Part 20 out of 33
The wondering boys where HAFED fell;
And swear them on those lone remains
Of their lost country's ancient fanes,
Never--while breath of life shall live
Within them--never to forgive
The accursed race whose ruthless chain
Hath left on IRAN'S neck a stain
Blood, blood alone can cleanse again!
Such are the swelling thoughts that now
Enthrone themselves on HAFED'S brow;
And ne'er did Saint of ISSA  gaze
On the red wreath for martyrs twined.
More proudly than the youth surveys
That pile which thro' the gloom behind,
Half lighted by the altar's fire,
Glimmers--his destined funeral pyre!
Heaped by his own, his comrades hands,
Of every wood of odorous breath.
There, by the Fire-God's shrine it stands,
Ready to fold in radiant death
The few still left of those who swore
To perish there when hope was o'er--
The few to whom that couch of flame,
Which rescues them from bonds and shame,
Is sweet and welcome as the bed
For their own infant Prophet spread,
When pitying Heaven to roses turned
The death-flames that beneath him burned!
With watchfulness the maid attends
His rapid glance where'er it bends--
Why shoot his eyes such awful beams?
What plans he now? what thinks or dreams?
Alas! why stands he musing here,
When every moment teems with fear?
"HAFED, my own beloved Lord,"
She kneeling cries--"first, last adored!
"If in that soul thou'st ever felt
"Half what thy lips impassioned swore,
"Here on my knees that never knelt
"To any but their God before,
"I pray thee, as thou lovest me, fly--
"Now, now--ere yet their blades are nigh.
"Oh haste--the bark that bore me hither
"Can waft us o'er yon darkening sea
"East--west--alas, I care not whither,
"So thou art safe, and I with thee!
"Go where we will, this hand in thine,
"Those eyes before me smiling thus,
"Thro' good and ill, thro' storm and shine,
"The world's a world of love for us!
"On some calm, blessed shore we'll dwell,
"Where 'tis no crime to love too well;
"Where thus to worship tenderly
"An erring child of light like thee
"Will not be sin--or if it be
"Where we may weep our faults away,
"Together kneeling, night and day,
"Thou, for _my_ sake, at ALLA'S shrine,
"And I--at _any_ God's, for thine!"
Wildly these passionate words she spoke--
Then hung her head and wept for shame;
Sobbing as if a heart-string broke
With every deep-heaved sob that came,
While he, young, warm--oh! wonder not
If, for a moment, pride and fame;
His oath--his cause--that shrine of flame,
And IRAN'S self are all forgot
For her, whom at his feet he sees
Kneeling in speechless agonies.
No, blame him not if Hope awhile
Dawned in his soul and threw her smile
O'er hours to come--o'er days and nights,
Winged with those precious, pure delights
Which she who bends all beauteous there
Was born to kindle and to share.
A tear or two which as he bowed
To raise the suppliant, trembling stole,
First warned him of this dangerous cloud
Of softness passing o'er his soul.
Starting he brusht the drops away
Unworthy o'er that cheek to stray;--
Like one who on the morn of fight
Shakes from his sword the dews of night,
That had but dimmed not stained its light.
Yet tho' subdued the unnerving thrill,
Its warmth, its weakness lingered still
So touching in each look and tone,
That the fond, fearing, hoping maid
Half counted on the flight she prayed,
Half thought the hero's soul was grown
As soft, as yielding as her own,
And smiled and blest him while he said,--
"Yes--if there be some happier sphere
"Where fadeless truth like ours is dear.--
"If there be any land of rest
"For those who love and ne'er forget,
"Oh! comfort thee--for safe and blest
"We'll meet in that calm region yet!"
Scarce had she time to ask her heart
If good or ill these words impart,
When the roused youth impatient flew
To the tower-wall, where high in view
A ponderous sea-horn hung, and blew
A signal deep and dread as those
The storm-fiend at his rising blows.--
Full well his Chieftains, sworn and true
Thro' life and death, that signal knew;
For 'twas the appointed warning-blast,
The alarm to tell when hope was past
And the tremendous death-die cast!
And there upon the mouldering tower
Hath hung this sea-horn many an hour,
Ready to sound o'er land and sea
That dirge-note of the brave and free.
They came--his Chieftains at the call
Came slowly round and with them all--
Alas, how few!--the worn remains
Of those who late o'er KERMAN'S plains
When gayly prancing to the clash
Of Moorish zel and tymbalon
Catching new hope from every flash
Of their long lances in the sun,
And as their coursers charged the wind
And the white ox-tails streamed behind,
Looking as if the steeds they rode
Were winged and every Chief a God!
How fallen, how altered now! how wan
Each scarred and faded visage shone,
As round the burning shrine they came;--
How deadly was the glare it cast,
As mute they paused before the flame
To light their torches as they past!
'Twas silence all--the youth hath planned
The duties of his soldier-band;
And each determined brow declares
His faithful Chieftains well know theirs.
But minutes speed--night gems the skies--
And oh, how soon, ye blessed eyes
That look from heaven ye may behold
Sights that will turn your star-fires cold!
Breathless with awe, impatience, hope,
The maiden sees the veteran group
Her litter silently prepare,
And lay it at her trembling feet;--
And now the youth with gentle care,
Hath placed her in the sheltered seat
And prest her hand--that lingering press
Of hands that for the last time sever;
Of hearts whose pulse of happiness
When that hold breaks is dead for ever.
And yet to _her_ this sad caress
Gives hope--so fondly hope can err!
'Twas joy, she thought, joy's mute excess--
Their happy flight's dear harbinger;
'Twas any thing but leaving her.
"Haste, haste!" she cried, "the clouds grow dark,
"But still, ere night, we'll reach the bark;
"And by to-morrow's dawn--oh bliss!
"With thee upon the sun-bright deep,
"Far off, I'll but remember this,
"As some dark vanisht dream of sleep;
"And thou"--but ah!--he answers not--
Good Heaven!--and does she go alone?
She now has reached that dismal spot,
Where some hours since his voice's tone
Had come to soothe her fears and ills,
Sweet as the angel ISRAFIL'S,
When every leaf on Eden's tree
Is trembling to his minstrelsy--
Yet now--oh, now, he is not nigh.--
"HAFED! my HAFED!--if it be
"Thy will, thy doom this night to die
"Let me but stay to die with thee
"And I will bless thy loved name,
"Till the last life-breath leave this frame.
"Oh! let our lips, our cheeks be laid
"But near each other while they fade;
"Let us but mix our parting breaths,
"And I can die ten thousand deaths!
"You too, who hurry me away
"So cruelly, one moment stay--
"Oh! stay--one moment is not much--
"He yet may come--for _him_ I pray--
"HAFED! dear HAFED!"--all the way
In wild lamentings that would touch
A heart of stone she shrieked his name
To the dark woods--no HAFED came:--
No--hapless pair--you've lookt your last:--
Your hearts should both have broken then:--
The dream is o'er--your doom is cast--
You'll never meet on earth again!
Alas for him who hears her cries!
Still half-way down the steep he stands,
Watching with fixt and feverish eyes
The glimmer of those burning brands
That down the rocks with mournful ray,
Light all he loves on earth away!
Hopeless as they who far at sea
By the cold moon have just consigned
The corse of one loved tenderly
To the bleak flood they leave behind,
And on the deck still lingering stay,
And long look back with sad delay
To watch the moonlight on the wave
That ripples o'er that cheerless grave.
But see--he starts--what heard he then?
That dreadful shout!--across the glen
From the land-side it comes and loud
Rings thro' the chasm, as if the crowd
Of fearful things that haunt that dell
Its Ghouls and Divs and shapes of hell,
And all in one dread howl broke out,
So loud, so terrible that shout!
"They come--the Moslems come!"--he cries,
His proud soul mounting to his eyes,--
"Now, Spirits of the Brave, who roam
"Enfranchised thro' yon starry dome,
"Rejoice--for souls of kindred fire
"Are on the wing to join your choir!"
He said--and, light as bridegrooms bound
To their young loves, reclined the steep
And gained the Shrine--his Chiefs stood round--
Their swords, as with instinctive leap,
Together at that cry accurst
Had from their sheaths like sunbeams burst.
And hark!--again--again it rings;
Near and more near its echoings
Peal thro' the chasm--oh! who that then
Had seen those listening warrior-men,
With their swords graspt, their eyes of flame
Turned on their Chief--could doubt the shame,
The indignant shame with which they thrill
To hear those shouts and yet stand still?
He read their thoughts--they were his own--
"What! while our arms can wield these blades,
"Shall we die tamely? die alone?
"Without one victim to our shades,
"One Moslem heart, where buried deep
"The sabre from its toil may sleep?
"No--God of IRAN'S burning skies!
"Thou scornest the inglorious sacrifice.
"No--tho' of all earth's hope bereft,
"Life, swords, and vengeance still are left.
"We'll make yon valley's reeking caves
"Live in the awe-struck minds of men
"Till tyrants shudder, when their slaves
"Tell of the Gheber's bloody glen,
"Follow, brave hearts!--this pile remains
"Our refuge still from life and chains;
"But his the best, the holiest bed,
"Who sinks entombed in Moslem dead!"
Down the precipitous rocks they sprung,
While vigor more than human strung
Each arm and heart.--The exulting foe
Still thro' the dark defiles below,
Trackt by his torches' lurid fire,
Wound slow, as thro' GOLCONDA'S vale
The mighty serpent in his ire
Glides on with glittering, deadly trail.
