Part 17 out of 33
Of music to the Moon--farewell--farewell.
 The Hermes Trismegistus.
 The great Festival of the Moon.
 Bubastis, or Isis, was the Diana of the Egyptian mythology.
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
There is some star--or may it be
That moon we saw so near last night--
Which comes athwart my destiny
For ever with misleading light.
If for a moment pure and wise
And calm I feel there quick doth fall
A spark from some disturbing eyes,
That thro' my heart, soul, being flies,
And makes a wildfire of it all.
I've seen--oh, Cleon, that this earth
Should e'er have given such beauty birth!--
That man--but, hold--hear all that past
Since yester-night from first to last.
The rising of the Moon, calm, slow,
And beautiful, as if she came
Fresh from the Elysian bowers below,
Was with a loud and sweet acclaim
Welcomed from every breezy height,
Where crowds stood waiting for her light.
And well might they who viewed the scene
Then lit up all around them, say
That never yet had Nature been
Caught sleeping in a lovelier ray
Or rivalled her own noontide face
With purer show of moonlight grace.
Memphis--still grand, tho' not the same
Unrivalled Memphis that could seize
From ancient Thebes the crown of Fame,
And wear it bright thro' centuries--
Now, in the moonshine, that came down
Like a last smile upon that crown.
Memphis, still grand among her lakes,
Her pyramids and shrines of fire,
Rose like a vision that half breaks
On one who dreaming still awakes
To music from some midnight choir:
While to the west--where gradual sinks
In the red sands from Libya rolled.
Some mighty column or fair sphynx,
That stood in kingly courts of old--
It seemed as, mid the pomps that shone
Thus gayly round him Time looked on,
Waiting till all now bright and blest,
Should sink beneath him like the rest.
No sooner had the setting sun
Proclaimed the festal rite begun,
And mid their idol's fullest beams
The Egyptian world was all afloat,
Than I who live upon these streams
Like a young Nile-bird turned my boat
To the fair island on whose shores
Thro' leafy palms and sycamores
Already shone the moving lights
Of pilgrims hastening to the rites.
While, far around like ruby sparks
Upon the water, lighted barks,
Of every form and kind--from those
That down Syene's cataract shoots,
To the grand, gilded barge that rows
To tambour's beat and breath of flutes,
And wears at night in words of flame
On the rich prow its master's name;--
All were alive and made this sea
Of cities busy as a hill
Of summer ants caught suddenly
In the overflowing of a rill.
Landed upon the isle, I soon
Thro' marble alleys and small groves
Of that mysterious palm she loves,
Reached the fair Temple of the Moon;
And there--as slowly thro' the last
Dim-lighted vestibule I past--
Between the porphyry pillars twined
With palm and ivy, I could see
A band of youthful maidens wind
In measured walk half dancingly,
Round a small shrine on which was placed
That bird whose plumes of black and white
Wear in their hue by Nature traced
A type of the moon's shadowed light.
In drapery like woven snow
These nymphs were clad; and each below
The rounded bosom loosely wore
A dark blue zone or bandelet,
With little silver stars all o'er
As are the skies at midnight set.
While in their tresses, braided thro',
Sparkled that flower of Egypt's lakes,
The silvery lotus in whose hue
As much delight the young Moon takes
As doth the Day-God to behold
The lofty bean-flower's buds of gold.
And, as they gracefully went round
The worshipt bird, some to the beat
Of castanets, some to the sound
Of the shrill sistrum timed their feet;
While others at each step they took
A tinkling chain of silver shook.
They seemed all fair--but there was one
On whom the light had not yet shone,
Or shone but partly--so downcast
She held her brow, as slow she past.
And yet to me there seemed to dwell
A charm about that unseen face--
A something in the shade that fell
Over that brow's imagined grace
Which won me more than all the best
Outshining beauties of the rest.
And _her_ alone my eyes could see
Enchained by this sweet mystery;
And her alone I watched as round
She glided o'er that marble ground,
Stirring not more the unconscious air
Than if a Spirit were moving there.
Till suddenly, wide open flew
The Temple's folding gates and threw
A splendor from within, a flood
Of glory where these maidens stood.
While with that light--as if the same
Rich source gave birth to both--there came
A swell of harmony as grand
As e'er was born of voice and band,
Filling the gorgeous aisles around
With luxury of light and sound.
Then was it, by the flash that blazed
Full o'er her features--oh 'twas then,
As startingly her eyes she raised,
But quick let fall their lids again,
I saw--not Psyche's self when first
Upon the threshold of the skies
She paused, while heaven's glory burst
Newly upon her downcast eyes,
Could look more beautiful or blush
With holier shame than did this maid,
Whom now I saw in all that gush
Of splendor from the aisles, displayed.
Never--tho' well thou know'st how much
I've felt the sway of Beauty's star--
Never did her bright influence touch
My soul into its depths so far;
And had that vision lingered there
One minute more I should have flown,
Forgetful _who_ I was and where.
And at her feet in worship thrown
Proffered my soul thro' life her own.
But scarcely had that burst of light
And music broke on ear and sight,
Than up the aisle the bird took wing
As if on heavenly mission sent,
While after him with graceful spring
Like some unearthly creatures, meant
To live in that mixt element
Of light and song the young maids went;
And she who in my heart had thrown
A spark to burn for life was flown.
In vain I tried to follow;--bands
Of reverend chanters filled the aisle:
Where'er I sought to pass, their wands
Motioned me back, while many a file
Of sacred nymphs--but ah, not they
Whom my eyes looked for thronged the way.
Perplext, impatient, mid this crowd
Of faces, lights--the o'erwhelming cloud
Of incense round me, and my blood
Full of its new-born fire--I stood,
Nor moved, nor breathed, but when I caught
A glimpse of some blue, spangled zone,
Or wreath of lotus, which I thought
Like those she wore at distance shone.
But no, 'twas vain--hour after hour,
Till my heart's throbbing turned to pain,
And my strained eyesight lost its power,
I sought her thus, but all in vain.
At length, hot--wildered--in despair,
I rushed into the cool night-air,
And hurrying (tho' with many a look
Back to the busy Temple) took
My way along the moonlight shore,
And sprung into my boat once more.
There is a Lake that to the north
Of Memphis stretches grandly forth,
Upon whose silent shore the Dead
Have a proud city of their own,
With shrines and pyramids o'erspread--
Where many an ancient kingly head
Slumbers, immortalized in stone;
And where thro' marble grots beneath
The lifeless, ranged like sacred things,
Nor wanting aught of life but breath,
Lie in their painted coverings,
And on each new successive race
That visit their dim haunts below
Look with the same unwithering face
They wore three thousand years ago.
There. Silence, thoughtful God, who loves
The neighborhood of death in groves
Of asphodel lies hid and weaves
His hushing spell among the leaves--
Nor ever noise disturbs the air
Save the low, humming, mournful sound
Of priests within their shrines at prayer
For the fresh Dead entombed around.
'Twas toward this place of death--in mood
Made up of thoughts, half bright, half dark--
I now across the shining flood
Unconscious turned my light-winged bark.
The form of that young maid in all
Its beauty was before me still;
And oft I thought, if thus to call
Her image to my mind at will,
If but the memory of that one
Bright look of hers for ever gone,
Was to my heart worth all the rest
Of woman-kind, beheld, possest--
What would it be if wholly mine,
Within these arms as in a shrine,
Hallowed by Love, I saw her shine--
An idol, worshipt by the light
Of her own beauties, day and night--
If 'twas a blessing but to see
And lose again, what would _this_ be?
In thoughts like these--but often crost
By darker threads--my mind was lost,
Till near that City of the Dead,
Waked from my trance, I saw o'erhead--
As if by some enchanter bid
Suddenly from the wave to rise--
Pyramid over pyramid
Tower in succession to the skies;
While one, aspiring, as if soon,
'Twould touch the heavens, rose over all;
And, on its summit, the white moon
Rested as on a pedestal!
The silence of the lonely tombs
And temples round where naught was heard
But the high palm-tree's tufted plumes,
Shaken at times by breeze or bird,
Formed a deep contrast to the scene
Of revel where I late had been;
To those gay sounds that still came o'er,
Faintly from many a distant shore,
And the unnumbered lights that shone
Far o'er the flood from Memphis on
To the Moon's Isle and Babylon.
My oars were lifted and my boat
Lay rocked upon the rippling stream;
While my vague thoughts alike afloat,
Drifted thro' many an idle dream.
With all of which, wild and unfixt
As was their aim, that vision mixt,
That bright nymph of the Temple--now,
With the same innocence of brow
She wore within the lighted fane--
Now kindling thro' each pulse and vein
With passion of such deep-felt fire
As Gods might glory to inspire;--
And now--oh Darkness of the tomb,
That must eclipse even light like hers!
Cold, dead, and blackening mid the gloom
Of those eternal sepulchres.
Scarce had I turned my eyes away
From that dark death-place, at the thought,
When by the sound of dashing spray
From a light oar my ear was caught,
While past me, thro' the moonlight, sailed.
A little gilded bark that bore
Two female figures closely veiled
And mantled towards that funeral shore.
They landed--and the boat again
Put off across the watery plain.
Shall I confess--to _thee_ I may--
That never yet hath come the chance
Of a new music, a new ray
From woman's voice, from woman's glance,
Which--let it find me how it might,
In joy or grief--I did not bless,
And wander after as a light
Leading to undreamt, happiness.
