The ruins of Dregel have sunk in the clouds
The setting sun peers back, fight-worn is its red gaze,
opposite, a gentle green-grassed hill of mounds
with a spear and a flag that the wind frays.
Two youths are kneeling with lutes in their hands
- looks as if there were a cross struck to the spear's stem -
with victory shouts proud Ali cheers his bands
and he dances and praises and feasts them.
"Szondi's two pages, why do they not come?
Rose-bushes with angels' voice - they rhyme no fury -
let them weave a wreath of songs here to become
the bejewelled neck of a Houri."
"See there, on the hill-top, next to the green mound
the infidel captain's spear and flag they're guarding -
there kneels your precious pair - and sweet is the sound
of their lutes which they pluck with eyes smarting."
"Then Marton, the priest of Nagyorosz climbed up,
sent by Ali's haughty message as befriender:
`Look, good Captain Szondi, you might as well give up;
woman-born, you all die or surrender."'
"Handsome troubadours, on this sad, barren mound
by this cross and spear you've lost reason for chanting -
come with me, where's dancing, honey, merry sound;
you'll be dined there with sherbet and dancing."
"`Go good father Marton, this is my response:
Szondi never wanted mercy from your master -
from the hands of Jesus flow true mercy's fonts;
it's to Him I commend the disaster!' "
"Palm-buds, figs and sherbet, all the south's rich fruit
all that grows and ripens in lands of the Sultan -
sweetly scented spices, balm, fragrance acute,
come on! Join Ali's feast, quit the sulking!"
"`Let the canons roar, then!' heathen Ali speaks;
bombs shower on Dregel, hailstorming grenades fall -
hell's fiery legions rise to scale the peaks
hammering at the fortress' stone wall."
"Gentlemen handsome, the sun's gone to sleep,
over its shoulders are red robes of a kaftan;
wind strikes up the wood-stems, moon spies through the deep,
chilly night swishes o'er the dead captain."
"On the fortress' square all the silver and gold
Szondi has them build a treasure-pyre mighty;
with dagger in hand he must, fearless and bold,
put to death every whinnying palfrey."
"Well then, what of it now, so good Szondi fell.
...Ali acted nobly... Gave him a hero's rest.
He rests on the hilltop - this is what befell -
Start singing of Ali! Give him your songs' very best!"
"Well... he had two minstrels, a pair of orphaned boys,
clad them in the best clothes, velvety and soft-hued,
he would not allow them to die in garments soiled
so they mourn ... feeling sad, over-valued."
"He sent us to Ali... `Ali's lavish, Ali's good,
harsh sun will not darken your fair faces with him -
you'll sleep in his tent - there's no wind, but good food,
come on boys, pay your accolades to him!"'
"Szondi fought with thousands! Alone, he, and in vain!
Holding off the ruin with his own back merely -
armies fell in droves by his mighty sword slain
in his left hand his hauberk shone fiercely..."
"True... He fought like Rustem' - it can't be denied -
though his knees and sinews by our guns were broken,
true... I saw the fight... But stop! Ali will chide,
and his wrath must not vainly be woken!"
"Like crops fell the corpses, the Turks fell or fled,
littering the valley like landfill all gory.
He stood on the blood-soaked peak of his death
and awaited his own end with glory."
"Well, when will you stop? Won't you come to an end
whimpering the praises of your clumsy leader?
To hell with you bastards! To our whip you will bend
and you'll languish in Lord Ali's slammer!"
Let his eyes run dry that butchered such a lord
wither, O God, the arms that halted Szondi's darting,
spare mercy, O God, on none who could afford
be the cause of his early departing.