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811When the moon is far from the sun, distance makes her 1 bright; when she is near, his ray consumes her--she is repelled, she cannot approach. But sunlessness dries up the rose and lessens its colour. Not seeing the beloved renews in us our old grief.

812Now will I begin the story of that knight's departure. He goes away and weeps with boiling heart; it cannot be said that his tears diminished. Every moment he turned back; he prayed that he might find his sun-like one in sun-like beauty. He gazed, he could not detach his eyes; if he tore them away he lost consciousness.

813When he was near fainting, he had no power to move his tongue, but tears run from his eyes, pouring forth as from a spring. Sometimes he turns; he looks for means (aid) to bear his pains. When he goes forward he knows not whither his horse has borne him.

814He said: "O mine own! let him who is far from thee and yet silent be accursed; since my mind remains with thee, let my heart also return to thee; the weeping eyes, too, wish and long to see thee. It is better that the lover should be subjected as much as may be to love!

815"What shall I do till I am united to thee, or in

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what thinkest thou I shall find joy! I would slay myself but that I doubt it would displease thee, but it would grieve thee to hear I was no longer living. Come (then) and let us living give our eyes to the shedding of tears.

816He said: "O sun, who art said to be the image of the sunny night of Him who is One in unity of being and Everlasting, whom the heavenly bodies obey to the jot of a second, turn not away my good fortune; hear my prayer till our meeting, mine and hers!

817"Thou whom former philosophers addressed as the image of God, aid me, for I am become a captive, iron chains bind me! I, seeker of crystal and ruby, have lost coral and glass; formerly I could not endure nearness, now I regret absence."

818Thus he lamented and cried out; like a candle he melted. The fear of being too late made him hasten; he wandered on. When night fell, he found delight in the rising of the stars; he compared them to her, he rejoiced, he gazed on them, he held converse with them.

819He says to the moon: "I adjure thee in the name of thy God, thou art the giver of the plague of love to lovers; thou hast the balm of patience to make them bear it; hear my prayer to unite me with the face fair, through thee, like thine own."

820Night rejoiced him, day tortured him, he awaited the sunset. When he saw a stream he dismounted; he gazed on the rippling of the water, with it he united the rivulet of blood from the lake of tears; again he set out, lie hasted onward on his road.

821Alone he lamented; he who was like the aloe-tree in form wept. He killed a goat in the plain where he came to a rocky place, roasted and ate of it and went on, sun-faced,

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martial in heart. He said: "I forsook roses, and behold me here woeful!"

822I cannot now tell the words then spoken by that knight, or what he discoursed and lamented with such elegance. Sometimes his eyes reddened (with their tears) the rose (of his cheeks) scratched by his nail. When he saw the caves he was glad; he went up to the door of the cave.

823When Asmat’h perceived him, she went to meet him, her tears fell fast; she rejoiced so greatly that she will never have such joy again. The knight dismounted, embraced her, kissed her, and conversed with her. When a man has waited for a man, the coming pleases him wondrously.

824The knight said to the damsel: "Where and how is thy lord?" The damsel wept with tears which might have fed the sea. She said: "When thou wert gone, he roamed about, for it irked him to be in the cave; now I know nought of him, either by sight or tidings."

825The knight was pained as if some lance had struck him in the midst of his heart. He said to Asmat’h: "O sister, not thus should a man be! How could he break his oath! I deceived him not; how could he be false to me If he could not keep it, why did he promise? If he promised me, why did he lie?

826"Since save for him I counted not this world as grief, why did he forget me when I departed? Why could he not endure, what troubled him? How dared he break the oath he had sworn? But why should I marvel at evil from my fate!"

827Again the maiden spoke: "Thou art justified in such sorrow; but when thou shalt judge aright--suspect me not of complaisance--is not heart needed to fulfil oath and promise? He, bereft of heart, awaits only the curtailment of his days.

