Part 19 out of 33
"Are the diamond turrets of SHADUKIAM,
"And the fragrant bowers of AMBERABAD!
"Farewell ye odors of Earth that die
"Passing away like a lover's sigh;--
"My feast is now of the Tooba Tree
"Whose scent is the breath of Eternity!
"Farewell, ye vanishing flowers that shone
"In my fairy wreath so bright an' brief;--
"Oh! what are the brightest that e'er have blown
"To the lote-tree springing by ALLA'S throne
"Whose flowers have a soul in every leaf.
"Joy, joy for ever.--my task is done--
"The Gates are past and Heaven is won!"
"And this," said the Great Chamberlain, "is poetry! this flimsy
manufacture of the brain, which in comparison with the lofty and durable
monuments of genius is as the gold filigree-work of Zamara beside the
eternal architecture of Egypt!" After this gorgeous sentence, which, with
a few more of the same kind, FADLADEEN kept by him for rare and important
occasions, he proceeded to the anatomy of the short poem just recited. The
lax and easy kind of metre in which it was written ought to be denounced,
he said, as one of the leading causes of the alarming growth of poetry in
our times. If some check were not given to this lawless facility we should
soon be overrun by a race of bards as numerous and as shallow as the
hundred and twenty thousand Streams of Basra. They who succeeded in
this style deserved chastisement for their very success;--as warriors have
been punished even after gaining a victory because they had taken the
liberty of gaining it in an irregular or unestablished manner. What then
was to be said to those who failed? to those who presumed as in the
present lamentable instance to imitate the licence and ease of the bolder
sons of song without any of that grace or vigor which gave a dignity even
to negligence;--who like them flung the jereed carelessly, but not,
like them, to the mark;--"and who," said he, raising his voice to excite a
proper degree of wakefulness in his hearers, "contrive to appear heavy and
constrained in the midst of all the latitude they allow themselves, like
one of those young pagans that dance before the Princess, who is ingenious
enough to move as if her limbs were fettered, in a pair of the lightest
and loosest drawers of Masulipatam!"
It was but little suitable, he continued, to the grave march of criticism
to follow this fantastical Peri of whom they had just heard, through all
her flights and adventures between earth and heaven, but he could not help
adverting to the puerile conceitedness of the Three Gifts which she is
supposed to carry to the skies,--a drop of blood, forsooth, a sigh, and a
tear! How the first of these articles was delivered into the Angel's
"radiant hand" he professed himself at a loss to discover; and as to the
safe carriage of the sigh and the tear, such Peris and such poets were
beings by far too incomprehensible for him even to guess how they managed
such matters. "But, in short," said he, "it is a waste of time and
patience to dwell longer upon a thing so incurably frivolous,--puny even
among its own puny race, and such as only the Banyan Hospital for
Sick Insects should undertake."
In vain did LALLA ROOKH try to soften this inexorable critic; in vain did
she resort to her most eloquent commonplaces, reminding him that poets
were a timid and sensitive race whose sweetness was not to be drawn forth
like that of the fragrant grass near the Ganges by crushing and trampling
upon them, that severity often extinguished every chance of the
perfection which it demanded, and that after all perfection was like the
Mountain of the Talisman,--no one had ever yet reached its summit.
Neither these gentle axioms nor the still gentler looks with which they
were inculcated could lower for one instant the elevation of FADLADEEN'S
eyebrows or charm him into anything like encouragement or even toleration
of her poet. Toleration, indeed, was not among the weaknesses of
FADLADEEN:--he carried the same spirit into matters of poetry and of
religion, and though little versed in the beauties or sublimities of
either was a perfect master of the art of persecution in both. His zeal
was the same too in either pursuit, whether the game before him was pagans
or poetasters, worshippers of cows, or writers of epics.
They had now arrived at the splendid city of Lahore whose mausoleums and
shrines, magnificent and numberless where Death appeared to share equal
honors with Heaven would have powerfully affected the heart and
imagination of LALLA ROOKH, if feelings more of this earth had not taken
entire possession of her already. She was here met by messengers
despatched from Cashmere who informed her that the King had arrived in the
Valley and was himself superintending the sumptuous preparations that were
then making in the Saloons of the Shalimar for her reception. The chill
she felt on receiving this intelligence,--which to a bride whose heart was
free and light would have brought only images of affection and
pleasure,--convinced her that her peace was gone for ever and that she was
in love, irretrievably in love, with young FERAMORZ. The veil had fallen
off in which this passion at first disguises itself, and to know that she
loved was now as painful as to love without knowing it had been delicious.
FERAMORZ, too,--what misery would be his, if the sweet hours of
intercourse so imprudently allowed them should have stolen into his heart
the same fatal fascination as into hers;--if, notwithstanding her rank and
the modest homage he always paid to it, even _he_ should have yielded to
the influence of those long and happy interviews where music, poetry, the
delightful scenes of nature,--all had tended to bring their hearts close
together and to waken by every means that too ready passion which often
like the young of the desert-bird is warmed into life by the eyes alone!
 She saw but one way to preserve herself from being culpable as well
as unhappy, and this however painful she was resolved to adopt. FERAMORZ
must no more be admitted to her presence. To have strayed so far into the
dangerous labyrinth was wrong, but to linger in it while the clew was yet
in her hand would be criminal. Though the heart she had to offer to the
King of Bucharia might be cold and broken, it should at least be pure, and
she must only endeavor to forget the short dream of happiness she had
enjoyed,--like that Arabian shepherd who in wandering into the wilderness
caught a glimpse of the Gardens of Irim and then lost them again for ever!
The arrival of the young Bride at Lahore was celebrated in the most
enthusiastic manner. The Rajas and Omras in her train, who had kept at a
certain distance during the journey and never encamped nearer to the
Princess than was strictly necessary for her safeguard here rode in
splendid cavalcade through the city and distributed the most costly
presents to the crowd. Engines were erected in all the squares which cast
forth showers of confectionery among the people, while the artisans in
chariots adorned with tinsel and flying streamers exhibited the
badges of their respective trades through the streets. Such brilliant
displays of life and pageantry among the palaces and domes and gilded
minarets of Lahore made the city altogether like a place of
enchantment;--particularly on the day when LALLA ROOKH set out again upon
her journey, when she was accompanied to the gate by all the fairest and
richest of the nobility and rode along between ranks of beautiful boys and
girls who kept waving over their heads plates of gold and silver
flowers, and then threw them around to be gathered by the populace.
For many days after their departure from Lahore a considerable degree of
gloom hung over the whole party. LALLA ROOKH, who had intended to make
illness her excuse for not admitting the young minstrel, as usual, to the
pavilion, soon found that to feign indisposition was unnecessary;--
FADLADEEN felt the loss of the good road they had hitherto travelled and
was very near cursing Jehan-Guire (of blessed memory!) for not having
continued his delectable alley of trees a least as far as the
mountains of Cashmere;--while the Ladies who had nothing now to do all day
but to be fanned by peacocks' feathers and listen to FADLADEEN seemed
heartily weary of the life they led and in spite of all the Great
Chamberlain's criticisms were so tasteless as to wish for the poet again.
One evening as they were proceeding to their place of rest for the night
the Princess who for the freer enjoyment of the air had mounted her
favorite Arabian palfrey, in passing by a small grove heard the notes of a
lute from within its leaves and a voice which she but too well knew
singing the following words:--
Tell me not of joys above,
If that world can give no bliss,
Truer, happier than the Love
Which enslaves our souls in this.
Tell me not of Houris' eyes;--
Far from me their dangerous glow.
If those looks that light the skies
Wound like some that burn below.
Who that feels what Love is here,
All its falsehood--all its pain--
Would, for even Elysium's sphere,
Risk the fatal dream again?
Who that midst a desert's heat
Sees the waters fade away
Would not rather die than meet
Streams again as false as they?
The tone of melancholy defiance in which these words were uttered went to
LALLA ROOKH'S heart;--and as she reluctantly rode on she could not help
feeling it to be a sad but still sweet certainty that FERAMORZ was to the
full as enamored and miserable as herself.
The place where they encamped that evening was the first delightful spot
they had come to since they left Lahore. On one side of them was a grove
full of small Hindoo temples and planted with the most graceful trees of
the East, where the tamarind, the cassia, and the silken plantains of
Ceylon were mingled in rich contrast with the high fan-like foliage of the
Palmyra,--that favorite tree of the luxurious bird that lights up the
chambers of its nest with fire-flies.. In the middle of the lawn
where the pavilion stood there was a tank surrounded by small mango-trees
on the clear cold waters of which floated multitudes of the beautiful red
lotus, while at a distance stood the ruins of a strange and awful-
looking tower which seemed old enough to have been the temple of some
religion no longer known and which spoke the voice of desolation in the
midst of all that bloom and loveliness. This singular ruin excited the
wonder and conjectures of all. LALLA ROOKH guessed in vain, and the all-
pretending FADLADEEN who had never till this journey been beyond the
precincts of Delhi was proceeding most learnedly to show that he knew
nothing whatever about the matter, when one of the Ladies suggested that
perhaps FERAMORZ could satisfy their curiosity. They were now approaching
his native mountains and this tower might perhaps be a relic of some of
those dark superstitions which had prevailed in that country before the
light of Islam dawned upon it. The Chamberlain who usually preferred his
own ignorance to the best knowledge that any one else could give him was
by no means pleased with this officious reference, and the Princess too
was about to interpose a faint word of objection, but before either of
them could speak a slave was despatched for FERAMORZ, who in a very few
minutes made his appearance before them--looking so pale and unhappy in
LALLA ROOKH'S eyes that she repented already of her cruelty in having so
long excluded him.
