Lalla Rookh/The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan
In the eleventh year of the reign of Aurungzebe, Abdalla, King of the Lesser Bucharia, a lineal descendant from the Great Zingis, having abdicated the throne in favor of his son, set out on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Prophet; and, passing into India through the delightful valley of Cashmere, rested for a short time at Delhi on his way. He was entertained by Aurungzebe in a style of magnificent hospitality, worthy alike of the visitor and the host, and was afterwards escorted with the same splendor to Surat, where he embarked for Arabia. During the stay of the Royal Pilgrim at Delhi, a marriage was agreed upon between the Prince, his son, and the youngest daughter of the Emperor, LALLA ROOKH;--a Princess described by the poets of her time as more beautiful than Leila, Shirine, Dewildé, or any of those heroines whose names and loves embellish the songs of Persia and Hindostan. It was intended that the nuptials should be celebrated at Cashmere; where the young King, as soon as the cares of the empire would permit, was to meet, for the first time, his lovely bride, and, after a few months' repose in that enchanting valley, conduct her over the snowy hills into Bucharia.
The day of LALLA ROOKH'S departure from Delhi was as splendid as sunshine and pageantry could make it. The bazaars and baths were all covered with the richest tapestry; hundreds of gilded barges upon the Jumna floated with their banners shining in the water; while through the streets groups of beautiful children went strewing the most delicious flowers around, as in that Persian festival called the Scattering of the Roses; till every part of the city was as fragrant as if a caravan of musk from Khoten had passed through it. The Princess, having taken leave of her kind father, who at parting hung a cornelian of Yemen round her neck, on which was inscribed a verse from the Koran, and having sent a considerable present to the Fakirs, who kept up the Perpetual Lamp in her sister's tomb, meekly ascended the palankeen prepared for her; and while Aurungzebe stood to take a last look from his balcony, the procession moved slowly on the road to Lahore.
Seldom had the Eastern world seen a cavalcade so superb. From the gardens in the suburbs to the Imperial palace, it was one unbroken line of splendor. The gallant appearance of the Rajahs and Mogul lords, distinguished by those insignia of the Emperor's favor, the feathers of the egret of Cashmere in their turbans, and the small silver-rimm'd kettle-drums at the bows of their saddles;--the costly armor of their cavaliers, who vied, on this occasion, with the guards of the great Keder Khan, in the brightness of their silver battle-axes and the massiness of their maces of gold;--the glittering of the gilt pine-apple on the tops of the palankeens;--the embroidered trappings of the elephants, bearing on their backs small turrets, in the shape of little antique temples, within which the Ladies of LALLA ROOKH lay as it were enshrined; --the rose-colored veils of the Princess's own sumptuous litter, at the front of which a fair young female slave sat fanning her through the curtains, with feathers of the Argus pheasant's wing;--and the lovely troop of Tartarian and Cashmerian maids of honor, whom the young King had sent to accompany his bride, and who rode on each side of the litter, upon small Arabian horses;--all was brilliant, tasteful, and magnificent, and pleased even the critical and fastidious FADLADEEN, Great Nazir or Chamberlain of the Haram, who was borne in his palankeen immediately after the Princess, and considered himself not the least important personage of the pageant.
FADLADEEN was a judge of everything,--from the pencilling of a Circassian's eyelids to the deepest questions of science and literature; from the mixture of a conserve of rose-leaves to the composition of an epic poem: and such influence had his opinion upon the various tastes of the day, that all the cooks and poets of Delhi stood in awe of him. His political conduct and opinions were founded upon that line of Sadi,--"Should the Prince at noon-day say, It is night, declare that you behold the moon and stars."--And his zeal for religion, of which Aurungzebe was a munificent protector, was about as disinterested as that of the goldsmith who fell in love with the diamond eyes of the idol of Jaghernaut.
During the first days of their journey, LALLA ROOKH, who had passed all her life within the shadow of the Royal Gardens of Delhi, found enough in the beauty of the scenery through which they passed to interest her mind, and delight her imagination; and when at evening or in the heat of the day they turned off from the high road to those retired and romantic places which had been selected for her encampments,--sometimes, on the banks of a small rivulet, as clear as the waters of the Lake of Pearl; sometimes under the sacred shade of a Banyan tree, from which the view opened upon a glade covered with antelopes; and often in those hidden, embowered spots, described by one from the Isles of the West, as "places of melancholy, delight, and safety, where all the company around was wild peacocks and turtle-doves;"--she felt a charm in these scenes, so lovely and so new to her, which, for a time, made her indifferent to every other amusement. But LALLA ROOKH was young, and the young love variety; nor could the conversation of her Ladies and the Great Chamberlain, FADLADEEN,(the only persons, of course, admitted to her pavilion.) sufficiently enliven those many vacant hours, which were devoted neither to the pillow nor the palankeen. There was a little Persian slave who sung sweetly to the Vina, and who, now and then, lulled the Princess to sleep with the ancient ditties of her country, about the loves of Wavnak and Ezra, the fair-haired Zal and his mistress Rodahver, not forgetting the combat of Rustam with the terrible White Demon. At other times she was amused by those graceful dancing-girls of Delhi, who had been permitted by the Bramins of the Great Pagoda to attend her, much to the horror of the good Mussulman FADLADEEN, who could see nothing graceful or agreeable in idolaters, and to whom the very tinkling of their golden anklets was an abomination.
But these and many other diversions were repeated till they lost all their charm, and the nights and noon-days were beginning to move heavily, when, at length, it was recollected that, among the attendants sent by the bridegroom, was a young poet of Cashmere, much celebrated throughout the Valley for his manner of reciting the Stories of the East, on whom his Royal Master had conferred the privilege of being admitted to the pavilion of the Princess, that he might help to beguile the tediousness of the journey by some of his most agreeable recitals. At the mention of a poet, FADLADEEN elevated his critical eyebrows, and, having refreshed his faculties with a dose of that delicious opium which is distilled from the black poppy of the Thebais, gave orders for the minstrel to be forthwith introduced into the presence.
The Princess, who had once in her life seen a poet from behind the screens of gauze in her father's hall, and had conceived from that specimen no very favorable ideas of the Caste, expected but little in this new exhibition to interest her;--she felt inclined, however, to alter her opinion on the very first appearance of FERAMORZ. He was a youth about LALLA ROOKH'S own age, and graceful as that idol of women, Crishna,--such as he appears to their young imaginations, heroic, beautiful, breathing music from his very eyes, and exalting the religion of his worshippers into love. His dress was simple, yet not without some marks of costliness; and the Ladies of the Princess were not long in discovering that the cloth, which encircled his high Tartarian cap, was of the most delicate kind that the shawl-goats of Tibet supply. Here and there, too, over his vest, which was confined by a flowered girdle of Kashan, hung strings of fine pearl, disposed with an air of studied negligence;--nor did the exquisite embroidery of his sandals escape the observation of these fair critics; who, however they might give way to FADLADEEN upon the unimportant topics of religion and government, had the spirit of martyrs in everything relating to such momentous matters as jewels and embroidery.
For the purpose of relieving the pauses of recitation by music, the young Cashmerian held in his hand a kitar;--such as, in old times, the Arab maids of the West used to listen to by moonlight in the gardens of the Alhambra--and, having premised, with much humility, that the story he was about to relate was founded on the adventures of that Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, who, in the year of the Hegira 163, created such alarm throughout the Eastern Empire, made an obeisance to the Princess, and thus began:--
THE VEILED PROPHET OF KHORASSAN.
In that delightful Province of the Sun,
The first of Persian lands he shines upon.
Where all the loveliest children of his beam,
Flowerets and fruits, blush over every stream,
And, fairest of all streams, the MURGA roves
Among MEROU'S bright palaces and groves;--
There on that throne, to which the blind belief
Of millions raised him, sat the Prophet-Chief,
The Great MOKANNA. O'er his features hung
The Veil, the Silver Veil, which he had flung
In mercy there, to hide from mortal sight
His dazzling brow, till man could bear its light.
For, far less luminous, his votaries said,
Were even the gleams, miraculously shed
O'er MOUSSA'S cheek, when down the Mount he trod
All glowing from the presence of his God!
On either side, with ready hearts and hands,
His chosen guard of bold Believers stands;
Young fire-eyed disputants, who deem their swords,
On points of faith, more eloquent than words;
And such their zeal, there's not a youth with brand
Uplifted there, but at the Chief's command,
Would make his own devoted heart its sheath,
And bless the lips that doomed so dear a death!
In hatred to the Caliph's hue of night,
Their vesture, helms and all, is snowy white;
Their weapons various--some equipt for speed,
With javelins of the light Kathaian reed;
Or bows of buffalo horn and shining quivers
Filled with the stems
that bloom on IRAN'S rivers;
While some, for war's more terrible attacks,
Wield the huge mace and ponderous battle-axe;
And as they wave aloft in morning's beam
The milk-white plumage of their helms, they seem
Like a chenar-tree grove when winter throws
O'er all its tufted heads his feathery snows.
Between the porphyry pillars that uphold
The rich moresque-work of the roof of gold,
Aloft the Haram's curtained galleries rise,
Where thro' the silken net-work, glancing eyes,
From time to time, like sudden gleams that glow
Thro' autumn clouds, shine o'er the pomp below.--
What impious tongue, ye blushing saints, would dare
To hint that aught but Heaven hath placed you there?
Or that the loves of this light world could bind,
In their gross chain, your Prophet's soaring mind?
No--wrongful thought!--commissioned from above
To people Eden's bowers with shapes of love,
(Creatures so bright, that the same lips and eyes
They wear on earth will serve in Paradise,)
There to recline among Heaven's native maids,
And crown the Elect with bliss that never fades--
Well hath the Prophet-Chief his bidding done;
And every beauteous race beneath the sun,
From those who kneel at BRAHMA'S burning fount,
To the fresh nymphs bounding o'er YEMEN'S mounts;
From PERSIA'S eyes of full and fawnlike ray,
To the small, half-shut glances of KATHAY;
And GEORGIA'S bloom, and AZAB'S darker smiles,
And the gold ringlets of the Western Isles;
All, all are there;--each Land its flower hath given,
To form that fair young Nursery for Heaven!
But why this pageant now? this armed array?
What triumph crowds the rich Divan to-day
With turbaned heads of every hue and race,
Bowing before that veiled and awful face,
Like tulip-beds, of different shape and dyes,
Bending beneath the invisible West-wind's sighs!
What new-made mystery now for Faith to sign
And blood to seal, as genuine and divine,
What dazzling mimicry of God's own power
Hath the bold Prophet planned to grace this hour?
Not such the pageant now, tho' not less proud;
Yon warrior youth advancing from the crowd
With silver bow, with belt of broidered crape
And fur-bound bonnet of Bucharian shape.
So fiercely beautiful in form and eye,
Like war's wild planet in a summer sky;
That youth to-day,--a proselyte, worth hordes
Of cooler spirits and less practised swords,--
Is come to join, all bravery and belief,
The creed and standard of the heaven-sent Chief.
Tho' few his years, the West already knows
Young AZIM'S fame;--beyond the Olympian snows
Ere manhood darkened o'er his downy cheek,
O'erwhelmed in fight and captive to the Greek,
He lingered there, till peace dissolved his chains;--
Oh! who could even in bondage tread the plains
Of glorious GREECE nor feel his spirit rise
Kindling within him? who with heart and eyes
Could walk where Liberty had been nor see
The shining foot-prints of her Deity,
Nor feel those god-like breathings in the air
Which mutely told her spirit had been there?
Not he, that youthful warrior,--no, too well
For his soul's quiet worked the awakening spell;
And now, returning to his own dear land,
Full of those dreams of good that, vainly grand,
Haunt the young heart,--proud views of human-kind,
Of men to Gods exalted and refined,--
False views like that horizon's fair deceit
Where earth and heaven but seem, alas, to meet!--
Soon as he heard an Arm Divine was raised
To right the nations, and beheld, emblazed
On the white flag MOKANNA'S host unfurled,
Those words of sunshine, "Freedom to the World,"
At once his faith, his sword, his soul obeyed
The inspiring summons; every chosen blade
That fought beneath that banner's sacred text
Seemed doubly edged for this world and the next;
And ne'er did Faith with her smooth bandage bind
Eyes more devoutly willing to be blind,
In virtue's cause;--never was soul inspired
With livelier trust in what it most desired,
Than his, the enthusiast there, who kneeling, pale
With pious awe before that Silver Veil,
Believes the form to which he bends his knee
Some pure, redeeming angel sent to free
This fettered world from every bond and stain,
And bring its primal glories back again!
Low as young AZIM knelt, that motley crowd
Of all earth's nations sunk the knee and bowed,
With shouts of "ALLA!" echoing long and loud;
Which high in air, above the Prophet's head,
Hundreds of banners to the sunbeam spread
Waved, like the wings of the white birds that fan
The flying throne of star-taught SOLIMAN.
Then thus he spoke:-"Stranger, tho' new the frame
"Thy soul inhabits now. I've trackt its flame
"For many an age, in every chance and change
"Of that existence, thro' whose varied range,--
"As thro' a torch-race where from hand to hand
"The flying youths transmit their shining brand,
"From frame to frame the unextinguisht soul
"Rapidly passes till it reach the goal!
"Nor think 'tis only the gross Spirits warmed
"With duskier fire and for earth's medium formed
"That run this course;--Beings the most divine
"Thus deign thro' dark mortality to shine.
"Such was the Essence that in ADAM dwelt,
"To which all Heaven except the Proud One knelt:
"Such the refined Intelligence that glowed
"In MOUSSA'S frame,--and thence descending flowed
"Thro' many a Prophet's breast;--in ISSA shone
"And in MOHAMMED burned; till hastening on.
"(As a bright river that from fall to fall
"In many a maze descending bright thro' all,
"Finds some fair region where, each labyrinth past,
"In one full lake of light it rests at last)
"That Holy Spirit settling calm and free
"From lapse or shadow centres all in me!
Again throughout the assembly at these words
Thousands of voices rung: the warrior's swords
Were pointed up at heaven; a sudden wind
In the open banners played, and from behind
Those Persian hangings that but ill could screen
The Harem's loveliness, white hands were seen
Waving embroidered scarves whose motion gave
A perfume forth--like those the Houris wave
When beckoning to their bowers the immortal Brave.
"But these," pursued the Chief "are truths sublime,
"That claim a holier mood and calmer time
"Than earth allows us now;--this sword must first
"The darkling prison-house of mankind burst.
"Ere Peace can visit them or Truth let in
"Her wakening daylight on a world of sin.
"But then,--celestial warriors, then when all
"Earth's shrines and thrones before our banner fall,
"When the glad Slave shall at these feet lay down
"His broken chain, the tyrant Lord his crown,
"The Priest his book, the Conqueror his wreath,
"And from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
"Shall like a whirlwind scatter in its breeze
"That whole dark pile of human mockeries:--
"Then shall the reign of mind commence on earth,
"And starting fresh as from a second birth,
"Man in the sunshine of the world's new spring
"Shall walk transparent like some holy thing!
"Then too your Prophet from his angel brow
"Shall cast the Veil that hides its splendors now,
"And gladdened Earth shall thro' her wide expanse
"Bask in the glories of this countenance!
"For thee, young warrior, welcome!--thou hast yet
"Some tasks to learn, some frailties to forget,
"Ere the white war-plume o'er thy brow can wave;--
"But, once my own, mine all till in the grave!"
The pomp is at an end--the crowds are gone--
Each ear and heart still haunted by the tone
Of that deep voice, which thrilled like ALLA'S own!
The Young all dazzled by the plumes and lances,
The glittering throne and Haram's half-caught glances,
The Old deep pondering on the promised reign
Of peace and truth, and all the female train
Ready to risk their eyes could they but gaze
A moment on that brow's miraculous blaze!
