In the Name of GOD, Eternal Victor!
Lord of all we can and cannot explore
HE alone knows what to-marrow will hold,
And alone knows what passed in days of yore.
O It was in the blessèd land of Sham
In the second century of Islam
When morbid Saffah did revolt and kill
The princes of Umayyah by GOD’s Will,
That a company of loyal cavaliers,
A fine troupe of loyal knights with few peers,
Made camp in the wilderness for the night
After making the prayer of evening light.
Among these knights many bold names are found
And around each, mighty tales do resound,
But chief among these knights I could count four:
There was Abdul Latif of Lot who swore
To protect all those in need all his life;
And Gawdat Abdul Aziz, quick to strife,
Who fought the Lion of Byzantium
Who sought to conquer the Moslem Kingdom;
Persivar Abdul Fattah, the great man
And truest knight of noble Khourasan;
And there was fair Galal Abdul Wadud
Whose nights would pass away in long sujud.
And to these names I could add ninety-four
Of stalworth men of chivalrous valour,
And of squires add another fifty more!
And hark now that which yonder hither comes!
Two weary forms embraced as would good chums!
And one whose hair is as the setting sun
When red with exhaustion ending its run.
They come, these strangers from the wilderness.
One cries Sayyid! Sayyid! see his noblesse!
And soon a mighty clamour did resound
As the noble stranger slunk to the ground
And out his young mouth such eloquence flies
Every man grew silent with surprise
Until the strength of word would make him weep;
By such words, anger and sorrow ran deep:
“Bismillah! I am Prince Abdul Rahman
From the wrath of the bloody pretender
Who the flowers of Umayyah did render,
That grace and splendor in me alone rest
The last of them – may GOD make me the best!
But O! the carnage of that curséd day!
My noble kinfolk slain! I fled away
With the hounds of Abbas in quick pursuit
With sharpened blades following our hurried route.
I left my son and sisters who remained
And fled with Bedr and Prince Yahya, again.
Lo! the river Euphrates lay before,
Closing in behind: the assassin corps!
Across the river fierce and wild we swam.
O woeful day! how sad to tell I am,
How Yahya panicked in the current swift
And to the enemy shore began to drift.
I called to him O Brother! Come to me!
But the murderous liars promised mercy
But when upon the shore, they cut him down
O most loathsome sight! I nearly did drown
To see them carry off his princely head!
My kinfolk gone, my noble brother dead,
I am the last of my race that remain
And head West for a kingdom to attain
In the Maghreb, being lead by a dream
And by how your fair faces and eyes beam
I see that you are loyal Syrians
Who may help against the Assyrians.”
“O Prince I am your man!” cried Persivar,
“And in a dream saw the sign of a star
Sail across the sky from the crescent moon –
What followed is enough to make one swoon!
It sailed across the night’s noble black sky
To-wards the Maghreb your dream did imply!
There emerged a relic from a mountain,
A chalice, wine flowing like a fountain!
I have no doubt it was the holy cup
That saw Isu and his companions sup
That the Christians say they took through Sarra
To the sunny land they call Ibarra.
There, my prince! It is Providence Divine
For our company with yours to combine
To retrieve this famous, sacred chalice
And protect your blood from Saffah’s malice.”
Tales bold and great would fill these stern pages
Of the deeds of noble knights and sages;
If they were told in their entirety
We may speak of them for many ages!
Instead let us speak of only a few,
And the rest, you for yourselves may construe
The numberless trials of mind and heart
That they surpassed before they could depart
For the promised shore of sweet Andalous
From the coast of the Berber shore and use
The prince’s heritage to spark loyalty,
Still he was subject to near treachery!
Indeed a pricey prince with a red head
Must be on guard at the Western shore’s end.
What concerns us most instead is Galal
Whose fantastical, mystical tale shall
Bejewel our fine proverbial tale
And realise the quest for the famed grail:
It was near the town of Wasqah he roamed
Through every alley and square he combed
And found no one, but in the wilderness
There was a calling he could not suppress:
An ethereal, longing, sweet houri song
That seemed to some Paradise to belong.
A church! An old place of pagan prayer
Long forsaken, but outside standing there
Wreathed in veils of fire by the cloister door
The Maiden of the Chalice – which she bore!
Spellbound to her enchanted voice most bizarre
He crawled to her feet by the door ajar.
Humble upon his knees and wreathed in flame
Of soft, soothing temperament he came
To feel, to see, to know and understand
When by the ruby-flowing cup’s command
In that fatal sip the rose of wisdom
Revealed within the Heavenly Kingdom.
The gentle blossoms that sprang from his breast
Shone from within – none would doubt he was blessed
When looking at the fierce fire of his eyes,
But from where that fire sprang, few could surmise.
And elsewhere on the plains of Musarah
Two armies lined to meet – a sight of awe!
The fledgling Hawk of the Quraysh did face
Al Fihri, the emir he sought to replace,
Along the banks of the Guadalquivir
With a turban green tied to a spear
And his loyal band of Syrian knights
Willing to face their deaths for princely rights.
Lo! yonder riding fast and fierce in flame
With the chalice in his hand to proclaim
To all who meet him as his foe that day
GOD’s Fury will all his enemies slay
By sanctity of heart, sweetness of sword,
The fire of his eyes, and his valour for his Lord.
Thus it was, or may have been, as was told
How Abdul Rahman in those days of old
Won a kingdom blessed by the Grace of GOD
Where scholars and poets would one day trod
In numbers vast and excellence peerless,
Even Mansur at Mecca did confess
He was a prince of princes in his day
And thanked GOD for the sea holding him at bay.
But what then of that long-sought sacred grail
That cured those who drank from it of life’s veil?
Why was it then that Galal could acquire
This prize that many before did aspire?
The secret is that the grail chooses who,
Like the path chooses which foot will subdue.
So ask not how Galal did accomplish
But rather how Fate chose him for that wish.
But while the holy cup had served him well
It was time to bid the honour farewell.
So back to the woods of Wusqah he went
But neither church nor maiden were present,
Only a tavern where a church had been
Where played a familiar song within.
So our Moslem cavalier thought it fit
To hide the great chalice here and leave it
To the slim hands of Fate to grapple with
And so ends my part in this Moslem myth.