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The Soudan, The Sphinxes, The Cup, The Lamp
by [?]


(“Zim-Zizimi, Soudan d’Egypte.”)

[Bk. XVI. i.]

Zim Zizimi–(of the Soudan of burnt Egypt,
The Commander of Believers, a Bashaw
Whose very robes were from Asia’s greatest stript,
More powerful than any lion with resistless paw)
A master weighed on by his immense splendor–
Once had a dream when he was at his evening feast,
When the broad table smoked like a perfumed censer,
And its grateful odors the appetite increased.
The banquet was outspread in a hall, high as vast,
With pillars painted, and with ceiling bright with gold,
Upreared by Zim’s ancestors in the days long past,
And added to till now worth a sum untold.
Howe’er rich no rarity was absent, it seemed,
Fruit blushed upon the side-boards, groaning ‘neath rich meats,
With all the dainties palate ever dreamed
In lavishness to waste–for dwellers in the streets
Of cities, whether Troy, or Tyre, or Ispahan,
Consume, in point of cost, food at a single meal
Much less than what is spread before this crowned man—
Who rules his couchant nation with a rod of steel,
And whose servitors’ chiefest arts it was to squeeze
The world’s full teats into his royal helpless mouth.
Each hard-sought dainty that never failed to please,
All delicacies, wines, from east, west, north or south,
Are plenty here–for Sultan Zizimi drinks wine
In its variety, trying to find what never sates.
Laughs at the holy writings and the text divine,
O’er which the humble dervish prays and venerates.
There is a common saying which holds often good:
That cruel is he who is sparing in his cups.
That they are such as are most thirsty of man’s blood–
Yet he will see a slave beheaded whilst he sups.
But be this as it all may, glory gilds his reign,
He has overrun Africa, the old and black;
Asia as well–holding them both beneath a rain
Of bloody drops from scaffold, pyre, the stake, or rack,
To leave his empire’s confines, one must run a race
Far past the river Baxtile southward; in the north,
To the rude, rocky, barren land of Thrace,
Yet near enough to shudder when great Zim is wroth.
Conquering in every field, he finds delight
In battle-storms; his music is the shout of camps.
On seeing him the eagle speeds away in fright,
Whilst hid ‘mong rocks, the grisly wolf its victim champs.
Mysore’s as well as Agra’s rajah is his kin;
The great sheiks of the arid sands confess him lord;
Omar, who vaunting cried: “Through me doth Allah win!”
Was of his blood–a dreaded line of fire and sword.
The waters of Nagain, sands of Sahara warm,
The Atlas and the Caucasus, snow-capped and lone,
Mecca, Marcatta, these were massed in part to form
A portion of the giant shadow of Zim’s throne.
Before his might, to theirs, as hardest rock to dust,
There have recoiled a horde of savage, warlike chiefs,
Who have been into Afric’s fiery furnace thrust–
Its scorching heat to his rage greatest of reliefs.
There is no being but fears Zim; to him bows down
Even the sainted Llama in the holy place;
And the wild Kasburder chieftain at his dark power
Turns pale, and seeks a foeman of some lesser race.
Cities and states are bought and sold by Soudan Zim,
Whose simple word their thousand people hold as law.
He ruins them at will, for what are men to him,
More than to stabled cattle is the sheaf of straw?