Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Sa’d, son of Malik, of the Kais Tribe: A Tribesman’s Valor

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Sa’d, son of Malik, of the Kais Tribe: A Tribesman’s Valor

By Arabic Literature

Translation of Sir Charles James Lyall

HOW evil a thing is war, that bows men to shameful rest!

War burns away in her blaze all glory and boasting of men:

Naught stands but the valiant heart to face pain—the hard-hoofed steed—

The ring-mail set close and firm, the nail-crowned helms and the spears;

And onset, again after rout, when men shrink from the serried array—

Then, then, fall away all the vile, the hirelings! and shame is strong!

War girds up her skirts before them, and evil unmixed is bare.

For their hearts were for maidens veiled, not for driving the gathered spoil:

Yea, evil the heirs we leave, sons of Yakshar and al-Laksh!

But let flee her fires who will, no flinching for me, son of Kais!

O children of Kais! stand firm before her! gain peace or give:

Who seeks flight before her fear, his Doom stands and bars the road.

Away! Death allows no quitting of place, and brands are bare!

What is life for us, when the uplands and valleys are ours no more?

Ah, where are the mighty now? the spears and generous hands?