And chiefly now when hopes so vain
Were stirring in my heart and brain,
When Fancy had allured my soul
Into a chase as vague and far
As would be his who fixt his goal
In the horizon or some star--
_Any_ bewilderment that brought
More near to earth my high-flown thought--
The faintest glimpse of joy, less pure,
Less high and heavenly, but more sure,
Came welcome--and was then to me
What the first flowery isle must be
To vagrant birds blown out to sea.
Quick to the shore I urged my bark,
And by the bursts of moonlight shed
Between the lofty tombs could mark
Those figures as with hasty tread
They glided on--till in the shade
Of a small pyramid, which thro'
Some boughs of palm its peak displayed,
They vanisht instant from my view.
I hurried to the spot--no trace
Of life was in that lonely place;
And had the creed I hold by taught
Of other worlds I might have thought
Some mocking spirits had from thence
Come in this guise to cheat my sense.
At length, exploring darkly round
The Pyramid's smooth sides, I found
An iron portal--opening high
'Twixt peak and base--and, with a prayer
To the bliss-loving Moon whose eye
Alone beheld me sprung in there.
Downward the narrow stairway led
Thro' many a duct obscure and dread,
A labyrinth for mystery made,
With wanderings onward, backward, round,
And gathering still, where'er it wound.
But deeper density of shade.
Scarce had I asked myself, "Can aught
"That man delights in sojourn here?"--
When, suddenly, far off, I caught
A glimpse of light, remote, but clear--
Whose welcome glimmer seemed to pour
From some alcove or cell that ended
The long, steep, marble corridor,
Thro' which I now, all hope, descended.
Never did Spartan to his bride
With warier foot at midnight glide.
It seemed as echo's self were dead
In this dark place, so mute my tread.
Reaching at length that light, I saw--
Oh! listen to the scene now raised
Before my eyes--then guess the awe,
The still, rapt awe with which I gazed.
'Twas a small chapel, lined around
With the fair, spangling marble found
In many a ruined shrine that stands
Half seen above the Libyan sands.
The walls were richly sculptured o'er,
And charactered with that dark lore
Of times before the Flood, whose key
Was lost in the "Universal Sea."--
While on the roof was pictured bright
The Theban beetle as he shines,
When the Nile's mighty flow declines
And forth the creature springs to light,
With life regenerate in his wings:--
Emblem of vain imaginings!
Of a new world, when this is gone,
In which the spirit still lives on!
Direct beneath this type, reclined
On a black granite altar, lay
A female form, in crystal shrined,
And looking fresh as if the ray
Of soul had fled but yesterday,
While in relief of silvery hue
Graved on the altar's front were seen
A branch of lotus, broken in two,
As that fair creature's life had been,
And a small bird that from its spray
Was winging like her soul away.
But brief the glimpse I now could spare
To the wild, mystic wonders round;
For there was yet one wonder there
That held me as by witchery bound.
The lamp that thro' the chamber shed
Its vivid beam was at the head
Of her who on that altar slept;
And near it stood when first I came--
Bending her brow, as if she kept
Sad watch upon its silent flame--
A female form as yet so placed
Between the lamp's strong glow and me,
That I but saw, in outline traced,
The shadow of her symmetry.
Yet did my heart--I scarce knew why--
Even at that shadowed shape beat high.
Nor was it long ere full in sight
The figure turned; and by the light
That touched her features as she bent
Over the crystal monument,
I saw 'twas she--the same--the same--
That lately stood before me, brightening
The holy spot where she but came
And went again like summer lightning!
Upon the crystal o'er the breast
Of her who took that silent rest,
There was a cross of silver lying--
Another type of that blest home,
Which hope and pride and fear of dying
Build for us in a world to come:--
This silver cross the maiden raised
To her pure lips:--then, having gazed
Some minutes on that tranquil face,
Sleeping in all death's mournful grace,
Upward she turned her brow serene,
As if intent on heaven those eyes
Saw them nor roof nor cloud between
Their own pure orbits and the skies,
And, tho' her lips no motion made,
And that fixt look was all her speech,
I saw that the rapt spirit prayed
Deeper within than words could reach.
Strange power of Innocence, to turn
To its own hue whate'er comes near,
And make even vagrant Passion burn
With purer warmth within its sphere!
She who but one short hour before
Had come like sudden wild-fire o'er
My heart and brain--whom gladly even
From that bright Temple in the face
Of those proud ministers of heaven,
I would have borne in wild embrace,
And risked all punishment, divine
And human, but to make her mine;--
She, she was now before me, thrown
By fate itself into my arms--
There standing, beautiful, alone,
With naught to guard her but her charms.
Yet did I, then--did even a breath
From my parched lips, too parched to move,
Disturb a scene where thus, beneath
Earth's silent covering, Youth and Death
Held converse thro' undying love?
No--smile and taunt me as thou wilt--
Tho' but to gaze thus was delight,
Yet seemed it like a wrong, a guilt,
To win by stealth so pure a sight:
And rather than a look profane
Should then have met those thoughtful eyes,
Or voice or whisper broke the chain
That linked her spirit with the skies,
I would have gladly in that place
From which I watched her heavenward face,
Let my heart break, without one beat
That could disturb a prayer so sweet.
Gently, as if on every tread.
My life, my more than life depended,
Back thro' the corridor that led
To this blest scene I now ascended,
And with slow seeking and some pain
And many a winding tried in vain
Emerged to upper earth again.
The sun had freshly risen, and down
The marble hills of Araby,
Scattered as from a conqueror's crown
His beams into that living sea.
There seemed a glory in his light,
Newly put on--as if for pride.
Of the high homage paid this night
To his own Isis, his young bride.,
Now fading feminine away
In her proud Lord's superior ray.
My mind's first impulse was to fly
At once from this entangling net--
New scenes to range, new loves to try,
Or in mirth, wine and luxury
Of every sense that might forget.
But vain the effort--spell-bound still,
I lingered, without power or will
To turn my eyes from that dark door,
Which now enclosed her 'mong the dead;
Oft fancying, thro' the boughs that o'er
The sunny pile their flickering shed.
'Twas her light form again I saw
Starting to earth--still pure and bright,
But wakening, as I hoped, less awe,
Thus seen by morning's natural light,
Than in that strange, dim cell at night.
But no, alas--she ne'er returned:
Nor yet--tho' still I watch--nor yet,
Tho' the red sun for hours hath burned,
And now in his mid course hath met
The peak of that eternal pile
He pauses still at noon to bless,
Standing beneath his downward smile,
Like a great Spirit shadowless!--
Nor yet she comes--while here, alone,
Sauntering thro' this death-peopled place,
Where no heart beats except my own,
Or 'neath a palm-tree's shelter thrown,
By turns I watch and rest and trace
These lines that are to waft to thee
My last night's wondrous history.
Dost thou remember, in that Isle
Of our own Sea where thou and I
Lingered so long, so happy a while,
Till all the summer flowers went by--
How gay it was when sunset brought
To the cool Well our favorite maids--
Some we had won, and some we sought--
To dance within the fragrant shades,
And till the stars went down attune
Their Fountain Hymns to the young moon?
That time, too--oh, 'tis like a dream--
When from Scamander's holy tide
I sprung as Genius of the Stream,
And bore away that blooming bride,
Who thither came, to yield her charms
(As Phrygian maids are wont ere wed)
Into the cold Scamander's arms,
But met and welcomed mine, instead--
Wondering as on my neck she fell,
How river-gods could love so well!
Who would have thought that he who roved
Like the first bees of summer then,
Rifling each sweet nor ever loved
But the free hearts that loved again,
Readily as the reed replies
To the least breath that round it sighs--
Is the same dreamer who last night
Stood awed and breathless at the sight
Of one Egyptian girl; and now
Wanders among these tombs with brow
Pale, watchful, sad, as tho' he just,
Himself, had risen from out their dust!
Yet so it is--and the same thirst
For something high and pure, above
This withering world, which from the first
Made me drink deep of woman's love--
As the one joy, to heaven most near
Of all our hearts can meet with here--
Still burns me up, still keeps awake
A fever naught but death can slake.
Farewell; whatever may befall--
Or bright, or dark--thou'lt know it all.
 The Ibis.
 Necropolis, or the City of the Dead, to the south of Memphis.
 These Songs of the Well, as they were called by the ancients, are
still common in the Greek isles.
FROM ORCUS, HIGH PRIEST OF MEMPHIS, TO
DECIUS, THE PRAETORIAN PREFECT.
Rejoice, my friend, rejoice;--the youthful Chief
Of that light Sect which mocks at all belief,
And gay and godless makes the present hour
Its only heaven, is now within our power.
Smooth, impious school!--not all the weapons aimed,
At priestly creeds, since first a creed was framed,
E'er struck so deep as that sly dart they wield,
The Bacchant's pointed spear in laughing flowers concealed.
And oh, 'twere victory to this heart, as sweet
As any _thou _canst boast--even when the feet
Of thy proud war-steed wade thro' Christian blood,
To wrap this scoffer in Faith's blinding hood,
And bring him tamed and prostrate to implore
The vilest gods even Egypt's saints adore.
What!--do these sages think, to _them_ alone
The key of this world's happiness is known?
That none but they who make such proud parade
Of Pleasure's smiling favors win the maid,
Or that Religion keeps no secret place,
No niche in her dark fanes for Love to grace?
Fools!--did they know how keen the zest that's given
To earthly joy when seasoned well with heaven;
How Piety's grave mask improves the hue
Of Pleasure's laughing features, half seen thro',
And how the Priest set aptly within reach
Of two rich worlds, traffics for bliss with each,
Would they not, Decius--thou, whom the ancient tie
'Twixt Sword and Altar makes our best ally--
Would they not change their creed, their craft, for ours?
