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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Birds of Passage

Flight the Fifth. The Leap of Roushan Beg

MOUNTED on Kyrat strong and fleet,

His chestnut steed with four white feet,

Roushan Beg, called Kurroglou,

Son of the road and bandit chief,

Seeking refuge and relief,

Up the mountain pathway flew.

Such was Kyrat’s wondrous speed,

Never yet could any steed

Reach the dust-cloud in his course.

More than maiden, more than wife,

More than gold and next to life

Roushan the Robber loved his horse.

In the land that lies beyond

Erzeroum and Trebizond,

Garden-girt his fortress stood;

Plundered khan, or caravan

Journeying north from Koordistan,

Gave him wealth and wine and food

Seven hundred and fourscore

Men at arms his livery wore,

Did his bidding night and day;

Now, through regions all unknown,

He was wandering, lost, alone,

Seeking without guide his way.

Suddenly the pathway ends,

Sheer the precipice descends,

Loud the torrent roars unseen;

Thirty feet from side to side

Yawns the chasm; on air must ride

He who crosses this ravine.

Following close in his pursuit,

At the precipice’s foot

Reyhan the Arab of Orfah

Halted with his hundred men,

Shouting upward from the glen,

“La Illáh illa Alláh!”

Gently Roushan Beg caressed

Kyrat’s forehead, neck, and breast;

Kissed him upon both his eyes,

Sang to him in his wild way,

As upon the topmost spray

Sings a bird before it flies.

“O my Kyrat, O my steed,

Round and slender as a reed,

Carry me this peril through!

Satin housings shall be thine,

Shoes of gold, O Kyrat mine,

O thou soul of Kurroglou!

“Soft thy skin as silken skein,

Soft as woman’s hair thy mane,

Tender are thine eyes and true;

All thy hoofs like ivory shine,

Polished bright; O life of mine,

Leap, and rescue Kurroglou!”

Kyrat, then, the strong and fleet,

Drew together his four white feet,

Paused a moment on the verge,

Measured with his eye the space,

And into the air’s embrace

Leaped as leaps the ocean surge.

As the ocean surge o’er sand

Bears a swimmer safe to land,

Kyrat safe his rider bore;

Rattling down the deep abyss

Fragments of the precipice

Rolled like pebbles on a shore.

Roushan’s tasselled cap of red

Trembled not upon his head,

Careless sat he and upright;

Neither hand nor bridle shook,

Nor his head he turned to look,

As he galloped out of sight.

Flash of harness in the air,

Seen a moment like the glare

Of a sword drawn from its sheath;

Thus the phantom horseman passed,

And the shadow that he cast

Leaped the cataract underneath.

Reyhan the Arab held his breath

While this vision of life and death

Passed above him. “Allahu!”

Cried he. “In all Koordistan

Lives there not so brave a man

As this Robber Kurroglou!”