That venerable tower he told them was the remains of an ancient Fire-
Temple, built by those Ghebers or Persians of the old religion, who many
hundred years since had fled hither from the Arab conquerors, preferring
liberty and their altars in a foreign land to the alternative of apostasy
or persecution in their own. It was impossible, he added, not to feel
interested in the many glorious but unsuccessful struggles which had been
made by these original natives of Persia to cast off the yoke of their
bigoted conquerors. Like their own Fire in the Burning Field at Bakou when
suppressed in one place they had but broken out with fresh flame in
another; and as a native of Cashmere, of that fair and Holy Valley which
had in the same manner become the prey of strangers and seen her
ancient shrines and native princes swept away before the march of her
intolerant invaders he felt a sympathy, he owned, with the sufferings of
the persecuted Ghebers which every monument like this before them but
tended more powerfully to awaken.
It was the first time that FERAMORZ had ever ventured upon so much
_prose_ before FADLADEEN and it may easily be conceived what effect such
prose as this must have produced upon that most orthodox and most pagan-
hating personage. He sat for some minutes aghast, ejaculating only at
intervals, "Bigoted conquerors!--sympathy with Fire-worshippers!"--
while FERAMORZ happy to take advantage of this almost speechless horror of
the Chamberlain proceeded to say that he knew a melancholy story connected
with the events of one of those struggles of the brave Fire-worshippers
against their Arab masters, which if the evening was not too far advanced
he should have much pleasure in being allowed to relate to the Princess.
It was impossible for LALLA ROOKH to refuse;--he had never before looked
half so animated, and when he spoke of the Holy Valley his eyes had
sparkled she thought like the talismanic characters on the scimitar of
Solomon. Her consent was therefore most readily granted; and while
FADLADEEN sat in unspeakable dismay, expecting treason and abomination in
every line, the poet thus began his story of the Fire-worshippers:
'Tis moonlight over OMAN'S SEA;
Her banks of pearl and palmy isles
Bask in the night-beam beauteously
And her blue waters sleep in smiles.
'Tis moonlight in HARMOZIA'S walls,
And through her EMIR'S porphyry halls
Where some hours since was heard the swell
Of trumpets and the clash of zel
Bidding the bright-eyed sun farewell;--
The peaceful sun whom better suits
The music of the bulbul's nest
Or the light touch of lovers' lutes
To sing him to his golden rest.
All husht--there's not a breeze in motion;
The shore is silent as the ocean.
If zephyrs come, so light they come.
Nor leaf is stirred nor wave is driven;--
The wind-tower on the EMIR'S dome
Can hardly win a breath from heaven.
Even he, that tyrant Arab, sleeps
Calm, while a nation round him weeps,
While curses load the air he breathes
And falchions from unnumbered sheaths
Are starting to avenge the shame
His race hath brought on IRAN'Sname.
Hard, heartless Chief, unmoved alike
Mid eyes that weep and swords that strike;
One of that saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who think thro' unbelievers' blood
Lies their directest path to heaven,--
One who will pause and kneel unshod
In the warm blood his hand hath poured,
To mutter o'er some text of God
Engraven on his reeking sword;
Nay, who can coolly note the line,
The letter of those words divine,
To which his blade with searching art
Had sunk into its victim's heart!
Just ALLA! what must be thy look
When such a wretch before thee stands
Unblushing, with thy Sacred Book,--
Turning the leaves with bloodstained hands,
And wresting from its page sublime
His creed of lust and hate and crime;--
Even as those bees of TREBIZOND,
Which from the sunniest flowers that glad
With their pure smile the gardens round,
Draw venom forth that drives men mad.
Never did fierce Arabia send
A satrap forth more direly great;
Never was IRAN doomed to bend
Beneath a yoke of deadlier weight.
Her throne had fallen--her pride was crusht--
Her sons were willing slaves, nor blusht,
In their own land,--no more their own,--
To crouch beneath a stranger's throne.
Her towers where MITHRA once had burned.
To Moslem shrines--oh shame!--were turned,
Where slaves converted by the sword,
Their mean, apostate worship poured,
And curst the faith their sires adored.
Yet has she hearts, mid all this ill,
O'er all this wreck high buoyant still
With hope and vengeance;--hearts that yet--
Like gems, in darkness, issuing rays
They've treasured from the sun that's set,--
Beam all the light of long-lost days!
And swords she hath, nor weak nor slow
To second all such hearts can dare:
As he shall know, well, dearly know.
Who sleeps in moonlight luxury there,
Tranquil as if his spirit lay
Becalmed in Heaven's approving ray.
Sleep on--for purer eyes than thine
Those waves are husht, those planets shine;
Sleep on and be thy rest unmoved
By the white moonbeam's dazzling power;--
None but the loving and the loved
Should be awake at this sweet hour.
And see--where high above those rocks
That o'er the deep their shadows fling.
Yon turret stands;--where ebon locks,
As glossy as the heron's wing
Upon the turban of a king,
Hang from the lattice, long and wild,--
'Tis she, that EMIR'S blooming child,
All truth and tenderness and grace,
Tho' born of such ungentle race;--
An image of Youth's radiant Fountain
Springing in a desolate mountain!
Oh what a pure and sacred thing
Is Beauty curtained from the sight
Of the gross world, illumining
One only mansion with her light!
Unseen by man's disturbing eye,--
The flower that blooms beneath the sea,
Too deep for sunbeams, doth not lie
Hid in more chaste obscurity.
So, HINDA. have thy face and mind,
Like holy mysteries, lain enshrined.
And oh! what transport for a lover
To lift the veil that shades them o'er!--
Like those who all at once discover
In the lone deep some fairy shore
Where mortal never trod before,
And sleep and wake in scented airs
No lip had ever breathed but theirs.
Beautiful are the maids that glide
On summer-eves thro' YEMEN'S dales,
And bright the glancing looks they hide
Behind their litters' roseate veils;--
And brides as delicate and fair
As the white jasmine flowers they wear,
Hath YEMEN in her blissful clime,
Who lulled in cool kiosk or bower,
Before their mirrors count the time
And grow still lovelier every hour.
But never yet hath bride or maid
In ARABY'S gay Haram smiled.
Whose boasted brightness would not fade
Before AL HASSAN'S blooming child.
Light as the angel shapes that bless
An infant's dream, yet not the less
Rich in all woman's loveliness;--
With eyes so pure that from their ray
Dark Vice would turn abasht away,
Blinded like serpents when they gaze
Upon the emerald's virgin blaze;--
Yet filled with all youth's sweet desires,
Mingling the meek and vestal fires
Of other worlds with all the bliss,
The fond, weak tenderness of this:
A soul too more than half divine,
Where, thro' some shades of earthly feeling,
Religion's softened glories shine,
Like light thro' summer foliage stealing,
Shedding a glow of such mild hue,
So warm and yet so shadowy too,
As makes the very darkness there
More beautiful than light elsewhere.
Such is the maid who at this hour
Hath risen from her restless sleep
And sits alone in that high bower,
Watching the still and shining deep.
Ah! 'twas not thus,--with tearful eyes
And beating heart,--she used to gaze
On the magnificent earth and skies,
In her own land, in happier days.
Why looks she now so anxious down
Among those rocks whose rugged frown
Blackens the mirror of the deep?
Whom waits she all this lonely night?
Too rough the rocks, too bold the steep,
For man to scale that turret's height!--
So deemed at least her thoughtful sire,
When high, to catch the cool night-air
After the day-beam's withering fire,
He built her bower of freshness there,
And had it deckt with costliest skill
And fondly thought it safe as fair:--
Think, reverend dreamer! think so still,
Nor wake to learn what Love can dare;--
Love, all defying Love, who sees
No charm in trophies won with ease;--
Whose rarest, dearest fruits of bliss
Are plucked on Danger's precipice!
Bolder than they who dare not dive
For pearls but when the sea's at rest,
Love, in the tempest most alive,
Hath ever held that pearl the best
He finds beneath the stormiest water.
Yes, ARABY'S unrivalled daughter,
Tho' high that tower, that rock-way rude,
There's one who but to kiss thy cheek
Would climb the untrodden solitude
Of ARARAT'S tremendous peak,
And think its steeps, tho' dark and dread,
Heaven's pathways, if to thee they led!
Even now thou seest the flashing spray,
That lights his oar's impatient way;--
Even now thou hearest the sudden shock
Of his swift bark against the rock,
And stretchest down thy arms of snow
As if to lift him from below!
Like her to whom at dead of night
The bridegroom with his locks of light
Came in the flush of love and pride
And scaled the terrace of his bride;--
When as she saw him rashly spring,
And midway up in danger cling,
She flung him down her long black hair,
Exclaiming breathless, "There, love, there!"
