Book of Dede Korkut/Legend III

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Book of Dede Korkut
Anonymous
Legend III: The Story of Delu Dumrul, Son of Duha Khoja

My khan, among the Oghuz people there was a man by the name of Delu Dumrul, the son of Duha Khoja. He had a bridge built across a dry river bed. He collected thirty-three akchas from anyone who passed over it, and those who refused to pass over it he beat and charged forty akchas anyway. He did this to challenge anyone who thought he was braver than Delu Dumrul to fight, with the purpose of making his own bravery, heroism and gallantry known even in places as far distant as Anatolia and Syria.

One day it happened that a troop of nomads camped along his bridge. A fine, handsome youth in the nomad troop fell sick and died at the command of Allah. Some cried saying "Son", some cried saying "Brother", and there was great mourning for him.

Delu Dumrul, enhancing to come along, asked: "Why are you crying, cuckolds? What is this noise by my bridge? Why are you mourning?"

They said: "My khan, we lost a fine young man. That is why we are crying."

Delu Dumrul asked: "Who killed your bey?"

They said: "Oh, bey, it was by the order of Almighty Allah. The red-winged Azrail took his life."

"What sort of fellow is this Azrail who takes people's lives? For the sake of your unity and existence, O Almighty Allah, let me see Azrail. Let me fight and scuffle with him to save the life of such a fine youth, so that he never takes a life again", said Delu Dumrul. He then turned away and went home.

Now, Almighty Allah was not pleased with Dumrul's words. He said: "Look at that madman. He does not understand my oneness. He does not express his gratitude to me and dares to behave arrogantly in my mighty presence." He ordered Azrail: "Go and appear before the eyes of that madman. Make his face pale and strangle the life out of him."

While Delu Dumrul was sitting and drinking with his forty companions, Azrail suddenly arrived. Neither the chamberlains nor the wardens had seen Azrail pass. Delu Dumrul's eyes were blinded, his hands paralyzed. The entire world was darkened to his eyes. He began to speak. Let us see what he said, my khan.

"What a mighty, big old man you are!
The wardens did not see you come;
The chamberlains did not hear.
My eyes, which could see, now cannot;
My hands, which could grip, now cannot.
My soul trembled and was terrified;
My golden cup fell from my hand.
My mouth is cold as ice;
My bones are turned to dust.
Ho! white-bearded old man,
Cold-eyed old man!
What mighty old man are you?
Go away, or I may hurt you."

Azrail was angry at these remarks. He said:

"Oh, madman,
Do you dislike the cold expression in my eyes?
I have taken the lives of many lovely eyed girls and brides.
Why is it you dislike my white beard?
I have taken the lives of both white-bearded and black-bearded men.
That is why my own beard is white."

He then continued in this way: "Oh, madman! You were boasting and saying that you would kill the red-winged Azrail if you caught him to save the life of the fine young lad. Oh, fool, now I have come to take your life. Will you give it, or will you fight with me?"

Delu Dumrul asked: "Are you the red-winged Azrail?"

"Yes, I am", replied Azrail.

"Are you the one who takes the lives of these fine boys?", asked Dumrul.

"That is so", said Azrail.

Delu Dumrul said, "Ho, wardens, shut the doors." He then turned to Azrail and said: "O Azrail, I was expecting to catch you in a wide open place, but I caught you in a narrow one, did I not? Let me kill you and save the life of that fine young man." He drew his big black sword, held it in his hand and tried to strike Azrail with it, but Azrail became a pigeon and flew out of the window. Delu Dumrul, a monster of a man, clapped his hands and burst out in laughter. He said: "My friends, I frightened Azrail so much that he ran out, not through the wide open door, but through the chimney. To save himself from my hand, he just became a pigeon and flew away. I shall have him caught by my falcon."

