The story of Suhrab and Rustam hear
Thou hast heard others; let it be thy part
To hear this too: 'tis fraught with many a tear,
And Rustam will enrage thy gentle heart.
Now if a rude gust should arise and bear
A yet unripened orange to the dust,
Shall I describe this as unfair or fair,
Shall I pronounce it tyrannous or just?
Where is the evil if we all must die?
Why clamour and appeal from what is right?
Thy spirit wotteth not this mystery;
Beyond the Veil there is no path in sight.
We all must reach the insatiable door,
The greedy door that openeth twice for none;
Yet so a better place may be in store
For thee, and heaven's eternal rest be won.
Unless death swallowed all men up in turn
Earth would be trampled down by young and old;
If fire in giving light shall also burn
The matter is no marvel to behold,
For burn it will and that as readily
As offshoots issue from an ancient stem,
And whether young or old the victims be
Death's blast, like dread fire, hath no awe of them.
Should pleasure then a youthful mind engage
Since years are not the only cause of death,
Which is the end alike of youth and age
Unless thou seek a passage in the Faith?
While if Salvation's light be in thy heart
Thy lot as servant is to hold thy peace;
Be busied in preparing to depart,
Let prayerful adoration never cease.
In serving God there is no mystery
Unless the Div consorteth with thy soul;
Be fervent here below and thou shalt be
In perfect peace when thou hast reached thy goal.
The exploits of Suhrab I next shall tell,
And how the combat with his sire befell.
How Rustam went to the Chace
I tell what rustic bard and archimage
Told from the legends of a bygone age:-
One morn in dudgeon Rustam rose to hunt,
Girt him, filled up his quiver, mounted Rakhsh,
And hied him to the marches of Turan,
A savage Lion prowling after prey.
When he drew near the marches and beheld
The plain well stocked with onager, he flushed
Rose-like and smiled, then urging on his steed
He dropped much game with arrow, mace, and lasso.
He lit a fire with sticks, dry grass, and thorns,
Chose out a tree to serve him for a spit,
And set thereon a lusty onager -
A feather's weight to him! He tore the meat,
When roasted, from the bones and sucked the marrow,
Drank of a neighbouring stream and wooed repose,
While Rakhsh careered and grazed along the mead.
Some Turkman horsemen chanced upon the plain
And marked the tracks of Rakhsh. These they pursued
Beside the stream, observed him in the pasture,
Surrounded him, and with their royal lassos
Essayed to take him. Rakhsh perceiving this
Raged like a mighty lion. Lashing out
He laid two Turkmans low and with his teeth
Tore off another's head. Thus three were slain,
And still the head of Rakhsh escaped the noose;
At length the others threw from every side
Their lassos, caught him round the neck and took him,
Then walked him to the city, all desirous
To have a share in him.
When Rustam woke
From pleasant sleep and needed docile Rakhsh
He looked about the mead but found him not,
Whereat in dudgeon and astound he hurried
Toward Samangan. " Now whither shall I trudge,"
He said, " to 'scape my dark soul's shame, or how,
Thus armed with quiver, mace, helm, scimitar,
And tiger-skin cuirass, shall I o'erpass
The waste or make a shift to deal with foes?
How will the Turkmans say: 'Who stole his Rakhsh?
Thus matchless Rustam slept his life away!'
Now must I plod all helpless and forlorn;
Still let me arm, I yet may trace him out."
Thus with a weary, aching heart he went
In evil case and much discouragement.
How Rustam came to the City of Samangan
When Rustam drew near Samangan the king
And nobles heard: "The Crown-bestower cometh
Afoot for Rakhsh escaped him in the chace."
The king's chief nobles, who wore crowns themselves,
Went forth to welcome Rustam, and all said :-
"Can this be Rustam or the rising sun? "
The monarch went to him afoot attended,
And asked: "Who dared to meet thee in the fight?
We of this city are thy friends and servants,
We and our goods are both at thy disposal,
The heads and lives most dear to us are thine."
Then Rustam, seeing that the words were honest,
Replied: "In yonder meads my Rakhsh while ranging
Without a rein or halter strayed from me,
And I have traced him from the river-side
To Samangan. If thou recoverest him
My thanks are thine besides the recompense
Of one that doth aright; should he be lost
I will behead no few among thy chiefs."
The king made answer: "O exalted man!
None will presume to thwart thee. Come and be
My guest and be not wroth; all will be well.
Let us refresh our hearts with wine to-night
And keep them free from care, for wrath and passion
Advantage not while gentleness will draw
The snake out of its hole, and Rustam's Rakhsh -
A steed so known - will not continue hidden.
We will seek out thy Rakhsh and bring him quickly,
Thou doughty veteran!"
Rustam heard with joy,
And easy in his mind agreed to pay
A visit to the king who, greatly pleased,
Bestowed him in the palace and stood slave-like
Before him, then invited from the city
And army chiefs to entertain with Rustam,
And bade the cooks to spread the board. The guests
And minstrels strove to banish Rustam's gloom,
While black-eyed, rose-cheeked Idols of Taraz
Gave wine and feast and music greater charm.
At length bemused and drowsy Rustam went
To where the king had furnished for his guest
Musk and rose-water, and a place of rest.
How Tahmina, the Daughter of the King of Samangane, came to Rustam
At noon of night, while Phosphor crossed the sky,
There came mysterious whispers, Rustam's door
Was softly opened, and a slave who bare
A taper savouring of ambergris
Walked stately toward the drunken sleeper's couch.
Behind the slave there was a moon-faced girl
Sun-bright, all scent and hue, with arching eyebrows
And locks that hung in tresses lasso-like,
In stature like a lofty cypress-tree,
With cheeks carnelians of Yaman in colour
And mouth as straitened as a lover's heart.
All soul was she and keen of intellect,
Thou wouldst have said: "She is not of the earth."
The lion-hearted Rustam marvelled at her
And calling on the Maker asked: "Thy name?
What seek'st thou midst the murk of night? Thy
She said: "Tahmina : and thou well mayst say
That mine affliction teareth me in twain.
Sole daughter of the king of Samangan,
And by descent half lion and half pard,
There is no mate for me among the kings,
Nor are there many like me under heaven.
No one hath seen me yet outside the bower,
No one hath ever heard me spoken of,
But many and many a story have I heard
Of thee from every one just like romance!
How div and lion, pard and crocodile,
Thou fearest not, thou art so deft of hand
How thou departest to Turan by night
And roamest there unsleeping and alone,
Dost roast an onager to make a meal
And set air wailing with thy scimitar!
How at the sight of thee with mace in hand
The hearts of lions and the hides of pards
Are rent! How eagles seeing thy naked sword
Dare not to swoop upon their quarry, and how
Great lions bear the traces of thy lasso,
And clouds rain blood in terror of thy spear!
Such are the tales of thee that I have heard!
Oft have I bit my lips in wonderment
And longed to see thy shoulders, neck, and breast.
God hath ordained thy sojourn in this city,
And now if thou wilt have me I am thine -
I who was never seen by fowl or fish -
Because for one thing I adore thee so,
Have sacrificed my prudence to my passion,
And for another - haply God Almighty
May lay upon my breast a child of thine.
Oh! may he be like thee in might and manhood,
And heaven assign to him both Sol and Saturn
Moreover I will bring back Rakhsh to thee
And put all Samangan beneath thy feet."
The matchless Rustam heard her to the end.
He saw what beauty and intelligence
Were hers, and that she brought him news of Rakhsh.
Perceiving that the affair would turn out well
He bade an archimage - a man of worship -
Go and demand the maiden from her sire.
The king, that noble Cypress, was well pleased
To be affined to Rustam, and bestowed
Tahmina on him with the usual rites.
The people all poured out their souls with joy
And called down blessings on the paladin :-
"May this New Moon prove fortunate to thee,
And be thy foes' heads plucked out by the roots."
Night was not longsome while his mate was by,
But when the sun was bright he longed to throw
The musky lasso off. He wore an armlet -
A famous one. That gave he to Tahmina,
And said: "Keep this. If thou shalt bear a daughter
Then plait it in her hair, and choose a time
Propitious, and auspicious auguries;
While if the stars vouchsafe to thee a son
Bind round his arm this token of his father.
He will be like Sam son of Nariman
In stature and a Kariman in manhood
And character, and bring down soaring eagles.
The sun will scorch not him."
He passed the night
In converse with his bride, and when the sun
Shone bright, and decked the earth with lovesomeness,
In taking leave he clasped her to his breast
And showered kisses on her eyes and head,
But fair Tahmina turned in tears from him
To be the spouse of pain and misery.
The noble king of Samangan approached,
Inquired of Rustam how the night had sped,
And, having heard, gave him good news of Rakhsh,
News that rejoiced the crown-bestower's heart.
He came, caressed the steed, and saddled him,
Pleased both with glossy Rakhsh and with the king.
Then homeward to Zabulistan he went,
But no one heard him speak of this event.
The Birth of Suhrab
Nine months passed and a moon-like babe was born;
Thou wouldst have said: '"Tis elephantine Rustam,"
Or else: "Tis lion - Sam," or " Nariman,"
And since the babe smiled and was bright of blee
Tahmina gave to him the name Suhrab.
He looked a year old in a month, his chest
Was like his sire's, at three he exercised
In arms, at five he had a lion-heart,
At ten none dared encounter him in fight.
He bluntly asked his mother once: "Now tell me,
Since none of my milk-fellows can compare
With me, and my head reacheth to the sky,
Of what stock am I and of what descent?
What shall I say when asked about my father?
Thou shalt not live unless thou answer me."
His mother said: "Then listen and rejoice,
But be not rash. Thou art the son of Rustam,
The hero of the elephantine form,
The progeny of Zal the son of Sam,
And Nariman. Thy head out-toppeth heaven
Because thou comest of the famous stock,
For never since the Maker made the world
Hath there appeared a cavalier like Rustam,
Nor one like Sam the son of Nariman,
Whose head the heaven itself dared not to touch."
She brought and showed a letter from his sire,
Three bright gems, and three purses filled with gold,
Sent to him by his father at his birth
With these words: "Guard these well, because thy sire
Hath sent them unto thee, O noble child!"
His mother said besides: "Afrasiyab
Must not know aught hereof. He is the foe
Of Rustam and the troubler of Turan.
May he ne'er seek revenge upon thyself
And slay the son in dudgeon at the sire.
Moreover, if thy father shall perceive
Of what a stamp thou art, so high and proud,
Then will he summon thee and rend my heart."
Suhrab replied: "A thing like this will out.
Old chieftains, warriors in the past, recount
His deeds. What right hadst thou to hide that I
Come of such fighting stock? Now will I gather
A boundless host of Turkman warriors,
Drive from his throne Kaus, will cut away
From Tus his foothold in Iran, and leave not
Gurgin, Gudarz, and Giv, or Gustaham
Son of Naudar, or warrior Bahram,
But give the treasure, throne, and crown to Rustam
Instead of Shah Kaus; then from Iran
March forth to take Afrasiyab's own seat,
And raise my spearhead higher than the sun.
I will do lion's deeds and make thee mistress
Of all Iran. Since Rustam is the sire
And I the son none other shall be king.
When sun and moon are shining in the sky
Why should the stars set up their crowns on high?"
How Suhrab chose his Charger
He said moreover: "Thou shalt see my prowess,
But I must have a charger swift of foot
With hoofs of steel flint-shattering, in strength
Like elephants, in flight like birds, in water
Like fish, and on the land like deer, to bear
My warrior-breast and neck, mine ax and mace
I must be mounted to encounter foes."
