Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LALLA ROOKH: THE FIRE-WORSHIPPERS, by THOMAS MOORE



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LALLA ROOKH: THE FIRE-WORSHIPPERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis moonlight over oman's sea!
Last Line: They'll weep for the maiden who sleeps in this wave.
Alternate Author Name(s): Little, Thomas
Subject(s): India; Iran; Mythology; Persia


'TIS moonlight over Oman's Sea;
Her banks of pearl and palmy isles
Bask in the night-beam beauteously,
And her blue waters sleep in smiles.
'Tis moonlight in Harmozia's walls,
And through her Emir's porphyry halls,
Where, some hours since, was heard the swell
Of trumpet and the clash of zel,
Bidding the bright-eyed sun farewell; --
The peaceful sun, whom better suits
The music of the bulbul's nest,
Or the light touch of lovers' lutes,
To sing him to his golden rest!
All hush'd -- there's not a breeze in motion;
The shore is silent as the ocean.
If zephyrs come, so light they come,
Nor leaf is stirr'd nor wave is driven; --
The wind-tower on the Emir's dome
Can hardly win a breath from heaven.

Even he, that tyrant Arab, sleeps
Calm, while a nation round him weeps;
While curses load the air he breathes,
And falchions from unnumber'd sheaths
Are starting to avenge the shame
His race hath brought on Iran's name.
Hard, heartless Chief, unmoved alike
'Mid eyes that weep, and swords that strike; --
One of that saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who think through unbelievers' blood
Lies their directest path to heaven.
One, who will pause and kneel unshod
In the warm blood his hand hath pour'd,
To mutter o'er some text of God
Engraven on his reeking sword; --
Nay, who can coolly note the line,
The letter of those words divine,
To which his blade, with searching art,
Had sunk into its victim's heart!

Just Alla! what must be thy look,
When such a wretch before thee stands
Unblushing, with thy Sacred Book, --
Turning the leaves with blood-stain'd hands,
And wresting from its page sublime
His creed of lust and hate and crime?
Even as those bees of Trebizond, --
Which from the sunniest flowers that glad
With their pure smile the gardens round,
Draw venom forth that drives men mad!

Never did fierce Arabia send
A satrap forth more direly great;
Never was Iran doom'd to bend
Beneath a yoke of deadlier weight.
Her throne had fallen -- her pride was crush'd --
Her sons were willing slaves, nor blush'd,
In their own land, -- no more their own, --
To crouch beneath a stranger's throne.
Her towers, where Mithra once had burn'd,
To Moslem shrines -- oh, shame! -- were turn'd

Where slaves, converted by the sword,
Their mean, apostate worship pour'd,
And cursed the faith their sires adored.
Yet has she hearts, 'mid all this ill,
O'er all this wreck high buoyant still
With hope and vengeance; -- hearts that yet, --
Like gems, in darkness issuing rays
They've treasured from the sun that's set, --
Beam all the light of long-lost days!

And swords she hath, nor weak nor slow
To second all such hearts can dare;
As he shall know, well, dearly know,
Who sleeps in moonlight luxury there,
Tranquil as if his spirit lay
Becalm'd in Heaven's approving ray!
Sleep on -- for purer eyes than thine
Those waves are hush'd, those planets shine.
Sleep on, and be thy rest unmoved
By the white moonbeam's dazzling power; --
None but the loving and the loved
Should be awake at this sweet hour.

And see -- where, high above those rocks
That o'er the deep their shadows fling,
Yon turret stands; -- where ebon locks,
As glossy as a heron's wing
Upon the turban of a king,
Hang from the lattice, long and wild, --
'T is she, that Emir's blooming child,
All truth and tenderness and grace,
Though born of such ungentle race; --
An image of Youth's fairy Fountain
Springing in a desolate mountain!

Oh, what a pure and sacred thing
Is beauty, curtain'd from the sight
Of the gross world, illumining
One only mansion with her light!
Unseen by man's disturbing eye, --
The flower, that blooms beneath the sea
Too deep for sunbeams, doth not lie
Hid in more chaste obscurity!
So, Hinda, have thy face and mind,
Like holy mysteries, lain enshrined.
And oh, what transport for a lover
To lift the veil that shades them o'er! --
Like those who, all at once, discover
In the lone deep some fairy shore,
Where mortal never trod before,
And sleep and wake in scented airs
No lip had ever breathed but theirs!

Beautiful are the maids that glide,
On summer eves, through Yemen's dales,
And bright the glancing looks they hide
Behind their litters' roseate veils; --
And brides, as delicate and fair
As the white jasmine flowers they wear,
Hath Yemen in her blissful clime,
Who, lull'd in cool kiosk or bower,
Before their mirrors count the time,
And grow still lovelier every hour.
But never yet hath bride or maid
In Araby's gay harams smiled,
Whose boasted brightness would not fade
Before Al Hassan's blooming child.

Light as the angel shapes that bless
An infant's dream, yet not the less
Rich in all woman's loveliness; --
With eyes so pure, that from their ray
Dark vice would turn abash'd away,
Blinded like serpents, when they gaze
Upon the emerald's virgin blaze! --
Yet, fill'd with all youth's sweet desires,
Mingling the meek and vestal fires
Of other worlds with all the bliss,
The fond, weak tenderness of this!
A soul, too, more than half divine,
Where, through some shades of earthly feeling,
Religion's soften'd glories shine,
Like light through summer foliage stealing,
Shedding a glow of such mild hue,
So warm, and yet so shadowy too,
As makes the very darkness there
More beautiful than light elsewhere!

Such is the maid who, at this hour,
Hath risen from her restless sleep,
And sits alone in that high bower,
Watching the still and shining deep.
Ah! 'twas not thus, -- with tearful eyes
And beating heart, -- she used to gaze
On the magnificent earth and skies,
In her own land, in happier days.
Why looks she now so anxious down
Among those rocks, whose rugged frown
Blackens the mirror of the deep?
Whom waits she all this lonely night?
Too rough the rocks, too bold the steep,
For man to scale that turret's height! --

So deem'd at least her thoughtful sire,
When high, to catch the cool night-air,
After the daybeam's withering fire,
He built her bower of freshness there,
And had it deck'd with costliest skill,
And fondly thought it safe as fair: --
Think, reverend dreamer! think so still,
Nor wake to learn what Love can dare --
Love, all-defying Love, who sees
No charm in trophies won with ease; --
Whose rarest, dearest fruits of bliss
Are pluck'd on danger's precipice!
Bolder than they, who dare not dive
For pearls, but when the sea's at rest,
Love, in the tempest most alive,
Hath ever held that pearl the best
He finds beneath the stormiest water!
Yes -- Araby's unrivall'd daughter,
Though high that tower, that rock-way rude,
There 's one who, but to kiss thy cheek,
Would climb th' untrodden solitude
Of Ararat's tremendous peak,
And think its steeps, though dark and dread,
Heaven's pathways, if to thee they led!
E'en now thou seest the flashing spray,
That lights his oar's impatient way; --
E'en now thou hear'st the sudden shock
Of his swift bark against the rock,
And stretchest down thy arms of snow,
As if to lift him from below!
Like her to whom, at dead of night,
The bridegroom, with his locks of light,
Came, in the flush of love and pride,
And scaled the terrace of his bride; --
When, as she saw him rashly spring,
And midway up in danger cling,
She flung him down her long black Hair,
Exclaiming breathless, "There, love, there!"
And scarce did manlier nerve uphold
The hero Zal in that fond hour,
Than wings the youth who, fleet and bold,
Now climbs the rocks to Hinda's bower.
See -- light as up their granite steeps
The rock-goats of Arabia clamber,
Fearless from crag to crag he leaps,
And now is in the maiden's chamber.

She loves -- but knows not whom she loves,
Nor what his race, nor whence he came; --
Like one who meets, in Indian groves,
Some beauteous bird, without a name,
Brought by the last ambrosial breeze,
From isles in th' undiscover'd seas,
To show his plumage for a day
To wondering eyes, and wing away!
Will he thus fly -- her nameless lover?
Alla forbid! 'twas by a moon
As fair as this, while singing over
Some ditty to her soft Kanoon,
Alone, at this same witching hour,
She first beheld his radiant eyes
Gleam through the lattice of the bower,
Where nightly now they mix their sighs;
And thought some spirit of the air
(For what could waft a mortal there?)
Was pausing on his moonlight way
To listen to her lonely lay!
This fancy ne'er hath left her mind:
And -- though, when terror's swoon had past,
She saw a youth, of mortal kind,
Before her in obeisance cast, --
Yet often since, when he hath spoken
Strange, awful words, -- and gleams have broken
From his dark eyes, too bright to bear,
Oh! she hath fear'd her soul was given
To some unhallow'd child of air,
Some erring spirit, cast from heaven,
Like those angelic youths of old,
Who burn'd for maids of mortal mould,
Bewilder'd left the glorious skies,
And lost their heaven for woman's eyes!
Fond girl! nor fiend nor angel he,
Who woos thy young simplicity;
But one of earth's impassion'd sons,
As warm in love, as fierce in ire
As the best heart whose current runs
Full of the Day-god's living fire!

But quench'd to-night that ardour seems,
And pale his cheek, and sunk his brow; --
Never before, but in her dreams,
Had she beheld him pale as now:
And those were dreams of troubled sleep,
From which 'twas joy to wake and weep;
Visions, that will not be forgot,
But sadden every waking scene,
Like warning ghosts, that leave the spot
All wither'd where they once have been!

"How sweetly," said the trembling maid,
Of her own gentle voice afraid,
So long had they in silence stood,
Looking upon that tranquil flood --
"How sweetly does the moonbeam smile
To-night upon yon leafy isle!
Oft, in my fancy's wanderings,
I've wish'd that little isle had wings,
And we, within its fairy bowers,
Were wafted off to seas unknown,
Where not a pulse should beat but ours
And we might live, love, die alone!
Far from the cruel and the cold, --
Where the bright eyes of angels only
Should come around us, to behold
A paradise so pure and lonely!
Would this be world enough for thee?"
Playful she turn'd, that he might see
The passing smile her cheek put on;
But when she mark'd how mournfully
His eyes met hers, that smile was gone;
And, bursting into heart-felt tears,
"Yes, yes," she cried, "my hourly fears,
My dreams, have boded all too right --
We part -- for ever part -- to-night! --
I knew, I knew it could not last --
'Twas bright, 'twas heavenly, but 'tis past!
Oh! ever thus, from childhood's hour,
I've seen my fondest hopes decay;
I never loved a tree or flower,
But 'twas the first to fade away.
I never nursed a dear gazelle,
To glad me with its soft black eye,
But when it came to know me well,
And love me, it was sure to die!
Now too -- the joy most like divine
Of all I ever dreamt or knew,
To see thee, hear thee, call thee mine, --
Oh, misery! must I lose that too?
Yet go -- on peril's brink we meet; --
Those frightful rocks -- that treacherous sea --
No, never come again -- though sweet,
Though heaven, it may be death to thee.
Farewell -- and blessings on thy way,
Where'er thou go'st, beloved stranger!
Better to sit and watch that ray,
And think thee safe, though far away,
Than have thee near me, and in danger!"

