Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

THE FAIR OF ALMACHARA.

But now she seemed, from that clear altitude,

To gaze below, with a far-sheening smile,
On Arab tents, gay groups, and gambols rude,

As in maternal sympathy the while;

And now, like swarming bees, o'er many a mile Rush forth the swarthy forms o' the gilded multitude!

Hark to the cymbals singing!

Hark to their hollow quot!
The sonorous gong is swinging

At each sharp pistol shot!
Bells of sweet tone are ringing!

The fair begins

With numerous dins,
And many a grave-faced plot!
Trumpets and tympans sound
'Neath the moon's brilliant round,

Which doth entrance
Each passionate dance,
And glows or Aashes

Midst jewelled sashes,
Cap, turban, and tiara,

In a tossing sea

Of ecstasy,
At the Fair of Almachara!

First came a score of dervises,

Who sang a solemn song,
And at each chorus one leapt forth

And spun himself full long;
Whereat some gold, and much applause,

Were showered down by the throng.
Then passed a long and sad-linked chain
Of foreign slaves for sale:

R. H. HORNE.

Some clasped their hands and wept like rain,

Some with resolve were pale;
By death or fortitude, they vowed,

Deliverance should not fail,

And neighing steeds with bloodshot eyes,

And tails as black as wind
That sweeps the storm-expectant seas,

Bare-backed careered behind;
Yet, docile to their owner's call,

Their steep-arched necks inclined.

Trumpets and tympans sound
'Neath the moon's brilliant round,

Which doth entrance
Each passionate dance,
And glows or flashes
Mid cymbal clashes,

Rich jewelled sashes,
Cap, turban, and tiara,

In a tossing sea

Of ecstasy,
At the Fair of Almachara !

There sat the serpent-charmers,

Enwound with maze on maze
Of orby folds, which, working fast,

Puzzled the moon-lit gaze.
Boas and amphisbænæ gray

Flashed like currents in their play,
Hissing and kissing, till the crowd

Cried with delight, or prayed aloud!
Now rose a crook-backed juggler,
Who clean cut off both legs;

THE FAIR OF ALMACHARA.

Astride on his shoulders set them,

Then danced on wooden pegs : And presently his head dropped off,

Till another juggler came, Who took his dancing fragments up

And stuck them in a frame,From which he issued as at first,

Continuing thus the game.

There might you see the merchants

With many a deep pretence; There, too, the humble dealers

In cassia and frankincense; And many a Red-Sea mariner,

Swept from its weedy waves, Who came to sell his coral rough,

Torn from its rocks and caves, With red clay for the potteries,

Which careful baking craves.

There, too, the Bedouin tumblers

Rolled round like rapid wheels, Or tied their bodies into knots,

Hiding both head and heels: Now, standing on each other's heads,

They raced about the Fair, Or with an energy inspired

Leaped high into the air, And wantoned thus above the earth

In graceful circles rare.

There sat the opium-eaters,
Chanting aloud their dreams;

R. H. HORNE.

While some, with hollow faces,

Smiled in most ghastly gleams,-
Dumb, and with fixed grimaces;

Trumpets and tympans sound
'Neath the moon's brilliant round,

Which doth entrance
Each passionate dance,
And glows or flashes
Mid cymbal clashes,

Rich jewelled sashes,
Cap, turban, and tiara,

In a tossing sea

Of ecstasy,
At the Fair of Almachara !

There, too, the story-tellers,

With long beards and bald pates,
Most earnestly romancing

Grave follies of the Fates,
For which their crowded auditors

Give coins and bags of dates.
Some of the youths and maidens shed

Sweet tears, or turn quite pale; But silence and the clouded pipe

O'er all the rest prevail.

Mark the Egyptian sorcerer,

In black and yellow robes ! His ragged raven hair he twines

Around two golden globes !
And now he beats a brazen gong,
Whirling about with shriek and song;

Till the globes burst in fire,
Which, in a violet spire,

THE FAIR OF ALMACHARA.

Shoots o'er the highest tent-tops there,
Then fades away in perfume rare;
With music somewhere in the sky,
Whereat the sorcerer seems to die!

Broad cymbals are clashing,
And flying and flashing!
The silver bells ringing!
Gongs booming and swinging!
The Fair's at its height
In the cool brilliant night!
While streams the moon's glory

On javelins and sabres,
And long beards all hoary,

Midst trumpets and tabors --
Wild strugglings and trammels
Of leaders and camels,
And horsemen in masses,
Midst droves of wild asses,-
The clear gleams entrancing,
The passionate dancing,
Glaring fixed, or in flashes,
From jewels in sashes,
Cap, turban, and tiara:

'Tis a tossing sea

Of ecstasy,
At the Fair of Almachara!

« ForrigeFortsæt »