The Lament of the Border Cattle Thief

O woe is me for the merry life
    I led beyond the Bar,
And a treble woe for my winsome wife
   That weeps at Shalimar. 

They have taken away my long jezail,
   My shield and sabre fine,
And heaved me into the Central jail
   For lifting of the kine. 

The steer may low within the byre,
   The Jat may tend his grain,
But there’ll be neither loot nor fire
   Till I come back again. 

And God have mercy on the Jat
   When once my fetters fall,
And Heaven defend the farmer’s hut
   When I am loosed from thrall. 

It’s woe to bend the stubborn back
   Above the grinching quern,
It’s woe to hear the leg-bar clack
   And jingle when I turn! 

But for the sorrow and the shame,
    The brand on me and mine,
I’ll pay you back in leaping flame
   And loss of the butchered kine. 

For every cow I spared before
   In charity set free,
If I may reach my hold once more
    I’ll reive an honest three. 

For every time I raised the low
    That scared the dusty plain,
By sword and cord, by torch and tow
    I’ll light the land with twain! 

Ride hard, ride hard to Abazai,
    Young Sahib with the yellow hair—
Lie close, lie close as Khattacks lie,
   Fat herds below Bonair! 

The one I’ll shoot at twilight-tide,
   At dawn I’ll drive the other;
The black shall mourn for hoof and hide,
   The white man for his brother. 

’Tis war, red war, I’ll give you then,
   War till my sinews fail;
For the wrong you have done to a chief of men,
   And a thief of the Zukka Kheyl. 

And if I fall to your hand afresh
   I give you leave for the sin,
That you cram my throat with the foul pig’s flesh,
   And swing me in the skin!

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