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In The Tent of Al-Fazir
Sat in the tent of Al-Fazir,
My cultured noble Grand Vizier,
We spoke at length of throne and state
All through the day and on, till late
That night he said “King, if I may
Suggest we stop awhile and play
Chess, which reflects this fine country,
From humble men to the gentry.”
'Twas new to me, Grand Vizier saw,
So he explained the basic laws:
That each side takes a turn to play
And each sought other's king to slay.
This told, my wise friend set a board
Between us and then further showed:
The king was the first he set down,
Whose presence represents my crown.
The queen came next; my adviser
Said with a smile that he was her.
The rooks placed now by his ringed hand
Were warlords under my command.
The bishops – tax-collectors they -
Charge obliquely to claim their pay;
Then knights are placed and I am told
They are champions, soldiers bold.
“But what of these small ones” I cried?
For in the box were more I'd spied.
Al-Fazir laughed and said “Dear king,
These are the soul of everything.
Without these pawns or common men
We would not have your throne; my pen
Can only order when there be
These simple folk obeying me.”
His meaning then I took to heart
For all the kingdom played its part.
A better king I vowed that day
Would strive to learn and love and play
This wondrous game my friend had shown
To teach me lesson of my throne.
And for all of my life held dear
The words of good friend Al-Fazir.
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