Lalla Rookh/The Light of the Haram

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Lalla Rookh: The Light of the Haram
Thomas Moore
1636346Lalla Rookh: The Light of the HaramThomas Moore

The singular placidity with which FADLADEEN had listened during the latter part of this obnoxious story surprised the Princess and FERAMORZ exceedingly; and even inclined towards him the hearts of these unsuspicious young persons who little knew the source of a complacency so marvellous. The truth was he had been organizing for the last few days a most notable plan of persecution against the poet in consequence of some passages that had fallen from him on the second evening of recital,--which appeared to this worthy Chamberlain to contain language and principles for which nothing short of the summary criticism of the Chabuk[1] would be advisable. It was his intention therefore immediately on their arrival at Cashmere to give information to the King of Bucharia of the very dangerous sentiments of his minstrel; and if unfortunately that monarch did not act with suitable vigor on the occasion, (that is, if he did not give the Chabuk to FERAMORZ and a place to FADLADEEN.) there would be an end, he feared, of all legitimate government in Bucharia. He could not help however auguring better both for himself and the cause of potentates in general; and it was the pleasure arising from these mingled anticipations that diffused such unusual satisfaction through his features and made his eyes shine out like poppies of the desert over the wide and lifeless wilderness of that countenance.

Having decided upon the Poet's chastisement in this manner he thought it but humanity to spare him the minor tortures of criticism. Accordingly when they assembled the following evening in the pavilion and LALLA ROOKH was expecting to see all the beauties of her bard melt away one by one in the acidity of criticism, like pearls in the cup of the Egyptian queen.-- he agreeably disappointed her by merely saying with an ironical smile that the merits of such a poem deserved to be tried at a much higher tribunal; and then suddenly passed off into a panegyric upon all Mussulman sovereigns, more particularly his august and Imperial master, Aurungzebe,--the wisest and best of the descendants of Timur,--who among other great things he had done for mankind had given to him, FADLADEEN, the very profitable posts of Betel-carrier and Taster of Sherbets to the Emperor, Chief Holder of the Girdle of Beautiful Forms,[2] and Grand Nazir or Chamberlain of the Haram.

They were now not far from that Forbidden River[3] beyond which no pure Hindoo can pass, and were reposing for a time in the rich valley of Hussun Abdaul, which had always been a favorite resting-place of the Emperors in their annual migrations to Cashmere. Here often had the Light of the Faith, Jehan-Guire, been known to wander with his beloved and beautiful Nourmahal, and here would LALLA ROOKH have been happy to remain for ever, giving up the throne of Bucharia and the world for FERAMORZ and love in this sweet, lonely valley. But the time was now fast approaching when she must see him no longer,--or, what was still worse, behold him with eyes whose every look belonged to another, and there was a melancholy preciousness in these last moments, which made her heart cling to them as it would to life. During the latter part of the journey, indeed, she had sunk into a deep sadness from which nothing but the presence of the young minstrel could awake her. Like those lamps in tombs which only light up when the air is admitted, it was only at his approach that her eyes became smiling and animated. But here in this dear valley every moment appeared an age of pleasure; she saw him all day and was therefore all day happy,--resembling, she often thought, that people of Zinge[4] who attribute the unfading cheerfulness they enjoy to one genial star that rises nightly over their heads.[5]

The whole party indeed seemed in their liveliest mood during the few days they passed in this delightful solitude. The young attendants of the Princess who were here allowed a much freer range than they could safely be indulged with in a less sequestered place ran wild among the gardens and bounded through the meadows lightly as young roes over the aromatic plains of Tibet. While FADLADEEN, in addition to the spiritual comfort derived by him from a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Saint from whom the valley is named, had also opportunities of indulging in a small way his taste for victims by putting to death some hundreds of those unfortunate little lizards,[6] which all pious Mussulmans make it a point to kill;--taking for granted that the manner in which the creature hangs its head is meant as a mimicry of the attitude in which the Faithful say their prayers.