No torch the Ghebers need--so well
They know each mystery of the dell,
So oft have in their wanderings
Crost the wild race that round them dwell,
The very tigers from their delves
Look out and let them pass as things
Untamed and fearless like themselves!
There was a deep ravine that lay
Yet darkling in the Moslem's way;
Fit spot to make invaders rue
The many fallen before the few.
The torrents from that morning's sky
Had filled the narrow chasm breast-high,
And on each side aloft and wild
Huge cliffs and toppling crags were piled,--
The guards with which young Freedom lines
The pathways to her mountain-shrines,
Here at this pass the scanty band;
Of IRAN'S last avengers stand;
Here wait in silence like the dead
And listen for the Moslem's tread
So anxiously the carrion-bird
Above them flaps his wing unheard!
They come--that plunge into the water
Gives signal for the work of slaughter.
Now, Ghebers, now--if e'er your blades
Had point or prowess prove them now--
Woe to the file that foremost wades!
They come--a falchion greets each brow,
And as they tumble trunk on trunk
Beneath the gory waters sunk,
Still o'er their drowning bodies press
New victims quick and numberless;
Till scarce an arm in HAFED'S band,
So fierce their toil, hath power to stir,
But listless from each crimson hand
The sword hangs clogged with massacre.
Never was horde of tyrants met
With bloodier welcome--never yet
To patriot vengeance hath the sword
More terrible libations poured!
All up the dreary, long ravine,
By the red, murky glimmer seen
Of half-quenched brands, that o'er the flood
Lie scattered round and burn in blood,
What ruin glares! what carnage swims!
Heads, blazing turbans, quivering limbs,
Lost swords that dropt from many a hand,
In that thick pool of slaughter stand;--
Wretches who wading, half on fire
From the tost brands that round them fly,
'Twixt flood and flame in shrieks expire;--
And some who grasp by those that die
Sink woundless with them, smothered o'er
In their dead brethren's gushing gore!
But vainly hundreds, thousands bleed,
Still hundreds, thousands more succeed;
Countless as toward some flame at night
The North's dark insects wing their flight
And quench or perish in its light,
To this terrific spot they pour--
Till, bridged with Moslem bodies o'er,
It bears aloft their slippery tread,
And o'er the dying and the dead,
Tremendous causeway! on they pass.
Then, hapless Ghebers, then, alas,
What hope was left for you? for you,
Whose yet warm pile of sacrifice
Is smoking in their vengeful eyes;--
Whose swords how keen, how fierce they knew.
And burned with shame to find how few.
Crusht down by that vast multitude
Some found their graves where first they stood;
While some with hardier struggle died,
And still fought on by HAFED'S side,
Who fronting to the foe trod back
Towards the high towers his gory track;
And as a lion swept away
By sudden swell of JORDAN'S pride
From the wild covert where he lay,
Long battles with the o'erwhelming tide,
So fought he back with fierce delay
And kept both foes and fate at bay.
But whither now? their track is lost,
Their prey escaped--guide, torches gone--
By torrent-beds and labyrinths crost,
The scattered crowd rush blindly on--
"Curse on those tardy lights that wind,"
They panting cry, "so far behind;
"Oh, for a bloodhound's precious scent,
"To track the way the Ghebers went!"
Vain wish--confusedly along
They rush more desperate as more wrong:
Till wildered by the far-off lights,
Yet glittering up those gloomy heights,
Their footing mazed and lost they miss,
And down the darkling precipice
Are dasht into the deep abyss;
Or midway hang impaled on rocks,
A banquet yet alive for flocks
Of ravening vultures,--while the dell
Re-echoes with each horrible yell.
Those sounds--the last, to vengeance dear.
That e'er shall ring in HAFED'S ear,--
Now reached him as aloft alone
Upon the steep way breathless thrown,
He lay beside his reeking blade,
Resigned, as if life's task were o'er,
Its last blood-offering amply paid,
And IRAN'S self could claim no more.
One only thought, one lingering beam
Now broke across his dizzy dream
Of pain and weariness--'twas she,
His heart's pure planet shining yet
Above the waste of memory
When all life's other lights were set.
And never to his mind before
Her image such enchantment wore.
It seemed as if each thought that stained,
Each fear that chilled their loves was past,
And not one cloud of earth remained
Between him and her radiance cast;--
As if to charms, before so bright,
New grace from other worlds was given.
And his soul saw her by the light
Now breaking o'er itself from heaven!
A voice spoke near him--'twas the tone
Of a loved friend, the only one
Of all his warriors left with life
From that short night's tremendous strife.--
"And must we then, my chief, die here?
"Foes round us and the Shrine so near!"
These words have roused the last remains
Of life within him:--"What! not yet
"Beyond the reach of Moslem chains!"
The thought could make even Death forget
His icy bondage:--with a bound
He springs all bleeding from the ground
And grasps his comrade's arm now grown
Even feebler, heavier than his own.
And up the painful pathway leads,
Death gaining on each step he treads.
Speed them, thou God, who heardest their vow!
They mount--they bleed--oh save them now--
The crags are red they've clambered o'er,
The rock-weed's dripping with their gore;--
Thy blade too, HAFED, false at length,
How breaks beneath thy tottering strength!
Haste, haste--the voices of the Foe
Come near and nearer from below--
One effort more--thank Heaven! 'tis past,
They've gained the topmost steep at last.
And now they touch the temple's walls.
Now HAFED sees the Fire divine--
When, lo!--his weak, worn comrade falls
Dead on the threshold of the shrine.
"Alas, brave soul, too quickly fled!
"And must I leave thee withering here,
"The sport of every ruffian's tread,
"The mark for every coward's spear?
"No, by yon altar's sacred beams!"
He cries and with a strength that seems
Not of this world uplifts the frame
Of the fallen Chief and toward the flame
Bears him along; with death-damp hand
The corpse upon the pyre he lays,
Then lights the consecrated brand
And fires the pile whose sudden blaze
Like lightning bursts o'er OMAN'S Sea.--
"Now, Freedom's God! I come to Thee,"
The youth exclaims and with a smile
Of triumph vaulting on the pile,
In that last effort ere the fires
Have harmed one glorious limb expires!
What shriek was that on OMAN'S tide?
It came from yonder drifting bark,
That just hath caught upon her side
The death-light--and again is dark.
It is the boat--ah! why delayed?--
That bears the wretched Moslem maid;
Confided to the watchful care
Of a small veteran band with whom
Their generous Chieftain would not share
The secret of his final doom,
But hoped when HINDA safe and free
Was rendered to her father's eyes,
Their pardon full and prompt would be
The ransom of so dear a prize.--
Unconscious thus of HAFED'S fate,
And proud to guard their beauteous freight,
Scarce had they cleared the surfy waves
That foam around those frightful caves
When the curst war-whoops known so well
Came echoing from the distant dell--
Sudden each oar, upheld and still,
Hung dripping o'er the vessel's side,
And driving at the current's will,
They rockt along the whispering tide;
While every eye in mute dismay
Was toward that fatal mountain turned.
Where the dim altar's quivering ray
As yet all lone and tranquil burned.
Oh! 'tis not, HINDA, in the power
Of Fancy's most terrific touch
To paint thy pangs in that dread hour--
Thy silent agony--'twas such
As those who feel could paint too well,
But none e'er felt and lived to tell!
'Twas not alone the dreary state
Of a lorn spirit crusht by fate,
When tho' no more remains to dread
The panic chill will not depart;--
When tho' the inmate Hope be dead,
Her ghost still haunts the mouldering heart;
No--pleasures, hopes, affections gone,
The wretch may bear and yet live on
Like things within the cold rock found
Alive when all's congealed around.
But there's a blank repose in this,
A calm stagnation, that were bliss
To the keen, burning, harrowing pain,
Now felt thro' all thy breast and brain;--
That spasm of terror, mute, intense,
That breathless, agonized suspense
From whose hot throb whose deadly aching,
The heart hath no relief but breaking!
Calm is the wave--heaven's brilliant lights
Reflected dance beneath the prow;--
Time was when on such lovely nights
She who is there so desolate now
Could sit all cheerful tho' alone
And ask no happier joy than seeing
That starlight o'er the waters thrown--
No joy but that to make her blest,
And the fresh, buoyant sense of Being
Which bounds in youth's yet careless breast,--
Itself a star not borrowing light
But in its own glad essence bright.
How different now!--but, hark! again
The yell of havoc rings--brave men!
In vain with beating hearts ye stand
On the bark's edge--in vain each hand
Half draws the falchion from its sheath;
All's o'er--in rust your blades may lie:--
He at whose word they've scattered death
Even now this night himself must die!
Well may ye look to yon dim tower,
And ask and wondering guess what means
The battle-cry at this dead hour--
Ah! she could tell you--she who leans
Unheeded there, pale, sunk, aghast,
With brow against the dew-cold mast;--
Too well she knows--her more than life,
Her soul's first idol and its last
Lies bleeding in that murderous strife.
But see--what moves upon the height?
Some signal!--'tis a torch's light
What bodes its solitary glare?
In gasping silence toward the Shrine
All eyes are turned--thine, HINDA, thine
Fix their last fading life-beams there.
'Twas but a moment--fierce and high
The death-pile blazed into the sky
And far-away o'er rock and flood
Its melancholy radiance sent:
While HAFED like a vision stood
Revealed before the burning pyre.
Tall, shadowy, like a Spirit of fire
Shrined in its own grand element!
