The Youth and the Leopard
[A very young man has killed a leopard, but the leopard killed him too. His mother mourns.]
As she wept, she bound the wounds
the leopard's claws had left on her son.
"Child, you are asleep, not dead,
it's hard work that has worn you out...
This much, no more, I shall weep for you,
your death is not a cause for tears.
Farewell, the sign of the cross be with you;
for this is the gateway to the grave.
At least I have brought up one real son,
a warrior who fought a savage leopard."
As she slept, the ghosts appeared
now of the leopard, now of her son.
Now the leopard seemed to rip
the iron bodice off her son;
now it seemed her son was winning,
flinging the leopard head over heels.
And, strange to say, after such dreams
she would awake with sobs and tears.
At times she would think, "Who ever heard
of any son whom no mother reared?
Perhaps the leopard's mother too
is, like me, crying day and night.
I shall leave and go to her
and give her comfort in her grief,
so that she tells me all her tales
and I shall tell her of my son,
for she is sorrowing for her son,
killed without pity by the sword."
--Ancient poem from Georgia, anonymous, published in The Elek Book of Oriental Verse (1979), Gen. Ed. Keith Bosley