Among the Millet

by Archibald Lampman


 

ABU MIDJAN


 

Underneath a tree at noontide
    Abu Midjan sits distressed,
Fetters on his wrists and ancles,
    And his chin upon his breast;

For the Emirís guard had taken,                                                  5
    As they passed from line to line,
Reeling in the camp at midnight,
    Abu Midjan drunk with wine.

Now he sits and rolls uneasy,
    Very fretful, for he hears,                                                         10
Near at hand, the shout of battle,
    And the din of driving spears.

Both his heels in wrath are digging
    Trenches in the grassy soil,
And his fingers clutch and loosen,                                             15
    Dreaming of the Persian spoil.

To the garden, over-weary
    Of the sound of hoof and sword,
Came the Emirís gentle lady,
    Anxious for her fighting lord.                                                  20

Very sadly, Abu Midjan,
    Hanging down his head for shame,
Spake in words of soft appealing
    To the tender-hearted dame:

"Lady, while the doubtful battle                                                 25
    Ebbs and flows upon the plains,
Here in sorrow, meek and idle,
    Abu Midjan sits in chains.

"Surely Saad would be safer
    For the strength of even me;                                                 30
Give me then his armour, Lady,
    And his horse, and set me free.

"When the day of fight is over,
    With the spoil that he may earn,
To his chains, if he is living,                                                      35
    Abu Midjan will return."

She, in wonder and compassion,
    Had not heart to say him nay;
So, with Saadís horse and armour,
    Abu Midjan rode away.                                                         40

Happy from the fight at even,
    Saad told his wife at meat,
How the army had been succoured
    In the fiercest battle-heat,

By a stranger horseman, coming                                             45
    When their hands were most in need,
And he bore the arms of Saad,
    And was mounted on his steed;

How the faithful battled forward,
    Mighty where the stranger trod,                                           50
Till they deemed him more than mortal,
    And an angel sent from God.

Then the lady told her master
    How she gave the horse and mail
To the drunkard, and had taken                                              55
    Abu Midjanís word for bail.

To the garden went the Emir,
    Running to the tree, and found
Torn with many wounds and bleeding,
    Abu Midjan meek and bound.                                            60

And the Emir loosed him, saying,
    As he gave his hand for sign,
"Never more shall Saadís fetters
    Chafe thee for a draught of wine."

Three times to the ground in silence                                      65
    Abu Midjan bent his head;
Then with glowing eyes uplifted,
    To the Emir spake and said:

"While an earthly lord controlled me,
    All things for the wine I bore;                                               70
Now, since God alone shall judge me,
    Abu Midjan drinks no more."