The Pasha And The Dervish.

A poem by Victor Marie Hugo

("Un jour Ali passait.")

[XIII, Nov. 8, 1828.]

Ali came riding by - the highest head
Bent to the dust, o'ercharged with dread,
Whilst "God be praised!" all cried;
But through the throng one dervish pressed,
Aged and bent, who dared arrest
The pasha in his pride.

"Ali Tepelini, light of all light,
Who hold'st the Divan's upper seat by right,
Whose fame Fame's trump hath burst -
Thou art the master of unnumbered hosts,
Shade of the Sultan - yet he only boasts
In thee a dog accurst!

"An unseen tomb-torch flickers on thy path,
Whilst, as from vial full, thy spare-naught wrath
Splashes this trembling race:
These are thy grass as thou their trenchant scythes
Cleaving their neck as 'twere a willow withe -
Their blood none can efface.

"But ends thy tether! for Janina makes
A grave for thee where every turret quakes,
And thou shalt drop below
To where the spirits, to a tree enchained,
Will clutch thee, there to be 'mid them retained
For all to-come in woe!

"Or if, by happy chance, thy soul might flee
Thy victims, after, thou shouldst surely see
And hear thy crimes relate;
Streaked with the guileless gore drained from their veins,
Greater in number than the reigns on reigns
Thou hopedst for thy state.

"This so will be! and neither fleet nor fort
Can stay or aid thee as the deathly port
Receives thy harried frame!
Though, like the cunning Hebrew knave of old,
To cheat the angel black, thou didst enfold
In altered guise thy name."

Ali deemed anchorite or saint a pawn -
The crater of his blunderbuss did yawn,
Sword, dagger hung at ease:
But he had let the holy man revile,
Though clouds o'erswept his brow; then, with a smile,
He tossed him his pelisse.

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