Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatick Languages/The Palace of Fortune

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Poems, Consisting Chiefly of Translations from the Asiatick Languages by William Jones
The Palace of Fortune, an Indian tale

Mild was the vernal gale, and calm the day,
When Maia near a crystal fountain lay,
Young Maia, fairest of the blue-eyed maids,
That rov'd at noon in Tibet's musky shades;
But, haply, wandering through the fields of air,
Some fiend had whisper'd—Maia, thou art fair!
Hence swelling pride had fill'd her simple breast,
And rising passions robb'd her mind of rest;

In courts and glittering towers she wish'd to dwell,
And scorn'd her labouring parent's lowly cell.
And now, as gazing o'er the glassy stream,
She saw her blooming cheek's reflected beam,
Her tresses brighter than the morning sky,
And the mild radiance of her sparkling eye,
Low sights and trickling tears by turns she stole,
And thus discharg'd the anguish of her soul:
"Why glow those cheeks, if unadmir'd they glow?
"Why flow those tresses, if unprais'd they flow?
"Why dart those eyes their liquid ray serene,
"Unfelt their influence, and their light unseen?
"Ye heavens! was that love-breathing bosom made
"To warm dull groves, and cheer the lonely glade?
"Ah, no: those blushes, that enchanting face,
"Some tap'stried hall, or gilded bower, might grace;
"Might deck the scenes, where love and pleasure reign,
"And fire with amorous flames the youthful train."

While thus she spoke, a sudden blaze of light
Shot through the clouds, and struck her dazzled sight.
She rais'd her head, astonish'd, to the skies,
And veil'd with trembling hands her aching eyes;
When through the yielding air she saw from far
A goddess gliding in a golden car,
That soon descended on the flowery lawn,
By two fair yokes of starry peacocks drawn:
A thousand nymphs with many a sprightly glance
Form'd round the radiant wheels an airy dance,
Celestial shapes! in fluid light array'd;
Like twinkling stars their beamy sandals play'd;
Their lucid mantles glitter'd in the sun,
(Webs half so bright the silkworm never spun)
Transparent robes, that bore the rainbow's hue,
And finer than the nets of pearly dew
That morning spreads o'er every opening flower,
When sportive summer decks his bridal bower.

The queen herself, too fair for mortal sight,
Sat in the centre of encircling light.
Soon with soft touch shie rais'd the trembling maid,
And by her side in silent slumber laid:
Straight the gay birds display'd their spangled train,
And flew refulgent through th' aerial plain;
The fairy band their shining pinions spread,
And, as they rose, fresh gales of sweetness shed;
Fann'd with their flowing skirts, the sky was mild;
And heaven's blue fields with brighter radiance smil'd,

Now in a garden deck'd with verdant bowers
The glittering car descends on bending flowers t
The goddess still with looks divinely fair
Surveys the sleeping objecl of her care;
Thenn o'er her cheek her magick finger lays.
Soft as the gale that o'er a violet plays,
And thus in sounds, that favour'd mortals hear,
She gently whispers in her ravish'd ear:

"Awake, sweet maid, and view this charming scene
"For ever beauteous, and for ever green;
"Here living rills of purest nectar flow
"O'er meads that with unfading flowerets glow;
"Mov'd by the breath of ever-blooming May;
"Here in the lap of pleasure shalt thou rest,
"Our lov'd companion, and our honoured guest."

The damsel hears the heavenly notes distil,
Like melting snow, or like a vernal rill,
She lifts her head, and, on her arm reclin'd,
Drinks the sweet accents in her grateful mind:
On all around she turns her roving eyes,
And views the splendid scene with glad surprize;
Fresh lawns, and sunny banks, and roseate bowers,
Hills white with flocks, and meadows gemm'd with flowers;
Cool shades, a sure defence from Cummer's ray,
And silver brooks, where wanton damsels play,
Which with soft notes their dimpled crystal roll'd
O'er colour'd shells and sands of native gold;
A rising fountain play'd from every stream,
Smiil'd as it rose, and call a transient gleam,
Then, gently falling in a vocal shower,
Bath'd every shrub, and sprinkled every flower,
That on the banks, like many a lovely bride,
View'd in the liquid glass their blushing pride;
Whilst on each branch, with purple blossoms hung,
The sportful birds their joyous descant sung.