"Danger! oh, tempt me not to boast --"
The youth exclaim'd -- "thou little know'st
What he can brave, who, born and nurst
In Danger's paths, has dared her worst!
Upon whose ear the signal-word
Of strife and death is hourly breaking;
Who sleeps with head upon the sword
His fever'd hand must grasp in waking!
Danger! --"
"Say on -- thou fear'st not then,
And we may meet -- oft meet again?"

"Oh! look not so, -- beneath the skies
I now fear nothing but those eyes.
If aught on earth could charm or force
My spirit from its destined course, --
If aught could make this soul forget
The bond to which its seal is set,
'Twould be those eyes; -- they, only they,
Could melt that sacred seal away!
But no -- 'tis fix'd -- my awful doom
Is fix'd -- on this side of the tomb
We meet no more -- why, why did Heaven
Mingle two souls that earth has riven,
Has rent asunder, wide as ours?
O Arab maid! as soon the powers
Of light and darkness may combine,
As I be link'd with thee or thine!
Thy Father --"

"Holy Alla save
His grey head from that lightning glance!
Thou know'st him not -- he loves the brave;
Nor lives there under heaven's expanse
One who would prize, would worship thee,
And thy bold spirit, more than he.
Oft when, in childhood, I have play'd
With the bright falchion by his side,
I've heard him swear his lisping maid
In time should be a warrior's bride.
And still, whene'er, at haram hours,
I take him cool sherbets and flowers,
He tells me, when in playful mood,
A hero shall my bridegroom be,
Since maids are best in battle woo'd,
And won with shouts of victory!
Nay, turn not from me -- thou alone
Art form'd to make both hearts thy own.
Go -- join his sacred ranks -- thou know'st
Th' unholy strife these Persians wage: --
Good Heaven, that frown! -- even now thou glow'st
With more than mortal warrior's rage.
Haste to the camp by morning's light,
And, when that sword is raised in fight,
Oh, still remember Love and I
Beneath its shadow trembling lie!
One victory o'er those Slaves of Fire,
Those impious Ghebers, whom my sire
Abhors --"

"Hold, hold -- thy words are death --"
The stranger cried, as wild he flung
His mantle back, and show'd beneath
The Gheber belt that round him clung. --
"Here, maiden, look -- weep -- blush to see
All that thy sire abhors in me!
Yes -- I am of that impious race,
Those Slaves of Fire, who, morn and even,
Hail their Creator's dwelling-place
Among the living lights of heaven!
Yes -- I am of that outcast few,
To Iran and to vengeance true,
Who curse the hour your Arabs came
To desolate our shrines of flame,
And swear, before God's burning eye,
To break our country's chains, or die!
Thy bigot sire -- nay, tremble not --
He, who gave birth to those dear eyes,
With me is sacred as the spot
From which our fires of worship rise!
But know -- 'twas him I sought that night,
When, from my watch-boat on the sea,
I caught this turret's glimmering light,
And up the rude rocks desperately
Rush'd to my prey -- thou know'st the rest --
I climb'd the gory vulture's nest,
And found a trembling dove within; --
Thine, thine the victory -- thine the sin --
If Love hath made one thought his own,
That vengeance claims first -- last -- alone!
Oh! had we never, never met,
Or could this heart e'en now forget
How link'd, how bless'd, we might have been,
Had fate not frown'd so dark between!
Hadst thou been born a Persian maid,
In neighbouring valleys had we dwelt,
Through the same fields in childhood play'd,
At the same kindling altar knelt, --
Then, then, while all those nameless ties,
In which the charm of country lies,
Had round our hearts been hourly spun,
Till Iran's cause and thine were one; --
While in thy lute's awakening sigh
I heard the voice of days gone by,
And saw in every smile of thine
Returning hours of glory shine! --
While the wrong'd Spirit of our Land
Lived, look'd, and spoke her wrongs through thee, --
God! who could then this sword withstand?
Its very flash were victory!
But now -- estranged, divorced for ever,
Far as the grasp of Fate can sever;
Our only ties what love has wove, --
Faith, friends, and country, sunder'd wide; --
And then, then only, true to love,
When false to all that's dear beside!
Thy father Iran's deadliest foe --
Thyself, perhaps, e'en now -- but no --
Hate never look'd so lovely yet!
No -- sacred to thy soul will be
The land of him who could forget
All but that bleeding land for thee!
When other eyes shall see, unmoved,
Her widows mourn, her warriors fall,
Thou'lt think how well one Gheber loved,
And for his sake thou'lt weep for all!
But look --"
With sudden start he turn'd
And pointed to the distant wave,
Where lights, like charnel meteors, burn'd
Bluely, as o'er some seaman's grave;
And fiery darts, at intervals,
Flew up all sparkling from the main,
As if each star that nightly falls,
Were shooting back to heaven again.

"My signal-lights! -- I must away --
Both, both are ruin'd, if I stay.
Farewell -- sweet life! thou cling'st in vain --
Now -- Vengeance! -- I am thine again."
Fiercely he broke away, nor stopp'd,
Nor look'd -- but from the lattice dropp'd
Down mid the pointed crags beneath,
As if he fled from love to death.
While pale and mute young Hinda stood,
Nor moved, till in the silent flood
A momentary plunge below
Startled her from her trance of woe; --
Shrieking she to the lattice flew,
"I come -- I come -- if in that tide
Thou sleep'st to-night -- I'll sleep there too,
In death's cold wedlock by thy side.
Oh! I would ask no happier bed
Than the chill wave my love lies under; --
Sweeter to rest together dead,
Far sweeter, than to live asunder!"
But no -- their hour is not yet come --
Again she sees his pinnace fly,
Wafting him fleetly to his home,
Where'er that ill-starr'd home may lie;
And calm and smooth it seem'd to win
Its moonlight way before the wind,
As if it bore all peace within,
Nor left one breaking heart behind!

THE Princess, whose heart was sad enough already,
could have wished that Feramorz had chosen a less melancholy
story; as it is only to the happy that tears are a
luxury. Her ladies, however, were by no means sorry
that love was once more the Poet's theme; for when he
spoke of love, they said, his voice was as sweet as if he
had chewed the leaves of that enchanted tree, which
grows over the tomb of the musician, Tan-Sein.
Their road all the morning had lain through a very
dreary country; -- through valleys, covered with a low
bushy jungle, where, in more than one place, the awful
signal of the bamboo staff, with the white flag at its top,
reminded the traveller that in that very spot the tiger had
made some human creature his victim. It was therefore
with much pleasure that they arrived at sunset in a safe
and lovely glen, and encamped under one of those holy
trees, whose smooth columns and spreading roofs seem to
destine them for natural temples of religion. Beneath the
shade, some pious hands had erected pillars ornamented
with the most beautiful porcelain, which now supplied the
use of mirrors to the young maidens, as they adjusted their
hair in descending from the palankeens. Here, while, as
usual, the Princess sat listening anxiously, with Fadladeen
in one of his loftiest moods of criticism by her side, the
young Poet, leaning against a branch of the tree, thus continued
his story: --

THE morn hath risen clear and calm,
And o'er the Green Sea palely shines,
Revealing Bahrein's groves of palm,
And lighting Kishma's amber vines.
Fresh smell the shores of Araby,
While breezes from the Indian sea
Blow round Selama's sainted cape,
And curl the shining flood beneath, --
Whose waves are rich with many a grape,
And cocoa-nut and flowery wreath,
Which pious seamen, as they pass'd,
Had toward that holy headland cast --
Oblations to the Genii there
For gentle skies and breezes fair!
The nightingale now bends her flight
From the high trees, where all the night
She sung so sweet, with none to listen;
And hides her from the morning star
Where thickets of pomegranate glisten
In the clear dawn, -- bespangled o'er
With dew, whose night-drops would not stain
The best and brightest scimitar
That ever youthful Sultan wore
On the first morning of his reign!

And see -- the Sun himself! -- on wings
Of glory up the east he springs.
Angel of light! who from the time
Those heavens began their march sublime,
Hath first of all the starry choir
Trod in his Maker's steps of fire!
Where are the days, thou wondrous sphere,
When Iran, like a sun-flower, turn'd
To meet that eye, where'er it burn'd? --
When, from the banks of Bendemeer
To the nut-groves of Samarcand
Thy temples flamed o'er all the land?
Where are they? ask the shades of them
Who, on Cadessia's bloody plains,
Saw fierce invaders pluck the gem
From Iran's broken diadem,
And bind her ancient faith in chains: --
Ask the poor exile, cast alone
On foreign shores, unloved, unknown,
Beyond the Caspian's Iron Gates,
Or on the snowy Mossian mountains,
Far from his beauteous land of dates,
Her jasmine bowers and sunny fountains!
Yet happier so than if he trod
His own beloved but blighted sod,
Beneath a despot stranger's nod! --
Oh! he would rather houseless roam
Where freedom and his God may lead,
Than be the sleekest slave at home
That crouches to the conqueror's creed!
Is Iran's pride then gone for ever,
Quench'd with the flame in Mithra's caves? --
No -- she has sons that never -- never --
Will stoop to be the Moslem's slaves,
While heaven has light or earth has graves.
Spirits of fire, that brood not long,
But flash resentment back for wrong;
And hearts where, slow but deep, the seeds
Of vengeance ripen into deeds,
Till, in some treacherous hour of calm,
They burst, like Zeilan's giant palm,
Whose buds fly open with a sound
That shakes the pigmy forests round!