And scarce did manlier nerve uphold
The hero ZAL in that fond hour,
Than wings the youth who, fleet and bold,
Now climbs the rocks to HINDA'S bower.
See-light as up their granite steeps
The rock-goats of ARABIA clamber,
Fearless from crag to crag he leaps,
And now is in the maiden's chamber.
She loves--but knows not whom she loves,
Nor what his race, nor whence he came;--
Like one who meets in Indian groves
Some beauteous bird without a name;
Brought by the last ambrosial breeze
From isles in the undiscovered seas,
To show his plumage for a day
To wondering eyes and wing away!
Will he thus fly--her nameless lover?
ALLA forbid! 'twas by a moon
As fair as this, while singing over
Some ditty to her soft Kanoon,
Alone, at this same witching hour,
She first beheld his radiant eyes
Gleam thro' the lattice of the bower,
Where nightly now they mix their sighs;
And thought some spirit of the air
(For what could waft a mortal there?)
Was pausing on his moonlight way
To listen to her lonely lay!
This fancy ne'er hath left her mind:
And--tho', when terror's swoon had past,
She saw a youth of mortal kind
Before her in obeisance cast,--
Yet often since, when he hath spoken
Strange, awful words,--and gleams have broken
From his dark eyes, too bright to bear,
Oh! she hath feared her soul was given
To some unhallowed child of air,
Some erring spirit cast from heaven,
Like those angelic youths of old
Who burned for maids of mortal mould,
Bewildered left the glorious skies
And lost their heaven for woman's eyes.
Fond girl! nor fiend nor angel he
Who woos thy young simplicity;
But one of earth's impassioned sons,
As warm in love, as fierce in ire
As the best heart whose current runs
Full of the Day-God's living fire.
But quenched to-night that ardor seems,
And pale his cheek and sunk his brow;--
Never before but in her dreams
Had she beheld him pale as now:
And those were dreams of troubled sleep
From which 'twas joy to wake and weep;
Visions that will not be forgot,
But sadden every waking scene
Like warning ghosts that leave the spot
All withered where they once have been.
"How sweetly," said the trembling maid,
Of her own gentle voice afraid,
So long had they in silence stood
Looking upon that tranquil flood--
"How sweetly does the moonbeam smile
"To-night upon yon leafy isle!
"Oft, in my fancy's wanderings,
"I've wisht that little isle had wings,
"And we within its fairy bowers
"Were wafted off to seas unknown,
"Where not a pulse should beat but ours,
"And we might live, love, die, alone!
"Far from the cruel and the cold,--
"Where the bright eyes of angels only
"Should come around us to behold
"A paradise so pure and lonely.
"Would this be world enough for thee?"--
Playful she turned that he might see
The passing smile her cheek put on;
But when she markt how mournfully
His eye met hers, that smile was gone;
And bursting into heart-felt tears,
"Yes, yes," she cried, "my hourly fears,
"My dreams have boded all too right--
"We part--for ever part--tonight!
"I knew, I knew it _could_ not last--
"'Twas bright, 'twas heavenly, but 'tis past!
"Oh! ever thus from childhood's hour
"I've seen my fondest hopes decay;
"I never loved a tree or flower,
"But 'twas the first to fade away.
"I never nurst a dear gazelle
"To glad me with its soft black eye
"But when it came to know me well
"And love me it was sure to die I
"Now too--the joy most like divine
"Of all I ever dreamt or knew,
"To see thee, hear thee, call thee mine,--
"Oh misery! must I lose _that_ too?
"Yet go--on peril's brink we meet;--
"Those frightful rocks--that treacherous sea--
"No, never come again--tho' sweet,
"Tho' heaven, it may be death to thee.
"Farewell--and blessings on thy way,
"Where'er thou goest, beloved stranger!
"Better to sit and watch that ray
"And think thee safe, tho' far away,
"Than have thee near me and in danger!"
"Danger!--oh, tempt me not to boast"--
The youth exclaimed--"thou little know'st
"What he can brave, who, born and nurst
"In Danger's paths, has dared her worst;
"Upon whose ear the signal-word
"Of strife and death is hourly breaking;
"Who sleeps with head upon the sword
"His fevered hand must grasp in waking.
"Say on--thou fearest not then,
"And we may meet--oft meet again?"
"Oh! look not so--beneath the skies
"I now fear nothing but those eyes.
"If aught on earth could charm or force
"My spirit from its destined course,--
"If aught could make this soul forget
"The bond to which its seal is set,
"'Twould be those eyes;--they, only they,
"Could melt that sacred seal away!
"But no--'tis fixt--_my_ awful doom
"Is fixt--on this side of the tomb
"We meet no more;--why, why did Heaven
"Mingle two souls that earth has riven,
"Has rent asunder wide as ours?
"Oh, Arab maid, as soon the Powers
"Of Light and Darkness may combine.
"As I be linkt with thee or thine!
"Holy ALLA save
"His gray head from that lightning glance!
"Thou knowest him not--he loves the brave;
"Nor lives there under heaven's expanse
"One who would prize, would worship thee
"And thy bold spirit more than he.
"Oft when in childhood I have played
"With the bright falchion by his side,
"I've heard him swear his lisping maid
"In time should be a warrior's bride.
"And still whene'er at Haram hours
"I take him cool sherbets and flowers,
"He tells me when in playful mood
"A hero shall my bridegroom be,
"Since maids are best in battle wooed,
"And won with shouts of victory!
"Nay, turn not from me--thou alone
"Art formed to make both hearts thy own.
"Go--join his sacred ranks--thou knowest
"The unholy strife these Persians wage:--
"Good Heaven, that frown!--even now thou glowest
"With more than mortal warrior's rage.
"Haste to the camp by morning's light,
"And when that sword is raised in fight,
"Oh still remember, Love and I
"Beneath its shadow trembling lie!
"One victory o'er those Slaves of Fire,
"Those impious Ghebers whom my sire
"Hold, hold--thy words are death"--
The stranger cried as wild he flung
His mantle back and showed beneath
The Gheber belt that round him clung.--
"Here, maiden, look--weep--blush to see
"All that thy sire abhors in me!
"Yes--_I_ am of that impious race,
"Those Slaves of Fire who, morn and even,
"Hail their Creator's dwelling-place
"Among the living lights of heaven:
"Yes--_I_ am of that outcast few,
"To IRAN and to vengeance true,
"Who curse the hour your Arabs came
"To desolate our shrines of flame,
"And swear before God's burning eye
"To break our country's chains or die!
"Thy bigot sire,--nay, tremble not,--
"He who gave birth to those dear eyes
"With me is sacred as the spot
"From which our fires of worship rise!
"But know--'twas he I sought that night,
"When from my watch-boat on the sea
"I caught this turret's glimmering light,
"And up the rude rocks desperately
"Rusht to my prey--thou knowest the rest--
"I climbed the gory vulture's nest,
"And found a trembling dove within;--
"Thine, thine the victory--thine the sin--
"If Love hath made one thought his own,
"That Vengeance claims first--last--alone!
"Oh? had we never, never met,
"Or could this heart even now forget
"How linkt, how blest we might have been,
"Had fate not frowned so dark between!
"Hadst thou been born a Persian maid,
"In neighboring valleys had we dwelt,
"Thro' the same fields in childhood played,
"At the same kindling altar knelt,--
"Then, then, while all those nameless ties
"In which the charm of Country lies
"Had round our hearts been hourly spun,
"Till IRAN'S cause and thine were one;
"While in thy lute's awakening sigh
"I heard the voice of days gone by,
"And saw in every smile of thine
"Returning hours of glory shine;--
"While the wronged Spirit of our Land
"Lived, lookt, and spoke her wrongs thro' thee,--
"God! who could then this sword withstand?
"Its very flash were victory!
"But now--estranged, divorced for ever,
"Far as the grasp of Fate can sever;
"Our only ties what love has wove,--
"In faith, friends, country, sundered wide;
"And then, then only, true to love,
"When false to all that's dear beside!
"Thy father IKAN'S deadliest foe--
"Thyself, perhaps, even now--but no--
"Hate never looked so lovely yet!
No--sacred to thy soul will be
"The land of him who could forget
"All but that bleeding land for thee.
"When other eyes shall see, unmoved,
"Her widows mourn, her warriors fall,
"Thou'lt think how well one Gheber loved.
"And for _his_ sake thou'lt weep for all!
With sudden start he turned
And pointed to the distant wave
Where lights like charnel meteors burned
Bluely as o'er some seaman's grave;
And fiery darts at intervals
Flew up all sparkling from the main
As if each star that nightly falls
Were shooting back to heaven again.
"My signal lights!--I must away--
"Both, both are ruined, if I stay.
"Farewell--sweet life! thou clingest in vain--
"Now, Vengeance, I am thine again!"
Fiercely he broke away, nor stopt,
Nor lookt--but from the lattice dropt
Down mid the pointed crags beneath
As if he fled from love to death.
While pale and mute young HINDA stood,
Nor moved till in the silent flood
A momentary plunge below
Startled her from her trance of woe;--
Shrieking she to the lattice flew,
"I come--I come--if in that tide
"Thou sleepest to-night, I'll sleep there too
"In death's cold wedlock by thy side.