But there was one among the chosen maids
Who blushed behind the gallery's silken shades,
One, to whose soul the pageant of to-day
Has been like death:--you saw her pale dismay,
Ye wondering sisterhood, and heard the burst
Of exclamation from her lips when first
She saw that youth, too well, too dearly known,
Silently kneeling at the Prophet's throne.
Ah ZELICA! there was a time when bliss
Shone o'er thy heart from every look of his,
When but to see him, hear him, breathe the air
In which he dwelt was thy soul's fondest prayer;
When round him hung such a perpetual spell,
Whate'er he did, none ever did so well.
Too happy days! when, if he touched a flower
Or gem of thine, 'twas sacred from that hour;
When thou didst study him till every tone
And gesture and dear look became thy own.--
Thy voice like his, the changes of his face
In thine reflected with still lovelier grace,
Like echo, sending back sweet music, fraught
With twice the aerial sweetness it had brought!
Yet now he comes,--brighter than even he
E'er beamed before,--but, ah! not bright for thee;
No--dread, unlookt for, like a visitant
From the other world he comes as if to haunt
Thy guilty soul with dreams of lost delight,
Long lost to all but memory's aching sight:--
Sad dreams! as when the Spirit of our Youth
Returns in sleep, sparkling with all the truth
And innocence once ours and leads us back,
In mournful mockery o'er the shining track
Of our young life and points out every ray
Of hope and peace we've lost upon the way!
Once happy pair!--In proud BOKHARA'S groves,
Who had not heard of their first youthful loves?
Born by that ancient flood, which from its spring
In the dark Mountains swiftly wandering,
Enriched by every pilgrim brook that shines
With relics from BUCHARIA'S ruby mines.
And, lending to the CASPIAN half its strength,
In the cold Lake of Eagles sinks at length;--
There, on the banks of that bright river born,
The flowers that hung above its wave at morn
Blest not the waters as they murmured by
With holier scent and lustre than the sigh
And virgin-glance of first affection cast
Upon their youth's smooth current as it past!
But war disturbed this vision,--far away
From her fond eyes summoned to join the array
Of PERSIA'S warriors on the hills of THRACE,
The youth exchanged his sylvan dwelling-place
For the rude tent and war-field's deathful clash;
His ZELICA'S sweet glances for the flash
Of Grecian wild-fire, and Love's gentle chains
For bleeding bondage on BYZANTIUM'S plains.
Month after month in widowhood of soul
Drooping the maiden saw two summers roll
Their suns away--but, ah, how cold and dim
Even summer suns when not beheld with him!
From time to time ill-omened rumors came
Like spirit-tongues muttering the sick man's name
Just ere he dies:--at length those sounds of dread
Fell withering on her soul, "AZIM is dead!"
Oh Grief beyond all other griefs when fate
First leaves the young heart lone and desolate
In the wide world without that only tie
For which it loved to live or feared to die;--
Lorn as the hung-up lute, that near hath spoken
Since the sad day its master-chord was broken!
Fond maid, the sorrow of her soul was such,
Even reason sunk,--blighted beneath its touch;
And tho' ere long her sanguine spirit rose
Above the first dead pressure of its woes,
Tho' health and bloom returned, the delicate chain
Of thought once tangled never cleared again.
Warm, lively, soft as in youth's happiest day,
The mind was still all there, but turned astray,--
A wandering bark upon whose pathway shone
All stars of heaven except the guiding one!
Again she smiled, nay, much and brightly smiled,
But 'twas a lustre, strange, unreal, wild;
And when she sung to her lute's touching strain,
'Twas like the notes, half ecstasy, half pain,
The bulbul utters ere her soul depart,
When, vanquisht by some minstrel's powerful art,
She dies upon the lute whose sweetness broke her heart!
Such was the mood in which that mission found,
Young ZELICA,--that mission which around
The Eastern world in every region blest
With woman's smile sought out its loveliest
To grace that galaxy of lips and eyes
Which the Veiled Prophet destined for the skies:--
And such quick welcome as a spark receives
Dropt on a bed of Autumn's withered leaves,
Did every tale of these enthusiasts find
In the wild maiden's sorrow-blighted mind.
All fire at once the maddening zeal she caught:--
Elect of Paradise! blest, rapturous thought!
Predestined bride, in heaven's eternal dome,
Of some brave youth--ha! durst they say "of some?"
No--of the one, one only object traced
In her heart's core too deep to be effaced;
The one whose memory, fresh as life, is twined
With every broken link of her lost mind;
Whose image lives tho' Reason's self be wreckt
Safe mid the ruins of her intellect!
Alas, poor ZELICA! it needed all
The fantasy which held thy mind in thrall
To see in that gay Haram's glowing maids
A sainted colony for Eden's shades;
Or dream that he,--of whose unholy flame
Thou wert too soon the victim,--shining came
From Paradise to people its pure sphere
With souls like thine which he hath ruined here!
No--had not reason's light totally set,
And left thee dark thou hadst an amulet
In the loved image graven on thy heart
Which would have saved thee from the tempter's art,
And kept alive in all its bloom of breath
That purity whose fading is love's death!--
But lost, inflamed,--a restless zeal took place
Of the mild virgin's still and feminine grace;
First of the Prophets favorites, proudly first
In zeal and charms, too well the Impostor nurst
Her soul's delirium in whose active flame,
Thus lighting up a young, luxuriant frame,
He saw more potent sorceries to bind
To his dark yoke the spirits of mankind,
More subtle chains than hell itself e'er twined.
No art was spared, no witchery;--all the skill
His demons taught him was employed to fill
Her mind with gloom and ecstasy by turns--
That gloom, thro' which Frenzy but fiercer burns,
That ecstasy which from the depth of sadness
Glares like the maniac's moon whose light is madness!
'Twas from a brilliant banquet where the sound
Of poesy and music breathed around,
Together picturing to her mind and ear
The glories of that heaven, her destined sphere,
Where all was pure, where every stain that lay
Upon the spirit's light should pass away,
And realizing more than youthful love
E'er wisht or dreamed, she should for ever rove
Thro' fields of fragrance by her AZIM'S side,
His own blest, purified, eternal bride!--
T was from a scene, a witching trance like this,
He hurried her away, yet breathing bliss,
To the dim charnel-house;--thro' all its steams
Of damp and death led only by those gleams
Which foul Corruption lights, as with design
To show the gay and proud she too can shine--
And passing on thro' upright ranks of Dead
Which to the maiden, doubly crazed by dread,
Seemed, thro' the bluish death-light round them cast,
To move their lips in mutterings as she past--
There in that awful place, when each had quaft
And pledged in silence such a fearful draught,
Such--oh! the look and taste of that red bowl
Will haunt her till she dies--he bound her soul
By a dark oath, in hell's own language framed,
Never, while earth his mystic presence claimed,
While the blue arch of day hung o'er them both,
Never, by that all-imprecating oath,
In joy or sorrow from his side to sever.--
She swore and the wide charnel echoed "Never, never!"
From that dread hour, entirely, wildly given
To him and--she believed, lost maid!--to heaven;
Her brain, her heart, her passions all inflamed,
How proud she stood, when in full Haram named
The Priestess of the Faith!--how flasht her eyes
With light, alas, that was not of the skies,
When round in trances only less than hers
She saw the Haram kneel, her prostrate worshippers.
Well might MOKANNA think that form alone
Had spells enough to make the world his own:--
Light, lovely limbs to which the spirit's play
Gave motion, airy as the dancing spray,
When from its stem the small bird wings away;
Lips in whose rosy labyrinth when she smiled
The soul was lost, and blushes, swift and wild
As are the momentary meteors sent
Across the uncalm but beauteous firmament.
And then her look--oh! where's the heart so wise
Could unbewildered meet those matchless eyes?
Quick, restless, strange, but exquisite withal,
Like those of angels just before their fall;
Now shadowed with the shames of earth--now crost
By glimpses of the Heaven her heart had lost;
In every glance there broke without control,
The flashes of a bright but troubled soul,
Where sensibility still wildly played
Like lightning round the ruins it had made!
And such was now young ZELICA--so changed
From her who some years since delighted ranged
The almond groves that shade BOKHARA'S tide
All life and bliss with AZIM by her side!
So altered was she now, this festal day,
When, mid the proud Divan's dazzling array,
The vision of that Youth whom she had loved,
Had wept as dead, before her breathed and moved;--
When--bright, she thought, as if from Eden's track
But half-way trodden, he had wandered back
Again to earth, glistening with Eden's light--
Her beauteous AZIM shone before her sight.
O Reason! who shall say what spells renew,
When least we look for it, thy broken clew!
Thro' what small vistas o'er the darkened brain
Thy intellectual day-beam bursts again;
And how like forts to which beleaguerers win
Unhoped-for entrance thro' some friend within,
One clear idea, wakened in the breast
By memory's magic, lets in all the rest.
Would it were thus, unhappy girl, with thee!
But tho' light came, it came but partially;
Enough to show the maze, in which thy sense
Wandered about,--but not to guide it thence;
Enough to glimmer o'er the yawning wave,
But not to point the harbor which might save.
Hours of delight and peace, long left behind,
With that dear form came rushing o'er her mind;
But, oh! to think how deep her soul had gone
In shame and falsehood since those moments shone;
And then her oath--there madness lay again,
And shuddering, back she sunk into her chain
Of mental darkness, as if blest to flee
From light whose every glimpse was agony!
Yet one relief this glance of former years
Brought mingled with its pain,--tears, floods of tears,
Long frozen at her heart, but now like rills
Let loose in spring-time from the snowy hills,
And gushing warm after a sleep of frost,
Thro' valleys where their flow had long been lost.
Sad and subdued, for the first time her frame
Trembled with horror when the summons came
(A summons proud and rare, which all but she,
And she, till now, had heard with ecstasy,)
To meet MOKANNA at his place of prayer,
A garden oratory cool and fair
By the stream's side, where still at close of day
The Prophet of the Veil retired to pray,
Sometimes alone--but oftener far with one,
One chosen nymph to share his orison.
Of late none found such favor in his sight
As the young Priestess; and tho', since that night
When the death-cavorns echoed every tone
Of the dire oath that made her all his own,
The Impostor sure of his infatuate prize
Had more than once thrown off his soul's disguise,
And uttered such unheavenly, monstrous things,
As even across the desperate wanderings
Of a weak intellect, whose lamp was out,
Threw startling shadows of dismay and doubt;--
Yet zeal, ambition, her tremendous vow,
The thought, still haunting her, of that bright brow,
Whose blaze, as yet from mortal eye concealed,
Would soon, proud triumph! be to her revealed,
To her alone;--and then the hope, most dear,
Most wild of all, that her transgression here
Was but a passage thro' earth's grosser fire,
From which the spirit would at last aspire,
Even purer than before,--as perfumes rise
Thro' flame and smoke, most welcome to the skies--
And that when AZIM's fond, divine embrace
Should circle her in heaven, no darkening trace
Would on that bosom he once loved remain.
But all be bright, be pure, be his again!--
These were the wildering dreams, whose curst deceit
Had chained her soul beneath the tempter's feet,
And made her think even damning falsehood sweet.
But now that Shape, which had appalled her view,
That Semblance--oh how terrible, if true!
Which came across her frenzy's full career
With shock of consciousness, cold, deep, severe.
As when in northern seas at midnight dark
An isle of ice encounters some swift bark,
And startling all its wretches from their sleep
By one cold impulse hurls them to the deep;--
So came that shock not frenzy's self could bear,
And waking up each long-lulled image there,
But checkt her headlong soul to sink it in despair!
Wan and dejected, thro' the evening dusk,
She now went slowly to that small kiosk,
Where, pondering alone his impious schemes,
MOKANNA waited her--too wrapt in dreams
Of the fair-ripening future's rich success,
To heed the sorrow, pale and spiritless,
That sat upon his victim's downcast brow,
Or mark how slow her step, how altered now
From the quick, ardent Priestess, whose light bound
Came like a spirit's o'er the unechoing ground,--
From that wild ZELICA whose every glance
Was thrilling fire, whose every thought a trance!
Upon his couch the Veiled MOKANNA lay,
While lamps around--not such as lend their ray,
Glimmering and cold, to those who nightly pray
In holy KOOM, or MECCA'S dim arcades,--
But brilliant, soft, such lights as lovely maids.
Look loveliest in, shed their luxurious glow
Upon his mystic Veil's white glittering flow.
Beside him, 'stead of beads and books of prayer,
Which the world fondly thought he mused on there,
Stood Vases, filled with KISIIMEE'S golden wine,
And the red weepings of the SHIRAZ vine;
Of which his curtained lips full many a draught
Took zealously, as if each drop they quaft
Like ZEMZEM'S Spring of Holiness had power
To freshen the soul's virtues into flower!
And still he drank and pondered--nor could see
The approaching maid, so deep his revery;
At length with fiendish laugh like that which broke
From EBLIS at the Fall of Man he spoke:--
"Yes, ye vile race, for hell's amusement given,
"Too mean for earth, yet claiming kin with heaven;
"God's images, forsooth!--such gods as he
"Whom INDIA serves, the monkey deity;
"Ye creatures of a breath, proud things of clay,
"To whom if LUCIFER, as gran-dams say,
"Refused tho' at the forfeit of heaven's light
"To bend in worship, LUCIFER was right!
"Soon shall I plant this foot upon the neck
"Of your foul race and without fear or check,
"Luxuriating in hate, avenge my shame,
"My deep-felt, long-nurst loathing of man's name!--
"Soon at the head of myriads, blind and fierce
"As hooded falcons, thro' the universe
"I'll sweep my darkening, desolating way,
"Weak man my instrument, curst man my prey!
"Ye wise, ye learned, who grope your dull way on
"By the dim twinkling gleams of ages gone,
"Like superstitious thieves who think the light
"From dead men's marrow guides them best at night--
"Ye shall have honors--wealth--yes, Sages, yes--
"I know, grave fools, your wisdom's nothingness;
"Undazzled it can track yon starry sphere,
"But a gilt stick, a bauble blinds it here.
"How I shall laugh, when trumpeted along
"In lying speech and still more lying song,
"By these learned slaves, the meanest of the throng;
"Their wits brought up, their wisdom shrunk so small,
"A sceptre's puny point can wield it all!
"Ye too, believers of incredible creeds,
"Whose faith enshrines the monsters which it breeds;
"Who, bolder even than NEMROD, think to rise
"By nonsense heapt on nonsense to the skies;
"Ye shall have miracles, ay, sound ones too,
"Seen, heard, attested, everything--but true.
"Your preaching zealots too inspired to seek
"One grace of meaning for the things they speak:
"Your martyrs ready to shed out their blood,
"For truths too heavenly to be understood;
"And your State Priests, sole venders of the lore,
"That works salvation;--as, on AVA'S shore,
"Where none but priests are privileged to trade
"In that best marble of which Gods are made;
"They shall have mysteries--ay precious stuff
"For knaves to thrive by--mysteries enough;
"Dark, tangled doctrines, dark as fraud can weave,
"Which simple votaries shall on trust receive,
"While craftier feign belief till they believe.
"A Heaven too ye must have, ye lords of dust,--
"A splendid Paradise,--pure souls, ye must:
"That Prophet ill sustains his holy call,
"Who finds not heavens to suit the tastes of all;
"Houris for boys, omniscience for sages,
"And wings and glories for all ranks and ages.
"Vain things!--as lust or vanity inspires,
"The heaven of each is but what each desires,
"And, soul or sense, whate'er the object be,
"Man would be man to all eternity!
"So let him--EBLIS! grant this crowning curse,
"But keep him what he is, no Hell were worse."
"Oh my lost soul!" exclaimed the shuddering maid,
Whose ears had drunk like poison all he said:
MOKANNA started--not abasht, afraid,--
He knew no more of fear than one who dwells
Beneath the tropics knows of icicles!
