed, if you feel there’s no time to waste.
370 I’ll come when you call; then perhaps all awkwardness will be erased.’
“I asked my heart: ‘Why have such trifling things your despondency fanned?
I am Amirbar: all in India must do as I command.
Still, if the King and Queen learn of my love, they will not understand.
371 If they learn my secret, they’ll forbid me to travel in their land.’
”A man came from the king, saying he wanted what news I could send.
He said the king had ordered him to bleed me and upon me tend.
I said: ‘They bled my arm some time ago. I have begun to mend.
372 I’ll come to the court and be healthier: ample time will I spend.
“I went to court. The king said: ‘You are no longer sick. Is that clear?’
He made me mount quiverless, did not allow me even a spear.
He mounted, and let fly the falcons. Every pheasant hid with fear;
373 All the king’s archers formed into ranks. All of them started to cheer.
“After coming in from the plain, we made a feast at home that day.
Singers and minstrels were not silent. Each had his musical say.
The king took many precious stones and, one by one, gave them away.
374 Until all guests had many gifts, the king insisted that they stay.
“I strove to be happy, too, but my anguish over-mastered me.
I thought of her and from the fire in my heart could not get free.
I took all my comrades to my house. They called me an aloe-tree.
375 I drank and feasted to hide the pain and grief that tormented me.
“My household treasurer came. To whisper in my ear, he made bold.
‘A certain woman outside wants to see the Amirbar I’m told.
The veils covering her face are proper and lovely to behold.’
376 ‘Invite her to my chamber,’ I told the man, but my heart was cold.
“I stood up. Those at the banquet prepared to go out in the yard.
I said, ‘Please don’t go. Don’t let this banquet by my leaving be marred.’
I went forth and entered the room. At the door, a servant stood guard.
377 I expected amorousness, and I nerved my heart to be hard.
“I halted in the doorway. The woman came forward, and bowed low.
She said to me: ‘Blessed is the one to whom you attention show!’
I marveled that this woman would do homage to a lover so.
378 Her speaking said to me that she the art of courtship did not know.
”I went in, sat down. The woman came to the rug’s edge, but not near.
That she considered herself unworthy to sit by me seemed clear.
I said, ‘Why stay over there? If you’re in need of my love, come here.’
379 She did not answer. I thought she did not wish to speak, or felt fear.
“Then she said: ‘My heart burns with a shameful flame I will not prolong.
You think I came to visit you for the purpose of doing wrong.
However, I feel hope because you didn’t keep me waiting long.
380 If I am worthy of your attention, God’s mercy is still strong.’
“She rose: ‘Your courteousness perplexes me a little,’ she said.
‘Don’t disparage me for what my mistress commanded to be said.
Such boldness is not on my own behalf, but to please her instead.
381 This letter will say for whom I speak, and by whom I have been led.’
FIRST LETTER WRITTEN
TO H E R BELOVED
saw the letter: it was from her for whom fire fills my breast.
The sunbeam wrote: ‘0 lion! Let not your wounds be made manifest!
I am yours. Do not die. Do not faint whenever you feel distressed.
Asmat will tell you all I have said, some of which you may have guessed.
“Pitiful fainting shows the love of a boy who toward manhood speeds.
It is better to show your beloved truly heroic deeds.
We rule Khataeti. Our governance is all that country needs.
We have foolishly suffered thus far their ill will and all it breeds.
“I wanted to wed you long before now, but I’ve been forced to wait.
Until this safe way to reach you was presented to me by Fate.
The other day, I saw you falling into an unconscious state.
I heard what had befallen you, the man I wanted as my mate.
“I am telling you the truth. Please hearken to everything I say.
Go battle with the Khatavians. Be my hero far away.
From this time on, I would prefer that you no idle tears display.
What more can the sun do for you? I have turned your darkness to day.’
“After I had read the letter, Asmat felt no need to be shy.
As for me -1 can’t describe my boundless happiness. I won’t try.
My heart was swelling, throbbing, thrilling. I was riding very high.
My face regained its porcelain and ruby shine. My eyes stayed dry.
FIRST LETTER WRITTEN
BY TARIEL TO HIS BELOVED
ith my own eyes, I gazed at my beloved’s unexpected note.
‘0 moon, not even the sun is as beautiful as you,’ I wrote.
‘I don’t need or want any more from God than you on whom I dote!
My life has fully returned to me. In a dream I seem to float.
“I said to Asmat: ‘Better answer than this I cannot devise.’
Say thus to her: ‘0 sun who has let your light for my sake arise,
You’ve brought me back to life. I shall avoid fainting as you advise.
388 Whatever you ask, I will do, even if it means my demise.’
“Asmat said to me: ‘She told me: ‘You must tell him how to proceed
Let no one discover my discourse with him, even if they plead.
Pretending he’s in love with you, let him come to me with all speed.’
389 She entreated me, ‘Tell the Amirbar this is the screen we need.’
“This sage counsel pleased me. I marveled at the wisdom she displayed
Given that even the sun gazed timidly on this lovely maid.
She’d shared with me her dearest thoughts, and advice that must be obeyed,
390 In her bright rays daylight seemed like darkness in which to be afraid.
“I wanted to give Asmat precious jewels and a cup made of gold.
But she wouldn’t accept. T have enough of such things,” I was told.
She took only one ring which weighed about a drachma but was old.
391 ‘This is token enough,’ she said. ‘Servants like me should not be bold.’
”Asmat arose and went forth. The spears stabbing my heart had all ceased.
Joy lightened my darkness. From the burning flames, I had been released.
I went to where my comrades were drinking and joined again the feast.
392 Joyfully, I distributed gifts: the jubilation increased.
TARIEL WRITES A LETTER
AND SENDS A M A N
TO THE KHATAVIANS
sent a man to the Khatavians with this letter from me.
‘The Indian king has divine power, as everyone can see.
Those who are faithful and serve him shall not needy or hungry be.
Whoever flouts the king has himself to blame for his penury.
“Please don’t embitter us on any account, our brother and lord.
As soon as you read this letter, come hither on your own accord!
If you don’t come, we shall come to you, openly and in a horde.
It’s better you come to us, and don’t spill blood you can ill afford.’
“I dispatched the man, and gave up my heart to rejoicing still more.
I made merry. Unbearable flames no longer ravaged my core.
In those days, Destiny gave me the gifts I wanted from her store.
Now I’m like a madman. Even wild beasts run away from my door.
“I wanted to rush out to the fields, but reason kept me inside.
To join me and feast at my house, my comrades came from far and wide.
But because I had so many thoughts, their joy was to me denied.
Sometimes sadness overcame me and I cursed both Fate and my pride.
ne day, on my return from the king, I came to my room to sleep.
I sat down and, thinking of her fell into a reverie deep.
I’ve had her letter of hope: I was glad and not inclined to weep.
Then my servant came from the guard and gave me a secret to keep.
“Asmat’s servant had just come with a letter more demand than plea.
She whose knife had pierced my heart had sent a message summoning me.
Joy lightened my darkness: she had loosened my chains and set me free.
I went and took her servant: we were silent as if by decree.
“I entered the garden. I met none who would ask why I was there.
Then Asmat came to meet me. She was as happy as she was fair.
She said, T have deftly extracted from your heart the thorn of care.
Come now and see your rose unfaded, unwithered, lovely and rare.’
“Then, with an effort, she raised the heavy curtains out of the way.
There stood a canopy adorned with rubies in spray after spray
Under which she sat, her face as bright as the sun on a clear day.
She gazed at me, her eyes lakes of ink. Her gaze from me did not stray.
“She said nothing. Desiring her, I stood for what seemed hours on end.
She looked at me sweetly, as though I were family or a friend.
She called Asmat. They spoke. Asmat into my ear did her words send:
‘Go now. I cannot speak to you.’ Again, flame did my body rend.
”I went forth blindly. I passed through the curtains. Asmat led me out.
I said: ‘Oh Fate, having healed my heart, why now cast it into doubt?
You who once gave me hope have scattered my joys and put them to rout.
402 You’ve devastated my heart. The pain of parting is like a drought.
“Asmat promised me relief. We walked through the garden, and she said:
‘Do not let your heart feel wounded by this parting. Feel joy instead.
Turn from sorrows’ gate. Open the door of true happiness ahead.
403 She is bashful and proud: her dignity can’t easily be shed.’
“I said: ‘Sister, I think this heart-balm comes from you and no higher.
I beg you not to kill me: with news of her put out this fire.
Send me letters ceaselessly, or else my suffering will be dire.
404 Don’t keep news of her hidden. Of such tidings I will never tire.
“I mounted my horse; as I left, tears flowed down my face in a stream.
I went to bed love-crazed, unable to sleep, my despair extreme.
I turned bluest sapphire who’d been all rubies and pearls white as cream.
405 I didn’t want day to dawn. All night I struggled, seeking to dream.
THE LETTER BY
THE KING OF THE KHATAVIANS
y messengers returned from Khataeti, from that haughty throng.
Their message was proud, all the more insolent for not being long.
‘None of us is a coward. All our keeps are fortified and strong.
Who is your monarch? If he thinks himself our ruler, he is wrong.’
“The letter went on: ‘I write you, Tariel -1, Ramaz, a king.
I was amazed by your letter, a truly astonishing thing.
I am Ramaz, lord of many, yet at me you a summons fling?
407 I’ll read no more, no matter what kind of letter your people bring.’
“Soldiers were quickly mustered. I sent forth leaders at my command.
Indian armies gathered, more numerous than a starry band.
All hastened toward me, from near and far, from everywhere in the land.
408 Soldiers filled each dale, covered every hill and plain as I had planned.
“They came swiftly without tarrying. No one from his duties shrank.
I reviewed the troops. For their good order, I had many to thank.
Drawn up in squadrons, they were agile and alert, rank after rank.
409 They had Khvarazmian armor. Their swift horses stood flank to flank.
“I raised high the royal standard – on it, our flag of black and red.
I addressed the countless troops. We would leave in the morning, I said.
Then I withdrew and mourned my evil fate and many tears I shed.
410 ‘If I don’t see my sun, how can I leave? I would rather be dead.’
”With every such thought, the pain of my pensive heart kept increasing.
Burning tears welled forth from my eyes like a waterfall unceasing.
‘It is my luckless fate’ said I. ‘This thirst that’s never decreasing.
411 Why did my hand lay hold of the rose which cannot know releasing?’
hen a servant entered; her entrance surprised me beyond belief.
1 She brought a letter from Asmat, to me who had been slain by grief.
m ‘The sun, for whom you so long is summoning you,’ she wrote in brief.
H ‘Come! Don’t weep and complain of Fate, and hide from the light like a thief.’
“Her note made me exceedingly happy. Night couldn’t come too soon.
I went forth, came through her gate at twilight; clear weather was a boon.
Where Asmat had first been, she was again. Smiles on her face were strewn.
413 She said softly, ‘Enter, lion. Inside awaits your shining moon.’
“Built on lovely terrace after terrace was the house of my queen.
My moon shown forth, crowned with the brightest halo I had ever seen.
She was sitting behind curtains, and her lovely raiment was green.
414 She was beautiful of face and form, and majestic in her mien.
“I went and stood on the carpet’s edge. My heart’s fire was a glow.
The darkness of my heart turned light. Rays of joy rose up in a row.
She rested on a cushion, far fairer than any sun we know.
415 She first hid her face, but in an instant looked up to see me – Oh!
“She then commanded, ‘Asmat, beg the Amirbar to have a seat!’
And placed a cushion opposite her, not far from her very feet.
I sat. My heart that had been cursing Fate felt now a joy complete.
416 I marvel I can stay alive and her first words to me repeat.
”She said, ‘Last time I hurt you by my silence; for my words you yearned.
I let you leave. You were scorched, like a flower by too much sun burned.
Narcissus tears must have tormented you. You must have felt spurned.
417 But you are the Amirbar. Modest respect is something you’ve earned.
“Though great modesty most befits a woman with men, as we know,
Yet it’s worse for a woman not to speak, to hide her inner woe.
I felt great secret grief at your leaving. My smile was just for show.
418 Last time I sent Asmat to you, I gave her a true message though.
“We a while ago revealed our love to each other. Since that day
You should know me as your own by the oaths and promises I say.
Please believe my vows and let my assurances in your heart stay.
419 If I deceive you, may God turn me to earth and cast me away!
“Go, attack the Khatavians. Fight and make our dominance clear.
May God grant you victory, may you come back to me of good cheer!
But what I shall do until I see you again is far from clear.
420 Give me your heart undivided. You will take mine with you, my dear!’
“I said, T would not hesitate to cast myself in flames, it’s true.
But you’ve chosen not to snuff out my life, and give it to me new.
My eyes light up when I look at the sun, and when I look at you.
421 I will fight the Khatavians and show what your lion can do.
“You grant me that beyond the worth of any in the human race.
Since it comes from God, I’m not surprised by this unexpected grace.
Your rays flooded my darkened heart and turned it to a shining place.
422 I am yours now and will be so until earth covers up my face.’
“Upon the holy book, I swore my love and she swore hers in turn.
Thus she confirmed her gift of love, a treasure that no one could spurn.
‘If any but you,’ she said, ‘should pleasure my heart or make me yearn,
423 May God slay me or I’ll slay myself – may He in mercy be stern.’
”I stayed a while with her then. All our speaking was gentle and smart.
As we talked together, we ate some fruit: we sampled sweet and tart.
And then, weeping openly in her presence, I rose to depart
424 The beauty of her sunny rays imbedded itself in my heart.
“It hurt to leave behind her pearl and ruby and porcelain fine.
But life had been renewed in me. Inside me I could feel joy shine.
I seemed to drink in the sunlight that came through the ether like wine.
425 Now I’m amazed that, without her, even a heart of stone is mine.
TARIELS DEPARTURE FOR
KHATAETI AND GREAT ^ R
n the morning, I mounted. I made the trumpets and bugles sound
And a soldier that was not ready to go nowhere could be found.
I, a lion, set forth for Khataeti, with my courage crowned.
Our army marched down untrodden roads and through trackless fields we wound.
“We marched beyond the borders of India. No action did we see.
Then a man from Ramaz, Khatavian khan, came to speak with me
And he repeated a very short message, one I heard with glee.
427 ‘Your Indian goats are able to eat even our wolves,’ said he.
“He presented me with gifts from Ramaz; a treasure trove he gave.
He said, ‘He begs you to spare us. Those who kill wantonly aren’t brave.
To subjugate us on our oath, an oath to chain us, slave to slave.
428 Unplundered, we’ll give up ourselves, our children, whatever you crave.
“Forgive us for sinning against you: we repent our wrongdoing.
We will welcome you if you come in peace, your armies eschewing.
Do not destroy our land, letting loose your wrath that has been brewing.
429 We will give you a city fortress for your rest and renewing.’
“I called my viziers to me, and we debated the whole night through.
They said: ‘You are young; therefore we sages dare to say what is true!
Alas! They are very treacherous, as we learned once to our rue;
430 What if this is treachery and you are killed? What then should we do?
”We counsel you: go forth with brave soldiers, the best men you can find.
Make sure your army stays in quick reach of you, following behind.
If Ramaz is sincere, have him swear an oath: his loyalty bind.
431 If they don’t submit to you, show them such wrath as will strike them blind.’
“I was exceedingly pleased with what my wise viziers had to say.
And wrote ‘King Ramaz, your vow has our mistrust managed to allay.
You should choose now life over death or stone walls won’t keep us away.
432 I will leave my soldiers and with a few men march toward you today.’
“I took with me three hundred soldiers: good brave knights I did not lack.
All the other men, the main part of the army, were to hold back.
I said, ‘Wherever we go, you go, closely following our track.
433 Stay right behind me, ready to help if we should suffer attack.’
“I travelled three days and was met by another of the khan’s men.
The messenger presented me with many lordly gifts again.
For Ramaz, he said, ‘I want you near me, mighty beyond our ken.
434 Soon we shall meet, and I’ll give you more beautiful presents then.’
“Yet more he said, ‘What I have told you is true, proud and noble one.
I myself will hurry to meet you; our days of peace have begun.’
I answered, ‘Tell the Khan. In all faith, I did what you wanted done.
435 We shall greet each other warmly. We shall be like father and son.’
“Moving farther ahead, I set up camp at the edge of a wood.
Again messengers came, and greeted me as ambassadors should.
They brought noble horses to me, great steeds both beautiful and good.
436 They said: ‘In all truth, every king would want to see you if he could.’
“They said to me: ‘King Ramaz sent this word: ‘I am coming to you.
I’ll wait no more, but leave my house tomorrow, when the day is new.’
I kept the messengers. I put up a special tent for those few.
437 I received them generously, and did for them all I could do.
”No good deed that’s done by a man ever goes without a reward.
One messenger whispered to me a warning not to be ignored:
‘I owe you a great debt, and to pay you back I can ill afford.
438 I won’t pay with treachery the hospitality you accord.
“I was raised by your father. I was long ago placed in his trust.
I’ve heard treachery planned for you, by the khan and his men discussed.
It would grieve me to see you, tall and handsome, lying in the dust.
439 Hearken to me calmly. I’ll reveal their plan as I feel I must.
“Don’t be fooled by Ramaz: the men he sent are messengers of hate.
One hundred thousand troops are hidden just ahead, lying in wait.
Another thirty thousand hide elsewhere: the gifts he sent were bait.
440 If you don’t take action at once, you will meet a terrible fate.
“The king will come to meet you; his men will praise you on every side.
They’ll flatter you; wearing such clothes as will their secret armor hide.
Then they’ll send smoke signals, calling in their fellows from far and wide.
441 Tens of thousands will come at you, and you’ll drown in that deadly tide.’
“I spoke nicely to the man and thanked him for the tidings he brought.
‘If I am not slain,’ I said. ‘I will reward you as well I ought.
Don’t let your comrades suspect you. Go to them. I’ll give this some thought.
442 And if I should later forget you, may all my life come to naught.’
“I told no one what had been said to me in secret by this man.
What is to be will always be, despite one’s decision or plan.
But I sent one rider galloping to the army from the van.
443 I gave the message: ‘Hasten to us. Come as quickly as you can.’
“In the morning, I told the messengers on whom my foe relied,
‘Tell King Ramaz I’m coming to meet him, and very soon shall ride.’
Another half-day I journeyed on, feeling untroubled inside.
444 If Providence has willed that I be killed, where can I hope to hide?
”I crossed over a certain peak and saw dust in the plain below.
I told myself: ‘Ramaz is coming. He has spread his net I know.
But my sharp sword and my straight lance through many warriors will go.’
445 Then I spoke to my troops and set forth my plan to cause Ramaz woe.
“I said, ‘Brothers, these traitors are planning to kill us on the plain.
But why should the great power of your arms be weakened by their stain?
When a man dies for his king, his spirit flies up to Heaven’s reign.
446 Let’s fight the Khatavians and show we don’t have our swords in vain!’
“I commanded them to don armor, speaking words of pride and might.
Then in fine chain mail with shoulder-plates, we clad ourselves for the fight.
1 formed squadrons. We set out quickly and didn’t feel any fright.
447 That day, with my sword and lance, many adversaries I would smite.
“They saw that we were all clad in armor the moment they drew near.
A man came with a message from Ramaz, in which his mood was clear.
He said, “We thought you honest men, and now you in armor appear.
448 it displeases us to see you clad as if against lance and spear.’
“I sent back this message: ‘A man of honor you thought to betray.
But what you wrongly planned and plotted, I am here now to gainsay.
Give your orders, come and fight, but no matter what you do today
449 I’ve taken my sword in hand: you are the one I have come to slay.’
“Ramaz, of course, sent no more messages after that. Why would he?
Soon, smoke signals brought soldiers out from every bush and every tree.
They came out of ambush on both sides by his pre-arranged decree.
450 They formed rank after rank after rank but, thank God, could not harm me.
“I took my lance in hand and put on a helmet as best I could.
I was eager for the fight to break the long lines in which they stood.
I moved quickly ahead a stadium’s length, and judged that place good.
451 Innumerable troops were facing us, like a motionless wood.
”When I came near they stared at me. ‘He’s a madman,’ I heard them say.
Into the main part of their army, I slowly strong-armed my way.
I pierced a man and horse with my lance: both departed from the day.
452 My lance broke, I seized my sword, praised its maker, my friend in the fray.
“I swooped like a falcon on partridges bunched in an open pen.
I threw man against man, piled up bodies in heaps, horses and men.
A man thrown down by me spins like a fly and won’t get up again.
453 Thus did I entirely destroy their two front squadrons there and then.
“Crowding, they surrounded me; everywhere around me was a fight.
When once I struck, none could stand. Blood spurted up as a fountain might.
Each man I clove hung on his horse like the saddle-bag of a knight.
454 Wherever I went, my foes were horrified, and fled from my sight.
“When it became the evening hour, their watchman cried out from his hill:
‘Resist no longer, flee at once. Heaven’s wrath is upon us still.
A terrible dust rolls this way and will catch us, do what we will.
455 Let us pray their tens of thousands of troops do not all of us kill.’
“The army I had not brought with me had traveled through day and night.
The moment they got the message, they hastened to join in the fight.
They came overflowing the fields and mountains. What a wondrous sight!
456 They came beating kettle drums loudly and sounding their trumpets bright.
“The enemy saw them and started to flee: then we raised a shout,
And chased them over the same fields where the battle had been in doubt.
I unhorsed Ramaz. We sparred with swords in the middle of the rout.
457 We captured all his men, but did not kill them or cause blood to spout.
“The just-arrived troops caught up with the men who’d fled and sought to hide.
They began to seize them, to throw down the vanquished, the terrified.
The army had its reward for hastening sleepless to my side.
458 All the prisoners, even the ones who weren’t wounded, wailed and cried.
I 103 )
He said: “When I heard her say this, hope once again revived in me.
Once more my eyes had the power to look upon her light, and see.
• Now I’ve lost that light. Don’t you wonder how I still manage to be?
535 Woe is you, fleeting world! You seek to drain my blood unceasingly.
“I looked, and saw on the lectern the Koran lying open there.
I took it, raised it. I praised first God and then my beloved fair.
I said, ‘Sun, you’ve burned me, and my sun is set, but by this I swear.
536 Since you have let me live, I will give you an answer, if I dare.
“If the answer I give you is falsely cunning in any way,
May Heaven be mad at me, may the sun not light a single day.
You think I deserve condemnation. I have done no ill, I say.’
537 She said ‘If you’ve a different account, tell it to me, I pray.'”
“I then began. ‘If I’ve ever broken my vow to you, oh sun,
May I now by a thunderbolt from wrathful Heaven be undone!
Who else for me is so radiant, slender as a tree? No one.
538 So how many more strikes of your sharp lance can my heart survive? None.
“The king and queen held a council, and summoned me to be at hand.
The choice of the man to be your husband they had already planned.
To oppose them would have been foolish. I would at once have been banned.
539 I told myself, ‘Agree with them now. You can’t make any demand.’
“How could I forbid it? How could I object to my patron’s slight?
Doesn’t he know that India is not without a master knight?
Tariel should be India’s owner; no one else has the right.
540 I know not who he’ll bring to us; whomever he brings, I will smite.
“I knew I had to be silent then – to wait, and think what to do.
I told myself not to be daunted, nor let gloomy thoughts accrue.
My heart like a wild thing yearned to run away from that courtly crew.
541 To whom can I give thee? No one. Unless I’m abandoned by you.’
”I swore on my soul for her; God’s tower became a market low.
The rain which had frozen the rose had turned to a much milder flow.
Her coral lips framed a smile, allowing her pearly teeth to show.
542 She said, ‘How could I believe you treacherous, when the truth I know?
“I do not think you could be a treacherous or a faithless man.
I don’t think you’d deny God or be ungrateful, as some men can.
Go then to the king – full lordship and our marriage you should demand.
543 You and I shall rule together – the best of matches, hand in hand.’
“The wrathful and enraged one then became tender to me, and mild.
Either the sun shone down on earth then, or the full moon gently smiled.
She sat me next to her, rewarded me, as gentle as a child.
544 She talked with me, and put out the fire in me which had been wild.
“She said: ‘Wise people say those who are prudent should never make haste.
They act calmly when pressed by Fate, not raging against where they’re placed.
If you keep my suitor away, with the King’s wrath you will be faced.
545 You and he are likely to quarrel: India will be laid waste.
“But if you allow that man to come, he will marry me and stay.
We’ll be separated, our purple vestments turned to black and gray.
Our sufferings will be much increased; Khvarazmshah will be gay.
546 We must make sure that this Persian prince in our court never holds sway.’
“I said: ‘May God avert the wedding of you and that Persian knight!
When his band approaches, I will test how ready they are to fight.
I shall let them taste my courage, my warrior skills and my might.
547 I shall kill them all easily, as though the threat they posed were slight.’
“She said, “I need to decide this the way a woman should decide.
I can’t have you shed much blood, with me the reason so many died.
When they come, you should slay the bridegroom but none of those at his side.
548 To do true justice makes even a dry tree green,’ – thus she replied.
'”This, oh, my lion, most excellent of all heroes, you must do:
Slay the bridegroom in secret. Take no soldiers, not even a few.
The slaughtering of his armies like cattle or asses eschew.
549 How can a man bear the blood burden of the innocents he slew?
“When you’ve killed him, go to the King – my father – at once and announce:
‘I will never let India be the food on which Persians pounce.
It is my heritage and I won’t surrender even an ounce.
550 Let me be, or I’ll ruin your city: all your armies, I’ll trounce.
“Don’t mention your love; don’t say marrying me is what you desire.
In this way, the nobility of your deeds will seem much higher.
I will then be entreated desperately, abjectly, by my sire:
551 He’ll give me into your hands: we will have all to which we aspire.’
“I was very pleased by the words of counsel and advice she chose.
I decided to postpone using my sword to slay all my foes.
She started entreating me, pulled me back from the moment I rose.
552 I longed to do just that, but when I went to embrace her, I froze.
“After lingering, I left – and fell to a kind of madness prey.
Asmat led me out. I shed hot tears. Nothing could my grief allay.
My grief increased with every step. The joy I’d felt began to fray.
553 With sad, slow steps, I left. Slowly, unwillingly, I went away.
THE ARRIVAL OF
THE BRIDEGROOM AND
HIS SLAYING BY TARIEL
man appeared. ‘The bridegroom is on his way,’ he joyfully said.
The wretched man didn’t know what God had planned for him just ahead.
The king expressed no regret. Only joy on his face could be read.
He bade me sit beside him: ‘Come here,’ said he, and inclined his head.
“He told me: ‘On this day, we may our joy and happiness renew.
Let’s celebrate the wedding of one who’s like a sister to you.
Let’s gather treasure and distribute it. No one will this day rue.
555 Greed is contemptible. Give everyone treasure, more than they’re due.
“I sent men out in all directions, charged with gathering treasure.
The bridegroom was nearby: the Persians did not delay their pleasure.
The Khvarazmians came from afar. We met them at our leisure.
556 The sum of their soldiers and ours overflowed fields beyond measure.
“The king told me, ‘Set up tents on the great moidan, where it is clear.
When the bridegroom comes, he will rest there a while and be of good cheer.
Other men can greet him, advancing to the place he will appear.
557 Make sure there are ample men to honor him; you await him here.’
“On the great moidan, I saw to the raising of red satin tents.
The bridegroom came. It seemed like Easter, a time to forget laments.
There were many soldiers and many courtiers there, as made sense.
558 The soldiers formed ranks according to clan, ready for the events.
j s d s . 1 2 7
”Exhausted from all the duties with which my day had been replete,
I turned wearily homeward, hoping sleep would soon the day complete.
But a slave came and handed me a letter from Asmat the sweet.
559 ‘Come quickly! She who’s like a blooming aloe commands that you meet.’
“I didn’t dismount, but was quickly obedient in going.
Asmat had been weeping. I asked the reason tears had been flowing.
She said: ‘As your defender, how can I keep my grief from showing?
560 How can I defend you, with all that’s now come into our knowing?’
“We entered. She was seated, her expression an unhappy one.
Yet still she lit up the entire room, shone brighter than any sun.
I stood before her. She said: ‘Why are you here, when battle’s begun?
561 Or have you forsaken me the way you so many times have done?’
“I was hurt but I said nothing. I turned at once and left her sight.
I called back: ‘To the one who desires me, I have offered no slight!
Have I become so cowardly a woman urges me to fight?’
562 I went home and planned his murder: I was not idle on that night.
“I commanded a hundred men: ‘Be prepared for battle, I pray.’
We mounted and passed through the city. No one saw us go our way.
I went into his tent. The groom was sleeping, it pains me to say.
563 I killed that youth without shedding blood, though he deserved it that day.
“I cut the tangled edge of the tent, stepped in and went to his bed.
I seized the youth by his legs and on a tent-pole I struck his head.
Those at the door cried out and lamented, waking to find him dead.
564 Protected by chain mail, I mounted my horse and away I sped.
“An alarm was raised. Some of his men at once began to pursue.
As I went on, they followed more closely, and several I slew.
I had a citadel, impregnable to foes: there I withdrew.
565 I reached it safely and unhurt. My confidence was born anew.
”I sent my men and made known to all by whom I had been obeyed
‘Let those loyal to me come hither to my immediate aid!’
Pursuers kept coming till they saw against whom chase had been made.
566 Preferring to keep their heads in one piece, they went away afraid.
“I arose at daybreak; I got dressed before the day had begun.
I met with three nobles sent by the king, all of whom spoke as one.
They brought this message: ‘God knows I have fostered you like my own son.
567 Why have you changed my happiness to despair, doing what you’ve done?
“You made Khvarazmshah’s innocent blood fall on our house like rain!
If you wanted my daughter, a request would not have been in vain.
You’ve made life unbearable to me, your guardian, with this stain,
568 And brought exile on yourself: while I live, you cannot here remain.’
“In answer I sent this: ‘I am stronger than steel, oh noble one.
This alone helps me endure the shamefulness of what I have done.
As you know, a king is charged with seeing his country justly run,
569 And I am far from desiring your daughter, I swear by your sun!
“You know that in India, there are palaces and thrones to spare.
All have fallen into your hands: I am of them the only heir.
Their inheritors have all died out: you’re the supreme ruler there.
570 By rights the throne belongs to me. There is none with whom I should share!
“I know it would be dishonorable to try to flatter you.
God saw fit to give you no son, only a daughter as your due.
If Khvarazmshah were king, I would have nothing: you know that’s true.
571 No new king can come here until I my sword decide to eschew.
“I don’t want your daughter at all. Marry her off! Send her away.
But India is mine, and no other man will I let hold sway.
Whoever contests my right, him will I uproot that very day.
572 I do not need foreign help; if I send for it, kill me, I pray.’
TARIEL HEARS TIDINGS
OF THE DISAPPEARANCE
sent some men to get news of her. I went crazy with despair
And mad with grief when none of them found even rumors anywhere.
I looked down at the plain from a high wall, saw two travelers there.
I learned a thing so dreadful that I wonder my heart didn’t tear.
“I went to meet the travelers. I crossed the intervening space.
A woman was drawing near, with a single servant keeping pace.
It was Asmat, but with tangled hair, and blood flowing from her face.
574 No more did she call out to me, of former smiles, there was no trace.
“The sight of her disturbed me. I felt sure that I’d been driven mad.
I cried to Asmat, ‘What has happened? Why are you so grim and sad?’
She wept pitifully and said: ‘We do not have what once we had.
575 God in His anger took away the only thing that made us glad!’
‘”Tell me the truth.’ I came near and said. ‘What are you holding inside?’
Again, the flame of sorrow burned her and she piteously cried.
For a long time she could not speak, could nothing of her grief confide.
576 The blood kept trickling down her cheeks; her breast was all with crimson died.
“At last, she turned to me and said, ‘Why should I hide the news from thee?
But I pray you; pay me back with the same measure, that is my plea.
Don’t suffer me to live, I beg and entreat you, but pity me.
577 Save me from my fate and God will pay you back, this much you shall see.’
”She said to me: ‘When you slew the bridegroom and the alarm was raised,
The king heard it. He leapt up; sick at heart. He became as one dazed.
He called for you in a loud voice, ordered you summoned. He was crazed.
578 They sought and could not find you. The king lamented. He was amazed.
“They told him, ‘He can’t be found. He somehow passed the gates. He’s not here.’
The king said: ‘I know. Too well, I understand. It is as I fear.
He shed tears of blood for my daughter, and his enemies paid dear.
579 They saw each other and from love could not refrain. That much is clear.
“Now, by my head! I’ll slay Davar who’s been made my sister by fate.
Instead of teaching godly ways, a devil’s net did she create.
What have they given or promised her, those whoring cows I so hate?
580 I’d rather renounce God than let her stay alive in my estate.’
“Seldom had it been the king’s wont to swear thusly by his own head.
And when he swore, he broke not his own oath, but fulfilled it instead.
Whoever knew the king’s wrath and temper was filled with great dread:
581 They told Davar, whose sorcery could bring down heaven, it was said.
“Some enemy of God told Davar how the mighty winds did blow.
‘Your brother swore by his head: he will kill you, as the people know.’
She said: ‘God knows I’m as innocent and pure as the driven snow.
582 The same people know who slays me and for whose sake my blood does flow.’
“My mistress was the way you left her – so lovely, none could claim her.
Her head was still wrapped in your veils; beautifully, they became her.
Davar spoke words such as I had never heard, trying to shame her.
583 ‘Harlot! You harlot! Why did you slay me?’ she angrily blamed her.’
‘”Wanton harlot! Why was your bridegroom murdered by your lover true?
Why did you make me pay for his shed blood? Does that satisfy you?
My brother will slay me for what I supposedly made you do!
584 I pray God makes sure you never meet your beloved knight anew.’
”Davar seized the one you love, dragged her along, her long hair was torn.
She was beaten and bruised, fiercely she frowned, but all she got was scorn.
And Nestan could make no answer: to such suffering she was sworn!
585 A black healer could not heal the wounds she’d been given to be borne!
“When Davar stopped beating and bruising Nestan, who was still dry-eyed,
She summoned two slaves with Kadji-like faces and smiles that were snide.
They brought a little trunk and with their insolence, did her deride.
586 Then they made Nestan prisoner. They put our glowing sun inside!
“She ordered them: ‘Throw her in the sea, into the depths of the deep.
Make sure that you henceforth from her lips any cool, fresh water keep.’
They loudly shouted at this – a cheer of delight. They did not weep.
587 I heard this and didn’t die. Grief made of my heart a stony heap.
“They passed by the windows and went out of sight, walking toward the sea.
Then Davar said, ‘Who would not stone me for this immediately?
Before he can slay me, I shall die. Life is wearisome to me!’
588 Then she struck herself with a knife and died, felled like a bloody tree.
‘”Don’t you marvel I’m alive, not pierced by a lance in me sliding?
Now do to me what befits bringers of such an awful tiding.
Now deliver me from this life, in the Most High find your guiding.’
589 They fell piteously, unceasing, the tears she wasn’t hiding.
“I said, ‘Sister, why should I kill you? What is the fault you’ve confessed?
What shall I do in return for the debt I owe, by which I’m pressed?
I will seek her land and sea, wherever her presence has been guessed.’
590 I became as if petrified: my heart was a rock in my chest.
“The horror of this drove me crazy. Fear and trembling made me pale.
I told myself, ‘To lie idly in the grave is of no avail!
Better it is to run and wander in the fields, while I am hale.
591 Behold, the time has come for those who wish to seek to now set sail!’
”I went in, I arrayed myself quickly. Then I mounted my horse.
A hundred and sixty good knights joined me as a matter of course.
We passed out of the fortress gates, lined up in long rows, as a force.
592 I went to the shore, and saw a ship ready to be a resource.
“I entered the ship, I went out to sea, I cruised from shore to shore.
I did not let a single ship pass unseen, none did I ignore.
I waited, but heard nothing. Crazed as I was, I became still more.
593 God must truly have hated me, my presence did He so abhor.
“Twelve months went by and seemed like twenty, thus I spent an entire year.
But I found no one, not even in a dream, who had seen my dear.
All those who attended me died and were laid out bier after bier.
594 I said, T can’t defy God. What he wills, I’ll do. That much is clear.’
“I came ashore; weary of being tossed about like so much freight.
My heart had become like a beast’s. Wise counsel I had come to hate.
All my comrades who survived misfortunes have been scattered of late.
595 But God will not abandon a man thus forsaken by his fate.
“Only Asmat and a couple of servants did with me remain
As comforters and counselors in this time of exceeding pain.
I could learn no news of Nestan at all, not so much as a grain.
596 Weeping seemed to me the greatest joy and tears fell from me like rain.
NURADIN PRIDONS STORY
rode by night. I came to a seashore where gardens could be seen.
It seemed as if we’d approached a city: cliffs over it did lean.