828"Heart, mind and thought depend one upon

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another. When heart goes the others also go and follow it. A man deprived of heart cannot play the man; he is chased forth from men. Thou sawest not, thou knowest not, what fires consumed him.

829"Thou art right in murmuring that thou art separated from thy sworn brother, but how can it be told into what plight he fell, how can I tell thee the fact? Tongue will fail, will be exhausted, the aching heart will ache (still more). Thus think I, for I saw, I luckless born.

830"Hitherto none has heard in story of sufferings like unto his; such torture would affright' not only men, (but) even stones; sufficient for a fountain are the tears that have flowed from his eyes. Whatever you say, you are right; one is wise in another's battle.

831"When he went forth, burned, consumed with fires, I asked him: 'Tell me, his adopted sister, what will Avt’handil do when he comes?' He replied: 'Let him come to seek me, me useless for his sake. I shall not leave this vicinage; I will not break my promise to him.

832"'My vow I will not break, that oath will I not belie; I shall wait till the time appointed, however much the channels (of tears) may flow. If he find me dead, let him bury me, let him say Alas! and mourn. If I meet him living, let him marvel, (for my) life is doubtful.'

833"Henceforth the sundering of the sun and the mountain-top hath befallen me, only I must shed tears moistening the plains; maddened, I am tortured by the exceeding multiplication of groans; death has forgotten me, behold the deed of Fate!

834"This true saying is written on a stone in China: 'Who seeks not a friend is his own foe!' Now that to which nor rose nor violet could be likened is become saffron. If thou seekest, then, seek him; do what befits thee."

835The knight said: "Thou art right in not justifying me in murmuring against him. But bethink thee what

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service I have done as one prisoner (of love) to another: I fled from my home, like a stag seeking water I seek him and think of him, I wander from field to field.

836"The crystal pearl-shells guard the ruby-hued pearl and apparel it; from her I have gone away, I could not stay near her, I could not make her happy, nor could I be happy; by my privy flight I have angered the equals of God, in return for their favours I have troubled their hearts.

837"My lord and upbringer, by the grace of God living in might, paternal, sweet, merciful, a sky snowing graciousness, to him have I been faithless; I went away, verily I forgot all, and, guilty toward him, I no longer await any good thing from God.

838"All this afflicts me thus, O sister, for his sake. I have not deceived him, but am come a wayfarer by night and day. Now he is gone somewhere, he for whom I am consumed with fire, wearied in vain and weeping I sit with a sad face.

839"Sister, the hour and time give me no more leisure for converse. I repent not the past, early will I fulfil the word of the wises: I go, I will seek, either shall I find him or bring death early upon me; otherwise, since I am thus doomed by Fate, what can I embolden myself to say to God."

840No more than this he said; he wept and went his way. He passed the rocks, crossed the water, went through the reeds and came to the plain. The wind blowing over the fields froze the rose to a ruby hue. "Why givest thou me this plague?" He reproached Fate for this.

841He said: "O God, wherein have I sinned against thee, the Lord, the All-seeing? Why hast Thou separated me from my friends? why didst Thou lure me on to such a

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fate? One thinking of two, I am in a parlous plight; if I die I shall not pity myself, my blood be on my head!

842"My friend cast a bunch of roses on my heart, and so wounded it; that oath fulfilled by me he kept not. If, O Fate, thou partest me from him, my joy is past, to mine eyes another friend were reviled and shamed."

843Then he said: "I marvel at the spleen of a man of sense; when he is sad, of what avail is a rivulet from the terrace of tears? It is better to choose, to ponder over the fitting deed. Now for me, too, it is better to seek that sun(-like one), reed-like in form."

844The knight, weeping, besprinkled with tears, set himself to search; he seeks, he calls, he cries aloud, watching by night as by day; for three days he traversed many a glen, reedy thicket, forest and field; he could not find him; sad he went, unable to learn any tidings.

845He said: "O God, wherein have I sinned against Thee? how have I displeased Thee so greatly? why bring this fate upon me? What torture hast Thou sent upon me! Judge me, O Judge, hearken to my prayer; shorten my days, thus turn my woes to joy!"

