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

Tales of a Wayside Inn

Part Second. Interlude

“I THOUGHT before your tale began,”

The Student murmured, “we should have

Some legend written by Judah Rav

In his Gemara of Babylon;

Or something from the Gulistan,—

The tale of the Cazy of Hamadan,

Or of that King of Khorasan

Who saw in dreams the eyes of one

That had a hundred years been dead

Still moving restless in his head,

Undimmed, and gleaming with the lust

Of power, though all the rest was dust.

“But lo! your glittering caravan

On the road that leadeth to Ispahan

Hath led us farther to the East

Into the regions of Cathay.

Spite of your Kalif and his gold,

Pleasant has been the tale you told,

And full of color; that at least

No one will question or gainsay.

And yet on such a dismal day

We need a merrier tale to clear

The dark and heavy atmosphere.

So listen, Lordlings, while I tell,

Without a preface, what befell

A simple cobbler, in the year—

No matter; it was long ago;

And that is all we need to know.”