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ONE morn a (PERI at the gate
Of Eden stood, disconsolate;
And as she listen’d to the Springs
Of Life within, like music flowing,
And caught the light upon her wings
Through the half-open portal glowing, She wept to think her recreant race Should e'er have lost that glorious place!
“How happy," exclaim'd this child of air, “Are the holy Spirits who wander there,
'Mid flowers that never shall fade or fall; Though mine are the gardens of earth and sea, And the stars themselves have flowers for me,
One blossom of Heaven outblooms them all!
“ Though sunny the Lake of cool CASHMERE, With its plane-tree Isle reflected clear, 159
And sweetly the founts of that Valley fall; Though bright are the waters of SING-SU-HAY, And the golden floods that thitherward stray, 160 Yet — oh, 'tis only the Blest can say
How the waters of Heaven outshine them all !
“Go, wing thy flight from star to star, From world to luminous world, as far
As the universe spreads its flaming wall: Take all the pleasures of all the spheres, And multiply each through endless years,
One minute of Heaven is worth them all !"
The glorious Angel, who was keeping
The gates of Light, beheld her weeping;
And, as he nearer drew and listen’d
To her sad song, a tear-drop glisten'd
Within his eyelids, like the spray
From Eden's fountain, when it lies
On the blue flower, which — Bramins say -
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise. 161
“Nymph of a fair but erring line!” Gently he said — “One hope is thine. 'Tis written in the Book of Fate,
The Peri yet may be forgiven Who brings to this Eternal gate
The Gift that is most dear to Heaven ! Go, seek it, and redeem thy sin 'Tis sweet to let the Pardon'd in."
Rapidly as comets run
To the embraces of the Sun;
Fleeter than the starry brands
Flung at night from angel hands, 162
At those dark and daring sprites
Who would climb the empyreal heights,
Down the blue vault the Peri flies,
And, lighted earthward by a glance
That just then broke from morning's eyes,
Hung hovering o'er our world's expanse.
But whither shall the Spirit go
To find this gift for Heaven ? — “I know
The wealth," she cries, "of every urn,
In which unnumber'd rubies burn,
Beneath the pillars of CHILMINAR ; 163
I know where the Isles of Perfume are,
Many a fathom down in the sea,
To the south of sun-bright ARABY; 1
I know, too, where the Genii hid
The jewell'd cup of their King JAMSHID,
With Life's elixir sparkling high-
But gifts like these are not for the sky.
Where was there ever a gem that shone
Like the steps of ALLA's wonderful Throne ?
And the Drops of Life - oh! what would they be
In the boundless Deep of Eternity ?"
While thus she mus'd, her pinions fann'd
The air of that sweet Indian land,
Whose air is balm ; whose ocean spreads
O’er coral rocks, and amber beds : /
Whose mountains, pregnant by the beam
Of the warm sun, with diamonds teem;
Whose rivulets are like rich brides,
Lovely, with gold beneath their tides;
Whose sandal groves and bowers of spice
Might be a Peri's Paradise !
But crimson now her rivers ran
With human blood — the smell of death
Came reeking from those spicy bowers,
And man, the sacrifice of man,
Mingled his taint with every breath
Upwafted from the innocent flowers.
Land of the Sun, what foot invades
Thy Pagods and thy pillar'd shades 187 —
Thy cavern shrines, and Idol stones,
Thy Monarchs and their thousand Thrones ? 168
'Tis he of GAZNA fierce in wrath
He comes, and India's diadems
Lie scatter'd in his ruinous path. -
His bloodhounds he adorns with gems,
Torn from the violated necks
Of many a young and lov’d Sultana;
Maidens, within their pure Zenana,
Priests in the very fane he slaughters,
And chokes up with the glittering wrecks
Of golden shrines the sacred waters!
Downward the PERI turns her gaze,
And, through the war-field's bloody haze,
Beholds a youthful warrior stand,
Alone, beside his native river,
The red blade broken in his hand,
And the last arrow in his quiver.
“Live,” said the Conqueror, “live to share
The trophies and the crowns I bear!”
Silent that youthful warrior stood —
Silent he pointed to the flood
All crimson with his country's blood,
Then sent his last remaining dart,
For answer, to the Invader's heart.
False flew the shaft, though pointed well;
The Tyrant liv'd, the Hero fell! -
Yet mark”d the PERI where he lay,
And, when the rush of war was past,
Swiftly descending on a ray
Of morning light, she caught the last —
Last glorious drop his heart had shed,
Before its free-born spirit fled!
“Be this,” she cried, as she wing'd her flight, “My welcome gift at the Gates of Light.
Though foul are the drops that oft distil
On the field of warfare, blood like this, Lesierty
For Liberty shed, so holy is,171
It would not stain the purest rill,
That sparkles among the Bowers of Bliss !
Oh, if there be, on this earthly sphere,
A boon, an offering Heaven holds dear,
'Tis the last libation Liberty draws
From the heart that bleeds and breaks in her
“Sweet," said the Angel, as she gave
The gift into his radiant hand, “Sweet is our welcome of the Brave
Who die thus for their native Land-
-alas !— the crystal bar
Of Eden moves not holier far
Than even this drop the boon must be,
That opes the Gates of Heaven for thee!”
Her first fond hope of Eden blighted,
Now among AFRIC's lunar Mountains, 172
Far to the South the Peri lighted;
And sleek’d her plumage at the fountains
Of that Egyptian tide - whose birth
Is hidden from the sons of earth
Deep in those solitary woods,
Where oft the Genii of the Floods
Dance round the cradle of their Nile,
And hail the new-born Giant's smile.173
Thence over Egypt's palmy groves,
Her grots, and sepulchres of Kings, 174
The exild Spirit sighing roves;
And now hangs listening to the doves
In warm ROSETTA's vale 175