« ZurückWeiter »
For his cherished mares,
My uncle asked Mebrouk of me, in marriage,
And to him I said no :
Mebrouk is my support, I intend to preserve him
Proud, full of health, handy and swift in his course.
Time retraces his steps and returns ;
To-day without quarrel, to-morrow perhaps we may see
The hour of stubborn wrath advance with great strides.
For a skin-bag full of blood, was my uncle's reply,
Thou hast made my face yellow* before all my children.
The earth is vast; adieu.
Mebrouk, why neigh thus by night and by day?
Thou betrayest my ambuscades, and forewarnest my enemies,
Thou thinkest too much of the daughters of our horses,
I will give thee in marriage, oh my son!
But where find my friends
Whose mares are so noble, and their she-camels treasures?
All news of them is buried;
Where are their vast tents which so much pleased the eye?
Therein were to be found both carpet and mat;
Therein was given the hospitality of God,
And therein the poor filled his belly.
They are departed!
The scouts have seen the hill-tops,
The braves have led the march,
The shepherds have followed with the herds,
And the hunters, on the track of their swift greyhounds,
Have chased the gazelle,
Have you heard speak of the tribe of my brethren ?
then come with me and count their numerous horses;
There are some of colours that will please you.
Look at those horses, white as the snow that falls in its season;
Those horses, black as the slave captured in the Soudan;
Those horses, green† as the reed that grows on river-banks;
Those horses red as the blood that first flows from a wound,
And those horses blue as the pigeon when he flies 'neath the skies.
Where are those fusils so straight, quicker than the twinkling of the eye?
That powder from Tunis, and those balls cast in moulds,
Which pierced through the bones, tore the liver,
And caused death with the mouth open ?
When I cease to sing, my heart impels me to again;
For it burns for my brethren with a fire that consumes me.
Such warriors have I no where seen.
evil-eye (ain). When any one says to you: "Oh! what a fine horse, what a beautiful mare you have got there!" fear everything from him, for he spoke but from envy; had he spoken with a kindly feeling, he would not have failed to add : "may God protect you or grant you his blessing!" This evil-eye, nevertheless, is not possessed by everybody.
*Thou hast made my face yellow.
Red, and all the bright colours are with the Arabs symbolical of good fortune; the dark sombre colours, and yellow chief of all, are tokens of misfortune.
†Those horses, green as the reed.
The Arabs consider the horse of a green colour, when it approaches the brown-green of the nearly ripe olive.
And those balls cast in moulds. These are in general thought a great luxury by
the Arabs, and particularly by those of the desert.
lead into ingots and cut these afterwards into slugs,
For the most part they beat the
Oh, God! strike with blindness those who would envy them!
Have they not vast tents well provided with carpets,
With mats, with cushions, with saddles and rich arms?
The traveller and the orphan are they not always received there
With those words of our fathers: "Be welcome here ?"
Their women, fresh as the wild poppy,
Are they not borne upon camels,
Those ships of the land*,
Which walk with the noble step of the ostrich ?
Are they not covered with veils
Which, floating far behind them, make our Marabouts even despair?
Are they not decked with ornaments, with jewels enriched with coral,
And the blue tattooing of their limbs is it not a pleasure to see?
Everything in them charms the soul of those who believe in a God;
You would think them the flowers of the beans which the Eternal created.
You have gone far away into the South,
And the days seem very long to me !
'Tis now near a year that nail'd to this wearisome Teull+
I have seen no more of you than the traces of your camps.
Oh! cherished pigeon mine,
That wearest a leg-covering which reaches to thy feet,
That wearest a burnous which so well becomes thy shoulders,
Whose wings are chequered and who knows the country;
Oh you that coo!
Go-fly 'neath the clouds, they will serve you for covering;
Go find my friends and give them this letter,
Tell them that it comes from a heart sincere.
Return quickly, and let me know if good or ill-fortune be theirs,
Whose absence makes me sigh.
You will see Cherifat: she is a proud maiden;
She is proud, she is noble, I have seen it in writing,
Her long hair falls gracefully
Upon her broad and white shoulders:
You would think you beheld the black plumes of the ostrich
That inhabits the deserts and sings near her brood.
Her brows are like bows from the land of the negro;
And her eyelashes, you'd swear like the beard of a corn-ear
Ripened by the eye of light, at the summer's close.
Her eyes are the eyes of the gazelle,
When she anxiously watches her young,
Or the lightning's bright flash 'ere the thunder is heard
'Mid the darkness of night.
Her mouth is most lovely in form,
Honey-sweet is the dew on her lips,
And her white, even teeth that resemble the hail
Strewn by winter's rude blast o'er our lands.
