Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

(1840 - 1922 / England)

El Harith - Poem by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Lightly took she her leave of me, Asmá--u,
went no whit as a guest who outstays a welcome;
Went forgetting our trysts, Burkát Shemmá--u,
all the joys of our love, our love's home, Khalsá--u.
Muhayyátu, she thee forgets, Sifáhu,
thee, Fitákon, Aádibon, thee Wafá--u.
Thee, Riád el Katá, thee, vale of Shérbub,
'Anak, thee, Shobatána, and thee, Ablá--u.
Nay, ye lost are to me with my lost glory;
nay, though tears be my meat, weeping wins no woman.
Yet, a snare to my eyes, afar was kindled
fire by night on the hill. It was Hind's love--beacon.
Blindly now do I watch her from Khezáza;
woe, the warmth of it, woe,--though the hilltops redden!
Woe its blaze from Akík, its flame from Shákhseyn!
woe the signal alight for me, Hind's love--incense!

Out on tears and despair! I go free, sundered;
here stand doors of relief. Who hath fled escapeth.
Mount I light on my nága. No hen ostrich
swift as she, the tall trotter, her brood behind her,
Hearing voices who fled from them, the hunters,
pressing fast on her way from mid--eve to nightfall.
Nay, behold her, my noble one, upheaving
motes and dust on her path, as a cloud pursuing.
All un--shooed are the feet of her, her sandals
strewn how wide on her road by the rough rocks loosened.
Joy thus take I on her, the summer heat through.
All but I had despaired,--like a blinded camel.

O the curse of men's eyes, of their ill--speaking!
Danger deep and a wound did their false lips deal us.
Have not these with their tongues made small things great things,
telling lies of our lives, our kind kin, the Arákim?
Mixing blame with un--blame for us, till flouted
stand we, proven of wrong, with the guilty guiltless.
All, say these, that have run with us the wild ass,
ours are they, our allies, as our own tribe their tribes.
Thus by night did they argue it and plot it,
rose at dawn to their treason and stood forth shouting.
Loud the noise of their wrath. This called, that answered;
great the neighings of steeds and the camel roarings.

Ho, thou weaver of wild words, thou tale--painter!
must it thus be for ever and thus with Amru?
Not that slanders are strange. Their words we heed not;
long ere this have we known them, their lips, the liars.
High above them we live. Hate may not harm us,
fenced in towers of renown, our unstained bright honour.
Long hath anger assailed us, rage, denial;
long hath evil prevailed in the eyes of evil.
Nathless, let them assault. As well may Fortune
hurl its spears at the rocks, at the cloud--robed mountains.
Frowneth wide of it Fear. Fate shall not shake it.
Time's worst hand of distress shall disturb it never.

O thou king Iramíyan! With thee circle
riders keen of their steel to cut off thy foemen.
King art thou, the all--just, of Earth's high walkers
foremost, first in the World, its all--praise surpassing.
If of wrong there be aught untamed, unstraightened,
bring but word to our chiefs; they shall deal out justice
Set thy gaze on the hills, on Mílha, Sákib.
See the slain unavenged, while alive their slayers.
Probe the wounds of our anger, though thou hurt us,
yet shall truth be approved and the falsehood flouted.
Else be thou of us silent, and we silent,
closing lids on our wrong, though the mote lies under.
Yet, refusing the peace, whomso you question,
he shall speak in our praise, shall assign us worship.

O the days of the war, of our free fighting,
raidings made in surprise, the retreats, the shoutings!
How our nágas we scourged from Sâf el Bahreyn,
pressing hard to the end, to our goal El Hása!
Turned had we on Temím before Mohárrem,
taken their daughters for wives, their maids for handmaids.
None might stay us nor strive with us. The stoutest
turned, though turning availed not nor their feet flying,
Nay, nor mountain might hide nor plain protect them;
blackness burnt in the sun, it might bring no succour.
Thou, O King, art the master. Where in all lands
standeth one of thy height? There is none beside thee.