Leave the gross daylight joys that in their bowers
Languish with too much sun, like o'er-blown flowers,
For the veiled loves, the blisses undisplayed
That slyly lurk within the Temple's shade?
And, 'stead of haunting the trim Garden's school--
Where cold Philosophy usurps a rule,
Like the pale moon's, o'er passion's heaving tide,
Till Pleasure's self is chilled by Wisdom's pride--
Be taught by _us_, quit shadows for the true,
Substantial joys we sager Priests pursue,
Who far too wise to theorize on bliss
Or pleasure's substance for its shade to miss.
Preach _other_ worlds but live for only _this_:-
Thanks to the well-paid Mystery round us flung,
Which, like its type the golden cloud that hung
O'er Jupiter's love-couch its shade benign,
Round human frailty wraps a veil divine.
Still less should they presume, weak wits, that they
Alone despise the craft of us who pray;--
Still less their creedless vanity deceive
With the fond thought that we who pray believe.
Believe!--Apis forbid--forbid it, all
Ye monster Gods before whose shrines we fall--
Deities framed in jest as if to try
How far gross Man can vulgarize the sky;
How far the same low fancy that combines
Into a drove of brutes yon zodiac's signs,
And turns that Heaven itself into a place
Of sainted sin and deified disgrace,
Can bring Olympus even to shame more deep,
Stock it with things that earth itself holds cheap.
Fish, flesh, and fowl, the kitchen's sacred brood,
Which Egypt keeps for worship, not for food--
All, worthy idols of a Faith that sees
In dogs, cats, owls, and apes, divinities!
Believe!--oh, Decius, thou, who feel'st no care
For things divine beyond the soldier's share,
Who takes on trust the faith for which he bleeds,
A good, fierce God to swear by, all he needs--
Little canst thou, whose creed around thee hangs
Loose as thy summer war-cloak guess the pangs
Of loathing and self-scorn with which a heart
Stubborn as mine is acts the zealot's part--
The deep and dire disgust with which I wade
Thro' the foul juggling of this holy trade--
This mud profound of mystery where the feet
At every step sink deeper in deceit.
Oh! many a time, when, mid the Temple's blaze,
O'er prostrate fools the sacred cist I raise,
Did I not keep still proudly in my mind
The power this priestcraft gives me o'er mankind--
A lever, of more might, in skilful hand,
To move this world, than Archimede e'er planned--
I should in vengeance of the shame I feel
At my own mockery crush the slaves that kneel
Besotted round; and--like that kindred breed
Of reverend, well-drest crocodiles they feed,
At famed Arsinoe--make my keepers bless,
With their last throb, my sharp-fanged Holiness.
Say, _is_ it to be borne, that scoffers, vain
Of their own freedom from the altar's chain,
Should mock thus all that thou thy blood hast sold.
And I my truth, pride, freedom, to uphold?
It must not be:--think'st thou that Christian sect,
Whose followers quick as broken waves, erect
Their crests anew and swell into a tide,
That threats to sweep away our shrines of pride--
Think'st thou with all their wondrous spells even they
Would triumph thus, had not the constant play
Of Wit's resistless archery cleared their way?--
That mocking spirit, worst of all the foes,
Our solemn fraud, our mystic mummery knows,
Whose wounding flash thus ever 'mong the signs
Of a fast-falling creed, prelusive shines,
Threatening such change as do the awful freaks
Of summer lightning ere the tempest breaks.
But, to my point--a youth of this vain school,
But one, whom Doubt itself hath failed to cool
Down to that freezing point where Priests despair
Of any spark from the altar catching there--
Hath, some nights since--it was, me thinks, the night
That followed the full Moon's great annual rite--
Thro' the dark, winding ducts that downward stray
To these earth--hidden temples, tracked his way,
Just at that hour when, round the Shrine, and me,
The choir of blooming nymphs thou long'st to see,
Sing their last night-hymn in the Sanctuary.
The clangor of the marvellous Gate that stands
At the Well's lowest depth--which none but hands
Of new, untaught adventurers, from above,
Who know not the safe path, e'er dare to move--
Gave signal that a foot profane was nigh:--
'Twas the Greek youth, who, by that morning's sky,
Had been observed, curiously wandering round
The mighty fanes of our sepulchral ground.
Instant, the Initiate's Trials were prepared,--
The Fire, Air, Water; all that Orpheus dared,
That Plato, that the bright-haired Samian past,
With trembling hope, to come to--_what_, at last?
Go, ask the dupes of Priestcraft; question him
Who mid terrific sounds and spectres dim
Walks at Eleusis; ask of those who brave
The dazzling miracles of Mithra's Cave
With its seven starry gates; ask all who keep
Those terrible night-mysteries where they weep
And howl sad dirges to the answering breeze.
O'er their dead Gods, their mortal Deities--
Amphibious, hybrid things that died as men,
Drowned, hanged, empaled, to rise as gods again;--
Ask _them_, what mighty secret lurks below
This seven-fold mystery--can they tell thee? No;
Gravely they keep that only secret, well
And fairly kept--that they have none to tell;
And duped themselves console their humbled pride
By duping thenceforth all mankind beside.
And such the advance in fraud since Orpheus' time--
That earliest master of our craft sublime--
So many minor Mysteries, imps of fraud,
From the great Orphic Egg have winged abroad,
That, still to uphold our Temple's ancient boast,
And seem most holy, we must cheat the most;
Work the best miracles, wrap nonsense round
In pomp and darkness till it seems profound;
Play on the hopes, the terrors of mankind,
With changeful skill; and make the human mind
Like our own Sanctuary, where no ray
But by the Priest's permission wins its way--
Where thro' the gloom as wave our wizard rods.
Monsters at will are conjured into Gods;
While Reason like a grave-faced mummy stands
With her arms swathed in hieroglyphic bands.
But chiefly in that skill with which we use
Man's wildest passions for Religion's views,
Yoking them to her car like fiery steeds,
Lies the main art in which our craft succeeds.
And oh be blest, ye men of yore, whose toil
Hath, for our use, scooped out from Egypt's soil
This hidden Paradise, this mine of fanes,
Gardens and palaces where Pleasure reigns
In a rich, sunless empire of her own,
With all earth's luxuries lighting up her throne:--
A realm for mystery made, which undermines
The Nile itself and, 'neath the Twelve Great Shrines
That keep Initiation's holy rite,
Spreads its long labyrinths of unearthly light.
A light that knows no change--its brooks that run
Too deep for day, its gardens without sun,
Where soul and sense, by turns, are charmed, surprised.
And all that bard or prophet e'er devised
For man's Elysium, priests have realized.
Here, at this moment--all his trials past.
And heart and nerve unshrinking to the last--
Our new Initiate roves--as yet left free
To wander thro' this realm of mystery;
Feeding on such illusions as prepare
The soul, like mist o'er waterfalls, to wear
All shapes and lines at Fancy's varying will,
Thro' every shifting aspect, vapor still;--
Vague glimpses of the Future, vistas shown.
By scenic skill, into that world unknown.
Which saints and sinners claim alike their own;
And all those other witching, wildering arts,
Illusions, terrors, that make human hearts,
Ay, even the wisest and the hardiest quail
To _any_ goblin throned behind a veil.
Yes--such the spells shall haunt his eye, his ear,
Mix wild his night-dreams, form his atmosphere;
Till, if our Sage be not tamed down, at length,
His wit, his wisdom, shorn of all their strength,
Like Phrygian priests, in honor of the shrine--
If he become not absolutely mine,
Body and soul and like the tame decoy
Which wary hunters of wild doves employ
Draw converts also, lure his brother wits
To the dark cage where his own spirit flits.
And give us if not saints good hypocrites--
If I effect not this then be it said
The ancient spirit of our craft hath fled,
Gone with that serpent-god the Cross hath chased
To hiss its soul out in the Theban waste.
 For the trinkets with which the sacred Crocodiles were ornamented see
the "Epicurean" chap x.
SAMUEL ROGERS, ESQ.
THIS EASTERN ROMANCE
HIS VERY GRATEFUL AND AFFECTIONATE FRIEND,
In the eleventh year of the reign of Aurungzebe, Abdalla, King of the
Lesser Bucharia, a lineal descendant from the Great Zingis, having
abdicated the throne in favor of his son, set out on a pilgrimage to the
Shrine of the Prophet; and, passing into India through the delightful
valley of Cashmere, rested for a short time at Delhi on his way. He was
entertained by Aurungzebe in a style of magnificent hospitality, worthy
alike of the visitor and the host, and was afterwards escorted with the
same splendor to Surat, where he embarked for Arabia. During the stay
of the Royal Pilgrim at Delhi, a marriage was agreed upon between the
Prince, his son, and the youngest daughter of the Emperor, LALLA ROOKH;
--a Princess described by the poets of her time as more beautiful than
Leila, Shirine, Dewilde, or any of those heroines whose names
and loves embellish the songs of Persia and Hindostan. It was intended
that the nuptials should be celebrated at Cashmere; where the young King,
as soon as the cares of the empire would permit, was to meet, for the
first time, his lovely bride, and, after a few months' repose in that
enchanting valley, conduct her over the snowy hills into Bucharia.
The day of LALLA ROOKH'S departure from Delhi was as splendid as sunshine
and pageantry could make it. The bazaars and baths were all covered with
the richest tapestry; hundreds of gilded barges upon the Jumna floated
with their banners shining in the water; while through the streets groups
of beautiful children went strewing the most delicious flowers around, as
in that Persian festival called the Scattering of the Roses; till
every part of the city was as fragrant as if a caravan of musk from Khoten
had passed through it. The Princess, having taken leave of her kind
father, who at parting hung a cornelian of Yemen round her neck, on which
was inscribed a verse from the Koran, and having sent a considerable
present to the Fakirs, who kept up the Perpetual Lamp in her sister's
tomb, meekly ascended the palankeen prepared for her; and while Aurungzebe
stood to take a last look from his balcony, the procession moved slowly on
the road to Lahore.