While Maia, thus entranc'd in sweet delight,
With each gay object fed her eager sight,
The goddess mildly caught her willing hand,
And led her trembling o'er the flowery land.
Soon she beheld, where through an opening glade
A spacious lake its clear expanse display'd;
In mazy curls the flowing jasper wav'd
O'er its smooth bed with polish'd agate pav'd;
And on a rock of ice, by magick rais'd,
High in the midst a gorgeous palace blaz'd;
The sunbeams on the gilded portals glanc'd,
To four bright gates four ivory bridges led,
With pearls illumin'd, and with roses spread ;
And now, more radiant than the morning sun,
Her easy way the gliding goddess won;
Still by her hand shie held the fearful maid,
And, as she pass'd, the fairies homage paid;
They enter'd straight the sumptuous palace-hall,
Where silken tapestry emblaz'd the wall,
Resulgent tissue, of an heavenly woos;
And gems unnumber'd sparkled on the roof,
On whose blue arch the flaming diamonds play'd,
As on a sky with living stars inlay'd;
Of precious diadems a regal store,
With globes and sceptres, strew'd the porphyry floor;
Rich vests of eastern kings around were spread,
And glittering zones a starry lustre shed:
But Maia most admir'd the pearly strings,
Gay bracelets, golden chains, and sparkling rings.

High in the centre of the palace shone.
Suspended in mid-air, an opal throne :
To this the queen ascends with royal pride,
And sets the favour'd damsel by her side.
Around the throne in mystick order stand
The fairy train, and wait her high command;
When thus she fpeaks: (the maid attentive sips
Each word that flows, like nectar, from her lips.)

"Favourite of heaven, my much-lov'd Maia, know,
"From me all joys, all earthly blessings, flow:
"Me suppliant men imperial Fortune call,
"The mighty empress of yon rolling ball:
(She rais'd her finger, and the wondering maid
At distance hung the dusky globe, survey'd,
Saw the round earth with foaming oceans vein'd,
And labouring clouds on mountain tops sustain'd.)
"To me has fate the pleasing talk assign'd
"To rule the various thoughts of humankind;
"To catch each rising wish, each ardent prayer,
"And some to grant, and some to waste in air.

"Know farther; as I rang'd the crystal sky,
"I saw thee near the murmuring fountain lie;
"Mark'd the rough storm that gather'd in thy breast,
"And knew what care thy joyless foul opprest.
"Straight I resolv'd to bring thee quick relief,
"Ease every weight, and soften every grief j
"If in this court contented thou canst live,
"And taste the joys these happy gardens give:
"But fill thy mind with vain desires no more,
"And view without a wish yon shining store :
"Soon shall a numerous train before me bend;
"And kneeling votaries my shrine attent;
"Warn'd by their empty vanities beware,
"And scorn the folly of each human prayer."

She said; and straight a damsel of her train
With tender fingers touch'd a golden chain.
Now a soft bell delighted Maia hears,
That sweetly trembles on her listening cars;
Through the calm air the melting numbers float,
And wanton echo lengthens every note.
Soon through the dome a mingled hum arose,
Like the swift stream that o'er a valley flows;
Now louder still it grew, and still more loud,
As distant thunder breaks the burning cloud:
Through the four portals rush'd a various throng,
That like a wintry torrent pour'd along:
A croud of every tongue, and every hue,
Toward the bright throne with eager rapture flew.
[*] A lovely stripling stepp'd before the rest
With hasty pace, and tow'rd the goddess prest;
His mien was graceful, and his looks were mild,
And in his eye celestial sweetness smil'd:
Youth's purple glow, and beauty's rosy beam.
The floating ringlets of his musky hair
Wav'd on the bosom of the wanton air:
With modest grace the goddess he addrest,
And thoughtless thus preferr'd his fond request,

"Queen of the world, whose wide-extended sway,
"Gay youth, firm manhood, and cold age obey,
"Grant me, while life's fresh blooming roses smile,
"The day with varied pleasures to beguile;
"Let me on beds of dewy flowers recline,
"And quaff with glowing lips the sparkling wine;
"Grant me to feed on beauty's rifled charms,
"And clasp a willing damsel in my arms;
"Her bosom fairer than a hill of snow,
"And gentty bounding like a playful roe;
"Her lips more fragrant than the summer air
"And sweet as Scythian musk her hyacinthine hair;
"Let new delights each dancing hour employ,
"Sport follow sport, and joy succced to joy."

The goddess grants the simple youth's request,
And mildly thus accosts her lovely guest:
"On that smooth mirror, full of magick lights
"Awhile, dear Maia, fix thy wandering sight"
She looks; and in th' enchanted crystal sees
A bower o'er-canopied with tufted trees:
The wanton stripling lies beneath the shade,
And by his side reclines a blooming maid;
O'er her fait limbs a silken mantle flows,
Through which her youthful beauty softly glows,
And part conceal'd and part disclos'd to fight,
Through the thin texture cafts a ruddy light,
As the ripe clusters of the mantling vine
Beneath the verdant foliage faintly shine,
And, fearing to be view'd by envious day,
Their glowing tints unwillingly display.

