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And camels, tufted o'er with Yemen's shells, 101
But yester-eve, so motionless around, So mute was this wide plain, that not a sound But the far torrent, or the locust bird 102 Hunting among the thickets, could be heard ;Yet hark ! what discords now, of every kind, Shouts, laughs, and screams are revelling in the wind ; The neigh of cavalry ;-the tinkling throngs Of laden camels and their drivers' songs; Ringing of arms, and flapping in the breeze Of streamers from ten thousand canopies ; War-music, bursting out from time to time, With gong and tymbalon's tremendous chime ;Or, in the pause, when harsher sounds are mute, The mellow breathings of some horn or flute, That far off, broken by the eagle note Of the Abyssinian trumpet, 104 swell and float.
Who leads this mighty army?-ask ye “who?"
But, having sworn upon the Holy Grave 107
Ne'er did the march of MAHDI display Such pomp before ;—not even when on his way To MECCA's Temple, when both land and sea Were spoil'd to feed the Pilgrim's luxury; When round him, 'mid the burning sands, he saw Fruits of the North in icy freshness thaw, And cool'd his thirsty lip, beneath the glow Of MECCA's sun, with urns of Persian snow : Nor e'er did armament more grand than that Pour from the kingdoms of the Caliphat. First, in the van, the People of the Rock, 110 On their light mountain steeds, of royal stock :) Then, chieftains of DAMASCUS, proud to see The flashing of their swords' rich marquetry ; Men, from the regions near the Volga's mouth, Mix'd with the rude, black archers of the South ; And Indian lancers, in white-turban'd ranks, From the far Sinde, or ATTOCK's sacred banks, With dusky legions from the land of Myrrh, 113 And many a mace-arm’d Moor and Mid-sea islander.
Nor less in number, though more new and rude In warfare's school, was the vast multitude That, fir'd by zeal, or by oppression wrong'd, Round the white standard of the Impostor throng'd.
Beside his thousands of Believers-blind,
Such was the wild and miscellaneous host, That high in air their motley banners tost Around the Prophet-Chief-all eyes still bent Upon that glittering Veil, where'er it went, That beacon through the battle's stormy flood, That rainbow of the field, whose showers were blood.
Twice hath the sun upon their conflict set,
On, Swords of God !" the panting Caliph calls, “ Thrones for the living-Heaven for him who falls !”
On, brave avengers, on,” MOKANNA cries, " And Eblis blast the recreant slave that flies!” Now comes the brunt, the crisis of the dayThey clash--they strive—the Caliph's troops give way! MOKANNA's self plucks the black Banner down, And now the Orient World's Imperial crown Is just within his grasp—when, hark, that shout! Some hand hath check'd the flying Moslems' rout; And now they turn, they rally—at their head A warrior, (like those angel youths who led, In glorious panoply of Heaven's own mail, The Champions of the Faith through BEDER's vale,121) Bold as if gifted with ten thousand lives, Turns on the fierce pursuers' blades, and drives At once the multitudinous torrent backWhile hope and courage kindle in his track ; And, at each step, his bloody falchion makes Terrible vistas through which victory breaks ! In vain MOKANNA, midst the general flight, Stands, like the red moon, on some stormy night, Among the fugitive clouds that, hurrying by, Leave only her unshaken in the sky, In vain he yells his desperate curses out, Deals death promiscuously to all about,