journeys being occasionally diversified by the ascent of a hill on which to sit down for a little rest, or to stand erect and scan all around, in anticipation of danger.
Section 10, verses 56-59, describes his mode of reposing by night during such journeys, on the bare earth, where a level spot can be found; his spine-like vertebral processes forming his only couch, and his scraggy arm, "with prominent joints like gamblers' dice," his hard pillow; the female chamois flocking round him, under the mistake that he is their buck.
With Section 11, verses 60-62, the scene changes to a cold dark night, " when the archer is fain to burn his very bow and arrows" to keep life in him. The poet then tramps forth in the pitchy darkness and drizzle, "with naught but hate and misery for his companions." Suiting his actions to such concomitants, "he makes widows and orphans" (in one tent), and "repeats this again and again while the night is at its very darkest."
Section 12, verses 63-66, gives, chorus fashion, an imaginary conversation between two parties of the survivors, which artistically brings into relief the details of the preceding summary of the slaughter. They bad heard their watchdogs slightly growl, but those sentinels had again composed themselves to sleep. The men had therefore imagined that some beast or bird had been scared to an untimely movement, and had themselves gone to sleep again. Dawn having shown them the reality of the havoc, they are most graphically pictured as musing: "Verily, if a demon has done it, his work is horrible, even for one of them; and, if a human being was the butcher . . . ; but no! what man could do it?"
The drama is thus concluded in twelve sections; and, in an epilogue of two verses, 67-68, the poet discloses his name, with the sombre reflection: "If the Mother of Qastel be now in despair through my act, she has for much longer time enjoyed an advantage over me. She sleeps only when I sleep; and even then her eyes (spies) are open, spying for an occasion to wreak mischief on me."
No poem could be more in accordance with the unities than this defiant, though foreboding, effusion of the ante-Muhammadan Arabian warrior, whose direst vengeance assailed not directly the women or the children. It is the most perfect drama I can call to mind, now that its distichs and sections are duly co-ordinated. What sacrilegious mutilation has been wrought upon it during a thousand years by, I believe, the blunderings of successive generations of commentators and translators, blindly following in each other's footsteps! May I not dare humbly to hope that my venturesome attempt at a tardy rectification will be pronounced unanimously, by competent critics, to be correct in its main features, even though a detail here and there may still admit of further amelioration?
The exact meaning of the poet's expression: "the mother of Qastel," is not known. One commentator has guessed— it is nothing more—that the term means "a calamity," (Arabic characters) ; another opines that it may signify "war" or "a battle," (Arabic characters) ; a third, again, truly states, in my opinion, that it is (the designation of) "a woman."
With the two concluding distichs of my rearrangement separated from each other by six intervening verses, according to the manuscript of the India Office Library, or by one verse, as in the order adopted by De Sacy, their close connexion is entirely masked. Again, by being forced back to the place of the forty-fourth, and forty-sixth or fiftieth verses respectively, their true significance is effaced, their office is ignored, and the whole poem is shattered into dislocated fragments, entirely void of interdependence. But, coming together at the end of the poem, as I have placed them, it seems to me that their true meaning is as clear as the day; viz. "Qastel," which is a name for "the dust," was the youthful chief of the tribe assailed by Shanfarà, and was most likely one of those done to death by his hand in that night of horrors. His father may have been Shanfara's foe in bygone days, and have died by some other hand, Shanfarà being suspected and persecuted by the widow and son in