But in those dismal words that reached his ear,
"Oh my lost soul!" there was a sound so drear,
So like that voice among the sinful dead
In which the legend o'er Hell's Gate is read,
That, new as 'twas from her whom naught could dim
Or sink till now, it startled even him.
"Ha, my fair Priestess!"--thus, with ready wile,
The impostor turned to greet her--"thou whose smile
"Hath inspiration in its rosy beam
"Beyond the Enthusiast's hope or Prophet's dream,
"Light of the Faith! who twin'st religion's zeal
"So close with love's, men know not which they feel,
"Nor which to sigh for, in their trance of heart,
"The heaven thou preachest or the heaven thou art!
"What should I be without thee? without thee
"How dull were power, how joyless victory!
"Tho' borne by angels, if that smile of thine
"Blest not my banner 'twere but half divine.
"But--why so mournful, child? those eyes that shone
"All life last night--what!--is their glory gone?
"Come, come--this morn's fatigue hath made them pale,
"They want rekindling--suns themselves would fail
"Did not their comets bring, as I to thee,
"From light's own fount supplies of brilliancy.
"Thou seest this cup--no juice of earth is here,
"But the pure waters of that upper sphere,
"Whose rills o'er ruby beds and topaz flow,
"Catching the gem's bright color as they go.
"Nightly my Genii come and fill these urns--
"Nay, drink--in every drop life's essence burns;
"'Twill make that soul all fire, those eyes all light--
"Come, come, I want thy loveliest smiles to-night:
"There is a youth--why start?--thou saw'st him then;
"Lookt he not nobly? such the godlike men,
"Thou'lt have to woo thee in the bowers above;--
"Tho' he, I fear, hath thoughts too stern for love,
"Too ruled by that cold enemy of bliss
"The world calls virtue--we must conquer this;
"Nay, shrink not, pretty sage! 'tis not for thee
"To scan the mazes of Heaven's mystery:
"The steel must pass thro' fire, ere it can yield
"Fit instruments for mighty hands to wield.
"This very night I mean to try the art
"Of powerful beauty on that warrior's heart.
"All that my Haram boasts of bloom and wit,
"Of skill and charms, most rare and exquisite,
"Shall tempt the boy;--young MIRZALA'S blue eyes
"Whose sleepy lid like snow on violets lies;
"AROUYA'S cheeks warm as a spring-day sun
"And lips that like the seal of SOLOMON
"Have magic in their pressure; ZEBA'S lute,
"And LILLA'S dancing feet that gleam and shoot
"Rapid and white as sea-birds o'er the deep--
"All shall combine their witching powers to steep
"My convert's spirit in that softening trance,
"From which to heaven is but the next advance;--
"That glowing, yielding fusion of the breast.
"On which Religion stamps her image best.
"But hear me, Priestess!--tho' each nymph of these
"Hath some peculiar, practised power to please,
"Some glance or step which at the mirror tried
"First charms herself, then all the world beside:
"There still wants one to make the victory sure,
"One who in every look joins every lure,
"Thro' whom all beauty's beams concentred pass,
"Dazzling and warm as thro' love's burning glass;
"Whose gentle lips persuade without a word,
"Whose words, even when unmeaning, are adored.
"Like inarticulate breathings from a shrine,
"Which our faith takes for granted are divine!
"Such is the nymph we want, all warmth and light,
"To crown the rich temptations of to-night;
"Such the refined enchantress that must be
"This hero's vanquisher,--and thou art she!"
With her hands claspt, her lips apart and pale,
The maid had stood gazing upon the Veil
From which these words like south winds thro' a fence
Of Kerzrah flowers, came filled with pestilence;
So boldly uttered too! as if all dread
Of frowns from her, of virtuous frowns, were fled,
And the wretch felt assured that once plunged in,
Her woman's soul would know no pause in sin!
At first, tho' mute she listened, like a dream
Seemed all he said: nor could her mind whose beam
As yet was weak penetrate half his scheme.
But when at length he uttered, "Thou art she!"
All flasht at once and shrieking piteously,
"Oh not for worlds! "she cried--"Great God! to whom
"I once knelt innocent, is this my doom?
"Are all my dreams, my hopes of heavenly bliss,
"My purity, my pride, then come to this,--
"To live, the wanton of a fiend! to be
"The pander of his guilt--oh infamy!
"And sunk myself as low as hell can steep
"In its hot flood, drag others down as deep!
"Others--ha! yes--that youth who came to-day--
"Not him I loved--not him--oh! do but say,
"But swear to me this moment 'tis not he,
"And I will serve, dark fiend, will worship even thee!"
"Beware, young raving thing!--in time beware,
"Nor utter what I can not, must not bear,
"Even from thy lips. Go--try thy lute, thy voice,
"The boy must feel their magic;--I rejoice
"To see those fires, no matter whence they rise,
"Once more illuming my fait Priestess' eyes;
"And should the youth whom soon those eyes shall warm,
"Indeed resemble thy dead lover's form,
"So much the happier wilt thou find thy doom,
"As one warm lover full of life and bloom
"Excels ten thousand cold ones in the tomb.
"Nay, nay, no frowning, sweet!--those eyes were made
"For love, not anger--I must be obeyed."
"Obeyed!--'tis well--yes, I deserve it all--
"On me, on me Heaven's vengeance can not fall
"Too heavily--but AZIM, brave and true
"And beautiful--must he be ruined too?
"Must he too, glorious as he is, be driven
"A renegade like me from Love and Heaven?
"Like me?--weak wretch, I wrong him--not like me;
"No--he's all truth and strength and purity!
"Fill up your maddening hell-cup to the brim,
"Its witchery, fiends, will have no charm for him.
"Let loose your glowing wantons from their bowers,
"He loves, he loves, and can defy their powers!
"Wretch as I am, in his heart still I reign
"Pure as when first we met, without a stain!
"Tho' ruined--lost--my memory like a charm
"Left by the dead still keeps his soul from harm.
"Oh! never let him know how deep the brow
"He kist at parting is dishonored now;--
"Ne'er tell him how debased, how sunk is she.
"Whom once he loved--once!--still loves dotingly.
"Thou laugh'st, tormentor,--what!--thou it brand my name?
"Do, do--in vain--he'll not believe my shame--
"He thinks me true, that naught beneath God's sky
"Could tempt or change me, and--so once thought I.
"But this is past--tho' worse than death my lot,
"Than hell--'tis nothing while he knows it not.
"Far off to some benighted land I'll fly,
"Where sunbeam ne'er shall enter till I die;
"Where none will ask the lost one whence she came,
"But I may fade and fall without a name.
"And thou--curst man or fiend, whate'er thou art,
"Who found'st this burning plague-spot in my heart,
"And spread'st it--oh, so quick!--thro' soul and frame,
"With more than demon's art, till I became
"A loathsome thing, all pestilence, all flame!--
"If, when I'm gone"--"Hold, fearless maniac, hold,
"Nor tempt my rage--by Heaven, not half so bold
"The puny bird that dares with teasing hum
"Within the crocodile's stretched jaws to come!
"And so thou'lt fly, forsooth?--what!--give up all
"Thy chaste dominion in the Haram Hall,
"Where now to Love and now to ALLA given,
"Half mistress and half saint, thou hang'st as even
"As doth MEDINA'S tomb, 'twixt hell and heaven!
"Thou'lt fly?--as easily may reptiles run,
"The gaunt snake once hath fixt his eyes upon;
"As easily, when caught, the prey may be
"Pluckt from his loving folds, as thou from me.
"No, no, 'tis fixt--let good or ill betide,
"Thou'rt mine till death, till death MOKANNA'S bride!
"Hast thou forgot thy oath?"--
At this dread word,
The Maid whose spirit his rude taunts had stirred
Thro' all its depths and roused an anger there,
That burst and lightened even thro' her despair--
Shrunk back as if a blight were in the breath
That spoke that word and staggered pale as death.
"Yes, my sworn bride, let others seek in bowers
"Their bridal place--the charnel vault was ours!
"Instead of scents and balms, for thee and me
"Rose the rich steams of sweet mortality,
"Gay, flickering death-lights shone while we were wed.
"And for our guests a row of goodly Dead,
"(Immortal spirits in their time, no doubt,)
"From reeking shrouds upon the rite looked out!
"That oath thou heard'st more lips than thine repeat--
"That cup--thou shudderest, Lady,--was it sweet?
"That cup we pledged, the charnel's choicest wine,
"Hath bound thee--ay--body and soul all mine;
"Bound thee by chains that, whether blest or curst
"No matter now, not hell itself shall burst!
"Hence, woman, to the Haram, and look gay,
"Look wild, look--anything but sad; yet stay--
"One moment more--from what this night hath past,
"I see thou know'st me, know'st me well at last.
"Ha! ha! and so, fond thing, thou thought'st all true,
"And that I love mankind?--I do, I do--
"As victims, love them; as the sea-dog dotes
"Upon the small, sweet fry that round him floats;
"Or, as the Nile-bird loves the slime that gives
"That rank and venomous food on which she lives!--
"And, now thou seest my soul's angelic hue,
"'Tis time these features were uncurtained too;--
"This brow, whose light--oh rare celestial light!
"Hath been reserved to bless thy favored sight;
"These dazzling eyes before whose shrouded might
"Thou'st seen immortal Man kneel down and quake--
"Would that they were heaven's lightnings for his sake!
"But turn and look--then wonder, if thou wilt,
"That I should hate, should take revenge, by guilt,
"Upon the hand whose mischief or whose mirth
"Sent me thus mained and monstrous upon earth;
"And on that race who, tho' more vile they be
"Than moving apes, are demigods to me!
"Here--judge if hell, with all its power to damn,
"Can add one curse to the foul thing I am!"--
He raised his veil--the Maid turned slowly round,
Looked at him--shrieked--and sunk upon the ground!
On their arrival next night at the place of encampment they were surprised and delighted to find the groves all around illuminated; some artists of Yamtcheou having been sent on previously for the purpose. On each side of the green alley, which led to the Royal Pavilion, artificial sceneries of bamboo-work were erected, representing arches, minarets, towers, from which hung thousands of silken lanterns painted by the most delicate pencils of Canton.--Nothing could be more beautiful than the leaves of the mango-trees and acacias shining in the light of the bamboo-scenery which shed a lustre round as soft as that of the nights of Peristan.
LALLA ROOKH, however, who was too much occupied by the sad story of ZELICA and her lover to give a thought to anything else, except perhaps him who related it, hurried on through this scene of splendor to her pavilion,--greatly to the mortification of the poor artists of Yamtcheou,--and was followed with equal rapidity by the Great Chamberlain, cursing, as he went, that ancient Mandarin, whose parental anxiety in lighting up the shores of the lake, where his beloved daughter had wandered and been lost, was the origin of these fantastic Chinese illuminations.
Without a moment's delay, young FERAMORZ was introduced, and FADLADEEN, who could never make up his mind as to the merits of a poet till he knew the religious sect to which he belonged, was about to ask him whether he was a Shia or a Sooni when LALLA KOOKH impatiently clapped her hands for silence, and the youth being seated upon the musnud near her proceeded:--
Prepare thy soul, young AZIM!--thou hast braved
The bands of GREECE, still mighty tho' enslaved;
Hast faced her phalanx armed with all its fame,--
Her Macedonian pikes and globes of fame,
All this hast fronted with firm heart and brow,
But a more perilous trial waits thee now,--
Woman's bright eyes, a dazzling host of eyes
From every land where woman smiles or sighs;
Of every hue, as Love may chance to raise
His black or azure banner in their blaze;
And each sweet mode of warfare, from the flash
That lightens boldly thro' the shadowy lash,
To the sly, stealing splendors almost hid
Like swords half-sheathed beneath the downcast lid;--
Such, AZIM, is the lovely, luminous host
Now led against thee; and let conquerors boast
Their fields of fame, he who in virtue arms
A young, warm spirit against beauty's charms,
Who feels her brightness, yet defies her thrall,
Is the best, bravest conqueror of them all.
Now, thro' the Haram chambers, moving lights
And busy shapes proclaim the toilet's rites;--
From room to room the ready handmaids hie,
Some skilled to wreath the turban tastefully,
Or hang the veil in negligence of shade
O'er the warm blushes of the youthful maid,
Who, if between the folds but one eye shone,
Like SEBA'S Queen could vanquish with that one:
While some bring leaves of Henna to imbue
The fingers' ends with a bright roseate hue,
So bright that in the mirror's depth they seem
Like tips of coral branches in the stream:
And others mix the Kohol's jetty dye,
To give that long, dark languish to the eye,
Which makes the maids whom kings are proud to call
From fair Circassia's vales, so beautiful.
All is in motion; rings and plumes and pearls
Are shining everywhere:--some younger girls
Are gone by moonlight to the garden-beds,
To gather fresh, cool chaplets for their heads;--
Gay creatures! sweet, tho' mournful, 'tis to see
How each prefers a garland from that tree
Which brings to mind her childhood's innocent day
And the dear fields and friendships far away.
The maid of INDIA, blest again to hold
In her full lap the Champac's leaves of gold,
Thinks of the time when, by the GANGES' flood,
Her little playmates scattered many a bud
Upon her long black hair with glossy gleam
Just dripping from the consecrated stream;
While the young Arab haunted by the smell
Of her own mountain flowers as by a spell,--
The sweet Alcaya and that courteous tree
Which bows to all who seek its canopy,
Sees called up round her by these magic scents
The well, the camels, and her father's tents;
Sighs for the home she left with little pain,
And wishes even its sorrow back again!
Meanwhile thro' vast illuminated halls,
Silent and bright, where nothing but the falls
Of fragrant waters gushing with cool sound
From many a jasper fount is heard around,
Young AZIM roams bewildered,--nor can guess
What means this maze of light and loneliness.
Here the way leads o'er tesselated floors
Or mats of CAIRO thro' long corridors,
Where ranged in cassolets and silver urns
Sweet wood of aloe or of sandal burns,
And spicy rods such as illume at night
The bowers of TIBET send forth odorous light,
Like Peris' wands, when pointing out the road
For some pure Spirit to its blest abode:--
And here at once the glittering saloon
Bursts on his sight, boundless and bright as noon;
Where in the midst reflecting back the rays
In broken rainbows a fresh fountain plays
High as the enamelled cupola which towers
All rich with Arabesques of gold and flowers:
And the mosaic floor beneath shines thro'
The sprinkling of that fountain's silvery dew,
Like the wet, glistening shells of every dye
That on the margin of the Red Sea lie.
Here too he traces the kind visitings
Of woman's love in those fair, living things
Of land and wave, whose fate--in bondage thrown
For their weak loveliness--is like her own!
On one side gleaming with a sudden grace
Thro' water brilliant as the crystal vase
In which it undulates, small fishes shine
Like golden ingots from a fairy mine;--
While, on the other, latticed lightly in
With odoriferous woods of COMORIN,
Each brilliant bird that wings the air is seen;--
Gay, sparkling loories such as gleam between
The crimson blossoms of the coral-tree
In the warm isles of India's sunny sea:
Mecca's blue sacred pigeon, and the thrush
Of Hindostan whose holy warblings gush
At evening from the tall pagoda's top;--
Those golden birds that in the spice time drop
About the gardens, drunk with that sweet food
Whose scent hath lured them o'er the summer flood;
And those that under Araby's soft sun
Build their high nests of budding cinnamon;
In short, all rare and beauteous things that fly
Thro' the pure element here calmly lie
Sleeping in light, like the green birds that dwell
In Eden's radiant fields of asphodel!
So on, thro' scenes past all imagining,
More like the luxuries of that impious King,
Whom Death's dark Angel with his lightning torch
Struck down and blasted even in Pleasure's porch,
Than the pure dwelling of a Prophet sent
Armed with Heaven's sword for man's enfranchisement--
Young AZIM wandered, looking sternly round,
His simple garb and war-boots clanking sound
But ill according with the pomp and grace
And silent lull of that voluptuous place.
"Is this, then," thought the youth, "is this the way
"To free man's spirit from the deadening sway
"Of worldly sloth,--to teach him while he lives
"To know no bliss but that which virtue gives,
"And when he dies to leave his lofty name
"A light, a landmark on the cliffs of fame?
"It was not so, Land of the generous thought
"And daring deed, thy god-like sages taught;
"It was not thus in bowers of wanton ease
"Thy Freedom nurst her sacred energies;
"Oh! not beneath the enfeebling, withering glow
"Of such dull luxury did those myrtles grow
"With which she wreathed her sword when she would dare
"Immortal deeds; but in the bracing air
"Of toil,--of temperance,--of that high, rare,
"Ethereal virtue, which alone can breathe
"Life, health, and lustre into Freedom's wreath.
"Who that surveys this span of earth we press.--
"This speck of life in time's great wilderness,
"This narrow isthmus 'twixt two boundless seas,
"The past, the future, two eternities!--
"Would sully the bright spot, or leave it bare,
"When he might build him a proud temple there,
"A name that long shall hallow all its space,
"And be each purer soul's high resting-place.
"But no--it cannot be, that one whom God
"Has sent to break the wizard Falsehood's rod,--
"A Prophet of the Truth, whose mission draws
"Its rights from Heaven, should thus profane its cause
"With the world's vulgar pomps;--no, no,--I see--
"He thinks me weak--this glare of luxury
"Is but to tempt, to try the eaglet gaze
"Of my young soul--shine on, 'twill stand the blaze!"
So thought the youth;--but even while he defied
This witching scene he felt its witchery glide
Thro' every sense. The perfume breathing round,
Like a pervading spirit;--the still sound
Of falling waters, lulling as the song
Of Indian bees at sunset when they throng
Around the fragrant NILICA, and deep
In its blue blossoms hum themselves to sleep;
And music, too--dear music! that can touch
Beyond all else the soul that loves it much--
Now heard far off, so far as but to seem
Like the faint, exquisite music of a dream;
All was too much for him, too full of bliss,
The heart could nothing feel, that felt not this;
Softened he sunk upon a couch and gave
His soul up to sweet thoughts like wave on wave
Succeeding in smooth seas when storms are laid;
He thought of ZELICA, his own dear maid,
And of the time when full of blissful sighs
They sat and lookt into each other's eyes,
Silent and happy--as if God had given
Naught else worth looking at on this side heaven.
"Oh, my loved mistress, thou whose spirit still
"Is with me, round me, wander where I will--
"It is for thee, for thee alone I seek
"The paths of glory; to light up thy cheek
"With warm approval--in that gentle look
"To read my praise as in an angel's book,
"And think all toils rewarded when from thee
"I gain a smile worth immortality!
"How shall I bear the moment, when restored
"To that young heart where I alone am Lord.
"Tho' of such bliss unworthy,--since the best
"Alone deserve to be the happiest:--
"When from those lips unbreathed upon for years
"I shall again kiss off the soul-felt tears,
"And find those tears warm as when last they started,
"Those sacred kisses pure as when we parted.
"O my own life!--why should a single day,
"A moment keep me from those arms away?"
While thus he thinks, still nearer on the breeze
Come those delicious, dream-like harmonies,
Each note of which but adds new, downy links
To the soft chain in which his spirit sinks.
He turns him toward the sound, and far away
Thro' a long vista sparkling with the play
Of countless lamps,--like the rich track which Day
Leaves on the waters, when he sinks from us,
So long the path, its light so tremulous;--
He sees a group of female forms advance,
Some chained together in the mazy dance
By fetters forged in the green sunny bowers,
As they were captives to the King of Flowers;
And some disporting round, unlinkt and free,
Who seemed to mock their sisters' slavery;
And round and round them still in wheeling flight
Went like gay moths about a lamp at night;
While others waked, as gracefully along
Their feet kept time, the very soul of song
From psaltery, pipe, and lutes of heavenly thrill,
Or their own youthful voices heavenlier still.
And now they come, now pass before his eye,
Forms such as Nature moulds when she would vie
With Fancy's pencil and give birth to things
Lovely beyond its fairest picturings.
Awhile they dance before him, then divide,
Breaking like rosy clouds at eventide
Around the rich pavilion of the sun,--
Till silently dispersing, one by one,
Thro' many a path that from the chamber leads
To gardens, terraces and moonlight meads,
Their distant laughter comes upon the wind,
And but one trembling nymph remains behind,--
Beckoning them back in vain--for they are gone
And she is left in all that light alone;
No veil to curtain o'er her beauteous brow,
In its young bashfulness more beauteous now;
But a light golden chain-work round her hair,
Such as the maids of YEZD and SHIRAS wear,
From which on either side gracefully hung
A golden amulet in the Arab tongue,
Engraven o'er with some immortal line
From Holy Writ or bard scarce less divine;
While her left hand, as shrinkingly she stood,
Held a small lute of gold and sandal-wood,
Which once or twice she touched with hurried strain,
Then took her trembling fingers off again.
But when at length a timid glance she stole
At AZIM, the sweet gravity of soul
She saw thro' all his features calmed her fear,
And like a half-tamed antelope more near,
Tho' shrinking still, she came;--then sat her down
Upon a musnud's edge, and, bolder grown.
In the pathetic mode of ISFAHAN
Touched a preluding strain and thus began:--
There's a bower of roses by BENDEMEER's stream,
And the nightingale sings round it all the day long;
In the time of my childhood 'twas like a sweet dream,
To sit in the roses and hear the bird's song.
That bower and its music, I never forget,
But oft when alone in the bloom of the year
I think--is the nightingale singing there yet?
Are the roses still bright by the calm BENDEMEER?
No, the roses soon withered that hung o'er the wave,
But some blossoms were gathered while freshly they shone.
And a dew was distilled from their flowers that gave
All the fragrance of summer when summer was gone.
Thus memory draws from delight ere it dies
An essence that breathes of it many a year;
Thus bright to my soul, as 'twas then to my eyes,
Is that bower on the banks of the calm BENDEMEER!
"Poor maiden!" thought the youth, "if thou wert sent
"With thy soft lute and beauty's blandishment
"To wake unholy wishes in this heart,
"Or tempt its truth, thou little know'st the art.
"For tho' thy lips should sweetly counsel wrong,
"Those vestal eyes would disavow its song.
"But thou hast breathed such purity, thy lay
"Returns so fondly to youth's virtuous day,
"And leads thy soul--if e'er it wandered thence--
"So gently back to its first innocence,
"That I would sooner stop the unchained dove,
"When swift returning to its home of love,
"And round its snowy wing new fetters twine.
"Than turn from virtue one pure wish of thine!"
Scarce had this feeling past, when sparkling thro'
The gently open'd curtains of light blue
That veiled the breezy casement, countless eyes
Peeping like stars thro' the blue evening skies,
Looked laughing in as if to mock the pair
That sat so still and melancholy there:--
And now the curtains fly apart and in
From the cool air mid showers of jessamine
Which those without fling after them in play,
Two lightsome maidens spring,--lightsome as they
Who live in the air on odors,--and around
The bright saloon, scarce conscious of the ground,
Chase one another in a varying dance
Of mirth and languor, coyness and advance,
Too eloquently like love's warm pursuit:--
While she who sung so gently to the lute
Her dream of home steals timidly away,
Shrinking as violets do in summer's ray,--
But takes with her from AZIM'S heart that sigh
We sometimes give to forms that pass us by
In the world's crowd, too lovely to remain,
Creatures of light we never see again!
Around the white necks of the nymphs who danced
Hung carcanets of orient gems that glanced
More brilliant than the sea-glass glittering o'er
The hills of crystal on the Caspian shore;
While from their long, dark tresses, in a fall
Of curls descending, bells as musical
As those that on the golden-shafted trees
Of EDEN shake in the eternal breeze,
Rung round their steps, at every bound more sweet.
As 'twere the ecstatic language of their feet.
At length the chase was o'er, and they stood wreathed
Within each other's arms; while soft there breathed
Thro' the cool casement, mingled with the sighs
Of moonlight flowers, music that seemed to rise
From some still lake, so liquidly it rose;
And as it swelled again at each faint close
The ear could track thro' all that maze of chords
And young sweet voices these impassioned words:--
A SPIRIT there is whose fragrant sigh
Is burning now thro' earth and air;
Where cheeks are blushing the Spirit is nigh,
Where lips are meeting the Spirit is there!
His breath is the soul of flowers like these,
And his floating eyes--oh! they resemble
Blue water-lilies, when the breeze
Is making the stream around them tremble.
Hail to thee, hail to thee, kindling power!
Spirit of Love, Spirit of Bliss!
Thy holiest time is the moonlight hour,
And there never was moonlight so sweet as this.
By the fair and brave
Who blushing unite,
Like the sun and wave,
When they meet at night;
By the tear that shows
When passion is nigh,
As the rain-drop flows
From the heat of the sky;
By the first love-beat
Of the youthful heart,
By the bliss to meet,
And the pain to part;
By all that thou hast
To mortals given,
Which--oh, could it last,
This earth were heaven!
We call thee thither, entrancing Power!
Spirit of Love! Spirit of Bliss!
Thy holiest time is the moonlight hour,
And there never was moonlight so sweet as this.
Impatient of a scene whose luxuries stole,
Spite of himself, too deep into his soul,
And where, midst all that the young heart loves most,
Flowers, music, smiles, to yield was to be lost,
The youth had started up and turned away
From the light nymphs and their luxurious lay
To muse upon the pictures that hung round,--
Bright images, that spoke without a sound,
And views like vistas into fairy ground.
But here again new spells came o'er his sense:--
All that the pencil's mute omnipotence
Could call up into life, of soft and fair,
Of fond and passionate, was glowing there;
Nor yet too warm, but touched with that fine art
Which paints of pleasure but the purer part;
Which knows even Beauty when half-veiled is best,--
Like her own radiant planet of the west,
Whose orb when half retired looks loveliest.
There hung the history of the Genii-King,
Traced thro' each gay, voluptuous wandering
With her from SABA'S bowers, in whose bright eyes
He read that to be blest is to be wise;--
Here fond ZULEIKA woos with open arms
The Hebrew boy who flies from her young charms,
Yet flying turns to gaze and half undone
Wishes that Heaven and she could both be won;
And here MOHAMMED born for love and guile
Forgets the Koran in his MARY'S smile;--
Then beckons some kind angel from above
With a new text to consecrate their love.
With rapid step, yet pleased and lingering eye,
Did the youth pass these pictured stories by,
And hastened to a casement where the light
Of the calm moon came in and freshly bright
The fields without were seen sleeping as still
As if no life remained in breeze or rill.
Here paused he while the music now less near
Breathed with a holier language on his ear,
As tho' the distance and that heavenly ray
Thro' which the sounds came floating took away
All that had been too earthly in the lay.
Oh! could he listen to such sounds unmoved,
And by that light--nor dream of her he loved?
Dream on, unconscious boy! while yet thou may'st;
'Tis the last bliss thy soul shall ever taste.
Clasp yet awhile her image to thy heart,
Ere all the light that made it dear depart.
Think of her smiles as when thou saw'st them last,
Clear, beautiful, by naught of earth o'ercast;
Recall her tears to thee at parting given,
Pure as they weep, if angels weep in Heaven.
Think in her own still bower she waits thee now
With the same glow of heart and bloom of brow,
Yet shrined in solitude--thine all, thine only,
Like the one star above thee, bright and lonely.
Oh! that a dream so sweet, so long enjoyed,
Should be so sadly, cruelly destroyed!
The song is husht, the laughing nymphs are flown,
And he is left musing of bliss alone;--
Alone?--no, not alone--that heavy sigh,
That sob of grief which broke from some one nigh--
Whose could it be?--alas! is misery found
Here, even here, on this enchanted ground?
He turns and sees a female form close veiled,
Leaning, as if both heart and strength had failed,
Against a pillar near;--not glittering o'er
With gems and wreaths such as the others wore,
But in that deep-blue, melancholy dress.
BOKHARA'S maidens wear in mindfulness
Of friends or kindred, dead or far away;--
And such as ZELICA had on that day
He left her--when with heart too full to speak
He took away her last warm tears upon his cheek.
A strange emotion stirs within him,--more
Than mere compassion ever waked before;
Unconsciously he opes his arms while she
Springs forward as with life's last energy,
But, swooning in that one convulsive bound,
Sinks ere she reach his arms upon the ground;--
Her veil falls off--her faint hands clasp his knees--
'Tis she herself!--it is ZELICA he sees!
But, ah, so pale, so changed--none but a lover
Could in that wreck of beauty's shrine discover
The once adorned divinity--even he
Stood for some moments mute, and doubtingly
Put back the ringlets from her brow, and gazed
Upon those lids where once such lustre blazed,
Ere he could think she was indeed his own,
Own darling maid whom he so long had known
In joy and sorrow, beautiful in both;
Who, even when grief was heaviest--when loath
He left her for the wars--in that worst hour
Sat in her sorrow like the sweet night-flower,
When darkness brings its weeping glories out,
And spreads its sighs like frankincense about.
"Look up, my ZELICA--one moment show
"Those gentle eyes to me that I may know
"Thy life, thy loveliness is not all gone,
"But there at least shines as it ever shone.
"Come, look upon thy AZIM--one dear glance,
"Like those of old, were heaven! whatever chance
"Hath brought thee here, oh, 'twas a blessed one!
"There--my loved lips--they move--that kiss hath run
"Like the first shoot of life thro' every vein,
"And now I clasp her, mine, all mine again.
"Oh the delight--now, in this very hour,
"When had the whole rich world been in my power,
"I should have singled out thee only thee,
"From the whole world's collected treasury--
"To have thee here--to hang thus fondly o'er
"My own, best, purest ZELICA once more!"
It was indeed the touch of those fond lips
Upon her eyes that chased their short eclipse.
And gradual as the snow at Heaven's breath
Melts off and shows the azure flowers beneath,
Her lids unclosed and the bright eyes were seen
Gazing on his--not, as they late had been,
Quick, restless, wild, but mournfully serene;
As if to lie even for that tranced minute
So near his heart had consolation in it;
And thus to wake in his beloved caress
Took from her soul one half its wretchedness.
But, when she heard him call her good and pure,
Oh! 'twas too much--too dreadful to endure!
Shuddering she broke away from his embrace.
And hiding with both hands her guilty face
Said in a tone whose anguish would have riven
A heart of very marble, "Pure!--oh Heaven!"--
That tone--those looks so changed--the withering blight,
That sin and sorrow leave where'er they light:
The dead despondency of those sunk eyes,
Where once, had he thus met her by surprise,
He would have seen himself, too happy boy,
Reflected in a thousand lights of joy:
And then the place,--that bright, unholy place,
Where vice lay hid beneath each winning grace
And charm of luxury as the viper weaves
Its wily covering of sweet balsam leaves,--
All struck upon his heart, sudden and cold
As death itself;--it needs not to be told--
No, no--he sees it all plain as the brand
Of burning shame can mark--whate'er the hand,
That could from Heaven and him such brightness sever,
'Tis done--to Heaven and him she's lost for ever!
It was a dreadful moment; not the tears,
The lingering, lasting misery of years
Could match that minute's anguish--all the worst
Of sorrow's elements in that dark burst
Broke o'er his soul and with one crash of fate
Laid the whole hopes of his life desolate.
"Oh! curse me not," she cried, as wild he tost
His desperate hand towards Heav'n--"tho' I am lost,
"Think not that guilt, that falsehood made me fall,
"No, no--'twas grief, 'twas madness did it all!
"Nay, doubt me not--tho' all thy love hath ceased--
"I know it hath--yet, yet believe, at least,
"That every spark of reason's light must be
"Quenched in this brain ere I could stray from thee.