The youth, while joy sits sparkling in his eyes,
Pants on her neck, and on her bosom dies;
From her smooth cheek nectareous dew he sips,
And all his soul comes breathing to his lips.
But Maia turns her modest eyes away,
And blushes to behold their amorous play.

She looks again, and sees with sad surprize
On the clear glass sat different scenes arife:
The bower, which late outshone the rosy morn,
O'erhung with weeds she saw, and rough with thorn;
With stings of asps the leafless plants were wreath'd,
And curling adders gales of venom breath'd:
Low fat the stripling on the faded ground,
And in a mournful knot his arms were bound;
His eyes, that shot before a sunny beam,
Now scarcely filed a saddening, dying gleam;
Faint as a glimmering taper's wasted light,
Or a dull ray that streaks the cloudy night:
His crystal vase was on the pavement roll'd,
And from the bank was fall'n his cup of gold;

From which th' envenom'd dregs of deadly hue
Flow'd on the ground in streams of baleful dew,
And, slowly stealing through the wither'd bower,
Poison'd each plant, and blasted every flower:
Fled were his slaves, and fled his yielding fair,
And each gay phantom was dissolv'd in air,
Whilst in their place was left a ruthless train,
Despair, and grief, remorse, and raging pain.

Aside the damsel turns her weeping eyes,
And sad reflections in her bosom rise;
To whom thus mildly speaks the radiant queen:
"Take sage example from this moral scene;
"See, how vain pleasires fling the; lips they kiss,
"How asps are hid beneath the bowers of bliss!
"Whilst ever fair the flower of temperance blows,
"Unchang'd her leaf, and without thorn her rose;
"Smiling she darts her glittering branch on high,
"And spreads her fragrant blossoms to the sky."

A fiery dragon on his helmet shone;
And on his buckler beam'd a golden sun;
O'er his broad bosom blaz'd his jointed mail
With many a gem, and many a shining scale;
He trod the founding floor with princely mien,
And thus with haughty words address'd the queen!
"Let falling kings beneath my javelin bleed,
"And bind my temples with a victor's meed;
"Let every realm that feels the solar ray,
"Shrink at my frown, and own my regal sway;
"Let Ind's rich banks declare my deathless fame,
"And trembling Ganges dread my potent name,"

The queen consented to the warriour's pray'r,
And his bright banners floated in the air:
He bade his darts in steely tempests fly,
Flames burst the clouds, and thunder shake the sky;
Death aim'd his lance, earth trembled at his nod,
And crimson conquest glow'd where'er he trod

And now the damsel, fix'd in deep amaze,
Th' enchanted glass with eager look surveys:
She sees the hero in bis dusky tent,
His guards retir'd, his glimmering taper spent;

[**]New tow'rd the throne she saw a knight advance;
Erecet he stood, and shook a quivering lance;

His spear, vain instrument of dying praise,
On the rich floor with idle state he lays;
His gory falchion near his pillow stood,
And stain'd the ground with drops of purple blood;
A busy page his nodding helm unlac'd,
And on the couch his scaly hauberk plac'd:
Now on the bed his weary limbs he throws,
Bath'd in the balmy dew of soft repose:
In dreams he rushes o'er the gloomy field,
He sees new armies fly, new heroes yield;
Warm with the vigorous conflict he appears,
And ev'n in slumber seems to move the spheres.
But lo! The faithless page, with stealing tread,
Advances to the champion's naked head;
With his sharp dagger wounds his bleeding breast,
And steeps his eyelids in eternal rest:
Then cries, (and waves the steel that drops with gore)
"The tyrant dies; oppression is no more,"

[***]Now came an aged fire with trembling pace;
Sunk were his eyes, and pale his ghastly face;
A ragged weed of dusky hue he wore,
And on his back a ponderous coffer bore.
The queen with faltering speech he thut addrest:
"O, fill with gold thy true adorer's chest!"

"Behold, said she, and wav'd her powerful hand,
"Where yon rich hills in glittering order stand:
"There load thy coffer with the golden store;
"Then bear it full away, and ask no more."

