1 HE who created the firmament, by that mighty power made beings inspired from on high with souls celestial; to us men He has given the world, infinite in variety we possess it; from Him is every monarch in His likeness.
2 O one God! Thou didst create the face of every form! Shield me, give me mastery to trample on Satan, give me the longing of lovers lasting even unto death, lightening (of the burden) of sins I must bear thither with me.
3 Of that lion whom the use of lance, shield and sword adorns, of the king, the sun T’hamara, the ruby-cheeked, the jet-haired, of her I know not how I shall dare to sing the manifold praise; they who look upon her must offer her the sweets for which she hungers.
4 By shedding tears of blood we praise King T’hamara, whose praises I, not ill-chosen, have told forth. For ink I have used a lake of jet, and for pen a pliant crystal. Whoever hears, a jagged spear will pierce his heart!
5 She bade me indite sweet verses in her praise, laud
her eyebrows and lashes, her hair, her lips and teeth, cut! crystal and ruby arrayed in ranks. An anvil of soft lead breaks even hard stone.
6 Now want I tongue, heart and skill for utterance! Grant me strength! And if I have aid from thee I shall have understanding, so may we succour Tariel; tenderly indeed should we cherish his memory and that of the three starlike heroes wont to serve one another.
7 Come, sit ye down, ye who have been born under the same fate; let us shed a never-drying tear for Tariel's sake. I sat me down, I, Rust’haveli, indited a poem, my heart I pierced with a lance. Hitherto the tale has been told as a tale; now is it a pearl (of) measured (poesy).
8 To a lover, beauty, glorious beauty, wisdom, wealth, generosity, youth and leisure are fitting; he must be eloquent, intelligent, patient, an overcomer of mighty adversaries; who has not all these qualities lacks the character of a lover.
9 Love is tender, a thing hard to be known. True love is something apart from lust, and cannot be likened thereto it is one thing; lust is quite another thing, and between. them lies a broad boundary; in no way do they mingle hear my saying!
10 The lover must be constant, not lewd, impure an faithless; when he is far from his beloved he must heave sigh upon sigh; his heart must be fixed on one from whom he endures wrath or sorrow if need be. I hate heartless love--embracing, kissing, noisy bussing.
11 Lovers, call not this thing love: when any long for one to-day and another to-morrow, (lightly) bearing parting's pain. Such base sport is like mere boyish trifling; the good lover is he who suffers a world's woe.
12 There is a first (? noblest) love; it does not show, but hides its woes; (the lover) thinks of it when lied is alone, and always seeks solitude; his fainting, dying,
burning, flaming, all are from afar; he may face the wrath of kings, yet will he be fearful of her.
13 He must betray his secret to none, he must not basely groan and put his beloved to shame; in nought should he manifest his love, nowhere must he reveal it; for her sake he looks upon sorrow as joy, for her sake he would willingly be burned (or? willingly burns [with love]).
14 How can the sane trust him who noises his love abroad, and what shall it profit to do this? He makes her suffer, and he himself suffers. How should he glorify her if he shame her with words? What a chance if one hurt not his beloved's heart!
15 I, Rust’haveli, have composed this work by my art. For her whom a multitude of hosts obey, I lose my wits, I die! I am sick of love, and for me there is no cure from anywhere, unless she give me healing or the earth a grave.
16 This Persian tale, now done into Georgian, has hitherto been like a pearl of great price cast in play from hand to hand; now I have found it and mounted it in a setting of verse; I have done a praiseworthy deed. The ravisher of my reason, proud and beautiful, willed me to do it.
17 Eyes that have lost their light through her long to look on her anew; lo! my heart is mad with love, and it is my lot to run about the fields. Who will pray for me? The burning of the body sufficeth, let (her) give soul-comfort! In praise of threefold hue, the verse must needs fall short.
18 With what Fate gives to a man, therewithal should he be content, and so (? contentedly) speak of it. The labourer should ever work, the warrior be brave. So, also, should the lover love Love, and recognize it. Who judges not will not be judged by others.
19 Minstrelsy is, first of all, a branch of wisdom; divinely intelligible to the godlike, very wholesome to them that hearken; it is pleasant, too, if the listener be a worthy man; in few words he utters a long discourse: herein lies the excellence of poetry.
20 Like a horse running a great race on a long course, like a ball-player in the lists striking the ball fairly and aiming adroitly at the mark, even so it is with the poet who composes and indites long poems, when utterance is hard for him and verse begins to fail.
21 Then, indeed, behold the poet, and his poesy will be manifest. When he is at a loss for Georgian (words), and verse begins to fail, he will not weaken Georgian, nor will he let it grow poor in words. Let him strike the ball cunningly; he will show great virtue.
22 He who utters, somewhere, one or two verses cannot be called a poet; let him not think himself equal to great singers. Even if they compose a few discrepant verses from time to time, yet if they say, "Mine are of the best!" they are stiff-necked mules.
23 Secondly, lyrics which are but a small part of poetry and cannot command heart-piercing words--I may liken them to the bad bows of young hunters who cannot kill big game; they are able only to slay the small.
24 Thirdly, lyrics are fit for the festive, the joyous, the amorous, the merry, for pleasantries of comrades; they
please us when they are rightly sung. Those are not called poets who cannot compose a long work.
25 The poet must not spend his toil in vain. One should seem to him worthy of love; he must be devoted to one, he must employ all his art for her, he must praise her, he must set forth the glory of his beloved; he must wish for nought else, for her alone must his tongue be tuneful.
26 Now let all know that I praise her whom I (erstwhile) praised; in this I have great glory, I feel no shame. She is my life; merciless as a leopard is she. Her name I pronounce hereafter with triumph and praise.
27 I speak of the highest love--divine in its kind. It is difficult to discourse thereon, ill to tell forth with tongues. It is heavenly, upraising the soul on pinions. Whoever strives thereafter must indeed have endurance of many griefs.
28 Sages cannot comprehend that one Love; the tongue will tire, the ears of the listeners will become wearied; I must tell of lower frenzies, which befall human beings; they imitate it when they wanton not, but faint from afar.
29 In the Arabic tongue they call the lover "madman,"
because by non-fruition he loses his wits. Some have nearness to God, but they weary in the flight; then again, to others it is natural to pursue beauty.
30 I wonder why men show that they love the beloved. Why shame they her whom they love, her who slays herself for them, who is covered with wounds? If they love her not, why do they not manifest to her feelings of hatred? Why do they disgrace what they hate? But an evil man loves an evil word more than his soul or heart.
31 If the lover weep for his beloved, tears are her (? his) due. Wandering and solitude befit him, and must be esteemed as roaming. He will have time for nothing but to think of her. If he be among men, it is better that he manifest not his love.