The Poem of Hareth
DOTH fair Asoma give us notice of her departure? Oh, why are sojourners so frequently weary of their sojourning?
2. She is resolved to depart, after our mutual vows among the sandy hillocks of Shamma, and in the nearer station of Khalsa;—
3. Vows, repeated in Mohayat, Sifah, and Aglai, in Dhu Fitak, Adhib, and Wafa;—
4. Vows, renewed in the bowers of Katha, and the dales of Shoreib, in the Two Valleys, and in the plains of Ayla.
5. I see no remains of the troth which she plighted in those stations; and I waste the day in tears, frantic with grief; but oh, what part of my happiness will tears restore?
6. Yet, O Hareth, a new passion invites thee; for Hinda is before thy eyes, and the fire which she kindles at night in the hills will direct thee to her abode:
7. She kindles it with abundance of wood between the hilly stations of Akeik and Shakhsein, and it blazes like the splendour of the sun.
8. I have been contemplating her fire from a distance on the hill whence our excursions are made; but oh, the scorching heat and the calamities of war prevent me from approaching her
9. But I seek assistance in dispelling my care, when the sojourner of the tent hastily leaves his abode through fear of some impending calamity,
10. On a camel, swift as an ostrich, the mother of many young ones; the long-necked inhabitant of the desert,
11. Who hears a soft sound, and dreads the approach of the hunter, in the afternoon, just before the dusk of evening:
12. Then mayst thou see behind her, from the quick motion of her legs, and the force with which she strikes the earth, a cloud of dust, thin as the gossamer,
13. And the traces of her hoofs, which are such as to be soon effaced by the winds blowing over the sandy plain.
14. With her I disport myself in the sultry noon, whilst every son of valour is like a blind camel devoted to death.
15. Yet misfortunes and evil tidings have brought on us affairs which give us affliction and anguish;
16. For our brethren, the family of Arakem, the dragon-eyed, have transgressed the bounds of justice against us, and have been vehement in their invectives:
17. They have confounded the blameless among us with the guilty, and the most perfect innocence has not escaped their censure.
18. They have insisted that all who pitch their tents in the desert are our associates, and that we are involved in their offences.
19. They assembled their forces at night, and as soon as the dawn appeared, there was nothing heard among them but a tumultuous noise
20. Of those who called and those who answered; the neighing of horses, and, among the rest, the lowing of camels.
21. O thou, who adornest thy flowery speeches concerning us before Amru, can this falsehood be long undetected?
22. Imagine not that thy instigation will animate him against us, or humiliate us; since long before thee our enemies have openly calumniated us;
23. Yet we continued advancing ourselves in defiance of their hate, with laudable self-sufficiency and exalted reputation.
24. Before this day, the eyes of nations have been dazzled by our glory, and have been moved by envious indignation and obstinate resentment.
25. Fortune seemed to raise for us a dark rock,. with a pointed summit, dispelling the clouds;
26. Thick and firm, secured from calamity; not to be weakened by any disaster, however grievous and violent.
27. Intrust to our wisdom every momentous affair from which you desire to be extricated, and by which the assemblies of chiefs are made unhappy.
28. If you inquire concerning our wars between Milaha and Dhakib, you will find on their plains many an unavenged and many an avenged corse:
29. Or, if you examine diligently the questions in which all tribes are deeply interested, you will see the difference between your offences and our innocence.
30. But if you decline this fair discussion, we shall turn from you with resentment, concealing hatred in our bosoms, as the mote is concealed in the closed eyelids.
31. Reject, if you please, the terms which we offer; but of whom have you heard that surpasses us in glory?
32. You have perfectly known us on the days when the warriors have assailed one another with rapacious violence, when every tribe has raised a tumultuous din;
33. When we brought up our camels from the palm-groves of Bahrein, and drove them by rapid marches, till we reached the plain of Hisa.
34. Then we advanced against the sons of Tameim, and when the sacred month required a cessation of our war, we carried away the daughters of their tribe for our handmaids.
35. In opposition to us, neither could the valiant man keep his ground on the level field, nor did precipitate flight avail the faint-hearted.
36. No; the coward, who ran hastily from the plain, was not saved by the summit of rocks or the roughness of craggy paths.
37. By these exertions we maintained our preeminence over the tribes, until Mondir, son of the beautiful Maisema, obtained the dominion.
38. He was a prince who bore witness to our valour on the day of Hayarain, when the calamity of war was, in truth, a calamity:
39. A prince who subjected nations; whose equal in magnanimity could not be found among them.
40. Desist then from vaunting and from hostility: you have indeed pretended ignorance of our claims, but from that pretended ignorance will proceed your woe.
41. Remember well the oaths taken in Dhu’lmejaaz: the covenants and vows of amity, which were made there of old.
42. Beware of injustice and violence; nor let your intemperate passions impel you to violate your contracts written on tablets.
