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Harmosan

Now the third and fatal conflict for the Persian throne was done,
And the Moslem’s fiery valor had the crowning victory won.

Harmosan, the last and boldest the invader to defy,
Captive overborne by numbers, they were bringing forth to die.

Then exclaimed the noble captive: “Lo! I perish in my thirst;
Give me but one drink of water, and let then arrive the worst!”

In his hand he took the goblet, but awhle the draught forbore,
Seeming doubtully the purpose of the foemen to explore.

Well might then have paused the bravest — for around him angry foes
With a hedge of naked weapons did that lonely man enclose.

“But what fear’st thou?” cried the caliph; — “is it, friend, a secret blow?
Fear it not! — our gallant Moslem no such treacherous dealing know.

“Thou mayst quench thy thirst securely, for thou shalt not die before
Thou hast drunk that cup of water — this reprieve is thine — no more!”

Quick the satrap dashed the goblet down to earth with ready hand,
And the liquid sand for ever, lost amid the burning sand.

“Thou hast said that mine my life is, till the water of that cup
I have drained; then bid thy servants that spilled water gather up!”

For a moment stood the calph as by doubtful passions stirred —
Then exclaimed: “For ever sacred must remain a monarch’s word.

“Bring another cup, and straightway to the noble Persian give:
Drink, I said before, and perish — now I bid thee drink and live!”

~Richard Chenevix Trench

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Haroun Al-Raschid

One day, Haroun Al Raschid read
A book wherein the poet said:–

“Where are the kings, and where the rest
Of those who once the world possessed?

“They’re gone with all their pomp and show,
They’re gone the way that thou shalt go.

“O thou who choosest for thy share
The world, and what the world calls fair,

“Take all that it can give or lend,
But know that death is at the end!”

Haroun Al Raschid bowed his head:
Tears fell upon the page he read.

 

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow