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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Granada

A Very Mournful Ballad

By Spanish Ballad

Translated by Lord Byron

On the Siege and Conquest of Alhama, Which, in the Arabic Language, Is to the Following Purport

THE MOORISH King rides up and down

Through Granada’s royal town;

From Elvira’s gates to those

Of Bivarambla on he goes.

Woe is me, Alhama!

Letters to the monarch tell

How Alhama’s city fell:

In the fire the scroll he threw,

And the messenger he slew.

Woe is me, Alhama!

He quits his mule, and mounts his horse,

And through the street directs his course;

Through the street of Zacatin

To the Alhambra spurring in.

Woe is me, Alhama!

When the Alhambra walls he gained,

On the moment he ordained

That the trumpet straight should sound

With the silver clarion round.

Woe is me, Alhama!

And when the hollow drums of war

Beat the loud alarm afar,

That the Moors of town and plain

Might answer to the martial strain;

Woe is me, Alhama!

Then the Moors, by this aware

That bloody Mars recalled them there,

One by one, and two by two,

To a mighty squadron grew.

Woe is me, Alhama!

Out then spake an aged Moor

In these words the king before,

“Wherefore call on us, O King?

What may mean this gathering?”

Woe is me, Alhama!

“Friends! ye have, alas, to know

Of a most disastrous blow,

That the Christians, stern and bold,

Have obtained Alhama’s hold.”

Woe is me, Alhama!

Out then spake old Alfaqui,

With his beard so white to see,

“Good King! thou art justly served,

Good King! this thou hast deserved.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“By thee were slain, in evil hour,

The Abencerrage, Granada’s flower;

And strangers were received by thee

Of Cordova, the Chivalry.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“And for this, O King! is sent

On thee a double chastisement;

Thee and thine, thy crown and realm,

One last wreck shall overwhelm.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“He who holds no laws in awe,

He must perish by the law;

And Granada must be won,

And thyself with her undone.”

Woe is me, Alhama!

Fire flashed from out the old Moor’s eyes,

The monarch’s wrath began to rise

Because be answered, and because

He spake exceeding well of laws.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“There is no law to say such things

As may disgust the ear of kings,”

Thus, snorting with his choler, said

The Moorish king, and doomed him dead.

Woe is me, Alhama!

Moor Alfaqui! Moor Alfaqui!

Though thy beard so hoary be,

The king hath sent to have thee seized,

For Alhama’s loss displeased.

Woe is me, Alhama!

And to fix thy head upon

High Alhambra’s loftiest stone;

That this for thee should be the law,

And others tremble when they saw.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“Cavalier, and man of worth!

Let these words of mine go forth;

Let the Moorish monarch know

That to him I nothing owe.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“But on my soul Alhama weighs,

And on my inmost spirit preys;

And if the king his land hath lost,

Yet others may have lost the most.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“Sires have lost their children, wives

Their lords, and valiant men their lives;

One what best his love might claim

Hath lost, another wealth or fame.

Woe is me, Alhama!

“I lost a damsel in that hour,

Of all the land the loveliest flower;

Doubloons a hundred I would pay,

And think her ransom cheap that day.”

Woe is me, Alhama!

And as these things the old Moor said,

They severed from the trunk his head;

And to the Alhambra’s wall with speed

’T was carried, as the king decreed.

Woe is me, Alhama!

And men and infants therein weep

Their loss, so heavy and so deep;

Granada’s ladies, all she rears

Within her walls, burst into tears.

Woe is me, Alhama!

And from the windows o’er the walls

The sable web of mourning falls;

The king weeps as a woman o’er

His loss, for it is much and sore.

Woe is me, Alhama!