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Best Famous Allah Poems

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by Rudyard Kipling |

Kitcheners School

 1898

Being a translation of the song that was made by a Mohammedanschoolmaster of Bengal Infantry (some time on service at Suakim)when he heard that Kitchener was taking money from the English tobuild a Madrissa for Hubshees -- or a college for the Sudanese.
Oh Hubshee, carry your shoes in your hand and bow your head on your breast! This is the message of Kitchener who did not break you in jest.
It was permitted to him to fulfil the long-appointed years; Reaching the end ordained of old over your dead Emirs.
He stamped only before your walls, and the Tomb ye knew was dust: He gathered up under his armpits all the swords of your trust: He set a guard on your granaries, securing the weak from the strong: He said: -- " Go work the waterwheels that were abolished so long.
" He said: -- "Go safely, being abased.
I have accomplished my vow.
" That was the mercy of Kitchener.
Cometh his madness now! He does not desire as ye desire, nor devise as ye devise: He is preparing a second host -- an army to make you wise.
Not at the mouth of his clean-lipped guns shall ye learn his name again, But letter by letter, from Kaf to Kaf, at the mouths of his chosen men.
He has gone back to his own city, not seeking presents or bribes, But openly asking the English for money to buy you Hakims and scribes.
Knowing that ye are forfeit by battle and have no right to live, He begs for money to bring you learning -- and all the English give.
It is their treasure -- it is their pleasure -- thus are their hearts inclined: For Allah created the English mad -- the maddest of all mankind! They do not consider the Meaning ofThings; they consult not creed nor clan.
Behold, they clap the slave on the back, and behold, he ariseth a man! They terribly carpet the earth with dead, and before their cannon cool, They walk unarmed by twos and threes to call the living to school.
How is this reason (which is their reason) to judge a scholar's worth, By casting a ball at three straight sticks and defending the same with a fourth? But this they do (which is doubtless a spell) and other matters more strange, Until, by the operation of years, the hearts of their scholars change: Till these make come and go great boats or engines upon the rail (But always the English watch near by to prop them when they fail); Till these make laws of their own choice and Judges of their And all the mad English obey the Judges and say that that Law is good.
Certainly they were mad from of old; but I think one new thing, That the magic whereby they work their magic -- wherefrom their fortunes spring -- May be that they show all peoples their magic and ask no price in return.
Wherefore, since ye are bond to that magic, O Hubshee, make haste and learn! Certainly also is Kitchener mad.
But one sure thing I know -- If he who broke you be minded to teach you, to his Madrissa go! Go, and carry your shoes in your hand and bow your head on your breast, For he who did not slay you in sport, he will not teach you in jest.


by Rudyard Kipling |

The Jester

 There are three degrees of bliss
At the foot of Allah's Throne
And the highest place is his
Who saves a brother's soul
At peril of his own.
There is the Power made known! There are three degrees of bliss In Garden of Paradise, And the second place is his Who saves his brother's soul By exellent advice.
For the Glory lies! There the are three degrees of bliss And three abodes of the Blest, And the lowest place is his Who had saved a soul by jest And a brother's soul in sport.
.
.
But there do the Angels resort!


by Rudyard Kipling |

Certain Maxims Of Hafiz

  I.
If It be pleasant to look on, stalled in the packed serai, Does not the Young Man try Its temper and pace ere he buy? If She be pleasant to look on, what does the Young Man say? "Lo! She is pleasant to look on, give Her to me to-day!" II.
Yea, though a Kafir die, to him is remitted Jehannum If he borrowed in life from a native at sixty per cent.
per anuum.
III.
Blister we not for bursati? So when the heart is vexed, The pain of one maiden's refusal is drowned in the pain of the next.
IV.
The temper of chums, the love of your wife, and a new piano's tune -- Which of the three will you trust at the end of an Indian June? V.
Who are the rulers of Ind -- to whom shall we bow the knee? Make your peace with the women, and men will make you L.
G.
VI.
Does the woodpecker flit round the young ferash? Does grass clothe a new-built wall? Is she under thirty, the woman who holds a boy in her thrall? VII.
If She grow suddenly gracious -- reflect.
Is it all for thee? The black-buck is stalked through the bullock, and Man through jealousy.
VIII.
Seek not for favor of women.
So shall you find it indeed.
Does not the boar break cover just when you're lighting a weed? IX.
If He play, being young and unskilful, for shekels of silver and gold, Take his money, my son, praising Allah.
The kid was ordained to be sold.
X.
With a "weed" amoung men or horses verily this is the best, That you work him in office or dog-cart lightly -- but give him no rest.
XI.
Pleasant the snaffle of Courtship, improving the manners and carriage; But the colt who is wise will abstain from the terrible thorn-bit of Marriage.
XII.
As the thriless gold of the babul, so is the gold that we spend On a derby Sweep, or our neighbor's wife, or the horse that we buy from a friend.
XIII.
The ways of man with a maid be strange, yet simple and tame To the ways of a man with a horse, when selling or racing that same.
XIV.
In public Her face turneth to thee, and pleasant Her smile when ye meet.
It is ill.
The cold rocks of El-Gidar smile thus on the waves at their feet.
In public Her face is averted, with anger She nameth thy name.
It is well.
Was there ever a loser content with the loss of the game? XV.
If She have spoken a word, remember thy lips are sealed, And the Brand of the Dog is upon him by whom is the secret revealed.
If She have written a letter, delay not an instant, but burn it.
Tear it to pieces, O Fool, and the wind to her mate shall return it! If there be trouble to Herward, and a lie of the blackest can clear, Lie, while thy lips can move or a man is alive to hear.
XVI.
My Son, if a maiden deny thee and scufflingly bid thee give o'er, Yet lip meets with lip at the last word -- get out! She has been there before.
They are pecked on the ear and the chin and the nose who are lacking in lore.
XVII.
If we fall in the race, though we win, the hoff-slide is scarred on the course.
Though Allah and Earth pardon Sin, remaineth forever Remorse.
XVIII.
"By all I am misunderstood!" if the Matron shall say, or the Maid: "Alas! I do not understand," my son, be thou nowise afraid.
In vain in the sight of the Bird is the net of the Fowler displayed.
XIX.
My son, if I, Hafiz, the father, take hold of thy knees in my pain, Demanding thy name on stamped paper, one day or one hour -- refrain.
Are the links of thy fetters so light that thou cravest another man's chain?


by Rudyard Kipling |

The Captive

 Not with an outcry to Allah nor any complaining
He answered his name at the muster and stood to the chaining.
When the twin anklets were nipped on the leg-bars that held them, He brotherly greeted the armourers stooping to weld them.
Ere the sad dust of the marshalled feet of the chain-gang swallowed him, Observing him nobly at ease, I alighted and followed him, Thus we had speech by the way, but not touching his sorrow-- Rather his red Yesterday and his regal To-morrow, Wherein he statelily moved to the clink of his chains unregarded, Nowise abashed but contented to drink of the potion awarded Saluting aloofly his Fate, he made haste with his story, And the words of his mouth were as slaves spreading carpets of glory Embroidered with names of the Djinns--a miraculous weaving-- But the cool and perspicuous eye overbore unbelieving.
So I submitted myself to the limits of rapture-- Bound by this man we had bound, amid captives his capture-- Till he returned me to earth and the visions departed.
But on him be the Peace and the Blessing; for he was greathearted!


by Rudyard Kipling |

The Ballad of the Kings Jest

 When spring-time flushes the desert grass,
Our kafilas wind through the Khyber Pass.
Lean are the camels but fat the frails, Light are the purses but heavy the bales, As the snowbound trade of the North comes down To the market-square of Peshawur town.
In a turquoise twilight, crisp and chill, A kafila camped at the foot of the hill.
Then blue smoke-haze of the cooking rose, And tent-peg answered to hammer-nose; And the picketed ponies, shag and wild, Strained at their ropes as the feed was piled; And the bubbling camels beside the load Sprawled for a furlong adown the road; And the Persian pussy-cats, brought for sale, Spat at the dogs from the camel-bale; And the tribesmen bellowed to hasten the food; And the camp-fires twinkled by Fort Jumrood; And there fled on the wings of the gathering dusk A savour of camels and carpets and musk, A murmur of voices, a reek of smoke, To tell us the trade of the Khyber woke.
The lid of the flesh-pot chattered high, The knives were whetted and -- then came I To Mahbub Ali the muleteer, Patching his bridles and counting his gear, Crammed with the gossip of half a year.
But Mahbub Ali the kindly said, "Better is speech when the belly is fed.
" So we plunged the hand to the mid-wrist deep In a cinnamon stew of the fat-tailed sheep, And he who never hath tasted the food, By Allah! he knoweth not bad from good.
We cleansed our beards of the mutton-grease, We lay on the mats and were filled with peace, And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south, With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.
Four things greater than all things are, -- Women and Horses and Power and War.
We spake of them all, but the last the most, For I sought a word of a Russian post, Of a shifty promise, an unsheathed sword And a gray-coat guard on the Helmund ford.
Then Mahbub Ali lowered his eyes In the fashion of one who is weaving lies.
Quoth he: "Of the Russians who can say? When the night is gathering all is gray.
But we look that the gloom of the night shall die In the morning flush of a blood-red sky.
Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise To warn a King of his enemies? We know what Heaven or Hell may bring, But no man knoweth the mind of the King.
That unsought counsel is cursed of God Attesteth the story of Wali Dad.
"His sire was leaky of tongue and pen, His dam was a clucking Khuttuck hen; And the colt bred close to the vice of each, For he carried the curse of an unstanched speech.
Therewith madness -- so that he sought The favour of kings at the Kabul court; And travelled, in hope of honour, far To the line where the gray-coat squadrons are.
There have I journeyed too -- but I Saw naught, said naught, and -- did not die! He harked to rumour, and snatched at a breath Of `this one knoweth' and `that one saith', -- Legends that ran from mouth to mouth Of a gray-coat coming, and sack of the South.
These have I also heard -- they pass With each new spring and the winter grass.
"Hot-foot southward, forgotten of God, Back to the city ran Wali Dad, Even to Kabul -- in full durbar The King held talk with his Chief in War.
Into the press of the crowd he broke, And what he had heard of the coming spoke.
"Then Gholam Hyder, the Red Chief, smiled, As a mother might on a babbling child; But those who would laugh restrained their breath, When the face of the King showed dark as death.
Evil it is in full durbar To cry to a ruler of gathering war! Slowly he led to a peach-tree small, That grew by a cleft of the city wall.
And he said to the boy: `They shall praise thy zeal So long as the red spurt follows the steel.
And the Russ is upon us even now? Great is thy prudence -- await them, thou.
Watch from the tree.
Thou art young and strong, Surely thy vigil is not for long.
The Russ is upon us, thy clamour ran? Surely an hour shall bring their van.
Wait and watch.
When the host is near, Shout aloud that my men may hear.
' "Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise To warn a King of his enemies? A guard was set that he might not flee -- A score of bayonets ringed the tree.
The peach-bloom fell in showers of snow, When he shook at his death as he looked below.
By the power of God, who alone is great, Till the seventh day he fought with his fate.
Then madness took him, and men declare He mowed in the branches as ape and bear, And last as a sloth, ere his body failed, And he hung as a bat in the forks, and wailed, And sleep the cord of his hands untied, And he fell, and was caught on the points and died.
"Heart of my heart, is it meet or wise To warn a King of his enemies? We know what Heaven or Hell may bring, But no man knoweth the mind of the King.
Of the gray-coat coming who can say? When the night is gathering all is gray.
Two things greater than all things are, The first is Love, and the second War.
And since we know not how War may prove, Heart of my heart, let us talk of Love!"


by Rudyard Kipling |

The Answer

 A Rose, in tatters on the garden path,
Cried out to God and murmured 'gainst His Wrath,
Because a sudden wind at twilight's hush
Had snapped her stem alone of all the bush.
And God, Who hears both sun-dried dust and sun, Had pity, whispering to that luckless one, "Sister, in that thou sayest We did not well -- What voices heardst thou when thy petals fell?" And the Rose answered, "In that evil hour A voice said, `Father, wherefore falls the flower? For lo, the very gossamers are still.
' And a voice answered, `Son, by Allah's will!'" Then softly as a rain-mist on the sward, Came to the Rose the Answer of the Lord: "Sister, before We smote the dark in twain, Ere yet the stars saw one another plain, Time, Tide, and Space, We bound unto the task That thou shouldst fall, and such an one should ask.
" Whereat the withered flower, all content, Died as they die whose days are innocent; While he who questioned why the flower fell Caught hold of God and saved his soul from Hell.