Seldom had the Eastern world seen a cavalcade so superb. From the gardens
in the suburbs to the Imperial palace, it was one unbroken line of
splendor. The gallant appearance of the Rajahs and Mogul lords,
distinguished by those insignia of the Emperor's favor, the feathers
of the egret of Cashmere in their turbans, and the small silver-rimm'd
kettle-drums at the bows of their saddles;--the costly armor of their
cavaliers, who vied, on this occasion, with the guards of the great Keder
Khan, in the brightness of their silver battle-axes and the massiness
of their maces of gold;--the glittering of the gilt pine-apple on the
tops of the palankeens;--the embroidered trappings of the elephants,
bearing on their backs small turrets, in the shape of little antique
temples, within which the Ladies of LALLA ROOKH lay as it were enshrined;
--the rose-colored veils of the Princess's own sumptuous litter, at
the front of which a fair young female slave sat fanning her through the
curtains, with feathers of the Argus pheasant's wing;--and the lovely
troop of Tartarian and Cashmerian maids of honor, whom the young King had
sent to accompany his bride, and who rode on each side of the litter, upon
small Arabian horses;--all was brilliant, tasteful, and magnificent, and
pleased even the critical and fastidious FADLADEEN, Great Nazir or
Chamberlain of the Haram, who was borne in his palankeen immediately after
the Princess, and considered himself not the least important personage of
FADLADEEN was a judge of everything,--from the pencilling of a
Circassian's eyelids to the deepest questions of science and literature;
from the mixture of a conserve of rose-leaves to the composition of an
epic poem: and such influence had his opinion upon the various tastes of
the day, that all the cooks and poets of Delhi stood in awe of him. His
political conduct and opinions were founded upon that line of Sadi,--
"Should the Prince at noon-day say, It is night, declare that you behold
the moon and stars."--And his zeal for religion, of which Aurungzebe was a
munificent protector, was about as disinterested as that of the
goldsmith who fell in love with the diamond eyes of the idol of
During the first days of their journey, LALLA ROOKH, who had passed all
her life within the shadow of the Royal Gardens of Delhi, found
enough in the beauty of the scenery through which they passed to interest
her mind, and delight her imagination; and when at evening or in the heat
of the day they turned off from the high road to those retired and
romantic places which had been selected for her encampments,--sometimes,
on the banks of a small rivulet, as clear as the waters of the Lake of
Pearl; sometimes under the sacred shade of a Banyan tree, from which
the view opened upon a glade covered with antelopes; and often in those
hidden, embowered spots, described by one from the Isles of the West,
as "places of melancholy, delight, and safety, where all the company
around was wild peacocks and turtle-doves;"--she felt a charm in these
scenes, so lovely and so new to her, which, for a time, made her
indifferent to every other amusement. But LALLA ROOKH was young, and the
young love variety; nor could the conversation of her Ladies and the Great
Chamberlain, FADLADEEN,(the only persons, of course, admitted to her
pavilion.) sufficiently enliven those many vacant hours, which were
devoted neither to the pillow nor the palankeen. There was a little
Persian slave who sung sweetly to the Vina, and who, now and then, lulled
the Princess to sleep with the ancient ditties of her country, about the
loves of Wavnak and Ezra, the fair-haired Zal and his mistress
Rodahver, not forgetting the combat of Rustam with the terrible White
Demon. At other times she was amused by those graceful dancing-girls
of Delhi, who had been permitted by the Bramins of the Great Pagoda to
attend her, much to the horror of the good Mussulman FADLADEEN, who could
see nothing graceful or agreeable in idolaters, and to whom the very
tinkling of their golden anklets was an abomination.
But these and many other diversions were repeated till they lost all their
charm, and the nights and noon-days were beginning to move heavily, when,
at length, it was recollected that, among the attendants sent by the
bridegroom, was a young poet of Cashmere, much celebrated throughout the
Valley for his manner of reciting the Stories of the East, on whom his
Royal Master had conferred the privilege of being admitted to the pavilion
of the Princess, that he might help to beguile the tediousness of the
journey by some of his most agreeable recitals. At the mention of a poet,
FADLADEEN elevated his critical eyebrows, and, having refreshed his
faculties with a dose of that delicious opium which is distilled from the
black poppy of the Thebais, gave orders for the minstrel to be forthwith
introduced into the presence.
The Princess, who had once in her life seen a poet from behind the screens
of gauze in her father's hall, and had conceived from that specimen no
very favorable ideas of the Caste, expected but little in this new
exhibition to interest her;--she felt inclined, however, to alter her
opinion on the very first appearance of FERAMORZ. He was a youth about
LALLA ROOKH'S own age, and graceful as that idol of women,
Crishna,--such as he appears to their young imaginations, heroic,
beautiful, breathing music from his very eyes, and exalting the religion
of his worshippers into love. His dress was simple, yet not without some
marks of costliness; and the Ladies of the Princess were not long in
discovering that the cloth, which encircled his high Tartarian cap, was of
the most delicate kind that the shawl-goats of Tibet supply. Here and
there, too, over his vest, which was confined by a flowered girdle of
Kashan, hung strings of fine pearl, disposed with an air of studied
negligence;--nor did the exquisite embroidery of his sandals escape the
observation of these fair critics; who, however they might give way to
FADLADEEN upon the unimportant topics of religion and government, had the
spirit of martyrs in everything relating to such momentous matters as
jewels and embroidery.
For the purpose of relieving the pauses of recitation by music, the young
Cashmerian held in his hand a kitar;--such as, in old times, the Arab
maids of the West used to listen to by moonlight in the gardens of the
Alhambra--and, having premised, with much humility, that the story he was
about to relate was founded on the adventures of that Veiled Prophet of
Khorassan, who, in the year of the Hegira 163, created such alarm
throughout the Eastern Empire, made an obeisance to the Princess, and thus
THE VEILED PROPHET OF KHORASSAN.
In that delightful Province of the Sun,
The first of Persian lands he shines upon.
Where all the loveliest children of his beam,
Flowerets and fruits, blush over every stream,
And, fairest of all streams, the MURGA roves
Among MEROU'S bright palaces and groves;--
There on that throne, to which the blind belief
Of millions raised him, sat the Prophet-Chief,
The Great MOKANNA. O'er his features hung
The Veil, the Silver Veil, which he had flung
In mercy there, to hide from mortal sight
His dazzling brow, till man could bear its light.
For, far less luminous, his votaries said,
Were even the gleams, miraculously shed
O'er MOUSSA'S cheek, when down the Mount he trod
All glowing from the presence of his God!
On either side, with ready hearts and hands,
His chosen guard of bold Believers stands;
Young fire-eyed disputants, who deem their swords,
On points of faith, more eloquent than words;
And such their zeal, there's not a youth with brand
Uplifted there, but at the Chief's command,
Would make his own devoted heart its sheath,
And bless the lips that doomed so dear a death!
In hatred to the Caliph's hue of night,
Their vesture, helms and all, is snowy white;
Their weapons various--some equipt for speed,
With javelins of the light Kathaian reed;
Or bows of buffalo horn and shining quivers
Filled with the stems
that bloom on IRAN'S rivers;
While some, for war's more terrible attacks,
Wield the huge mace and ponderous battle-axe;
And as they wave aloft in morning's beam
The milk-white plumage of their helms, they seem
Like a chenar-tree grove when winter throws
O'er all its tufted heads his feathery snows.
Between the porphyry pillars that uphold
The rich moresque-work of the roof of gold,
Aloft the Haram's curtained galleries rise,
Where thro' the silken net-work, glancing eyes,
From time to time, like sudden gleams that glow
Thro' autumn clouds, shine o'er the pomp below.--
What impious tongue, ye blushing saints, would dare
To hint that aught but Heaven hath placed you there?
Or that the loves of this light world could bind,
In their gross chain, your Prophet's soaring mind?
No--wrongful thought!--commissioned from above
To people Eden's bowers with shapes of love,
(Creatures so bright, that the same lips and eyes
They wear on earth will serve in Paradise,)
There to recline among Heaven's native maids,
And crown the Elect with bliss that never fades--
Well hath the Prophet-Chief his bidding done;
And every beauteous race beneath the sun,
From those who kneel at BRAHMA'S burning fount,
To the fresh nymphs bounding o'er YEMEN'S mounts;
From PERSIA'S eyes of full and fawnlike ray,
To the small, half-shut glances of KATHAY;
And GEORGIA'S bloom, and AZAB'S darker smiles,
And the gold ringlets of the Western Isles;
All, all are there;--each Land its flower hath given,
To form that fair young Nursery for Heaven!
But why this pageant now? this armed array?
What triumph crowds the rich Divan to-day
With turbaned heads of every hue and race,
Bowing before that veiled and awful face,
Like tulip-beds, of different shape and dyes,
Bending beneath the invisible West-wind's sighs!
What new-made mystery now for Faith to sign
And blood to seal, as genuine and divine,
What dazzling mimicry of God's own power
Hath the bold Prophet planned to grace this hour?
Not such the pageant now, tho' not less proud;
Yon warrior youth advancing from the crowd
With silver bow, with belt of broidered crape
And fur-bound bonnet of Bucharian shape.