About two miles from Hussun Abdaul were those Royal Gardens which had grown beautiful under the care of so many lovely eyes, and were beautiful still though those eyes could see them no longer. This place, with its flowers and its holy silence interrupted only by the dipping of the wings of birds in its marble basins filled with the pure water of those hills, was to LALLA ROOKH all that her heart could fancy of fragrance, coolness, and almost heavenly tranquillity. As the Prophet said of Damascus, "it was too delicious;"[7]--and here in listening to the sweet voice of FERAMORZ or reading in his eyes what yet he never dared to tell her, the most exquisite moments of her whole life were passed. One evening when they had been talking of the Sultana Nourmahal, the Light of the Haram,[8] who had so often wandered among these flowers, and fed with her own hands in those marble basins the small shining fishes of which she was so fond,--the youth in order to delay the moment of separation proposed to recite a short story or rather rhapsody of which this adored Sultana was the heroine. It related, he said, to the reconcilement of a sort of lovers' quarrel which took place between her and the Emperor during a Feast of Roses at Cashmere; and would remind the Princess of that difference between Haroun-al-Raschid and his fair mistress Marida, which was so happily made up by the soft strains of the musician Moussali. As the story was chiefly to be told in song and FERAMORZ had unluckily forgotten his own lute in the valley, he borrowed the vina of LALLA ROOKH'S little Persian slave, and thus began:--


Who has not heard of the Vale of CASHMERE,
  With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave,[9]
Its temples and grottos and fountains as clear
  As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?

Oh! to see it at sunset,--when warm o'er the Lake
  Its splendor at parting a summer eve throws,
Like a bride full of blushes when lingering to take
  A last look of her mirror at night ere she goes!--
When the shrines thro' the foliage are gleaming half shown,
And each hallows the hour by some rites of its own.
Here the music of prayer from a minaret swells,
  Here the Magian his urn full of perfume is swinging,
And here at the altar a zone of sweet bells
  Round the waist of some fair Indian dancer is ringing.[10]
Or to see it by moonlight when mellowly shines
The light o'er its palaces, gardens, and shrines,
When the water-falls gleam like a quick fall of stars
And the nightingale's hymn from the Isle of Chenars
Is broken by laughs and light echoes of feet
From the cool, shining walks where the young people meet.--
Or at morn when the magic of daylight awakes
A new wonder each minute as slowly it breaks,
Hills, cupolas, fountains, called forth every one
Out of darkness as if but just born of the Sun.
When the Spirit of Fragrance is up with the day
From his Haram of night-flowers stealing away;
And the wind full of wantonness wooes like a lover
The young aspen-trees,[11]
till they tremble all over.
When the East is as warm as the light of first hopes,
  And day with his banner of radiance unfurled
Shines in thro' the mountainous portal[12] that opes,
  Sublime, from that Valley of bliss to the world!

But never yet by night or day,
In dew of spring or summer's ray,
Did the sweet Valley shine so gay
As now it shines--all love and light,
Visions by day and feasts by night!
A happier smile illumes each brow;
  With quicker spread each heart uncloses,
And all is ecstasy--for now
  The Valley holds its Feast of Roses;[13]
The joyous Time when pleasures pour
Profusely round and in their shower
Hearts open like the Season's Rose,--
  The Floweret of a hundred leaves[14]
Expanding while the dew-fall flows
  And every leaf its balm receives.

'Twas when the hour of evening came
  Upon the Lake, serene and cool,
When day had hid his sultry flame
  Behind the palms of BARAMOULE,
When maids began to lift their heads.
Refresht from their embroidered beds
Where they had slept the sun away,
And waked to moonlight and to play.
All were abroad:--the busiest hive
On BELA'S[15] hills is less alive
When saffron-beds are full in flower,
Than lookt the Valley in that hour.
A thousand restless torches played
Thro' every grove and island shade;
A thousand sparkling lamps were set
On every dome and minaret;
And fields and pathways far and near
Were lighted by a blaze so clear
That you could see in wandering round
The smallest rose-leaf on the ground,
Yet did the maids and matrons leave
Their veils at home, that brilliant eve;
And there were glancing eyes about
And cheeks that would not dare shine out
In open day but thought they might
Look lovely then, because 'twas night.
And all were free and wandering
  And all exclaimed to all they met,
That never did the summer bring
  So gay a Feast of Roses yet;--
The moon had never shed a light
  So clear as that which blest them there;
The roses ne'er shone half so bright,
  Nor they themselves lookt half so fair.

