The Passing of Timur

when the sun will part
There comes a sullenness of heart
To him who still would look upon
The glory of the summer sun.

His power even at the end—a word

And nothing more be spoken.

His sons depart with darkened eyes

And seeds of violence in their hearts.

But to their ire, the great Timur

Pays little heed. His thoughts

Turn elsewhere. His eyes falter, fade, return—

Private weakness not fit for others’ sight—

In the censer-perfumed, dim, sickly light

He groans and—yearning—calls out the name—


Calls out the name I heard n’er before,

Before the fever fell o’er him,

Him who once strode over all the land—

Flame and sword clasped in his hand,

The name that now—in fevered torment—o’erpowers

Mind and heart. Beneath the shade of memory—

Whether fantasy or truth, I cannot speak—

The mighty man, chief of his heirdom, shudders

And cries,

“Peace! Be gone, Eblis, for thou shalt see

Thy power has no hold on me!”

Then, with timid voice—that strikes a death knell

In my heart—falls silent but for the name—


All are gone, except for me—last witness to

A sovereign’s passing. Pen and parchment—nothing more—

My tools, my task, my greatest honor.

But now the silence grows still stronger,

And cruel phantasms carry away—from the mind of him—

His fortitude of heart—all that might

His strength provide.

His voice is low, his mind returns, and on me now

His eye doth fall.

“Bring the friar”—his last command

Chills me to see such strength so changed. But—

“Bring him here”—I dare not, would not stray.

The order given, the man is brought, and now—

Even now—Timur grows intent. His face, his form,

Return to strength (though fevered diadem yet remains).

“I do not seek forgiveness, Father”—says he

Whose shadow covers earth.

“But listen now, and listen well

To all the tale I must now tell. My heridom, truly,

Was bought with blood—but still a higher price was paid

Than any yet have thought. I made my home in Samarkand

At cost of wild, youthful days, where love was true.

Oh, hear me now, and I will tell, of the cruel

Machinations of ambition and hell.

I gained a realm, a crown—the earth,

But all of these are yet not worth

One final touch of her sweet hand—

In youth her voice was music, peace—

Yet long ago I left her path

In pursuit of all I now possess.

But gaining all, I lost the rest—

Her spirit gone—and with it, peace.”

And with a last confession spoken, Timur—

Ruler, conquer, all—releases breath and falls now still.

Love’s burden—greatest, last, and n’er fulfilled.

Opening quotation from Edgar Allen Poe’s “Tamerlane”


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