"Oh! I would ask no happier bed
"Than the chill wave my love lies under:--
"Sweeter to rest together dead,
"Far sweeter than to live asunder!"
But no--their hour is not yet come--
Again she sees his pinnace fly,
Wafting him fleetly to his home,
Where'er that ill-starred home may lie;
And calm and smooth it seemed to win
Its moonlight way before the wind
As if it bore all peace within
Nor left one breaking heart behind!
The Princess whose heart was sad enough already could have wished that
FERAMORZ had chosen a less melancholy story; as it is only to the happy
that tears are a luxury. Her Ladies however were by no means sorry that
love was once more the Poet's theme; for, whenever he spoke of love, they
said, his voice was as sweet as if he had chewed the leaves of that
enchanted tree, which grows over the tomb of the musician, Tan-Sein.
Their road all the morning had lain through a very dreary country;--
through valleys, covered with a low bushy jungle, where in more than one
place the awful signal of the bamboo staff with the white flag at
its top reminded the traveller that in that very spot the tiger had made
some human creature his victim. It was therefore with much pleasure that
they arrived at sunset in a safe and lovely glen and encamped under one of
those holy trees whose smooth columns and spreading roofs seem to destine
them for natural temples of religion. Beneath this spacious shade some
pious hands had erected a row of pillars ornamented with the most
beautiful porcelain which now supplied the use of mirrors to the
young maidens as they adjusted their hair in descending from the
palankeens. Here while as usual the Princess sat listening anxiously with
FADLADEEN in one of his loftiest moods of criticism by her side the young
Poet leaning against a branch of the tree thus continued his story:--
The morn hath risen clear and calm
And o'er the Green Sea palely shines,
Revealing BAHREIN'S groves of palm
And lighting KISHMA'S amber vines.
Fresh smell the shores of ARABY,
While breezes from the Indian sea
Blow round SELAMA'S sainted cape
And curl the shining flood beneath,--
Whose waves are rich with many a grape
And cocoa-nut and flowery wreath
Which pious seamen as they past
Had toward that holy headland cast--
Oblations to the Genii there
For gentle skies and breezes fair!
The nightingale now bends her flight
From the high trees where all the night
She sung so sweet with none to listen;
And hides her from the morning star
Where thickets of pomegranate glisten
In the clear dawn,--bespangled o'er
With dew whose night-drops would not stain
The best and brightest scimitar
That ever youthful Sultan wore
On the first morning of his reign.
And see--the Sun himself!--on wings
Of glory up the East he springs.
Angel of Light! who from the time
Those heavens began their march sublime,
Hath first of all the starry choir
Trod in his Maker's steps of fire!
Where are the days, thou wondrous sphere,
When IRAN, like a sun-flower, turned
To meet that eye where'er it burned?--
When from the banks of BENDEMEER
To the nut-groves of SAMARCAND
Thy temples flamed o'er all the land?
Where are they? ask the shades of them
Who, on CADESSIA'S bloody plains,
Saw fierce invaders pluck the gem
From IRAN'S broken diadem,
And bind her ancient faith in chains:--
Ask the poor exile cast alone
On foreign shores, unloved, unknown,
Beyond the Caspian's Iron Gates,
Or on the snowy Mossian mountains,
Far from his beauteous land of dates,
Her jasmine bowers and sunny fountains:
Yet happier so than if he trod
His own beloved but blighted sod
Beneath a despot stranger's nod!--
Oh, he would rather houseless roam
Where Freedom and his God may lead,
Than be the sleekest slave at home
That crouches to the conqueror's creed!
Is IRAN'S pride then gone for ever,
Quenched with the flame in MITHRA'S caves?
No--she has sons that never--never--
Will stoop to be the Moslem's slaves
While heaven has light or earth has graves;--
Spirits of fire that brood not long
But flash resentment back for wrong;
And hearts where, slow but deep, the seeds
Of vengeance ripen into deeds,
Till in some treacherous hour of calm
They burst like ZEILAN'S giant palm
Whose buds fly open with a sound
That shakes the pigmy forests round!
Yes, EMIR! he, who scaled that tower,
And had he reached thy slumbering breast
Had taught thee in a Gheber's power
How safe even tyrant heads may rest--
Is one of many, brave as he,
Who loathe thy haughty race and thee;
Who tho' they knew the strife is vain,
Who tho' they know the riven chain
Snaps but to enter in the heart
Of him who rends its links apart,
Yet dare the issue,--blest to be
Even for one bleeding moment free
And die in pangs of liberty!
Thou knowest them well--'tis some moons since
Thy turbaned troops and blood-red flags,
Thou satrap of a bigot Prince,
Have swarmed among these Green Sea crags;
Yet here, even here, a sacred band
Ay, in the portal of that land
Thou, Arab, darest to call thy own,
Their spears across thy path have thrown;
Here--ere the winds half winged thee o'er--
Rebellion braved thee from the shore.
Rebellion! foul, dishonoring word,
Whose wrongful blight so oft has stained
The holiest cause that tongue or sword
Of mortal ever lost or gained.
How many a spirit born to bless
Hath sunk beneath that withering name,
Whom but a day's, an hour's success
Had wafted to eternal fame!
As exhalations when they burst
From the warm earth if chilled at first,
If checkt in soaring from the plain
Darken to fogs and sink again;--
But if they once triumphant spread
Their wings above the mountain-head,
Become enthroned in upper air,
And turn to sun-bright glories there!
And who is he that wields the might
Of Freedom on the Green Sea brink,
Before whose sabre's dazzling light
The eyes of YEMEN'S warriors wink?
Who comes embowered in the spears
Of KERMAN'S hardy mountaineers?
Those mountaineers that truest, last,
Cling to their country's ancient rites,
As if that God whose eyelids cast
Their closing gleam on IRAN'S heights,
Among her snowy mountains threw
The last light of his worship too!
'Tis HAFED--name of fear, whose sound
Chills like the muttering of a charm!--
Shout but that awful name around,
And palsy shakes the manliest arm.
'Tis HAFED, most accurst and dire
(So rankt by Moslem hate and ire)
Of all the rebel Sons of Fire;
Of whose malign, tremendous power
The Arabs at their mid-watch hour
Such tales of fearful wonder tell
That each affrighted sentinel
Pulls down his cowl upon his eyes,
Lest HAFED in the midst should rise!
A man, they say, of monstrous birth,
A mingled race of flame and earth,
Sprung from those old, enchanted kings
Who in their fairy helms of yore
A feather from the mystic wings
Of the Simoorgh resistless wore;
And gifted by the Fiends of Fire,
Who groaned to see their shrines expire
With charms that all in vain withstood
Would drown the Koran's light in blood!
Such were the tales that won belief,
And such the coloring Fancy gave
To a young, warm, and dauntless Chief,--
One who, no more than mortal brave,
Fought for the land his soul adored,
For happy homes and altars free,--
His only talisman, the sword,
His only spell-word, Liberty!
One of that ancient hero line,
Along whose glorious current shine
Names that have sanctified their blood:
As LEBANON'S small mountain-flood
Is rendered holy by the ranks
Of sainted cedars on its banks.
'Twas not for him to crouch the knee
Tamely to Moslem tyranny;
'Twas not for him whose soul was cast
In the bright mould of ages past,
Whose melancholy spirit fed
With all the glories of the dead
Tho' framed for IRAN'S happiest years.
Was born among her chains and tears!--
'Twas not for him to swell the crowd
Of slavish heads, that shrinking bowed
Before the Moslem as he past
Like shrubs beneath the poison-blast--
No--far he fled--indignant fled
The pageant of his country's shame;
While every tear her children shed
Fell on his soul like drops of flame;
And as a lover hails the dawn
Of a first smile, so welcomed he
The sparkle of the first sword drawn
For vengeance and for liberty!
But vain was valor--vain the flower
Of KERMAN, in that deathful hour,
Against AL HASSAN'S whelming power.--
In vain they met him helm to helm
Upon the threshold of that realm
He came in bigot pomp to sway,
And with their corpses blockt his way--
In vain--for every lance they raised
Thousands around the conqueror blazed;
For every arm that lined their shore
Myriads of slaves were wafted o'er,--
A bloody, bold, and countless crowd,
Before whose swarm as fast they bowed
As dates beneath the locust cloud.
There stood--but one short league away
From old HARMOZIA'S sultry bay--
A rocky mountain o'er the Sea--
Of OMAN beetling awfully;
A last and solitary link
Of those stupendous chains that reach
From the broad Caspian's reedy brink
Down winding to the Green Sea beach.
Around its base the bare rocks stood
Like naked giants, in the flood
As if to guard the Gulf across;
While on its peak that braved the sky
A ruined Temple towered so high
That oft the sleeping albatross
Struck the wild ruins with her wing,
And from her cloud-rockt slumbering
Started--to find man's dwelling there
In her own silent fields of air!
Beneath, terrific caverns gave
Dark welcome to each stormy wave
That dasht like midnight revellers in;--
And such the strange, mysterious din
At times throughout those caverns rolled,--
And such the fearful wonders told
Of restless sprites imprisoned there,
That bold were Moslem who would dare
At twilight hour to steer his skiff
Beneath the Gheber's lonely cliff.