The sight of men gave me no pleasure; my heart wore a grieving mien.
I dismounted to rest at a spot where trees were lofty and green.
“The servants were breaking bread. I was sleeping at the foot of trees.
Then I awoke sad. Sorrow’s soot darkened my heart. I knew no ease.
In so long a time, I’d learned not gossip nor truth, nothing of these.
598 The fields around us, far and wide, were wet with tears my eyes did squeeze.
“I heard shouts and looked around. Crying out haughtily came a knight.
He was galloping along the seashore. He’d been hurt in a fight.
His sword was broken and soiled. His blood flowed from a wound out of sight.
599 He threatened his foes as he came, was wrathful and complained in spite.
“He was sitting on his black steed, the same black steed that I now own!
Like the wind, he swept down the path! His anger and his wrath were known.
I sent a servant to ask of him what or who his wrath had sown.
600 I bade him say: ‘Declare to me who angers thee, lion alone!’
“He spoke not to the servant I sent, nor did he listen, indeed.
Hastily, I mounted and I overtook him, despite his lead.
I came before him. I said ‘Stay! I wish to know what made you bleed.’
601 He looked at me. I pleased him. He eventually checked his steed.
J 138 |
”Looking at me, he addressed God: ‘You have made such a splendid tree!’
And then he answered me: ‘Now what you are asking I will tell thee.
The enemies I hitherto regarded as goats turned on me.
602 They fell upon me – traitors! – when I was unarmed. Now do you see?’
“I told him, ‘Let us be calm and at the foot of the trees alight.
A warrior considers all cuts given by the sword as slight.’
I led him with me. We went away as a father and son might.
603 I marveled exceedingly at the tender beauty of this knight.
“One of my servants was a healer: he bound those wounds like a charm.
He drew out the arrowheads so that the wounds would do no more harm.
Then I asked him, ‘Who are you, pray tell me, and who has hurt your arm?’
604 He got ready to tell me, starting his complaint without alarm.
“T don’t know who you are or to whom I can compare you,’ he said.
‘What first made you so good looking, only to consume you instead?
What’s turned your rose sallow and the jet mustaches of your face bled?
605 Why has God put out the candle he lit, so now no light is shed?’
“We’re near the city of Mulghazanzari, which is mine, I swear.
My name is Nuradin Pridon. I am the king who’s ruling there.
And my boundary is where I see you have made your little lair.
606 No, I don’t have much, but in all its parts its quality is rare.
“Between my father and my uncle, my grandfather shared his land.
In the sea is an island, and this he gave me with his own hand.
But my uncle had it, the same whose sons attacked me in a band.
607 I refused to let them hunt on it. We quarreled. I made my stand.
“Today, I went forth. I decided to hunt all along the shore.
I decided to hunt with falcons: I wanted to see them soar.
I instructed the troops to wait for me. ‘I’ll be back soon,’ I swore.
608 I took with me just five falconers: I needed nobody more.
1 139 I
”I went by ship. I ignored boundaries. I ignored a small creek.
1 told myself, ‘I’m on my own land. Why should I precautions seek?’
Their multitude then appeared to me. They seemed both timid and weak.
609 I hunted and hallooed and withheld not my voice. I was not meek.
“My enemies were wroth to think I was scorning them in this way.
In stealth, they surrounded me. They blocked the path to where my ship lay.
My uncle’s sons were at the front, each ready to be slain or slay.
610 Then at a signal, they rushed my soldiers, eager to join the fray.
“I perceived the outcry, saw the flashing swords, heard their cries of glee.
I begged a boat from boatmen. Once, I cried ‘Woe!’ but it was no plea.
My foes met me like so many waves when I went into the sea.
611 They wished but they were not able to totally overwhelm me.
“Even more of my enemies came from behind – there were a lot.
From this side and that, they tried to overpower me, and could not.
When those in front saw they could not come near me, from the back, they shot.
612 I trusted my sword – it broke. I used all the arrows I had got.
“I made my horse leap into the sea when I saw that we were lost.
Those who beheld this were amazed, but over the ocean, we crossed.
They slew all who were with me; I left them there, by the water tossed.
613 Though some knights pursued me hotly, none could me affront or accost.
“Now, whatever may be willed, may it be God’s will, to say the least!
May my boast be fulfilled, and the curses I placed on them released!
I’ll make their lives a lamentation! They will wish themselves deceased!
614 I will summon forth the crows and ravens, and they will have a feast!’
“The knight won me over. My heart went out to him, and so I said,
‘There is no need for you to hasten, or to feel the slightest dread.
I will go with you, and the blood of your enemies will be shed.
615 We two will scare them for sure; we will make them wish that they were dead.’
”This also I said to him. ‘I have not yet told you of my tale.
Later, I’ll tell you fully. This is a story time cannot stale.’
And he then answered me back. ‘Against this joy, other joys must pale!
616 Until death, my life is devoted to your service, without fail.’
“Then to his very fair though very small city he did me bring.
The troops came forth to greet him, and ashes on their heads did they fling.
They scratched skin off their faces like bark off trees to honor their king.
617 They embraced him, all of them; they kissed his sword, its hilt and its ring.
“Here too they spoke my praises; I was liked as a new friend will be.
‘Oh sun, you are a bringer of fine weather to us,’ they told me.
‘We’ve seen his rich city. If ever a king were blessed, it was he.
618 And clad in brocade of golden thread was every form we could see.’
TAFUELS A I D TO PRIDON
e was healed and able to use horse and armor – ready to fight!
We prepared a host of troops and galleys that were fitted out right.
Those who gazed upon them had nothing left but to pray in their fright.
Now I will tell you how he punished his adversaries, that knight.
“I perceived their design and I saw them donning their headgear low.
Their boats came at me. There may have been eight; I did not care to know.
Swiftly, I threw myself upon them, and they all began to row.
620 I upset a ship with my heel and, like women, they wailed their woe.
“I went to another, and grabbed the prow of the ship with my hand.
I drowned them. I slew them in the sea before they could even stand.
The rest fled from me. They made for their harbor, that far away strand.
621 All who saw marveled, they praised me. They hated me not in that land.
“We crossed the sea, and landed. Mounted, they attacked. They did not wait.
There began again the frenzy of battle, I may safely state.
I esteemed Pridon. His bravery and agility were great.
622 That sun fought like a lion! He was like an aloe, tall and straight.
“Pridon found his cousins and by his sword cast them down in the deep.
He cut a hand off each with one stroke, crippled them with just one sweep.
He had them led away, not waiting to see what those two could reap.
623 He made his own knights vaunt themselves, and he made the other knights weep.
”We threw ourselves on the foe and scattered them; all their soldiers fled.
Swiftly, we seized the city. We wasted no time, as I have said.
We broke their legs with stones; on the ground, like heavy mats, they were spread.
624 If it was possible to empty the treasury, strike me dead!
“Pridon put his seal upon all the treasures that there were to see.
He himself led away his two vanquished cousins, as it should be.
He shed their blood for his and poured it out on the fields. As for me,
625 They declared, ‘Thanks be to God, who has planted such an aloe-tree!’
“We went back to Pridon’s. The celebration of the folk was loud.
They had entertainers of various sorts to amuse the crowd.
All uttered praises of me and Nuradin, both so very proud.
626 ‘It is because of the strength of your arms our blood still flows,’ they vowed.
“The soldiers acclaimed Pridon as king, of course, and me, king of kings.
Me as sovereign of them all, themselves as subjects, mere underlings.
I was gloomy: they’d never find me tending roses, or such things.
627 They knew not my story: it was not the sort a messenger brings.
PRIDON TELLS TARIEL
TIDINGS OF NESTAN-DAREDJAN
ne day, Pridon and I went forth hunting, as we were wont to do.
We climbed a cape jutting out into the sea, enjoying the view.
The king said to me: T will tell you something that is odd but true.
Once when riding, I saw something strange from this cape. Shall I tell you?’
“Of course, I bade Pridon speak then, and he gladly told me this tale:
‘One day, I mounted this steed of mine, wishing to hunt without fail,
Whether a duck on the water, or on land, a grouse or a quail.
I stood here and I watched the flight of my hawk as it chanced to sail.
“Now and then, as I climbed uphill, I gazed out at the ocean vast.
I perceived a small thing on the sea that far away had been cast.
I could not make it out but could tell that its speed was unsurpassed.
I wondered doubly what it was, and how it was moving so fast.
“I asked myself, ‘To what can I liken it? Is it beast or bird?
But it was a boat tented over, with many a curtain gird.
A steersman guided it. Except for the steering, he never stirred.
There in a litter sat the moon. I have for her no worthy word.
“I’d have given the seventh heaven for her. Then crept out a pair
Of slaves black as pitch. They put ashore a maiden. I saw her hair,
The thick tresses! A light from her flashed! Its rich color was so rare
It would light up the earth and make of no account sunbeams and air!
A W 4
”Joy filled my heart then. It made me stagger. I paid nothing else heed.
That rose whom even the snow cannot wither bewitched me, indeed.
I resolved to engage them. I said, ‘I will go there with all speed.
633 What creature on earth can outrun my peerless and ebony steed?’
“I gave my horse my heel. Some rustling noises in the rushes were.
I could not reach her. They were gone, no matter how I used the spur.
When I came to the seashore, the setting sun’s last rays were a blur.
634 She disappeared. Therefore, I am consumed by flames because of her.’
“All of this I heard from Pridon: to my heat was added fire.
So I threw myself down from my horse, and my abasement was dire.
Blood was oozing from my cheeks, and I smeared myself with bloody mire.
635 I said, ‘That someone besides mysef should see her fills me with ire.’
“This behavior of mine astonished Pridon. It seemed strange to him,
But he placated me, felt sorry for me for feeling so grim.
Like a son, he soothed and consoled, though his understanding was slim.
636 Like so many pearls, hot tears for me filled his own eyes to the brim.
“Pridon said, ‘I in my unwitting excitement have made you pale!’
I answered him, ‘Grieve not. No fault of yours should be weighed in the scale.
For her, the fire consumes me hotly; she was my moon and grail.
637 Now since you wish to have me as your comrade, I will tell my tale.’
“Then I told Pridon all that had befallen to me since the start.
He said, ‘So I have, clueless, accidentally, wounded your heart.
You, mighty king of the Indians, played for us a noble part.
638 A royal seat and a throne become you, a palace for your art.
‘”A man whom God shapes like a young cypress,’ Pridon said in my ear,
‘Though at first He may pierce his heart, from him He will withdraw the spear.
He will grant us His mercy, thunder it from Heaven far and near.
639 He’ll turn sorrow to joy; He’ll never destroy us or disappear.’
”We went back together tearful. We sat in the palace alone.
I said to Pridon: ‘Except for you, I have no aid of my own.
Since God has not sent anyone else like you to this earthly zone,
640 What more could I want, than to have you by my side, in friendship grown.
“I will be a loyal friend whenever you are in need, it’s true.
But now use tongue and mind to counsel me, to help me see this through.
What do you think the best thing to bring joy to her and me, us two?
641 I shall not stay here a moment longer, if I’ve nothing to do.’
“He answered me then: ‘How could I have from God any better fate?
You came to my aid, Indian king, sovereign of a sovereign state.
What other grace should I then desire? For what other should I wait?
642 I stand here now as a servant, waiting to hear what you dictate.
“This city is the highway for ships that come here from far away.
An emporium of foreign news, rumor that chances to stray.
Here we’ll hear tidings to assuage the fire burning you today.
643 May God be merciful to you, your woes and pains swiftly allay.
“We will at once send out sailors who have fared on the sea before;
Let them find for us that moon, for whose sake grief on us wages war.
Until then, be patient. Let not your mind torture you anymore.
644 There is no grief which will not to exceeding joy open the door!’
“That very instant we called men, settled the business then and there.
He commanded them: ‘Go with ships. Over the ocean, you shall fare.
Seek her out. Be you the answer to her desiring lover’s prayer.
645 Undergo a thousand hardships, not just seven or eight. Now swear!’
“He sent men wherever there were harbors, where there were ships to sail.
He ordered his men: “Seek out everywhere possible, without fail.’
Waiting seemed to me a consolation, my pains began to pale.
646 Absent from her, I felt joy, and on that day, shame did me assail.
”Pridon designated a place for me to rule: it was not slight.
He declared, ‘I have not comprehended my duty, as was right.
How can one please a great king of the Indians, a man of might?
647 Who would not serve you as subject? Who would not be your faithful knight?’
“Why should I lengthen the story? From all sides came seekers of news.
They returned from dangerous places. They had learned not even clues.
They had nothing to report. They had nothing on which we could muse.
648 For me, afresh the undrying tears flowed from my eyes or did ooze.
“And I said to Pridon, ‘This day seems to me unspeakably sad.
I have God as my witness here: even to speak of it is bad;
Without you, night and day seem eventide to me. Naught makes me glad.
649 Joy is gone. My heart is bound with grief such as no man ever had.
“Moreover since I may no longer expect any news of her,
I can no longer stay here. Permit me to give my horse the spur.’
At this, Pridon watered the field with the bloodiest tears there were
650 And said, ‘Brother, from this day vainly does the joy inside me stir!’
“Though he and the others tried very hard, they could not hold me back.
His armies came before me, bent their knees and tried another tack.
They kissed, embraced me – wept and made me weep: of tears there was no lack.
651 ‘Go not away; we’ll be your servants; our duties we’ll never slack.’
“I said: ‘Parting from you is very hard for me, as you must know,
But any joy I seem to have without her is simply a show.’
I can’t forsake my captive, to whom you yourselves great pity owe.
652 Let none of you hinder me. I will not stay. You must let me go.
“Then Pridon himself brought and gave me this wonderful horse you see.
He said, ‘This steed is given to you, bodied like a cypress tree.
If you wish nothing else, with no further gifts will I burden thee.
653 He alone will please you. He will bear you – beautiful, fast and free.’
”Pridon went with me; as we went, both of us shed tears at the start.
There we embraced and kissed each other, and, crying, we had to part.
All the hosts lamented for me, not with words, but each in his heart.
654 Our severing was like that of brothers: each of us felt the dart.
“Once departed from Pridon, again I found myself on my quest.
As I went I missed naught on land or sea, and gave myself no rest.
I became anxious when nobody any news of her confessed.
655 My heart became maddened; there seemed to be a wild beast in my chest.
“I said to myself: ‘No longer shall I wander and sail in vain.
Perhaps I’ll make my heart forget grief, if I with wild beasts have lain.
I said a few words to my servants and to Asmat, in the main •
656 ‘I know I’ve brought grief upon you. I know I’ve brought nothing but pain.
“Go – leave me. Be your own masters, not just servants of my paying.
Look no longer on my grief, on the hot tears from my eyes spraying.’
When they heard such talk, they were upset; they wanted to keep staying.
657 They said to me: ‘Alas! Let our ears hear not what you are saying!’
“We do not want any other master or lord on whom to wait.
May God not sunder us from your horse’s footprints, at any rate.
We want nothing but to gaze on you, a spectacle fair and great.
658 However valiant he may be, a man can be weakened by Fate.’
“I hearkened to my servants’ pleadings; I could not send them away.
But I forsook the haunts of humans, wherever they work and play.
The retreats of goats and deer seemed a fitting place for me to stay.
659 I roamed. I trod plains below, hills above, and do so to this day.
“I found here these bare caves, hollowed out by Devis beyond our ken.
I fought them, I destroyed them; they could not prevail against me then.
They were buckled in chainmail and so were able to kill my men.
660 Fate made me gloomy; the treacherous one betrayed me yet again.
”Behold, my brother! Since that day, I am here, expiring with ache.
Mad I roam the fields. Sometimes I weep and sometimes I faint or shake.
This maid will not abandon me; she is heartbroken for her sake.
661 Nothing will spare my suffering, until death my spirit does take.
“Because I see her as a beautiful panther, worthy of note;
For this I love its skin, and for myself preserve it as a coat.
This woman sews it, sighing and moaning, as she stitches by rote.
662 I whetted my sword in vain: I didn’t use it to slit my throat.
“The tongues of all the sages would not be sufficient for her praise.
Enduring life, I think upon her, and long for my final days.
Since then, I consort with the beasts. I go everywhere in a craze.
663 I ask God for nothing but death. Death is the hymn to Him I raise.”
He beat his face, he rent it. His rosy cheeks he entirely tore.
His ruby turned to amber, the porcelain shattered that he wore.
Avtandil’s tears flowed too: one by one, from his lashes they did pour.
664 The maid soothed Tariel; on bended knee, her loyalty she swore.
Tariel, somewhat calmed by Asmat, turned to Avtandil all pale:
“T have tried to please you, I for whom all life pleasures have turned stale.
I have told you all the story of my trying life, the whole tale.
665 Now go and see your sun, Tinatin, who waits for you without fail.”
“I cannot bear to part from you,” Avtandil fervently declared.
“If I separate from you, tears will, indeed, in my eyes be paired.
Verily I tell you – be not angry 1 so boldly have dared.
666 The one for whose sake you’re dying is not for your death prepared.
“If a healer, however much he is to be praised, should fall ill,
He calls another healer to take his pulse, to doctor at will.
Him he tells what blistering malady is affecting him still.
667 His woe is better understood by another of equal skill.
”Listen: I speak not in a rush, but as one who has given thought.
A hundred times must you pay heed: this is the answer I have sought.
A man who is furious in his heart does not do as he ought.
668 I want to see her, for whose sake hot fire’s burning me to naught.
“I shall see her. I’ll confirm that her love for me will never slake.
Nothing else do I need but tell her what I’ve learned and what’s at stake.
I beseech you to assure me, for God and for sweet Heaven’s sake,
669 That we won’t abandon each other: let’s each to each an oath make.
“And if you promise me you will not go hence while I am away,
I’ll assure you by an oath, I’ll not forsake you another day.
I shall return, shall die for you, shall roam and help you as I may.
670 I’ll make you cease to weep for her for whom you die, to God I pray.”
He answered, “How can you, a stranger, so love me, who’s strange to you?
As the nightingale from the rose, so hard is it to part us two.
How can I forget you, and how cease to remember you anew!
671 May God grant me sight of you, lovely young aloe-tree, as my due.
“If I am sure I’ll see you again, handsome-faced, trim as a tree.
My heart will not quiver like a deer’s or a goat’s, nor will it flee.
And may God judge me in wrath if I ever lie or betray thee!
672 My sadness will be charmed away, if I in your presence can be!”
At this, with sincere hearts, they swore loyalty to one another.
Wise in words though crazed in mind, they embraced as brother to brother.
The flame of affection that burned in their hearts, time could not smother.
673 That night they spent together as fair comrades, each to the other.
Avtandil wept and Tariel wept with him; fast fell forlorn tears.
When day dawned, he went forth, kissed and parted from him, facing his fears.
Tariel was in deep mourning at the loss of one of his peers.
674 And Avtandil was weeping as he through the maze of rushes steers.
Then Asmat begged Avtandil not to leave Tariel at this hour.
She knelt, she pleaded with him, from her eyes came many a shower.
She begged him. She seemed to be fading like a violet flower.
675 He said, “Sister, I think of nothing but you. I’m in your power.
“I’ll come soon. I’ll not forsake you, nor waste time at home. I’ll be brief.
But let him not wander elsewhere. Let him not sneak off like a thief.
If I come not hither in two months, of traitors I shall be chief.
676 Either that, or be sure I have fallen into unceasing grief.”
THE STORY OF AVTANDIL’S
RETURN TO ARABIA
e left them there in the cave, and went away sadly on his horse.
He rent the rose of his cheeks, scratched his face bloody without remorse.
All the beasts of the field licked up the blood that flowed from him perforce,
And the swiftness of his grief-inspired pace shortened the long course.
He came to where he had parted from his armies, the very place.
They saw him. They rejoiced as was fit. They celebrated his grace.
They told the news to Shermadin. Men ran to him as in a race.
678 “He is come now for whose sake joy has vanished without any trace.”
Shermadin went to meet him, embraced him, put his mouth on his hand.
The tears of grateful joy he poured forth were soon watering the sand.
He spoke thus: “Is this reality or a dream to understand?
679 How am I worthy of this, that I should see you before me stand?”
The knight saluted him, pressing his cheek against his face. He said,
“I thank God that no other grief afflicts you, as has been my dread.”
The nobles did him homage. The worthies kissed him. Sadness had fled.
680 Great men and small men alike rejoiced that he to them had been led.
They came to Avtandil’s palace surrounded by an eager crowd.
The city assembled to see him. They were joyful and unbowed.
Forthwith, at their urging, he sat down to feast – gay, merry, and proud.
681 The tongue can’t fully describe the joy of that day, but – it was loud.
He talked to Shermadin, narrated to him everything he’d done,
How he had found Tariel, that knight whom he likened to the sun.
Avtandil said with half-closed eyes, hampered by the tears he had spun:
682 “Without him, it seems to me dwelling in palace or hut is one.”
Shermadin told him everything that had happened, or that he guessed.
“You told me to keep silent, so I kept silent, even when pressed.”
He went not thence that day. He gave himself a day to feast and rest.
683 At dawn, he mounted; he left when the sun the day had fully dressed.
He sat no more at feasting, nor enjoyed anything of the sort.
Shermadin, the bearer of news, announced his arrival at court.
Avtandil rode fast. He made a ten days’ journey a three days sport.
684 The lion rejoiced that he was to see the sun’s rival, in short.
He sent a message: “Oh, king, proud are you in majesty and might.
I venture to tell you this thing with respect, humility, fright.
I esteemed myself worthless since I could learn nothing of that knight.
685 Now I know and will tell thee all. I come happily in thy sight.”
Rostevan was a puissant king, with a proud, imperiousness mind.
So Shermadin decided to deliver his message in kind.
“Avtandil comes to the court; having found that which he was to find.”
686 The king said, “Now God has given me that for which I prayed and pined.”
Shermadin reported to Tinatin, that brightness without night,
“Avtandil comes to your presence; he brings you pleasing news, this knight.”
At this, from Tinatin flashed, braver than the sun’s, a brilliant light.
687 Then she gave him a gift, and robes for all his people, as was right.
The king mounted. His eagerness by Shermadin’s words had been whet.
The sun-faced one took the king’s eagerness as an honor, a debt.
Happily, the two were joined together, and warm-hearted they met.
688 Many vassals seemed as if drunk with joy, as drunk as they could get.
When he approached, the knight alighted and bowed low before the king.
Rostevan, overwhelmed by great joy, kissed him and to him did cling.
Merry, they entered the royal hall; and arm around arm did fling.
689 All assembled rejoiced that the knight such wonderful news did bring.
Avtandil, lion of lions, did homage to Tinatin, who
Had porcelain skin, rose cheeks, lashes and hair of a jet-black hue.
Tinatin’s face was as bright or brighter than heaven’s light to view.
690 A dwelling-house was no fit abode; the sky was its proper due.
They made a big feast; each ate and drank, so as not to be outdone,
And the king gazed at the knight, as a tender father at his son.
They both looked like dew on the rose. Who could be more beautiful? None.
691 Generously they both gave gifts, pearls in handfuls to everyone.
The drinking was done, the revelers each to his own home did weave;
The king sets the knight before them, and did not let the vassals leave.
The king asks, and Avtandil relates all the trials that made him grieve.
692 What he’d seen and heard about the stranger, he told them on that eve.
“When I speak of him, don’t be astonished if I grieve, or seem dazed.
To the sun alone can I liken him, after the sun has blazed.
Even those who’ve seen everything, looking at him would be amazed.
693 A wilted rose among the thorns, now, alas, is the one I’ve praised.
“When by his unendurable Fate, a man is like a horse spurred,
The reed becomes thin as a thorn; the crystal to saffron is blurred.”
Avtandil told them the tale, his cheeks wet with tears at every word.
694 And he told them in detail the story he had recently heard.
“He lives in the caves of Devis; he captured them in battle bold.
He has as faithful servant, she who was his mistress’s maid of old.
He is clad in panther skin, despising brocade and cloth of gold.
695 He’s left the world: an ever-renewed fire leaves him always cold.”
When he had finished his story, all of the sad tale he did know,
The story of the light of that sun, not diminished by his woe,
All praised Avtandil. What they heard pleased them, and his rosy-faced glow.
696 “His prowess is so great! What other glory could you seek to show?”
Tinatin, too, rejoiced that Avtandil was there, telling his tale.
He drank merrily and ate till that pleasure did finally stale.
After that, her servant to his bedchamber did Avtandil trail.
697 Words can’t express his joy when she ordered him to come without fail.
The knight went joyful and tender; to be called by her made him glad.
But the lion who roamed the fields had lost the bright color he had.
A knight of the world he was, a gem, a sparkling and precious lad.
698 But he had given his word to Tariel: therefore was he sad.
Bold sits Tinatin the sun, majestic, worry-free on her throne.
Eden’s fair aloe, watered by the Euphrates, as has been shown.
Her jet hair, her lashes’ thickets, the crystal and ruby are known.
699 Who am I to praise her? That needs Athenian sages on loan.
She sat the joyful Avtandil in front of her on his old chair.
They both sat full of gladness in what words befitted them to share.
They spoke with dignity and fluency, not with words that were bare.
700 She said, “You found him in whose quest you have seen misfortunes to spare?”
He answered: “When the world gives a man his heart’s desire at last.
It befits him not to recall grief that is like a day that’s past.
I found the aloe tree, watered by the streams of the world so vast.
701 I found the face which was once like the rose, but now is overcast.
“I saw there one like the cypress, one like the rose, his power lost.
Tariel told me he had lost the crystal with enamel glossed.
I burn for him: like me, into unendurable flames he’s tossed.”
702 Then again he told the story of how Tariel had been crossed.
He recounted all his misfortunes and sorrows during the quest.
“Then how God had granted his wish after putting him to the test;
‘Fate, life, or man – everything seems to him something which he must best.
703 Crazed, alone, he roams with the brutes, weeps in the field. He has no rest.
“How can you understand what I say? Ask me not his praise to speak.
Nothing else will please the one who at Tariel has had a peek.
The eyes of his beholders as by the brilliant sun have turned weak.
704 The rose has turned saffron, and the violet has been bruised to teak.”
He told her then what he’d seen and heard; the whole story he then gave.
“Like a panther he roams, and for house and abode he has a cave.
A damsel is there to maintain his life; she used to be a slave.
705 Alas! Fate makes all who dwell in the world shed tears, even the brave!”
The maid knew, when she heard his tale, her wish had been granted that night.
Her face shone then like the radiant moon: it was a lovely sight.
She said, “What answer will bring him comfort, will make his sorrows light?
706 And what is the balm to heal the wound of this ever-faithful knight?”
He said: “I must honor my word. Who can ever trust a liar?
Tariel told me his tale, let himself be tortured with fire.
I must soon return to him, or suffer the consequences dire.
707 Though it means to leave my sun, the sun who does my whole life inspire!
“A friend should spare himself no earthly trouble bearing a friend’s load.
He should give heart for heart; unroll his love as both bridge and road.
A lover should take the grief of another lover as if owed.
708 That’s why I consider myself a traitor to our friendship’s code.”
“All that my heart desired has been fulfilled,” the sun-like one then said.
“First, you have found what was lost and returned, who might well have been dead.
More importantly, the love implanted by me in you has spread.
709 I have found balm for my heart, hitherto in torment and in dread.
”Man’s fate is like the weather. Consider, and you will know it’s true.
Sometimes the sky thunders forth in its wrath. Sometimes, the sun breaks through.
Hitherto, grief has been my lot. Now, only gladness is my view.
710 Why should any be sad, when the world offers so much joy that’s new!
“I believe that you did well not to break the oath that you did swear.
One should manifest strong love for a friend, even one that’s not there,
To uncover the mystery, seek for his cure as best you dare.
711 But if the sun in my Heaven’s hidden, I’m sure to feel despair!”
He said: “I’ve added to seven woes the eighth just by being near.
Vain is it to try to unfreeze by drinking warm water, I fear.
Kissing rays on the ground won’t help the lover love the sun, it’s clear.
712 Near, I suffer; but, far, I pay a price thousands of times more dear.
“Woe is me, if I should stray: the killing fire of love will start.
I am the target of an arrow; I’m the object of a dart.
The time of my life henceforth is diminished to a one third part.
713 The time to hide my pain is past. There is no refuge for my heart.
“I have heard your discourse to me. I have understood your command.
Having the rose as mine, why did I seek a thorn to prick my hand?
But you, oh sun, made yourself fully sunlike for me in this land.
714 Let me take with me a love token, that I may sorrow withstand.”
Thus nicely, in sweet-sounding Georgian, spoke the knight like a friar.
He spoke on this subject pleadingly, as beautifully as a choir.
At length, the maiden gave him a pearl: thus she fulfilled his desire.
715 God grant their present joy will last forever, perfect and entire.
Is it better for a man’s jet to touch ruby and make it glow?
Or to plant aloe near the cypress, to water and watch it grow,
Causing joy to the one looking, sorrow to him who cannot know?
716 The poor parted lover! He will be groaning and moaning with woe.
They found joy in looking at each other, seeing all they could see.
The knight went away dazed. Sundered from her, he felt weak in the knee.
While the sun wept alone tears of blood more abundant than the sea.
717 She said, “Fate’s insatiable, alas, taking my life blood from me!”
The knight went off. He bruised his breast; his beating of it was not slight.
For love makes a man weep; his heart is melted by its fire bright.
When a cloud hides the sun, the earth is as dark as if it were night.
718 So parting from his beloved, dimmed to dusk the morning’s clear light.
Blood and tears mingled on his cheeks, making channel on channel there.
He said, “I’m so upset that I’ll no longer see the sun so fair.
I’m amazed my adamant heart’s been branded by her jet-black hair.
719 Until I see her, Oh Life, I’ll wish for no joy from you, I swear.
“Just yesterday, I was an aloe watered and in Eden grown.
Now, Fate thrusts me through with its lance, pierces me with its knife of stone.
Today my heart’s caught in fire, tangled as if in a snare thrown.
720 Now I know the way of the world. It’s a tale where deception’s known.”
Thus speaking, tears gush forth. He trembles, his is a shuddering gaze.
With a heart-sigh, with a deep groan, he bends and as he goes, he sways.
Embittered by parting from his beloved, and her lovely ways.
721 Fate darkens the glad beginning with a shroud at the end of days!
The knight sits in his room. Sometimes, he will weep. Sometimes, he will swoon.
But in spirit he is near his beloved, he is near his moon.
Like verdure in the hoarfrost, the hue of his face fades all too soon.
722 See how quickly lack of sun changes the look of the rose at noon!
“Accursed is the heart of man, greedy, insatiable, not smart;
Sometimes the heart endures all grief because it seeks joy at the start.
Blind is the heart, unable to distinguish the whole from the part.
723 No king, not even death, can master the desires of a man’s heart.”
The speaking of these hardened words helped Avtandil some peace to know.
He took the pearls, love-token of the sun that in his breast did glow,
White as her teeth, which she had worn around her neck moments ago,
724 He put them to his mouth, kissed them; he let his tears, like Psion, flow.
When day dawned, a messenger summoned him to court, and he obeyed.
The knight went forth, proud, gentle, not having slept because of the maid.
Spectators hoping to see him stood crowded in the sun and shade.
725 Drum and clarion were prepared; the king for the field was arrayed.
The king mounted. Oh, the splendor of those times is beyond all bounds!
The beating of the copper drums blotted out all the other sounds.
The hawks darkened the sun; hither and thither coursed the king’s hounds.
726 That day, so much blood was shed by them it dyed purple all the grounds.
They hunted the meadows, and came back joyful with what they could bring.
Both vassals and princes went. Meanwhile, others readied everything:
They adorned couches and pavilions, made them lovely for the king.
727 Harp harmonized with lute; how marvelously did the singers sing!
The knight sat near the king. They talked to each other into the night.
The crystal and ruby of their lips sparkled, and their teeth flashed white.
Far off, were the hosts. The worthy sat near and listened as they might;
728 None would venture to speak without mentioning Tariel, the knight.
No one dared question Avtandil, or ask him anything at all.
And he hardly spoke; he let only a few words from his lips fall.
The feast ended, the feasters left: sadness covered him like a pall.
729 His heart couldn’t endure more pain; like a child, he began to squall.
The knight departs sad at heart, and as he’s walking around, he cries.
Nothing but the image of Tinatin passes before his eyes.
How can one maddened by love sleep? Sometimes, he’ll lie down. Sometimes, rise.
730 If a lover says he listened to a prayer for patience – he lies!
He lies down and says: “What kind of consolation does my heart need?
I am sundered from you, a tree of Eden, slender as a reed.
Joy of your beholders, cause of woe to those whom that vision need,
731 If I’m unworthy to see you manifestly, a dream I plead.”
Thus he spoke to himself, and he began to weep tears that were real.
He told his heart: “Patience is the fountainhead of wisdom, I feel.
If we endure not, what can we do? How with anguish do we deal?
732 If we desire joy, we must then accept the grief of God’s great wheel.
“Oh heart, do not desire death, but consider death, instead, with dread.
It is better to live and sacrifice for her, than to be dead.
But hide your love. Let not the flame of it be seen, or it might spread.
733 It ill befits a lover ever to expose his love,” he said.
TO THE KING AND
THE VIZIERS ENTREATY
e went forth when day was just dawning, arraying himself with art.
He said, “I’ll keep my love hidden: to reveal it would not be smart.
I need to wait,” he told himself, and for patience he begged his heart.
He mounted his horse, and to the vizier’s house made an early start.
The vizier told him, “I am glad the sun to visit me did choose.
This same day I received a presentiment of joy, some good news.”
He saluted him; for the perfect one, perfect praise did he use.
735 A welcome guest should have a cheerful host: that is one of my views.
The host, not gloomy, ill-disposed or idle, warmly did him greet,
And helped him dismount. They stretched a colorful rug under his feet.
The knight was to that household like the sun that gives the whole world heat.
736 They said: “Today the wind wafts to us the odor of roses sweet.”
He sat. He excited the hearts of whoever gathered about.
They who gazed on him accounted it an honor, without a doubt.
From the lips of those assembled, many – a thousand – sighs did sprout.
737 They were ordered to depart, and left; the household crowd was thinned out.
The knight addressed the vizier when all of the household had left there.
He said, “In the council chamber, naught can be hidden from your stare.
In state matters, the king does what he wants; he does what you think fair.
738 Now, if you can, hearken to my woes, and release me from my snare.
”Tariel’s fire burns and the flame that consumes him afflicts me.
I think of him always. I’m slain because Tariel I can’t see.
What I owe him must be paid now: he told me of his life for free.
739 One must love an ungrudging friend, reward his generosity.
“Just the sight of him has caught my heart as in a net that Fate spun.
Therein it stays until released. My thoughts also are with that one.
In that he burns those near him, God created Tariel a sun.
740 Moreover, Asmat is my sister: dearer sister I have none.
“When I left, I swore a binding oath, not to leave him in the throes.
I said, ‘I shall see you again, not with a face despised by foes.
You are of darkened heart and I shall seek a light for all your woes.’
741 It’s time for me to go to him: I’m burning, though nobody knows.
“All this I tell you, not with a braggart’s words, nor speech that is stale.
He awaits me and I can’t set forth. This adds fuel to my travail.
1 can’t break my vow. I, a lover, must another such avail.
742 When and where could a breaker of oaths ever be said to prevail?
“Go to the palace on my behalf, to King Rostevan report.
By his head, I swear, you are absolutely needed at the court.
If he holds me here, what use am I? If not, my time here is short.
743 Don’t let fire destroy my heart. Do not seek my wishes to thwart!
“Say from me to him: ‘Let every eloquent mouth praise your great name!
Let God, the means and measure of light, let you know I fear your blame!
But that knight, that lover, that aloe-tree, has burned me with hot flame.
744 Forthwith, he took away my heart: it is not mine; he did me tame.
“Now, Oh King, existence without him is impossible, at best;
He has my heart. I am heart-sickened, not a man you should arrest.
If I can be of use to him, you’ll have the glory of my quest.
745 If I’m useless, my unbroken oath will yet set my heart at rest.
”Let not my departure anger you, nor cause your heart any pain.
Let whatever God has designed befall me. He will make it plain.
May He grant us victory; send your servant back to you again.
746 If I don’t return, may your foes be frightened – and long may you reign!’
I have shortened my speech,” confessed to the vizier the sun-faced knight.
“Now speak thus to the king till others come to say what they think right.
Ask him to forgive my departure. Your influence isn’t slight.
747 And you’ll be rewarded with a hundred thousand gold pieces bright.”
“Keep your reward for yourself,” the vizier with a bitter smile said.
“For me it is sufficient favor that your road to me has led.