"They told me thou wert dead--why, AZIM, why
"Did we not, both of us, that instant die
"When we were parted? oh! couldst thou but know
"With what a deep devotedness of woe
"I wept thy absence--o'er and o'er again
"Thinking of thee, still thee, till thought grew pain,
"And memory like a drop that night and day
"Falls cold and ceaseless wore my heart away.
"Didst thou but know how pale I sat at home,
"My eyes still turned the way thou wert to come,
"And, all the long, long night of hope and fear,
"Thy voice and step still sounding in my ear--
"Oh God! thou wouldst not wonder that at last,
"When every hope was all at once o'ercast,
"When I heard frightful voices round me say
"Azim is dead!--this wretched brain gave way,
"And I became a wreck, at random driven,
"Without one glimpse of reason or of Heaven--
"All wild--and even this quenchless love within
"Turned to foul fires to light me into sin!--
"Thou pitiest me--I knew thou wouldst--that sky
"Hath naught beneath it half so lorn as I.
"The fiend, who lured me hither--hist! come near.
"Or thou too, thou art lost, if he should hear--
"Told me such things--oh! with such devilish art.
"As would have ruined even a holier heart--
"Of thee, and of that ever-radiant sphere,
"Where blest at length, if I but served him here,
"I should for ever live in thy dear sight.
"And drink from those pure eyes eternal light.
"Think, think how lost, how maddened I must be,
"To hope that guilt could lead to God or thee!
"Thou weep'st for me--do weep--oh, that I durst
"Kiss off that tear! but, no--these lips are curst,
"They must not touch thee;--one divine caress,
"One blessed moment of forgetfulness
"I've had within those arms and that shall lie
"Shrined in my soul's deep memory till I die;
"The last of joy's last relics here below,
"The one sweet drop, in all this waste of woe,
"My heart has treasured from affection's spring,
"To soothe and cool its deadly withering!
"But thou--yes, thou must go--for ever go;
"This place is not for thee--for thee! oh no,
"Did I but tell thee half, thy tortured brain
"Would burn like mine, and mine go wild again!
"Enough that Guilt reigns here--that hearts once good
"Now tainted, chilled and broken are his food.--
"Enough that we are parted--that there rolls
"A flood of headlong fate between our souls,
"Whose darkness severs me as wide from thee
"As hell from heaven to all eternity!"
"ZELICA, ZELICA!" the youth exclaimed.
In all the tortures of a mind inflamed
Almost to madness--"by that sacred Heaven,
"Where yet, if prayers can move, thou'lt be forgiven,
"As thou art here--here, in this writhing heart,
"All sinful, wild, and ruined as thou art!
"By the remembrance of our once pure love,
"Which like a church-yard light still burns above
"The grave of our lost souls--which guilt in thee
"Cannot extinguish nor despair in me!
"I do conjure, implore thee to fly hence--
"If thou hast yet one spark of innocence,
"Fly with me from this place"--
"With thee! oh bliss!
"'Tis worth whole years of torment to hear this.
"What! take the lost one with thee?--let her rove
"By thy dear side, as in those days of love,
"When we were both so happy, both so pure--
"Too heavenly dream! if there's on earth a cure
"For the sunk heart, 'tis this--day after day
"To be the blest companion of thy way;
"To hear thy angel eloquence--to see
"Those virtuous eyes for ever turned on me;
"And in their light re-chastened silently,
"Like the stained web that whitens in the sun,
"Grow pure by being purely shone upon!
"And thou wilt pray for me--I know thou wilt--
"At the dim vesper hour when thoughts of guilt
"Come heaviest o'er the heart thou'lt lift thine eyes
"Full of sweet tears unto the darkening skies
"And plead for me with Heaven till I can dare
"To fix my own weak, sinful glances there;
"Till the good angels when they see me cling
"For ever near thee, pale and sorrowing,
"Shall for thy sake pronounce my soul forgiven,
"And bid thee take thy weeping slave to Heaven!
"Oh yes, I'll fly with thee"--
Scarce had she said
These breathless words when a voice deep and dread
As that of MONKER waking up the dead
From their first sleep--so startling 'twas to both--
Rang thro' the casement near, "Thy oath! thy oath!"
Oh Heaven, the ghastliness of that Maid's look!--
"'Tis he," faintly she cried, while terror shook
Her inmost core, nor durst she lift her eyes,
Tho' thro' the casement, now naught but the skies
And moonlight fields were seen, calm as before--
"'Tis he, and I am his--all, all is o'er--
"Go--fly this instant, or thou'rt ruin'd too--
"My oath, my oath, oh God! 'tis all too true,
"True as the worm in this cold heart it is--
"I am MOKANNA'S bride--his, AZIM, his--
"The Dead stood round us while I spoke that vow,
"Their blue lips echoed it--I hear them now!
"Their eyes glared on me, while I pledged that bowl,
"'Twas burning blood--I feel it in my soul!
"And the Veiled Bridegroom--hist! I've seen to-night
"What angels know not of--so foul a sight.
"So horrible--oh! never may'st thou see
"What there lies hid from all but hell and me!
"But I must hence--off, off--I am not thine,
"Nor Heaven's, nor Love's, nor aught that is divine--
"Hold me not--ha! think'st thou the fiends that sever
"Hearts cannot sunder hands?--thus, then--for ever!"
With all that strength which madness lends the weak
She flung away his arm; and with a shriek
Whose sound tho' be should linger out more years
Than wretch e'er told can never leave his ears--
Flew up thro' that long avenue of light,
Fleetly as some dark, ominous bird of night,
Across the sun; and soon was out of sight!
LALLA ROOKH could think of nothing all day but the misery of those two
young lovers. Her gayety was gone, and she looked pensively even upon
FADLAPEEN. She felt, too, without knowing why, a sort of uneasy pleasure
in imagining that AZIM must have been just such a youth as FERAMORZ; just
as worthy to enjoy all the blessings, without any of the pangs, of that
illusive passion, which too often like the sunny apples of Istkahar
is all sweetness on one side and all bitterness on the other.
As they passed along a sequestered river after sunset they saw a young
Hindoo girl upon the bank, whose employment seemed to them so strange that
they stopped their palankeens to observe her. She had lighted a small lamp
filled with oil of cocoa, and placing it in an earthen dish adorned with a
wreath of flowers, had committed it with a trembling hand to the stream;
and was now anxiously watching its progress down the current, heedless of
the gay cavalcade which had drawn up beside her. LALLA ROOKH was all
curiosity;--when one of her attendants, who had lived upon the banks of
the Ganges, (where this ceremony is so frequent that often in the dusk of
the evening the river is seen glittering all over with lights, like the
Oton-tala or Sea of Stars,) informed the princess that it was the
usual way in which the friends of those who had gone on dangerous voyages
offered up vows for their safe return. If the lamp sunk immediately the
omen was disastrous; but if it went shining down the stream and continued
to burn till entirely out of sight, the return of the beloved object was
considered as certain.
LALLA ROOKH as they moved on more than once looked back to observe how the
young Hindoo's lamp proceeded; and while she saw with pleasure that it was
still unextinguished she could not help fearing that all the hopes of this
life were no better than that feeble light upon the river. The remainder
of the journey was passed in silence. She now for the first time felt that
shade of melancholy which comes over the youthful maiden's heart as sweet
and transient as her own breath upon a mirror; nor was it till she heard
the lute of FERAMOKZ, touched lightly at the door of her pavilion that she
waked from the revery in which she had been wandering. Instantly her eyes
were lighted up with pleasure; and after a few unheard remarks from
FADLADEEN upon the indecorum of a poet seating himself in presence of a
Princess everything was arranged as on the preceding evening and all
listened with eagerness while the story was thus continued:--
Whose are the gilded tents that crowd the way,
Where all was waste and silent yesterday?
This City of War which, in a few short hours,
Hath sprung up here, as if the magic powers
Of Him who, in the twinkling of a star,
Built the high pillared halls of CHILMINAR,
Had conjur'd up, far as the eye can see,
This world of tents and domes and sunbright armory:--
Princely pavilions screened by many a fold
Of crimson cloth and topt with balls of gold:--
Steeds with their housings of rich silver spun,
Their chains and poitrels glittering in the sun;
And camels tufted o'er with Yemen's shells
Shaking in every breeze their light-toned bells!
But yester-eve, so motionless around,
So mute was this wide plain that not a sound
But the far torrent or the locust bird
Hunting among thickets could be heard;--
Yet hark! what discords now of every kind,
Shouts, laughs, and screams are revelling in the wind;
The neigh of cavalry;--the tinkling throngs
Of laden camels and their drivers' songs;--
Ringing of arms, and flapping in the breeze
Of streamers from ten thousand canopies;--
War-music bursting out from time to time
With gong and tymbalon's tremendous chime;--
Or in the pause when harsher sounds are mute,
The mellow breathings of some horn or flute,
That far off, broken by the eagle note
Of the Abyssinian trumpet, swell and float.
Who leads this mighty army?--ask ye "who?"
And mark ye not those banners of dark hue,
The Night and Shadow, over yonder tent?--
It is the CALIPH'S glorious armament.
Roused in his Palace by the dread alarms,
That hourly came, of the false Prophet's arms,
And of his host of infidels who hurled
Defiance fierce at Islam and the world,
Tho' worn with Grecian warfare, and behind
The veils of his bright Palace calm reclined,
Yet brooked he not such blasphemy should stain,
Thus unrevenged, the evening of his reign;
But having sworn upon the Holy Grave
To conquer or to perish, once more gave
His shadowy banners proudly to the breeze,
And with an army nurst in victories,
Here stands to crush the rebels that o'errun
His blest and beauteous Province of the Sun.
Ne'er did the march of MAHADI display
Such pomp before;--not even when on his way
To MECCA'S Temple, when both land and sea
Were spoiled to feed the Pilgrim's luxury;
When round him mid the burning sands he saw
Fruits of the North in icy freshness thaw,
And cooled his thirsty lip beneath the glow
Of MECCA'S sun with urns of Persian snow:--
Nor e'er did armament more grand than that
Pour from the kingdoms of the Caliphat.
First, in the van, the People of the Rock
On their light mountain steeds of royal stock:
Then chieftains of DAMASCUS proud to see
The flashing of their swords' rich marquetry;--
Men from the regions near the VOLGA'S mouth
Mixt with the rude, black archers of the South;
And Indian lancers in white-turbaned ranks
From the far SINDE or ATTOCK'S sacred banks,
With dusky legions from the Land of Myrrh,
And many a mace-armed Moor and Midsea islander.
Nor less in number tho' more new and rude
In warfare's school was the vast multitude
That, fired by zeal or by oppression wronged,
Round the white standard of the impostor thronged.
Beside his thousands of Believers--blind,
Burning and headlong as the Samiel wind--
Many who felt and more who feared to feel
The bloody Islamite's converting steel,
Flockt to his banner;--Chiefs of the UZBEK race,
Waving their heron crests with martial grace;
TURKOMANS, countless as their flocks, led forth
From the aromatic pastures of the North;
Wild warriors of the turquoise hills,--and those
Who dwell beyond the everlasting snows
Of HINDOO KOSH, in stormy freedom bred,
Their fort the rock, their camp the torrent's bed.
But none of all who owned the Chief's command
Rushed to that battle-field with bolder hand
Or sterner hate than IRAN'S outlawed men,
Her Worshippers of Fire--all panting then
For vengeance on the accursed Saracen;
Vengeance at last for their dear country spurned,
Her throne usurpt, and her bright shrines o'erturned.
From YEZD'S eternal Mansion of the Fire
Where aged saints in dreams of Heaven expire:
From BADKU and those fountains of blue flame
That burn into the CASPIAN, fierce they came,
Careless for what or whom the blow was sped,
So vengeance triumpht and their tyrants bled.
Such was the wild and miscellaneous host
That high in air their motley banners tost
Around the Prophet-Chief--all eyes still bent
Upon that glittering Veil, where'er it went,
That beacon thro' the battle's stormy flood,
That rainbow of the field whose showers were blood!
Twice hath the sun upon their conflict set
And risen again and found them grappling yet;
While streams of carnage in his noontide blaze,
Smoke up to Heaven--hot as that crimson haze
By which the prostrate Caravan is awed
In the red Desert when the wind's abroad.
"Oh, Swords of God!" the panting CALIPH calls,--
"Thrones for the living--Heaven for him who falls!"--
"On, brave avengers, on," MOKANNA cries,
"And EBLIS blast the recreant slave that flies!"
Now comes the brunt, the crisis of the day--
They clash--they strive--the CALIPH'S troops give way!
MOKANNA'S self plucks the black Banner down,
And now the Orient World's Imperial crown
Is just within his grasp--when, hark, that shout!
Some hand hath checkt the flying Moslem's rout;
And now they turn, they rally--at their head
A warrior, (like those angel youths who led,
In glorious panoply of Heaven's own mail,
The Champions of the Faith thro BEDER'S vale,)
Bold as if gifted with ten thousand lives,
Turns on the fierce pursuers' blades, and drives
At once the multitudinous torrent back--
While hope and courage kindle in his track;
And at each step his bloody falchion makes
Terrible vistas thro' which victory breaks!
In vain MOKANNA, midst the general flight,
Stands like the red moon on some stormy night
Among the fugitive clouds that hurrying by
Leave only her unshaken in the sky--
In vain he yells his desperate curses out,
Deals death promiscuously to all about,
To foes that charge and coward friends that fly,
And seems of all the Great Archenemy.
The panic spreads--"A miracle!" throughout
The Moslem ranks, "a miracle!" they shout,
All gazing on that youth whose coming seems
A light, a glory, such as breaks in dreams;
And every sword, true as o'er billows dim
The needle tracks the lode-star, following him!
Right towards MOKANNA now he cleaves his path,
Impatient cleaves as tho' the bolt of wrath
He bears from Heaven withheld its awful burst
From weaker heads and souls but half way curst,
To break o'er Him, the mightiest and the worst!
But vain his speed--tho', in that hour of blood,
Had all God's seraphs round MOKANNA stood
With swords o'fire ready like fate to fall,
MOKANNA'S soul would have defied them all;
Yet now, the rush of fugitives, too strong
For human force, hurries even him along;
In vain he struggles mid the wedged array
Of flying thousands--he is borne away;
And the sole joy his baffled spirit knows,
In this forced flight, is--murdering as he goes!
As a grim tiger whom the torrent's might
Surprises in some parched ravine at night,
Turns even in drowning on the wretched flocks
Swept with him in that snow-flood from the rocks,
And, to the last, devouring on his way,
Bloodies the stream lie hath not power to stay.
"Alla illa Alla!"--the glad shout renew--
"Alla Akbar"--the Caliph's in MEROU.
Hang out your gilded tapestry in the streets,
And light your shrines and chant your ziraleets.
The swords of God have triumpht--on his throne
Your Caliph sits and the veiled Chief hath flown.
Who does not envy that young warrior now
To whom the Lord of Islam bends his brow,
In all the graceful gratitude of power,
For his throne's safety in that perilous hour?
Who doth not wonder, when, amidst the acclaim
Of thousands heralding to heaven his name--
Mid all those holier harmonies of fame
Which sound along the path of virtuous souls,
Like music round a planet as it rolls,--
He turns away--coldly, as if some gloom
Hung o'er his heart no triumphs can illume;--
Some sightless grief upon whose blasted gaze
Tho' glory's light may play, in vain it plays.
Yes, wretched AZIM! thine is such a grief,
Beyond all hope, all terror, all relief!
A dark, cold calm, which nothing now can break.
Or warm or brighten,--Like that Syrian Lake
Upon whose surface morn and summer shed
Their smiles in vain, for all beneath is dead!--
Hearts there have been o'er which this weight of woe
Came by long use of suffering, tame and slow;
But thine, lost youth! was sudden--over thee
It broke at once, when all seemed ecstasy;
When Hope lookt up and saw the gloomy Past
Melt into splendor and Bliss dawn at last--
'Twas then, even then, o'er joys so freshly blown
This mortal blight of misery came down;
Even then, the full, warm gushings of thy heart
Were checkt--like fount-drops, frozen as they start--
And there like them cold, sunless relics hang,
Each fixt and chilled into a lasting pang.
