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


At night, when all was still, Antar, mounted on Abjer, and accompanied by his brother Shiboob, departs for the Holy Shrine. As they travelled through the deserts, the hero's reflections found expression in these verses:

If, O tear! thou canst not relieve me in my sorrow, perhaps thou mayst quench the flame that consumes me.

O heart! if thou wilt not wait patiently for a meeting—die, then, the death of a woe-begone, wandering stranger!

How long must I defy the evils of Fortune, and encounter the vicissitudes of night with the Indian blade?

I serve a tribe, whose hearts are the reverse of what they exhibit in their fondness for me.

I am, in the field, the prince of their tribe; but, the battle over, I am more despised than a slave.

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O that I could annihilate this affection of a lover! how it humiliates me!—it agonizes my heart—it enfeebles my courage.

But soon will I seek the Sacred Shrine, and complain of my ill-usage to the Judge against whose decrees there lies no appeal.

I will renounce the days when my tears deceived me; and I will aid the widowed and plaintive dove.

On thee, O daughter of Malik! be the peace of God!—the blessing of a sorrowing, heart-grieved lover!

I will depart; but my soul is firm in its love for thee;—have pity, then, on the cauterised heart of one far away!

Soon will my tribe remember me when the horse advance—every noble warrior trampling and stamping over them:

Then, O daughter of Malik! will agony be plainly evident, when the coward gnaws his hands in death!

Their journey was marked with no particular incident until they drew near Mecca, when Shiboob observed to his brother that it was strange they had met with no adventure on the way. Antar replied that he was harassed with encountering dangers, and his heart was disgusted at fighting; and he quoted these verses:

Retire within yourself, and be familiar with solitude:

When you are alone, you are in the right road.

Wild beasts are tamed by gentle treatment;

But men are never to be induced to abandon their iniquity.

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[paragraph continues] But presently they hear, in the calmness of the night, a female voice crying out, evidently in sore distress; upon which Antar slackens his bridle, and gallops in the direction whence proceeded the cries. He discovers a lady, who informs him that she is of the noble tribe of Kendeh; her husband, As-hath, the son of Obad; that a famine having visited their land, they were proceeding, with their family, to the country of Harith, where they intended to settle, having a daughter married there, when they were attacked by a horseman of the desert, called Sudam, the son of Salheb, with forty plundering Arabs, who had slain her three sons, wounded her husband, and taken herself and her three daughters captive; and that the brigands were about to convey them to the mountains of Toweila, there to sell them as slaves. Consigning the ladies to the care of his brother, Antar grasped his spear, and turned to meet Sudam and his followers, whom he now saw hastily advancing towards him. The hero is assailed by several of the brigands at once, but he cuts them down on either side, and at length encounters Sudam, and, striking him on the breast with his cleaving Dhami, the chief falls to the ground dead, weltering in his blood.

The three damsels and their mother crowd round their deliverer, kissing his hands and thanking him for having saved them from dishonour; and Antar, desiring the damsels to veil themselves, and having bound up the old sheikh's wounds, sat down to rest himself after the fatigues of his conflict. The old sheikh, grateful for the good service rendered his family by Antar, offers him his choice of his three daughters, but Antar courteously declines the compliment, saying to the damsels:

Were my heart my own, I should desire nothing beyond you—it would covet nothing but you.

But it loves what tortures it; where no word, no deed encourages it.

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Having escorted the old sheikh and his family to the land of Harith, Antar took leave of them, and, in company with Shiboob, proceeded to Mecca. "He alighted in the Sacred Valley, and there he resided; passing his days in hunting, to relieve his sorrows and afflictions, and his nights with Shiboob, in talking over old stories and past events."

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