When I tell the king what I’ve heard from you, when he hears what you’ve pled,
748 No doubt he’ll reward me, and unspeakable honors on me shed.
“By his head, he’ll slay me on the spot, without a moment’s delay.
You’ll still have your gold, but dispatched by the king, in my grave I’ll stay.
Woe is me! To be worth the life of a man, how much should you pay?
749 The thing can’t be said. I can’t say those words. Reproach me as you may!
“One can’t outrun oneself. How can I lay down my whole life for you?
He will despoil or kill me. He’ll say: ‘How can what you say be true?
Why didn’t you understand right then? Never such a fool I knew!’
750 I’d rather die than see my household pay for what I failed to do.
“Why should your soldiers be deceived, even if the king lets you go?
Why should they be made sad, and why removed from everything they know?
If you leave, our foes will even themselves with us, and bold will grow:
751 In your absence, sparrows will turn hawks – human nature functions so.”
“I should strike a knife into my heart!” The knight wept, and crying spoke.
“Oh vizier, it is apparent you have never yet felt love’s stroke.
You’ve not known friendship or the strength of an oath: it’s a lifelong yoke.
752 You’d know that without him, there’s no real joy, and life becomes a joke.
”I could not dream such a thing would happen; the sun would lose his way.
It will be good if we help him: in return, he will warm our day.
I know best what embitters me and what sweetens me and what may.
753 An idle discourse of idle men on the soul does greatly weigh.
“Of what possible profit can I be to the king or his clan?
Since I am madly in love and my tears overflow every plan?
It is better I leave. I will not break my word. Oaths prove a man.
754 No one’s experienced the grief of Tariel, and no one can.
“How can my accursed heart agree with what you’ve said, I ask you.
Iron in my place would not be hard rock but melt as waxes do.
Even if Geon flowed from my eyes, I could not repay what’s due.
755 I ask for your willing help. Someday you may need help from me, too.
“If the king won’t give me leave, I shall steal away, as I think best.
My heart’s consumed by fire and begs me to undertake this quest.
He won’t exile you because of me, but keep you close to his chest.
756 Promise – no matter what may happen – you’ll put yourself to this test.”
The vizier said, “The fire that consumes you, also consumes me.
Life will be worthless if I fail to listen to your tearful plea.
Sometimes we should hold our tongues; sometimes with our tongues, we should make free.
757 I shall speak and if I die, my life will be sacrificed for thee.”
When the vizier had said this, he arose and went straight to the king.
He saw him arrayed, with his sun-like face. He didn’t say a thing.
He got frightened and dared not such abhorrent tidings to him bring.
758 Thus he stood perplexed, and unto his brave decision did not cling.
The king saw the vizier was struck dumb by what was making him sad.
The king said, “Why’d you come here unhappy? What do you have to add?”
The vizier said, “I don’t know what to say, but I am far from glad.
759 You’ll be justified in slaying me when you hear what news I’ve had.
”My mourning neither adds to my grief nor takes anything away.
I am afraid, though an envoy should have no care for fear, they say.
Now Avtandil bids you farewell. He entreats as such a knight may.
760 He says without Tariel, life is nothing: all the world is gray.”
With timorous tongue, the vizier said everything he had been told.
He added, after that: “How can I in a few words, although bold,
Tell you in what dread plight I saw him, and how his manly tears rolled?
761 You will be right if your wrath falls on me, if your anger is cold.”
When the king had heard this, he got angry, he fell into a rage.
He terrified all their onlookers. His mood was awful to gauge.
He cried, “What did you say, fool? You who are supposed to be sage!
762 It is an evil man who loves evil, and draws an evil wage!
“You’ve hastened here to tell me this; you’ve hastened to me to be frank.
Your treachery’s almost as bad as killing me – it’s not a prank!
Madman, to use your tongue so, thinking for this news, I would you thank!
763 Fool! You’re not worthy to be vizier or to hold any rank.
“Should not a man spare his lord what is irksome, and choose what is fair?
When he stupidly babbles to him, I ask you, does he not err?
Why my ears were not made deaf before I heard this news that you blare?
764 Your blood on my hands is a responsibility I can bear!”
Again he spoke: “If he had not sent you here to say what you said,
I would execute you, let there be no doubt of this, by my head!
Withdraw, you stupid insolent fool, having pleaded what you pled!
765 Brave words! Brave man! Brave knight! Brave you for doing the deed in his stead!”
The king then started throwing chairs. They shattered when they hit the wall.
He missed his aim: he wanted to hit the vizier, to make him fall.
“How could you speak of the going of one like an aloe at all?”
766 Hot tears hollowed out channels as down the vizier’s face they did crawl.
The wretched vizier then hurried away: he dared say nothing more.
He crept off crestfallen as a fox; he was wounded to the core.
He came in a courtier; his tongue made him stumble out the door.
767 More than any foe hurts him, a man on himself trouble will pour.
He said, “What more will God show me, to add to all my other woes?
Would that someone had dissuaded me from choosing the path I chose!
Whoever says what I said to a king his impertinence shows!
768 My evil days are his, too; he won’t know peace wherever he goes!”
So the disappointed vizier left, burdened with his darkened fate.
Gloomily, he reported what happened, not making the knight wait.
“Thanks to you, I am blacker than coal. I am now a man to hate!
769 I have put myself to shame, coming to my senses far too late.”
He jokingly asked for a reward, even though his tears still fell,
And Avtandil wondered, “Why does he choose this time his jokes to tell?”
Then the vizier said, “Who denies a promised gift does not do well.
770 It’s said, ‘A reward can often settle matters, even in hell.’
“I cannot say how he took the matter; when I try, I lose track.
What idiocy he accused me of! What sense he said I lack!
I can’t think. I’m devastated, having come under such attack.
771 I wonder, too, that he didn’t slay me: God must have held him back.
“I knew, too, what I’d done, knew I had meddled with affairs of state.
I knew he would be angry with me, therefore was my grief so great.
True, none can avoid a vengeance, foretold by Destiny not Fate.
772 Still, for thy sake, death seems joy to me, whether it comes soon or late.”
Avtandil responded, “The king’s wrath is a burden on me, too!
But why do you need reward?” He smiled broadly, though his words were few.
“Your skin did not turn to fur, but rich fur to withered skin, it’s true.
773 Instead of being my healer, you’re sick, and I must now heal you!”
The vizier responded, “It doesn’t matter what happens to me.
He’ll get over his anger and thus lighten his heart, you will see.
But tell me what you’ll do. I hope my grief won’t even greater be.
774 Does what you’re doing warrant the danger, or is it just a spree?”
The knight replied: “It is impossible for me not to depart.
When the rose withers, the dying of the nightingale then shall start.
He must seek a dewdrop of water, must seek this in every part.
775 If he can’t find it, what will he do: wherewith shall he soothe his heart?
Without Tariel, I can’t bear to sit or lie down,” said the knight.
I will choose to roam like the beasts, and with them, I will run at night.
How can the king want me to fight his foes, when he knows of my plight?
776 Better to have no man than to have one who doesn’t want to fight.
“Now, no matter how angry the king may be, I’ll try to explain.
Surely he can judge how my heart burns, how the flames refuse to wane.
If he grants me not leave, I’ll steal away when all my hope’s been slain.
777 And if I die, let it be so! Let all of my life be in vain!”
After they’d spoken, the vizier made a banquet as he thought best.
He played the host; he brought gifts and his fair gifts on the fair he pressed.
He enriched all his attendants: both youths and greybeards, all were blessed.
778 They parted. The knight went home as the sun was setting in the west.
The sun-faced cypress heaped up a hundred thousand pieces of gold.
The generous one also added satin and silk, nicely rolled,
Sixty rubies and jets that looked like him, of which he’d gotten hold.
779 All these he sent with a man to the vizier, so he’d be consoled.
Then Avtandil sent a message, “How can I give you what you’re due?
What adequate return can I make for all I know I owe you?
If I survive, I shall put myself at your service. That is true.
780 I’ll repay love with love with equal weight, do all that I can do.”
How can I tell of his peerless valor? He’s greater than my praise.
He was the worthiest of men, and deserving of many lays.
Thus should one help those who touch our hearts when suffering on them preys.
A man turns to his brother and kinsman when he knows troubled days.
e spoke to Shermadin, the sun-faced and the dispenser of light,
“This is the day of my hope and the day of my heart’s true delight,
The day on which you’ll show what you can do for me, and do it right.
I need you as a reader and listener while I praise this knight.”
He said, “Rostevan did not grant me leave or hear the things I said.
He doesn’t know the truth of the situation for which I’ve pled.
Without Tariel, abroad or at home, I might as well be dead.
783 Of a time when God forgave an ignoble act, I’ve never read.
“I vowed to help him, so you can imagine the state I am in.
My heart weeps and sighs that I’m not allowed my journey to begin.
My heart hides from people. When they approach, it goes into a spin.
784 Every liar and traitor insults God and thus commits a sin.
“There are three ways a person may choose to show friendship to a friend.
First, wishing for nearness, feeling time spent apart will never end.
Second, not getting tired of giving; willing ceaselessly to spend.
785 Lastly, for his sake, all help and aid on the battlefield to lend.
“But why should I lengthen my speaking? Now is when silence should start.
Now to steal away from here will be the healing of my bruised heart.
Hearken to what I entreat until we our company must part.
786 Observe what I’ve taught you, and fortify yourself as would be smart.
”Now prepare yourself, firstly, to serve Rostevan and Tinatin.
The manifesting of valor and self-reliance should begin.
Take care of my household, command my troops, as if you were my twin.
787 Be even more the loyal and devoted servant you have been.
“Maintain your might: ensure my foes’ attacks on the marches are vain.
Grudge nothing good to the loyal, but let the false-hearted be slain.
If I return, I shall repay you past your due for all your pain.
788 Service to a good master always results in ultimate gain.”
When he had heard this, hot tears from Shermadin’s eyes began to flow.
He said, “Why should loneliness frighten me. Its sorrow I well know.
What shall I do without you? Your absence dusk in my heart shall sow.
789 Take me with you to serve you. I shall surely aid you as you go.
“To think of you wandering widely, all alone, fills me with dread.
Who has heard of a servant holding back wherever his lord led?
Thinking you lost, I shall be as useless as someone who is dead.”
790 The knight said, “I can’t take you, no matter how many tears you shed.”
He went on, “How can I disbelieve the strong love you have for me?
But Fate has taken arms against me and what you ask cannot be.
Who will watch over my house? Who but you is fit to oversee?
791 So calm your heart, and believe me when I say I cannot take thee!
“Since I am a lover, I must run mad and alone in the field.
One with blood-stained tears must always go alone, his destiny sealed!
Wandering in solitude is what lovers do, until they’re healed.
792 That is the way the world is: be assured of it, therefore, and yield.
“When I am far from you, you will think of me, love beyond belief.
I fear not my foes at all; I shall take care of myself, in brief.
A courageous man must be of good cheer; he must not mope in grief.
793 I despise a man who balks not at shameful deeds: he is a thief.
”The entire world is nothing but a rotten cucumber, I say,
Unless a man thinks dying for his good friend is a joy, or play.
My sun grants me leave, why should I linger, why not go straight away?
794 If I can bear leaving her, how much easier from home to stray.
“Now I give you the testament, which I have addressed to the king.
I will confide you to him; ask that he take you under his wing.
If I die, don’t let Satan thoughts of killing yourself to you bring.
795 But weep for me. Many hot tears from your eyes you may rightly wring.”
TESTAMENT OF AVTANDIL
KING ROSTEVAN BEFORE
HE SECRETELY LEFT
e sat down and wrote a note to the king with whom he could not speak.
“Oh king! I have stolen away in quest of the one I must seek.
I can’t stay apart from him. Without him, my life’s fire grows weak.
Be merciful to me as God would be, and don’t act out of pique.
“I know that in the end you will bless the course that I have taken.
A wise man cannot stand the thought his good friend will be forsaken.
Let me remind you of what Plato said to help us awaken:
797 ‘By lies and two-facedness, the body’s hurt, the soul is shaken.’
“Lying, we know, is the source of all things ignoble. Why should I
Abandon my friend, who’s tied to me by an even stronger tie
Than a brother born? I shall be wise as philosophers, or try.
798 We study so that we may be united with the choir on high.
“Have you read what the apostles say of love, studied every phrase?
Our knowledge must be harmonized with the way they express their praise.
‘Love exalts us’ they tell us, as if heaven’s bells a song would raise.
799 If you cannot conceive this, how can I hope ignorance to raze?
“He, who created me, gave me the power to see foes undone.
Invisible and Mighty, He aids every earthly mother’s son.
Immortal divinity, God, by whom finite bounds have been spun,
800 Who’ll in a moment change one to a hundred, a hundred to one.
”Something that God doesn’t will doesn’t happen, and what He wills, stays.
The violet fades, the rose withers, without the sun’s warming rays.
The eyes long for all things lovely and beautiful on which to gaze.
801 How can I endure without Him? What can I find in life to praise?
“Forgive me if I have not kept your command; do not take it ill.
Enthralled, I had no power even your commandment to fulfill.
No! To go was the remedy to heal the wounds that burn me still.
802 Wherever I may be, nothing matters if I have my free will!
“The flowing of tears is useless, and your sadness avails you not.
The deed decreed above must be followed to the tittle and jot.
It’s a law with men they must endure and suffer the woes they’ve got.
803 What Providence writes, no earthly creature has the power to blot.
“May I experience whatever God has set in his decree.
And when I return, my heart will no longer be ashen, you’ll see.
Joyful in majesty and manifold wealth, may you by then be.
804 What I do for him is sufficient glory and treasure for me.
“Oh king, this is my decision. Slay me, if you can prove me wrong!
Oh king, can it be that my going grieves thee? If so, then be strong.
I cannot be false; I cannot stand a cowardly deed for long,
805 Or I’d be ashamed to meet Tariel in eternity’s throng.
“Staying faithful to a faithful friend doesn’t do us harm, nor can.
I condemn the shameless and false, those who make a treacherous plan!
I can’t let down that sunny king even if I should suffer ban.
806 What is worse, I ask you, than a hesitant, tardy-going man?
“What is worse than a man in a fight, with a scowling, frightened face?
Who shirks his duty and is timid, fearing death more than disgrace?
A coward is no better than a weaving woman – he is base!
807 The best gain is a respected name, a name that time can’t erase!
”A narrow or rocky road cannot keep Death from making his claim.
By Death, all are leveled; the weak and the strong-hearted are the same.
In the end, young and old lie in the ground and lose their earthly frame.
808 It is better to die a glorious death than to live in shame!
“Now, Oh king, one final request will conclude what I humbly write.
Mistaken is he who does not expect, every moment, death’s blight.
The one who unites us all comes alike in the day and by night.
809 If I’m not alive to see you, I’ve lived out my time, as is right.
“If Destiny destroys me as, in the end, it destroys us all,
A wanderer who died wandering, abandoned by great and small,
With no parents, guardians, trusted friends, enshroud me in the hall.
810 Then, indeed, will your kind, merciful heart let pity on me fall.
“I have, as you know, countless possessions, possessions weighed by none.
Give the treasure to the poor; tell the slaves their bonds have been undone.
Give to those who’ve been orphaned, those without means. Enrich everyone.
811 When I’m gone, they’ll recall and bless me, thinking of all that I’ve done.
“May the many poor pray to God for me and not my pleas ignore.
So He delivers me from flesh and this world and settles my score.
Let the hot flames of hell not burn me. May that place not be in store.
812 Let Him bestow on me my place in heaven that I’m yearning for.
“Let Him free me from the darkness and swath me with His heaven’s light.
Give me a dwelling there where wounds are healed and everything made right.
So the many insects of this world will not have a chance to bite. So I am given
813 Great wings and great strength and thus can soar in flight.
“Whatever’s not worthy of your treasury, what’s not great or rare,
Use it to build shelters or build bridges: whatever you can share.
In the spending of my possessions, I’m begging you not to spare.
814 No one but you can quench in this manner the fire of my care.
”This is my one and only testament; nothing more shall you see.
I entrust my soul to you, as it says, without flattering thee.
My heart prevails and to flatter you now, a devil’s deed would be.
815 What can be extracted from me when dead? Forgive me. Pray for me.
“I entreat you on behalf of Shermadin, my servant of yore.
On my account, this year he suffered grief and has more grief in store.
Favor him as I used to do, and don’t his loyalty ignore.
816 From his eyes, welling with blood, make not the tears of regret to pour.
“My testament is ended, written by mine own hand as I chose.
Behold, mentor of mine, now I am one who with heavy heart goes.
Let not you, sovereigns, be grieved on my behalf nor clad in woes.
817 May you be victorious, your sovereignty feared by all your foes.”
He made an end to writing and gave the will to Shermadin’s hands.
He said, “Convey this to him discreetly, make sure he understands.
None can excel you in any service, in any of the lands.”
818 Then he weeps over him bloody tears, embracing him as he stands.
I reat God of earth and highest heaven,” Avtandil fervently prayed,
fc “Who punishes us sometimes, sometimes lets His punishments be stayed,
t Unknowable, Unutterable, Lord of Heaven’s Hosts arrayed.
– Oh, ruler of the passions, let me not by my longings be swayed.
“Oh God, I beseech You, who governs what is high and what is deep,
You did create love, and You have decreed the laws that it must keep.
Fate’s sundered me from my brightly-shining sun, and has made me weep.
820 Do not uproot the great love she has sown for me, nor let it sleep.
“Oh God, I have no one beside you. Be both merciful and strong.
From You, I beg aid while I am on the road, no matter how long.
Shelter me from foes, the tumultuous sea, the one who does wrong.
821 If I live, I’ll offer sacrifice to You, to You I’ll belong.”
When he’d prayed, he mounted his horse and stealthily passed through the gate.
He sent back Shermadin, although that servant’s suffering was great.
The vassal weeps and beats his breast. He is in a terrible state.
822 How can a vassal rejoice who has watched his lord leaving of late?
KING ROSTEVAN HEARS OF
AVTANDIL’S SECRET FLIGHT
ow I’ll begin another tale, following the knight without peer.
There would be no audience that day with the king, that much was clear.
The next day, he seemed to breathe flame from his mouth on all who were near.
The king ordered the vizier called: thither they led him, pale with fear.
When the king saw the vizier arrive reverently in the hall,
He told him, “What you said to me yesterday, I hardly recall.
You did enrage me then, and I could not compose my soul at all.
824 So, kind vizier, I scolded you. To my rage I was in thrall.
“What did he want? Why did I treat you so ill? Tell me if you know.
Truly the sages tell us that our anger is a net of woe!
One should always think before speaking, and not let his anger show.
825 Now, tell me what you told me then! Repeat your story. Let it flow!”
Again the vizier submitted his speech he’d made the day before.
When the king heard it, he made no long answer, but once again swore:
“I’m Levi the Jew, if this is not your madness come to the fore.
826 If I listen further, I’ll abandon you – let me hear no more!”
The vizier left the chamber of the king, but couldn’t find the knight.
Only servants with flowing tears were there talking about his flight.
He said: “I can’t go to court again. The king’s rage is far from slight.
827 Who dares speak to the king, let him; I repent what I said tonight.”
When the vizier did not come back, the king sent a man to get him.
The man learned the news and stood outside, filled with fear up to the brim.
Rostevan’s grief increased tenfold, although his suspicions were dim.
828 He said, “Doubtless he’s left. He’s all alone. His future may be grim.”
With bent head, he meditated. In his heart, there was great travail.
He sighed and ordered a servant, “Go and fetch the vizier, without fail.
Let that villain come here and speak his piece. Let him tell me his tale.”
829 When the vizier came back, he was timid, and had turned very pale.
Again the vizier entered the king’s chamber gloomily, not gay.
The king asked: “Has the sun, inconstant like the moon, now gone away?”
The vizier told him all and finished, “Avtandil has left today.
830 The weather is overcast. The sun no longer sheds any ray.”
When the king heard this, he cried out with a very great cry. He said,
“Alas, you who were like a son to me! Now to me you are dead!”
He scratched his face and tore his beard. People watched what he did with dread.
831 “Wherever have you lost your pillars of light and where have you fled?
“If you have yourself, you’re not alone: you have a friend by your side.
But what can I do? Now I will find a monk’s cell in which to hide.
832 You’ve left me orphaned. My wretched heart longs for what it is denied.
Until we’re reunited, my sufferings I’ll have to abide.
“When shall I see you returning from the hunt, joyous from the chase?
I shall no longer see you after a game – a gem, full of grace.
No longer shall I hear your alluring voice, nor see your bright face.
833 Now without you, alas, what shall I do with this throne and this place?
“Hunger will not kill you, no matter where you roam, this much I know.
The tip of your arrowheads will provide you, and your trusty bow.
Perhaps merciful God will again decide to lighten your woe,
834 But if I die, oh foster son, who for me will let their grief show?”
The sound of lamentations was heard: a great host had gathered there.
A crowd of palace courtiers were trying their own beards to tear.
All rend and strike themselves. The sound of their hard slapping fills the air.
835 They say: “Darkness is upon us. Our sun is gone, we don’t know where!”
When the king saw his vassals, he complained to them with groans and tears.
He asked them: “What have we done, that our sun suddenly disappears?
In what have we hurt him or sinned, that he has parted from his peers?
836 Who’ll maintain order among the troops he led so well all these years?”
All wept and lamented. Then at length they grew calm and wept no more.
The king asked, “Did he go alone or with someone, forth from his door?”
Shermadin, fearful and shameful, could not the king’s request ignore.
837 He gave him the testament and wept. Life seemed something he foreswore.
He told the king: “I found this in his chamber, written by his hand.
The servants stood there and tore hair and beard; they were a weeping band.
He’s stolen away alone; no one rides with him across the land.
838 I don’t deserve to live. Slay me justly. Cut me down where I stand.”
When they read the will, again they wept, their tears given a new lease.
The king said: “Let not my troops wear bright colors, not a single piece.
Let us ask the poor, the orphans and widows, to pray without cease.
839 Let us help him so God will ensure he makes his journey in peace.”
TO MEET WITH TARIEL
hen the moon’s far from the sun, distance makes her bright beyond belief;
When she’s near, his light consumes her; her time at his side must be brief.
But sunlessness dries up the rose and of its color is the thief.
Not seeing our beloved only renews in us our old grief.
Now I will begin to tell the tale of where that knight’s footsteps led.
He left weeping, heart on fire; that his tears lessened can’t be said.
Each moment, he turned back; that his sun would stay his is what he pled.
841 He looked back. When he tried to look away, consciousness almost fled.
He was near fainting. He lost the power to speak or move his tongue.
But tears ran from his eyes, pouring forth as if from the ground they’d sprung.
Sometimes he turns; he tries to brave the pain, but finds himself unstrung.
842 When he proceeds, it is by the will of the horse to which he’s clung.
He said: “Oh, my own! Who stops crying far from you, cursed is he!
Since my mind remains with you, let my heart also return to thee.
My weeping eyes, too, are wishful: they want their beloved to see.
843 The lover should be subjected to his love, much as it may be!
“What shall I do till I am with you, where shall I find joy in fears?
I would kill myself but it would doubtless hurt you, so it appears.
It would grieve you to hear I was no longer living through the years.
844 So let me then, still alive, give my eyes to the shedding of tears.”
He said, “Divine sun, said to be the image of the Sunny Night
Image of the Three-in-One, Timeless Time, Everlasting in might
Whom the heavenly bodies obey to the second, as is right,
845 Turn not away, I pray, till she and I have each other in sight.
“To you whom ancient philosophers called God’s own image, I pray
You will aid me. I’m a captive. See the iron chains I display!
I, seeker of crystal and ruby, have lost coral and turn gray.
846 Once, I could not endure nearness, now absence holds me in its sway.”
Thus he lamented and cried out, like a candle melting to waste.
He wandered on. The fear of being too late spurred him. He made haste.
When night fell, he found delight in the rising stars, the course they traced.
847 He compared them to her. He conversed with them and found himself braced.
“I beseech you, Moon, in the name of the God to whom you are true,”
He says aloud. “Who gives the sickness of love to lovers? You do.
You have also the balm to make them endure it, to see it through.
848 Hear my prayer. Unite me with the one as beautiful as you.”
Night rejoiced him. Day tortured him. He awaited the setting sun.
When he saw a stream, he dismounted and watched the clear waters run.
He added to them rivulets of bloody tears, till he had none.
849 Again he set out. He made haste, longing for the road to be done.
Alone, he cried out. He who was like the aloe would tearful grow.
He killed a goat on a part of the plain that was rocky and low.
He roasted and ate it; then sun-faced and brave, onward did he go.
850 He said, “I forsook roses, and behold me here, now, full of woe!”
I can’t tell now all the words spoken by that knight who was so brave.
He rode along, the words of his laments so eloquent and grave.
Sometimes his eyes were red with tears, or scratches on his cheeks he gave.
851 He was glad to see the opening, dismounted, entered the cave.
When Asmat perceived him, she went to meet him and her tears fell fast.
She’d never again experience this joy, greater than the past.
The knight embraced her and kissed her, happy to have arrived at last.
852 When one’s waited for something, the pleasure of its coming is vast.
The knight said to the maiden Asmat: “Where is your lord? How is he?”
The maiden wept with tears so many they might have nourished the sea.
She said, “When you were gone, he roamed. It irked him in the cave to be.
853 I know nothing of him, either by sight or tidings,” so said she.
Avtandil was as pained as if a lance had struck him in the heart.
He said: “Oh, sister, the news of this wrong has struck me like a dart!
I deceived him not! How could he break the oath with which we did part?
854 Why did he lie? If he could not keep the oath, tell me at the start!
“Since, save for him, I counted this world as grief, why did he not wait?
Why did he forget and forsake me? Why place on my heart this weight?
How dare he play false, break the fervent oath he swore to me of late?
855 But why should I marvel at evil which comes from treacherous fate?”
Again the maiden spoke: “Your complaint is justified, every phrase.
But when you shall judge rightly – suspect me not of devious ways –
Doesn’t one need heart to make sure that by his promises he stays?
856 He, bereft of heart, awaits only the curtailment of his days.
“The heart, the mind and thought depend each upon the other, and so
When and where the heart leads, the others, mind and thought, will also go.
A man deprived of heart is therefore a stranger to friend and foe.
857 The fires that burn and consume him, you saw not, you do not know.
“You are right to complain that your sworn brother left without farewell,
But how can you, a man of reason, grasp into what plight he fell?
The aching heart will ache, the tongue fail and not be able to tell.
858 So I think, luckless born, for I saw him under his grieving’s spell.
”Up until now, no one has heard of a suffering of this size.
Such torture would frighten not just men, but the stones under the skies.
Sufficient for a fountain are the tears that have flowed from his eyes.
859 Whatever you say, you’re right. In another’s battle, one is wise.
“When Tariel set out, burned, consumed with fire, I his progress stayed:
‘What should Avtandil do when he comes here, and finds that you have strayed?’
He said: ‘Let him seek me, now useless for him, not far from this glade.
860 I shall not leave this area. I won’t break the promise I made.
“My vow I will not break; my solemn oath I will never belie.
I shall wait for the appointed time, however much I may cry.
If he finds me dead, let him bury me, let his eyes not be dry.
861 If living, let him marvel, for my life is doubtful; he knows why.
“The rising of the sun over the mountains is for me in vain.
I must only shed my many tears and by them moisten the plain.
I am tortured by groans chasing one another: love-crazed, insane.
862 Behold the deed of Fate. Even death declines to shorten my pain.’
“Somewhere in China there is a rock on which is written, I know,
This true and pithy saying, ‘Who seeks not a friend is his own foe.’
He more lovely than rose or violet now has a saffron glow.
863 If you seek him, seek him; do what fits you, whether you stay or go.”
The knight said: “You’re right not to approve me in the complaint I’ve spun.
But think about what I, also a prisoner of love, have done.
Like a lone stage in search of water, I left my home on the run.
864 I seek and think of him, wandering from field to field in the sun.
“May a clear shell protect the pearl, as if she were in armor clad.
I abandoned her; even in her presence, I could not be glad.
By fleeing in stealth as I did, I made the equal of God mad.
865 In return for his favors, I’ve troubled his heart. I’ve made him sad.
”The lord who raised me, who is mighty by God’s grace, did I appall.
He was kind like a father, a sky snowing graciousness on all,
And I betrayed him. I went away, knowing my going would gall,
866 And I no longer await any good thing from God, great or small.
“All this afflicts me greatly, sister, after having given chase.
I have journeyed here by night and day to take by his side my place.
He for whom I am consumed with fire is gone without a trace.
867 In vain am I weary, and so I sit weeping with a sad face.
“But now, sister, there’s no more time for me to talk or stand aghast.
I will not ignore the words of the wise. I’ll not regret the past.
I’ll seek him. Either I’ll find him or death will come upon me fast.
868 Otherwise, doomed by Fate, what can I dare say to God at the last?”
The knight said no more than this before he went weeping on his way.
He passed rocks, crossed through water and reeds, and came to the plain by day.
The wind blowing from the fields froze the ruby rose which had been gay.
869 “Why this plague?” he said, reproaching the Fate that on him heavy lay.
He said: “God, All-seeing, wherein have I sinned against your decree?
Why this fate? Why have I been separated from my friends by Thee?
As One who thought of Two, I’m now in the most peril there could be.
870 If I die, though, I’ll not pity myself. My blood will be on me.
“My friend cast roses on my heart: thereby causing the wounds I got.
The solemn oath we swore was fulfilled by me, but he kept it not.
If, oh Fate, you part me from him, the joy I felt is turned to rot.
871 Let another friendship be reviled. Let me find on that a blot.”
Then again he said: “I marvel a man of sense gives grief heed.
When he’s sad, of what avail are tears that fall to the ground like seed?
It is better to consider, to ponder on the fitting deed.
872 For me, too, it’s better to seek that sun, in form so like a reed.”
Avtandil, still weeping, began to search for his companion fair.
He seeks and calls him at night; he cries aloud during the day’s glare.
For three days, he traversed glens and thickets, forests and fields laid bare.
873 He could not find him, and he heard no tidings of him anywhere.
He said: “Oh God, wherein have I sinned? Is your displeasure so great?
What torture have You sent upon me, that you’ve brought me to this fate!
Judge me now, oh Judge. Hearken to my prayer before it’s too late.
874 Shorten my days and you will soothe my woes. You will lighten my weight!”
AVTANDIL FINDS TARIEL
eeping and pale, the knight went his way, thinking all his thoughts aloud.
He climbed a hill. The plain appeared in sunshine and shaded by cloud.
He saw a black horse by the rushes, the reins on his neck, head bowed.
He said: “Undoubtedly it is he, my brother so tall and proud.”
When he saw this, the heart of the knight leapt up. He felt light and bold.
To him, distressed, came joy at last, not ten-fold but a thousand-fold.
His rosy cheeks brightened. His eyes’ jet was blacker than can be told.
876 Like the wind, he galloped on, as soon as the horse he did behold.
When he saw Tariel, grief came upon him; keen grew his despair.
Tariel sat with drawn face, in a state near death, beyond repair.
His collar was badly torn, and he had wildly disheveled hair.
877 It was as if he’d stepped beyond this world, sitting unfeeling there.
On one side lay a slain lion and a sword with blood on its blade.
On the other side, a panther stretched a lifeless corpse in the shade.
From Tariel’s eyes, tears flowed fiercely, as if by a fountain made,
878 Coming from a heart in torment, where all-consuming fire stayed.
He had wholly lost consciousness, could not even open his eyes.
His will was gone. He was close to death, without the power to rise.
The knight calls him by name; to rouse him with words, he uselessly tries.
879 Then like a true brother, he dismounts and rushes to where he lies.
He wipes away the knight’s tears with his hand, dries his eyes with his sleeve.
He sits down nearby and calls him by name. He does not think to leave.
He says, “Don’t you know me, who for your sake wandered without reprieve?”
880 But Tariel seemed at first not to hear, causing the knight to grieve.
This is exactly how it was, as I have related the tale:
He wiped away Tariel’s tears, brought him back to this earthly vale.
Then Tariel kissed him, embraced him like a brother without fail.
881 By the living God I swear, no other man born was of their scale.
Tariel said, “Brother, I was not false; I have done what I swore.
I stayed alive, thus I kept my vow to you. I can do no more.
Now leave me; let me weep and beat my head until I reach death’s shore.
882 But I ask you burial. Let me not be food for beasts who roar.”
The knight said: “What ails you? Why would you do yourself this evil deed?
Who has not been a lover, and on whom does the furnace not feed?
Who’s done your like among the race of men, among the earthly breed?
883 Why kill yourself by your own will? You must be paying Satan heed!
“If you are wise, with this teaching of the sages, you will agree:
To be a manly man, it is better to weep infrequently.
One should strengthen himself like a rock when he meets adversity.
884 Through his reason, a man comes to trouble, whoever he may be.
“You are wise and yet you don’t know how to live as the wisest will.
You weep in the plain, live with the beasts. What desire can you fulfill?
If you leave the world, you can’t attain her, for whom you’re dying still.
885 Why beat a head unhurt, reopen a wound and make your blood spill?
“Whom has the furnace not consumed, and who was not a lover born?
Who has not seen great torment? And who was not from somebody torn?
Tell me, what has not already been? Why should your spirit be worn?
886 Don’t you know now that no one ever plucked a rose without a thorn?
”They asked the rose: ‘Who made you so lovely and left you standing there?
I marvel at your thorns: the pain of finding you makes one beware!’
It said: ‘Sweet is found through the bitter; that which is better is rare.
887 When the lovely is cheapened, it is not worth a fig anywhere.’
“If even the short-lived and soulless rose speaks to us in this way,
Who then can reap joy who has not worked for it as hard as they may?
Who has seen this world without the Devil’s deeds for which we must pay?
888 Why protest Destiny? Nothing has not seen an earlier day.
“Hearken to what I have said. Mount, and let us proceed at our ease.
Do not follow your own counsel and the judgments that seem to please.
Do what you desire not. What your desire wills, do not seize.
889 I say this because it’s wise, not to lead you astray, or to tease.”
Tariel said, “Brother, I scarcely have the strength to wield my tongue.
Maddened, I’ve no strength to hearken to the words that from thee have sprung.
It seems easy to you to endure the torments by which I’m stung!
890 The time of deliverance is near. At the feet of death, I’m flung.
“For death, I pray; and never shall I entreat God, but with my heart.
In Heaven, we lovers may be united; here, we live apart.
There we may see each other, and again find joy as at the start.
891 Come, friend, and bury me. Cast clods upon me with a grave man’s art!
“How shall the lover forsake his love, and how abandon his sweet?
Joyfully, we’ll come together. Tearfully, we’ll each other greet.
I shall meet her, she shall meet me: the two of us shall surely meet!
892 Though you may ask a hundred men, do what makes your own heart complete.
“But know – this is my verdict. I speak the truth, so do as I bade.
Death draws close to me. Leave me. The days of my life are almost had.
If I’m dead, what use am I? If I live, what use, since I am mad?
893 My elements dissolve. To the ranks of the spirits, I will add.
”What you’ve said, I don’t understand. Your words sound like surf on the shore.
Death draws close to me, a love-crazed man. Life is a moment, no more.
The world’s grown distasteful to me, more than at any time before.
894 I, too, go thither to that earth, moistened by the tears I let pour.
“Wise! How can one who is mad act wisely? Who is wise? What is wise?
Had I wits, talk with me would be fitting. I would applaud your tries.
A rose can’t be without the sun. It fades when the sun leaves the skies.
895 You weary me. I’ve no time left. Go away while your comrade dies.”
Avtandil replied. He let words of many different kinds flow.
He pleaded with him, “If you die, what words can help you? Do you know?
Do not do it! It is not the better deed. Be not your own foe!”
896 No matter what he said, he couldn’t change his mind or make him go.
“My friend, since you will by no means listen to me,” Avtandil said,
“I will not weary you more. My tongue in vain has all these words shed.
Let the rose wither – they all wither! If death is better, be dead!
897 One thing only I pray you,” his tears started flowing as he pled:
“From my beloved’s jet lashes, crystal brows and rose cheeks, I went.
From there I parted. I went hastily, not quietly, unsent.
Even the king’s paternal conversations could not keep me pent.
898 Now you will not unite with me, will renounce me – my joy is spent!
“Don’t send me away heart-broken. Just grant me one desire, I plead.
Let me see you, ravisher of my soul, on horseback. Mount your steed.
Perhaps that will be enough: the present grief I feel will recede.
899 I shall certainly go and leave you then, and to your will pay heed.”
Avtandil multiplied his pleading. “Mount!” he continued to say.
He knew being on his horse would chase Tariel’s sadness away.
He bent the reedy stem of his body, looked down where the knight lay.
900 Tariel sighed and moaned no more. Avtandil forced him to obey.
”I will mount. Bring forward my horse,” he said. He seemed to be in pain.