by George (Lord) Byron |

The Bride of Abydos

 "Had we never loved so kindly, 
Had we never loved so blindly, 
Never met or never parted, 
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
" — Burns TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD HOLLAND, THIS TALE IS INSCRIBED, WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF REGARD AND RESPECT, BY HIS GRATEFULLY OBLIGED AND SINCERE FRIEND, BYRON.
THE BRIDE OF ABYDOS _________ CANTO THE FIRST.
I.
Know ye the land where cypress and myrtle Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime, Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle, Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime? Know ye the land of the cedar and vine, Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine; Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppress'd with perfume, Wax faint o'er the gardens of G?l in her bloom; [1] Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit, And the voice of the nightingale never is mute; Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky, In colour though varied, in beauty may vie, And the purple of Ocean is deepest in dye; Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine, And all, save the spirit of man, is divine? 'Tis the clime of the East; 'tis the land of the Sun — Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done? [2] Oh! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell Are the hearts which they bear, and the tales which they tell.
II.
Begirt with many a gallant slave, Apparell'd as becomes the brave, Awaiting each his lord's behest To guide his steps, or guard his rest, Old Giaffir sate in his Divan: Deep thought was in his aged eye; And though the face of Mussulman Not oft betrays to standers by The mind within, well skill'd to hide All but unconquerable pride, His pensive cheek and pondering brow Did more than he wont avow.
III.
"Let the chamber be clear'd.
" — The train disappear'd — "Now call me the chief of the Haram guard.
" With Giaffir is none but his only son, And the Nubian awaiting the sire's award.
"Haroun — when all the crowd that wait Are pass'd beyond the outer gate, (Woe to the head whose eye beheld My child Zuleika's face unveil'd!) Hence, lead my daughter from her tower: Her fate is fix'd this very hour: Yet not to her repeat my thought; By me alone be duty taught!" "Pacha! to hear is to obey.
" No more must slave to despot say — Then to the tower had ta'en his way, But here young Selim silence brake, First lowly rendering reverence meet! And downcast look'd, and gently spake, Still standing at the Pacha's feet: For son of Moslem must expire, Ere dare to sit before his sire! "Father! for fear that thou shouldst chide My sister, or her sable guide, Know — for the fault, if fault there be, Was mine — then fall thy frowns on me — So lovelily the morning shone, That — let the old and weary sleep — I could not; and to view alone The fairest scenes of land and deep, With none to listen and reply To thoughts with which my heart beat high Were irksome — for whate'er my mood, In sooth I love not solitude; I on Zuleika's slumber broke, And as thou knowest that for me Soon turns the Haram's grating key, Before the guardian slaves awoke We to the cypress groves had flown, And made earth, main, and heaven our own! There linger'd we, beguil'd too long With Mejnoun's tale, or Sadi's song, [3] Till I, who heard the deep tambour [4] Beat thy Divan's approaching hour, To thee, and to my duty true, Warn'd by the sound, to greet thee flew: But there Zuleika wanders yet — Nay, father, rage not — nor forget That none can pierce that secret bower But those who watch the women's tower.
" IV.
"Son of a slave" — the Pacha said — "From unbelieving mother bred, Vain were a father's hope to see Aught that beseems a man in thee.
Thou, when thine arm should bend the bow, And hurl the dart, and curb the steed, Thou, Greek in soul if not in creed, Must pore where babbling waters flow, And watch unfolding roses blow.
Would that yon orb, whose matin glow Thy listless eyes so much admire, Would lend thee something of his fire! Thou, who wouldst see this battlement By Christian cannon piecemeal rent; Nay, tamely view old Stamboul's wall Before the dogs of Moscow fall, Nor strike one stroke for life or death Against the curs of Nazareth! Go — let thy less than woman's hand Assume the distaff — not the brand.
But, Haroun! — to my daughter speed: And hark — of thine own head take heed — If thus Zuleika oft takes wing — Thou see'st yon bow — it hath a string!" V.
No sound from Selim's lip was heard, At least that met old Giaffir's ear, But every frown and every word Pierced keener than a Christian's sword.
"Son of a slave! — reproach'd with fear! Those gibes had cost another dear.
Son of a slave! and who my sire?" Thus held his thoughts their dark career, And glances ev'n of more than ire Flash forth, then faintly disappear.
Old Giaffir gazed upon his son And started; for within his eye He read how much his wrath had done; He saw rebellion there begun: "Come hither, boy — what, no reply? I mark thee — and I know thee too; But there be deeds thou dar'st not do: But if thy beard had manlier length, And if thy hand had skill and strength, I'd joy to see thee break a lance, Albeit against my own perchance.
" As sneeringly these accents fell, On Selim's eye he fiercely gazed: That eye return'd him glance for glance, And proudly to his sire's was raised, Till Giaffir's quail'd and shrunk askance — And why — he felt, but durst not tell.
"Much I misdoubt this wayward boy Will one day work me more annoy: I never loved him from his birth, And — but his arm is little worth, And scarcely in the chase could cope With timid fawn or antelope, Far less would venture into strife Where man contends for fame and life — I would not trust that look or tone: No — nor the blood so near my own.
That blood — he hath not heard — no more — I'll watch him closer than before.
He is an Arab to my sight, [5] Or Christian crouching in the fight — But hark! — I hear Zuleika's voice; Like Houris' hymn it meets mine ear: She is the offspring of my choice; Oh! more than ev'n her mother dear, With all to hope, and nought to fear — My Peri! — ever welcome here! Sweet, as the desert fountain's wave, To lips just cool'd in time to save — Such to my longing sight art thou; Nor can they waft to Mecca's shrine More thanks for life, than I for thine, Who blest thy birth, and bless thee now.
" VI.
Fair, as the first that fell of womankind, When on that dread yet lovely serpent smiling, Whose image then was stamp'd upon her mind — But once beguiled — and evermore beguiling; Dazzling, as that, oh! too transcendent vision To Sorrow's phantom-peopled slumber given, When heart meets heart again in dreams Elysian, And paints the lost on Earth revived in Heaven; Soft, as the memory of buried love; Pure as the prayer which Childhood wafts above, Was she — the daughter of that rude old Chief, Who met the maid with tears — but not of grief.
Who hath not proved how feebly words essay To fix one spark of Beauty's heavenly ray? Who doth not feel, until his failing sight Faints into dimness with its own delight, His changing cheek, his sinking heart confess The might — the majesty of Loveliness? Such was Zuleika — such around her shone The nameless charms unmark'd by her alone; The light of love, the purity of grace, The mind, the Music breathing from her face, [6] The heart whose softness harmonised the whole — And, oh! that eye was in itself a Soul! Her graceful arms in meekness bending Across her gently-budding breast; At one kind word those arms extending To clasp the neck of him who blest His child caressing and carest, Zuleika came — Giaffir felt His purpose half within him melt; Not that against her fancied weal His heart though stern could ever feel; Affection chain'd her to that heart; Ambition tore the links apart.
VII.
"Zuleika! child of gentleness! How dear this very day must tell, When I forget my own distress, In losing what I love so well, To bid thee with another dwell: Another! and a braver man Was never seen in battle's van.
We Moslems reck not much of blood; But yet the line of Carasman [7] Unchanged, unchangeable, hath stood First of the bold Timariot bands That won and well can keep their lands.
Enough that he who comes to woo Is kinsman of the Bey Oglou: His years need scarce a thought employ: I would not have thee wed a boy.
And thou shalt have a noble dower: And his and my united power Will laugh to scorn the death-firman, Which others tremble but to scan, And teach the messenger what fate The bearer of such boon may wait, [8] And now thy know'st thy father's will; All that thy sex hath need to know: 'Twas mine to teach obedience still — The way to love, thy lord may show.
" VIII.
In silence bow'd the virgin's head; And if her eye was fill'd with tears That stifled feeling dare not shed, And changed her cheek to pale to red, And red to pale, as through her ears Those winged words like arrows sped, What could such be but maiden fears? So bright the tear in Beauty's eye, Love half regrets to kiss it dry; So sweet the blush of Bashfulness, Even Pity scarce can wish it less! Whate'er it was the sire forgot; Or if remember'd, mark'd it not; Thrice clapp'd his hands, and call'd his steed, [9] Resign'd his gem-adorn'd chibouque, [10] And mounting featly for the mead, With Maugrabee [11] and Mamaluke, His way amid his Delis took, [12] To witness many an active deed With sabre keen, or blunt jerreed.
The Kislar only and his Moors Watch well the Haram's massy doors.
IX.
His head was leant upon his hand, His eye look'd o'er the dark blue water That swiftly glides and gently swells Between the winding Dardanelles; But yet he saw nor sea nor strand, Nor even his Pacha's turban'd band Mix in the game of mimic slaughter, Careering cleave the folded felt [13] With sabre stroke right sharply dealt; Nor mark'd the javelin-darting crowd, Nor heard their Ollahs wild and loud [14] — He thought but of old Giaffir's daughter! X.
No word from Selim's bosom broke; One sigh Zuleika's thought bespoke: Still gazed he through the lattice grate, Pale, mute, and mournfully sedate.
To him Zuleika's eye was turn'd, But little from his aspect learn'd; Equal her grief, yet not the same: Her heart confess'd a gentler flame: But yet that heart, alarm'd, or weak, She knew not why, forbade to speak.
Yet speak she must — but when essay? "How strange he thus should turn away! Not thus we e'er before have met; Not thus shall be our parting yet.
" Thrice paced she slowly through the room, And watched his eye — it still was fix'd: She snatch'd the urn wherein was mix'd The Persian Atar-g?l's perfume, [15] And sprinkled all its odours o'er The pictured roof and marble floor: [16] The drops, that through his glittering vest The playful girl's appeal address'd, Unheeded o'er his bosom flew, As if that breast were marble too.
"What sullen yet? it must not be — Oh! gentle Selim, this from thee!" She saw in curious order set The fairest flowers of Eastern land — "He loved them once; may touch them yet If offer'd by Zuleika's hand.
" The childish thought was hardly breathed Before the Rose was pluck'd and wreathed; The next fond moment saw her seat Her fairy form at Selim's feet: "This rose to calm my brother's cares A message from the Bulbul bears; [17] It says to-night he will prolong For Selim's ear his sweetest song; And though his note is somewhat sad, He'll try for once a strain more glad, With some faint hope his alter'd lay May sing these gloomy thoughts away.
XI.
"What! not receive my foolish flower? Nay then I am indeed unblest: On me can thus thy forehead lower? And know'st thou not who loves thee best? Oh, Selim dear! oh, more than dearest! Say is it me thou hat'st or fearest? Come, lay thy head upon my breast, And I will kiss thee into rest, Since words of mine, and songs must fail Ev'n from my fabled nightingale.
I knew our sire at times was stern, But this from thee had yet to learn: Too well I know he loves thee not; But is Zuleika's love forgot? Ah! deem I right? the Pacha's plan — This kinsman Bey of Carasman Perhaps may prove some foe of thine: If so, I swear by Mecca's shrine, If shrines that ne'er approach allow To woman's step admit her vow, Without thy free consent, command, The Sultan should not have my hand! Think'st though that I could bear to part With thee, and learn to halve my heart? Ah! were I sever'd from thy side, Where were thy friend — and who my guide? Years have not seen, Time shall not see The hour that tears my soul from thee: Even Azrael, [18] from his deadly quiver When flies that shaft, and fly it must, That parts all else, shall doom for ever Our hearts to undivided dust!" XII.
He lived — he breathed — he moved — he felt; He raised the maid from where she knelt; His trance was gone — his keen eye shone With thoughts that long in darkness dwelt; With thoughts that burn — in rays that melt.
As the streams late conceal'd By the fringe of its willows, When it rushes reveal'd In the light of its billows; As the bolt bursts on high From the black cloud that bound it, Flash'd the soul of that eye Through the long lashes round it.
A war-horse at the trumpet's sound, A lion roused by heedless hound, A tyrant waked to sudden strife By graze of ill-directed knife, Starts not to more convulsive life Than he, who heard that vow, display'd, And all, before repress'd, betray'd: "Now thou art mine, for ever mine, With life to keep, and scarce with life resign; Now thou art mine, that sacred oath, Though sworn by one, hath bound us both.
Yes, fondly, wisely hast thou done; That vow hath saved more heads than one: But blench not thou — thy simplest tress Claims more from me than tenderness; I would not wrong the slenderest hair That clusters round thy forehead fair, For all the treasures buried far Within the caves of Istakar.
[19] This morning clouds upon me lower'd, Reproaches on my head were shower'd, And Giaffir almost call'd me coward! Now I have motive to be brave; The son of his neglected slave — Nay, start not, 'twas the term he gave — May shew, though little apt to vaunt, A heart his words nor deeds can daunt.
His son, indeed! — yet, thanks to thee, Perchance I am, at least shall be! But let our plighted secret vow Be only known to us as now.
I know the wretch who dares demand From Giaffir thy reluctant hand; More ill-got wealth, a meaner soul Holds not a Musselim's control: [20] Was he not bred in Egripo? [21] A viler race let Israel show! But let that pass — to none be told Our oath; the rest let time unfold.
To me and mine leave Osman Bey; I've partisans for peril's day: Think not I am what I appear; I've arms, and friends, and vengeance near.
" XIII.
"Think not thou art what thou appearest! My Selim, thou art sadly changed: This morn I saw thee gentlest, dearest: But now thou'rt from thyself estranged.
My love thou surely knew'st before, It ne'er was less, nor can be more.
To see thee, hear thee, near thee stay, And hate the night, I know not why, Save that we meet not but by day; With thee to live, with thee to die, I dare not to my hope deny: Thy cheek, thine eyes, thy lips to kiss, Like this — and this — no more than this; For, Allah! Sure thy lips are flame: What fever in thy veins is flushing? My own have nearly caught the same, At least I feel my cheek too blushing.
To soothe thy sickness, watch thy health, Partake, but never waste thy wealth, Or stand with smiles unmurmuring by, And lighten half thy poverty; Do all but close thy dying eye, For that I could not live to try; To these alone my thoughts aspire: More can I do? or thou require? But, Selim, thou must answer why We need so much of mystery? The cause I cannot dream nor tell, But be it, since thou say'st 'tis well; Yet what thou mean'st by 'arms' and 'friends,' Beyond my weaker sense extends.
I mean that Giaffir should have heard The very vow I plighted thee; His wrath would not revoke my word: But surely he would leave me free.
Can this fond wish seem strange in me, To be what I have ever been? What other hath Zuleika seen From simple childhood's earliest hour? What other can she seek to see Than thee, companion of her bower, The partner of her infancy? These cherish'd thoughts with life begun, Say, why must I no more avow? What change is wrought to make me shun The truth; my pride, and thine till now? To meet the gaze of stranger's eyes Our law, our creed, our God denies, Nor shall one wandering thought of mine At such, our Prophet's will, repine: No! happier made by that decree! He left me all in leaving thee.
Deep were my anguish, thus compell'd To wed with one I ne'er beheld: This wherefore should I not reveal? Why wilt thou urge me to conceal! I know the Pacha's haughty mood To thee hath never boded good: And he so often storms at naught, Allah! forbid that e'er he ought! And why I know not, but within My heart concealment weighs like sin.
If then such secresy be crime, And such it feels while lurking here, Oh, Selim! tell me yet in time, Nor leave me thus to thoughts of fear.
Ah! yonder see the Tchocadar, [22] My father leaves the mimic war: I tremble now to meet his eye — Say, Selim, canst thou tell me why?" XIV.
"Zuleika — to thy tower's retreat Betake thee — Giaffir I can greet: And now with him I fain must prate Of firmans, imposts, levies, state.
There's fearful news from Danube's banks, Our Vizier nobly thins his ranks, For which the Giaour may give him thanks! Our sultan hath a shorter way Such costly triumph to repay.
But, mark me, when the twilight drum Hath warn'd the troops to food and sleep, Unto thy cell will Selim come: Then softly from the Haram creep Where we may wander by the deep: Our garden-battlements are steep; Nor these will rash intruder climb To list our words, or stint our time; And if he doth, I want not steel Which some have felt, and more may feel.
Then shalt thou learn of Selim more Than thou hast heard or thought before: Trust me, Zuleika — fear not me! Thou know'st I hold a Haram key.
" "Fear thee, my Selim! ne'er till now Did word like this — " "Delay not thou; I keep the key — and Haroun's guard Have some, and hope of more reward.
Tonight, Zuleika, thou shalt hear My tale, my purpose, and my fear: I am not, love! what I appear.
" ____________ CANTO THE SECOND.
I.
The winds are high on Helle's wave, As on that night of stormy water, When Love, who sent, forgot to save The young, the beautiful, the brave, The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter.
Oh! when alone along the sky Her turret-torch was blazing high, Though rising gale, and breaking foam, And shrieking sea-birds warn'd him home; And clouds aloft and tides below, With signs and sounds, forbade to go, He could not see, he would not hear, Or sound or sign foreboding fear; His eye but saw the light of love, The only star it hail'd above; His ear but rang with Hero's song, "Ye waves, divide not lovers long!" — That tale is old, but love anew May nerve young hearts to prove as true.
II.
The winds are high, and Helle's tide Rolls darkly heaving to the main; And Night's descending shadows hide That field with blood bedew'd in vain, The desert of old Priam's pride; The tombs, sole relics of his reign, All — save immortal dreams that could beguile The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle! III.
Oh! yet — for there my steps have been! These feet have press'd the sacred shore, These limbs that buoyant wave hath borne — Minstrel! with thee to muse, to mourn, To trace again those fields of yore, Believing every hillock green Contains no fabled hero's ashes, And that around the undoubted scene Thine own "broad Hellespont" still dashes, [23] Be long my lot! and cold were he Who there could gaze denying thee! IV.
The night hath closed on Helle's stream, Nor yet hath risen on Ida's hill That moon, which shoon on his high theme: No warrior chides her peaceful beam, But conscious shepherds bless it still.
Their flocks are grazing on the mound Of him who felt the Dardan's arrow; That mighty heap of gather'd ground Which Ammon's son ran proudly round, [24] By nations raised, by monarchs crown'd, Is now a lone and nameless barrow! Within — thy dwelling-place how narrow? Without — can only strangers breathe The name of him that was beneath: Dust long outlasts the storied stone; But Thou — thy very dust is gone! V.
Late, late to-night will Dian cheer The swain, and chase the boatman's fear; Till then — no beacon on the cliff May shape the course of struggling skiff; The scatter'd lights that skirt the bay, All, one by one, have died away; The only lamp of this lone hour Is glimmering in Zuleika's tower.
Yes! there is light in that lone chamber, And o'er her silken Ottoman Are thrown the fragrant beads of amber, O'er which her fairy fingers ran; [25] Near these, with emerald rays beset, (How could she thus that gem forget?) Her mother's sainted amulet, [26] Whereon engraved the Koorsee text, Could smooth this life, and win the next; And by her Comboloio lies [27] A Koran of illumined dyes; And many a bright emblazon'd rhyme By Persian scribes redeem'd from time; And o'er those scrolls, not oft so mute, Reclines her now neglected lute; And round her lamp of fretted gold Bloom flowers in urns of China's mould; The richest work of Iran's loom, And Sheeraz' tribute of perfume; All that can eye or sense delight Are gather'd in that gorgeous room: But yet it hath an air of gloom.
She, of this Peri cell the sprite, What doth she hence, and on so rude a night? VI.
Wrapt in the darkest sable vest, Which none save noblest Moslems wear, To guard from winds of heaven the breast As heaven itself to Selim dear, With cautious steps the thicket threading, And starting oft, as through the glade The gust its hollow moanings made; Till on the smoother pathway treading, More free her timid bosom beat, The maid pursued her silent guide; And though her terror urged retreat, How could she quit her Selim's side? How teach her tender lips to chide? VII.
They reach'd at length a grotto, hewn By nature, but enlarged by art, Where oft her lute she wont to tune, And oft her Koran conn'd apart: And oft in youthful reverie She dream'd what Paradise might be; Where woman's parted soul shall go Her Prophet had disdain'd to show; But Selim's mansion was secure, Nor deem'd she, could he long endure His bower in other worlds of bliss, Without her, most beloved in this! Oh! who so dear with him could dwell? What Houri soothe him half so well? VIII.
Since last she visited the spot Some change seem'd wrought within the grot; It might be only that the night Disguised things seen by better light: That brazen lamp but dimly threw A ray of no celestial hue: But in a nook within the cell Her eye on stranger objects fell.
There arms were piled, not such as wield The turban'd Delis in the field; But brands of foreign blade and hilt, And one was red — perchance with guilt! Ah! how without can blood be spilt? A cup too on the board was set That did not seem to hold sherbet.
What may this mean? she turn'd to see Her Selim — "Oh! can this be he?" IX.
His robe of pride was thrown aside, His brow no high-crown'd turban bore But in its stead a shawl of red, Wreathed lightly round, his temples wore: That dagger, on whose hilt the gem Were worthy of a diadem, No longer glitter'd at his waist, Where pistols unadorn'd were braced; And from his belt a sabre swung, And from his shoulder loosely hung The cloak of white, the thin capote That decks the wandering Candiote: Beneath — his golden plated vest Clung like a cuirass to his breast The greaves below his knee that wound With silvery scales were sheathed and bound.
But were it not that high command Spake in his eye, and tone, and hand, All that a careless eye could see In him was some young Galiong?e.
[28] X.
"I said I was not what I seem'd; And now thou see'st my words were true: I have a tale thou hast not dream'd, If sooth — its truth must others rue.
My story now 'twere vain to hide, I must not see thee Osman's bride: But had not thine own lips declared How much of that young heart I shared, I could not, must not, yet have shown The darker secret of my own.
In this I speak not now of love; That, let time, truth, and peril prove: But first — oh! never wed another — Zuleika! I am not thy brother!" XI.
"Oh! not my brother! — yet unsay — God! am I left alone on earth To mourn — I dare not curse the day That saw my solitary birth? Oh! thou wilt love me now no more! My sinking heart foreboded ill; But know me all I was before, Thy sister — friend — Zuleika still.
Thou ledd'st me hear perchance to kill; If thou hast cause for vengeance see My breast is offer'd — take thy fill! Far better with the dead to be Than live thus nothing now to thee; Perhaps far worse, for now I know Why Giaffir always seem'd thy foe; And I, alas! am Giaffir's child, Form whom thou wert contemn'd, reviled.
If not thy sister — wouldst thou save My life, oh! bid me be thy slave!" XII.
"My slave, Zuleika! — nay, I'm thine; But, gentle love, this transport calm, Thy lot shall yet be link'd with mine; I swear it by our Prophet's shrine, And be that thought thy sorrow's balm.
So may the Koran verse display'd [29] Upon its steel direct my blade, In danger's hour to guard us both, As I preserve that awful oath! The name in which thy heart hath prided Must change; but, my Zuleika, know, That tie is widen'd, not divided, Although thy Sire's my deadliest foe.
My father was to Giaffir all That Selim late was deem'd to thee; That brother wrought a brother's fall, But spared, at least, my infancy; And lull'd me with a vain deceit That yet a like return may meet.
He rear'd me, not with tender help, But like the nephew of a Cain; [30] He watch'd me like a lion's whelp, That gnaws and yet may break his chain.
My father's blood in every vein Is boiling; but for thy dear sake No present vengeance will I take; Though here I must no more remain.
But first, beloved Zuleika! hear How Giaffir wrought this deed of fear.
XIII.
"How first their strife to rancour grew, If love or envy made them foes, It matters little if I knew; In fiery spirits, slights, though few And thoughtless, will disturb repose.
In war Abdallah's arm was strong, Remember'd yet in Bosniac song, And Paswan's rebel hordes attest [31] How little love they bore such guest: His death is all I need relate, The stern effect of Giaffir's hate; And how my birth disclosed to me, Whate'er beside it makes, hath made me free.
XIV.
"When Paswan, after years of strife, At last for power, but first for life, In Widdin's walls too proudly sate, Our Pachas rallied round the state; Nor last nor least in high command, Each brother led a separate band; They gave their horse-tails to the wind, [32] And mustering in Sophia's plain Their tents were pitch'd, their posts assign'd; To one, alas! assign'd in vain! What need of words? the deadly bowl, By Giaffir's order drugg'd and given, With venom subtle as his soul, Dismiss'd Abdallah's hence to heaven.
Reclined and feverish in the bath, He, when the hunter's sport was up, But little deem'd a brother's wrath To quench his thirst had such a cup: The bowl a bribed attendant bore; He drank one draught, and nor needed more! [33] If thou my tale, Zuleika, doubt, Call Haroun — he can tell it out.
XV.
"The deed once done, and Paswan's feud In part suppress'd, though ne'er subdued, Abdallah's Pachalic was gain'd: — Thou know'st not what in our Divan Can wealth procure for worse than man — Abdallah's honours were obtain'd By him a brother's murder stain'd; 'Tis true, the purchase nearly drain'd His ill got treasure, soon replaced.
Wouldst question whence? Survey the waste, And ask the squalid peasant how His gains repay his broiling brow! — Why me the stern usurper spared, Why thus with me the palace shared, I know not.
Shame, regret, remorse, And little fear from infant's force; Besides, adoption of a son Of him whom Heaven accorded none, Or some unknown cabal, caprice, Preserved me thus; but not in peace; He cannot curb his haughty mood, Nor I forgive a father's blood! XVI.
"Within thy father's house are foes; Not all who break his bread are true: To these should I my birth disclose, His days, his very hours, were few: They only want a heart to lead, A hand to point them to the deed.
