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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;
I know where the Isles of Perfume are,
Many a fathom down in the sea,
To the south of sun-bright Araby;
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 mused, 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, Thy cavern shrines, and Idol stones, Thy Monarchs and their thousand Thrones? '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
Torn from the violated necks
Of many a young and loved 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 lived, 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,
For Liberty shed, so holy is,
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.
But see, 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, 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.
Thence over Egypt's palmy groves,
Her grots, and sepulchres of Kings,
The exiled Spirit sighing roves;
And now hangs listening to the doves
In warm Rosetta's vale-now loves
To watch the moonlight on the wings
Of the white pelicans that break
The azure calm of Moris' Lake.
"T was a fair scene a land more bright
Never did mortal behold!
Who could have thought, that saw, this night,
Those valleys and their fruits of gold
Basking in Heaven's serenest light;
Those groups of lovely date-trees bending
Languidly their leaf-crown'd heads,
Like youthful maids, when sleep descending
Warns them to their silken beds;
Those virgin lilies, all the night
Bathing their beauties in the lake,
That they may rise more fresh and bright,
When their beloved Sun's awake;
Those ruin'd shrines and towers that seem
The relics of a splendid dream,
Amid whose fairy loneliness
Nought but the lapwing's cry is heard,
Nought seen but — when the shadows, flitting
Fast from the moon, unsheathe its gleam —
Some purple-wing'd Sultana sitting
Upon a column, motionless
And glittering like an Idol bird!
Who could have thought, that there, even there,
Amid those scenes so still and fair,
The Demon of the Plague hath cast
From his hot wing a deadlier blast,
More mortal far than ever came
From the red Desert's sands of flame!
So quick, that every living thing
Of human shape, touch'd by his wing,
Like plants where the Simoon hath past,
At once falls black and withering!
The sun went down on many a brow
Which, full of bloom and freshness then,