The knight brought the horse and helped him mount. His words had not been in vain.
He made the other’s graceful form sway as he took him to the plain.
901 They rode a while. He looked better in the saddle, holding the rein.
The knight entertained Tariel; he spoke words as if they could cure.
For his sake, he moved coral-colored lips in phrases to assure,
Words to make young an aged listener’s ears: such was their allure.
902 He dispelled his grief, and gave him the strength and vigor to endure.
When he saw his elixir against grief was removing the blight,
Indescribable joy made Avtandil’s rose-like face become light.
The physician of reason puts the moans of the senseless to flight.
903 And he, who had spoken senselessly, now was rational and right.
They began to converse and Avtandil could not help being clear:
“One thing I’ll ask you, one secret I request you tell to your peer.
This armlet from the one who wounded you – how do you hold it dear?
904 How much do you prize it? Say, then away from the subject I’ll steer.”
“I can’t describe the indescribable; it’s not in my power,”
He said. “It’s my life, the cause of my groans and the tears I shower.
Better to me than the world – water, earth, trees, and every flower.
905 But the inexplicable explained tastes than vinegar more sour.”
The knight answered, “Now you have said the very thing I expected.
And, since you have spoken so, let me point out what you neglected.
Better to lose the armlet than her to whom you are connected.
906 I do not commend you for choosing the prize you have selected.
“This armlet you are wearing was crafted by goldsmiths, made of gold.
It is soulless, lifeless, speechless, a bauble to be bought and sold.
You no longer want Asmat? Thus your true judgment I now behold!
907 She was first with Nestan, then your sister, now cast into the cold.
”You called her sister because she was the go-between for you two.
She contrived your meeting. She was worthy to be summoned by you.
She’s devoted to Nestan. They grew up together, just those two.
908 Now you forsake and won’t see her. Such a judgment is not her due!”
“What you tell me is unfortunately true,” Tariel declared.
“Poor Asmat! She recalls Nestan and to watch over me she dared.
I wanted to die but you’ve quenched the fires of death I prepared.
909 I’m dazed but alive. Let’s go and see her. I know that I have erred.”
At that, Avtandil and Tariel rode toward the cave then and there.
I cannot rightly praise their worth. No praise is sufficient, I swear.
The knight and the Amirbar had teeth like pearls, lips like roses fair.
910 The sweetly discoursing tongue can lure the serpent out of its lair.
“For your sake, I will sacrifice mind, soul, and heart. That’s what I choose,”
Said the knight. “But you must not wound yourself, nor your own body bruise.
Learning doesn’t avail you if you don’t pay heed to wise men’s views.
911 Of what advantage to you is a hidden treasure you won’t use?
“Grieving is not good. If you’re sorrowful, what use is it to whine?
Don’t you know no man dies unless his destiny has that design?
The rose does not fade after three days that do not offer sunshine.
912 Fate is a challenge, but what God wills is your destiny and mine.”
Tariel said: “This teaching’s worth the world to any man who’s smart.
The wise love learning. The dumb take it as a stabbing in the heart.
But how can I endure, when from my torment, I can never part.
913 I wonder at your words: I know my grief has hit you like a dart.
“Wax responds to fire: it has a strong affinity with heat.
But if fire falls into water, it’s quenched; it suffers defeat.
When one suffers the same thing, one knows how to help: his help is sweet.
914 How could you not have known that the melting of my heart was complete?
TARIEL TELLS H O W HE KILLED
A PANTHER AND A LION
1 that has befallen me, to you in detail, I will relate.
You with your wise heart shall judge and tell me what ought to be my fate.
I expected you for a long time. I found it irksome to wait.
I wanted to ride across the plain. The cave, I’d begun to hate.
“I came up the hill over there: I had traversed this field of reeds.
A lion and panther had met: they came together in these weeds.
I rejoiced. They seemed enamored. Each seemed to meet the other’s needs.
916 But suddenly they horrified me by their unexpected deeds.
“First, they sported gaily; then all at once, they both began to fight;
Each struck the other with its paw; their blows were far from being slight.
The panther lost heart and, like a woman would have, she took to flight.
917 The lion pursued her: none could have calmed a creature of such might.
“I scolded the lion. I said, ‘You are out of your mind, it’s true.
Why seek to hurt your beloved? That’s not bravery in my view.’
I rushed on him; I pierced him with my sword, as any knight would do.
918 I struck him; I freed him from this world’s woe when I the lion slew.
“Then I caught the panther in my bare hands as if it were a lyre.
I yearned to kiss it to honor of the one who burns me with fire.
It roared and with its blood-shedding paws it gave me scratches so dire
919 I could bear no more and my enraged heart suddenly filled with ire.
”However much I tried to soothe it, the panther went wild instead.
I grew angry. I swung it, dashed it to the ground and it was dead.
I remembered how I’d quarreled with my beloved, as I said.
I didn’t die. Why are you astonished at all the tears I’ve shed?
“Hear then, brother! I have told you, as you wanted, all of my woes.
Life does not benefit me. Why, then, wonder at the path I chose?
I am sundered from life, but death avoids me, and around me goes.”
There the knight sighed and wept aloud, allowing his story to close.
Avtandil wept in company with him, and also shed some tears.
He said, “Be patient. Die not. Don’t rip your heart with sadness and fears.
God will be gracious, though sorrow has not shunned you over the years.
If He willed you apart, He would never have united your spheres.
“Though mischance pursues lovers, embitters life, makes them want to die,
In the end, Destiny gives joy to those who used to weep and sigh.
Love is a grievous thing: for every lover, death is always nigh.
It maddens those who’ve tasted grief, and teaches the ignorant why.”
hey wept and went on. They made their way to the cave, these two brave men.
When Asmat saw them, she rejoiced. She let go of her worries then.
f She met them. She wept. Her tears wore channels in the rocks of the den.
They kissed, and they wept. Each pressed the other to tell his news again.
Asmat said: “God, your name can’t be said. You chase away mankind’s fears.
It’s You who give shape to everything, like the sun when it appears.
How can I praise You, whose praise is not intended for human ears?
925 Glory to You! You have not slain me by all my shedding of tears.”
“Ah, sister! My tears have been flowing all this time,” Tariel said.
“As many smiles as Fate gave us, it now gives us tears to be shed.
It is an old law of the world, one on which you and I were bred.
926 Alas! Were it not for pity of thee, I would rather be dead.
“If thirsty, what sane man pushes away water that satisfies?
Which makes me wonder why I am soaked in tears flowing from my eyes?
Lack of water kills a man; water flows and flows and never dries.
927 Alas! The unfurled rose petals, the lovely pearls are a lost prize.”
Avtandil, too, is reminded of the beloved he can’t see.
He said, “Oh my own, my sun, how can I stay alive without thee?
Apart from you, life is pitiable, a matter of decree.
928 Who can say how I’m suffering, how hotly fire burns in me?
”Does the rose think, ‘I shall not wither when the sun goes far away?’
What will be our lot, alas, when the sun behind the hill shall stay?
Heart, it is better for you to harden into a rock today.
929 You may happen to see her. Let not your spirit be spent, I pray.”
They calmed their souls. They were silent. Both of them were burned by one flame.
Asmat followed them as they went in. The fire in her was the same.
She stretched out the panther skin she had kept ready for when he came.
930 They both sat down. They spoke of what pleased them. To their thoughts they gave name.
They made a meal befitting the occasion by roasting some meat.
They broke bread briefly. The wine was not plentiful, but tasted sweet.
They begged Tariel to join them but he had no power to eat.
931 He chewed a morsel, spat it out. To swallow at all was a feat.
It’s pleasant when a man speaks agreeably and makes himself plain.
He should listen to what the other says, not let it pass in vain.
Thus the fire which burns hotly in each is somewhat quenched by rain.
932 Great comfort it is when a man has the chance to speak of his pain.
Those lions, those heroes, were together, reunited that night.
They revealed to each other their woes, each of them as best he might.
They began again their long conversation before day was bright.
933 They heard again the oaths each had sworn before to the other knight.
Tariel said: “We’ve spoken a lot. We don’t need more words, and yet
For that which you have done for me, God is surety for the debt.
Your oath was not given by a drunkard or someone under threat.
934 You remembered and you cared for a friend who was by death beset.
“Now listen to my pleading, and make me not again in fire burn.
The flame which consumes me, unkindled by flint, isn’t your concern.
You cannot extinguish it for me, as you should by now discern.
935 Go back thither, to the place where your sun is. To that place return.
”Even for God, the cure for my sickness is not easily had.
You who hear, do you understand? So in the fields, I’m roaming mad.
Once I too was a doer of the reasonable: I felt glad.
936 Now madness has fallen to my lot; I am both insane and sad.”
Avtandil said: “What can I say to you, now completely alone.
You yourself have spoken as a wise man, and what you say is known.
Do you think it’s impossible for God to cure you from his throne?
937 He is the Gardener of everything man has planted or sown.
“Why would God do this, why create your beloved Nestan and you,
And then madden you with weeping? Why would He separate you two?
Mischance always pursues the lover. This is something you once knew.
938 If you meet not each other, you can slay me: it will be my due!
“Who else is brave but he that endures grievous things that come to pass?
How can the brave be bent by grief? This is foolish chatter, alas!
Fear not, I say: God is generous, though the world is cruel and crass.
939 I make bold to tell you now: he who does not learn this is an ass.
“Heed what you hear now, and let this serve you as a teaching, I pray.
I asked my leave of the very sun you mention to come away.
I said to her: ‘Since he made cinders of my heart, I cannot stay.
940 I am no longer of use to you; what else do I need to say?’
“She said, ‘I am satisfied. You are doing well, and you are brave.
What service you do him, I deem as though service to me you gave.’
It was at her request, not drunk I came to be here in this cave.
941 If I return now, what shall I say? That I’ve come back like a knave?
“Better than such debating is this: hearken to the words I speak:
To do a difficult deed, a man must not in his mind be weak.
Like a rose withered by lack of sun, you will stay here and be meek.
942 I’ll do your task. A brother to my brother, I your love will seek.
”Go wherever you wish to go, and live exactly as you please.
Either with a wise heart or a maddened mind; or with both of these.
With loveliness of mien, and grace of form, I beg you be at ease.
943 Strengthen yourself. Don’t die. Don’t let the flame consume you by degrees!
“I’ll beg no more, but on this very day, this very time next year,
When I have gathered news from every quarter, look to see me here.
When the roses bloom abundantly, I will come back, never fear.
944 Blooming roses will be a sign like a barking dog – just that clear.
“If I exceed that time, and fail to return to this very spot,
Then you will know undoubtedly that I have died, that I am not.
It will be an obvious time to weep for me, if tears you’ve got.
945 Then rejoice if you want, or increase your grief, whatever’s your lot.
“Now if you are saddened by what I’ve said, tell me the reason why.
I go far from you, not knowing if horse or ship will go awry.
I’m not devoid of speech like a beast; I admit that I could die.
946 I do not know what God will do, or the ever-revolving sky.”
Tariel said: “I’ll weary you no more, nor say the things I might.
No matter how much I say, you won’t listen to me in your plight.
If a friend won’t follow you, follow him and do what he thinks right.
947 In the end, I am sure, everything that’s hidden shall come to light.
“When you’re convinced, then you will know the difficulty of my state
For me, it is all the same, whether I roam or, not roaming, wait.
What you’ve told me, I will do, though the madness I suffer is great.
948 But what shall I do if, while you’re gone, my days are cut short by fate?”
They ended their discourse then. That both were in agreement was plain.
They mounted and rode out to hunt; by each, one animal was slain.
They returned from the hunt, and their tearful hearts wept again in vain.
949 The thought of parting the next day added grief to grief, pain to pain.
Readers of these verses, your eyes also are shedding tears, or may!
What does a man’s heart feel when he parts from his good friend but dismay.
To leave a friend, to part from him, the grief of it can a man slay.
950 Everyone must know or understand how difficult is that day!
Morning dawned. They mounted and said farewell in front of their abode.
From the eyes of Tariel, Asmat and Avtandil, the tears flowed.
The cheeks of all three looked as though flags of crimson had been bestowed.
951 The two lions knew full well; into the wild they once again rode.
They descended from the cave and went away, letting their tears flow.
Asmat weeps: “Lions! Whose tongue can chant lamentations when you go!
Love of you has burned and consumed all the heavenly stars, I know.
952 Alas, for the sufferings of life, and alas for my great woe!”
Those knights departed thence and travelled together a long day’s ride.
At last they came to the shore and moved not away from the seaside.
That night they shared their fire: it was not yet the time to divide.
953 They lamented their coming separation; yet they were dry-eyed.
Avtandil said to Tariel: “A channel for tears have I none!
Why did you part from Pridon, who gave you this horse? What have you done?
From him, I think, can be learned the means to find that beautiful sun.
954 Now I will go thither. Teach me the way to that brotherly one.”
Tariel tells him the way so that Avtandil can Pridon reach.
He made him understand as best he could by the power of speech.
“Go towards the east. Follow the seashore. Stay within sight of the beach.
955 If you see him, he’ll ask of me, to tell him will not be a breach.”
They killed a goat; then they made a fire on the shore, pleasant to see.
They sat down and ate a meal and for a while their grief let them be.
That night they were together; they lay side by side under a tree.
956 I curse Fate, sometimes so stingy, sometimes giving generously.
At dawn they rose to part. They embraced. Each against the other pressed.
The things they said would have melted any who heard what they confessed.
They shed on the fields their eyes’ tears like waters from a spring expressed.
957 Long they stand embracing each other closely: breast welded to breast.
With tears and face-scratching and tearing of hair they said their goodbye.
One goes up, the other down; roadless they ride through the rushes high.
With drawn faces they shout, as long as they can catch each other’s eye.
958 Looking at their sad expressions, the sun itself would sadly sigh.
TO SEE PRIDON
h Fate, what ails you? Why do you whirl us around? Why don’t you care?
All who trust in you weep ceaselessly as I do, caught in your snare.
From somewhere to nowhere you take us, and destroy us with despair!
But God does not forsake those forsaken by you, no matter where.
Parted from Tariel, Avtandil weeps; his voice reaches the sky.
He says: “The stream of my tears flows again which for a while was dry.
Being with him is joy, which means the sadness of parting is high.
960 All men are not equal: the difference between them meets the eye.”
Then of all the tears he shed there, the beasts of the field drank their fill.
He could not put out the furnace: fire burned him as fires will.
Again the thought of Tinatin fills him with a grief that could kill.
961 Through the rose of her lips, he sees the coral-rooted crystal still.
His aloe-tree body was swaying. His rose was losing its hue.
The cut crystal and ruby changed into lapis lazuli blue.
But he strengthened himself against death and in his resolve he grew.
962 He said, “Why should I wonder, sun, at darkness, since I have left you!”
He told the sun, “Sun, I compare you to Tinatin’s face, so bright.
You resemble her, she – you. Hills and valleys are lit with her light.
1 gaze at you without stopping as if made crazy at your sight.
963 But why haven’t you warmed me up? Why am I in such a cold fright?
”Winter comes to us whenever we’re separated from the sun.
Alas, I’ve parted from two; how then should my heart not be undone?
Only a rock is never hurt: no pain can penetrate it. None.
964 A knife cannot cure a wound; it can only cut or enlarge one.”
Wending his way, he looks at the sky, and speaks to the sun so bright.
“Oh, Sun, to you I pray, your might is beyond any other might.
You raise the humble, give sovereignty, good fortune great or slight.
965 Part me not from my beloved; do not turn my day into night!”
“Come, oh Saturn, add tears to my tears, heap woe upon all my woes.
Dye my heart the deepest black and let thickest gloom upon me snow.
Place on me a heavy load as on a beast of burden would go.
966 But say to her, ‘Forsake him not! It’s grief for you that lays him low.’
“Oh Jupiter, I entreat you, a just and perfect judge thou art.
Come and see that justice is done, and may heart take counsel with heart.
Destroy not your soul, do not let anything you and justice part.
967 I’m righteous. Have mercy. Why would you make an old wound freshly smart?
“Come, Mars, god of warriors, mercilessly pierce me with your spear.
Dye me, stain me with the flow of blood; crimson may you see me here.
Tell her my woe. With your sad words to her, make my suffering clear.
968 You know my state. The joy in my heart has been made to disappear.
“Come, Venus, and aid me now. She has consumed me with the fire’s flame.
She who pearls of teeth embraced with the brightest coral lips can claim.
You add charm to the fairest; your beauty is lovely beyond name.
969 When you abandon a man, he becomes mad, but yours is the blame.
“Oh Mercury, great messenger, no one else can do this good turn.
The sun whirls me around, seizes me, permeates me, lets me burn.
For ink, I have a lake of tears. Write of my woes, that all may learn.
970 For pen, I’ve whittled my body. I beg of you, do not be stern.
”Come, oh Moon, take pity on me. I am waning like you on high.
The sun fills me: I expand. The sun drains me, and I shrink and dry.
Tell her about my tortures, what afflicts me, how I grieve and cry.
971 Go; tell her not to forsake me. I am hers. For her sake, I die.
“Behold, the stars bear witness; yes, all seven confirm what I say:
The Sun, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, pity me as I go my way.
And Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, bear me witness as they may.
972 All seven of these will let her know what fires consume me today.”
Now he tells his heart: “No matter how many tears flow without fail.
The devil’s not your brother: to kill yourself is of no avail.
I know that she who has maddened me has for hair a raven’s tail.
973 But a man, who doesn’t bear grief, will discover his joy gone stale.
“If I stay alive, possibilities remain alive as well.
I shouldn’t cry “Alas!” Maybe someday together we will dwell.”
Then he broke out crying, and sang with sweeter voice than I can tell.
974 The nightingale was an owl compared to him in casting a spell.
When they heard the knight singing, the beasts came to listen, and were mild.
Lured by the sweetness of his voice, stones came from the water, beguiled.
They hearkened to him and marveled. They wept when he wept like a child.
975 With every sad song he sang, tears flowed like a fountain in the wild.
All the world’s creatures came to praise him. From far and near, they drew nigh.
Bears came from the woods; fish, crocodiles from the sea, birds from the sky.
Indians, Arabs, Greeks, Slavs, from East and West, of low birth and high,
976 From Persia, Europe, Egypt’s kingdoms, no one did the chance deny.
TO PRIDONS AFTER
HE PARTED FROM TARIEL
he knight rode by the sea until it was the seventieth day.
He saw, on the sea, sailors approaching, while they were far away.
f\ He waited until they were closer and asked, “Who are you, I pray?
j Whose realm is this? Whose orders does a man in this country obey?”
They dutifully answered: “Oh you, who are most fair of form and face,
You seem to be a pleasing stranger, and we answer you with grace.
Here’s the Turkish boundary. Next to it the land of Pridon’s race.
978 Though dazed from seeing you, we’ll tell him of finding you in this place.
“Nuradin Pridon is our king, ruler of this, our native land,
A brave knight, generous, able to race horses across the sand.
None has power to harm so fair a sun. We obey his command.
979 He is our lord, like the rays heaven sends and spreads across this strand.”
“My brothers,” he said, “I can see that I have chanced upon good men.
I ride in search of your king. Teach me which way to go, where and when.
How long is the road I need to take? Tell me all within your ken.”
980 The sailors guided him, gave him complete instructions there and then.
They said, “Take this road to Mulghazanzar. There’s no need to inquire:
He will meet you, he of swift arrow and sharp sword, king we admire.
You, oh slender one, in ten days’ time you will be where you desire.
981 But why do you, a stranger, burn us strangers like a hot fire?”
The knight said, “I marvel, brothers, that you both heart-slain now can be.
How the sight of faded winter roses is so pleasing to thee!
If you’d seen me uncrippled by grief, I was then something to see.
982 Then who gazed on me sat joyful; I charmed whoever looked at me.”
The sailors then departed and the knight pursued his road alone.
His body was like the cypress; his heart was like iron or stone.
He canters his horse and he speaks aloud in a comforting tone.
983 From his eyes, tears on the crystal and glass land of his face are sown.
Whatever strangers he met on the road eagerly offered aid.
They came to gaze steadfastly upon him and deference they paid.
It was hard for them to let him go. They all wished that he had stayed,
984 But showed him where to go and what he wanted to see, they displayed.
He neared Mulghazanzar; thus he ended the long road without pain.
He saw a host of soldiers and others spread out across the plain.
They encircled the outside of a field: on all sides, formed a chain.
985 They shot beasts like standing corn. The beasts’ attempts to flee were in vain.
To learn what was happening, a nearby man he thought to deter
And asked of him: “Who makes the sound I hear of trampling and great stir?”
The man answered: “Pridon, our ruler, King of Mulghazanzar, sir.
986 He and his men are holding the edge of the meadowland, or were.”
Matchless in mien, Avtandil rode towards the troops: what a pleasant sight.
He was merry. How can I ever tell the beauty of that knight?
Those far from him freeze, while those who come close to him burn from his light.
987 Onlookers revive when they see his reed-like body, tall and slight.
A huge raptor soared above the middle of the hosts, where he rode.
The knight was not afraid at all. He felt excitement as he slowed.
He drew, and let an arrow fly: the martial eagle fell, blood flowed.
988 He dismounted, clipped its wings, remounted. Nothing but calm he showed.
When they caught sight of him, the archers in the host had ceased to shoot.
They broke their circle; they were impressed, and they gave him a salute.
A few came alongside or followed him. The others followed suit.
989 They dared not ask even, “Who are you?” The whole host of them was mute.
In the meadow was a high hill and on it Pridon the king stood.
Forty men attended him; these were archers whose shooting was good.
Avtandil rode out and game chasers followed him as best they could.
990 Pridon was angry with his soldiers for not doing what they should.
Pridon sent out a messenger to investigate. He said, “Go,
See what the men are doing, why they have broken the circle so.”
The messenger approached the knight; he saw his slim body, his bow.
991 He stopped. His eyes became dazed. He forgot the words he had to know.
Avtandil said to himself, “This man was sent to learn news of me.”
He said aloud, “Convey this message to your lord, I beg of thee.
I am a stranger who has come to speak with you if you agree.
992 As sworn brother to Tariel, I come with a question,” said he.
The messenger went to Pridon to tell him what he had been told.
He said: “I have seen a sun, the lightener of day bright and bold.
I believe his presence would puzzle even the sages of old.
993 He is Tariel’s sworn brother, come that he might Pridon behold.”
When he heard Tariel’s name, Pridon’s anger began to decline.
From his eyes, tears sprang forth; his heart grew agitated at this sign.
From his eyelids whirled snowstorms of tears; this blast froze the rose so fine.
994 They approached each other, each was appraised by the other, benign.
Pridon came down from the ridge, descending at a rapid pace.
He said “If this isn’t the sun, who is it?” seeing the knight’s face.
Avtandil outdid the praise Pridon had heard, in figure and grace.
995 They both dismounted, and their joy made tears fall freely in that place.
They embraced: they were not shy for being strangers, they made that clear;
Pridon is pleasing to the knight; he to Pridon seems without peer.
Any onlookers who observed them even at the sun might sneer.
Slay me, if such a sight can be bought in a bazaar far or near!
Could there ever be a knight as praiseworthy as Pridon the king?
Next to him is one of whom there are even more praises to sing;
Planets are invisible when they come within the sun’s bright ring.
A candle shines at night but daylight swallows its slight flickering.
They mounted their horses, set out for Pridon’s palace in a train.
The chase was broken up and on that day no more wild beasts were slain.
The troops thronged to gaze on Avtandil; their interest did not wane.
They said, “Who made this human being in such a heroic vein?”
The knight told Pridon: “You are keen to hear what I have to convey.
1 will tell you who I am; whatever you want to know, you may,
Also how I know Tariel and why I speak of him today.
He calls me brother, although I’m not worthy of that name, I say.
“I am King Rostevan’s vassal, a knight in Arabia grown.
Grand commander of armies, by the name of Avtandil I’m known.
I’m of noble birth, and the king to me a father’s love has shown.
1000 I am to be respected, bold; none dares meddle with me, I own.
“One day, the king mounted and went forth to hunt in a far off field.
In the plain we saw Tariel, greatly weeping and unconcealed.
We were amazed; we called, he came not, no matter how we appealed.
1001 We knew not the fire burning him; we were mad he would not yield.
“The king told the troops to seize him; he was indignant at the slight.
Without trouble Tariel slew them: he was ready for a fight.
Of some, he broke the arms and legs, and some of them he slew outright.
1002 They learned the course of the moon cannot be turned back, try as one might.
1 214 I
”The failure of the troops angered the king and his wrath was not small.
He mounted. Haughtily, he went against him, to punish his gall.
The knight saw the king: he lowered his sword but did not let it fall.
1003 He gave the reins to his horse and in a blink vanished from us all.
“We found no trace of him; we believed him a devil at the least.
The king was sad. He broke up all of it, the drinking and the feast.
I could not stand the uncertainty: how his track simply ceased?
1004 I stole away in quest of him; the hot fire in me increased.
“Three years I sought him, and I enjoyed not even one good night’s sleep.
I saw Khatavians he had mauled; they showed me the way to keep.
At last, I found the yellowing rose, pale-tinted, tending to weep.
1005 He welcomed me like a brother; his affection made my heart leap.
“He wrested the caves from the Devis, after much blood had been shed.
There Asmat attends the solitary knight, making sure he’s fed.
Ever the old fire consumes him; ever the old flames are spread.
1006 Groaning befits one parted from him, a black band around the head.
“Alone in the cave, the tearful woman weeps; tears upon her face.
The knight hunts for her like a lion, brings her the spoils of the chase.
He brings the game and feeds her. He cannot rest in any one place.
1007 Except for Asmat, he avoids all members of the human race.
“To me, a stranger, he agreed to narrate what I wished to hear.
He told me his tale and his beloved’s, the one he holds so dear.
What woe he’s suffered this tongue of mine cannot at this time make clear.
1008 Unable to see his Nestan, longing is killing him, I fear.
“Like the moon, he unceasingly wanders and rest he will not take.
He sits on the horse you gave him, never dismounts or takes a break.
He sees no speaking human being, like a wild beast full of ache.
1009 Woe is me, remembering him. Alas, he’s dying for her sake!
”I shed hot tears for him; the fire of that knight did me consume.
I pitied him; his sorrow filled me with the heaviness of doom.
I wished to seek remedies for him before he is in the tomb.
1010 I returned and saw my sovereigns, whose hearts were burdened with gloom.
“I asked for leave; the king was angry to the point of being mad.
I deserted all my soldiers; therefore, they cried ‘Woe!’ and were sad.
I stole away. I gave up shedding the tears of blood that I had.
1011 Now I seek balm for him, I travel in my resolution clad.
“He told me tidings of you, Pridon; how you were brothers, indeed.
Now I have found thee praiseworthy, peerless, I give his tidings heed.
Counsel me where I should seek his heavenly sun with all due speed.
1012 She makes happy all who see her, and for a glimpse of her men plead.”
Now Pridon is sorely distressed by the words spoken by that knight.
Both in unison lamented as the most noteworthy men might.
Sobbing, they wept; their hearts were unable to bear grief at its height.
1013 The roses of their cheeks were sprinkled by tears in the morning light.
Among the soldiers gathered there, the sound of weeping could be heard.
Some scratched their faces; others tore off their headbands without a word.
Pridon bemoans seven years’ separation, reunion deferred.
1014 To speak of the world’s inconstancy and falsity he is spurred.
Pridon says: “The words to express Tariel’s praises, no one finds
Oh sun, over the lands, the course of your sunny chariot winds.
Joy and life have those who are near him, whom his brilliance nearly blinds.
1015 Light of the planets of heaven, he charms and stuns our eager minds.
“Tariel, my life is tedious since I was taken from thee.
I long for you, your company, though you have no leisure for me.
To you, my absence is small; yours for me is a lethal decree.
1016 Life without you is void; in the whole world is nothing to see.”
Pridon uttered these sad words in a beautifully-crafted song.
They grew calm and they were silent; without music, they rode along.
Avtandil’s handsomeness is admired by the surrounding throng.
1017 His lashes provide his eyes’ inky lakes a ceiling that is strong.
They entered the city: there they found the palace was adorned well,
As was appropriate for a stately building where people dwell.
The courtiers, gorgeously appareled, stood as if in a spell.
1018 They admired the knight to an extent impossible to tell.
They held no small council but a great court intended to amaze:
On this side and that, ten times ten noblemen were gathered to gaze.
Apart sat the two together: who can express their rightful praise?
1019 Their porcelain faces were lined with jet and their ruby lips’ glaze.
They sat and multiplied excellent wines: it was truly a feast.
They treated Avtandil as a beloved kinsman, not the least.
Again and again, they brought vessels and their feasting never ceased.
1020 But in the hearts of those who saw the youth, fire – alas! – increased.
They ate and drank: that was a banquet where the drinking tribe did play!
When the dawn came, they bathed Avtandil and clothed him in satin gay.
The raiment they clad him in was worth thousands of dirhams I’d say,
1021 And they put on him a girdle of inestimable worth that day.
The knight could not brook delay, but he tarried some days, all the same.
He went out hunting with Pridon and sported there to great acclaim.
He slew alike from far and near whatever to his keen sight came.
1022 His archery was such that it put every other bow to shame.
Then Avtandil said to Pridon: “Hear what I have to tell you now.
Parting from you seems like death; thereby shall I harm myself somehow.
I, alas, cannot stay; another fire burns me more than thou.
1023 A long road and an urgent deed I have to do, if you allow.
”It is fitting to shed tears at parting from you as I’ve done.
But today I must leave because a fire in me has begun.
To linger is a mistake by which a traveler is undone.
1024 I ask you to lead me to the seashore where you last saw that sun.”
Pridon answered him, “Nothing shall be said by me to hinder you.
I know you have no more time here; another lance has run you through.
Go! May your foes be destroyed and God himself guide you to your due.
1025 But tell me, how shall I bear the absence of you, what shall I do?
“This I venture to say: it is not fitting that you go alone.
I will give you men to attend you, men who have good service shown.
I will give you armor, a mule, and one of the horses I own.
1026 If you don’t take these gifts, then those rosy cheeks to tears will be prone.”
He then brought out four slaves, trustworthy in heart, to give to the knight.
He gave each man armor, cuirasses and greaves that were fitted right.
Sixty pounds of red gold, full weight, not with any shortage or slight,
1027 And a peerless stallion with complete harness, a beautiful sight.
On a strong-legged mule, Avtandil’s blanket was then packed as well.
He set out, and Pridon too mounted and went with him for a spell.
Awaiting their parting, Pridon’s scorching grief was too great to tell.
1028 He lamented, “If this sun were near, warm in winter we could dwell.”
The whole city grew sad when they heard Avtandil was leaving there.
Sellers of silk, sellers of fruit, all did a common sorrow bear.
And the voice of their lamentation was like thunder in the air.
1029 They said: “Let tears flow. Soon we will not see the sun shine anywhere.”
They rode through the city until there was nothing but sea ahead.
On this shore, Pridon had last seen the sun, before her captors fled.
A rivulet of blood from the lake of their tears the two men shed.
1030 Pridon told the tale of that captive; all listened to what he said.
”Two black slaves brought by boat Nestan, the shining sun, to this place.
She was white-teethed and ruby-lipped, with an aggrieved look on her face.
I meant to take her by sword: I spurred my horse to a fearful pace.
1031 They saw me and they fled: their boat was like a bird, in its swift grace.”
They embraced, multiplying the springs of tears more than one can say.
The deep sorrow each of them felt, a parting kiss did not allay.
The inseparable sworn brothers parted true brothers that day.
1032 Pridon remained; Avtandil, the slayer of gazers, went away.
AVTANDIL GOES TO SEEK
AND MEETS A CARAVAN
he knight spoke to himself as he rode on, majestic as the moon.
Thoughts of Tinatin gladden his heart, but he falls sad again soon.
He says: “I’m far from you, alas! Cursed Fate that gives me no boon!
You alone have the healing balsam for the wound from which I swoon.
“Why does the ardor of grief for heroes continually burn?
Has my heart become harder than a rock with what it had to learn?
Even three lances cannot show a bruise on me; their points I spurn.
1034 You’re the cause this world’s envenomed for me, something from which I turn.”
Avtandil went along the seashore with four slaves day after day.
Seeking balm for the knight Tariel in every possible way.
He weeps by day, and by night pours forth pools of his tears in a spray.
All the world seems to him worthless as straws, which almost nothing weigh.
He addressed any traveler he saw. None did he ignore.
He asked them tidings of the sun and roamed a hundred days or more.
He went up a hill and saw camels: many precious goods they bore.
And their merchants, distressed, stood in perplexity on the seashore.
A long and winding caravan on the seashore had come to woe.
The merchants were distressed. They were gloomy for reasons you shall know.
They could not afford to stay. To a man they were afraid to go.
1037 The knight wished them well. They began to talk. Good manners did both show.
Usam was chief merchant of the caravan, a wise man was he.
He blessed the knight, praised him, and uttered a respectful eulogy.
He said: “Oh sun, you have come as our life and comforter, I see.
1038 Dismount, and all our story and our business we will tell to thee.”
Avtandil dismounted. They said, “We’re Baghdad merchants of what’s fine,
Holders of the faith of Mohammed; we’ve never even drunk wine.
To trade in the city of the King of the Seas was our design.
1039 But before we had a chance to open our goods, we had a sign.
“Right here on this seashore, we found someone lying, a senseless man.
We succored him until he spoke as only the rational can.
We asked him: ‘Who are you? What is your business, and what was your plan?’
1040 ‘If you go to sea, they’ll slay you. I was almost killed,’ he began.
‘”We left Egypt with this caravan and guard, and the sea we crossed.
We embarked with many kinds of stuff, and by the sea we were tossed.
There pirates in ships with sharp iron rams our own ship did accost.
1041 They slaughtered us. I don’t know how I survived. Everything was lost.’
“Oh lion and sun, this is the reason we now stand here in pain.
If we return, our immeasurable loss will be like a bane.
If we embark, alas! Having no strength to fight, we may be slain.
1042 We can’t afford to stay, and we can’t go. No means to us remain.”
The knight said: “Who grieves the future wastes time and strives without reward.
We cannot avoid what comes from above, where Destiny is stored.
I’ll safeguard you; take upon myself battle with that pirate horde.
1043 On those who fight with you, on all your foes, I will wear out my sword.”
They of the caravan were filled with great joy at the knight’s riposte.
“He’s not timid like us. He’s a hero, a knight braver than most.
He has self-confidence. Let us then, calm in our hearts, be his host.”
1044 They embarked then; they boarded the ship and they set out from the coast.
They journeyed several days without hardship; the weather was kind.
Their defender, Avtandil, leads them with his brave heart and pure mind.
Then a pirate ship with a fearful long flag came up from behind.
1045 That ship had an iron bowsprit to shatter what ships it could find.
The pirates yelled. The message in their shouting was well understood.
The caravan got frightened of their numbers as most merchants would.
Avtandil spoke to them calmly: “Fear not the pirates’ hardihood.
1046 Either I slay them all or this is the day that death would be good.
“All hosts on earth can engage me. I’ll know no harm without God’s will
If Destiny decides, spears are ready to do me deathly ill,
Not strongholds or friends; not even brothers can save me with their skill.
1047 He who knows this as I do, will charge ahead, confidence instill.
“You merchants are timid; you’re also unskilled in war, as I know,
So they won’t slay you with arrows from afar, behind the doors go.
Watch me fight alone; see my lion-like arms deal blow after blow.
1048 Behold how I in battle make the blood of the pirate crew flow.”
Moving like a swift panther, he put on armor and took his place.
He was ready: in his strong hand, he held lightly an iron mace.
He stood forth with dauntless heart in the ship’s bow, in that narrow space.
1049 As his looks slew his friends, so he slew foes with his sword’s deadly grace.
The warriors yelled: their unceasing voices were awful to hear.
They thrust a deadly beam ahead, upon which was a deadly spear.
The knight stood firm at the head of the ship, showing he knew no fear.
1050 He struck with his mace and broke the beam. His greatness none could come near.
The beam was destroyed and Avtandil remained with the ship unhurt.
Those warriors were terrified. They sought only to death avert.
They could not escape in time. Avtandil leapt on his foes, alert.
1051 There was not left a living pirate from whom the blood did not spurt.
With intrepid heart, he slew them. Each warrior like a goat dies.
Some he threw down on the ship and some in the sea met their demise.
He threw one on another; eight on nine, nine on eight would not rise.
1052 And those he left hiding among the corpses, they stifled their cries.
He did everything in the fight with them that he had wished to do.
Some humbly begged: “Slay us not, by your faith, with the rest of our crew!”
Those he slew not. Whoever survived his wounds, he would just subdue.
