« ForrigeFortsæt »
was quite a new operation (being wholly unknown in that Paradise of the Indies, Cashmere), felt the shock as it is generally felt at first, till use has made it more tolerable to the patient; the Ladies began to suspect that they ought not to be pleased, and seemed to conclude that there must have been much good sense in what Fadladeen said, from its having sent them all so soundly to sleep; while the self-complacent Chamberlain was left to triumph in the idea of having, for the hundred and fiftieth time in his life, extinguished a Poet. Lalla Rookh alone and Love knew why-persisted in being delighted with all she had heard, and in resolving to hear more as speedily as possible. Her manner, however, of first returning to the subject was unlucky. It was while they rested during the heat of noon near a fountain, on which some hand had rudely traced those well-known words from the Garden of Sadi,-"Many, like me, have viewed this fountain, but they are gone, and their eyes are closed forever!"—that she took occasion, from the melancholy beauty of this passage, to dwell upon the charms of poetry in general. "It is true," she said, "few poets can imitate that sublime bird, which flies always in the air, and never touches the earth: it is only once in many ages a Genius appears, whose words, like those on the Written Mountain, last forever; but still there are some, as delightful, perhaps, though not so wonderful, who, if not stars over our head, are at least flowers along
our path, and whose sweetness of the moment we ought gratefully to inhale, without calling upon them for a brightness and a durability beyond their nature. In short," continued she, blushing as if conscious of being caught in an oration, "it is quite cruel that a poet cannot wander through his regions of enchantment, without having a critic forever, like the Old Man of the Sea, upon his back!"- Fadladeen, it was plain, took this last luckless allusion to himself, and would treasure it up in his mind as a whetstone for his next criticism. A sudden silence ensued; and the Princess, glancing a look at Feramorz, saw plainly she must wait for a more courageous moment.
But the glories of Nature and her wild fragrant airs, playing freshly over the current of youthful spirits, will soon heal even deeper wounds than the dull Fadladeens of this world can inflict. In an evening or two after, they came to the small Valley of Gardens, which had been planted, by order of the Emperor, for his favourite sister, Rochinara, during their progress to Cashmere some years before; and never was there a more sparkling assemblage of sweets, since the Gulzar-e-Irem, or Rosebower of Irem. Every precious flower was there to be found that poetry, or love, or religion, has ever consecrated, from the dark hyacinth, to which Hafez compares his mistress's hair, to the Cámalatá, by whose rosy blossoms the heaven of Indra is scented. As they sat in the cool fragrance
of this delicious spot, and Lalla Rookh remarked that she could fancy it the abode of that Flowerloving Nymph whom they worship in the temples of Kathay, or of one of those Peris, those beautiful creatures of the air, who live upon perfumes, and to whom a place like this might make some amends for the Paradise they have lost,- the young Poet, in whose eyes she appeared, while she spoke, to be one of the bright spiritual creatures she was describing, said hesitatingly that he remembered a Story of a Peri, which, if the Princess had no objection, he would venture to relate. "It is," said he, with an appealing look to Fadladeen, "in a lighter and humbler strain than the other"; then, striking a few careless but melancholy chords on his kitar, he thus began:
PARADISE AND THE PERI.
ONE morn a Peri at the gate
Of Life within, like music flowing,
'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,
And sweetly the founts of that Valley fall;
How the waters of Heaven outshine them all!
Go, wing thy flight from star to star,
As the universe spreads its flaming wall:
The glorious Angel who was keeping
From Eden's fountain, when it lies
'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,