Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
Old Malik, Antar's uncle, and his faction were, however, more than ever resolved to thwart the hero's union with Abla; and, envious of the honours bestowed on him by the King, and enraged at his presumption in professing love for his daughter, Malik proposes to his son Amru that Antar should be put to death. Other and more formidable enemies lay plans for his destruction. Antar's mother, Zebeebah, in the simplicity of her heart, advises him to resume his old occupation of tending the flocks and the camels, and no longer expose his life to perils. The hero smilingly replies that she should yet be proud of her son.
Prince Shas (who had never forgiven Antar for killing his insolent slave) complains to his father of his favour of Antar, and of the hero's presumption in desiring union with Abla. King Zoheir reproves his son for his evident ill-feeling towards the hero, telling him that it may be decreed of God that Antar
should be the recipient of divine favours. Antar, overhearing this conversation, entered the tent, and thus recited:
This flame is for Abla, O my friend!—her lustre illumines the darkest night. She blazes—her form is in my heart, and the fire of love is in my soul.
Her gently-waving form has kindled it like the branches whose motion refreshes the breeze.
Her breath diffuses a lively odour, and in her perfumes I pass the night in paradise.
She is a maid whose breath is sweeter than honey, whenever she sips the juice of the grape.
When I taste a coolness from her lips, she leaves in my mouth a hot burning flame.
The moon has stolen her charms, and the antelope has borrowed the magic of her eyes.
O grant me thy embrace, O light of my eyes! and save me from thy absence, and mine own griefs.
Be just, if thou wishest, or persecute me: for in thee is my paradise, and in thee is my hell.
No happiness is there for me in my troubles, but my lord, who is called the generous Zoheir.
Wherever he goes Death anticipates him; and he destroys his foes before he meets them.
Let them not abuse him if he aid a solitary creature, who spends the live-long night without sleep, and in tears.
He is my support and stay against those who, when they see my exaltation, would trouble me the more.
He is a king to whose name princes shall bow, and Shall point at him to pay their homage.
He is the asylum of all who refer to him to dissipate their sorrows, as he relieves my griefs.
May fortune never deprive me of my King! May he ever live in the purest joy and felicity!
The King courteously thanked Antar for his verses, and confessed his inability to adequately reward him—"even were I to give you all I possess; for my property will pass away, as if it had never been; but thy praises will endure for ever." He presented Antar with two virgin slaves, beautiful as moons, two rows of rare jewels, and some perfumes; after which Antar withdrew, and going to the tents of the family of Carad, found the men absent, and the women sitting up to hear an account of his exploits, and the fair Abla most anxious of all; upon which he thus addressed them:—
Darkness hovers o’er, and my tears stream down in copious torrents;—I conceal my love, and complain to no one.
I pass the night, regarding the stars of night in my distraction, and the tears rush violently from my eyes like a hail-storm.
Ask the night of me, and it will tell thee that I am indeed the ally of sorrow and anguish.
I live desolate; there is no one like me: a lover without friends or a companion!
I am the friend of sorrow and desire. I am o’erwhelmed by them, and I am worn out with patience and trials in my grief.
I complain to God of my afflictions and my love; and to no one else do I complain.
Abla was deeply moved by Antar's evident distress, for she loved him both for his courage and his eloquence. "Where," said she, playfully, "is my share of thy plunder, cousin? Am I now of no consequence to thee?"—"Truly," replied he, "I gave all to thy father and thy uncles." He then gave her the two female slaves and the jewels he had received from the King; but the perfumes he divided among his aunts, telling Abla that she had no need of them, her breath being sweeter than any perfumes.