So fiercely beautiful in form and eye,
Like war's wild planet in a summer sky;
That youth to-day,--a proselyte, worth hordes
Of cooler spirits and less practised swords,--
Is come to join, all bravery and belief,
The creed and standard of the heaven-sent Chief.
Tho' few his years, the West already knows
Young AZIM'S fame;--beyond the Olympian snows
Ere manhood darkened o'er his downy cheek,
O'erwhelmed in fight and captive to the Greek,
He lingered there, till peace dissolved his chains;--
Oh! who could even in bondage tread the plains
Of glorious GREECE nor feel his spirit rise
Kindling within him? who with heart and eyes
Could walk where Liberty had been nor see
The shining foot-prints of her Deity,
Nor feel those god-like breathings in the air
Which mutely told her spirit had been there?
Not he, that youthful warrior,--no, too well
For his soul's quiet worked the awakening spell;
And now, returning to his own dear land,
Full of those dreams of good that, vainly grand,
Haunt the young heart,--proud views of human-kind,
Of men to Gods exalted and refined,--
False views like that horizon's fair deceit
Where earth and heaven but _seem_, alas, to meet!--
Soon as he heard an Arm Divine was raised
To right the nations, and beheld, emblazed
On the white flag MOKANNA'S host unfurled,
Those words of sunshine, "Freedom to the World,"
At once his faith, his sword, his soul obeyed
The inspiring summons; every chosen blade
That fought beneath that banner's sacred text
Seemed doubly edged for this world and the next;
And ne'er did Faith with her smooth bandage bind
Eyes more devoutly willing to be blind,
In virtue's cause;--never was soul inspired
With livelier trust in what it most desired,
Than his, the enthusiast there, who kneeling, pale
With pious awe before that Silver Veil,
Believes the form to which he bends his knee
Some pure, redeeming angel sent to free
This fettered world from every bond and stain,
And bring its primal glories back again!
Low as young AZIM knelt, that motley crowd
Of all earth's nations sunk the knee and bowed,
With shouts of "ALLA!" echoing long and loud;
Which high in air, above the Prophet's head,
Hundreds of banners to the sunbeam spread
Waved, like the wings of the white birds that fan
The flying throne of star-taught SOLIMAN.
Then thus he spoke:-"Stranger, tho' new the frame
"Thy soul inhabits now. I've trackt its flame
"For many an age, in every chance and change
"Of that existence, thro' whose varied range,--
"As thro' a torch-race where from hand to hand
"The flying youths transmit their shining brand,
"From frame to frame the unextinguisht soul
"Rapidly passes till it reach the goal!
"Nor think 'tis only the gross Spirits warmed
"With duskier fire and for earth's medium formed
"That run this course;--Beings the most divine
"Thus deign thro' dark mortality to shine.
"Such was the Essence that in ADAM dwelt,
"To which all Heaven except the Proud One knelt:
"Such the refined Intelligence that glowed
"In MOUSSA'S frame,--and thence descending flowed
"Thro' many a Prophet's breast;--in ISSA shone
"And in MOHAMMED burned; till hastening on.
"(As a bright river that from fall to fall
"In many a maze descending bright thro' all,
"Finds some fair region where, each labyrinth past,
"In one full lake of light it rests at last)
"That Holy Spirit settling calm and free
"From lapse or shadow centres all in me!
Again throughout the assembly at these words
Thousands of voices rung: the warrior's swords
Were pointed up at heaven; a sudden wind
In the open banners played, and from behind
Those Persian hangings that but ill could screen
The Harem's loveliness, white hands were seen
Waving embroidered scarves whose motion gave
A perfume forth--like those the Houris wave
When beckoning to their bowers the immortal Brave.
"But these," pursued the Chief "are truths sublime,
"That claim a holier mood and calmer time
"Than earth allows us now;--this sword must first
"The darkling prison-house of mankind burst.
"Ere Peace can visit them or Truth let in
"Her wakening daylight on a world of sin.
"But then,--celestial warriors, then when all
"Earth's shrines and thrones before our banner fall,
"When the glad Slave shall at these feet lay down
"His broken chain, the tyrant Lord his crown,
"The Priest his book, the Conqueror his wreath,
"And from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
"Shall like a whirlwind scatter in its breeze
"That whole dark pile of human mockeries:--
"Then shall the reign of mind commence on earth,
"And starting fresh as from a second birth,
"Man in the sunshine of the world's new spring
"Shall walk transparent like some holy thing!
"Then too your Prophet from his angel brow
"Shall cast the Veil that hides its splendors now,
"And gladdened Earth shall thro' her wide expanse
"Bask in the glories of this countenance!
"For thee, young warrior, welcome!--thou hast yet
"Some tasks to learn, some frailties to forget,
"Ere the white war-plume o'er thy brow can wave;--
"But, once my own, mine all till in the grave!"
The pomp is at an end--the crowds are gone--
Each ear and heart still haunted by the tone
Of that deep voice, which thrilled like ALLA'S own!
The Young all dazzled by the plumes and lances,
The glittering throne and Haram's half-caught glances,
The Old deep pondering on the promised reign
Of peace and truth, and all the female train
Ready to risk their eyes could they but gaze
A moment on that brow's miraculous blaze!
But there was one among the chosen maids
Who blushed behind the gallery's silken shades,
One, to whose soul the pageant of to-day
Has been like death:--you saw her pale dismay,
Ye wondering sisterhood, and heard the burst
Of exclamation from her lips when first
She saw that youth, too well, too dearly known,
Silently kneeling at the Prophet's throne.
Ah ZELICA! there was a time when bliss
Shone o'er thy heart from every look of his,
When but to see him, hear him, breathe the air
In which he dwelt was thy soul's fondest prayer;
When round him hung such a perpetual spell,
Whate'er he did, none ever did so well.
Too happy days! when, if he touched a flower
Or gem of thine, 'twas sacred from that hour;
When thou didst study him till every tone
And gesture and dear look became thy own.--
Thy voice like his, the changes of his face
In thine reflected with still lovelier grace,
Like echo, sending back sweet music, fraught
With twice the aerial sweetness it had brought!
Yet now he comes,--brighter than even he
E'er beamed before,--but, ah! not bright for thee;
No--dread, unlookt for, like a visitant
From the other world he comes as if to haunt
Thy guilty soul with dreams of lost delight,
Long lost to all but memory's aching sight:--
Sad dreams! as when the Spirit of our Youth
Returns in sleep, sparkling with all the truth
And innocence once ours and leads us back,
In mournful mockery o'er the shining track
Of our young life and points out every ray
Of hope and peace we've lost upon the way!
Once happy pair!--In proud BOKHARA'S groves,
Who had not heard of their first youthful loves?
Born by that ancient flood,which from its spring
In the dark Mountains swiftly wandering,
Enriched by every pilgrim brook that shines
With relics from BUCHARIA'S ruby mines.
And, lending to the CASPIAN half its strength,
In the cold Lake of Eagles sinks at length;--
There, on the banks of that bright river born,
The flowers that hung above its wave at morn
Blest not the waters as they murmured by
With holier scent and lustre than the sigh
And virgin-glance of first affection cast
Upon their youth's smooth current as it past!
But war disturbed this vision,--far away
From her fond eyes summoned to join the array
Of PERSIA'S warriors on the hills of THRACE,
The youth exchanged his sylvan dwelling-place
For the rude tent and war-field's deathful clash;
His ZELICA'S sweet glances for the flash
Of Grecian wild-fire, and Love's gentle chains
For bleeding bondage on BYZANTIUM'S plains.
Month after month in widowhood of soul
Drooping the maiden saw two summers roll
Their suns away--but, ah, how cold and dim
Even summer suns when not beheld with him!
From time to time ill-omened rumors came
Like spirit-tongues muttering the sick man's name
Just ere he dies:--at length those sounds of dread
Fell withering on her soul, "AZIM is dead!"
Oh Grief beyond all other griefs when fate
First leaves the young heart lone and desolate
In the wide world without that only tie
For which it loved to live or feared to die;--
Lorn as the hung-up lute, that near hath spoken
Since the sad day its master-chord was broken!
Fond maid, the sorrow of her soul was such,
Even reason sunk,--blighted beneath its touch;
And tho' ere long her sanguine spirit rose
Above the first dead pressure of its woes,
Tho' health and bloom returned, the delicate chain
Of thought once tangled never cleared again.
Warm, lively, soft as in youth's happiest day,
The mind was still all there, but turned astray,--
A wandering bark upon whose pathway shone
All stars of heaven except the guiding one!
Again she smiled, nay, much and brightly smiled,
But 'twas a lustre, strange, unreal, wild;
And when she sung to her lute's touching strain,
'Twas like the notes, half ecstasy, half pain,
The bulbul utters ere her soul depart,
When, vanquisht by some minstrel's powerful art,
She dies upon the lute whose sweetness broke her heart!
Such was the mood in which that mission found,
Young ZELICA,--that mission which around
The Eastern world in every region blest
With woman's smile sought out its loveliest
To grace that galaxy of lips and eyes
Which the Veiled Prophet destined for the skies:--
And such quick welcome as a spark receives
Dropt on a bed of Autumn's withered leaves,
Did every tale of these enthusiasts find
In the wild maiden's sorrow-blighted mind.
All fire at once the maddening zeal she caught:--
Elect of Paradise! blest, rapturous thought!
Predestined bride, in heaven's eternal dome,
Of some brave youth--ha! durst they say "of _some_?"
No--of the one, one only object traced
In her heart's core too deep to be effaced;
The one whose memory, fresh as life, is twined
With every broken link of her lost mind;
Whose image lives tho' Reason's self be wreckt
Safe mid the ruins of her intellect!