And what a wilderness of flowers!
It seemed as tho' from all the bowers
And fairest fields of all the year,
The mingled spoil were scattered here.
The lake too like a garden breathes
  With the rich buds that o'er it lie,--
As if a shower of fairy wreaths
  Had fallen upon it from the sky!
And then the sounds of joy,--the beat
Of tabors and of dancing feet;--
The minaret-crier's chant of glee
Sung from his lighted gallery,[16]
And answered by a ziraleet
From neighboring Haram, wild and sweet;--
The merry laughter echoing
From gardens where the silken swing[17]
Wafts some delighted girl above
The top leaves of the orange-grove;
Or from those infant groups at play
Among the tents[18] that line the way,
Flinging, unawed by slave or mother,
Handfuls of roses at each other.--
Then the sounds from the Lake,--the low whispering in boats,
  As they shoot thro' the moonlight,--the dipping of oars
And the wild, airy warbling that everywhere floats
  Thro' the groves, round the islands, as if all the shores
Like those of KATHAY uttered music and gave
An answer in song to the kiss on each wave.[19]
But the gentlest of all are those sounds full of feeling
That soft from the lute of some lover are stealing,--
Some lover who knows all the heart-touching power
Of a lute and a sigh in this magical hour.
Oh! best of delights as it everywhere is
To be near the loved One,--what a rapture is his
Who in moonlight and music thus sweetly may glide
O'er the Lake of CASHMERE with that One by his side!

If woman can make the worst wilderness dear,
Think, think what a Heaven she must make of CASHMERE!

So felt the magnificent Son of ACBAR,
When from power and pomp and the trophies of war
He flew to that Valley forgetting them all
With the Light of the HARAM, his young NOURMAHAL.
When free and uncrowned as the Conqueror roved
By the banks of that Lake with his only beloved
He saw in the wreaths she would playfully snatch
From the hedges a glory his crown could not match,
And preferred in his heart the least ringlet that curled
Down her exquisite neck to the throne of the world.

  There's a beauty for ever unchangingly bright,
Like the long, sunny lapse of a summer-day's light,
Shining on, shining on, by no shadow made tender
Till Love falls asleep in its sameness of splendor.
This was not the beauty--oh, nothing like this
That to young NOURMAHAL gave such magic of bliss!
But that loveliness ever in motion which plays
Like the light upon autumn's soft shadowy days,
Now here and now there, giving warmth as it flies
From the lip to the cheek, from the cheek to the eyes;
Now melting in mist and now breaking in gleams,
Like the glimpses a saint hath of Heaven in his dreams.
When pensive it seemed as if that very grace,
That charm of all others, was born with her face!
And when angry,--for even in the tranquillest climes
Light breezes will ruffle the blossoms sometimes--
The short, passing anger but seemed to awaken
New beauty like flowers that are sweetest when shaken.
If tenderness touched her, the dark of her eye
At once took a darker, a heavenlier dye,
From the depth of whose shadow like holy revealings
From innermost shrines came the light of her feelings.
Then her mirth--oh! 'twas sportive as ever took wing
From the heart with a burst like the wild-bird in spring;
Illumed by a wit that would fascinate sages,
Yet playful as Peris just loosed from their cages.[20]
While her laugh full of life, without any control
But the sweet one of gracefulness, rung from her soul;
And where it most sparkled no glance could discover,
In lip, cheek, or eyes, for she brightened all over,--
Like any fair lake that the breeze is upon
When it breaks into dimples and, laughs in the sun.
Such, such were the peerless enchantments that gave
NOURMAHAL the proud Lord of the East for her slave:
And tho' bright was his Haram,--a living parterre
Of the flowers[21] of this planet--tho' treasures were there,
For which SOLIMAN'S self might have given all the store
That the navy from OPHIR e'er winged to his shore,
Yet dim before her were the smiles of them all
And the Light of his Haram was young NOURMAHAL!