One sole desire, one passion now remains
To keep life's fever still within his veins,
Vengeance!--dire vengeance on the wretch who cast
O'er him and all he loved that ruinous blast.
For this, when rumors reached him in his flight
Far, far away, after that fatal night,--
Rumors of armies thronging to the attack
Of the Veiled Chief,--for this he winged him back,
Fleet as the Vulture speeds to flags unfurled,
And when all hope seemed desperate, wildly hurled
Himself into the scale and saved a world.
For this he still lives on, careless of all
The wreaths that Glory on his path lets fall;
For this alone exists--like lightning-fire,
To speed one bolt of vengeance and expire!
But safe as yet that Spirit of Evil lives;
With a small band of desperate fugitives,
The last sole stubborn fragment left unriven
Of the proud host that late stood fronting Heaven,
He gained MEROU--breathed a short curse of blood
O'er his lost throne--then past the JIHON'S flood,
And gathering all whose madness of belief
Still saw a Saviour in their down-fallen Chief,
Raised the white banner within NEKSHEB'S gates,
And there, untamed, the approaching conqueror waits.
Of all his Haram, all that busy hive,
With music and with sweets sparkling alive,
He took but one, the partner of his flight,
One--not for love--not for her beauty's light--
No, ZELICA stood withering midst the gay.
Wan as the blossom that fell yesterday
From the Alma tree and dies, while overhead
To-day's young flower is springing in its stead.
Oh, not for love--the deepest Damned must be
Touched with Heaven's glory ere such fiends as he
Can feel one glimpse of Love's divinity.
But no, she is his victim; there lie all
Her charms for him-charms that can never pall,
As long as hell within his heart can stir,
Or one faint trace of Heaven is left in her.
To work an angel's ruin,--to behold
As white a page as Virtue e'er unrolled
Blacken beneath his touch into a scroll
Of damning sins, sealed with a burning soul--
This is his triumph; this the joy accurst,
That ranks him among demons all but first:
This gives the victim that before him lies
Blighted and lost, a glory in his eyes,
A light like that with which hellfire illumes
The ghastly, writhing wretch whom it consumes!
But other tasks now wait him--tasks that need
All the deep daringness of thought and deed
With which the Divs have gifted him--for mark,
Over yon plains which night had else made dark,
Those lanterns countless as the winged lights
That spangle INDIA'S field on showery nights,--
Far as their formidable gleams they shed,
The mighty tents of the beleaguerer spread,
Glimmering along the horizon's dusky line
And thence in nearer circles till they shine
Among the founts and groves o'er which the town
In all its armed magnificence looks down.
Yet, fearless, from his lofty battlements
MOKANNA views that multitude of tents;
Nay, smiles to think that, tho' entoiled, beset,
Not less than myriads dare to front him yet;--
That friendless, throneless, he thus stands at bay,
Even thus a match for myriads such as they.
"Oh, for a sweep of that dark Angel's wing,
"Who brushed the thousands of the Assyrian King
"To darkness in a moment that I might
"People Hell's chambers with yon host to-night!
"But come what may, let who will grasp the throne,
"Caliph or Prophet, Man alike shall groan;
"Let who will torture him, Priest--Caliph--King--
"Alike this loathsome world of his shall ring
"With victims' shrieks and howlings of the slave,--
"Sounds that shall glad me even within my grave!"
Thus, to himself--but to the scanty train
Still left around him, a far different strain:--
"Glorious Defenders of the sacred Crown
"I bear from Heaven whose light nor blood shall drown
"Nor shadow of earth eclipse;--before whose gems
"The paly pomp of this world's diadems,
"The crown of GERASHID. the pillared throne
"Of PARVIZ and the heron crest that shone
"Magnificent o'er ALI'S beauteous eyes.
"Fade like the stars when morn is in the skies:
"Warriors, rejoice--the port to which we've past
"O'er Destiny's dark wave beams out at last!
"Victory's our own--'tis written in that Book
"Upon whose leaves none but the angels look,
"That ISLAM'S sceptre shall beneath the power
"Of her great foe fall broken in that hour
"When the moon's mighty orb before all eyes
"From NEKSHEB'S Holy Well portentously shall rise!
"Now turn and see!"--They turned, and, as he spoke,
A sudden splendor all around them broke,
And they beheld an orb, ample and bright,
Rise from the Holy Well and cast its light
Round the rich city and the plain for miles,--
Flinging such radiance o'er the gilded tiles
Of many a dome and fair-roofed imaret
As autumn suns shed round them when they set.
Instant from all who saw the illusive sign
A murmur broke--"Miraculous! divine!"
The Gheber bowed, thinking his idol star
Had waked, and burst impatient thro' the bar
Of midnight to inflame him to the war;
While he of MOUSSA'S creed saw in that ray
The glorious Light which in his freedom's day
Had rested on the Ark, and now again
Shone out to bless the breaking of his chain.
"To victory!" is at once the cry of all--
Nor stands MOKANNA loitering at that call;
But instant the huge gates are flung aside,
And forth like a diminutive mountain-tide
Into the boundless sea they speed their course
Right on into the MOSLEM'S mighty force.
The watchmen of the camp,--who in their rounds
Had paused and even forgot the punctual sounds
Of the small drum with which they count the night,
To gaze upon that supernatural light,--
Now sink beneath an unexpected arm,
And in a death-groan give their last alarm.
"On for the lamps that light yon lofty screen
"Nor blunt your blades with massacre so mean;
"There rests the CALIPH--speed--one lucky lance
"May now achieve mankind's deliverance."
Desperate the die--such as they only cast
Who venture for a world and stake their last.
But Fate's no longer with him--blade for blade
Springs up to meet them thro' the glimmering shade,
And as the clash is heard new legions soon
Pour to the spot, like bees of KAUZEROON
To the shrill timbrel's summons,--till at length
The mighty camp swarms out in all its strength.
And back to NEKSHEB'S gates covering the plain
With random slaughter drives the adventurous train;
Among the last of whom the Silver Veil
Is seen glittering at times, like the white sail
Of some tost vessel on a stormy night
Catching the tempest's momentary light!
And hath not this brought the proud spirit low!
Nor dashed his brow nor checkt his daring? No.
Tho' half the wretches whom at night he led
To thrones and victory lie disgraced and dead,
Yet morning hears him with unshrinking crest.
Still vaunt of thrones and victory to the rest;--
And they believe him!--oh, the lover may
Distrust that look which steals his soul away;--
The babe may cease to think that it can play
With Heaven's rainbow;--alchymists may doubt
The shining gold their crucible gives out;
But Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast
To some dear falsehood hugs it to the last.
And well the Impostor knew all lures and arts,
That LUCIFER e'er taught to tangle hearts;
Nor, mid these last bold workings of his plot
Against men's souls, is ZELICA forgot.
Ill-fated ZELICA! had reason been
Awake, thro' half the horrors thou hast seen,
Thou never couldst have borne it--Death had come
At once and taken thy wrung spirit home.
But 'twas not so--a torpor, a suspense
Of thought, almost of life, came o'er the intense
And passionate struggles of that fearful night,
When her last hope of peace and heaven took flight:
And tho' at times a gleam of frenzy broke,--
As thro' some dull volcano's veil of smoke
Ominous flashings now and then will start,
Which show the fire's still busy at its heart;
Yet was she mostly wrapt in solemn gloom,--
Not such as AZIM'S, brooding o'er its doom
And calm without as is the brow of death
While busy worms are gnawing underneath--
But in a blank and pulseless torpor free
From thought or pain, a sealed-up apathy
Which left her oft with scarce one living thrill
The cold, pale victim of her torturer's will.
Again, as in MEROU, he had her deckt
Gorgeously out, the Priestess of the sect;
And led her glittering forth before the eyes
Of his rude train as to a sacrifice,--
Pallid as she, the young, devoted Bride
Of the fierce NILE, when, deckt in all the pride
Of nuptial pomp, she sinks into his tide.
And while the wretched maid hung down her head,
And stood as one just risen from the dead
Amid that gazing crowd, the fiend would tell
His credulous slaves it was some charm or spell
Possest her now,--and from that darkened trance
Should dawn ere long their Faith's deliverance.
Or if at times goaded by guilty shame,
Her soul was roused and words of wildness came,
Instant the bold blasphemer would translate
Her ravings into oracles of fate,
Would hail Heaven's signals in her flashing eyes
And call her shrieks the language of the skies!
But vain at length his arts--despair is seen
Gathering around; and famine comes to glean
All that the sword had left unreaped;--in vain
At morn and eve across the northern plain
He looks impatient for the promised spears
Of the wild Hordes and TARTAR mountaineers;
They come not--while his fierce beleaguerers pour
Engines of havoc in, unknown before,
And horrible as new;--javelins, that fly
Enwreathed with smoky flames thro' the dark sky,
And red-hot globes that opening as they mount
Discharge as from a kindled Naphtha fount
Showers of consuming fire o'er all below;
Looking as thro' the illumined night they go
Like those wild birds that by the Magians oft
At festivals of fire were sent aloft
Into the air with blazing fagots tied
To their huge wings, scattering combustion wide.
All night the groans of wretches who expire
In agony beneath these darts of fire
Ring thro' the city--while descending o'er
Its shrines and domes and streets of sycamore,--
Its lone bazars, with their bright cloths of gold,
Since the last peaceful pageant left unrolled,--
Its beauteous marble baths whose idle jets.
Now gush with blood,--and its tall minarets
That late have stood up in the evening glare
Of the red sun, unhallowed by a prayer;--
O'er each in turn the dreadful flame-bolts fall,
And death and conflagration throughout all
The desolate city hold high festival!
MOKANNA sees the world is his no more;--
One sting at parting and his grasp is o'er,
"What! drooping now?"--thus, with unblushing cheek,
He hails the few who yet can hear him speak,
Of all those famished slaves around him lying,
And by the light of blazing temples dying;
"What!--drooping now!--now, when at length we press
"Home o'er the very threshold of success;
"When ALLA from our ranks hath thinned away
"Those grosser branches that kept out his ray
"Of favor from us and we stand at length
"Heirs of his light and children of his strength,
"The chosen few who shall survive the fall
"Of Kings and Thrones, triumphant over all!
"Have you then lost, weak murmurers as you are,
"All faith in him who was your Light, your Star?
"Have you forgot the eye of glory hid
"Beneath this Veil, the flashing of whose lid
"Could like a sun-stroke of the desert wither
"Millions of such as yonder Chief brings hither?
"Long have its lightnings slept--too long--but now
"All earth shall feel the unveiling of this brow!
"To-night--yes, sainted men! this very night,
"I bid you all to a fair festal rite,
"Where--having deep refreshed each weary limb
"With viands such as feast Heaven's cherubim
"And kindled up your souls now sunk and dim
"With that pure wine the Dark-eyed Maids above
"Keep, sealed with precious musk, for those they love,--
"I will myself uncurtain in your sight
"The wonders of this brow's ineffable light;
"Then lead you forth and with a wink disperse
"Yon myriads howling thro' the universe!"
Eager they listen--while each accent darts
New life into their chilled and hope-sick hearts;
Such treacherous life as the cool draught supplies
To him upon the stake who drinks and dies!
Wildly they point their lances to the light
Of the fast sinking sun, and shout "To-night!"--
"To-night," their Chief re-echoes in a voice
Of fiend-like mockery that bids hell rejoice.
Deluded victims!--never hath this earth
Seen mourning half so mournful as their mirth.
Here, to the few whose iron frames had stood
This racking waste of famine and of blood,
Faint, dying wretches clung, from whom the shout
Of triumph like a maniac's laugh broke out:--
There, others, lighted by the smouldering fire,
Danced like wan ghosts about a funeral pyre
Among the dead and dying strewed around;--
While some pale wretch lookt on and from his wound
Plucking the fiery dart by which he bled,
In ghastly transport waved it o'er his head!
'Twas more than midnight now--a fearful pause
Had followed the long shouts, the wild applause,
That lately from those Royal Gardens burst,
Where the veiled demon held his feast accurst,
When ZELICA, alas, poor ruined heart,
In every horror doomed to bear its part!--
Was bidden to the banquet by a slave,
Who, while his quivering lip the summons gave,
Grew black, as tho' the shadows of the grave
Compast him round and ere he could repeat
His message thro', fell lifeless at her feet!
Shuddering she went--a soul-felt pang of fear
A presage that her own dark doom was near,
Roused every feeling and brought Reason back
Once more to writhe her last upon the rack.
All round seemed tranquil even the foe had ceased
As if aware of that demoniac feast
His fiery bolts; and tho' the heavens looked red,
'Twas but some distant conflagration's spread.
But hark--she stops--she listens--dreadful tone!
'Tis her Tormentor's laugh--and now, a groan,
A long death-groan comes with it--can this be
The place of mirth, the bower of revelry?
She enters--Holy ALLA, what a sight
Was there before her! By the glimmering light
Of the pale dawn, mixt with the flare of brands
That round lay burning dropt from lifeless hands,
She saw the board in splendid mockery spread,
Rich censers breathing--garlands overhead--
The urns, the cups, from which they late had quaft
All gold and gems, but--what had been the draught?
Oh! who need ask that saw those livid guests,
With their swollen heads sunk blackening on their breasts,
Or looking pale to Heaven with glassy glare,
As if they sought but saw no mercy there;
As if they felt, tho' poison racked them thro',
Remorse the deadlier torment of the two!
While some, the bravest, hardiest in the train
Of their false Chief, who on the battle-plain
Would have met death with transport by his side,
Here mute and helpless gasped;--but as they died
Lookt horrible vengeance with their eyes' last strain,
And clenched the slackening hand at him in vain.
Dreadful it was to see the ghastly stare,
The stony look of horror and despair,
Which some of these expiring victims cast
Upon their souls' tormentor to the last;
Upon that mocking Fiend whose Veil now raised,
Showed them as in death's agony they gazed,
Not the long promised light, the brow whose beaming
Was to come forth, all conquering, all redeeming,
But features horribler than Hell e'er traced
On its own brood;--no Demon of the Waste,
No church-yard Ghoul caught lingering in the light
Of the blest sun, e'er blasted human sight
With lineaments so foul, so fierce as those
The Impostor now in grinning mockery shows:--
"There, ye wise Saints, behold your Light, your Star--
"Ye would be dupes and victims and ye are.
"Is it enough? or must I, while a thrill
"Lives in your sapient bosoms, cheat you still?
"Swear that the burning death ye feel within
"Is but the trance with which Heaven's joys begin:
"That this foul visage, foul as e'er disgraced
"Even monstrous men, is--after God's own taste;
"And that--but see!--ere I have half-way said
"My greetings thro', the uncourteous souls are fled.
"Farewell, sweet spirits! not in vain ye die,
"If EBLIS loves you half so well as I.--
"Ha, my young bride!--'tis well--take thou thy seat;
"Nay come--no shuddering--didst thou never meet
"The Dead before?--they graced our wedding, sweet;
"And these, my guests to-night, have brimmed so true
"Their parting cups, that thou shalt pledge one too.
"But--how is this?--all empty? all drunk up?
"Hot lips have been before thee in the cup,
"Young bride,--yet stay--one precious drop remains,
"Enough to warm a gentle Priestess' veins;--
"Here, drink--and should thy lover's conquering arms
"Speed hither ere thy lip lose all its charms,
"Give him but half this venom in thy kiss,
"And I'll forgive my haughty rival's bliss!
"For, me--I too must die--but not like these
"Vile rankling things to fester in the breeze;
"To have this brow in ruffian triumph shown,
"With all death's grimness added to its own,
"And rot to dust beneath the taunting eyes
"Of slaves, exclaiming, 'There his Godship lies!'