But Haroun only knows — or knew — This tale, whose close is almost nigh: He in Abdallah's palace grew, And held that post in his Serai Which holds he here — he saw him die: But what could single slavery do? Avenge his lord? alas! too late; Or save his son from such a fate? He chose the last, and when elate With foes subdued, or friends betray'd, Proud Giaffir in high triumph sate, He led me helpless to his gate, And not in vain it seems essay'd To save the life for which he pray'd.
The knowledge of my birth secured From all and each, but most from me; Thus Giaffir's safety was insured.
Removed he too from Roumelie To this our Asiatic side, Far from our seat by Danube's tide, With none but Haroun, who retains Such knowledge — and that Nubian feels A tyrant's secrets are but chains, From which the captive gladly steals, And this and more to me reveals: Such still to guilt just Allah sends — Slaves, tools, accomplices — no friends! XVII.
"All this, Zuleika, harshly sounds; But harsher still my tale must be: Howe'er my tongue thy softness wounds, Yet I must prove all truth to thee.
I saw thee start this garb to see, Yet is it one I oft have worn, And long must wear: this Galiong?e, To whom thy plighted vow is sworn, Is leader of those pirate hordes, Whose laws and lives are on their swords; To hear whose desolating tale Would make thy waning cheek more pale: Those arms thou see'st my band have brought, The hands that wield are not remote; This cup too for the rugged knaves Is fill'd — once quaff'd, they ne'er repine: Our Prophet might forgive the slaves; They're only infidels in wine! XVIII.
"What could I be? Proscribed at home, And taunted to a wish to roam; And listless left — for Giaffir's fear Denied the courser and the spear — Though oft — oh, Mohammed! how oft! — In full Divan the despot scoff'd, As if my weak unwilling hand Refused the bridle or the brand: He ever went to war alone, And pent me here untried — unknown; To Haroun's care with women left, By hope unblest, of fame bereft.
While thou — whose softness long endear'd, Though it unmann'd me, still had cheer'd — To Brusa's walls for safety sent, Awaited'st there the field's event.
Haroun, who saw my spirit pining Beneath inaction's sluggish yoke, His captive, though with dread, resigning, My thraldom for a season broke, On promise to return before The day when Giaffir's charge was o'er.
'Tis vain — my tongue can not impart My almost drunkenness of heart, When first this liberated eye Survey'd Earth, Ocean, Sun and Sky, As if my spirit pierced them through, And all their inmost wonders knew! One word alone can paint to thee That more than feeling — I was Free! Ev'n for thy presence ceased to pine; The World — nay — Heaven itself was mine! XIX.
"The shallop of a trusty Moor Convey'd me from this idle shore; I long'd to see the isles that gem Old Ocean's purple diadem: I sought by turns, and saw them all: [34] But when and where I join'd the crew, With whom I'm pledged to rise or fall, When all that we design to do Is done, 'twill then be time more meet To tell thee, when the tale's complete.
XX.
"'Tis true, they are a lawless brood, But rough in form, nor mild in mood; With them hath found — may find — a place: But open speech, and ready hand, Obedience to their chief's command; A soul for every enterprise, That never sees with terror's eyes; Friendship for each, and faith to all, And vengeance vow'd for those who fall, Have made them fitting instruments For more than ev'n my own intents.
And some — and I have studied all Distinguish'd from the vulgar rank, But chiefly to my council call The wisdom of the cautious Frank — And some to higher thoughts aspire, The last of Lambro's patriots there [35] Anticipated freedom share; And oft around the cavern fire On visionary schemes debate, To snatch the Rayahs from their fate.
[36] So let them ease their hearts with prate Of equal rights, which man ne'er knew; I have a love of freedom too.
Ay! let me like the ocean-Patriarch roam, [37] Or only known on land the Tartar's home! [38] My tent on shore, my galley on the sea, Are more than cities and Serais to me: Borne by my steed, or wafted by my sail, Across the desert, or before the gale, Bound where thou wilt, my barb! or glide, my prow! But be the star that guides the wanderer, Thou! Thou, my Zuleika! share and bless my bark; The Dove of peace and promise to mine ark! Or, since that hope denied in worlds of strife, Be thou the rainbow to the storms of life! The evening beam that smiles the cloud away, And tints to-morrow with prophetic ray! Blest — as the Muezzin's strain from Mecca's wall To pilgrims pure and prostrate at his call; Soft — as the melody of youthful days, That steals the trembling tear of speechless praise; Dear — as his native song to exile's ears, Shall sound each tone thy long-loved voice endears.
For thee in those bright isles is built a bower Blooming as Aden in its earliest hour.
[39] A thousand swords, with Selim's heart and hand, Wait — wave — defend — destroy — at thy command! Girt by my band, Zuleika at my side, The spoil of nations shall bedeck my bride.
The Haram's languid years of listless ease Are well resign'd for cares — for joys like these: Not blind to fate, I see, where'er I rove, Unnumber'd perils — but one only love! Yet well my toils shall that fond beast repay, Though fortune frown or falser friends betray.
How dear the dream in darkest hours of ill, Should all be changed, to find thee faithful still! Be but thy soul, like Selim's, firmly shown; To thee be Selim's tender as thine own; To soothe each sorrow, share in each delight, Blend every thought, do all — but disunite! Once free, 'tis mine our horde again to guide; Friends to each other, foes to aught beside: Yet there we follow but the bent assign'd By fatal Nature to man's warring kind: Mark! where his carnage and his conquests cease! He makes a solitude, and calls it — peace! I like the rest must use my skill or strength, But ask no land beyond my sabre's length: Power sways but by division — her resource The blest alternative of fraud or force! Ours be the last; in time deceit may come When cities cage us in a social home: There ev'n thy soul might err — how oft the heart Corruption shakes which peril could not part! And woman, more than man, when death or woe, Or even disgrace, would lay her lover low, Sunk in the lap of luxury will shame — Away suspicion! — not Zuleika's name! But life is hazard at the best; and here No more remains to win, and much to fear: Yes, fear! — the doubt, the dread of losing thee, By Osman's power, and Giaffir's stern decree.
That dread shall vanish with the favouring gale, Which Love to-night hath promised to my sail: No danger daunts the pair his smile hath blest, Their steps till roving, but their hearts at rest.
With thee all toils are sweet, each clime hath charms; Earth — sea alike — our world within our arms! Ay — let the loud winds whistle o'er the deck, So that those arms cling closer round my neck: The deepest murmur of this lip shall be No sigh for safety, but a prayer for thee! The war of elements no fears impart To Love, whose deadliest bane is human Art: There lie the only rocks our course can check; Here moments menace — there are years of wreck! But hence ye thoughts that rise in Horror's shape! This hour bestows, or ever bars escape.
Few words remain of mine my tale to close: Of thine but one to waft us from our foes; Yea — foes — to me will Giaffir's hate decline? And is not Osman, who would part us, thine? XXI.
"His head and faith from doubt and death Return'd in time my guard to save; Few heard, none told, that o'er the wave From isle to isle I roved the while: And since, though parted from my band Too seldom now I leave the land, No deed they've done, nor deed shall do, Ere I have heard and doom'd it too: I form the plan, decree the spoil, 'Tis fit I oftener share the toil.
But now too long I've held thine ear; Time presses, floats my bark, and here We leave behind but hate and fear.
To-morrow Osman with his train Arrives — to-night must break thy chain: And wouldst thou save that haughty Bey, Perchance, his life who gave the thine, With me this hour away — away! But yet, though thou art plighted mine, Wouldst thou recall thy willing vow, Appall'd by truth imparted now, Here rest I — not to see thee wed: But be that peril on my head!" XXII.
Zuleika, mute and motionless, Stood like that statue of distress, When, her last hope for ever gone, The mother harden'd into stone; All in the maid that eye could see Was but a younger Niob?.
But ere her lip, or even her eye, Essay'd to speak, or look reply, Beneath the garden's wicket porch Far flash'd on high a blazing torch! Another — and another — and another — "Oh! — no more — yet now my more than brother!" Far, wide, through every thicket spread, The fearful lights are gleaming red; Nor these alone — for each right hand Is ready with a sheathless brand.
They part, pursue, return, and wheel With searching flambeau, shining steel; And last of all, his sabre waving, Stern Giaffir in his fury raving: And now almost they touch the cave — Oh! must that grot be Selim's grave? XXIII.
Dauntless he stood — "'Tis come — soon past — One kiss, Zuleika — 'tis my last: But yet my band not far from shore May hear this signal, see the flash; Yet now too few — the attempt were rash: No matter — yet one effort more.
" Forth to the cavern mouth he stept; His pistol's echo rang on high, Zuleika started not nor wept, Despair benumb'd her breast and eye! — "They hear me not, or if they ply Their oars, 'tis but to see me die; That sound hath drawn my foes more nigh.
Then forth my father's scimitar, Thou ne'er hast seen less equal war! Farewell, Zuleika! — Sweet! retire: Yet stay within — here linger safe, At thee his rage will only chafe.
Stir not — lest even to thee perchance Some erring blade or ball should glance.
Fear'st though for him? — may I expire If in this strife I seek thy sire! No — though by him that poison pour'd: No — though again he call me coward! But tamely shall I meet their steel? No — as each crest save his may feel!" XXIV.
One bound he made, and gain'd the sand: Already at his feet hath sunk The foremost of the prying band, A gasping head, a quivering trunk: Another falls — but round him close A swarming circle of his foes; From right to left his path he cleft, And almost met the meeting wave: His boat appears — not five oars' length — His comrades strain with desperate strength — Oh! are they yet in time to save? His feet the foremost breakers lave; His band are plunging in the bay, Their sabres glitter through the spray; We — wild — unwearied to the strand They struggle — now they touch the land! They come — 'tis but to add to slaughter — His heart's best blood is on the water! XXV.
Escaped from shot, unharm'd by steel, Or scarcely grazed its force to feel, Had Selim won, betray'd, beset, To where the strand and billows met: There as his last step left the land, And the last death-blow dealt his hand — Ah! wherefore did he turn to look For her his eye but sought in vain? That pause, that fatal gaze he took, Hath doom'd his death, or fix'd his chain.
Sad proof, in peril and in pain, How late will Lover's hope remain! His back was to the dashing spray; Behind, but close, his comrades lay When, at the instant, hiss'd the ball — "So may the foes of Giaffir fall!" Whose voice is heard? whose carbine rang? Whose bullet through the night-air sang, Too nearly, deadly aim'd to err? 'Tis thine — Abdallah's Murderer! The father slowly rued thy hate, The son hath found a quicker fate: Fast from his breast the blood is bubbling, The whiteness of the sea-foam troubling — If aught his lips essay'd to groan, The rushing billows choked the tone! XXVI.
Morn slowly rolls the clouds away; Few trophies of the fight are there: The shouts that shook the midnight-bay Are silent; but some signs of fray That strand of strife may bear, And fragments of each shiver'd brand; Steps stamp'd; and dash'd into the sand The print of many a struggling hand May there be mark'd; nor far remote A broken torch, an oarless boat; And tangled on the weeds that heap The beach where shelving to the deep There lies a white capote! 'Tis rent in twain — one dark-red stain The wave yet ripples o'er in vain: But where is he who wore? Ye! who would o'er his relics weep, Go, seek them where the surges sweep Their burthen round Sig?um's steep, And cast on Lemnos' shore: The sea-birds shriek above the prey, O'er which their hungry beaks delay, As shaken on his restless pillow, His head heaves with the heaving billow; That hand, whose motion is not life, Yet feebly seems to menace strife, Flung by the tossing tide on high, Then levell'd with the wave — What recks it, though that corse shall lie Within a living grave? The bird that tears that prostrate form Hath only robb'd the meaner worm: The only heart, the only eye Had bled or wept to see him die, Had seen those scatter'd limbs composed, And mourn'd above his turban-stone, [40] That heart hath burst — that eye was closed — Yea — closed before his own! XXVII.
By Helle's stream there is a voice of wail! And woman's eye is wet — man's cheek is pale: Zuleika! last of Giaffir's race, Thy destined lord is come too late: He sees not — ne'er shall see — thy face! Can he not hear The loud Wul-wulleh warn his distant ear? [41] Thy handmaids weeping at the gate, The Koran-chanters of the hymn of fate, The silent slaves with folded arms that wait, Sighs in the hall, and shrieks upon the gale, Tell him thy tale! Thou didst not view thy Selim fall! That fearful moment when he left the cave Thy heart grew chill: He was thy hope — thy joy — thy love — thine all — And that last thought on him thou couldst not save Sufficed to kill; Burst forth in one wild cry — and all was still.
Peace to thy broken heart, and virgin grave! Ah! happy! but of life to lose the worst! That grief — though deep — though fatal — was thy first! Thrice happy! ne'er to feel nor fear the force Of absence, shame, pride, hate, revenge, remorse! And, oh! that pang where more than madness lies! The worm that will not sleep — and never dies; Thought of the gloomy day and ghastly night, That dreads the darkness, and yet loathes the light, That winds around, and tears the quivering heart! Ah! wherefore not consume it — and depart! Woe to thee, rash and unrelenting chief! Vainly thou heap'st the dust upon thy head, Vainly the sackcloth o'er thy limbs doth spread; By that same hand Abdallah — Selim — bled.
Now let it tear thy beard in idle grief: Thy pride of heart, thy bride for Osman's bed, Thy Daughter's dead! Hope of thine age, thy twilight's lonely beam, The star hath set that shone on Helle's stream.
What quench'd its ray? — the blood that thou hast shed! Hark! to the hurried question of Despair: "Where is my child?" — an Echo answers — "Where?" [42] XVIII.
Within the place of thousand tombs That shine beneath, while dark above The sad but living cypress glooms, And withers not, though branch and leaf Are stamp'd with an eternal grief, Like early unrequited Love, One spot exists, which ever blooms, Ev'n in that deadly grove — A single rose is shedding there Its lonely lustre, meek and pale: It looks as planted by Despair — So white — so faint — the slightest gale Might whirl the leaves on high; And yet, though storms and blight assail, And hands more rude than wintry sky May wring it from the stem — in vain — To-morrow sees it bloom again! The stalk some spirit gently rears, And waters with celestial tears; For well may maids of Helle deem That this can be no earthly flower, Which mocks the tempest's withering hour, And buds unshelter'd by a bower; Nor droops, though spring refuse her shower, Nor woos the summer beam: To it the livelong night there sings A bird unseen — but not remote: Invisible his airy wings, But soft as harp that Houri strings His long entrancing note! It were the Bulbul; but his throat, Though mournful, pours not such a strain: For they who listen cannot leave The spot, but linger there and grieve, As if they loved in vain! And yet so sweet the tears they shed, 'Tis sorrow so unmix'd with dread, They scarce can bear the morn to break That melancholy spell, And longer yet would weep and wake, He sings so wild and well! But when the day-blush bursts from high Expires that magic melody.
And some have been who could believe, (So fondly youthful dreams deceive, Yet harsh be they that blame,) That note so piercing and profound Will shape and syllable its sound Into Zuleika's name.
[43] 'Tis from her cypress' summit heard, That melts in air the liquid word; 'Tis from her lowly virgin earth That white rose takes its tender birth.
There late was laid a marble stone; Eve saw it placed — the Morrow gone! It was no mortal arm that bore That deep fixed pillar to the shore; For there, as Helle's legends tell, Next morn 'twas found where Selim fell; Lash'd by the tumbling tide, whose wave Denied his bones a holier grave: And there by night, reclined, 'tis said, Is seen a ghastly turban'd head: And hence extended by the billow, 'Tis named the "Pirate-phantom's pillow!" Where first it lay that mourning flower Hath flourish'd; flourisheth this hour, Alone and dewy, coldly pure and pale; As weeping Beauty's cheek at Sorrow's tale.
(1) "G?l," the rose.
(2) "Souls made of fire, and children of the Sun, With whom revenge is virtue.
" — YOUNG'S "REVENGE.
" (3) Mejnoun and Leila, the Romeo and Juliet of the East.
Sadi, the moral set of Persia.
(4) "Tambour," Turkish drum, which sounds at sunrise, none, and twilight.
(5) The Turks abhor the Arabs (who return the compliment a hundred-fold) even more than they hate the Christians.
(6) This expression has met with objections.
I will not refer to "Him who hath not Music in his soul," but merely request the reader to recollect, for ten seconds, the features of the woman whom he believes to be the most beautiful; and if he then does not comprehend fully what is feebly expressed in the above line, I shall be sorry for us both.
For an eloquent passage in the latest work of the first female writer of this, perhaps of any age, on the analogy (and the immediate comparison excited by that analogy) between "painting and music," see vol.
iii.
cap.
10, "De L'Allemagne.
" And is not this connexion still stronger with the original than the copy? with the colouring of Nature than of Art? After all, this is rather to be felt than described; still, I think there are some who will understand it, at least they would have done had they beheld the countenance whose speaking harmony suggested the idea; for this passage is not drawn from imagination but memory, that mirror which Affliction dashes to the earth, and looking down upon the fragments, only beholds the reflection multiplied.
(7) Carasman Oglou, or Kara Osman Oglou, is the principle landholder in Turkey; he governs Magnesia.
Those who, by a kind of feudal tenure, possess land on condition of service, are called Timariots; they serve as Spahis, according to the extent of territory, and bring a certain number into the field, generally cavalry.
(8) When a Pacha is sufficiently strong to resist, the single messenger, who is always the first bearer of the order for his death, is strangled instead, and sometimes five or six, one after the other, on the same errand, by command of the refractory patient; if, on the contrary, he is weak or loyal, he bows, kisses the Sultan's respectable signature, and is bowstrung with great complacency.
In 1810, several of "these presents" were exhibited in the niche of the Seraglio gate: among others, the head of the Pacha of Bagdad, a brave young man, cut off by treachery, after a desperate resistance.
(9) Clapping of the hands calls the servants.
The Turks hate a superfluous expenditure of voice, and they have no bells.
(10) "Chibouque," the Turkish pipe, of which the amber mouth-piece, and sometimes the ball which contains the leaf, is adorned with precious stones, if in possession of the wealthier orders.
(11) "Maugrabee," Moorish mercenaries.
(12) "Delis," bravoes who form the forlorn-hope of the cavalry, and always begin the action.
(13) A twisted fold of felt is used for scimitar practice by the Turks, and few but Mussulman arms can cut through it at a single stroke: sometimes a tough turban is used for the same purpose.
The jerreed is a game of blunt javelins, animated and graceful.
(14) "Ollahs," Alla il Allah, the "Leilles," as the Spanish poets call them; the sound is Ollah; a cry of which the Turks, for a silent people, are somewhat profuse, particularly during the jerreed, or in the chase, but mostly in battle.
Their animation in the field, and gravity in the chamber, with their pipes and comboloios, form an amusing contrast.
(15) "Atar-g?l," ottar of roses.
The Persian is the finest.
(16) The ceiling and wainscots, or rather walls, of the Mussulman apartments are generally painted, in great houses, with one eternal and highly-coloured view of Constantinople, wherein the principle feature is a noble contempt of perspective; below, arms, scimitars, &c.
, are generally fancifully and not inelegantly disposed.
(17) It has been much doubted whether the notes of this "Lover of the rose are sad or merry; and Mr Fox's remarks on the subject have provoked some learned controversy as to the opinions of the ancients on the subject.
I dare not venture a conjecture on the point, though a little inclined to the "errare [m?]alleum," &c.
, if Mr Fox was mistaken.
[Transcriber's note: the print impression I am working from is poor and in places not entirely intelligible.
] (18) "Azrael," the angel of death.
(19) The treasures of the Pre-Adamite Sultans.
See D'Herbelot, article Istakar.
(20) "Musselim," a governor, the next in rank after a Pacha; a Waywode is the third; and then come the Agas.
(21) "Egripo" — the Negropont.
According to the proverb, the Turks of Egrip, the Jews of Salonica, and the Greeks of Athens are the worst of their respective races.
(22) "Tchocadar," one of the attendants who precedes a man of authority.
(23) The wrangling about this epithet, "the broad Hellespont," or the "boundless Hellespont," whether it means one or the other, or what it means at all, has been beyond all possibility of detail.
I have even heard it disputed on the spot; and not foreseeing a speedy conclusion to the controversy, amused myself by swimming across it in the meantime, and probably may again, before the point is settled.
Indeed, the question as to the truth of "the tale of Troy divine" still continues, much of it resting upon the word {'?peiros} [in Greek]: probably Homer had the same notion of distance that a coquette has of time, and when he talks of the boundless, means half a mile; as the latter, by a like figure, when she says eternal attachment, simply specifies three weeks.
(24) Before his Persian invasion, and crowned the altar with laurel, &c.
He was afterwards imitated by Caracalla in his race.
It is believed that the last also poisoned a friend, named Festus, for the sake of new Patroclan games.
I have seen the sheep feeding on the tombs of ?sietes and Antilochos: the first is in the center of the plain.
(25) When rubbed, the amber is susceptible of a perfume, which is slight but not disagreeable.
(26) The belief in amulets engraved on gems, or enclosed in gold boxes, containing scraps from the Koran, worn round the neck, wrist, or arm, is still universal in the East.
The Koorsee (throne) verse in the second chapter of the Koran describes the attributes of the Most High, and is engraved in this manner, and worn by the pious, as the most esteemed and sublime of all sentences.
(27) "Comboloio," a Turkish rosary.
The MSS.
, particularly those of the Persians, are richly adorned and illuminated.
The Greek females are kept in utter ignorance; but many of the Turkish girls are highly accomplished, though not actually qualified for a Christian coterie.
Perhaps some of our own "blues" might not be the worse for bleaching.
(28) "Galiong?e," or Galiongi, a sailor, that is, a Turkish sailor; the Greeks navigate, the Turks work the guns.
Their dress is picturesque; and I have seen the Capitan Pacha more than once wearing it as a kind of incog.
Their legs, however, are generally naked.
The buskins described in the text as sheathed behind with silver are those of an Arnaut robber, who was my host (he had quitted the profession) at his Pyrgo, near Gastouni in the Morea; they were plated in scales one over the other, like the back of an armadillo.
(29) The characters on all Turkish scimitars contain sometimes the name of the place of their manufacture, but more generally a text from the Koran, in letters of gold.
Amongst those in my possession is one with a blade of singular construction; it is very broad, and the edge notched into serpentine curves like the ripple of water, or the wavering of flame.
I asked the Armenian who sold it what possible use such a figure could add: he said, in Italian, that he did not know; but the Mussulmans had an idea that those of this form gave a severer wound; and liked it because it was "piu feroce.
" I did not much admire the reason, but bought it for its peculiarity.
(30) It is to be observed, that every allusion to anything or personage in the Old Testament, such as the Ark, or Cain, is equally the privilege of Mussulman and Jew: indeed, the former profess to be much better acquainted with the lives, true and fabulous, of the patriarchs, than is warranted by our own sacred writ; and not content with Adam, they have a biography of Pre-Adamites.
Solomon is the monarch of all necromancy, and Moses a prophet inferior only to Christ and Mohammed.
Zuleika is the Persian name of Potiphar's wife; and her amour with Joseph constitutes one of the finest poems in their language.
It is, therefore, no violation of costume to put the names of Cain, or Noah, into the mouth of a Moslem.
(31) Paswan Oglou, the rebel of Widdin; who, for the last years of his life, set the whole power of the Porte at defiance.
(32) "Horse-tail," the standard of a Pacha.
(33) Giaffir, Pacha of Argyro Castro, or Scutari, I am not sure which, was actually taken off by the Albanian Ali, in the manner described in the text.
Ali Pacha, while I was in the country, married the daughter of his victim, some years after the event had taken place at a bath in Sophia, or Adrianople.
The poison was mixed in the cup of coffee, which is presented before the sherbet by the bath-keeper, after dressing.
(34) The Turkish notions of almost all islands are confined to the Archipelago, the sea alluded to.
(35) Lambro Canzani, a Greek, famous for his efforts in 1789-90, for the independence of his country.
Abandoned by the Russians, he became a pirate, and the Archipelago was the scene of his enterprises.
He is said to be still alive at St Petersburg.
He and Riga are the two most celebrated of the Greek revolutionists.
(36) "Rayahs," all who pay the capitation tax, called the "Haratch.
" (37) This first of voyages is one of the few with which the Mussulmans profess much acquaintance.
(38) The wandering life of the Arabs, Tartars, and Turkomans, will be found well detailed in any book of Eastern travels.
That it possesses a charm peculiar to itself, cannot be denied.
A young French renegado confessed to Chateaubriand, that he never found himself alone, galloping in the desert, without a sensation approaching to rapture, which was indescribable.
(39) "Jannat al Aden," the perpetual abode, the Mussulman paradise.
(40) A turban is carved in stone above the graves of men only.
(41) The death-song of the Turkish women.
The "silent slaves" are the men, whose notions of decorum forbid complain in public.
(42) "I came to the place of my birth, and cried, 'The friends of my youth, where are they?' and an Echo answered, 'Where are they?'" — From an Arabic MS.
The above quotation (from which the idea in the text is taken) must be already familiar to every reader — it is given in the first annotation, p.
67, of "The Pleasures of Memory;" a poem so well known as to render a reference almost superfluous; but to whose pages all will be delighted to recur.
(43) "And airy tongues that syllable men's names.
" — MILTON.


