The Coming of Rustam
Now when heaven's sphere grew void of sun and moon,
And when the scouts came forth from both the hosts,
The watcher in the look-out loosed his tongue
"The plain is full of dust, the night is dark,
The level and the upland ring with cries,
And there are many lights among the troops.
Good sooth! the elephantine chief hath come,
And with an army from Zabul."
On hearing this, descended mid the murk
The rocks in haste, the dragon-standard shone
Though night was dark and earth was violet-dim.
He lighted from his steed, while Rustam too
Alighted and advanced like rushing wind.
The twain embraced and from them both arose
A bitter cry o'er those Gudarzian chiefs,
And that gain-seeking which had proved a loss.
Gudarz said: "Brave, wise, ardent paladin!
Both crown and throne receive their light from thee,
And what thou utterest is truth indeed.
More art thou to the Iranians than father
And mother, treasure, throne, and precious stones.
Without thee we are fish on land, our heads
Are petrified, our bodies in the grave.
When I observed thy goodly countenance,
Thine eager salutations and thy love,
I grieved no longer for the dear ones gone;
Through thy good fortune only smiles remained."
Then Rustam answered him: "Be glad of heart,
And very heedful of thy noble self,
Because the world is but deceit and toil,
It showeth thee its wealth and that is all.
One man is rich, another poor; this man
Is honoured, that despised, but all must go,
There is no remedy; I know no worse Q
Calamity than death, but may that pang
Afflict not thee, and may we all die fighting:'
When Tus, Giv, and those valiant warriors,
The Iranian cavaliers, had heard the news
Of Rustam's coming to Mount Hamawan,
And being seen by veteran Gudarz,
They went like wind, shouts rose, and clarions blared.
The soldiers and the chiefs approached afoot,
Their loins were girded but their hearts at ease.
They raised a cry of anguish for those slaughtered
Amid the dust of fight; the heart of Rustam
Was moved; he girt himself anew for vengeance;
Then, hearing what had chanced in that campaign,
Lamented all the sufferings of the troops,
And gave much counsel, saying: "Ye chiefs! to-day
A grave strife faceth us, and war's result
Is feast to one and funeral to another."
That warrior, that Lustre of the world,
Set up his camp-enclosure while his powers
Encamped behind him on Mount Hamawan,
And raised their leader's standard. Mighty Rustam
Sat on the throne and all the chiefs assembled.
Here sat Gudarz and Giv, there Tus and others,
While Rustam, with a lamp in front of him,
Discoursed at large of matters great and small,
How chiefs and troops had fought, and whether now
Bright sun and shining moon would favour them.
The chiefs spake to the gallant paladin
Of that innumerable host of foes,
Spake of Kamus, Shangul, the Khan of Chin,
Manshur, and of the warriors of Turan:-
"About Kamus himself we cannot speak,
For we have had no means of seeing him.
He is a Tree whose Fruits are mace and sword,
And, though the clouds rained stones upon his head,
He would not flee from elephants of war
His head is full of wreak, his heart of strife.
Earth is not able to contain Manshur;
No warrior ordereth a host like him;
And from this mountain to the river Shahd
Stretch flags and litters, elephants and troops,
Whose helmets and cuirasses pass compute.
Grim are the looks of all upon the plain,
Which is a mass of tents, around are pitched
The tent-enclosures of brocade of Chin,
And had the captain and the host not come
All had been lost. Praise to the Lord of victory,
Who thus bath put a period to our stress
Past doubt we live through thee; we,all despaired
For a while the paladin
Grieved for the slain, wept, and grew dark of soul,
Then said: "Look from the orbit of the moon
Down to the gloomy face of sombre earth;
All is distress and anguish, care and toil.
Such is the manner of this Wayside Inn,
Such is the manner of the circling sky -
Whiles strife and poison, and whiles sweets and love'
We die by nature or by violence;
'Tis better not to mark the why and how,
For all must go as soon as time is up.
Blame not the circling of the sky. Now may
The all-victorious World-lord be our aid,
And may our foemen's fortunes be o'erthrown.
Henceforward we will take our full revenge,
And rid the world of foes."
The mighty men
Praised him and said: "Live ever famed and glad
With signet, crown, and sword, and never be
The court of Kai Khusrau bereaved of thee."
How the Iranians and Turanians arrayed their Hosts
When o'er the hills the world-illumer shone,
When day seized on the two dark curls of night,
And, having cast aside its pitchy weeds,
Bit with its teeth the moon's lips till they bled,
The sound of drums rose from the camp-enclosures,
The warriors came forth. Human the chieftain
Went out to reconnoitre every side,
And thought: "what reinforcement have the Ininians
To need those tents and those pavilions?"
He saw a camp-enclosure of brocade
Of turquoise hue with many slaves about,
And in its front a general's flag and spear
It seemed to him that fortune had changed sides.
He saw another army's camp-enclosure
With flags as bright as moons, for Fariburz,
Son of Kaus, with elephants and drums
Had pitched near Tus. Human in deep concern
Went to Piran and said: "To-day is wedded
To heavy toil. The Irinians' cries and clamour
Were greater yesternight than heretofore;
So went I forth alone from camp at dawn,
And viewed the foe on all sides. From Iran
A mighty host hath come to succour them.
Now one pavilion is of green brocade;
Its standard hath a dragon for device,
And soldiers from Zabul are round about
With bucklers and with falehions of Kabul.
I think that Rustam, sent forth by the Shah,
Hath come with reinforcements to the field."
Piran made answer: "'Tis an evil time!
If Rustam taketh part in this campaign
He will not spare Kamus, the Khan of Chin,
Shangul or any warrior of Turan."
With that he left the camp and going forth
Observed the forces of the foe, and thence
Came hurrying to Kamus, came to Manshur
And to Fartus, and said: "I went this morn,
And made the circuit of the Iranian host.
Great reinforcements have arrived and chiefs
Both numerous and eager for the fray.
Methinketh too that elephantine Rustam,
Of whom I spake before the company,
Hath come to succour them, all bent on vengeance,
Straight from the Shah."
"O wise one!" said Kamus,
"Thy heart produceth naught but ill surmise.
Know thou that Kai Khusrau hath come to war,
But do not therefore vex thy heart in vain.
Why harp so much on Rustam? Name no more
Zabulistan. If he beholdeth me
With flag in hand his heart will mourn at fight.
Go thou, array the host, lead forth the troops,
And bring the standards to the battlefield.
When I go forth to combat with the host
Ye must not loiter. Now shaft thou behold
The combating of men. The wilderness
Shall be a sea of blood:'
Rejoiced to hear and ceased to fret at Rustam.
He came with joyful heart and resolute,
And bathed his spirit in the stream of valour.
He gave out helms and mail to all the troops,
And kept in mind the language of Kamus,
Then going to the Khan he kissed the ground,
And said to him: "O monarch, live for ever
May wisdom feed upon thy thoughts. The way
That thou hast trod was long and difficult;
Thou boughtest toil, foregoing feasts for us,
And to do reverence to Afrasiyab
Hast crossed the sea. Our soldiers' backs are straightened
By thee. Now act as native worth requireth,
Bedeck the elephants with bells and gongs,
And stun the world with blare of clarions.
To-day I make the attack; do thou remain
At the army's centre with the elephants
And kettledrums, keep guard upon my rear,
And help to raise my helmet to the clouds.
Kamus said thus to me: 'Lead thou the van,'
And brandishing his mace swore many oaths,
And said: 'I will not fight save with this mace
To-day though stones should shower from the clouds.'"
The Khan on hearing bade the clarions sound
Thou wouldst have said: "The very dust hath feet!"
Both earth and heaven shook at the Cymbal-din,
And put all love away. He gave command
To set a litter on an elephant,
And earth's face seemed like indigo. He reached
In state the army's centre, and the sky
Was like a dark cloud with the flying dust.
There was a sound of gongs and Indian bells,
And thou hadst said: "Men's hearts are in their mouths!"
The many turquoise thrones upon the backs
Of elephants and that blue sea of flags
Took all the lustre from the eyes of men,
And none possessed his soul in quietude.
Dust filled the eyes and gullet of the sky
Thou wouldst have said: "Its face is smeared with pitch! "
Now when the Khan had reached the army's centre
The moon went erring from its way in heaven.
The right led by Kamus was like a mountain;
They took the baggage-train toward the waste.
Piran went toward the left wing, and with him
There went Human his brother and Kulbad.
When Rustam saw the movements of the Khan
He too arrayed his troops, bade Tus bind on
The drums and dress the army like the eye
Of chanticleer. He said: "We shall behold
O'er whom the heaven turneth in its love,
What are the revolutions of the sky,
And which of these great men hath lived his time.
I loitered not, Rakhsh made three stages one,
But now his hoofs are tired; he is o'erwrought
By march and toil. I dare not tax his strength
By going forth myself as challenger;
Assist me then to-day and work your will
Upon the foe."
The captain of the host
Struck up the fifes and drums; the war-cry rose,
And trumpet-blare. Gudarz drew up the right,
And sent the baggage to Mount Hamawan,
While Fariburz arrayed the left; the world
Seemed all a reed-bed! At the army's centre
Was Tus son of Naudar. Earth was all dust,
And air all storm, so that the world was hidden;
The warriors could not even see themselves
The mighty Rustam climbed the heights to view
The Khan and army of Turan; he saw
A host so mighty that the sea of Rum
Seemed but a lump of wax compared to them
The troops were from Kashan and Shakn and Wahr,
With divers coats of mail and divers helms,
Troops from Chaghan and Chin, Saklab and Hind,
Gahan and Rum, Sind and the Indus-banks.
In every quarter there were alien tongues,
Strange flags and meats! What with the elephants,
The adornments of the thrones of ivory,
The armlets and tiaras, torques and crowns,
The world was like the garth of Paradise -
A goodly but terrific spectacle
He stood astonied on the height and thought:-
"When will the sky show love to us again?
What will the next jest of old heaven be?"
He gat down from the mount but lost not heart,
Went not before the army and its chief,
But said: "Since first I girt me ne'er have I
Dwelt anywhere a year, and I have seen
Full many a host, but greater never saw."
He bade advance the drums, and Tus the general
Marched from the mountain to the plain to battle,
Prepared to dip his wreakful spear in blood.
They marched till noon, then ranked them two leagues long,
The daylight vanished in the army's dust,
The sun divided not 'twixt night and day,
The air was dark with spears and javelins,
The sun became confounded, and the din
Of horsemen and of horses on the plain
Rose over Mars and Saturn. Rocks of flint
Fled at the horsemen's shouts and crash of axes,
Both sword and forearm reddened o'er with blood,
The ground groaned underneath the horses' shoes
The body of the coward lost all heart,
While brave men turned their mail to winding-sheets.
Kamus addressed the host: "Since we must tread
The sky to-day, bring all your lassos, maces,
And swords upon this glorious battlefield.
The aspirant's head beneath the stones will lie
Unless he quit himself with valiancy."
How Rustam fought with Ashkabus
A warrior named Ashkabus, whose voice
Was like a kettledrum's, came forth to challenge
The Iranians, bent to lay some foeman's head
In dust. He cried: "Which of you famous men
Will come to fight with me, that I may make
His blood to flow in streams?"
Ruhham on hearing
Sent up his battle-cry, stormed like the sea,
Took up his bow - the horseman's ambuscade -
And showered arrows on that famous chief,
But he was clad in panoply of steel,
And arrows were like wind upon his tunic.
Ruhham then raised his massive place. The hands
Of both grew weary, but Ruhham's mace failed
Upon the other's helm, much as he sought
To deal a fatal blow, till Ashkabus,
His heavy mace in hand, while earth seemed iron
And heaven ebony, smote brave Ruhham
Upon the helm and smashed it, who thus worsted
Wheeled round and sought the heights. Tus at the centre
Raged and spurred forth to go at Ashkabus,
But matchless Rustam said to him in wrath:-
"Ruhham's fit comrade is a bowl of wine.
He holdeth swords as playthings in his cups,
And vaunteth of himself among the brave;
Now whither hath he gone, who was a match
For Ashkabus, with cheeks like sandarach?
Keep in the army's centre - thy fit place -
And I will fight afoot."
He slung his bow
Upon his arm, stuck arrows in his belt,
And shouted, saying: "O thou man of war
Throe adversary cometh: go not back."
He of Kashan laughed in astonishment,
Then checked his steed and, calling to his foe,
Said, laughing still, to him: "What is thy name,
And who will mourn thee when thy head is off?"
The peerless Rustam answered: "Hapless one!
Why askest thou my name among the folk?
My mother called me by this name - 'Thy death!'
Fate made me for the hammer of thy helm:"
He of Kashan replied: "Without a horse
Thou givest up thyself to slaughtering! "
Then peerless Rustam: "Senseless challenger!
Hast thou ne'er seen foot-soldiers lay proud heads
Beneath the stones? Do lions, crocodiles,
And leopards fight on horseback in thy country?
Now I, foot-soldier as I am, will teach
Thee how to fight, O mounted warrior
Tus for this purpose sent me forth afoot
That I might get a horse from Ashkabus.
He of Kashan like me will foot it then,
And all will laugh at him. Afoot one man
Is worth three hundred cavaliers like thee
Upon this plain, this day, and in this fight."
He of Kashan inquired: "Where are thine arms?
I see not aught but mockery and jests."
Quoth Rustam: "Thou shah see the bow and arrows
Whereby thy life shall end."
He marked the pride
Of Ashkabus in his fine steed, and shot
An arrow at its breast; the charger fell
Headforemost. Rustam laughed and cried aloud:-
"Sit by thy noble comrade! Prithee nurse
Its head and rest thee from the fight awhile."
Then Ashkabus, his body quivering,
His face like sandarach, strung up his bow,
And showered shafts on Rustam, who exclaimed:-
"In vain thou weariest thy wicked soul,
Throe arms, and body."
Choosing from his girdle
A shaft of poplar wood he drew it forth
Bright-pointed, feathered with four eagle-plumes;
Then took his bow of Chach in hand and set
His thurnbstall to the deer-hide string; he straightened
His left arm, curved his right; the bent bow sang;
The shaft's point reached his ear; the deer-hide hummed;
The shaft's point bussed his finger and its notch
Was at his back; he loosed and struck the breast
Of Ashhabus; the sky kissed Rustam's hand;
Then destiny cried: "Take! " and fate cried: "Give!"
The heavens cried: "Excellent! " the angels: "Good: "
He of Kashan expired, thou wouldst have said:-
His His mother never bare him! "
Both the hosts
Beheld that fight. Kamus marked with the Khan
The lofty stature, strength, and fire of Rustam,
And, when he had withdrawn, the Khan dispatched
A cavalier, who drew the arrow forth
All bloody to the plumes! They passed it round
And thought it was a spear! The Khan's heart aged
When he beheld the feathers and the point.
He spake thus to Piran: "Who is this man?
What is his name among the Iranian chiefs?
'They are a paltry remnant,' were thy words,
'Not on a par with men of high degree,'
Whereas their arrows are like spears! A mountain
Hath little heart to fight them; thou didst make
The matter small indeed, but throe account
Was false throughout! "
" None know I of this class, "
Piran replied, "within the Iranian host,
None who can send his arrows through a tree-trunk,
Nor know I what this miscreant's aims may be.
The men possessed of stature, Grace, and prowess
Among the Iranian host are Tus and Giv,
And in the fight Human bath often made
The world as black as ebony to Ttis.
I know not who is this Iranian,
Or who among our troops will prove his match;
But I will go and ask among the tents;
We will make out his name at all events."
How Piran held Converse concerning the Coming of Rustam
Piran went full of care and pale of face
To ask the chiefs. Human the valiant said:-
Wise Wise men do not depreciate their foes.
The nobles of Iran are in good heart;
'They would break iron,' thou may'st say; and now
That reinforcements reach them from Iran
They raise their war-cry on the battlefield."
Piran replied: "Whatever cavalier
Shall come forth from Iran to succour Tus
We need not fear if Rustam be away.
I shall not break my heart about Ruhham
Or yet about Gurgin; for be assured
That saving Tus they have no warrior;
Gurgfn and Fariburz match not Kamus.
Each soldier of our host too, with so great
A fight in view, will seek his own renown."
Thence sped he to Kamus, went to Manshur
And to Fartus, and said: "To-day was fought
A great fight and a Wolf showed 'mongst the Sheep!
See to the cure and who hath shown himself
So harmful in the infliction of these wounds."
Kamus replied: "Our fight to-day was such
That fame was turned to shame since Ashkabus
Was slain therein while Giv and Tits rejoiced.