Alas, poor ZELICA! it needed all
The fantasy which held thy mind in thrall
To see in that gay Haram's glowing maids
A sainted colony for Eden's shades;
Or dream that he,--of whose unholy flame
Thou wert too soon the victim,--shining came
From Paradise to people its pure sphere
With souls like thine which he hath ruined here!
No--had not reason's light totally set,
And left thee dark thou hadst an amulet
In the loved image graven on thy heart
Which would have saved thee from the tempter's art,
And kept alive in all its bloom of breath
That purity whose fading is love's death!--
But lost, inflamed,--a restless zeal took place
Of the mild virgin's still and feminine grace;
First of the Prophets favorites, proudly first
In zeal and charms, too well the Impostor nurst
Her soul's delirium in whose active flame,
Thus lighting up a young, luxuriant frame,
He saw more potent sorceries to bind
To his dark yoke the spirits of mankind,
More subtle chains than hell itself e'er twined.
No art was spared, no witchery;--all the skill
His demons taught him was employed to fill
Her mind with gloom and ecstasy by turns--
That gloom, thro' which Frenzy but fiercer burns,
That ecstasy which from the depth of sadness
Glares like the maniac's moon whose light is madness!
'Twas from a brilliant banquet where the sound
Of poesy and music breathed around,
Together picturing to her mind and ear
The glories of that heaven, her destined sphere,
Where all was pure, where every stain that lay
Upon the spirit's light should pass away,
And realizing more than youthful love
E'er wisht or dreamed, she should for ever rove
Thro' fields of fragrance by her AZIM'S side,
His own blest, purified, eternal bride!--
T was from a scene, a witching trance like this,
He hurried her away, yet breathing bliss,
To the dim charnel-house;--thro' all its steams
Of damp and death led only by those gleams
Which foul Corruption lights, as with design
To show the gay and proud _she_ too can shine--
And passing on thro' upright ranks of Dead
Which to the maiden, doubly crazed by dread,
Seemed, thro' the bluish death-light round them cast,
To move their lips in mutterings as she past--
There in that awful place, when each had quaft
And pledged in silence such a fearful draught,
Such--oh! the look and taste of that red bowl
Will haunt her till she dies--he bound her soul
By a dark oath, in hell's own language framed,
Never, while earth his mystic presence claimed,
While the blue arch of day hung o'er them both,
Never, by that all-imprecating oath,
In joy or sorrow from his side to sever.--
She swore and the wide charnel echoed "Never, never!"
From that dread hour, entirely, wildly given
To him and--she believed, lost maid!--to heaven;
Her brain, her heart, her passions all inflamed,
How proud she stood, when in full Haram named
The Priestess of the Faith!--how flasht her eyes
With light, alas, that was not of the skies,
When round in trances only less than hers
She saw the Haram kneel, her prostrate worshippers.
Well might MOKANNA think that form alone
Had spells enough to make the world his own:--
Light, lovely limbs to which the spirit's play
Gave motion, airy as the dancing spray,
When from its stem the small bird wings away;
Lips in whose rosy labyrinth when she smiled
The soul was lost, and blushes, swift and wild
As are the momentary meteors sent
Across the uncalm but beauteous firmament.
And then her look--oh! where's the heart so wise
Could unbewildered meet those matchless eyes?
Quick, restless, strange, but exquisite withal,
Like those of angels just before their fall;
Now shadowed with the shames of earth--now crost
By glimpses of the Heaven her heart had lost;
In every glance there broke without control,
The flashes of a bright but troubled soul,
Where sensibility still wildly played
Like lightning round the ruins it had made!
And such was now young ZELICA--so changed
From her who some years since delighted ranged
The almond groves that shade BOKHARA'S tide
All life and bliss with AZIM by her side!
So altered was she now, this festal day,
When, mid the proud Divan's dazzling array,
The vision of that Youth whom she had loved,
Had wept as dead, before her breathed and moved;--
When--bright, she thought, as if from Eden's track
But half-way trodden, he had wandered back
Again to earth, glistening with Eden's light--
Her beauteous AZIM shone before her sight.
O Reason! who shall say what spells renew,
When least we look for it, thy broken clew!
Thro' what small vistas o'er the darkened brain
Thy intellectual day-beam bursts again;
And how like forts to which beleaguerers win
Unhoped-for entrance thro' some friend within,
One clear idea, wakened in the breast
By memory's magic, lets in all the rest.
Would it were thus, unhappy girl, with thee!
But tho' light came, it came but partially;
Enough to show the maze, in which thy sense
Wandered about,--but not to guide it thence;
Enough to glimmer o'er the yawning wave,
But not to point the harbor which might save.
Hours of delight and peace, long left behind,
With that dear form came rushing o'er her mind;
But, oh! to think how deep her soul had gone
In shame and falsehood since those moments shone;
And then her oath--_there_ madness lay again,
And shuddering, back she sunk into her chain
Of mental darkness, as if blest to flee
From light whose every glimpse was agony!
Yet _one_ relief this glance of former years
Brought mingled with its pain,--tears, floods of tears,
Long frozen at her heart, but now like rills
Let loose in spring-time from the snowy hills,
And gushing warm after a sleep of frost,
Thro' valleys where their flow had long been lost.
Sad and subdued, for the first time her frame
Trembled with horror when the summons came
(A summons proud and rare, which all but she,
And she, till now, had heard with ecstasy,)
To meet MOKANNA at his place of prayer,
A garden oratory cool and fair
By the stream's side, where still at close of day
The Prophet of the Veil retired to pray,
Sometimes alone--but oftener far with one,
One chosen nymph to share his orison.
Of late none found such favor in his sight
As the young Priestess; and tho', since that night
When the death-cavorns echoed every tone
Of the dire oath that made her all his own,
The Impostor sure of his infatuate prize
Had more than once thrown off his soul's disguise,
And uttered such unheavenly, monstrous things,
As even across the desperate wanderings
Of a weak intellect, whose lamp was out,
Threw startling shadows of dismay and doubt;--
Yet zeal, ambition, her tremendous vow,
The thought, still haunting her, of that bright brow,
Whose blaze, as yet from mortal eye concealed,
Would soon, proud triumph! be to her revealed,
To her alone;--and then the hope, most dear,
Most wild of all, that her transgression here
Was but a passage thro' earth's grosser fire,
From which the spirit would at last aspire,
Even purer than before,--as perfumes rise
Thro' flame and smoke, most welcome to the skies--
And that when AZIM's fond, divine embrace
Should circle her in heaven, no darkening trace
Would on that bosom he once loved remain.
But all be bright, be pure, be _his_ again!--
These were the wildering dreams, whose curst deceit
Had chained her soul beneath the tempter's feet,
And made her think even damning falsehood sweet.
But now that Shape, which had appalled her view,
That Semblance--oh how terrible, if true!
Which came across her frenzy's full career
With shock of consciousness, cold, deep, severe.
As when in northern seas at midnight dark
An isle of ice encounters some swift bark,
And startling all its wretches from their sleep
By one cold impulse hurls them to the deep;--
So came that shock not frenzy's self could bear,
And waking up each long-lulled image there,
But checkt her headlong soul to sink it in despair!
Wan and dejected, thro' the evening dusk,
She now went slowly to that small kiosk,
Where, pondering alone his impious schemes,
MOKANNA waited her--too wrapt in dreams
Of the fair-ripening future's rich success,
To heed the sorrow, pale and spiritless,
That sat upon his victim's downcast brow,
Or mark how slow her step, how altered now
From the quick, ardent Priestess, whose light bound
Came like a spirit's o'er the unechoing ground,--
From that wild ZELICA whose every glance
Was thrilling fire, whose every thought a trance!
Upon his couch the Veiled MOKANNA lay,
While lamps around--not such as lend their ray,
Glimmering and cold, to those who nightly pray
In holy KOOM, or MECCA'S dim arcades,--
But brilliant, soft, such lights as lovely maids.
Look loveliest in, shed their luxurious glow
Upon his mystic Veil's white glittering flow.
Beside him, 'stead of beads and books of prayer,
Which the world fondly thought he mused on there,
Stood Vases, filled with KISIIMEE'S golden wine,
And the red weepings of the SHIRAZ vine;
Of which his curtained lips full many a draught
Took zealously, as if each drop they quaft
Like ZEMZEM'S Spring of Holiness had power
To freshen the soul's virtues into flower!
And still he drank and pondered--nor could see
The approaching maid, so deep his revery;
At length with fiendish laugh like that which broke
From EBLIS at the Fall of Man he spoke:--
"Yes, ye vile race, for hell's amusement given,
"Too mean for earth, yet claiming kin with heaven;
"God's images, forsooth!--such gods as he
"Whom INDIA serves, the monkey deity;
"Ye creatures of a breath, proud things of clay,
"To whom if LUCIFER, as gran-dams say,
"Refused tho' at the forfeit of heaven's light
"To bend in worship, LUCIFER was right!
"Soon shall I plant this foot upon the neck
"Of your foul race and without fear or check,
"Luxuriating in hate, avenge my shame,
"My deep-felt, long-nurst loathing of man's name!--
"Soon at the head of myriads, blind and fierce
"As hooded falcons, thro' the universe
"I'll sweep my darkening, desolating way,
"Weak man my instrument, curst man my prey!
"Ye wise, ye learned, who grope your dull way on
"By the dim twinkling gleams of ages gone,
"Like superstitious thieves who think the light
"From dead men's marrow guides them best at night--
"Ye shall have honors--wealth--yes, Sages, yes--
"I know, grave fools, your wisdom's nothingness;
"Undazzled it can track yon starry sphere,
"But a gilt stick, a bauble blinds it here.