1053 So one would say the words of the Apostle, “Fear makes love” are true.
Oh man! Do not brag as though drunk, nor boast of the strength you have got!
Might is of no avail if the power of the Lord aids you not!
The greatest tree can be burned down by a tiny spark on the spot.
1054 God is guarding us. It is from Him the final arrow is shot.
Avtandil saw all the great treasures the pirate warriors had.
After he grappled twin-like ship to ship, the merchants were not sad.
Usam was happy when he saw. He lamented not. He was glad.
1055 He spoke gratefully. His tribute to the knight left nothing to add.
The praisers of Avtandil need a thousand tongues to get it right.
Even they could not tell how handsome he appeared after the fight.
The entire caravan shouted, saying: “Lord, thanks to your great might!
1056 The sun has shed his beams on us, and broken into day the night.”
The merchants came up to Avtandil. They kissed his head, face, feet, hands.
They continually praised him as the fairest in all the lands.
The sight of the knight steals the wit that the wisest speaker demands.
1057 “Thanks to you, we’ve survived great danger, as everyone understands.”
He said: “To God the Creator, who makes all, we thankfully kneel.
God’s heavenly power on high decides whether to hurt or heal.
It’s He who does everything: some He will hide and some He’ll reveal.
1058 One should accept what happens; a wise man never resists the real.
”God has deigned to spare your lives, so many of you with blood unshed.
What am I? Earth. By myself, what could I have done? I would be dead.
Now I have slain your foes. I have fulfilled what I beforehand said.
1059 I am giving you the ship as a gift, with its wealth, every shred.”
How pleasant it is when the battle has been won by a good knight,
When he’s surpassed even the comrades who were with him in the fight.
They congratulate him, praise him. He is embarrassed in their sight.
1060 The wound becomes him. Little has he been hurt – he will be all right.
That day they stripped their foes’ ship: they did not wait for the rising sun.
How could they count the plenitude of pirate treasure they had won!
They conveyed it all to their ship. They did not stop till they were done.
1061 They did not save the wood of the ship. They smashed the boards one by one.
Usam gave the knight a note from the merchants: “In this we agree:
We’re strengthened by you and know what the rules of politeness decree.
Of one thing there can be no doubt: all we have is because of thee.
1062 Whatever you give us, only that is ours, and so let it be.”
The knight announced: “Oh, my brothers, I have heard what you have to say.
God has perceived the streams flowing from your eyes. He has heard you pray.
He has saved you. What am I, and what have I done for you today?
1063 What could I do with gifts? My horse and I must unencumbered stay.
“As much treasure as I want comes to me from my travel and wars –
Countless priceless exotic treasure – what use could I make of yours?
What do I want? I am but your faithful companion out of doors.
1064 Moreover, I have ahead of me some very dangerous chores.
“Now, of this countless treasure I have found here, I will tell you true.
Take what you wish. I’ll not be a claimant, no matter what you do.
I entreat one thing. It is the single request for which I sue.
1065 I have a certain need that requires I be hidden among you.
”Until the time comes, don’t speak of me as if I were not your chief.
Say, ‘He is our commander,’ and act so you bolster the belief.
I will clothe myself as a merchant and do no one of you grief.
1066 Keep the secret in the name of our brotherhood, heartfelt though brief.”
His words greatly rejoiced the caravan, everyone in that place.
They all came and said, “It was our hope to help you in any case.
We owe you the favor you have requested with exceeding grace.
1067 We all wish to serve you. Your face we acknowledge as the sun’s face.”
Thence they departed and travelled on. They wasted no more time there.
They sailed ever pleasantly, enjoying the weather, which was fair.
They delighted in Avtandil. They sang his praises to the air.
1068 They presented him with many pearls, tinted ivory and rare.
vtandil crossed the sea with stately form, as did the merchant band,
To a lovely city around which luxuriant gardens fanned,
With wondrous flowers in a multitude of colors they were spanned.
Oh, the loveliness of that place! How can I make you understand?
With three ropes they moored the ship near a garden and they came ashore.
Avtandil sat on a public bench, performing a merchant’s chore.
Cheaply-hired porters came there, listing things they were looking for.
1070 That knight bargained as chief, concealing himself in the cloak he wore.
Then to the knight came the gardener of the garden they were near.
Avtandil’s face was emitting light: beauty struck him like a spear.
Avtandil hailed this man, so awestruck that his speaking was unclear.
1071 “Whose men are these? Who are you? What’s the name of the king who reigns here?
Tell me everything in detail,” said Avtandil then to that man.
“Which goods are dearer? What goods are bought cheaply? Tell me if you can.”
“I see your face and I think it bright as the sun or brighter than.
1072 What I know, I’ll tell. You’re not someone to lie to,” the man began.
“The Sea Realm is this, ten months’ travel in extent, I promise thee.
This is the city of Gulansharo, loveliest that could be.
Hither everything fair comes by tall ships sailing from sea to sea.
1073 Melik Surkhavi rules here, perfect in good fortune, all agree.
”Even if he be old, a man by coming hither becomes young;
All here drink and rejoice. Games are played. Songs are unceasingly sung.
Summer and winter, we have many-hued flowers to go among
1074 And everyone envies us, even those who from our foes are sprung.
“Great merchants find our city helps them to be profitable men.
They buy and sell. They gain and lose, and the rich get richer again.
The poor get richer in a month and gather goods. No wonder then
1075 The penniless in less than a year are wealthy beyond all ken.
“I am gardener to Usen, chief of our merchants, I would say.
I shall tell you something about his ordinances, if I may.
This is his garden, the resting-place you have chosen for the day.
1076 Thus first to Usen, the fairest of all your goods you must display.
“When merchants arrive, they see Usen and give him gifts at his ease.
They show him what they have, otherwise their unpacking will he freeze.
For the king, they set aside the best; count out the price without fees.
1077 Thereupon Usen allows the merchants to sell goods as they please.
“His duty is to receive such merchant folk as you for a bit.
He orders his caterers to entertain your folk as is fit.
Usen is not here now. What avails me thusly to speak of it?
1078 It’s his duty to meet you, and invite you in his house to sit.
“Patman Khatun, his hostess and wife, is home today: she’s at rest.
A hospitable woman, with an amiable nature blessed.
I’ll inform her of your arrival. Tonight you shall be her guest.
1079 She’ll send a man. You’ll enter the city by day at her behest.”
The knight replied, “Go to your lady. Do whatever you desire.”
The gardener runs. He rejoices. And greatly does he perspire.
He tells his tidings to the lady: “I’m glad to be a crier.
1080 A youth comes. He seems like the sun to me, full of sun-like fire.
”He is a great merchant, of a great caravan he is the chief.
Well-grown like a cypress, a seventh-day moon, bright beyond belief.
His coat and his turban become him, hued like coral from a reef.
1081 He called me, asked me tidings and the tariff, and we spoke in brief.”
Lady Patman rejoiced, and she sent ten slaves so that they would meet.
She stored their wares, prepared the caravanserais, which was a feat.
The rose-cheeked crystal, ruby-and-jet one entered. He was a treat.
1082 Who saw him compared his hands to lion’s paws – to panther’s – his feet.
There was a hubbub. The people assembled to see the one famed.
They pressed on all sides saying, “Let’s gaze on him.” They were unashamed.
Some were admiring. Some by his looks were astonished. Some were tamed.
1083 Wives no longer found husbands comely. Their company they disclaimed.
Patman Khatun, Usen’s wife, met Avtandil in front of the door.
Joyfully, she saluted him, showed her pleasure and something more.
They went in and sat down. Each other’s presence they did not ignore.
1084 I have to say the knight’s presence Patman Khatun did not abhor.
Patman Khatun was not young but good-looking, pleasing to the eye.
Of a good figure, olive-skinned and round faced, not withered, not shy;
A lover of minstrels and singers, one who drank wine and was spry.
1085 She had many beautiful gowns and lovely head-dresses to try.
That night, Patman entertained the knight appropriately indeed.
The knight gave her gifts that were beautiful, their bearers all decreed.
Patman’s reception of him was worthy – by God! – they all agreed.
1086 They ate, they drank; then the knight went to bed and to sleep with great speed.
In the morning, he unpacked and showed his wares. Nothing did he hide.
The fairest, with their price counted out, were for the king laid aside.
He told the merchants: “Take them away!” and on horses they were tied.
1087 He said: “Trade as you wish, but know I have on your judgment relied.”
The knight was clad as a merchant, and was wrapped in a merchant’s shawl.
Sometimes Patman would call on him. Sometimes he on Patman would call.
They sat and conversed with refined discourse, if they conversed at all.
His absence made Patman feel she’d died, as Ramin’s did Vis appall.
ENAMOURED OF AVTANDIL
etter for he who can bear it is to be toward all women cold.
She plays with you and pleases you, wins you over, trusts you, is bold.
But then she betrays you, cuts off the ties that a man thinks will hold.
No confidence whatever should ever to a woman be told.
The heart of Patman Khatun had been inundated with desire.
Her love for Avtandil burned her inside like the hottest fire.
She tried to conceal the flame but every day the flame grew higher.
1090 Patman said: “What am I to do?” and she cried. Her distress was dire.
“If I tell him, he might get angry; the sight of him will be rare.
And if I don’t tell him, the fire may well become too much to bear.
Let me die or let me live: my feelings I’m determined to share.
1091 Can a healer cure one who does not make him of a pain aware?”
LETTER OF LOVE
he wrote a piteous letter to be sent to the youth that said
She loved him. She wrote there of the hot fire that by then had spread.
The letter could shake a listener’s heart as he followed the thread.
A letter not to be idly torn up, but kept and often read.
“Sun, since it pleased God to create you in the image of the sun,
You’re a torment to those removed from you, whose time with you is done.
And a burner of those near you: your flames consume them, everyone,
1093 And your glance is something to boast of, sweet to planets as they run.
“They that gaze on you become enamored: they faint under your sway.
You rose! 1 wonder nightingales don’t flock around you night and day.
Your beauty withers the flowers; mine is fading, I have to say.
1094 If sunbeams do not reach me soon, I shall wither and die away.
“As God is my witness, I’m afraid to tell you the way I feel.
But, luckless, what can I do? My patience away from me did steal.
Under the piercings of your black lashes, my heart’s begun to reel.
1095 And I may lose my wits unless you find some way to help me heal.
“Until an answer to this letter comes, until it reaches me,
Until I know if you will slay or reassure or rescue me,
Until then I shall try to live, no matter how my heart hurts me.
1096 Will it be life? Death? I wonder what will be decided for me.”
Patman Khatun sent the letter, hoping Avtandil’s heart to win.
He started reading as if it had come from a sister or kin.
He said: “Who’s this flirt trying to come between me and Tinatin?”
1097 Patman, and my beloved: how can I comparison begin?
“What do they have in common, the raven with the beautiful rose?
The nightingale has not sung on it, though his inner music grows.
Every unfit deed is short-lived and fruitless, as everyone knows.
1098 What is she saying? What sort of silly nonsense her letter shows!”
This kind of disapproving murmur in his heart of hearts he made.
Then he calmed down and told himself: “Except for myself, I’ve no aid.
I have become a wanderer and search for Nestan unafraid.
1099 I will do whatever helps me, and my heart will not be betrayed.
“This woman sits here seeing many men and knowing many names.
She’s a hostess and friend to travelers, knows their stories and games.
I will consent, however much the fire burns me with its flames.
1100 Maybe she’ll be of use, and aid me in pursuing my true aims.”
He said: “When a woman loves a man, is intimate, unrehearsed,
Any shame and dishonor she weighs not, being wholly accursed.
Whatever she knows, she says, tells every secret right from the first.
1101 It’s better for me to consent; to be distanced would be the worst.
“No one can do anything if his planet another way shows.
What I want I have not, and what I have I want not. So it goes.
The world is rather like twilight, where everything nebulous grows.
1102 Whatever gets put in the pitcher is what comes forth and what flows.”
AVTANDILS LETTER IN
RESPONSE TO PATMAN
vtandil wrote: “I have read your letter and its praising of me.
You’ve written first, but the burning fire afflicts me more than thee.
I’m wishing, too, to be with you. In our wishes, we both agree.
Our tryst should come about soon, since it’s our desire, our fervent plea.”
I cannot truly describe how Lady Patman’s pleasure increased.
She wrote: “I have shed so many tears, but now my crying has ceased.
Tonight I’ll be alone. You shall find me. We shall have a love feast.
1104 Our union cannot be too soon. Come this very night at the least!”
Patman’s letter of invitation was presented to the knight.
He went but a slave met him on the way in the falling twilight
With the message: “I’m not ready for you. Wait until I next write.”
1105 He didn’t turn back, but said, vexed, “Her action in this is not right.”
He did not return on learning his invitation was withdrawn.
He found Patman sitting troubled. He went in, to the woman drawn.
He perceived her uneasiness, saw her amorousness had gone.
1106 She was afraid to explain, but his presence did new desire spawn.
They sat down and began to kiss, to sport pleasantly and to preen.
When a certain youth appeared in the doorway, of a graceful mien,
Followed by a servant holding a shield and a sword that looked keen.
1107 The youth seemed startled and said, “The road is rocky,” seeing the scene.
When Patman saw him, she was frightened: her shaking was distressing.
The stranger gazed with wonder at them lying there and caressing.
“I won’t stop, oh woman, the blushing and paling you’re confessing.
1108 But come morning, I shall make you repent of all your transgressing.
“You’ve shamed me, harlot. What you have sullied me with, 1 cannot scour.
But you shall know what is to be paid for this at an early hour.
1 will make you with your own teeth all your own children to devour.
1109 Or spit on my beard. Let me run madly or be locked in a tower!”
He spoke, then he tugged his beard and left, leaving behind him a chill.
Patman began to beat her head, scratch her cheeks till she’d had her fill.
Her abundant tears were flowing and gurgling like a fountain still.
1110 She said, “Come, stone me with stones! Let throwers approach and do their will!”
Then she laments: “I’ve killed my husband and little children, that’s clear!
I’ve given away as loot our possessions, cut gems without peer!
Woe is me and my children! I have abandoned those who were dear!
1111 I have destroyed my household! My fears will come true! The end is near!”
Avtandil listened in perplexity, pondering what she’d said.
He asked her: “What troubles you? Why do you thus lament? Who is dead?
Why did that youth threaten you and what harm have you brought on his head?
1112 Be calm. Tell me what he wants that he speaks things to fill one with dread.”
The woman said: “Oh, lion! I am with flowing tears overcome.
Ask me no more. I can tell you nothing. My tongue has been struck dumb.
I’ve slain my children with my own hand. Joy has left me. I am numb.
1113 Impatient for your love, I have killed myself; to death, I succumb.
“This kind of thing happens to chatterers like me, mouth gaping wide,
Who cannot hide a secret, witless, a fool, a dupe full of pride.
Have pity on me and I will tell you the woe I know inside.
1114 A physician can’t cure one who drinks his own blood – many have tried.
”Do one thing of two – please help me in my time of need as you might.
If you can kill that man, please go, and slay him secretly by night.
You shall thereby save me and all my house from slaughter and from blight.
1115 When you return, I’ll tell you the reason I’m crying, as is right.
“If not, load your asses tonight; make sure your packing is complete.
Leave my neighborhood. Flee in secret. Don’t tell anyone you meet.
I suspect my sins will fill you, too, with woe, so let me repeat
1116 If that knight goes to the palace, he will make me my children eat.”
Avtandil the proud, gifted with resolve, heard her desperate plea,
And he arose and took a club to hand. How fair and bold was he!
He said: “To ignore this matter remission on my part would be!
1117 Don’t think any alive is his like. No one like him will you see.”
To Patman he said, “Give me a man as my instructor and guide,
Let him show me the road, that’s all; I want no helper by my side.
I can’t see that man as a warrior, equal to me in pride.
1118 What I do to him, I’ll tell you. Wait for me. Be calm; we’re allied.”
The woman gave him a servant to make where he should go quite clear.
Again, she cried: “Only you can cool the fire that costs me dear
If you slay that knight to heal the pain that strikes my heart like a spear.
1119 He has my ring on his finger. I entreat you to bring it here.”
He passed through the city quickly, Avtandil of the perfect build.
On the seashore stood a house of red-green stone, built by someone skilled.
In the lower part, nice rooms; above, terrace after terrace spilled.
1120 Wide balconies, one above the other, with lovely objects filled.
To that house was the sun-faced Avtandil led by his servant guide
“This is the place of him you seek,” he says in a low voice, aside.
He shows him the house and says, “You can see him on that terrace wide.
1121 If he is fast asleep try not to awake him,” the servant sighed.
Avtandil saw the door of that luckless youth: there were two guards there.
The knight stole in, passed them noiselessly. The guards stood without a care.
He put a hand on each throat, cutting off breath. Neither did he spare.
1122 He struck head upon head, in a bloody mingling of brain and hair.
That youth lay alone in his chamber, and his heart was full of strife.
Bloody-handed Avtandil entered intent on taking his life.
He gave him no time. He slew him at once. His emotions were rife.
1123 He laid hold of him, struck him to the ground, and stabbed him with his knife.
He’s a sun to friends, and a wild beast to those who against him stand.
He hurled him to the ground, cut off the ring finger as he had planned.
He threw him from the window toward the sea, mingled him with the sand.
1124 For him there is no tomb, nor a spade to dig his grave on command.
He made not a single sound as he slaughtered him. Nothing was heard.
He came forth flawless. No one bothered him, nobody even stirred.
It’s a wonder how he could spill someone’s blood without sound or word.
1125 By the same road he came to that place, he went away undeterred.
The lion, the sun, the handsome knight, went to Patman’s right away.
He announced: “I have slain him. No more will that youth see sunny day.
Your servant I have as witness. That I did the deed let him say.
1126 See the ring and finger. My knife’s bloodied by the one I did slay.
“Now tell me what you promised. Why were you so frightened, tell me true?
I’m very curious to know, with what did that man threaten you?”
Patman embraced his legs: “I’m not worthy even your face to view.
1127 My wounded heart is healed; the fires that burned me are cooling dew.
“I and Usen with all our children are now again newly born.
Lion, how can we praise you enough, for doing what you had sworn?
Since you have fulfilled your promise and his blood does your sword adorn
1128 I’ll tell you all from the beginning. Prepare to listen this morn.
PATMAN TELLS AVTANDIL
n this city, it’s a rule that on Navruz Day, first of the year,
No merchant trades and no one sets out, so we can celebrate here.
We all begin to beautify ourselves: at our best we appear.
The sovereigns make a huge court banquet, an occasion for cheer.
“We great merchants are bound to take rich presents to the king and queen.
The king and queen should give us gifts, the greatest we have ever seen.
For ten days, all that is heard are the cymbal and the tambourine.
1130 In the public square, there’s singing, ball-games, horses – a lively scene.
“My husband, Usen, is the leader of the great merchants, you see.
I lead the merchants’ wives. I need nobody to invite me.
We give presents to the queen, according to our capacity.
1131 We entertain ourselves at the court, coming home quite merrily.
“We took presents to the queen on Navruz Day: treasure from us spilled.
We gave them gifts, they gave us gifts: as we filled them, so we were filled.
After a while, we left the court; all were merry, and as we willed.
1132 Again we sat down and rejoiced; at merry-making, we were skilled.
“When evening was near, I went into the garden to make sport there.
I took the wives with me, to entertain among the flowers rare.
I brought with me minstrels, and they sang their sweet songs without a care.
1133 I sang and frolicked like a young girl: I changed my veil and my hair.
”There in the garden were mansions beautiful and lofty and bright.
A balcony on each side overhung the sea at a great height.
Thither I led the ladies, all of those that were with me that night.
134 There we made a banquet anew; we surely made a joyful sight.
“Merry, I entertained the merchants’ wives – sisterly, you might say.
Without cause, a gloomy mood fell on me, and held me in its sway.
When they perceived my gloom, none of those that sat there wanted to stay.
135 I was alone; sadness fell on my heart like soot and turned it gray.
“I opened the window and looked out over the sea, over all.
I tried to shake off the new sadness covering me like a pall.
Far away, I saw something floating in the sea: it was quite small.
136 I thought it a bird or a beast; I could not fathom it at all.
“From afar, I couldn’t tell but when it came close, it was a boat.
Two men stood there clad in black, and black in visage, that is of note.
They stood either side as the bow of the boat to the shore did float.
1137 They came ashore; I saw them and amazement grabbed me by the throat.
“They beached the boat in front of the garden, thinking they are alone.
They looked thither; they looked hither, to see if their presence were known.
They saw no one. It was so quiet you could hear the sea’s low moan.
1138 Secretly, I watched them; I stood as if roots from my feet had grown.
“They brought something ashore from the boat in a kind of heavy chest.
They opened the lid and a maiden stepped out. I wouldn’t have guessed.
On her head was a black veil; her garments were green and of the best.
1139 If the sun was like her in its beauty, it would think itself blessed.
“When the maiden turned towards me, she lit the rocks with rays pure and white.
The radiance of her cheeks lit up earth and sky: it was so bright.
I blinked. To gaze at her was like looking at the sun’s burning light.
1140 I closed my curtains. Those men did not know I had them in my sight.
”I called four servants to me who waited solely on my pleasure.
I pointed: ‘See what beauty these pirates have at their leisure!
Steal down. Go forth quietly, not racing but in a quick measure.
1141 Have them sell her to you, no matter what they ask for their treasure.
“If they won’t give her to you, then not a single coin will I pay.
Bring me that moon. Do the errand well. Those two men you will slay.’
My servants stole down as if they were flying to take her away.
1142 They bargained, but the men were displeased. They would not sell her that day.
“I leaned out the window, realizing the men would never sell,
I cried, ‘Slay them!’ They seized them, cut off their heads; to the ground they fell.
They threw the heads out to sea, and surrounded the maiden as well.
1143 I went to meet her, brought her back, in less time than it takes to tell.
“How lovely she was! And how refined! How can I tell you her praise?
I swear she is the sun and, with her, we do not need the sun’s rays.
Who can endure her light? Who can depict her beauty in a phrase?
1144 If she consumes me, I’m ready; I welcome the end of my days.”
When she had ended her words, Patman raised her hands and slapped her face.
Avtandil, too, wept; he shed hot tears right there in that foreign place.
They forgot each other and thought about the maiden and her grace.
1145 Their white cheeks had an added pallor as their tears downward did race.
They wept together. The knight then said, “Don’t stop now! Finish your tale!”
Patman said, “I received her, my heart faithful to her without fail.
I kissed her face and both hands until my attentions seemed to stale.
1146 I sat with her, caressed and calmed her, wondering what made her ail.
“I said, ‘Tell me, oh sun, who you are, of what race are you a child?
Where were the pirates taking you, lady of the heavens mild?’
To all these words, she made no answer. She looked at me and she smiled.
1147 I saw a hundredfold spring of tears fall from her eyes, scared and wild.
”When I pressed her with many questions and speaking, there at the start,
She wept with a gentle voice and sobbed freely, without any art.
A narcissus stream overflowed her jetty lashes for its part,
1148 Watching it flood her crystal and ruby cheeks almost broke my heart.
“She said, ‘You’re better than a mother to me, though we meet so late.
How can my story profit you? A chatterer’s tale, without weight.
A stranger am I, overtaken by a most unhappy fate.
1149 Asking me anything will anger the Almighty, who is great.’
“I said to myself, This is not the right time to pressure the sun.
The host who keeps inquiring will lose his wits before he is done.
Questions should be timely – the plea entered and the answer begun.
1150 To try to get her answers now will not benefit anyone.’
“I led away that sun-faced one, the one I cannot aptly praise.
I swear by my true admiration, I could barely hide her rays.
I enveloped her in layers of brocade, fabric to amaze.
1151 Her lashes fluttered, tears rolled down. The rose wore a frostbitten glaze.
“To my home I took that sun-faced one, slender as an aloe tree.
I put her somewhere I’d furnished as comfortably as could be.
I told no one she was there and I hid her where no one could see.
1152 I gave her a servant. I went to her, waited to hear her plea.
“How to tell you of her strange behavior? She was never at peace.
Day and night weeping, tears cascading down; her crying did not cease.
She would not hush, nor would she a single word from her lips release.
1153 Now I live without her and, with her gone, feel all my joys decrease.
“I went in and found pools of tears, tears she couldn’t hide if she tried.
The dark abyss of her eyes was lined with jet lances, never dried.
From the inky lakes of those eyes, tears flowed down as if at high tide.
1154 And between the soft coral of her lips, twin rows of pearls did hide.
”She kept crying. I got no explanation, no matter how brief.
1 asked, ‘Who are you? What brought you to this sorrow beyond belief?’
A rivulet burst forth: from the aloe gushed a river of grief.
155 Any human, unless made of stone, would have broken on that reef.
“She did not want a blanket or bedding. She stayed weeping and pale.
She was always dressed in one short cloak, and she always wore a veil.
She used only her arm as a head-rest, as though she were in jail.
. 156 After I begged a thousand times, she ate a little: she was frail.
“I was struck by her veil and cloak – wonderful to feel and perceive.
I’ve seen many rare, costly things, some of them gifts I did receive.
But her veil and her cloak were both things too beautiful to believe.
1157 They had the firmness of forged metal, and the softness of a weave.
“Thus it was that the lovely one in my house a long time tarried.
‘Whoever finds out will tell the king, even the man I married,’
I told myself. ‘Tell him, and your secret to the court gets carried.’
1158 I thought this frequently: my comings and my goings were quite harried.
“I said to myself: ‘If I don’t tell him, how can I give her aid?
I don’t know at all what she wants, what one could do to help the maid.
If my husband finds out, he will slay me for having been betrayed.
1159 How can I hide one who is like the sun forever in the shade?’
“What could I achieve alone? The fire in me burned more and more.
‘Come,’ I said, “I will not deceive Usen. I’ll bring truth to the fore.
I will make him swear not to betray me. His trust I will restore.
1160 He cannot let his soul perish. He’ll abide by the oath he swore!’
“I went to my husband. I frolicked and caressed him; then I said,
‘I’ll tell you something, only you, because the two of us are wed,
You must swear that of what I tell you, you’ll not share a single shred.’
1161 He swore an awful oath: ‘If I tell, on rocks I will beat my head!
”What you say, I’ll tell no one, even if they make my death their threat.
Neither to old nor young, friend nor foe, persons known or not known yet.’
So then I told all to Usen, as kind a man as I have met.
1162 ‘Come with me,’ I said. ‘And I’ll show you something you’ll never forget.’
“He rose to accompany me, and we left. We entered her room.
Usen was amazed. He startled when he saw the sun in the gloom.
He said, ‘What have you shown me? What have I seen? From where did she bloom?
1163 If she is truly an earthly being, God put me in my tomb!’
“I said ‘I do not know if she is with our earthly world aligned.
I have already shared with you the knowledge I have in my mind.
Let’s ask who she is, why within her heart she does only grief find.
1164 Maybe she will tell us something, if we entreat her to be kind.’
“We went in and both of us to show her respect took special care.
We said, ‘Oh sun, for your sake, a furnace of flames must we both bear.
Tell us the cure for the waning moon. How can we ease your despair?
1165 We beg you tell us what turned to saffron your ruby hue so fair?’
“If she hearkened to what we said or even heard, we could not tell.
Her rose lips stayed glued, shutting the door on the room where the pearls dwell.
Her serpent tresses around her rose bush face in disorder fell.
1166 The sun was eclipsed by the black dragon and no light broke the spell.
“By our converse, we could not make her talk, though she at first seemed meek.
We could not understand her dread; she sat panther-like, her face bleak.
We angered her. She wept; tears flowed like a fountain down either cheek.
1167 ‘I don’t know! Let me alone!’ Those were the only words she would speak.
“We both sat down and we wept with her. We poured forth tears and felt bad.
What we had spoken to her made us sorry. What then could we add?
She was very distraught. When we calmed her a little, we were glad.
1168 We could not make her eat, though we offered her the best fruit we had.
”Usen said, ‘She has wiped away from me a multitude of woe.
Those sun-like cheeks, how can an earthly man hope kisses there to sow?
Divided from her, a man’s sufferings will multiply, I know.
1169 If I think my own children more lovely, may God not let them grow.’
“A long time we gazed at her. With sighs and moans we both went out late.
To be with her was to us joy; the grief of parting, very great.
When we had leisure from affairs of trade, we went without a wait.
1170 Our hearts were inextricably caught in her net, awaiting fate.
“After a significant time had passed, and days and nights had sped,
Usen came to me. ‘I have not seen our king for a while,’ he said.
‘I’ll go to court with gifts, unless you advise something else instead.’
1171 I said, ‘Go there, then, since your desire has put this plan in your head.’
“So Usen set out pearls and arranged many gems on a fair tray.
‘At court you will meet inebriated court folk,’ I thought to say.
‘Be wary or kill me! Don’t talk about our hidden maid, I pray.’
1172 Again he swore: ‘I’ll tell no one, or may swords strike my head today!’
“Usen went in; he found the king sitting at a generous feast.
He is the king’s boon companion, the king his well-wisher, at least.
The king liked Usen’s gifts, seated him at his side. His joy increased.
1173 Now behold the traitor merchant – with wine his wagging tongue is greased!
“Although the king had drunk with Usen many great goblets of wine,
Still they quaff and they fill more tankards and more beakers as they dine.
He forgot his oaths: what were Korans, Meccas, when he had no spine?
1174 Truly ‘A rose befits no crow; asses do not wear horns so fine!’
“The great king then spoke to drunken Usen, spoke to the witless wight,
‘I marvel whence you get these gems to give us as a gift tonight.
Where did you find these large pearls and these peerless rubies, huge and bright?
1175 By my head! I can’t return you one-tenth their value, as is right.’
”Usen bowed low and said, ‘Oh mighty sovereign, beloved king!
Oh mighty sun! You nourish your subjects! All good to them you bring!
Whatsoever I have, gold or treasure, your praises will I sing!
1176 I came forth naked from my mother. By you, I have everything!
“By your head! Such gifts don’t deserve your thanks! I have another one!
I have another, better, present for you, a bride for your son.
For this undoubtedly you’ll thank me. Who is like her? No one! None!
1177 Then you’ll truly speak many times your happiness at what I’ve done.’
“Why should I lengthen speaking? He broke his oath, his faith he betrayed.
He told of the finding of our secret sun, our radiant maid.
This pleased the king greatly; he felt gaiety in his heart cascade.
1178 He ordered her brought to court; the test of Usen was not delayed.
“I was sitting leisurely at home. Hitherto I had not sighed.
The king’s chief servant appeared at the door and through the door did stride.
As is the custom of kings, to sixty servants he was the guide.
1179 They all came in. I was amazed. ‘This is some state affair,’ I cried.
“‘Patman,’ they said, ‘The king commanded us to come and not to stay,
To take that maid like twin suns whom Usen gave to the king today.
Bring her to us. We have not far to go. We shall take her away.’
1180 When I heard this, the sky collapsed and God’s wrath made the whole world sway.
“In amazement, I asked, ‘What maid do you want?’ as if unwitting.
They said, ‘The maiden Usen spoke of, whose face is light-emitting.’
There was nothing to do. The day of my death they were transmitting.
1181 I trembled. I could not rise, and neither could I remain sitting.
“I went in. I saw that lovely one weeping, but I could not wait.
I said, ‘Oh sun, do you see how you have been betrayed by cruel fate?
Heaven turns toward me in wrath; I’m torn down, my suffering is great.
1182 I am denounced. The king asks for you; I’m in a heartbroken state.
”She said: ‘Oh, sister, do not marvel, however hard this may be!
Luckless Fate is following my steps. That much anyone can see.
You should wonder if I were lucky, not that evil falls on me.
183 From all kinds of woe and unhappiness, I shall never be free.’
“She wept. Her eyes poured forth tears like pearls: tear after tear after tear.
Then she rose like a panther or a hero, without any fear.
Joy no longer seemed joy, nor did woe seem woe. Neither one was clear.
1184 She asked for a veil, so with covered form and face she could appear.
“We have a treasure-house that’s full of priceless gems, and I went there.
I took out gems and pearls as much as I could. I made myself dare.
Every single one was worth a city, magnificent and rare.
1185 I went back, my heart ached. I girded them around her waist to wear.
‘”Oh my dear one! Maybe these things may sometime be of use,’ I said.
I gave the sun’s peer into the servants’ hands and wished I were dead.
The king was warned. Drums were beaten, noise made. To the king, she was led.
1186 She went forward, saying nothing. She was calm and walked with bent head.
“There was uproar and clamor. Onlookers surged toward her in a pack.
They could not be quieted down, and the guards could not hold them back.
When the king saw her, cypress-like, coming toward him, his jaw went slack.
1187 He said amazed, ‘Oh sun, all heaven must now be feeling your lack.’
“She was so sun-like, so bright, she made all those who gazed on her blink.
The king said: ‘I thought I’d seen everything. It was nothing, I think.
Who but God could design her? Who but He her lovely limbs could link.
1188 He who loves her should roam in a desert, crazed for lack of a drink!’
“He seated her at his side; he talked to her sweetly without end.
The king said: ‘Who are you? Whose you are? From what race do you descend?’
With her sun-like face she gave no answer, did not seem to attend.
1189 With bowed head, gentle, sorrowful, to her own thoughts she was a friend.
”The maiden hearkened not at all to the king to whom she’d been brought.
Elsewhere was her heart. Of something altogether other, she thought.
The roses of her lips stayed pursed. She showed not her pearls. She said naught.
1190 She made those who looked on her wonder in what visions she was caught.
“Then the king said: ‘With what can we comfort our heart? What can we do?
We are left to guess, but there can be no opinion save these two:
Either she is in love with someone. Thinking of him, she stays true.
1191 To none can she speak save him; she has no leisure for someone new.
“Or else she is truly lofty and high-seeing, some kind of sage.
And neither great joy, nor great sorrow can be written on her page.
Fortune, misfortune are from a fairy tale, and children engage.
1192 She is soaring elsewhere. Her mind is like a dove’s, free of its cage.
“God grant that my son will come home victorious some bright day soon.
I will have this sun prepared and ready for him, as a great boon.
Perhaps he will make her say something to which we will be attune.
1193 Till then, far sundered from the sun, we will let rest the waning moon.’
“Of the king’s son I will tell you. He was fearless, a man of grace.
Peerless in valor and beauty, he was fair in form and in face.
He had gone off to war a long time ago, in his father’s place.
1194 For him, his father prepared her, the star-like one, for his embrace.
“They brought her in and appareled her in maidenly garb – a gown.
On the hems and borders, rows of glittering gems had been set down.
On the tresses of her head, they set a whole ruby as a crown.
1195 The rose was made beautiful by her crystal face, fixed in a frown.
“The king said: ‘Deck the royal chamber,’ and they did as they were told.
They set up a great couch from the Occident, all bedecked in gold.
The great king himself, the lord of the palace, did her hand enfold,
1196 And seated the sun there, a joy for an onlooker to behold.
”He commanded nine eunuchs to stand their guard at the door or near.
The king sat down to a feast befitting his race and giving cheer.
To Usen, he gave countless gifts because he’d made that sun appear.
1197 Musicians played bagpipes. Drums lightened the mood, chasing away fear.
“They prolonged the feasting; the drinking went on and on without end.
Then the sun-faced maiden addressed Fate: ‘What deadly lot did you send!
Being in love with one, my life with another I’ll have to spend!
1198 What shall I do? What will serve me? How can I a cruel life amend?’
“She said, ‘I will not let my rose-like beauty wither in the snows.
I will try something. Perhaps God will help me overcome my foes.
What sensible man slays himself, in advance of the final throes?
1199 When a sensible man’s in trouble, his wit’s the last thing that goes.’
“She called all the eunuchs and said, “Hearken to me for reason’s sake.
To think I’ll be your sovereign is a deception, a mistake.
Your ruler a loyal daughter-in-law of me will never make.
1200 In vain, alas, sounds he the bagpipes for me, and makes the drums shake.
“I am not suited to become your queen; my path leads elsewhere quite.
God keep a man far from me, no matter how cypress-like or bright.
Whatever you want of me, know I have another kind of plight.
1201 My life here with you fits me not, and I must soon attempt a flight.
“Without fail, I’ll slay myself. I shall strike a knife into my heart.
Your lord will kill you. In a short time, he will tear you all apart.
I’ll give you the weighty treasure wrapped around my waist if you’re smart.
1202 Let me escape and go free: you won’t regret giving me a start.’
“She undid the pearls from around her, the gems that girdled her yet.
She doffed, too, the ruby crown, and everything on the ground did set.
She said, ‘With burning heart, I now implore you to undo my net.
1203 Let me go, and you will have paid to your God an enormous debt.’
”The servants, seeing her costly treasure, were overcome with greed.