"No--cursed race--since first my soul drew breath,
"They've been my dupes and shall be even in death.
"Thou seest yon cistern in the shade--'tis filled
"With burning drugs for this last hour distilled;
"There will I plunge me, in that liquid flame--
"Fit bath to lave a dying Prophet's frame!--
"There perish, all--ere pulse of thine shall fail--
"Nor leave one limb to tell mankind the tale.
"So shall my votaries, wheresoe'er they rave,
"Proclaim that Heaven took back the Saint it gave;--
"That I've but vanished from this earth awhile,
"To come again with bright, unshrouded smile!
"So shall they build me altars in their zeal,
"Where knaves shall minister and fools shall kneel;
"Where Faith may mutter o'er her mystic spell,
"Written in blood--and Bigotry may swell
"The sail he spreads for Heaven with blasts from hell!
"So shall my banner thro' long ages be
"The rallying sign of fraud and anarchy;--
"Kings yet unborn shall rue MOKANNA'S name,
"And tho' I die my spirit still the same
"Shall walk abroad in all the stormy strife,
"And guilt and blood that were its bliss in life.
"But hark! their battering engine shakes the wall--
"Why, let it shake--thus I can brave them all.
"No trace of me shall greet them when they come,
"And I can trust thy faith, for--thou'lt be dumb.
"Now mark how readily a wretch like me
"In one bold plunge commences Deity!"
He sprung and sunk as the last words were said--
Quick closed the burning waters o'er his head,
And ZELICA was left--within the ring
Of those wide walls the only living thing;
The only wretched one still curst with breath
In all that frightful wilderness of death!
More like some bloodless ghost--such as they tell,
In the Lone Cities of the Silent dwell,
And there unseen of all but ALLA sit
Each by its own pale carcass watching it.
But morn is up and a fresh warfare stirs
Throughout the camp of the beleaguerers.
Their globes of fire (the dread artillery lent
By GREECE to conquering MAHADI) are spent;
And now the scorpion's shaft, the quarry sent
From high balistas and the shielded throng
Of soldiers swinging the huge ram along,
All speak the impatient Islamite's intent
To try, at length, if tower and battlement
And bastioned wall be not less hard to win,
Less tough to break down than the hearts within.
First he, in impatience and in toil is
The burning AZIM--oh! could he but see
The impostor once alive within his grasp,
Not the gaunt lion's hug nor boa's clasp
Could match thy gripe of vengeance or keep pace
With the fell heartiness of Hate's embrace!
Loud rings the ponderous ram against the walls;
Now shake the ramparts, now a buttress falls,
But, still no breach--"Once more one mighty swing
"Of all your beams, together thundering!"
There--the wall shakes--the shouting troops exult,
"Quick, quick discharge your weightiest catapult
"Right on that spot and NEKSHEB is our own!"
'Tis done--the battlements come crashing down,
And the huge wall by that stroke riven in two
Yawning like some old crater rent anew,
Shows the dim, desolate city smoking thro'.
But strange! no sign of life--naught living seen
Above, below--what can this stillness mean?
A minute's pause suspends all hearts and eyes--
"In thro' the breach," impetuous AZIM cries;
But the cool CALIPH fearful of some wile
In this blank stillness checks the troops awhile.--
Just then a figure with slow step advanced
Forth from the ruined walls and as there glanced
A sunbeam over it all eyes could see
The well-known Silver Veil!--"'Tis He, 'tis He,
"MOKANNA and alone!" they shout around;
Young AZIM from his steed springs to the ground--
"Mine, Holy Caliph! mine," he cries, "the task
"To crush yon daring wretch--'tis all I ask."
Eager he darts to meet the demon foe
Who still across wide heaps of ruin slow
And falteringly comes, till they are near;
Then with a bound rushes on AZIM'S spear,
And casting off the Veil in falling shows--
Oh!--'tis his ZELICA'S life-blood that flows!
"I meant not, AZIM," soothingly she said,
As on his trembling arm she leaned her head,
And looking in his face saw anguish there
Beyond all wounds the quivering flesh can bear--
"I meant not thou shouldst have the pain of this:--
"Tho' death with thee thus tasted is a bliss
"Thou wouldst not rob me of, didst thou but know
"How oft I've prayed to God I might die so!
"But the Fiend's venom was too scant and slow;--
"To linger on were maddening--and I thought
"If once that Veil--nay, look not on it--caught
"The eyes of your fierce soldiery, I should be
"Struck by a thousand death-darts instantly.
"But this is sweeter--oh! believe me, yes--
"I would not change this sad, but dear caress.
"This death within thy arms I would not give
"For the most smiling life the happiest live!
"All that stood dark and drear before the eye
"Of my strayed soul is passing swiftly by;
"A light comes o'er me from those looks of love,
"Like the first dawn of mercy from above;
"And if thy lips but tell me I'm forgiven,
"Angels will echo the blest words in Heaven!
"But live, my AZIM;--oh! to call thee mine
"Thus once again! my AZIM--dream divine!
"Live, if thou ever lovedst me, if to meet
"Thy ZELICA hereafter would be sweet,
"Oh, live to pray for her--to bend the knee
"Morning and night before that Deity
"To whom pure lips and hearts without a stain,
"As thine are, AZIM, never breathed in vain,--
"And pray that He may pardon her,--may take
"Compassion on her soul for thy dear sake,
"And naught remembering but her love to thee,
"Make her all thine, all His, eternally!
"Go to those happy fields where first we twined
"Our youthful hearts together--every wind
"That meets thee there fresh from the well-known flowers
"Will bring the sweetness of those innocent hours
"Back to thy soul and thou mayst feel again
"For thy poor ZELICA as thou didst then.
"So shall thy orisons like dew that flies
"To Heaven upon the morning's sunshine rise
"With all love's earliest ardor to the skies!
"And should they--but, alas, my senses fail--
"Oh for one minute!--should thy prayers prevail--
"If pardoned souls may from that World of Bliss
"Reveal their joy to those they love in this--
"I'll come to thee--in some sweet dream--and tell--
"Oh Heaven--I die--dear love! farewell, farewell."
Time fleeted--years on years had past away,
And few of those who on that mournful day
Had stood with pity in their eyes to see
The maiden's death and the youth's agony,
Were living still--when, by a rustic grave,
Beside the swift Amoo's transparent wave,
An aged man who had grown aged there
By that lone grave, morning and night in prayer,
For the last time knelt down--and tho' the shade
Of death hung darkening over him there played
A gleam of rapture on his eye and cheek,
That brightened even Death--like the last streak
Of intense glory on the horizon's brim,
When night o'er all the rest hangs chill and dim.
His soul had seen a Vision while he slept;
She for whose spirit he had prayed and wept
So many years had come to him all drest
In angel smiles and told him she was blest!
For this the old man breathed his thanks and died.--
And there upon the banks of that loved tide,
He and his ZELICA sleep side by side.
- These particulars of the visit of the King of Bucharia to Aurungzebe are found in Dow's "History of Hindostan," vol. iii. p. 392.
- Tulip cheek.
- The mistress of Mejnoun, upon whose story so many Romances in all the languages of the East are founded.
- For the loves of this celebrated beauty with Khosrou and with Ferhad, see D'Herbelot, Gibbon, Oriental Collections, etc.
- "The history of the loves of Dewildé and Chizer, the son of the Emperor Alla, is written in an elegant poem, by the noble Chusero."- Ferishta.
- Gul Reazee.
- "One mark of honor or knighthood bestowed by the Emperor is the permission to wear a small kettle-drum at the bows of their saddles, which at first was invented for the training of hawks, and to call them to the lure, and is worn in the field by all sportsmen to that end."--Fryer's Travels. "Those on whom the King has conferred the privilege must wear an ornament of jewels on the right side of the turban, surmounted by a high plume of the feathers of a kind of egret. This bird is found only in Cashmere, and the feathers are carefully collected for the King, who bestows them on his nobles."--Elphinstone's Account of Cabul.
- "Khedar Khan, the Khakan, or King of Turquestan beyond the Gibon (at the end of the eleventh century), whenever he appeared abroad was preceded by seven hundred horsemen with silver battle-axes, and was followed by an equal number bearing maces of gold. He was a great patron of poetry, and it was he who used to preside at public exercises of genius, with four basins of gold and silver by him to distribute among the poets who excelled."--Richardson's Dissertation prefixed to his Dictionary.
- "The kubdeh, a large golden knob, generally in the shape of a pine-apple, on the top of the canopy over the litter or palanquin."--Scott's Notes on the Bahardanush.
- In the Poem of Zohair, in the Moallakat, there is the following lively description of "a company of maidens seated on camels." "They are mounted in carriages covered with costly awnings, and with rose-colored veils, the linings of which have the hue of crimson Andem-wood. "When they ascend from the bosom of the vale, they sit forward on the saddlecloth, with every mark of a voluptuous gayety. "Now, When they have reached the brink of yon blue-gushing rivulet, they fix the poles of their tents like the Arab with a settled mansion."
- See Bernier's description of the attendants on Rauchanara Begum, in her progress to Cashmere.
- his hypocritical Emperor would have made a worthy associate of certain Holy Leagues.--"He held the cloak of religion [says Dow] between his actions and the vulgar; and impiously thanked the Divinity for a success which he owed to his own wickedness. When he was murdering and persecuting his brothers and their families, he was building a magnificent mosque at Delhi, as an offering to God for his assistance to him in the civil wars. He acted as high priest at the consecration of this temple; and made a practice of attending divine service there, in the humble dress of a Fakeer. But when he lifted one hand to the Divinity, he, with the other, signed warrants for the assassination of his relations."--"History of Hindostan,". vol. iii. p.335. See also the curious letter of Aurungzebe, given in the Oriental Collections, vol. i. p.320.
- "The idol at Jaghernat has two fine diamonds for eyes. No goldsmith is suffered to enter the Pagoda, one having stole one of these eyes, being locked up all night with the Idol."--Tavernier.
- See a description of these royal Gardens in "An Account of the present State of Delhi, by Lieut. W. Franklin."--Asiat. Research, vol. iv. p. 417.
- "In the neighborhood is Notte Gill, or the Lake of Pearl, which receives this name from its pellucid water."--Pennant's "Hindostan." "Nasir Jung encamped in the vicinity of the Lake of Tonoor, amused himself with sailing on that clear and beautiful water, and gave it the fanciful name of Motee Talah, 'the Lake of Pearls,' which it still retains."--Wilks's "South of India."
- Sir Thomas Roe, Ambassador from James I. to Jehanguire.
- "The romance Wemakweazra, written in Persian verse, which contains the loves of Wamak and Ezra, two celebrated lovers who lived before the time of Mahomet."--Note on the Oriental Tales.
- Their amour is recounted in the Shah-Namêh of Ferdousi; and there is much beauty in the passage which describes the slaves of Rodahver sitting on the bank of the river and throwing flowers into the stream, in order to draw the attention of the young Hero who is encamped on the opposite side.--See Champion's translation.
- Rustam is the Hercules of the Persians. For the particulars of his victory over the Sepeed Deeve, or White Demon, see Oriental Collections, vol. ii. p. 45.--Near the city of Shiraz is an immense quadrangular monument, in commemoration of this combat, called the Kelaat-i-Deev Sepeed, or castle of the White Giant, which Father Angelo, in his "Gazophilacium Persicum," p.127, declares to have been the most memorable monument of antiquity which he had seen in Persia.--See Ouseley's "Persian Miscellanies."
- "The women of the Idol, or dancing girls of the Pagoda, have little golden bells, fastened to their feet, the soft harmonious tinkling of which vibrates in unison with the exquisite melody of their voices."--Maurice's "Indian Antiquities." "The Arabian courtesans, like the Indian women, have little golden bells fastened round their legs, neck, and elbows, to the sound of which they dance before the King. The Arabian princesses wear golden rings on their fingers, to which little bells are suspended, as well as in the flowing tresses of their hair, that their superior rank may be known and they themselves receive in passing the homage due to them."--See Calmet's Dictionary, art. "Bells."
- The Indian Apollo. "He and the three Ramas are described as youths of perfect beauty, and the princesses of Hindustan were all passionately in love with Chrishna, who continues to this hour the darling God of the Indan women."--Sir W. Jones, on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India.
- See Turner's Embassy for a description of this animal, "the most beautiful among the whole tribe of goats." The material for the shawls (which is carried to Cashmere) is found next the skin.
- For the real history of this Impostor, whose original name was Hakem ben Haschem, and who was called Mocanna from the veil of silver gauze (or, as others say, golden) which he always wore, see D'Herbelot.
- Khorassan signifies, in the old Persian language, Province or Region of the Sun.--Sir W. Jones.
- "The fruits of Meru are finer than those of any other place: and one cannot see in any other city such palaces with groves, and streams, and gardens."--Ebn Haukal's Geography.
- One of the royal cities of Khorassan.
- Black was the color adopted by the Caliphs of the House of Abbas, in their garments, turbans, and standards.
- "Our dark javelins, exquisitely wrought of Khathaian reeds, slender and delicate."--Poem of Amru.
- Pichula, used anciently for arrows by the Persians.
- The Persians call this plant Gaz. The celebrated shaft of Isfendiar, one of their ancient heroes, was made of it.--"Nothing can be more beautiful than the appearance of this plant in flower during the rains on the banks of rivers, where it is usually interwoven with a lovely twining asclepias."--Sir W. Jones.
- The oriental plane. "The chenar is a delightful tree; its bole is of a fine white and smooth bark; and its foliage, which grows in a tuft at the summit, is of a bright green."--Morier's Travels.
- The burning fountains of Brahma near Chittogong, esteemed as holy.--Turner.
- "The name of tulip is said to be of Turkish extraction, and given to the flower on account of its resembling a turban."--Beckmann's History of Inventions.
- "The inhabitants of Bucharia wear a round cloth bonnet, shaped much after the Polish fashion, having a large fur border. They tie their kaftans about the middle with a girdle of a kind of silk crape, several times round the body."--Account of Independent Tartary, in Pinkerton's Collection.
- In the war of the Caliph Mahadi against the Empress Irene, for an account of which vide Gibbon, vol. x.
- When Soliman travelled, the eastern writers say, "He had a carpet of green silk on which his throne was placed, being of a prodigious length and breadth, and sufficient for all his forces to stand upon, the men placing themselves on his right hand, and the spirits on his left; and that when all were in order, the wind, at his command, took up the carpet, and transported it, with all that were upon it, wherever he pleased; the army of birds at the same time flying over their heads, and forming a kind of canopy to shade them from the sun."--Sale's Koran, vol. ii. p. 214, note.
- The transmigration of souls was one of his doctrines.--Vide D'Herbelot.
- "And when we said unto the angels. Worship Adam, they all worshipped him except Eblis (Lucifer), who refused." The. Koran, chap. ii.
- The Amu, which rises in the Belur Tag, or Dark Mountains, and running nearly from east to west, splits into two branches; one of which falls into the Caspian Sea, and the other into Aral Nahr, or the Lake of Eagles.
- The nightingale.
- The cities of Com (or Koom) and Cashan are full of mosques, mausoleums and sepulchres of the descendants of Ali, the Saints of Persia --Chardin.
- An island in the Persian Gulf, celebrated for its white wine.
- The miraculous well at Mecca: so called, says Sale, from the murmuring of its waters.
- The god Hannaman.--"Apes are in many parts of India highly venerated, out of respect to the God Hannaman, a deity partaking of the form of that race."--Pennant's Hindoostan. See a curious account in Stephen's Persia, of a solemn embassy from some part of the Indies to Goa when the Portuguese were there, offering vast treasures for the recovery of a monkey's tooth, which they held in great veneration, and which had been taken away upon the conquest of the kingdom of Jafanapatan.
- A kind of lantern formerly used by robbers, called the Hand of Glory, the candle for which was made of the fat of a dead malefactor. This, however, was rather a western than an eastern superstition.
