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J A N U A R Y   1 8 7 8

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THE LEAP OF ROUSHAN BEG

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



In Poetry Pages:

"Recollecting Longfellow"
A selection of poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow originally published in The Atlantic Monthly.


Also by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Santa Filomena (1857)
The Children's Hour (1860)
Paul Revere's Ride (1861)
Canto XXIII, from Three Cantos of Dante's Paradiso (1864)
On Translating the Divina Commedia (1864; 1866)
Vox Populi (1871)
The Chamber Over the Gate (1879)


More poetry from The Atlantic Monthly.
Mounted on Kyrat strong and fleet,
His chestnut steed with four white feet,
    Roushan Beg, called Kurroglou,
Son of the road and bandit chief,
Seeking refuge and relief,
    Up the mountain pathway flew.

Such was Kyrat's matchless speed
Never yet could any steed
    Reach the dust-cloud in his course;
More than maiden, more than wife,
More than gold and next to life,
    Roushan the Robber loved his horse.

In the land that lies beyond
Erizoom and Trebizond
    Garden-girt his fortress stood;
Plundered khan, or caravan
Journeying north from Koordistan,
    Gave him wealth and wine and food.

Seven hundred and fourscore
Men-at-arms, his livery wore,
    Did his bidding night and day;
Now through regions all unknown
He was wandering, lost, alone,
    Seeking without guide his way.

Suddenly the pathway ends,
Sheer the precipice descends,
    Loud the torrent roars unseen;
Thirty feet from side to side
Yawns the chasm; on air must ride
    He who crosses this ravine.

Following close in his pursuit,
At the precipice's foot
    Reyhan the Arab of Orfah
Halted with his hundred men,
Shouting upward from the glen,
    "La il Allah! Allah-la!"

Gently Roushan Beg caressed
Kyrat's forehead, neck, and breast;
    Kissed him upon both his eyes;
Sang to him in his wild way
As upon the topmost spray
    Sings a bird before it flies.

"O my Kyrat, O my steed,
Round and slender as a reed,
    Carry me this danger through!
Satin housings shall be thine,
Shoes of gold, O Kyrat mine!
    O thou soul of Kurroglou!

"Soft thy skin as silken skein,
Soft as woman's hair thy mane,
    Tender are thine eyes and true;
All thy hoofs like ivory shine,
Polished bright. O life of mine,
    Leap, and rescue Kurroglou!"

Kyrat, then, the strong and fleet,
Drew together his four white feet,
    Paused a moment on the verge,
Measured with his eye the space,
And into the air's embrace
    Leaped as leaps the ocean surge.

As the surge o'er silt and sand
Bears a swimmer safe to land,
    Kyrat safe his rider bore;
Rattling down the deep abyss,
Fragments of the precipice
    Rolled like pebbles on a shore.

Roushan's tasselled cap of red
Trembled not upon his head;
    Careless sat he and upright;
Neither hand nor bridle shook,
Nor his head he turned to look,
    As he galloped out of sight.

Flash of harness in the air,
Seen a moment like the glare
    Of a sword drawn from its sheath!
Thus the phantom horseman passed;
And the shadow that lie cast
    Leaped the cataract underneath.

Reyhan the Arab held his breath,
While this vision of life and death
    Passed above him. "Allah-hu!"
Cried he; "in all Koordistan
Breathes there not so brave a man
    As this robber Kurroglou!"


The Atlantic Monthly; January 1878; "The Leap of Roushan Beg," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ; Volume XLI, No. 1; pages 30-31.
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