« PreviousContinue »
my soul from my body. But you know that it is not; only the king has treated me with scorn.'
"But he perceived that he must yield to the old man's advice. So he went back with the nobles.
"As soon as the king saw him, he leaped upon his feet, and said, 'I am hard of soul, but a man must grow as God has made him. My heart was troubled by the fear of this new enemy. I looked to you for safety, and you delayed your coming. Then I spoke in my wrath; but I have repented, and my mouth is full of dust.'
"Rustem said, "It is yours to command, O king, and ours to obey. You are the master, and we are the slaves. I am but as one of those who open the door for you, if indeed I am worthy to be reckoned among them. And now I come to execute your commands.'
"Kaoos said, 'It is well. Now let us feast. Tomorrow we will prepare for war.'
"So Kaoos, and Rustem, and the nobles feasted till the night had passed and the morning came. The next day King Kaoos and Rustem, with a great army, began their march."
Matthew Arnold, the great English critic, scholar and poet, has used the incidents that follow as the subject of one of his most interesting poems. To that poem we will look for a continuation of the story. Arnold alters the story at times to suit the needs of his poem, and he often employs a slightly different spelling of proper names from that used in the above account.
SOHRAB AND RUSTUM
iprfND the first Sray of morning fnTd the ~ east,
And the fog rose out of the Oxus1
stream. But all the Tartar camp along the
stream Was hush'd, and still the men were plunged in sleep; Sohrab alone, he slept not; all night long He had lain wakeful, tossing on his bed; But when the gray dawn stole into his tent, He rose, and clad himself, and girt his sword, And took his horseman's cloak, and left his tent, And went abroad into the cold wet fog, Through the dim camp to Peran-Wisa's2 tent. Through the black Tartar tents he pass'd, which stood Clustering like beehives on the low flat strand Of Oxus, where the summer floods o'erflow When the sun melts the snow in high Pamere ;3
1. The Oxus, 1300 miles long, is the chief river of Central Asia, and one of the boundaries of Persia.
2. Peran-Wisa was the commander of King Afrasiab's troops, a Turanian chief who ruled over the many wild Tartar tribes whose men composed his army.
3. Pamir or Pamere is a high tableland called by the natives "the roof of the world." In it lies the source of the Oxus. Arnold has named many places for the purpose of giving an air of reality to the poem. It is not necessary to locate them accurately in order to understand the poem, and so the notes will refer to them only as the story is made clearer by the explanation.
Through the black tents he pass'd, o'er that low-
"Who art thou? for it is not yet clear dawn.
But Sohrab came to the bedside, and said:—
4. Samarcand is a city of Turkistan, now a center of learning and of commerce.