Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
THE war of Dahis, of which Amriolkais is by some supposed to have been the cause, had raged near forty years, if the Arabian account be true, between the tribes of Abs and Dhobyan, who both began at length to be tired of so bloody and ruinous a contest. A treaty was therefore proposed and concluded; but Hosein, the son of Demdem, whose brother Harem had been slain by Ward, the son of Habes, had taken a solemn oath, not unusual among the Arabs, that he would not bathe his head in water, until he had avenged the death of his brother, by killing either Ward himself, or one of his nearest relations. His head was not long unbathed; and he is even supposed to have violated the law of hospitality by slaying a guest, whom he found to be an Absite descended lineally from the common ancestor Galeb.
This malignant and vindictive spirit gave great displeasure to Hareth and Harem, two virtuous chiefs of the same tribe with Hosein; and when the Absites were approaching in warlike
array to resent the infraction of the treaty, Hareth sent his own son to the tent of their chief with a present of a hundred fine camels, as an atonement for the murder of their countryman, and a message importing his firm reliance on their honour, and his hope that "they would prefer the milk of the camels to the blood of his son." Upon this Rabeiah, the prince of Abs, having harangued his troops, and received their approbation, sent back the youth with this answer, that he "accepted the camels as an expiatory gift, and would supply the imperfection of the former treaty by a sincere and durable peace."
In commemoration of this noble act, Zohair, then a very old man, composed the following panegyric on Hareth and Harem; but the opening of it, like all the others, is amatory and elegiac: it has also something of the dramatic form.
The poet, supposed to be travelling with a friend, recognises the place where the tent of his mistress had been pitched twenty years before; he finds it wild and desolate; but his imagination is so warmed by associated ideas of former happiness, that he seems to discern a company of damsels, with his favourite in the midst of them, of whose appearance and journey he gives a very lively picture; and thence passes, rather abruptly, to the praises of the two peace-makers and their tribe; inveighs against the malignity of Hosein; personifies War, the miseries of which he describes in a strain highly figurative; and concludes with a number of fine maxims, not unlike the proverbs of Solomon, which he repeats to his friend as a specimen of his wisdom acquired by long experience.
The measure is the same with that of the first and second Poems.