Lo, how stiff was our stand for him, El Móndir.
Say, were we, as were these, Ibn Hind's base herdsmen?
Let the Tághlebi slain in their blood answer,
unavenged where they lie. In the dust we spilled it.
He, the king, when in that high place Maisúna's
tent he builded for her who so loved Ausá--u,
What of turbulent folk did he there gather,
broken men of the tribes, ragged, hungry vultures!
Dates and water to all he gave in bounty.
God's revenge on the guilty they called his soldiers.
You the weight of them proved with your mad challenge,
brought them blind on your back by your idle boasting.
Nay, they gave you no false words, laid no ambush;
broad before you at noon you beheld them marching.
Ho, thou bearer of tales to Amru, babbler!
when of this shall the end be, how soon the silence?
Proofs he hath at our hands, three honest tokens,
each enough for his eyes of our faìth unswerving.
First when came from Shakík at him the war--lords,
all Maád in their tribes, with each clan a banner.
Mail--clad men were there there, their chieftain Káis,
he, the Prince Karathíyan, a rock, a stronghold.
With him sons of the brave, of freeborn ladies;
naught might stand to their shock save alone our swordblades.
Them we drove back with wounds like the out--rushing
streams when goat--skins are pricked; it was thus their blood flowed;
Drove them back to Thahlána its strong places,
scattered, drenched in their gore where the thigh wounds spouted.
Struck we stern at the lives of them; then trembled
deep our spears in their well, like a long--roped bucket.
Only God shall appraise how we misused them;
none hath claimed for their lives the uncounted blood price.
Next with Hójra it was, Ibn om Katáma;
with him rode the Iráni: how red their armour!
Roused, a lion, he chargeth, his feet thudding,
yet as Spring to the poor in their day of hunger.
Chains we struck from the hands of Imr el Káis;
long the days of his grief were, his months of bondage.
We, when Jaun of Aál Beni 'Aus sought us,
rock--strong with him a band of unyielding horsemen,
Nothing feared, though the dust of them around us
swept the plain like a smoke by the war--flame kindled.
Put we swords on his neck, Ghassán, for Móndir,
wrath that less than our right was the blood price counted.
Lastly brought we the nine of the blood royal,
all their wealth in our hands, an unnumbered booty.
Amr a son was of ours Ibn Om Eyyási;
close in kinship he came, when he gave the dowry.
Let this stand to our count, our power in pleading!
land with land are we knit, by the strong ones strengthened.
Hold the tongue of your boasting, your vainglory,
else be yourselves the blind, on yourselves ill--fortune.

O, remember the oath of Thil Majázi,
all that was of old time, the fair words, the pledges.
Flee the evil, the hate! Shall men gainsay it,
that which stands on the skin, for the whim of any?
Think how we with yourselves the fair deed signed there,
did the thing we should do, and no less, our duty.
Faction all and injustice! As well, when feasting,
take, for vow of a sheep, a gazelle in payment!
Was it ours, say, the blame of it all, when Kíndah
took your booths for a spoil, that of us you claim it?
Was it ours that foul deed of him, Eyádi?
are we bound with his rope, like a loaded camel?
Not by us were these done to their death, nor Káis,
nay, nor Jéndal by us, nor he Haddá--u.
Theirs, not ours, were the crimes of Beni Atíkeh;
clean of blame are our hands since you tore the treaties.
Eighty went of Temím: in their right hands lances;
each a sentence of death, when they went against you,
Left your sons where they lay sword--slashed and blood--stained,
brought a tumult of spoil till men's ears were deafened.
Is it ours the ill--deed of the man Hanífa?
ours the strife of all time, Earth's arrears of evil?
Ours the wrong of Kodáat? Nay, 'tis all injustice;
not for these and their sins are our hands indicted.
Not for these, nor their raid on the Béni Rázah;
who shall approve their claim in Nitá, in Búrka?
Long they cringed for a spoil, these camel--cravers,
yet not one did we give, not a black nor white one;
Left them bare till they fled with their backs broken,
all unwatered their thirst, unassuaged their vengeance;
Horsemen hard on their track, El Fellak's riders,
pity none in their hand, in their heart no sparing.
Ours it was, the dominion of all these peoples,
ours till El Móndir ruled, the sweet rain of heaven.

Thou, O King, art the master. Thou our witness
stoodst the day of Hayáreyn. Our proof is proven!


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



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