With eager steps he took his hasty way,
Where the bright coin in heaps unnumber'd lay;
Scoop'd the gay dross, and bent beneath the toil.
But bitter was his anguish, to behold
The coffer widen, and its sides unfold:
And every time he heap'd the darling ore,
His greedy chest grew larger than before;
Till, silent with pain, and falling o'er his hoard.
With his sharp steel his maddening breast he gor'd:
On the lov'd heap he call his closing eye,
Contented on a golden couch to die.

A stripling, with the fair adventure pleas'd,
Stepp'd forward, and the massy coffer feiz'd;
But with surprize he saw the stores decay,
And all the long-fought treasures melt away;
In winding dreams the liquid metal roll'd,
And through the palace ran a flood of gold.

[****] Next to the shrine advanc'd a reverend sage
Whose beard was hoary with the frost of age;
His few gray locks a fable fillet bound,
And his dark mantle flow'd along the ground I
Grave was his port, yet show'd a bold neglect,
And fill'd the young beholder with respect;
Time's envious hand had plough'd his wrinkled face,
Yet on those wrinkles fat superiour grace;
Still full of fire api'ear'd his vivid eye,
Darted quick beams, and seem'd to pierce the sky,
At length, with gentle voice and look serene,
He wav'd his hand, and thus address'd the queen;

"Twice forty winters tip my beard with snow,
"And age's chilling gulls around me blow:
"In early youth, by contemplation led,
"With high pursuits my flatter'd thoughts were fed;

"To nature first my labours were confin'd
"And all her charms were open'd to my mindt
"Each flower that glisten'd in the morning dew,
"And every shrub tint in the forest grew:
"From earth to heaven I cast my wondering eys,
"Saw suns unnumber'd sparkle in the skies,
"Mark'd the just progress of each rolling sphere,
"Describ'd the seasons, and reform'd the year.
"At length sublimer studies I began,
"And fix'd my level'd telescope on man ;
"Knew all his powers, and all his passions trac'd,
"What virtue rais'd him, and what vice-debas'd:
"But when I saw his knowledge so confin'd,
"So vain his wishes, and fo weak his mind,
"His soul, a bright obscurity at belt,
"And rough with tempests his afflicted breast,
"His life, a flower ere evening fure to fade,
"Hit highest joys, the shadow of a shade;
"To thy fair court I took my weary way,
"Bewail my folly, and heaven's laws obey,
"Confess my feeble mind for prayers unfit,
"And to my maker's will my soul submit:
"Great empress of yon orb that rolls below,
"On me the last best gift of heaven bestow."

He spoke: a sudden cloud his senses stole,
And thickening darkness swam o'er all his soul;
His vital spark her earthly cell forsook,
And into air her fleeting progress took.

Now from the throng a deafening sound was heard,
And all at once their various prayers preferred;
The goddess, wearied with the noisy croud,
Thrice wav'd her silver wand, and spoke aloud:

"But take unheard whate'er you first desire."
She said: each wish'd, and what he wish'd obtain'd;
And wild confusion in the palace reign'd.

But Maia, now grown senseless with delight,
Cast on an emerald ring her roving sight;
And, ere she could survey the rest with care,
Wish'd on her hand the precious gem to wear,

Sudden the palace vanish'd from her sight,
And the gay fabrick melted into night;
But, in in place, she view'd with weeping eyes
Huge rocks around her, and sharp cliffs arise

She sat deserted on the naked shore,
Saw the curl'd waves, and heard the tempest roar;
Whilst on her finger shone the fatal ring,
A weak defence from hunger's pointed sting,
From sad remorse, from comsortless despair,
And all the painful family of care!
Frantick with grief her rosy cheek she tore,
And rent her locks, her darling charge no more:
But when the night his raven wing had spread,
And hung with sable every mountain's head,

And round her feet the curling billows roll'd;
With trembling arms a rifted crag she grasp'd,
And the rough rock with hard embraces clasp'd.

While thus she stood, and made a piercing moan,
By chance her emerald touch'd the rugged stone;

And taught the gloom to counterfeit the day:
A winged youth, for mortal eyes too fair,
Shot like a meteor through the dusky air;
His heavenly charms o'ercame her dazled fight,
And drown'd her senses in a flood of light;
His sunny plumes defending he display'd,
And softly thus address'd the mournful maid:

"Say, thou, who dost yon wondrous ring possess,
"What cares disturb thee, or what wants oppress;
"To faithful ears disclose thy secret grief,
"And hope (so heaven ordains) a quick relief."

The maid replied, "Ah, sacred genius, bear
"A hopeless damsel from this land of care;
"Wast me to softcr climes and lovelier plains,
"Where nature smiles, and spring eternal reigns."

