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Descending by the mountain side
When crags give way to pastures wide,
And lower opening, ever new,
Glades, meadows, hamlets meet the view,
Which from above did coyly hide—
And with re-kindled breasts of spring
The robins thro' the orchard wing;
Excellent then—as there bestowed—
And true in charm the downward road.
Quite other spells an influence throw
Down going, down, to Jericho.
Here first on path so evil-starred
Their guide they scan, and prize the guard.
The guide, a Druze of Lebanon,
Was rumored for an Emir's son,
Or offspring of a lord undone
In Ibrahim's time. Abrupt reverse
The princes in the East may know:
Lawgivers are outlaws at a blow,
And Crœsus dwindles in the purse.
Exiled, cut off, in friendless state,
The Druze maintained an air sedate;
Without the sacrifice of pride,
Sagacious still he earned his bread,
E'en managed to maintain the head,
Yes, lead men still, if but as guide
To pilgrims.
Here his dress to mark:
A simple woolen cloak, with dark
Vertical stripes; a vest to suit;
White turban like snow-wreath; a boot


Exempt from spur; a sash of fair
White linen, long-fringed at the ends:
The garb of Lebanon. His mare
In keeping showed: the saddle plain:
Head-stall untasseled, slender rein.
But nature made her rich amends
For art's default: full eye of flame
Tempered in softness, which became
Womanly sometimes, in desire
To be caressed; ears fine to know
Least intimation, catch a hint
As tinder takes the spark from flint
And steel. Veil-like her clear attire
Of silvery hair, with speckled show
Of grayish spots, and ample flow
Of milky mane. Much like a child
The Druze she'd follow, more than mild.
Not less, at need, what power she'd don,
Clothed with the thunderbolt would run
As conscious of the Emir's son
She bore; nor knew the hireling's lash,
Red rowel, or rebuke as rash.
Courteous her treatment. But deem not
This tokened a luxurious lot:
Her diet spare; sole stable, earth;
Beneath the burning sun she'd lie
With mane disheveled, whence her eye
Would flash across the fiery dearth,
As watching for that other queen,
Her mate, a beauteous Palmyrene,
The pride of Tadmore's tented scene.
Athwart the pommel-cloth coarse-spun
A long pipe lay, and longer gun,
With serviceable yataghan.
But prized above these arms of yore,
A new revolver bright he bore


Tucked in the belt, and oft would scan.
Accoutered thus, thro' desert-blight
Whose lord is the Amalekite,
And proffering or peace or war,
The swart Druze rode his silvery Zar.
Behind him, jogging two and two,
Came troopers six of tawny hue,
Bewrinkled veterans, and grave
As Carmel's prophets of the cave:
Old Arab Bethlehemites, with guns
And spears of grandsires old. Weird ones,
Their robes like palls funereal hung
Down from the shoulder, one fold flung
In mufflement about the head,
And kept there by a fillet's brain.
Over this venerable troop
Went Belex doughty in command,
Erst of the Sultan's saucy troop
Which into death he did disband—
Politic Mahmoud—when that clan
By fair pretence, in festive way,
He trapped within the Artmedan—
Of old, Byzantium's circus gay.
But Belex a sultana saved—
His senior, though by love enslaved,
Who fed upon the stripling's May—
Long since, for now his beard was gray;
Tho' goodly yet the features fine,
Firm chin, true lip, nose aquiline—
Type of the pure Osmanli breed.
But ah, equipments gone to seed—
Ah, shabby fate! his vesture's cloth
Hinted the Jew bazaar and moth:
The saddle, too, a cast-off one,
An Aga's erst, and late was sown


With seed-pearl in the seat; but now
All that, with tag-work, all was gone—
The tag-work of wee bells in row
That made a small, snug, dulcet din
About the housings Damascene.
But mark the bay: his twenty years
Still showed him pawing with his peers.
Pure desert air, doled diet pure,
Sleek tendance, brave result insure.
Ample his chest; small head, large eye—
How interrogative with soul—
Responsive too, his master by:
Trim hoof, and pace in strong control.
Thy birth-day well they keep, thou Don,
And well thy birth-day ode they sing;
Nor ill they named thee Solomon,
Prolific sire. Long live the king.