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The hero Zal in that fond hour,
Than wings the youth who, fleet and bold,
Now climbs the rocks to HINDA's bower.
See — light as up their granite steeps
The rock-goats of ARABIA clamber,230 Fearless from crag to crag he leaps,
And now is in the maiden's chamber.
She loves - but knows not whom she loves,
Nor what his race, nor whence he came;
Like one who meets, in Indian groves,
Some beauteous bird without a name,
Brought by the last ambrosial breeze,
From isles in the undiscover'd seas,
To show his plumage for a day
To wondering eyes, and wing away!
Will he thus fly - her nameless lover ?
ALLA forbid ! 'twas by a moon
As fair as this, while singing over
Some ditty to her soft Kanoon,231 Alone, at this same witching hour,
She first beheld his radiant eyes
Gleam through the lattice of the bower,
Where nightly now they mix their sighs ;
And thought some spirit of the air
(For what could waft a mortal there ?)
Was pausing on his moonlit way
To listen to her lonely lay!
This fancy ne'er hath left her mind :
And though, when terror's swoon had past,
She saw a youth, of mortal kind,
Before her in obeisance cast, Yet often since, when he hath spoken Strange, awful words, - and gleams have broken From his dark eyes, too bright to bear, –
Oh! she hath fear'd her soul was given
To some unhallow'd child of air,
Some erring Spirit cast from heaven,
Like those angelic youths of old,
Who burn'd for maids of mortal mould,
Bewilder'd left the glorious skies,
And lost their heaven for woman's eyes.
Fond girl! nor fiend nor angel he
Who woos thy young simplicity;
But one of earth’s impassion'd sons,
As warm in love, as fierce in ire,
As the best heart whose current runs
Full of the Day-God's living fire.
But quench'd to-night that ardor seems, ,
And pale his cheek, and sunk his brow;-
Never before, but in her dreams,
Had she beheld him pale as now:
And those were dreams of troubled sleep,
From which 'twas joy to wake and weep;
Visions, that will not be forgot,
But sadden every waking scene,
Like warning ghosts, that leave the spot
All wither'd where they once have been.
“How sweetly,” said the trembling maid,
Of her own gentle voice afraid,
So long had they in silence stood,
Looking upon that tranquil flood -
“How sweetly does the moonbeam smile
To-night upon yon leafy isle !
Oft, in my fancy's wanderings,
I've wish'd that little isle had wings,
And we, within its fairy bowers,
Were wafted off to seas unknown
Where not a pulse should beat but ours,
And we might live, love, die alone! Far from the cruel and the cold,
Where the bright eyes of angels only
Should come around us, to behold
A paradise so pure and lonely.
Would this be world enough for thee ?”.
Playful she turn'd, that he might see
The passing smile her cheek put on;
But when she mark'd how mournfully
His eyes met hers, that smile was gone;
And, bursting into heartfelt tears,
“Yes, yes," she cried, "my hourly fears,
My dreams have boded all too right-
We part – forever part-to-night!
I knew, I knew it could not last
'Twas bright, 'twas heavenly, but ’tis past !
Oh! ever thus, from childhood's hour,
I've seen my fondest hopes decay ;
I never lov’d a tree or flower,
But 'twas the first to fade away. I never nurs’d a dear gazelle,
To glad me with its soft black eye, But when it came to know me well,
And love me, it was sure to die !
Now too - the joy most like divine
Of all I ever dreamt or knew,
To see thee, hear thee, call thee mine,
Oh misery! must I lose that too ?
on peril's brink we meet;: Those frightful rocks - that treacherous sea No, never come again — though sweet,
Though heaven, it may be death to thee. . Farewell - and blessings on thy way,
Where'er thou goest, beloved stranger! Better to sit and watch that ray,
And think thee safe, though far away,
Than have thee near me, and in danger!”
“Danger! – oh, tempt me not to boast -
The youth exclam’d—“thou little know'st
What he can brave, who, born and nurst
In Danger's paths, has dar'd her worst;
Upon whose ear the signal word
Of strife and death is hourly breaking;
Who sleeps with head upon the sword
His fever'd hand must grasp in waking. Danger!”
“Say on — thou fear'st not then, And we may meet – oft meet again ?'
“Oh! look not so - beneath the skies
I now fear nothing but those eyes.
If aught on earth could charm or force
My spirit from its destin'd course,
If aught could make this soul forget
The bond to which its seal is set,
'Twould be those eyes; — they, only they,
Could melt that sacred seal away!
_ 'tis fix'd ту
awful doom Is fix'd — on this side of the tomb We meet no more ;
- why, why did Heaven
Mingle two souls that earth has riven,
Has rent asunder wide as ours ?
O Arab maid, as soon the Powers
Of Light and Darkness may combine,
As I be link'd with thee or thine !
“Holy ALLA save
His gray head from that lightning glance !
Thou know'st him not he loves the brave;
Nor lives there under heaven's expanse
One who would prize, would worship thee
And thy bold spirit, more than he.
Oft when, in childhood, I have play'd
With the bright falchion by his side,
I've heard him swear his lisping maid
In time should be a warrior's bride.
And still, whene'er at Haram hours mise
I take him cool sherbets and flowers,
He tells me, when in playful mood,
A hero shall my bridegroom be,
Since maids are best in battle woo’d,
And won with shouts of victory!
Nay, turn not from me - thou alone
Art form’d to make both hearts thy own.
Go-join his sacred ranks — thou know'st
The unholy strife these Persians wage :
Good Heaven, that frown! even now thou glow'st
With more than mortal warrior's rage.
Haste to the camp by morning's light,
And when that sword is rais’d in fight,
Oh still remember, Love and I
Beneath its shadow trembling lie !
One victory o'er those Slaves of Fire,
Those impious Ghebers, whom my sire
“Hold, hold — thy words are death
The stranger cried, as wild he flung
His mantle back, and show'd beneath
The Gheber belt that round him clung
“Here, maiden, look — weep - blush to see
All that thy sire abhors in me!
Yes – I am of that impious race,
Those Slaves of Fire, who, morn and even,
Hail their Creator's dwelling-place