Billeder på siden

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 depths, 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 repeat,—
That cup-thou shudderest, lady—was it sweet?
That cup we pledg'd, the charnel's choicest wine,
Hath bound thee-aye, body and soul all mine;
Bound thee by chains that, whether blest or curst
No matter now, not hell itself shall burst!
Hence, woman, to the Haram, and look gay,
Look wild, look-anything but sad; yet, stay-

One moment more,—from what this night hath pass'd,
I see thou know'st me, know'st me well at last.
Ha! ha!--and so, fond thing, thou thought'st all true,
And that I love mankind!-I do, I do

As victims, love them; as the sea-dog doats

Upon the small, sweet fry that round him floats;


Or as the Nile-bird loves the slime that gives

That rank and venomous food on which she lives!*

And, now thou see'st my soul's angelic hue,

"Tis time these features were uncurtain'd too;

* Circum easdem ripas (Nili, viz.) ales est Ibis. Ea serpentium populatur ova, gratissimamque ex his escam nidis suis refert.-Solinus.

This brow, whose light-O, rare celestial light!-
Hath been reserv'd to bless thy favour'd sight;
These dazzling eyes, before whose shrouded might
Thou'st seen immortal Man kneel down and quake,—
Would that they were Heaven's lightnings for his sake!
But turn and look-then wonder, if thou wilt,
That I should hate, should take revenge, by guilt,
Upon the hand, whose mischief or whose mirth
Sent me thus maim'd and monstrous upon earth;
And on that race who, though more vile they be
Than mowing apes, are demigods to me!
Here-judge if hell, with all its power to damn,
Can add one curse to the foul thing I am!"

He raised his Veil-the Maid turn'd slowly round, Look'd at him-shriek'd-and sunk upon the ground!

ON their arrival, next night, at the place of encampment, they were surprised and delighted to find the groves all round illuminated; some artists of Yamtcheou having been sent on previously for the purpose. On each side of the green alley, which led to the Royal Pavilion, artificial sceneries of bamboo-work were erected, representing arches, minarets, and towers, from which hung thousands of silken lanterns, painted by the most delicate pencils of Canton.-Nothing could be more beautiful than the leaves of the mango-trees and acacias, shining in the light of the bamboo scenery, which shed a lustre round as soft as that of the nights of Peristan.

LALLA ROOKH, however, who was too much occupied by the sad story of ZELICA and her lover to give a thought to anything else, except, perhaps, him who related it, hurried on through this scene of splendour to her pavilion,-greatly to the mortification of the poor artists of Yamtcheou,—and was followed with equal rapidity by the Great Chamberlain, cursing, as he went, that ancient Mandarin, whose parental anxiety in lighting up the shores of the lake, where his beloved daughter had wandered and been lost, was the origin of these fantastic Chinese illuminations.

Without a moment's delay young FERAMORZ was introduced; and FADLADEEN, who could never make up his mind as to the merits of a poet till he knew the religious sect to which he belonged, was about to ask him whether he was a Shia or a Sooni, when LALLA ROOKH impatiently clapped her hands for silence, and the youth, being seated upon the musnud near her, proceeded :

PREPARE thy soul, young AZIM!-thou hast brav'd
The bands of Greece, still mighty though enslav'd;
Hast fac'd her phalanx, arm'd with all its fame,
Her Macedonian pikes and globes of flame;
All this hast fronted, with firm heart and brow,
But a more perilous trial waits thee now,-
Woman's bright eyes-a dazzling host of eyes,
From every land where woman smiles or sighs;
Of every hue, as Love may chance to raise
His black or azure banner in their blaze;
And each sweet mode of warfare, from the flash
That lightens boldly through the shadowy lash,
To the sly, stealing splendours, almost hid,

Like swords half sheath'd, beneath the downcast lid.
Such, AZIM, is the lovely, luminous host
Now led against thee; and, let conquerors boast
Their fields of fame, he who in virtue arms

A young, warm spirit against beauty's charms,
Who feels her brightness, yet defies her thrall,
Is the best, bravest conqueror of them all.

Now, through the Haram chambers, moving lights And busy shapes proclaim the toilet's rites;

« ForrigeFortsæt »