Yes, Emir! he, who scaled that tower,
And, had he reach'd thy slumbering breast,
Had taught thee, in a Gheber's power
How safe even tyrant heads may rest --
Is one of many, brave as he,
Who loathe thy haughty race and thee;
Who, though they know the strife is vain,
Who, though they know the riven chain
Snaps but to enter in the heart
Of him who rends its links apart,
Yet dare the issue, -- blest to be
Even for one bleeding moment free,
And die in pangs of liberty!
Thou know'st them well -- 'tis some moons since
Thy turban'd troops and blood-red flags,
Thou satrap of a bigot prince!
Have swarm'd among these Green Sea crags;
Yet here, even here, a sacred band,
Ay, in the portal of that land
Thou, Arab, dar'st to call thy own,
Their spears across thy path have thrown;
Here -- ere the winds half wing'd thee o'er --
Rebellion braved thee from the shore.

Rebellion! foul, dishonouring word,
Whose wrongful blight so oft has stain'd
The holiest cause that tongue or sword
Of mortal ever lost or gain'd.
How many a spirit, born to bless,
Hath sunk beneath that withering name,
Whom but a day's, an hour's success
Had wafted to eternal fame!
As exhalations, when they burst
From the warm earth, if chill'd at first,
If check'd in soaring from the plain,
Darken to fogs and sink again; --
But, if they once triumphant spread
Their wings above the mountain-head,
Become enthroned in upper air,
And turn to sun-bright glories there!

And who is he, that wields the might
Of freedom on the Green Sea brink,
Before whose sabre's dazzling light
The eyes of Yemen's warriors wink?
Who comes embower'd in the spears
Of Kerman's hardy mountaineers? --
Those mountaineers, that truest, last,
Cling to their country's ancient rites,
As if that God, whose eyelids cast
Their closing gleam on Iran's heights,
Among her snowy mountains threw
The last light of his worship too!

'Tis Hafed -- name of fear, whose sound
Chills like the muttering of a charm; --
Shout but that awful name around,
And palsy shakes the manliest arm.
'Tis Hafed, most accurst and dire
(So rank'd by Moslem hate and ire)
Of all the rebel Sons of Fire!
Of whose malign, tremendous power
The Arabs, at their mid-watch hour,
Such tales of fearful wonder tell,
That each affrighted sentinel
Pulls down his cowl upon his eyes,
Lest Hafed in the midst should rise!
A man, they say, of monstrous birth,
A mingled race of flame and earth,
Sprung from those old, enchanted kings,
Who in their fairy helms, of yore,
A feather from the mystic wings
Of the Simoorgh resistless wore;
And gifted by the Fiends of Fire,
Who groan'd to see their shrines expire,
With charms that, all in vain withstood,
Would drown the Koran's light in blood!

Such were the tales that won belief,
And such the colouring fancy gave
To a young, warm, and dauntless Chief, --
One who, no more than mortal brave,
Fought for the land his soul adored,
For happy homes, and altars free, --
His only talisman, the sword,
His only spell-word, Liberty!
One of that ancient hero line,
Along whose glorious current shine
Names that have sanctified their blood;
As Lebanon's small mountain-flood
Is render'd holy by the ranks
Of sainted cedars on its banks!
'Twas not for him to crouch the knee
Tamely to Moslem tyranny; --
'Twas not for him, whose soul was cast
In the bright mould of ages past,
Whose melancholy spirit, fed
With all the glories of the dead,
Though framed for Iran's happiest years,
Was born among her chains and tears! --
'Twas not for him to swell the crowd
Of slavish heads, that shrinking bow'd
Before the Moslem, as he pass'd,
Like shrubs beneath the poison-blast --
No -- far he fled -- indignant fled
The pageant of his country's shame;
While every tear her children shed
Fell on his soul, like drops of flame;
And, as a lover hails the dawn
Of a first smile, so welcomed he
The sparkle of the first sword drawn
For vengeance and for liberty!

But vain was valour -- vain the flower
Of Kerman, in that deathful hour,
Against Al Hassan's whelming power. --
In vain they met him, helm to helm,
Upon the threshold of that realm
He came in bigot pomp to sway,
And with their corpses block'd his way --
In vain -- for every lance they raised,
Thousands around the conqueror blazed;
For every arm that lined their shore,
Myriads of slaves were wafted o'er, --
A bloody, bold, and countless crowd,
Before whose swarm as fast they bow'd
As dates beneath the locust-cloud!

There stood -- but one short league away
From old Harmozia's sultry bay --
A rocky mountain, o'er the Sea
Of Oman beetling awfully.
A last and solitary link
Of those stupendous chains that reach
From the broad Caspian's reedy brink
Down winding to the Green Sea beach.
Around its base the bare rocks stood,
Like naked giants, in the flood,
As if to guard the gulf across;
While, on its peak, that braved the sky,
A ruin'd temple tower'd, so high
That oft the sleeping albatross
Struck the wild ruins with her wing,
And from her cloud-rock'd slumbering
Started -- to find man's dwelling there
In her own silent fields of air!
Beneath, terrific caverns gave
Dark welcome to each stormy wave
That dash'd, like midnight revellers, in; --
And such the strange, mysterious din
At times throughout those caverns roll'd, --
And such the fearful wonders told
Of restless sprites imprison'd there,
That bold were Moslem, who would dare,
At twilight hour, to steer his skiff
Beneath the Gheber's lonely cliff.

On the land side, those towers sublime,
That seem'd above the grasp of Time,
Were sever'd from the haunts of men
By a wide, deep, and wizard glen,
So fathomless, so full of gloom,
No eye could pierce the void between;
It seem'd a place where Gholes might come,
With their foul banquets from the tomb,
And in its caverns feed unseen.
Like distant thunder, from below,
The sound of many torrents came;
Too deep for eye or ear to know
If 'twere the sea's imprison'd flow,
Or floods of ever-restless flame.
For each ravine, each rocky spire,
Of that vast mountain stood on fire;
And, though for ever past the days,
When God was worshipp'd in the blaze
That from its lofty altar shone, --
Though fled the priests, the votaries gone,
Still did the mighty flame burn on
Through chance and change, through good and ill,
Like its own God's eternal will,
Deep, constant, bright, unquenchable!

Thither the vanquish'd Hafed led
His little army's last remains; --
"Welcome, terrific glen!" he said,
"Thy gloom, that Eblis' self might dread,
Is heaven to him who flies from chains!"
O'er a dark, narrow bridgeway, known
To him and to his chiefs alone,
They cross'd the chasm and gain'd the towers; --
"This home," he cried, "at least is ours --
Here we may bleed, unmock'd by hymns
Of Moslem triumph o'er our head;
Here we may fall, nor leave our limbs
To quiver to the Moslem's tread.
Stretch'd on this rock, while vultures' beaks
Are whetted on our yet warm cheeks,
Here, -- happy that no tyrant's eye
Gloats on our torments -- we may die!"
'Twas night when to those towers they came,
And gloomily the fitful flame,
That from the ruin'd altar broke,
Glared on his features, as he spoke: --
'Tis o'er -- what men could do, we've done --
If Iran will look tamely on,
And see her priests, her warriors, driven
Before a sensual bigot's nod,
A wretch, who takes his lusts to heaven,
And makes a pander of his God!
If her proud sons, her high-born souls,
Men, in whose veins -- O last disgrace!
The blood of Zal and Rustam rolls, --
If they will court this upstart race,
And turn from Mithra's ancient ray,
To kneel at shrines of yesterday! --
If they will crouch to Iran's foes,
Why, let them -- till the land's despair
Cries out to heaven, and bondage grows
Too vile for e'en the vile to bear!
Till shame at last, long hidden, burns
Their inmost core, and conscience turns
Each coward tear the slave lets fall
Back on his heart in drops of gall!
But here, at least, are arms unchain'd,
And souls that thraldom never stain'd; --
This spot, at least, no foot of slave
Or satrap ever yet profaned;
And, though but few -- though fast the wave
Of life is ebbing from our veins,
Enough for vengeance still remains.
As panthers, after set of sun,
Rush from the roots of Lebanon
Aross the dark sea-robber's way,
We'll bound upon our startled prey; --
And when some hearts that proudest swell
Have felt our falchion's last farewell;
When hope s expiring throb is o'er,
And e'en despair can prompt no more,
This spot shall be the sacred grave
Of the last few who, vainly brave,
Die for the land they cannot save!"
His chiefs stood round -- each shining blade
Upon the broken altar laid --
And though so wild and desolate
Those courts, where once the mighty sate;
Nor longer on those mouldering towers
Was seen the feast of fruits and flowers,
With which of old the Magi fed
The wandering spirits of their dead;
Though neither priest nor rites were there,
Nor charmed leaf of pure pomegranate;
Nor hymn, nor censer's fragrant air,
Nor symbol of their worshipp'd planet;
Yet the same God that heard their sires
Heard them, while on that altar's fires
They swore the latest, holiest deed
Of the few hearts, still left to bleed,
Should be, in Iran's injured name,
To die upon that Mount of Flame --
The last of all her patriot line,
Before her last untrampled shrine!
Brave, suffering souls! they little knew
How many a tear their injuries drew
From one meek maid, one gentle foe,
Whom Love first touch'd with others' woe --
Whose life, as free from thought as sin,
Slept like a lake, till Love threw in
His talisman, and woke the tide,
And spread its trembling circles wide.
Once, Emir! thy unheeding child,
'Mid all this havoc, bloom'd and smiled, --
Tranquil as on some battle-plain
The Persian lily shines and towers,
Before the combat's reddening stain
Hath fall'n upon her golden flowers.
Light-hearted maid, unawed, unmoved,
While heaven but spared the sire she loved,
Once at thy evening tales of blood
Unlistening and aloof she stood --
And oft, when thou hast paced along
Thy haram halls with furious heat,
Hast thou not cursed her cheerful song,
That came across thee, calm and sweet,
Like lutes of angels, touch'd so near
Hell's confines, that the damn'd can hear?
Far other feelings love hath brought --
Her soul all flame, her brow all sadness,
She now has but the one dear thought,
And thinks that o'er, almost to madness!
Oft doth her sinking heart recall
His words -- "for my sake weep for all;"
And bitterly, as day on day
Of rebel carnage fast succeeds,
She weeps a lover snatch'd away
In every Gheber wretch that bleeds.
There's not a sabre meets her eye,
But with his life-blood seems to swim;
There's not an arrow wings the sky,
But fancy turns its point to him.
No more she brings with footstep light
Al Hassan's falchion for the fight;
And, -- had he look'd with clearer sight,
Had not the mists, that ever rise
From a foul spirit, dimm'd his eyes, --
He would have mark'd her shuddering frame
When from the field of blood he came,
The faltering speech -- the look estranged --
Voice, step, and life, and beauty changed --
He would have mark'd all this, and known
Such change is wrought by love alone!