43. Know, that we and you, on the day when we made our treaty, were equally bound by our respective engagements.
44. Are we responsible for the crimes of Canda? Shall their conquering chief have the spoils, and shall reprisals be made upon us?
45. Are we responsible for the excesses of Haneifa, and for all the conflicts which the dusty plain has seen accumulated?
46. Must we answer for the offences of the sons of Ateik? No: whoever has broken his covenant, we are innocent of their war.
47. Doth the guilt of Ibaad hang on our heads, as the burden is suspended on the centre of the camel's girths?
48. Has the blame due to Kodhaa fallen upon us? or, rather, are we not secure from a single drop of their faults?
49. Are we responsible for the crimes of Iyaad, as it was said to the tribe of Thasm, "Your brethren are rebels?"
50. Those who raised the dissension belong not to us, neither Kais, nor Jondal, nor Hadda.
51. Vain pretexts! Unjust aspersions! That we should suffer for others, as the roe is sacrificed in the place of the sheep!
52. Fourscore warriors, indeed, advanced from Taureim, and their hands carried lances, whose points were Fate;
53. Yet they profaned not the hallowed places of the sons of Rizaah on the hills of Nitaa, when they called on them for mercy.
54. They left them, however, wounded on the plain, and returned with captive herds and flocks so numerous, that the drivers of them were deafened with their cries.
55. The vanquished tribe came afterwards to implore restitution, but not a single beast, either black or of a bright hue, was restored to them.
56. So they retired with heart-breaking afflictions, nor could any stream of water quench their ardent rage.
57. After this a troop of horsemen, led by the impetuous Ghallaak, assailed them without remorse or pity:
58. Full many a son of Tagleb has been smitten, whose blood has flowed unrevenged, while the black dust covered his corse.
59. Are your cares comparable to those of our tribe, when Mondir waged war against them? Are we, like you, become subject to the son of Hinda?
60. When he fixed his abode in the lofty turrets of Maisuna, and sojourned in the nearer stations of Khaltha,
61. From every tribe there flocked around him a company of robbers, impetuous as eagles:
62. He led them on, and supplied them with dates and with water; so the will of God was accomplished, and afflicted men doomed to affliction.
63. Then you invited them to attack you by your want of circumspection; and the vain security of your intemperate joy impelled them to be hostile.
64. They surprised you not, indeed, by a sudden assault; but they advanced, and the sultry vapour of noon, through which you saw them, increased their magnitude.
65. O thou inveterate and glozing calumniator, who inveighest against us before King Amru, will there be no end of thy unjust invectives?
66. Between Amru and us many acts of amity have passed, and from all of them, no doubt, has benefit arisen.
67. He is a just prince, and the most accomplished that walks the earth: all praise is below his merit:
68. A prince descended from Irem! A warrior like him ought ever to be encircled with troops of genii, for he protects his domain, and refuses to punish even his opponents:
69. A monarch who knows us by three infallible signs, by each of which our excellence is decided:—
70. The first is, the conspicuous token of our valour, when all Arabia came forth in the rocky vales, each tribe of Maad under their banner,
71. And assembled, in complete armour, round the warlike Kais, that valiant prince of Yemen, who stood firm and brilliant like a white cliff.
72. Then came a legion of high-born youths, whom nothing could restrain but our long and glittering spears;
73. But we repelled them with strokes, which made their blood gush from their sides, as the water streams from the mouth of a bottle which contains it.
74. We drove them for refuge to the craggy hills of Thahlaan; we thrust them before us, till the muscles of their thighs were breeched in gore.
75. We did with them a deed, the name of which God only knows; and no revenge could be taken for the blood of men who sought their own fate.
76. Next advanced Hojar, son of Ommi Kathaam, with an army of Persians, clad in discoloured brass:
77. A lion in the conflict, of a ruddy hue, trampling on his prey; but a vernal season of beneficence in every barren year.
78. Yet we smote them on the foreheads with the edges of our scimitars, which quivered in their flesh, like buckets drawn from a deep well encircled with stone.
79. Secondly, we broke the chains of Amriolkais, after his long imprisonment and anguish.
80. We forcibly revenged the death of Mondir, king of Gassaan, that his blood might not flow in vain.
81. We redeemed our captives with nine kings of illustrious race, whose spoils were exceedingly precious.
82. With the horses, with the dark horses of the sons of Aus, came whole squadrons, fierce as eagles with crooked beaks:
83. We scarce had passed through the cloud of dust when they turned their backs; and then how dreadfully blazed the fire of our vengeance!
84. Lastly, we gave birth to Amru, the son of Omm Ayaas; for not long ago were the bridal gifts presented to us, as kinsmen.
85. May our faithful admonition reach all our kindred tribes, extended as wide as our consanguinity, in plains beyond plains!