Golden Maiden, The: and Other Folk Tales and Fairy Stories Told in Armenia | Annotated Tale

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Sia-Manto and Guje-Zare

Miss Alice Stone Blackwell was kind enough to put into English verse for me the following ballad. In some districts of Armenia this tragic story of Sia-Manto and Guje-Zare is told as a prose tale as are the other tales of this volume. In some other districts, especially near the foot of Mount Ararat, it has the form of a versified ballad and is sung with great relish by both the Armenians and the Kurds. According to the tradition of the natives, Sia-Manto was an Armenian youth and Guje-Zare a Kurdish maiden. They were both of noble birth. The Armenians and the Kurds, although close neighbors, never intermarry owing to their religious differences. The Kurds, however, very often kidnap Armenian girls, and as they are professed Mohammedans they find protection from the Turkish authorities, instead of being punished for their crimes. The Armenians, on the other hand, being despised as "Christian infidels," never dare to kidnap or elope with Kurdish girls. This is the only instance on record of a Kurdish maiden's elopement with an Armenian youth, and this is a mere tale.

                    A. G. S.

IT CHANCED that Sia-Manto in a dream     
Saw Guje-Zare; in his dream it seemed     
They were troth-plighted, and exchanged their rings.     
To Guje-Zare the same dream befell     
On the same night. Then Sia-Manto rose     
Long before dawn, and, mounting on his steed--     
Red, spirited, a horse of lightning--rode     
Swift as an eagle to his sweetheart's tribe.     
An aged dame received him in her tent.

Lo! drums were beating, trumpets sounding loud.     
"Why is this mirth, and whose the festival?"     
He asked of his good hostess, the old dame.     
"'Tis Guje-Zare's wedding, O my son,"     
She answered, "and the bridegroom from afar     
Has come to bear her with him to his home.     
This is the third day of the festival."     
Then Sia-Manto prayed with tearful eyes,     
Saying, "A token bear to her from me;"     
And from his finger drew and gave the ring     
Exchanged with Guje-Zare in his dream.     
The old dame took a kerchief many-hued,     
Put raisins in it, and with them the ring.     
Then to the bride she went, and wished her joy.     
The lovely girl received her and her gift;     
With fingers dyed with henna, she turned o'er     
And stirred the raisins; and among them, lo!     
The ring of the betrothal of her dream!     
She knew it at a glance; deeply she sighed;     
She paled, her eyes were darkened, and she swooned.     
The old dame held her, and with sorrow said:     
"O Guje-Zare! would I had been blind     
And had not seen this sight! What is thy pain?     
Dear soul, what ails thee? Ope thine eyes, thy lips!     
Tell me, what hast thou seen? What moves thee thus?"     
The voice of sympathy, the dame's warm touch,     
Roused Guje-Zare; faintly thus she spake:     
"O auntie, I implore thee, tell me true     
Where dwells the owner of this golden ring?"     
"A guest within my tent," replied the dame.     
Then Guje-Zare, sighing, said, "Behold,     
Of the festivities three days are past;     
To-morrow is the bridal's final day.     
Let Sia-Manto know there is one chance,     
But one; to-morrow morning I shall go     
Unto my mother's tomb; alone I go     
To weep there, and to bid her bones farewell.     
There may he come and find me. Tell him this."     
The dame to Sia-Manto told her tale.

That night long, Sia-Manto could not sleep.     
Ere dawn he rose, and hastened to the place.     
There, 'neath the silent dome, sleep fell on him.     
He wrapped his cloak about him, slept, and snored.     
Soon Guje-Zare came; and lo! he slept.     
She stood there long, and long she gazed on him;     
Pitying, she did not touch him. Sound he slept,     
And loud he snored, while by his side she stood.     
She blamed him, and condemned him in her heart;     
Two golden marbles from her pocket drew,     
And put them in his pocket, and went home.

'Twas noon when Sia-Manto woke from sleep.     
He looked around and beat his head, and came     
Again to his kind hostess. Mournfully,     
With broken heart, thus spake he to the dame:     
"Auntie, I sought the tomb; she was not there.     
I slept there; when I woke I was alone."     
"Ah!" said the dame. "Hast thou no token, look     
Within thy pocket?" And he looked, and lo!     
The pair of golden marbles. "This," she said,     
"Is Guje-Zare's token." "But," he asked,     
"What does it mean?" "By this," the matron said,     
"She meant, 'I see thou yet art but a boy,     
And not a man of love. Go play with boys;     
This undertaking is too great for thee.'"

Then Sia-Manto blushed with shame. In tears     
He begged the dame, "Go, auntie, go once more,     
For Heaven's sake, and let her speak to thee     
A last word. What she bids me, I will do."

The dame from Guje-Zare brought this word:     
"To-morrow is the bridal's closing day,     
The day of the procession. At that time     
The bridegroom and his men will bear me hence.     
If Sia-Manto is a man, and knows     
How to be loved, and love, let him come then,     
Full armed from head to foot, upon his steed,     
And take me. We will go to Ararat,     
And rest and love there, hidden in the mist."

