Billeder på siden

There rests the Caliph-speed-one lucky lance
May now achieve mankind's deliverance!"
Desperate the die-such as they only cast,
Who venture for a world, and stake their last.
But Fate's no longer with him-blade for blade

Springs up to meet them through the glimmering shade,
And, as the clash is heard, new legions soon
Pour to the spot,-like bees of Kauzeroon *
To the shrill timbrel's summons,-till, at length,
The mighty camp swarms out in all its strength,
And back to Neksheb's gates, covering the plain
With random slaughter, drives the adventurous train;
Among the last of whom, the Silver Veil

Is seen glittering at times, like the white sail
Of some toss'd vessel, on a stormy night,
Catching the tempest's momentary light!

And hath not this brought the proud spirit low,
Nor dash'd his brow, nor check'd his daring? No!
Though half the wretches, whom at night he led
To thrones and victory, lie disgrac'd and dead,
Yet morning hears him, with unshrinking crest,
Still vaunt of thrones and victory to the rest ;-
And they believe him!-oh! the lover may
Distrust that look which steals his soul away;-
The babe may cease to think that it can play
With heaven's rainbow ;-alchemists may doubt
The shining gold their crucible gives out ;-

"From the groves of orange-trees at Kauzeroon the bees cull a celebrated honey."-Morier's Travels.

But Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast
To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.

And well th' Impostor knew all lures and arts,
That Lucifer e'er taught to tangle hearts;
Nor, 'mid these last bold workings of his plot
Against men's souls, is ZELICA forgot.

Ill-fated ZELICA! had reason been

Awake through half the horrors thou hast seen,
Thou never couldst have borne it-death had come
At once, and taken thy wrung spirit home.
But 'twas not so-a torpor, a suspense

Of thought, almost of life, came o'er the intense
And passionate struggles of that fearful night,
When her last hope of peace and heaven took flight :
And though, at times, a gleam of frenzy broke,—
As through some dull volcano's veil of smoke
Ominous flashings now and then will start,
Which show the fire's still busy at its heart,—
Yet was she mostly wrapp'd in sullen gloom;
Not such as AZIM's, brooding o'er its doom,
And calm without, as is the brow of death,
While busy worms are gnawing underneath!—
But in a blank and pulseless torpor, free
From thought or pain, a seal'd up apathy,
Which left her oft, with scarce one living thrill,
The cold, pale victim of her torturer's will.

Again, as in Merou, he had her deck'd Gorgeously out, the Priestess of the sect


And led her glittering forth before the eyes
Of his rude train, as to a sacrifice;

Pallid as she, the young, devoted bride

Of the fierce Nile, when, deck'd in all the pride

Of nuptial pomp, she sinks into his tide! *

And while the wretched maid hung down her head,
And stood, as one just risen from the dead,

* "A custom still subsisting at this day seems, to me, to prove that the Egyptians formerly sacrificed a young virgin to the God of the Nile; for they now make a statue of earth in shape of a girl, to which they give the name of the Betrothed Bride, and throw it into the river."-Savary.

Amid that gazing crowd, the fiend would tell
His credulous slaves it was some charm or spell
Possess'd her now,—and from that darken'd trance
Should dawn, ere long, their faith's deliverance.
Or if, at times, goaded by guilty shame,

Her soul was rous'd, and words of wildness came,
Instant the bold blasphemer would translate
Her ravings into oracles of fate-

Would hail heaven's signals in her flashing eyes,
And call her shrieks the language of the skies!

But vain, at length, his arts-despair is seen
Gathering around; and famine comes to glean
All that the sword had left unreap'd:-in vain
At morn and eve across the northern plain
He looks, impatient for the promis'd spears
Of the wild hordes and Tartar mountaineers:
They come not-while his fierce beleaguerers pour
Engines of havoc in, unknown before,

And horrible as new ;*-javelins, that fly

Enwreath'd with smoky flames through the dark sky,
And red-hot globes that, opening as they mount,
Discharge, as from a kindled naphtha fount,
Show'rs of consuming fire o'er all below,

Looking, as through th' illumined night they go,
Like those wild birds that by the Magians oft,
At festivals of fire, were sent aloft

* The Greek fire, which was occasionally lent by the emperors to their allies. "It was," says Gibbon, "either launched in red-hot balls of stone and iron, or darted in arrows and javelins, twisted round with flax and tow, which had deeply imbibed the inflammable oil."

Into the air, with blazing faggots tied

To their huge wings, scattering destruction wide! *
All night, the groans of wretches who expire
In agony, beneath these darts of fire,

Ring through the city-while, descending o'er
Its shrines and domes and streets of sycamore ;-
Its lone bazaars, with their bright cloths of gold,
Since the last peaceful pageant left unroll'd;-
Its beauteous marble baths, whose idle jets.
Now gush with blood;—and its tall minarets,
That late have stood up in the evening glare
Of the red sun, unhallow'd by a prayer;-
O'er each, in turn, the dreadful flame-bolts fall,
And death and conflagration throughout all
The desolate city holds high festival!

MOKANNA sees the world is his no more ;One sting at parting, and his grasp is o'er.

"What! drooping now?"—thus, with unblushing cheek, He hails the few, who yet can hear him speak,

Of all those famish'd slaves, around him lying,

And by the light of blazing temples dying;

"What! drooping now?-now, when at length we press Home o'er the very threshold of success;—

When Alla from our ranks hath thinn'd away

Those grosser branches, that kept out his ray


"At the great festival of fire, called the Shab Sezé, they used to set fire to large bunches of dry combustibles, fastened round wild beasts and birds, which being then let loose, the air and earth appeared one great illumination; and as these terrified creatures naturally fled to the wood for shelter, it is easy to conceive the conflagrations they produced."-Richardson's Dissertation.

« ForrigeFortsæt »