Yahya-En-Nasr Parkinson. IW, viii.43-7.
The sword you gaze upon my child,
Thine eyes with eager passion scan;
Has flashed amid the tempest wild,
Where Zengi led the Muslim van;
The jewelled hilt whose rays of fire
Might scorn the glory of the sun,
The tempered blade whose touch of ire
Made streams of deepest crimson run;
Unmatched on many a field of fight,
But dimmed in many a battle won;
It made and unmade many a knight,
For it was Zengi's own, my son.
Methinks I see his streaming crest,
Like snow-white foam upon the wave,
Where'er the thronging squadrons prest,
Amid the bravest of the brave.
Listen! and I will tell you, lad,
The story of a soldier true.
No abler chief for combat clad,
Nor better brand in danger drew;
When but a youth of fourteen years
Sages revered his comely form.
He led his father's cavaliers
In summer calm and winter storm;
His early days foretold renown,
Predestined by the hand of fate,
Princes upheld his youthful crown
Until he grew to man's estate.
It was a time of bitter strife,
Of broiling day and night alarms,
Murder and plunder both were rife,
And every Emir slept in arms;
Crusaders from the ferrine west,
Imbued with mad religious hate;
Were rushing in fanatic zest,
The Muslim to annihilate.
For Baldwin's brow the diadem
Of Palestinian empire bound,
The Kingdom of Jerusalem,
And hallowed Bethlehem's holy ground.
Their legions reached Diyar-bekir,
And surged around Damascus wall,
And Syrian blood besprent the spear
In fair Edessa's palace hall;
And rapine followed in their path,
The pestilence that famine bears,
Haran and Sidon felt their wrath,
And Tyre and Tripolis were theirs;
No lance to stay the fearful scourge,
Where Kedron's fairy waters flashed,
Nor champion's voice the Muslims urge
Where the Orontes droning dashed;
In vain the people sought relief
From fierce oppression's blighting breath;
And overcome by fear and grief,
Even the doughtiest prayed for death;
But all was changed when Zengi first
In battle couched Islamic spear,
And over the Orontes burst
On his victorious career.
His eye with battle fire aglare,
His swarthy cheek with triumph flushed;
That blade, Damascus made, was bare,
And with the blood of foemen blushed.
I saw him on Tiberias plain,
In youthful ardour lead the van,
When blood distilled like winter rain,
And Mandud led the Mussulman.
'Twas there he played a knightly part,
And won his spurs on tented field,
And earned the love of every heart
That homage will to valour yield.
'Mid western knight and Frankish peer,
And Syria's martial Emir keen,
No more renowned cavalier
Than gallant, young, Imad-ed-din.
I saw his mettled coursers prance,
His banners with the Khalif lined,
When Dubeys and his Arab lance,
On billows swept, incarnadined;
With daring heart Antar, the brave,
Against him sped in proud array,
To break in pieces, wave on wave,
The finest swords of Araby.
I seem to see him once again
Breasting the billows of that sea,
Beneath him dead and dying men;
The Arab's choicest chivalry;
Before the Sultan's eye that hour,
Of gentle deed and courtly grace,
The foremost on the run for power,
Leading the veterans in the race.
It was not there he made his name,
But by the Jordan's rippling wave;
It was not there undying fame
Her wreath of greenest laurel gave;
It was not there he was revered,
But by Orontes turbid tide;
It was not there his name was feared,
But on the Jordan's western side;
He was the first the torch to light,
And bid the European pause;
The first to meet the Christian might
As champion of the Muslim cause.
I think I see the chieftain now,
By dark Atharib's lofty keep,
The thunders lowering on his brow,
His eyes where lurid lightnings sleep.
I saw the warlike passion rise
Upon his brow as morning light!
I saw the fury in his eyes,
As lightning's thro' the darkest night!
The turbans glittered on the plain,
Amid the hills the battle flags;
The eagles swooping in our train
Forsook their eyries on the crags.
We challenged and the foe replied,
And long withstood us man to man,
For they were warriors picked and tried,
Of Normandy and Frankistan.
We met defiance with our mines,
And mangonels the turrets swept,
Closer and closer drew our lines,
Day after day we nearer crept.
Unto their aid with all his might
Jerusalem's Christian sovereign came,
He knew those sparks of transient light
Were heralds of devouring flame;
They came to meet us; 'twas the choice
Of Prince and baron, banneret;
And we, aroused by Zengi's voice,
For the assault impatient fret.
The cry, 'Give them a taste of Hell,'
Was answered from the frowning rock;
And then against the infidel
Our coursers bounded to the shock;
Into that sea of steel we rode,
As rivers pouring forth in flood
Our blades a brighter crimson showed
Than ever sprung from slavish blood;
Onward, as speedy as the wind,
Charge after charge the Emir led;
They rank before us, and behind
Ruin a tragic glory spread;
The falchions leapt in tongues of flame
Where'er our Arab coursers trod,
The bodies of our foes became
The scabbards of the swords of God!
But few escaped the martyr's crown
Amid the Frank and Norman peers;
The solemn, silent stars looked down
On red Atharib's rayless spears.
The Crescent of the Seljukees
Was floating over every height,
The song of victory on the breeze,
The clarion of the Islamite.
You yet may know the battlefield,
For bones are crumbling there to dust,
And riven helm and battered shield,
Are lying there defaced with rust.
Edessa, lad, his glory made;
He toyed with Amid, to beguile
The spears of Jocelin; so delayed
His march at Amid's gates awhile.
Deceived, they went, an erring band,
And scarce defended left the town,
And we departed by command
To haul Edessa's crosses down;
As reapers in the field of death,
As brother Muslims side by side,
To guard the honour of the Faith,
To bear the brunt, and turn the tide.
Onward to reap the swathes we went,
Onward to pass the foemen's flank,
Unloosened rein and body bent,
Bridle by bridle, rank on rank;
Line after line the horsemen go,
And head by head the chargers run,
With spears and turbans row on row,
It was a wondrous sight, my son.
The Sun of Islam rose again,
And on our banners flashed success;
We met the Franks in their domain,
And paid them for their wickedness;
We stormed Edessa town at last,
And vengeance whetted every blade.
For every insult of the past,
A shambles of the place we made;
We would have razed it to the ground,
Its turrets with the desert laid,
Destroyed its ramparts; but the sound
Of Zengi's voice the slaughter stayed.
Our Emir's valour thro' the lands
Was bruited by the Muslim's lips,
And unto distant western strands
Was carried by the Christian ships.
And yet they slew him, slew the man
Who from oppression gave relief;
No more his eye the battle scan;
They slew him! Slew our peerless chief!
No more in front his turban shine;
The' assassin's dagger pierced his breast,
No more his lance will lead the line,
Nor sabre scourge the seething west.