"Coiner Of Sweet Words"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this long poem, based on an episode in the Persian epic Shah Namah, Sohrab, a young Tartar warrior, had been reared by his mother in a province of Persia; because she did not want him to be a warrior, she told his father that the child was a girl. Now, however, Sohrab has grown to manhood and in hopes of finding his father, the famous war chieftain Rustum, challenges the Persian army to send its greatest warrior to fight him in a single combat. Without knowing that the challenger is his son, Rustum comes out of retirement to fight the youth. Although Sohrab at first thinks that the Persian defender is his father, Rustum, who fights incognito, thinks that the hesitant boy wants to back from his challenge and forces him to begin the combat. Just before the quotation, Sohrab again asks the unknown defender if he is Rustum; when Rustum angrily rebukes him, the battle is renewed with such fury that he forgets himself, shouts his battlecry and kills his son, who was too shocked by the cry to defend himself. Early in the combat, Rustum is enraged that the youth has so much skill in arms.

His breast heaved, his lips foam'd, and twice his voice
Was choked with rage; at last these words broke way:–
"Girl! nimble with thy feet, not with thy hands!
Curl'd minion, dancer, coiner of sweet words!
Fight, let me hear thy hateful voice no more! . . .
Speak not to me of truce, and pledge, and wine!
Remember all thy valour; try thy feints
And cunning! all the pity I had is gone; . . ."