"'Tis he!"--the shuddering maid exclaims,--
But while she speaks he's seen no more;
High burst in air the funeral flames,
And IRAN'S hopes and hers are o'er!
One wild, heart-broken shriek she gave;
Then sprung as if to reach that blaze
Where still she fixt her dying gaze,
And gazing sunk into the wave.--
Deep, deep,--where never care or pain
Shall reach her innocent heart again!
* * * * *
Farewell--farewell to thee. ARABY'S daughter!
(Thus warbled a PERI beneath the dark sea,)
No pearl ever lay under OMAN'S green water
More pure in its shell than thy Spirit in thee.
Oh! fair as the sea-flower close to thee growing,
How light was thy heart till Love's witchery came,
Like the wind of the south o'er a summer lute blowing,
And husht all its music and withered its frame!
But long upon ARABY'S green sunny highlands
Shall maids and their lovers remember the doom
Of her who lies sleeping among the Pearl Islands
With naught but the sea-star to light up her tomb.
And still when the merry date-season is burning
And calls to the palm-groves the young and the old,
The happiest there from their pastime returning
At sunset will weep when thy story is told.
The young village-maid when with flowers she dresses
Her dark flowing hair for some festival day
Will think of thy fate till neglecting her tresses
She mournfully turns from the mirror away.
Nor shall IRAN, beloved of her Hero! forget thee--
Tho' tyrants watch over her tears as they start,
Close, close by the side of that Hero she'll set thee,
Embalmed in the innermost shrine of her heart.
Farewell--be it ours to embellish thy pillow
With everything beauteous that grows in the deep;
Each flower of the rock and each gem of the billow
Shall sweeten thy bed and illumine thy sleep.
Around thee shall glisten the loveliest amber
That ever the sorrowing sea-bird has wept;
With many a shell in whose hollow-wreathed chamber
We Peris of Ocean by moonlight have slept.
We'll dive where the gardens of coral lie darkling
And plant all the rosiest stems at thy head;
We'll seek where the sands of the Caspian are sparkling
And gather their gold to strew over thy bed.
Farewell--farewell!--Until Pity's sweet fountain
Is lost in the hearts of the fair and the brave,
They'll weep for the Chieftain who died on that mountain,
They'll weep for the Maiden who sleeps in this wave.
The singular placidity with which FADLADEEN had listened during the latter
part of this obnoxious story surprised the Princess and FERAMORZ
exceedingly; and even inclined towards him the hearts of these
unsuspicious young persons who little knew the source of a complacency so
marvellous. The truth was he had been organizing for the last few days a
most notable plan of persecution against the poet in consequence of some
passages that had fallen from him on the second evening of recital,--which
appeared to this worthy Chamberlain to contain language and principles for
which nothing short of the summary criticism of the Chabuk would be
advisable. It was his intention therefore immediately on their arrival at
Cashmere to give information to the King of Bucharia of the very dangerous
sentiments of his minstrel; and if unfortunately that monarch did not act
with suitable vigor on the occasion, (that is, if he did not give the
Chabuk to FERAMORZ and a place to FADLADEEN.) there would be an end, he
feared, of all legitimate government in Bucharia. He could not help
however auguring better both for himself and the cause of potentates in
general; and it was the pleasure arising from these mingled anticipations
that diffused such unusual satisfaction through his features and made his
eyes shine out like poppies of the desert over the wide and lifeless
wilderness of that countenance.
Having decided upon the Poet's chastisement in this manner he thought it
but humanity to spare him the minor tortures of criticism. Accordingly
when they assembled the following evening in the pavilion and LALLA ROOKH
was expecting to see all the beauties of her bard melt away one by one in
the acidity of criticism, like pearls in the cup of the Egyptian queen.--
he agreeably disappointed her by merely saying with an ironical smile that
the merits of such a poem deserved to be tried at a much higher tribunal;
and then suddenly passed off into a panegyric upon all Mussulman
sovereigns, more particularly his august and Imperial master, Aurungzebe,
--the wisest and best of the descendants of Timur,--who among other great
things he had done for mankind had given to him, FADLADEEN, the very
profitable posts of Betel-carrier and Taster of Sherbets to the Emperor,
Chief Holder of the Girdle of Beautiful Forms, and Grand Nazir or
Chamberlain of the Haram.
They were now not far from that Forbidden River beyond which no pure
Hindoo can pass, and were reposing for a time in the rich valley of Hussun
Abdaul, which had always been a favorite resting-place of the Emperors in
their annual migrations to Cashmere. Here often had the Light of the
Faith, Jehan-Guire, been known to wander with his beloved and beautiful
Nourmahal, and here would LALLA ROOKH have been happy to remain for ever,
giving up the throne of Bucharia and the world for FERAMORZ and love in
this sweet, lonely valley. But the time was now fast approaching when she
must see him no longer,--or, what was still worse, behold him with eyes
whose every look belonged to another, and there was a melancholy
preciousness in these last moments, which made her heart cling to them as
it would to life. During the latter part of the journey, indeed, she had
sunk into a deep sadness from which nothing but the presence of the young
minstrel could awake her. Like those lamps in tombs which only light up
when the air is admitted, it was only at his approach that her eyes became
smiling and animated. But here in this dear valley every moment appeared
an age of pleasure; she saw him all day and was therefore all day happy,--
resembling, she often thought, that people of Zinge who attribute
the unfading cheerfulness they enjoy to one genial star that rises nightly
over their heads.
The whole party indeed seemed in their liveliest mood during the few days
they passed in this delightful solitude. The young attendants of the
Princess who were here allowed a much freer range than they could safely
be indulged with in a less sequestered place ran wild among the gardens
and bounded through the meadows lightly as young roes over the aromatic
plains of Tibet. While FADLADEEN, in addition to the spiritual comfort
derived by him from a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Saint from whom the
valley is named, had also opportunities of indulging in a small way his
taste for victims by putting to death some hundreds of those unfortunate
little lizards, which all pious Mussulmans make it a point to kill;--
taking for granted that the manner in which the creature hangs its head
is meant as a mimicry of the attitude in which the Faithful say their
About two miles from Hussun Abdaul were those Royal Gardens which had
grown beautiful under the care of so many lovely eyes, and were beautiful
still though those eyes could see them no longer. This place, with its
flowers and its holy silence interrupted only by the dipping of the wings
of birds in its marble basins filled with the pure water of those hills,
was to LALLA ROOKH all that her heart could fancy of fragrance, coolness,
and almost heavenly tranquillity. As the Prophet said of Damascus, "it was
too delicious;"--and here in listening to the sweet voice of
FERAMORZ or reading in his eyes what yet he never dared to tell her, the
most exquisite moments of her whole life were passed. One evening when
they had been talking of the Sultana Nourmahal, the Light of the Haram,
 who had so often wandered among these flowers, and fed with her own
hands in those marble basins the small shining fishes of which she was so
fond,--the youth in order to delay the moment of separation proposed to
recite a short story or rather rhapsody of which this adored Sultana was
the heroine. It related, he said, to the reconcilement of a sort of
lovers' quarrel which took place between her and the Emperor during a
Feast of Roses at Cashmere; and would remind the Princess of that
difference between Haroun-al-Raschid and his fair mistress Marida, which
was so happily made up by the soft strains of the musician Moussali. As
the story was chiefly to be told in song and FERAMORZ had unluckily
forgotten his own lute in the valley, he borrowed the vina of LALLA
ROOKH'S little Persian slave, and thus began:--
THE LIGHT OF THE HARAM.
Who has not heard of the Vale of CASHMERE,
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave,
Its temples and grottos and fountains as clear
As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?
Oh! to see it at sunset,--when warm o'er the Lake
Its splendor at parting a summer eve throws,
Like a bride full of blushes when lingering to take
A last look of her mirror at night ere she goes!--
When the shrines thro' the foliage are gleaming half shown,
And each hallows the hour by some rites of its own.
Here the music of prayer from a minaret swells,
Here the Magian his urn full of perfume is swinging,
And here at the altar a zone of sweet bells
Round the waist of some fair Indian dancer is ringing.
Or to see it by moonlight when mellowly shines
The light o'er its palaces, gardens, and shrines,
When the water-falls gleam like a quick fall of stars
And the nightingale's hymn from the Isle of Chenars
Is broken by laughs and light echoes of feet
From the cool, shining walks where the young people meet.--
Or at morn when the magic of daylight awakes
A new wonder each minute as slowly it breaks,
Hills, cupolas, fountains, called forth every one
Out of darkness as if but just born of the Sun.
When the Spirit of Fragrance is up with the day
From his Haram of night-flowers stealing away;
And the wind full of wantonness wooes like a lover
The young aspen-trees,
till they tremble all over.
When the East is as warm as the light of first hopes,
And day with his banner of radiance unfurled
Shines in thro' the mountainous portal that opes,
Sublime, from that Valley of bliss to the world!
But never yet by night or day,
In dew of spring or summer's ray,
Did the sweet Valley shine so gay
As now it shines--all love and light,
Visions by day and feasts by night!
A happier smile illumes each brow;
With quicker spread each heart uncloses,
And all is ecstasy--for now
The Valley holds its Feast of Roses;
The joyous Time when pleasures pour
Profusely round and in their shower
Hearts open like the Season's Rose,--
The Floweret of a hundred leaves
Expanding while the dew-fall flows
And every leaf its balm receives.
'Twas when the hour of evening came
Upon the Lake, serene and cool,
When day had hid his sultry flame
Behind the palms of BARAMOULE,
When maids began to lift their heads.