He mounted his horse, took his falcon on his wrist and started pursuing Azrail. He killed a few pigeons. On the way home, however, Azrail appeared to the eyes of his horse. The horse was frightened and threw Delu Dumrul off its back to the ground. His poor head grew dizzy, and he became powerless. Azrail came and pressed down upon his white chest. He had been murmuring a short while ago, but now he gasped out through the rattle in his throat:

"O Azrail, have mercy!
There is no doubt about the unity of Allah.
I was uninformed about you.
I did not know you secretly took lives.
We have mountains with large peaks;
We have vineyards on those mountains;
In those vineyards there are vines with bunches of black grapes;
And, when pressed, those grapes make wine, red wine.
A man who drinks that wine grows drunk.
Thus I was drunk, and so I did not hear.
I did not know what I had said.
I have not tired of the role of bey.
I wish to live out more years of my youth.
O Azrail, please spare this life of mine."

Azrail said: "You mad rascal, why do you beg mercy from me? Beg mercy from Almighty Allah. What is in my hands? I am but a servant."

Delu Dumrul said: "Is it, then, Almighty Allah who gives and takes our lives?"

"Of course", said Azrail.

Delu Dumrul then turned to Azrail and said: "You are a cursed fellow. Do not interfere with my business. Let me talk with Almighty Allah myself." Delu Dumrul spoke to Allah. Let us listen, my khan, to what he said.

"You are higher than the highest.
No one knows how high you are,
Allah the Magnificent.
Fools search for you up in the sky and on earth;
You are found in the hearts of the faithful,
Eternal and Almighty Allah.
Immortal, merciful Allah,
If you wish to take my life away,
Then take it by yourself.
Let not Azrail do it."

Almighty Allah was pleased with the way Delu Dumrul addressed him this time. He shouted to Azrail that, because the mad rascal believed in His oneness, he was giving him his blessing and that his life might be spared if he could find another willing to serve as a substitute for him.

Azrail said to Delu Dumrul: "Oh, Delu Dumrul, it is the command of Almighty Allah that you should provide the life of someone else for your own, which will then be spared."

Delu Dumrul said: "How can I find someone else's life? I have no one in the world but an old mother and an old father. Let us go and see if one of them will give his life for me. If so, you can take it, and leave me mine." Delu Dumrul rode to his father's house, kissed his father's hand and spoke to him. Let us see, my khan, what he said to his father.

"My white-bearded father, beloved and respected,
Do you know what has happened to me?
I spoke in blasphemy,
And my words made Allah the Almighty angry.
He commanded the red-winged Azrail above
To fly from the sky.
He pressed on my white chest, sitting on me.
He made my throat rattle, almost took my sweet life.
Father, I beg you to give me your life.
Will you give me it, father?
Or would you prefer to weep after me, saying
'My son Delu Dumrul!'?"

His father answered:

"Son, son, oh, my son!
A part of my life, oh, Son.
Lion-like son, for whom I once had slaughtered nine camels,
Backbone of my house with its chimneys of gold,
A flower to my gooselike daughters and brides.
If need be, command the black mountain out yonder
To come here and serve as Azrail's pasture.
If need be, then let my cool springs be his fountain.
If need be, then give him my stables of beautiful horses to ride.
If need be, my caravan camel can carry his goods.
If need be, the white sheep that stand in my fold
Can be cooked in the kitchen for food at his feast.
If need be, my silver and gold money will be for him.
But the world is too sweet, and living too dear
To spare my own life. So know this.
There remains yet your mother, more dear and beloved than I.
Son, go to your mother."

Refused by his father, Delu Dumrul next rode to his mother and said to her:

"Do you know what has happened to me, my mother?
The red-winged Azrail flew down from the sky
And pressed my white chest as he sat upon me.
He made my throat rattle, almost took away life.
My father denied me the life that I asked from him, mother.
I ask you for yours, now, my mother.
Will you give me your life?
Or would you prefer to weep after me, saying 'My son, Delu Dumrul!'
While scratching your white face with sharp fingernails
And tearing your white spear-like hair?"

Let us hear, my khan, what his mother said.

"Son, son, oh, my son!
Son, whom I carried nine months in my narrow womb,
Whom I bore in the tenth month
And swaddled in the cradle with care,
Whom I fed my abundant white milk.
Son, I wish you had rather been held in a white-towered castle,
Been held there by infidel men with religion so foul,
So that then I might have saved you, using the power of wealth.
But instead, you are sunk to a frightful position
Where I cannot reach you.
The world is too sweet, and the human soul too dear
To spare my own life. So know this."