by George (Lord) Byron |

The Siege of Corinth

 ADVERTISEMENT 

"The grand army of the Turks, (in 1715), under the Prime Vizier, to open to themselves a way into the heart of the Morea, and to form the siege of Napoli di Romania, the most considerable place in all that country, [1] thought it best in the first place to attack Corinth, upon which they made several storms.
The garrison being weakened, and the governor seeing it was impossible to hold out against so mighty a force, thought it fit to beat a parley; but while they were treating about the articles, one of the magazines in the Turkish army, wherein they had six hundred barrels of powder, blew up by accident, whereby six or seven hundred men were killed; which so enraged the infidels, that they would not grant any capitulation, but stormed the place with so much fury, that they took it, and put most of the garrison, with Signior Minotti, the governor, to the sword.
The rest, with Antonio Bembo, proveditor extraordinary, were made prisoners of war.
" — History of the Turks, vol.
iii.
p.
151.
THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.
I.
Many a vanish'd year and age, And tempest's breath, and battle's rage, Have swept o'er Corinth; yet she stands A fortress form'd to Freedom's hands.
The whirlwind's wrath, the earthquake's shock Have left untouch'd her hoary rock, The keystone of a land, which still, Though fall'n, looks proudly on that hill, The landmark to the double tide That purpling rolls on either side, As if their waters chafed to meet, Yet pause and crouch beneath her feet.
But could the blood before her shed Since first Timoleon's brother bled, Or baffled Persia's despot fled, Arise from out the earth which drank The stream of slaughter as it sank, That sanguine ocean would o'erflow Her isthmus idly spread below: Or could the bones of all the slain, Who perish'd there, be piled again, That rival pyramid would rise More mountain-like, through those clear skies Than yon tower-capp'd Acropolis, Which seems the very clouds to kiss.
II.
On dun Cith?ron's ridge appears The gleam of twice ten thousand spears, And downward to the Isthmian plain, From shore to shore of either main, The tent is pitch'd, the crescent shines Along the Moslem's leaguering lines; And the dusk Spahi's bands advance Beneath each bearded pacha's glance; And far and wide as eye can reach The turban'd cohorts throng the beach; And there the Arab's camel kneels, And there his steed the Tartar wheels; The Turcoman hath left his herd, [2] The sabre round his loins to gird; And there the volleying thunders pour, Till waves grow smoother to the roar.
The trench is dug, the cannon's breath Wings the far hissing globe of death; Fast whirl the fragments from the wall, Which crumbles with the ponderous ball; And from that wall the foe replies, O'er dusty plain and smoky skies, With fires that answer fast and well The summons of the Infidel.
III.
But near and nearest to the wall Of those who wish and work its fall, With deeper skill in war's black art Than Othman's sons, and high of heart As any chief that ever stood Triumphant in the fields of blood; From post to post, and deed to deed, Fast spurring on his reeking steed, Where sallying ranks the trench assail, And make the foremost Moslem quail; Or where the battery, guarded well, Remains as yet impregnable, Alighting cheerly to inspire The soldier slackening in his fire; The first and freshest of the host Which Stamboul's Sultan there can boast To guide the follower o'er the field, To point the tube, the lance to wield, Or whirl around the bickering blade; — Was Alp, the Adrian renegade! IV.
From Venice — once a race of worth His gentle sires — he drew his birth; But late an exile from her shore, Against his countrymen he bore The arms they taught to bear; and now The turban girt his shaven brow.
Through many a change had Corinth pass'd With Greece to Venice' rule at last; And here, before her walls, with those To Greece and Venice equal foes, He stood a foe, with all the zeal Which young and fiery converts feel, Within whose heated bosom throngs The memory of a thousand wrongs.
To him had Venice ceased to be Her ancient civic boast — "the Free;" And in the palace of St Mark Unnamed accusers in the dark Within the "Lion's mouth" had placed A charge against him uneffaced: He fled in time, and saved his life, To waste his future years in strife, That taught his land how great her loss In him who triumph'd o'er the Cross, 'Gainst which he rear'd the Crescent high, And battled to avenge or die.
V.
Coumourgi — he whose closing scene [3] Adorn'd the triumph of Eugene, When on Carlowitz' bloody plain, The last and mightiest of the slain, He sank, regretting not to die, But cursed the Christian's victory — Coumourgi — can his glory cease, That latest conqueror of Greece, Till Christian hands to Greece restore The freedom Venice gave of yore? A hundred years have roll'd away Since he refix'd the Moslem's sway, And now he led the Mussulman, And gave the guidance of the van To Alp, who well repaid the trust By cities levell'd with the dust; And proved, by many a deed of death, How firm his heart in novel faith.
VI.
The walls grew weak; and fast and hot Against them pour'd the ceaseless shot, With unabating fury sent, From battery to battlement; And thunder-like the pealing din Rose from each heated culverin; And here and there some crackling dome Was fired before the exploding bomb; And as the fabric sank beneath The shattering shell's volcanic breath, In red and wreathing columns flash'd The flame as loud the ruin crash'd, Or into countless meteors driven, Its earth-stars melted into heaven; Whose clouds that day grew doubly d[un?] Impervious to the hidden sun, With volumed smoke that slowly grew To one wide sky of sulphurous hue.
VII.
But not for vengeance, long delay'd, Alone, did Alp, the renegade, The Moslem warriors sternly teach His skill to pierce the promised breach: Within those walls a maid was pent His hope would win, without consent Of that inexorable sire, Whose heart refused him in its ire, When Alp, beneath his Christian name, Her virgin hand aspired to claim.
In happier mood, and earlier time, While unimpeach'd for traitorous crime, Gayest in gondola or hall, He glitter'd through the Carnival; And tuned the softest serenade That e'er on Adria's waters play'd At midnight to Italian maid.
VIII.
And many deem'd her heart was won; For sought by numbers, given to none, Had young Francesca's hand remain'd Still by the church's bond unchain'd: And when the Adriatic bore Lanciotto to the Paynim shore, Her wonted smiles were seen to fail, And pensive wax'd the maid and pale; More constant at confessional, More rare at masque and festival; Or seen at such with downcast eyes, Which conquer'd hearts they ceased to prize! With listless look she seems to gaze; With humbler care her form arrays; Her voice less lively in the song; Her step, though light, less fleet among The pairs, on whom the Morning's glance Breaks, yet unsated with the dance.
IX.
Sent by the state to guard the land, (Which, wrested from the Moslem's hand, While Sobieski tamed his pride By Buda's wall and Danube's side, The chiefs of Venice wrung away From Patra to Eub?a's bay,) Minotti held in Corinth's towers The Doge's delegated powers, While yet the pitying eye of Peace Smiled o'er her long-forgotten Greece: And ere that faithless truce was broke Which freed her from the unchristian yoke, With him his gentle daughter came; Nor there, since Menelaus' dame Forsook her lord and land, to prove What woes await on lawless love, Had fairer form adorn'd the shore Than she, the matchless stranger, bore.
X.
The wall is rent, the ruins yawn, And, with to-morrow's earliest dawn, O'er the disjointed mass shall vault The foremost of the fierce assault.
The bands are rank'd; the chosen van Of Tartar and of Mussulman, The full of hope, misnamed "forlorn," Who hold the thought of death in scorn, And win their way with falchion's force, Or pave the path with many a corse, O'er which the following brave may rise, Their stepping-stone — the last who dies! XI.
'Tis midnight: on the mountains brown The cold, round moon shines deeply down: Blue roll the waters, blue the sky Spreads like an ocean hung on high, Bespangled with those isles of light, So wildly, spiritually bright; Who ever gazed upon them shining, And turn'd to earth without repining, Nor wish'd for wings to flee away, And mix with their eternal ray? The waves on either shore lay there, Calm, clear, and azure as the air; And scarce their foam the pebbles shook, But murmur'd meekly as the brook.
The winds were pillow'd on the waves; The banners droop'd along their staves, And, as they fell around them furling, Above them shone the crescent curling; And that deep silence was unbroke, Save where the watch his signal spoke, Save where the steed neigh'd oft and shrill, And echo answer'd from the hill, And the wide hum of that wild host, Rustled like leaves from coast to coast, As rose the Muezzin's voice in air In midnight call to wonted prayer; It rose, that chanted mournful strain, Like some lone spirit's o'er the plain: 'Twas musical, but sadly sweet, Such as when winds and harp-strings meet, And take a long-unmeasured tone, To mortal minstrelsy unknown.
It seem'd to those within the wall A cry prophetic of their fall: It struck even the besieger's ear An undefined and sudden thrill, Which makes the heart a moment still, Then beat with quicker pulse, ashamed Of that strange sense its silence framed: Such as a sudden passing-bell Wakes though but for a stranger's knell.
XII.
The tent of Alp was on the shore; The sound was hush'd, the prayer was o'er; The watch was set, the night-round made, All mandates issued and obey'd: 'Tis but another anxious night, His pains the morrow may requite With all revenge and love can pay, In guerdon for their long delay.
Few hours remain, and he hath need Of rest, to nerve for many a deed Of slaughter; but within his soul The thoughts like troubled waters roll.
He stood alone among the host; Not his the loud fanatic boast To plant the Crescent o'er the Cross Or risk a life with little loss, Secure in Paradise to be By Houris loved immortally: Nor his, what burning patriots feel, The stern exaltedness of zeal, Profuse of blood, untired in toil, When battling on the parent soil.
He stood alone — a renegade Against the country he betray'd.
He stood alone amidst his band, Without a trusted heart or hand: They follow'd him, for he was brave, And great the spoil he got and gave; They crouch'd to him, for he had skill To warp and wield the vulgar will: But still his Christian origin With them was little less than sin.
They envied even the faithless fame He earn'd beneath a Moslem name: Since he, their mightiest chief had been In youth, a bitter Nazarene.
They did not know how pride can stoop, When baffled feelings withering droop; They did not know how hate can burn In hearts once changed from soft to stern; Nor all the false and fatal zeal The convert of revenge can feel.
He ruled them — man may rule the worst By ever daring to be first: So lions o'er the jackal sway; The jackal points, he fells the prey, Then on the vulgar yelling press, To gorge the relics of success.
XIII.
His head grows fever'd, and his pulse The quick successive throbs convulse; In vain from side to side he throws His form, in courtship of repose; Or if he dozed, a sound, a start Awoke him with a sunken heart.
The turban on his hot brow press'd, The mail weigh'd lead-like on his breast, Though oft and long beneath its weight Upon his eyes had slumber sate, Without or couch or canopy, Except a rougher field and sky Than now might yield a warrior's bed, Than now along the heaven was spread.
He could not rest, he could not stay Within his tent to wait for day, But walk'd him forth along the sand, Where thousand sleepers strew'd the strand.
What pillow'd them? and why should he More wakeful than the humblest be? Since more their peril, worse their toil, And yet they fearless dream of spoil; While he alone, where thousands pass'd A night of sleep, perchance their last, In sickly vigil wander'd on, And envied all he gazed upon.
XIV.
He felt his soul become more light Beneath the freshness of the night.
Cool was the silent sky, though calm, And bathed his brow with airy balm: Behind, the camp — before him lay, In many a winding creek and bay, Lepanto's gulf; and on the brow Of Delphi's hill, unshaken snow, High and eternal, such as shone Through thousand summers brightly gone.
Along the gulf, the mount, the clime; It will not melt, like man, to time; Tyrant and slave are swept away, Less form'd to wear the before the ray; But that white veil, the lightest, frailest, Which on the mighty mount thou hailest, Shines o'er its craggy battlement; In form a peak, in height a cloud, In texture like a hovering shroud, Thus high by parting Freedom spread, As from her fond abode she fled, And linger'd on the spot, where long Her prophet spirit spake in song.
Oh! still her step at moments falters O'er wither'd fields, and ruined altars, And fain would wake, in souls too broken, By pointing to each glorious token.
But vain her voice, till better days Dawn in those yet remember'd rays, Which shone upon the Persian flying, And saw the Spartan smile in dying.
XV.
Not mindless of these mighty times Was Alp, despite his flight and crimes; And through this night, as on he wander'd, And o'er the past and present ponder'd, And thought upon the glorious dead Who there in better cause had bled, He felt how faint and feebly dim The fame that could accrue to him, Who cheer'd the band, and waved the sword A traitor in a turban'd horde; And led them to the lawless siege, Whose best success were sacrilege.
Not so had those his fancy number'd, The chiefs whose dust around him slumber'd; Their phalanx marshall'd on the plain, Whose bulwarks were not then in vain.
They fell devoted, but undying; The very gale their names seem'd sighing: The waters murmur'd of their name; The woods were peopled with their fame; The silent pillar, lone and gray, Claim'd kindred with their sacred clay; Their spirits wrapt the dusky mountain, Their memory sparkled o'er the mountain, The meanest rill, the mightiest river, Roll'd mingling with their fame for ever.
Despite of every yoke she bears, That land is glory's still, and theirs! When man would do a deed of worth He points to Greece, and turns to tread, So sanction'd, on the tyrant's head: He looks to her, and rushes on Where life is lost, or freedom won.
XVI.
Still by the shore Alp mutely mused, And woo'd the freshness night diffused.
There shrinks no ebb in that tideless sea, [3] Which changeless rolls eternally; So that wildest of waves, in their angriest mood, Scarce break on the bounds of the land for a rood; And the powerless moon beholds them flow, Heedless if she come or go: Calm or high, in main or bay, On their course she hath no sway.
The rock unworn its base doth bare, And looks o'er the surf, but it comes not there; And the fringe of the foam may be seen below, On the line that it left long ages ago: A smooth short space of yellow sand Between it and the greener land.
He wander'd on, along the beach, Till within the range of a carbine's reach Of the leaguer'd wall; but they saw him not, Or how could he 'scape from the hostile shot, Did traitors lurk in the Christian's hold? Were their hands grown stiff, or their hearts wax'd cold, I know not, in sooth; but from yonder wall There flash'd no fire, and there hiss'd no ball, Though he stood beneath the bastion's frown, That flank'd the sea-ward gate of the town; Though he heard the sound, and could almost tell The sullen words of the sentinel, As his measured step on the stone below Clank'd, as he paced it to and fro; And he saw the lean dogs beneath the wall Hold o'er the dead their carnival, Gorging and growling o'er carcass and limb! They were too busy to bark at him! From a Tartar's skull they had stripp'd the flesh, As ye peel the fig when its fruit is fresh; And their white tusks crunch'd o'er the whiter skull, [4] As it slipped through their jaws, when their edge grew dull, As they lazily mumbled the bones of the dead, When they scarce could rise from the spot where they fed; So well had they broken a lingering fast With those who had fall'n for that night's repast.
And Alp knew, by the turbans that roll'd on the sand, The foremost of these were the best of his band: Crimson and green were the shawls of their wear, And each scalp had a single long tuft of hair, [5] All the rest was shaven and bare.
The scalps were in the wild-dog's maw, The hair was tangled round his jaw.
But close by the shore, on the edge of the gulf, There sat a vulture flapping a wolf, Who had stolen from the hills, but kept away, Scared by the dogs, from the human prey; But he seized on his share of a steed that lay, Pick'd by the birds, on the sands of the bay.
XVII.
Alp turn'd him from the sickening sight: Never had shaken his nerves in fight; Be he better could brook to behold the dying, Deep in the tide of their warm blood lying, Scorch'd with death-thirst, and writing in vain, Than the perishing dead who are past all pain.
There is something of pride in the perilous hour, Whate'er be the shape in which death may lour; For Fame is there to say who bleeds, And Honour's eye on daring deeds! But when all is past, it is humbling to tread O'er the weltering field of the tombless dead, And see worms of the earth, and fowls of the air, Beasts of the forest, all gathering there; All regarding man as their prey, All rejoicing in his decay.
XVIII.
There is a temple in ruin stands, Fashion'd by long-forgotten hands; Two or three columns, and many a stone, Marble and granite, with grass o'ergrown! Out upon Time! it will leave no more Of the things to come than the things before! But enough of the past for the future to grieve O'er that which hath been, and o'er that which must be! What we have seen, our sons shall see; Remnants of things that have pass'd away, Fragments of stone, rear'd by creatures of clay! XIX.
He sate him down at a pillar's base, And pass'd his hand athwart his face; Like one in dreary musing mood, Declining was his attitude; His head was drooping on his breast, Fever'd, throbbing, and opprest; And o'er his brow, so downward bent, Oft his beating fingers went, Hurriedly, as you may see Your own run over the ivory key, Ere the measured tone is taken, By the chords you would awaken.
There he sate all heavily, As he heard the night-wind sigh.
Was it the wind, through some hollow stone, [6] Sent that soft and tender moan? He lifted his head, and he look'd on the sea, But it was unrippled as glass may be; He look'd on the long grass — it waved not a blade; How was that gentle sound convey'd? He look'd to the banners — each flag lay still, So did the leaves on Cith?ron's hill, And he felt not a breath come over his cheek; What did that sudden sound bespeak? He turn'd to the left — is he sure of sight? There sate a lady, youthful and bright! XX.
He started up with more of fear Than if an armed foe were near.
"God of my fathers! what is here? Who art thou, and wherefore sent So near a hostile armament?" His trembling hands refused to sign The cross he deem'd no more divine: He had resumed it in that hour, But conscience wrung away the power.
He gazed — he saw: he knew the face Of beauty, and the form of grace; It was Francesca by his side, The maid who might have been his bride! The rose was yet upon her cheek, But mellow'd with a tenderer streak: Where was the play of her soft lips fled? Gone was the smile that enliven'd their red.
The ocean's calm within their view, Beside her eye had less of blue; But like that cold wave it stood still, And its glance, though clear, was chill.
Around her form a thin robe twining, Nought conceal'd her bosom shining; Through the parting of her hair, Floating darkly downward there, Her rounded arm shew'd white and bare: And ere yet she made reply, Once she raised her hand on high; It was so wan and transparent of hue, You might have seen the moon shine through.
XXI.
"I come from my rest to him I love best, That I may be happy, and he may be blest.
I have pass'd the guards, the gate, the wall; Sought thee in safety through foes and all.
'Tis said the lion will turn and flee From a maid in the pride of her purity; And the Power on high, that can shield the good Thus from the tyrant of the wood, Hath extended its mercy to guard me as well From the hands of the leaguering infidel.
I come — and if I come in vain, Never, oh never, we meet again! Thou hast done a fearful deed In falling away from thy fathers' creed: But dash that turban to earth, and sign The sign of the cross, and for ever be mine; Wring the black drop from thy heart, And to-morrow unites us no more to part.
" "And where should our bridal-couch be spread? In the midst of the dying and the dead? For to-morrow we give to the slaughter and flame The sons and shrines of the Christian name.
None, save thou and thine, I've sworn, Shall be left upon the morn: But thee will I bear to a lovely spot, Where our hands shall be join'd, and our sorrow forgot.
There thou yet shall be my bride, When once again I've quell'd the pride Of Venice: and her hated race Have felt the arm they would debase Scourge, with a whip of scorpions, those Whom vice and envy made my foes.
" Upon his hand she laid her own — Light was the touch, but it thrill'd to the bone, And shot a chillness to his heart, Which fix'd him beyond the power to start.
Though slight was that grasp so mortal cold, He could not lose him from its hold: But never did clasp of one so dear Strike on the pulse with such feeling of fear, As those thin fingers, long and white, Froze through his blood by their touch that night.
The feverish glow of his brow was gone, And his heart sank so still that it felt like stone, As he look'd on the face, and beheld its hue, So deeply changed from what he knew: Fair but faint — without the ray Of mind, that made each feature play Like sparkling waves on a sunny day; And her motionless lips lay still as death, And her words came forth without her breath, And there rose not a heave o'er her bosom's swell, And there seem'd not a pulse in her veins to dwell.
Though her eye shone out, yet the lids were fix'd, And the glance that it gave was wild and unmix'd With aught of change, as the eyes may seem Of the restless who walk in a troubled dream: Like the figures on arras, that gloomily glare, Stirr'd by the breath of the wintry air, So seen by the dying lamp's fitful light, Lifeless, but life-like, and awful to sight; As they seem, through the dimness, about to come down From the shadowy wall where their images frown; Fearfully flitting to and fro, As the gusts on the tapestry come and go.
"If not for the love of me be given Thus much, then, for the love of Heaven, — Again I say — that turban tear From off thy faithless brow, and swear Thine injured country's sons to spare, Or thou art lost; and never shalt see — Not earth — that's past — but heaven or me.
If this thou dost accord, albeit A heavy doom 'tis thine to me, That doom shall half absolve thy sin, And mercy's gate may receive within; But pause one moment more, and take The curse of Him thou didst forsake; And look once more to heaven, and see Its love for ever shut from thee.
There is a light cloud by the moon — [7] 'Tis passing, and will pass full soon — If, by the time its vapoury sail Hath ceased her shaded orb to veil, Thy heart within thee is not changed, Then God and man are both avenged; Dark will thy doom be, darker still Thine immortality of ill.
" Alp look'd to heaven, and saw on high The sign she spake of in the sky; But his heart was swoll'n, and turn'd aside, By deep interminable pride.
This first false passion of his breast Roll'd like a torrent o'er the rest.
He sue for mercy! He dismay'd By wild words of a timid maid! He, wrong'd by Venice, vow to save Her sons, devoted to the grave! No — though that cloud were thunder's worst, And charged to crush him — let it burst! He look'd upon it earnestly, Without an accent of reply; He watch'd it passing: it is flown: Full on his eye the clear moon shone.
And thus he spake — "Whate'er my fate, I am no changeling — 'tis too late: The reed in storms may bow and quiver, Then rise again; the tree must shiver.
What Venice made me, I must be, Her foe in all, save love to thee: But thou art safe: oh, fly with me!" He turn'd, but she is gone! Nothing is there but the column stone.
Hath she sunk in the earth, or melted in air? He saw not — he knew not — but nothing is there.
XXII.
The night is past, and shines the sun As if that morn were a jocund one.
Lightly and brightly breaks away The Morning from her mantle gray, And the Noon will look on a sultry day.
Hark to the trump, and the drum, And the mournful sound of the barbarous horn, And the flap of the banners, that flit as they're borne, And the neigh of the steed, and the multitude's hum, And the clash and the shout, "They come, they come!" The horsetails are pluck'd from the ground, and the sword From its sheath; and they form, and but wait for the word.
Tartar, and Spahi, and Turcoman, Strike your tents, and throng to the van; Mount ye, spur ye, skirt the plain, That the fugitive may flee in vain, When he breaks from the town; and none escape, Aged or young in Christian shape; While your fellows on foot, in a fiery mass, Bloodstain the breach through which they pass.
The steeds are all bridled, and snort to the rein; Curved is each neck, and flowing each main; White is the foam of their champ on the bit: The spears are uplifted; the matches are lit; The cannon are pointed, and ready to roar, And crush the wall they have crumbled before: Forms in his phalanx each Janizar; Alp at their head; his right arm is bare, So is the blade of his scimitar; The khan and the pachas are all at their post: The vizier himself at the head of the host.
When the culverin's signal is fired, then on; Leave not in Corinth a living one — A priest at her altars, a chief in her halls, A hearth in her mansions, a stone in her walls.
God and the prophet — Allah Hu! Up to the skies with that wild halloo! "There the breach lies for passage, the ladder to scale And your hands on your sabres, and how should ye fail? He who first downs with the red cross may crave His heart's dearest wish; let him ask it, and have!" Thus utter'd Coumourgi, the dauntless vizier; The reply was the brandish of sabre and spear, And the shout of fierce thousands in joyous ire: — Silence — hark to the signal — fire! XXIII.
As the wolves, that headlong go On the stately buffalo, Though with fiery eyes, and angry roar, And hoofs that stamp, and horns that gore, He tramples on earth, or tosses on high The foremost, who rush on his strength but to die; Thus against the wall they went, Thus the first were backward bent; Many a bosom, sheathed in brass, Strew'd the earth like broken glass, Shiver'd by the shot, that tore The ground whereon they moved no more: Even as they fell, in files they lay, Like the mower's grass at the close of day, When is work is done on the levell'd plain; Such was the fall of the foremost slain.
XXIV.
As the spring-tides, with heavy splash, From the cliffs invading dash Huge fragments, sapp'd by the ceaseless flow, Till white and thundering down they go, Like the avalanche's snow On the Alpine vales below; Thus at length, outbreathed and worn, Corinth's sons were downward borne By the long and oft-renew'd Charge of the Moslem multitude.
In firmness they stood, and in masses they fell, Heap'd, by the host of the infidel, Hand to hand, and foot to foot: Nothing there, save death, was mute; Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry For quarter, or for victory, Mingle there with the volleying thunder, Which makes the distant cities wonder How the sounding battle goes, If with them, or for their foes; If they must mourn, or may rejoice In that annihilating voice, Which pierces the deep hills through and through With an echo dread and new: You might have heard it, on that day, O'er Salamis and Megara; (We have heard the hearers say,) Even unto Pir?us' bay.
XXV.
From the point of encountering blades to the hilt, Sabres and swords with blood were gilt: But the rampart is won, and the spoil begun And all but the after carnage done.
Shriller shrieks now mingling come From within the plunder'd dome: Hark to the haste of flying feet, That splash in the blood of the slippery street; But here and there, where 'vantage ground Against the foe may still be found, Desperate groups, of twelve or ten, Make a pause, and turn again — With banded backs against the wall, Fiercely stand, or fighting fall.
There stood an old man — his hairs were white, But his veteran arm was full of might: So gallantly bore he the brunt of the fray, The dead before him on that day, In a semicircle lay; Still he combated unwounded, Though retreating, unsurrounded.
Many a scar of former fight Lurk'd beneath his corslet bright; But of every wound his body bore, Each and all had been ta'en before: Though aged, he was so iron of limb, Few of our youth could cope with him; And the foes, whom he singly kept at bay, Outnumber'd his thin hairs of silver gray.
From right to left his sabre swept: Many an Othman mother wept Sons that were unborn, when dipp'd His weapon first in Moslem gore, Ere his years could count a score.
Of all he might have been the sire Who fell that day beneath his ire: For, sonless left long years ago, His wrath made many a childless foe; And since the day, when in the strait [8] His only boy had met his fate, His parent's iron hand did doom More than a human hecatomb.
If shades by carnage be appeased, Patroclus' spirit less was pleased Than his, Minotti's son, who died Where Asia's bounds and ours divide, Buried he lay, where thousands before For thousands of years were inhumed on the shore; What of them is left, to tell Where they lie, and how they fell? Not a stone on their turf, nor a bone in their graves; But they live in the verse that immortally saves.
XXVI.
Hark to the Allah shout! a band Of the Mussulman bravest and best is at hand: Their leader's nervous arm is bare, Swifter to smite, and never to spare — Unclothed to the shoulder it waves them on; Thus in the fight is he ever known: Others a gaudier garb may show, To them the spoil of the greedy foe; Many a hand's on a richer hilt, But none on a steel more ruddily gilt; Many a loftier turban may wear, — Alp is but known by the white arm bare; Look through the thick of the fight, 'tis there! There is not a standard on the shore So well advanced the ranks before; There is not a banner in Moslem war Will lure the Delis half so far; It glances like a falling star! Where'er that mighty arm is seen, The bravest be, or late have been; There the craven cries for quarter Vainly to the vengeful Tartar; Or the hero, silent lying, Scorns to yield a groan in dying; Mustering his last feeble blow 'Gainst the nearest levell'd foe, Though faint beneath the mutual wound, Grappling on the gory ground.
XXVII.
Still the old man stood erect, And Alp's career a moment check'd.
"Yield thee, Minotti; quarter take, For thine own, thy daughter's sake.
" "Never, renegado, never! Though the life of thy gift would last for ever.
" "Francesca! — oh, my promised bride: Must she too perish by thy pride?" "She is safe.
" — "Where? where?" — "In heaven; From whence thy traitor soul is driven — Far from thee, and undefiled.
" Grimly then Minotti smiled, As he saw Alp staggering bow Before his words, as with a blow.
"O God! when died she?" — "Yesternight — Nor weep I for her spirit's flight: None of my pure race shall be Slaves to Mohammed and thee — Come on!" That challenge is in vain — Alp's already with the slain! While Minotti's words were wreaking More revenge in bitter speaking Than his falchion's point had found, Had the time allow'd to wound, From within the neighbouring porch Of a long-defended church, Where the last and desperate few Would the failing fight renew, The sharp shot dash'd Alp to the ground; Ere an eye could view the wound That crash'd through the brain of the infidel, Round he spun, and down he fell; A flash like fire within his eyes Blazed, as he bent no more to rise, And then eternal darkness sunk Through all the palpitating trunk; Nought of life left, save a quivering Where his limbs were slightly shivering: They turn'd him on his back; his breast And brow were stain'd with gore and dust, And through his lips the life-blood oozed, From its deep veins lately loosed; But in his pulse there was no throb, Nor on his lips one dying sob; Sigh, nor word, nor struggling breath Heralded his way to death: Ere his very thought could pray, Unanel'd he pass'd away, Without a hope from mercy's aid, — To the last — a Renegade.
XXVIII.
Fearfully the yell arose Of his followers, and his foes; These in joy, in fury those: Then again in conflict mixing, Clashing swords, and spears transfixing, Interchanged the blow and thrust, Hurling warriors in the dust.
Street by street, and foot by foot, Still Minotti dares dispute The latest portion of the land Left beneath his high command; With him, aiding heart and hand, The remnant of his gallant band.
Still the church is tenable, Whence issued the fated ball That half avenged the city's fall, When Alp, her fierce assailant, fell: Thither bending sternly back, They leave before a bloody track; And, with their faces to the foe, Dealing wounds with every blow, The chief, and his retreating train, Join to those within the fane; There they yet may breathe awhile, Shelter'd by the massy pile.
XXIX.
Brief breathing-time! the turban'd host, With added ranks and raging boast, Press onwards with such strength and heat, Their numbers balk their own retreat; For narrow the way that led to the spot Where still the Christians yielded not; And the foremost, if fearful, may vainly try Through the massy column to turn and fly; They perforce must do or die.
They die: but ere their eyes could close, Avengers o'er their bodies rose; Fresh and furious, fast they fill The ranks unthinn'd, though slaughter'd still: And faint the weary Christians wax Before the still renew'd attacks: And now the Othmans gain the gate; Still resists its iron weight, And still, all deadly aim'd and hot, From every crevice comes the shot; From every shatter'd window pour The volleys of the sulphurous shower: But the portal wavering grows and weak — The iron yields, the hinges creak — It bends — and falls — and all is o'er; Lost Corinth may resist no more! XXX.
Dark, sternly, and all alone, Minotti stood o'er the altar stone: Madonna's face upon him shone, Painted in heavenly hues above, With eyes of light and looks of love; And placed upon that holy shrine To fix our thoughts on things divine, When pictured there we kneeling see Her, and the boy-God on her knee, Smiling sweetly on each prayer To heaven, as if to waft it there.
Still she smiled; even now she smiles, Though slaughter streams along her aisles: Minotti lifted his aged eye, And made the sign of a cross with a sigh, Then seized a torch which blazed thereby; And still he stood, while, with steel and flame, Inward and onward the Mussulman came.
XXXI.
The vaults beneath the mosaic stone Contain'd the dead of ages gone: Their names were on the graven floor, But now illegible with gore; The carved crests, and curious hues The varied marble's veins diffuse, Were smear'd, and slippery — stain'd, and strown With broken swords, and helms o'erthrown: There were dead above, and the dead below Lay cold in many a coffin'd row; You might see them piled in sable state, By a pale light through a gloomy grate: But War had enter'd their dark caves, And stored along the vaulted graves Her sulphurous treasures, thickly spread In masses by the fleshless dead: Here, throughout the siege, had been The Christians' chiefest magazine; To these a late-form'd train now led, Minotti's last and stern resource, Against the foe's o'erwhelming force.
XXXII.
The foe came on, and few remain To strive, and those must strive in vain: For lack of further lives, to slake The thirst of vengeance now awake, With barbarous blows they gash the dead, And lop the already lifeless head, And fell the statues from their niche, And spoil the shrine of offerings rich, And from each other's rude hands wrest The silver vessels saints had bless'd.
To the high altar on they go; Oh, but it made a glorious show! On its table still behold The cup of consecrated gold; Massy and deep, a glittering prize, Brightly it sparkles to plunderers' eyes: That morn it held the holy wine, Converted by Christ to His blood so divine, Which His worshippers drank at the break of day To shrive their souls ere they join'd in the fray, Still a few drops within it lay; And round the sacred table glow Twelve lofty lamps, in splendid row, From the purest metal cast; A spoil — the richest, and the last.
XXXIII.
So near they came, the nearest stretch'd To grasp the spoil he almost reach'd When old Minotti's hand Touch'd with a torch the train — 'Tis fired! Spire, vaults, and shrine, the spoil, the slain, The turban'd victors, the Christian band, All that of living or dead remain, Hurl'd on high with the shiver'd fane, In one wild roar expired! The shatter'd town — the walls thrown down — The waves a moment backward bent — The hills that shake, although unrent, As if an earthquake pass'd — The thousand shapeless things all driven In cloud and flame athwart the heaven, By that tremendous blast — Proclaim'd the desperate conflict o'er On that too long afflicted shore! Up to the sky like rockets go All that mingled there below: Many a tall and goodly man, Scorch'd and shrivell'd to a span, When he fell to earth again Like a cinder strew'd the plain: Down the ashes shower like rain; Some fell in the gulf, which received the sprinkles With a thousand circling wrinkles; Some fell on the shore, but, far away, Scatter'd o'er the isthmus lay; Christian or Moslem, which be they? Let their mothers see and say! When in cradled rest they lay, And each nursing mother smiled On the sweet sleep of her child, Little deem'd she such a day Would rend those tender limbs away.
Not the matrons that them bore Could discern their offspring more; That one moment left no trace More of human form or face Save a scatter'd scalp or bone: And down came blazing rafters, strown Around, and many a falling stone, Deeply dinted in the clay, All blacken'd there and reeking lay.
All the living things that heard That deadly earth-shock disappear'd.
The wild birds flew; the wild dogs fled, And howling left the unburied dead; The camels from their keepers broke; The distant steer forsook the yoke — The nearer steed plunged o'er the plain, And burst his girth, and tore his rein; The bull-frog's note, from out the marsh, Deep-mouth'd arose, and doubly harsh; The wolves yell'd on the cavern'd hill Where echo roll'd in thunder still; The jackal's troop, in gather'd cry, [8] Bay'd from afar complainingly, With mix'd and mournful sound, Like crying babe, and beaten hound: With sudden wing, and ruffled breast, The eagle left his rocky nest, And mounted nearer to the sun, The clouds beneath him seem'd so dun Their smoke assail'd his startled beak, And made him higher soar and shriek — Thus was Corinth lost and won!