But where is she now, this night of joy,
When bliss is every heart's employ?--
When all around her is so bright,
So like the visions of a trance,
That one might think, who came by chance
Into the vale this happy night,
He saw that City of Delight[22]
In Fairy-land, whose streets and towers
Are made of gems and light and flowers!
Where is the loved Sultana? where,
When mirth brings out the young and fair,
Does she, the fairest, hide her brow
In melancholy stillness now?

Alas!--how light a cause may move
Dissension between hearts that love!
Hearts that the world in vain had tried
And sorrow but more closely tied;
That stood the storm when waves were rough
Yet in a sunny hour fall off,
Like ships that have gone down at sea
When heaven was all tranquillity!
A something light as air--a look,
  A word unkind or wrongly taken--
Oh! love that tempests never shook,
  A breath, a touch like this hath shaken.

And ruder words will soon rush in
To spread the breach that words begin;
And eyes forget the gentle ray
They wore in courtship's smiling day;
And voices lose the tone that shed
A tenderness round all they said;
Till fast declining one by one
The sweetnesses of love are gone,
And hearts so lately mingled seem
Like broken clouds,--or like the stream
That smiling left the mountain's brow
  As tho' its waters ne'er could sever,
Yet ere it reach the plain below,
  Breaks into floods that part for ever.

Oh, you that have the charge of Love,
  Keep him in rosy bondage bound,
As in the Fields of Bliss above
  He sits with flowerets fettered round;--
Loose not a tie that round him clings.
Nor ever let him use his wings;
For even an hour, a minute's flight
Will rob the plumes of half their light.
Like that celestial bird whose nest
  Is found beneath far Eastern skies,
Whose wings tho' radiant when at rest
  Lose all their glory when he flies![23]

Some difference of this dangerous kind,--
By which, tho' light, the links that bind
The fondest hearts may soon be riven;
Some shadow in Love's summer heaven,
Which, tho' a fleecy speck at first
May yet in awful thunder burst;--
Such cloud it is that now hangs over
The heart of the Imperial Lover,
And far hath banisht from his sight
His NOURMAHAL, his Haram's Light!
Hence is it on this happy night
When Pleasure thro' the fields and groves
Has let loose all her world of loves
And every heart has found its own
He wanders joyless and alone
And weary as that bird of Thrace
Whose pinion knows no resting place.[24]

In vain the loveliest cheeks and eyes
This Eden of the Earth supplies
  Come crowding round--the cheeks are pale,
The eyes are dim:--tho' rich the spot
With every flower this earth has got
  What is it to the nightingale
If there his darling rose is not?[25]
In vain the Valley's smiling throng
Worship him as he moves along;
He heeds them not--one smile of hers
Is worth a world of worshippers.
They but the Star's adorers are,
She is the Heaven that lights the Star!

Hence is it too that NOURMAHAL,
Amid the luxuries of this hour,
Far from the joyous festival
Sits in her own sequestered bower,
With no one near to soothe or aid,
But that inspired and wondrous maid,
NAMOUNA, the Enchantress;--one
O'er whom his race the golden sun
For unremembered years has run,
Yet never saw her blooming brow
Younger or fairer than 'tis now.
Nay, rather,--as the west wind's sigh
Freshens the flower it passes by,--
Time's wing but seemed in stealing o'er
To leave her lovelier than before.
Yet on her smiles a sadness hung,
And when as oft she spoke or sung
Of other worlds there came a light
From her dark eyes so strangely bright
That all believed nor man nor earth
Were conscious of NAMOUNA'S birth!
All spells and talismans she knew,
From the great Mantra,[26] which around
The Air's sublimer Spirits drew,
To the gold gems[27] of AFRIC, bound
Upon the wandering Arab's arm
To keep him from the Siltim's[28] harm.
And she had pledged her powerful art,--
Pledged it with all the zeal and heart
Of one who knew tho' high her sphere,
What 'twas to lose a love so dear,--
To find some spell that should recall
Her Selim's[29] smile to NOURMAHAL!