His mother's head rose o'er the shining sun
At hearing this. She bade the herdsman bring
His herds of horses for Suhrab to choose
A charger. So they gathered to the city
The herds that wandered over hill and desert,
And when some large-limbed, lusty steed appeared
Suhrab flung round its neck the leathern noose,
Then laid his hand upon the beast to prove it
And made it grovel. Thus his might broke down
Full many a noble steed; he could not find
One adequate, and grieved. At length a warrior
Approached the elephantine youth and said :-
"I have a colt-one of the breed of Rakhsh -
In strength a lion and as fleet as wind.
He is as 'twere a valley-treading mountain
And skimmeth like a bird along the waste.
In strength and swiftness he is like the sun;
None ever saw so fleet a roan. Beneath
The stamping of his hoofs the Bull-fish quaketh;
His leap is like the lightning; on the mountains
He goeth like the raven; on the water
Like fish and water-fowl; upon the desert
Like shaft from bow, pursuing and o'ertaking
Suhrab laughed out for joy,
And when they brought to him that glossy charger
Both proved it and approved it, coaxed, caressed,
Then saddled it, and mounted. He appeared
Like Mount Bistun; his spear was pillar-like.
He said: "Since I have gotten such a steed
I must ride forth at once and turn the day
Of Kai Kaus to gloom."
He made him ready
To fight the Iranians, and a host assembled.
He then approached his grandsire, asking leave
To go, and help in going: "I am fain
To seek Iran and see my glorious sire."
Thereat the king provided him with arms
Of every kind, thrones, diadems, and casques,
Steeds, camels, belts, gold, gems, and Ruman,jerkins.
He marvelled at that youth of tender age
And freely gave a royal equipage.
How Afrasiyab sent Barman and Human to Suhrab
Afrasiyab had news: "Suhrab hath launched
His ship, a host hath gathered unto him.
Although his mouth still savoureth of milk
His mind is set on shaft and scimitar;
His sword will purge the earth, and now he seeketh
To fight Kaus. He feareth none. Why more?
His prowess hath shown higher than his birth."
Now when Afrasiyab had heard these words
They pleasured him, he laughed and showed his joy.
Then from the valiant captains of the host -
Those that were wielders of the massive mace -
He chose two chiefs; Human was one, the other
Barman; no laggards they when Lions strove.
He gave to them twelve thousand valiant troops,
And said: "Be this your secret policy
The father must not recognise his son
By any ties of instinct, love, or race;
So, when the twain encounter, in good sooth
The matchless Rustam will be put to it.
It may be that this lion-man will slay him.
Then will we press Kaus, seize on Iran,
With Rustam gone, and settle with Suhrab
Some night by binding him in endless sleep;
While should he perish by his father's hand
That hero's heart will never cease to burn."
Those two shrewd paladins went to Suhrab,
Preceded by a present from the king -
Ten steeds caparisoned, ten mules of burden,
A turquoise throne with ivory steps, a crown
Of amber tipped with pearls - and took a letter
Of adulation to the noble youth:-
"If thou shalt seize the Iranian throne the age
Will rest from strife. We are not far apart;
Iran, Turan, and Samangan are one.
I send thee troops enough, sit on the throne
And don the crown. Turan hath no such leaders
And brave hearts as Human and as Barman,
Whom I dispatch to thee as guests, to be
At thy command, to fight, if thou wouldst fight,
And make the world strait to thine enemies."
Now when Suhrab was ware of their approach
He girt his loins and with his grandsire went
Like wind to meet Human, rejoiced to see
Such troops. Human for his part was amazed
To see the neck and shoulders of Suhrab,
Then gave to him the letter of the king,
The gifts, the horses, and the mules of burden,
And with Barman delivered the king's message.
Now when the atheling had read the letter
He beat the tymbals and led forth the host.
Earth was all troops and clamour, neither lion
Nor crocodile could fight him. Thus he led
The host toward Iran, burned everywhere
The cultivated parts, and left all bare.
How Suhrab came to White Castle
White Castle was a stronghold of Iran
And veteran Hajir was castellan -
A man of might and courage, mace and arrow -
For Gazhdaham was failing though still brave
And venturesome. His daughter, who was proud;
Renowned, and malapert, bore arms and fought
On horseback. As Suhrab approached, Hajir
Saw him and mounting on his steed like dust
Sped forth upon the field. Suhrab enraged,
And drawing forth the scimitar of fight,
Rushed from the host as 'twere a blast and cried:-
"O fool to throw thy life away and come
Alone' Sit tight and firmly grasp thy reins.
What are thy name and lineage? She that bare
Will have to weep for thee."
"Enough! I need no help in fighting thee.
Hajir am I, a warrior and chieftain.
I will take off thy head to send the Shah
And leave the vultures to consume thy body."
Suhrab laughed out and charged; both hurled their spears
Too fast for eyes to follow. Brave Suhrab,
Strong as an elephant, came on like fire
Upon his moving mountain of a steed.
Hajir thrust at his waist; the spearpoint glanced.
Suhrab the Lion drove the weapon back,
Struck with the butt his foe's waist lustily,
And threw him like a boulder to the earth,
As though the matter were not worth a thought,
Astound in heart and soul. Suhrab dismounted,
Sat on his foeman's breast, and had in mind
To cut his head off, but Hajir with effort
Turned on his right side and entreated quarter.
Suhrab accorded it, well satisfied,
Gave him some cautions, made him fast in bonds,
And sent him to Human. Those in the hold
On hearing what had chanced cried mournfully :-
"Hajir is lost among the enemy!"<
How Suhrab fought with Gurdafrid
When she whose sire was Gazhdaham had heard :-
"The chief is worsted!" she was grieved, exclaimed
In her distress, and heaved a deep cold sigh.
A woman like some valiant cavalier
Was she and ever famous in the fight.
Her name was Gurdafrid, and none as yet
Had seen her match. Hajir's discomfiture
So shamed her that her tulip-cheeks became
Like red chrysanthemums. Time pressed, she armed,
Concealed her tresses underneath her mail,
Secured her Ruman casque upon her head,
And came down, like a lion, from the hold
With girded waist upon a wind-foot steed.
She sped like dust and cried in thunder-tones:-
"What are these troops and who commandeth them?
What lusty Crocodile is there among you
To match himself with me in single combat?"
None volunteered until Suhrab beheld her.
He bit his lips and laughed. "Again," said he,
"An onager hath come within the toils
Of him that hath both strength and scimitar."
He armed like wind, put on a helm of Chin,
And rushed out to encounter Gurdafrid,
Who when she saw him strung her bow up, drew it,
And broadened out her breast. No bird had found
A passage through her shafts; she showered them
Upon Suhrab and wheeled to left and right.
He saw and was abashed, waxed wroth and charged,
His shield above his head. Thus pressed she hung
Her bow upon her arm and, while her steed
Pranced to the clouds, couched at Suhrab her lance,
And plied her reins with fury. He too shook
His reins and urged his charger on like lightning,
Fierce as a leopard, at his doughty foe.
He thrust a deadly dart with all his strength,
Struck Gurdafrid upon the belt and rent
Her coat of mail, but even as she reeled
She drew her sword and clave the dart asunder,
Regained her seat and sent the dust-clouds flying;
But liking not such fighting turned and fled.
He urged his dragon-steed, and he too made
In wrath day dark with dust. He pressed upon her
With loud cries, jostled her, and snatched her helm.
Her hair escaped, her face shone like the sun.
He said: "It is a girl! Her head of hair
Is worthy of a crown. If such a girl,"
He said amazed, " come from the Iranian host
Upon the field, good sooth their cavaliers
Will send dust cloudward on the day of battle!"
He loosed his coiled up lasso from the straps
And caught her round the waist, then said to her:-
"Why seekest thou the fray, O moon-faced maid?
No onager like thee hath ever come
Within my toils. Thou wilt not 'scape my clutch,
So struggle not."
She saw no other course,
So showed her face and said: "O warrior,
Midst warriors a lion! two hosts watch
Our prowess with the mace and scimitar,
And nowathat I have shown my face and hair
The troops will say: 'He sent the dust-clouds flying
And all to fight a girl!' 'Twill be disgrace
To persevere in such a fight as this.
Chiefs should be wise, so let us keep it dark
And save thee from reproach on mine account.
Our troops and stronghold are at thy command,
There is no need to fight, the castle, treasure,
And castellan are thine when thou shalt Please."
She showed her face, her smiles displayed the pearls
Within her jujube-lips, a garden she
In Paradise; no villager e'er set
So tall a cypress. She had eyes like deer's,
With arching eyebrows, and thou wouldst have
She She bloometh ever."
"Keep thy word," said he,
"For thou hast seen me on the day of battle.
Trust not yon castle-wall, it is not higher
Than heaven, and my mace will bring it down,
While no foe's lance will ever reach my neck."
She turned and rode with him toward the hold,
And Gazhdaham himself came to the gate.
They opened it and Gurdafrid came in
Both bruised and bound. They shut it and lamented
For her and for Hajir. Then Gazhdaham
Approached with chiefs and troops, and said to her:-
Brave-hearted lion-smiter! we were troubled
On thine account. Thy fighting and address
Have not disgraced us, and no foe hath harmed
Thy life, thank God!"
Then laughing much she went
Upon the ramparts to observe the foe,
Beheld Suhrab still mounted, and exclaimed
O warrior of Turan! why take such pains?
Be off with you and give up battlefields."
Suhrab replied: "O fair of face! I swear
By crown and throne and sun and moon to raze
These ramparts to the ground and capture thee,
Thou minx! Thou wilt repent thy foolish words
When thou art writhing in thy helplessness.
Where is thy promise?"
But she laughed and mocked him:-
"The Turkmans win no helpmates from Iran,
And thou hast failed with me, but never mind!
Thou art no Turkman who art so commended
Among the great, and with such strength and limbs
Art peerless midst the paladins! However,
When news shall reach the Shah : 'A chief is leading
An army from Turan,' he will march forth
With Rustam whom ye cannot stand against,
And all thy host will perish. What mishap
Will then descend upon thy head I know not,
But woe is me that such a neck and shoulder
Should disappear within the maw of pards!
So do not trust too much those arms of thine
Or else the stupid ox will graze beside thee.
'Twere best to issue orders for retreat"
Suhrab, who thought the hold his own, was shamed.
He gave to pillage all the land and crops
Around the walls, then for a moment washed
The evil hand, and said: "Our time for action
Is not to-day; our hands are stayed from fight.
At daybreak we will raise dust from these walls
And carry war's alarms inside the place."
With that he turned about his charger's rein
And took the way to his own camp again.
The Letter of Gazhdaham to Kaus
Now when Suhrab had gone old Gazhdaham
Called for a scribe to write to Kai Kaus,
Then hurried off a speedy messenger
And, having praised the Shah, reported thus:-
"A mighty host of valiant warriors
Attacketh us, led by a paladin,
Whose years do not exceed twice seven at most,
In stature taller than a lofty cypress,
And in his aspect like the shining sun.
His breast is lion-like, his mien is stately.
I have not looked on such a hand and mace
Within Iran. Whenas he brandisheth
His Indian scimitar it shameth him
To fight mere seas and mountains. Rattling thunder
Is no match for his voice, or for his arm
Our trenchant sword. No peer within Iran
Or in Turan hath he. This chief is named
Suhrab, and feareth not div, elephant,
Or lion; thou mayst say: ''Tis surely Rustam,
At least some hero sprung from Nariman!'