Refresht from their embroidered beds
Where they had slept the sun away,
And waked to moonlight and to play.
All were abroad:--the busiest hive
On BELA'S hills is less alive
When saffron-beds are full in flower,
Than lookt the Valley in that hour.
A thousand restless torches played
Thro' every grove and island shade;
A thousand sparkling lamps were set
On every dome and minaret;
And fields and pathways far and near
Were lighted by a blaze so clear
That you could see in wandering round
The smallest rose-leaf on the ground,
Yet did the maids and matrons leave
Their veils at home, that brilliant eve;
And there were glancing eyes about
And cheeks that would not dare shine out
In open day but thought they might
Look lovely then, because 'twas night.
And all were free and wandering
And all exclaimed to all they met,
That never did the summer bring
So gay a Feast of Roses yet;--
The moon had never shed a light
So clear as that which blest them there;
The roses ne'er shone half so bright,
Nor they themselves lookt half so fair.
And what a wilderness of flowers!
It seemed as tho' from all the bowers
And fairest fields of all the year,
The mingled spoil were scattered here.
The lake too like a garden breathes
With the rich buds that o'er it lie,--
As if a shower of fairy wreaths
Had fallen upon it from the sky!
And then the sounds of joy,--the beat
Of tabors and of dancing feet;--
The minaret-crier's chant of glee
Sung from his lighted gallery,
And answered by a ziraleet
From neighboring Haram, wild and sweet;--
The merry laughter echoing
From gardens where the silken swing
Wafts some delighted girl above
The top leaves of the orange-grove;
Or from those infant groups at play
Among the tents that line the way,
Flinging, unawed by slave or mother,
Handfuls of roses at each other.--
Then the sounds from the Lake,--the low whispering in boats,
As they shoot thro' the moonlight,--the dipping of oars
And the wild, airy warbling that everywhere floats
Thro' the groves, round the islands, as if all the shores
Like those of KATHAY uttered music and gave
An answer in song to the kiss on each wave.
But the gentlest of all are those sounds full of feeling
That soft from the lute of some lover are stealing,--
Some lover who knows all the heart-touching power
Of a lute and a sigh in this magical hour.
Oh! best of delights as it everywhere is
To be near the loved _One_,--what a rapture is his
Who in moonlight and music thus sweetly may glide
O'er the Lake of CASHMERE with that _One_ by his side!
If woman can make the worst wilderness dear,
Think, think what a Heaven she must make of CASHMERE!
So felt the magnificent Son of ACBAR,
When from power and pomp and the trophies of war
He flew to that Valley forgetting them all
With the Light of the HARAM, his young NOURMAHAL.
When free and uncrowned as the Conqueror roved
By the banks of that Lake with his only beloved
He saw in the wreaths she would playfully snatch
From the hedges a glory his crown could not match,
And preferred in his heart the least ringlet that curled
Down her exquisite neck to the throne of the world.
There's a beauty for ever unchangingly bright,
Like the long, sunny lapse of a summer-day's light,
Shining on, shining on, by no shadow made tender
Till Love falls asleep in its sameness of splendor.
This _was_ not the beauty--oh, nothing like this
That to young NOURMAHAL gave such magic of bliss!
But that loveliness ever in motion which plays
Like the light upon autumn's soft shadowy days,
Now here and now there, giving warmth as it flies
From the lip to the cheek, from the cheek to the eyes;
Now melting in mist and now breaking in gleams,
Like the glimpses a saint hath of Heaven in his dreams.
When pensive it seemed as if that very grace,
That charm of all others, was born with her face!
And when angry,--for even in the tranquillest climes
Light breezes will ruffle the blossoms sometimes--
The short, passing anger but seemed to awaken
New beauty like flowers that are sweetest when shaken.
If tenderness touched her, the dark of her eye
At once took a darker, a heavenlier dye,
From the depth of whose shadow like holy revealings
From innermost shrines came the light of her feelings.
Then her mirth--oh! 'twas sportive as ever took wing
From the heart with a burst like the wild-bird in spring;
Illumed by a wit that would fascinate sages,
Yet playful as Peris just loosed from their cages.
While her laugh full of life, without any control
But the sweet one of gracefulness, rung from her soul;
And where it most sparkled no glance could discover,
In lip, cheek, or eyes, for she brightened all over,--
Like any fair lake that the breeze is upon
When it breaks into dimples and, laughs in the sun.
Such, such were the peerless enchantments that gave
NOURMAHAL the proud Lord of the East for her slave:
And tho' bright was his Haram,--a living parterre
Of the flowers of this planet--tho' treasures were there,
For which SOLIMAN'S self might have given all the store
That the navy from OPHIR e'er winged to his shore,
Yet dim before _her_ were the smiles of them all
And the Light of his Haram was young NOURMAHAL!
But where is she now, this night of joy,
When bliss is every heart's employ?--
When all around her is so bright,
So like the visions of a trance,
That one might think, who came by chance
Into the vale this happy night,
He saw that City of Delight
In Fairy-land, whose streets and towers
Are made of gems and light and flowers!
Where is the loved Sultana? where,
When mirth brings out the young and fair,
Does she, the fairest, hide her brow
In melancholy stillness now?
Alas!--how light a cause may move
Dissension between hearts that love!
Hearts that the world in vain had tried
And sorrow but more closely tied;
That stood the storm when waves were rough
Yet in a sunny hour fall off,
Like ships that have gone down at sea
When heaven was all tranquillity!
A something light as air--a look,
A word unkind or wrongly taken--
Oh! love that tempests never shook,
A breath, a touch like this hath shaken.
And ruder words will soon rush in
To spread the breach that words begin;
And eyes forget the gentle ray
They wore in courtship's smiling day;
And voices lose the tone that shed
A tenderness round all they said;
Till fast declining one by one
The sweetnesses of love are gone,
And hearts so lately mingled seem
Like broken clouds,--or like the stream
That smiling left the mountain's brow
As tho' its waters ne'er could sever,
Yet ere it reach the plain below,
Breaks into floods that part for ever.
Oh, you that have the charge of Love,
Keep him in rosy bondage bound,
As in the Fields of Bliss above
He sits with flowerets fettered round;--
Loose not a tie that round him clings.
Nor ever let him use his wings;
For even an hour, a minute's flight
Will rob the plumes of half their light.
Like that celestial bird whose nest
Is found beneath far Eastern skies,
Whose wings tho' radiant when at rest
Lose all their glory when he flies!
Some difference of this dangerous kind,--
By which, tho' light, the links that bind
The fondest hearts may soon be riven;
Some shadow in Love's summer heaven,
Which, tho' a fleecy speck at first
May yet in awful thunder burst;--
Such cloud it is that now hangs over
The heart of the Imperial Lover,
And far hath banisht from his sight
His NOURMAHAL, his Haram's Light!
Hence is it on this happy night
When Pleasure thro' the fields and groves
Has let loose all her world of loves
And every heart has found its own
He wanders joyless and alone
And weary as that bird of Thrace
Whose pinion knows no resting place.
In vain the loveliest cheeks and eyes
This Eden of the Earth supplies
Come crowding round--the cheeks are pale,
The eyes are dim:--tho' rich the spot
With every flower this earth has got
What is it to the nightingale
If there his darling rose is not?
In vain the Valley's smiling throng
Worship him as he moves along;
He heeds them not--one smile of hers
Is worth a world of worshippers.
They but the Star's adorers are,
She is the Heaven that lights the Star!
Hence is it too that NOURMAHAL,
Amid the luxuries of this hour,
Far from the joyous festival
Sits in her own sequestered bower,
With no one near to soothe or aid,
But that inspired and wondrous maid,
NAMOUNA, the Enchantress;--one
O'er whom his race the golden sun
For unremembered years has run,
Yet never saw her blooming brow
Younger or fairer than 'tis now.
Nay, rather,--as the west wind's sigh
Freshens the flower it passes by,--
Time's wing but seemed in stealing o'er
To leave her lovelier than before.
Yet on her smiles a sadness hung,
And when as oft she spoke or sung
Of other worlds there came a light
From her dark eyes so strangely bright
That all believed nor man nor earth
Were conscious of NAMOUNA'S birth!
All spells and talismans she knew,
From the great Mantra, which around
The Air's sublimer Spirits drew,
To the gold gems of AFRIC, bound
Upon the wandering Arab's arm
To keep him from the Siltim's harm.
And she had pledged her powerful art,--
Pledged it with all the zeal and heart
Of one who knew tho' high her sphere,
What 'twas to lose a love so dear,--
To find some spell that should recall
Her Selim's smile to NOURMAHAL!
'Twas midnight--thro' the lattice wreathed
With woodbine many a perfume breathed
From plants that wake when others sleep.
From timid jasmine buds that keep
Their odor to themselves all day
But when the sunlight dies away
Let the delicious secret out
To every breeze that roams about;--
When thus NAMOUNA:--"'Tis the hour
"That scatters spells on herb and flower,
"And garlands might be gathered now,
"That twined around the sleeper's brow
"Would make him dream of such delights,
"Such miracles and dazzling sights
"As Genii of the Sun behold
"At evening from their tents of gold
"Upon the horizon--where they play
"Till twilight comes and ray by ray
"Their sunny mansions melt away.