846Weeping and pale, the knight went his way and spoke; he mounted a certain hill, the plain appeared in sunshine and shadow. He saw a black (horse) standing with the reins on his neck on the edge of the rushes. He said: "Undoubtedly it is he; of that there can be no doubt."

847When he saw, the heart of the knight leaped up and was lightened; here to him, distressed, joy became not tenfold, but a thousandfold; the rose (of his cheeks) brightened its colour, the crystal (of his face) became crystal (indeed), the jet (of his eyes) grew jetty; like a

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whirlwind he galloped down, he rested not from gazing at him.

848When he saw Tariel he was indeed grieved; (Tariel) sat with drawn face in a state near unto death, his collar was rent, his head was all torn, he could no longer feel, he had stepped forth from the world.

849On one side lay a slain lion and a blood-smeared sword, on the other a panther stricken down a lifeless corpse. From his eyes, as from a fountain, tears flowed fiercely forth; thus there a flaming fire burned his heart.

850He could not even open his eyes, he had wholly lost consciousness, he was come nigh to death, he was far removed from joy. The knight calls him by name, he tries to rouse him by speech; he cannot make him hear; he leaped about; the brother shows his brotherliness.

851He wipes away (Tariel's) tears with his hand, he cleansed his eyes with his sleeve; he sits down near by and only calls him by name; he says: "Know’st thou not me, Avt’handil, for thy sake wandering and mad?" But he heard little, staring with fixed eyes.

852This is all thus, even as related by me. He wiped away the tears from his eyes, he somewhat recalled him to consciousness; then only he knew (Avt’handil), kissed him, embraced him, treated him as a brother. I declare by the living God none like him was ever born.

853He said: "Brother, I was not false to thee, I have done what I swore to thee; unparted from my soul I have seen thee, thus have I kept my vow; now leave me; till death I shall weep and beat my head, but I entreat thee for burial, that I be not yielded to the beasts for food."

854The knight replied: "What ails thee? Why doest thou an evil deed? Who hath not been a lover, whom doth the furnace not consume? Who hath done like thee

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among the race of other men! Why art thou seized by Satan, why kill thyself by thine own will?

855"If thou art wise, all the sages agree with this principle: 'A man must be manly, it is better that he should weep as seldom as possible; in grief one should strengthen himself like a stone wall.' Through his own reason a man falls into trouble.

856"Thou art wise, and (yet) knowest not to choose according to the sayings of the wise. Thou weepest in the plain and livest with the beasts; what desire canst thou thus fulfil? If thou renounce the world thou canst not attain her for whose sake thou diest. Why bindest thou a hale head, why openest thou the wound afresh?

857"Who hath not been a lover, whom hath the furnace not consumed? Who hath not seen pains, who faints not for somebody? Tell me, what has been unexampled! Why should thy spirits flee! Know'st thou not that none e’er plucked a thornless rose!

858"They asked the rose: 'Who made thee so lovely in form and face? I marvel why thou art thorny, why finding thee is pain!' It said: 'Thou findest the sweet with the bitter; whatever costs dear is better; when the lovely is cheapened it is no longer worth even dried fruit.'

859"Since the soulless, inanimate c rose speaks thus, who then can harvest joy who hath not first travailed with wee? Who hath ever heard of aught harmless that was the work of devilry? Why dost thou murmur at Fate? What hath it done unexampled?

860"Hearken to what I have said, mount, let us go at ease. Follow not after thine own counsel and judgment; do that thou desirest not, follow not the will of

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desires; were it not better thus I would not tell thee, mistrust not that I shall flatter thee in aught."

861(Tariel) said: "Brother, what shall I say to thee? Scarce have I control of my tongue; maddened, I have no strength to hearken to thy words. How easy to thee seems patience of the suffering of my torments! Now am I brought close to death; the time of my joy draws nigh.