Next morning, when the bridal train set forth,     
The bridegroom, with his forty horsemen, armed     
From head to foot, rode, bearing home the bride.     
And then like lightning Sia-Manto came,     
And snatched the bride, and set her on his steed;     
And swifter rode he than the eagle flies     
Chasing a dove; a journey of three days     
Was all passed over in that one wild ride.     
With the same swiftness the pursuers rode.     
The rider on the gray steed nearest pressed.     
"Who is it," Sia-Manto asked his love,     
"That risks his own life and his horse's thus?"     
"'Tis he," she answered, "from whom thou hast reft     
His plighted bride, the maid whom he had loved     
A year and longer. Do not blame him, dear;     
His heart is broken; he is full of rage."

He lifted Guje-Zare from the horse,     
And spread his cloak, and set her there to rest;     
Then, mounting, took his arrows and his sword,     
And furiously on the pursuers fell,     
And slew the forty horsemen and their steeds.     
Then he returned, and Guje-Zare bore     
Unto Mount Ararat, where they reposed,     
Hid in thick mist and fog. His weary head     
He laid in her soft lap, and fell asleep.

Soon Sia-Manto started suddenly;     
Warm tears had fallen from Guje-Zare's eyes     
Upon his face, and wakened him from sleep.     
"What is it, dear?" he said. "What hast thou seen?     
Tell me, why dost thou weep and tremble so?"     
"In this wild place a wonder I have seen.     
Forty wild bulls there were that came to drink     
At yonder spring, and with them was one cow.     
Then raged a fearful fight among the bulls;     
And the gray bull, victorious o'er the rest,     
Took him the cow. The thing reminded me     
Of our own case--the forty horsemen slain--     
And I was so excited that I wept."     
He rose and took his arrow and his bow,     
Chased the gray bull, and shot it, and it fell,     
And rolled upon the ground. He rushed on it,     
And with his dagger strove to cut its throat;     
But the bull, bellowing madly, tossed its horns,     
And threw him down the precipice profound.     
And Sia-Manto fell upon his back     
Upon a sharp oak trunk, that pierced his chest     
Four spans and further. There he hung transfixed.

Then Guje-Zare, following him afar,     
Came to the precipice, and gazed around;     
Saw the wild bull in its last agony,     
And heard her Sia-Manto's mournful groans.     
She found his bow and arrow, picked them up,     
And bent her o'er the precipice's edge     
Until she saw where Sia-Manto hung.     
She tore her hair, and wailed this loud lament:

"O Sia-Manto, dost thou lie so low?     
Thy bow and arrow of pure silver are.     
Thou hadst no need to follow the wild bull.     
Oh, groan not, Sia-Manto, groan not so!"     
"My Guje-Zare," from below he called,     
"Weep not! Thy wailing causes me more pain     
Than this curst oak trunk."

"But thou groanest there,     
My Sia-Manto, and shall I not weep?     
Thy groans, that pierce my heart, call forth my tears.     
There is a great storm on Mount Ararat.     
Here are thy bow and arrow, O my love.     
Thou didst not heed me when I prayed to thee.     
'Nay, lay thy bow and arrow down,' I said;     
'Chase not the wild bull, he too has his mate;     
Nay, let them live, like us, and love, like us.'     
O thou wild bull, thou fearful, cruel bull,     
Thy horns are steel, thou huge and dreadful bull     
That didst part lovers on Mount Ararat.     
The top of Ararat is wrapt in mist;     
And Sia-Manto's bow and arrow gleam     
Like pearls. Alas! who ever heard before     
Of game that killed its hunter? O my love,     
I told thee, 'Sia-Manto, do not go;     
Let the wild bull go after his own love.     
Dost thou need game, I am enough for thee.     
Oh, do not, do not go!' Yet who can tell?     
Perchance 'twas Heaven that had ordained it thus.     
The Will above cannot be changed below.     
Rocky and bushy is Mount Ararat,     
And cold and deadly are its winds and storms.     
O Sia-Manto! show me now a way     
To reach thee where thou art, that I once more     
May hold thee in my arms, and die with thee.     
Oh, hither come with shovels and with spades     
To turn the earth and rocks, and bury here     
Both Sia-Manto and his love with him!"     
She shut her eyes, and casting herself down,     
Fell on her lover, uttering but one word--     
"My Sia-Manto!" and he echoed it--     
"My Guje-Zare!" with his latest breath.     
Then silence! In each other's arms they died.     
There in the Spring men still may see two flowers     
Bud forth, twin blossoms, like as like can be:     
Two butterflies come there to light on them.     
They represent the hapless lovers twain     
Who lost their lives upon Mount Ararat.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Sia-Manto and Guje-Zare
Tale Author/Editor: Seklemian, A. G.
Book Title: Golden Maiden, The: and Other Folk Tales and Fairy Stories Told in Armenia
Book Author/Editor: Seklemian, A. G.
Publisher: The Helman-Taylor Company
Publication City: Cleveland
Year of Publication: 1898
Country of Origin: Armenia
Classification: Ballads

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