  'Twas midnight--thro' the lattice wreathed
With woodbine many a perfume breathed
From plants that wake when others sleep.
From timid jasmine buds that keep
Their odor to themselves all day
But when the sunlight dies away
Let the delicious secret out
To every breeze that roams about;--
When thus NAMOUNA:--"'Tis the hour
"That scatters spells on herb and flower,
"And garlands might be gathered now,
"That twined around the sleeper's brow
"Would make him dream of such delights,
"Such miracles and dazzling sights
"As Genii of the Sun behold
"At evening from their tents of gold
"Upon the horizon--where they play
"Till twilight comes and ray by ray
"Their sunny mansions melt away.
"Now too a chaplet might be wreathed
"Of buds o'er which the moon has breathed,
"Which worn by her whose love has strayed
  "Might bring some Peri from the skies,
"Some sprite, whose very soul is made
  "Of flowerets' breaths and lovers' sighs,
"And who might tell"--
    "For me, for me,"
Cried NOURMAHAL impatiently,--
"Oh! twine that wreath for me to-night."
Then rapidly with foot as light
As the young musk-roe's out she flew
To cull each shining leaf that grew
Beneath the moonlight's hallowing beams
For this enchanted Wreath of Dreams.
Anemones and Seas of Gold,[30]
  And new-blown lilies of the river,
And those sweet flowerets that unfold
  Their buds on CAMADEVA'S quiver;[31]--
The tuberose, with her silvery light,
  That in the Gardens of Malay
Is called the Mistress of the Night,[32]
So like a bride, scented and bright,
  She comes out when the sun's away:--
Amaranths such as crown the maids
That wander thro' ZAMARA'S shades;[33]--
And the white moon-flower as it shows,
On SERENDIB'S high crags to those
Who near the isle at evening sail,
Scenting her clove-trees in the gale;
In short all flowerets and all plants,
  From the divine Amrita tree[34]
That blesses heaven's habitants
  With fruits of immortality,
Down to the basil tuft[35] that waves
Its fragrant blossom over graves,
  And to the humble rosemary
Whose sweets so thanklessly are shed
To scent the desert[36] and the dead:--
All in that garden bloom and all
Are gathered by young NOURMAHAL,
Who heaps her baskets with the flowers
  And leaves till they can hold no more;
Then to NAMOUNA flies and showers
  Upon her lap the shining store.
With what delight the Enchantress views
So many buds bathed with the dews
And beams of that blest hour!--her glance
  Spoke something past all mortal pleasures,
As in a kind of holy trance
  She hung above those fragrant treasures,
Bending to drink their balmy airs,
As if she mixt her soul with theirs.
And 'twas indeed the perfume shed
From flowers and scented flame that fed
Her charmed life--for none had e'er
Beheld her taste of mortal fare,
Nor ever in aught earthly dip,
But the morn's dew, her roseate lip.
Filled with the cool, inspiring smell,
The Enchantress now begins her spell,
Thus singing as she winds and weaves
In mystic form the glittering leaves:--

I know where the winged visions dwell
  That around the night-bed play;
I know each herb and floweret's bell,
  Where they hide their wings by day.
      Then hasten we, maid,
      To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.

The image of love that nightly flies
  To visit the bashful maid,
Steals from the jasmine flower that sighs
  Its soul like her in the shade.
The dream of a future, happier hour
  That alights on misery's brow,
Springs out of the silvery almond-flower
  That blooms on a leafless bough.[37]
      Then hasten we, maid,
      To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.

The visions that oft to worldly eyes
  The glitter of mines unfold
Inhabit the mountain-herb[38] that dyes
  The tooth of the fawn like gold.
The phantom shapes--oh touch not them--
  That appal the murderer's sight,
Lurk in the fleshly mandrake's stem,
  That shrieks when pluckt at night!
      Then hasten we, maid,
      To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.

The dream of the injured, patient mind
  That smiles at the wrongs of men
Is found in the bruised and wounded rind
  Of the cinnamon, sweetest then.
      Then hasten we, maid,
      To twine our braid,
To-morrow the dreams and flowers will fade.