My heart was riven at this man on foot
Because our troops were panic-stricken at him.
He is the tallest man on earth, we have not
One in the host to fight him. Thou didst see
His bow; the shaft is here. A savage lion
Hath not his strength; he surely is the warrior,
The man of Sigz, of whom thou spakest oft,
And he hath come upon the field afoot,
Come to give succour to the Iranian host."
Piran replied:- " He is not like this one,
But an exalted cavalier and hero."
Kamus, whose wary heart was all intent
Upon the matter, said: "Describe to me
How fareth on the field that lion-man.
What knowledge Bast thou of his height and strength?
What language holdeth he with chiefs in fight?
What sort of man is he, and what his aspect?
On what wise shall I go to combat with him,
For if he be the one that hath arrived
I take the field myself?"
"Forbid it, heaven! that Rustam should come hither,
And purpose fight! Thou wouldest see a hero,
Tall as a cypress, and with Grace and beauty,
From whom Afrasiyab on many a field
Hath turned with tears; a warrior-liege is he,
The first to draw the scimitar, and fighteth
In wreak for Siyawush his foster-child.
No one can wield his arms though many try.
In battle, when he girdeth up his loins,
His body hath a savage lion's strength.
No crocodile can lift his mace when dropped
In fight; his bow-string is of lion-hide;
His arrows, shaft and point, weigh ten sitir.
If any flint-rock should encounter him
'Twould turn to wax or something softer still.
He weareth, when he goeth forth to battle,
Chain-mail, and buckleth o'er it his cuirass,
And over that a garb of leopard-skin.
'Babr-i-Bayan' he calleth it; 'tis more
Than tunic and cuirass to him, not burning
With lire and wetting not with water. He
Hath wings when wearing it. The steed whereon
He rideth is, thou wouldst say, Mount Bistun
In motion, ever neighing in the fight,
And making sparks fly out of dust and stone;
But, wondrous as he is, it well may be
That thou wilt hold him not a man in battle,
And 'tis not strange that thou art worshipful
Who hast such limbs and shoulders, neck and arms."
Whenas Kamus, the man so prudent, heard
He gave his eyes and ears up to Piran,
Whose words in Booth proved grateful. All afire
He answered: "Paladin! be shrewd of heart
And bright of mind. Propose what oaths thou wilt -
Oaths such as kings of wakeful fortune take -
And I will swear a greater oath to thee,
One that will cheer thy wounded heart, that I,
In His strength Who is Master of the sun,
Will not take off the saddle from my steed
Till I have made thy spirit glad and bright,
And this world as a needle's eye to them."
Piran called many blessings down on him,
And said: "Shrewd-hearted king who sayest Booth!
We are in all things subject to thy will,
Which leaveth little of the fray to us."
Piran then went the circuit of the host,
And, visiting the enclosures and the tents,
Apprised the Khan and all of these events.
How the Iranians and Turunians set the Battle in Away
Whenas the air glowed with the setting sun,
And dark night 'gan to stalk athwart the sky,
The warriors of the army of Turan,
The men of wisdom and the scimitar,
Came in a body to the Khan's pavilion,
Full of revenge and fight - the lion-man
Kamus, the conqueror of elephants,
Manshur the brave, the arbiter of battle,
With Shamiran from Shakn, Shangul from Hind,
The king of Sind and from Saklab Kundur.
They all advised at large about the war,
And spake much of Iran, till all agreed
That they must wash their hands in blood, then parted,
Each to his tent, for rest or pleasure there;
But when the moon, then slender grown and humped,
Left the dark chevelure of gloomy night,
And, being in the presence of the sun,
Arose with watery looks and bathed its cheeks,
The soldiers of both hosts began to stir,
And, as their shouts arose, the Khan of Chin
Exclaimed: "We must not hesitate to fight
As yesterday we did and had to deem
Piran - the man most needful - non-existent.
Far have we marched with succours to this war,
And if we slack to-day as yesterday
We shall disgrace our name for manliness.
To-morrow too Afrasiyab will praise us,
And we may rest. Attack we then in force,
And mountain-like advance against our foes;
The nobles of ten provinces are here,
We must not sleep or feast."
The mighty men
Arose and said: "The conduct of the host
Is thine to-day. Thine are the realms of Chin
And of the Turkmans. Mark thou here to-day
How scimitars shall shower from darksome clouds!"
On his side Rustam thus harangued the troops:-
The The time hath come; if we have lost a few
There is but one in several hundred slain;
Let not your hearts be straitened; for my part
I will not live except with fame and honour.
With cheeks like ebony the Turkman troops
Withdrew from Ashkabus, so fill ye, all!
Your hearts with vengeance, frown, ye cavaliers!
For I have put the shoes on Rakhsh to-day,
And on him will incarnadine my sword.
Be instant for to-day we start afresh,
And all the earth is now the treasury
Of Kai Khusrau. Arm for the strife. Win crowns
And earrings. Purses shall ye have of me,
Gifts from Zabul and turbans from Kabul:'
The mighty blessed him: "Ne'er may crown and signet
Lack thee! "
He donned his armour and went forth
With confidence upon the battlefield.
He put his chain-mail under his cuirass,
And over it he donned Babr-i-Bayan.
He wore a helmet wrought of steel of Chin -
One to make foemen meditate on death.
He girded up his loins by God's command,
And mounted Rakhsh like some mad elephant.
The heavens were confounded at his mien,
Earth darkened where his charger's hoofs were seen.
How Alwa was slain by Kamus
The drums and trumpets sounded from both hosts,
No room remained for guile or grammarye;
The mountains and the plains were all a-quake,
The earth was troubled by the tramp of steeds.
Kamus commanded the Turanian right,
Behind him were the mighty elephants
And baggage. On the left the lord of Hind
Stood clad in mail, a Ruman sword in hand,
And in the centre was the Khan of Chin.
The sky grew dark, the earth shook. Fariburz,
Like Sol irradiant in Aries,
Commanded on the left wing of Iran.
Gudarz, son of Kishwad, encased in steel,
Was on the right, and in the centre Tus,
Son of Naudar, in front were drums and clarions.
From all parts of the host a shout arose -
A shout which rent the ears of elephants -
And e'en from water rose the fumes of fire
It was a fight surpassing warriors' dreams.
The first man that appeared between the lines,
His heart's blood all afoam upon his lips,
Was that famed chief Kamus accompanied
By soldiers, elephants, and kettledrums.
He, bearing in his hand an ox-head mace,
Cried like a furious elephant trumpeting:-
"Where is that man on foot who challengeth
Illustrious heroes? Let him come and see
A bow and arrow that will cost him life."
The gallant warriors - illustrious Tus,
Ruhham, and Giv - beheld Kamus, but none
Desired to strive with him; the field remained
Void of Iranian chiefs; none had the strength
To fight with him for he was like a pard;
They were like deer. Yet was there one, Alwa,
A Zabuli, who promptly drew his sword.
He used to bear the spear and guard the back
Of Rustam, was a skilful cavalier,
And had with liver-burning toil and trouble
Acquired from him the use of arrow, mace,
And spear. What said the sage, the eloquent,
The ancient man? Now listen and perpend
"Let not thy prowess fill thee with conceit,
But look well to the ground beneath thy feet;
To match a rivulet against the sea
Would be a contest of insanity."
Now when Alwa adventured on Kamus,
Who for his part was eager for the fray,
They cleared an ample space. He of Kashan
Came wolf-like, with his spear unhorsed his foe
With ease, then wheeled his steed and trampled o'er
The fallen till the dust was red with gore.
How Kamus was slain by Rustam
The peerless Rustam grieved about Alwa,
Let loose the twisted lasso from its straps,
And took his massive mace as for a strife
Of chiefs. He roared like some mad elephant
As he advanced with lasso on his arm
And mace in hand. Kamus said: "Bluster not
So much about a thread of sixty coils."
" The lion roareth bravely," Rustam said,
"On catching sight of game. Thou wast the first
To put the girdle on in this dispute,
And thou hast slain a noble of Iran.
Thou sayest that my lasso is a thread;
Now shalt thou see how tight the knots will hold.
Thy fate doth drive thee on, man of Kashan
Since here no place is left thee save the dust."
Kamus the valiant urged his dun steed on,
His foe a lasso-bearing Elephant,
And let out with his glittering glaive, intent
To sever Rustam's head. The point alighted
On Rakhsh's neck and clave the battle-mail,
But failed to wound. The elephantine hero
Coiled, whirled, and flung the lasso round his foe,
Then spurred away and made the leather fast
Beneath his thigh while Rakhsh flew eagle-like.
Kamus undaunted tightly gripped his steed,
Pressed firmly on the stirrups, loosed the reins,
And sought by force to break the twisted thong,
Becoming frantic, but the raw hide held.
The elephantine hero, checking Rakhsh,
Wheeled, jerked Kamus headforemost to the ground,
Came up, secured him in the lasso's coils,
And said to him: "Thou art not dangerous now.
In vain are all thy charms and spells; thy soul
Hath made a fruitless bargain with the Div."
He bound his prisoner's hands behind the back,
Firm as a rock, then grasped the coils, returned
Afoot, his foe beneath his arm, and told
The warriors: "This lover of the fray
Essayed to match himself with me in strength,
But 'tis the wont with this deceitful world
At times to elevate, at times bring low.
It causeth both our happiness and grief,
And one is whiles on earth, whiles in the clouds.
Now this illustrious warrior, who ever
Was wont to prove the lion's match in fight,
Set forth to desolate Iran, to make
A den of lions of our fields and fells,
And leave behind no palaces or bowers
Of roses in Zabul or in Kabul.
He would not lay aside that mace of his
Till he had slaughtered Rustam son of Zal;
But now his helm and hauberk are his shroud,
His crown is dust, and his juppon the grave.
On what wise do ye purpose slaying him,
Because Kamus the warrior's work is done?"
Then Rustam flung Kamus upon the ground
Before the chiefs; the warriors left their ranks,
They hacked his body with their scimitars,
And drenched the stones and dust beneath with blood.
Such is the course of heaven and destiny,
Now causing joy, then pain and misery
All is toil, anguish, trouble, and distress;
Thy courage will not make it more or less.
Thy body hath a load of guilt to bear,
Thy spirit dwelleth in a world of care;
And let not bravery thy thoughts elate,
For stretched above thee is the hand of Fate.
With all thy might incline to virtue's ways,
And offer unto God - the Guide - thy praise.
The strife with brave Kamus hath reached its goal
In death when He that gave took back the soul.
Now valour and revenge will fill the scene
I tell the battle with the Khan of Chin.
How the Khan of Chin had Tidings of the Slaying
Now, O enlightened sage! speak but to name
God the Sustainer of heaven's circling frame,
And Guide to good. Thine end of life will come,
And thou wilt rest within the other borne,
But first narrate again this tale of yore
Told by the rustic minstrel from his store.
Anon news reached the Khan: "Kamus is slain
Upon the field, and day is turned to gloom
And bitterness before the chiefs of Balkh,
Kashan, and Shakn."
All looked on one another,
And asked: "Who can this prowest warrior be?
What is his name? Who is he? Who can face him?"
Thus to Human the Lion spake, Piran:-
"My soul hath had enough of strife to-day.
How shall our warriors desire to fight
When our brave Crocodile bath just been slain?
He was a peerless noble; not a horseman
Had form more elephantine, and the man
That could in battle bind him with the lasso
Might well in days of fight seize by the head
An elephant and dash it to the ground."
The troops in sore distress about Kamus
Came in a body weeping to the Khan,
To whom Piran did reverence sadly, saying:-
"O thou exalted o'er yon azure dome
Thou bast beheld and heard how we have fared
From first to last upon this battlefield.
Devise a remedy for our misfortune
Thyself without consulting any one.
Choose from our army's spies one that can bring
Hid things to light and find out who he is -
This lion-hearted one for whom our host
Hath not a match; then we will all face death,
And fight him on the field."
The Khan replied:-
"'Tis what concerneth me; I fain would know
The name of this pernicious paladin,
Who taketh Lions in his lasso's coils;
But seeing death may not be remedied,
And, wishes, prayers, and vigour naught avail,
For to that end we all are mother-born,
And yield our necks thereto against our wills,
While none escapeth turning heaven's decree,
Not if he dash to earth an elephant,
Let not your hearts be sorrowful for him,
Who perished in the twisted lasso's coils,
For with my lasso I will bring to earth
The man that slew Kamus, and make Iran
Run river-like with blood to glut the heart
Of king Afrasiyab."
He then assembled
Full many a noble from the army - swordsmen
And bravest of the brave - and said to them:-
"As for this warrior with his archery,
This lasso-flinging, hero-taking horseman,
'Tis needful that ye spy out where he is
Upon the left or right wing of their host;
Inquire withal about his name and land;
Then will we do his business out of hand."
How Chingish fared with Rustam
A lusty cavalier - a faithful liege -
By name Chingish - a seeker of renown -
A man of valour and adventurous,
Stepped forth and volunteered. He thus addressed
The Khan: "Exalted! all the world would have
Thy love. Though this man be a lion I
Will make him lifeless when I take the field,
Will fight him single-handed and convert
The glory of Iran to infamy.
I will be foremost to avenge Kamus,.
And thus restore his honour after death."
The Khan applauded him. He kissed the ground
Before his lord, who said: "Achieve this vengeance,
Bring me yon overweening head, and I
Will give thee from my hoards so many gems
That thou shalt never need to toil again."
Chingish spurred forth swift as Azargashasp,
Approached the Iranians, drew a poplar arrow,
And cried: "This is my field, the heads of nobles
Are in my clutch. If that bold lasso-flinger,
Who useth sometimes lasso, sometimes shaft,
And took Kamus, will come upon the field,
His station shall be void."
He roamed about,
And cried: "Where is that lion-warrior?"
Then Rustam with his mace bestirred himself,
And straightway mounted Rakhsh. "I am," he said,
"That chief-o'erthrowing, Lion-capturer,
I have mace, lasso, and artillery,
And now for thee, as for the brave Kamus
'Tis time to rub eyes in the dust."
Rejoined: "What are thy name, thy race, and purpose
That I may know whose blood I shed amid
The dust of battle?"
Rustam answered: "Wretch
Ne'er may the tree that taketh thee for fruit
Bloom in the garth. To thee my name and spear-point
Are death, thy mail and helm thy winding-sheet."
That insolent came wind-like, strung his bow,
Which seemed a raining cloud, and said to Rustam,
His mail-clad opposite: "Stay, valiant horseman
Thou shalt have fight enough."
The other raised
His shield, perceiving that the shafts would pierce
His mail. Chingish marked well that elephant-form,
Tall as a straight-stemmed cypress in a garden,
Beheld that steed - a Hill beneath a Hill
And not aweary - thought: "To run away
Is better than to bring myself to harm,"
And spurred his heavy-laden charger on
In flight, intending to rejoin his troops;
But Rustam, that bold horseman, urged on Rakhsh
Like fire and followed up his noble foe.
As like a furious elephant he gained
Upon Chingish the plain was full of hubbub,
And both the armies saw amazedly
How Rustam caught the charger of Chingish
And held it by the tail until the rider
In terror threw himself upon the ground;
His helm fell off him and he begged for life,
But peerless Rustam stretched him on the dust,
Struck off his head, and thought of him no more.
The Iranian nobles praised their paladin,
Who, glittering spear in hand, rode to and fro
Between the Iranian army and the foe.
How the Khan of Chin sent Human to Rustam
Much grieved the Khan and raged at that mishap;
He said thus to Human: "Now time and place
Are straitened to us. Go, for thou art shrewd,
And learn the name of yon great paladin."
Human replied: "No anvil I or ivory
In fight. Kamus the warrior had no peer
For valour and discretion, so despise not
The cavalier that lassoed him. I go
To learn whom God will favour on this field."
As swift as wind he went inside his tent,
Took other helmet, flag, and horse, and changed
The fashion of his mail and shield, then went,
And, drawing near to Rustam, paused to scan
That hero's neck and limbs, and said: "Renowned one,
Brave lasso-flinger, warlike cavalier!
By God, I tremble for my monarch's throne
When I behold a foeman such as thou art.
In this great host I see no valiant noble
And chief like thee. One courting such a combat
Could make the dust fly from a lion's heart!
Tell me about thy country, race, and home,
Inform me of thy parentage and name.
I have not seen among the Iranian host
A man save thee who hath the heart to fight.
I love a warrior, and most of all
The man that hath the teiliper of a pard;
So now if thou wilt let me know thy name,
Land, stock, and home, thou wilt confer a favour,
For thou wilt ease my heart."