by George (Lord) Byron |

Bride of Abydos The

 "Had we never loved so kindly, 
Had we never loved so blindly, 
Never met or never parted, 
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.
" — Burns TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD HOLLAND, THIS TALE IS INSCRIBED, WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF REGARD AND RESPECT, BY HIS GRATEFULLY OBLIGED AND SINCERE FRIEND, BYRON.
THE BRIDE OF ABYDOS _________ CANTO THE FIRST.
I.
Know ye the land where cypress and myrtle Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime, Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle, Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime? Know ye the land of the cedar and vine, Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine; Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppress'd with perfume, Wax faint o'er the gardens of G?l in her bloom; [1] Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit, And the voice of the nightingale never is mute; Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky, In colour though varied, in beauty may vie, And the purple of Ocean is deepest in dye; Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine, And all, save the spirit of man, is divine? 'Tis the clime of the East; 'tis the land of the Sun — Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done? [2] Oh! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell Are the hearts which they bear, and the tales which they tell.
II.
Begirt with many a gallant slave, Apparell'd as becomes the brave, Awaiting each his lord's behest To guide his steps, or guard his rest, Old Giaffir sate in his Divan: Deep thought was in his aged eye; And though the face of Mussulman Not oft betrays to standers by The mind within, well skill'd to hide All but unconquerable pride, His pensive cheek and pondering brow Did more than he wont avow.
III.
"Let the chamber be clear'd.
" — The train disappear'd — "Now call me the chief of the Haram guard.
" With Giaffir is none but his only son, And the Nubian awaiting the sire's award.
"Haroun — when all the crowd that wait Are pass'd beyond the outer gate, (Woe to the head whose eye beheld My child Zuleika's face unveil'd!) Hence, lead my daughter from her tower: Her fate is fix'd this very hour: Yet not to her repeat my thought; By me alone be duty taught!" "Pacha! to hear is to obey.
" No more must slave to despot say — Then to the tower had ta'en his way, But here young Selim silence brake, First lowly rendering reverence meet! And downcast look'd, and gently spake, Still standing at the Pacha's feet: For son of Moslem must expire, Ere dare to sit before his sire! "Father! for fear that thou shouldst chide My sister, or her sable guide, Know — for the fault, if fault there be, Was mine — then fall thy frowns on me — So lovelily the morning shone, That — let the old and weary sleep — I could not; and to view alone The fairest scenes of land and deep, With none to listen and reply To thoughts with which my heart beat high Were irksome — for whate'er my mood, In sooth I love not solitude; I on Zuleika's slumber broke, And as thou knowest that for me Soon turns the Haram's grating key, Before the guardian slaves awoke We to the cypress groves had flown, And made earth, main, and heaven our own! There linger'd we, beguil'd too long With Mejnoun's tale, or Sadi's song, [3] Till I, who heard the deep tambour [4] Beat thy Divan's approaching hour, To thee, and to my duty true, Warn'd by the sound, to greet thee flew: But there Zuleika wanders yet — Nay, father, rage not — nor forget That none can pierce that secret bower But those who watch the women's tower.
" IV.
"Son of a slave" — the Pacha said — "From unbelieving mother bred, Vain were a father's hope to see Aught that beseems a man in thee.
Thou, when thine arm should bend the bow, And hurl the dart, and curb the steed, Thou, Greek in soul if not in creed, Must pore where babbling waters flow, And watch unfolding roses blow.
Would that yon orb, whose matin glow Thy listless eyes so much admire, Would lend thee something of his fire! Thou, who wouldst see this battlement By Christian cannon piecemeal rent; Nay, tamely view old Stamboul's wall Before the dogs of Moscow fall, Nor strike one stroke for life or death Against the curs of Nazareth! Go — let thy less than woman's hand Assume the distaff — not the brand.
But, Haroun! — to my daughter speed: And hark — of thine own head take heed — If thus Zuleika oft takes wing — Thou see'st yon bow — it hath a string!" V.
No sound from Selim's lip was heard, At least that met old Giaffir's ear, But every frown and every word Pierced keener than a Christian's sword.
"Son of a slave! — reproach'd with fear! Those gibes had cost another dear.
Son of a slave! and who my sire?" Thus held his thoughts their dark career, And glances ev'n of more than ire Flash forth, then faintly disappear.
Old Giaffir gazed upon his son And started; for within his eye He read how much his wrath had done; He saw rebellion there begun: "Come hither, boy — what, no reply? I mark thee — and I know thee too; But there be deeds thou dar'st not do: But if thy beard had manlier length, And if thy hand had skill and strength, I'd joy to see thee break a lance, Albeit against my own perchance.
" As sneeringly these accents fell, On Selim's eye he fiercely gazed: That eye return'd him glance for glance, And proudly to his sire's was raised, Till Giaffir's quail'd and shrunk askance — And why — he felt, but durst not tell.
"Much I misdoubt this wayward boy Will one day work me more annoy: I never loved him from his birth, And — but his arm is little worth, And scarcely in the chase could cope With timid fawn or antelope, Far less would venture into strife Where man contends for fame and life — I would not trust that look or tone: No — nor the blood so near my own.
That blood — he hath not heard — no more — I'll watch him closer than before.
He is an Arab to my sight, [5] Or Christian crouching in the fight — But hark! — I hear Zuleika's voice; Like Houris' hymn it meets mine ear: She is the offspring of my choice; Oh! more than ev'n her mother dear, With all to hope, and nought to fear — My Peri! — ever welcome here! Sweet, as the desert fountain's wave, To lips just cool'd in time to save — Such to my longing sight art thou; Nor can they waft to Mecca's shrine More thanks for life, than I for thine, Who blest thy birth, and bless thee now.
" VI.
Fair, as the first that fell of womankind, When on that dread yet lovely serpent smiling, Whose image then was stamp'd upon her mind — But once beguiled — and evermore beguiling; Dazzling, as that, oh! too transcendent vision To Sorrow's phantom-peopled slumber given, When heart meets heart again in dreams Elysian, And paints the lost on Earth revived in Heaven; Soft, as the memory of buried love; Pure as the prayer which Childhood wafts above, Was she — the daughter of that rude old Chief, Who met the maid with tears — but not of grief.
Who hath not proved how feebly words essay To fix one spark of Beauty's heavenly ray? Who doth not feel, until his failing sight Faints into dimness with its own delight, His changing cheek, his sinking heart confess The might — the majesty of Loveliness? Such was Zuleika — such around her shone The nameless charms unmark'd by her alone; The light of love, the purity of grace, The mind, the Music breathing from her face, [6] The heart whose softness harmonised the whole — And, oh! that eye was in itself a Soul! Her graceful arms in meekness bending Across her gently-budding breast; At one kind word those arms extending To clasp the neck of him who blest His child caressing and carest, Zuleika came — Giaffir felt His purpose half within him melt; Not that against her fancied weal His heart though stern could ever feel; Affection chain'd her to that heart; Ambition tore the links apart.
VII.
"Zuleika! child of gentleness! How dear this very day must tell, When I forget my own distress, In losing what I love so well, To bid thee with another dwell: Another! and a braver man Was never seen in battle's van.
We Moslems reck not much of blood; But yet the line of Carasman [7] Unchanged, unchangeable, hath stood First of the bold Timariot bands That won and well can keep their lands.
Enough that he who comes to woo Is kinsman of the Bey Oglou: His years need scarce a thought employ: I would not have thee wed a boy.
And thou shalt have a noble dower: And his and my united power Will laugh to scorn the death-firman, Which others tremble but to scan, And teach the messenger what fate The bearer of such boon may wait, [8] And now thy know'st thy father's will; All that thy sex hath need to know: 'Twas mine to teach obedience still — The way to love, thy lord may show.
" VIII.
In silence bow'd the virgin's head; And if her eye was fill'd with tears That stifled feeling dare not shed, And changed her cheek to pale to red, And red to pale, as through her ears Those winged words like arrows sped, What could such be but maiden fears? So bright the tear in Beauty's eye, Love half regrets to kiss it dry; So sweet the blush of Bashfulness, Even Pity scarce can wish it less! Whate'er it was the sire forgot; Or if remember'd, mark'd it not; Thrice clapp'd his hands, and call'd his steed, [9] Resign'd his gem-adorn'd chibouque, [10] And mounting featly for the mead, With Maugrabee [11] and Mamaluke, His way amid his Delis took, [12] To witness many an active deed With sabre keen, or blunt jerreed.
The Kislar only and his Moors Watch well the Haram's massy doors.
IX.
His head was leant upon his hand, His eye look'd o'er the dark blue water That swiftly glides and gently swells Between the winding Dardanelles; But yet he saw nor sea nor strand, Nor even his Pacha's turban'd band Mix in the game of mimic slaughter, Careering cleave the folded felt [13] With sabre stroke right sharply dealt; Nor mark'd the javelin-darting crowd, Nor heard their Ollahs wild and loud [14] — He thought but of old Giaffir's daughter! X.
No word from Selim's bosom broke; One sigh Zuleika's thought bespoke: Still gazed he through the lattice grate, Pale, mute, and mournfully sedate.
To him Zuleika's eye was turn'd, But little from his aspect learn'd; Equal her grief, yet not the same: Her heart confess'd a gentler flame: But yet that heart, alarm'd, or weak, She knew not why, forbade to speak.
Yet speak she must — but when essay? "How strange he thus should turn away! Not thus we e'er before have met; Not thus shall be our parting yet.
" Thrice paced she slowly through the room, And watched his eye — it still was fix'd: She snatch'd the urn wherein was mix'd The Persian Atar-g?l's perfume, [15] And sprinkled all its odours o'er The pictured roof and marble floor: [16] The drops, that through his glittering vest The playful girl's appeal address'd, Unheeded o'er his bosom flew, As if that breast were marble too.
"What sullen yet? it must not be — Oh! gentle Selim, this from thee!" She saw in curious order set The fairest flowers of Eastern land — "He loved them once; may touch them yet If offer'd by Zuleika's hand.
" The childish thought was hardly breathed Before the Rose was pluck'd and wreathed; The next fond moment saw her seat Her fairy form at Selim's feet: "This rose to calm my brother's cares A message from the Bulbul bears; [17] It says to-night he will prolong For Selim's ear his sweetest song; And though his note is somewhat sad, He'll try for once a strain more glad, With some faint hope his alter'd lay May sing these gloomy thoughts away.
XI.
"What! not receive my foolish flower? Nay then I am indeed unblest: On me can thus thy forehead lower? And know'st thou not who loves thee best? Oh, Selim dear! oh, more than dearest! Say is it me thou hat'st or fearest? Come, lay thy head upon my breast, And I will kiss thee into rest, Since words of mine, and songs must fail Ev'n from my fabled nightingale.
I knew our sire at times was stern, But this from thee had yet to learn: Too well I know he loves thee not; But is Zuleika's love forgot? Ah! deem I right? the Pacha's plan — This kinsman Bey of Carasman Perhaps may prove some foe of thine: If so, I swear by Mecca's shrine, If shrines that ne'er approach allow To woman's step admit her vow, Without thy free consent, command, The Sultan should not have my hand! Think'st though that I could bear to part With thee, and learn to halve my heart? Ah! were I sever'd from thy side, Where were thy friend — and who my guide? Years have not seen, Time shall not see The hour that tears my soul from thee: Even Azrael, [18] from his deadly quiver When flies that shaft, and fly it must, That parts all else, shall doom for ever Our hearts to undivided dust!" XII.
He lived — he breathed — he moved — he felt; He raised the maid from where she knelt; His trance was gone — his keen eye shone With thoughts that long in darkness dwelt; With thoughts that burn — in rays that melt.
As the streams late conceal'd By the fringe of its willows, When it rushes reveal'd In the light of its billows; As the bolt bursts on high From the black cloud that bound it, Flash'd the soul of that eye Through the long lashes round it.
A war-horse at the trumpet's sound, A lion roused by heedless hound, A tyrant waked to sudden strife By graze of ill-directed knife, Starts not to more convulsive life Than he, who heard that vow, display'd, And all, before repress'd, betray'd: "Now thou art mine, for ever mine, With life to keep, and scarce with life resign; Now thou art mine, that sacred oath, Though sworn by one, hath bound us both.
Yes, fondly, wisely hast thou done; That vow hath saved more heads than one: But blench not thou — thy simplest tress Claims more from me than tenderness; I would not wrong the slenderest hair That clusters round thy forehead fair, For all the treasures buried far Within the caves of Istakar.
[19] This morning clouds upon me lower'd, Reproaches on my head were shower'd, And Giaffir almost call'd me coward! Now I have motive to be brave; The son of his neglected slave — Nay, start not, 'twas the term he gave — May shew, though little apt to vaunt, A heart his words nor deeds can daunt.
His son, indeed! — yet, thanks to thee, Perchance I am, at least shall be! But let our plighted secret vow Be only known to us as now.
I know the wretch who dares demand From Giaffir thy reluctant hand; More ill-got wealth, a meaner soul Holds not a Musselim's control: [20] Was he not bred in Egripo? [21] A viler race let Israel show! But let that pass — to none be told Our oath; the rest let time unfold.
To me and mine leave Osman Bey; I've partisans for peril's day: Think not I am what I appear; I've arms, and friends, and vengeance near.
" XIII.
"Think not thou art what thou appearest! My Selim, thou art sadly changed: This morn I saw thee gentlest, dearest: But now thou'rt from thyself estranged.
My love thou surely knew'st before, It ne'er was less, nor can be more.
To see thee, hear thee, near thee stay, And hate the night, I know not why, Save that we meet not but by day; With thee to live, with thee to die, I dare not to my hope deny: Thy cheek, thine eyes, thy lips to kiss, Like this — and this — no more than this; For, Allah! Sure thy lips are flame: What fever in thy veins is flushing? My own have nearly caught the same, At least I feel my cheek too blushing.
To soothe thy sickness, watch thy health, Partake, but never waste thy wealth, Or stand with smiles unmurmuring by, And lighten half thy poverty; Do all but close thy dying eye, For that I could not live to try; To these alone my thoughts aspire: More can I do? or thou require? But, Selim, thou must answer why We need so much of mystery? The cause I cannot dream nor tell, But be it, since thou say'st 'tis well; Yet what thou mean'st by 'arms' and 'friends,' Beyond my weaker sense extends.
I mean that Giaffir should have heard The very vow I plighted thee; His wrath would not revoke my word: But surely he would leave me free.
Can this fond wish seem strange in me, To be what I have ever been? What other hath Zuleika seen From simple childhood's earliest hour? What other can she seek to see Than thee, companion of her bower, The partner of her infancy? These cherish'd thoughts with life begun, Say, why must I no more avow? What change is wrought to make me shun The truth; my pride, and thine till now? To meet the gaze of stranger's eyes Our law, our creed, our God denies, Nor shall one wandering thought of mine At such, our Prophet's will, repine: No! happier made by that decree! He left me all in leaving thee.
Deep were my anguish, thus compell'd To wed with one I ne'er beheld: This wherefore should I not reveal? Why wilt thou urge me to conceal! I know the Pacha's haughty mood To thee hath never boded good: And he so often storms at naught, Allah! forbid that e'er he ought! And why I know not, but within My heart concealment weighs like sin.
If then such secresy be crime, And such it feels while lurking here, Oh, Selim! tell me yet in time, Nor leave me thus to thoughts of fear.
Ah! yonder see the Tchocadar, [22] My father leaves the mimic war: I tremble now to meet his eye — Say, Selim, canst thou tell me why?" XIV.
"Zuleika — to thy tower's retreat Betake thee — Giaffir I can greet: And now with him I fain must prate Of firmans, imposts, levies, state.
There's fearful news from Danube's banks, Our Vizier nobly thins his ranks, For which the Giaour may give him thanks! Our sultan hath a shorter way Such costly triumph to repay.
But, mark me, when the twilight drum Hath warn'd the troops to food and sleep, Unto thy cell will Selim come: Then softly from the Haram creep Where we may wander by the deep: Our garden-battlements are steep; Nor these will rash intruder climb To list our words, or stint our time; And if he doth, I want not steel Which some have felt, and more may feel.
Then shalt thou learn of Selim more Than thou hast heard or thought before: Trust me, Zuleika — fear not me! Thou know'st I hold a Haram key.
" "Fear thee, my Selim! ne'er till now Did word like this — " "Delay not thou; I keep the key — and Haroun's guard Have some, and hope of more reward.
Tonight, Zuleika, thou shalt hear My tale, my purpose, and my fear: I am not, love! what I appear.
" ____________ CANTO THE SECOND.
I.
The winds are high on Helle's wave, As on that night of stormy water, When Love, who sent, forgot to save The young, the beautiful, the brave, The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter.
Oh! when alone along the sky Her turret-torch was blazing high, Though rising gale, and breaking foam, And shrieking sea-birds warn'd him home; And clouds aloft and tides below, With signs and sounds, forbade to go, He could not see, he would not hear, Or sound or sign foreboding fear; His eye but saw the light of love, The only star it hail'd above; His ear but rang with Hero's song, "Ye waves, divide not lovers long!" — That tale is old, but love anew May nerve young hearts to prove as true.
II.
The winds are high, and Helle's tide Rolls darkly heaving to the main; And Night's descending shadows hide That field with blood bedew'd in vain, The desert of old Priam's pride; The tombs, sole relics of his reign, All — save immortal dreams that could beguile The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle! III.
Oh! yet — for there my steps have been! These feet have press'd the sacred shore, These limbs that buoyant wave hath borne — Minstrel! with thee to muse, to mourn, To trace again those fields of yore, Believing every hillock green Contains no fabled hero's ashes, And that around the undoubted scene Thine own "broad Hellespont" still dashes, [23] Be long my lot! and cold were he Who there could gaze denying thee! IV.
The night hath closed on Helle's stream, Nor yet hath risen on Ida's hill That moon, which shoon on his high theme: No warrior chides her peaceful beam, But conscious shepherds bless it still.
Their flocks are grazing on the mound Of him who felt the Dardan's arrow; That mighty heap of gather'd ground Which Ammon's son ran proudly round, [24] By nations raised, by monarchs crown'd, Is now a lone and nameless barrow! Within — thy dwelling-place how narrow? Without — can only strangers breathe The name of him that was beneath: Dust long outlasts the storied stone; But Thou — thy very dust is gone! V.
Late, late to-night will Dian cheer The swain, and chase the boatman's fear; Till then — no beacon on the cliff May shape the course of struggling skiff; The scatter'd lights that skirt the bay, All, one by one, have died away; The only lamp of this lone hour Is glimmering in Zuleika's tower.
Yes! there is light in that lone chamber, And o'er her silken Ottoman Are thrown the fragrant beads of amber, O'er which her fairy fingers ran; [25] Near these, with emerald rays beset, (How could she thus that gem forget?) Her mother's sainted amulet, [26] Whereon engraved the Koorsee text, Could smooth this life, and win the next; And by her Comboloio lies [27] A Koran of illumined dyes; And many a bright emblazon'd rhyme By Persian scribes redeem'd from time; And o'er those scrolls, not oft so mute, Reclines her now neglected lute; And round her lamp of fretted gold Bloom flowers in urns of China's mould; The richest work of Iran's loom, And Sheeraz' tribute of perfume; All that can eye or sense delight Are gather'd in that gorgeous room: But yet it hath an air of gloom.
She, of this Peri cell the sprite, What doth she hence, and on so rude a night? VI.
Wrapt in the darkest sable vest, Which none save noblest Moslems wear, To guard from winds of heaven the breast As heaven itself to Selim dear, With cautious steps the thicket threading, And starting oft, as through the glade The gust its hollow moanings made; Till on the smoother pathway treading, More free her timid bosom beat, The maid pursued her silent guide; And though her terror urged retreat, How could she quit her Selim's side? How teach her tender lips to chide? VII.
They reach'd at length a grotto, hewn By nature, but enlarged by art, Where oft her lute she wont to tune, And oft her Koran conn'd apart: And oft in youthful reverie She dream'd what Paradise might be; Where woman's parted soul shall go Her Prophet had disdain'd to show; But Selim's mansion was secure, Nor deem'd she, could he long endure His bower in other worlds of bliss, Without her, most beloved in this! Oh! who so dear with him could dwell? What Houri soothe him half so well? VIII.
Since last she visited the spot Some change seem'd wrought within the grot; It might be only that the night Disguised things seen by better light: That brazen lamp but dimly threw A ray of no celestial hue: But in a nook within the cell Her eye on stranger objects fell.
