Books of Sand v1


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A preview of this book was originally posted in the Tamriel Rebuilt discord by Douglas Goodall on 5/3/23. That version can be found here and has slight differences from this edition.

Excerpts from the Books of Sand

Among the literary works of the Khajiit, the oldest of any certainty date from the early Empire, shortly after Tiber Septim's conquest. There are many extant works that claim to be of Khajiti origins, most of them translations, but none that most scholars agree are genuine. For instance, I recently translated a book on the Hall of Colossus, but after publishing, I received numerous letters arguing about it being a forgery.

What most agree with is that Khajiti and Imperial scribes were hired to collect the works and sayings of their race in order for the Emperor to better understand the Khajiit. This project was ultimately a failure, but it preserved much Khajiti literature that would otherwise have been lost.

These scholars divided their work into the Books of Sand, Sugar, Meat, Rain, and Dust. The Books of Sand focus mainly on poetry, mostly of a personal nature, and nursery rhymes. The Books of Sugar are of erotic poetry and tales. The Books of Meat include maxims, parables, and children's fables. The Books of Rain are pseudo-historical or pseudo-religious in nature, but include long digressions on cooking recipes, smithing techniques, battle strategy, and other practical subjects. The Books of Dust are mystical, philosophical, and inscrutable, even to the Khajiit themselves.

Since that time more books have been added to each series, such that you can tell the relative age of Khajiti literature by the number of the book. Generally the first and second of each series predate the Third Era, while later books are of more recent origin.

There is little interest outside Elsweyr for Khajiti literature, but there is a small market for poetry from all eras and races. I would like to thank Black Moon Publishing of Rihad for the small advance that allowed me to translate some of the most accessible sections. I would also like to thank Dro'Sharr, Fahra of Orcrest, Clan-Mother Manibi, and Ri'Haniir for their patience and assistance in understanding certain passages.

A Note on the Translation

Khajiti poetry of the late Second Era and early Third Era tends to have little meter or structure, but many internal rhymes, assonance, and alliteration. Children's rhymes are more similar in structure to the poetry of the Empire. In a few of these translations, I endeavoured to retain some of the character of the original, but Cyrodilic's more advanced phonology makes the feel of the poetry difficult to replicate. Another consideration was that a more accurate rendition might sound dull and repetitive to a broader audience.

As Ta'agra lacks direct equivalents to the familiar Imperial pronouns and makes it difficult to refer to certain things except by name, I have used what I feel is the closest of 'one's', 'Khajiit', 'the', 'this', 'my', 'your', etc. in place of the original wording, even though this is never a perfect translation.

The original poems are untitled -- indeed, it is sometimes difficult to tell where one begins or ends -- so I have created titles myself.

Your Humble Translator,
Cassolar Draebo

The Princes (First Book of Sand)

When the restless years come
pawing at your vest
and the flood weather strums the fur and the skin
and the blood pleasure stretches the claw-tips
and the thrills of your naked pains are made grand
and the sacred self spills forth
like grains of sand.

When the battle drums beat
as you come leaping into the fray
and chance grants you great gains
and the feet that prance are clay
and your teeth tear the sweetest meat
and the warband reaps one's foes
like grains of sand.

When the prey flees
whether beast or beauty
and so begins the chase that ends in feast
whether it plays tease or cries 'please'
and both victory and defeat are demise
whether your hands seize the prize or are led astray
the tears will rain
like grains of sand.

When one's claws are caught
in knots of thread
and every twine leads to dread
and every threat is dearly-bought
and stopped in one's construct
and the ears flop down
and the fur of your crown is plucked
like grains of sand.

When the tides recede
revealing long-lost days
and you accede the cost
and one gaze divides your stealing ways
and the rind of the eyes wanes
and the strands of your mind are tossed
like grains of sand.

When the hunting-time comes
between the day and the night
and the queen of the stormfront commands 'climb'
and the cat-shaper scrapes your ears
and soothes youth's roaming fears
and your husks come home to dusk's domain
like grains of sand.

The Dunes (Second Book of Sand)

Before a skull-pile
Climb with vile or guile
Grow into Do

Behind a book-tower
Climb and scour
Glow into Jo

Left a safe-hill of leisure
Waddle with measure
Slow into Dro

Right a candy mountain
Dig in, dig in
Fall into Ja

Which way, which way, Khajiit?
Every dune tastes so sweet
Where to begin, where to begin?
Close your eyes and spin

The Seasons (Second Book of Sand)

Rain, rain, Jo'Jo showers
Sprout, sprout, shadow flowers

Spring, spring, Senche sun
Bite, bite, battle's done

Oops! Missed the invisible ones!

Little Alfiq licky charms
Tall Ohmes open arms

Climb, climb, ladder-moon
Crush, crush, forehead rune

Dance, dance, daedra joke
Crave, crave, comfy stroke

Oops! Missed the sneaky ones!

Snatcher sneaking dagger-down
Mandrake dons the ruby crown

The Wanderer (First Book of Sand)

When the dawn dreams of endings
When wicked deeds need his rending
Sliced in twenty-seven shards
Severed snake swishing swishing

Windy mercy whisks together
Windy glossa licks gore gone
Fresh fortunes leak sky-drawn
Swisher stretches, softly yawns

Dought and Rain (Third Book of Sand)

Stretch slothful, snarl sunlight
Dump dust-devils of dreaming orbs
Fight feet, gulp glass, bone bite
Shuffle slowly, drudge outdoors

Sacks of salt and sugar too small
Drudge, drudge at draking deeds
See sweat-slick craving call
Mouth mumbles tumble like weeds

Leap to lightning healing heart
Rub the rushing river (in your) ear
Claw-tap rain-tempo matching art*
Whistle chasing wind, whiskers cheer

Puddle-dipping fleeting footfall
Cloudward claw-tips never reach
See rain-slick craving call
Hush and hold, spirit speech

* Lit: to tap your toes to match the patter of rain

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