- The material of which images of Gaudma (the Birman Deity) are made, is held sacred. "Birmans may not purchase the marble in mass, but are suffered, and indeed encouraged, to buy figures of the Deity ready made." --Sytnes's "Ava," vol. ii. p. 876.
- "It is commonly said in Persia, that if a man breathe in the hot south wind, which in June or July passes over that flower (the Kerzereh), it will kill him."--Thevenot.
- The humming bird is said to run this risk for the purpose of picking the crocodile's teeth. The same circumstance is related of the lapwing, as a fact to which he was witness, by Paul Lucas, "Voyage fait en 1714."
The ancient story concerning the Trochilus, or humming-bird, entering with impunity into the mouth of the crocodile, is firmly believed at Java.--Barrow's "Cochin-China."
- "The feast of Lanterns celebrated at Yamtcheou with more magnificence than anywhere else! and the report goes that the illuminations there are so splendid, that an Emperor once, not daring openly to leave his Court to go thither, committed himself with the Queen and several Princesses of his family into the hands of a magician, who promised to transport them thither in a trice. He made them in the night to ascend magnificent thrones that were borne up by swans, which in a moment arrived at Yamtcheou. The Emperor saw at his leisure all the solemnity, being carried upon a cloud that hovered over the city and descended by degrees; and came back again with the same speed and equipage, nobody at court perceiving his absence."--The Present State of China," p. 156.
- "The vulgar ascribe it to an accident that happened in the family of a famous mandarin, whose daughter, walking one evening upon the shore of a lake, fell in and was drowned: this afflicted father, with his family, ran thither, and the better to find her, he caused a great company of lanterns to be lighted. All the inhabitants of the place thronged after him with torches. The year ensuing they made fires upon the shores the same day; they continued the ceremony every year, every one lighted his lantern, and by degrees it commenced into a custom."--The Present State of China."
- "Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes."--Sol. Song.
- "They tinged the ends of her fingers scarlet with Henna, so that they resembled branches of coral."--Story of Prince Futtun in Bahardanush.
- "The women blacken the inside of their eyelids with a powder named the black Kohol."--Russell.
"None of these ladies," says Shaw, "take themselves to be completely dressed, till they have tinged their hair and edges of their eyelids with the powder of lead ore. Now, as this operation is performed by dipping first into the powder a small wooden bodkin of the thickness of a quill, and then drawing it afterwards through the eyelids over the ball of the eye, we shall have a lively image of what the Prophet (Jer. iv. 30) may be supposed to mean by rending the eyes with painting. This practice is no doubt of great antiquity; for besides the instance already taken notice of, we find that where Jezebel is said (2 Kings ix. 30.) to have painted her face, the original words are, she adjusted her eyes with the powder of lead-ore."--Shaw's Travels.
- "The appearance of the blossoms of the gold-colored Campac on the black hair of the Indian women has supplied the Sanscrit Poets with many elegant allusions."--See Asiatic Researches, vol. iv.
- A tree famous for its perfume, and common on the hills of Yemen.--Niebuhr.
- Of the genus mimosa "which droops its branches whenever any person approaches it, seeming as if it saluted those who retire under its shade."--Niebuhr.
- Cloves are a principal ingredient in the composition of the perfumed rods, which men of rank keep constantly burning in their presence.--Turner's "Tibet."
- "Thousands of variegated loories visit the coral-trees."--Barrow.
- "In Mecca there are quantities of blue pigeons, which none will affright or abuse, much less kill."--Pitt's Account of the Mahometans.
- "The Pagoda Thrush is esteemed among the first choristers of India. It sits perched on the sacred pagodas, and from thence delivers its melodious song."--Pennant's "Hindostan."
- Tavernier adds, that while the Birds of Paradise lie in this intoxicated state, the emmets come and eat off their legs; and that hence it is they are said to have no feet.
- Birds of Paradise, which, at the nutmeg season, come in flights from the southern isles to India; and "the strength of the nutmeg," says Tavernier, "so intoxicates them that they fall dead drunk to the earth."
- "That bird which liveth in Arabia, and buildeth its nest with cinnamon."--Brown's Vulgar Errors.
- "The spirits of the martyrs will be lodged in the crops of green birds."--Gibbon, vol. ix. p. 421.
- Shedad, who made the delicious gardens of Irim, in imitation of Paradise, and was destroyed by lightning the first time he attempted to enter them.
- "My Pandits assure me that the plant before us (the Nilica) is their Sephalica, thus named because the bees are supposed to sleep on its blossoms."--Sir W. Jones.
- They deterred it till the King of Flowers should ascend his throne of enamelled foliage."--The Bahardanush".
- "One of the head-dresses of the Persian women is composed of a light golden chain-work, set with small pearls, with a thin gold plate pendant, about the bigness of a crown-piece, on which is impressed an Arabian prayer, and which hangs upon the cheek below the ear."--Hanway's Travels.
- "Certainly the women of Yezd are the handsomest women in Persia. The proverb is, that to live happy a man must have a wife of Yezd, eat the bread of Yezdecas, and drink the wine of Shiraz."--Tavernier.
- Musnuds are cushioned seats, usually reserved for persons of distinction.
- The Persians, like the ancient Greeks call their musical modes or Perdas by the names of different countries or cities, as the mode of Isfahan, the mode of Irak, etc.
- A river which flows near the ruins of Chilminar.
- "To the north of us (on the coast of the Caspian, near Badku,) was a mountain, which sparkled like diamonds, arising from the sea-glass and crystals with which it abounds."--Journey of the Russian Ambassador to Persia, 1746.
- "To which will be added, the sound of the bells, hanging on the trees, which will be put in motion by the wind proceeding from the throne of God, as often as the blessed wish for music."--Sale.
- "Whose wanton eyes resemble blue water-lilies, agitated by the breeze."--Jayadeva.
- The blue lotos, which grows in Cashmere and in Persia.
- It has been generally supposed that the Mahometans prohibit all pictures of animals; but Toderini shows that, though the practice is forbidden by the Koran, they are not more averse to painted figures and images than other people. From Mr. Murphy's work, too, we find that the Arabs of Spain had no objection to the introduction of figures into Painting.
- This is not quite astronomically true. "Dr. Hadley [says Keil] has shown that Venus is brightest when she is about forty degrees removed from the sun; and that then but only a fourth part of her lucid disk is to be seen from the earth."
- The wife of Potiphar, thus named by the Orientals. The passion which this frail beauty of antiquity conceived for her young Hebrew slave has given rise to a much esteemed poem in the Persian language, entitled Yusef vau Zelikha, by Noureddin Jami; the manuscript copy of which, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is supposed to be the finest in the whole world."--Note upon Nott's Translation of Hafez."
- The particulars of Mahomet's amour with Mary, the Coptic girl, in justification of which he added a new chapter to the Koran, may be found in Gagnier's Notes upon Abulfeda, p. 151.
- "Deep blue is their mourning color." Hanway.
- The sorrowful nyctanthes, which begins to spread its rich odor after sunset.
- "Concerning the vipers, which Pliny says were frequent among the balsam-trees, I made very particular inquiry; several were brought me alive both to Yambo and Jidda."--Bruce.
- In the territory of Istkahar there is a kind of apple, half of which is sweet and half sour.--Ebn Haukal.
- "The place where the Whangho, a river of Tibet, rises, and where there are more than a hundred springs, which sparkle like stars; whence it is called Hotun-nor, that is, the Sea of Stars."--Description of Tibet in Pinkerton.
- "The Lescar or Imperial Camp is divided, like a regular town, into squares, alleys, and streets, and from a rising ground furnishes one of the most agreeable prospects in the world. Starting up in a few hours in an uninhabited plain, it raises the idea of a city built by enchantment. Even those who leave their houses in cities to follow the prince in his progress are frequently so charmed with the Lescar, when situated in a beautiful and convenient place, that they cannot prevail with themselves to remove. To prevent this inconvenience to the court, the Emperor, after sufficient time is allowed to the tradesmen to follow, orders them to be burnt out of their tents."--Dow's Hindostan.
- The edifices of Chilminar and Balbec are supposed to have been built by the Genii, acting under the orders of Jan ben Jan, who governed the world long before the time of Adam.
- "A superb camel, ornamented with strings and tufts of small shells."--Ali Bey.
- A native of Khorassan, and allured southward by means of the water of a fountain between Shiraz and Ispahan, called the Fountain of Birds, of which it is so fond that it will follow wherever that water is carried.
- "Some of the camels have bells about their necks, and some about their legs, like those which our carriers put about their fore-horses' necks, which together with the servants (who belong to the camels, and travel on foot), singing all night, make a pleasant noise, and the journey passes away delightfully."--Pitt's Account of the Mahometans.
"The camel-driver follows the camels singing, and sometimes playing upon his pipe; the louder he sings and pipes, the faster the camels go. Nay, they will stand still when he gives over his music."--Tavernier.
- "This trumpet is often called, in Abyssinia, nesser cano, which signifies the Note of the Eagle."--Note of Bruce's Editor.
- The two black standards borne before the Caliphs of the House of Abbas were called, allegorically, The Night and The Shadow.--See Gibbon.
- The Mohometan religion.
- "The Persians swear by the Tomb of Shad Besade, who is buried at Casbin; and when one desires another to asseverate a matter he will ask him, if he dare swear by the Holy Grave."--Struy.
- Mahadi, in a single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six millions of dinars of gold.
- The inhabitants of Hejaz or Arabia Petraea, called by an Eastern writer "The People of the Rock."--Ebn Haukal.
- "Those horses, called by the Arabians Kochlani, of whom a written genealogy has been kept for 2000 years. They are said to derive their origin from King Solomon's steeds."--Niebuhr.
- "Many of the figures on the blades of their swords are wrought in gold or silver, or in marquetry with small gems."--Asiat. Misc. v. i.
- Azab or Saba.
- "The chiefs of the Uzbek Tartars wear a plume of white heron's feathers in their turbans."--Account of Independent Tartary.
- In the mountains of Nishapour and Tous in (Khorassan) they find turquoises.--Ebn Huukal.
- The Ghebers or Guebres, those original natives of Persia, who adhered to their ancient faith, the religion of Zoroaster, and who, after the conquest of their country by the Arabs, were either persecuted at home, or forced to become wanderers abroad.
- "Yezd, the chief residence of those ancient natives who worship the Sun and the Fire, which latter they have carefully kept lighted, without being once extinguished for a moment, about 3000 years, on a mountain near Yezd, called Ater Quedah, signifying the House or Mansion of the Fire. He is reckoned very unfortunate who dies off that mountain."--Stephen's Persia.
- When the weather is hazy, the springs of Naphtha (on an island near Baku) boil up the higher, and the Naphtha often takes fire on the surface of the earth, and runs in a flame into the sea to a distance almost incredible."--Hanway on the Everlasting Fire at Baku.
- Savary says of the south wind, which blows in Egypt from February to May, "Sometimes it appears only in the shape of an impetuous whirlwind, which passes rapidly, and is fatal to the traveller, surprised in the middle of the deserts. Torrents of burning sand roll before it, the firmament is enveloped in a thick veil, and the sun appears of the color of blood. Sometimes whole caravans are buried in it."
- In the great victory gained by Mahomed at Beder, he was assisted, say the Mussulmans, by three thousand angels led by Gabriel mounted on his horse Hiazum.--See The Koran and its Commentators.
- The Techir, or cry of the Arabs. "Alla Acbar!" says Ockley, means, "God is most mighty."
- The ziraleet is a kind of chorus, which the women of the East sing upon joyful occasions.
- The Dead Sea, which contains neither animal nor vegetable life.
- The ancient Oxus.
- A city of Transoxiana.
- "You never can cast your eyes on this tree, but you meet there either blossoms or fruit; and as the blossom drops underneath on the ground (which is frequently covered with these purple-colored flowers), others come forth in their stead," etc.--Nieuhoff.
- The Demons of the Persian mythology.
- Carreri mentions the fire-flies in India during the rainy season.--See his Travels.
- Sennacherib, called by the Orientals King of Moussal.--D'Herbelot.
- Chosroes. For the description of his Throne or Palace, see Gibbon and D'Herbelot.
There were said to be under this Throne or Palace of Khosrou Parviz a hundred vaults filled with "treasures so immense that some Mahometan writers tell us, their Prophet to encourage his disciples carried them to a rock which at his command opened and gave them a prospect through it of the treasures of Khosrou."--Universal History.
- "The crown of Gerashid is cloudy and tarnished before the heron tuft of thy turban."--From one of the elegies or songs in praise of Ali, written in characters of gold round the gallery of Abbas's tomb.--See Chardin.
- The beauty of Ali's eyes was so remarkable, that whenever the Persians would describe anything as very lovely, they say it is Ayn Hali, or the Eyes of Ali.--Chardin.
- "Nakshab, the name of a city in Transoxiana, where they say there is a well, in which the appearance of the moon is to be seen night and day."
- The Shechinah, called Sakfnat in the Koran.--See Sale's Note, chap. ii.
- The parts of the night are made known as well by instruments of music, as by the rounds of the watchmen with cries and small drums.--See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. p. 119.
- The Serrapurda, high screens of red cloth, stiffened with cane, used to enclose a considerable space round the royal tents.--Notes on the Bakardanush.
The tents of Princes were generally illuminated. Norden tells us that the tent of the Bey of Girge was distinguished from the other tents by forty lanterns being suspended before it.--See Harmer's Observations on Job.
- "From the groves of orange trees at Kauzeroon the bees cull a celebrated honey.--Morier's Travels.
- "A custom still subsisting at this day, seems to me to prove that the Egyptians formerly sacrificed a young virgin to the God of the Nile; for they now make a statue of earth in shape of a girl, to which they give the name of the Betrothed Bride, and throw it into the river."--Savary.
- That they knew the secret of the Greek fire among the Mussulmans early in the eleventh century, appears from Dow's account of Mamood I. "When he at Moultan, finding that the country of the Jits was defended by great rivers, he ordered fifteen hundred boats to be built, each of which he armed with six iron spikes, projecting from their prows and sides, to prevent their being boarded by the enemy, who were very expert in that kind of war. When he had launched this fleet, he ordered twenty archers into each boat, and five others with fire-balls, to burn the craft of the Jits, and naphtha to set the whole river on fire."
- The Greek fire, which was occasionally lent by the emperors to their allies. "It was," says Gibbon, "either launched in red-hot balls of stone and iron, or darted in arrows and javelins, twisted round with flax and tow, which had deeply imbibed the imflammable oil."
- See Hanway's Account of the Springs of Naphtha at Baku (which is called by Lieutenant Pottinger Joala Mookee, or, the Flaming Mouth), taking fire and running into the sea. Dr. Cooke, in his Journal, mentions some wells in Circassia, strongly impregnated with this inflammable oil, from which issues boiling water. "Though the weather," he adds, "was now very cold, the warmth of these wells of hot water produced near them the verdure and flowers of spring.'
- "At the great festival of fire, called the Sheb Seze, they used to set fire to large bunches of dry combustibles, fastened round wild beasts and birds, which being then let loose, the air and earth appeared one great illumination; and as these terrified creatures naturally fled to the woods for shelter, it is easy to conceive the conflagrations they produced."--Richardson's Dissertation.
- "The righteous shall be given to drink of pure wine, sealed: the seal whereof shall be musk."--Koran, chap lxxxiii.
- The Afghans believe each of the numerous solitudes and deserts of their country to be inhabited by a lonely demon, whom they call The Ghoolee Beeabau, or Spirit of the Waste. They often illustrate the wildness of any sequestered tribe, by saying they are wild as the Demon of the Waste."--Elphinstone's Caubul.
- "They have all a great reverence for burial-grounds, which they sometimes call by the poetical name of Cities of the Silent, and which they people with the ghosts of the departed, who sit each at the head of his own grave, invisible to mortal eyes."--Elphinstone.