There arms were piled, not such as wield The turban'd Delis in the field; But brands of foreign blade and hilt, And one was red — perchance with guilt! Ah! how without can blood be spilt? A cup too on the board was set That did not seem to hold sherbet.
What may this mean? she turn'd to see Her Selim — "Oh! can this be he?" IX.
His robe of pride was thrown aside, His brow no high-crown'd turban bore But in its stead a shawl of red, Wreathed lightly round, his temples wore: That dagger, on whose hilt the gem Were worthy of a diadem, No longer glitter'd at his waist, Where pistols unadorn'd were braced; And from his belt a sabre swung, And from his shoulder loosely hung The cloak of white, the thin capote That decks the wandering Candiote: Beneath — his golden plated vest Clung like a cuirass to his breast The greaves below his knee that wound With silvery scales were sheathed and bound.
But were it not that high command Spake in his eye, and tone, and hand, All that a careless eye could see In him was some young Galiong?e.
[28] X.
"I said I was not what I seem'd; And now thou see'st my words were true: I have a tale thou hast not dream'd, If sooth — its truth must others rue.
My story now 'twere vain to hide, I must not see thee Osman's bride: But had not thine own lips declared How much of that young heart I shared, I could not, must not, yet have shown The darker secret of my own.
In this I speak not now of love; That, let time, truth, and peril prove: But first — oh! never wed another — Zuleika! I am not thy brother!" XI.
"Oh! not my brother! — yet unsay — God! am I left alone on earth To mourn — I dare not curse the day That saw my solitary birth? Oh! thou wilt love me now no more! My sinking heart foreboded ill; But know me all I was before, Thy sister — friend — Zuleika still.
Thou ledd'st me hear perchance to kill; If thou hast cause for vengeance see My breast is offer'd — take thy fill! Far better with the dead to be Than live thus nothing now to thee; Perhaps far worse, for now I know Why Giaffir always seem'd thy foe; And I, alas! am Giaffir's child, Form whom thou wert contemn'd, reviled.
If not thy sister — wouldst thou save My life, oh! bid me be thy slave!" XII.
"My slave, Zuleika! — nay, I'm thine; But, gentle love, this transport calm, Thy lot shall yet be link'd with mine; I swear it by our Prophet's shrine, And be that thought thy sorrow's balm.
So may the Koran verse display'd [29] Upon its steel direct my blade, In danger's hour to guard us both, As I preserve that awful oath! The name in which thy heart hath prided Must change; but, my Zuleika, know, That tie is widen'd, not divided, Although thy Sire's my deadliest foe.
My father was to Giaffir all That Selim late was deem'd to thee; That brother wrought a brother's fall, But spared, at least, my infancy; And lull'd me with a vain deceit That yet a like return may meet.
He rear'd me, not with tender help, But like the nephew of a Cain; [30] He watch'd me like a lion's whelp, That gnaws and yet may break his chain.
My father's blood in every vein Is boiling; but for thy dear sake No present vengeance will I take; Though here I must no more remain.
But first, beloved Zuleika! hear How Giaffir wrought this deed of fear.
XIII.
"How first their strife to rancour grew, If love or envy made them foes, It matters little if I knew; In fiery spirits, slights, though few And thoughtless, will disturb repose.
In war Abdallah's arm was strong, Remember'd yet in Bosniac song, And Paswan's rebel hordes attest [31] How little love they bore such guest: His death is all I need relate, The stern effect of Giaffir's hate; And how my birth disclosed to me, Whate'er beside it makes, hath made me free.
XIV.
"When Paswan, after years of strife, At last for power, but first for life, In Widdin's walls too proudly sate, Our Pachas rallied round the state; Nor last nor least in high command, Each brother led a separate band; They gave their horse-tails to the wind, [32] And mustering in Sophia's plain Their tents were pitch'd, their posts assign'd; To one, alas! assign'd in vain! What need of words? the deadly bowl, By Giaffir's order drugg'd and given, With venom subtle as his soul, Dismiss'd Abdallah's hence to heaven.
Reclined and feverish in the bath, He, when the hunter's sport was up, But little deem'd a brother's wrath To quench his thirst had such a cup: The bowl a bribed attendant bore; He drank one draught, and nor needed more! [33] If thou my tale, Zuleika, doubt, Call Haroun — he can tell it out.
XV.
"The deed once done, and Paswan's feud In part suppress'd, though ne'er subdued, Abdallah's Pachalic was gain'd: — Thou know'st not what in our Divan Can wealth procure for worse than man — Abdallah's honours were obtain'd By him a brother's murder stain'd; 'Tis true, the purchase nearly drain'd His ill got treasure, soon replaced.
Wouldst question whence? Survey the waste, And ask the squalid peasant how His gains repay his broiling brow! — Why me the stern usurper spared, Why thus with me the palace shared, I know not.
Shame, regret, remorse, And little fear from infant's force; Besides, adoption of a son Of him whom Heaven accorded none, Or some unknown cabal, caprice, Preserved me thus; but not in peace; He cannot curb his haughty mood, Nor I forgive a father's blood! XVI.
"Within thy father's house are foes; Not all who break his bread are true: To these should I my birth disclose, His days, his very hours, were few: They only want a heart to lead, A hand to point them to the deed.
But Haroun only knows — or knew — This tale, whose close is almost nigh: He in Abdallah's palace grew, And held that post in his Serai Which holds he here — he saw him die: But what could single slavery do? Avenge his lord? alas! too late; Or save his son from such a fate? He chose the last, and when elate With foes subdued, or friends betray'd, Proud Giaffir in high triumph sate, He led me helpless to his gate, And not in vain it seems essay'd To save the life for which he pray'd.
The knowledge of my birth secured From all and each, but most from me; Thus Giaffir's safety was insured.
Removed he too from Roumelie To this our Asiatic side, Far from our seat by Danube's tide, With none but Haroun, who retains Such knowledge — and that Nubian feels A tyrant's secrets are but chains, From which the captive gladly steals, And this and more to me reveals: Such still to guilt just Allah sends — Slaves, tools, accomplices — no friends! XVII.
"All this, Zuleika, harshly sounds; But harsher still my tale must be: Howe'er my tongue thy softness wounds, Yet I must prove all truth to thee.
I saw thee start this garb to see, Yet is it one I oft have worn, And long must wear: this Galiong?e, To whom thy plighted vow is sworn, Is leader of those pirate hordes, Whose laws and lives are on their swords; To hear whose desolating tale Would make thy waning cheek more pale: Those arms thou see'st my band have brought, The hands that wield are not remote; This cup too for the rugged knaves Is fill'd — once quaff'd, they ne'er repine: Our Prophet might forgive the slaves; They're only infidels in wine! XVIII.
"What could I be? Proscribed at home, And taunted to a wish to roam; And listless left — for Giaffir's fear Denied the courser and the spear — Though oft — oh, Mohammed! how oft! — In full Divan the despot scoff'd, As if my weak unwilling hand Refused the bridle or the brand: He ever went to war alone, And pent me here untried — unknown; To Haroun's care with women left, By hope unblest, of fame bereft.
While thou — whose softness long endear'd, Though it unmann'd me, still had cheer'd — To Brusa's walls for safety sent, Awaited'st there the field's event.
Haroun, who saw my spirit pining Beneath inaction's sluggish yoke, His captive, though with dread, resigning, My thraldom for a season broke, On promise to return before The day when Giaffir's charge was o'er.
'Tis vain — my tongue can not impart My almost drunkenness of heart, When first this liberated eye Survey'd Earth, Ocean, Sun and Sky, As if my spirit pierced them through, And all their inmost wonders knew! One word alone can paint to thee That more than feeling — I was Free! Ev'n for thy presence ceased to pine; The World — nay — Heaven itself was mine! XIX.
"The shallop of a trusty Moor Convey'd me from this idle shore; I long'd to see the isles that gem Old Ocean's purple diadem: I sought by turns, and saw them all: [34] But when and where I join'd the crew, With whom I'm pledged to rise or fall, When all that we design to do Is done, 'twill then be time more meet To tell thee, when the tale's complete.
XX.
"'Tis true, they are a lawless brood, But rough in form, nor mild in mood; With them hath found — may find — a place: But open speech, and ready hand, Obedience to their chief's command; A soul for every enterprise, That never sees with terror's eyes; Friendship for each, and faith to all, And vengeance vow'd for those who fall, Have made them fitting instruments For more than ev'n my own intents.
And some — and I have studied all Distinguish'd from the vulgar rank, But chiefly to my council call The wisdom of the cautious Frank — And some to higher thoughts aspire, The last of Lambro's patriots there [35] Anticipated freedom share; And oft around the cavern fire On visionary schemes debate, To snatch the Rayahs from their fate.
[36] So let them ease their hearts with prate Of equal rights, which man ne'er knew; I have a love of freedom too.
Ay! let me like the ocean-Patriarch roam, [37] Or only known on land the Tartar's home! [38] My tent on shore, my galley on the sea, Are more than cities and Serais to me: Borne by my steed, or wafted by my sail, Across the desert, or before the gale, Bound where thou wilt, my barb! or glide, my prow! But be the star that guides the wanderer, Thou! Thou, my Zuleika! share and bless my bark; The Dove of peace and promise to mine ark! Or, since that hope denied in worlds of strife, Be thou the rainbow to the storms of life! The evening beam that smiles the cloud away, And tints to-morrow with prophetic ray! Blest — as the Muezzin's strain from Mecca's wall To pilgrims pure and prostrate at his call; Soft — as the melody of youthful days, That steals the trembling tear of speechless praise; Dear — as his native song to exile's ears, Shall sound each tone thy long-loved voice endears.
For thee in those bright isles is built a bower Blooming as Aden in its earliest hour.
[39] A thousand swords, with Selim's heart and hand, Wait — wave — defend — destroy — at thy command! Girt by my band, Zuleika at my side, The spoil of nations shall bedeck my bride.
The Haram's languid years of listless ease Are well resign'd for cares — for joys like these: Not blind to fate, I see, where'er I rove, Unnumber'd perils — but one only love! Yet well my toils shall that fond beast repay, Though fortune frown or falser friends betray.
How dear the dream in darkest hours of ill, Should all be changed, to find thee faithful still! Be but thy soul, like Selim's, firmly shown; To thee be Selim's tender as thine own; To soothe each sorrow, share in each delight, Blend every thought, do all — but disunite! Once free, 'tis mine our horde again to guide; Friends to each other, foes to aught beside: Yet there we follow but the bent assign'd By fatal Nature to man's warring kind: Mark! where his carnage and his conquests cease! He makes a solitude, and calls it — peace! I like the rest must use my skill or strength, But ask no land beyond my sabre's length: Power sways but by division — her resource The blest alternative of fraud or force! Ours be the last; in time deceit may come When cities cage us in a social home: There ev'n thy soul might err — how oft the heart Corruption shakes which peril could not part! And woman, more than man, when death or woe, Or even disgrace, would lay her lover low, Sunk in the lap of luxury will shame — Away suspicion! — not Zuleika's name! But life is hazard at the best; and here No more remains to win, and much to fear: Yes, fear! — the doubt, the dread of losing thee, By Osman's power, and Giaffir's stern decree.
That dread shall vanish with the favouring gale, Which Love to-night hath promised to my sail: No danger daunts the pair his smile hath blest, Their steps till roving, but their hearts at rest.
With thee all toils are sweet, each clime hath charms; Earth — sea alike — our world within our arms! Ay — let the loud winds whistle o'er the deck, So that those arms cling closer round my neck: The deepest murmur of this lip shall be No sigh for safety, but a prayer for thee! The war of elements no fears impart To Love, whose deadliest bane is human Art: There lie the only rocks our course can check; Here moments menace — there are years of wreck! But hence ye thoughts that rise in Horror's shape! This hour bestows, or ever bars escape.
Few words remain of mine my tale to close: Of thine but one to waft us from our foes; Yea — foes — to me will Giaffir's hate decline? And is not Osman, who would part us, thine? XXI.
"His head and faith from doubt and death Return'd in time my guard to save; Few heard, none told, that o'er the wave From isle to isle I roved the while: And since, though parted from my band Too seldom now I leave the land, No deed they've done, nor deed shall do, Ere I have heard and doom'd it too: I form the plan, decree the spoil, 'Tis fit I oftener share the toil.
But now too long I've held thine ear; Time presses, floats my bark, and here We leave behind but hate and fear.
To-morrow Osman with his train Arrives — to-night must break thy chain: And wouldst thou save that haughty Bey, Perchance, his life who gave the thine, With me this hour away — away! But yet, though thou art plighted mine, Wouldst thou recall thy willing vow, Appall'd by truth imparted now, Here rest I — not to see thee wed: But be that peril on my head!" XXII.
Zuleika, mute and motionless, Stood like that statue of distress, When, her last hope for ever gone, The mother harden'd into stone; All in the maid that eye could see Was but a younger Niob?.
But ere her lip, or even her eye, Essay'd to speak, or look reply, Beneath the garden's wicket porch Far flash'd on high a blazing torch! Another — and another — and another — "Oh! — no more — yet now my more than brother!" Far, wide, through every thicket spread, The fearful lights are gleaming red; Nor these alone — for each right hand Is ready with a sheathless brand.
They part, pursue, return, and wheel With searching flambeau, shining steel; And last of all, his sabre waving, Stern Giaffir in his fury raving: And now almost they touch the cave — Oh! must that grot be Selim's grave? XXIII.
Dauntless he stood — "'Tis come — soon past — One kiss, Zuleika — 'tis my last: But yet my band not far from shore May hear this signal, see the flash; Yet now too few — the attempt were rash: No matter — yet one effort more.
" Forth to the cavern mouth he stept; His pistol's echo rang on high, Zuleika started not nor wept, Despair benumb'd her breast and eye! — "They hear me not, or if they ply Their oars, 'tis but to see me die; That sound hath drawn my foes more nigh.
Then forth my father's scimitar, Thou ne'er hast seen less equal war! Farewell, Zuleika! — Sweet! retire: Yet stay within — here linger safe, At thee his rage will only chafe.
Stir not — lest even to thee perchance Some erring blade or ball should glance.
Fear'st though for him? — may I expire If in this strife I seek thy sire! No — though by him that poison pour'd: No — though again he call me coward! But tamely shall I meet their steel? No — as each crest save his may feel!" XXIV.
One bound he made, and gain'd the sand: Already at his feet hath sunk The foremost of the prying band, A gasping head, a quivering trunk: Another falls — but round him close A swarming circle of his foes; From right to left his path he cleft, And almost met the meeting wave: His boat appears — not five oars' length — His comrades strain with desperate strength — Oh! are they yet in time to save? His feet the foremost breakers lave; His band are plunging in the bay, Their sabres glitter through the spray; We — wild — unwearied to the strand They struggle — now they touch the land! They come — 'tis but to add to slaughter — His heart's best blood is on the water! XXV.
Escaped from shot, unharm'd by steel, Or scarcely grazed its force to feel, Had Selim won, betray'd, beset, To where the strand and billows met: There as his last step left the land, And the last death-blow dealt his hand — Ah! wherefore did he turn to look For her his eye but sought in vain? That pause, that fatal gaze he took, Hath doom'd his death, or fix'd his chain.
Sad proof, in peril and in pain, How late will Lover's hope remain! His back was to the dashing spray; Behind, but close, his comrades lay When, at the instant, hiss'd the ball — "So may the foes of Giaffir fall!" Whose voice is heard? whose carbine rang? Whose bullet through the night-air sang, Too nearly, deadly aim'd to err? 'Tis thine — Abdallah's Murderer! The father slowly rued thy hate, The son hath found a quicker fate: Fast from his breast the blood is bubbling, The whiteness of the sea-foam troubling — If aught his lips essay'd to groan, The rushing billows choked the tone! XXVI.
Morn slowly rolls the clouds away; Few trophies of the fight are there: The shouts that shook the midnight-bay Are silent; but some signs of fray That strand of strife may bear, And fragments of each shiver'd brand; Steps stamp'd; and dash'd into the sand The print of many a struggling hand May there be mark'd; nor far remote A broken torch, an oarless boat; And tangled on the weeds that heap The beach where shelving to the deep There lies a white capote! 'Tis rent in twain — one dark-red stain The wave yet ripples o'er in vain: But where is he who wore? Ye! who would o'er his relics weep, Go, seek them where the surges sweep Their burthen round Sig?um's steep, And cast on Lemnos' shore: The sea-birds shriek above the prey, O'er which their hungry beaks delay, As shaken on his restless pillow, His head heaves with the heaving billow; That hand, whose motion is not life, Yet feebly seems to menace strife, Flung by the tossing tide on high, Then levell'd with the wave — What recks it, though that corse shall lie Within a living grave? The bird that tears that prostrate form Hath only robb'd the meaner worm: The only heart, the only eye Had bled or wept to see him die, Had seen those scatter'd limbs composed, And mourn'd above his turban-stone, [40] That heart hath burst — that eye was closed — Yea — closed before his own! XXVII.
By Helle's stream there is a voice of wail! And woman's eye is wet — man's cheek is pale: Zuleika! last of Giaffir's race, Thy destined lord is come too late: He sees not — ne'er shall see — thy face! Can he not hear The loud Wul-wulleh warn his distant ear? [41] Thy handmaids weeping at the gate, The Koran-chanters of the hymn of fate, The silent slaves with folded arms that wait, Sighs in the hall, and shrieks upon the gale, Tell him thy tale! Thou didst not view thy Selim fall! That fearful moment when he left the cave Thy heart grew chill: He was thy hope — thy joy — thy love — thine all — And that last thought on him thou couldst not save Sufficed to kill; Burst forth in one wild cry — and all was still.
Peace to thy broken heart, and virgin grave! Ah! happy! but of life to lose the worst! That grief — though deep — though fatal — was thy first! Thrice happy! ne'er to feel nor fear the force Of absence, shame, pride, hate, revenge, remorse! And, oh! that pang where more than madness lies! The worm that will not sleep — and never dies; Thought of the gloomy day and ghastly night, That dreads the darkness, and yet loathes the light, That winds around, and tears the quivering heart! Ah! wherefore not consume it — and depart! Woe to thee, rash and unrelenting chief! Vainly thou heap'st the dust upon thy head, Vainly the sackcloth o'er thy limbs doth spread; By that same hand Abdallah — Selim — bled.
Now let it tear thy beard in idle grief: Thy pride of heart, thy bride for Osman's bed, Thy Daughter's dead! Hope of thine age, thy twilight's lonely beam, The star hath set that shone on Helle's stream.
What quench'd its ray? — the blood that thou hast shed! Hark! to the hurried question of Despair: "Where is my child?" — an Echo answers — "Where?" [42] XVIII.
Within the place of thousand tombs That shine beneath, while dark above The sad but living cypress glooms, And withers not, though branch and leaf Are stamp'd with an eternal grief, Like early unrequited Love, One spot exists, which ever blooms, Ev'n in that deadly grove — A single rose is shedding there Its lonely lustre, meek and pale: It looks as planted by Despair — So white — so faint — the slightest gale Might whirl the leaves on high; And yet, though storms and blight assail, And hands more rude than wintry sky May wring it from the stem — in vain — To-morrow sees it bloom again! The stalk some spirit gently rears, And waters with celestial tears; For well may maids of Helle deem That this can be no earthly flower, Which mocks the tempest's withering hour, And buds unshelter'd by a bower; Nor droops, though spring refuse her shower, Nor woos the summer beam: To it the livelong night there sings A bird unseen — but not remote: Invisible his airy wings, But soft as harp that Houri strings His long entrancing note! It were the Bulbul; but his throat, Though mournful, pours not such a strain: For they who listen cannot leave The spot, but linger there and grieve, As if they loved in vain! And yet so sweet the tears they shed, 'Tis sorrow so unmix'd with dread, They scarce can bear the morn to break That melancholy spell, And longer yet would weep and wake, He sings so wild and well! But when the day-blush bursts from high Expires that magic melody.
And some have been who could believe, (So fondly youthful dreams deceive, Yet harsh be they that blame,) That note so piercing and profound Will shape and syllable its sound Into Zuleika's name.
[43] 'Tis from her cypress' summit heard, That melts in air the liquid word; 'Tis from her lowly virgin earth That white rose takes its tender birth.
There late was laid a marble stone; Eve saw it placed — the Morrow gone! It was no mortal arm that bore That deep fixed pillar to the shore; For there, as Helle's legends tell, Next morn 'twas found where Selim fell; Lash'd by the tumbling tide, whose wave Denied his bones a holier grave: And there by night, reclined, 'tis said, Is seen a ghastly turban'd head: And hence extended by the billow, 'Tis named the "Pirate-phantom's pillow!" Where first it lay that mourning flower Hath flourish'd; flourisheth this hour, Alone and dewy, coldly pure and pale; As weeping Beauty's cheek at Sorrow's tale.