"Now too a chaplet might be wreathed
"Of buds o'er which the moon has breathed,
"Which worn by her whose love has strayed
"Might bring some Peri from the skies,
"Some sprite, whose very soul is made
"Of flowerets' breaths and lovers' sighs,
"And who might tell"--
"For me, for me,"
Cried NOURMAHAL impatiently,--
"Oh! twine that wreath for me to-night."
Then rapidly with foot as light
As the young musk-roe's out she flew
To cull each shining leaf that grew
Beneath the moonlight's hallowing beams
For this enchanted Wreath of Dreams.
Anemones and Seas of Gold,
And new-blown lilies of the river,
And those sweet flowerets that unfold
Their buds on CAMADEVA'S quiver;--
The tuberose, with her silvery light,
That in the Gardens of Malay
Is called the Mistress of the Night,
So like a bride, scented and bright,
She comes out when the sun's away:--
Amaranths such as crown the maids
That wander thro' ZAMARA'S shades;--
And the white moon-flower as it shows,
On SERENDIB'S high crags to those
Who near the isle at evening sail,
Scenting her clove-trees in the gale;
In short all flowerets and all plants,
From the divine Amrita tree
That blesses heaven's habitants
With fruits of immortality,
Down to the basil tuft that waves
Its fragrant blossom over graves,
And to the humble rosemary
Whose sweets so thanklessly are shed
To scent the desertand the dead:--
All in that garden bloom and all
Are gathered by young NOURMAHAL,
Who heaps her baskets with the flowers
And leaves till they can hold no more;
Then to NAMOUNA flies and showers
Upon her lap the shining store.
With what delight the Enchantress views
So many buds bathed with the dews
And beams of that blest hour!--her glance
Spoke something past all mortal pleasures,
As in a kind of holy trance
She hung above those fragrant treasures,
Bending to drink their balmy airs,
As if she mixt her soul with theirs.
And 'twas indeed the perfume shed
From flowers and scented flame that fed
Her charmed life--for none had e'er
Beheld her taste of mortal fare,
Nor ever in aught earthly dip,
But the morn's dew, her roseate lip.
Filled with the cool, inspiring smell,
The Enchantress now begins her spell,
Thus singing as she winds and weaves
In mystic form the glittering leaves:--
I know where the winged visions dwell
That around the night-bed play;
I know each herb and floweret's bell,
Where they hide their wings by day.
Then hasten we, maid,
To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.
The image of love that nightly flies
To visit the bashful maid,
Steals from the jasmine flower that sighs
Its soul like her in the shade.
The dream of a future, happier hour
That alights on misery's brow,
Springs out of the silvery almond-flower
That blooms on a leafless bough.
Then hasten we, maid,
To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.
The visions that oft to worldly eyes
The glitter of mines unfold
Inhabit the mountain-herb that dyes
The tooth of the fawn like gold.
The phantom shapes--oh touch not them--
That appal the murderer's sight,
Lurk in the fleshly mandrake's stem,
That shrieks when pluckt at night!
Then hasten we, maid,
To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.
The dream of the injured, patient mind
That smiles at the wrongs of men
Is found in the bruised and wounded rind
Of the cinnamon, sweetest then.
Then hasten we, maid,
To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.
No sooner was the flowery crown
Placed on her head than sleep came down,
Gently as nights of summer fall,
Upon the lids of NOURMAHAL;--
And suddenly a tuneful breeze
As full of small, rich harmonies
As ever wind that o'er the tents
Of AZAB blew was full of scents,
Steals on her ear and floats and swells
Like the first air of morning creeping
Into those wreathy, Red-Sea shells
Where Love himself of old lay sleeping;
And now a Spirit formed, 'twould seem,
Of music and of light,--so fair,
So brilliantly his features beam,
And such a sound is in the air
Of sweetness when he waves his wings,--
Hovers around her and thus sings:
From CHINDARA'S warbling fount I come,
Called by that moonlight garland's spell;
From CHINDARA'S fount, my fairy home,
Wherein music, morn and night, I dwell.
Where lutes in the air are heard about
And voices are singing the whole day long,
And every sigh the heart breathes out
Is turned, as it leaves the lips, to song!
Hither I come
From my fairy home,
And if there's a magic in Music's strain
I swear by the breath
Of that moonlight wreath
Thy Lover shall sigh at thy feet again.
For mine is the lay that lightly floats
And mine are the murmuring, dying notes
That fall as soft as snow on the sea
And melt in the heart as instantly:--
And the passionate strain that, deeply going,
Refines the bosom it trembles thro'
As the musk-wind over the water blowing
Ruffles the wave but sweetens it too.
Mine is the charm whose mystic sway
The Spirits of past Delight obey;--
Let but the tuneful talisman sound,
And they come like Genii hovering round.
And mine is the gentle song that bears
From soul to soul the wishes of love,
As a bird that wafts thro' genial airs
The cinnamon-seed from grove to grove.
'Tis I that mingle in one sweet measure
The past, the present and future of pleasure;
When Memory links the tone that is gone
With the blissful tone that's still in the ear;
And Hope from a heavenly note flies on
To a note more heavenly still that is near.
The warrior's heart when touched by me,
Can as downy soft and as yielding be
As his own white plume that high amid death
Thro' the field has shone--yet moves with a breath!
And oh, how the eyes of Beauty glisten.
When Music has reached her inward soul,
Like the silent stars that wink and listen
While Heaven's eternal melodies roll.
So hither I come
From my fairy home,
And if there's a magic in Music's strain,
I swear by the breath
Of that moonlight wreath
Thy Lover shall sigh at thy feet again.
'Tis dawn--at least that earlier dawn
Whose glimpses are again withdrawn,
As if the morn had waked, and then
Shut close her lids of light again.
And NOURMAHAL is up and trying
The wonders of her lute whose strings--
Oh, bliss!--now murmur like the sighing
From that ambrosial Spirit's wings.
And then her voice--'tis more than human--
Never till now had it been given
To lips of any mortal woman
To utter notes so fresh from heaven;
Sweet as the breath of angel sighs
When angel sighs are most divine.--
"Oh! let it last till night," she cries,
"And he is more than ever mine."
And hourly she renews the lay,
So fearful lest its heavenly sweetness
Should ere the evening fade away,--
For things so heavenly have such fleetness!
But far from fading it but grows
Richer, diviner as it flows;
Till rapt she dwells on every string
And pours again each sound along,
Like echo, lost and languishing,
In love with her own wondrous song.
That evening, (trusting that his soul
Might be from haunting love released
By mirth, by music and the bowl,)
The Imperial SELIM held a feast
In his magnificent Shalimar:--
In whose Saloons, when the first star
Of evening o'er the waters trembled,
The Valley's loveliest all assembled;
All the bright creatures that like dreams
Glide thro' its foliage and drink beams
Of beauty from its founts and streams;
And all those wandering minstrel-maids,
Who leave--how _can_ they leave?--the shades
Of that dear Valley and are found
Singing in gardens of the South
Those songs that ne'er so sweetly sound
As from a young Cashmerian's mouth.
There too the Haram's inmates smile;--
Maids from the West, with sun-bright hair,
And from the Garden of the NILE,
Delicate as the roses there;--
Daughters of Love from CYPRUS rocks,
With Paphian diamonds in their locks;--
Light PERI forms such as there are
On the gold Meads of CANDAHAR;
And they before whose sleepy eyes
In their own bright Kathaian bowers
Sparkle such rainbow butterflies
That they might fancy the rich flowers
That round them in the sun lay sighing
Had been by magic all set flying.
Every thing young, every thing fair
From East and West is blushing there,
Thou loveliest, dearest of them all,
The one whose smile shone out alone,
Amidst a world the only one;
Whose light among so many lights
Was like that star on starry nights,
The seaman singles from the sky,
To steer his bark for ever by!
Thou wert not there--so SELIM thought,
And every thing seemed drear without thee;
But, ah! thou wert, thou wert,--and brought
Thy charm of song all fresh about thee,
Mingling unnoticed with a band
Of lutanists from many a land,
And veiled by such a mask as shades
The features of young Arab maids,--
A mask that leaves but one eye free,
To do its best in witchery,--
She roved with beating heart around
And waited trembling for the minute
When she might try if still the sound
Of her loved lute had magic in it.
The board was spread with fruits and wine,
With grapes of gold, like those that shine
On CASBIN hills;--pomegranates full
Of melting sweetness, and the pears,
And sunniest apples that CAUBUL
In all its thousand gardens bears;--
Plantains, the golden and the green,
MALAYA'S nectared mangusteen;
Prunes of BOCKHARA, and sweet nuts
From the far groves of SAMARCAND,
And BASRA dates, and apricots,
Seed of the Sun, from IRAN'S land;--
With rich conserve of Visna cherries,
Of orange flowers, and of those berries
That, wild and fresh, the young gazelles
Feed on in ERAC's rocky dells.
All these in richest vases smile,
In baskets of pure santal-wood,
And urns of porcelain from that isle
Sunk underneath the Indian flood,
Whence oft the lucky diver brings
Vases to grace the halls of kings.
Wines too of every clime and hue
Around their liquid lustre threw;
Amber Rosolli,--the bright dew
From vineyards of the Green-Sea gushing;
And SHIRAZ wine that richly ran
As if that jewel large and rare,
The ruby for which KUBLAI-KHAN
Offered a city's wealth, was blushing
Melted within the goblets there!
And amply SELIM quaffs of each,
And seems resolved the flood shall reach
His inward heart,--shedding around
A genial deluge, as they run,
That soon shall leave no spot undrowned
For Love to rest his wings upon.