No sooner was the flowery crown
Placed on her head than sleep came down,
Gently as nights of summer fall,
Upon the lids of NOURMAHAL;--
And suddenly a tuneful breeze
As full of small, rich harmonies
As ever wind that o'er the tents
Of AZAB[39] blew was full of scents,
Steals on her ear and floats and swells
  Like the first air of morning creeping
Into those wreathy, Red-Sea shells
  Where Love himself of old lay sleeping;[40]
And now a Spirit formed, 'twould seem,
  Of music and of light,--so fair,
So brilliantly his features beam,
  And such a sound is in the air
Of sweetness when he waves his wings,--
Hovers around her and thus sings:

From CHINDARA'S[41] warbling fount I come,
  Called by that moonlight garland's spell;
From CHINDARA'S fount, my fairy home,
  Wherein music, morn and night, I dwell.
Where lutes in the air are heard about
  And voices are singing the whole day long,
And every sigh the heart breathes out
  Is turned, as it leaves the lips, to song!
    Hither I come
    From my fairy home,
  And if there's a magic in Music's strain
    I swear by the breath
    Of that moonlight wreath
  Thy Lover shall sigh at thy feet again.

For mine is the lay that lightly floats
And mine are the murmuring, dying notes
That fall as soft as snow on the sea
And melt in the heart as instantly:--
And the passionate strain that, deeply going,
  Refines the bosom it trembles thro'
As the musk-wind over the water blowing
  Ruffles the wave but sweetens it too.

Mine is the charm whose mystic sway
The Spirits of past Delight obey;--
Let but the tuneful talisman sound,
And they come like Genii hovering round.
And mine is the gentle song that bears
  From soul to soul the wishes of love,
As a bird that wafts thro' genial airs
  The cinnamon-seed from grove to grove.[42]

'Tis I that mingle in one sweet measure
The past, the present and future of pleasure;
When Memory links the tone that is gone
  With the blissful tone that's still in the ear;
And Hope from a heavenly note flies on
  To a note more heavenly still that is near.

The warrior's heart when touched by me,
Can as downy soft and as yielding be
As his own white plume that high amid death
Thro' the field has shone--yet moves with a breath!
And oh, how the eyes of Beauty glisten.
  When Music has reached her inward soul,
Like the silent stars that wink and listen
  While Heaven's eternal melodies roll.
    So hither I come
    From my fairy home,
  And if there's a magic in Music's strain,
    I swear by the breath
    Of that moonlight wreath
  Thy Lover shall sigh at thy feet again.

'Tis dawn--at least that earlier dawn
Whose glimpses are again withdrawn,[43]
As if the morn had waked, and then
Shut close her lids of light again.
And NOURMAHAL is up and trying
  The wonders of her lute whose strings--
Oh, bliss!--now murmur like the sighing
  From that ambrosial Spirit's wings.
And then her voice--'tis more than human--
  Never till now had it been given
To lips of any mortal woman
  To utter notes so fresh from heaven;
Sweet as the breath of angel sighs
  When angel sighs are most divine.--
"Oh! let it last till night," she cries,
  "And he is more than ever mine."

And hourly she renews the lay,
  So fearful lest its heavenly sweetness
Should ere the evening fade away,--
  For things so heavenly have such fleetness!
But far from fading it but grows
Richer, diviner as it flows;
Till rapt she dwells on every string
  And pours again each sound along,
Like echo, lost and languishing,
  In love with her own wondrous song.

That evening, (trusting that his soul
  Might be from haunting love released
By mirth, by music and the bowl,)
  The Imperial SELIM held a feast
In his magnificent Shalimar:[44]--
In whose Saloons, when the first star
Of evening o'er the waters trembled,
The Valley's loveliest all assembled;
All the bright creatures that like dreams
Glide thro' its foliage and drink beams
Of beauty from its founts and streams;[45]
And all those wandering minstrel-maids,
Who leave--how can they leave?--the shades
Of that dear Valley and are found
  Singing in gardens of the South[46]
Those songs that ne'er so sweetly sound
  As from a young Cashmerian's mouth.