Ah! not the love that should have bless'd
So young, so innocent a breast;
Not the pure, open, prosperous love,
That, pledged on earth and seal'd above,
Grows in the world's approving eyes,
In friendship's smile and home's caress,
Collecting all the heart's sweet ties
Into one knot of happiness!
No, Hinda, no -- thy fatal flame
Is nursed in silence, sorrow, shame. --
A passion, without hope or pleasure,
In thy soul's darkness buried deep,
It lies, like some ill-gotten treasure, --
Some idol, without shrine or name,
O'er which its pale-eyed votaries keep
Unholy watch, while others sleep!
Seven nights have darken'd Oman's Sea,
Since last, beneath the moonlight ray,
She saw his light oar rapidly
Hurry her Gheber's bark away, --
And still she goes, at midnight hour,
To weep alone in that high bower,
And watch, and look along the deep
For him whose smiles first made her weep, --
But watching, weeping, all was vain,
She never saw his bark again.
The owlet's solitary cry,
The night-hawk, flitting darkly by,
And oft the hateful carrion-bird,
Heavily flapping his clogg'd wing,
Which reek'd with that day's banqueting --
Was all she saw, was all she heard.

'Tis the eighth morn -- Al Hassan's brow
Is brighten'd with unusual joy --
What mighty mischief glads him now,
Who never smiles but to destroy?
The sparkle upon Herkend's Sea,
When toss'd at midnight furiously,
Tells not of wreck and ruin nigh,
More surely than that smiling eye!
"Up, daughter, up -- the kerna's breath
Has blown a blast would waken death,
And yet thou sleep'st -- up, child, and see
This blessed day for heaven and me,
A day more rich in Pagan blood
Than ever flash'd o'er Oman's flood.
Before another dawn shall shine,
His head -- heart -- limbs -- will all be mine;
This very night his blood shall steep
These hands all over ere I sleep!" --
"His blood"! she faintly scream'd -- her mind
Still singling one from all mankind.
"Yes -- spite of his ravines and towers,
Hafed, my child, this night is ours.
Thanks to all-conquering treachery,
Without whose aid the links accursed,
That bind these impious slaves, would be
Too strong for Alla's self to burst!
That rebel fiend, whose blade has spread
My path with piles of Moslem dead,
Whose baffling spells had almost driven
Back from their course the Swords of Heaven,
This night, with all his band, shall know
How deep an Arab's steel can go,
When God and vengeance speed the blow.
And -- Prophet! -- by that holy wreath
Thou wor'st on Ohod's field of death,
I swear, for every sob that parts
In anguish from these heathen hearts,
A gem from Persia's plunder'd mines
Shall glitter on thy shrine of shrines.
But ha! -- she sinks -- that look so wild --
Those livid lips -- my child, my child,
This life of blood befits not thee,
And thou must back to Araby.
Ne'er had I risk'd thy timid sex
In scenes that man himself might dread,
Had I not hoped our every tread
Would be on prostrate Persian necks --
Cursed race, they offer swords instead!
But cheer thee, maid, -- the wind that now
Is blowing o'er thy feverish brow,
To-day shall waft thee from the shore;
And, ere a drop of this night's gore
Have time to chill in yonder towers,
Thou'lt see thy own sweet Arab bowers!"

His bloody boast was all too true --
There lurk'd one wretch among the few
Whom Hafed's eagle eye could count
Around him on that Fiery Mount, --
One miscreant, who for gold betray'd
The pathway through the valley's shade
To those high towers where Freedom stood
In her last hold of flame and blood.
Left on the field last dreadful night,
When, sallying from their sacred height,
The Ghebers fought hope's farewell fight,
He lay -- but died not with the brave;
That sun, which should have gilt his grave,
Saw him a traitor and a slave; --
And, while the few, who thence return'd
To their high rocky fortress, mourn'd
For him among the matchless dead
They left behind on glory's bed,
He lived, and, in the face of morn,
Laugh'd them and Faith and Heaven to scorn!

Oh, for a tongue to curse the slave,
Whose treason, like a deadly blight,
Comes o'er the councils of the brave,
And blasts them in their hour of might!
May life's unblessed cup for him
Be drugg'd with treacheries to the brim, --
With hopes, that but allure to fly,
With joys, that vanish while he sips,
Like Dead-Sea fruits, that tempt the eye,
But turn to ashes on the lips!
His country's curse, his children's shame,
Outcast of virtue, peace, and fame,
May he, at last, with lips of flame
On the parch'd desert thirsting die, --
While lakes that shone in mockery nigh
Are fading off, untouch'd, untasted,
Like the once glorious hopes he blasted!
And, when from earth his spirit flies,
Just Prophet, let the damn'd-one dwell
Full in the sight of Paradise,
Beholding heaven, and feeling hell!

THE day is lowering -- stilly black
Sleeps the grim wave, while heaven's rack,
Dispersed and wild, 'twixt earth and sky
Hangs like a shatter'd canopy!
There's not a cloud in that blue plain
But tells of storm to come or past; --
Here, flying loosely as the mane
Of a young war-horse in the blast; --
There, roll'd in masses dark and swelling,
As proud to be the thunder's dwelling!
While some, already burst and riven,
Seem melting down the verge of heaven;
As though the infant storm had rent
The mighty womb that gave him birth,
And, having swept the firmament,
Was now in fierce career for earth.
On earth 'twas yet all calm around,
A pulseless silence, dread, profound,
More awful than the tempest's sound.
The diver steer'd for Ormus' bowers,
And moor'd his skiff till calmer hours;
The sea-birds, with portentous screech,
Flew fast to land; -- upon the beach
The pilot oft had paused, with glance
Turn'd upward to that wild expanse;
And all was boding, drear and dark
As her own soul, when Hinda's bark
Went slowly from the Persian shore --
No music timed her parting oar,
Nor friends upon the lessening strand
Linger'd, to wave the unseen hand,
Or speak the farewell, heard no more; --
But lone, unheeded, from the bay
The vessel takes its mournful way,
Like some ill-destined bark that steers
In silence through the Gate of Tears.

And where was stern Al Hassan then?
Could not that saintly scourge of men
From bloodshed and devotion spare
One minute for a farewell there?
No -- close within, in changeful fits
Of cursing and of prayer, he sits
In savage loneliness to brood
Upon the coming night of blood,
With that keen, second-scent of death,
By which the vulture snuffs his food
In the still warm and living breath!
While o'er the wave his weeping daughter
Is wafted from these scenes of slaughter, --
As a young bird of Babylon,
Let loose to tell of victory won,
Flies home, with wing, ah! not unstain'd
By the red hands that held her chain'd.

And does the long-left home she seeks
Light up no gladness on her cheeks?
The flowers she nursed -- the well-known groves,
Where oft in dreams her spirit roves --
Once more to see her dear gazelles
Come bounding with their silver bells;
Her birds' new plumage to behold,
And the gay, gleaming fishes count,
She left, all filleted with gold,
Shooting around their jasper fount. --
Her little garden mosque to see,
And once again, at evening hour,
To tell her ruby rosary
In her own sweet acacia bower. --
Can these delights, that wait her now,
Call up no sunshine on her brow?
No -- silent, from her train apart, --
As if even now she felt at heart
The chill of her approaching doom, --
She sits, all lovely in her gloom
As a pale angel of the grave;
And o'er the wide, tempestuous wave,
Looks, with a shudder, to those towers,
Where, in a few short awful hours,
Blood, blood, in steaming tides shall run,
Foul incense for to-morrow's sun!
"Where art thou, glorious stranger! thou,
So loved, so lost, where art thou now?
Foe -- Gheber -- infidel -- whate'er
Th' unhallow'd name thou'rt doom'd to bear,
Still glorious -- still to this fond heart
Dear as its blood, whate'er thou art!
Yes -- Alla, dreadful Alla! yes --
If there be wrong, be crime in this,
Let the black waves, that round us roll,
Whelm me this instant, ere my soul,
Forgetting faith, -- home, -- father, -- all, --
Before its earthly idol fall,
Nor worship even Thyself above him. --
For oh! so wildly do I love him,
Thy Paradise itself were dim
And joyless, if not shared with him!"

Her hands were clasp'd -- her eyes upturn'd,
Dropping their tears like moonlight rain;
And, though her lip, fond raver! burn'd
With words of passion, bold, profane,
Yet was there light around her brow,
A holiness in those dark eyes,
Which show'd -- though wandering earthward now, --
Her spirit's home was in the skies.
Yes -- for a spirit, pure as hers,
Is always pure, even while it errs;
As sunshine, broken in the rill,
Though turn'd astray, is sunshine still!

So wholly had her mind forgot
All thoughts but one, she heeded not
The rising storm -- the wave that cast
A moment's midnight, as it pass'd --
Nor heard the frequent shout, the tread
Of gathering tumult o'er her head --
Clash'd swords, and tongues that seem'd to vie
With the rude riot of the sky. --
But hark! -- that war-whoop on the deck --
That crash, as if each engine there,
Mast, sails, and all, were gone to wreck,
Mid yells and stampings of despair!
Merciful Heaven! what can it be?
'Tis not the storm, though fearfully
The ship has shudder'd as she rode
O'er mountain waves. -- "Forgive me, God!
Forgive me!" -- shriek'd the maid and knelt,
Trembling all over, -- for she felt
As if her judgment-hour was near;
While crouching round, half dead with fear,
Her handmaids clung, nor breathed, nor stirr'd --
When, hark! -- a second crash -- a third --
And now, as if a bolt of thunder
Had riven the labouring planks asunder,
The deck falls in -- what horrors then!
Blood, waves, and tackle, swords and men
Come mix'd together through the chasm; --
Some wretches in their dying spasm
Still fighting on -- and some that call
"For God and Iran!" as they fall!

