The Poem of Amriolkais
STAY!—Let us weep at the remembrance of our beloved, at the sight of the station where her tent was raised, by the edge of yon bending sands between Dahul and Haumel,
2. "Tudam and Mikra; a station, the marks of which are not wholly effaced, though the south wind and the north have woven the twisted sand."
3. Thus I spoke, when my companions stopped their coursers by my side, and said: "Perish not through despair: only be patient."
4. "A profusion of tears," answered I, "is my sole relief; but what avails it to shed them over the remains of a deserted mansion?"
5. "Thy condition," they replied, "is not more painful than when thou leftest Howaira, before thy present passion, and her neighbour Rebaba, on the hills of Masel."
6. "Yes," I rejoined, "when those two damsels departed, musk was diffused from their robes, as the eastern gale sheds the scent of clove-gillyflowers:
7. "Then gushed the tears from my eyes, through excess of regret, and flowed down my neck, till my sword-belt was drenched in the stream."
8. "Yet hast thou passed many days in sweet converse with the fair: but none so sweet as the day which thou spentest by the pool of Daratjuljul."
9. On that day I killed my camel, to give the virgins a feast; and, oh! how strange was it that they should carry his trappings and furniture!
10. The damsels continued till evening helping one another to the roasted flesh, and to the delicate fat, like the fringe of white silk finely woven.
11. On that happy day I entered the carriage, the carriage of Onaiza, who said: "Wo to thee! thou wilt compel me to travel on foot."
12. She added (while the vehicle was bent aside with our weight), "O Amriolkais, descend, or my beast also will be killed!"
13. I answered: "Proceed, and loosen his rein; nor withhold from me the fruits of thy love, which again and again may be tasted with rapture.
14. "Many a fair one like thee—though not, like thee, a virgin—have I visited by night; and many a lovely mother have I diverted from the care of her yearling infant, adorned with amulets:
15. "When the suckling behind her cried, she turned round to him with half her body; but half of it, pressed beneath my embrace, was not turned from me."
16. Delightful, too, was the day when Fatima first rejected me on the summit of yon sand-hill, and took an oath, which she declared inviolable.
17. "O Fatima!" said I, "away with so much coyness; and if thou hadst resolved to abandon me, yet at last relent!
18. "If indeed my disposition and manners are unpleasing to thee, rend at once the mantle of my heart, that it may be detached from thy love.
19. "Art thou so haughty, because my passion for thee destroys me; and because whatever thou commandest my heart performs?
20. "Thou weepest; yet thy tears flow merely to wound my heart with the shafts of thine eyes—my heart, already broken to pieces and agonizing."
21. Besides these, with many a spotless virgin, whose tent had not yet been frequented, have I held soft dalliance at perfect leisure.
22. To visit one of them, I passed the guards of her bower, and a hostile tribe, who would have been eager to proclaim my death.
23. It was the hour when the Pleiads appeared in the firmament, like the folds of a silken sash variously decked with gems.
24. I approached: she stood expecting me by the curtain; and, as if she was preparing for sleep, had put off all her vesture but her night-dress.
25. She said: "By Him who created me," and gave me her lovely hand, "I am unable to refuse thee; for I perceive that the blindness of thy passion is not to be removed."
26. Then I rose with her; and as we walked she drew over our footsteps the train of her pictured robe.
27. Soon as we had passed the habitations of her tribe, and come to the bosom of a vale, surrounded with hillocks of spiry sand,
28. I gently drew her towards me by her curled locks, and she softly inclined to my embrace;—her waist was gracefully slender, but sweetly swelled the part encircled with ornaments of gold.
29. Delicate was her shape; fair her skin; and her body well proportioned: her bosom was as smooth as a mirror,
30. Or, like the pure egg of an ostrich, of a yellowish tint blended with white, and nourished by a stream of wholesome water not yet disturbed.
31. She turned aside, and displayed her soft cheek: she gave a timid glance with languishing eyes, like those of a roe in the groves of Wegera looking tenderly at her young.
32. Her neck was like that of a milk-white hind, but, when she raised it, exceeded not the justest symmetry; nor was the neck of my beloved so unadorned.
33. Her long coal-black hair decorated her back, thick and diffused, like bunches of dates clustering on the palm-tree.
34. Her locks were elegantly turned above her head; and the riband which bound them was lost in her tresses, part braided, part dishevelled.
35. She discovered a waist taper as a well-twisted cord; and a leg both as white and as smooth as the stem of a young palm, or a fresh reed, bending over the rivulet.
36. When she sleeps at noon, her bed is besprinkled with musk: she puts on her robe of undress, but leaves the apron to her handmaids.