He little knew how well the boy
Can float upon a goblet's streams,
Lighting them with his smile of joy;--
As bards have seen him in their dreams,
Down the blue GANGES laughing glide
Upon a rosy lotus wreath,
Catching new lustre from the tide
That with his image shone beneath.
But what are cups without the aid
Of song to speed them as they flow?
And see--a lovely Georgian maid
With all the bloom, the freshened glow
Of her own country maidens' looks,
When warm they rise from Teflis' brooks;
And with an eye whose restless ray
Full, floating, dark--oh, he, who knows
His heart is weak, of Heaven should pray
To guard him from such eyes as those!--
With a voluptuous wildness flings
Her snowy hand across the strings
Of a syrinda and thus sings:--
Come hither, come hither--by night and by day,
We linger in pleasures that never are gone;
Like the waves of the summer as one dies away
Another as sweet and as shining comes on.
And the love that is o'er, in expiring gives birth
To a new one as warm, as unequalled in bliss;
And, oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this, it is this.
Here maidens are sighing, and fragrant their sigh
As the flower of the Amra just oped by a bee;
And precious their tears as that rain from the sky,
Which turns into pearls as it falls in the sea.
Oh! think what the kiss and the smile must be worth
When the sigh and the tear are so perfect in bliss,
And own if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this, it is this.
Here sparkles the nectar that hallowed by love
Could draw down those angels of old from their sphere,
Who for wine of this earth left the fountains above,
And forgot heaven's stars for the eyes we have here.
And, blest with the odor our goblet gives forth,
What Spirit the sweets of his Eden would miss?
For, oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this, it is this.
The Georgian's song was scarcely mute,
When the same measure, sound for sound,
Was caught up by another lute
And so divinely breathed around
That all stood husht and wondering,
And turned and lookt into the air,
As if they thought to see the wing
Of ISRAFIL the Angel there;--
So powerfully on every soul
That new, enchanted measure stole.
While now a voice sweet as the note
Of the charmed lute was heard to float
Along its chords and so entwine
Its sounds with theirs that none knew whether
The voice or lute was most divine,
So wondrously they went together:--
There's a bliss beyond all that the minstrel has told,
When two that are linkt in one heavenly tie,
With heart never changing and brow never cold,
Love on thro' all ills and love on till they die!
One hour of a passion so sacred is worth
Whole ages of heartless and wandering bliss;
And, oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this, it is this.
'Twas not the air, 'twas not the words,
But that deep magic in the chords
And in the lips that gave such power
As music knew not till that hour.
At once a hundred voices said,
"It is the maskt Arabian maid!"
While SELIM who had felt the strain
Deepest of any and had lain
Some minutes rapt as in a trance
After the fairy sounds were o'er.
Too inly touched for utterance,
Now motioned with his hand for more:--
Fly to the desert, fly with me,
Our Arab's tents are rude for thee;
But oh! the choice what heart can doubt,
Of tents with love or thrones without?
Our rocks are rough, but smiling there
The acacia waves her yellow hair,
Lonely and sweet nor loved the less
For flowering in a wilderness.
Our sands are bare, but down their slope
The silvery-footed antelope
As gracefully and gayly springs
As o'er the marble courts of kings.
Then come--thy Arab maid will be
The loved and lone acacia-tree.
The antelope whose feet shall bless
With their light sound thy loneliness.
Oh! there are looks and tones that dart
An instant sunshine thro' the heart,--
As if the soul that minute caught
Some treasure it thro' life had sought;
As if the very lips and eyes,
Predestined to have all our sighs
And never be forgot again,
Sparkled and spoke before us then!
So came thy every glance and tone,
When first on me they breathed and shone,
New as if brought from other spheres
Yet welcome as if loved for years.
Then fly with me,--if thou hast known
No other flame nor falsely thrown
A gem away, that thou hadst sworn
Should ever in thy heart be worn.
Come if the love thou hast for me
Is pure and fresh as mine for thee,--
Fresh as the fountain under ground,
When first 'tis by the lapwing found.
But if for me thou dost forsake
Some other maid and rudely break
Her worshipt image from its base,
To give to me the ruined place;--
Then fare thee well--I'd rather make
My bower upon some icy lake
When thawing suns begin to shine
Than trust to love so false as thine.
There was a pathos in this lay,
That, even without enchantment's art,
Would instantly have found its way
Deep in to SELIM'S burning heart;
But breathing as it did a tone
To earthly lutes and lips unknown;
With every chord fresh from the touch
Of Music's Spirit,--'twas too much!
Starting he dasht away the cup,--
Which all the time of this sweet air
His hand had held, untasted, up,
As if 'twere fixt by magic there--
And naming her, so long unnamed,
So long unseen, wildly exclaimed,
"Oh NOURMAHAL! oh NOURMAHAL!
"Hadst thou but sung this witching strain,
"I could forget--forgive thee all
"And never leave those eyes again."
The mask is off--the charm is wrought--
And SELIM to his heart has caught,
In blushes, more than ever bright,
His NOURMAHAL, his Haram's Light!
And well do vanisht frowns enhance
The charm of every brightened glance;
And dearer seems each dawning smile
For having lost its light awhile:
And happier now for all her sighs
As on his arm her head reposes
She whispers him, with laughing eyes,
"Remember, love, the Feast of Roses!"
FADLADEEN, at the conclusion of this light rhapsody, took occasion to sum
up his opinion of the young Cashmerian's poetry,--of which, he trusted,
they had that evening heard the last. Having recapitulated the epithets,
"frivolous"--"inharmonious"--"nonsensical," he proceeded to say that,
viewed in the most favorable light it resembled one of those Maldivian
boats, to which the Princess had alluded in the relation of her dream,--
a slight, gilded thing, sent adrift without rudder or ballast, and with
nothing but vapid sweets and faded flowers on board. The profusion,
indeed, of flowers and birds, which this poet had ready on all occasions,
--not to mention dews, gems, etc.--was a most oppressive kind of opulence
to his hearers; and had the unlucky effect of giving to his style all the
glitter of the flower garden without its method, and all the flutter of
the aviary without its song. In addition to this, he chose his subjects
badly, and was always most inspired by the worst parts of them. The
charms of paganism, the merits of rebellion,--these were the themes
honored with his particular enthusiasm; and, in the poem just recited, one
of his most palatable passages was in praise of that beverage of the
Unfaithful, wine;--"being, perhaps," said he, relaxing into a smile, as
conscious of his own character in the Haram on this point, "one of those
bards, whose fancy owes all its illumination to the grape, like that
painted porcelain, so curious and so rare, whose images are only
visible when liquor is poured into it." Upon the whole, it was his
opinion, from the specimens which they had heard, and which, he begged to
say, were the most tiresome part of the journey, that--whatever other
merits this well-dressed young gentleman might possess--poetry was by no
means his proper avocation; "and indeed," concluded the critic, "from his
fondness for flowers and for birds, I would venture to suggest that a
florist or a bird-catcher is a much more suitable calling for him than a
They had now begun to ascend those barren mountains, which separate
Cashmere from the rest of India; and, as the heats were intolerable, and
the time of their encampments limited to the few hours necessary for
refreshment and repose, there was an end to all their delightful evenings,
and LALLA ROOKH saw no more of FERAMORZ. She now felt that her short dream
of happiness was over, and that she had nothing but the recollection of
its few blissful hours, like the one draught of sweet water that serves
the camel across the wilderness, to be her heart's refreshment during the
dreary waste of life that was before her. The blight that had fallen upon
her spirits soon found its way to her cheek, and her ladies saw with
regret--though not without some suspicion of the cause--that the beauty of
their mistress, of which they were almost as proud as of their own, was
fast vanishing away at the very moment of all when she had most need of
it. What must the King of Bucharia feel, when, instead of the lively and
beautiful LALLA ROOKH, whom the poets of Delhi had described as more
perfect than the divinest images in the house of AZOR, he should
receive a pale and inanimate victim, upon whose cheek neither health nor
pleasure bloomed, and from whose eyes Love had fled,--to hide himself in
If any thing could have charmed away the melancholy of her spirits, it
would have been the fresh airs and enchanting scenery of that Valley,
which the Persians so justly called the Unequalled. But neither the
coolness of its atmosphere, so luxurious after toiling up those bare and
burning mountains,--neither the splendor of the minarets and pagodas, that
shone put from the depth of its woods, nor the grottoes, hermitages, and
miraculous fountains, which make every spot of that region holy
ground,--neither the countless waterfalls, that rush into the Valley from
all those high and romantic mountains that encircle it, nor the fair city
on the Lake, whose houses, roofed with flowers, appeared at a
distance like one vast and variegated parterre;--not all these wonders and
glories of the most lovely country under the sun could steal her heart for
a minute from those sad thoughts which but darkened and grew bitterer
every step she advanced.
The gay pomps and processions that met her upon her entrance into the
Valley, and the magnificence with which the roads all along were
decorated, did honor to the taste and gallantry of the young King. It was
night when they approached the city, and, for the last two miles, they had
passed under arches, thrown from hedge to hedge, festooned with only those
rarest roses from which the Attar Gul, more precious than gold, is
distilled, and illuminated in rich and fanciful forms with lanterns of the
triple-colored tortoise-shell of Pegu. Sometimes, from a dark wood
by the side of the road, a display of fireworks would break out, so sudden
and so brilliant, that a Brahmin might fancy he beheld that grove, in
whose purple shade the God of Battles was born, bursting into a flame at
the moment of his birth;--while, at other times, a quick and playful
irradiation continued to brighten all the fields and gardens by which they
passed, forming a line of dancing lights along the horizon; like the
meteors of the north as they are seen by those hunters who pursue the
white and blue foxes on the confines of the Icy Sea.