On the land side those towers sublime,
That seemed above the grasp of Time,
Were severed from the haunts of men
By a wide, deep, and wizard glen,
So fathomless, so full of gloom,
No eye could pierce the void between:
It seemed a place where Ghouls might come
With their foul banquets from the tomb
And in its caverns feed unseen.
Like distant thunder, from below
The sound of many torrents came,
Too deep for eye or ear to know
If 'twere the sea's imprisoned flow,
Or floods of ever-restless flame.
For each ravine, each rocky spire
Of that vast mountain stood on fire;
And tho' for ever past the days
When God was worshipt in the blaze--
That from its lofty altar shone,--
Tho' fled the priests, the votaries gone,
Still did the mighty flame burn on,
Thro' chance and change, thro' good and ill,
Like its own God's eternal will,
Deep, constant, bright, unquenchable!
Thither the vanquisht HAFED led
His little army's last remains;--
"Welcome, terrific glen!" he said,
"Thy gloom, that Eblis' self might dread,
"Is Heaven to him who flies from chains!"
O'er a dark, narrow bridge-way known
To him and to his Chiefs alone
They crost the chasm and gained the towers;--
"This home," he cried, "at least is ours;
"Here we may bleed, unmockt by hymns
"Of Moslem triumph o'er our head;
"Here we may fall nor leave our limbs
"To quiver to the Moslem's tread.
"Stretched on this rock while vultures' beaks
"Are whetted on our yet warm cheeks,
"Here--happy that no tyrant's eye
"Gloats on our torments--we may die!"--
'Twas night when to those towers they came,
And gloomily the fitful flame
That from the ruined altar broke
Glared on his features as he spoke:--
"'Tis o'er--what men could do, we've done--
"If IRAN _will_ look tamely on
"And see her priests, her warriors driven
"Before a sensual bigot's nod,
"A wretch who shrines his lusts in heaven
"And makes a pander of his God;
"If her proud sons, her high-born souls,
"Men in whose veins--oh last disgrace!
"The blood of ZAL and RUSTAM rolls.--
"If they _will_ court this upstart race
"And turn from MITHRA'S ancient ray
"To kneel at shrines of yesterday;
"If they _will_ crouch to IRAN'S foes,
"Why, let them--till the land's despair
"Cries out to Heaven, and bondage grows
"Too vile for even the vile to bear!
"Till shame at last, long hidden, burns
"Their inmost core, and conscience turns
"Each coward tear the slave lets fall
"Back on his heart in drops of gall.
"But here at least are arms unchained
"And souls that thraldom never stained;--
"This spot at least no foot of slave
"Or satrap ever yet profaned,
"And tho' but few--tho' fast the wave
"Of life is ebbing from our veins,
"Enough for vengeance still remains.
"As panthers after set of sun
"Rush from the roots of LEBANON
"Across the dark sea-robber's way,
"We'll bound upon our startled prey.
"And when some hearts that proudest swell
"Have felt our falchion's last farewell,
"When Hope's expiring throb is o'er
"And even Despair can prompt no more,
"This spot shall be the sacred grave
"Of the last few who vainly brave
"Die for the land they cannot save!"
His Chiefs stood round--each shining blade
Upon the broken altar laid--
And tho' so wild and desolate
Those courts where once the Mighty sate:
Nor longer on those mouldering towers
Was seen the feast of fruits and flowers
With which of old the Magi fed
The wandering Spirits of their Dead;
Tho' neither priest nor rites were there,
Nor charmed leaf of pure pomegranate,
Nor hymn, nor censer's fragrant air,
Nor symbol of their worshipt planet;
Yet the same God that heard their sires
Heard _them_ while on that altar's fires
They swore the latest, holiest deed
Of the few hearts, still left to bleed,
Should be in IRAN'S injured name
To die upon that Mount of Flame--
The last of all her patriot line,
Before her last untrampled Shrine!
Brave, suffering souls! they little knew
How many a tear their injuries drew
From one meek maid, one gentle foe,
Whom love first touched with others' woe--
Whose life, as free from thought as sin,
Slept like a lake till Love threw in
His talisman and woke the tide
And spread its trembling circles wide.
Once, EMIR! thy unheeding child
Mid all this havoc bloomed and smiled,--
Tranquil as on some battle plain
The Persian lily shines and towers
Before the combat's reddening stain
Hath fallen upon her golden flowers.
Light-hearted maid, unawed, unmoved,
While Heaven but spared the sire she loved,
Once at thy evening tales of blood
Unlistening and aloof she stood--
And oft when thou hast paced along
Thy Haram halls with furious heat,
Hast thou not curst her cheerful song,
That came across thee, calm and sweet,
Like lutes of angels touched so near
Hell's confines that the damned can hear!
Far other feelings Love hath brought--
Her soul all flame, her brow all sadness,
She now has but the one dear thought,
And thinks that o'er, almost to madness!
Oft doth her sinking heart recall
His words--"for _my_ sake weep for all;"
And bitterly as day on day
Of rebel carnage fast succeeds,
She weeps a lover snatched away
In every Gheber wretch that bleeds.
There's not a sabre meets her eye
But with his life-blood seems to swim;
There's not an arrow wings the sky
But fancy turns its point to him.
No more she brings with footsteps light
AL HASSAN's falchion for the fight;
And--had he lookt with clearer sight,
Had not the mists that ever rise
From a foul spirit dimmed his eyes--
He would have markt her shuddering frame,
When from the field of blood he came,
The faltering speech--the look estranged--
Voice, step and life and beauty changed--
He would have markt all this, and known
Such change is wrought by Love alone!
Ah! not the Love that should have blest
So young, so innocent a breast;
Not the pure, open, prosperous Love,
That, pledged on earth and sealed above,
Grows in the world's approving eyes,
In friendship's smile and home's caress,
Collecting all the heart's sweet ties
Into one knot of happiness!
No, HINDA, no,--thy fatal flame
Is nurst in silence, sorrow, shame;--
A passion without hope or pleasure,
In thy soul's darkness buried deep,
It lies like some ill-gotten treasure,--
Some idol without shrine or name,
O'er which its pale-eyed votaries keep
Unholy watch while others sleep.
Seven nights have darkened OMAN'S sea,
Since last beneath the moonlight ray
She saw his light oar rapidly
Hurry her Gheber's bark away,--
And still she goes at midnight hour
To weep alone in that high bower
And watch and look along the deep
For him whose smiles first made her weep;--
But watching, weeping, all was vain,
She never saw his bark again.
The owlet's solitary cry,
The night-hawk flitting darkly by,
And oft the hateful carrion bird,
Heavily flapping his clogged wing,
Which reeked with that day's banqueting--
Was all she saw, was all she heard.
'Tis the eighth morn--AL HASSAN'S brow
Is brightened with unusual joy--
What mighty mischief glads him now,
Who never smiles but to destroy?
The sparkle upon HERKEND'S Sea,
When tost at midnight furiously,
Tells not of wreck and ruin nigh,
More surely than that smiling eye!
"Up, daughter, up--the KERNA'S breath
"Has blown a blast would waken death,
"And yet thou sleepest--up, child, and see
"This blessed day for heaven and me,
"A day more rich in Pagan blood
"Than ever flasht o'er OMAN'S flood.
"Before another dawn shall shine,
"His head--heart--limbs--will all be mine;
"This very night his blood shall steep
"These hands all over ere I sleep!"--
"_His_ blood!" she faintly screamed--her mind
Still singling _one_ from all mankind--
"Yes--spite of his ravines and towers,
"HAFED, my child, this night is ours.
"Thanks to all-conquering treachery,
"Without whose aid the links accurst,
"That bind these impious slaves, would be
"Too strong for ALLA'S self to burst!
"That rebel fiend whose blade has spread
"My path with piles of Moslem dead,
"Whose baffling spells had almost driven
"Back from their course the Swords of Heaven,
"This night with all his band shall know
"How deep an Arab's steel can go,
"When God and Vengeance speed the blow.
"And--Prophet! by that holy wreath
"Thou worest on OHOD'S field of death,
"I swear, for every sob that parts
"In anguish from these heathen hearts,
"A gem from PERSIA'S plundered mines
"Shall glitter on thy shrine of Shrines.
"But, ha!--she sinks--that look so wild--
"Those livid lips--my child, my child,
"This life of blood befits not thee,
"And thou must back to ARABY.
"Ne'er had I riskt thy timid sex
"In scenes that man himself might dread,
"Had I not hoped our every tread
"Would be on prostrate Persian necks--
"Curst race, they offer swords instead!
"But cheer thee, maid,--the wind that now
"Is blowing o'er thy feverish brow
"To-day shall waft thee from the shore;
"And ere a drop of this night's gore
"Have time to chill in yonder towers,
"Thou'lt see thy own sweet Arab bowers!"
His bloody boast was all too true;
There lurkt one wretch among the few
Whom HAFED'S eagle eye could count
Around him on that Fiery Mount,--
One miscreant who for gold betrayed
The pathway thro' the valley's shade
To those high towers where Freedom stood
In her last hold of flame and blood.
