MANSUR, HE IS FEVERED The light betrays, the dark conceals, And yet we cannot pause. Our saddles chafe, Our bones all ache, and Mansur, He is fevered. These are strange horses, Wilful and thick-necked, With stranger ways, no desert grace. And Mithra will not pray, nor Praying, guide us. My cold hands cannot grasp my thoughts. The trees bend low, snow-heavy, Mute as to our destination. Harsh pines, no cedar sweetness, No soft shelter. More bleak hills loom ahead, Death on their skirts of scree and tangle, And so we turn again – Hungry, slow, and shorn of life – For other roads. That we should come so far And find so little; That we should persevere... It’s been so very long, and Mansur, He is fevered. What wastes, unwarned, are these? A green and pleasant land, they said, Rich cities, rolling fields, Soft valleys and fair towns. They surely lied. This England is a bitter place, Awash with narrow eyes; Its rain is ice, and all around Dead centuries Parade their wares. But yet if Prophet, Saint, or Djinn Is to be born, in this grey land, Then where the choice? Have centuries not bound Us to our task? Do we not ride to each and every star, Do we not carry wonders in our packs And sigh each sorry time That caul and cord are cut, only to weep And travel on? Thus North we ride, and West, We three fools from the East; Three names which change, And changing stay the same In cheerless hope. I, Sadasiva, bear my lot, And urge my pale beast on; Mithra comes, but will not pray, And Mansur, He is fevered.
John Linwood Grant is a writer/editor from Yorkshire, UK, with some seventy short stories and novelettes published during the last five years in venues such as Lackington’s Magazine, Vastarien and Weirdbook, and in several award-winning anthologies. He writes dark contemporary fiction and period supernatural tales. He is the editor of Occult Detective Magazine and various anthologies. His new collection of weird fiction, Where All is Night, and Starless, is out now from Trepidatio.
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