19 July 2010

Poetry Nook

A poem by Longfellow retelling Marco Polo's story of the destruction of the Caliph in Baghdad by Alau, better known as Hulagu Khan, grandson of Chinggis Khan. His brother was Kubla Khan who did "a stately pleasure-dome decree" in another pretty good poem.

"I said to the Kalif: 'Thou art old,
Thou hast no need of so much gold.
Thou shouldst not have heaped and hidden it here,
Till the breath of Battle was hot and near,
But have sown through the land these useless hoards
To spring into shining blades of swords,
And keep thine honour sweet and clear.
* * * * *
Then into his dungeon I locked the drone,
And left him to feed there all alone
In the honey-cells of his golden hive:
Never a prayer, nor a cry, nor a groan
Was heard from those massive walls of stone,
Nor again was the Kalif seen alive.'
This is the story, strange and true,
That the great Captain Alau
Told to his brother, the Tartar Khan,
When he rode that day into Cambalu.
By the road that leadeth to Ispahan."

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