Stanza 142


Four days of thirst now plague the tiny band
Which still defies the caliph's harsh command.
They see the great Euphrates river flow
Beyond their reach and all the people know
Their only hope to live is to engage
The enemy, or they will not assuage
The thirst that makes the little children cry.
Against Umayyad troops the heroes vie
To force the passage to the river's banks.
The standard bearer penetrates the ranks
With courage that combines with deadly skill,
Allowing brave Abbas the chance to fill
A water skin and quickly to return.
Heroically, the man elects to spurn
The chance to drink and brings the skin instead
To where the children weep in fear and dread.
But as he does, he turns at bay to fight
And drops the water skin. Then at the sight
Of all the water spilling on the ground,
The children's clamor is a mournful sound.