The Death Of Almanzor
Two and fifty times Almanzor had the Christian host o'erthrown;
Still again the Christians gatherèd, by despair the stronger grown.
Cityless and mountain--refuged they approacht the Douro's shores,
Falling, as a storm in summer, on the unsuspecting Moors.
Valiantly the Moslem rallied, all unordered as they stood,
Till the Evening, in her shadow, bore them safe across the flood.
Then they cried, ``The stream's between us; now can we their schemes defy;''--
But the great Almanzor spoke,--``I have retreated, and I die.''
``Allah, keep us from such evil!'' prayed the faithful, crouding round,
While the wise Arabian leech his wounds examined, stauncht, and bound.
``Lightly has the Christian toucht thee,--much for thee is yet in store;
Many are thy years, but Allah gives his conque'rors many more.
``Do not the huge bells, that summoned pilgrims to Iago's shrine,
Hang within our prophet's temple, and confess thy work divine?
``What is it that one small moment thou and thine did seem to yield,
Wielders of Mohammed's sword, and guarded by Mohammed's shield?
``Few shall be their boastful hours,--thou in wrath wilt rise again;
Thou shalt cleanse the mountains of them, like the cities and the plain.''
So consoled the duteous servant, but he could not still the cry
Bursting from Almanzor's lips,--``I have retreated, and I die.''
Once he rose and feebly spoke,--``My friends, I perish of self--scorn;
Shame is come on my white hairs,''--and thus he died the morrow--morn.
Fiercest hands in sorrow trembled, as they deeply dug the grave,
On the spot where Azrael's lance had struck the captain of the brave.
There his spirit's dearest brethren, closest comrades of his glory,
Laid him as a Moslem--martyr, in his garments torn and gory.
There too, from his side unsevered, lay his old familiar brand,
Never to be toucht and tarnisht by a less victorious hand.
From a chest that in his marches ever had been borne before him,
Holy dust from two and fifty battle--fields was sprinkled o'er him;
While arose the imprecation, ``Utter Death to Christian Spain!''
Praise to Jesus and his mother, that the vow was vowed in vain!
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