These arches and fireworks delighted the Ladies of the Princess
exceedingly; and, with their usual good logic, they deduced from his taste
for illuminations, that the King of Bucharia would make the most exemplary
husband imaginable. Nor, indeed, could LALLA ROOKH herself help feeling
the kindness and splendor with which the young bridegroom welcomed
her;--but she also felt how painful is the gratitude which kindness from
those we cannot love excites; and that their best blandishments come over
the heart with all that chilling and deadly sweetness which we can fancy
in the cold, odoriferous wind that is to blow over this earth in the
The marriage was fixed for the morning after her arrival, when she was,
for the first time, to be presented to the monarch in that Imperial Palace
beyond the lake, called the Shalimar. Though never before had a night of
more wakeful and anxious thought been passed in the Happy Valley, yet,
when she rose in the morning, and her Ladies came around her, to assist in
the adjustment of the bridal ornaments, they thought they had never seen
her look half so beautiful. What she had lost of the bloom and radiancy
of her charms was more than made up by that intellectual expression, that
soul beaming forth from the eyes, which is worth all the rest of
loveliness. When they had tinged her fingers with the Henna leaf, and
placed upon her brow a small coronet of jewels, of the shape worn by the
ancient Queens of Bucharia, they flung over her head the rose-colored
bridal veil, and she proceeded to the barge that was to convey her across
the lake;--first kissing, with a mournful look, the little amulet of
cornelian, which her father at parting had hung about her neck.
The morning was as fresh and fair as the maid on whose nuptials it rose,
and the shining lake, all covered with boats, the minstrels playing upon
the shores of the islands, and the crowded summer-houses on the green
hills around, with shawls and banners waving from their roofs, presented
such a picture of animated rejoicing, as only she, who was the object of
it all, did not feel with transport. To LALLA ROOKH alone it was a
melancholy pageant; nor could she have even borne to look upon the scene,
were it not for a hope that among the crowds around, she might once more
perhaps catch a glimpse of FERAMORZ. So much was her imagination haunted
by this thought that there was scarcely an islet or boat she passed on the
way at which her heart did not flutter with the momentary fancy that he
was there. Happy, in her eyes, the humblest slave upon whom the light of
his dear looks fell!--In the barge immediately after the Princess sat
FADLADEEN, with his silken curtains thrown widely apart, that all might
have the benefit of his august presence, and with his head full of the
speech he was to deliver to the King, "concerning FERAMORZ and literature
and the Chabuk as connected therewith."
They now had entered the canal which leads from the Lake to the splendid
domes and saloons of the Shalimar and went gliding on through the gardens
that ascended from each bank, full of flowering shrubs that made the air
all perfume; while from the middle of the canal rose jets of water, smooth
and unbroken, to such a dazzling height that they stood like tall pillars
of diamond in the sunshine. After sailing under the arches of various
saloons they at length arrived at the last and most magnificent, where the
monarch awaited the coming of his bride; and such was the agitation of her
heart and frame that it was with difficulty she could walk up the marble
steps which were covered with cloth of gold for her ascent from the barge.
At the end of the hall stood two thrones, as precious as the Cerulean
Throne of Koolburga, on one of which sat ALIRIS, the youthful King
of Bucharia, and on the other was in a few minutes to be placed the most
beautiful Princess in the world. Immediately upon the entrance of LALLA
ROOKH into the saloon the monarch descended from his throne to meet her;
but scarcely had he time to take her hand in his when she screamed with
surprise and fainted at his feet. It was FERAMORZ, himself, who stood
before her! FERAMORZ, was, himself, the Sovereign of Bucharia, who in this
disguise had accompanied his young bride from Delhi, and having won her
love as an humble minstrel now amply deserved to enjoy it as a King.
The consternation of FADLADEEN at this discovery was, for the moment,
almost pitiable. But change of opinion is a resource too convenient in
courts for this experienced courtier not to have learned to avail himself
of it. His criticisms were all, of course, recanted instantly: he was
seized with an admiration of the King's verses, as unbounded as, he begged
him to believe, it was disinterested; and the following week saw him in
possession of an additional place, swearing by all the Saints of Islam
that never had there existed so great a poet as the Monarch ALIRIS, and
moreover ready to prescribe his favorite regimen of the Chabuk for every
man, woman and child that dared to think otherwise.
Of the happiness of the King and Queen of Bucharia, after such a
beginning, there can be but little doubt; and among the lesser symptoms it
is recorded of LALLA ROOKH that to the day of her death in memory of their
delightful journey she never called the King by any other name than
 These particulars of the visit of the King of Bucharia to Aurungzebe
are found in _Dow's "History of Hindostan_," vol. iii. p. 392.
 Tulip cheek.
 The mistress of Mejnoun, upon whose story so many Romances in all the
languages of the East are founded.
 For the loves of this celebrated beauty with Khosrou and with Ferhad,
see _D'Herbelot, Gibbon, Oriental Collections_, etc.
 "The history of the loves of Dewilde and Chizer, the son of the
Emperor Alla, is written in an elegant poem, by the noble Chusero."---
 Gul Reazee.
 "One mark of honor or knighthood bestowed by the Emperor is the
permission to wear a small kettle-drum at the bows of their saddles, which
at first was invented for the training of hawks, and to call them to the
lure, and is worn in the field by all sportsmen to that end."--_Fryer's_
Travels. "Those on whom the King has conferred the privilege must wear an
ornament of jewels on the right side of the turban, surmounted by a high
plume of the feathers of a kind of egret. This bird is found only in
Cashmere, and the feathers are carefully collected for the King, who
bestows them on his nobles."--_Elphinstone's_ Account of Cabul.
 "Khedar Khan, the Khakan, or King of Turquestan beyond the Gibon (at
the end of the eleventh century), whenever he appeared abroad was preceded
by seven hundred horsemen with silver battle-axes, and was followed by an
equal number bearing maces of gold. He was a great patron of poetry, and
it was he who used to preside at public exercises of genius, with four
basins of gold and silver by him to distribute among the poets who
excelled."--_Richardson's_ Dissertation prefixed to his Dictionary.
 "The kubdeh, a large golden knob, generally in the shape of a pine-
apple, on the top of the canopy over the litter or palanquin."--_Scott's_
Notes on the Bahardanush.
 In the Poem of Zohair, in the Moallakat, there is the following
lively description of "a company of maidens seated on camels." "They are
mounted in carriages covered with costly awnings, and with rose-colored
veils, the linings of which have the hue of crimson Andem-wood. "When they
ascend from the bosom of the vale, they sit forward on the saddlecloth,
with every mark of a voluptuous gayety. "Now, When they have reached the
brink of yon blue-gushing rivulet, they fix the poles of their tents like
the Arab with a settled mansion."
 See _Bernier's_ description of the attendants on Rauchanara Begum, in
her progress to Cashmere.
 This hypocritical Emperor would have made a worthy associate of
certain Holy Leagues.--"He held the cloak of religion [says Dow] between
his actions and the vulgar; and impiously thanked the Divinity for a
success which he owed to his own wickedness. When he was murdering and
persecuting his brothers and their families, he was building a magnificent
mosque at Delhi, as an offering to God for his assistance to him in the
civil wars. He acted as high priest at the consecration of this temple;
and made a practice of attending divine service there, in the humble dress
of a Fakeer. But when he lifted one hand to the Divinity, he, with the
other, signed warrants for the assassination of his relations."--"_History
of Hindostan_,". vol. iii. p.335. See also the curious letter of
Aurungzebe, given in the _Oriental Collections_, vol. i. p.320.
 "The idol at Jaghernat has two fine diamonds for eyes. No goldsmith
is suffered to enter the Pagoda, one having stole one of these eyes, being
locked up all night with the Idol."--_Tavernier_.
 See a description of these royal Gardens in "An Account of the
present State of Delhi, by Lieut. W. Franklin."--_Asiat. Research_, vol.
iv. p. 417.
 "In the neighborhood is Notte Gill, or the Lake of Pearl, which
receives this name from its pellucid water."--_Pennant's_ "Hindostan."
"Nasir Jung encamped in the vicinity of the Lake of Tonoor, amused himself
with sailing on that clear and beautiful water, and gave it the fanciful
name of Motee Talah, 'the Lake of Pearls,' which it still retains."--
_Wilks's_ "South of India."
 Sir Thomas Roe, Ambassador from James I. to Jehanguire.
 "The romance Wemakweazra, written in Persian verse, which contains
the loves of Wamak and Ezra, two celebrated lovers who lived before the
time of Mahomet."--_Note on the Oriental Tales_.
 Their amour is recounted in the Shah-Nameh of Ferdousi; and there is
much beauty in the passage which describes the slaves of Rodahver sitting
on the bank of the river and throwing flowers into the stream, in order to
draw the attention of the young Hero who is encamped on the opposite
side.--See _Champion's_ translation.
 Rustam is the Hercules of the Persians. For the particulars of his
victory over the Sepeed Deeve, or White Demon, see _Oriental Collections_,
vol. ii. p. 45.--Near the city of Shiraz is an immense quadrangular
monument, in commemoration of this combat, called the Kelaat-i-Deev
Sepeed, or castle of the White Giant, which Father Angelo, in his
"_Gazophilacium Persicum_," p.127, declares to have been the most
memorable monument of antiquity which he had seen in Persia.--See
_Ouseley's_ "Persian Miscellanies."