His mother also refused to give her life for him. Azrail, therefore, came to take Delu Dumrul's life. Delu Dumrul said:

"O Azrail, be not hasty.
There is no doubt about the oneness of Allah.
I was uninformed about you.
I did not know you secretly took lives.
We have mountains with large peaks;
We have vineyards on those mountains;
In those vineyards there are vines with bunches of black grapes;
And, when pressed, those grapes make wine, red wine.
A man who drinks that wine grows drunk.
Thus I was drunk, and so I did not hear.
I did not know what I had said.
I have not tired of the role of bey.
I wish to live out more years of my youth.
O Azrail, please spare this life of mine."

Azrail replied: "Oh, you madman, why do you keep begging for mercy? You went to your white-bearded father, but he refused to give you his life. You then went to your white-haired mother, and she also refused to give you her life. Who do you think will give you his life?"

"I have yet a loved one. Let me go and see her", said Delu Dumrul.

"Who is your loved one, mad fellow?", asked Azrail.

"I have a lawful wife, the daughter of a man from another tribe, and I have two children by her. Take my life after I visit them. I have a few things to say to them." He rode then to his wife and said to her:

"Do you know what has happened to me?
The red-winged Azrail flew down from the sky
And pressed my white chest as he sat upon me.
He almost took away my sweet life.
My father denied me the life that I asked from him.
I went to my mother, but she refused, too.
They said that the world was too sweet and life was too dear.
Let my high black mountains now be your pasture.
Let my cooling springs be your fountain.
Let my stables of beautiful horses be yours now to ride.
Let my beautiful gold-chimneyed house give you shelter.
Let my caravan camels carry your goods.
Let white sheep in my fold be served at your feast.
Go, marry another,
Whomever your heart loves.
Let not our two sons remain orphans."

His wife then spoke. Let us hear, my khan, what she said.

"What is it you say,
My strong ram, my young shah,
Whom I loved at first sight,
And gave all of my heart?
Whom I gave my sweet lips to be kissed;
Whom I slept with upon the same pillow and loved.
What shall I do with the black mountains yonder When you are no longer here?
Should I take my flock there, let my grave be there, too?
Should I sip your cool springs, let my blood run like water.
Should I spend your gold coins, let them be for my shroud.
Should I ride on your stables of beautiful horses, let them be my hearse.
Should I love, after you, any other young man
And marry him, lie with him;
Let him turn serpent and then let him bite me.
What is there in life
That your miserable parents
Could spare not their own lives for yours?
Let the heavens, the eight-storied heavens, be witness;
Let the earth and the sky be my witness, as well;
Let Almighty Allah be witness for me:
Let my life be a sacrifice made for the sake of your own."

Saying this, she consented to die, and Azrail came to take the lady's life. But that monster of a man, Delu Dumrul, could not spare his companion. He pleaded with Almighty Allah. Let us hear how he pleaded.

"Thou art higher than the highest;
No one knows how high you are,
Allah the Magnificent!
Fools search for you in the sky and on earth,
But you live in the heart of the faithful.
Eternal and merciful Allah,
Let me build needed homes for the poor
Along the main roads of the land.
Let me feed hungry men for your sake when I see them.
If you take any life, take the lives of us both.
If you spare any life, spare the lives of us both,
Merciful Almighty Allah."

Almighty Allah was pleased with Delu Dumrul's words. He gave his orders to Azrail: "Take the lives of Delu Dumrul's father and mother. I have granted a life of 140 years to this lawfully married couple." Azrail proceeded to take the lives of the father and mother right away, but Delu Dumrul lived with his wife for 140 years more.

Dede Korkut came and told tales and sang legends. He said: "Let this legend be Delu Dumrul's. Let heroic minstrels after me sing it, and let generous men with clean foreheads listen to it."

Let me pray, my khan: may your rugged black mountains never fall down. May your large shade tree never be felled. May your clear running streams never dry up. May Almighty Allah never let you be at the mercy of the base. We have spoken five words of prayer in behalf of your white forehead. May they be accepted. May He clear away your sins and forgive them for the sake of Mohammed with the exalted name.