Kismet and the King

THE king lay ill in Ispahan,
And ill at rest.
All day, all night, his couriers ran
To fetch rare herbs to cure the man, —
The king, opprest
By Allah’s ban in Ispahan.
The poet sat him at his feet
With lute of gold.
“ Sing me a song for monarch meet,
To hush me into slumber sweet, —
To hush and hold
Till they return, my couriers fleet.”
From Khurasàn the hot wind sped,
The hot simoom.
“ His wing of flame,” the sick man said,
“The fiery Angel of the Dead,
With brow of gloom.
Allah! not yet, not yet!” he said.
The poet touched a plaintive string.
The days are two,
There are two days, he sang, O King,
When useless are the prayers we bring,
The deeds we do,
For lease of life, O mighty King.
First, on the unappointed day,
The day unset,
Sword cannot kill nor tempest slay.
Yea, second, on the appointed day
Of dread Kismet
Not Allah great can guard our way.
The Ethiop waved a sleepy fan
Above the bed.
Even at the gates the couriers ran
With potent herbs to cure the man, —
The great king, dead
Upon his bed in Ispahan.
Florence Wilkinson.