Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
III. War
Richard Chenevix Trench (1807–1886)
NOW the third and fatal conflict for the Persian throne was done,
And the Moslem’s fiery valor had the crowning victory won.
Harmosan, the last and boldest the invader to defy,
Captive, overborn by numbers, they were bringing forth to die.
Then exclaimed that noble captive: “Lo, I perish in my thirst;        5
Give me but one drink of water, and let then arrive the worst!”
In his hand he took the goblet: but awhile the draught forbore,
Seeming doubtfully the purpose of the foeman to explore.
Well might then have paused the bravest—for, around him, angry foes
With a hedge of naked weapons did the lonely man enclose.        10
“But what fear’st thou?” cried the caliph; “is it, friend, a secret blow?
Fear it not! our gallant Moslems no such treacherous dealing know.
“Thou may’st quench thy thirst securely, for thou shalt not die before
Thou hast drunk that cup of water—this reprieve is thine—no more!”
Quick the satrap dashed the goblet down to earth with ready hand,        15
And the liquid sank forever, lost amid the burning sand.
“Thou hast said that mine my life is, till the water of that cup
I have drained; then bid thy servants that spilled water gather up!”
For a moment stood the caliph as by doubtful passions stirred—
Then exclaimed: “For ever sacred must remain a monarch’s word.        20
Bring another cup, and straightway to the noble Persian give:
Drink, I said before, and perish—now I bid thee drink and live!”

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