37. She dispenses gifts with small, delicate fingers, sweetly glowing at their tips, like the white and crimson worm of Dabia, or dentrifices made of esel-wood.
38. The brightness of her face illumines the veil of night, like the evening taper of a recluse hermit.
39. On a girl like her, a girl of a moderate height, between those who wear a frock and those who wear a gown, the most bashful man must look with an enamoured eye.
40. The blind passions of men for common objects of affection are soon dispersed; but from the love of thee my heart cannot be released.
41. O how oft have I rejected the admonitions of a morose adviser, vehement in censuring my passion for thee; nor have I been moved by his reproaches!
42. Often has the night drawn her skirts around me, like the billows of the ocean, to make trial of my fortitude in a variety of cares;
43. And I said to her, when she seemed to extend her sides, to drag on her unwieldy length, and to advance slowly with her breast:
44. "Dispel thy gloom, O tedious night! that the morn may rise; although my sorrows are such, that the morning-light will not give more comfort than thy shades.
45. "O hideous night!—a night in which the stars are prevented from rising, as if they were bound to a solid cliff with strong cables!"
46. Often, too, have I risen at early dawn, while the birds were yet in their nests, and mounted a hunter with smooth short hair, of a full height, and so fleet as to make captive the beasts of the forest;
47. Ready in turning, quick in pursuing, bold in advancing, firm in backing; and performing the whole with the strength and swiftness of a vast rock which a torrent has pushed from its lofty base;
48. A bright bay steed, from whose polished back the trappings slide, as drops of rain glide hastily down the slippery marble.
49. Even in his weakest state he seems to boil while he runs; and the sound which he makes in his rage is like that of a bubbling cauldron.
50. When other horses that swim through the air are languid and kick the dust, he rushes on like a flood, and strikes the hard earth with a firm hoof.
51. He makes the light youth slide from his seat, and violently shakes the skirts of a heavier and more stubborn rider;
52. Rapid as the pierced wood in the hands of a playful child, which he whirls quickly round with a well-fastened cord.
53. He has the loins of an antelope, and the thighs of an ostrich; he trots like a wolf, and gallops like a young fox.
54. Firm are his haunches; and when his hinder parts are turned towards you, he fills the space between his legs with a long thick tail, which touches not the ground, and inclines not to either side.
55. His back, when he stands in his stall, resembles the smooth stone on which perfumes are mixed for a bride, or the seeds of coloquinteda are bruised.
56. The blood of the swift game, which remains on his neck, is like the crimson juice of hinna on gray flowing locks.
57. He bears us speedily to a herd of wild cattle, in which the heifers are fair as the virgins in black trailing robes, who dance round the idol Dewaar:
58. They turn their backs, and appear like the variegated shells of Yemen on the neck of a youth distinguished in his tribe for a multitude of noble kinsmen.
59. He soon brings us up to the foremost of the beasts, and leaves the rest far behind; nor has the herd time to disperse itself.
60. He runs from wild bulls to wild heifers, and overpowers them in a single heat, without being bathed, or even moistened, with sweat.
61. Then the busy cook dresses the game, roasting part, baking part on hot stones, and quickly boiling the rest in a vessel of iron.
62. In the evening we depart; and when the beholder's eye ascends to the head of my hunter, and then descends to his feet, it is unable at once to take in all his beauties.
63. His trappings and girths are still upon him: he stands erect before me, not yet loosed for pasture.
64. O friend, seest thou the lightning, whose flashes resemble the quick glance of two hands, amid clouds. raised above clouds?
65. The fire of it gleams like the lamps of a hermit, when the oil poured on them shakes the cord by which they are suspended.
66. I sit gazing at it, while my companions stand between Daaridge and Odhaib; but far distant is the cloud on which my eyes are fixed.
67. Its right side seems to pour its rain on the hills of Katan, and its left on the mountains of Sitaar and Yadbul.
68. It continues to discharge its waters over Cotaifa till the rushing torrent lays prostrate the groves of canahbel-trees.
69. It passes over mount Kenaan, which it deluges in its course, and forces the wild goats to descend from every cliff.
70. On mount Taima it leaves not one trunk of a palm tree, nor a single edifice, which is not built with well-cemented stone.
71. Mount Tebeir stands in the heights of the flood, like a venerable chief wrapped in a striped mantle.
72. The summit of Mogaimir, covered with the rubbish which the torrent has rolled down, looks in the morning like the top of a spindle encircled with wool.
73. The cloud unloads its freight on the desert of Ghabeit, like a merchant of Yemen alighting with his bales of rich apparel.
74. The small birds of the valley warble at daybreak, as if they had taken their early draught of generous wine mixed with spice.
75. The beasts of the wood, drowned in the floods of night, float, like the roots of wild onions, at the distant edge of the lake.