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


Many more wonderful exploits were performed by Antar in opposing the enemies of Abs—many illustrious warriors fell beneath the stroke of his irresistible sword Dhami, before he attained the chief desire of his heart. At length King Cais, grateful for his services, resolved that Antar should be married to his darling Abla without further delay, and his uncle Malik freely gave his consent. And never was there such another glorious wedding! From the most distant lands came famous

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knights to honour the nuptials of the renowned son of Shedad and the beauteous daughter of Malik, and rich and rare were the presents they brought with them. Each of these illustrious chiefs addressed verses to Antar, in praise of his prowess, and congratulating him on his marriage. "It was now the season of spring, and the land was enamelled with the lustre of new-born flowers." For several days the horsemen jousted with each other, with blunted spears. And then came the wedding night.

"Now there was a curious custom current among the Arabs at that period. The night on which a bridegroom should wed his wife, they brought a quantity of camel pack-saddles, and heaped them one upon the other, decorating them with magnificent garments. Here they conducted the bride, and having seated her on high, they said to the bridegroom: 'Come on—now for thy bride!' And the bridegroom rushed forward to carry her off; whilst the youths of the tribe, drawn up in line, right and left, with staves and stones in their hands, as soon as the bridegroom dashed forward, began beating and pelting him, and doing their utmost to prevent his reaching his bride. If a rib or so were broken in the affair, it was well for him; were he killed, it was his destiny. But should he reach his bride in safety, the people quitted him, and no one attempted to approach him."

This singular custom was, however, waived in the case of Antar, by order of the King, who feared lest some enemy of the hero might do him a mortal injury in the mēlée.

“And now, when the Arabs assembled for Antar's marriage had eaten their dinner, the cups of wine were brought round to them. The men and the women were promiscuously moving together; the girls came forth, and the slave-women were amusing themselves, enjoying the happy moments. 'Hola!' cried the matrons and the virgins, 'we will not remain covered on Antar's marriage.' They threw aside their veils, and the full moons appeared in all their lustre; and they flaunted the branches of their forms in the excess of their delight; and it was a famous day for them. 'By the faith of an Arab,' said the matrons and virgins, 'we will not remain thus concealed behind

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these curtains—the doors shall not be shut upon us; we will see Abla in her magnificence, and we will walk in her train, and make our offerings to her and Antar, and we will not keep a dirhem or a dinar to ourselves; for a happier night than this can never be, and no one but a madman would miss it.'

“When the women of Carad heard this, they were alarmed for the scandal and censure that would thus be occasioned: so they resolved to finish Abla's ceremony. They clothed her in most magnificent robes and superb necklaces; they placed the coronet of Chosroe on her head, and tiaras round her forehead: Abla was remarkable for her beauty and loveliness: the tire-women surrounded her, and they requested Antar to let her come forth in state. He gave them permission, whilst his brothers and slaves stood round the pavilion with their swords, and javelins, and weapons. He ordered them to place a lofty throne for Abla in front of the pavilion. They executed his commands: they lighted brilliant and scented candles before her, and spread afar the odour of aloes and camphor, and scattered the perfumes of ambergris and musk; the lights were fixed in candlesticks of gold and silver—the torches blazed—and whilst the women shouted and raised their voices to whistles and screams, Abla came forth in state. In her hand she bore a drawn sword, whose lustre dazzled the eyesight. All present gave a shout; whilst the malicious and ill-natured cried: 'What a pity that one so beautiful and fair should be wedded to one so black!'”

Thus, after all his trials and perils, the renowned son of Shedad was duly married to his darling Abla, and thus he expressed his satisfaction at the consummation of his wishes:

My heart is at rest: it is recovered from its intoxication. Sleep has calmed my eyelids, and relieved them.

Fortune has aided me, and my prosperity cleaves the veil of night, and the seven orders of heaven.

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