862"Dying, for her I pray; never shall I entreat (her) with my tongue. Lovers here parted, there indeed may we be united, there again see each other, again find some joy. Come, O friends, bury me, cast clods upon me!

863"How shall the lover not see his love, how forsake her! Gladly I go to her; then will she wend to me. I shall meet her, she shall meet me; she shall weep for me and make me weep. Inquire of a hundred, do what pleaseth thine heart, in spite of what any may advise thee.

864"But know thou this as my verdict, I speak to thee words of truth: Death draws nigh to me, leave me alone, I shall tarry but a little while; if I be not living, of what use am I to thee? If I survive, what canst thou 1 make of me, mad? Mine elements are dissolved; they are joining the ranks of spirits.

865"What thou hast said and what thou speakest I understand not, nor have I leisure to listen to these things. Death draws nigh me maddened; life is but for a moment. Now the world is grown distasteful to me--more than at any time (heretofore). I, too, go thither to that earth whereon the moisture of my tears flows.

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866"Wise! Who is wise, what is wise, how can a madman act wisely? Had I my wits such discourse would be fitting. The rose cannot be without the sun; if it be so, it begins to fade. Thou weariest me, leave me, I have no time, I can endure no more."

867Avt’handil spoke again with words of many kinds. He said: "By my head! by these empty words I shall do thee some good! Do it not! It is not the better deed. Be not thine own foe!" But he cannot lead him away; he can do nothing at all by speech.

868Then he said: "Well, since thou wilt by no means hearken to me, I will not weary thee; my tongue has hitherto spoken in vain. If death be better for thee, die! Let the rose wither--they all wither! One thing only I pray thee, grant me this"--for this his tears were flowing--

869"Where the Indians (black lashes) engird the crystal (brow) and rose (cheeks) with a hedge of jet--from this am I parted; hastily I went, not quietly. The king cannot keep me by his paternal converse. Thou wilt not unite with me, thou wilt renounce me; now how can I speak my joy!

870"Send me not heart-sore away, grant me one desire: Mount once thy steed, let me see thee, ravisher of my soul, on horseback; perchance then this present grief will flee away, I shall go and leave thee, let thy will be done!"

871He entreated him, "Mount!" He begged and prayed him, and said not Alas! He knew that riding would chase away his sadness, that he would bend the reedy stems (of his form), and make a tent of the jet (eyelashes). He (Avt’handil) made him (Tariel) obedient; it pleased (Avt’handil); (Tariel) sighed not nor moaned.

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872He said plainly: "I will mount; bring forward my horse." (Avt’handil) brought (the horse) and gently l helped him to mount; he did not make him pant with haste; he took him towards the plain, he made his graceful form to sway. Some time they rode; going made him seem better.

873He (Avt’handil) entertains him, and speaks fair words to him; for (Tariel's) sake he moved his coral-coloured lips in speech. To hear him would make young the aged ears of a listener. He put away melancholy; he took unto himself patience.

874When the elixir of grief (Avt’handil) perceived the improvement, joy not to be depicted lightened his rose-like face--(joy which is) the physician of the reasonable, the sigh and moan of the foolish. He who had formerly spoken senselessly now spoke reasonably.

875They began to converse; he spoke a frank word: "One thing will I say to thee: Open to me what is secret. This armlet of her by whom thou art wounded--how much dost thou love it? How dost thou prize it? Tell me, then let me die!"

876He said: "How can I tell thee the likeness of that incomparable picture! It is my life, the giver of my groans, better to me than all the world--water, earth and tree. To hearken to that to which one should not listen is more bitter than vinegar!"

877Avt’handil said: "I truly expected thee to say this. Now, since thou hast said it, I will answer thee, and think not I shall flatter thee; to lose Asmat’h were worse than the loss of that armlet. I commend not thy behaviour in choosing the worsen.

