I went with my foe to the edge of the crater,—
But no one to return, we knew,—
The lava’s heat had never been greater
Than the ire between us two.
He flung back his head and he mocked at me,
He spat unspeakable words at me,
Our eyes met, and our knives met,
I saw red, and I slew!
Such were my deeds when my youth was hot,
And force was new to my hand,
With many more that I tell thee not,
Well known in my native land.
These show thy Christ when thou prayest to Him,
He too was a man thou sayest of Him,
Therefore He, when I reach His feet,
Will remember, and understand.
Out I came from the dancing-place:
The night-wind met me face to face—
A wind off the harbour, cold and keen,
“I know,” it whistled, “where thou hast been.”
A faint voice fell from the stars above—
“Thou? whom we lighted to shrines of Love!”
I found when I reached my lonely room
A faint sweet scent in the unlit gloom.
And this was the worst of all to bear,
For someone had left while lilac there.
The flower you loved, in times that were.
Ay, thou has found thy kingdom, Yasin Khan,
Thy fathers’ pomp and power are thine, at last.
No more the rugged roads of Khorasan,
The scanty food and tentage of the past!
Wouldst thou make war? thy followers know no fear.
Where shouldst thou lead them but to victory?
Wouldst thou have love? thy soft-eyed slaves draw near,
Eager to drain thy strength away from thee.
My thoughts drag backwards to forgotten days,
To scenes etched deeply on my heart by pain;
The thirsty marches, ambuscades, and frays,
The hostile hills, the burnt and barren plain.
Hast thou forgotten how one night was spent,
Crouched in a camel’s carcase by the road,
Along which Akbar’s soldiers, scouting, went,
And he himself, all unsuspecting, rode?
Did we not waken one despairing dawn,
Attacked in front, cut off in rear, by snow,
Till, like a tiger leaping on a fawn,
Half of the hill crashed down upon the foe?
Once, as thou mournd’st thy lifeless brother’s
The red tears falling from thy shattered wrist,
A spent Waziri, forceful still, in hate,
Covered they heart, ten paces off,—and missed!
Ahi, men thrust a worn and dinted sword
Into a velvet-scabbarded repose;
The gilded pageants that salute thee Lord
Cover one sorrow-rusted heart, God knows.
Ah, to exchange this wealth of idle days
For one cold reckless night of Khorasan!
To crouch once more before the camp-fire blaze
That lit the lonely eyes of Yasin Khan.