The brave Hajir rode out to challenge him,
But, as I saw, no longer kept his seat
Than while a warrior might wink an eye,
Or scent go up a nostril to the brain.
Suhrab unhorsed him to his great amazement.
He is not hurt, and they have spared his life,
But he is sorry and hath got his skinful
Of anguish. Many Turkman cavaliers
Have I beheld, but never heard of one
With such a seat. God grant he grapple not
With one of us between the battle-lines;
I would have none, e'en though a Mount of flint,
Meet him upon the plain. The earth would pity
That Mount if he should charge it in the fight,
And if the Shah shall stop to breathe, march forth
No host, and set no ambuscade, consider
The Glory of Iran as gone, the world
As panic-stricken by this warrior's sword-point.
Since he is Strength itself he will despoil us,
And none can grapple with him hand to hand,
Or ever saw so skilled a rider. 'He,'
Thou wouldest say, 'is Sam the cavalier:
We cannot fight this eager warrior
With such a mace, grip, and dexterity.
Know that the fortune of our warriors noddeth,
And that his greatness reacheth to the sky.
To-night we pack the baggage and withdraw,
For if we tarry we shall make no fight,
To say no more; these walls will not withstand
One at whose rush a lion turneth laggard."
The letter sealed he called a messenger,
And said: "Be out of sight of them by dawn,"
And having sent the letter on its way
Prepared to follow it without delay.
How Suhrab took White Castle
Whenas the sun rose o'er the mountain-heights
The soldiers of Turan girt up their loins,
And spear in hand Suhrab the chief bestrode
His swift-paced charger, purposing to capture
The garrison and bind them like a flock;
But having, roaring like a lion, forced
The gates, he saw no man of name within,
For in the night the garrison had fled
With Gazhdaham, because beneath the hold
There was a way not wotted by the foe.
Those still inside concerned with the defence
Or otherwise came to Suhrab as bidden,
And sought by every means to save their lives.
He looked for Gurdafrid but found her not.
His heart was fain for love and union with her.
"Woe's me!" he thought, " the bright Moon is beclouded!"
Kaus received the letter and was grieved.
He called the captains of the host to counsel -
Tus and Gudarz son of Kishwad, and Giv,
Gurgin, Bahram, and brave Farhad - and read
Aloud to them the news about Suhrab.
He said in private: "This will cost us time,
And Gazhdaham saith naught to comfort us.
What shall we do, and what will cure this smart?
Who in Iran can fight him? "
That Giv should go to Rustam at Zabul
To say: "The throne of empire is in danger,"
And summon him to take the field for war,
Because the Iranians looked to him for shelter.
A scribe as they discussed was sitting by
In that the case was one of urgency.
How Kaus wrote to Rustam and summoned him from Zabulistan
The Shah then bade indite to famous Rustam
A letter, and began by praising him:-
"Be thy heart prudent and thy spirit bright.
Know that a Turkman chieftain with his host
Hath come and is beleaguering White Castle.
He is a brave, heroic paladin,
In form an elephant, in heart a lion.
None in Iran can fight him; thou alone,
That art so good at need, canst dim his lustre,
Thou heart and back-bone of the Iranian chiefs,
Who hast the claws and might of lions! Thou
Didst take the country of Mazandaran,
And in Hamavaran undo our bonds.
Sol weepeth at thy mace, and at thy sword
Mars grilleth. Indigo is not so dark
As dust-clouds raised by Rakhsh; no elephant
Can match thee in the fight; thou lassoest lions;
Thy spear-point scatheth mountains. In all ills
Thou art the shelter of Iran. The warriors
Through thee exalt their helms. A grievous matter
Confronteth us; I ache to think thereof.
The warriors in counsel read a letter
From Gazhdaham and were agreed that Giv
Should bear thee this account of good and ill.
Now when thou readest this by day or night
Ope not thy lips for words, and if thou have
A posy in thy hand stay not to smell it,
But act with promptitude and show thy face,
Because unless thou march forth from Zabul
With wary horsemen and shaft raise the war-cry,
To judge by that which Gazhdaham hath told
None will confront this warrior."
The Shah gave swift as wind to gallant Giv,
And said: "Be instant, ply thy fleet steed's rein.
Whenas thou reachest Rustam neither tarry,
Nor sleep, within Zabul; if thou arrive
By night return next day. Thus say to him:-
'A war is imminent, and in thine absence
We cannot hold the foe of small account.'"
Giv took it and sped night and day like wind,
No rest, no sleep, no water, and no food,
Until Zal heard the cry: "A cavalier
Approacheth from Iran as swift as dust"
The matchless Rustam met him with the troops
And nobles wearing helmets. When they met,
Giv and the warriors great and small dismounted,
And Rustam too who asked news of the Shah,
And of Iran. They went thence to his palace
To rest awhile. Giv told his errand, gave
The letter, spake much of Suhrab, delivered
His other tidings and the presents sent.
When Rustam heard and read he laughed amazed,
And said: "A horseman hath appeared like Sam!
Now from our people this would not be strange,
But from the Turkmans 'tis incredible.
None sayeth, and I know not, whence he is.
The daughter of the king of Samangan
Bare me a son but he is still a child.
The noble boy at present wotteth not
Of warfare, of attack, and self-defence.
I sent his mother gold and precious stones
In plenty, and the messenger brought answer:-
'The darling is not growing very fast,
But quaffeth wine with lips that savour milk.'
No doubt he will be eager soon for war,
And then his onslaught will be lion-like;
He will lay low the head of many a horseman;
But as for what thou sayest, O paladin
'He came to fight us, vanquished brave Hajir,
And bound him with the lasso head and foot!'
The Lion's whelp, though grown both brave and doughty,
Could not do that. Come, go we to Zal's palace,
Rejoicing, then consider plans and who
This lucky Turkman paladin may be."
They sought the ancestral hall and stayed awhile
In unconcern, then Giv again applied
To Rustam, praising him and saying: "Hero,
And chief of paladins! may crown and throne
Be bright to thee who art the crown's adornment,
Thou favourite of fortune! Shah Kaus
Said thus: 'Sleep not within Zabulistan.
If thou arrive by night return next day,
For God forbid that war should press on us.'
Now, O exalted and most glorious chief
Let us depart in all haste to Iran."
But Rustam answered: "There is naught to fear,
For everything will end in dust at last.
Abide we here to-day in merriment
Naught reeking of Kaus and of the chiefs.
One day will we remain to breathe ourselves
And put some liquor to our thirsty lips;
Thereafter we will hasten to the Shah
And show the heroes of iran the way
In case bright fortune be not yet awake.
At all events the matter is a trifle,
The rising sea will quench the fiercest flame.
Yen from afar my flag will fray his heart
Amid a feast. How can he be like Rustam -
The master of the scimitar and mace -
Or Sam the hardy, brave, and circumspect?
He will not prove so eager for the fray.
We need not take such matters seriously."
They took the wine in hand and grew bemused
With drinking to the monarch and to Zal.
Next morning Rustam though crop-sick made ready
To start, but tarrying through drunkenness
Gave orders to the cooks to spread a feast.
The banquet done they held a drinking-bout
And called for wine and harp and minstrelsy.
Next day he held another sunny-bright
And on the third day brought out wine at dawn,
Forgetful of Kaus. Upon the fourth
Giv, ready to depart, said thus to Rustam :-
"Kaus is rash and hasty; to his mind
This is no trifle. He was vexed and anxious,
And would not eat or slumber or repose.
By thus delaying in Zabulistan
We place him in a strait; he will be wroth
And in his headstrong humour seek revenge."
But Rustam answered: "Give it not a thought,
For none will chafe at us."
He gave command
To saddle Rakhsh and blow the brazen trumpets.
The horsemen of Zabul came at the call
In mail - a mighty army. He therein
Installed Zawara as chief paladin.
How Kaus was wroth with Rustam
Tus and Gudarz son of Kishwad met Rustam
One day's march from the court. Both he and they
Alighted and saluted heartily.
They reached the court all loyalty and mirth,
But, when they did obeisance, Kai Kaus
Made no response but frowned on them in anger,
And bare him like a lion of the wood,
First stormed at Giv, then wholly lost to shame
Proceeded: "Who is Rustam that he thus
Should disobey me and break fealty?
Had I a sword I would smite off his head
As 'twere an orange. Seize him! Gibbet him
Alive, and name him not to me again."
Giv's heart was pained; he cried: "Wilt thou lay hand
On Rustam thus?"
But upon this the Shah
Raged at them both, so that all present marvelled.
He bade Us: "Go and hang them both alive,"
Arose himself, and flamed like fire from reeds,
While Tus drew near and seized the hand of Rustam,
To all the warriors' wonder, purposing
To lead him forth and to beguile his wrath;
But Rustam furious with Kaus replied:-
"Indulge not such a fire within thy breast.
Thy deeds grow worse and worse! Thou art not fit
For sovereignty. Hang for thyself yon Turkman
Alive, then rage and scorn thine enemies.
Mazandaran, Sagsar, Hamavaran,
Rum, Misr, and Chin are all my charger's thralls,
My sword and arrows have transfixed their livers.
Thou livest but through me. Why waste thy heart
In vengeance? "
In his wrath he struck the hand
Of Tus, thou wouldst have said: "An elephant
Hath struck him!" Us fell headlong to the ground
While Rustam passed him by with angry mien,
Went out, and mounted Rakhsh in wrath, exclaiming:-
"I conquer lions and distribute crowns,
And who is Shah Kaus when I am angry,
Or Tus that he should lay a hand on me?
My might and my successes are from God,
Not from the Shah or host. Earth is my slave
And Rakhsh my throne, a mace my signet-ring,
A helm my crown; my mates are sparth and spearhead
My two arms and my heart my Shah. I lighten
Night with my sword and scatter heads in battle.
Why doth he vex me? I am not his slave
But God's. The warriors called me to be Shah,
But I refused the throne of sovereignty
And looked to custom, law, and precedent.
Do I deserve thy words? Art thou my patron?
Mine was the throne. I set Kubad thereon.
What care I for Kaus, his wrath and bluster?
If I had not fetched Kai Kubad myself,
When he had fallen into low estate,
And brought him to Iran from Mount Alburz,
Thou hadst not belt or vengeful scimitar,
Or might and majesty entitling thee
To speak a word to Zal the son of Sam."
He told the Iranians : "Valorous Suhrab
Will come and leave not either great or small;
So make shift, all of you! to save your lives,
And let discretion be your remedy.
Ye will not see me more within Iran
The land is yours and mine the vulture's wing."
He smote his steed and left them while his skin
Split, thou hadst said, with rage. The nobles' hearts
Were troubled; they were sheep, he was their shepherd.
"Here," said they to Gudarz, " is work for thee;
Thine is the hand to make the broken whole;
Thy words no doubt will influence the Shah.
Go then to this insensate, speak to him,
Ply him with patient and persuasive speech
Perchance thou mayst restore our fallen fortune."
Then all those warrior-nobles sat in conclave -
Giv and Gudarz and lion-like Bahram,
Ruhham and brave Gurgin. They said: "The Shah
Regardeth not the feelings of the great.
Since Rustam, who is chief of paladins,
First saved Kaus none else hath succoured him
In all his straits and dangers. When the divs
Bound in Mazandaran the Shah and us
What toil and hardship Rustam underwent .
On his account, and rent the fierce divs' reins,
Then set the Shah upon the throne and summoned
The mighty men to do him reverence!
Another time too when our sovereign's feet
Wore heavy fetters in Hamavaran
What monarchs Rustam slaughtered for his sake
And never turned away but brought Kaus
Home to his throne, and did obeisance to him
If Rustam's recompense must be to hang
Then we must flee just when at such a crisis
We should take action."