by George (Lord) Byron |

The Giaour

 A Fragment of a Turkish Tale

The tale which these disjointed fragments present, is founded upon circumstances now less common in the East than formerly; either because the ladies are more circumspect than in the 'olden time', or because the Christians have better fortune, or less enterprise.
The story, when entire, contained the adventures of a female slave, who was thrown, in the Mussulman manner, into the sea for infidelity, and avenged by a young Venetian, her lover, at the time the Seven Islands were possessed by the Republic of Venice, and soon after the Arnauts were beaten back from the Morea, which they had ravaged for some time subsequent to the Russian invasion.
The desertion of the Mainotes on being refused the plunder of Misitra, led to the abandonment of that enterprise, and to the desolation of the Morea,during which the cruelty exercised on all sides was unparalleled even in the annals of the faithful.
No breath of air to break the wave That rolls below the Athenian's grave, That tomb which, gleaming o'er the cliff First greets the homeward-veering skiff High o'er the land he saved in vain; When shall such Hero live again? Fair clime! where every season smiles Benignant o'er those bless?d isles, Which, seen from far Colonna's height, Make glad the heart that hails the sight, And lend to lonliness delight.
There mildly dimpling, Ocean's cheek Reflects the tints of many a peak Caught by the laughing tides that lave These Edens of the Eastern wave: And if at times a transient breeze Break the blue crystal of the seas, Or sweep one blossom from the trees, How welcome is each gentle air That waves and wafts the odours there! For there the Rose, o'er crag or vale, Sultana of the Nightingale, The maid for whom his melody, His thousand songs are heard on high, Blooms blushing to her lover's tale: His queen, the garden queen, his Rose, Unbent by winds, unchilled by snows, Far from winters of the west, By every breeze and season blest, Returns the sweets by Nature given In soft incense back to Heaven; And gratefu yields that smiling sky Her fairest hue and fragrant sigh.
And many a summer flower is there, And many a shade that Love might share, And many a grotto, meant by rest, That holds the pirate for a guest; Whose bark in sheltering cove below Lurks for the pasiing peaceful prow, Till the gay mariner's guitar Is heard, and seen the Evening Star; Then stealing with the muffled oar, Far shaded by the rocky shore, Rush the night-prowlers on the prey, And turns to groan his roudelay.
Strande--that where Nature loved to trace, As if for Gods, a dwelling place, And every charm and grace hath mixed Within the Paradise she fixed, There man, enarmoured of distress, Shoul mar it into wilderness, And trample, brute-like, o'er each flower That tasks not one labourious hour; Nor claims the culture of his hand To blood along the fairy land, But springs as to preclude his care, And sweetly woos him--but to spare! Strange--that where all is Peace beside, There Passion riots in her pride, And Lust and Rapine wildly reign To darken o'er the fair domain.
It is as though the Fiends prevailed Against the Seraphs they assailed, And, fixed on heavenly thrones, should dwell The freed inheritors of Hell; So soft the scene, so formed for joy, So curst the tyrants that destroy! He who hath bent him o'er the dead Ere the first day of Death is fled, The first dark day of Nothingness, The last of Danger and Distress, (Before Decay's effacing fingers Have swept the lines where Beauty lingers,) And marked the mild angelic air, The rapture of Repose that's there, The fixed yet tender thraits that streak The languor of the placid cheek, And--but for that sad shrouded eye, That fires not, wins not, weeps not, now, And but for that chill, changeless brow, Where cold Obstruction's apathy Appals the gazing mourner's heart, As if to him it could impart The doom he dreads, yet dwells upon; Yes, but for these and these alone, Some moments, aye, one treacherous hour, He still might doubt the Tyrant's power; So fair, so calm, so softly sealed, The first, last look by Death revealed! Such is the aspect of his shore; 'T is Greece, but living Greece no more! So coldly sweet, so deadly fair, We start, for Soul is wanting there.
Hers is the loveliness in death, That parts not quite with parting breath; But beauty with that fearful bloom, That hue which haunts it to the tomb, Expression's last receding ray, A gilded Halo hovering round decay, The farewell beam of Feeling past away! Spark of that flame, perchance of heavenly birth, Which gleams, but warms no more its cherished earth! Clime of the unforgotten brave! Whose land from plain to mountain-cave Was Freedom;s home or Glory's grave! Shrine of the mighty! can it be, That this is all remains of thee? Approach, thou craven crouching slave: Say, is this not Thermopyl?? These waters blue that round you lave,-- Of servile offspring of the free-- Pronounce what sea, what shore is this? The gulf, the rock of Salamis! These scenes, their story yet unknown; Arise, and make again your own; Snatch from the ashes of your Sires The embers of their former fires; And he who in the strife expires Will add to theirs a name of fear That Tyranny shall quake to hear, And leave his sons a hope, a fame, They too will rather die than shame: For Freedom's battle once begun, Bequeathed by bleeding Sire to Son, Though baffled oft is ever won.
Bear witness, Greece, thy living page! Attest it many a deathless age! While Kings, in dusty darkness hid, Have left a namesless pyramid, Thy Heroes, though the general doom Hath swept the column from their tomb, A mightier monument command, The mountains of thy native land! There points thy Muse to stranger's eye The graves of those that cannot die! 'T were long to tell, and sad to trace, Each step from Spledour to Disgrace; Enough--no foreign foe could quell Thy soul, till from itself it fell; Yet! Self-abasement paved the way To villain-bonds and despot sway.
What can he tell who tread thy shore? No legend of thine olden time, No theme on which the Muse might soar High as thine own days of yore, When man was worthy of thy clime.
The hearts within thy valleys bred, The fiery souls that might have led Thy sons to deeds sublime, Now crawl from cradle to the Grave, Slaves--nay, the bondsmen of a Slave, And callous, save to crime.
Stained with each evil that pollutes Mankind, where least above the brutes; Without even savage virtue blest, Without one free or valiant breast, Still to the neighbouring ports tey waft Proverbial wiles, and ancient craft; In this subtle Greek is found, For this, and this alown, renowned.
In vain might Liberty invoke The spirit to its bondage broke Or raise the neck that courts the yoke: No more her sorrows I bewail, Yet this will be a mournful tale, And they who listen may believe, Who heard it first had cause to grieve.
Far, dark, along the blue sea glancing, The shadows of the rocks advancing Start on the fisher's eye like boat Of island-pirate or Mainote; And fearful for his light ca?que, He shuns the near but doubtful creek: Though worn and weary with his toil, And cumbered with his scaly spoil, Slowly, yet strongly, plies the oar, Till Port Leone's safer shore Receives him by the lovely light That best becomes an Eastern night.
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Who thundering comes on blackest steed, With slackened bit and hoof of speed? Beneath the clattering iron's sound The caverned echoes wake around In lash for lash, and bound for bound; The foam that streaks the courser's side Seems gathered from the ocean-tide: Though weary waves are sunk to rest, There's none within his rider's breast; And though tomorrow's tempest lower, 'Tis calmer than thy heart, young Giaour! I know thee not, I loathe thy race, But in thy lineaments I trace What time shall strengthen, not efface: Though young and pale, that sallow front Is scathed by fiery passion's brunt; Though bent on earth thine evil eye, As meteor-like thou glidest by, Right well I view thee and deem thee one Whom Othman's sons should slay or shun.
On - on he hastened, and he drew My gaze of wonder as he flew: Though like a demon of the night He passed, and vanished from my sight, His aspect and his air impressed A troubled memory on my breast, And long upon my startled ear Rung his dark courser's hoofs of fear.
He spurs his steed; he nears the steep, That, jutting, shadows o'er the deep; He winds around; he hurries by; The rock relieves him from mine eye; For, well I ween, unwelcome he Whose glance is fixed on those that flee; And not a start that shines too bright On him who takes such timeless flight.
He wound along; but ere he passed One glance he snatched, as if his last, A moment checked his wheeling steed, A moment breathed him from his speed, A moment on his stirrup stood - Why looks he o'er the olive wood? The crescent glimmers on the hill, The mosque's high lamps are quivering still Though too remote for sound to wake In echoes of far tophaike, The flashes of each joyous peal Are seen to prove the Moslem's zeal, Tonight, set Rhamazani's sun; Tonight the Bairam feast's begun; Tonight - but who and what art thou Of foreign garb and fearful brow? That thou should'st either pause or flee? He stood - some dread was on his face, Soon hatred settled in its place: It rose not with the reddening flush Of transient anger's hasty blush, But pale as marble o'er the tomb, Whose ghastly whiteness aids its gloom.
His brow was bent, his eye was glazed; He raised his arm, and fiercely raised, And sternly shook his hand on high, As doubting to return or fly; Impatient of his flight delayed, Here loud his raven charger neighed - Down glanced that hand and, and grasped his blade; That sound had burst his waking dream, As slumber starts at owlet's scream.
The spur hath lanced his courser's sides; Away, away, for life he rides: Swift as the hurled on high jerreed Springs to the touch his startled steed; The rock is doubled, and the shore Shakes with the clattering tramp no more; The crag is won, no more is seen His Christian crest and haughty mien.
'Twas but an instant he restrained That fiery barb so sternly reined; 'Twas but a moment that he stood, Then sped as if by death pursued; But in that instant 0'er his soul Winters of memory seemed to roll, And gather in that drop of time A life of pain, an age of crime.
O'er him who loves, or hates, or fears, Such moment pours the grief of years: What felt he then, at once opprest By all that most distracts the breast? That pause, which pondered o'er his fate, Oh, who its dreary length shall date! Though in time's record nearly nought, It was eternity to thought! For infinite as boundless space The thought that conscience must embrace, Which in itself can comprehend Woe without name, or hope, or end.
The hour is past, the Giaour is gone; And did he fly or fall alone? Woe to that hour he came or went! The curse for Hassan’s sin was sent To turn a palace to a tomb: He came, he went, like the Simoom, That harbinger of fate and gloom, Beneath whose widely - wasting breath The very cypress droops to death - Dark tree, still sad when others’ grief is fled, The only constant mourner o’er the dead! The steed is vanished from the stall; No serf is seen in Hassan’s hall; The lonely spider’s thin grey pall Waves slowly widening o’er the wall; The bat builds in his harem bower, And in the fortress of his power The owl usurps the beacon-tower; The wild-dog howls o’er the fountain’s brim, With baffled thirst and famine, grim; For the stream has shrunk from its marble bed, Where the weeds and the desolate dust are spread.
‘Twas sweet of yore to see it play And chase the sultriness of day, As springing high the silver dew In whirls fantastically flew, And flung luxurious coolness round The air, and verdure o’er the ground.
‘Twas sweet, when cloudless stars were bright, To view the wave of watery light, And hear its melody by night.
And oft had Hassan’s childhood played Around the verge of that cascade; And oft upon his mother’s breast That sound had harmonized his rest; And oft had Hassan’s youth along Its bank been soothed by beauty’s song; And softer seem’d each melting tone Of music mingled with its own.
But ne’er shall Hassan’s age repose Along the brink at twilight’s close: The stream that filled that font is fled - The blood that warmed his heart is shed! And here no more shall human voice Be heard to rage, regret, rejoice.
The last sad note that swelled the gale Was woman’s wildest funeral wall: That quenched in silence all is still, But the lattice that flaps when the wind is shrill: Though raves the gust, and floods the rain, No hand shall clasp its clasp again.
On desert sands ‘twere joy to scan The rudest steps of fellow man, So here the very voice of grief Might wake an echo like relief - At least ‘twould say, ‘All are not gone; There lingers life, though but in one’ - For many a gilded chamber’s there, Which solitude might well forbear; Within that dome as yet decay Hath slowly worked her cankering way - But gloom is gathered o’er the gate, Nor there the fakir’s self will wait; Nor there will wandering dervise stay, For bounty cheers not his delay; Nor there will weary stranger halt To bless the sacred ‘bread and salt’.
Alike must wealth and poverty Pass heedless and unheeded by, For courtesy and pity died With Hassan on the mountain side.
His roof, that refuge unto men, Is desolation’s hungry den.
The guest flies the hall, and the vassal from labour, Since his turban was cleft by the infidel’s sabre! I hear the sound of coming feet, But not a voice mine ear to greet; More near - each turban I can scan, And silver-sheathed ataghan; The foremost of the band is seen An emir by his garb of green: ‘Ho! Who art thou?’ - ‘This low salam Replies of Moslem faith I am.
’ ‘The burden ye so gently bear, Seems one that claims your utmost care, And, doubtless, holds some precious freight, My humble bark would gladly wait.
’ ‘Thou speakest sooth; they skiff unmoor, And waft us from the silent shore; Nay, leave the sail still furled, and ply The nearest oar that’s scattered by, And midway to those rocks where sleep The channeled waters dark and deep.
Rest from your task - so - bravely done, Of course had been right swiftly run; Yet ‘tis the longest voyage, I trow, That one of - Sullen it plunged, and slowly sank, The calm wave rippled to the bank; I watched it as it sank, methought Some motion from the current caught Bestirred it more, - ‘twas but the beam That checkered o’er the living stream: I gazed, till vanishing from view, Like lessening pebble it withdrew; Still less and less, a speck of white That gemmed the tide, then mocked the sight; And all its hidden secrets sleep, Known but to Genii of the deep, Which, trembling in their coral caves, They dare not whisper to the waves.
As rising on its purple wing The insect-queen of eastern spring, O’er emerald meadows of Kashmeer Invites the young pursuer near, And leads him on from flower to flower A weary chase and wasted hour, Then leaves him, as it soars on high, With panting heart and tearful eye: So beauty lures the full-grown child, With hue as bright, and wing as wild: A chase of idle hopes and fears, Begun in folly, closed in tears.
If won, to equal ills betrayed, Woe waits the insect and the maid; A life of pain, the loss of peace, From infant’s play and man’s caprice: The lovely toy so fiercely sought Hath lost its charm by being caught, For every touch that wooed its stay Hath brushed its brightest hues away, Till charm, and hue, and beauty gone, ‘Tis left to fly or fall alone.
With wounded wing, or bleeding breast, Ah! Where shall either victim rest? Can this with faded pinion soar From rose to tulip as before? Or beauty, blighted in an hour, Find joy within her broken bower? No: gayer insects fluttering by Ne’er droop the wing o’er those that die, And lovelier things have mercy shown To every failing but their own, And every woe a tear can claim Except an erring sister’s shame.
The mind that broods o’er guilty woes, Is like the scorpion girt by fire; In circle narrowing as it glows, The flames around their captive close, Till inly searched by thousand throes, And maddening in her ire, One sad and sole relief she knows, The sting she nourished for her foes, Whose venom never yet was vain, Gives but one pang, and cures all pain, So do the dark in soul expire, Or live like scorpion girt by fire; So writhes the mind remorse hath riven, Unfit for earth, undoomed for heaven, Darkness above, despair beneath, Around it flame, within it death! Black Hassan from the harem flies, Nor bends on woman’s form his eyes; The unwonted chase each hour employs, Yet shares he not the hunter’s joys.
Not thus was Hassan wont to fly When Leila dwelt in his Serai.
Doth Leila there no longer dwell? That tale can only Hassan tell: Strange rumours in our city say Upon that eve she fled away When Rhamazan’s last sun was set, And flashing from each minaret Millions of lamps proclaimed the feast Of Bairam through the boundless East.
‘Twas then she went as to the bath, Which Hassan vainly searched in wrath; For she was flown her master’s rage In likeness of a Georgian page, And far beyond the Moslem’s power Had wronged him with the faithless Giaour.
Somewhat of this had Hassan deemed; But still so fond, so fair she seemed, Too well he trusted to the slave Whose treachery deserved a grave: And on that eve had gone to mosque, And thence to feast in his kiosk.
Such is the tale his Nubians tell, Who did not watch their charge too well; But others say, that on that night, By pale Phingari’s trembling light, The Giaour upon his jet-black steed Was seen, but seen alone to speed With bloody spur along the shore, Nor maid nor page behind him bore.
Her eye’s dark charm ‘twere vain to tell, But gaze on that of the gazelle, It will assist thy fancy well; As large, as languishingly dark, But soul beamed forth in every spark That darted from beneath the lid, Bright as the jewel of Giamschild.
Yea, Soul, and should our prophet say That form was nought but breathing clay, By Allah! I would answer nay; Though on Al-Sirat’s arch I stood, Which totters o’er the fiery flood, With Paradise within my view, And all his Houris beckoning through.
Oh! Who young Leila’s glance could read And keep that portion of his creed, Which saith that woman is but dust, A soulless toy for tyrant’s lust? On her might Muftis might gaze, and own That through her eye the Immortal shone; On her fair cheek’s unfading hue The young pomegranate’s blossoms strew Their bloom in blushes ever new; Her hair in hyacinthine flow, When left to roll its folds below, As midst her handmaids in the hall She stood superior to them all, Hath swept the marble where her feet Gleamed whiter than the mountain sleet Ere from the cloud that gave it birth It fell, and caught one stain of earth.
The cygnet nobly walks the water; So moved on earth Circassia’s daughter, The loveliest bird of Franguestan! As rears her crest the ruffled swan, And spurns the wave with wings of pride, When pass the steps of stranger man Along the banks that bound her tide; Thus rose fair Leila’s whiter neck:- Thus armed with beauty would she check Intrusion’s glance, till folly’s gaze Shrunk from the charms it meant to praise: Thus high and graceful as her gait; Her heart as tender to her mate; Her mate - stern Hassan, who was he? Alas! That name was not for thee! Stern Hassan hath a journey ta'en With twenty vassals in his train, Each armed, as best becomes a man, With arquebuss and ataghan; The chief before, as decked for war, Bears in his belt the scimitar Stain'd with the best of Amaut blood When in the pass the rebels stood, And few returned to tell the tale Of what befell in Parne's vale.
The pistols which his girdle bore Were those that once a pasha wore, Which still, though gemmed and bossed with gold, Even robbers tremble to behold.
'Tis said he goes to woo a bride More true than her who left his side; The faithless slave that broke her bower, And - worse than faithless - for a Giaour! The sun's last rays are on the hill, And sparkle in the fountain rill, Whose welcome waters, cool and clear, Draw blessings from the mountaineer: Here may the loitering merchant Greek Find that repose 'twere vain to seek In cities lodged too near his lord, And trembling for his secret hoard - Here may he rest where none can see, In crowds a slave, in deserts free; And with forbidden wine may stain The bowl a Moslem must not drain.
The foremost Tartar's in the gap, Conspicuous by his yellow cap; The rest in lengthening line the while Wind slowly through the long defile: Above, the mountain rears a peak, Where vultures whet the thirsty beak, And theirs may be a feast tonight, Shall tempt them down ere morrow's light; Beneath, a river's wintry stream Has shrunk before the summer beam, And left a channel bleak and bare, Save shrubs that spring to perish there: Each side the midway path there lay Small broken crags of granite grey By time, or mountain lightning, riven From summits clad in mists of heaven; For where is he that hath beheld The peak of Liakura unveiled? They reach the grove of pine at last: 'Bismillah! now the peril's past; For yonder view the opening plain, And there we'll prick our steeds amain.
' The Chiaus spake, and as he said, A bullet whistled o'er his head; The foremost Tartar bites the ground! Scarce had they time to check the rein, Swift from their steeds the riders bound; But three shall never mount again: Unseen the foes that gave the wound, The dying ask revenge in vain.
With steel unsheathed, and carbine bent, Some o'er their courser's harness leant, Half sheltered by the steed; Some fly behind the nearest rock, And there await the coming shock, Nor tamely stand to bleed Beneath the shaft of foes unseen, Who dare not quit their craggy screen.
Stern Hassan only from his horse Disdains to light, and keeps his course, Till fiery flashes in the van Proclaim too sure the robber-clan Have well secured the only way Could now avail the promised prey; Then curled his very beard with ire, And glared his eye with fiercer fire: ‘Though far and near the bullets hiss, I've 'scaped a bloodier hour than this.
' And now the foe their covert quit, And call his vassals to submit; But Hassan's frown and furious word Are dreaded more than hostile sword, Nor of his little band a man Resigned carbine or ataghan, Nor raised the craven cry, Amaun! In fuller sight, more near and near, The lately ambushed foes appear, And, issuing from the grove, advance Some who on battle-charger prance.
Who leads them on with foreign brand, Far flashing in his red right hand? "Tis he! 'tis he! I know him now; I know him by his pallid brow; I know him by the evil eye That aids his envious treachery; I know him by his jet-black barb: Though now arrayed in Arnaut garb Apostate from his own vile faith, It shall not save him from the death: 'Tis he! well met in any hour, Lost Leila's love, accursed Giaour! As rolls the river into ocean, In sable torrent wildly streaming; As the sea-tide's opposing motion, In azure column Proudly gleaming Beats back the current many a rood, In curling foam and mingling flood, While eddying whirl, and breaking wave, Roused by the blast of winter, rave; Through sparkling spray, in thundering clash, The lightnings of the waters flash In awful whiteness o'er the shore, That shines and shakes beneath the roar; Thus - as the stream, and Ocean greet, With waves that madden as they meet - Thus join the bands, whom mutual wrong, And fate, and fury, drive along.