Whose was the hand that turn'd away
The perils of th' infuriate fray,
And snatch'd her breathless from beneath
This wilderment of wreck and death?
She knew not -- for a faintness came
Chill o'er her, and her sinking frame
Amid the ruins of that hour
Lay, like a pale and scorched flower,
Beneath the red volcano's shower!
But oh! the sights and sounds of dread
That shock'd her, ere her senses fled!
The yawning deck -- the crowd that strove
Upon the tottering planks above --
The sail, whose fragments, shivering o'er
The strugglers' heads, all dash'd with gore,
Flutter'd like bloody flags -- the clash
Of sabres, and the lightning's flash
Upon their blades, high toss'd about
Like meteor brands -- as if throughout
The elements one fury ran,
One general rage, that left a doubt
Which was the fiercer, Heaven or Man!
Once too -- but no -- it could not be --
'Twas fancy all -- yet once she thought
While yet her fading eyes could see,
High on the ruin'd deck she caught
A glimpse of that unearthly form,
That glory of her soul, -- even then,
Amid the whirl of wreck and storm,
Shining above his fellow men,
As, on some black and troublous night,
The Star of Egypt, whose proud light
Never hath beam'd on those who rest
In the White Islands of the West,
Burns through the storm with looks of flame
That put heaven's cloudier eyes to shame!
But no -- 'twas but the minute's dream --
A fantasy -- and ere the scream
Had half-way pass'd her pallid lips,
A death-like swoon, a chill eclipse
Of soul and sense, its darkness spread
Around her, and she sunk, as dead!

How calm, how beautiful, comes on
The stilly hour, when storms are gone!
When warring winds have died away,
And clouds, beneath the glancing ray,
Melt off, and leave the land and sea
Sleeping in bright tranquillity, --
Fresh as if Day again were born,
Again upon the lap of Morn!
When the light blossoms, rudely torn
And scatter'd at the whirlwind's will,
Hang floating in the pure air still,
Filling it all with precious balm,
In gratitude for this sweet calm! --
And every drop the thunder-showers
Have left upon the grass and flowers
Sparkles, as 'twere the lightning-gem
Whose liquid flame is born of them!
When, stead of one unchanging breeze,
There blow a thousand gentle airs,
And each a different perfume bears, --
As if the loveliest plants and trees
Had vassal breezes of their own
To watch and wait on them alone,
And waft no other breath than theirs!
When the blue waters rise and fall,
In sleepy sunshine mantling all;
And even that swell the tempest leaves
Is like the full and silent heaves
Of lovers' hearts, when newly blest,
Too newly to be quite at rest!

Such was the golden hour, that broke
Upon the world, when Hinda woke
From her long trance, and heard around
No motion but the water's sound
Rippling against the vessel's side,
As slow it mounted o'er the tide. --
But where is she? -- her eyes are dark,
Are wilder'd still -- is this the bark,
The same, that from Harmozia's bay
Bore her at morn -- whose bloody way
The sea-dog tracks? -- no -- strange and new
Is all that meets her wondering view.
Upon a galliot's deck she lies,
Beneath no rich pavilion's shade,
No plumes to fan her sleeping eyes,
Nor jasmine on her pillow laid.
But the rude litter, roughly spread
With war-cloaks, is her homely bed,
And shawl and sash, on javelins hung,
For awning o'er her head are flung.
Shuddering she look'd around -- there lay
A group of warriors in the sun
Resting their limbs, as for that day
Their ministry of death were done.
Some gazing on the drowsy sea,
Lost in unconscious reverie;
And some, who seem'd but ill to brook
That sluggish calm, with many a look
To the slack sail impatient cast,
As loose it flagg'd around the mast.

Blest Alla! who shall save her now?
There's not in all that warrior-band
One Arab sword, one turban'd brow
From her own faithful Moslem land.
Their garb -- the leathern belt that wraps
Each yellow vest -- that rebel hue --
The Tartar fleece upon their caps --
Yes -- yes -- her fears are all too true,
And Heaven hath, in this dreadful hour,
Abandon'd her to Hafed's power; --
Hafed, the Gheber! -- at the thought
Her very heart's blood chills within;
He, whom her soul was hourly taught
To loathe, as some foul fiend of sin,
Some minister, whom Hell had sent
To spread its blast, where'er he went,
And fling, as o'er our earth he trod,
His shadow betwixt man and God!
And she is now his captive, -- thrown
In his fierce hands, alive, alone;
His the infuriate band she sees,
All infidels -- all enemies!
What was the daring hope that then
Cross'd her like lightning, as again,
With boldness that despair had lent,
She darted through that armed crowd
A look so searching, so intent,
That e'en the sternest warrior bow'd
Abash'd, when he her glances caught,
As if he guess'd whose form they sought.
But no -- she sees him not -- 'tis gone, --
The vision, that before her shone
Through all the maze of blood and storm,
Is fled -- 'twas but a phantom form --
One of those passing, rainbow dreams,
Half light, half shade, which fancy's beams
Paint on the fleeting mists that roll
In trance or slumber round the soul!

But now the bark, with livelier bound,
Scales the blue wave -- the crew's in motion --
The oars are out, and with light sound
Break the bright mirror of the ocean,
Scattering its brilliant fragments round.
And now she sees -- with horror sees --
Their course is toward that mountain hold, --
Those towers, that make her life-blood freeze,
Where Mecca's godless enemies
Lie, like beleaguer'd scorpions, roll'd
In their last deadly, venomous fold!
Amid th' illumined land and flood
Sunless that mighty mountain stood;
Save where, above its awful head,
There shone a flaming cloud, blood-red,
As 'twere the flag of destiny
Hung out to mark where death would be!

Had her bewilder'd mind the power
Of thought in this terrific hour,
She well might marvel where or how
Man's foot could scale that mountain's brow;
Since ne'er had Arab heard or known
Of path but through the glen alone. --
But every thought was lost in fear,
When, as their bounding bark drew near
The craggy base, she felt the waves
Hurry them toward those dismal caves
That from the deep in windings pass
Beneath that mount's volcanic mass --
And loud a voice on deck commands
To lower the mast and light the brands! --
Instantly o'er the dashing tide
Within a cavern's mouth they glide,
Gloomy as that eternal porch,
Through which departed spirits go; --
Not e'en the flare of brand and torch
Its flickering light could further throw
Than the thick flood that boil'd below.
Silent they floated -- as if each
Sat breathless, and too awed for speech
In that dark chasm, where even sound
Seem'd dark, -- so sullenly around
The goblin echoes of the cave
Mutter'd it o'er the long black wave,
As 'twere some secret of the grave!
But soft -- they pause -- the current turns
Beneath them from its onward track; --
Some mighty, unseen barrier spurns
The vexed tide, all foaming, back,
And scarce the oar's redoubled force
Can stem the eddy's whirling force;
When, hark! -- some desperate foot has sprung
Among the rocks -- the chain is flung --
The oars are up -- the grapple clings,
And the toss'd bark in moorings swings.
Just then, a daybeam through the shade
Broke tremulous -- but, ere the maid
Can see from whence the brightness steals,
Upon her brow she shuddering feels
A viewless hand, that promptly ties
A bandage round her burning eyes;
While the rude litter where she lies,
Uplifted by the warrior throng,
O'er the steep rocks is borne along.

Blest power of sunshine! genial Day,
What balm, what life, is in thy ray!
To feel thee is such real bliss,
That had the world no joy but this,
To sit in sunshine calm and sweet, --
It were a world too exquisite
For man to leave it for the gloom,
The deep, cold shadow of the tomb!
E'en Hinda, though she saw not where
Or whither wound the perilous road,
Yet knew by that awakening air,
Which suddenly around her glow'd,
That they had risen from darkness then,
And breathed the sunny world again!

But soon this balmy freshness fled --
For now the steepy labyrinth led
Through damp and gloom -- 'mid crash of boughs
And fall of loosen'd crags that rouse
The leopard from his hungry sleep,
Who, starting, thinks each crag a prey,
And long is heard from steep to steep,
Chasing them down their thundering way!
The jackal's cry -- the distant moan
Of the hyaena, fierce and lone; --
And that eternal, saddening sound
Of torrents in the glen beneath,
As 'twere the ever-dark profound
That rolls beneath the Bridge of Death!
All, all is fearful -- e'en to see,
To gaze on those terrific things
She now but blindly hears, would be
Relief to her imaginings!
Since never yet was shape so dread,
But Fancy, thus in darkness thrown,
And by such sounds of horror fed,
Could frame more dreadful of her own.

But does she dream? has fear again
Perplex'd the workings of her brain,
Or did a voice, all music, then
Come from the gloom, low whispering near --
"Tremble not, love, thy Gheber's here?"
She does not dream -- all sense, all ear,
She drinks the words, "Thy Gheber's here."
'Twas his own voice -- she could not err --
Throughout the breathing world's extent
There was but one such voice for her,
So kind, so soft, so eloquent!
Oh! sooner shall the rose of May
Mistake her own sweet nightingale,
And to some meaner minstrel's lay
Open her bosom's glowing veil,
Than love shall ever doubt a tone,
A breath of the beloved one!
Though blest, 'mid all her ills, to think
She has that one beloved near,
Whose smile, though met on ruin's brink,
Hath power to make e'en ruin dear, --
Yet soon this gleam of rapture, cross'd
By fears for him, is chill'd and lost.
How shall the ruthless Hafed brook
That one of Gheber blood should look,
With aught but curses in his eye,
On her -- a maid of Araby --
A Moslem maid -- the child of him,
Whose bloody banner's dire success
Hath left their altars cold and dim,
And their fair land a wilderness!
And, worse than all, that night of blood
Which comes so fast -- oh! who shall stay
The sword, that once hath tasted food
Of Persian hearts, or turn its way?
What arm shall then the victim cover,
Or from her father shield her lover?

"Save him, my God!" she inly cries --
"Save him this night -- and if thine eyes
Have ever welcomed with delight
The sinner's tears, the sacrifice
Of sinners' hearts -- guard him this night,
And here, before thy throne, I swear
From my heart's inmost core to tear,
Love, hope, remembrance, though they be
Link'd with each quivering life-string there,
And give it bleeding all to Thee!
Let him but live, the burning tear,
The sighs, so sinful, yet so dear,
Which have been all too much his own,
Shall from this hour be Heaven's alone.
Youth pass'd in penitence, and age
In long and painful pilgrimage,
Shall leave no traces of the flame
That wastes me now -- nor shall his name
E'er bless my lips, but when I pray
For his dear spirit, that away
Casting from its angelic ray
Th' eclipse of earth, he too may shine
Redeem'd, all glorious and all thine!
Think -- think what victory to win
One radiant soul like his from sin; --
One wandering star of virtue back
To its own native, heaven-ward track!
Let him but live, and both are thine,
Together thine -- for, bless'd or cross'd,
Living or dead, his doom is mine,
And if he perish, both are lost!"
To tearless eyes and hearts at ease
The leafy shores and sun-bright seas,
That lay beneath that mountain's height,
Had been a fair, enchanting sight.
'Twas one of those ambrosial eves
A day of storm so often leaves
At its calm setting -- when the west
Opens her golden bowers of rest,
And a moist radiance from the skies
Shoots trembling down, as from the eyes
Of some meek penitent, whose last,
Bright hours atone for dark ones past,
And whose sweet tears, o'er wrong forgiven,
Shine, as they fall, with light from heaven!