Made haste to go before the Shah and said
Thus: "What hath Rustam done that thou shouldst send
The dust up from Iran to-day? Art thou
Forgetful of Hamavaran, forgetful
Of what the divs did in Mazandaran,
That thou sayst : 'Put him living on the gibbet?'
Vain words become not Shahs. When he hath gone,
And that great host and wolf-like paladin
Have come, whom hast thou left to take the field
And strew the dark dust o'er him? Gazhdaham
By sight or hearsay knoweth all thy warriors,
Yet saith: 'Ne'er let a cavalier propose
To fight Suhrab. Small wisdom 'twere for any,
Though brave as Rustam, to encounter him:
Kings should be wise, for haste and wrath avail not."
The Shah, perceiving that Gudarz spake justly,
Repented of his folly and replied:-
"Thy rede is right; the old give best advice.
Now go to Rustam, treat him courteously,
Induce him to forget my hastiness,
Assure him that my favour is restored,
And bring him hither to illume my soul."
Gudarz went after Rustam with all speed,
Attended by the leaders of the host.
They gathered round him and saluted saying:-
"Live happy evermore, be all the world
Beneath thy feet, and mayst thou sit for ever
Upon the throne. Thou knowest that Kaus
Is brainless and no picker of his words
When angered, but regretteth them anon,
And groweth reconciled through sheer good nature.
If Rustam be aggrieved against the Shah
The Iranians have done naught to drive him hence
And hide his glorious face. The Shah moreover
Is sorry for those words of his and gnaweth
His hand's back in chagrin."
The hero said :-
"I need not anything of Kai Kaus.
A saddle is my throne, a casque my crown,
My mail my raiment and my purpose death.
What is Kaus to me? A pinch of dust.
Why should I fear or tremble at his wrath?
Do I deserve such unbecoming words
From one that I released from bonds and led
To crown and throne? Once in Mazandaran
I fought against the divs, and once I fought
The monarch of Hamavaran and freed
Kaus in his foe's grip from bonds and woe.
Now I have had enough; my heart is full;
I fear but holy God."
As soon as Rustam
Had had his fill of speech Gudarz rejoined:-
"The Shah and famous warriors suspect
That thou art frightened at this Turkman chief.
They say in private: 'Gazhdaham was right,
Our fields and fells will know us now no more,
For sithens Rustam is afraid of fighting
'Tis not for thee and me to tarry here.'
I noticed that the Shah's ill will and wrath
Made hue and cry at court, and all - men spake
About the brave Suhrab. Eclipse not thou
Thy high fame in the world by this withdrawal,
And further, since a hostile host is near,
Dim not this crown and throne so wantonly,
For we have been insulted by Turan,
And none whose Faith is pure approveth that."
The matchless hero all amazed replied :-
"I would not live a coward, I would tear
My soul out first. I flee, as well thou knowest,
Because the monarch scorned me, not from fight."
He shrank from that reproach, retraced his steps,
And came to Shah Kaus, who seeing him
Arose and thus excused what had occurred:-
"My temper is by nature choleric,
And trees must grow as God hath planted them.
Through this new, unexpected foe my heart
Was faint as a new moon. I sought a cure
And sent for thee. Thy tarrying made me wroth,
But having wronged thee, elephantine chief!
I sorrowed and my mouth was filled with dust."
Then Rustam answered him: "The world is thine.
We are thy subjects, thine is to command.
I am a liege, if worthy of the name,
Before thy gate to do thy will. Thou art
The Shah, the lord of earth; I am thy slave."
Kaus replied: "O paladin! be bright
Of mind for evermore. To-day we hold
A banquet and to-morrow think of battle."
He had a royal pleasure-house made ready;
Its hall was like a garden in the spring.
They called the chiefs and scattered gems for joy.
Half through the night they revelled and their talk
Was of the doings of the mighty men.
They drank till hearts and eyes were dazed with wine,
And all became bemused, returning home
While tedious night was traversing the dome.
How Kaus and Rustam led forth the Host
When Sol had pierced night's pitch-hued cloak and come
Forth from the veil Kaus bade Giv and Tus
To bind the drums upon the elephants.
He oped the treasury-door, gave out supplies,
Then called to horse and loaded up the baggage.
A hundred thousand cavaliers in mail
Went into camp, and as the army marched
Heaven darkened with the chargers' dust. The. tents
And tent-enclosures stretched two miles, and earth
Was clad with elephants and horses' shoes;
The sky grew dark as indigo, earth turned
To ebony, the drum-roll shook the plain.
The army marched, the sun's bright visage gloomed,
And double-pointed javelin and dart
Flashed like a flame through dust as through a veil.
What with the spears and flags of divers fashion,
The golden bucklers and the golden boots,
Thou wouldst have said: "There came an ebon cloud
Which showered sandarac." The world discerned not
Between the night and day, and thou hadst said
That neither sky nor Pleiades existed.
Thus marched the army, hiding soil and rock,
Until it neared the portal of the stronghold.
An outcry from the lookout warned Suhrab :-
"A host hath come." He mounted to the walls
To view it and then showed it to Human,
Who, when he saw so great a multitude
Approaching, was afraid and held his breath.
Suhrab the hero said: "Relieve thy heart
Of care, thou wilt not see in this vast host
A single warrior or massive mace
Meet me upon the field though sun and moon
Be on their side. The men and arms abound,
Yet know I nothing of the leaders' names'
Now by the fortune of Afrasiyab
Will I make all the desert like a sea."
Descending, light of heart and unconcerned,
He joined the revels of the revellers,
And recked not of the war.
Set up the camp-enclosure of the Shah
Before the castle on the open plain;
Men, tentage, and enclosures covered hill
And wilderness till naught was left to fill.
How Rustam slew Zhanda Razm
At sunset, when night's skirt trailed o'er the day,
Came Rustam girded and intent on war
Before the Shah, and said: "Let me go forth
Without my belt and helmet. I will mark
Who this new worldlord is, who are the chiefs,
And who is in command."
The The very work for thee, and mayst thou prosper
Both soul and body. God watch o'er thee ever,
And o'er thy heart's desire and loyal purpose."
Assuming Turkman garb he reached by stealth
The hold and heard the Turkmans' shouts and clamour.
The gallant hero made his way inside,
As 'twere a lion after antelopes,
And saw and marked the chieftains one and all,
Joy mantling in his visage like a rose.
Now when Suhrab was going to the wars
His mother summoned to her Zhanda Razm,
For once he had seen Rustam at a feast.
His father was the king of Samangan,
His nephew glorious Suhrab. She said:-
"O ardent warrior! be this youth's comrade
That when the hero cometh to Iran
And meeteth with the monarch of the brave,
'And when the hosts encounter in the fight,
Thou mayest show my darling son his father.
Now as Suhrab appeared to Rustam's eyes
Enthroned amid the feast with Zhanda Razm
On one hand, with the valiant cavalier
Human and that illustrious Lion Barman
Upon the other, thou hadst said that he
Filled all the throne and seemed a verdant cypress.
His arms were like a camel's thighs, his breast
Was like a lion's and his visage ruddy.
A hundred valiant warriors sat round,
All young, illustrious, and lion-like,
While fifty slaves with bracelets on their arms
Before the heart-delighting lofty throne
Invoked by turns a blessing on his mien,
His stature, sword, and signet-ring. As Rustam
Crouched at a distance watching, Zhanda Razm
Went out for some occasion that he had,
Perceived a warrior like a lofty cypress,
To whom there was no peer among the troops,
And seizing on him roughly questioned him
With sharpness, saying: "Who art thou? Speak out
Come to the light and let me see thy face."
A sudden buffet from the fist of Rustam
Fell on his neck; he yielded up the ghost.
There Zhanda Razm lay - a corpse; for him
The day of fighting and of feast was over.
Suhrab continued long in expectation,
But Zhanda Razm the Lion came not back.
At length the youth began to ask for him
Because his room was empty. Some went out,
Beheld him vilely overthrown, at peace
From banquet and from battle, and returned
With clamour, and with sorrow in their hearts.
They told Suhrab that Zhanda Razm was dead.
The youth sprang up and went to him like smoke,
Accompanied by servants, lights, and minstrels,
Beheld him lying dead and stood astound,
Then called his gallant warriors and said:-
"Ye men of wisdom and ye valiant chiefs!
Ye must not rest to-night but whet your spears,
Because a wolf hath come among the flock
And found the dogs and shepherds off their guard.
Among the mighty he hath seized one rare
And cast him thus in scorn, but with God's help,
When my bay trampleth earth, I will unstrap
My lasso in revenge for Zhanda Razm."
He took his seat again and called the nobles.
"Though Zhanda Razm's place beside my throne
Is void," he said, " I have not done with feasting."
As Rustam was returning to the Shah,
Giv, who was outpost-guard, saw him approach,
Drew, roared out like a maddened elephant,
And with his shield above his head showed fight;
But Rustam knowing who the outpost was
Laughed and returned the shout, whereat the guard,
Who knew his voice, advanced afoot and said:-
"Where hast thou been afoot and in the dark,
Thou battle-loving chieftain? "
His enterprise and what a lion-man
He had destroyed, while Giv applauded, saying:-
May May charger, mace, and saddle ne'er lack thee."
Then Rustam going to the Shah informed him
About the Turkmans and their banqueting,
About Suhrab, his stature and his mien,
His arms and shoulders, chest and feet, and said:-
"This is no Turkman born; he is as tall
And upright as a cypress, with no peer
In either land; in short 'tis Sam himself."
Then of the blow on Zhanda Razm's neck
He said: "He came not back to feast or fight."
They talked and after called for harp and wine,
But all the night the troops were ranked in line.
How Suhrab asked Hajir the Names of the Chiefs of Iran
Now when the sun held up its golden shield
Fate also raised its head upon the sky.
Suhrab put on his battle-mail and mounted
Upon a charger dark as indigo.
An Indian sword was slung across his breast,
And on his head he wore a royal helmet,
While from his saddle-straps his lasso hung
In sixty coils. His face was stern. He came
And choosing out an eminence surveyed
The army of Iran, bade call Hajir,
And said to him: "An arrow should be straight.
In every matter act with honesty
If thou wouldst 'scape mishap. Now answer truly,
Pervert not counsel nor prevaricate.
Wouldst thou be free and well esteemed by others?
Then tell me what I ask about lran,
And swerve no tittle from the path of truth.
I will bestow on thee abundant treasure,
But if thou liest bonds and pit are thine."
Hajir replied: "Whate'er the prince shall ask
I will reply according to my knowledge.
Why should I speak to thee deceitfully?
Thou shalt be witness to mine honest dealing
I will not even think a guileful thought.
The best trade in the world is honesty,
The worst thought guile." Suhrab said: "I shall ask
At large about the chiefs, the Shah, the folk,
And all the great men of the land as Giv,
Tus, and Gudarz. Whatever I shall ask
About Bahram, famed Rustam, and the rest,
Make answer to me as I question thee.
Yon many-hued enclosure of brocade
Encircling tents of leopard-skin; before it
A hundred mighty elephants are tethered;
There is a turquoise throne blue as the Nile,
A flag charged with a yellow sun, the stall'
Crowned with a golden moon, the case of purple.
Who is the man thus stationed in the centre? "
Hajfr replied: "The Shah, and at his gate
Are elephants and lions."
"On the right,"
Suhrab said, " there are many cavaliers
With elephants and baggage. The enclosure
Is black, and round it troops are standing ranked
With tents past count, before it there are lions,
Behind it elephants, while in the front
There is a flag charged with an elephant,
And cavaliers in golden boots stand by."