"How I shall laugh, when trumpeted along
"In lying speech and still more lying song,
"By these learned slaves, the meanest of the throng;
"Their wits brought up, their wisdom shrunk so small,
"A sceptre's puny point can wield it all!
"Ye too, believers of incredible creeds,
"Whose faith enshrines the monsters which it breeds;
"Who, bolder even than NEMROD, think to rise
"By nonsense heapt on nonsense to the skies;
"Ye shall have miracles, ay, sound ones too,
"Seen, heard, attested, everything--but true.
"Your preaching zealots too inspired to seek
"One grace of meaning for the things they speak:
"Your martyrs ready to shed out their blood,
"For truths too heavenly to be understood;
"And your State Priests, sole venders of the lore,
"That works salvation;--as, on AVA'S shore,
"Where none _but_ priests are privileged to trade
"In that best marble of which Gods are made;
"They shall have mysteries--ay precious stuff
"For knaves to thrive by--mysteries enough;
"Dark, tangled doctrines, dark as fraud can weave,
"Which simple votaries shall on trust receive,
"While craftier feign belief till they believe.
"A Heaven too ye must have, ye lords of dust,--
"A splendid Paradise,--pure souls, ye must:
"That Prophet ill sustains his holy call,
"Who finds not heavens to suit the tastes of all;
"Houris for boys, omniscience for sages,
"And wings and glories for all ranks and ages.
"Vain things!--as lust or vanity inspires,
"The heaven of each is but what each desires,
"And, soul or sense, whate'er the object be,
"Man would be man to all eternity!
"So let him--EBLIS! grant this crowning curse,
"But keep him what he is, no Hell were worse."
"Oh my lost soul!" exclaimed the shuddering maid,
Whose ears had drunk like poison all he said:
MOKANNA started--not abasht, afraid,--
He knew no more of fear than one who dwells
Beneath the tropics knows of icicles!
But in those dismal words that reached his ear,
"Oh my lost soul!" there was a sound so drear,
So like that voice among the sinful dead
In which the legend o'er Hell's Gate is read,
That, new as 'twas from her whom naught could dim
Or sink till now, it startled even him.
"Ha, my fair Priestess!"--thus, with ready wile,
The impostor turned to greet her--"thou whose smile
"Hath inspiration in its rosy beam
"Beyond the Enthusiast's hope or Prophet's dream,
"Light of the Faith! who twin'st religion's zeal
"So close with love's, men know not which they feel,
"Nor which to sigh for, in their trance of heart,
"The heaven thou preachest or the heaven thou art!
"What should I be without thee? without thee
"How dull were power, how joyless victory!
"Tho' borne by angels, if that smile of thine
"Blest not my banner 'twere but half divine.
"But--why so mournful, child? those eyes that shone
"All life last night--what!--is their glory gone?
"Come, come--this morn's fatigue hath made them pale,
"They want rekindling--suns themselves would fail
"Did not their comets bring, as I to thee,
"From light's own fount supplies of brilliancy.
"Thou seest this cup--no juice of earth is here,
"But the pure waters of that upper sphere,
"Whose rills o'er ruby beds and topaz flow,
"Catching the gem's bright color as they go.
"Nightly my Genii come and fill these urns--
"Nay, drink--in every drop life's essence burns;
"'Twill make that soul all fire, those eyes all light--
"Come, come, I want thy loveliest smiles to-night:
"There is a youth--why start?--thou saw'st him then;
"Lookt he not nobly? such the godlike men,
"Thou'lt have to woo thee in the bowers above;--
"Tho' _he_, I fear, hath thoughts too stern for love,
"Too ruled by that cold enemy of bliss
"The world calls virtue--we must conquer this;
"Nay, shrink not, pretty sage! 'tis not for thee
"To scan the mazes of Heaven's mystery:
"The steel must pass thro' fire, ere it can yield
"Fit instruments for mighty hands to wield.
"This very night I mean to try the art
"Of powerful beauty on that warrior's heart.
"All that my Haram boasts of bloom and wit,
"Of skill and charms, most rare and exquisite,
"Shall tempt the boy;--young MIRZALA'S blue eyes
"Whose sleepy lid like snow on violets lies;
"AROUYA'S cheeks warm as a spring-day sun
"And lips that like the seal of SOLOMON
"Have magic in their pressure; ZEBA'S lute,
"And LILLA'S dancing feet that gleam and shoot
"Rapid and white as sea-birds o'er the deep--
"All shall combine their witching powers to steep
"My convert's spirit in that softening trance,
"From which to heaven is but the next advance;--
"That glowing, yielding fusion of the breast.
"On which Religion stamps her image best.
"But hear me, Priestess!--tho' each nymph of these
"Hath some peculiar, practised power to please,
"Some glance or step which at the mirror tried
"First charms herself, then all the world beside:
"There still wants _one_ to make the victory sure,
"One who in every look joins every lure,
"Thro' whom all beauty's beams concentred pass,
"Dazzling and warm as thro' love's burning glass;
"Whose gentle lips persuade without a word,
"Whose words, even when unmeaning, are adored.
"Like inarticulate breathings from a shrine,
"Which our faith takes for granted are divine!
"Such is the nymph we want, all warmth and light,
"To crown the rich temptations of to-night;
"Such the refined enchantress that must be
"This hero's vanquisher,--and thou art she!"
With her hands claspt, her lips apart and pale,
The maid had stood gazing upon the Veil
From which these words like south winds thro' a fence
Of Kerzrah flowers, came filled with pestilence;
So boldly uttered too! as if all dread
Of frowns from her, of virtuous frowns, were fled,
And the wretch felt assured that once plunged in,
Her woman's soul would know no pause in sin!
At first, tho' mute she listened, like a dream
Seemed all he said: nor could her mind whose beam
As yet was weak penetrate half his scheme.
But when at length he uttered, "Thou art she!"
All flasht at once and shrieking piteously,
"Oh not for worlds! "she cried--"Great God! to whom
"I once knelt innocent, is this my doom?
"Are all my dreams, my hopes of heavenly bliss,
"My purity, my pride, then come to this,--
"To live, the wanton of a fiend! to be
"The pander of his guilt--oh infamy!
"And sunk myself as low as hell can steep
"In its hot flood, drag others down as deep!
"Others--ha! yes--that youth who came to-day--
"_Not_ him I loved--not him--oh! do but say,
"But swear to me this moment 'tis not he,
"And I will serve, dark fiend, will worship even thee!"
"Beware, young raving thing!--in time beware,
"Nor utter what I can not, must not bear,
"Even from _thy_ lips. Go--try thy lute, thy voice,
"The boy must feel their magic;--I rejoice
"To see those fires, no matter whence they rise,
"Once more illuming my fait Priestess' eyes;
"And should the youth whom soon those eyes shall warm,
"Indeed resemble thy dead lover's form,
"So much the happier wilt thou find thy doom,
"As one warm lover full of life and bloom
"Excels ten thousand cold ones in the tomb.
"Nay, nay, no frowning, sweet!--those eyes were made
"For love, not anger--I must be obeyed."
"Obeyed!--'tis well--yes, I deserve it all--
"On me, on me Heaven's vengeance can not fall
"Too heavily--but AZIM, brave and true
"And beautiful--must _he_ be ruined too?
"Must _he_ too, glorious as he is, be driven
"A renegade like me from Love and Heaven?
"Like me?--weak wretch, I wrong him--not like me;
"No--he's all truth and strength and purity!
"Fill up your maddening hell-cup to the brim,
"Its witchery, fiends, will have no charm for him.
"Let loose your glowing wantons from their bowers,
"He loves, he loves, and can defy their powers!
"Wretch as I am, in his heart still I reign
"Pure as when first we met, without a stain!
"Tho' ruined--lost--my memory like a charm
"Left by the dead still keeps his soul from harm.
"Oh! never let him know how deep the brow
"He kist at parting is dishonored now;--
"Ne'er tell him how debased, how sunk is she.
"Whom once he loved--once!--_still_ loves dotingly.
"Thou laugh'st, tormentor,--what!--thou it brand my name?
"Do, do--in vain--he'll not believe my shame--
"He thinks me true, that naught beneath God's sky
"Could tempt or change me, and--so once thought I.
"But this is past--tho' worse than death my lot,
"Than hell--'tis nothing while _he_ knows it not.
"Far off to some benighted land I'll fly,
"Where sunbeam ne'er shall enter till I die;
"Where none will ask the lost one whence she came,
"But I may fade and fall without a name.
"And thou--curst man or fiend, whate'er thou art,
"Who found'st this burning plague-spot in my heart,
"And spread'st it--oh, so quick!--thro' soul and frame,
"With more than demon's art, till I became
"A loathsome thing, all pestilence, all flame!--
"If, when I'm gone"--"Hold, fearless maniac, hold,
"Nor tempt my rage--by Heaven, not half so bold
"The puny bird that dares with teasing hum
"Within the crocodile's stretched jaws to come!
"And so thou'lt fly, forsooth?--what!--give up all
"Thy chaste dominion in the Haram Hall,
"Where now to Love and now to ALLA given,
"Half mistress and half saint, thou hang'st as even
"As doth MEDINA'S tomb, 'twixt hell and heaven!
"Thou'lt fly?--as easily may reptiles run,
"The gaunt snake once hath fixt his eyes upon;
"As easily, when caught, the prey may be
"Pluckt from his loving folds, as thou from me.