She spoke; and swifter than the glance of thought
To a fair isle his sleeping charge he brought.

Now morning breath'd: the scented air was mild,
Each meadow blossom'd, and each valley smil'd;
On every shrub the pearly dewdrops hung.
On every branch a feather'd warbler sung;
The cheerful spring her flowery chaplets wove,
And incense-breathing gales perfum'd the grove.

The damsel rose; and, lost in glad surprize,
Cast round the gay expanse her opening eyes,
That shone with pleasure like a starry beam,
Or moonlight sparkling on a silver dream.
She thought some nymph must haunt that lovely scene
Some woodland goddess, or some fairy queen;
At least she hop'd in some sequester'd vale
To hear the shepherd tell his amorous tale:
Led by these flattering hopes from glade to glade,
From lawn to lawn with hasty steps she stray'd;
But not a nymph by streamn or fountain stood,
And not a fairy glided through the wood;
No damsel wanton'd o'er the dewy flowers,
No shepherd sung beneath the rosy bowers;
On every side she saw vast mountains rise,
That thrust their daring foreheads in the skies;
The rocks of polish'd alabaster seem'd,
And in the sun their lofty summits gleam'd.
She call'd aloud, but not a voice replied,
Save echo babling from the mountain's side.

By this had night o'ercast the gloomy scene,
And twinkling stars emblaz'd the blue serene
Yet on she wander'd till with grief opprest
She fell; and, falling, smote her snowy breast:
Now to he heavens her guilty head she rears,
And pours her bursting sorrow into tears|
Then plaintive speaks, "Ah! fond mistaken maid,
"How was thy mind by gilded hopes betray'd!
"Why didst thou with for bowers and flowery hills,
"For smiling meadows, and for purling rills;
"Since on those hills no youth or damsel roves,
"No shepherd haunts the solitary groves?
"Ye meads that glow with intermingled dyes,
"Ye flowering palms that from yon hillocks rise,
"Ye quivering brooks that softly murmur by,
"Ye panting gales that on the branches die;
"Ah! why has Nature through her gay domain
"Display'd your beauties, yet display'd in vain?
"In vain, ye flowers, you boast your vernal bloom,
"And waste in barren air your fresh perfume.
"Ah! leave, ye wanton birds, yon lonely spray;
"Unheard you warble, and unseen you play:

"Yet stay till fate has fix'd my early doom,
"And strow with leaves a hapless damsel's tomb.
"Some grot or grassy bank, shall be my bier,
"My maiden herse unwater'd with a tear."

Thus while she mourns, o'erwhem'd in deep despair,
She rends her silken robes, and golden hair:
Her fatal ring, the cause of all her woes,
On a hard rock with maddening rage she throws;
The gem, rebounding from the stone, displays
Its verdant hue, and sheds refreshing rays :
Sudden descends the genius of the ring,
And drops celestial fragrance from his wing;
Then speaks, "Who calls me from the realms of day?
"Ask, and I grant; command, and I obey,"

She drank his melting words with ravish'd ears,
And stopp'd the gushing current of her tears;
Then kiss'd his skirts, that like a ruby glow'd,
And said, "O bear me to my sire's abode."
Straight o'er her eyes a shady veil arose,
And all her soul was lull'd in still repose.

By this with flowers the rosy-finger'd dawn
Had spread each dewy hill and verdurous lawn;
She wak'd, and saw a new-built tomb that stood
In the dark bosom of a solemn wood,
While these sad sounds her trembling ears invade:
"Beneath yon marble sleeps thy father's shade."
She sigh'd, she wept; she struck her pensive breast,
And bade his urn in peaceful slumber rest.

And now in silence o'er the gloomy land
She saw advance a slowly-winding band;
Their cheeks were veil'd, their robes of mournful hue
Flow'd o'er the lawn, and swept the pearly dew;
O'er the fresh turf they sprinkled sweet perfume,
And strow'd with flowers the venerable tomb.
A graceful matron walk'd before the train,
When from her face her silken veil she drew,
The watchful maid her aged mother knew.
O'erpowered with bursting joy file runs to meet
The mourning dame, and falls before her feet.
The matron with surprize her daughter rears,
Hangs on her ntck, and mingles tears with tears.

Now o'er the tomb their hallow'd rites they pay,
And form with lamps an artificial day:
Erelong the damsel reach'd her native vale,
And told with joyful heart her moral tale;
Resign'd to heaven, and lost to all beside,
She liv'd contented, and contented died.

^  Pleasure.
^  Glory.
^  Riches.
^  Knowledge.