Hajir replied:' '"Tis Tus son of Naudar
His standard hath an elephant-device."
Suhrab went on: "That red enclosure there,
Where many cavaliers are standing round,
The standard purple, the device a lion,
And in the centre there are sparkling jewels.
Behind it is a multitude of troops,
Who all bear lances and are clad in mail.
Who is he? Let me know the chieftain's name,
And bring not ruin on thyself by guile."
He answered: "That belongeth to Gudarz -
The glory of the Free - son of Kishwad,
A valiant general in war. He hath
Twice forty sons, all Elephants and Lions.
No elephant, no tiger of the plain,
No mountain-pard, would strive with him in fight."
Suhrab went on: "As to yon green enclosure
In front whereof are stationed many troops,
While in the midst a splendid throne is set
With Kawa's flag before it. On the throne
A paladin is seated, one that hath
The Grace, the neck, and shoulders of a hero,
And seated thus is higher by a head
Than any of the people standing near.
Before him is a charger just his match
In height; a lasso droopeth to its hoofs.
Whene'er the charger snorteth thou wouldst say:-
'It is the raging sea! ' In front of him
Are many elephants in mail, and he
Is restless. I behold not in Iran
One of his height or such another charger.
There is a dragon, look! upon his standard,
And on the staff-top is a golden lion."
Hajir thought: "If I tell this lion-man
The bearings of the elephantine hero,
Forthwith he will send up the dust from Rustam.
'Tis best to keep him dark and name him not."
He answered: "An ally of ours from Chin
Hath lately joined the Shah."
His name. Hajir replied: "I know it not,
For I was in this castle at the time."
Suhrab was grieved to find no trace of Rustam,
And though his mother had described the bearings
He would not credit his own eyes. Again
He pressed Hajir to tell and soothe his heart,
But o'er his head was written otherwise -
A sentence never minished or enhanced.
Suhrab next asked him: "Who among the chiefs
Pitched that enclosure which is most apart,
Where many cavaliers and elephants
Are standing and the clarions are sounding?
Above it is a flag charged with a wolf;
The golden staff-head reacheth to the clouds;
Within there is a throne with slaves before it."
He answered: "That is Giv son of Gydarz,
He whom the chieftains call' the gallant Giv,'
The best and greatest of the family,
And captain o'er the more part of the host.
He is the noble son-in-law of Rustam,
And equalled but by few within Iran."
Suhrab continued: "Where the shining sun
Is rising I perceive a white enclosure
All of brocade of Ruman make. Before it
More than a thousand cavaliers are ranged;
The footmen armed with double-headed spears
And bucklers there make up a boundless host.
Their leader sitteth on an ivory throne
Upon a seat of teak. The tent-enclosure
Is of brocade, and many slaves stand ranked."
Hajir replied: '"Tis youthful Fariburz,
Son of the Shah and crown of warriors."
Suhrab said: "It is fitting, since he is
The Shah's son and possessor of a crown."
He asked: "Whose is that yellow tent-enclosure
In front whereof a banner fluttereth
With others yellow, red, and violet round it?
The charge upon the hindmost is a boar,
And on the lofty staff' a silvern moon."
"His name," Hajir made answer, " is Guraza,
Who draweth not the rein in fights with lions -
A prudent man descended from Givgan,
Who never murmureth at pain or hardship."
Suhrabthus sought for traces of his father
Hajir was reticent and hid the truth.
The Almighty hath disposed the world. Wilt thou
Dispose it? Hath He ceased to superintend?
A fate not of thy choice is written now,
And what He causeth will be in the end.
If thou affectionest this Wayside Inn
'Twill yield thee poison, travail, and chagrin.
The noble hero asked Hajfr again
About that one whom he so longed to see,
About that green enclosure and tall steed,
About that warrior and the twisted lasso.
At last Hajir said: "I must keep back naught.
If I tell not the name of him of Chin
It is because I know it not myself."
Suhrab replied: "Thou doestmuch amiss,
Thou bast not mentioned Rust am, and that chief
Of paladins would show amid the host.
Thou saidst : 'He is the champion, he that guardeth
All provinces and marches.' When Kaus
Is warring, with a mighty elephant
To bear his crown and throne, the paladin
Should lead his van what time the war-cry riseth."
Hajir replied. " The lion-taking hero
Must be at present in Zabulistan,
For 'tisthe time to feast among the roses."
Suhrab rejoined: "Now answer this - the Shah
Is bent on war and, while belmed chieftains gather
To give him aid, the paladin in chief
Is merry-making! Young and old would laugh
At such a tale. We made a pact to-day,
And though I love not words I will repeat it :-
If thou wilt point me out the paladin
Thy head shall be exalted everywhere;
I will unlock the secret treasuries
And leave thee not a want, but if thou keepest
This secret from me, making mystery
Where there is none, I will cut off thy head.
Consider now which course thou wilt adopt.
Know'st not the saying of the archimage
When speaking of some matter to the king?
'A word spoken is a jewel still
Uncut, still kept in bonds; but, once set free
From bondage and disablement, may fill
The bezel - priceless, glittering brilliantly.'"
Hajir responded: "When my lord the prince
Is weary of his signet, crown, and state,
Then let him seek a warrior in the world
Who overthroweth mighty elephants,
And with his anvil-breaking mace-head robbeth
Two hundred of existence at a blow;
For Rustam when opposed to any one
Will bring his head down from the sky to dust.
No elephant on earth is match for him,
His steed's dust is more black than indigo,
His body hath a hundred strong men's strength,
His head is taller than a lofty tree,
And when he rageth on the day of battle
What is a lion, elephant, or man
Within his grasp? "
High-born Suhrab replied:-
"Gudarz son of Kishwad hath evil luck
In that for all his puissance, wit, and prowess
He hath to call thee son. Where hast thou looked
On men of war or heard their chargers' tramp
That thou describest Rustam in such terms
And utterest his praise continually?
Thou fearest fire because the stream is calm,
But when it is in flood the fuming fire
Will soon be quenched, and when the sun shall draw
Its blazing sword night's head will go to sleep."
Hajir unwitting thought: "If I declare
The lion-taker's bearings and inform
This Turkman with such hand and neck and seat,
He will arouse his warriors to fight
And urge along his elephantine steed.
He hath such strength and such a neck and shoulder
That Rustam will be slaughtered in his grasp.
Not one of all our warriors will come
To meet him face to face, and he will seize
The throne of Shah Kaus. An archmage said:-
'It is a better thing with fame to go
From life than live and gratify the foe.'
If it be mine to perish by his hand
Day will not darken nor stream turn to blood.
Three score and sixteen sons - all lion-men -
Hath old Gudarz beside myself, as Giv,
Who conquereth worlds and breaketh hosts, and is
In every place the leader of the folk,
Bahram, Ruhham the exalted, and Shidush
The lion-slaying warrior, and they all
Will show me kindness after I am dead,
And in revenge will slay our enemies;
But when Gudarz and all his seventy sons
Beloved - illustrious men and warriors -
Cease from Iran let me too be no more.
I mind a holy archimage's words:-
'When cypress-roots appear the pheasant well
May hesitate at common grass to smell.' "
Then said he to Suhrab: "Why so much heat?
Thy questioning to me is all of Rustam.
Why must thou pick a quarrel with me thus
By asking foolish questions? Just because
I cannot give thee an account of him
Wilt thou behead me? Thou need'st no excuse
For shedding blood; show thy true colours then.
Thou wilt not crush the elephantine chief,
Or get him easily within thy clutches.
Refrain from seeking him in fight, for he
Will surely make the dust fly out of thee."
How Suhrab attacked the Army of Kaus
Suhrab the chief of warriors, when he heard
These harsh words, turned his back upon Hajir,
And hid his face without reply, astounded
At that dark utterance; then froth saddleback
He fiercely struck Hajir a blow back-handed,
Felled him, and went his way, mused much and long,
And made his preparations for the fight.
He girt him with the girdle of revenge,
Took from his princely head the golden crown,
Put on his mail and breastplate joyfully,
And set a Ruman helmet on his head.
That paladin, that binder of the Div,
Took spear, bow, lasso, and his massive mace,
The blood was boiling in his veins with ardour.
He mounted on his rapid steed, sent up
The battle-cry, and spear in hand rushed out
Like some mad elephant upon the field.
He came forth bent on fight, he made the dust-clouds
Fly to the moon, then charged the Shah's enclosure
And made it totter with his spear, while all
The valiant chieftains fled like onagers
Before a lion's claws; not one had courage
To face such foot and stirrup, hand and rein,
Such arm and flashing spear. They met and said
"Here is an elephantine hero for you -
One that we cannot look on unappalled!
Who is there bold enough to challenge him?"
Anon Suhrab the warrior raised his voice,
Assailing Shah Kaus with scornful words,
And thus he said: "O monarch of the Free!
What business hast thou on the battlefield?
Why dost thou bear the name of Kai Kaus
Who canst not stand where Lions fight together?
I wield my spear and all thy troops are cowed.
Upon the night that Zhanda Razm was slain
I swore a mighty oath while at the feast:-
'I will not leave a spearman of Iran,
And I will hang Kaus upon the gibbet
Alive.' What mighty man hast thou to meet me? "
He spake and waited long in silence. None
Made answer from Iran. Then bending down
He forced out seventy tent-pegs with his spear,
The tent-enclosure tumbled to the ground,
And everywhere the blast of clarions sounded.
Shah Kai Kaus exclaimed in his dismay:-
"O men of noble name and glorious race'
Let some one take the news to Rustam, saying :-
'Our warriors' wits are ousted by this Turkman.
I have no cavalier to fight with him;
None of Iran is bold enough to go.'"
Tus bore the message and told Rustam all,
Who thus made answer: "Every other Shah,
That called me suddenly, called me at times
To feast, at times to fight, but with Kaus
I ne'er see aught excepting fight and travail!"
Then gazing from his tent he found that Giv,
Who had but just arrived, was saddling Rakhsh,
And that Gurbin was crying: "Quick! Make haste!"
Ruhham was fastening the girth and mace,
And Tus had got in hand the horse's mail.
Each one was crying to another: "Quick!"
The matchless hero heard it from his tent
And thought: "This must be Ahriman's own fight
So great a hubbub is not made for one."
He put on his cuirass of tiger-skin,
Then girt a royal girdle round his loins,
And mounting Rakhsh set forth. He left Zawara
In charge of throne and troops, enjoining him:-
"Advance not and take no commands save mine.'
They bore his standard with him as he went
Intent on fight and angry. When he saw
The limbs and shoulders of Suhrab, his breast
As broad as that of valiant Sam, he said:-
Go we aside to some fit spot for battle."
Suhrab began to rub his hands, he turned
Back from the Iranian lines, and said to Rustam :-
"Come then, we mighty men require no help;
The fight between us will suffice, and yet
The field of battle is no place for thee;
Thou canst not bear one buffet from my fist.
Great stature hast thou, mighty limbs and neck,
But they are weak with age."
Then Rustam, gazing
Upon that haughty one with such long stirrups,
And such a hand and shoulder, answered mildly:-
Fair youth' the earth is hard and cold, the air
Is soft and warm. Old am I, but have seen
Full many a stricken field, and many a div
Hath perished by my hand, yet saw I never
Myself o'ercome. Wait till we fight together;
If thou survivest fear no crocodile.
Both seas and mountains have beheld how I
Have striven with the famed chiefs of Iran
In fight: the stars bear witness to my deeds.