'Twas stillness all -- the winds that late
Had rush'd through Kerman's almond groves,
And shaken from her bowers of date
That cooling feast the traveller loves,
Now, lull'd to languor, scarcely curl
The Green Sea wave, whose waters gleam
Limpid, as if her mines of pearl
Were melted all to form the stream;
And her fair islets, small and bright,
With their green shores reflected there,
Look like those Peri isles of light,
That hang by spell-work in the air.

But vainly did those glories burst
On Hinda's dazzled eyes, when first
The bandage from her brow was taken,
And pale and awed as those who waken
In their dark tombs -- when, scowling near,
The Searchers of the Grave appear, --
She shuddering turn'd to read her fate
In the fierce eyes that flash'd around;
And saw those towers all desolate,
That o'er her head terrific frown'd,
As if defying e'en the smile
Of that soft heaven to gild their pile.
In vain, with mingled hope and fear,
She looks for him whose voice so dear
Had come, like music, to her ear --
Strange, mocking dream! again 'tis fled.
And oh! the shoots, the pangs of dread
That through her inmost bosom run,
When voices from without proclaim
"Hafed, the Chief" -- and, one by one,
The warriors shout that fearful name!
He comes -- the rock resounds his tread --
How shall she dare to lift her head,
Or meet those eyes, whose scorching glare
Not Yemen's boldest sons can bear?
In whose red beam, the Moslem tells,
Such rank and deadly lustre dwells,
As in those hellish fires that light
The mandrake's charnel leaves at night!
How shall she bear that voice's tone,
At whose loud battle-cry alone
Whole squadrons oft in panic ran,
Scatter'd, like some vast caravan,
When, stretch'd at evening round the well,
They hear the thirsting tiger's yell!

Breathless she stands, with eyes cast down,
Shrinking beneath the fiery frown,
Which, fancy tells her, from that brow
Is flashing o'er her fiercely now;
And shuddering, as she hears the tread
Of his retiring warrior band. --
Never was pause so full of dread;
Till Hafed with a trembling hand
Took hers, and, leaning o'er her, said,
"Hinda!" -- that word was all he spoke,
And 'twas enough -- the shriek that broke
From her full bosom told the rest --
Panting with terror, joy, surprise,
The maid but lifts her wondering eyes,
To hide them on her Gheber's breast!
'Tis he, 'tis he -- the man of blood,
The fellest of the Fire-fiend's brood,
Hafed, the demon of the fight,
Whose voice unnerves, whose glances blight, --
Is her own loved Gheber, mild
And glorious as when first he smiled
In her lone tower, and left such beams
Of his pure eye to light her dreams,
That she believed her bower had given
Rest to some wanderer from heaven!

Moments there are, and this was one,
Snatch'd like a minute's gleam of sun
Amid the black simoom's eclipse --
Or like those verdant spots that bloom
Around the crater's burning lips,
Sweetening the very edge of doom!
The past -- the future -- all that fate
Can bring of dark or desperate
Around such hours, but makes them cast
Intenser radiance while they last!

E'en he, this youth -- though dimm'd and gone
Each star of hope that cheer'd him on --
His glories lost -- his cause betray'd --
Iran, his dear-loved country, made
A land of carcases and slaves,
One dreary waste of chains and graves! --
Himself but lingering, dead at heart,
To see the last, long-struggling breath
Of Liberty's great soul depart,
Then lay him down, and share her death --
E'en he, so sunk in wretchedness,
With doom still darker gathering o'er him,
Yet, in this moment's pure caress,
In the mild eyes that shone before him,
Beaming that blest assurance, worth
All other transports known on earth,
That he was loved -- well, warmly loved --
Oh! in this precious hour he proved
How deep, how thorough-felt the glow
Of rapture, kindling out of woe; --
How exquisite one single drop
Of bliss, thus sparkling to the top
Of misery's cup -- how keenly quaff'd,
Though death must follow on the draught!

She too, while gazing on those eyes
That sink into her soul so deep,
Forgets all fears, all miseries,
Or feels them like the wretch in sleep,
Whom fancy cheats into a smile,
Who dreams of joy, and sobs the while!
The mighty ruins where they stood,
Upon the mount's high, rocky verge,
Lay open towards the ocean flood,
Where lightly o'er th' illumined surge
Many a fair bark that, all the day,
Had lurk'd in sheltering creek or bay,
Now bounded on and gave their sails,
Yet dripping, to the evening gales;
Like eagles, when the storm is done,
Spreading their wet wings in the sun.
The beauteous clouds, though daylight's star
Had sunk behind the hills of Lar,
Were still with lingering glories bright, --
As if, to grace the gorgeous west,
The Spirit of departing Light
That eve had left his sunny vest
Behind him, ere he wing'd his flight.
Never was scene so form'd for love!
Beneath them, waves of crystal move
In silent swell -- heaven glows above,
And their pure hearts, to transport given,
Swell like the wave, and glow like heaven!
But, ah! too soon that dream is past --
Again, again her fear returns; --
Night, dreadful night, is gathering fast,
More faintly the horizon burns,
And every rosy tint that lay
On the smooth sea hath died away.
Hastily to the darkening skies
A glance she casts -- then wildly cries,
"At night, he said -- and, look, 'tis near --
Fly, fly -- if yet thou lov'st me, fly --
Soon will his murderous band be here,
And I shall see thee bleed and die. --
Hush! -- heard'st thou not the tramp of men
Sounding from yonder fearful glen? --
Perhaps e'en now they climb the wood --
Fly, fly -- though still the west is bright,
He'll come -- oh! yes -- he wants thy blood --
I know him -- he'll not wait for night!"

In terrors e'en to agony
She clings around the wondering Chief; --
"Alas, poor wilder'd maid! to me
Thou ow'st this raving trance of grief.
Lost as I am, nought ever grew
Beneath my shade but perish'd too --
My doom is like the Dead-Sea air,
And nothing lives that enters there!
Why were our barks together driven
Beneath this morning's furious heaven?
Why, when I saw the prize that chance
Had thrown into my desperate arms, --
When, casting but a single glance
Upon thy pale and prostrate charms,
I vow'd (though watching viewless o'er
Thy safety through that hour's alarms)
To meet th' unmanning sight no more --
Why have I broke that heart-wrung vow?
Why weakly, madly, met thee now? --
Start not -- that noise is but the shock
Of torrents through yon valley hurl'd --
Dread nothing here -- upon this rock
We stand above the jarring world,
Alike beyond its hope -- its dread --
In gloomy safety, like the dead!
Or, could e'en earth and hell unite
In league to storm this sacred height,
Fear nothing now -- myself, to-night.
And each o'erlooking star that dwells
Near God will be thy sentinels; --
And, ere to-morrow's dawn shall glow,
Back to thy sire --"
"To-morrow! -- no --'
The maiden scream'd -- "thou'lt never see
To-morrow's sun -- death will be
The night-cry through each reeking tower,
Unless we fly, aye, fly this hour!
Thou art betray'd -- some wretch who knew
That dreadful glen's mysterious clew --
Nay, doubt not -- by yon stars, 'tis true --
Hath sold thee to my vengeful sire;
This morning, with that smile so dire
He wears in joy, he told me all,
And stamp'd in triumph through our hall,
As though thy heart already beat
Its last life-throb beneath his feet!
Good Heaven, how little dream'd I then
His victim was my own loved youth! --
Fly -- send -- let some one watch the glen --
By all my hopes of heaven 'tis truth!"
Oh! colder than the wind that freezes
Founts, that but now in sunshine play'd,
Is that congealing pang which seizes
The trusting bosom, when betray'd.
He felt it -- deeply felt -- and stood,
As if the tale had frozen his blood,
So mazed and motionless was he; --
Like one whom sudden spells enchant,
Or some mute, marble habitant
Of the still Halls of Ishmonie!

But soon the painful chill was o'er,
And his great soul, herself once more,
Look'd from his brow in all the rays
Of her best, happiest, grandest days!
Never, in moment most elate,
Did that high spirit loftier rise; --
While bright, serene, determinate,
His looks are lifted to the skies,
As if the signal-lights of fate
Were shining in those awful eyes!
'Tis come -- his hour of martyrdom
In Iran's sacred cause is come;
And, though his life hath pass'd away
Like lightning on a stormy day,
Yet shall his death-hour leave a track
Of glory, permanent and bright,
To which the brave of after-times,
The suffering brave, shall long look back
With proud regret, -- and by its light
Watch through the hours of slavery's night
For vengeance on th' oppressor's crimes!
This rock, his monument aloft,
Shall speak the tale to many an age;
And hither bards and heroes oft
Shall come in secret pilgrimage,
And bring their warrior sons, and tell
The wondering boys where Hafed fell
And swear them on those lone remains
Of their lost country's ancient fanes,
Never -- while breath of life shall live
Within them -- never to forgive
Th' accursed race, whose ruthless chain
Hath left on Iran's neck a stain
Blood, blood alone can cleanse again!

Such are the swelling thoughts that now
Enthrone themselves on Hafed's brow;
And ne'er did saint of Issa gaze
On the red wreath, for martyrs twined,
More proudly than the youth surveys
That pile, which through the gloom behind
Half lighted by the altar's fire,
Glimmers, -- his destined funeral pyre!
Heap'd by his own, his comrades' hands,
Of every wood of odorous breath,
There, by the Fire-God's shrine it stands,
Ready to fold in radiant death
The few still left of those who swore
To perish there, when hope was o'er --
The few, to whom that couch of flame,
Which rescues them from bonds and shame,
Is sweet and welcome as the bed
For their own infant Prophet spread,
When pitying Heaven to roses turn'd
The death-flames that beneath him burn'd!

