Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Told by a Brahmin
By Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866)
Translation of Elizabeth Craigmyle

GOLD weighed ’gainst Honor is naught in the scale,—
Hear of an Arab the ancient tale:—
The eye of a robber was set on the steed
That was dearer to him than wife or than creed.
The steed was his joy both day and night,        5
Her course was as swift as an arrow in flight.
At night she was chained with a chain whose twist
Through the tent-walls went to his sleeping wrist.
But the robber-snake in the douar crept,
While he and the men of his tribe all slept.        10
He loosened the chain with which she was tied,
He sprang on the mare and loudly cried:—
“Wake, fool, and know that I have thine horse;
Race after, and take her back by force.”
The robbed and his tribe race hard behind,        15
As fast as the simoom’s desert wind.
They are neck to croup—he will overtake!—
Like a flash came the thought, “Her fame is at stake.
“If I overtake her she’s mine again;
If not, with her robber she will remain.        20
“Yet ten times rather lose her than she
Should be overmatched, were it even by me.”
To the robber he shouted loud and clear,
“Fool, press your mount in her pricked right ear!”
For that was the spot that he touched at need,—        25
The secret sign for the mare’s full speed.
The robber obeyed, and swift with him
She vanished in dust o’er the desert’s rim.
Each man of the tribe turned round to upbraid:—
“Thou hast thyself and thine horse betrayed.        30
“Thou hast lost the best steed man ever crossed.”
Said he, “Her honor remains unlost!
“Unconquered,—though lost for her honor’s sake,
That triumph no robber from me can take.”

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