Excerpts from the Books of Sand

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Author (in-game): Cassolar Draebo (Translator)

This book was originally posted in the Tamriel Rebuilt discord by Douglas Goodall on 5/3/23. A finalized version of it was published in the AFFresh mod and is available here.


Excerpts from the Books of Sand

Among the literary works of the Khajiit, the oldest of any certainty (as no one can agree on a translation of the ‘moon language’ carvings) date from the early Empire, shortly after Tiber Septim’s conquest. Khajiti and Imperial scholars 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 some early Khajiti literature that would otherwise have been lost.

The Khajiti literature of the day was divided into Books of Sand, Sugar, Meat, Rain, and Dust. The Books of Sand focus mainly on poetry, mostly of a personal nature and a few 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 of 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 Ocrest, 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 sieze 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.

… and so on

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