"No, no, 'tis fixt--let good or ill betide,
"Thou'rt mine till death, till death MOKANNA'S bride!
"Hast thou forgot thy oath?"--
At this dread word,
The Maid whose spirit his rude taunts had stirred
Thro' all its depths and roused an anger there,
That burst and lightened even thro' her despair--
Shrunk back as if a blight were in the breath
That spoke that word and staggered pale as death.
"Yes, my sworn bride, let others seek in bowers
"Their bridal place--the charnel vault was ours!
"Instead of scents and balms, for thee and me
"Rose the rich steams of sweet mortality,
"Gay, flickering death-lights shone while we were wed.
"And for our guests a row of goodly Dead,
"(Immortal spirits in their time, no doubt,)
"From reeking shrouds upon the rite looked out!
"That oath thou heard'st more lips than thine repeat--
"That cup--thou shudderest, Lady,--was it sweet?
"That cup we pledged, the charnel's choicest wine,
"Hath bound thee--ay--body and soul all mine;
"Bound thee by chains that, whether blest or curst
"No matter now, not hell itself shall burst!
"Hence, woman, to the Haram, and look gay,
"Look wild, look--anything but sad; yet stay--
"One moment more--from what this night hath past,
"I see thou know'st me, know'st me _well_ at last.
"Ha! ha! and so, fond thing, thou thought'st all true,
"And that I love mankind?--I do, I do--
"As victims, love them; as the sea-dog dotes
"Upon the small, sweet fry that round him floats;
"Or, as the Nile-bird loves the slime that gives
"That rank and venomous food on which she lives!--
"And, now thou seest my _soul's_ angelic hue,
"'Tis time these _features_ were uncurtained too;--
"This brow, whose light--oh rare celestial light!
"Hath been reserved to bless thy favored sight;
"These dazzling eyes before whose shrouded might
"Thou'st seen immortal Man kneel down and quake--
"Would that they _were_ heaven's lightnings for his sake!
"But turn and look--then wonder, if thou wilt,
"That I should hate, should take revenge, by guilt,
"Upon the hand whose mischief or whose mirth
"Sent me thus mained and monstrous upon earth;
"And on that race who, tho' more vile they be
"Than moving apes, are demigods to me!
"Here--judge if hell, with all its power to damn,
"Can add one curse to the foul thing I am!"--
He raised his veil--the Maid turned slowly round,
Looked at him--shrieked--and sunk upon the ground!
On their arrival next night at the place of encampment they were surprised
and delighted to find the groves all around illuminated; some artists of
Yamtcheou having been sent on previously for the purpose. On each
side of the green alley, which led to the Royal Pavilion, artificial
sceneries of bamboo-work were erected, representing arches, minarets,
towers, from which hung thousands of silken lanterns painted by the most
delicate pencils of Canton.--Nothing could be more beautiful than the
leaves of the mango-trees and acacias shining in the light of the
bamboo-scenery which shed a lustre round as soft as that of the nights of
LALLA ROOKH, however, who was too much occupied by the sad story of ZELICA
and her lover to give a thought to anything else, except perhaps him who
related it, hurried on through this scene of splendor to her
pavilion,--greatly to the mortification of the poor artists of
Yamtcheou,--and was followed with equal rapidity by the Great Chamberlain,
cursing, as he went, that ancient Mandarin, whose parental anxiety in
lighting up the shores of the lake, where his beloved daughter had
wandered and been lost, was the origin of these fantastic Chinese
Without a moment's delay, young FERAMORZ was introduced, and FADLADEEN,
who could never make up his mind as to the merits of a poet till he knew
the religious sect to which he belonged, was about to ask him whether he
was a Shia or a Sooni when LALLA KOOKH impatiently clapped her hands for
silence, and the youth being seated upon the musnud near her proceeded:--
Prepare thy soul, young AZIM!--thou hast braved
The bands of GREECE, still mighty tho' enslaved;
Hast faced her phalanx armed with all its fame,--
Her Macedonian pikes and globes of fame,
All this hast fronted with firm heart and brow,
But a more perilous trial waits thee now,--
Woman's bright eyes, a dazzling host of eyes
From every land where woman smiles or sighs;
Of every hue, as Love may chance to raise
His black or azure banner in their blaze;
And each sweet mode of warfare, from the flash
That lightens boldly thro' the shadowy lash,
To the sly, stealing splendors almost hid
Like swords half-sheathed beneath the downcast lid;--
Such, AZIM, is the lovely, luminous host
Now led against thee; and let conquerors boast
Their fields of fame, he who in virtue arms
A young, warm spirit against beauty's charms,
Who feels her brightness, yet defies her thrall,
Is the best, bravest conqueror of them all.
Now, thro' the Haram chambers, moving lights
And busy shapes proclaim the toilet's rites;--
From room to room the ready handmaids hie,
Some skilled to wreath the turban tastefully,
Or hang the veil in negligence of shade
O'er the warm blushes of the youthful maid,
Who, if between the folds but one eye shone,
Like SEBA'S Queen could vanquish with that one:--
While some bring leaves of Henna to imbue
The fingers' ends with a bright roseate hue,
So bright that in the mirror's depth they seem
Like tips of coral branches in the stream:
And others mix the Kohol's jetty dye,
To give that long, dark languish to the eye,
Which makes the maids whom kings are proud to call
From fair Circassia's vales, so beautiful.
All is in motion; rings and plumes and pearls
Are shining everywhere:--some younger girls
Are gone by moonlight to the garden-beds,
To gather fresh, cool chaplets for their heads;--
Gay creatures! sweet, tho' mournful, 'tis to see
How each prefers a garland from that tree
Which brings to mind her childhood's innocent day
And the dear fields and friendships far away.
The maid of INDIA, blest again to hold
In her full lap the Champac's leaves of gold,
Thinks of the time when, by the GANGES' flood,
Her little playmates scattered many a bud
Upon her long black hair with glossy gleam
Just dripping from the consecrated stream;
While the young Arab haunted by the smell
Of her own mountain flowers as by a spell,--
The sweet Alcaya and that courteous tree
Which bows to all who seek its canopy,
Sees called up round her by these magic scents
The well, the camels, and her father's tents;
Sighs for the home she left with little pain,
And wishes even its sorrow back again!
Meanwhile thro' vast illuminated halls,
Silent and bright, where nothing but the falls
Of fragrant waters gushing with cool sound
From many a jasper fount is heard around,
Young AZIM roams bewildered,--nor can guess
What means this maze of light and loneliness.
Here the way leads o'er tesselated floors
Or mats of CAIRO thro' long corridors,
Where ranged in cassolets and silver urns
Sweet wood of aloe or of sandal burns,
And spicy rods such as illume at night
The bowers of TIBET send forth odorous light,
Like Peris' wands, when pointing out the road
For some pure Spirit to its blest abode:--
And here at once the glittering saloon
Bursts on his sight, boundless and bright as noon;
Where in the midst reflecting back the rays
In broken rainbows a fresh fountain plays
High as the enamelled cupola which towers
All rich with Arabesques of gold and flowers:
And the mosaic floor beneath shines thro'
The sprinkling of that fountain's silvery dew,
Like the wet, glistening shells of every dye
That on the margin of the Red Sea lie.
Here too he traces the kind visitings
Of woman's love in those fair, living things
Of land and wave, whose fate--in bondage thrown
For their weak loveliness--is like her own!
On one side gleaming with a sudden grace
Thro' water brilliant as the crystal vase
In which it undulates, small fishes shine
Like golden ingots from a fairy mine;--
While, on the other, latticed lightly in
With odoriferous woods of COMORIN,
Each brilliant bird that wings the air is seen;--
Gay, sparkling loories such as gleam between
The crimson blossoms of the coral-tree
In the warm isles of India's sunny sea:
Mecca's blue sacred pigeon, and the thrush
Of Hindostan whose holy warblings gush
At evening from the tall pagoda's top;--
Those golden birds that in the spice time drop
About the gardens, drunk with that sweet food
Whose scent hath lured them o'er the summer flood;
And those that under Araby's soft sun
Build their high nests of budding cinnamon;
In short, all rare and beauteous things that fly
Thro' the pure element here calmly lie
Sleeping in light, like the green birds that dwell
In Eden's radiant fields of asphodel!
So on, thro' scenes past all imagining,
More like the luxuries of that impious King,
Whom Death's dark Angel with his lightning torch
Struck down and blasted even in Pleasure's porch,
Than the pure dwelling of a Prophet sent
Armed with Heaven's sword for man's enfranchisement--
Young AZIM wandered, looking sternly round,
His simple garb and war-boots clanking sound
But ill according with the pomp and grace
And silent lull of that voluptuous place.
"Is this, then," thought the youth, "is this the way
"To free man's spirit from the deadening sway
"Of worldly sloth,--to teach him while he lives
"To know no bliss but that which virtue gives,
"And when he dies to leave his lofty name
"A light, a landmark on the cliffs of fame?
"It was not so, Land of the generous thought
"And daring deed, thy god-like sages taught;
"It was not thus in bowers of wanton ease
"Thy Freedom nurst her sacred energies;
"Oh! not beneath the enfeebling, withering glow
"Of such dull luxury did those myrtles grow
"With which she wreathed her sword when she would dare
"Immortal deeds; but in the bracing air
"Of toil,--of temperance,--of that high, rare,
"Ethereal virtue, which alone can breathe
"Life, health, and lustre into Freedom's wreath.
"Who that surveys this span of earth we press.--
"This speck of life in time's great wilderness,
"This narrow isthmus 'twixt two boundless seas,
"The past, the future, two eternities!--
"Would sully the bright spot, or leave it bare,