Said: "Noble warrior of ardent soul!
Why tell nQt thy name, country, realm, and home?
Why hast thou come with this bland courtesy,
And so much talk? If thou desirest peace,
Not further loss in war, find him that shed
The blood of Siyawush, and so involved us
In all the fire of feud. Find in thy host
Alike the guilty and the innocent;
Find too the men, the steeds caparisoned,
And goods which Siyawush took from Iran;
Send all to us, and I will wish no longer
To fight the Turkmans; ye shall be my friends
In all, I will not speed revenge, seek strife,
Or lay the heads of nobles in the dust.
I will communicate with Kai Khusrau,
Will purge his heart and brain of grief and vengeance,
And send to hiln the culprits; he may pity them,
And pardon their offence. Now will I tell thee
Their names, and may their names and schemes both perish!
The head of the offence was Garsiwaz,
Who sought to trouble and afflict Iran;
Next any that thou knowest of Tur's seed
That made this Water brackish wantonly,
Such as Gurwf the son of Zira, born
Unjust and loveless; perish all his race!
They did the injury to Siyawush,
Which was the key to all these bonds of bale;
Next those who wrecked their monarch's brain and heart,
And made blood flow like water, also those
Who had no quarrel with the Iranians,
And yet have taken part in this campaign,
The mighty men that are of Wisa's race,
Men double-faced and pied to every one,
Such as Huxnan, Lahhak, and Farshidward,
Kulbad and Nastihan the lion-man.
If ye accomplish this that I demand,
And end our quest for vengeance, I will shut
The door of our revenge upon thy country;
Thou shalt not need to clothe thy breast in mail;
But if thou speakest in another sense
I will renew our quarrel by fresh wars,
And by the life and head of great Khusrau
Make reek the marches of Turan. Shangul
Shall not survive nor yet the Khan of Chin,
Or warrior of the country of Turan.
Thou hast essayed me on this battlefield;
My way and mode of fight is always this.
One of the nobles of Iran am I,
Wont to encounter Lions in the fray,
And many heads have I removed from bodies
Whose only winding-sheet was grimy dust.
I ne'er have spoken on this wise before,
My purpose first and last hath been revenge;
Now therefore hearken to me and embrace
These fair proposals."
At these words Human
Was sore afraid and trembled like a leaf,
For hearing Rustam talk in such a strain
He saw what vengeance would befall his kin,
And answered: "Lion-hearted warrior
With strength and form and stature such as thine
Thy proper seat is on the Iranian throne.
At least thou art a mighty paladin
Or some redoubtable Iranian chief.
Thou hast inquired about my race and name,
But not accorded what I asked of thee.
My name is Kuh. A warrior brave am I.
My sire is Busipas - the lion - like.
I have accompanied this host from far,
And come a soldier to this scene of strife.
Now that thou hast my name and race aright
I too must ask for thine, which I require
That I may make thy wishes known to all.
So now if thou wilt let me know thy name'
I will return rejoicing to the camp.
What thou hast spoken on this battlefield
Will I detail in presence of the host,
And in the presence of Manshur, the Khan
Of Chin, and Turkman warriors and chiefs."
But Rustam said to him: "Seek not my name
Say what I seemed to thee. My heart is burning
With love toward Piran, because the slaughter
Of Siyawush hath pierced his liver too;
He is the gentlest man in all Turan.
Speed him to me forthwith and we will see
What time may bring."
Human replied: "O great one!
Then thou art eager to behold Plran!
What knowest thou of him or of Kulbad,
Pulad, or of Gurwi the son of Zira?"
"Why ask so many questions?" Rustam said.
"Try not to make a river run up-hill
As for these mighty hosts, dost thou not see
That if they fight or not is left to thee?"
How Piran took Counsel with Human and the Khan
Human withdrew with all his favour changed,
And told Piran: "O favourite of fortune!
Great ill hath come on us! This lion-heart
Is Rustam of Zabul, and we may now
Weep for our troops. He talked at large with me,
Recalling what we each had done amiss,
And I, my brother! was the first accused.
He spake much of revenge for Siyawush,
Of past events, of waste and settlement,
Of what he purposed and of righteous dealing,
About Bahram and those Gudarzians,
And all that fell. His love is all for thee
Of whom he spake at large with kindliness.
He calleth now for thee of all this host;
I know not why. Go see him spear in hand,
Set like a hill upon another hill,
With mail and mace and leopard-skin cuirass,
Bestriding his great, furious Elephant.
Then wilt thou see that I have told no lies;
E'en fire receiveth brightness from his sword.
He will not budge without an interview;
It is for thy sake that he tarrieth thus.
Bespeak him fairly when thou seest him,
Draw not thy sword, and act not hastily."
Piran replied: "Exalted one! I fear
My time hath come. If yonder warrior
Be Rustam, then this plain will be a scene
Of grief for us. Our fields already burn;
I know not what our evil star hath done."
He went with tearful eyes before the Khan,
Pierced through the liver, angry, seared at heart,
And said to him: "O monarch! be not hasty,
Because the case is altered with us now.
Whenas Kamus the warrior's time had come
The thought occurred to me: 'This Iron Wall
Is Rustam, with his raw hide lasso-coils.'
Afrasiyab may come in all his pomp,
But none will dream of seeing Rustam's back;
Divs sicken fighting him. What is one man
Or one whole plain-full in opposing him?
He hath been long lord of Zabulistan,
And foster-sire erewhile to Siyawush,
And warreth like a father in his anguish
To make the world strait to Afrasiyab;
This elephantine one hath summoned me
Of all this countless host, I know not why;
But I will go and ascertain his will
Because my spirit is brought low with care."
The Khan said: "Go, say that which must be said
With courtesy. If he desireth peace
And wealth, why toil our armies on this plain?
Agree to give great gifts and then return;
'Tis better not to court so great a fight;
But, since he is arrayed in leopard-skin,
Good sooth! he may be bent upon a conflict;
Then we will battle likewise in full force,
And press him closely on the field of strife.
Put we our trust in God and war with Rustam
With all our strength; his body is not brass
And iron, but is blood and hair and flesh,
Nor shall we have to fight him in the sky
Why burn thy heart with care and grief? Know this,
That, even if he feed on stone and iron,
Shafts and two-headed darts will pierce him. We
Outnumber them three hundred times. 'Tis ill
To be in dudgeon on this battlefield.
This Zabul, this famous warrior,
Outvieth not an elephant in fight,
And I will show him with mine own such play
That he no more will meet me in the fray."
How Piran came to Rustam
Piran departed full of pain and fear,
Heart-rent at Rustam's doings. He approached
The army of Iran and cried: "O chief,
And lover of the fray! I heard that thou
Hadst called for me of all this countless host
Of Turkmans, and have come forth from my lines
To thine to see what thou wouldst have of me."
When noble Rustam knew that from the Turkmans
A warrior approached he met Piran
Before the host, an iron helm on head.
"What is thy name, O Turkman! " he demanded,
"What is thy will and purpose in this coming?"
The other said: "Piran am I, the chief
Of yonder chieftains. Thou hast asked Human,
The son of Wisa, for me in kind words,
Which made my heart yearn toward thee, paladin!
Declare to me which of the chiefs thou art."
He answered: "I am Rustam of Zabul,
My sword is from Kabul, my clothing mail."
Piran, on hearing noble Rustam's words,
Dismounted and did reverence. Rustam said:-
"I greet thee from the bright-souled Sun Khusrau,
O paladin! and from his mother too,
The daughter of Afrasiyab, who dreameth
Of thy love every night."
"I greet thee also, elephantine chief!
In God's name and the host's. May He Who giveth
All good things bless thee, may thy signet be
A passport to the sky. Thanks be to God,
My Refuge, that I see thee here. Are Zal,
The son of Sam, Zawara, Faramarz,
Those men of prudent hearts and prosperous -
May this world never know the want of them -
Are they in health, good spirits, and estate?
Now will I speak unless thou take it ill
That subjects should complain of those in power.
I planted in the Garden once a Tree,
Whose leaves proved colocynth, whose fruit proved blood,
And it hath caused me many grievous tears,
For, though 'twas once my treasure and my life,
It now hath brought me grief and yieldeth bane
Instead of antidote, for Siyawush
Esteemed me as his sire and shield from harm,
While I gave him my daughter and a province,
That he might illustrate my race; but some
Have slain him and my daughter cruelly,
And haply thou wilt say it served me right.
Great are the care, the anguish, and the pains,
That I have suffered both from king and people,
And God shall be my witness in the world,
Although to call the Almighty as a witness
Is wrong, and though so long a time hath passed,
And I have heard much counsel from the wise,
That mourning hath not ceased within my house,
And that my soul is still aflame with grief,
That I pour out my blood instead of tears,
And constantly am in the leech's hands.
That act hath ruined me, heaven hath not turned
As I could wish; I, since I learned the fate
Of Siyawush, have done naught, good or ill,
But been between two realms and two great kings
In anguish, misery, and impotence.
I risked my life for Farangis, whose father
Had sought to slay her, but I kept her hidden
In mine own house, providing for her there.
She in return would have my life, would have
Her foemen's heads from me! All grief am I,
O paladin! and both sides rail at me.
I have no way to flee Afrasiyab,
I have no other resting-place or home;
I am concerned for treasure, lands, and herds,
And see not äny pretext for departing;
I have my sons and many women-folk,
Such are the cares and ties of every one.
Whene'er Afrasiyab commandeth war
He will not suffer me to close mine eyes;
Against my will I must lead forth the host,
I may not disobey. The occasion now
Is one for pity not for war with me.
Had I no other pain and grief at heart
About my kin save that Pilsam was slain.
But there are many other gallant youths,
Who have not had their fill of combating,
And seeing that I tremble for my life
I speak about my sons and property.
By God the Conqueror, O paladin
Be not incensed against me, harbour not
A grudge against my kin, keep God in mind.
Now by the illustrious soul of Siyawush
I swear that death is better far for me
Than breastplate, sword, and helm, for if our troops
Engage thou wilt see mountains of the slain;
Yet those from Shakn, Kashan, Saklab, and Hind -
The lands between the Indus and this march -
Are guiltless of the blood of Siyawush,
Though brought as soldiers to this battlefield.
Peace bettereth war with me. Be not too hard.
Speak out thy mind; thou art more wise than I,
And mightier in war and prowess."
Replied not as Piran desired but said:-
"Since I and other warriors of the Shah
Armed for the field I have seen naught but good
From thee - the least injurious of Turkmans.
Thou hast done righteously in all and sought
To lead Turan aright. The leopard knoweth
That war and strife are evils, rocks and mountains
Know that, but when the king of kings is bent
On vengeance we must pour the arrows in.
On two conditions there may be peace yet;
Consider if ye will consent to them
One is - that thou shalt send to Kai Khusrau
In bonds all those that through the prince's death
Insensately have set this scene of strife,
Although not authors of the war, and those,
The guilty of the blood of that just head,
Although they may be not upon the field.
The other is - thou shalt prepare thyself,
And come with me to our victorious Shah.
As to the goods which thou wilt leave behind,
And dost esteem so precious, thou shalt have
Ten for each one from him, so prate not thou
About the baggage of the Turkman host."
Piran reflected: "To desert Turan,
And go before that king were grave indeed!
Again by thus demanding those in fault
In wreak for Siyawush he will bring low
Afrasiyab's great men - his kith and kin -
The man with thrones and treasure, place and power.
How could I dare to speak of such a thing?
He asketh what is quite preposterous!
Human, Kulbad, and Farshidward - the men
That brought about the anguish of Gudarz -
Are all involved, and this can never be
No river in the world can run such water.
I must adopt mine own expedient,
Take mine own way."
He said: "O paladin!
Mayst thou be ever young and bright of mind.
I will depart and tell this to the chiefs -
ManshAr, Shangul, and to the Khan of Chin -
And send a cameleer to tell the king
Thy words, and rouse him from his slumbering."
How the Turanians took Counsel for Battle with the Iranians
Piran departed to the host like wind,
Assembled those that were of Wisa's race,
And told the secret, saying: "Our fall or rise
Hath come, for know ye that this Lion-heart
Is Rustam, who hath ta'en the field in grief
With chiefs and Lions from Zabulistan
And nobles from Kabulistan. With him
There are Gudarz and Giv and Tus, and we
Must fight, though 'gainst our wills, and be disgraced.
Since Rustam is the avenger and the leader
No horsemen in the world will hold their own.
He seeketh of the Turkmans those in fault,
And troubleth not about the innocent.
Who to your knowledge is not guilty here,
And is not much affected by our king?
Behold our country will be desolate,
The warriors of Iran will work their will,
And all be lost, the young, the old, the monarch,
The treasure, army, throne, and diadem.
I said to our unjust king: 'Be not thou
So fiery and stormful, else some day,
And with no warning, thou wilt be consumed,
Thy wit be burned and thy heart's eye sewn up.'
The imperious monarch brooked not mine advice,
Or that of the illustrious company,
But made away with noble Siyawush
Without consulting with the brave and wise.
Thou wilt see nothing left of state or crown,
Throne, elephants of war, or diadem;
The Iranian king will be rejoiced thereat
While grief and pain will be our warriors' portion.
Woe for our gallant hearts and this great host,
Endowed with Grace, tall stature, crown, and state!
All will be spoiled henceforth before your eyes,
None will turn happy from the battlefield,
For they will tread us 'neath their horses' hoofs;
Our wakeful fortune's light will be bedimmed.
My heart is burning for Human, my soul
Is flaming for Ruin, for Rustam's heart .
Is brimming with revenge for Siyawush
For whom his eyebrows are fulfilled with frowns.
I will go sadly to the Khan and tell him
What this revenge hath cost me."
Swift as dust
He went with full heart and with lips all sighs,
And found the camp-enclosure full of clamour,
With bloody tulips set on saffron cheeks,
For many of the kindred of Kamus
Had come demanding vengeance. They exclaimed. -
"Afrasiyab will dream no more of greatness!
Why did this king, who hath no man to fight
On days of battle, thus begin the feud?
We, to avenge Kamus, with tearful eyes
Will lead the army of Kashan to Chin,
And thence and from Barbar, from the Buzgush,
From the Sagsars and from Mazandaran
Will we bring mace-armed troops to slaughter Rustam
That none may hear his voice. Afrasiyab,
If fain for vengeance, must not rest or sleep."
Moreover from the kindred of Chingish
And Ashkabus a din like beating drums
Arose, while all in anguish for their kinsmen
Were raining tears of gall on saffron cheeks,
And saying midst their tears: "We will not rest
Or sleep henceforth till we have fired Sistan,
And given its people doleful nights and days,
Have set the head of Rustam of Zabul
Upon the stake in grief for our great dead,
And, having burned his body, strewn the ashes
Before his palace-gate."
Piran was dazed,
His favour darkened at their lamentations,
And thus he said: "Afflicted, helpless men,
Possessed by pain and care and fed on grief
Ye surely cannot know that your own time
Is almost o'er."
He sought the Khan and said:-
This This little war of ours is growing long.
A Crocodile, whose mail is leopard-skin;
Hath come up from the river to the fight,
For Rustam hath brought troops from every side,
And famous chiefs; our toils are thrown away,
And unjust deeds receive just punishment.
Afrasiyab was so infatuate
That Siyawush was murdered by his hand,
Urged to it by the insensate Garsiwaz.
Now Siyawush was great, a royal prince
Brought up by Rustam of Zabulistan,
Who fighting to avenge his fosterling
Will bring the heavens down. No leopard's claws
Or trunk of elephant, no lofty mountain
Or river Nile will aught avail with him
When he shall take the field before his host.
He rideth on a horse that needeth not
A ship in seas of blood. We may not reckon
This conflict trifling; all have seen his power.
A fire hath fallen from azure heaven and caused
Our hearts to fume with fear. Convoke the sages,
The priests, the great, and find the remedy -
A champion competent to take the field: .
We may perchance escape these ills and reach
Our homes albeit with diminished fortunes.
Men should act fairly ever, not be first
To seek a quarrel."
Troubled at Piran
The Khan invoked the Maker's name and said:-
How How shall we act encountered by such hosts?"
Then said Shangul: "To what end is this talk,
Exalted one? We sped o'er flood and waste
From every clime to help Afrasiyab,
Receiving gifts and armlets; if we fight not
We came like lions and shall go like foxes.
We sprang like fearless lions, losing not '
One day upon the march, why such alarm
Because one man from Sigz encountereth us?
Shame on such talk! Thou must take other order.