With watchfulness the maid attends
His rapid glance, where'er it bends --
Why shoot his eyes such awful beams?
What plans he now? what thinks or dreams?
Alas! why stands he musing here,
When every moment teems with fear?
"Hafed, my own beloved lord,"
She kneeling cries -- "first, last adored!
If in that soul thou'st ever felt
Half what thy lips impassion'd swore,
Here, on my knees that never knelt
To any but their God before,
I pray thee, as thou lov'st me, fly --
Now, now -- ere yet their blades are nigh.
Oh, haste -- the bark that bore me hither
Can waft us o'er yon darkening sea
East -- west -- alas, I care not whither,
So thou art safe, and I with thee!
Go where we will, this hand in thine,
Those eyes before me smiling thus,
Through good and ill, through storm and shine,
The world's a world of love for us!
On some calm, blessed shore we'll dwell,
Where 'tis no crime to love too well; --
Where thus to worship tenderly
An erring child of light like thee
Will not be sin -- or, if it be,
Where we may weep our faults away,
Together kneeling, night and day,
Thou, for my sake, at Alla's shrine,
And I -- at any God's, for thine!"

Wildly these passionate words she spoke --
Then hung her head, and wept for shame;
Sobbing, as if a heart-string broke
With every deep-heaved sob that came.
While he, young, warm -- oh! wonder not
If, for a moment, pride and fame,
His oath -- his cause -- that shrine of flame,
And Iran's self are all forgot
For her whom at his feet he sees
Kneeling in speechless agonies.
No, blame him not, if Hope awhile
Dawn'd in his soul, and threw her smile
O'er hours to come -- o'er days and nights
Wing'd with those precious, pure delights
Which she, who bends all beauteous there,
Was born to kindle and to share!
A tear or two, which, as he bow'd
To raise the suppliant, trembling stole,
First warn'd him of this dangerous cloud
Of softness passing o'er his soul.
Starting, he brush'd the drops away,
Unworthy o'er that cheek to stray; --
Like one who, on the morn of fight,
Shakes from his sword the dews of night,
That had but dimm'd, not stain'd, its light.

Yet, though subdued th' unnerving thrill,
Its warmth, its weakness, linger'd still
So touching in each look and tone,
That the fond, fearing, hoping maid
Half counted on the flight she pray'd,
Half thought the hero's soul was grown
As soft, as yielding as her own,
And smiled and bless'd him, while he said, --
"Yes -- if there be some happier sphere,
Where fadeless truth like ours is dear; --
If there be any land of rest
For those who love and ne'er forget,
Oh! comfort thee -- for safe and blest
We'll meet in that calm region yet!"

Scarce had she time to ask her heart
If good or ill these words impart,
When the roused youth impatient flew
To the tower-wall, where, high in view,
A ponderous sea-horn hung, and blew
A signal, deep and dread as those
The storm-fiend at his rising blows. --
Full well his chieftains, sworn and true
Through life and death, that signal knew;
For 'twas th' appointed warning-blast,
Th' alarm, to tell when hope was past
And the tremendous death-die cast!
And there, upon the mouldering tower,
Hath hung this sea-horn many an hour,
Ready to sound o'er land and sea
That dirge-note of the brave and free.

They came -- his chieftains at the call
Came slowly round, and with them all --
Alas, how few! -- the worn remains
Of those who late o'er Kerman's plains
Went gaily prancing to the clash
Of Moorish zel and tymbalon,
Catching new hope from every flash
Of their long lances in the sun --
And, as their coursers charged the wind,
And the white ox-tails stream'd behind,
Looking as if the steeds they rode
Were wing'd, and every chief a god!
How fallen, how alter'd now! how wan
Each scarr'd and faded visage shone,
As round the burning shrine they came; --
How deadly was the glare it cast,
As mute they paused before the flame
To light their torches as they pass'd!
'Twas silence all -- the youth had plann'd
The duties of his soldier-band;
And each determined brow declares
His faithful chieftains well know theirs.

But minutes speed -- night gems the skies --
And oh, how soon, ye blessed eyes,
That look from heaven, ye may behold
Sights that will turn your star-fires cold!
Breathless with awe, impatience, hope,
The maiden sees the veteran group
Her litter silently prepare,
And lay it at her trembling feet; --
And now the youth, with gentle care,
Hath placed her in the shelter'd seat,
And press'd her hand -- that lingering press
Of hands, that for the last time sever;
Of hearts, whose pulse of happiness,
When that hold breaks, is dead for ever.
And yet to her this sad caress
Gives hope -- so fondly hope can err!
'Twas joy, she thought, joy's mute excess --
Their happy flight's dear harbinger;
'Twas warmth -- assurance -- tenderness --
'Twas anything but leaving her.

"Haste, haste!" she cried, "the clouds grow dark,
But still, ere night, we'll reach the bark;
And, by to-morrow's dawn -- oh, bliss!
With thee upon the sunbright deep,
Far off, I'll but remember this,
As some dark vanish'd dream of sleep!
And thou -- " but ha! -- he answers not --
Good Heaven! -- and does she go alone?
She now has reach'd that dismal spot,
Where, some hours since, his voice's tone
Had come to soothe her fears and ills,
Sweet as the angel Israfil's,
When every leaf on Eden's tree
Is trembling to his minstrelsy --
Yet now -- oh, now, he is not nigh --
"Hafed! my Hafed! if it be
Thy will, thy doom, this night to die,
Let me but stay to die with thee,
And I will bless thy loved name,
'Till the last life-breath leave this frame.
Oh! let our lips, our cheeks, be laid
But near each other while they fade;
Let us but mix our parting breaths,
And I can die ten thousand deaths!
You too, who hurry me away
So cruelly, one moment stay --
Oh! stay -- one moment is not much --
He yet may come -- for him I pray --
Hafed! dear Hafed! --" all the way
In wild lamentings, that would touch
A heart of stone, she shriek'd his name
To the dark woods -- no Hafed came: --
No -- hapless pair -- you've look'd your last;
Your hearts should both have broken then:
The dream is o'er -- your doom is cast --
You'll never meet on earth again!

Alas for him, who hears her cries! --
Still halfway down the steep he stands,
Watching with fix'd and feverish eyes
The glimmer of those burning brands,
That down the rocks, with mournful ray,
Light all he loves on earth away!
Hopeless as they who, far at sea,
By the cold moon have just consign'd
The corse of one, loved tenderly,
To the bleak flood they leave behind;
And on the deck still lingering stay,
And long look back, with sad delay,
To watch the moonlight on the wave,
That ripples o'er that cheerless grave.

But see -- he starts -- what heard he then?
That dreadful shout! -- across the glen
From the land side it comes, and loud
Rings through the chasm; as if the crowd
Of fearful things, that haunt that dell,
Its Gholes and Dives and shapes of hell,
Had all in one dread howl broke out,
So loud, so terrible, that shout!
"They come -- the Moslems come!" -- he cries,
His proud soul mounting to his eyes, --
"Now, spirits of the brave, who roam
Enfranchised through yon starry dome,
Rejoice -- for souls of kindred fire
Are on the wing to join your choir!"

He said -- and, light as bridegrooms bound
To their young loves, reclimb'd the steep
And gain'd the shrine -- his chiefs stood round --
Their swords, as with instinctive leap,
Together, at that cry accursed,
Had from their sheaths, like sunbeams, burst.
And hark! -- again -- again it rings;
Near and more near its echoings
Peal through the chasm -- oh! who that then
Had seen those listening warrior-men,
With their swords grasp'd, their eyes of flame
Turn'd on their Chief -- could doubt the shame,
Th' indignant shame, with which they thrill
To hear those shouts and yet stand still?

He read their thoughts -- they were his own --
"What! while our arms can wield these blades
Shall we die tamely? die alone?
Without one victim to our shades,
One Moslem heart where, buried deep,
The sabre from its toil may sleep?
No -- God of Iran's burning skies!
Thou scorn'st th' inglorious sacrifice.
No -- though of all earth's hopes bereft,
Life, swords, and vengeance still are left.
We'll make yon valley's reeking caves
Live in the awe-struck minds of men,
Till tyrants shudder, when their slaves
Tell of the Ghebers' bloody glen.
Follow, brave hearts! -- this pile remains
Our refuge still from life and chains;
But his the best, the holiest bed,
Who sinks entomb'd in Moslem dead!"

Down the precipitous rocks they sprung,
While vigour, more than human, strung
Each arm and heart. -- Th' exulting foe
Still through the dark defiles below,
Track'd by his torches' lurid fire,
Wound slow, as through Golconda's vale
The mighty serpent, in his ire,
Glides on with glittering, deadly trail.
No torch the Ghebers need -- so well
They know each mystery of the dell,
So oft have, in their wanderings,
Cross'd the wild race that round them dwell,
The very tigers from their delves
Look out, and let them pass, as things
Untamed and fearless like themselves!

There was a deep ravine, that lay
Yet darkling in the Moslems' way; --
Fit spot to make invaders rue
The many fallen before the few.
The torrents from that morning's sky
Had fill'd the narrow chasm breast-high,
And, on each side, aloft and wild,
Huge cliffs and crags were piled.
The guards, with which young Freedom lines
The pathways to her mountain shrines.
Here, at this pass, the scanty band
Of Iran's last avengers stand; --
Here wait, in silence like the dead,
And listen for the Moslems' tread
So anxiously, the carrion-bird
Above them flaps his wings unheard!

They come -- that plunge into the water
Gives signal for the work of slaughter.
Now, Ghebers, now -- if e'er your blades
Had point or prowess, prove them now! --
Woe to the file that foremost wades!
They come -- a falchion greets each brow,
And, as they tumble, trunk on trunk,
Beneath the gory waters sunk,
Still o'er their drowning bodies press
New victims quick and numberless;
Till scarce an arm in Hafed's band,
So fierce their toil, hath power to stir,
But listless from each crimson hand
The sword hangs, clogg'd with massacre.
Never was horde of tyrants met
With bloodier welcome -- never yet
To patriot vengeance hath the sword
More terrible libations pour'd!
All up the dreary, long ravine,
By the red, murky glimmer seen
Of half-quench'd brands, that o'er the flood
Lie scatter'd round and burn in blood,
What ruin glares! what carnage swims!
Heads, blazing turbans, quivering limbs,
Lost swords that, dropp'd from many a hand,
In that thick pool of slaughter stand; --
Wretches who, wading, half on fire
From the toss'd brands that round them fly,
'Twixt flood and flame in shrieks expire; --
And some who, grasp'd by those that die,
Sink woundless with them, smother'd o'er
In their dead brethren's gushing gore!

