Archibald Lampman

(17 November 1861 - 10 February 1899 / Morpeth, Ontario)

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 Emir's guard had taken,
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,
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,
Dreaming of the Persian spoil.

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

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
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;
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,
Abu Midjan will return.'

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

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
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,
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
Abu Midjan's 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.

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

Three times to the ground in silence
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;
Now, since God alone shall judge me,
Abu Midjan drinks no more.'

Submitted: Thursday, April 08, 2010

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