878"This armlet thou wearest is golden, molten by the goldsmith, inanimate,' lifeless, speechless, unreasoning;

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thou no longer wantest Asmat’h! Behold a true judgment! First, she, luckless, was with her (Nestan); then she is thine own adopted sister.

879"Between you (and Nestan) she formed a bond, by thee she has been called sister; she was the servant who contrived your meeting, (while) she herself was worthy of being summoned by thee; she, upbringer of her and brought up by her, she is mad for (Nestan), (and) thou forsakest her, wretched (woman), (and) wilt not see her? Bravo! a just judgment (indeed)!"

880He said: "What thou sayest is only too true. Pitiable is Asmat’h, who thinks of (Nestan) and sees me. I thought not to live; thou are come in time to quench the fires. Since I still survive, come, let us see, albeit I am still dazed."

881He obeyed. Avt’handil and the Amirbar set out. I cannot achieve the praise of their worth: teeth like pearls, lips cleft roses. The sweetly discoursing tongue lures forth the serpent from its lair.

882Thereupon (Avt’handil) says: "For thy sake will I sacrifice mind, soul, heart; but be not thus, open not thy wounds afresh. Learning avails thee not if thou do not what the wise have said; of what advantage to thee is a hidden treasure if thou wilt not use it?

883"Grieving is of no use to thee; if thou art sorrowful what good will it do thee? Know'st thou not that no man dies undesignedly? Awaiting the sunbeams the rose fades not in three days. Luck, endeavour and victory, if God will, shall be thy lot."

884The knight (Tariel) replied: "This teaching is worth all the world to me. The intelligent loves the instructor; he pierces the heart of the senseless. But what shall I do, how can I endure when I am in excessive trouble? My

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griefs have hold of thee too. If, then, thou justify me not shall I not wonder?

885"Wax hath an affinity with the heat of fire, and therefore is lighted; but water hath no such affinity, if (wax) fall into (water) it is quenched. Whatever thing afflicts someone himself, in that will he be bold for the sake of others too. Why know’st thou not once for all in what way my heart melts?

886"With my tongue will I relate to thee in detail all that hath befallen me; then indeed with wise heart judge the truth. I expected thee, awaiting thee was irksome to me, I could no longer endure the cave, I wished to ride in the plain.

887"I came up that hill, I had traversed these reeds; a lion and a panther met, they came together; they seemed to me to be enamoured, it rejoiced me to see them; but what they did to each other surprised me, horrified me.

888"I came up the hill, the lion and panther came walking together; they were to me like a picture of lovers, my burning fires were quenched. They came together and began to fight, embittered they struggled; the lion pursues, the panther flees. They were not commended by me.

889"First they sported gaily, then they quarrelled fiercely; each struck the other with its paw, they had no fear of death; the panther lost heart, even as women do; the lion fiercely pursued, none could have calmed him.

890"The behaviour of the lion displeased me. I said: Thou art out of thy wits. Why annoy’st thou thy beloved? Fie on such bravery!' I rushed on him with my bared sword, I gave him to be pierced by the spear, I struck his head, I killed him, I freed him from this world's woe.

891"I threw away my sword, I leaped down, I caught the panther with my hands, I wished to kiss it for the sake of her for whom hot fires burn me. It roared at me,

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and worried me with its blood-shedding paws. I could bear no more; with enraged heart I killed it too.

892"However much I soothed it, the panther became not calm. I grew angry, I brandished it, dashed it on the ground, shattered it. I remembered how I had striven with my beloved. (Yet) my soul tore not itself altogether out of me. Why, then, art thou astonished that I shed tears!

893"Behold, brother! I have told the woes that grieved me. Life itself befits me not. Why didst thou wonder that I am thus fordone? I am sundered from life, death is become shy of me." So the knight ended his story, sighed, and wept aloud.'


130:1 In Georgian folklore the moon is male and the sun female; in [this] English translation the genders are changed.

Next: XXV. Here is the Going of Tariel and Avt’handil to the Cave, and Their Seeing of Asmat’h