The bickering sabres’ shivering jar; And pealing wide or ringing near Its echoes on the throbbing ear, The deathshot hissing from afar; The shock, the shout, the groan of war, Reverberate along that vale More suited to the shepherds tale: Though few the numbers - theirs the strife That neither spares nor speaks for life! Ah! fondly youthful hearts can press, To seize and share the dear caress; But love itself could never pant For all that beauty sighs to grant With half the fervour hate bestows Upon the last embrace of foes, When grappling in the fight they fold Those arms that ne'er shall lose their hold: Friends meet to part; love laughs at faith; True foes, once met, are joined till death! With sabre shivered to the hilt, Yet dripping with the blood he spilt; Yet strained within the severed hand Which quivers round that faithless brand; His turban far behind him rolled, And cleft in twain its firmest fold; His flowing robe by falchion torn, And crimson as those clouds of morn That, streaked with dusky red, portend The day shall have a stormy end; A stain on every bush that bore A fragment of his palampore His breast with wounds unnumbered riven, His back to earth, his face to heaven, Fallen Hassan lies - his unclosed eye Yet lowering on his enemy, As if the hour that sealed his fate Surviving left his quenchless hate; And o'er him bends that foe with brow As dark as his that bled below.
'Yes, Leila sleeps beneath the wave, But his shall be a redder grave; Her spirit pointed well the steel Which taught that felon heart to feel.
He called the Prophet, but his power Was vain against the vengeful Giaour: He called on Allah - but the word.
Arose unheeded or unheard.
Thou Paynim fool! could Leila's prayer Be passed, and thine accorded there? I watched my time, I leagued with these, The traitor in his turn to seize; My wrath is wreaked, the deed is done, And now I go - but go alone.
' The browsing camels' bells are tinkling: His mother looked from her lattice high - She saw the dews of eve besprinkling The pasture green beneath her eye, She saw the planets faintly twinkling: ''Tis twilight - sure his train is nigh.
' She could not rest in the garden-bower, But gazed through the grate of his steepest tower: 'Why comes he not? his steeds are fleet, Nor shrink they from the summer heat; Why sends not the bridegroom his promised gift? Is his heart more cold, or his barb less swift? Oh, false reproach! yon Tartar now Has gained our nearest mountain's brow, And warily the steep descends, And now within the valley bends; And he bears the gift at his saddle bow How could I deem his courser slow? Right well my largess shall repay His welcome speed, and weary way.
' The Tartar lighted at the gate, But scarce upheld his fainting weight! His swarthy visage spake distress, But this might be from weariness; His garb with sanguine spots was dyed, But these might be from his courser's side; He drew the token from his vest - Angel of Death! 'tis Hassan's cloven crest! His calpac rent - his caftan red - 'Lady, a fearful bride thy son hath wed: Me, not from mercy, did they spare, But this empurpled pledge to bear.
Peace to the brave! whose blood is spilt: Woe to the Giaour! for his the guilt.
' A turban carved in coarsest stone, A pillar with rank weeds o'ergrown, Whereon can now be scarcely read The Koran verse that mourns the dead, Point out the spot where Hassan fell A victim in that lonely dell.
There sleeps as true an Osmanlie As e'er at Mecca bent the knee; As ever scorned forbidden wine, Or prayed with face towards the shrine, In orisons resumed anew At solemn sound of 'Allah Hu!' Yet died he by a stranger's hand, And stranger in his native land; Yet died he as in arms he stood, And unavenged, at least in blood.
But him the maids of Paradise Impatient to their halls invite, And the dark Heaven of Houris' eyes On him shall glance for ever bright; They come - their kerchiefs green they wave, And welcome with a kiss the brave! Who falls in battle 'gainst a Giaour Is worthiest an immortal bower.
But thou, false Infidel! shalt writhe Beneath avenging Monkir's scythe; And from its torment 'scape alone To wander round lost Eblis' throne; And fire unquenched, unquenchable, Around, within, thy heart shall dwell; Nor ear can hear nor tongue can tell The tortures of that inward hell! But first, on earth as vampire sent, Thy corse shall from its tomb be rent: Then ghastly haunt thy native place, And suck the blood of all thy race; There from thy daughter, sister, wife, At midnight drain the stream of life; Yet loathe the banquet which perforce Must feed thy livid living corse: Thy victims ere they yet expire Shall know the demon for their sire, As cursing thee, thou cursing them, Thy flowers are withered on the stem.
But one that for thy crime must fall, The youngest, most beloved of all, Shall bless thee with a father's name - That word shall wrap thy heart in flame! Yet must thou end thy task, and mark Her cheek's last tinge, her eye's last spark, And the last glassy glance must view Which freezes o'er its lifeless blue; Then with unhallowed hand shalt tear The tresses of her yellow hair, Of which in life a lock when shorn Affection's fondest pledge was worn, But now is borne away by thee, Memorial of thine agony! Wet with thine own best blood shall drip Thy gnashing tooth and haggard lip; Then stalking to thy sullen grave, Go - and with Gouls and Afrits rave; Till these in horror shrink away From spectre more accursed than they! 'How name ye yon lone Caloyer? His features I have scanned before In mine own land: 'tis many a year, Since, dashing by the lonely shore, I saw him urge as fleet a steed As ever served a horseman's need.
But once I saw that face, yet then It was so marked with inward pain, I could not pass it by again; It breathes the same dark spirit now, As death were stamped upon his brow.
''Tis twice three years at summer tide Since first among our freres he came; And here it soothes him to abide For some dark deed he will not name.
But never at our vesper prayer, Nor e'er before confession chair Kneels he, nor recks he when arise Incense or anthem to the skies, But broods within his cell alone, His faith and race alike unknown.
The sea from Paynim land he crost, And here ascended from the coast; Yet seems he not of Othman race, But only Christian in his face: I'd judge him some stray renegade, Repentant of the change he made, Save that he shuns our holy shrine, Nor tastes the sacred bread and wine.
Great largess to these walls he brought, And thus our abbot's favour bought; But were I prior, not a day Should brook such stranger's further stay, Or pent within our penance cell Should doom him there for aye to dwell.
Much in his visions mutters he Of maiden whelmed beneath the sea; Of sabres clashing, foemen flying, Wrongs avenged, and Moslem dying.
On cliff he hath been known to stand, And rave as to some bloody hand Fresh severed from its parent limb, Invisible to all but him, Which beckons onward to his grave, And lures to leap into the wave.
' Dark and unearthly is the scowl That glares beneath his dusky cowl: The flash of that dilating eye Reveals too much of times gone by; Though varying, indistinct its hue, Oft will his glance the gazer rue, For in it lurks that nameless spell, Which speaks, itself unspeakable, A spirit yet unquelled and high, That claims and keeps ascendency; And like the bird whose pinions quake, But cannot fly the gazing snake, Will others quail beneath his look, Nor 'scape the glance they scarce can brook.
From him the half-affrighted friar When met alone would fain retire, As if that eye and bitter smile Transferred to others fear and guile: Not oft to smile descendeth he, And when he doth 'tis sad to see That he but mocks at misery.
How that pale lip will curl and quiver! Then fix once more as if for ever; As if his sorrow or disdain Forbade him e'er to smile again.
Well were it so - such ghastly mirth From joyaunce ne'er derived its birth.
But sadder still it were to trace What once were feelings in that face: Time hath not yet the features fixed, But brighter traits with evil mixed; And there are hues not always faded, Which speak a mind not all degraded Even by the crimes through which it waded: The common crowd but see the gloom Of wayward deeds, and fitting doom; The close observer can espy A noble soul, and lineage high: Alas! though both bestowed in vain, Which grief could change, and guilt could stain, It was no vulgar tenement To which such lofty gifts were lent, And still with little less than dread On such the sight is riveted.
The roofless cot, decayed and rent, Will scarce delay the passer-by; The tower by war or tempest bent, While yet may frown one battlement, Demands and daunts the stranger's eye; Each ivied arch, and pillar lone, Pleads haughtily for glories gone! 'His floating robe around him folding, Slow sweeps he through the columned aisle; With dread beheld, with gloom beholding The rites that sanctify the pile.
But when the anthem shakes the choir, And kneel the monks, his steps retire; By yonder lone and wavering torch His aspect glares within the porch; There will he pause till all is done - And hear the prayer, but utter none.
See - by the half-illumined wall His hood fly back, his dark hair fall, That pale brow wildly wreathing round, As if the Gorgon there had bound The sablest of the serpent-braid That o'er her fearful forehead strayed: For he declines the convent oath And leaves those locks unhallowed growth, But wears our garb in all beside; And, not from piety but pride, Gives wealth to walls that never heard Of his one holy vow nor word.
Lo! - mark ye, as the harmony Peals louder praises to the sky, That livid cheek, that stony air Of mixed defiance and despair! Saint Francis, keep him from the shrine! Else may we dread the wrath divine Made manifest by awful sign.
If ever evil angel bore The form of mortal, such he wore: By all my hope of sins forgiven, Such looks are not of earth nor heaven!' To love the softest hearts are prone, But such can ne'er be all his own; Too timid in his woes to share, Too meek to meet, or brave despair; And sterner hearts alone may feel The wound that time can never heal.
The rugged metal of the mine, Must burn before its surface shine, But plunged within the furnace-flame, It bends and melts - though still the same; Then tempered to thy want, or will, 'Twill serve thee to defend or kill; A breast-plate for thine hour of need, Or blade to bid thy foeman bleed; But if a dagger's form it bear, Let those who shape its edge, beware! Thus passion's fire, and woman's art, Can turn and tame the sterner heart; From these its form and tone are ta'en, And what they make it, must remain, But break - before it bend again.
If solitude succeed to grief, Release from pain is slight relief; The vacant bosom's wilderness Might thank the pang that made it less.
We loathe what none are left to share: Even bliss - 'twere woe alone to bear; The heart once left thus desolate Must fly at last for ease - to hate.
It is as if the dead could feel The icy worm around them steal, And shudder, as the reptiles creep To revel o'er their rotting sleep, Without the power to scare away The cold consumers of their clay I It is as if the desert-bird, Whose beak unlocks her bosom's stream To still her famished nestlings' scream, Nor mourns a life to them transferred, Should rend her rash devoted breast, And find them flown her empty nest.
The keenest pangs the wretched find Are rapture to the dreary void, The leafless desert of the mind, The waste of feelings unemployed.
Who would be doomed to gaze upon A sky without a cloud or sun? Less hideous far the tempest's roar Than ne'er to brave the billows more - Thrown, when the war of winds is o'er, A lonely wreck on fortune's shore, 'Mid sullen calm, and silent bay, Unseen to drop by dull decay; - Better to sink beneath the shock Than moulder piecemeal on the rock! 'Father! thy days have passed in peace, 'Mid counted beads, and countless prayer; To bid the sins of others cease Thyself without a crime or care, Save transient ills that all must bear, Has been thy lot from youth to age; And thou wilt bless thee from the rage Of passions fierce and uncontrolled, Such as thy penitents unfold, Whose secret sins and sorrows rest Within thy pure and pitying breast.
My days, though few, have passed below In much of joy, but more of woe; Yet still in hours of love or strife, I've 'scaped the weariness of life: Now leagued with friends, now girt by foes, I loathed the languor of repose.
Now nothing left to love or hate, No more with hope or pride elate, I'd rather be the thing that crawls Most noxious o'er a dungeon's walls, Than pass my dull, unvarying days, Condemned to meditate and gaze.
Yet, lurks a wish within my breast For rest - but not to feel 'tis rest Soon shall my fate that wish fulfil; And I shall sleep without the dream Of what I was, and would be still, Dark as to thee my deeds may seem: My memory now is but the tomb Of joys long dead; my hope, their doom: Though better to have died with those Than bear a life of lingering woes.
My spirit shrunk not to sustain The searching throes of ceaseless pain; Nor sought the self-accorded grave Of ancient fool and modern knave: Yet death I have not feared to meet; And the field it had been sweet, Had danger wooed me on to move The slave of glory, not of love.
I've braved it - not for honour's boast; I smile at laurels won or lost; To such let others carve their way, For high renown, or hireling pay: But place again before my eyes Aught that I deem a worthy prize The maid I love, the man I hate, And I will hunt the steps of fate, To save or slay, as these require, Through rending steel, and rolling fire: Nor needest thou doubt this speech from one Who would but do ~ what he hath done.
Death is but what the haughty brave, The weak must bear, the wretch must crave; Then let life go to him who gave: I have not quailed to danger's brow When high and happy - need I now? 'I loved her, Friar! nay, adored - But these are words that all can use - I proved it more in deed than word; There's blood upon that dinted sword, A stain its steel can never lose: 'Twas shed for her, who died for me, It warmed the heart of one abhorred: Nay, start not - no - nor bend thy knee, Nor midst my sins such act record; Thou wilt absolve me from the deed, For he was hostile to thy creed! The very name of Nazarene Was wormwood to his Paynim spleen.
Ungrateful fool! since but for brands Well wielded in some hardy hands, And wounds by Galileans given - The surest pass to Turkish heaven For him his Houris still might wait Impatient at the Prophet's gate.
I loved her - love will find its way Through paths where wolves would fear to prey; And if it dares enough, 'twere hard If passion met not some reward - No matter how, or where, or why, I did not vainly seek, nor sigh: Yet sometimes, with remorse, in vain I wish she had not loved again.
She died - I dare not tell thee how; But look - 'tis written on my brow! There read of Cain the curse and crime, In characters unworn by time: Still, ere thou dost condemn me, pause; Not mine the act, though I the cause.
Yet did he but what I had done Had she been false to more than one.
Faithless to him, he gave the blow; But true to me, I laid him low: Howe'er deserved her doom might be, Her treachery was truth to me; To me she gave her heart, that all Which tyranny can ne'er enthral; And I, alas! too late to save! Yet all I then could give, I gave, 'Twas some relief, our foe a grave.
His death sits lightly; but her fate Has made me - what thou well mayest hate.
His doom was sealed - he knew it well Warned by the voice of stern Taheer, Deep in whose darkly boding ear The deathshot pealed of murder near, As filed the troop to where they fell! He died too in the battle broil, A time that heeds nor pain nor toil; One cry to Mahomet for aid, One prayer to Allah all he made: He knew and crossed me in the fray - I gazed upon him where he lay, And watched his spirit ebb away: Though pierced like pard by hunters' steel, He felt not half that now I feel.
I searched, but vainly searched, to find The workings of a wounded mind; Each feature of that sullen corse Betrayed his rage, but no remorse.
Oh, what had vengeance given to trace Despair upon his dying face I The late repentance of that hour, When penitence hath lost her power To tear one terror from the grave, And will not soothe, and cannot save.
'The cold in clime are cold in blood, Their love can scarce deserve the name; But mine was like a lava flood That boils in Etna's breast of flame.
I cannot prate in puling strain Of ladye-love, and beauty's chain: If changing cheek, and searching vein, Lips taught to writhe, but not complain, If bursting heart, and maddening brain, And daring deed, and vengeful steel, And all that I have felt, and feel, Betoken love - that love was mine, And shown by many a bitter sign.
'Tis true, I could not whine nor sigh, I knew but to obtain or die.
I die - but first I have possessed, And come what may, I have been blessed.
Shall I the doom I sought upbraid? No - reft of all, yet undismayed But for the thought of Leila slain, Give me the pleasure with the pain, So would I live and love again.
I grieve, but not, my holy guide! For him who dies, but her who died: She sleeps beneath the wandering wave Ah! had she but an earthly grave, This breaking heart and throbbing head Should seek and share her narrow bed.
She was a form of life and light, That, seen, became a part of sight; And rose, where'er I turned mine eye, The morning-star of memory! 'Yes, love indeed is light from heaven.
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A spark of that immortal fire With angels shared, by Allah given, To lift from earth our low desire.
Devotion wafts the mind above, But Heaven itself descends in love; A feeling from the Godhead caught, To wean from self each sordid thought; A ray of him who formed the whole; A glory circling round the soul ! I grant my love imperfect, all That mortals by the name miscall; Then deem it evil, what thou wilt; But say, oh say, hers was not guilt ! She was my life's unerring light: That quenched, what beam shall break my night? Oh! would it shone to lead me still, Although to death or deadliest ill! Why marvel ye, if they who lose This present joy, this future hope, No more with sorrow meekly cope; In phrensy then their fate accuse; In madness do those fearful deeds That seem to add but guilt to woe? Alas! the breast that inly bleeds Hath nought to dread from outward blow; Who falls from all he knows of bliss, Cares little into what abyss.
Fierce as the gloomy vulture's now To thee, old man, my deeds appear: I read abhorrence on thy brow, And this too was I born to bear! 'Tis true, that, like that bird of prey, With havock have I marked my way: But this was taught me by the dove, To die - and know no second love.
This lesson yet hath man to learn, Taught by the thing he dares to spurn: The bird that sings within the brake, The swan that swims upon the lake, One mate, and one alone, will take.
And let the fool still prone to range, And sneer on all who cannot change, Partake his jest with boasting boys; I envy not his varied joys, But deem such feeble, heartless man, Less than yon solitary swan; Far, far beneath the shallow maid He left believing and betrayed.
Such shame at least was never mine - Leila! each thought was only thine! My good, my guilt, my weal, my woe, My hope on high - my all below.
Earth holds no other like to thee, Or, if it doth, in vain for me: For worlds I dare not view the dame Resembling thee, yet not the same.
The very crimes that mar my youth, This bed of death - attest my truth! 'Tis all too late - thou wert, thou art The cherished madness of my heart! 'And she was lost - and yet I breathed, But not the breath of human life: A serpent round my heart was wreathed, And stung my every thought to strife.
Alike all time, abhorred all place, Shuddering I shrunk from Nature's face, Where every hue that charmed before The blackness of my bosom wore.
The rest thou dost already know, And all my sins, and half my woe.
But talk no more of penitence; Thou see'st I soon shall part from hence: And if thy holy tale were true, The deed that's done canst thou undo? Think me not thankless - but this grief Looks not to priesthood for relief.
My soul's estate in secret guess: But wouldst thou pity more, say less.
When thou canst bid my Leila live, Then will I sue thee to forgive; Then plead my cause in that high place Where purchased masses proffer grace.
Go, when the hunter's hand hath wrung From forest-cave her shrieking young, And calm the lonely lioness: But soothe not - mock not my distress! 'In earlier days, and calmer hours, When heart with heart delights to blend, Where bloom my native valley's bowers I had - Ah! have I now? - a friend! To him this pledge I charge thee send, Memorial of a youthful vow; I would remind him of my end: Though souls absorbed like mine allow Brief thought to distant friendship's claim, Yet dear to him my blighted name.
'Tis strange - he prophesied my doom, And I have smiled - I then could smile - When prudence would his voice assume, And warn - I recked not what - the while: But now remembrance whispers o'er Those accents scarcely marked before.
Say - that his bodings came to pass, And he will start to hear their truth, And wish his words had not been sooth: Tell him, unheeding as I was, Through many a busy bitter scene Of all our golden youth had been, In pain, my faltering tongue had tried To bless his memory ere I died; But Heaven in wrath would turn away, If guilt should for the guiltless pray.
I do not ask him not to blame, Too gentle he to wound my name; And what have I to do with fame? I do not ask him not to mourn, Such cold request might sound like scorn; And what than friendship's manly tear May better grace a brother's bier? But bear this ring, his own of old, And tell him - what thou dost behold! The withered frame, the ruined mind, The wrack by passion left behind, A shrivelled scroll, a scattered leaf, Seared by the autumn blast of grief! 'Tell me no more of fancy's gleam, No, father, no, 'twas not a dream; Alas! the dreamer first must sleep.
I only watched, and wished to weep; But could not, for my burning brow Throbbed to the very brain as now: I wished but for a single tear, As something welcome, new, and dear-; I wished it then, I wish it still; Despair is stronger than my will.
Waste not thine orison, despair Is mightier than thy pious prayer: I would not if I might, be blest; I want no paradise, but rest.
'Twas then, I tell thee, father! then I saw her; yes, she lived again; And shining in her white symar, As through yon pale grey cloud the star Which now I gaze on, as on her, Who looked and looks far lovelier; Dimly I view its trembling spark; Tomorrow's night shall be more dark; And I, before its rays appear, That lifeless thing the living fear.
I wander, father! for my soul Is fleeting towards the final goal.
I saw her, friar! and I rose Forgetful of our former woes; And rushing from my couch, I dart, And clasp her to my desperate heart; I clasp - what is it that I clasp? No breathing form within my grasp, No heart that beats reply to mine, Yet, Leila! yet the form is thine! And art thou, dearest, changed so much, As meet my eye, yet mock my touch? Ah! were thy beauties e'er so cold, I care not; so my arms enfold The all they ever wished to hold.
Alas! around a shadow prest, They shrink upon my lonely breast; Yet still 'tis there! In silence stands, And beckons with beseeching hands! With braided hair, and bright black eye - I knew 'twas false - she could not die! But he is dead! within the dell I saw him buried where he fell; He comes not, for he cannot break From earth; why then art thou awake? They told me wild waves rolled above The face I view, the form I love; They told me - 'twas a hideous tale I I'd tell it, but my tongue would fail: If true, and from thine ocean-cave Thou com'st to claim a calmer grave; Oh! pass thy dewy fingers o'er This brow that then will burn no more; Or place them on my hopeless heart: But, shape or shade! whate'er thou art, In mercy ne'er again depart! Or farther with thee bear my soul Than winds can waft or waters roll! 'Such is my name, and such my tale.
Confessor ! to thy secret ear I breathe the sorrows I bewail, And thank thee for the generous tear This glazing eye could never shed.
Then lay me with the humblest dead, And, save the cross above my head, Be neither name nor emblem spread, By prying stranger to be read, Or stay the passing pilgrims tread.
' He passed - nor of his name and race Hath left a token or a trace, Save what the father must not say Who shrived him on his dying day: This broken tale was all we knew Of her he loved, or him he slew.