Those ships of the land. The camel is so useful an animal to the Arabs of the desert, that they call it with reason the ship of the land. He is in effect moderate in his appetite, content with little, and requires no corn of any kind for his subsistence; he endures thirst for several days with the most admirable patience, and transports very heavy loads in the frequent removals necessitated in a nomade life.
Nailed to this wearisome Teull. The Arabs of the desert love so much their independent and nomade life, that they regard as the most wearisome moments of their existence, when they are forced to come into the Teull to purchase there their provisions of grain.
You will see Cherifa. Cherifa, the feminine of Cherif, which means a descendant from the prophet.
In their poems, the Arabs frequently call the sun Adin ennour, the eye of light, or eye of the light.
Her neck, like the standard our warriors raise,
The foe to defy, or the flying recall,
And her form without fault with the marble doth vie
That is used for the columns adorning our Mosques,
White as the moon that illumines the night,
She shines like the star unobscured by a cloud,
Tell her she has dealt two deep wounds to her friend,
Which pierced like a poignard his heart through his eyes.
Love is a burden not easy to bear.
I beseech the All-Mighty to send us down rain;
We have reached now the mid-time of spring,
And for peoples with flocks 'tis o'er long now delayed,
I'm a-hungered, yet fast even though as it were
The Fast of the Ramadan moon.
They are at Askoura! may Allah be praised!
Let my horse now be brought!
And you, strike the tents!
I will hasten my uncle to find;
He will pardon the child of his brother I'm sure;
As reconciled friends we shall be ;
And by the head of the prophet,
I will then give a feast where our youths shall appear,
With stirrups that shine, saddles richly adorned;
There shall powder be burnt* to the pipe and the drum :
Mebrouk! then in marriage I'll give.
And his sons shall be called, the sons of the well-cared for mares.
Oh! tribes of the Sahara!
You pretend that you camels possess† ;
But camels, you know it,
Seek but those who know how to defend them;
And those who can do it, my brethren are they
Who the bones of the rebels in battle can break."
Thus it will be seen, among the Arabs, everything contributes to develop a love for the horse. Religion inculcates it as a duty; a life of constant movement, of incessant struggles, and distances to be traversed in a country where every means of rapid communication are wholly wanting, make it a necessity; the Arab can only lead a life-oftwo-his horse and himself.
There shall powder be burnt. Among the Arabs, not a festival takes place without the discharge of fire-arms.
+ You pretend that you camels possess.
When a tribe of the desert is at peace, and inexpectant of danger, its camels are sometimes sent to graze ten or twelve leagues away in advance of the camp; and it may be readily conceived should a sudden capture of those animals have been effected, that both excellent horses and vigorous cavaliers are required to recapture them.
Comrades, leave me here a little farther up the hounds are gone:
Should you hear a single whimper, talliho or sound a horn.
"Tis the place! and every morning, as of old, the tradesmen call
For their orders and their luncheon in the room or servants' hall.
There would she seek absolution for her naughty little acts,
Sprinkling here and there a blanket, showering ever dreary tracts.
Here about the woods I wandered, nourishing a taste sublime
For sensation plays and novels, for Partagas full and prime.
Claret cup now idly quaffing, careless in my calm repose
Both of Israel and my tailor; laughed at money-sucking foes.
In the spring the bold, bad cuckoo cuckoos till he goes to rest,
Taking up unasked his quarters in the meek hedge-sparrow's nest ;
In the spring the little onions sweetly scent the rustling breeze,
Tax-collectors, heartless landlords sternly utter " If you please;"
In the spring the mighty ocean rises early in its pride,
And the guardsman, rising later, seeks to put on yet more side;
In the spring the Bloom of Ninon softly tints the faded cheek
Of the passée beauty, feeing Madame Rachael once a week.
Then her cheek was soft and pinker than could be for one so old,
And her eye had that expression stiff-laced people deem as bold;
And I said "My sweet Rebecca," as we met in lingering kiss,
"Say you're mine, love?-cousins we are-simply change to Mum from Miss!" And she turned her bosom shaken out-of-place by hollow sighs,
Belladona slowly oozing from her eyelid-darkened eyes,
Saying "I have hid my feelings, fearing Ma would think them wrong—
'Child, ne'er wed without a title !' matins both and evensong."
Love drove straight to Doctors' Commons, paid a "bob" with eager hand,
Found me as the Bank of Overend worthless as a rope of sand.
Many a morning in the country-when no better catch was there
Did my hopes for ever vary as the colour of her hair.
Oh, my Becky! deepest-minded! sharper far than her the queen
Of the sharpest race of sharpers-she who tamed the arch-rake Steyne.
Falser than the worst of HIGGSES-falser than all notes that e'er
Set the falsest teeth on edge-oh! falser than your own back hair!
