The Bengali Book of English Verse/The Flight of Humayun (Hur Chunder Dutt)

The Flight of Humayun.

"Humayun fled towards Amarcot. His horse died on the way; and he desired Tirdi Beg, one of his chiefs, to let him have his horse. The request was refused, so low had royalty fallen. One Koka, dismounting his own mother, gave the king her horse, and placing the lady on a camel ran himself on foot beside her."

At midnight, o'er the desert sands
The monarch fled alone,
And in the light of paling stars
His blood-stained armour shone.
Disbanded were his glorious ranks,
His bravest chieftains slain,
Yet o'er his wide ancestral realm
Once more he hoped to reign.

The gallant barb which he bestrode
Had travelled far from home,
And his dun hide on either side
Was wet with snow-white foam;
But minding not his toil he sped
As swiftly as the wind,
To save from foes his regal lord,
The kindest of the kind.

As horse and horseman onward passed,
Still feebler waxed the din,
The echoing tramp and deafening shout,
And roar of culverin.
'Thou bear'st me well, my barb,' he said
'Thou bear'st me well this night
And I with jewelled bit and band
Thy labours will requite.'

But ere another hour had passed,
Down falls the noble steed;
The king dismounts in fear and haste
And looks at him with heed,—
Distended nostrils, starting eyes
And stiffening limbs display
That life with him is ebbing fast
And soon shall pass away.

Beyond the hills by cloudlets ribbed,
The broad-disked moon appears,
And o'er the vasty sea of sand
Its crest of fire uprears;
And far adown the glimmering glen
Advance with headlong haste
A hundred fugitives to seek
The refuge of the waste.

And Tirdi Beg, the veteran chief,
Among the troop was found,
The king accosted him by name,
But looked he not around;
He plied amain his blood-stained spurs
And passed his lord with speed,—
Thus e'er the cringing race behave
When most their aid we need.

'Is it for this that from thy youth
I reared thee in my hall,
And favours heaped on thee and thine
From which ye feared no fall?
Is this the guerdon of my love
So equable and true?
This night, ungrateful Tirdi Beg,
This night thou'lt dearly rue.'

'Ho! Tirdi Beg,' brave Koka cried,
'Death light upon thy head,
Dost thou desert at utmost need
Him at whose board thou'st fed?
The flashing brand that's in my hand
Shall cleave thy skull in twain,
If e'er upon the tented field
I meet thee once again.'

'My lord, my king, accept I pray
A subject's preferred love,
Who, though despised at camp and court,
Disloyal ne'er shall prove;
The steed that bore my mother safe,
Is at my king's command,
And she upon a camel fleet
Shall cross the sea of sand.

'The foe, the foe, I hear the drum,
The trumpet's echoing peal,
I see the waving of their flags,
The flashing of their steel.
A thousand dark plumes cloud the air,
A thousand flambeaux burn;
They speed, like eagles from their home,
Among the mountain fern.

'The earth shakes 'neath their chargers' tramp,
Mount, mount my liege in haste,
Ere like the wild and fierce Simoom
They sweep across the waste.
Where Tatta's mountains lift to heaven
Their diadems of snow,
Once more to rear thy banner high
Great king! we now must go.'

The borrowed steed, with lightning speed,
Forth darts into the wind,
The camel fleet brave Koka leads,
And follows close behind;
And many a hairbreadth 'scape they made
And trying toil o'ercame,
Till Tatta's lordly mountain peaks
Burst forth in garbs of flame.

And when, again, by heaven's decree
He won his father's throne,
He bade the heralds to proclaim
The deeds by Koka done;
Jewels and gold—his royal robe,
And lordly 'states he gave
To him who perilled his own life
His monarch's life to save.