Grant that he is a furious Elephant,
And grappleth Lions on the battle-field,
Still, though he slew Kanlus the warrior,
We must not hesitate, and since 'tis clear,
Because Piran is sleepless with dismay,
That some one holdeth Rustam in respect,
I now extend my hand as succourer.
No Elephant is he or Lion's match,
Nor is his prowess as Piran asserteth.
We must be firm herein, and not erase
All thoughts of vengeance on him from our hearts.
Draw we our maces at the dawn, advance
Across the plain, make air like clouds in spring,
And pour a rain of arrows on the foe;
Then through the dust of horse and crash of axes
None must know head from foot. Observe me well,
And, when I raise the war-cry, charge amain.
We are - we warriors and cavaliers -
Good sooth! above a hundred thousand strong,
And shall we, lifeless though not slain, thus vilely
Shrink from one man? When I confront the Sigzian
Send ye the dust-clouds skyward; let none 'scape;
A coward's heart is naught."
On hearing this,
Piran, old as he was, grew young of heart,
And said: "Live happy, free from grief and care,"
While all the nobles and the Khan of Chin
Acclaimed the king of Hind.
Now when Piran
Came to his tent the chiefs resorted thither -
Hurrian, Barma,n, and Nastihan, whose minds
Were poised 'twixt hope and fear. Human inquired:-
"What is thy purpose? Doth it furnish ground
For peace, or are the armies to engage?"
Piran told what Shangul had said, and how
The troops agreed to battle on, whereat
Human was sore displeasured and, incensed
Against ill-starred Shangul, said to Piran:-
"None can escape the sky and what it bringeth."
He met Kulbad and said: "Shangul is mad!
If Rustam be what I have seen, and heard
From chiefs, Shangul, Kundur, Manshur, will not
Survive this battlefield, nor will the Khan.
Withdraw we for a while and reckon up
Our chance of gain or loss. Thou wilt behold
Of this unbounded host, whose massive maces
Might quell the world, the more part laid to earth
With blood-drenched helms and mail for winding-sheet."
Kulbad replied: "O wielder of the sword!
Keep if thou canst from evil presages,
And sadden not the hearts of thine own side;
The matter may be other than we think.
The better course for thee is not to fret
Or worry over ills not come as yet."
How Rustam harangued his Troops
On his side Rustam called his mighty men -
Tus, Giv, Gudarz, Ruhham, and Fariburz,
Kharrad the warrior and Gustaham,
Gurgin the veteran, the cavalier,
And that illustrious man of war Bizhan.
"Ye men of wisdom!" said the peerless chief,
Addressing them at large in fitting words,'
"Ye archimages wise and shrewd of heart!
The man whom God doth render fortunate
Is fit for crown and throne; he will possess
The world, prevail in war, and will not fear
The leopard, elephant, or crocodile.
Our strength is all from God, and to what end
Are we upon this darksome earth of ours?
To think no evil, but to choose the way
Of God and wisdom, since the world is no man's,
And 'tis not well to take much joy therein;
Our worth is based on right and hardihood
While knavery involveth harm and loss.
Piran was heart-seared when he came to me
So hastily, he spake in many words
Of his good offices to Siyawush,
Of his own travail and anxiety,
And how through his entreaties Farangis
Escaped the Dragon's breath; and yet withal
My heart foreboded that Piran would be
Among the first to perish in this war,
His son and brother die before his eyes
With many of the noblest of his kin,
And that Khusrau would slay Afrasiyab
Such was my dream. Know that they all will perish
Beneath our feet, not one man will survive
Howbeit I would not that this hand of mine
Should slay their general; he hath no craft
But honesty, and thinketh not of ill.
If then he shall accomplish what he said,
Be ancient wrongs forgotten; if he yield
The culprits and the goods, the strife is done,
The war for me is over; in this world
To deal uprightly is the best of all things.,
If from these chiefs with thrones and elephants -
An army like the blue sea - he dispatch
Both crowns and wealth, I shall not trouble further
About the Turkmans. They will all pay tribute
Not being able to contend with us,
And we will spare their lives because the All-giver
Hath taught us wisdom and right ways. The world
Is full of treasures, thrones, and crowns: a man
Were fortunate indeed to win them all!"
Gudarz in hearing this stood up and said
To Rustam: "O thou chieftain good and just,
The host's support, the adornment of the throne!
The crown and throne and helm are bright through thee.
Resplendent wisdom is thy capital
And provand of thy soul. Peace is no doubt
A better thing than war, but mark this well -
The ox hath yet his hide. I will repeat
To thee a saying of the olden times:-
'The souls of evil men shun righteousness
Fen as the shoulders shun the burden's stress.'
Piran now giveth pledges in his strait,
But some day he will struggle to evade them.
The Maker fashioned him a double-dealer,
So hearken not to him and 'scape his guile.
When first we set the battle in array
We held a parley and forwent the fight
Because an envoy came to say from him:-
I am averse from strife and battlefield,
And, recking not of country and of tents,
Have girded up my loins to serve the Shah.'
He heard from us much counsel and advice,
And said: 'Henceforth is war no mate of mine;
I will depart and compass this affair
Without delay, announcing to my kin
My course herein, for I have throne and treasure
And cattle, and for them I will provide.'
I said: ' Thy right course is to come at once;
Throne, wealth, and goods await thee in Iran;
But keep the matter secret that thy fault
May not be patent to Afrasiyab.'
Piran, when we had spoken, went his way,
And all that night companioned with the wind.
He sent Afrasiyab a cameleer
To say: 'Array thy troops; a host hath come.'
Thou wouldst have said that we had held no parle,
Because it came to nothing, and Pinin
Upon the tenth day led his army forth
Toward the plain and filled the world with troops.
Just now he set, Oleader of the host!
Upon thy path another toy; just now,
On seeing thy lasso's coils, he feared for life.
Their whole reliance was upon Kamus,
And generals like Fartus and like Manshur
But since he hath beheld Kamus' fortune
Wrecked, and his slaughter in the lasso's coils,
Piran now knocketh at the door of peace,
Not daring to remain upon the field,
And, since he knoweth that his fall is nigh,
Employeth colour, stratagem, and guile.
As for the criminals, the wealth, and goods,
Which I,' he said, 'will gather and surrender,'
Thou wilt perceive that when the tymbals sound,
And Tus and Fariburz advance to war,
He will in person lead the van and ever
Renew the combat. All his words are lies,
And Ahriman alone is his fit mate.
If thou art deaf to me mark what befell
My son Bahram! Piran thus held us back,
And set an ambush such that, when the day
Of battle came, he showed to us so great
A graveyard of Gudarzians that I
Must weep blood all my life, and have for leech
An Indian sword."
Said Rustam: "Be thy words
And wisdom wedded. He is as thou sayest.
We and that old man differ, 'tis no secret;
But, in as much as he hath done us good,
I would not fight him to the bitter end.
Remember how he acted toward the Shah,
And how he mourned the fate of Siyawush.
If he should break his word and set on us
I have my lasso at my saddle-straps
To take fierce Elephants. But I will fancy
No ill at first; we may escape a conflict;
But, if he should be faithless, he shall find
The outcome pain and grief."
Gudarz and Tus
Praised Rustam, saying: "Sol itself would fail
To cozen thee, and in thy presence sleights,
Deceptions, falsehoods, and Piran's own words
Take on no lustre. May the earth ne'er lack
Our monarch's head and crown, and mayst thou hold
The chiefest place for ever."
"'Tis dark and now our brains are dazed with talk;
Quaff we till midnight, then safeguard our troops,
And we shall see what God hath purposed for us."
He said moreover to the Iranians:-
"To-night as we are drinking I will take
Some happy omen and, when morrow cometh,
Will shoulder Sam the cavalier's own mace,
Wherewith I fought against Mazandaran,
Attack the Crocodile in his own lair,
And capture camp-enclosure, crown, tiara,
Mace, mighty elephant, and ivory throne
These will I bring and give the Iranians,
If after all, I gird my loins for war."
The noble lieges raised a shout and went
For rest and slumber each man to his tent.
How the Iranians and Turaians set the Battle in Army
Whenas the sun displayed its shining crown
The moon appeared as 'twere a silver shield,
But terror-stricken at the rising din
Declined and hid her face. The tymbals sounded
Before the tent of Tus, the world grew ebon
With chargers' dust; it filled the air; the ground
Turned indigo, and Rustam donned his mail.
The army of Iran drew up in line,
The sons intent on fight, the sires on vengeance.
Gudarz son of Kishwad was on the right
In armour, brandishing a mace of steel,
While Fariburz was stationed on the left,
And washed the vengeance from his chieftains' hearts.
Tus son of Shah Naudar was in the centre,
And all earth thronged with troops. Then peerless
Advanced to view the opposing chiefs; the Khan,
Whose elephants made earth like indigo,
Was in the centre, on the right Kundur -
A gallant horseman lion-like in battle -
And on the left the veteran Gahar
The earth was wounded 'heath the horsemen's hoofs.
Piran, upon .his rounds before the host,
Approached Shangul, the lover of the fray,
And said to him: "O famous man of Hind
Folk from Shirwan to Sind perform thy bidding.
Thou said'st to me: 'To-morrow with the dawn
Will I from all sides lead the host to fight;
Then will I challenge Rustam and bring down
To dust that head which reacheth to the clouds.'"
He answered: "I abide by what I said,
Thou shalt see from me neither more nor less.
Now will I go before this vanquisher
Of chiefs, and nail him through with arrow-points,
Avenge Kamus and press the Iranians."
With that he made three battles of his host,
He beat the drums and dust rose from the plain.
They marched, each battle, with huge elephants -
An army-front extending o'er two miles.
The heads of all the drivers were adorned
With gaudy colours; each man wore a crown
And earrings, with a gold torque round his neck,
And belt of gold about his loins. The beasts
Were draped with housings of brocade of Chin
Surmounted by a throne and seat of gold.
Then there arose the blast of clarions,
And all the elephants of war advanced;
Upon the right marched thirty thousand men -
Illustrious cavaliers armed with the spear -
Another thirty thousand on the left
With bows and shields of Chin. The elephants
Were in the centre with the Khan, a throng
That rolled earth's surface as they marched along.
How Rustam reproached Piran
Shangul went forth with Indian sword in hand
Between the opposing lines; a parasol
Of Indian make, compact of eagles' plumes,
O'ershadowed him. Around him was an escort
Which followed as he willed. On seeing this
Piran rejoiced, feared not the fight with Rustam,
And thus addressed Human: "To-day will fate
Dispose the matter to our hearts' content
With this equipment and such cavaliers,
Each one so gallant, proud, and lion-like;
So go not thou thyself before the line,
Think not of fighting this day or the next;
Let thy post be behind the Khan of Chin,
Because thou need'st not fight, and if moreover
He of Zabul, he of the sable standard,
Beholdeth thee, our cause is lost. Be ours
To note the progress of events, and see
What sport our wakeful fortune will afford."
Piran went thence toward the Iranian host
To where the elephantine hero stood;
Dismounted, did obeisance many times,
And said: "High heaven taketh Grace from thee.
Ne'er may thy days decline! Ne'er may thy face
Show grief! When I returned, O paladin!
I gave thy message both to old and young.
I talked to them of all thine excellence,
Though who on earth can praise thee worthily?
I spake moreover both of peace and war,
Employing every sort of plea. 'But how
Can we do this,' they said at last, 'and stay
Revenge as thou advisest? We can give
As much as he shall ask of gold and treasure,
But as for giving up the guilty folk
It may not be. Consider what it meaneth.
Whom save the kinsmen of Afrasiyab
Know'st thou as guilty? Be not rash in promise,
For all the men that Rustam asketh of us
Are chiefs - great men with thrones and diadems
How shall we or how can we give them up?
Demands like these would make a young man gray.
When such an army hath arrived from Chin,
Saklab, Khatlan, and from our own Piran,
How should Afrasiyab desire a peace
When he hath brought such hosts o'er sea and land?'
I got no lack of blame in their reply,
And so I have returned to thee in haste.
Now of these troops an army like the sea
Is hurriedly preparing for the fight,
And know thee not but call thee 'him of Sigz.'
The king of Hind is fain to fight with thee
With bow and arrow and with Indian sword,
But sure am I that in the end this host
Will weep because of elephantine Rustam."
When Rustam heard this he was very wroth,
And said thus to Piran: "Thou luckless one
Why hast thou so much guile and subterfuge?
Why wilt thou walk upon a precipice?
The king of earth hath spoken much to me
In public and in private of thy lies.
E'en now when I esteemed thee wise and prudent
Thou wast but one great lie from head to foot.
Thou wallowest recklessly in thine own blood
In evil case, but worse awaiteth thee.
Although a spot were Hell 'twere Paradise
Contrasted with the soil beneath thy feet.
'I prithee leave,' I said, 'this black, bad land,
And change it for a settled realm; such life,
As this is wholly worthless, for thy head
Is in the Dragon's maw. Thou mayst behold
Our gracious, just, young, fair, and courteous Shah.'
But eating snakes and wearing leopard-skin
Are sweeter than both colour and brocade
In thine esteem. None will contest the point,
And thou wilt eat of that which thou hast sown."
Piran replied: "O fortune's favourite,
Thou fruitful, flourishing, and goodly Tree'
Who knoweth of such things as well as thou?
And may the homage of the chiefs be thine.
My heart and spirit are at thy command,
My life for thine, I will advise to-night,
And will address the assembled host besides."
This being said, to join the troops he went
With guileful heart and head on vengeance bent.
How the Battle was joined
Piran departed and the opposing hosts
Stood like two glittering mountains on the earth,
While Rustam thus harangued the Irtinians:-
"My loins' are girt for battle, be it yours
To think but of revenge, and let each warrior
Frown, for no small strife fronteth us to-day,
But one that will appraise both wolf and sheep.
The reader of the stars hath said to me:-
'My heart is troubled by this coming fight;
'Twill be betwixt two mountains, troops in mass
Will bathe the world in blood, the veteran chiefs
Will gather, and the strife unman the world;
Then feud will cease to stalk, the steel mace grow
Like wax.' Have no misgivings, whosoe'er
May come to fight with me, for I will bind
His hands within the twisted lasso's coils
Although the starry heavens be his ally.
Let no one tremble at yon famous chiefs.
If my life endeth on the battlefield,
And doubtless I shall not die at a feast,
All that thou needest is enduring fame,
Thou canst not stay, why make so much ado?
Set not thy heart upon this Wayside Inn,
Trust not a Hostelry so perilous,
Where souls allied to wisdom reckon not
Their day as good or ill. E'en lords of crown
And treasure may not fix their hearts on this
Our Wayside Inn."
The troops replied: "Thy hests
Are higher than sky and moon, and our keen swords
Shall make our fame last till the Judgment Day."
The armies closed. "A black cloud," thou lladst said,
"Hath risen raining shafts and scimitars,
And all the world is like a sea of pitch."
The glorious visage of the sun grew dark
With eagles' plumes and arrow-heads of steel.
Thou wouldst have said: "Amid the cloud of dust
The lances' heads have smirched the stars with gore! "
What while the ox-head maces crashed around
Thou wouldst have said: "The sky is raining stones! "
And midst the flashing of the diamond swords:-
"A cloud hath risen and its rain is blood! "
The briars and dust were drenched with gore and
The helms were smashed upon the wearers' heads.
Said gray Gudarz: "Since first I girt myself
To play the man I have seen no such strife,
Or heard of such among the haughty chiefs;
Such is the slaughter that one half alone
Of men is safe, the other is o'erthrown! "
How Shangul fought with Rustam and fled
Shangul came forth before the host and shouted.
"I vanquish heroes and I love the fray,
And I will see," he said, "what battle-gear
Of manliness this man of Sigz possesseth."
The voice reached Rustam, who looked forth, beheld him,
And said: "Mine one petition to the Maker,
Both publicly and privily, hath been
That of this mighty host some alien
Might have the pluck to challenge me to fight.
I will not leave Shangul, the Khan of Chin,
Or any warrior of Turan alive."
He came and shouted: "Base-born miscreant!
Zal named me Rustam; wherefore call'st thou me
'The man of Sigz?' Know that the man of Sigz
Will be thy death, thy mail and helm thy shroud."
This said, he grasped a life-destroying spear,
And urged his heavy mountain of a steed.
