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Armenian Legends and Poems [1916] at

p. 52



(Fifteenth Century)

THE Rose was gone. When to the empty tent
The Nightingale returned, his heart was torn.
He filled the night with mourning and lament,
And wandered through the darkness lone and lorn.

"To thee I speak, O Garden, answer me,
Why did’st thou not preserve my precious Rose,
Whose perfume breathed of immortality,
Whose colour made her queen of all that grows?

"May’st thou become a desert parched and dry,
And may the flowers that grow within thee fade;
May thy protecting walls in ruin lie--
By ruthless feet thy soil in waste be laid.

"Ye trees, now cast away your verdant leaves,
And rushing torrents, your swift courses stay.
Reckless I speak, as one who sorely grieves,
For they have taken my sweet love away.

p. 53

"My Rose is gone and I am desolate.
Light of my eyes was she, now darkness reigns.
Both day and night I weep disconsolate.
My reason leaves me, and my spirit wanes.

"Was it the gardener took her away
And grieved my soul If never more again
I should behold her face, what shall I say?
Instead of joy, I'll sing of grief and pain.

"Or else I fear the mighty wind arose,
And blasted with its strength her petals frail;
Or did the scorching sunbeams burn my Rose
Within her leaves, and turn her beauty pale? . . .

"I think perhaps the flowers were wroth with me
And hid her from my sight; I'll go to them.
Or else the clouds in cruel enmity
Sent hailstones down that broke her from the stem!"

Then all the flowers together made reply,
"We have no tidings of the Rose at all,
She left us suddenly, we know not why.
We have no tidings of the Rose at all."

The Nightingale then rose into the air,
"I'll ask the birds in friendly wise," he said,
"If they can tell me why she went, and where;
If not, a sea of tears my eyes shall shed.

"Birds, do you know what came to pass to-day?
The lovely Rose was stolen from her home.
Know you perchance who carried her away?
Have you seen aught, or heard where she doth roam?"

p. 54

They said, "The Lord Creator knoweth all;
No secrets of the heart from Him are hid.
On Him as witness reverently we call
We have not seen or touched her--God forbid!"

The Nightingale then sadly made reply,
"What will become of me? From night to morn
I have no rest, and I shall surely die,
Parted from her, with ceaseless longings worn.

"If in her stead the world to me were given
I would esteem it but a paltry thing;
If choirs of minstrels sang the songs of heaven,
To me their songs as discords harsh would ring.

"Oh, in what corner have they buried thee?
How shall I e’er forget thy tenderness?
My heart and soul are wounded grievously,
All flowers are dead--this place a wilderness.

"The Psalmist's words are now fulfilled in me;
Mournful I go, and like a pelican
About the wilderness roam hopelessly,
Or like an owl the sandy desert scan."

The gardener then with soothing words drew near,
"Weep not, she will return, O Nightingale.
The Violet, her forerunner, is here,
And brings thee messages and words of hail."

Then he rejoiced and blessed the gardener,
"May’st thou in peace upon this earth abide,
Thy garden flourish with its bright allure,
Its circling walls renew their former pride.

p. 55

"May all thy plants grow verdant once again,
And gently sway about upon the breeze,
May they receive fresh brightness from the rain,
And waft sweet perfume human hearts to please!"

Then did the Nightingale write a letter unto the Rose who collected all the Flowers and caused it to be read in their presence.

They took the letter to the Rose's Court,
Where Hazrevart, her minister austere,
Stood on his feet with stately mien and port
And read it out for all the flowers to hear:--

"I greet thee, O beloved of my heart,
And fain would hear concerning this thy rape.
I trust through God's protecting care thou art
Perfect in health, as faultless in thy shape.

"For which with outstretched hands I ever pray,
And beg that length of days be granted thee;
All flowers bend to thee and homage pay,
Thou rulest them in all thy majesty.

"Thy hue is beautiful, thy perfume sweet,
Each morn thou shinest brighter than the sun.
Happy the day when thee once more I meet,--
For thou art full of grace, my spotless one.

p. 56

"Apart from thee, in humble reverence,
I worship thee, and pray for thy return.
I have no sleep at night for this suspense,
Now Spring is here I ever weep and mourn.

"The icy winter passed--I lived it through,
Still suffering many things because of thee;
They mocked at me, and said thou wast not true--
My Rose had no more love or care for me."

Then sent the Rose unto the Nightingale,
And said: "Behold, I send him many flowers.
And they shall cover mountain, hill, and dale,
My Nightingale shall dwell within those bowers.

"I cannot there return immediately;
A little he must wait, in patient wise:
But if his love is perfectly with me,
Tell him to look for it in Paradise."

The Nightingale rejoiced on hearing this
And said: "The beauteous Rose shall then return!
What tidings wonderful of untold bliss!
For all the world her ransom could not earn."

And when the sun into the Ram had passed,
The thunder rolled, the storm-clouds broke in showers;
Myriads of blossoms o’er the earth were cast:--
He sought the Rose--she was not of those flowers.

Until one morn he saw her foliage green,
Lovely and fresh as it had been before:
The Rose was hidden in a silken screen
And every flower worshipped her once more.

p. 57

The Nightingale beheld and said: "Thank Heaven!
Blessing and praise from every mouth be breathed;
To Heaven's King be endless glory given--
For in her bud I saw the Rose ensheathed!"

     .        .        .        .        .        .        .

Foolish Aghtamartzi, beware this bane,
For this world's love is ever linked with thorn;
A little while ’tis gladness, then ’tis pain
What boots the joy which needs must make us mourn?




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