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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 see'st 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;
Look'd he not nobly? such the godlike men
Thou'lt have to woo thee in the bowers above;
Though he, I fear, hath thoughts too stern for love,
Too rul'd 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 through 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 soft'ning 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 ! — though each nymph of these
Hath some peculiar, practis'd 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;
Through whom all beauty's beams concentred pass,
Dazzling and warm, as through love's burning glass;
Whose gentle lips persuade without a word,
Whose words, ev’n when unmeaning, are ador'd,
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 refin’d enchantress that must be
This hero's vanquisher, — and thou art she!”
With her hands clasp'd, her lips apart and pale,
The maid had stood, gazing upon the Veil
From which these words, like south winds through a
Of Kerzrah flowers, came fill'd with pestilence; 55
So boldly utter'd too! as if all dread
Of frowns from her, of virtuous frowns, were fled,
And the wretch felt assur'd that, once plung’d in,
Her woman's soul would know no pause in sin !
At first, though mute she listen’d, like a dream Seem'd all he said: nor could her mind, whose beam As yet was weak, penetrate half his scheme.
But when, at length, he utter'd, “Thou art she!”
All flash'd 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!
that youth who came to-day –
Not him I lov'd — 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 cannot, 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 fair 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 obey’d.”
“Obey'd !—'tis well — yes, I deserve it all
On me, on me Heaven's vengeance cannot fall
Too heavily — but Azim, brave and true
And beautiful — must he be ruin’d 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 madd’ning hell-cup to the brim,
Its witch'ry, 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 !
Though rnin'd- 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 kiss'd at parting is dishonor'd now;
Ne'er tell him how debas'd, how sunk is she,
Whom once he lov’d— once !- still loves dotingly.
Thou laugh'st, tormentor, - what! thou'lt brand my
Do, do — in vain – he'll not believe my
shame He thinks me true; that nought beneath God's sky Could tempt or change me, and — so once thought I. But this is past — though 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 !--- through scul and
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 stretch'd jaws to come ! 58
And so thou'lt fly, forsooth ? - what !- give up
Thy chaste dominion in the Harain IIall,
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 fix'd his eyes upon;
As easily, when caught, the prey may be
Pluck'd from his loving folds, as thou from me.
No, no, 'tis fix'd — 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 stirr'd
Through all its depth, and rous'd an anger there,
That burst and lighten'd ev’n through her despair-
* Shrunk back, as if a blight were in the breath
That spoke that word, and stagger’d, 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 look'd out! That oath thou heard'st more lips than thine repeatThat cup- thou shudd'rest, Lady, -- was it sweet? That cup we pledg'd, the charnel's choicest wine, Hath bound thee ay, body and soul all mine ; Bound thee by chains that, whether blest or curst