Left on the field last dreadful night,
When sallying from their sacred height
The Ghebers fought hope's farewell fight,
He lay--but died not with the brave;
That sun which should have gilt his grave
Saw him a traitor and a slave;--
And while the few who thence returned
To their high rocky fortress mourned
For him among the matchless dead
They left behind on glory's bed,
He lived, and in the face of morn
Laught them and Faith and
Heaven to scorn.
Oh for a tongue to curse the slave
Whose treason like a deadly blight
Comes o'er the councils of the brave
And blasts them in their hour of might!
May Life's unblessed cup for him
Be drugged with treacheries to the brim.--
With hopes that but allure to fly,
With joys that vanish while he sips,
Like Dead-Sea fruits that tempt the eye,
But turn to ashes on the lips!
His country's curse, his children's shame,
Outcast of virtue, peace and fame,
May he at last with lips of flame
On the parched desert thirsting die,--
While lakes that shone in mockery nigh,
Are fading off, untouched, untasted,
Like the once glorious hopes he blasted!
And when from earth his spirit flies,
Just Prophet, let the damned-one dwell
Full in the sight of Paradise
Beholding heaven and feeling hell!
LALLA ROOKH had the night before been visited by a dream which in spite of
the impending fate of poor HAFED made her heart more than usually cheerful
during the morning and gave her cheeks all the freshened animation of a
flower that the Bidmusk had just passed over. She fancied that she
was sailing on that Eastern Ocean where the sea-gypsies who live for ever
on the water enjoy a perpetual summer in wandering from isle to isle
when she saw a small gilded bark approaching her. It was like one of those
boats which the Maldivian islanders send adrift, at the mercy of winds and
waves, loaded with perfumes, flowers, and odoriferous wood, as an offering
to the Spirit whom they call King of the Sea. At first, this little bark
appeared to be empty but on coming nearer--
She had proceeded thus far in relating the dream to her Ladies, when
FERAMORZ appeared at the door of the pavilion. In his presence of course
everything else was forgotten and the continuance of the story was
instantly requested by all. Fresh wood of aloes was set to burn in the
cassolets;--the violet sherbets were hastily handed round, and after
a short prelude on his lute in the pathetic measure of Nava, which is
always used to express the lamentations of absent lovers, the Poet thus
The day is lowering--stilly black
Sleeps the grim wave, while heaven's rack,
Disperst and wild, 'twixt earth and sky
Hangs like a shattered canopy.
There's not a cloud in that blue plain
But tells of storm to come or past;--
Here flying loosely as the mane
Of a young war-horse in the blast;--
There rolled in masses dark and swelling,
As proud to be the thunder's dwelling!
While some already burst and riven
Seen melting down the verge of heaven;
As tho' the infant storm had rent
The mighty womb that gave him birth,
And having swept the firmament
Was now in fierce career for earth.
On earth 'twas yet all calm around,
A pulseless silence, dread, profound,
More awful than the tempest's sound.
The diver steered for ORMUS' bowers,
And moored his skiff till calmer hours;
The sea-birds with portentous screech
Flew fast to land;--upon the beach
The pilot oft had paused, with glance
Turned upward to that wild expanse;--
And all was boding, drear and dark
As her own soul when HINDA'S bark
Went slowly from the Persian shore.--
No music timed her parting oar,
Nor friends upon the lessening strand
Lingering to wave the unseen hand
Or speak the farewell, heard no more;--
But lone, unheeded, from the bay
The vessel takes its mournful way,
Like some ill-destined bark that steers
In silence thro' the Gate of Tears.
And where was stern AL HASSAN then?
Could not that saintly scourge of men
From bloodshed and devotion spare
One minute for a farewell there?
No--close within in changeful fits
Of cursing and of prayer he sits
In savage loneliness to brood
Upon the coming night of blood,--
With that keen, second-scent of death,
By which the vulture snuffs his food
In the still warm and living breath!
While o'er the wave his weeping daughter
Is wafted from these scenes of slaughter,--
As a young bird of BABYLON,
Let loose to tell of victory won,
Flies home, with wing, ah! not unstained
By the red hands that held her chained.
And does the long-left home she seeks
Light up no gladness on her cheeks?
The flowers she nurst--the well-known groves,
Where oft in dreams her spirit roves--
Once more to see her dear gazelles
Come bounding with their silver bells;
Her birds' new plumage to behold
And the gay, gleaming fishes count,
She left all filleted with gold
Shooting around their jasper fount;
Her little garden mosque to see,
And once again, at evening hour,
To tell her ruby rosary
In her own sweet acacia bower.--
Can these delights that wait her now
Call up no sunshine on her brow?
No,--silent, from her train apart,--
As if even now she felt at heart
The chill of her approaching doom,--
She sits, all lovely in her gloom
As a pale Angel of the Grave;
And o'er the wide, tempestuous wave
Looks with a shudder to those towers
Where in a few short awful hours
Blood, blood, in streaming tides shall run,
Foul incense for to-morrow's sun!
"Where art thou, glorious stranger! thou,
"So loved, so lost, where art thou now?
"The unhallowed name thou'rt doomed to bear,
"Still glorious--still to this fond heart
"Dear as its blood, whate'er thou art!
"Yes--ALLA, dreadful ALLA! yes--
"If there be wrong, be crime in this,
"Let the black waves that round us roll,
"Whelm me this instant ere my soul
"Before its earthly idol fall,
"Nor worship even Thyself above him--
"For, oh, so wildly do I love him,
"Thy Paradise itself were dim
"And joyless, if not shared with him!"
Her hands were claspt--her eyes upturned,
Dropping their tears like moonlight rain;
And, tho' her lip, fond raver! burned
With words of passion, bold, profane.
Yet was there light around her brow,
A holiness in those dark eyes,
Which showed,--tho' wandering earthward now,--
Her spirit's home was in the skies.
Yes--for a spirit pure as hers
Is always pure, even while it errs;
As sunshine broken in the rill
Tho' turned astray is sunshine still!
So wholly had her mind forgot
All thoughts but one she heeded not
The rising storm--the wave that cast
A moment's midnight as it past--
Nor heard the frequent shout, the tread
Of gathering tumult o'er her head--
Clasht swords and tongues that seemed to vie
With the rude riot of the sky.--
But, hark!--that war-whoop on the deck--
That crash as if each engine there,
Mast, sails and all, were gone to wreck,
Mid yells and stampings of despair!
Merciful Heaven! what _can_ it be?
'Tis not the storm, tho' fearfully
The ship has shuddered as she rode
O'er mountain-waves--"Forgive me, God!
"Forgive me"--shrieked the maid and knelt,
Trembling all over--for she felt
As if her judgment hour was near;
While crouching round half dead with fear,
Her handmaids clung, nor breathed nor stirred--
When, hark!--a second crash--a third--
And now as if a bolt of thunder
Had riven the laboring planks asunder,
The deck falls in--what horrors then!
Blood, waves and tackle, swords and men
Come mixt together thro' the chasm,--
Some wretches in their dying spasm
Still fighting on--and some that call
"For GOD and IRAN!" as they fall!
Whose was the hand that turned away
The perils of the infuriate fray,
And snatcht her breathless from beneath
This wilderment of wreck and death?
She knew not--for a faintness came
Chill o'er her and her sinking frame
Amid the ruins of that hour
Lay like a pale and scorched flower
Beneath the red volcano's shower.
But, oh! the sights and sounds of dread
That shockt her ere her senses fled!
The yawning deck--the crowd that strove
Upon the tottering planks above--
The sail whose fragments, shivering o'er
The stragglers' heads all dasht with gore
Fluttered like bloody flags--the clash
Of sabres and the lightning's flash
Upon their blades, high tost about
Like meteor brands--as if throughout
The elements one fury ran,
One general rage that left a doubt
Which was the fiercer, Heaven or Man!
Once too--but no--it could not be--
'Twas fancy all--yet once she thought,
While yet her fading eyes could see
High on the ruined deck she caught
A glimpse of that unearthly form,
That glory of her soul,--even then,
Amid the whirl of wreck and storm,
Shining above his fellow-men,
As on some black and troublous night
The Star of EGYPT, whose proud light
Never hath beamed on those who rest
In the White Islands of the West,
Burns thro' the storm with looks of flame
That put Heaven's cloudier eyes to shame.
But no--'twas but the minute's dream--
A fantasy--and ere the scream
Had half-way past her pallid lips,
A death-like swoon, a chill eclipse
Of soul and sense its darkness spread
Around her and she sunk as dead.
How calm, how beautiful comes on
The stilly hour when storms are gone,
When warring winds have died away,
And clouds beneath the glancing ray
Melt off and leave the land and sea
Sleeping in bright tranquillity,--
Fresh as if Day again were born,
Again upon the lap of Morn!--
When the light blossoms rudely torn
And scattered at the whirlwind's will,
Hang floating in the pure air still,
Filling it all with precious balm,
In gratitude for this sweet calm;--
And every drop the thundershowers
Have left upon the grass and flowers
Sparkles, as 'twere that lightning-gem
Whose liquid flame is born of them!