He charged like wind, loosed his heroic arm,
And thrusting with his spear unhorsed Shangul,
Dashed him down headlong, and rode over him,
Yet harmed him not. Then Rustam quickly drew
His scimitar, but from the hostile host
Came warriors with swords of tempered steel;
Men from Turan, Sakhib, and Hind surrounded
The paladin as 'twere an onaaer,
And snatched Shangul from that fierce Elephant
He 'scaped from Rustam, scathless 'neath his mail,
Fled with a care-worn visage to the Khan,
And said: "This is no man; he hath no equal
On earth; he is a furious Elephant
Upon a Mountain; we may fight in mass,
But let not any one attack the Dragon
In single combat, for he cannot 'scape."
" This morn thy views and words were other," said
The Khan, and bade the troops charge mountain-like
In full force to hem Rustam in and end
His life. That Lion drew his scimitar,
And brake the left wing of the host of Chin;
Each stroke strewed trunkless heads upon the plain.
No mountain could withstand him in the fight,
Or elephant his fury. Warriors
Beset him till they dimmed the sun above him,
While from the many spears, swords, shafts, and maces,
Employed against the' lion-taking chief,
One would have thought that he was in a reed-bed,
And all the realm a winefat running blood.
At every blow he sliced a hundred spears,
And as an angry lion roared and raged.
Behind him came the warriors of Iran
With vengeful hearts and eager for the fray.
As for the maces, mallets, spears, and swords,
Thou wouldst have said: "Hail falleth." Corpses, hands,
Heads, coronets, and helmets of the slain
Filled all the field, high heaven seemed earth with dust,
And many a neck and breast were cloven piecemeal.
The troops all cried: "The plain is like a mountain
With slain! " The hosts of men from Chin and Shakn,
From Hind, Saklab, Hart, and from Pahlav
Stretched o'er plain, height, and river, and they all
Were smitten by one man!
Then to Kulbad
Piran turned, saying: "This battlefield hath lost
Its charms, for he is irresistible;
There is no leader like him in the world.
No sage would credit that one cavalier
O'erthrew three hundred thousand warriors.
This feud hath brought ill on Afrasiyab;
Where will he find repose and rest from Rustam?
Good sooth! we shall be blamed when he inquireth
Concerning this campaign, and then if he
Is wroth our heads will be in jeopardy."
How Rustam fought with Sawa
Said Rustam to the Iranians: "This fight
Hath harmed us not. Now will I take from Chin
These elephants, this wealth, these splendid crowns,
And thrones, bestow them on Iran and make
The day a happy and a glorious one.
I want no helper from the Ininians,
God and the feet of Rakhsh are help enough.
I will not leave a man from Chin, Saklab,
And Shakn to set his foot upon the ground,
For 'tis our day of victory; high heaven
Illumineth our star, but ill betideth
The men of evil words and evil deeds.
If God affordeth strength my glossy Rakhsh
Shall show his mettle, I will make this plain
A graveyard, and the fertile land a salt-marsh.
Resume ye now your posts, be diligent,
And swift as wind. Attend. When I advance
Sound gong and bell, and make the whole earth ebon
With dust of cavaliers and tymbal-din.
Ply ye your ages and your massive maces,
Like blacksmiths' hammers on a mass of steel,
And fear ye not the numbers of the foe,
But make the very water reek to heaven.
Cleave ye the ranks of Chin and of Saklab;
Earth must not see the sky. Watch well my helm,
And, when I raise the war-cry, charge amain."
Thence like a raging elephant, and bearing
His ox-head mace and shouting as he went,
He sought the foemen's right, and first encountered
Kundur. He routed that wing utterly,
And many a head and helmet disappeared.
A kinsman of Kamus, one Sawa hight,
Proud and o'erweening, came to counter Rustam,
With Indian sword in hand. He wheeled about
In quest of veneance for Kamus and cried:-
"O mighty Elephant! now shalt thou mark
A wave of Nile! I will avenge Kamus,
The hapless: nevermore shalt thou see battle."
When Sawa's words reached Rustam he drew forth
His massive mace, raised it aloft, and smote
His foeman's head and helm. Thou wouldst have said:-
"That head hath never even seen its body!"
He flung down Sawa, and rode over him
Till every trace was lost. The enemy
Were panic-struck, the banner of Kashan
Was overthrown; none durst withstand him more
Because the hoofs of Rakhsh their fruitage bore.
How Rustam slew Gahar of Gahan
Thence Rustam sought the other wing, while all
The foe were in dismay, where stood Gahar
The warrior of Gahan, a lion-man
Who had a dusky banner. He was wroth
On seeing Rustam's helm, roared lion-like,
And said to him: "I will avenge Turan
And Chin upon this Sigzian on this field;
To fight him is my part among the chiefs
A lion's heart and massive mace are mine."
He spurred forth to encounter mighty Rustam,
But turned like flower of fenugreek on seeing
The helm of Rustam close, and thought: "As well
Plunge in the river Nile as fight against
This furious Elephant! Thou saidst: 'The fight
Will profit thee,' but others said: ' Not so.'
Both courses are not well. To flee and save
One's head is better than to have it trampled
By showing prowess."
Then he fled toward
The centre in the sight of all the troops,
While like a tree upon a mountain-top
Rose Rustam's standard mid the host. He followed
Gahar like dust, earth reddened, air grew dark;
He speared and pierced the girdle of his foe,
Rent both the corslet and its clasps, then flung him
Down as the leafage falleth from a bough
Struck by a mighty blast. He overthrew
That dusky flag, and thou hadst said: "Gahar -
He of Gahan - ne'er lived." The Iranians marked
That deed, to right and left the dust of battle
Rose, they advanced the drums and glorious standard,
Illustrious Gudarz and Tus came on,
The trumpets' blare hailed Rustam's victory.
"Send me a thousand noble cavaliers,"
He bade, "and I will take yon elephants,
That ivory throne, the gold, torques, pearls, and crouia
From him of Chin and give them to Iran,
To the victorious monarch of the brave."
A thousand warriors of Iran advanced
In mail with ox-head maces. Rustam cried,
That they might gird them for revenge: "I swear
By our Shah's life and head, the sun and moon,
Iran's host, and the dust of Siyawush,
That if one flee before the prince of Chin
He shall experience bonds, or pit and gibbet,
And have a paper cap set on his head."
The troops knew Rustam's lion-appetite,
Which longed to claw the haunches of the stag,
And made toward the Khan, men seared in heart,
Whose leader aimed at crowns. He led the charge,
Let fleet Rakhsh have the reins, and spurted blood
Up to the moon. The stars looked down upon
That battlefield whence such a dust-cloud rose
That none could see the ground. What with the shouts
Of cavaliers and thud of lances none
Discerned 'twixt rein and stirrup; thou hadst said:-
The sun is veiled, earth tortured 'neath the horsehoofs! "
The air grew black, black as an Ethiop's face;
They saw no way for slain; mails, helms, and saddles
Filled all the field, and heads farewelled their bodies.
The horsemen's dust went down the wind, the earth
Rang with the clash of steel, and many a chief
Exposed his head for glory. Rustam shouted,
And thou hadst said: "It is the raging sea! "
"These elephants, the bracelets, ivory throne,
Crowns, diadems, and torques will in Iran
Be worthy Kai Khusrau, the world's young king.
What business can ye have with crown and pomp,
Who, spite of all your might and toil and prowess,
Will only set the shackles on your hands,
And bring a twisted lasso round your loins?
Then will I send you to the king of earth
I will not spare Manshur or yet the Khan
Of Chin. I give you life and that is all;
Your crowns and signet-rings are for another;
Else with our horse-hoofs I, unless ye yield,
Will send dust moonward from this battlefield."
How the Khan was taken Prisoner
The Khan let loose his tongue, reviling Rustam.
"Thou miscreant," he said, "in soul and body
For quarter for Irin, its Shah and people,
Thou must appeal to me. Thou Sigzian,
And vilest of mankind: wouldst seek to make
A common soldier of the king of Chin?"
They sent a very grievous rain of arrows
As when the winds of autumn blast a tree;
The air was clothed with eagles' plumes: no warrior
Ken dreameth of such strife! Gudarz, beholding
That shower of steel, alarmed for Rustam's safety,
Said to Ruhham: "O laggard! tarry not,
But with two hundred horsemen ply the reins,
And with your bows of Chach and poplar shafts
Guard in the battle peerless Rustam's back."
And then to Giv: "Lead on the host and yield not
Before our foes. To-day is not a time
For peace and pageant, leisure or repose.
Advance toward the right wing with the troops,
And find out where Piran is with HLlman.
Mark how before the Khan the peerless Rustam
Is dashing heaven to earth! Ne'er may the eyes
Be blest that curse him on the day of battle."
Ruhham raged like a leopard and rushed forth
To fight at Rustam's back, who said to him,
That Lion: "My Rakhsh, I fear, hath had enough;
When he is weary I will go afoot,
All blood and sweat. This is a host like ants
And locusts! Fight against the elephants
And drivers. We will take them to Khusrau -
A novel present from Shingan and Chin."
Then from his post he cried: "May Ahriman
Wed Turkistan and Chin! He! luckless ones,
Resourceless, wretched, fed on grief, and lost!
Have ye ne'er heard of Rustam? Or hath wisdom
Fled from your brains? He holdeth dragon-men
Of no account, and chooseth elephants
As opposites. Would ye still fight with me
Whose only gifts are mace and scimitar?"
He loosed his twisted lasso from its straps,
Flung the raw coil upon his saddle-bow,
And urged his charger on. A shout arose
To split a dragon's ear. Where'er he cast
The noose he cleared the ground of mighty men,
Yet wished he only to contend with Chin
With lasso on his arm and frowning brow.
Now every time that Rustam in the fight
Unhorsed a chieftain with the coiling noose,
The leader Tus sent cloudward from the field
The sound of trump and drum, while an Iranian
Made fast the prisoner's hands, and took him off'
Toward the heights. Now when from elephant-back
The Khan saw earth rise like the Nile, and there,
Astride a lofty Hill, an Elephant
That grasped a lasso made of lion's hide,
And brought down vultures from the murky clouds,
While stars and moon looked on, he chose a chief,
Learned in the Iranian tongue, and said: "Approach
Yon lion-man and say: 'Fight not so fiercely.
These troops of Chin, of Shakn, Chaghan, and Wahr
Have in their hearts no interest in the feud,
Nor have the kings of Chin and of Khatlan
Thou hast no quarrel with these aliens,
But with Afrasiyab, who knoweth not
The fire from water, but hath raised the world,
And by this war brought evil on himself.
We all of us have greed and long for fame,
Yet peace still bettereth war."
With fluent tongue
And guileful heart the man drew near to Rustam,
And said: "O chieftain, lover of the fray!
Since fight is over for thee now seek feast.
Thou surely harbourest not revenge at heart
For what hath passed against the Khan of Chin!
Withdraw as he withdraweth, for the strife
Is ended now. When - by thy hand Kimus
Was slain, the heads of all our chiefs were turned."
But Rustam answered thus: "The elephants,
The crown, and ivory throne must all be mine.
Ye set your faces to lay waste Iran
What need is there for talk and blandishments?
He knoweth that his host is in my hands,
And that I check the ardour of mine own.
I spare his own head, but his elephants,
Torque, crown, and throne of ivory are mine."
The messenger replied: "O lord of Rakhsh
' Spare' not upon the waste the uncaught gazelle!
The plain is all men, elephants, and troops.
Who hath crown, wealth, and grandeur like the Khan?
Who knoweth too the outcome of the day,
And who will quit the field with victory?"
When Rustam heard he spurred on Rakhsh and cried:-
"I vanquish lions and apportion crowns,
Am strong, and have a lasso on mine arm.
Is this the day for jest, the time for counsel?
Whenas the Khan of Chin shall see my lasso,
When that fierce Lion shall behold mine armlet,
He will be taken and distaste e'en life."
He flung the lasso coiled and took the heads
Of cavaliers, neared that white elephant,
And then the Khan of Chin, grown desperate,
Smote with the goad the creature's head and, roaring
Like thunder in the month of Farwardin,
Took and hurled forth at Rustam deft of hand
A double-headed battle-dart in hope
To worst him and to take his noble head;
But Rustam, scathless, flung his lasso high,
Dragged from his elephant the Khan of Chin
Noosed by the neck, and dashed him to the ground,
Where others bound his hands and drove him on
Toward the Shahd afoot without his crown,
His litter, throne, or elephant, and there
They made him over to the guards of Tus;
That chieftain sent the drum-roll to the sky.
This tricky Hostelry is ever so
Whiles it exalteth, whiles it layeth low,
And thus it will be while the sky doth move -
Whiles strife and poison, and whiles sweets and love.
Thou raisest one to heaven on high, and one
Thou makest vile, afflicted, and fordone;
From pit to moon, so dost Thou one elate;
From moon to pit, such is another's fate!
One hath a throne, one is to fishes hurled
In wisdom not caprice, Lord of the world!
Thou art the height and depth thereof, I trow
Not what Thou art Thyself. Thyself art Thou.
How the Host of the Turanians was defeated
Then peerless Rustam seized his massive mace,
The great and small were all alike to him;
The battlefield was such that ant and gnat
Had scarcely room to stir on plain and dale;
Blood ran in streams from wounded and from slain
Flung headlong down or headless. When the foe's
Bright fortune loured 'twas nearly night, there came
A blast with murk, light quitted sun and moon,
And then the foe, not knowing head from foot,
Took to the desert and the longsome road.
Piran beheld that fight and fortune grown
So gloomy to Manshur, Fartus, the Khan,
And Turkman chiefs; saw standards down, the wounded
Laid vilely in the dust, and thus he said
To Nastihan the warrior and Kulbdd:-
"We must lay by two-headed dart and sword."
Giv overthrew the sable flag, the foe
Dispersing by the roads and pathless tracts.
He routed all the right wing, made the dales
And plains like feathers of a francolin,
And sought upon the army's 'Left and right
To find Piran, but when they found him not
The warriors returned to vengeful Rustam.
The war-steeds were disabled with the work;
They all were wounded and fordone with fight.
The troops went to the mountain well content
With Rustam and his escort at their head,
Their bodies injured but their hearts rejoicing
About the battle, as is this world's use.
The helms and mail were smirched with blood and dust,
The horses' bards were riven. Heads, feet, swords,
And stirrups were begored, the hills and dales
Were hidden by the slain, the troops so masked
That none could know another till they bathed.
They washed their bodies and forgot their pains
Because their foes were bound in heavy chains.
How Rustam divided the Spoil
"Disarm," said Rustam to the Iranians.
"Before the All-conquering we need not mace,
Or belt or treasure. Stoop ye all your heads
To darksome dust, then crown them, for the chiefs
Are minished not by one for whom our hearts
Would now be mourning. When the tidings reached
The world's king he repeated them to me
Forthwith: 'The chieftain Tus hath gained the mountains,
Defeated by Piran and by Huinan!'
The Shah's words robbed me of my wits, my brain
Seethed for the fray, while for Gudarz, Bahrain,
And for Rivniz my heart turned ebon-black.
I sped forth from lrAn without delay
Intent upon the fight, but when I saw
The Khan, the men of name and warriors,
Especially Kamus, his Grace and stature,
Such shoulders and such limbs, such hands and mace,
Why then methought: ' My time is o'er!' For since
I girt me as a man I have not looked
In my long life on better men or arms
Assembled anywhere. I have invaded
MAZandaran, a land of divs, where nights
Are dark and maces massive, yet my heart
Forwent its courage never and I said:-
4 I tender neither heart nor life.' Howbeit
In this campaign my days were plunged in gloom,
My heart - the lustre of the world - was darkened!
If now we fall in sorrrow in the dust
Before all-holy God it will be well,
For He hath given strength, success, and aid
From Saturn and the sun. Long be it so.
God grant that fear may never fall on us!
Let men too bear the Shah the news forthwith,
Let him adorn his throne, set on his head
The royal cap, give great gifts to the poor,
And may their blessings be upon his soul.
Now put we off our mail and rest in peace.
No doubt both grief and longing pass away,
And fate is counting up our every breath,
But still 'tis good to add up cups of wine,
And not to stare at yon unloving sky
Quaff we till midnight then, and let our talk
Be of the mighty men, with thanks to God,
The Conqueror, from whom are manhood, fortune,
And prowess; we should not possess our hearts
Too much in sorrow and laboriousness
In this our Wayside Inn."
The nobles blessed him,
And said: "May crown and signet lack thee never
All honour to the stock, the native worth,
And mother that brought forth a son like thee.
A man of elephantine Rustam's strain
Is more exalted than the turning sky.
Thou knowest what thou hast achieved through love
For us. Let heaven rejoice because thou livest.
We were as good as slain, our days were done,
But now we live and light the world through thee."
