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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Arabia: Sabla

The Battle of Sabla

By Jaafer Ben Alba

Translated by J. D. Carlyle

SABLA, thou saw’st the exulting foe,

In fancied triumph crowned;

Thou heard’st their frantic females throw

These galling taunts around.

“Make now your choice; the terms we give,

Desponding victims, hear:

These fetters on your hands receive,

Or in your hearts the spear.”

“And is the conflict o’er,” we cried,

“And lie we at your feet?

And dare you vauntingly decide

The fortune we must meet?

“A brighter day we soon shall see,

Though now the prospect lowers,

And conquest, peace, and liberty

Shall yield our future hours.”

The foe advanced: in firm array

We rushed o’er Sabla’s sands;

And the red sabre marked our way

Amidst their yielding bands.

Then, as they writhed in death’s cold grasp,

We cried, “Our choice is made:

These hands the sabre’s hilt shall clasp,

Your hearts shall have the blade.”