They forgot their fear of the king and decided she should be freed:
To let the peerless maiden escape, they all then and there agreed.
1204 See what gold can do to one, that stem sprung from a devilish seed.
“Gold never gives joy to them that love it and think that it may.
Gold makes its lovers gnash their teeth till the time of their dying day.
It comes and goes. When it goes, they blame the planets. It’s fate, they say.
1205 Also, it binds the soul to this world, keeps it from soaring away.
“When the eunuchs had ended the matter as the maiden thought best,
One of them gave her his garment, so she was as a servant dressed.
They passed through more doors. The great hall still had many a drinking guest.
1206 Unswallowed by dragons, the moon was full. She suffered no arrest.
“The servants vanished at the same time and they all made haste to flee.
The maiden knocked at my door and asked my servant to send for me.
I knew and embraced her, someone I’d thought I would not again see.
1207 She would not come in with me at all, saying: ‘That can never be.’
“She said to me, ‘With the gifts you gave me, I have my freedom bought.
May God reward you with heavenly favor for what you have wrought;
No longer can you hide me. Send me off on a swift horse, well taught,
1208 Before the king finds out and sends men after me, and I am caught.’
“Swiftly, I entered the stable, the best of our steeds I untied.
Cheerful was she as I saddled it and set her thereon to ride.
She looked like the Sun, best of the stars, when the Lion it’s astride.
1209 My labor was lost. I could not harvest what I’d sown, though I’d tried.
“The day drew down to evening. The rumors spread, her pursuers came.
In the city was a stage of siege. People made noise and cast blame.
They questioned me. I said, ‘To have her in my house would be great shame.
1210 If I’m guilty, I deserve nothing less than death in the king’s name.’
”They sought but of course found nothing of her; they left with empty hands.
From that time, the king and all his familiars mourn throughout our lands.
The palace people wear violet, which everyone understands:
1211 They mourn our lack of light, ever since the sun left for foreign strands.
“Now I shall narrate to you the place where the moon did choose to go,
But first of all I will tell you why that vile man threatened me so.
He, alas, in season was my buck; and I was his loving doe.
1212 Brazenness defiles a man as wantonness a woman, you know.
“My husband is scrawny and ungainly, someone from whom I shrink.
That man, the wine-tester, was high at court; he and I used to wink,
Then we loved each other, though I’ll wear no mourning for him, I think.
1213 I wish somebody would give me a cup of his warm blood to drink!
“Like a woman, I told him. My foolishness makes me want to cry.
She came to me, I helped her escape. I told him. Don’t ask me why.
He threatened to expose me like a foe who wanted me to die.
1214 And now, to think he is a corpse himself! Ah, how relieved am I!
“He menaced me whenever we fought, and we quarrelsome had grown.
I called for you to come to me because I was sure he had flown.
He arrived and you were coming. I was afraid of what I’d sown.
1215 I begged you not to come, sent a servant to make my wishes known.
“But you brought a beam of light to me because you didn’t turn back.
Then you met each other last night, and both of you stood to attack.
I could think of no way to diffuse your anger, alas and alack!
1216 He, alas, desired my death with his whole heart – blacker than black.
“If you’d refused to slay him, there would have been consequences dire.
He’d have denounced me at the court. His black heart was burned with fire.
The angry king would have leveled my house and my stables entire,
1217 Oh, God, he’d have made me kill my children; then stoned me in his ire.
”Let God reward you in return! What thanks can I tender to you?
Who has delivered me safe from the serpent whom he overthrew!
Now I’m grateful to my star and Destiny of another hue.
1218 No longer do I fear death, when such horrors I have broken through!”
Avtandil told her: “Fear not! These words In the Book I read of late:
‘Of foes, the most dreadful is the friendly foe, and him you should hate.
If a man be wise, his confidence in such will never be great.’
1219 Now he is a corpse; so from him, nothing dreadful need you await.
Tell me again, since the day you sent away the maiden, the prize,
Have you learned of her or heard any news of her, in any wise?”
Again Patman spoke weeping; again the tears flowed down from her eyes.
1220 Said she: “The ray which lightened our fields is now missing from our skies.”
THE STORY OF THE CAPTURE
BY THE KADJIS
ate, you’re like Satan in your treachery. No one knows what’s fated.
None know anything of you: when your next treachery’s been slated.
Where have you hidden or taken that face, like a sun created?
I see that in the end, all seems vain, wherever one has waited.
Patman said, “The sun was gone. The light of the whole world was thus unlit.
Life, existence, the gain of my hands, what mattered – any of it?
Since then, I’ve been unceasingly burned by fire, I must admit.
1222 I could not dry the spring of tears flowing from my eyes bit by bit.
“House and child became hateful to me. In my heart, there was no cheer.
Whether waking or sleeping, I thought of her who’d become so dear.
The oath-breaker Usen seemed to me an infidel, not my peer.
1223 I didn’t let the accursed man with his cursed face draw near.
“One day at eventide, when sunset was about to be complete
I stood by the window whence I saw the guesthouse across the street.
I was full of sadness at the thought of her, resigned to defeat.
1224 I said, “Cursed is the vow of each man I know, each one I meet.’
“A traveling stranger with three companions wandered into view.
He was clad as a servant; all were in coarse garb – a motley crew.
They set out food and drink, bought in the town for a drachma or two.
1225 As they drank and ate, they chattered, as merry people tend to do.
”I listened to them. They said, ‘It is pleasant to rejoice this way
But though we’re joined as good comrades for this one portion of the day,
Yet we’re strangers, none of us knows who we are, what we have to say.
1226 We should at least tell each other our stories, to keep care at bay.’
“They told each other wayfaring tales. Each had almost heard their fill.
Then one man said, ‘Brothers, providence manifests to us God’s will.
I have pearls for you to harvest, but millet is the seed you spill.
1227 As good as your stories surely are, my stories are better still.
“There was once a high ruler of the Kadjis and I was his slave.
He was suddenly devastated by a sickness that was grave:
He who had helped widows and comforted orphans, we could not save.
1228 The care of his children to his sister, before his death he gave.
“Dulardukht was a woman, but hard as a cliff, a rock, a wall.
Other men may be wounded but to her, no injuries befall.
She had two nephews, Rosan and Rodia, who were still quite small.
1229 Now she sits as sovereign of Kadjeti, mightiest of all.
“The news of the death of her sister over the seas did carry.
All the viziers were distressed, and they refrained from making merry.
‘Hers was a face to light the lands; now this face they will soon bury.’
1230 Roshak her subject, to turn her grief to his gain did not tarry.
“Roshak said, ‘Even if I am killed for my absence, I don’t care.
I will leave. I’ll take to pirating, and get booty: this I swear.
I shall come home much enriched, and I shall be back with time to spare.
1231 When the queen goes forth to mourn her sister, I will leave then and there.’
“He said to us, his many underlings: ‘I will go: come with me.
He chose a hundred servants to go with him, see what we could see.
By day, we were pirating. By night we also made ourselves free.
1232 Many a caravan we broke up. We’d grab the treasure, and flee.
”One dark night we were wandering over the wide plain unconcealed.
There appeared to us certain great light in the middle of the field.
We said, ‘Might it be the sun fallen from heaven to earth unsealed?’
1233 All perplexed, we gave our minds to wondering what had been revealed.
“Some of us said, ‘it’s a star!’ Others, ‘only the moon is so bright!’
We decided to look closer and moved towards it, ready to fight.
We made a circuit around it, approached and surrounded that light.
1234 Then from the light came a strong voice speaking to us out of the night.
‘”Who are you, oh riders in the dark? Tell me your names!’ the voice cries.
‘I have a message for Kadjeti. Beware of me and be wise.’
When we heard these words, we formed a circle around, full of surmise.
1235 And a certain sun-faced rider appeared before our very eyes.
“We gazed at the brilliant face flashing light out over everyone,
Its glittering spread itself over the surroundings like the sun.
The rider spoke to us slowly with calm words, and our hearts were won.
1236 Rays from the rider’s teeth lit jetty lashes, whose peer there was none.
“We addressed that sun calmly, and a soothing tone we all applied.
She was not a servant: when she said she was, we all knew she lied.
Roshak guessed it was a woman and he rode closely by her side.
1237 We made bold to grab her. She could not break free, so she scarcely tried.
“Again we asked, ‘Tell us truly: how did you get that sun-like glow?
Who and whose are you? Where are you from, lightener? We want to know.’
She told us nothing in response. She shed a stream of hot tears, though.
1238 She was a full moon swallowed by the serpent, full of secret woe!
“She told us nothing at all; no story by her was repeated.
Nor who she was, nor by whom had she been treacherously treated.
Unsmilingly, she spoke with us, defensive but undefeated.
1239 Like an asp she watched onlookers, her look both bold and secreted.
”Roshak ordered us: ‘Ask her nothing; it seems she will not talk now.
Her story must be a strange one, difficult to express somehow.
The good fortune of our sovereign is something all will avow.
1240 Whatever is most marvelous, God will our sovereign allow.
“She’s been given to us by God to bring her to Kadjeti’s queen.
We will take her as a gift, and Dulardukht’s great thanks will we glean.
If we hide her, we will be found out: our sovereign’s pride is keen.
1241 It would be a great offence to her, and our disgrace it would mean.’
“We agreed, and we did not prolong the discussion on that score.
We made for Kadjeti, leading her with us as part of our corps.
We did not speak to her, not wanting to annoy her any more.
1242 She weeps with an embittered heart. Down her cheeks, the flowing tears pour.
“I said to Roshak: ‘I’ll be back again soon; give me leave to go.
At present, I have some important business in Gulansharo.’
He granted me leave. I am here collecting some things, and although
1243 I am taking it all with me. I’ll still overtake them, I know.’
“He ended the story. The pleasure of his companions was great.
I heard it. The stream from the pool of my tears did at once abate.
I recognized the signs of what could ease my burden, my pain’s freight.
1244 This gave me a little bit of comfort, about a drachma’s weight.
“I brought that servant, set him in front of me, and made my wish clear.
I asked of him: ‘Tell me what you were saying; I, too, wish to hear.’
He told me the same tale I’d heard before. I let him disappear.
1245 This story enlivened me, saved me from dying, gave me some cheer.
“I have two black servants who are sorcerers and who magic make.
They come and go invisible, unseen by those who are awake.
I dispatched them to Kadjeti, to use their power for my sake.
1246 I said, ‘Do not delay. Give me tidings of her for whom I ache.’
”In three days, they were back. In such little time, their errand was done.
Roshak had her sent to the queen, before her long trip had begun.
None can fix his eyes to gaze on her; in this, she is like the sun.
1247 The queen said she would be wife to Rosan, her nephew like a son.
‘”She shall be wed to my Rosan,’ this was Queen Dulardukht’s decree.
‘Yet I’ve no leisure for the wedding now; fiery grief consumes me.
When I come back, I’ll make a daughter-in-law of this sunny she.’
1248 The queen kept her in the castle, one eunuch with her constantly.
“Dulardukht took with her all of those skilled in sorcery that day.
For perilous is her road, and her foes are ready for the fray.
But all her bravest knights she left behind. At home, all of them stay.
1249 She will be absent a while. Not much time has so far passed away.
“The city of the Kadjis is unassailable by their foes.
The center of the city does a huge rock, high and long, expose,
Inside it is a hollowed out passage, and to the top it goes,
1250 She, who consumes those who see her with fire, that rock does enclose.
“The narrow entrance to the passage is watched by knight after knight.
And behind them stand ten thousand noble men, all ready to fight.
There are three city gates, and three thousand soldiers are at each site.
1251 Heart, the world has condemned you: the ties binding you to life are slight.”
Avtandil the sun-faced listened until she had nothing to add.
He did not show it, but when he heard Patman’s tidings, he was glad.
The handsome swordsman gave silent thanks to God for the news he had.
1252 “It’s as if Nestan’s sister has given me joyful news, not bad.”
He said to Patman, “Good woman, you’re worthy to be loved by me.
You’ve allowed me to hear a welcome story, with no perfidy.
But I’d like to hear more fully about the city Kadjeti.
1253 How can Kadjis become human? They’re fleshless spirits, all agree.
Pity for that maiden kindles inside me and burns me with flame,
But I wonder why fleshless Kadjis need a woman, all the same.”
Patman said, “Your perplexity is not an occasion for shame.
1254 They are men who live on rocky mountains, Kadjis only in name.
“They are called Kadji because they have come together in a band.
They’re men exceedingly cunning in the art of sorcery, and
Unable to be harmed, they harm men; none can their attacks withstand.
1255 Those who dare to battle them come back blind and ashamed and unmanned.
“They do something terrible: they strike blind all their enemies’ eyes.
They raise terrifying storms, sink ships at sea so everyone dies.
They run across water as though it were land, or see that it dries.
1256 If they wish, they darken the day, or illuminate the night skies.
“It is for this reason that, near and far, as Kadjis they are known.
Though they are as human as you or me, and made of flesh and bone.”
Avtandil thanked her: “You’ve extinguished the hot flames that made me groan.
1257 The tidings you gave me please me greatly, for reasons of my own.”
Avtandil then, pouring forth tears, praises God with all of his heart.
He said, “I thank you, God. You comfort me whenever my woes start.
You the Unutterable and the Unheard, who forever art.
1258 Your mercy is suddenly spread over us, and our ills depart!”
Since he now knew where Nestan was, he praised God with many a tear.
Patman thought the tears for her, and her desire overcame her fear.
The knight kept his secret; lent himself eagerly to love and cheer.
1259 Patman kissed his face and in an embrace to him she did adhere.
That night, Patman and Avtandil in her bed together did lie.
The knight reluctantly pressed his crystal neck to hers by and by.
Remembering Tinatin, he trembled; with remorse, did he die.
1260 But his heart was mad with love. As a wild beast, did it race and fly.
The knight secretly sheds tears: they stream like a river to the sea.
In the dark eddies of his eyes, a boat made all of jet floats free.
He says, “Behold, lovers: parted from the rose that was given me.
1261 I, a nightingale, like a carrion crow, peck the dung with glee!”
The tears which flowed from him then would have melted a stone without fail.
The thicket of jet lashes lets them pool on the rose-field so pale.
Patman thought herself a nightingale, singing a song never stale.
1262 If a crow discovers a rose, it thinks itself a nightingale.
Day dawned. The sun whose rays never set went forth to lave himself clean.
The woman gave him many coats and cloaks, the finest ever seen,
Turbans, perfumes, and fine shirts. She was as generous as a queen.
1263 She told him, “Whatever you want is yours, so don’t be shy or mean.”
Avtandil said: “This day I will reveal myself to every wight.”
Until that day he had worn merchant garb because he thought it right.
That day he appareled his form as he truly was, a brave knight.
1264 His beauty increased. The lion resembled the sun in its light.
Patman made a meal, at which she invited Avtandil to be.
The knight came in adorned. He was glad, not gloomy. Joyful was he.
Patman was amazed. No trace of the former merchant could she see.
1265 She said, “Your new look better suits the pleasure of those mad for thee.”
Patman much admired the beauty of Avtandil’s form and bearing:
He made no answer. He smiled to himself at her woman’s erring.
“It seems she does not understand the man for whom she’s been caring!”
1266 He did not bother to pretend anymore; he was that daring.
As soon as they had eaten, the knight went home. He had drunk that night
More than a little wine. He lay down gladly and to sleep did yield.
He awoke in the evening, and he shone his light across the field.
1267 He invited Patman: “I’m alone. Come and much will be revealed.”
Patman came to him, and Avtandil heard her timid voice again.
She said: “Surely by him whose form is like an aloe, I’ll be slain.”
He gave her a pillow, sat her beside him, but he did abstain.
1268 The eaves of Avtandil’s lashes shaded the rose-garden domain.
Avtandil said, “Patman, I well know the desires you cannot slake.
You will tremble at my new tidings like one bitten by a snake.
But I have not yet told you the truth about me, for safety’s sake.
1269 The lashes piercing my heart are like jet-black trees and make me quake.
“You think me a simple merchant and master of a caravan.
But I command the armies of the exalted king, Rostevan.
I lead a great host that befits my king, as nobody else can.
1270 I have charge of many treasuries: I am an important man.
“I know you are faithful and trusty. You are one of my good friends.
Rostevan has one daughter, who enlightens the world she transcends.
It’s she who consumes and melts me, on whom my existence depends.
1271 She sent me and I forsook my master, whom my absence offends.
“To seek the maiden you had with you is the reason I am here.
I’ve sought the one who can replace the sun through the world, far and near.
I’ve seen the lion who seeks her, grief-stricken, as if on a bier,
1272 He lies wasting himself, his heart and strength, shedding many a tear.”
Avtandil then began to tell trustworthy Patman the whole tale
Of Tariel, the knight in the panther skin, whom he would not fail.
He said, “To this man you’ve never seen, you have been of great avail,
1273 The healer of him who has raven lashes, though his cheeks are pale.”
He said, “Help me, Patman. Let’s try to be of service to that knight.
Let’s aid those stars: maybe then they’ll know joy after struggle and flight.
All men who hear their tale shall know our deeds and praise us, as is right.
1274 Maybe the lovers will meet again, maybe even in our sight.
”Let your sorcerer go again to Kadjeti, at your behest.
He’ll make known to the maiden all the news to which we can attest.
She’ll tell us about her captivity. We’ll do as she thinks best.
1275 God grant you may soon hear that we the Kadjis kingdom have suppressed.”
Patman said: “Glory to God, what things have befallen me anew!
This day I’ve heard tidings equal to eternal life, heard by few!”
She told the servant, black as a raven, to see what he could do:
1276 “Go at once to Kadjeti. You’ve a long journey ahead of you.”
She said, “I wonder if advantage from your witchcraft I shall see,
If the furnace flames that burn me can be quenched by your sorcery.
Tell that sun we are sure the best cure for her is to set her free.”
1277 He said, “I promise to bring you tomorrow the news you decree.”
THE LETTER WRITTEN
atman writes: “Oh, bright shining star, of the world the heavenly sun,
The consumer and griever of all those whose time with you is done,
Lovely, fair-tongued, eloquent and moving in the words you have spun,
Part of you crystal and part of you ruby, welded into one!
“Though you didn’t let me hear your story when with me you did stay,
I have learned the truth, and my heart has been comforted anyway.
Console Tariel with news of you, he who’s mad for you today.
1279 You’ll both have your desire. He a rose, you a violet will stay.
“His sworn brother is Avtandil, who has come here in quest of you.
He is a brave Arabian knight: it’s there he receives his due.
He commands King Rostevan’s army. Those who don’t know him are few.
1280 Send news of yourself, proud and wise one, to those of us who are true.
“For this purpose we have sent to be in your presence this black slave.
Have the Kadjis returned? All your tidings of Kadjeti we crave.
We wish to know more about the numbers of their warriors brave.
Who are your guards and their chief? When on duty, how do they behave?
“Whatever you know concerning that place, let us know it as well.
Then send some token for your lover, something you have in your cell.
May the sorrow you’ve known hitherto, change to joy too great to tell!
May it please God to unite you lovers – together may you dwell!
”Go, oh letter, very swiftly, as swiftly as if you had wings!
I envy your seeing crystal, jet, rubies, other lovely things.
I wish I could be, oh letter, the one the servant to her brings.
1283 After I send you, pity me, for I shall know tormenting stings!”
So Patman gave the letter into the skillful sorcerer’s hands.
“Give this letter to the sun-like maiden,” Patman to him commands.
Then the wizard wrapped around his body a certain mantle’s strands.
1284 in that instant, he was lost to view, and he flew over the lands.
He went as a straight arrow shot by an excellent archer might,
And when he reached Kadjeti, it was just getting to be twilight.
Invisible, he passed through the gates, guarded by many a knight,
1285 To give to that sun the greeting Patman had decided to write.
He passed through the closed gates of the castle without requiring aid.
The black man entered, dark of face, long-haired, cloaked, and she was afraid.
The sun was quite frightened: she thought that some kind of trap had been laid.
1286 The rose changed to saffron; the violets to blue began to fade.
The black man said: “Who do you think I am, that you begin to swoon?
I am only Patman’s servant, dispatched to you here as a boon.
This letter will justify me, so do not my speaking impugn.
1287 Let the sun’s rays come forth, oh rose, and do not fade away so soon.”
The sun-faced marveled much at what Patman had been able to do.
She opened wide her eyes, that jet and ebony seemed to construe.
With his hand, the servant gave the prisoner the letter to view.
1288 She sighs, and melts the letter with her hot tears as she reads it through.
She asked the servant after that: “Who’s my seeker? Who has sent thee?
Who knows that I still live, that among those who tread the earth is me?”
He said: “I can venture to tell you only what I know to be.
1289 After you left us, our sun went dark, so dark we could scarcely see.
”Ever since that time, Patman’s heart has been torn as if by a lance.
Her tears are so abundant they could flow into the sea’s expanse.
Once already I brought news of you to her, it was not by chance.
1290 God is my witness that, ever since, her tears did her face enhance.
“Now there came to us a certain knight of the fairest form and grace.
In detail, he told her your story and the trouble that you face.
He with his formidable arms is the knight who’s sought you apace.
1291 Those two sent me to you, entreated me to hasten to this place.”
The maiden said, “What you’ve told me lets me know you’re not a liar.
How could she know who took me away, my circumstances so dire?
I don’t doubt that somewhere is the one who consumes me with fire.
1292 I’ll write her. But tell her my heart is boiling, if she should enquire.”
THE LETTER WRITTEN
he sun-faced maiden wrote: “Lady, better than a mother to me,
What Fate has done, putting me in prison, now you can truly see.
Added to all my grieves was the grief of being parted from thee.
Now that I have read your letter, I’m as encouraged as I can be.
“You saved me from two sorcerers and did help me, I have to say.
Yet now I am held here by the whole force of the Kadjis today.
In this realm, thousands of warriors guard me and ensure my stay.
1294 I’ll befall my earlier counsels, my resolve to run away.
“There are no other tidings. I am in prison. The days accrue.
The queen of the Kadjis has not come back with her Kadjeti crew.
But countless soldiers stand guard over me, and with great zeal, it’s true.
1295 To rescue me’s impossible! To try is what you must not do!
“Whoever comes seeking me will suffer greatly, suffer in vain.
He’ll be in trouble, consumed; fire will burn him and cause him pain.
But I dream of him I haven’t seen: the sun continues to reign.
1296 Without him, alas, my life is pitiable and without gain.
“I didn’t tell you my life story: I kept it hidden before.
My tongue couldn’t speak it, adding to the pain I already bore.
Beg my beloved to have pity, not add to my sorrow’s store.
1297 Write to him, send him a message, and let him not search any more.
”This affliction’s enough; let him not slay me with another woe.
If I saw him a corpse, I’d have a double death to undergo.
None can help me. This is not gossip; this is what I truly know.
1298 If my love won’t listen, let them stone after black stone at me throw!
“You asked me to send a token, if I have understood you right.
I send a cutting from the veils he gave me, symbol of my plight.
These veils remind me of their giver, and so are a joyful sight,
1299 Although in color they are like my fate, which is as black as night.”
THE LETTER WRITTEN
TO H E R BELOVED
ow she, sobbing and weeping, writes to the one for whom she feels love.
She douses with her own tears the fire burning in her thereof.
She wrote a letter that could pierce the heart of her hearers – that dove.
She opens her rose mouth wherein shine crystal, below and above.
“Oh mine own, this letter is penned by me – please know that from the start.
For pen, I have my body, steeped in gall and without any art.
For paper I shall use your heart, which has been glued to my own heart.
1301 Oh heart, black with sadness, from the bonds that bind you, you’ll never part.
“You see, mine own, what dark deeds Life contains. My God is now my guard.
However much light shines, for me it’s only darkness, and is charred.
The wise know about Fate. They despise it, contemptible and scarred.
1302 My life without you has no value and is exceedingly hard!
“Alas, my own! We have been parted by Fate, as you will now learn.
No longer will you make me glad, and be gladdened by me in turn.
What, indeed, can a heart do? In your absence, it must simply burn.
1303 You know my deepest thoughts: they show my secret feelings, how I yearn.
“By your life, I swear to you: until now, I thought that you were dead.
And I wept for that, thinking all my life and all my strength had fled.
Now having news of you, I humbly praise the Creator instead.
1304 All my previous grief, I consider joy. All my tears are shed.
”I know you are alive: the hope this gives to my heart is ample,
A heart, all wounded and consumed, which recently Fate did trample.
Think of me, remember me, as one lost to you, God’s example.
1305 I sit nursing the rooted love I first planted as a sample.
“Now, oh mine own, I’m unable to write out my story for you.
The tongue that tells it will tire, and no one will believe that it’s true.
Patman took me from the sorcerers; God grant her nothing to rue.
1306 Yet once again Fate has done with me, what it befits Fate to do.
“And Fate has now added a worse woe to my original woe.
My ill luck was not appeased by the trials through which I had to go.
It gave me to the hands of the Kadjis, our hard-to-combat foe.
1307 Fate has brought down on us, mine own, everything that has laid us low.
“I’m kept in a castle so high; you can’t see the top from the ground.
The entrance is through a cave and, around it, many guards are found.
Day and night, knights miss not their turn to guard me, so sentries abound.
1308 They will kill those that engage them. Like fire will they their foes surround.
“Oh mine own, don’t think these warriors are like others of their kind!
Slay me not with woes far worse than those I at present chance to find!
If I see you dead, I’ll be burned like tinder by steel, heart, and mind.
1309 Since we are sundered, make your heart like a rock, to my loss resigned.
“Beloved, do not torment yourself with sorrow, that is my plea.
Just say another man got her, the one shaped like an aloe tree!
I regret I am still alive, since life is nothing without thee.
1310 To throw myself off this rock or stab myself: it’s the same to me.
“By my life, I swear your moon will belong to nobody but you!
I swear none shall possess me, though he is a triple sun to view.
The great cliffs are close: I would rather dash myself from them, it’s true.
1311 Pray for me; maybe Heaven will give me wings and I’ll fly anew.
”Entreat God for me. Perhaps He’ll deliver me from all travail.
Away from the elements, fire, water, earth and air, I’ll sail.
May He allow me to fly upward on wings that will never fail.
1312 Day and night I shall gaze on the Sun’s splendor without any veil.
“The Sun cannot be without you: you’re part of what makes it complete.
And of a surety, in its zodiac is your rightful seat.
There I’ll see and recognize you. You’ll brighten my heart when we meet.
1313 In equal measure as my life was bitter, let my death be sweet.
“Since I have given you my soul, death can’t wound me with grieving’s dart.
I have laid your precious love to rest, deep within my woman’s heart.
But wound on wound is added when I realize that we must part.
1314 Weep not; mourn not for me, my own. Let not your love lamenting start.
“Go now, betake yourself to India – bring to my father aid.
He’s hemmed in by foes. Forces on all sides against him are arrayed.
Comfort him who is separated from me, with his heart dismayed.
1315 Think of me weeping for you still, with tears which down my cheeks cascade.
“I have complained enough about my Fate. Now I shall cease to sigh.
Your heart will share my just, sincere lament, the one you can’t deny.
For your sake, I’ll become the prey of ravens. For your sake, I’ll die.
1316 As long as I live, you’ll have reason for your pain, the tears you cry.
“Behold the token I have given you, taken from my own veil.
From one end I have cut you a strip, you whom I love without fail.
Let this remind you of the great hope with which we began our tale.
1317 The seven heavens turn their wrathful wheels on us and make us wail.”
When she had finished this letter written to the one she loved so,
She cut off a thick fringe from the veil given to her long ago.
She was bareheaded: thick, long locks of her hair down her back did go.
1318 Fanned by these raven wings, the scent of aloe through the room did blow.
That servant left and went to Gulansharo on well-traveled ways.
In one instant he reached Patman. He journeyed not so many days.
When this matter that was so dear to him was settled with a phrase,
1319 Avtandil gave thanks to God. Calmly, he did both his hands upraise.
Avtandil said to Patman: “The thing I wished for has now come true.
You have shown great zeal on my behalf: for that, I cannot pay you.
I’m leaving. I can’t tarry: it’s time to seek Tariel anew.
1320 I’ll lead him swiftly to Kadjeti: he’ll make them their actions rue.”
Patman said: “Lion, the hot fire now is hotter and burns bright.
My heart is darkened increasingly as it is deprived of light.
Go, this happens to the love-crazed: don’t let concerns for me ignite.
1321 Your task will be harder should the Kadjis arrive first, as they might.”
The knight called together all Pridon’s servants who attended him.
“Now are we brought back to life who were before this just corpses grim.
We’re renewed by hearing of something, the chances of which were slim.
1322 I shall show you our enemies stricken, wounded, torn limb from limb.
“Go and tell Pridon this unvarnished story, just as it was told.
I cannot see him. I must hurry. Already the day is old.
Let him strengthen his great voice in order to make it still more bold.
1323 Whatever treasure I take will be your booty to have and hold.
“You have done me loyal service: great is the debt upon me laid.
When I join Pridon again, I’ll see that debt of gratitude paid.
For now, take all the pirate booty I have, and by this be paid.
1324 I can give no more than this, so I shall seem stingy, I’m afraid.
“I have no home nearby, and as for gifts, I cannot give you more.”
He gave them an entire ship and precious jewelry by the score.
He said, “Go, take them away, travel the road you’ve traveled before.
1325 Give this letter from me to Pridon, who brotherhood to me swore.”
e wrote: “Exalted Pridon, most blest, king of kings of all our days.
Lion-like in bravery, oh sun, generously shedding rays,
Mighty, joyous, spiller of the blood of foes, worthy of our praise.
Your youngest brother, from afar, sends you a greeting to amaze.
“I’ve seen troubles, but I’ve received recompense for my pain and care.
The matter I have planned has turned out well, the answer to a prayer.
Of the true story of that face like a sun, I’ve become aware.
1327 The only one who can revive that lion buried in despair.
“And she is held captive in Kadjeti; their sovereign has that sun.
To go there seems to me sport, though the road through battle must be won.
From narcissus lids, crystal rain falls; down a rose face, the tears run.
1328 Countless is the host of Kadji guards, though they aren’t yet with that one.
“My tears will not flow in streams; I rejoice now and am glad of heart.
The difficult is easy when you and your brother play a part.
Whatever you desire, shall come to pass by your martial art.
1329 No man can stand against you; I think even rocks will fall apart.
“Now forgive me, I cannot come to you, I am too far away.
Knowing she is captive, I cannot linger on the road today.
Soon we shall come merrily together and rejoicing stay.
1330 Then come and help your brother as brothers do; what more can I say?
”Far beyond any reward has been the help of these slaves to me.
Loyally have they served me: your heart cannot help but joyful be.
But why should any be praised who has sojourned a long time with thee?
1331 Each creates his like, the sages like to say, and we must agree.”
He wrote out this letter, made sure it was carefully rolled and tied.
The violet-haired one to Pridon’s slaves his letter did confide;
And conveyed through them by word of mouth many courtesies beside.
1332 The coral doors opened and showed their pearls: his smile he did not hide.
Avtandil found a ship going to where Tariel could be found.
That moon-faced sun prepared well for the journey on which he was bound.
But to leave woeful Patman was for him an injury profound.
1333 Those who parted from him shed rivulets of blood upon the ground.
Patman, Usen and the slaves wept with hot tears when they said goodbye.
They said: “Oh sun, you burned us with scorching fires and made us cry.
You darken us with the gloom of your absence; you leave us to sigh.
1334 Bury us with your hands: your departure means that our death is nigh.”
AND MEETING WITH TARIEL
n a ship sailing the way he sought, Avtandil has crossed the sea.
Now he rides his horse; he is alone and yet he is full of glee.
To meet Tariel with tidings of his love makes him feel free.
With his heart he hopes in God, as happy as any man can be.
The summer had arrived; from the earth came forth grasses lush and green.
It was the time when roses burst into full bloom, fragrant and clean.
The sun had changed its chariot, moving to where Cancer was queen.
1336 The knight sighed to see the roses, for a long time by him unseen.
The sky thundered, the clouds rained their crystal dew till nothing was dry.
Avtandil kissed a rose with his rose-like lips and said with a sigh:
“I gaze on you and all the other roses with a loving eye;
1337 I rejoice in talking with you since Tinatin is not nearby.”
When he thought about Tariel, though, he let his bitter tears flow.
Many weary days and weary ways toward Tariel did he go.
Through strange, deserted, pathless regions he went: the going was slow.
1338 Lion and panther of reedy thickets, he with his sword laid low.
The caves came in sight. The knight recognized them and was very glad.
He said, “These are the rocks where my friend and I our tearful talks had.
I’ve earned the right to see him face to face, and to his knowledge add.
1339 If he’s not here, my long travail will have been in vain: I’ll be sad.
”If he’s here, he would not stay within, and have his sorrow increased.
He would go somewhere on the plains, he would roam the fields like a beast.
It’s better to brave the rushes, he thought; his indecision ceased.”
1340 Thus he said. Then he turned his horse and went towards the plains in the east.
He cantered along for a while and sang; his heart merry and high.
Then in a cheerful voice, to call out Tariel’s name did he try.
He went a little farther, and behold the splendid sun was nigh.
1341 At the edge of the rushes stands Tariel, with his sword not dry.
Tariel had slain a lion: its blood was on his blade so keen.
He stood at the edge of the rushes; his horse was not to be seen.
He heard Avtandil’s shout and came; and stood there with astonished mien.
1342 He saw Avtandil and bounded toward him, enthusiasm keen.
Tariel went to greet his brother, flinging his sword aside.
The knight seemed star-like and radiant next to the horse he did ride.
They kissed each other; to each other’s embraces did they confide.
1343 Sweet words came forth from their rosy lips: their pleasure they did not hide.
Tariel, weeping, uttered the kindest welcome that could be said.
The jet-black strands of his mustache, stained by his bloody tears, turned red.
The aloe tree stood and was soaked by the streams of tears he shed.
1344 “What sorrow can overwhelm me, now that your path to me has led?”
Tariel weeps and Avtandil was speaking to him without guile.
He opens his coral lips, his teeth flash; he says after a while.
“The tidings I’ve had of her recently will surely make you smile.
1345 Now the flower, the rose before faded, will revive and beguile.”
Tariel said: “Oh brother, what rejoices me today is you.
In your presence, I have seen all the joy which to me can accrue.
I don’t need other bliss. You try to comfort me with what’s not true.
1346 But a man finds in the world only what Heaven thinks is his due.”
Seeing Tariel was not convinced, Avtandil was ill at ease.
He could no longer delay telling the story he knew would please.
He drew forth the veil of her on whose lips roses bloom by degrees;
1347 Tariel recognized the veil and on it joyfully did seize.
He recognized the letter and the fringe of his beloved’s veil.
He pressed them to his face and he fell, a rose gone completely pale.
The eyelashes guarding his eyes closed, his spirits began to fail.
1348 Not Cain, nor Salaman could bear the torment that did him assail.
Avtandil gazes at Tariel, lying lifeless at his feet.
Avtandil tried to help him rise again, speaking words that were sweet.
But was of no avail to Tariel, consumed with firy heat;
1349 Happiness seemed to have made the destruction of his life complete.
Avtandil sat down to weep and with melodious voice to mourn.
He cuts off raven locks which previously did his head adorn.
He splits the ruby lips carved with the adamant blade he has worn.
1350 Streams of a coral hue issue from his eyes, whence they have been born.
Gazing at Tariel, he scratches his cheeks, and sees his blood flow.
“What neither the madman nor the fool has done, I have done, I know.
Why, in my haste, did I on a still raging fire, water throw?
1351 The heart cannot survive when you excessive joy on it bestow.
“What punishment do I amply deserve for having slain my friend?
I blame myself greatly for this deed not thought out until the end.
A thoughtless man will fail when he with difficulty must contend.
1352 It’s said: ‘Not in praised haste but in despised slowness your efforts spend.'”
Tariel lay unconscious, as if scorched and to the flat earth pressed.
Avtandil passed through rushes: getting his friend water was his quest.
He brought the lion’s blood to Tariel, his fire to divest.
1353 The lapis became ruby-hued when he sprinkled it on his breast.
Avtandil sprinkled his friend’s breast with the blood, hoping for a boon:
As if the ranks of India moved, Tariel started up soon.
He opened his eyes; he found the strength to sit up and did not swoon.
1354 His bluish tinge faded away, like the rays of a daylight moon.
Winter makes the roses fade, and after a while, their green leaves fall.
They’re burned by the ardor of the summer sun, and drought makes them stall.
But on them the nightingales with their lovely voices sing to all.
1355 Heat consumes, frost freezes them: in either case, they have wounds that gall.
Likewise, burdened by its many afflictions is the heart of man.
It is stricken both by grief and joy and everything in its span.