When, 'stead of one unchanging breeze,
There blow a thousand gentle airs
And each a different perfume bears,--
As if the loveliest plants and trees
Had vassal breezes of their own
To watch and wait on them alone,
And waft no other breath than theirs:
When the blue waters rise and fall,
In sleepy sunshine mantling all;
And even that swell the tempest leaves
Is like the full and silent heaves
Of lovers' hearts when newly blest,
Too newly to be quite at rest.
Such was the golden hour that broke
Upon the world when HINDA woke
From her long trance and heard around
No motion but the water's sound
Rippling against the vessel's side,
As slow it mounted o'er the tide.--
But where is she?--her eyes are dark,
Are wilder still--is this the bark,
The same, that from HARMOZIA'S bay
Bore her at morn--whose bloody way
The sea-dog trackt?--no--strange and new
Is all that meets her wondering view.
Upon a galliot's deck she lies,
Beneath no rich pavilion's shade,--
No plumes to fan her sleeping eyes,
Nor jasmine on her pillow laid.
But the rude litter roughly spread
With war-cloaks is her homely bed,
And shawl and sash on javelins hung
For awning o'er her head are flung.
Shuddering she lookt around--there lay
A group of warriors in the sun,
Resting their limbs, as for that day
Their ministry of death were done.
Some gazing on the drowsy sea
Lost in unconscious revery;
And some who seemed but ill to brook
That sluggish calm with many a look
To the slack sail impatient cast,
As loose it bagged around the mast.
Blest ALLA! who shall save her now?
There's not in all that warrior band
One Arab sword, one turbaned brow
From her own Faithful Moslem land.
Their garb--the leathern belt that wraps
Each yellow vest--that rebel hue--
The Tartar fleece upon their caps--
Yes--yes--her fears are all too true,
And Heaven hath in this dreadful hour
Abandoned her to HAFED'S power;--
HAFED, the Gheber!--at the thought
Her very heart's blood chills within;
He whom her soul was hourly taught
To loathe as some foul fiend of sin,
Some minister whom Hell had sent
To spread its blast where'er he went
And fling as o'er our earth he trod
His shadow betwixt man and God!
And she is now his captive,--thrown
In his fierce hands, alive, alone;
His the infuriate band she sees,
All infidels--all enemies!
What was the daring hope that then
Crost her like lightning, as again
With boldness that despair had lent
She darted tho' that armed crowd
A look so searching, so intent,
That even the sternest warrior bowed
Abasht, when he her glances caught,
As if he guessed whose form they sought.
But no--she sees him not--'tis gone,
The vision that before her shone
Thro' all the maze of blood and storm,
Is fled--'twas but a phantom form--
One of those passing, rainbow dreams,
Half light, half shade, which Fancy's beams
Paint on the fleeting mists that roll
In trance or slumber round the soul.
But now the bark with livelier bound
Scales the blue wave--the crew's in motion.
The oars are out and with light sound
Break the bright mirror of the ocean,
Scattering its brilliant fragments round.
And now she sees--with horror sees,
Their course is toward that mountain-hold,--
Those towers that make her life-blood freeze,
Where MECCA'S godless enemies
Lie like beleaguered scorpions rolled
In their last deadly, venomous fold!
Amid the illumined land and flood
Sunless that mighty mountain stood;
Save where above its awful head,
There shone a flaming cloud, blood-red,
As 'twere the flag of destiny
Hung out to mark where death would be!
Had her bewildered mind the power
Of thought in this terrific hour,
She well might marvel where or how
Man's foot could scale that mountain's brow,
Since ne'er had Arab heard or known
Of path but thro' the glen alone.--
But every thought was lost in fear,
When, as their bounding bark drew near
The craggy base, she felt the waves
Hurry them toward those dismal caves
That from the Deep in windings pass
Beneath that Mount's volcanic mass;--
And loud a voice on deck commands
To lower the mast and light the brands!--
Instantly o'er the dashing tide
Within a cavern's mouth they glide,
Gloomy as that eternal Porch
Thro' which departed spirits go:--
Not even the flare of brand and torch
Its flickering light could further throw
Than the thick flood that boiled below.
Silent they floated--as if each
Sat breathless, and too awed for speech
In that dark chasm where even sound
Seemed dark,--so sullenly around
The goblin echoes of the cave
Muttered it o'er the long black wave
As 'twere some secret of the grave!
But soft--they pause--the current turns
Beneath them from its onward track;--
Some mighty, unseen barrier spurns
The vexed tide all foaming back,
And scarce the oar's redoubled force
Can stem the eddy's whirling course;
When, hark!--some desperate foot has sprung
Among the rocks--the chain is flung--
The oars are up--the grapple clings,
And the tost bark in moorings swings.
Just then, a day-beam thro' the shade
Broke tremulous--but ere the maid
Can see from whence the brightness steals,
Upon her brow she shuddering feels
A viewless hand that promptly ties
A bandage round her burning eyes;
While the rude litter where she lies,
Uplifted by the warrior throng,
O'er the steep rocks is borne along.
Blest power of sunshine!--genial Day,
What balm, what life is in thy ray!
To feel thee is such real bliss,
That had the world no joy but this
To sit in sunshine calm and sweet.--
It were a world too exquisite
For man to leave it for the gloom,
The deep, cold shadow of the tomb.
Even HINDA, tho' she saw not where
Or whither wound the perilous road,
Yet knew by that awakening air,
Which suddenly around her glowed,
That they had risen from the darkness there,
And breathed the sunny world again!
But soon this balmy freshness fled--
For now the steepy labyrinth led
Thro' damp and gloom--mid crash of boughs,
And fall of loosened crags that rouse
The leopard from his hungry sleep,
Who starting thinks each crag a prey,
And long is heard from steep to steep
Chasing them down their thundering way!
The jackal's cry--the distant moan
Of the hyena, fierce and lone--
And that eternal saddening sound
Of torrents in the glen beneath,
As 'twere the ever-dark Profound
That rolls beneath the Bridge of Death!
All, all is fearful--even to see,
To gaze on those terrific things
She now but blindly hears, would be
Relief to her imaginings;
Since never yet was shape so dread,
But Fancy thus in darkness thrown
And by such sounds of horror fed
Could frame more dreadful of her own.
But does she dream? has Fear again
Perplext the workings of her brain,
Or did a voice, all music, then
Come from the gloom, low whispering near--
"Tremble not, love, thy Gheber's here?"
She _does_ not dream--all sense, all ear,
She drinks the words, "Thy Gheber's here."
'Twas his own voice--she could not err--
Throughout the breathing world's extent
There was but _one_ such voice for her,
So kind, so soft, so eloquent!
Oh, sooner shall the rose of May
Mistake her own sweet nightingale,
And to some meaner minstrel's lay
Open her bosom's glowing veil,
Than Love shall ever doubt a tone,
A breath of the beloved one!
Though blest mid all her ills to think
She has that one beloved near,
Whose smile tho' met on ruin's brink
Hath power to make even ruin dear,--
Yet soon this gleam of rapture crost
By fears for him is chilled and lost.
How shall the ruthless HAFED brook
That one of Gheber blood should look,
With aught but curses in his eye,
On her--a maid of ARABY--
A Moslem maid--the child of him,
Whose bloody banners' dire success
Hath left their altars cold and dim,
And their fair land a wilderness!
And worse than all that night of blood
Which comes so fast--Oh! who shall stay
The sword, that once hath tasted food
Of Persian hearts or turn its way?
What arm shall then the victim cover,
Or from her father shield her lover?
"Save him, my God!" she inly cries--
"Save him this night--and if thine eyes
"Have ever welcomed with delight
"The sinner's tears, the sacrifice
"Of sinners' hearts--guard him this night,
"And here before thy throne I swear
"From my heart's inmost core to tear
"Love, hope, remembrance, tho' they be
"Linkt with each quivering life-string there,
"And give it bleeding all to Thee!
"Let him but live,--the burning tear,
"The sighs, so sinful, yet so dear,
"Which have been all too much his own,
"Shall from this hour be Heaven's alone.
"Youth past in penitence and age
"In long and painful pilgrimage
"Shall leave no traces of the flame
"That wastes me now--nor shall his name
"E'er bless my lips but when I pray
"For his dear spirit, that away
"Casting from its angelic ray
"The eclipse of earth, he too may shine
"Redeemed, all glorious and all Thine!
"Think--think what victory to win
"One radiant soul like his from sin,
"One wandering star of virtue back
"To its own native, heavenward track!
"Let him but live, and both are Thine,
"Together Thine--for blest or crost,
"Living or dead, his doom is mine,
"And if _he_ perish, both are lost!"
The next evening LALLA ROOKH was entreated by her Ladies to continue the
relation of her wonderful dream; but the fearful interest that hung round
the fate of HINDA and her lover had completely removed every trace of it
from her mind;--much to the disappointment of a fair seer or two in her
train, who prided themselves on their skill in interpreting visions, and
who had already remarked, as an unlucky omen, that the Princess, on the
very morning after the dream, had worn a silk dyed with the blossoms of
the sorrowful tree, Nilica.