Is it well to wish thee happy? having loved me to decline-
Me! for him, a drivelling idiot, but with longer purse than mine.
He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,
Something as the mutton shoulder unrelieved by onion sauce.
What is this? his eyes are blackened! think not by a downstair fall,
Bless your heart! he got well punished at that masque Alhambra ball.
It may be my Lord is "chippy," that his brain is whirling still;
Give him draughts of hock-and-soda-dose him well with Cockle's pill:
This his useless life's void purpose, wasting coppery hours in bed;
Better thou wert dead before me, though I knocked you on the head:
Better we appeared in police-courts, were it not for the disgrace,
You for hurling pokers at me, I for dancing on your face!
Cursed be the worldly chaperon, scrutinizing luckless youth-
Cursed be her deep, vile cunning, as she gleans the bitter truth-
Cursed be the gilded eyes, whose pupils ne'er reflected dun-
Cursed be all empty titles-cursed for aye the eldest son!
Where is comfort ?-not in lodgings, though luxuriously refined!
Can I part with weekly cash, and calmly utter "Never mind ?"
Comfort! comfort! scorned of slavies !-this is truth the bach'lor sings,
That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is their hiding all one's things.
Take thy opiate, lest thou sleep not, lest thou art not haply proof
To incessant cabs that rattle-to the cats upon the roof.
Then a hand shall pass before thee, pointing to the vacant side-
To the blackened marriage pillow, showing clearly that he dyed!
Thou shalt hear the fumbling latch-key, as his drunken steps draw near,
And the song of "Champagne Charlie" grating harshly on thine ear;
And an askant eye shall vex thee peering through the window pane;
Don thy dressing-gown and slippers; he has broke thy rest again.
Nay, but Nature brings thee solace-thus thy married life begins,
By presenting him, your master, with a hungry pair of twins.
Over-live it- "Cheer up, Sammy!"- -bless me, wherefore should I care?
I will mix my liquor stronger, lest I wither by despair.
What is that which I should turn to ?-places filled by purchased votes-
Foreign Office barr'd with gold, opening but to ten-pound notes!
Every heiress thronged with suitors! all the regiments overflow!
I had booked for Abyssinia-yearned to charge the helpless foe.
I had borne for life hard labour, marching on the drilling-ground,
And to have my slumbers broken by the ceaseless bugle's sound;
But the hate to army taxes closes too the Horse Guards' gates,
For the thrifty nation does but growl at Cardwell's estimates.
Can I stomach now Militia ? "Prythee, brandy, gentle page!".
Hide me from my deep emotion, oh, thou wondrous beverage!
Make me feel the wild pulsation as before I dreamt of wife,
When I swore that nought could part me from my wild and rakish life,
As at night by four-wheel'd "growler," or by rattling Hansom drawn,
Saw the rockets burst in showers o'er the gardens of Cremorne.
So I dipt into my liquor till I nearly had D.T.,
Saw such visions if but painted-oh, the wonder that would be!
Saw the heavens aëronauted, carriages with magic sails;
Looking upwards with my field-glass, watched the ever-flying mails;
And the war drum throbbed far stronger, and the battle flag unfurled,
North and South again were at it, drawing in the Eastern world;
Then the common sense of England no longer kept the sword in awe,
So the country, joining Europe, plunged in universal war;
Saw the air-ships iron-plated, soaring, come to endless grief,
As they flew o'er hidden batteries; heard the dying curse Moncreiff!
Then came peace. In Lambeth Palace lay the notched and blood-stained swords, Guns upon the dusty benches in the empty House of Lords!
But I triumphed o'er my passion for old Cognac with a sigh,
For it left a worn-out liver-left me with a jaundiced eye.
Oh, to burst all links of habit! there to wander far away
On from racecourse on to racecourse, 'gainst the favourites to lay.
There to rear a training-stable in some wild, untouted place;
I will take some modern Menken, she shall rear my jockey race;
Iron-jointed, subtle-minded, they shall learn to pull or win
By the tiniest things in nostrils; featherweights from draughts of gin;
Whistle at the welsher's call; lay my noble Lord Fitzsnook
Twenty ponies 'gainst a dead one; steal the Admiral's betting-book,
Fool again! The Turf ?-the Devil! Sooner would I see them beg,
For I count the shamming blind man higher than the common 'leg.
Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Foxey Hall;
Now for me the beer may sour, now for me the bailiffs call.
Hark! my merry comrades call me. Hark! the voice of him whose horn
Oft has led us on to glory, in the annals of the Quorn.
Comes a wimper from the woodland, swelling into music loud,
Breaks a noble fox before it, followed by the scarlet crowd.
So I take the gaping ha-ha; once again I feel the glow
Of my younger days come o'er me-YOICKS! "HARK FORWARD!" and I go !