Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, , at sacred-texts.com
After it was spread abroad that old Malik had maliciously despatched Antar on the desperate enterprise to procure the Asafeer camels for Abla's dowry, he soon found himself the object of scorn and contempt among his tribe, and resolved to depart secretly, with fifteen horsemen, on a marauding expedition, and not to return until the scandal had been forgotten. But instead of plundering others, Malik and his party were taken prisoners by Vachid, a famous horseman of the tribe of Kenanah. This chief being informed by his mother that Malik had a beautiful daughter called Abla, he demands her in marriage, to which Malik readily consents, and offers to go and bring her to him as his bride. On this condition Vachid releases Malik and his son Amru, who at once depart for the land of Shurebah; and on approaching the habitations of their tribe, they find all the people in grief on account of the reported death
of Antar. They skulk along until they reach their own tents, where they discover Abla, clothed in black, and seated in the deepest affliction, beside a newly-made grave. Tears flowed down the maiden's cheeks, and she gave vent to her despair and sorrow in these verses:
O grave! my tears shall ever bedew thy earth!—my eyes have renounced sweet sleep!
O grave! is there any one but my cousin Antar in thee? or is his sepulchre in my heart?
Alas!—alas for thee!—felled to the ground art thou, and the groans of a distracted mourner survive!
They slew him barbarously; and his foes exult when they see my agony and misery on his account!
O never will I surrender myself to another, were he to come with a thousand charms!
Malik then enters the tent of his wife, who informs him that Shiboob had brought tidings of Antar's death, adding that all the tribe execrated himself as the cause; and after attempting to soothe the anguish of Abla, who refuses to be comforted, and calls him the murderer of her cousin, he next visits his brother Shedad, and hears him thus bitterly lamenting the loss of his heroic son:
O my eyelids, let your tears flow abundantly—weep for the generous, noble horseman!—
A knight in whom I took refuge when my efforts failed, at my up-risings and my down-sittings!
My brother exposed him to a sea of death in his malice, and the hearts of the envious exult!
He planned his murder, and he has abandoned me: no more will my honour and my engagements be respected!
He behaved cruelly to him in exacting the marriage dower, and he now refuses to do him justice.
He was the drawn sword of the race of Abs, cleaving through armour above the skin.
He used to fell the foe in every land, till the warriors cried out for succour.
Prostrate—fallen—bowed to the earth is he now, beneath the shadow of lances and the waving of banners!
Now he is gone, the Absian dames are in sorrow, dashing their hands against their cheeks, in fear of slavery.
Dishevelled is their hair, streaming are their tears over their fair necks decorated with chains.
Sighing they mourn the hero of Abs in sobs of sorrow, that give pleasure to the envious.
Grieve they must ever in tears from their eyes for him who was the illustrious knight!
May God destroy Malik, son of Carad, and make him suffer what the tribe of Themood endured!
Altogether the wretched Malik found matters very unpleasant, to say the least, and there was nothing for it but to emigrate with his family;—meanwhile concealing himself, lest Amarah, to whom he had also betrothed Abla, should suspect his design, and prevent his departure. But presently Amarah, now that his formidable rival was dead, resolves to lose no time in claiming his bride; and, accompanied by Oorwah the son of
[paragraph continues] Wird, and ten other horsemen, he departs for the land of Yemen, to procure the dowry (by plunder, of course); and Malik resolves to take advantage of his absence and remove with his family. But when he acquainted Abla of how he had promised her in marriage to Vachid, she protested that she would never become the bride of either Amarah or Vachid, since her heart was buried in the grave of Antar, exclaiming:
O heart! be patient under the agonies I endure!—But how can my tears cease to flow?—no balm is there to soothe them!
How can my tears be soothed away?—ever must they flow for the loss of him who shamed the brilliancy of the loveliest!
High exalted are his glory and his exploits: noble is his birth, permanent in the pinnacle of honour!
He who dwells in every life—he, the Eternal Cupbearer—has made him drink of the cups of Death!
O I shall weep for him for ever, as long as the dove pours forth its lament on the boughs and the leaves!
In spite of Abla's tears and agonies, however, Malik caused the tents to be struck, and at midnight he quitted the tribe, and proceeded with his family to the Springs of Zeba, where Vachid lay concealed with Malik's companions, whom he held as hostages. On Malik's arrival, Vachid released his prisoners, who returned home; and the party of Vachid, including Malik's family, commenced their journey back to their own land.
On the fourth day of their march they were attacked by a party of brigands, led by a chief who rejoiced in the name of the "Nocturnal Evil." Eager to display his prowess in presence of Abla, Vachid encounters this formidable robber, and is slain. Malik and his son Amru are taken prisoners
and securely bound; but while the brigands are engaged with Vachid's followers, Abla and her mother release them, and they all escape into the desert, where they meet with Amarah and his party, returning, exulting and victorious, with plunder, from the land of Yemen. Malik was giving Amarah an account of their misfortunes when they were surprised by the appearance of the Nocturnal Evil and his gang, who, having defeated the Kenanians, and turned back in quest of the howdah containing Abla, and finding it empty, had hastened to overtake the fugitives. Amarah and Oorwah prepare to resist the brigands, but are speedily overpowered and pinioned; and once more the fair Abla and her family are in the power of the dreaded "Evil." Having rested in that spot for the night, at daybreak the Nocturnal Evil sent before him five slaves in charge of Abla, with orders to proceed to a place called Zatool Menahil, and there pitch the tents—"for there," said the foul wretch, "I intend to remain three days with this lovely damsel."