Page:Poets of John Company.djvu/120

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They say thou art a glorious king,
And justice is thy care;
Then justly reign in thy domain,
Nor rob the birds of air."

Then cried the king: "A cow or deer
For thee shall straightway bleed,
Or let a ram or tender lamb
Be slain, for thee to feed.

Mine oath forbids me to betray
My little twice-born guest:
See, how she clings, with trembling wings.
To her protector's breast."

"No flesh of lambs," the hawk replied,
"No blood of deer for me;
The falcon loves to feed on doves.
And such is Heaven's decree.

But if affection for the dove
Thy pitying heart has stirred,
Let thine own flesh my maw refresh,
Weighed down against the bird."

He carved the flesh from off his side.
And threw it in the scale.
While women's cries smote on the skies
With loud lament and wail.

He hacked the flesh from side and arm,
From chest and back and thigh,
But still above the little dove
The monarch's scale stood high.

He heaped the scale with piles of flesh.
With sinews, blood, and skin.
And when alone was left him bone
He threw himself therein.