But vainly hundreds, thousands bleed,
Still hundreds, thousands more succeed; --
Countless as towards some flame at night
The north's dark insects wing their flight,
And quench or perish in its light,
To this terrific spot they pour --
Till, bridged with Moslem bodies o'er,
It bears aloft their slippery tread,
And o'er the dying and the dead,
Tremendous causeway! on they pass. --
Then, hapless Ghebers, then, alas,
What hope was left for you? for you,
Whose yet warm pile of sacrifice
Is smoking in their vengeful eyes --
Whose swords how keen, how fierce, they knew,
And burn with shame to find how few.
Crush'd down by that vast multitude,
Some found their graves where first they stood;
While some with hardier struggle died,
And still fought on by Hafed's side,
Who, fronting to the foe, trod back
Towards the high towers his gory track;
And, as a lion, swept away
By sudden swell of Jordan's pride
From the wild covert where he lay,
Long battles with th' o'erwhelming tide,
So fought he back with fierce delay,
And kept both foes and fate at bay!

But whither now? their track is lost,
Their prey escaped -- guide, torches gone --
By torrent-beds and labyrinths cross'd,
The scatter'd crowd rush blindly on --
"Curse on those tardy lights that wind,"
They panting cry, "so far behind --
Oh, for a bloodhound's precious scent,
To track the way the Gheber went!"
Vain wish -- confusedly along
They rush, more desperate as more wrong;
Till, wilder'd by the far-off lights,
Yet glittering up those gloomy heights,
Their footing, mazed and lost, they miss,
And down the darkling precipice
Are dash'd into the deep abyss; --
Or midway hang, impaled on rocks,
A banquet, yet alive, for flocks
Of ravening vultures, -- while the dell
Re-echoes with each horrible yell.

Those sounds -- the last, to vengeance dear,
That e'er shall ring in Hafed's ear, --
Now reach'd him, as aloft, alone,
Upon the steep way breathless thrown,
He lay beside his reeking blade,
Resign'd, as if life's task were o'er,
Its last blood-offering amply paid,
And Iran's self could claim no more.
One only thought, one lingering beam,
Now broke across his dizzy dream
Of pain and weariness -- 'twas she
His heart's pure planet, shining yet
Above the waste of memory,
When all life's other lights were set.
And never to his mind before
Her image such enchantment wore.
It seem'd as if each thought that stain'd,
Each fear that chill'd, their loves was past,
And not one cloud of earth remain'd
Between him and her glory cast; --
As if to charms, before so bright,
New grace from other worlds was given,
And his soul saw her by the light
Now breaking o'er itself from heaven!

A voice spoke near him -- 'twas the tone
Of a loved friend, the only one
Of all his warriors, left with life
From that short night's tremendous strife. --
"And must we then, my Chief, die here? --
Foes round us, and the shrine so near!"
These words have roused the last remains
Of life within him -- "what! not yet
Beyond the reach of Moslem chains!"
The thought could e'en make Death forget
His icy bondage -- with a bound
He springs, all bleeding, from the ground,
And grasps his comrade's arm, now grown
E'en feebler, heavier, than his own,
And up the painful pathway leads,
Death gaining on each step he treads.
Speed them, thou God, who heard'st their vow!
They mount -- they bleed -- oh, save them now! --
The crags are red they've clamber'd o'er,
The rock-weed's dripping with their gore --
Thy blade too, Hafed, false at length,
Now breaks beneath thy tottering strength --
Haste, haste -- the voices of the Foe
Come near and nearer from below --
One effort more -- thank Heaven! 'tis past,
They've gain'd the topmost steep at last,
And now they touch the temple's walls,
Now Hafed sees the Fire divine --
When, lo! his weak, worn comrade falls
Dead on the threshold of the shrine.
'Alas, brave soul, too quickly fled!
And must I leave thee withering here,
The sport of every ruffian's tread,
The mark for every coward's spear?
No, by yon altar's sacred beams!"
He cries, and, with a strength that seems
Not of this world, uplifts the frame
Of the fallen chief, and towards the flame
Bears him along; -- with death-damp hand
The corpse upon the pyre he lays,
Then lights the consecrated brand,
And fires the pile, whose sudden blaze
Like lightning bursts o'er Oman's Sea. --
"Now, Freedom's God! I come to Thee,"
The youth exclaims, and with a smile
Of triumph vaulting on the pile,
In that last effort, ere the fires
Have harm'd one glorious limb, expires!

What shriek was that on Oman's tide?
It came from yonder drifting bark,
That just has caught upon her side
The death-light -- and again is dark.
It is the boat -- ah, why delay'd? --
That bears the wretched Moslem maid;
Confided to the watchful care
Of a small veteran band, with whom
Their generous Chieftain would not share
The secret of his final doom;
But hoped when Hinda, safe and free,
Was render'd to her father's eyes,
Their pardon, full and prompt, would be
The ransom of so dear a prize. --
Unconscious, thus, of Hafed's fate,
And proud to guard their beauteous freight,
Scarce had they clear'd the surfy waves
That foam around those frightful caves,
When the curst war-whoops, known so well,
Came echoing from the distant dell --.
Sudden each oar, upheld and still,
Hung dripping o'er the vessel's side,
And, driving at the current's will,
They rock'd along the whispering tide,
While every eye, in mute dismay,
Was toward that fatal mountain turn'd,
Where the dim altar's quivering ray
As yet all lone and tranquil burn'd.

Oh! 'tis not, Hinda, in the power
Of fancy's most terrific touch
To paint thy pangs in that dread hour --
Thy silent agony -- 'twas such
As those who feel could paint too well,
But none e'er felt and lived to tell!
'Twas not alone the dreary state
Of a lorn spirit, crush'd by fate,
When, though no more remains to dread,
The panic chill will not depart; --
When, though the inmate Hope be dead,
Her ghost still haunts the mouldering heart.
No -- pleasures, hopes, affections gone,
The wretch may bear, and yet live on,
Like things, within the cold rock found
Alive, when all's congeal'd around.
But there's a blank repose in this,
A calm stagnation, that were bliss
To the keen, burning, harrowing pain,
Now felt through all thy breast and brain --
That spasm of terror, mute, intense,
That breathless, agonized suspense,
From whose hot throb, whose deadly aching,
The heart hath no relief but breaking!

Calm is the wave -- heaven's brilliant lights
Reflected dance beneath the prow; --
Time was when, on such lovely nights,
She who is there, so desolate now,
Could sit all cheerful, though alone,
And ask no happier joy than seeing
The starlight o'er the waters thrown --
No joy but that to make her blest,
And the fresh, buoyant sense of being
That bounds in youth's yet careless breast, --
Itself a star, not borrowing light,
But in its own glad essence bright.
How different now! -- but, hark, again
The yell of havoc rings -- brave men!
In vain, with beating hearts, ye stand
On the bark's edge -- in vain each hand
Half draws the falchion from its sheath;
All's o'er -- in rust your blades may lie; --
He, at whose word they've scatter'd death,
E'en now, this night, himself must die!
Well may ye look to yon dim tower,
And ask, and wondering guess what means
The battle-cry at this dead hour --
Ah! she could tell you -- she, who leans
Unheeded there, pale, sunk, aghast,
With brow against the dew-cold mast --
Too well she knows -- her more than life,
Her soul's first idol and its last,
Lies bleeding in that murderous strife.

But see -- what moves upon the height?
Some signal! -- 'tis a torch's light.
What bodes its solitary glare?
In gasping silence toward the shrine
All eyes are turn'd -- thine, Hinda, thine
Fix their last failing life-beams there.
'Twas but a moment -- fierce and high
The death-pile blazed into the sky,
And far away o'er rock and flood
Its melancholy radiance sent;
While Hafed, like a vision, stood
Reveal'd before the burning pyre,
Tall, shadowy, like a Spirit of Fire
Shrined in its own grand element!
"'Tis he!" the shuddering maid exclaims, --
But, while she speaks, he's seen no more;
High burst in air the funeral flames,
And Iran's hopes and hers are o'er!

One wild, heart-broken shriek she gave --
Then sprung, as if to reach that blaze,
Where still she fix'd her dying gaze,
And, gazing, sunk into the wave, --
Deep, deep, -- where never care or pain
Shall reach her innocent heart again!

Farewell -- farewell to thee, Araby's daughter!
(Thus warbled a Peri beneath the dark sea)
No pearl ever lay, under Oman's green water,
More pure in its shell than thy spirit in thee.

Oh! fair as the sea-flower close to thee growing,
How light was thy heart till love's witchery came,
Like the wind of the south o'er a summer lute blowing,
And hush'd all its music and wither'd its frame!

But long, upon Araby's green sunny highlands,
Shall maids and their lovers remember the doom
Of her, who lies sleeping among the Pearl Islands,
With nought but the sea-star to light up her tomb.

And still, when the merry date-season is burning,
And calls to the palm-groves the young and the old,
The happiest there, from their pastime returning,
At sunset, will weep when thy story is told.

The young village maid, when with flowers she dresses
Her dark flowing hair for some festival day,
Will think of thy fate till, neglecting her tresses,
She mournfully turns from the mirror away.

Nor shall Iran, beloved of her hero! forget thee, --
Though tyrants watch over her tears as they start,
Close, close by the side of that hero she'll set thee,
Embalm'd in the innermost shrine of her heart.

Farewell -- be it ours to embellish thy pillow
With everything beauteous that grows in the deep;
Each flower of the rock and each gem of the billow
Shall sweeten thy bed and illumine thy sleep.

Around thee shall glisten the loveliest amber
That ever the sorrowing sea-bird has wept;
With many a shell, in whose hollow-wreathed chamber,
We, Peris of Ocean, by moonlight have slept.

We'll dive where the gardens of coral lie darkling,
And plant all the rosiest stems at thy head;
We'll seek where the sands of the Caspian are sparkling,
And gather their gold to strew over thy bed.

Farewell -- farewell -- until pity's sweet fountain
Is lost in the hearts of the fair and the brave,
They'll weep for the Chieftain who died on that mountain
They'll weep for the Maiden who sleeps in this wave.






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