My might hath laid the world beneath my feet,
And now my heart doth yearn in ruth for thee;
I would not take thy life. Thou wilt not leave
Behind a Turkman with such neck and shoulders.
I know no peer to thee e'en in Iran."
When Rustam spake Suhrab's heart throbbed. He answered:-
"One question will I put. Vouchsafe to tell me
The truth. Inform me of thy parentage,
And make me happy by thy fair reply.
I think that thou art Rustam, that thou art
Sprung from the noble race of Nariman."
The other answered him: "I am not Rustam,
Not sprung from Sam the son of Nariman,
For Rustam is a paladin, while I
Am mean, not having throne and state and crown."
Suhrab despaired, he had had hope before,
The face of day was bright to him no more.
How Rustam fought with Suhrab
Suhrab, still musing on his mother's words,
Went spear in hand. They chose a battle-ground
Where room was scant, and fought with javelins
Till points and whipping broke; next, wheeling left-ward,
Closed with their Indian scimitars and showered
Sparks from their blades, which shivered 'neath such strokes
As might have heralded the Day of Doom;
Then took their massive maces and fought on
Until their weapons bent beneath the blows.
The chargers staggered and their bards dropped off;
The riders raged beneath their shivered mail;
Both were fordone and hand and arm both failed.
With bodies running sweat, with mouths dust-choked;
And tongues thirst-cracked, at length the champions parted,
The sire in anguish and the son exhausted.
O world! thy doings area mystery,
The broken and the whole both come from thee!
Love stirred in neither of these twain, no trace
Of wisdom was there, love showed not its face!
The fish in streams, wild asses on the plain,
And beasts of burden know their young again,
But toil and lust forbid a man to know
The difference between a child and foe
Then Rustam thought: "I never yet beheld
A Crocodile fight thus. Compared with this
To fight the White Div was an easy task
To-day my heart despaireth through a man!
The hand of one who is unpractised yet,
No warrior and not named among the chiefs,
Hath made me weary of my life in sight
Of both the hosts!"
The chargers being rested,
The youthful hero and the man in years
Strung up their bows, but still the coats of mail,
The breastplates, and the tiger-skin cuirass
Received no injury from the arrow-points,
And then each hero, raging at his foe,
Seized on the other by the leathern belt.
Now Rustam, had he clutched a rock in battle,
E'en the Black Stone itself,' had torn it out,
But when he seized the belt and would unhorse
Suhrab, the young man's waist felt not the tug,
And Rustam's hand was foiled. He quitted hold,
He marvelled at the prowess of his foe,
And then these lion-quellers, satiate
With battle, bruised, and wounded drew apart.
Suhrab again took from his saddle-bow
The massive mace, and gripping with his legs
Smote Rustam grievously upon the shoulder,
Who though he winced yet bravely bare the pain.
Suhrab laughed out and cried: "O cavalier
Thou canst not bear the buffets of the brave.
Thy charger, one would say, is but an ass;
As for the rider both his hands are naught.
A warrior though cypress-tall is foolish
To play the youth when he is in his dotage."
Each humbled by the other turned away.
They parted, troubled both in heart and mind.
Like leopard sighting prey the mighty Rustam
Went to attack the army of Turan,
While brave Suhrab assailed the Iranian host
And gave his fleet steed rein. He charged the foe
And many a warrior perished by his hand.
Wolf-like he scattered small and great. The heart
Of Rustam boded ill. " Kaus will suffer,"
He thought, "from this brave Turkman just arrived
With mail-clad breast and arms."
He hasted back
To camp with anxious heart. There mid the host
He saw Suhrab - a lion mad for prey -
The ground about him tulip-hued with blood,
His spearpoint, hands, and mail all drenched with gore.
Then Rustam raging like a furious lion
Exclaimed: "Bloodthirsty Turkman! who of all
This host opposed thee? Why hast thou not kept
Thy hands for me instead of coming thus
Like wolf among a flock?"
The The army of Ttiran is holding back
From strife, and doing nothing to provoke it,
Yet thou began'st it by assailing them
When none sought battle and revenge on thee!"
"Light faileth," Rustam said. " On its return
A throne and gibbet wait us on this plain,
For all the bright world yieldeth to the sword,
And if thine arms are so familiar
With scimitar and arrow never die!
Come we with vengeful swords at break of day
To learn the Maker's will, but now away!"
How Rustam and Suhrab returned to Camp
They parted and the air's face gloomed. Suhrab
Amazed the circling sphere. Thou wouldst have said:-
"Heaven fashioned him of war; he ceaseth not
A moment from the fray; his form is brazen,
His charger iron, and his spirit wondrous."
Suhrab when night fell joined his troops. His loins
Were galled with battle but his breast was iron.
Thus spake he to Human: "This day the sun
Arose and filled the world with war and strife.
How fared ye with this gallant cavalier
Who hath a hero's heart and lion's claws?
What did he say and do? He proved my match
How fared my troops with him? I hold him peerless,
Though old a Lion bent on war and strife."
Human replied: "Thou bad'st us tarry here.
Just as we had made ready for the field
A warrior came and challenged us to combat,
Confronting all this mighty armament.
Thou wouldst have said: 'He cometh fresh from wine
To venture all alone on such a struggle.'
He raised the dust of war on every side
And slaughtered many warriors of our camp,
Then turning round departed at full speed."
Suhrab said: "He hath slain no roan of mark
While I have slaughtered many Iranians,
And puddled with their blood the ground to clay,
While ye looked on. However, none opposed me;
'Twas well none did, for had a lion come
He would not have escaped my massive mace.
What is a tiger, pard, or mighty lion
Confronting me who with my spearpoint bring
Fire from the clouds? When warriors behold
My visage in its wrath their mail is shivered.
To-morrow morning ere it is high day
It will be seen which is the better man,
And by the Maker's name - the only God -
I will not leave a foe alive. Now spread we
The board with meat and wine, and cheer our hearts."
When Rustam reached the host he questioned Giv :-
"What did Suhrab the daring warrior? "
Giv answered: "We ne'er saw one fight like him.
He rode up to our centre spear in hand,
And raging; there he challenged Tus, who wolf-like
Came forth and mounted. When Suhrab beheld him
Advancing with his lance he roared as 'twere
A lion in its rage, and with bent mace
Struck Tus upon the breast a mighty blow
That made his helm fall off: Tus turned and fled.
Then many others fought but none prevailed,
For only Rustam can contend with him.
I kept the good old rule of one to one.
When no more single challengers went forth
We let him have the field all to himself,
Whereat he left the centre for the right
And flourished in his glory here and there."
Now Rustam sorrowed at the words of Giv
And went to Shah Katis, who seated him
Upon the throne. Then Rustam told the Shah
About Suhrab, his stature, and his mien:-
"None ever saw one of his tender years
So brave and lion-like. In height he reacheth
The stars; the earth can not support his bulk;
His arms and thighs are camel-like and larger.
With sword and shaft, with lasso and with mace,
We proved each other lustily in all ways
Until at last I said: 'Ere now have I
Plucked from the saddle many a warrior,'
And laying hold upon his leathern belt
I put the buckle to a mighty strain,
And fancied: 'I shall raise him from his saddle
And hurl him like the rest to dust: But though
The mountain-tops were rocking in the blast
That chieftain would not rock upon his seat,
And so I quitted him, for it was late,
The night was very dark, there was no moon;
But we intend to meet again to-morrow
To wrestle. All I can I will, but know not
Which will prevail. Still we shall learn God's purpose,
For victory and conquest are from Him
Who is the Maker of the sun and moon."
Then Kai Kaus replied: "God rend our foes
In pieces! I will pray to Him to-night
For victory o'er this vile, malignant Turkman,
Pray that thy withered hopes may spring afresh,
And that thy fame may reach the sun."
Then Rustam :-
"Thy Grace will speed thy liege's whole desire."
He went depressed and vengeful to his camp.
To him Zawara came with downcast soul,
And said: "How fared the paladin to-day? "
But Rustam first would eat, then washed his heart
Of care and charged his brother, saying thus:-
"Be vigilant and cautious. When I go
At dawn to fight that Turkman warrior
Lead out mine army and bring forth my flag,
My throne, and golden boots, and be before
My tent when bright Sol riseth. If I prove
Victorious in the fight I shall not loiter
Upon the battlefield, while if the matter
Have other ending make no lamentation
And be not downcast. Let not any of you
Go on the field or prosecute the war,
But go hence to Zabulistan to Zal,
Console my mother for my God-sent fate,
And say to her: 'Set not thy heart upon me,
And be not always mourning for my death.
No one abideth in this world for ever,
Heaven had no pretext left to spare me longer.
I have slain lions, pards, divs, crocodiles
Enough, and razed full many a wall and stronghold,
While no man had the upper hand of me,
Though he that mounteth on his steed and chargeth
Is simply knocking at the door of death.
What though a man outlive a thousand years
One road and one event are for us all.
Bethink thee of Jamshid the exalted Shah,
And Tahmuras the Binder of the Div.
There was no monarch like them here below,
And yet at last God took them. As the earth
Remained not theirs I too must pass away.'
When she hath been consoled thus say to Zal :-
'Abandon not the monarch of the world,
Fight for him valiantly and do his bidding.
We all, both young and old, are doomed to die;
No one abideth in this world for ever.'"
They rested after half the night had gone
In talk about Suhrab and him alone.
How Suhrab overthrew Rustam
The bright sun shone, the raven night flew low,
Great Rustam donned his tiger-skin cuirass
And mounted on his fiery dragon-steed.
Two leagues divided host from host, and all
Stood ready-armed. The hero with a casque
Of iron on his head came on the field.
Suhrab on his side revelling with comrades
Had thus addressed Human: "That lion-man,
Who striveth with me, is as tall as I am
And hath a dauntless heart. He favoureth me
In shoulder, breast, and arm, and thou wouldst say
That some skilled workman laid us out by line.
His very feet and stirrups move my love
And make me blush, for I perceive in him
The marks whereof my mother spake. Moreover
My heart presageth that he must be Rustam,
For few resemble him. I may not challenge
My sire or lightly meet him in the combat:'
Human said: "Rustam oft hath countered me:
This charger is like his, except in action:'
At sunrise, when they woke, Suhrab arrayed
Himself in mail and mirthful though resolved
Set forward shouting, ox-head mace in hand.
He greeted Rustam smiling, thou hadst said
That they had passed the night in company :-
"How went the night? How is't with thee to-day?
Why so intent on strife? Fling down thine arrows
And scimitar, and drop the hand of wrong.
Let us dismount and, sitting, clear our faces
with wine, and, leaguing in God's sight, repent
Our former strife. Until some other cometh
To battle feast with me because I love thee,
And weep for shamefastness. In sooth thou comest
From heroes and wilt tell me of thy stock,
For as my foe thou shouldst not hide thy name.
Art thou the famous Rustam of Zabul,
The son of valiant Zal the son of Sam? "
Then Rustam: "Young aspirant! heretofore
We talked not thus but spake last night of wrestling.
I am not to be gulled, attempt it not.
Though thou art young I am no child myself,
But girt to wrestle, and the end shall be
According to the will of Providence.
I have known ups and downs, and am not one
To practise guile upon."
Old Old man! if thou rejectest my proposals . . .!
I wished that thou shouldst die upon thy bed,
And that thy kin should tomb thy soulless corpse,
But I will end thee if it be God's will."
They lighted, tied their chargers to a rock,
And cautiously advanced in mail and casque
With troubled hearts. They wrestled like two lions
Until their bodies ran with sweat and blood.