Man’s heart is never whole, its fortunes not perfect, as it began,
1356 Only he can trust to Fate who is his own foe, nothing less than.
Tariel gazes again on her words, that almost did him slay.
He reads, though the reading dazes him, makes him nearly pass away.
His tears blind him to the light, and dark indeed seems the beam of day.
1357 Avtandil rose and began to say sternly what he had to say.
He said: “Such behavior’s unworthy of a man, a learned one!
Why weep now? It behooves us to smile, and with weeping to have done.
Arise. Let us go quickly together in quest of that lost sun.
1358 I shall lead you at once to the place where she may again be won.
“With what joy befits us, let us then rejoice before any toil.
Then let us mount and set out, wending our way to Kadjeti soil.
With our swords as guides, we’ll leave their corpses behind us as a foil.
1359 We shall return unharmed, having reduced them to carrion spoil.”
Then Tariel asked him for tidings; unfainting, he sat up right.
He looked up, he raised his eyes: a bright light flashed black against the white.
As a ruby in the sun, his color was increasingly bright.
1360 Who is so worthy that the sun grants him its mercy, day and night?
To Avtandil he gave thanks and of his thinking did him apprise:
“How shall I speak your praises? You, so worthy of praise by the wise;
You water flowers of the plain, and your spring on high did arise.
1361 You have cut off the flow of the tears hitherto pooled in my eyes.
“I can’t make you a return: may the God of heaven repay you.
May He on High in my stead grant you all the reward you are due.”
They both mounted and went home, and they made a great rejoicing too.
1362 Now Life will satisfy Asmat, so long hungering, full of rue.
Dressed lightly, Asmat sat, feeling sadness or remorse.
She looked and saw Tariel and with him a knight on a white horse.
Both were sweetly singing like nightingales as they rode through the gorse.
1363 Right away she knew them; she rose, her hair uncombed, her garment coarse.
Hitherto, he’d come weeping, all his sorrows to the cave he’d bring.
Now she wondered to behold him laugh and to hear him loudly sing.
Her vision blurry, she arose, she was like a cloth fear did wring.
1364 She had not heard the news she longed for, had not heard the one great thing.
When they saw her, they laughed, their teeth were sparkling; they gave her a shout.
“Asmat! God’s mercy has come to us and surrounds us all about;
We have found the lost moon! What we desired is what we have got.
1365 Our sorrows have turned joy; the flames of our Fate have stopped being hot.”
Avtandil alighted from his horse, took Asmat in his embrace;
He thought to hug her like an aloe tree, but found a bough in its place.
She began shedding tears; and she kissed Avtandil’s neck and his face.
1366 “Say what you’ve learned. I’ve been crying, praying on your behalf for grace.”
Avtandil therewith gave to Asmat her beloved charge’s note.
To the aloe with the faded branch, he gave what the pale moon wrote.
“See the writing of she who has passed through torment, on whom we dote.
1367 The kind sun lets us get rid of the shadow, or make it remote.”
Asmat saw the letter, and at once recognized Nestan’s writing;
She felt uneasy, trembled as if she were a fever fighting.
From head to toe wonder seized her, overwhelmed her with inviting.
1368 She says: “What I’ve seen and heard, is it true as well as exciting?”
Avtandil said, “This story is completely true. Don’t be afraid.
All joy has been given to us, and all our grief has been unmade.
Darkness is no more dark for us; the sun has come and is displayed.
1369 Evil is defeated by Good. Good will forever be our aid.”
Tariel, King of India, told Asmat what there was to say.
They gladly embraced each other, and great joy made them weep that day.
Their raven-tailed eyelashes moist dew upon their rosy cheeks lay.
1370 God does not forsake the man who understands this as best he may.
They gave God great thanks and said: “Thou have to us what was best dispersed.
Now we realize your mouth wouldn’t have meted out to us the worst.”
The King of India joyously shouted this out, unrehearsed.
1371 Merrily they went in the cave; Asmat as a host was well-versed.
Tariel said. “I’ll tell you something. It’s not a tedious tale,
But a fast-paced narrative that will never your attention stale.
Since the time I slew droves of Devis, when they did me assail,
1372 All their precious treasury lies here, I can say that without fail.
“Never have I seen it, for I had no desire to do so.
Let us all three see now exactly how much treasure there is, though.”
It pleased them both; nor did Asmat stay seated and watch the men go.
1373 It was no struggle for them to break down forty doors in a row.
They found an unequalled treasure, unseen by human eyes at all.
There stood a pile of hand-worked jewelry, pieces both large and small.
They also saw a lot of pearls, many of them big as a ball.
1374 Who could make account of the numberless gold pieces in that hall!
Each of the rooms was full of things that seemed to have been stored with care.
There was an armory there of armor to make a foe despair.
All kinds of weapons were stored in cupboards like foodstuffs to prepare.
1375 They even found a coffer, sealed, unopened, in a cupboard there.
Upon the coffer was written: “Here lies armor wondrous to see:
A chain-mail helmet, a habergeon, a steel-cutting sword – these three;
If the Kadjis should attack the Devis, woe unto the Kadji:
1376 The king-slayer who opens this in the future will cursed be!”
They opened the coffer: they found three suits of armor to divide,
Armor fit for three warrior knights to don and to wear with pride.
There were coats of mail, swords and helmets, and similar greaves beside.
1377 As if they were shrines, they were wrapped in emerald nets, green and wide.
They tested armor on themselves, when each had in the armor dressed:
Chain helmet and habergeon nothing could damage in test after test;
The swords cut everything as though it were thread- iron and the rest.
1378 The armor was worth the world to them: they considered themselves blessed.
They said: “This is enough for us. We are in luck: this is a sign.
God looked down on us from above and made us part of his design.
They took that armor, whatever fit them, choosing the very fine
1379 As a present to bring Pridon, they bound one set with leather twine.
They took away with them some gold, and some rare pearls they did carry.
They went forth and sealed the rooms; forty treasuries did they bury.
Avtandil said: “Henceforth, I’ll take my sword in hand and be wary.
1380 Nowhere shall I go tonight, but when day dawns I shall not tarry.”
hen day dawned, Avtandil and Tariel went out; Asmat went too.
Until Nuradin’s land, she rode behind one as she had to do.
They gave a merchant gold and thus a horse for Asmat did accrue.
For a guide, they needed only Avtandil; he would see them through.
After they had traveled a while, with Nuradin’s herdsmen they met.
The great horses were such as only a man like Pridon would get.
Tariel said, “I know a way to fool Pridon, and make him fret.
1382 Come, let’s play a joke. Let’s chase his herd and pretend to be a threat.
“We’ll make off with the herd as though we were a pair of common thieves
He’ll prepare for battle and bloodshed because of what he believes.
Suddenly he’ll recognize us and know with joy he misconceives.
1383 Good joking is a delight; even the merriest it relieves.”
They chose Pridon’s finest; they began then to seize steed after steed.
The men made a great signal fire for someone far off to read.
They shouted: “Who are you, knights, why are you doing this shameful deed?
1384 The herd will be his who strikes the foe with his sword and makes him bleed.”
Avtandil and Tariel pursued the herdsmen, each with his bow.
The herdsman shrieked aloud, they raised their voices and called to and fro:
“Help us, help us! We’re being massacred by a terrible foe!”
1385 Alarm spread: servants ran to Pridon and told him what he should know.
Pridon put on his armor and rode forth in full knightly array.
The outcry was heard: Pridon’s regiments covered the fields that day.
Those suns whom winter could never freeze came forward as if to slay.
1386 Helmets hid their faces: their clothing did not give the men away.
When he saw Pridon, Tariel said: “I’ve seen whom I wished to see.”
Then raising his visor, he smiled broadly and his laughter rang free.
He said to Pridon: “What do you want? Did our coming annoy thee?
1387 Bad host! To meet in a warring mood those with whom you should agree.”
Pridon dismounted, and got down on one knee so respect was shown.
They dismounted too: they embraced and kissed him as one of their own.
Pridon with upraised hand gave measureless thanks to God on his throne.
1388 They were kissed by the other nobles, whom they’d previously known.
Pridon said: “What delayed you? I thought you would be here before now.
I am ready; my promise to serve you I shall not disallow.”
It seemed as if two suns and a moon were united there somehow.
1389 They beautified each other. They departed to fulfill their vow.
They alighted at Pridon’s palace – which was lovely to behold.
And Pridon sat beside Avtandil his sworn brother, brave and bold.
Tariel sat on a seat covered in cloth embroidered with gold.
1390 To Pridon the hero, they gave the armor they’d found in the hold.
They told him: “At this time we have no other gifts except this one.
But we have many other fair things to give you when we are done.”
He bowed to the ground immediately; their praise he did not shun.
1391 “You have given me a worthy gift, a gift that’s second to none.”
That night in Pridon’s palace, Avtandil and Tariel found rest.
He took them to bathe; with gifts of clothing, his friendship he expressed.
He clad them with fair and fairer garments, each better than the best.
1392 He gave rare jewels and pearls on a golden plate to each honored guest.
He said, “What I’ll say now will sound like the speech of a host who’s bad;
It’s as if hospitality has wearied me, driven me mad.
But traveling the long road, as soon as we can, would make me glad.
1393 If the Kadjis return before we get there, trouble will be had.
“Why should we use a great army? A few good men is all we need.
Three hundred soldiers are enough; let’s go stealthily and with speed.
We’ll fight Kadjis in Kadjeti; with hilts on our swords, we’ll proceed.
1394 Soon we’ll find her of the aloe form, and then from torment be freed.
“Once, I was in Kadjeti: I found it, as you shall find it, strong,
Surrounded by cliffs; for a large force to assail it would be wrong.
We must go in furtively; we cannot engage them as a throng.
1395 We need no army – a squadron in such action does not belong.”
Avtandil and Tariel agreed with the plan Pridon preferred.
They left Asmat behind them and Pridon a gift on her conferred.
With them three hundred horsemen equal to heroes their horses spurred.
1396 God will give the victory to all who have suffered, as the last word.
Then they crossed over the water, the steadfast brotherhood, all three.
Pridon knew the way: day and night they went, as quickly as might be.
Pridon said: “We’re close. We’re now in the Kadjeti vicinity.
1397 Henceforth, we’ll travel just by night, so we’ll be difficult to see.”
The three did exactly as Pridon advised, trusting it was right.
They stopped at dawn, and went swiftly onward as soon as it was night.
They approached the city of numberless guards: moonlight made it bright.
1398 The sentinels’ calls increased; outside, they saw a cliff of great height.
At the gate of the passage, ten thousand soldiers stood in array.
Those lions saw the city: the shining moon made it bright as day.
They said: “To pause before a difficult choice, even heroes may.
1399 A hundred can overcome a thousand if they choose the best way.”
ridon said: “I don’t think I’m at fault for speaking a word to you:
The city is only expugnable by many; we are few.
Let us not boast: we lack strength; any direct attack we will rue.
We can’t win if they shut the gate against us as they’re sure to do.
“Tutors instructed me in how to walk a rope when I was small.
They taught me their tricks, they made me leap, they trained me how not to fall.
I could run across a rope so eyes couldn’t follow me at all.
1401 Other little boys wanted to do what I did: they were in thrall.
“Now, whoever of you knows best how to cast a noose that’s been tied?
Let him throw the end of a long rope and snag that tower we have eyed.
Walking across it will be for me like crossing a field that’s wide.
1402 I’ll make it difficult for you to find a healthy man inside.
“To me it seems like nothing to cross in armor, bearing a shield.
Nimbly shall I leap down inside, strike like the wind strikes a field.
I will slay the soldiers, open the gate; then to you, they will yield.
1403 You come when and wherever you hear the alarm bell being pealed.”
M vtandil said, “Oh, Pridon! Friends cannot but hold you very dear.
|p|« You have hope in your lion-like arms; wounds don’t trouble you, that’s clear.
%¥ I You suggest hard counsel to make our foes cry out in pain and fear;
But the guards are stationed very close to each other, can’t you hear?
“When you go over, the guards will hear your armor’s clattering sound.
They’ll see you, be assured, and cut the rope; you’ll fall to the ground.
Everything will turn out ill if we follow the plan you expound.
That plan is of no value to us; let some other way be found.
“This is better: you stay hidden in the deepest part of the shade.
These men won’t arrest a traveler coming into the town to trade.
I’ll dress as a merchant; my treachery will leave them unafraid.
1406 My mule will carry helmet, hauberk, sword hidden among my trade.
“There is a great risk they would discover us, should we all three go.
I shall go alone as a merchant blending in so no one will know.
I’ll deceive them; secretly I’ll don my armor and death bestow.
1407 God grant that by this means, streams of their blood will generously flow!
“Without any trouble, I’ll remove the inside guards to a man.
You will strike outside the gate, all of you heroes as best you can.
I’ll open the gate. If one of you thinks of something better than
1408 This, say so, but none will withstand my blows, so I am for this plan.”
ariel said, “More than in heroes, courage does in you abide.
Your counsel clearly mirrors the stout-heartedness you have inside.
You want to fight, not vainly brandish your swords, that can’t be denied.
When the battle is fierce, you are the men one would want at his side.
“But hear my thoughts as well as your own; let me advise you or try.
She who has maddened me will hear, and like the sun, rise in the sky.
You will have a fierce fight, but she will see me standing idly by!
1410 This will be shameful for me – no, do not flatter me now, or lie!
“Better than any previous counsel is to do as I say:
Let us divide the men by hundreds and as soon as night turns day,
Let’s start from different places, urging our horses as we may.
1411 They’ll meet us, think us too few, but our powerful swords will hold sway.
“Swiftly, we’ll engage and surround them, so they cannot shut the gate.
One will enter; the two will strike those outside at a fearful rate.
The one inside will fall on those within: their bloodshed will be great.
1412 Let’s lay hold of the arms mightily used by us without debate.”
Pridon said: “I understand what’s on your mind at this time of need.
None could forestall at the gates that one who was once my noble steed.
I didn’t think of Kadjis in Kadjeti when I did that deed.
1413 Otherwise, I wouldn’t have given it to you, such is my greed.”
Pridon, very generous, with such discourse made many a jest:
They laugh: all of them are eloquent and wise; their speech is the best.
They joke with one another; with merriment that moment was blessed.
1414 They dismount and array themselves, remounting when suitably dressed.
Again they interchanged words, words pleasing to the ear and not tart.
They resolved to follow the plan Tariel proposed at the start.
They divided the men among them, each with a heroic heart.
1415 They mounted their horses and raised their helmets, ready to depart.
I would say those heroes were shining with light to excel the sun;
Safeguarded by seven planets, a pillar of light for each one.
Slender Tariel sat on his black horse, hero second to none.
1416 Their foes melted in fighting as their gazing admirers had done.
I will equal their image and their likeness with the words I say:
When streams rush down from mountains, because clouds of rain have given way.
Water rages through gorges; the loud uproar is heard far away;
1417 But the water becomes calm when it reaches the sea in the bay.
Pridon and Avtandil are men of unrivalled valor and might,
Yet nobody desires to fight Tariel, the greatest knight.
The sun overshadows planets and the Pleiades with its light.
1418 Now pay heed, listener: you shall hear the story of a fierce fight.
To attack the gates, their force was divided into three parts then.
Each had with him one hundred soldiers, and all were heroic men.
During the night, they made a faultless, swift reconnaissance again.
1419 Day dawned and they set forth with helmets ready from their hidden glen.
First they went unhurriedly as if they were travelers who fared;
Those inside did not suspect them; they were not alert or prepared;
They approached the gate without fear in their hearts; none of them was scared.
1420 At the right time they put on their helmets: nobody’s head was bared.
Suddenly they spurred their horses, whips whistled in the morning air.
They reached the gate and opened it; tumult came from the city square.
The three went in different directions, not fearing the danger there.
1421 The fifes resounded, as did the drums, and they made the trumpets blare.
The measureless wrath of God struck Kadjeti on that fateful day.
Kronos, in anger, cast off the sweet shield of the sun and held sway.
To the Kadjis the wheel and circle of heaven turned the wrong way.
1422 The army of the dead grew large; so many Kadjis did they slay.
Before he slashed them, the sound of Tariel’s voice made his foes fail.
He rent their armor; he brought to nothing the strength of their chainmail.
They cut down the gates on three sides; they found them easy to assail.
1423 When they entered the city, they rushed swiftly to the tower jail.
Avtandil and the lion Pridon met inside, and knew no woe.
They had wholly destroyed the enemy, whose blood in streams did flow.
They shouted when they saw each other and their joyfulness did show.
1424 Then looking around for their friend, they said: “Where did Tariel go?”
Nobody knew the whereabouts of Tariel, their stalwart friend.
They went to the castle gate; their concern for the foe at an end.
They saw piles of armor, shattered swords, too many to comprehend.
1425 Ten thousand guards lay lifeless as dust, with nothing more to defend.
All the castle guard lay like so many sick men, utterly spent.
Every one wounded from head to foot, all of their armor was rent.
The castle gates were open; the fragments of the gates had been bent.
1426 One said “This is Tariel’s doing.” There was general assent.
They found the entrance empty; they crept up the passage, every one;
They saw that the moon had been freed from the serpent to meet the sun.
He’d taken off his helmet and his lustrous hair had come undone.
1427 His breast and hers were riveted; his neck to her neck had been spun.
Nestan and Tariel embraced each other; they kissed and shed tears;
As Jupiter and Saturn were united: these two were their peers.
When the sun encircles the rose, they sparkle; darkness disappears.
1428 They now rejoiced together, having endured deep grieving and fears.
They kissed each other; they stood neck-welded, as lovers like to do.
The roses of their opened lips stuck together as if with glue.
Now Avtandil and Pridon came forth, Tariel’s sworn brothers two.
1429 They both greeted Nestan the sun and as they were called, came into view.
That sun met Tariel’s sworn brothers with a lovely, laughing face.
The happy maiden kissed her helpers with a gentle mien and grace,
And with dainty words, humbly thanked each of them in his proper place.
1430 Both Avtandil and Pridon talked with her at a decorous pace.
They greeted Tariel too, that aloe sapling, that slender tree.
They praised his victory, they asked how each other was; they made free.
Their armor hadn’t failed; none had wounds; they’d naught to regret, those three.
1431 They fought like lions against goats; what other result could there be?
Of three hundred men, one hundred and sixty were still at their side.
Pridon grieved for the fallen, but rejoiced for the others with pride.
They found and they killed what foes were left, even those who sought to hide.
1432 What booty they found! With measureless treasures they were now supplied.
They collected many mules and camels, the swiftest they could find.
They loaded three thousand with lustrous pearls and gems of every kind.
Every gem was cut: jacinths and rubies were beautifully designed.
1433 They placed that sun in a palanquin: precautions were on their mind.
At the castle of Kadjeti, they left sixty soldiers on guard.
They led away that sun – all ways to kidnap her again were barred.
They set out for the City of the Sea: long was the way and hard.
1434 They said: “We can’t pay back Patman but we must show her our regard.”
TARIELS VISIT TO
THE KING OF THE SEAS
ariel sent the King of the Seas a messenger with good news.
He bade him announce: “I, Tariel, vanquisher of foes, from whose
City I bring my sun, who shoots me with arrows she will choose.
I desire to honor you as a father; this is no ruse.
“I have taken the land of the Kadjis; I did their treasures drain.
The good that’s happened is thanks to you, oh king both sage and humane.
Patman was like mother and sister to my sun, in your domain.
1436 What can I give you in return? My promises are never vain.
“I ask that you come and see us before we have passed through your land.
I present to you outright the Kadjis kingdom I have unmanned.
Let your men be posted there, hold it strongly under your command.
1437 I’m in haste; I cannot come to you; come, let me greet you first hand.
“On my behalf, sire, tell Usen, Patman’s husband, to send her here
The sight of Patman will please the one she has rescued and holds dear.
Whom else can Patman desire to see more than who’s near,
1438 Who is brighter than the sun, as fine crystal than tar is more sheer?”
When Tariel’s man reached the King who was the ruler of the Seas –
The human heart is by nature excited by tidings like these –
The King gave thanks and glory to God the Just Judge who oversees.
1439 Then straightaway he mounted; this message was sufficient to please.
He had a load prepared, to make sure their wedding was rightly done.
There was jet in the cargo, but more precious stones he did not shun.
The king then made a ten days’ journey with Patman, the esteemed one.
1440 He rejoices, looking forward to seeing the lion and sun.
They went to meet him, leaving behind troops and what they had to bring.
After they dismounted, Tariel went and humbly kissed the great King.
Tariel gave a thousand thanks, and they all his praises did sing.
1441 The King was more enchanted by the maiden than by anything.
Patman burned with slow fire until she could Nestan again meet.
She embraced her, covered with kisses her neck, her hands, face and feet.
She said, “Oh, God, how can I serve Thee? My darkness You did defeat.
1442 I see that evil is weak; Your goodness everlasting, complete.”
The maiden embraced Patman: she speaks sweetly to her from the start:
“God, as you see, has resurrected my broken and bitter heart.
Now I am as full as before I had waned to the smallest part.
1443 The sun bathed me in his light, and I was made to bloom by his art.”
The King of the Seas arranged for the knight a wedding that was great:
To thank him for Kadjeti, seven days he had them celebrate.
While he dispensed the treasure he had loaded, all his gifts of state.
1444 The scattered gold coins they trampled rang like bells under their great weight.
He went to where there stood a heap of silk, of satin and brocade.
He took from thence a priceless crown: on Tariel’s head it was laid.
It was of a yellow jacinth of exceeding purity made.
1445 Likewise a throne of purest refined gold, who knows how much it weighed.
Nestan-Daredjan, a jewel-encrusted mantle from him did get
Whereon matchless red rubies, jacinth and garnets had all been set.
The maid and her knight sat, their faces flashed lightning as when they met;
1446 And whoever watched that wedded pair was with new fire beset.
He also gave Avtandil and Pridon measureless gifts that day.
Each received an excellent horse presented in superb array:
A saddle and a jeweled coat over whose colors light did play.
1447 “What thanks can we give you? May you prosper!” the two men humbly say.
Speaking with fair words, Tariel also expressed his gratitude:
“Greatly was I pleased to see you, a king with modesty imbued.
Thank you giving us so many gifts, which I myself have viewed.
1448 I know we did right not to pass by without having you pursued.”
The King of the Seas says: “Oh king, oh lion, outstandingly brave,
You’re the life of those near you; those far away, a glimpse of you crave.
What can I give you, so fair, who already the greatest gift gave?
1449 When you leave, the light of my eyes will grow dark, as if in a cave!”
Tariel said to Patman: “I consider you my sister now.
Sister, your generosity puts me in your debt, I allow!
With whatever treasure I have brought, let me you endow.
1450 Take it, please; I am not selling but giving it to you, I vow.”
Patman Khatun offered exceeding great thanks and then she bowed low:
“King, leaving you is like an unquenchable fire: I burn so!
I shall be completely despondent from the moment you go.
1451 Oh, blessed are those near you; those that can’t see you are full of woe.”
The King of the Seas was addressed by the two radiating light;
Their lips were as mother-of-pearl, and their teeth were crystalline bright.
“When we leave, we’ll put our merry-making harps and drums out of sight,
1452 But we’re in haste; give us leave to depart before another night.
“We ask you now our parent and our father and our hope to be!
Indeed, the one thing we beseech of you: a ship to cross the sea!”
The king said “I would not hesitate to be in the grave for thee.
1453 Go! Strength be your guide! You say you’re in haste: I must quickly agree!”
i 309 V
The King of the Seas thereupon fitted out a ship on the shore.
Tariel set out and all those who were parted cried even more.
They beat their heads in their grief, and both their beards and their hair they tore.
1454 Patman’s flowing tears swelled even the sea, such was the grief she bore.
Then the brotherhood of three across the sea together was borne.
Again they confirmed with their words what they had previously sworn.
With masterful singing and manly laughter, the hours were worn.
1455 Their lips with rays of light the rows of crystalline teeth did adorn.
Thence they sent a messenger to Asmat to bring her the good news
And to Pridon’s chiefs, experienced fighters, men of warlike views:
“He comes lofty as the sun, lighting up the planets he will choose:
1456 We who were miserable, he will now with joyfulness transfuse.”
They sat that sun in a palanquin, made their way along the coast.
They sported like children; woe had passed away, bringing joy to most.
Finally, they came to the land that could the hero Nuradin boast.
1457 They were expected: from afar, the sound of singing reached the host.
There all of Pridon’s nobles met them; he was to his court restored.
Asmat’s joy made wounds disappear, deeper than those caused by a sword.
She embraced Nestan: axes to sever them would have been ignored.
1458 It was, for all her faithful services, the ultimate reward.
Nestan-Daredjan also hugged Asmat, kissed with her lips her face.
She said, “Dear one, alas! Because of me, you’ve been in grief’s embrace.
I acknowledge God’s boundless generosity; he grants us grace.
1459 How can I repay so great a heart after all that’s taken place?”
Asmat replied: “Thanks be to God, I have seen the roses unfreeze.
And the unspoken truth of things is what my mind finally sees.
I behold you full of joy, and death itself seems something to please.”
1460 Master and servant: better than friendship is the love between these.
The nobles do homage; they express the great gratitude they feel:
“No longer does fire burn us; you are here, your victories real.
God has caused us to rejoice! We bless His divinity with zeal;
1461 He inflicted the wound, and He alone has the power to heal.”
They came and put their lips to Tariel’s hand, giving him a kiss.
He said: “For our sake, your brethren sacrificed themselves. We know this.
They’ve obtained that which is not just a dream for them: eternal bliss.
1462 Glory increased, they now commune with the One: nothing is amiss.”
He said, “Though their death is sore to me and grievous in the extreme,
Yet for such as these we know, immortality is not a dream.”
Thus he said, and wept; tears went over his snowy cheeks in a stream.
1463 North winds freeze narcissus; roses shrivel in January’s gleam.
Then everybody there wept to see Tariel the king crying
Whoever had lost kinsmen in the battle wept for their dying.
Then they quieted and said “You are like the sun in its flying.
1464 Those who look at you should sing, not give themselves to tears and sighing.
“All your great weeping and sorrow, no ordinary man is worth.
Death suffered for your sake is far better than walking on the earth!”
Then Pridon said to the king: “Don’t give to your grieving any berth.
1465 May God bestow you in return a thousand times of joy and mirth.”
Avtandil also commiserated; he spoke with sorrow now.
They rendered praise and said: “Let us yield ourselves to smiling somehow;
The grieving lion has found the sun who disappeared: let us bow
1466 To grief no longer, no longer will tears down our cheeks furrows plow.”
They went to where the city of Mulghazanzar was located.
They played trumpets and drums; loud greetings and shouts were not abated.
The sounds of tympani and tambourine were evenly plaited;
1467 The townspeople left the bazaar to crowd around them, elated.
Merchants came from their rows; everywhere there was an onlooking crowd.
The armed guards kept space around them: pressing in close was not allowed.
Families came pushing in, troubling the guards, but each avowed.
1468 They just wanted to see the new arrivals, so happy and proud.
They alighted at Pridon’s beautiful palace, their trip complete.
Many golden-girdled slaves did the travelers graciously meet.
With a solid carpet of golden brocade did they their guests greet;
1469 Over their heads, they threw coins: the crowd picked up the gold at their feet.
THE WEDDING OF TARIEL
HELD BY PRIDON
ridon had for the maid and youth a platform made, coral and white,
Prettily sprinkled with crimson and yellow gems, sparkling bright.
For Avtandil, they had a seat, part yellow and part black as night.
They sat: the spectators crowded in to be as close as they might.
The minstrels came forth and the sound of their singing was pure and sweet.
Tariel and Nestan were married and the two were in receipt
Of silk, fur – gifts from their host, the most generous man one could meet.
Nestan’s smile, revealing her lovely teeth, made the evening complete.
The servants brought out amazing gifts from Pridon, who was not poor.
Nine pearls he gave them – each as big as a goose’s egg, if not more.
Also one gem like the noon sun when its full light does downward pour.
1472 An icon painter could have painted by its light, everyone swore.
Likewise he presented to each a beautiful necklace, a strand
Made of a whole jacinth cut into beads, then strung into a band.
They also gave a large tray difficult to hold, it was so grand
1473 To the lion Avtandil: Pridon gave generously, offhand.
It was studded with large and lustrous pearls, that magnificent tray
He gave it to Avtandil, and had no insincere words to say.
The house was filled with rich brocade and soft clothes of golden lame
1474 Tariel the proud one expressed thanks in sweet words without delay.
For eight days, Pridon with endless wedding festivities expressed
His friendship. Every day he gave priceless presents to each dear guest.
For eight days and nights, the lute and the harp received almost no rest;
1475 A worthy youth, a worthy maiden, have with each other been blessed.
One day Tariel spoke to Pridon these words from deep in his heart:
“You have been like a real, born brother to me from the very start.
My life would not be fulfilled, nor my soul, if you’d not played a part.
1476 I found in you the balm for a deep wound that did grievously smart.
“1 am sure you know of Avtandil’s selfless service for my sake.
I desire to serve him in return, but his need is opaque.
Go and ask what he wants; he’ll tell you if you an inquiry make.
1477 As he has quenched my furnace, now in his service, I will partake.
“Say from me: ‘Brother, who’ll repay you for the service you’ve showed?
God’s grace, designed by Him on high, on such as you will be bestowed.
If I’m not capable of fulfilling your wish, lightening your load,
1478 I will never again see my house, nor dwelling place, nor abode.’
“Let him say what he wants, how I can repay the kindness he’s shown.
Let’s go to Arabia; be you my guide to this land you’ve known.
Let’s foster sweetness with words and with our swords enmity disown.
1479 I will unite him with his wife, or I’ll be no husband to my own.”
When Pridon told Avtandil the message Tariel sent that night,
He smiled and laughed heartily; his face was lit up with his delight.
He said, “Why would I need helpers? I have no wound, no need to fight.
1480 No lack of joy afflicts my sun; Kadjis don’t keep her from my sight.
“My sun sits upon a throne, powerful according to God’s will.
Respected, honored, proud, harmed by no one, she does her role fulfill.
She’s untroubled by wizards, does not need any Kadjis to kill.
1481 Why should I want help? Why do you suspect I require your skill?
”When Providence comes for me, and by heavenly forces I’m wrenched,
When God decides it is time, the fires of my heart will be quenched.
Then I, a mortal, in the radiance of the sun will be drenched.
1482 Until then, running here and there is vain, and I will stay entrenched.
“Go now and give to Tariel the king the answer he is due:
‘You have great compassion, oh king, but I do not my service rue.
Even from my mother’s womb, I was born to be part of your crew.
1483 As long as you’re a great king, let me be the earth supporting you.’
“You have said: ‘I want to see you and your beloved united’-
Words from a compassionate heart in whom I’ve always delighted.
In this matter, though, neither my sword nor my words have been blighted.
1484 It’s best for me to await the deed of Providence, far-sighted.
“This is the total of my wish, and the sum of my desire –
That I see you supreme in India – on the throne, none higher.
The heavenly light sitting by you, radiant of face, sire,
1485 That your foes are vanquished, that none against you think to conspire.
“When these desires of my heart have been fulfilled and not before,
Then shall I go to Arabia and serve that sun I adore.
And whenever she wills, she shall quench the fires that in me roar.
1486 That’s all I wish from you. You know flattery’s something I abhor.”
When Pridon to King Tariel these words of the knight reported,
He said, ‘It needs no wizard to know my words are not distorted.
But as he found the source of my life, my search having been thwarted,
1487 He too shall come to value a brother by whom he’s supported.
“Go. Speak on my behalf words not flattery but direct and straight.
I need to see your mentor, King Rostevan; I’ll no longer wait.
I suspect I killed many he loved and thus may have earned his hate.
1488 I’ll go to him and beg his forgiveness; I’ll return here not late.
”Speak thusly: ‘Send me no more messages. My mind has been made tough.
Tomorrow I will set out; of the word “if” I have had enough.
The King of the Arabs will not meet my entreaties with rebuff.
1489 I shall beg his daughter for you; I’ll persuade him though he be gruff.”
Pridon gave Avtandil the message Tariel had spoken plain:
“He will not stay, so for you to speak to him of waiting is vain.”
The news oppressed the knight: again, smoke and glow burned his heart and brain.
1490 Thus respect is due to kings, and knights true devotion should attain.
Avtandil then went to beseech King Tariel on bended knee;
He embraced and kissed his feet; no longer higher would his eyes see.
He says: “What I’ve done to Rostevan this year’s enough. Let it be.
1491 Make me not again a breaker, a shatterer of loyalty.
“What you have said you desire, God’s justice will never allow.
How can I treat treacherously the sovereign before whom I bow?
How can I do aught against him who’s pale with worry for me now?
1492 How can a worthy servant raise his sword against his master? How?
“Such an act will cause discord between me and my beloved one.
Woe is me if she gets angry, and allows wrath her heart to run.
She’ll deprive me of news; make me languish for a glimpse of the sun.
1493 Then which mortal man, which man of flesh can make her forgive me? None.”
Tariel, that radiant sun, spoke laughingly to the good knight.
He took him by his hand, raised him up, set him on his feet aright.
“Your loyal support has done me every possible good it might;
1494 It is better now that you find my support joyful in your sight.
“I dislike timidity and submission in a friendly mind.
I hate as well gloominess and arrogance: leave them both behind!
If one is my friend, he’ll make it easy for me his heart to find.
1495 If not, I’ll have myself; he’ll have himself and to my needs be blind.
”I know the heart of your beloved to you continues to cling.
The visit of me, someone you’ve befriended, will joy to her bring.
Why would I speak impolitely? I have in my mind no such thing.
1496 I only desire to respect Rostevan, the most noble king.
“Speaking to him, respectfully entreating, 1 will only say
That he should give you his daughter of his own free will if he may:
Since you wish union with her, how can you endure another day?
1497 I want you to make each other happy, not simply fade away.”
When Tariel to Avtandil his determination did show,
Avtandil stopped his disputing and his agreement did bestow.
Pridon selected a convoy: the best knights anyone could know.
1498 Then the three set out, travelling together as not long ago.
THE THREE KNIGHTS
G o TO THE CAVE
AND THEN TO ARABIA
his hidden truth was revealed to us by Dionysus, the wise:
God creates only good; He lets no evil in the world arise.
He makes the good unending; the bad, a momentary surprise.
His creation He makes perfect; He makes sure it never dies.
Those three lions, those suns, set out from Pridon’s hospitable land.
They lead with them the sun-faced maiden that beholders find so grand.
Her raven-dark hair across the edges of her crystal cheeks fanned,
1500 Her ruby lips brightened as tenderly she her surroundings scanned.
The sun sat in a palanquin that they on strong shoulders did raise.
They followed chasing game: they made blood flow for a number of days
Whenever they came to a land, they met the natives’ joyful gaze.
1501 The inhabitants met them, gave them gifts, extended to them praise.
The sun seemed to sit in the sky between moons: it did not vary.
For many days, sagely discoursing, they journeyed and were merry.
They traversed a vast area untrodden by men, the prairie.
1502 Till they reached that rocky place where Tariel so long did tarry.
Tariel said: “It is seemly that I should be your host this day.
I’ll enter the cave where, when madness afflicted me, I did stay.
There Asmat will entertain us, bringing us smoked meat on a tray.
1503 You’ll like the rich bounty I’ll present you with: let none say neigh.”
J 318 v
They entered the cave of great rocks where the king and the knight did meet.
Asmat had prepared venison; she carved it for the guests to eat.
They were merry; they joked at past deeds, at their enemies’ defeat.
1504 They thanked God that he had turned their days of woe into joy complete.
They explored many other caves and marveled at what they revealed.
They found those great treasures that Tariel had so long ago sealed.
Uncounted by any, imagined by none, before him concealed.
1505 They didn’t say “We don’t have this”; to envy their hearts didn’t yield.
He gave many gifts, to each one what was fitting and what was fair.
He gave Pridon’s people gifts – every soldier and general there.
All who came with them were enriched and still there was treasure to spare:
1506 So much treasure remained, it seemed untouched: riches beyond compare.
Tariel said to Pridon: “It’s hard to pay you the debt I owe,
But it’s said, ‘In the end, a good man will pay his debt,’ as you know.
May all this treasure, as much as lies here, if it should please you so –
1507 Let it all be yours, it belongs to you now; take it when you go.”
Pridon humbly did homage; he expressed exceeding gratitude:
“Oh king, you must think me short-sighted, with blurry vision, or rude.
Even enemies hard as wood are like straw when by you pursued.
1508 My joy will end when what I see does not a glimpse of you include.”
Pridon sent some of his company back home to bring camels soon
To take back to his palace Tariel’s extraordinary boon.
The brotherhood set out on the road to Arabia at noon.
1509 Avtandil’s wish to gaze on the sun made him a diminished moon.
Days passed: finally the hinterlands of Arabia could be seen.