 "The women of the Idol, or dancing girls of the Pagoda, have little
golden bells, fastened to their feet, the soft harmonious tinkling of
which vibrates in unison with the exquisite melody of their voices."--
_Maurice's_ "Indian Antiquities."
"The Arabian courtesans, like the Indian women, have little golden bells
fastened round their legs, neck, and elbows, to the sound of which they
dance before the King. The Arabian princesses wear golden rings on their
fingers, to which little bells are suspended, as well as in the flowing
tresses of their hair, that their superior rank may be known and they
themselves receive in passing the homage due to them."--See _Calmet's_
Dictionary, art. "Bells."
 The Indian Apollo.-- "He and the three Ramas are described as youths
of perfect beauty, and the princesses of Hindustan were all passionately
in love with Chrishna, who continues to this hour the darling God of the
Indan women."--_Sir W. Jones_, on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India.
 See _Turner's_ Embassy for a description of this animal, "the most
beautiful among the whole tribe of goats." The material for the shawls
(which is carried to Cashmere) is found next the skin.
 For the real history of this Impostor, whose original name was Hakem
ben Haschem, and who was called Mocanna from the veil of silver gauze (or,
as others say, golden) which he always wore, see _D'Herbelot_.
 Khorassan signifies, in the old Persian language, Province or Region
of the Sun.--_Sir W. Jones_.
 "The fruits of Meru are finer than those of any other place: and one
cannot see in any other city such palaces with groves, and streams, and
gardens."--_Ebn Haukal's_ Geography.
 One of the royal cities of Khorassan.
 Black was the color adopted by the Caliphs of the House of Abbas, in
their garments, turbans, and standards.
 "Our dark javelins, exquisitely wrought of Khathaian reeds, slender
and delicate."--_Poem of Amru_.
 Pichula, used anciently for arrows by the Persians.
 The Persians call this plant Gaz. The celebrated shaft of Isfendiar,
one of their ancient heroes, was made of it.--"Nothing can be more
beautiful than the appearance of this plant in flower during the rains on
the banks of rivers, where it is usually interwoven with a lovely twining
asclepias."--_Sir W. Jones_..
 The oriental plane. "The chenar is a delightful tree; its bole is of
a fine white and smooth bark; and its foliage, which grows in a tuft at
the summit, is of a bright green."--_Morier's Travels_..
 The burning fountains of Brahma near Chittogong, esteemed as
 "The name of tulip is said to be of Turkish extraction, and given to
the flower on account of its resembling a turban."--_Beckmann_'s History
 "The inhabitants of Bucharia wear a round cloth bonnet, shaped much
after the Polish fashion, having a large fur border. They tie their
kaftans about the middle with a girdle of a kind of silk crape, several
times round the body."--_Account of Independent Tartary, in Pinkerton's
 In the war of the Caliph Mahadi against the Empress Irene, for an
account of which _vide Gibbon_, vol. x.
 When Soliman travelled, the eastern writers say, "He had a carpet of
green silk on which his throne was placed, being of a prodigious length
and breadth, and sufficient for all his forces to stand upon, the men
placing themselves on his right hand, and the spirits on his left; and
that when all were in order, the wind, at his command, took up the carpet,
and transported it, with all that were upon it, wherever he pleased; the
army of birds at the same time flying over their heads, and forming a kind
of canopy to shade them from the sun."--Sale's Koran, vol. ii. p. 214,
 The transmigration of souls was one of his doctrines.--_Vide
 "And when we said unto the angels. Worship Adam, they all worshipped
him except Eblis (Lucifer), who refused." _The. Koran_, chap. ii.
 The Amu, which rises in the Belur Tag, or Dark Mountains, and running
nearly from east to west, splits into two branches; one of which falls
into the Caspian Sea, and the other into Aral Nahr, or the Lake of Eagles.
 The nightingale.
 The cities of Com (or Koom) and Cashan are full of mosques,
mausoleums and sepulchres of the descendants of Ali, the Saints of Persia
 An island in the Persian Gulf, celebrated for its white wine.
 The miraculous well at Mecca: so called, says Sale, from the
murmuring of its waters.
 The god Hannaman.--"Apes are in many parts of India highly venerated,
out of respect to the God Hannaman, a deity partaking of the form of that
race."--_Pennant's_ Hindoostan. See a curious account in _Stephen's
Persia_, of a solemn embassy from some part of the Indies to Goa when the
Portuguese were there, offering vast treasures for the recovery of a
monkey's tooth, which they held in great veneration, and which had been
taken away upon the conquest of the kingdom of Jafanapatan.
 A kind of lantern formerly used by robbers, called the Hand of Glory,
the candle for which was made of the fat of a dead malefactor. This,
however, was rather a western than an eastern superstition.
 The material of which images of Gaudma (the Birman Deity) are made,
is held sacred. "Birmans may not purchase the marble in mass, but are
suffered, and indeed encouraged, to buy figures of the Deity ready made."
--_Sytnes's_ "Ava," vol. ii. p. 876.
 "It is commonly said in Persia, that if a man breathe in the hot
south wind, which in June or July passes over that flower (the Kerzereh),
it will kill him."--_Thevenot_.
 The humming bird is said to run this risk for the purpose of picking
the crocodile's teeth. The same circumstance is related of the lapwing, as
a fact to which he was witness, by _Paul Lucas, "Voyage fait en_ 1714."
The ancient story concerning the Trochilus, or humming-bird, entering with
impunity into the mouth of the crocodile, is firmly believed at
 "The feast of Lanterns celebrated at Yamtcheou with more magnificence
than anywhere else! and the report goes that the illuminations there are
so splendid, that an Emperor once, not daring openly to leave his Court to
go thither, committed himself with the Queen and several Princesses of his
family into the hands of a magician, who promised to transport them
thither in a trice. He made them in the night to ascend magnificent
thrones that were borne up by swans, which in a moment arrived at
Yamtcheou. The Emperor saw at his leisure all the solemnity, being carried
upon a cloud that hovered over the city and descended by degrees; and came
back again with the same speed and equipage, nobody at court perceiving
his absence."--_The Present State of China_," p. 156.
 "The vulgar ascribe it to an accident that happened in the family of
a famous mandarin, whose daughter, walking one evening upon the shore of a
lake, fell in and was drowned: this afflicted father, with his family, ran
thither, and the better to find her, he caused a great company of lanterns
to be lighted. All the inhabitants of the place thronged after him with
torches. The year ensuing they made fires upon the shores the same day;
they continued the ceremony every year, every one lighted his lantern, and
by degrees it commenced into a custom."--_The Present State of China_."
 "Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes."--_Sol. Song_.
 "They tinged the ends of her fingers scarlet with Henna, so that they
resembled branches of coral."--_Story of Prince Futtun in Bahardanush_.
 "The women blacken the inside of their eyelids with a powder named
the black Kohol."--_Russell_.
"None of these ladies," says _Shaw_, "take themselves to be completely
dressed, till they have tinged their hair and edges of their eyelids with
the powder of lead ore. Now, as this operation is performed by dipping
first into the powder a small wooden bodkin of the thickness of a quill,
and then drawing it afterwards through the eyelids over the ball of the
eye, we shall have a lively image of what the Prophet (Jer. iv. 30) may be
supposed to mean by _rending the eyes with painting_. This practice is no
doubt of great antiquity; for besides the instance already taken notice
of, we find that where Jezebel is said (2 Kings ix. 30.) _to have painted
her face_, the original words are, _she adjusted her eyes with the powder
of lead-ore_."--_Shaw's_ Travels.
 "The appearance of the blossoms of the gold-colored Campac on the
black hair of the Indian women has supplied the Sanscrit Poets with many
elegant allusions."--See _Asiatic Researches_, vol. iv.
 A tree famous for its perfume, and common on the hills of
 Of the genus mimosa "which droops its branches whenever any person
approaches it, seeming as if it saluted those who retire under its
 Cloves are a principal ingredient in the composition of the perfumed
rods, which men of rank keep constantly burning in their presence.--
 "Thousands of variegated loories visit the coral-trees."--_Barrow_.
 "In Mecca there are quantities of blue pigeons, which none will
affright or abuse, much less kill."--_Pitt's_ Account of the Mahometans.
 "The Pagoda Thrush is esteemed among the first choristers of India.
It sits perched on the sacred pagodas, and from thence delivers its
melodious song."--_Pennant's_ "Hindostan."
 _Tavernier_ adds, that while the Birds of Paradise lie in this
intoxicated state, the emmets come and eat off their legs; and that hence
it is they are said to have no feet.
 Birds of Paradise, which, at the nutmeg season, come in flights from
the southern isles to India; and "the strength of the nutmeg," says
_Tavernier_, "so intoxicates them that they fall dead drunk to the earth."
 "That bird which liveth in Arabia, and buildeth its nest with
cinnamon."--_Brown's_ Vulgar Errors.
 "The spirits of the martyrs will be lodged in the crops of green
birds."--_Gibbon_, vol. ix. p. 421.
 Shedad, who made the delicious gardens of Irim, in imitation of
Paradise, and was destroyed by lightning the first time he attempted to
 "My Pandits assure me that the plant before us (the Nilica) is their
Sephalica, thus named because the bees are supposed to sleep on its
blossoms."--_Sir W. Jones_.