From sunrise till the shadows grew they strove
Until Suhrab, that maddened Elephant,
Reached out, up-leaping with a lion's spring,
Caught Rustam's girdle, tugged amain as though,
Thou wouldst have said, to rend the earth, and shouting
With rage and vengeance hurled him to the ground,
Raised him aloft and, having dashed him down,
Sat on his breast with visage, hand, and mouth
Besmirched with dust, as when a lion felleth
An onager, then drew a bright steel dagger
To cut off Rustam's head, who seeing this
Exclaimed: "Explain I must! O warrior
That takest Lions captive and art skilled
With lasso, mace, and scimitar! the customs
And laws of arms with us are not as yours.
In wrestling none may take a foeman's head
The first time that his back is on the ground,
But having thrown him twice and won the name
Of Lion then he may behead the foe
Such is our custom."
Thus he sought to 'scape
The Dragon's clutches and get off with life.
The brave youth hearkened to the old man's words.
In part through confidence, in part through fate,
In part no doubt through magnanimity,
Suhrab let Rustam go, turned toward the plain,
Pursued an antelope that crossed his path,
And utterly forgot his recent foe.
When he was far away Htiman came up
As swift as dust and asked about the fight.
He told Human what had been said and done,
Who cried: "Alas! young man! art thou indeed
So weary of thy life? Woe for thy breast,
Mien, stature, stirrups, and heroic feet!
The mighty Lion whom thou hadst ensnared
Thou hast let go and all is still to do.
Mark how he will entreat thee on the day
Of battle owing to thy senseless act.
A king I once spake a proverb to the point:-
'Despise not any foe however weak.'"
He took the very life out of Suhrab,
Who standing sorrowing and amazed replied:-
"Let us dismiss such fancies from our hearts,
For he will come to fight with me to-morrow,
And thou shah see a yoke upon his neck."
He went to camp in dudgeon at his deed.
When Rustam had escaped his foeman's clutch
He was again as 'twere a mount of steel.
He went toward a rivulet as one
Who having fainted is himself again.
He drank and bathed, then prayed to God for strength
And victory, not knowing what the sun
And moon decreed, or how the turning sky
Would rob him of the Crown upon his head.
The tale is told that Rustam had at first
Such strength bestowed by Him who giveth all
That if he walked upon a rock his feet
Would sink therein. Such puissance as that
Proved an abiding trouble, and he prayed
To God in bitterness of soul to minish
His strength that he might walk like other men.
According to his prayer his mountain-strength
Had shrunk, but face to face with such a task,
And pierced by apprehension of Suhrab,
He cried to God and said: "Almighty Lord
Protect Thy slave in his extremity.
O holy Fosterer! I ask again
My former strength."
God granted him his prayer,
The strength which once had waned now waxed in him.
He went back to the field perturbed and pale
While, like a maddened elephant, Suhrab,
With lasso on his arm and bow in hand,
Came in his pride and roaring like a lion,
His plunging charger flinging up the soil.
When Rustam saw the bearing of his foe
He was astound and gazing earnestly
Weighed in his mind the chances of the fight.
Suhrab, puffed up with youthful arrogance,
On seeing Rustam in his strength and Grace,
Cried: "Thou that didst escape the Lion's claws!
Why com'st thou boldly to confront me? Speak!
Hast thou no interests of thine own to seek? "
How Suhrab was slain by Rustam
They tied their steeds while fate malignantly
Revolved o'erhead,and when dark fate is wroth
Flint rocks become like wax. The two began
To wrestle, holding by their leathern belts.
As for Suhrab thou wouldst have said: "High heaven
Hath hampered him," while Rustam reaching clutched
That warrior-leopard by the head and neck,
Bent down the body of the gallant youth,
Whose time was come and all whose strength was gone,
And like a lion dashed him to the ground;
Then, knowing that Suhrab would not stay under,
Drew lightly from his waist his trenchant sword
Arid gashed the bosom of his gallant son.
Whenever thou dost thirst for blood and stain
Therewith thy glittering dagger, destiny
Will be athirst for thy blood, and ordain
Each hair of thine to be a sword for thee.
Suhrab cried: "Ah!" and writhed. Naught reeked he then
Of good or ill. " I am alone to blame,"
He said to Rustam: "Fate gave thee my key.
This hump-backed sky reared me to slay me soon.
Men of my years will mock me since my neck
Hath thus come down to dust. My mother told me
How I should recognise my father. I
Sought him in love and die of my desire.
Alas! my toils are vain, I have not seen him.
Now Overt thou fish, or wrapped like night in gloom,
Or quit of earth writ soaring like a star,
My father would avenge me when he seeth
My pillow bricks. Some chief will say to Rustam :-
' Suhrab was slain and flung aside in scorn
While seeking thee.'"
Then Rustam grew distraught,
The world turned black, his body failed; o'ercome
He sank upon the ground and swooned away;
Till coming to himself he cried in anguish:-
"Where is the proof that thou art Rustam's son?
May his name perish from among the great,
For I am Rustam! Be my name forgotten,
And may the son of Sam sit mourning me!"
He raved, his blood seethed, and with groans he plucked
His hair up by the roots, while at the sight
Suhrab sank swooning till at length he cried :-
"If thou indeed art Rustam thou hast slain me
In wanton malice, for I made advances,
But naught that I could do would stir thy love.
Undo my breastplate, view my body bare,
Behold thy jewel, see how sires treat sons!
The drums beat at my gate, my mother came
With blood-stained cheeks and stricken to the soul
Because I went. She bound this on mine arm
And said : 'Preserve this keepsake of thy father's
And mark its virtue.' It is mighty now,
Now when the strife is over and the son
Is nothing to his sire."
When Rustam loosed
The mail and saw the gem he rent his clothes,
And cried: "Oh! my brave son, approved by all
And slain by me!"
With dust upon his head
And streaming face he rent his locks until
His blood ran down.
"Nay, this is worse and worse,"
Suhrab said. " Wherefore weep? What will it profit
To slay thyself? What was to be hath been."
When day declined and Rustam came not back
There went forth twenty trusty warriors
To learn the issue. Both the steeds were standing
Bemoiled with dust, but Rustam was not there.
The nobles, thinking that he had been slain,
Went to Kaus in consternation saying :-
"The throne of majesty is void of Rustam!"
A cry went up throughout the host and all
Was in confusion. Then Kaus bade sound
The drums and trumpets, Tus came, and the Shah
Said to the troops: "Dispatch a messenger
That he may find out what Suhrab hath done,
And if there must be mourning through f rAn.
None will confront him with brave Rustam dead.
uTe must attack in force and speedily."
While clamour raged Suhrab said thus to Rustam :-
"The Turkmans' case is altered since my day
Is done. Use all thine influence that the Shah
May not attack them. They approached Iran
Through trust in me, and I encouraged them.
How could I tell, O famous paladin!
That I should perish by my father's hand?
Let them depart unscathed, and treat them kindly.
I had a warrior in yonder hold
Caught by my lasso. Him I often asked
To point thee out : mine eyes looked ever for thee.
He told me all but this. His place is void.'
His words o'er-cast my day, and I despaired.
See who he is and let him not be harmed.
I marked in thee the tokens that my mother
Described but trusted not mine eyes. The stars
Decreed that I should perish by thy hand.
I came like lightning and like wind I go.
In heaven I may look on thee with joy."
Then Rustam choked, his heart was full of fire,
His eyes of tears. He Tnounted quick as dust
And came with lamentations to the host
In grievous consternation at his deed.
The Iranians catching sight of him fell prostrate
And gave God praise that Rustam had returned,
But when they saw the dust upon his dead,
His clothes and bosom rent, they questioned him
What meaneth this? For whom art thou thus
He told the fearful deed, and all began
To mourn aloud with him. His anguish grew .
He told the nobles: "I have lost to-day
All strength and courage. Fight not with Turan:
I have done harm enough."
With breast and raiment rent and body wounded,
Whom Rustam told about his slaughtered son,
And added: "I repent me of my deed,
And have unmeasured retribution. I
Have slain my son now when my head is grey.
He is cut off both root and stem, his loins
Are pierced, and heaven will weep for him for ever."
He sent and told Human: "The scimitar
Of war is sheathed and thou commandest now.
Watch o'er thy host. This is no day for fight
Or further words with thee because through malice
Thou didst not speak but sear my life and eyes."
Then to Zawara said the paladin:-
Escort Human, brave hero! to the river,
Eschewing every act of violence:'
Zawara went forthwith and gave the message,
And he - the warrior that taught Suhrab
The art of war - thus answered: "Twas Hajir,
That evil-purposed stirrer up of strife,
Who hid the matter of your general,
And when Suhrab sought token of his sire
Spake not but left his mind in ignorance.
The black behaviour of Hajir hath brought
This ill on us. His head should be struck off."
Zawara came back to inform the hero
About Human, the host, of what Hajir,
The evil and malevolent, had done,
And how Suhrab had perished by his means.
The hero was distracted at the words,
The world grew dark before his eyes, he quitted
The battlefield and coming to Hajir
Laid hold upon his throat and threw him down,
Then drawing forth a dagger of bright steel
Was minded to behead him, but the nobles
Took part with him and saved him from death's door.
Then Rustam harried to his wounded son
With Tus, Gudaij7z and Gustaham, while all
The troops, concerned for Rustam, said to him :-
"God will provide a remedy for this,
And make thy sorrow easy."
A dagger to behead himself, but weeping
Their own hearts' blood the chieftains hung on him.
Gudarz said: "gill it help thee to send up
The world in smoke? Though thou shah do thyself
A hundred harms how will it soothe thy darling?
If there remaineth time for him on earth
He will remain; do thou remain with him;
But, if the youth is passing from the world,
Think! Who abideth in the world for ever?
We are the quarry, and death hunteth us
No matter whether we wear calque or crown,
But all are borne out when their end hath come,
And afterward we wot not how they do.
Our tears are needed on our own account.
Who is there, chieftain! free from dread of Death?
However long or short the way may be
We scatter when he joineth company."
How Rustam asked Kaus for an Elixir
Then to Gudarz said Rustam: "Famous hero
Of ardent soul! bear for me to Kaus
A message, tell him what hath chanced, and say
Thus: 'With a dagger have I pierced the reins
Of my brave son. May Rustam's life be short!
If thou at all art mindful of my deeds
Let thy heart feel for me in my distress.
Of that elixir in thy treasury,
Which hath the power to make the wounded whole,
Send somewhat graciously to me forthwith,
Together with a cup of wine. My son,
By thy good fortune, may recover yet,
And stand like me a slave before thy throne.'"
The chieftain came like wind and gave the message.
The Shah said: "Who hath lustre in my sight
Exceeding that of elephantine Rustam?
I do not wish him ill but honour him
Exceedingly, yet, if I send the elixir,
Suhrab - an elephantine chief - will live,
Will strengthen Rustam's back, and doubtlessly
Bring ruin on myself. If at his hands
I suffer shall I not avenge myself?
Who is Kaus,' thou heardest him once say,
I And if he be the Shah who then is Tus?'
Who in this wide world hath such neck and limbs
And Grace? How will he stand before my throne,
Or march beneath the banner of the Shahs?
He gave me his abuse and took away
My credit with the troops. If his son liveth
A pinch of dust is all that I shall get.
Art thou of high rank and experience
And hast not heard the language of Suhrab :- .
' I will behead a thousand in Iran
And hang Kaus alive upon the gibbet?'
If he surviveth great and small will quake.
