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Arabian Poetry, by W. A. Clouston, [1881], at


Next morning both parties prepared to renew the contest; and Antar, having engaged to challenge Khosrewan to decide matters by single combat, mounted on a mare ("for his horse Abjer, wounded the day before, was still unfit for the day of encounter"), rushed between the two armies, and thus spoke:

Sally forth—ay, every lion warrior! Taste a draught at the edge of my sword, more bitter than the cups of absinthe.

When Death appears in the crowded ranks, then challenge me to the meeting of armies;—ye Persians, I heed ye not—I heed ye not!

Where is he who wishes to fight me, and wants to make me drink the liquor of death?

Bring him forth!—let him see what he will meet from my spear under the shades of the war-dust;—I swear, O Abla! he shall eat of death!

By thy teeth, luscious to the kiss, and by thine eyes, and all the pangs of their enchantment, and their beauty—were thy nightly visionary form not to appear to me, never should I taste of sleep!

O thou, my hope!—O may the western breeze tell thee of my ardent wish to return home!

May it waft thee my salutation, when the sparkling dawn bursts the veil of night!

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May God moisten thy nights, and bedew thee with his rain-charged clouds!

May peace dwell with thee as long as the western and northern breeze shall blow!

No sooner had Antar concluded than Khosrewan appeared on the plain, “mounted on a long-tailed steed, marked with the new moon on his forehead, and on his body was a strong coat of mail well knit together, the workmanship of David; and armed with an imperial casque and a glittering sword; and under his thighs were four small darts, each like a blazing flame.

“And when he came forth on the field of battle he roared aloud, and contemptuously of the Arabs. Antar assailed him: high arose the dust about them, so that they were hid from the sight. They exhibited most extraordinary prowess; they separated, they clung to each other; now they sported, now they were in earnest; they gave and took; they were close; they were apart; until it was mid-day, and both had severely toiled. But whenever Khosrewan attempted to assail Antar and strike him with his mace, he ever found him vigilant and on his guard, and aware of his intent. So he darted away from him in order to gallop over the field, and would exhibit all his manœuvres and stratagems.

“But Antar kept him employed, and wearied him, and prevented his executing his designs, so that the chieftain's wrath became intense. He snatched up one of his darts, and shook it and hurled it at him—it flew from his hand like the blinding lightning, or descending fate. Antar stood firm; and when it came near him he met it, and dexterously turning it off with his shield, it bounded away, and fell upon the ground far off. Khosrewan snatched out a second dart and levelled it at him; but Antar sprang out of its way, and it passed harmless. He aimed a third; but Antar rendered it fruitless by his dexterity and his persevering activity. He hurled the fourth; but it shared the same fate as the others.

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“When Khosrewan saw how Antar had parried the darts, his indignation was extreme. Again he took up his mace, and he roared even as a lion roars;—then stretching himself out with it he hurled it, backing it with a howl that made the plains and the air rebellow. Antar threw away his spear, and met the mace, and caught it with his right hand in the air; then, aiming it at Khosrewan, he cried out: 'Take that, thou son of a two thousand-horned cuckold!—I am the lover of Abla, and am alone—the Phœnix of the world!' Khosrewan saw him grasp the mace in the air, and was horrified, for his strength and force were exhausted. He retreated, and attempted to fly from his antagonist, for he was now convinced of his destruction. He moved round his shield between his shoulders; but he felt that his fate was nigh at hand, for the mace fell upon his shield more forcibly than the stone of a sling: furiously it rattled on the Persian chief, and hurled him off his saddle to the distance of twelve cubits, and broke his ribs and snapped his spine.

“Every warrior was intensely agitated at this surprising deed; and when the Persians saw it they were bewildered: they rushed upon Antar, agonized as they were at this calamity, and exposed their lives to certain death. The Arabs received them with undaunted courage at the points of their spears, and their spirit was exhilarated by the acts of Antar. The two armies assailed, and the earth was pounded under the trampling of the horses. The horsemen and the clans encountered: clouds of dust thickened over their heads. And their fury increased till they were like the waves of the boisterous ocean. Spears penetrated through hearts and waists; heads were flying off; blood was boiling; cowards were scared; the courageous full of fire: the King of Death circled round the cup of mortality; and the commands of the Most High were executed upon them.”

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