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894Avt’handil also wept with him and shed tears. He said: "Be patient, die not, rend not altogether thy heart. God will be merciful in this, though sorrow hath not shunned thee; if He had willed to part you, He would not first have united you.

895"Mischance pursues the lover, embitters life for him; but to him who at first bears woe it yields joy at last. Love is grievous, for it brings thee nigh unto death; it maddens the instructed, it teaches the untaught."

896They wept and went on; they wended their way to the cave. When Asmat’h saw them she rejoiced indeed; she met them, she wept, her tears wore channels in the rocks. They kissed and wept aloud; each pressed the other to tell his news again.

897Asmat’h said: "O God, Thou who canst not be

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expressed by man's tongue! Thou art the fulness of all; Thou fillest us with Thy sun-like radiance. If I praise Thee, how can I praise Thee? What can I say in praise of Thee, who art not to be praised by the intellect? Glory to Thee! Thou hast not slain me by the shedding of tears for them."

898Tariel said: "Ah, sister! for this have my tears flowed here. For that she erstwhile made us smile, Fate makes us weep in turn; ’tis an old law of the world, not one newly to be heard of! Alas! were it not for pity of thee, death would be my joy.

899"If he be athirst, what sane, reasonable man would pour away water! I marvel why I am soaked in tears from mine eyes! Lack of water slays, water flows never dried. Alas! the opened rose, the beauteous pearl, is lost!"

900Avt’handil, too, was reminded of his sun and beloved. He said: "O mine own, how can I remain living without thee! Apart from thee my life is for me pitiable. Who can tell thee how I suffer, or how sore a fire burns me!

901"How can the rose think, 'If the sun go away I shall not wither'? Or what, alas! will be our lot when the sun sets behind the hill? Heart, it is better for thee to harden thyself, petrify thyself wholly. Perchance it may happen to thee to see her; let not thy spirit be utterly spent!"

902They calmed their souls, they were silent, fire burned both. Asmat’h followed, went in; like them, a furnace consumed her. She stretched out the panther's skin he formerly used. They both sat down; they spoke of whatever pleased them.

903They roasted meat and made a meal fitting the occasion; there the meal was breadless, and there was no multitude of guests. They begged (Tariel) to eat; he had

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not power to eat; he chewed a morsel, spat it out, he hardly swallowed the weight of a drachm.

904Pleasant it is when man converses agreeably with man; he will listen to what is said, not let it pass in vain; thus the fire which burns so greatly is somewhat quenched; great comfort it is to speak of troubles when a man has the opportunity.

905That night those lions, those heroes, were together, they conversed, and each revealed to the other his woes; when day dawned they began again many-worded conversations; they heard (again) from each other the oath formerly sworn.

906Tariel said: "Why speak many words? For that which thou hast done for me, God is surety for the debt. Oath for oath is enough; remembrance, friendship for a departing friend, are not the deed of a drunken man.

907"Now be merciful to me, make me not burn again in hottest fires; the flame which consumes me is not kindled by a steel; thou canst not extinguish it for me, thou thyself shalt be burned by the law of the creation of the world. Go, return, go back thither, to the place where thy sun is.

908"To cure me seems hard even to Him who created me--understand, ye who hear!--therefore I roam mad in the fields. Once I too was a doer of what befits the reasonable; now the turn of madness has fallen to my lot, and so I am mad."

909Avt’handil said: "What can I say in answer to this thou hast said? Thou thyself hast spoken as a man sagely instructed. How is it not possible for God again to cure the wound! He is the upbringer of everything planted or sown.

910"Why should God do this, create such as you and not unite you, part you, madden thee with weeping?

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[paragraph continues] Mischance pursues the lover. Look well into the matter, know it. If you meet not each other again, then slay me!

911"Who else is a man save he that will endure what is grievous? How can one let himself be bent by grief! What subject of conversation is this! Fear not, God is generous though the world be hard! Learn then what I teach thee; I make bold to tell thee that he who will not learn is an ass.

912"Heed what thou hearest; let this suffice for teaching. I asked leave of my sun to come away to you; I said to her: 'Since he made cinders of my heart I am no longer of use to thee, I will not stay; what else need I tell thee in many (words)?'

913"She said: 'I am content, thou art doing well and bravely, the attention thou showest to him I accept as a service to me.' At her request I came away. I am not drunk nor intoxicated! If I now return what shall I say? 'Why art thou come back like a coward?' (will be her greeting) .

914"Better than such discourse is this: hearken to what I say: The man who is to do a difficult deed must be reasonable, the rose withered for lack of sun cannot make provision for itself; (if) thou art no longer of any, use to thyself, be of use to me; brother must act brotherly to brother.

915"Wherever thou wilt, stay there after thy rule: if thou wilt with wise heart, if thou wilt with maddened mind. With that loveliness of mien, that grace of form, do but strengthen thyself, die not, be not consumed by the flame!

916"I beg no more than leave for a year and a week.

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[paragraph continues] Here in the cave look for me when I have gathered news from every quarter. As a token of that time I give thee the season when these roses shall again bloom abundantly; the sight of the roses will make thee start as at the bark of a dog.

917"If I exceed that time and come not hither to the cave, then know that I am not alive, undoubtedly I shall have died. It will be a sufficient token of this if thou shed tears for me. Then rejoice if thou wilt, or if thou wilt increase thy grief.

918"Now perchance wilt thou sorrow for the sake of what I have told thee? I go far from thee, and I know not whether horse or ship may fail me. No! lack of speech avails not. I am not quick-scented like a beast; I know not what God will do to me, nor the ever-revolving sky."

919He (Tariel) said: "I will weary thee no more, nor say too much; thou wilt not listen to me however much I lengthen my discourse. If a friend will not follow thee, follow thou him; do whatever he wills. In the end every bidden thing shall come to light.

920"When thou art convinced, then thou shalt know the difficulty of mine affairs; for me it is all one, roaming or not roaming; what thou hast told me that will I do, however much madness torture me. (But) if shortness of days (i.e., death) befall me in thine absence, what shall I do?"

921They ended their discourse; they gave that promise to each other. They mounted, rode out, each killed game in the plain. They returned, their tearful hearts wept again; the thought of the parting on the morrow added grief to grief.

922Readers of these verses, your eyes also are shedding tears! What, alas! shall heart do without heart, if heart

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part from heart! Absence and parting from a friend are the slayers of a man. Who, indeed, knows not, understands not, how hard is that day!

923Morning dawned; they mounted and said farewell to the maiden. From the eyes of Tariel, Asmat’h and Avt’handil tears flowed. The cheeks of all three hung out flags of crimson. Those lions ever made wild (by grief went out to the beasts.

924They descended (from) the caves and went away crying aloud with flowing tears. Asmat’h weeps and laments: "O lions! whose tongues can chant lamentations for you! The sun has burned and consumed you heavenly stars. Alas for my woes so great! Alas the sufferings of life!"

925Those knights, departed thence, travelled that day together. They came to the seashore, there they tarried, they travelled not through dry land (?) That night they parted not; again they shared their fire. They wept for the absence from each other; they bewailed it.

926Avt’handil said to Tariel: "The channel of the flow of tears is dried! Why didst thou separate from P’hridon, the giver of this steed? Thence are tidings and means to be learnt regarding that beautiful sun. Now I go thither; teach me the way to thy sworn brother."

927Tariel teaches him by word the direction of the road to P’hridon's. He made him understand as well as he could by his power of speech: "Go towards the east; fare even unto the seashore. If thou seest him tell him of me; he will ask news of his brother."

928They killed a goat and dragged it after them, they made a fire on the seashore, they sat down and ate such a meal as was fitting to their grief. That night they were together; they lay together at the root of a tree. I curse treacherous Fate, sometimes generous, sometimes niggardly.

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929At dawn they rose to part, they embraced each other. The things said by them then would have melted anyone who heard. They shed on the fields tears from the eyes like waters from a spring. Long they stand in a close embrace; breast was welded to breast.

930With tears and face-scratching and tearing of hair they parted; one goes up, the other goes down; roadless they ride by bridle-paths through the rushes; as long as they saw each other, with drawn faces they shouted; looking upon their frowns the sun would frown too.

Next: XXVI. Of the Going of Avt’handil to P’hridon's When He Met Him at Mulghazanzar