Then having bade to fetch the elephants,
Crown, ivory throne, and golden torques, he brought
Forth royal wine and goblets, and first gave:-
"The monarch of the world," and when he grew
Blythe in his cups they parted glad and gay.
When Luna rent the robe of night and set
Its turquoise throne in heaven the scouts dispersed
About the plains and hills, and when the rust
Of night's rest passed, when day's bright Falchion
And earth grew jewel-like, the drum-roll rose
Before his tent, the chiefs arrived, and Rustam
Said: "We have found no traces of Piran
Return we to the field and send our troops
In quest of him."
Bizhan the lion-man
Advancing came upon a world of corpses,
Of goods, and treasure; all the plain was strewn
With wounded men flung down and bound; of others
Still living they saw none. Tents and enclosures
Filled all the earth, and tidings came to Rustam:-
"The foe hath fled the field."
Like lion wroth
He raged about the lranians' sloth and slackness,
And said reviling them: "Hath no one wisdom
Paired with his brain? How when two mountains thus
Shut in our foes could they escape in mass
From us? Did not I say: 'Send forward scouts,
And make each gorge and dale like plain and waste?'
Ye thought of ease and rest, the foe of toil
And march. Slack bodies bring forth care and travail,
But he who chooseth labour fruiteth treasure.
How can I say: 'I am at ease to-day'?
I tremble for Iran."
He raged at Tus and said: "Is this a bedroom?
Or battlefield? See to Human, Kubad,
Piran, Ruin, and to Pulad thyself
Henceforth with thine own host upon this plain
We are not of one province, thou and I.
If ye have strength fight on your own account,
For how should ye have me, when I have gained
The victory and its results are spoiled?
See from what company the scouts were drawn,
And who is head man of the family,
And when thou findest any of those scouts
Let him be beaten on the feet and hands
With sticks, take what he bath, make fast his feet,
Set him upon an elephant and thus
Dispatch him to the Shah for execution.
The ivory thrones, the jewels, and dinirs,
Brocade, crowns, treasure, coronets, and all
That they took from us, seach for and bring hither,
For there were many kings upon this plain;
The most illustrious of the world were here
From Chin and from Sakhib, from Hind and Wahr,
And all possessed of realms and treasuries.
First let us choose a present for the Shah,
And then my portion of the spoils and thine."
Tus and his warriors went and gathered all
The golden girdles and the amber crowns,
The ivory thrones and the brocade of Rum,
The arrows, the horse-armour, and the bows,
The iron maces and the Indian swords,
And raised a mountain 'twixt the other two
The troops stood round and gazed. Then had an archer,
A cavalier, broad-chested, strong, and valiant,
Shot a four-feathered arrow o'er the heap,
The carry had not reached from end to end!
When Rustam saw the spoil he stood amazed,
And oft invoking the Creator said:-
"Our changeful lifetime giveth feast and fight
By turns, transferring wealth from host to host.
It giveth now with curses, then with blessings;
One gathereth wealth for others to enjoy.
Kamus was minded, and the Khan as well,
To burn Iran. With these huge elephants,
These havings, troops, and stores, their joy was all
In them and in their multitudes of men,
And for a while God was not in their thoughts,
God who created heaven and earth and time,
Much manifest and much mysterious.
Their host is not, their goodly wealth is not,
Their aims and unjust doings are no more
Now will I send the Shah these chosen chiefs
From every realm on their huge elephants,
Together with these golden thrones and crowns,
And goods on lusty camels. I will send
Such goods as are most worthy to be sent,
And journey hence myself with all dispatch
To Gang, for heroes cannot brook delay.
To spare the guilty and the murderers
Is weakness; let us wash our hands in blood.
I will allow the bad no rest but bring
The heads of these idolaters to dust,
And show to all the way of Holy God."
Gudarz replied: "O thou of goodly rede
Mayst thou remain till place shall be no more."
Then matchless Rustam sought a messenger
To bear the first news to the imperious Shah,
And chose out Fariburz son of Kaus,
Commended by his kinship, and thus said:-
"Famed chief, of royal race, thyself a king,
Accomplished, understanding, nobly born,
Both glad thyself and making others glad!
Take up a task. Go, bear to our young Shah
My letter, and convey with thee the captives,
The camels, and this wealth - all that there is -
Torques, treasure, bracelets, crowns, and diadems,
The mighty elephants and ivory thrones."
"O raging Lion! Fariburz replied,
"My loins are girded even now to ride."
How Rustam wrote a Letter to Kai Khusrau
Then Rustam summoned an experienced scribe,
And wrote a kingly letter in fit terms
With ambergris for ink on painted silk;
The letter opened with the praise of God,
Who is and who will be for evermore,
The Maker of the sun and moon and Saturn;
Of Grace and crown and might the Artist He;
Heaven, earth, and time are His; the soul and wisdom
Obey Him. May He bless the Shah, and may
The age not have him in remembrance only.
I came between two mountains as thou badest
The troops of three realms were assembled there.
More than a hundred thousand in good sooth
Opposed us, men who drew the scimitar -
Troops from Kashan and Shakn, from Chin and Hind -
A host which stretched from the Indus unto Chin -
While from Kashmir to the outskirts of Mount Shahd
We saw but litters, tents, and elephants.
I feared not for the empire of the Shah,
But slew our foes; we fought for forty days;
Thou wouldst have said: 'The world is strait to them.'
They all were kings with treasures, crowns, and thrones.
Now 'twixt the mountains over dale and waste
One cannot pass along for blood and slain,
And in good sooth for forty leagues the soil
Is turned to clay with blood. To tell the whole
Were tedious. All the kings that I have bound,
Plucked with my lasso from their elephants,
Lo: I have sent the Shah, with gifts and jewels
King - worthy, but war on myself; perchance
Gurwf may meet my sword. His head shall crown
My spear in wreak for our Head - Siyawush.
May every tongue be filled with praise of thee,
And turning heaven's summit be thine earth."
He gave the letter, when it had been sealed,
In charge to Fariburz, that royal prince,
With captive kings and elephants, and set
The spoils upon three thousand camels' backs.
So Fariburz son of Kaus went forth
Rejoicing, and made speed to reach Khusrau.
The elephantine hero, with the chiefs
And warriors of the array, saw him off
With fond embraces when they said farewell,
While tears rained from the eyelids of the prince.
Then Rustam, when the dark night's tresses showed,
Departed on his way toward the host.
They sat with harp and wine and minstrelsy,
This reveller with harp and that with pipe,
Until they went their ways in full content,
Each to his rest.
Hued like a gold dinar
Sol burst the Veil of Lapis-lazuli,
Whereat the clarion's blast rose from the court
Before the chief's pavilion. Matchless Rustam,
All ready-girded, mounted his swift steed,
And bade the soldiers take supplies with them.
Their way was hard - the longsome desert route.
They marched to war, and matchless Rustam said
To Tus and Giv: "Ye gallant chiefs! this time
Will I fight strenuously and press the foe.
Who knoweth if this crafty roan of Sind
Will bring a host from Hind, Saklab, and Chin?
But I will so bemuse and daze his wits,
And make his body dust upon the tomb
Of Siyawush, that Hind, Shingan, Saklab,
And Chin shall bless him nevermore."
The drums, the dust ascending filled the air,
And earth was full of men, while shouts rose cloudward
From those illustrious chieftains keen for fight.
They marched two stages from the battlefield
Because the ground was blackened with the slain.
The chieftain saw a wood and called a halt,
And, while his soldiers darkened plain and stream,
Indulged in song and wine till some were filled
With mirth and pleasure, and some lay bemused,
While envoys came from all the districts round,
From all the chiefs and men of name, to bring
Him presents, arms, and many an offering.
How Kai Klausrau made Answer to Rustam's Letter
Heaven turned, some days elapsed, and then one went
And told the frinian monarch: "Fariburz,
Son of Kaus, approacheth."
Shah and chiefs
Went out to welcome him with trumpets, tymbals,
And many troops. When Fariburz drew near,
And caught sight of the Shah, he kissed the ground,
And offered many praises, saying thus:-
"O Shah of goodly fortune! may high heaven
Be glad of heart through thee and may the world
Thrive through thy justice," then gave Rustam's letter.
The king of kings perused it, marvelling
At what the chief reported of that fight,
Inspected prisoners, camels, elephants,
And wounded men, and, having ridden apart,
Put off his royal cap, got off his steed,
And, wallowing in the dust before his God,
Exclaimed: "O holy Ruler of the world!
The oppressor wrought on me oppressively,
And made me fatherless - all grief and anguish;
But Thou didst free me from my pains and woes,
And give me crown and realm. Both earth and time
Became my slaves, the world my treasury;
I offer thanks to Thee, not to the host,
But grant me one thing - spare me Rustam's life."
This done, he passed before the elephants,
And captives whom he sent to join the wretched
In ward, then bade to bear with all dispatch
The booty to the treasurer and make ready
A pleasant dwelling for the Khan of Chin.
He spent a day in writing his response,
And set a new Tree in the garth of greatness.
He first praised God, the Author of his triumph,
"The Master of the sun and turning sky,
From Whom are war, alliances, and love,
Who hath set up the heaven and graced the earth
With night and day, Who giveth unto this
So dark a fortune, and to that the throne
That he deserveth. Grief and gladness come
From Holy God - the Source of courage, awe,
And reverence," then said: "O paladin!
Be ever pure in body, bright in soul.
All that thou spakest of have reached the court -
The prisoners, the elephants, the crowns,
Brocade of Chin, the thrones of ivory,
Arabian steeds, and torques, and diadems,
With camels in great plenty, tapestries,
And wearing-stuffs, and showers of offerings,
To grace our hocktides, feasts, and festivals.
What man could wish to meet thee in the fight
Unless he was already sick of life?
Now of thy toils among Turanian foes,
By night and day upon the field, I had
Continual news, yet opened not my lips,
But night and day before all-holy God
Presented broken-hearted my petitions.
He that hath Rustam for his paladin
May well continue young; heaven hath no servant
Like thee, and may it tender still thy fortune."
The gracious letter being done, and sealed
By Kai Khusrau, he bade to be prepared
A robe of honour, belts, horse-furniture,
A hundred crisp-locked slaves with golden girdles,
A hundred noble horses with gold trappings,
A hundred camels laden with brocade
Of Chin, a hundred more with tapestries,
Two rings of shining rubies and a crown
Of state compact of gold and lustrous pearls,
A suit of royal raiment worked in gold,
With armlet, torque, and golden belt, and presents -
A treasure in themselves for every chief.
He sent to Fariburz a blue steel sword,
A mace, a golden crown, and golden boots,
And bade him go to Rustam and say thus:-
"We must not pause to rest or eat or sleep
In fighting with Afrasiyab. Perchance
Thy lasso yet may take that great king's head."
So far Fariburz resumed his journeying,
Such was the pleasure of the Iranian king.
How Afrasiyab had Tidings of the Case of his Army
Thereafter tidings reached Afrasiyab:-
"A Flame bath issued from the river Shahd,
And in the persons of Kamus, Manshur,
And of the Khan, Turan hath been o'erthrown.
An army came forth from Iran to war
Such as left heaven scarce room to turn. The conflict
Continued forty days - days dark as night
Because the horsemen's dust concealed the sun.
Our fortune slept, no cavalier of all
Our countless host remained still serviceable;
Our mighty men and famous paladins
Have all been bound in heavy bonds and flung
Disgraced upon the backs of elephants
Encircled by a host that reached for miles.
The Khan of Chin too and the mighty men
By thousands have been carried to lrAn;
There was no room upon the battlefield
To pass along, so many were the slain!
Piran, who hath with him a noble army,
Hath marched toward Khutan; but none of Chin,
Kashan, or Hind is left who hath not read
The inscription on the scimitar of Rustam.
Now all the marches for two miles and more
Are full of blood, the earth is void of chiefs
And elephants, while an Ininian host,
Led on by matchless Rustam bent on war,
Approacheth. If they meet us in the fight
Account the hills as plains, the plains as hills."
Heart-stricken and astound, Afrasiyab
Called all his priests and nobles. "From Inin,"
He said, "a host hath met our chiefs in battle,
Our mighty army with its countless troops
And implements of war hath been o'erthrown,
While I am prostrate, thou mightst say, with grief
Both for Kamus and for the Khan of Chin.
Now that so many troops are slain or maimed,
The more part of the nobles bound in bonds,
What shall we do? What cure shall we apply?
We may not treat the matter with light hearts.
If Rustam is the chief he will not leave
A thorn or weed upon these fields and fells.
He was a reed-like stripling when I marched
On Rai, yet took me from my saddle so
That warriors wondered. Belt and button broke;
I tumbled from his grasp beneath his feet.
Such was the prowess that I saw in him!
And I have heard reports of his exploits,
When single-handed with his massive mace,
Against the mighty of Mazandaran,
As well as of the havoc wrought by him
On our own chiefs in this last battlefield."
The nobles rose and said: "Although the famous
Of Chin and of Saklab have fought Iran
Our realm is scathless and our host intact.
Why stimulate the foe by fearing Rustam?
We all must die, our loins are girt not loosed,
And Rustam, if he trample on our land,
Shall pay the penalty, for when we arm
For vengeance no Iranian will survive."
He heard, preferred those valiant with their tongues,
And called to him his chiefs, refrained from sleep,
Repose, and feast, unlocked his treasury
And gave out pay; his griefs inspired his soul.
Earth was so full of troops that one might say:-
The The starry sky hath come down to the fray."
How Rustam fought with Kafur the Man-eater
This coil of ill grew clear as Fariburz,
Glad-hearted, with the monarch's robe of honour,
And with the crown with earrings, came to Rustam,
Whereat that elephantine hero joyed.
The great men of the army met and praised
The paladin: "May earth be prosperous
Through Rustam, be the Shah's life glad, and may
Iran still flourish, field and fell, through him."
Thence Rustam led the army on its march,
Reached Sughd and spent two sennights there, engaged
In bunting onager and quaffing wine,
And in such pleasures fleeted time a while.
On marching one stage thence he saw a city
By name Bidad - a hold inhabited
By folk whose only food was human flesh.
The lovely there were ever perishing,
While at the table of a king so loathly
The flesh of growing youths alone was served.
Those slaves that were the goodliest, and were
Unblemished in their faces and their forms,
Supplied the provand for the monarch's board;
Such was his food. The peerless Rustam called
Three thousand cavaliers all clad in mail
On barded steeds and sent them to that hold
With Gustaham and two more valiant chiefs;
Bizhan the son of Giv was one, Hajir
The other - both redoutable in fight.
The king's name was Kafur; he held the city
By patent. When he heard that from lran
A host, led by a famed and warlike chief,
Approached, he armed as did his pard-like people,
Who were skilled lasso-flingers, cavaliers,
And Stones and Anvils in the fray. Kafur
Encountered Gustaham; the armies closed;
'Twas such a fight as when a lion chargeth
Upon a deer; full many Iranians
Were slaughtered and keen fighters turned their heads.
When Gustaham saw this, and that the world
Was in that curst div's hand, he bade his troops
To shower shafts - the horseman's ambuscade.
Kafur said to his chiefs: 'No arrow-head
Will dent an anvil. Ply sword, mace, and lasso,
Awhile they fought so that the stream flashed fire,
And many of the Iranians were slain;
A sky of bale turned o'er them. Gustaham
Said to Bizhan in haste: "Ride hence. Tell Rustam:- -
' Pause not, but come with ten score cavaliers."'
Bizhan the son of Giv went off like wind,
And told the matter to the matchless one,
Whose stirrups felt his weight as with his men
He rode, who heeded neither hill nor dale.
He reached the field of battle, as it were
A torrent rushing from the gloomy hills,
And shouted to Kafur: "Unskilful knave!.
Now will I bring thy fighting to an end."
Kafur came rushing with a furious charge
Against the royal and fruit-bearing Tree,
And hurled his sword, as though it were an arrow,
To strike the lion-taking chief, but Rustam
Received it on his shield and took no harm.
Kafur next flung his lasso o'er the son
Of Zal, who ducked his head. Then Rustam raised
His war-cry like an angry elephant,
Whereat Kafur stood still in blank amaze,
And Rustam smote his head-piece with the mace,
Which smashed together helmet, head, and neck
His brains ran down his nostrils, and Kafur
The warrior fell. Then Rustam, slaughtering still
Without distinction as to great or small,
Charged at the castle-gate, but those within
Made fast the portal, poured down showers of arrows,
And called to him: "O man of strength and sense,
Thou Elephant arrayed in leopard's hide!
What did thy father name thee at thy birth?
'The lasso-flinger,' or 'The sky of fight'
Alas for all thy toil against this city
Its name is ' Warstead ' with the knowing ones.