To cherish foes is to invite contempt"
Thereat Gudarz returned like smoke to Rustam,
And said: "The evil nature of the Shah
Is like a colocynth in constant fruit.
He hath no equal in the world for harshness,
And never helpeth any one in trouble.
Go unto him in person, be thy part
To bring the light to his benighted heart."
How Rustam lamented for Suhrab
Then Rustam called for an embroidered robe
And, having laid the youth thereon, set off,
But as he went one overtook him, saying:-
"Suhrab hath passed from this wide world, and asketh
No more a palace of thee but a bier."
The father started, sighed, and groaning closed
His eyes, then lighting swift as wind removed
His helm and scattered dust upon his head,
While all the great men also wept and wailed.
He cried in mournful tones: "O warrior-youth
Exalted and a paladin by birth!
The sun and moon, the breastplate and the helm,
The crown and throne, will never see thy peer.
Hath this that hath befallen me - to slay
My son in mine old age - befallen another?
My son - the offspring of the worldlord Sam
The cavalier, born of a noble dame!
I, that have now no peer in all the world
For valour, was a boy to him! Well might
My hands be lopped! May never seat be mine
Save in the darksome dust. What shall I say
When tidings reach his mother? How shall I
Send any one to break the news to her?
What reason can I give for slaying one
Without offence and darkening his day?
What sire e'er acted thus? I well deserve
The world's abuse. Who ever slew a son
So young and wise and valiant? And his mother
What will her sire, that honoured paladin,
Say to her in her youth and innocence?
How they will curse the progeny of Sam
And call me lacklove, impious! Who could deem
That at his years my darling would become
Tall as a cypress, set his heart on war,
Array the host, and turn my day to darkness? "
He bade them spread brocade such as kings use
Upon his young son's face - that son who set
His heart on throne and realm and only won
A narrow bier. They bore it from the field,
Then set the camp-enclosure in a blaze
While all the troops cast dust upon their heads.
They burned the tents, the many-hued brocade,
And all the goodly seats of yellow pardskin.
A cry went up and mighty Rustam wailed :-
"The world will see no cavalier like thee
For skill and valour on the day of battle.
Woe for thy valour and thy prudent mind!
Woe for those cheeks of thine, thy mien, thy stature!
Woe's me! this sorrow and heart-rending grief!
He left his mother and his father slew him!"
With royal raiment rent upon his body
And weeping blood he scrabbled in the dust
Exclaiming: "Zal and virtuous Rudaba
Will utter curses, saying: 'Rustam gained
The mastery and stabbed him to the heart.'
What plea of mine will win their hearts to me?
How will the chieftains bear to hear that I
Have rooted from the garth the straight-stemmed
Then all the paladins of Shah Kaus
Sat by the wayside in the dust with Rustam,
And much advised him, but he heeded not.
Such are high heaven's deeds! It hath for us
A lasso in this hand, in that a crown,
And him that sitteth crowned and prosperous
It haleth with the twisted lasso down.
Why should we love this world when we and they
That fare with us alike must pass away?
Though one may reckon on long life he must
Betake him in the last resort to dust.
Now whether heaven acteth knowingly,
Or not; 'tis vain to ask its how and why;
Forbear we then to weep that one should go
The end thereof is not for us to know.
The Shah informed about Suhrab drew near
To Rustam with his retinue and said :-
"From Mount Alburz e'en to the reed the sky
Will bear all off. We may not set our love
Upon this dust, for, though some haste, some linger,
All die at last. Take comfort for the dead,
And hear what sages say. Though thou shouldst dash
The sky upon the earth and burn the world
'Twill not recall the dead. Know that his soul
Is long in heaven. From afar I marked
His breast, neck, stature, and his iron mace
As fate impelled him onward with his host
To perish by thy hands. What remedy?
How long wilt thou bewail the dead?"
He answered :-
"Though he is gone Human remaineth still
With other chieftains of Turan and Chin.
Regard them not as foes but let Zawara,
God willing and the Shah, conduct them hence."
Kaus replied : "Aspiring chief! thy face
Is saddened through this fight, and though our foes
Have harmed me much and sent smoke from Iran,
Yet through thy sorrow is my heart so sore
That I will think upon revenge no more."
How Rustam returned to Zabulistan
The Shah marched homeward with the host, while Rustam
Stayed for Zawara's news about the foe,
Then marched at dawn toward Zabulistan,
Where Zal and all the folk went out to meet him
In anguish and distress. They reached the bier.
The nobles scattered dust upon their heads,
They docked the tails of their high-crested steeds,
And rent the brazen tymbals and the drums.
When Zal the son of Sam perceived the bier
He lighted from his steed with golden trappings,
While matchless Rustam went in front afoot
With heart and raiment rent. The warriors
Put 'off their belts, stooped to the dust before it,
And served as bearers, bending low their heads,
Alas! for him so noble and so brave!
While Rustam in his father's presence lifted
His son's head from the golden broidery,
And cried in anguish: "See how Sam the horseman
Is sleeping sadly on this narrow bier!"
Zal showered tears of blood and plained to God,
While Rustam cried: "Chief! thou hast gone, and I
Am left in shame and wretchedness."
A A strange event! His was a massive mace.
He was of note among the mightiest,
And none will bear his like."
He spoke through tears;
His theme was all Suhrab. When Rustam reached
His hall he wailed and had the Gorse set down
In front of him. Rudaba, seeing it
And Rustam's tears, exclaimed: "Alack! thou hero!
Uplift thy head one moment from the bier."
She wailed and heaving deep-drawn sighs exclaimed:-
"O paladin, son of the Lion's Whelp!
None will be born so strong and brave as thou.
Henceforth thou wilt not whisper to thy mother
Tales of thy happy moments, for in sooth
Thou hast departed to the prison-house,
Departed to the mansion of the wretched.
Oh tell not what befell thee from thy father,
And why it was that thus he pierced thy heart!"
Her cries reached Saturn; all that heard her wept.
Dust-smirched and woebegone she sought her bower
While Rustam at the sight wept tears of blood.
Thou wouldst have asked: "Hath Doomsday come, for joy
Hath fled all hearts?"
Again he brought the bier,
Whereon Suhrab the Lion lay, before
The gallant chiefs, and in his father's presence
Drew back the shroud. He showed the chiefs the Gorse,
And thou hadst said that heaven reeked with sorrow.
All that were present looked on helplessly,
All cheeks were livid, all robes rent, all hearts
Fulfilled with pain, all heads besmirched with dust.
The royal palace was one mighty bier,
And of that valiant Lion in his coffin
Thou wouldst have said: "Tis' Sam with his huge limbs,
And tired with warfare he hath gone to sleep."
The sire replaced the gold brocade and closed
The narrow bier. He said: . " Though I shall make
His tomb of gold and fill it round with musk
'Twill perish with me, but I can no more:'
While all went blind with grief he made a charnel
Shaped like a horse's hoof. The bier was formed
Of undried aloe-wood with golden clasps.
The tale of how the paladin had slain
His son went everywhere and all the world
Was full of grief, while Rustam sorrowed long,
But in the end perforce resigned himself.
The world hath many an act like this in mind,
On every soul it setteth many a brand,
For who possesseth sense and wit combined
The treachery of fortune to withstand?
The Iranians hearing burned with grief. Hllmaan,
For his part, went back to Turan and told
Afrasiyab, who was all wonderment
And speculation touching that event.
How Suhrab's Mother received the Tidings of his Death
A cry rose from Turan: "Suhrab hath fallen
Upon the battlefield!" The tidings reached
The king of Samangan, who rent his robes.
The tidings reached Tahmina: "Brave Suhrab
Hath perished, stricken by his father's sword!"
She seized her robe and rent it, and her form -
That goodly gem - shone forth. She raised a cry
Of wail and woe, and swooned at whiles. She coiled
Her hair like twisted lassos round her fingers
And plucked it out. The blood ran down her face.
At times she sank fordone. She strewed dark dust
Upon her head, gnawed pieces from her arms,
Flung fire upon her head and scorched herself,
And burned her musky tresses. "here art thou,"
She cried, " who wast thy mother's soul, but art
Now only dust and blood? I scanned the road,
I said: 'I may have tidings of Suhrab
And Rustam.' Then I mused and said: 'Already
Hast thou been round the world to find thy father,
Hast found him, and art speeding home again.'
How could I know, my son! that news would come
That he had pierced thy liver with his sword?
He had no pity for that face of thine, '
Thy stature, mien, and arms, he pitied not
Thy girdlestead but clave it with his blade.
I used to nurse the body of my boy
Through days of brightness and through weary nights,
And now 'tis drowned in blood! A winding-sheet
Is all the cover of his stainless form.
Whom shall I clasp upon my bosom now?
Who is there that will rid me of my grief?
Whom shall I call upon to take thy place?
To whom impart my pain and misery?
Woe for his soul and body, eye and lustre,
That dwell in dust instead of hall and garden!
O warrior, shelter of the host! thou soughtest
Thy sire and in his place hast found thy grave.
Hope turned in thee to dolorous despair,
And now thou sleepest scorned and miserable
Amid the dust. Before he drew his dagger
And gashed thy silvern side why didst not thou
Show him the token that thy mother gave thee?
Why didst thou not declare thyself to him?
Thy mother told thee how to know thy sire
How was it that thou didst not trust her words?
Without thee she is as the captives are -
All travail, anguish, misery, and sighing.
Why went I not with thee that wast to be
The warriors' cynosure? He would have known me
Though far away and welcomed both of us,
Cast down his sword and never pierced thy side."
This said she tore herself, plucked out her hair,
And smote her lovely visage with her palms.
She filled the eyes of all the folk with hail,
So grievous were her moans and lamentations.
At length while all hearts ached she fell a-swoon,
Fell as one falleth dead upon the ground,
And thou hadst said: "Her blood is turned to ice."
She roused, thought of her son, and wailed afresh,
Her very heart's blood crimsoning her tears.
She fetched his crown, wept o'er it and his throne,
Exclaiming in her grief: "O royal Tree!"
She brought his wind-foot charger forth, that charger
Which he had prized so in his happy days,
And clasped and kissed its head, to folk's amazement,
And nuzzled on its hoofs, while her blood fell
And reddened all the ground. She took his robe
And clasped it to her body like her son,
She fetched his jerkin, coat of mail, and bow,
His spear, his falchion, and his massive mace.
She fetched his saddle with the reins and buckler,
And dashed her head thereon. She fetched his lasso,
And flung its eighty cubits out before her.
She fetched his helm and breastplate, and exclaimed :-
"O warrior-lion!" drew his sword and docked
His charger's mane and tail. She gave the poor
His goods - the silver, gold, and harnessed steeds.
She locked the palace, rooted up the throne,
Then brought it down and dashed it to the ground.
She blacked the chambers' doors, sent up the dust
From porch and palace, gave to desolation
The banquet-hall that he had left for battle,
Assumed the weeds of woe all stained with blood,
By day and night lamented him with tears,
Died broken-hearted in a year, and joined
Said eloquent Bahram
"Dote not upon the dead; thy proper care
Is for thine own departure to prepare,
Since here thou canst not stay. So dally not.
Thy father once gave up his place to thee,
And thou must give up thine. Such is our lot,
And'tis a secret still, a mystery,
Nor wilt thou with thy dazed mind find a key,
To open that closed door may no man know.
Endeavour not therefor, else wilt thou throw
Life to the hinds. Our summons to depart
Is from the God and iVlaster of us all;
Then on this Wayside Inn set not thy heart;
The profit of such sojourn is but small."
Now from this history my face I turn
The tale of Siyawush is my concern.
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