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It was that Griffin, which of old rear'd Zal, Rustum's great father, whom they left to die, A helpless babe, among the mountain rocks. Him that kind Creature found, and rear'd, and lov'd

Then Rustum took it for his glorious sign. And Sohrab bar'd that figure on his arm, 681 And himself scann'd it long with mournful eyes,

And then he touch'd it with his hand and said:

"How say'st thou? Is that sign the proper sign

Of Rustum's son, or of some other man's?" He spoke but Rustum gaz'd, and gaz'd, and stood

Speechless; and then he utter'd one sharp

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The strife, and hurl'd me on my father's spear.
But let us speak no more of this: I find
My father; let me feel that I have found.
Come, sit beside me on this sand, and take
My head betwixt thy hands, and kiss my
cheeks,

And wash them with thy tears, and say: 'My son !'

Quick! quick! for number'd are my sands of life,

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And swift; for like the lightning to this field
I came, and like the wind I go away
Sudden, and swift, and like a passing wind.
But it was writ in Heaven that this should be.”
So said he and his voice releas'd the heart
Of Rustum, and his tears broke forth; he cast
His arms round his son's neck, and wept aloud,
And kiss'd him. And awe fell on both the
hosts

When they saw Rustum's grief: and Ruksh, the horse,

With his head bowing to the ground, and mane Sweeping the dust, came near, and in mute

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"Is this then Ruksh? How often, in past days, 739

My mother told me of thee, thou brave Steed!
My terrible father's terrible horse; and said,
That I should one day find thy lord and thee.
Come, let me lay my hand upon thy mane.
O Ruksh, thou art more fortunate than 1;
For thou hast gone where I shall never go,
And snuff'd the breezes of my father's home.
And thou hast trod the sands of Seistan,
And seen the River of Helmund, and the Lake
Of Zirrah; and the aged Zal himself

Has often strok'd thy neck, and given thee food,

Corn in a golden platter soak'd with wine, 751 And said 'O Ruksh! bear Rustum well!'

but I

Have never known my grandsire's furrow'd face,

Nor seen his lofty house in Seïstan,

Nor slak'd my thirst at the clear Helmund

stream:

But lodg'd among my father's foes, and seen
Afrasiab's cities only, Samarcand,
Bokhara, and lone Khiva in the waste,
And the black Toorkmun tents; and only
drunk

The desert rivers, Moorghab and Tejend, 760 Kohik, and where the Kalmuks feed their sheep,

The northern Sir; and this great Oxus

stream

The yellow Oxus, by whose brink I die."

And, with a heavy groan, Rustum replied:

"Oh that its waves were flowing over me!
Oh that I saw its grains of yellow silt
Roll tumbling in the current o'er my head!"
And, with a grave mild voice, Sohrab re-
plied: -

"Desire not that, my father: thou must live.
For some are born to do great deeds, and live,
As some are born to be obscur'd, and die. 771
Do thou the deeds I die too young to do,
And reap a second glory in thine age.
Thou art my father, and thy gain is mine.
But come: thou seest this great host of men
Which follow me; I pray thee, slay not these:
Let me entreat for them: what have they
done?

They follow'd me, my hope, my fame, my star.
Let them all cross the Oxus back in peace.
But me thou must bear hence, not send with
them,

But carry me with thee to Seïstan,

781

And place me on a bed, and mourn for me, Thou, and the snow-hair'd Zal, and all thy friends.

And thou must lay me in that lovely earth, And heap a stately mound above my bones, And plant a far-seen pillar over all:

That so the passing horseman on the waste May see my tomb a great way off, and say Sohrab, the mighty Rustum's son, lies there, Whom his great father did in ignorance kill' And I be not forgotten in my grave."

791

And, with a mournful voice, Rustum replied:

"Fear not; as thou hast said, Sohrab, my son, So shall it be; for I will burn my tents,

1 Syr Daria, cf. l. 129

And quit the host, and bear thee hence with

me,

And carry thee away to Seïstan,

801

And place thee on a bed, and mourn for thee,
With the snow-headed Zal, and all my friends.
And I will lay thee in that lovely earth,
And heap a stately mound above thy bones,
And plant a far-seen pillar over all:
And men shall not forget thee in thy grave.
And I will spare thy host: yea, let them go:
Let them all cross the Oxus back in peace.
What should I do with slaying any more?
For would that all whom I have ever slain
Might be once more alive; my bitterest foes,
And they who were call'd champions in their
time,

And through whose death I won that fame I have;

And I were nothing but a common man, 810
A poor, mean soldier, and without renown;
So thou mightest live too, my Son, my Son!
Or rather would that I, even I myself,
Might now be lying on this bloody sand,
Near death, and by an ignorant stroke of thine,
Not thou of mine; and I might die, not thou;
And I, not thou, be borne to Seïstan;
And Zal might weep above my grave, not
thine;

And say 'O son, I weep thee not too sore,
For willingly, I know, thou met'st thine end.'
But now in blood and battles was my youth,
And full of blood and battles is my age; 822
And I shall never end this life of blood."