FADLADEEN, whose indignation had more than once broken out during the
recital of some parts of this heterodox poem, seemed at length to have
made up his mind to the infliction; and took his seat this evening with
all the patience of a martyr while the Poet resumed his profane and
seditious story as follows:--
To tearless eyes and hearts at ease
The leafy shores and sun-bright seas
That lay beneath that mountain's height
Had been a fair enchanting sight.
'Twas one of those ambrosial eyes
A day of storm so often leaves
At its calm setting--when the West
Opens her golden bowers of rest,
And a moist radiance from the skies
Shoots trembling down, as from the eyes
Of some meek penitent whose last
Bright hours atone for dark ones past,
And whose sweet tears o'er wrong forgiven
Shine as they fall with light from heaven!
'Twas stillness all--the winds that late
Had rushed through KERMAN'S almond groves,
And shaken from her bowers of date
That cooling feast the traveller loves.
Now lulled to languor scarcely curl
The Green Sea wave whose waters gleam
Limpid as if her mines of pearl
Were melted all to form the stream:
And her fair islets small and bright
With their green shores reflected there
Look like those PERI isles of light
That hang by spell-work in the air
But vainly did those glories burst
On HINDA'S dazzled eyes, when first
The bandage from her brow was taken,
And, pale and awed as those who waken
In their dark tombs--when, scowling near,
The Searchers of the Grave appear.--
She shuddering turned to read her fate
In the fierce eyes that flasht around;
And saw those towers all desolate,
That o'er her head terrific frowned,
As if defying even the smile
Of that soft heaven to gild their pile.
In vain with mingled hope and fear,
She looks for him whose voice so dear
Had come, like music, to her ear,--
Strange, mocking dream! again 'tis fled.
And oh, the shoots, the pangs of dread
That thro' her inmost bosom run,
When voices from without proclaim
"HAFED, the Chief"--and, one by one,
The warriors shout that fearful name!
He comes--the rock resounds his tread--
How shall she dare to lift her head
Or meet those eyes whose scorching glare
Not YEMEN'S boldest sons can bear?
In whose red beam, the Moslem tells,
Such rank and deadly lustre dwells
As in those hellish fires that light
The mandrake's charnel leaves at night.
How shall she bear that voice's tone,
At whose loud battle-cry alone
Whole squadrons oft in panic ran,
Scattered like some vast caravan,
When stretched at evening round the well
They hear the thirsting tiger's yell.
Breathless she stands with eyes cast down
Shrinking beneath the fiery frown
Which, fancy tells her, from that brow
Is flashing o'er her fiercely now:
And shuddering as she hears the tread
Of his retiring warrior band.--
Never was pause full of dread;
Till HAFED with a trembling hand
Took hers and leaning o'er her said,
"HINDA;"--that word was all he spoke.
And 'twas enough--the shriek that broke
From her full bosom told the rest.--
Panting with terror, joy, surprise,
The maid but lifts her wandering eyes,
To hide them on her Gheber's breast!
'Tis he, 'tis he--the man of blood,
The fellest of the Fire-fiend's brood,
HAFED, the demon of the fight,
Whose voice unnerves, whose glances blight,--
Is her own loved Gheber, mild
And glorious as when first he smiled
In her lone tower and left such beams
Of his pure eye to light her dreams,
That she believed her bower had given
Rest to some wanderer from heaven!
Moments there are, and this was one,
Snatched like a minute's gleam of sun
Amid the black Simoom's eclipse--
Or like those verdant spots that bloom
Around the crater's burning lips.
Sweetening the very edge of doom!
The past, the future--all that Fate
Can bring of dark or desperate
Around such hours but makes them cast
Intenser radiance while they last!
Even he, this youth--tho' dimmed and gone
Each Star of Hope that cheered him on--
His glories lost--his cause betrayed--
IRAN, his dear-loved country, made
A land of carcasses and slaves,
One dreary waste of chains and graves!
Himself but lingering, dead at heart,
To see the last, long struggling breath
Of Liberty's great soul depart,
Then lay him down and share her death--
Even he so sunk in wretchedness
With doom still darker gathering o'er him,
Yet, in this moment's pure caress,
In the mild eyes that shone before him,
Beaming that blest assurance worth
All other transports known on earth.
That he was loved-well, warmly loved--
Oh! in this precious hour he proved
How deep, how thorough-felt the glow
Of rapture kindling out of woe;--
How exquisite one single drop
Of bliss thus sparkling to the top
Of misery's cup--how keenly quaft,
Tho' death must follow on the draught!
She too while gazing on those eyes
That sink into her soul so deep,
Forgets all fears, all miseries,
Or feels them like the wretch in sleep,
Whom fancy cheats into a smile.
Who dreams of joy and sobs the while!
The mighty Ruins where they stood
Upon the mount's high, rocky verge
Lay open towards the ocean flood,
Where lightly o'er the illumined surge
Many a fair bark that, all the day,
Had lurkt in sheltering creek or bay
Now bounded on and gave their sails,
Yet dripping to the evening gales;
Like eagles when the storm is done,
Spreading their wet wings in the sun.
The beauteous clouds, tho' daylight's Star
Had sunk behind the hills of LAR,
Were still with lingering glories bright.--
As if to grace the gorgeous West
The Spirit of departing Light
That eve had left his sunny vest
Behind him ere he winged his flight.
Never was scene so formed for love!
Beneath them waves of crystal move
In silent swell--Heaven glows above
And their pure hearts, to transport given,
Swell like the wave and glow like heaven.
But ah! too soon that dream is past--
Again, again her fear returns;--
Night, dreadful night, is gathering fast,
More faintly the horizon burns,
And every rosy tint that lay
On the smooth sea hath died away
Hastily to the darkening skies
A glance she casts--then wildly cries
"_At night_, he said--and look, 'tis near--
"Fly, fly--if yet thou lovest me, fly--
"Soon will his murderous band be here.
"And I shall see thee bleed and die.--
"Hush! heardest thou not the tramp of men
"Sounding from yonder fearful glen?--
"Perhaps, even now they climb the wood--
"Fly, fly--tho' still the West is bright,
"He'll come--oh! yes--he wants thy blood--
"I know him--he'll not wait for night!"
In terrors even to agony
She clings around the wondering Chief;--
"Alas, poor wildered maid! to me
"Thou owest this raving trance of grief.
"Lost as I am, naught ever grew
"Beneath my shade but perisht too--
"My doom is like the Dead Sea air,
"And nothing lives that enters there!
"Why were our barks together driven
"Beneath this morning's furious heaven?
"Why when I saw the prize that chance
"Had thrown into my desperate arms,--
"When casting but a single glance
"Upon thy pale and prostrate charms,
"I vowed (tho' watching viewless o'er
"Thy safety thro' that hour's alarms)
"To meet the unmanning sight no more--
"Why have I broke that heart-wrung vow?
"Why weakly, madly met thee now?
"Start not--that noise is but the shock
"Of torrents thro' yon valley hurled--
"Dread nothing here--upon this rock
"We stand above the jarring world,
"Alike beyond its hope--its dread--
"In gloomy safety like the Dead!
"Or could even earth and hell unite
"In league to storm this Sacred Height,
"Fear nothing thou--myself, tonight,
"And each o'erlooking star that dwells
"Near God will be thy sentinels;--
"And ere to-morrow's dawn shall glow,
"Back to thy sire"--
The maiden screamed--"Thou'lt never see
"To-morrow's sun--death, death will be
"The night-cry thro' each reeking tower,
"Unless we fly, ay, fly this hour!
"Thou art betrayed--some wretch who knew
"That dreadful glen's mysterious clew-
"Nay, doubt not--by yon stars, 'tis true--
"Hath sold thee to my vengeful sire;
"This morning, with that smile so dire
"He wears in joy he told me all
"And stampt in triumph thro' our hall,
"As tho' thy heart already beat
"Its last life-throb beneath his feet!
"Good Heaven, how little dreamed I then
"His victim was my own loved youth!--
"Fly--send--let some one watch the glen--
"By all my hopes of heaven 'tis truth!"
Oh! colder than the wind that freezes
Founts that but now in sunshine played,
Is that congealing pang which seizes
The trusting bosom, when betrayed.
He felt it--deeply felt--and stood,
As if the tale had frozen his blood,
So mazed and motionless was he;--
Like one whom sudden spells enchant,
Or some mute, marble habitant
Of the still Halls of ISHMONIE!
But soon the painful chill was o'er,
And his great soul herself once more
Lookt from his brow in all the rays
Of her best, happiest, grandest days.
Never in moment most elate
Did that high spirit loftier rise:--
While bright, serene, determinate,
His looks are lifted to the skies,
As if the signal lights of Fate
Were shining in those awful eyes!
'Tis come--his hour of martyrdom
In IRAN'S sacred cause is come;
And tho' his life hath past away
Like lightning on a stormy day,
Yet shall his death-hour leave a track
Of glory permanent and bright
To which the brave of after-times,
The suffering brave, shall long look back
With proud regret,--and by its light
Watch thro' the hours of slavery's night
For vengeance on the oppressor's crimes.
This rock, his monument aloft,
Shall speak the tale to many an age;
And hither bards and heroes oft
Shall come in secret pilgrimage,
And bring their warrior sons and tell