When Tur the son of Faridun had left
Iran he called men skilled in every way,
And by their aid began to build these walls
Of stones and timber, brick and reeds, thus built them
By toil and sorcery, expending toil
And draining treasury, and gallant men
Have striven much to send up dust therefrom,
But none hath mastered them or profited.
Here are munitions and abundant food,
With subterranean ways to bring in more.
Though thou mayst toil for years thou wilt get naught
But strife, for catapults reach not these walls,
Fenced by Tur's magic and the breath of priests."
Now Rustam when he heard grew full of thought,
His battle-loving heart was like a thicket,
Such fighting liked him not, he brought up troops
From every side, here was Gudarz, there Tus
With trumpets, drums, and elephants behind;
The army from Zabul was on the third side,
Mail-clad and armed with falchions of Kiiibul.
The veteran Rustam took his bow in hand,
And all the fortress stood astound at him
As he picked off the head of every one
Who showed himself above the battlements
The shaft-points whispered secrets to those brains -
An intercourse that made no harmony.
In order to dislodge the garrison
He undermined the walls, propped them with posts
Smeared with black naphtha and, when half way round,
Set them on fire. He brought Tur's ramparts down;
The troops advanced on all sides. Rustam bade:-
On On to the assault; ply bow and poplar shaft."
The brave defenders threw away their lives
With one accord to save their treasured wealth,
Their children and their country and their kin
Far better for them had they ne'er been born!
The Iranian warriors advanced on foot,
And took their bows and arrows, and their shields,
Advanced supported by the javelin-men,
And led on by Bizhan and Gustaham.
The raging of the fire and shower of shafts
Left no resource but flight, and those that passed
The castle-walls fled weeping o'er the plain.
Then the besiegers barred the castle-gate
And set themselves to pillaging and slaughter.
What multitudes they slew! How many old
And young they carried captive from the city
Much silver, gold, and other precious things,
With beasts and slaves - both boys and girls - the Iranians
Bore off with them, and marched back to the camp.
The matchless Rustam, having bathed and prayed,
Said to the Iranians: "God must have in store
Still better things than these; give praise to Him
For victory and benefits vouchsafed."
With one consent the great men laid their faces
Upon the ground and offered thanks to God,
Then lauded Rustam: "Thine inferior,"'
They said, "might sit contented with his fame;
Thou with thine elephantine form, thy pluck,
And lion's claws hast never fight enough! "
The peerless Rustam said: "This strength and Grace
Are gifts from God; ye also have your shares,
And none can blame the Maker of the world."
He bade Giv, with ten thousand buckler-men,
On barded steeds to haste and stay the Turkinans
From massing on the marches of Khutan.
When night revealed its dusky curls, and when
The moon's back bent with trouble, Giv departed
With those brave cavaliers and spent three days
In raiding, then, what time the sun displayed
Its crown and mounted on its ivory throne,
Returned with many noble warriors captive,
With many fair-cheeked Idols of Taraz,
With noble horses, and all kinds of arms.
Then Rustam sent a portion to the Shah,
And gave the rest as booty to the host.
Gudarz, Tus, Giv and Gustaham, Ruhham,
Shidush the valiant and Giv's son Bizhan
Thereafter rose and lauded him anew.
Thus spake Gudarz: "Exalted one! thy love
Is needful to the world. We may not open
Our lips by night or day henceforward save
To praise thee. Live glad and bright-souled for ever,
Still old in wisdom and still young in fortune.
God gave thee purity of race; like thee
No one hath e'er been born of stainless mother.
May sire succeed to sire and son to son,
This native worth ne'er fail. Thou needest naught,
Art favoured by the stars, and chief of nobles.
Thy refuge be the Master of the world,
Be earth and time thy partisans. WHower
Hath travelled o'er earth's surface and beheld
The world and peace and battle and revenge,
Hath nowhere seen a better host than this,
Nor ever heard from time-worn archimages
Of such kings, elephants, and ivory thrones,
Such men and steeds, such treasure and such crowns,
And yet the stars saw it discomfited
We pondered but saw none to work our cure
Till, as we cried out in the Dragon's breath,
Thy bow delivered us. Crown of Iran,
The Stay of chieftains, and pre-eminent,
Art thou. We are thy lieges. God reward thee,
And ever keep the smiles upon thy face.
Repay we cannot, we can only praise."
Then peerless Rustam lauded them: "May earth,"
Said he, "be peopled always with the brave.
The nobles of Iran are my support -
My bright heart witnesseth to what I say -
My cheek is freshened by your goodly faces,
My spirit is made radiant by your love."
He added: "We will tarry here three days,
Rejoicing and illumining the world,
But march to battle with Afrasiyab
Upon the fourth and set the streams afire."
In full assent arose the company,
And called for wine and harp and minstrelsy.
How Afrasiyab had Tidings of the Coming of Rustam
Afrasiyab had tidings: "Rustam cometh
To battle swiftly - news that wrung his heart
While all his silken raiment turned to thorns.
He said: "Who can assay to combat Rustam?
Troops are enough, but where is a commander?
What man can go and challenge him to battle,
For havoc clingeth to his glittering sword?"
The host said: "Shun not fight with him so much,
For thou art one that in the dust of strife
Canst send the wave of carnage to the moon.
There is no stint of treasure, arms, and men;
Why let the quest of battle grieve thy heart?
Be not concerned because thou hast to fight
This cavalier; look at our gallant troops!
Grant him all iron and brave; he is but one.
Enough of him. Prepare the remedy
With thine own army, and bring down his head
From cloud to dust; that done, we need not fear
Shah or Iran. Then Kai Khusrau, his throne,
The country of Iran and bough on tree
Will cease to flourish. Mark this noble host,
These youths war-worthy. We for land and child,
For wife and kindred, will give up our lives
Before we yield our country to the foe."
Now when Afrasiyab had heard those words
He put that ancient battle from his thoughts,
Both for his fatherland and his own sake
He took a fresh resolve and made reply:-
"I will bring forth the implements of war
Since matters press, permit not Kai Khusrau
To rest upon his throne, glad and rejoicing
In fortune, but by long contention bring
The head of Rustam of Zabul to dust.
I will not spare my grandson or his troops,
But lay this quarrel with the scimitar."
He gave commandment to array the host,
And march forth to new wars. The nobles blessed him,
And called the chiefs to vengeance. 'There was one,
A man of lion-heart by name Farghar,
Quick to discern the cage and shun the springe.
The king, who had observed and everywhere
Approved his feat of arms, put strangers forth,
And said to him: "O noble man! now seek
The Iranian host and spy on warlike Rustam.
Observe his horsemen's numbers and equipment,
And who of ours is acting as their guide.
Mark their war-elephants, their warriors,
And all about their host both good and bad."
Farghar departed to his work as spy
Upon the Iranians, while the ambitious king,
Absorbed in care, denied himself to strangers,
And summoned his son Shida for consult.
"O thou," he said, "who art endowed with wisdom!
When will thy troops be here to share thy cares?
Know that yon countless army, which hath come
With all those cavaliers to fight with us,
Is led by Rustam of the lion-heart,
Whose scimitar converteth dust to clay.
Kamus, Manshur, the Khan of Chin, Gahar,
The glorious Fartus, Kundur, Shangul -
The king of Hind - an armament that stretched
Down to the river Indus from Kashmir -
Are slain or captive through the victory
Of lion-taking Rustam. Forty days,
With lulls at whiles, they fought but Rustam triumphed,
Dragged with his lasso from their elephants
Our warriors and bound them. Cavaliers
And nobles from all climes, the mighty leaders,
The arms and ivory throne, steeds, crowns, and camels
Dispatched he to Iran, and by that token
Is now invading us with his proud chiefs
And famous men. I shall not leave my throne,
Or much wealth here with fortune so inconstant,
But send my treasures, crowns, belts, golden torques,
And bucklers to the banks of the Alms
This is no time for joyance, harp, and song.
I dread deft-handed Rustam, who is safe
E'en in the gullet of a crocodile;
He is not human on the day of battle,
He writheth not when hit nor crieth out
For pain, he feareth not spear, sword, and arrow,
Or maces raining from this ancient sky
He is of brass and iron,' thou wouldst say,
'And not of man's race but an Ahriman!'
So mighty are his arms on days of fight
That earth's back wearieth with the weight thereof
He weareth chain-mail, breast-plate, tiger-skin,
And helm; he roareth like a thunder-cloud!
Huge elephants sustain not his attack,
Or ships upon the azure sea his weapons!
The Mountain under him is swift as wind,
And, thou wouldst say, 'begotten by the sky.'
Swift as gazelle and terrible as lion
It goeth gallantly at height and river,
And would, I care affirm, fare like a ship
If put upon its mettle. Oft have I
Contended with its rider, but his breast-plate
Is made of leopard-skin, which foiled my weapon
Though I tried ax and arrow many a time;
But now by way of proof I will to war
Once more to see if fortune favoureth us,
And so if God affordeth us His aid,
And if high heaven revolveth as we would,
We will not leave Iran or Shah: perchance
It may be mine to terminate this feud,
While should the might of Rustam's hand prevail
I will betake me o'er the sea of Chin
Betimes and leave these marches of Turan
Then Shida answered: "Prudent king
Live happily while crown and throne endure.
Thou hast Grace, wisdom, lofty mien, high birth,
And fortune, heart, and manhood, thou dost need
No monitor, yet heed this turn of fate
Men like Piran, Human, and Farshidward,
Kulbad and Nastihan have had their armour
Destroyed, and their hearts shattered, in the fight
Thou wouldst have said: 'Their grief hath broken them.'
Launch not thy vessel while these war-winds blow,
Since thou art ware that this great host hath come.
Thou art the warrior-king experienced
And tried in war; now by thy life and head,
By sun and moon, by throne and cap, I swear
This matter of Kamus and of the Khan
Hath filled my heart with pain, my head with vengeance.
Our business is to lead the host to Gang,
Not contemplating battle but to call
An army up from Chin and from Machin,
And after that o'erthrow the enemy."
When he had spoken he withdrew to rest,
Haste in his head and vengeance in his heart.
The dark night oped its melancholy eyes,
The moon had grown round-shouldered with distress,
And all the world resembled sable musk
What time Farghir came from the Iranian host.
He reached the presence of Afrasiyab
By night - the time for quiet and repose -
And thus reported: 'From this lofty court
I went to Rustam, binder of the Div.
I saw a camp-enclosure green and vast
With cavaliers resembling ravening wolves.
A standard stood erect charged with a dragon;
Thou wouldst have said: 'It is alive!' There stood
Within the tent a huge, fierce Elephant,
Whose girded waist was like a tiger's loins.
Before him was a steed, a piebald bay;
Thou wouldest say: ' It never taketh rest.'
The bridle hung down from the saddle-bow,
A coiled hide-lasso from the saddle-straps.
The chiefs were such as Tus, Gudarz, and Giv,
And Fariburz, Gurgfn, and brave Shidush.
Guraza is the scout with Gustaham
Accompanied by Giv and by Bizhan."
The king grieved at the tidings of Farghar.
Then came one to Afrasiyab to say:-
"Piran the chieftain hath arrived like dust
With great men and with warriors of the fight."
The king told what Farghar had said and asked:-
"Who is a match for Rustam in the fray?"
Piran said: "What resource have we in war
Except the quest of glory on the field?
So let us struggle for our fatherland,
Our children, and our kin."
Thereat grew instant to engage and bade
Piran march forth 'gainst battle-loving Rustam.
They left the presence and went forth to war
Upon the plain, shouts rose, the tymbals sounded,
The troops' dust turned the world to ebony.
So mighty was the host that thou hadst said:-
"The whole world will be hidden by the dust!"
The tymbal-players sent their din on high
As elephant on elephant filed by.
Afrasiyab's Letter to Puladwand
Afrasiyab set forward from his palace,
And hasted bent on vengeance to the waste.
He gave all needful orders to Piran,
And then withdrawing cleared his tent of strangers.
They set a scribe before him. "Write," said he,
"A letter unto Puladwand and make
The matter known. First praise All-holy God,
Who stablisheth and over throweth us -
The Lord of Saturn and the turning sky,
The Lord of Venus and the shining sun.
Give praise next to that binder of the strong. -
The fortunate chieftain Puladwand, declare
What we have suffered from this famous fighter,
And these renowned and all-accomplished chiefs,
From Tus, Gudarz, and other warriors.
Then tell him all about my grandson's case -
The master of Iran, the mighty Shah -
Whom erst I cherished like dear life itself
That no ill blast might reach him. Then proceed:-
'Now, if high heaven taketh side with us,
Let Puladwand come hither. Many troops
Brought from the marches of Saklab and Chin
Have been o'erthrown and writhe, much field and fell
Been harried by the warriors of Iran.
Their host is like a moving hill, their chiefs
Are such as Rustam who is in command,
Gudarz the warrior and Giv and Tus
They raise the din of tymbals to the clouds.
When Rustam, who alone hath vexed our land,
Shall have been slain by thee no host will come
Against it. Be thou our deliverer.
If by thy hand his term shall reach its end
The face of earth will surely be at rest.
Then from my populous kingdom will I take
But one half of my treasures as my share;
The other half, and half my crown, are thine,
Since both the fight and toil are thine to-day.'"
They sealed the letter with the royal seal,
And Shida, as the moon arose in Cancer,
Girt up himself in presence of his father ,
To go grief-laden on the embassage.
He came to Puladwand as swift as fire
Through apprehension of calamity,
Saluted him, delivering the letter
And telling Rustam's deeds. Now Puladwand,
A king whose aspirations reached high heaven,
Lived in the mountain-parts of Chin and had
No peer in all the land. He lacked not troops
And men of war; he was a Crocodile;
His troops were pards. He called his governors
And priests, and held discourse with them at large,
Told what the letter said and, being a prince
Both youthful and imperious, commanded
To bear the drums and camp-enclosure forth
Upon the plain. He gathered troops and divs.
The battle-cry went up. He led the way,
Equipped with shield, with quiver, and with lasso,
And followed by his standard. He descended
The mountains, crossed the water, and drew near
Afrasiyab, at whose gate tymbals sounded,
And all went forth to welcome Puladwand.
The veteran monarch first embraced the chief,
Then spake much of the past, told whence arose
The Turkmans' trouble and the remedy.
While going to the palace they considered
New stratagems. Afrasiyab discussed
The waiting and the forward policies,
Told of the strife and outcry that had come
Upon him through the death of Siyawush,.
Told of the Khan, Manshur, and brave Kamus,
Recalling what had passed, and said: "My pain
Is all through one who weareth leopard-skin.
Mine arms are impotent on him and on
That hide, that helmet, and that shield of Chin.
Plains hast thou trodden and a longsome road
Now fashion us a remedy for this."
The mind of Puladwand grew full of thought
How this knot should be loosed. He made reply:-
"We must not hurry in so great a war.
This is the self-same Rustam that laid waste
And took Mazandaran with his huge mace,
Who rent the White Div's side, the liverstead
Of Bid, and of Pulad son of Ghundi.
I have not prowess to contend with him,
Or power enough to frustrate his attack;
Still let my body and my soul await
Thy will, may wisdom ever be thy guide.
Do thou incite the host against his host,
Our numbers may bewilder him, and I
Will plan a stratagem, for otherwise
We have not strength to break his breast and neck."
Afrasiyab grew blythe of mind and brought
Bright wine and harp and lyre, When Puladwand
Was in his cups he roared out to the king:-
"Dark to Jamshid, Zahhak, and Faridun
Made I their provand, slumber, and repose!
The Brahman hath been frighted at my voice,
And this my noble host, and I will hew
To pieces with my trenchant sword amain
This Zabuli upon the battle-plain! "
How Puladwand fought with Giv and Tus
As soon as Sol displayed its shining flag,
And night's deep violet silk grew safflower-hued,
Drums sounded from the portal of the king,
The troops' shouts reached the clouds, and Puladwand
Of lusty form with lasso on his arm
Led on the troops.
When both the hosts were ranked
The air turned violet-dim, the earth was darkened.
Then matchless Rustam donned his tiger-skin,
And, mounted on his huge, fierce Elephant,
Raged and assailed the right wing of the foe,
O'erthrowing many a Turkinan warrior.
This Puladwand descried and, having loosed
His twisted lasso from the saddle-straps,
Encountered Tus like some mad elephant,
With lasso on his arm and mace in hand;
He seized Tus by the girdle, easily
Dismounted him, and dashed him to the ground.
