Sacred Texts  Islam  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, [1881], at


Shortly before the appointed day of Abla's bridal, Antar arrived in the neighbourhood of the tribe. Shiboob disguised himself as a woman, and, with a water-bag slung over his shoulders, sought the tents of Kendeh.

"He perceived the tents destitute of horsemen, for they were gone out to the plain, and the families were occupied in festivities. The unmarried girls were playing about, and beating the cymbals and musical instruments, and the slaves were brandishing their swords and shields, and their countenances appeared glistening with joy. When Shiboob saw this, he advanced towards them, and mixing with them, looked towards a tent, on the outside of which was a brilliant illumination of lamps and candles. Being convinced that this must be the nuptial pavilion, he made a great noise, and began to play, and mingled with the women and slave-girls, and danced till he attracted the attention of all present, and they all crowded round him, staring at him whilst he sang, for he knew his voice would reach Abla:

Fawn of the huntsman, thy captor is come: say not he is not come; to! here he is—certain are all thy hopes!—rejoice in the aid of the sword of thy hero!

p. 268

Understand the tale I tell thee: how long wilt thou delay? Joy is now descending on thy home, and will ever endure, summer and winter.

"Now Abla was at that moment listening to the music from the tent. She signified her wish to sing and play with the other damsels, and thus addressed Shiboob:

O wanderer of the desert, dancer of the tent!—the lion is the noble animal that affords refuge after excess of pain—this is indeed a period of my joy in thee!

All my sorrows and griefs have vanished. My joy depends on thee, O Chief! Approach, for I am here as one dead!

"When Shiboob heard these words, he pretended being tired, and sat down near the tent. Just at that time Abla also appeared and looked at him, and, as he was dressed in woman's clothes—'This damsel cannot be a Kendeyan maid,' she said: 'she must be a damsel of Shedad's." Then went pit-a-pat Shiboob's heart; but he turned towards her, and calmed her mind, and uncovered his face. She recognised him. 'O Shiboob!' said she, 'where is my cousin Antar?'—'Here he is,' replied Shiboob, 'hard by; and with him his friend Oorwah, and a hundred horsemen. We arrived here last night, and I am come to procure intelligence of you: I shall return and inform him.'—'Shiboob,' said she, 'there are still three days for the marriage with Mas-hil, son of Tarak; but let that rather be the means of separation. Return immediately and tell him my situation; but let him not think of assaulting the tribe; he must lie in wait for me till I set out: then let him rush forth, and slay all that are with me. Do you seize the bridle of my camel, and we will return to our native land. All—all must taste of death; bid Antar not to spare even my father.'

p. 269

"Shiboob, having heard this, returned to Antar, and related to him all that Abla had told him."

Antar forms his plans accordingly; and, waylaying the bridal party, slays Mas-hil, and seizes his uncle Malik. The Kendeyans are attacked by Bostam, and the Absians, led by Zoheir's sons, arrive to the aid of Antar. The Princes reproach Antar for leaving them, and abuse his uncle for his infamous conduct. Antar magnanimously offers to make no demand upon his uncle, if he will go back to the land of Abs with his daughter; but he must marry her to no one else. Malik is thus compelled to return with Abla to his own tribe; while Antar determines to reside for some time with his friend Bostam in Shiban. But his passion for the daughter of Malik soon sends him forth again in quest of her, and as he traversed the wastes he recited:

When the zephyr gently blows, its breath relieves the sickened heart, and brings me news of the damsel and of those I love, who are travelling on their journey.

Regardless are they of whom they have left behind, cast down and dead in the land of love;—one who has quitted their country, and roams anxious about them, wheresoever they drive their baggage-camels.

Indeed, O Abla! they have betrayed my vows;—it is thy father that is ungrateful for favours.

I have borne sorrows and absence patiently, even in my weak state; and I have defied the railers.

I am accustomed to grief, so that my body, were it to lose its pains, would sigh after its emaciated state.

The raven taunts it, as if it had been one that had destroyed its plundered young:

It weeps, and the torrents of my tears sympathise with it;—it sighs, and my woes cruelly increase;—it

p. 270

passes the night in anguish for the loss of its mate, for whose absence it mourns the live-long night.

I said to it: Thou hast wounded the inmost recesses of my heart: ever is thy grief a mental disease.

I have shed tears from my eyes, and my native home and country excite all my interest.

Absence has left me no soul, no body, in which, miserable as I am, I can live.

Wert thou to take off the armour from it, thou wouldst see beneath it only a ruined vestige; and on those worn-out remains is a coffin-sword, whose edge would notch the bright-polished scimitar.

I am so accustomed to the calamities of Fortune, that all their vastness appears but trifling to me.

Antar finds his uncle lying in the desert, desperately wounded, his party having been attacked by Anis, son of Madraka, the Kitaamite, and Abla and her brother taken prisoners. He pursues this chief, rescues Abla and Amru, and returns to the land of Abs with his uncle's family.

Next: Attempted Murder of Abla