Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ARABIAN HORSE, by WILLIAM STEWARD GORDON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE ARABIAN HORSE, by            
First Line: You ask, 'whence came the arab horse
Last Line: To the sultan's royal stall.
Subject(s): Animals; Arabia; Horses; Islam; Muslims; Moslems

You ask, "Whence came the Arab horse,
That pride of every land,
Which Davenport has sought anew,
From the Sultan's royal band?"

Then list, a tale of old Tabah,
Which they tell the children there,
As around the mosque they linger
For the Moslem's call to prayer.

A legend wild of Islam's land
Of desert heat and death,
It comes with scent of mint and myrrh,
And warm Sirocco's breath.

Mohammed and a hundred sheiks
By Bedouin bandits pressed,
Were mounted on the noblest steeds
That maidens e'er caressed.

From early morn, till morn again
Came shimmering o'er the sand,
Not e'en a drop of dew refreshed
The swiftly flying band.

On, on the second day they sped
Beneath the brassy sky,
Their spreading nostrils seared with dust,
With swollen, bloodshot eye.

And reeled they now beneath their load,
And slower grew their pace,
And low the lordly heads were hung,
And low the necks of grace.

But see! They halt and sniff the air
From a wady down below;
"Dismount!" the swarthy chieftain cries,
"And let the horses go!"

And fired to frenzy by their thirst,
And the rippling song of hope,
They dash away with snort and neigh
Adown the rocky slope.

But ere the tethers scarce were loosed,
There came the sickening cry—
"Come back! The foe appears again;
Mount! Mount again and fly!"

But they flung defiance on their heels,
Nor heeded curse nor call—
Save six alone, who sadly turned
And climbed the glistering wall.

And each obeyed his master's voice,
But strove to speak his pain
With stifled neigh and nodding head
And salt-incrusted mane.

"Mark each one well and let him go!"
The admiring prophet cries;
"Such loyalty must be repaid,
E'en though Mohammed dies."

They slaked their thirst; they lived and thrived,
And bore Abdallah's name,
And from this breed of grace and speed
Our modern trotters came.

But English pride and Yankee fire
Refined the Arab gold,
And breathed the winds and lightnings
In these forms of classic mold.

So Alcazar and Cresceus—
Mambrinos, Pachens—all
Run through the famous Rysdyk line
To the Sultan's royal stall.

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