They passed many villages, frequently with fortresses between.
The people were clothed in mourning attire: dark blue and dark green.
1510 They were all bathed in tears for Avtandil, whose death had been foreseen.
Tariel sent a man on his behalf to Rostevan, the king:
“1 venture to approach you, because of the good tidings I bring.
I, King of India, come to your court, someone’s praises to sing.
1511 I’ll show you an unfaded rosebud, unplucked, without thorns to sting.
“In the past, you got angry seeing me here, where I don’t belong.
You tried to capture me, to urge horses against me – that was wrong.
I too showed your men anger when they surrounded me in a throng.
1512 I massacred your slaves: your affection for them might have been strong.
“Now therefore I have gone out of my way to come before you twice.
Forgive me for sins against you; let your previous wrath suffice.
Pridon and his knights can confirm, I bring just one gift that is nice:
1513 I bring you your knight Avtandil, whose worth is beyond any price.”
These good tidings came to the king at the royal gathering place.
The people rejoiced to such an extent, the tongue cannot keep pace.
The brilliancy of rays was swiftly added to Tinatin’s face.
1514 The shadow of eyebrows and lashes makes fairer her blushing grace.
Peals of joyous laughter rang; they beat the drums at furious speed.
Soldiers ran hither and thither, each wanting to be in the lead.
They brought out all the good saddles and they bridled every steed.
1515 A multitude of knights mounted, wanting to celebrate the deed.
The king, princes, and soldiers all wanted to meet him – anyone would.
Hearing of the knight’s return, they wanted to greet him if they could.
All give thanks to God, and all raise their voices in prayer as they should:
1516 “Oh Lord, You rescind evil – Your deeds are merciful, kind and good.”
When the guests and those meeting them let their enthusiasm wane.
Avtandil said to Tariel, his voice trembling as if in pain,
“Behold, do you see the cloud of dust rolling over the wide plain?
1517 Therefore flames are consuming me; my heart is feverish with strain.
”That’s my sovereign, King Rostevan: meeting you is his single aim.
I cannot go thither. I am embarrassed; my heart is aflame.
No living man has ever felt as I do; I’m trembling with shame.
1518 You know what you intend: let Pridon go with you; he’s without blame.”
Tariel said: “You’re right to show respect to your lord in this way.
Come not thither then at this time, but here alone without me stay.
I will go; I will tell the king why you are in hiding today.
1519 With God’s help, I shall soon unite you to your sun, or so I pray.”
The lion knight tarried behind; he put up a tent for shade.
Nestan-Daredjan, the bewitcher of beholders, also stayed.
The zephyr of her lashes like a south wind over her face played.
1520 The King of the Indias rode off proudly; he was not dismayed.
Pridon went with him: they quickly crossed the field and came into sight.
The king recognized Tariel: his tall figure swaying upright.
To pay homage to the bold one, the king from his horse did alight.
1521 Though elder, he bowed to Tariel as a son to father might.
Tariel too did homage; he came and kissed the king in greeting.
The king kissed Tariel’s neck: he was his lips to pleasure treating.
In amazement he speaks to Tariel, made proud by the meeting.
1522 “Sun, separation from you turns day to night, the light defeating.”
The king was amazed by Tariel’s beauty and his manly form.
He gazed at his face; the praise he gave Tariel’s strong arms was warm.
Then Pridon too greeted him and did homage as was the norm.
1523 Then a fierce longing to see Avtandil hit the king like a storm.
The king recalled Avtandil, was sad he’d given Tariel praise.
Tariel says: “Oh king, hereby you may my heart decide to raze.
I marvel you can admire the way I chance to shape a phrase:
1524 After your Avtandil, how can any other set your heart ablaze?
”Do not wonder at not beholding him, or not finding him near!
Come, let us sit, oh king; pleasant is this meadow, this verdant sphere.
I will venture to tell you the reason I could not bring him here;
1525 I’ve something to ask, and I need your pardon beforehand, I fear.”
The kings sat; the host gathered around, silent but not uncaring.
A smile brighter than a lamp Tariel with the king was sharing.
The sight delights the beholders of his gestures and his bearing.
1526 He began to speak to the king – with judicious words declaring:
“Oh king, I consider myself unworthy to tell you this tale,
But I have come before you to entreat, to beg you without fail.
He himself beseeches who emits rays to make the sun seem pale.
1527 He, who brought me light, is my light, the reason I no longer ail.
“Now we both venture to approach you with entreaties and prayer;
Avtandil gave me balm befitting him, a salve that was rare.
He forgot woes equal to ours burdened him with sorrow and care.
1528 It is not the time for a long story; I will your patience spare.
“Your knight Avtandil loves Tinatin, and he is loved by the maid.
They’re heartbroken with sorrow, tearful and wan with care, I’m afraid.
Let them not be consumed by flame, let not their rosy colors fade.
1529 Give your daughter to the strong, stout-hearted one who the course has stayed.
This is the only thing I ask of you – only this, nothing less, nothing more.”
Then he tied his kerchief around his neck and, in front of the corps,
Kneeled like a pupil before his mentor, and silently implored.
1530 It surprised those who heard this that such an act a king could afford.
Rostevan was very dismayed when he saw how Tariel kneeled.
He stepped back and did homage; he bent down to the earth of that field.
He said, “King, all my delight has gone with the wind: I need to be healed.
1531 Seeing you humble yourself in this manner has all joy repealed.
”How could it be that whatever you desire, I should not grant?
Even should you wish her dead or a slave, I’d not your wishes scant.
Even if you had ordered this from home, I wouldn’t cry or rant.
1532 Even if she flew up to heaven, to find his equal, she can’t!
“I could not find a better son-in-law than our own Avtandil.
This realm is my daughter’s. She chooses wisely whatever she will.
The young rose is blooming; my flower withers in the coming chill.
1533 What objection can I make? Only let her destiny fulfill!
“Even if you married her to a slave, still I wouldn’t grudge thee.
Who could refuse you, king? Who but a foolish man would not agree?
If I loved not Avtandil, why did I yearn for his company?
1534 Verily, God, I am in your service – this is confirmed by me.”
As soon as King Tariel heard what King Rostevan had to say,
He bowed down humbly and paid homage to the Arab king that day.
Then the king did homage to him, and his respects did humbly pay.
1535 They both thanked one another: on neither did disappointment weigh.
Pridon mounted; he galloped back, to bring Avtandil the good tiding.
Indeed, Pridon also rejoiced at this fortunate deciding.
He found the knight and they came back; Avtandil by his side riding.
1536 Avtandil was abashed in front of the king: he felt like hiding.
The knight dismounted; the king arose and the two met in that place.
But Avtandil held a handkerchief and with this he hid his face.
The rose was now chilled, it was shaded; a cloud did the sun erase.
1537 But how could anything hide Avtandil’s beauty and manly grace!
The king is eager to kiss him; Rostevan’s tears no longer flow.
Avtandil embraced Rostevan’s feet, spreading his beams out very low.
The king told him, “Arise, you have revealed your prowess as we know.
1538 Since you are loyal, be not abashed; don’t be loathe your face to show. ”
Kissing him all over his face, the king embraced Avtandil straight:
“You have quenched my hot fire, oh knight, though you came as water late.
With her who has a thicket of tresses and lashes like a gate,
1539 I’ll unite you, lion, with the sun – go quickly to her, don’t wait.”
The king embraced that lion and hero: his greeting was not brief.
He seats him close, speaks to him, gazes on his face in disbelief.
That sun and the crown befit Avtandil: he’s worthy of his fief.
1540 The joy is even more pleasant, when a man has passed through his grief.
Avtandil said to the king: “I marvel you speak not of the sun,
That you don’t want to see her, why you delay, when reason is none.
She should be gaily met – conduct her to your house, since she is won.
1541 Be clothed in her rays; spread them around as with a light would be done.”
Avtandil invited the king to mount and go to meet the maid.
The faces of those great giants shone like a sun that does not fade.
They met their desire; they found what they’d been seeking without aid.
1542 They handled their swords well: no one by their side had an idle blade.
Dismounting, the king greeted Nestan, rather as a father may.
The lightning flashing from her cheeks blinded his eyes that day.
She came forth and greeted the king, hoping his worries to allay.
1543 The king’s praise of Nestan was so joyous, he forgot what to say.
He said: “Oh sun, how shall I praise you, you so radiant and bright,
Those who are completely enraptured by you are totally right!
Oh sun-like, moon-like, to what constellation do you bring your light!
1544 From now on, looking at roses or violets brings no delight!”
All they who saw her with the brightness of her rays she would entrance
Like a sun she blinded the eyes of the onlookers with a glance.
All enthralled, they gazed at her and their hearts began a joyful dance.
1545 Wherever she appeared, people came running, as if in a trance.
They all mounted their horses now, and toward their home began to head.
There were the seven planets to compare; by the sun they were led.
Yet her beauty was unfathomable, beyond their ken, they said.
1546 Soon they came to the king’s dwelling place, where she would be wed.
They came in and saw Tinatin, who could disquiet anyone.
She bears a scepter and crown, is dressed in robes of porphyry spun.
Her bright face was enough the faces of the newcomers to stun.
1547 The King of India entered, himself a hero and a sun.
Tariel and his wife to the maiden drew near and humbly bowed.
They both kissed her and pleasant conversation entertained the crowd.
They brightened that hall, so a fading of the light was not allowed.
1548 They turned crystal and ruby into cheeks, jet into lashes proud.
Tinatin stood and invited them to the lofty royal throne.
Tariel said, “It was destined by God Almighty as your own.
This day more than any other, this throne befits you as was shown.
1549 I will seat the lion of lions beside you, to kingship grown.”
He and Nestan led Tinatin to her throne, where she sat higher
And Avtandil was seated beside her, burning with his desire.
She surpassed all things known or unknown, her beauty like a fire.
1550 Even Ramin and Vis weren’t like them; who says so is a liar.
The maiden was astonished to see Avtandil there by her side.
Her color paled and her heart quickened, as her beloved she eyed.
The king said, “Child, why are you bashful? What are you trying to hide?
1551 The sages say love in the end will prevail, it can’t be denied.
“Children, God grant you a thousand years’ life, the ignorance of dearth.
Happiness, glory to you; may sorrow in your years find no berth.
May heaven not let you change, but stay at this high point of your worth.
1552 And when I die may my grave be covered by both your hands with earth.”
The king told his men, “Loyalty to Avtandil,-I need not impart.
This is your king,” he said. “Such has been God’s will from the very start.
This day he has my throne, while I’ve been afflicted with age, for my part.
Serve him as well as you have me, keep my command with all your heart.”
The soldiers and courtiers did homage, humbly each bent a knee.
They said: “To those who’ve charmed us, like the supportive earth let us be:
They reward obedience, fell those who disobey like a tree.
They weaken the arms of foes and inspire our hearts endlessly.”
Tariel too gave a eulogy: he told the maiden: “Now you’re
United. Fire’s heat no longer burns you, since you have the cure.
Your husband’s my brother, so you’re my sister and you can be sure
I’ll bring to naught those who are hostile to you or seek to sully what’s pure.”
OF AVTANDIL AND TINATIN
BY THE KING OF THE ARABS
hat day Avtandil sits on the throne as the lord, the lofty king;
Tariel sits with him, his manliness the most beautiful thing;
Nestan-Djar, the enchanter, to Tinatin the queenly does cling;
It’s as if heaven had four suns and all together did them bring.
Now every army a generous offering of food receives.
More abundant than moss are the newly-slaughtered sheep, the slain beeves.
Each soldier was offered presents, according to what each achieves.
1557 And each of the four sun-like faces, a light on all soldiers leaves.
They drank from cups of ruby; in jacinth bowls, the food was displayed.
Wondrously colored vessels bore a stamp that said where they were made.
That wedding’s panegyric was given by the sages arrayed.
1558 Onlooker, you would have told your heart, “don’t leave,” and you would have stayed.
Then was heard the sound of the cymbal; minstrels came from every side.
There was a huge mound of gold and cut rubies that everyone eyed.
For drinkers a fountain of wine kept flowing and none was denied.
1559 From twilight to dawn, there was drinking, so they let the morning slide.
None remained without a present, neither the crippled nor the lame.
Pearls rolled here and there, were scattered, thrown about as if in a game.
There was too much gold and satin than could be taken, which was a shame.
1560 For three days, Avtandil as a groomsman King Tariel could claim.
The next day, Rostevan entertains again – he is not tired.
He told Tariel: “To look at your sun is to be inspired!
You are king of all kings and she the queen we’ve all admired.
1561 It behooves us to put our heads at your feet, like one you’ve hired!
“Nor, king, is it fitting we should sit on the same level as you!”
He placed the royal throne to show honor to Tariel was due,
Avtandil and his wife across from him, so they were honored, too.
1562 They gave Tariel gifts that lie in a heap: they were far from few.
The King of the Arabs entertains, plays the host for which he’s known;
He goes among the guests as if he were not royal on his own.
He dispenses gifts and all praise the generosity he’s shown.
1563 Pridon sits near Avtandil, as one accustomed to the throne.
The king honored the royal couple who in India did dwell
With love and gifts. He gave them a son’s and daughter-in-law’s farewell.
Even a tenth of what he gave them is impossible to tell.
1564 He gave each a scepter and purple, jeweled crowns, their treasure to swell.
Still, the king gave to both gifts befitting their royalty, their fate.
A thousand Roman gems he gave, but his giving did not abate:
Then a thousand pearls he gave them, like dove’s eggs in their size and weight.
1565 Then a thousand steeds, each big as a hill – his giving was that great.
To Pridon, Rostevan gave nine trays filled with pearls, up to the brim
And nine fine steeds, richly saddled, ready to ride, he gave to him.
The King of India does homage not drunkenly, and not grim.
1566 He gave thanks soberly though none of the wine did he simply skim.
But why should I lengthen my speaking? A month of days seemed to fly.
They all sported; they did not cease feasting, their lips did not stay dry.
To Tariel they gave wondrous jewels and rubies: no one was shy.
1567 Their own radiance like the sun’s enveloped them. And time went by.
Tariel was like a rose shedding its petals like flakes of snow.
He sent Avtandil to Rostevan asking the king’s leave to go.
“To be near you is an everlasting joy for me, as you know.
1568 But enemies hold my kingdom, eating up land, and cause me woe.
“The ignorant are vanquished by one skilled in understanding’s art.
I am sure if harm were to come to me, it would distress your heart.
I’d better leave; tarrying here will only cause evil to start.
1569 Soon may I see you mighty. May God’s will be we’re not long apart.”
Rostevan said, “King, why are you so humble and self-denying?
What you judge and appraise your best plan of action, is worth trying.
Avtandil will go with you, and a great host I’ll be supplying:
1570 Slash and fight until all your enemies and traitors are dying.”
Avtandil repeated to Tariel the speech the king had made.
Tariel said: “You’ll speak not, but guard your teeth, if I am obeyed.
How can you, sun, leave so soon the moon with whom you’re newly arrayed?”
1571 Avtandil answered, “I couldn’t let you excuse me if I stayed.”
“You don’t want to leave me back and later rightfully to claim:
‘He loves his wife; he has abandoned me’ and so to level blame.
How could I stay here and be sundered from you, without feeling shame?
1572 For a man to forsake a friend means he’s a friend only in name!”
Like crystal that sparkles or a rose that blooms was Tariel’s smile.
He said: “When you’re absent, I suffer more than you do, all the while.
Since you wish it, come with me; don’t accuse me of force or of guile.”
1573 Avtandil commands troops to be summoned: they form his rank and file.
He assembled the armies of Arabia, no time to waste.
Eighty thousand soldiers were assembled and arrayed in due haste.
Men and horses clad in Khvarazmian armor now combat faced.
1574 The King of Arabs was saddened by their separation’s foretaste.
The parting maidens, avowed sisters, to each other they attend.
Sworn with sisterhood’s oaths, already each has found a trustful friend.
Breast welded to breast, neck to neck, they weep to see connection end.
1575 Onlookers, too, must steady hearts that too much sympathy extend.
When the moon’s level with the morning star, both shine bright, sublime:
And they sparkle with equal brightness as they move apart with time.
No, they don’t move, the sky pulls them apart when they are in their prime.
1576 To look at them longer, an onlooker needs a tall hill to climb.
He who created them as they are, Himself will make them divide.
Though of their will they desire not parting, and seek to stay tied.
They glue together the rose petals of their lips, and weep beside.
1577 All those who part from one another this way are sure they have died.
Nestan-Daredjan said: “Better for me if we had never met!
Parted from the sun, I should not now by sorrow be beset.
You shall know news of me, let me have news of you: letters beget.
1578 As I’m burned for you, may you melt for me, choosing not to forget.”
Tinatin said, “You’re a delight for any onlooker to see!
How can I give you up, how can I endure your parting from me!
Instead of praying for long life from God, now death shall be my plea.
1579 I pray you live as many days as I shall shed my tears for thee!”
Those maidens parted, having tenderly kissed each other once more.
She who was left could not take her eyes from the one leaving her door.
Nestan too looks back: because of that, flames consumed her in her core.
1580 I cannot write down a tenth part of the image I have in store!
Rostevan was very sad when their departure came to its eve.
A thousand times he says, “Woe is me!” and sighs, but finds no reprieve.
The spring of his tears is fiercely hot, so intensely does he grieve.
1581 Tariel’s face is paler and more tender than you would believe.
Rostevan crushed Tariel s rose with his kissing and his embrace.
He said: “Your presence until now seems like a dream I had of grace.
My suffering will increase when you leave and I stay in this place.
Life was given to us by you; by leaving, you will us erase.”
Tariel mounted. He bid farewell to the king, his leaving sealed.
All the soldiers shed tears to moisten the meadow: from grief, they reeled.
The king said: “As the sun makes haste to greet you, meet him in the field.”
He said: “I am weeping for your sake; now I never shall be healed.”
They set out and departed with many troops and a heavy load.
Tariel, Pridon, Avtandil, with good looks all three were bestowed.
Eighty thousand men were with them, and the worthy horses they rode.
The three went on, and great care for one another, they always showed.
The three went on their way – such men God can never create again.
They were met with honor by all: no one dared to impede them then.
On the plain, they tarried for dinner when the morning was past, when
As was fitting, the three heroes feasted and drank wine, not milk – Amen!
TARIEL LEARNS OF THE DEATH
OF THE KING OF INDIA
ver a mountain range, a large caravan came down from the west.
All the mules were covered in black and all the men in black were dressed.
All their hair was cut so short that to the sides of their heads it pressed.
Tariel ordered: “Bring them here. For a while, we’ll take a rest.”
Servants brought the merchants and their chief to him to see what they’d say.
Tariel asked them: “Who are you, and why are you in black array?”
They said: “We are in mourning. That is why in black garments we stay.
1587 To reach India from Egypt, we’ve had to travel a long way.”
They were ordered: “Tell us, merchants, what’s happening in that place!”
They said: “India suffers the rage of the sky in her disgrace;
The old and the young shed tears; like raindrops, tears fall from every face.
1588 There, even the wise seem to have lost their minds and have become base.”
The eloquent speaker went on to tell them their own story there:
“Parsadan, the Indian ruler, was mighty beyond compare.
He had a daughter, sunnier than sun, whose beauty made all stare,
1589 Slender as a poplar, with teeth like pearls, ruby cheeks, raven hair.
“She fell in love with the Amirbar; he fell in love with her, too.
The Amirbar killed her fiance: into a rage, the king flew.
Since her youth, the maiden’s aunt had advised her what was right to do.
1590 The tempest she brought down was fearful: over India it blew.
”The aunt was a Kadji, and she knew witchcraft exceedingly well,
She took away the sun from the land, perhaps with an awful spell,
Then she died herself, that maiden’s aunt, more wretched than we can tell.
1591 She had given the maiden away, had sent her where Kadjis dwell.
“The Amirbar found out; he went to look for his beloved one.
He too was lost; then India grew dark, without its moon or sun.
None could find them, they both disappeared, yet the story’s just begun.
1592 The King said: ‘God, why do you burn me so slowly? What have I done?’
“The King was outraged when every single attempt to find them fails.
The sound of the timpani and tambourines was replaced with wails.
The consuming fire of misery even monarchs assails.
1593 He died. India fell prey to the plunder a king’s death entails.”
Hardly had the merchant revived these sad events by what he said
Then the maiden started screaming, and she ripped the veil off her head,
Tariel too yelled, revealing his pain, as if he’d just been bled.
1594 The rain from their narcissus eyes swelled like creeks by melting snow fed.
The woman is mourning her father now, like a nightingale might,
She tears her hair, and throws it away; tears did both her cheeks bedight,
The rose turns saffron, her ruby lips are like moss, no longer bright.
1595 Clouds are covering up the sun, extinguishing all of its light.
Crying she scratches her face and tears her hair, weeping even more,
Unending tears and unending blood from her eyes begin to pour:
“Death to me, father! Your child is the worst that any woman bore!
1596 Your daughter neither pleased nor served you, who should her father adore!
“Father, the light of my eyes, swallowed by darkness on my account!
How could I let you know the pain that in my grieving heart did mount?
Sun, why do you lighten the world, why are you a radiant fount?
1597 And why are you still standing, oh, mountains too numerous to count!”
Tariel cries: “My guardian! What’s this terrible news I hear!
Woe is me! Why is the sun still shining? Why is the sky still clear?
I am bereft because the sun of the living has disappeared.
1598 For the Almighty’s sake, forgive me my wrong deeds of yesteryear!”
Then he said: “Tell us everything. What’s the end of the tale you’ve brought?”
He was told: “Master, in India, a great war is being fought.
The Khatavians have besieged the city and much damage wrought.
1599 Ramaz is the King, sitting on the throne, with evil plotting fraught.
“The Queen’s still alive, though deader than those who’ve paid the final cost.
The fortresses all around have been taken, all of them are lost.
The Indian army’s fighting, though their hope is covered with frost;
1600 Oh, sun, cast your light on them now; on such a cruel sea are they tossed!”
Tariel got ready right away, after what had been revealed.
In one day, he covered another’s three-day journey through the field;
He had his banner lifted up: he didn’t hide behind his shield.
1601 See what a giant Tariel was – how his hero’s heart was steeled!
TARIELS ARRIVAL IN INDIA
AND THE DEFEAT
OF T H E K H A T A V I A N S
e approached India by coming over a high mountain rise;
The hugeness of the waiting armies was an unwelcome surprise.
Tariel said: “Men, can I depend on you to be my allies?
God and my Fate willing, I’ll defeat even armies of such size!
“Those armies have seen how my swift sword slashes whenever we meet;
We engaged once, I shredded armor; their destruction was complete.”
Avtandil offered: “Do we need such threatening words to repeat?
1603 We’ll disperse them like dust; soon they will be trampled under our feet.”
They got ready for the battle; they were filled with daring and pride.
They mounted the best horses: all their steeds pranced when they were astride.
Equally admirable, they kept all their onlookers wide-eyed.
1604 They galloped down the mountains; faster than any wind did they ride.
The men in Tariel’s vanguard did first upon the sentries prey.
They chased them and pulled them from their saddles, but none of them did slay.
They dragged them in fetters to Tariel, to see what he would say.
When the captives raised their heads, “Who are you?” they were asked right away.
“We are all foolishly deceived men, oh most noble King,” they said.
Placed here to be guards by Ramaz the ruler, by whom we are led.”
He said: “Leave, fools, go as fast as you can to the man at your head.
1606 Tell your Master: ‘Those all admire are here; from them have we fled.’
”Tell him: it’s Tariel speaking, who in pride and power does reign,
The great ruler, subduer of enemies, dispenser of pain.
Your own sentries will deliver the news from me, and make it plain
1607 Fear will not save you from death. You will lament, and lament in vain!
“Who would dare to confront a man of such power, of such renown!
How dare you challenge me for India? You’re nothing but a clown!
Here I come, Tariel, the fire that will surely burn you down,
1608 I will blunt my sharp sword on your body, and death will be your crown!
“Now get ready! I don’t want to sneak upon you, a man debased;
I am warning you beforehand. Confront me, have your men well placed!
How dare you boast of my defeat – you, a vain blubberer, disgraced?
1609 I’ll turn your steel helmet into a rag, a thing of cloth and paste!'”
The guardsmen outran one another, doing what they had to do.
They told Ramaz everything, did not dare to conceal what was true:
“The King of Indians has arrived, and with all his retinue,
1610 If they are in any way confronted, one of them will best two!”
Tariel holds the Indian flag high as he rides to the field.
Fluttering next to it, the banner of the Arabs is revealed;
Everyone knows about the Arabs: their chainmail is like a shield,
1611 Pridon is a sun-warrior, spilling blood until his foes yield!
After they had covered some distance, five hundred horsemen appeared;
Ready to attack them at once, all the Arab warriors reared.
Tariel said: “Don’t do that,” and to his calm words, they all adhered;
1612 They could see neither any arms nor armor as the horsemen neared.
The horsemen all dismounted and bowed down; they begged him on their knees:
“Don’t kill us for the sake of One who made you what everyone sees!”
Tariel was mute; Ramaz spread himself and continued his pleas.
1613 “God absolves the repentant. Who can the repentant not appease?”
He kept begging on his knees; he grabbed the legs of Tariel’s steed
“Be merciful for the sake of God who chiseled you. I concede.
Take my life! Let my corpse be carried away with all due speed!
1614 Let my heart, destined to love you, be now smashed as Fate has decreed!”
“For nearly ten years,” Ramaz said, “All the birds were without their king.
You were gone. You were lost. The eagle broke one, then another wing;
That’s why I dared to venture such deeds, to do such a shameful thing.
1615 My life ended soon, like a poor game of dice thrown into the ring.
“I beg you – kill me first. For everything, I alone bear the shame.
In addition, there are five hundred viziers that with me came;
Cut off all their heads; let their blood flow like a flood in all but name.
1616 But I cry for the soldiers with heavy heart: they’re not to blame!”
A guilty man can earn forgiveness with the heavy tears he’s cried;
The Ninevians put ashes on their heads to atone for pride.
They escaped wrath from above which otherwise would have been applied.
1617 Thus Destiny can untwist what has been wrongly twisted or tied.
Tariel softened, merciful as God requires us to be;
“I won’t kill you,” he said – recognizing the fear in such a plea.
“What things were faultily woven will be unwoven, you will see.
1618 Everything that was made wrong will be straightened and made right by me.”
The supplicants bowed: over the field, their grateful voices drifted,
They sent their prayers to God, were thankful their destiny had shifted.
They escaped death; their lives to them by their enemy were gifted.
1619 But Tariel’s sword was still hungry; it had hardly been lifted.
Jupiter came to admire those lions, as well he might;
Tariel extinguished the fire of wrath with his kindness bright;
People flocked to them; Ramaz’s army barely moved in their sight.
1620 And on India, like a pillar, descended heavenly light.
A man appeared before Ramaz’s soldiers; with good news he came.
“He will not kill you, he’s forgiven us.” Everyone praised his name;
The bugles sounded and all rejoiced, everyone shouted the same:
1621 “This man singlehandedly destroyed many; he is without blame.”
People hailed Tariel from far off as to the fortress he sped.
Those inside recognized the Indian banner, but they said,
“This is a trick,” and stayed in the fortress, full of dread.
1622 They did not expect Tariel, so many bitter tears they shed.
Tariel approached: “Here I am, your true King,” he said with a shout.
“I have with me my sun whose lovely face cast light upon our route.
From above God has bestowed upon us his grace without a doubt.
1623 I can’t bear to be separated from you anymore. Come out!”
Then they recognized Tariel and came; they all ran his way.
Every house in the city was brightly lit; the people were gay.
Everyone shouted. “Our sorrow’s gone, and gladness is here to stay.
1624 God, wrathful till now, has sent us mercy from above today.”
The gates opened; people brought the city keys, as was right to do.
The crowd, dressed in mourning attire, gazed at these two.
The bride and groom both cried, the rose garden filled with morning dew.
1625 They pulled their raven hair around their faces, slapped their heads anew.
The disciple’s grief gives its due to the man who had taught him well.
He sheds tears that are hotter than a fire, tears he cannot quell.
His heart is anguished. He slaps his head and cries, then he gives a yell.
1626 His crystal rake keeps pulling agate curls as if he’s in a spell.
The viziers surrounded them, and with the spouses’ grief kept pace.
The woman fainted, could not even mourn her father in that place.
The rose stem was bent, and no one could straiten that flower of grace.
1627 The eye couldn’t glimpse there a single smile, a single smiling face.
The queen rushed out of the palace, and to the mourners, she drew near:
“Why are all of you crying?” – she asked, making her reproach quite clear.
“God withdrew his fury to show His mercy and to end our fear.
1628 We must thank Him. Now is not the time for our mourning to appear.”
Tariel embraced her. He still sheds hot tears, but has to agree;
He says: “The hot fire is beginning to ease that consumed me;
Those who hear what I’m saying can’t deny the truth of what they see.
1629 God, guarder of orphans, allows me to rejoice at seeing thee.”
Nestan cried out: “What am I to do, mother mine, my widowed queen?
I left you in gaily-colored clothing; now you in black are seen.
Father left and won’t be found: that’s the reason for my mournful mien!”
1630 The mother wiped her tears: “Don’t cry, luckless one, hush your grief so keen.”
She kissed her face and the fine rose petals of her lips she did skim.
Bruised with her caresses the rose cheeks, embraced the poplar so slim.
Said to that sun: “Why should we utter now complaints, thinking of him?
1631 It befits us to sing to the Lord a thousand times’ grateful hymn.”
After a while, evening approached: the light began to slip away.
The courtiers greeted all of them and humble respect did pay.
Those suns Tariel and Nestan greeted everyone warmly that day,
1632 Asked about each one’s well-being and had something caring to say.
Avtandil and Pridon to the Queen their deep sympathy conveyed.
Tariel said: “Oh, queen, you’re not aware of what these men are made.
They rescued us; now’s not the time to say how they came to our aid.
1633 But they both saved our lives and in our adventures a great part played.”
They went and entered the city, dismounted at the palace gate.
The Queen spoke the word worth a thousand and good feeling did create:
“God has destroyed our enemies; He brought defeat to those we hate.
1634 I now welcome the joy that brings happiness to my heart so late.”
She ordered: “Enough of mourning! Let the drums and the cymbals sound,
Let joy and celebration reign within our gates and all around.
Let your silk robes with golden belts be gathered up and neatly bound,
Laugh and sing. Don’t shed rivulets of tears! Let tears themselves be drowned!”
THE WEDDING OF TARIEL
A N D N E S T A N – D A R E D J A N
he Queen took the hands of the joyful newlyweds into her own.
And led them both to where they were to sit, upon the royal throne.
She cast away sorrow, strengthened her heart, and let her joy be known.
She replaced laments with delight; nowhere was any weeping shown.
The Queen got dressed up. She got rid of every somber mourning dress.
She prepared joyful apparel for all her courtiers, no less.
She gave everyone clothes, on everyone, wonderful gifts did she press.
1637 She said, “No grief! Happiness is here! Let us happiness express!”
Tariel and his lovely wife were seated on the royal throne.
They gazed at each other lovingly, and desire in their eyes shone.
Whose mind or tongue could express their praise, and how their goodness had grown?
1638 None of Adam’s other heirs are like them, so worthy and well-known.
What came to pass made Tariel and his wife Nestan very glad.
Seven unassailable thrones or seats of joy are what they had.
Their bliss makes them forget past sufferings, everything that was bad.
1639 A man can’t relish joy unless he knows what it is to be sad.
See the two sit together: even the sun’s not so bright as they!
To proclaim him king; they blow the trumpet and how their drums do play!
They give them the treasuries’ key; the nobles promise to obey.
“This is our king!” they cry with one voice, and acclaim him on that day.
Avtandil and Pridon – for each they prepared a sumptuous throne.
The two sat, the people extolled them: their majesty was well known.
What others has God created who like unto these two have grown!
1641 They related their past anguishes; their troubles to all were shown.
They ate and drank and made merry; their household increased by a score.
As befits a wedding so did they all celebrate it, those four.
To each of the two, Tariel gave equal presents – and then more!
1642 They piled in one place much treasure, all to be given to the poor.
The Indians knew Avtandil as well as Pridon was a friend.
“From you only good has come to us,” they said to each without end.
They saw them as masters, did what they wanted, tried not to offend.
1643 They showed respect with service: with their wishes, they did not contend.
The King of India said to Asmat, who his sorrows had shared:
“Never have I seen your like: no teacher nor pupil has so cared.
Now over a seventh of India, your throne I have declared.
1644 Let it be yours, since your sweetness to our own may well be compared.
“Whoever you desire as husband, wed him and rule as kings;
From there serve us, and be our good and loyal subjects in all things.”
Asmat covered his feet with kisses. “Being with you, my strength brings,”
1645 She said. “There’s no better service than yours. Service to you has wings.”
The three sworn brothers tarried there together for a little while.
They sported; they received more incomparable gifts with a smile:
What rare pearls they received, what excellent horses did them beguile!
1646 But longing for Tinatin was for Avtandil a great trial.
Tariel quickly perceived that longing of the knight for his bride.
He said, “Your heart begins to feel angry at me, which you can’t hide.
Now woe is me! I look and I can see your sadness multiplied.
1647 I shall lose you soon: jealous fate severs the joy by which we’re tied.”
Pridon said, “I’ll go home, too: I’ll bid farewell to our brothers’ band.
But my foot will often tread this court if all is as I have planned.
You may speak as an elder to a younger: I’m yours to command.
1648 As deer pant after mountain streams, I want to return to this land.”
Tariel told Pridon: “Go then, return home; I grant you this boon.
But do not think to abandon us: visit us again, and soon.”
To Avtandil he said, “Without you, I am to all joy immune.
1649 But since you want to, go. You, lion, are waited for by the moon. ”
Tariel gave Avtandil great cloaks for Rostevan as a gift
And a vessel, not a spoon or ladle, full of cut gems, hard to lift.
“Take these and go,” he said. “Don’t disobey. And make your going swift!”
1650 Avtandil said: “Without you, I shall give the things of life short shrift.”
Then Nestan sent Tinatin a mantle and veil beautifully spun.
Who except Queen Tinatin was worthy of such garments? No one.
Who brought this jewel could not say: “Vainly did I do what I have done.”
1651 Even at night, you can see it from far off, shining like the sun.
Avtandil mounted, set to leave; to Tariel he said farewell.
The flames of separation burned them both, as I don’t need to tell.
All the Indians wept then; their tears they were unable to quell.
1652 Avtandil said, “The poison of this world inside me now will dwell.”
Pridon and Avtandil journeyed together for several days.
Then road parted them; they went weeping on their separate ways.
The things they’d planned turned out well for them: they deserved nothing but praise.
1653 Avtandil came back without trouble: soon his city met his gaze.
The Arabs came forth to meet him: he made the whole countryside bright.
He saw his sun. Desire for her made all his sorrows take flight.
They sat on their thrones, making for onlookers a most joyful sight.
1654 The Most High from above endowed his royal crown with sovereign right.
Those three sovereigns loved one another; in ruling, they were skilled.
They visited one another, all their desires were fulfilled.
Those who disputed their rule met their swords; many of them were killed.
1655 They increased their might and bigger kingdoms did these sovereigns build.
Their kingly mercy was given to all; it fell like endless snow.
The poor stopped begging, widows felt safe, and orphans were helped to grow.
Evil doers were scared: their ewes had lambs, but no milk to bestow.
1656 In the realm of their kingdoms, the goat with the wolf could safely go.
heir tale is ended like a dream of the night. They are passed away
And gone beyond the world. Behold the treachery of time at play:
Even to him who thinks it long, it’s just a moment, it won’t stay.
I, a certain Meskhian bard from Rustavi, I’ve had my say.
For the goddess whom David the sun serves in his course by all rights,
I have put this tale into verse as entertainment for her nights.
She who strikes terror from the East to the West, wherever she fights:
1658 Those who are traitors, she destroys; those who are loyal, she delights.
How shall I David’s feats, his courage and valor recount again?
These wondrous tales of monarchs in faraway lands beyond our ken,
Their great deeds and triumphs, the songs about those kings among mere men,
1659 Have I translated into verse. And thus have I worn out my pen.
This world should not be trusted by anyone: it is a flicker
Of an eye for a man, the blinking of an eyelash, but quicker.
Whatever you seek, what good will it do you? Fate is a tricker.
1660 He’s lucky in both worlds whom Fate does not deceive with a snicker.
Mose Khoneli wrote praises of Amiran, Daredjan’s son;
Shavteli praised Abdul-Mesia, his poem liked by everyone;
Sargis Tmogveli for Dilarget, his poetic praises spun;
1661 Rustaveli praised Tariel, for whom his tears were never done.