Sohrab and Rustum

So followed, Rustum left his tents, and crossed
The camp, and to the Persian host appeared.
And all the Persians knew him, and with shouts
Hailed; but the Tartars knew not who he was.
And dear as the wet diver to the eyes
Of his pale wife who waits and weeps on shore,
By sandy Bahrein, in the Persian Gulf,
Plunging all day in the blue waves, at night,
Having made up his tale of precious pearls,
Rejoins her in their hut upon the sands –
So dear to the pale Persians Rustum came.

Matthew Arnold, ‘Sohrab and Rustum’ (1853), extract.

‘Sohrab and Rustum’ is based on an episode from the 11th-century Persian poet Abul Kasim Mansur’s Shahnama. It tells of the search of Sohrab for his father Rustum, head of the Persian forces, and their fatal battle (neither being aware of the other’s identity).

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