Then, at the point of death, Sohrab replied:

"A life of blood indeed, thou dreadful Man!
But thou shalt yet have peace; only not now;
Not yet but thou shalt have it on that day,
When thou shalt sail in a high-masted Ship,
Thou and the other peers of Kai Khosroo,
Returning home over the salt blue sea,
From laying thy dear Master in his grave."
And Rustum gazed on Sohrab's face, and
said:

832

"Soon be that day, my Son, and deep that sea! Till then, if Fate so wills, let me endure."

He spoke; and Sohrab smil'd on him, and took

The spear, and drew it from his side, and eased His wound's imperious anguish but the blood Came welling from the open gash, and life Flow'd with the stream: all down his cold white side

The crimson torrent pour'd, dim now and soil'd,

841

Like the soil'd tissue of white violets
Left, freshly gather'd, on their native bank,
By romping children, whom their nurses call
From the hot fields at noon: his head droop'd
low,

His limbs grew slack; motionless, white, he lay

White, with eyes clos'd; only when heavy gasps,

Deep, heavy gasps, quivering through all his frame,

Convuls'd him back to life, he open'd them, And fix'd them feebly on his father's face: Till now all strength was ebb'd, and from his limbs

Unwillingly the spirit fled away,

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Regretting the warm mansion which it left, And youth and bloom, and this delightful world.

So, on the bloody sand, Sohrab lay dead. And the great Rustum drew his horseman's cloak

Down o'er his face, and sate by his dead son. As those black granite pillars, once high-rear'd By Jemshid' in Persepolis, to bear

His house, now, 'mid their broken flights of steps,

Lie prone, enormous, down the mountain side

860

So in the sand lay Rustum by his son.
And night came down over the solemn
waste,

And the two gazing hosts, and that sole pair,
And darken'd all; and a cold fog, with night,
Crept from the Oxus. Soon a hum arose,
As of a great assembly loosed, and fires
Began to twinkle through the fog for now
Both armies moved to camp, and took their
meal:

The Persians took it on the open sands
Southward; the Tartars by the river marge:
And Rustum and his son were left alone. 871

But the majestic River floated on,
Out of the mist and hum of that low land,
Into the frosty starlight, and there mov'd,
Rejoicing, through the hush'd Chorasmian 2
waste,

Under the solitary moon: he flow'd
Right for the Polar Star, past Orgunjè,3

1 a mythical king who reigned 700 years; the black granite pillars found at Persepolis in Persia are called the ruins of his throne 2 Chorasmia on the Oxus was once the seat of a great empire. 3 a village on the Oxus

Brimming, and bright, and large: then sands begin

To hem his watery march, and dam his streams,

And split his currents; that for many a league
The shorn and parcell'd Oxus strains along
Through beds of sand and matted rushy isles-
Oxus, forgetting the bright speed he had 883
In his high mountain cradle in Pamere,
A foil'd circuitous wanderer: - till at last
The long'd-for dash of waves is heard, and
wide

His luminous home of waters opens, bright
And tranquil, from whose floor the new-bath'd

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Here, where the reaper was at work of late, In this high field's dark corner, where he leaves

His coat, his basket, and his earthen cruse,2

And in the sun all morning binds the sheaves, Then here, at noon, comes back his stores to use;

Here will I sit and wait, While to my ear from uplands far away 17 The bleating of the folded flocks is borne; With distant cries of reapers in the cornAll the live murmur of a summer's day.

Screen'd is this nook o'er the high, half-reap'd field,

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Seen by rare glimpses, pensive and tonguetied,

In hat of antique shape, and cloak of grey, The same the Gipsies wore.

Shepherds had met him on the Hurst 2 in spring:

At some lone alehouse in the Berkshire moors,

On the warm ingle bench,3 the smock

frock'd boors 4

Had found him seated at their entering. бо

1 The Vanity of Dogmatizing, by Joseph Glanvil (1661), contains the story on which this poem is based. 2 Cumner Hurst, a hill southwest of Oxford 3 bench in the chimney-corner 4 farmlaborers in smock-frocks (outer garments like shirts or blouses)

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