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Abu Midjan
by [?]


“It is only just
To laud good wine:
If I sit in the dust,
So sits the vine.”

Abu Midjan sang, as he sat in chains,
For the blood of the grape was the juice of his veins.
The prophet had said, “O Faithful, drink not”–
Abu Midjan drank till his heart was hot;
Yea, he sang a song in praise of wine,
And called it good names, a joy divine.
And Saad assailed him with words of blame,
And left him in irons, a fettered flame;
But he sang of the wine as he sat in chains,
For the blood of the grape ran fast in his veins.

“I will not think
That the Prophet said,
Ye shall not drink
Of the flowing red
.

“But some weakling head,
In its after pain,
Moaning said,
Drink not again.

“But I will dare,
With a goodly drought,
To drink and not spare,
Till my thirst be out.

“For as I quaff
The liquor cool,
I do not laugh,
Like a Christian fool;

“But my bosom fills,
And my faith is high;
Through the emerald hills
Goes my lightning eye.

“I see them hearken,
I see them wait;
Their light eyes darken
The diamond gate.

“I hear the float
Of their chant divine;
Each heavenly note
Mingles with mine.

“Can an evil thing
Make beauty more?
Or a sinner bring
To the heavenly door?

“‘Tis the sun-rays fine
That sink in the earth,
And are drunk by the vine,
For its daughters’ birth.

“And the liquid light,
I drink again;
And it flows in might
Through the shining brain,

“Making it know
The things that are
In the earth below,
Or the farthest star.

“I will not think
That the Prophet said,
Ye shall not drink
Of the flowing Red
.

“For his promise, lo!
Shows more divine,
When the channels o’erflow
With the singing wine.

“But if he did, ’tis a small annoy
To sit in chains for a heavenly joy.”

Away went the song on the light wind borne.
His head sank down, and a ripple of scorn,
At the irons that fettered his brown limbs’ strength.
Waved on his lip the dark hair’s length.
But sudden he lifted his head to the north–
Like a mountain-beacon his eye blazed forth:
‘Twas a cloud in the distance that caught his eye,
Whence a faint clang shot on the light breeze by;
A noise and a smoke on the plain afar–
‘Tis the cloud and the clang of the Moslem war.
And the light that flashed from his black eyes, lo!
Was a light that paled the red wine’s glow;
And he shook his fetters in bootless ire,
And called on the Prophet, and named his sire.
But the lady of Saad heard the clang,
And she knew the far sabres his fetters rang.
Oh! she had the heart where a man might rest,
For she knew the tempest in his breast.
She rose. Ere she reached him, he called her name,
But he called not twice ere the lady came;
And he sprang to his feet, and the irons cursed,
And wild from his lips the Tecbir burst:
“Let me go,” he said, “and, by Allah’s fear,
At sundown I sit in my fetters here,
Or lie ‘neath a heaven of starry eyes,
Kissed by moon-maidens of Paradise.”

The lady unlocked his fetters stout,
Brought her husband’s horse and his armour out,
Clothed the warrior, and bid him go
An angel of vengeance upon the foe;
Then turned her in, and from the roof,
Beheld the battle, far aloof.