Giv, when he looked upon the fight and saw
The head of Tus son of Naudar o'erthrown,
Urged on Shabdiz, devoting soul and body
To fight, and mailed, armed with an ox-head mace,
Strove like a savage lion with the div,
Who flung his lasso round his foeman's head.
Ruhham was with Bizhan; they both observed
The mace, the prowess, and dexterity
Of Puladwand, and went to bind his hands
With lassos, but that wary warrior
Urged on his steed and raised his battle-cry.
Those two brave warriors of noble birth,
Those haughty Lions casting such long shadows,
He flung to earth, and trampled on in scorn,
In sight of all the horsemen on the plain,
And reaching Kawa's standard clave the staff'
Asunder with his sword. The Iranians wailed,
No warrior stood his ground upon the field.
When Fariburz, Gudarz, and the other chiefs
Beheld the traces of that warrior-div
They said to Rustam, that avenging one:-
"There is not left upon this battlefield
A single man of name still in the saddle,
Or horseman of the warriors of this host,
Whom Puladwand hath brought not to the ground
With arrow or with lasso, mace or sword
The field of battle is a field of woe,
And 'tis for Rustam to deliver us."
Anon arose a cry of pain and grief
From both the wings and centre; then Gudarz,
The man of eld, supposing that Bizhan,
The lion-taking chieftain, and Ruhham,
His offspring both, had perished in the fight,
Cried in his anguish to the righteous Judge:-
"I had so many sons and grandsons once
That I extolled my head above the sun,
But they are slain before me in the wars,
So greatly have my day and fortune changed
Slain in their youth while I live on hoar-headed "'
He doffed his calque, he laid his girdle by,
And then began to wail right bitterly.
How Rustam fought with Puladwand
Now Rustam when he heard was sorely grieved,
He shook as 'twere a bough upon a tree,
And drawing near to Puladwand, and seeing
His mountain-height grieved for those gallant four
Like onagers contending with a lion,
Saw one host sorely stricken and the other
Unbroken, and he thought: "Our day hath darkened,
Our nobles' heads are dazed! Good sooth! the strife
Hath turned against us and our fortune sleepeth!"
Then gripping with his legs he urged on Rakhsh,
And raging challenged Puladwand to fight,
Exclaiming: "O thou ill-conditioned div!
Thou shalt behold a change of fortune now."
The voice of Rustam reached those warriors,
And he, perceiving them dismounted, said:-
"O Thou Almighty Ruler of the world
Thou art above the unseen and the seen.
Far rather would I lose mine eyes in battle
Than look upon this miserable day,
Whereon such cries have risen from Iran,
Such from Human, Piran, and yon fierce div!
Giv and Ruhham and Tus are all unhorsed,
And e'en Bizhan who used to mock at lions!
The chargers of the great are pierced with arrows,
The riders fight afoot as best they may."
Then closing with the div he threw his lasso,
But Puladwand, brave horseman though he was,
Ducked in alarm, he had had fight enough;
But when the cast had failed and he was safe
He said to Rustam: "O thou gallant one,
Thou veteran Lion and illustrious,
Who scarest mighty elephants! ere long
Thou shalt behold the billows of the deep.
Consider now the fire of mine attack,
My lasso, courage, might, and enterprise.
Thou shalt behold no traces of thy Shah,
His nobles, or his mighty men henceforth,
Or of thy land, unless in dream, for I
Will give thine army to Afrasiyab."
" How much more shirking, blustering, and guile?"
Said Rustam. "Let no warrior play the shrew
Or he will give his head up to the winds
Assuredly. Though thou be brave and proud
Thou art not Sam nor yet stiff-necked Garshasp."
Then Puladwand recalled a saw of old:-
They who unjustly seek to cause a fight
Return with livers pierced and faces white;
If friend or foe harm thee 'tis well thou still
Do thy devoir alike to good and ill."
He thought: "This is that Rustam who o'ercame
By night with his huge mace Mazandaran,"
And then he said: "O man approved in war!
Why stand we here so long to no result?"
Two mighty Elephants, two warlike Lions,
Were they; they wheeled, the dust rose from the waste,
And elephantine Rustam with his mace
Struck his foe's head: all present heard the crash.
Such darkness filled the eyes of PLlhdwand
That he relaxed his hold upon his bridle,
And, swerving to the right hand in his pain,
Exclaimed: "An ill day this!"
Now matchless Rustam -
Looked for the brains of Puladwand to pour
From both his ears but, since he kept his seat,
Invoked the Maker of the world and said:-
"O Thou exalted over fortune's wheel,
The Lord, the All-seeing, and the Nourisher!
If I am fighting in an unjust cause
My spirit doteth not upon this world;
But if the wrong is with Afrasiyab
Deprive me not of strength and skill in arms.
It is not meet that thou shouldst loose my soul
From bondage by the hand of Puladwand,
For if I am to perish by his prowess
No warrior will remain throughout Iran,
No husbandman and no artificer,
No dust, no country, and no field or fell."
He said to Puladwand: "What harm hast thou
Got from the whirling mace? Thy hands relax
Thy sable reins. Down, div! and beg thy life."
He said: "Thy mace hath harmed me not."
And Puladwand employed his sword of steel
With many a feint and many an artifice,
But failed to pierce through Rustam's tiger-skin,
Which filled the liver of the div with blood.
That fierce one raged at fate because his sword
Availed not on his foeman; he was troubled
At Rustam's neck and shoulders, and again
Spake to him: "Doff this tiger's legacy,
This armour, with that sable helm of thine,
And put on others. I will do the like,
And come with speed."
But Rustam said: "Not so.
That is no channel for a warrior's stream.
I will not change my gear, do thou keep thine."
Then both the warriors wheeled till Puladwand,
Whose massive mace fell but without eflect
On Rustam's tiger-skin and coat of steel,
Said: "Wrestling is the test 'twixt man and man.
Take we each other by the leathern belt,
That we may know which one the will of fate
Dismisseth worsted from the battlefield."
Then Rustam said: "O ill-conditioned div!
Thou canst not stand a warrior's blow, but like
A fox employest craft. What profit is it
To have thy head ensnared? Hast wile or spell
In wrestling that will free that neck of thine
From mine encircling arms?"
They made a pact
That none should interfere from either side,
Then, lighting from their chargers, both the foes
Took time wherein to breathe them and repose.
The Wrestling of Rustam and Puladwand
These two exalted warriors bent on fight
Prepared themselves to wrestle, and agreed:-
"No one on either side shall intervene."
The space between the hosts was half a league.
The stars surveyed that fight as Puladwand
And matchless Rustam - those grim Lions - closed,
Who felt each other, then each warrior
Seized his opponent by the leathern belt.
When Shida looked on Rustam's chest and neck
He drew a deep, cold sigh and thus bespake
His sire Afrasiyab: "This mighty man,
Whom thou call'st Rustam, binder of the Div,
Will by his strength and prowess lay the head
Of our brave warrior-div upon the dust,
And thou wilt see our soldiers take to flight,
So strive not vainly with the turning sky."
The sire replied: "My brain is fraught with care
On that account, go and observe the prowess
Of Puladwand in wrestling. Speak to him
In Turkman and advise him. He may get
The elephantine Rustam off his feet.
Tell Puladwand: 'When thou hast got him down
Let thine appeal be to the scimitar."'
But Shida said: "This is not what the king
Agreed to in the presence of the host.
If thou art rash and breakest covenant
Thy warfare will not issue in success.
Befoul not this clear stream, else he that loveth
Fault-finding will discover cause for blame."
Afrasiyab began to chide, becoming
In his fierce wrath distrustful of his son,
And said to him: "If Pulawand the div.
Shall be o'erthrown by this antagonist
None will remain alive upon the field;
Thou hast a valiant tongue, no prowess else."
He plied his reins and came forth lion-like
Upon the ground, observed the strife and shouts
Like thunder, then he said to Puladwand:-
"If thou, exalted Lion ' gett'st him down
In wrestling rip him open with thy dagger;
We need not boasting but accomplishment."
Giv marked the king's wild words and eagerness,
Then urging on his charger came in haste,
Because the enemy had broken troth,
And said to Rustam: "O thou warrior'
What orders givest thou thy servants? Speak
Observe Afrasiyab, his eagerness,
And wild words! He hath come forth to inflame
The heart of thine antagonist and prompt him
To use his dagger in a wrestling-bout ' "
But Rustam said: "A man of war am I,
And, when engaged in wrestling, bide my time.
What do ye fear? Why ,are your hearts thus
Ken now will I bring down from heaven above
The head and neck of Puladwand to dust;
But if I have not strength of hand therefor
What need thus wantonly to break my heart?
Although this witless warlock doth transgress
The covenant of God, why should ye fear
The breach? He poureth dust on his own head."
Then, like a lion, reaching out he clutched
The chest and neck of that fierce Crocodile,
And, straining hard, uprooted Puladwand,
As though he were a plane-tree, from his place,
Raised him aloft, dashed him upon the ground,
And uttered praises to Almighty God.
A shout rose from the army of Iran;
The drummers marched out with the kettle-drums;
The blast of clarion, the clang of gong
And Indian bell ascended to the clouds.
Now Rustam thus imagined: "Puladwand
Hath not a sound joint in his body left,
His bones are broken and his cheeks become
The colour of the bloom of fenugreek,"
So flung his leg across the gallant Rakhsh,
And left the Dragon's body as it lay;
But, when the lion-clutching hero reached
His army, Puladwand glanced arrow-like,
And fled with all speed to Afrasiyab
With full heart and with tears upon his face.
When Rustam saw that Puladwand still lived,
And troops were everywhere upon the plain,
His heart grew straitened, he led on the host,
Called unto him the veteran Gudarz,
And ordered: "Let them send a shower of arrows,
And make the air as 'twere a cloud in spring."
Bizhan was on one wing, Giv on the other
With veteran Ruhham and brave Gurgin.
Thou wouldst have said: "They have enkindled fire,
And with their falchions set the world ablaze! "
Then Puladwand said to his troops: "With throne,
Renown, and treasure lost, why throw away
Our lives or think at all of further strife?"
And, with his very life-cord snapped in twain
By Rustam, marched his army from the plain.
How Afrasiyab fled from Rustam
Piran spake thus unto Afrasiyab:-
"The surface of the world is like a sea
Did not I say: 'We cannot tarry here
Secure from Rustam of the deadly hand?'
By murdering the youth beloved by him
Thou hast transfixed our hearts with arrow-points.
How wilt thou fare? None of thine own remaineth,
And Pulidwand the div hath marched away.
The horsemen of Iran on barded chargers
Exceed in sooth a hundred thousand men;
The lion-catching Rustam is their leader,
And air is full of arrows, earth of blood.
From sea and plain, from mountain and from waste,
Our warriors assembled; when men failed
We tried the dies. Great were the strife and shouts,
But now, since Rustam came, no place is left
For thee; the only prudent course is flight.
Since thou art here the treasure of the earth
Thou shouldst withdraw to further Chin. Leave here
Thy troops thus ranged for battle and betake thee,
Thou and thy kindred, seaward."
The king saw
That fight was hopeless, took the advice, and fled.
They left his flag but he himself departed,
And went in haste toward Machin and Chin.
The armies came together face to face,
The earth grew like a darksome cloud, anon
The peerless Rustam shouted to his host:-
"Take not your bows and arrows or your spears,
But battle with the mace and scimitar,
And show a prowess worthy of your standing.
Is it the time for pards to shun the fray
When they perceive the quarry in the lair?"
The soldiers left their spears upon the mount,
And, shouting, made the dales and plains of fight
Impassable with corpses. Half the living
Asked quarter, and the others fled pell-mell;
There was no shepherd and the flock was scattered;
The plain was filled with handless, neckless trunks.
Then Rustam spake and said: "Enough are slain.
These changes are the lot of all, at whiles
Producing bane, at whiles the antidote.
Put off your arms and do more good henceforth.
Why set your hearts upon this Wayside Inn,
Which now is joyful and then sorrowful,
Which now assaileth us like Ahriman,
And then is like a bride all scent and colour?
Choose calm, untroubled lives, for who can say
That cursing is a better thing than blessing?"
He chose gold, silver, raiment yet unworn,
Youths, horses, swords, and casques to send the Shah,
Took for himself crowns, musk, and ambergris,
And lavished on the troops the residue.
He fain had found the monarch of Turan,
Path and no path they sought him everywhere.
Folk gave no trace of him by land or sea;
No tidings reached them of Afrasiyab.
The Iranians set themselves to desolate
His banquet-houses and his palaces,
And Rustam fired his settlements beside;
That conflagration blazed up far and wide.
How Rustam returned to the Court of the Shah
Before they left Turan they loaded up
Crowns, thrones, and precious armour; they had captured
So many camels and such herds of horses
That none could murmur at the lack of beasts.
There rose a shouting and a blare of trumpets,
They brought the camel-bells and brazen gongs,
And entered on their march toward Iran,
A host thus decked with colour and perfume.
As soon as news of Rustam reached the Shah
A shout came from the city and the court,
And cloudward from Iran rose tymbal-din
Proclaiming that the lord of mace and mail
Had come. One common joy was in the world
Among all classes and degrees of men.
The Shah's heart grew like Paradise above,
He offered praises to Almighty God,
Bade bring the elephants, and journeyed forth.
The world was decked according to the custoru,
Wine, harp, and minstrelsy were in request,
The necks of all the elephants that went
Were drenched with saffron, musk, and wine. The drivers
Wore coronets upon their heads, and earrings
Depended from their ears. Men poured down saffron
And drachms, and sifted ambergris on musk.
When matchless Rustam saw the exalted crown,
While all around was echoing applause,
He lighted from his steed and did obeisance.
Khusrau inquired about the tedious march,
Embracing Rustam long and heartily,
And, calling many a blessing down on him,
Bade him remount and, as they fared together
Hand within hand, said thus: "Why hast thou stayed
So long and burnt us through our love of thee?"
" Apart from thee," thus Rustam made reply,
"Our hearts have not enjoyed a moment's pleasure."
They reached at length the palace of the Shah,
The far-famed court; there on the golden throne
Sat Kai Khusrau with noble Rustam, Tus,
Giv, Fariburz, Gudarz, Farhad, Gurgin,
And brave Ruhham. The Shah spake of the war,
The field, and fighting of the Turkman host.
Gud arz replied: "O sire! the tale is long
Our first needs are the flagon, wine, and rest,
And afterward thou mayest question us."
They spread the tables and the Shah said smiling:-
Good Good sooth! thou hast been famished by the march."
He set wine on the board, called minstrelsy,
And then inquired of all that had occurred,
About Afrasiyab and Puladwand,
The twisted lasso and the wrestling-bout,
About the Khan, Kamus, and Ashkabus,
And that vast army with its elephants
And drums. Gudarz addressed him thus: "O Shah
No mother will bring forth a cavalier
Like Rustam. Though a div or lion cometh
Or dragon, none escapeth his long clutch.
A thousand blessings be upon the king,
Above all on this famous paladin."
The words so pleased Khusrau that thou hadst
"He raised his head to Saturn." He rejoined:-
"World-conquering paladin, alert and shrewd
The man with wisdom for his monitor
Is circumspect in time's vicissitudes.
Be evil's eye far from this paladin,
And may his life be one long festival."
They spent a week with wine in hand. The crown,
The throne, and company rejoiced in Rustam,
While some to melody of pipe and strings .
Sang in heroic strains his combatings.
How Rustam went back to Sistan
The peerless Rustam tarried with the Shah
One month in revelry. At length he said:-
"O full of virtues, wearer of the crown
The monarch of the world is wise and good,
But yet I long to see the face of Zal."
The great Shah then unlocked his treasury-door,
And of the precious things there stored away
Such gifts as jewels, crowns, and finger-rings,
Brocade and raiment from Barbar, and slaves,
With earrings and with crowns, a hundred steeds
And camels, saddled or for porterage,
With golden trays of aloes and of musk,
Two golden slippers, and a mace to match
Inlaid with jewels that a king might wear,
Gifts that became a man of such renown,
The Shah sent matchless Rustam, and went out
Two stages with him on the journey home;
And Rustam when the king was wearying
Of that long road gat down and homaged him,
Bade him farewell, then left Iran behind,
And hastened onward to Zabulistan.
The world became obedient to the Shah,
And settled in accordance to his will.
This tale too have I ended and 'tis long -
This battle with Kamus - and from my song
No jot hath fallen. Had but one word been
Left out it would have caused my soul chagrin.
I joyed o'er Puladwand who added not
His steel chains to the chains that we have got.'
Now hear the battle with Akwan and know
How famous Rustam fared against that foe.
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