There too the Haram's inmates smile;--
  Maids from the West, with sun-bright hair,
And from the Garden of the NILE,
  Delicate as the roses there;[47]--
Daughters of Love from CYPRUS rocks,
With Paphian diamonds in their locks;[48]--
Light PERI forms such as there are
On the gold Meads of CANDAHAR;[49]
And they before whose sleepy eyes
  In their own bright Kathaian bowers
Sparkle such rainbow butterflies
  That they might fancy the rich flowers
That round them in the sun lay sighing
Had been by magic all set flying.[50]

Every thing young, every thing fair
From East and West is blushing there,
Except--except--oh, NOURMAHAL!
Thou loveliest, dearest of them all,
The one whose smile shone out alone,
Amidst a world the only one;
Whose light among so many lights
Was like that star on starry nights,
The seaman singles from the sky,
To steer his bark for ever by!
Thou wert not there--so SELIM thought,
  And every thing seemed drear without thee;
But, ah! thou wert, thou wert,--and brought
  Thy charm of song all fresh about thee,
Mingling unnoticed with a band
Of lutanists from many a land,
And veiled by such a mask as shades
The features of young Arab maids,[51]--
A mask that leaves but one eye free,
To do its best in witchery,--
She roved with beating heart around
  And waited trembling for the minute
When she might try if still the sound
  Of her loved lute had magic in it.

The board was spread with fruits and wine,
With grapes of gold, like those that shine
On CASBIN hills;[52]--pomegranates full
  Of melting sweetness, and the pears,
And sunniest apples[53] that CAUBUL
  In all its thousand gardens[54] bears;--
Plantains, the golden and the green,
MALAYA'S nectared mangusteen;[55]
Prunes of BOCKHARA, and sweet nuts
  From the far groves of SAMARCAND,
And BASRA dates, and apricots,
  Seed of the Sun,[56] from IRAN'S land;--
With rich conserve of Visna cherries,[57]
Of orange flowers, and of those berries
That, wild and fresh, the young gazelles
Feed on in ERAC's rocky dells.[58]
All these in richest vases smile,
  In baskets of pure santal-wood,
And urns of porcelain from that isle[59]
  Sunk underneath the Indian flood,
Whence oft the lucky diver brings
Vases to grace the halls of kings.
Wines too of every clime and hue
Around their liquid lustre threw;
Amber Rosolli,[60]--the bright dew
From vineyards of the Green-Sea gushing;[61]
And SHIRAZ wine that richly ran
  As if that jewel large and rare,
The ruby for which KUBLAI-KHAN
Offered a city's wealth,[62] was blushing
  Melted within the goblets there!

And amply SELIM quaffs of each,
And seems resolved the flood shall reach
His inward heart,--shedding around
  A genial deluge, as they run,
That soon shall leave no spot undrowned
  For Love to rest his wings upon.
He little knew how well the boy
  Can float upon a goblet's streams,
Lighting them with his smile of joy;--
  As bards have seen him in their dreams,
Down the blue GANGES laughing glide
  Upon a rosy lotus wreath,[63]
Catching new lustre from the tide
  That with his image shone beneath.

But what are cups without the aid
  Of song to speed them as they flow?
And see--a lovely Georgian maid
  With all the bloom, the freshened glow
Of her own country maidens' looks,
When warm they rise from Teflis' brooks;[64]
And with an eye whose restless ray
  Full, floating, dark--oh, he, who knows
His heart is weak, of Heaven should pray
  To guard him from such eyes as those!--
  With a voluptuous wildness flings
  Her snowy hand across the strings
  Of a syrinda[65] and thus sings:--

Come hither, come hither--by night and by day,
  We linger in pleasures that never are gone;
Like the waves of the summer as one dies away
  Another as sweet and as shining comes on.
And the love that is o'er, in expiring gives birth
  To a new one as warm, as unequalled in bliss;
And, oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
    It is this, it is this.[66]

Here maidens are sighing, and fragrant their sigh
  As the flower of the Amra just oped by a bee;[67]
And precious their tears as that rain from the sky,[68]
  Which turns into pearls as it falls in the sea.
Oh! think what the kiss and the smile must be worth
  When the sigh and the tear are so perfect in bliss,
And own if there be an Elysium on earth,
      It is this, it is this.

Here sparkles the nectar that hallowed by love
  Could draw down those angels of old from their sphere,
Who for wine of this earth[69] left the fountains above,
  And forgot heaven's stars for the eyes we have here.
And, blest with the odor our goblet gives forth,
  What Spirit the sweets of his Eden would miss?
For, oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
      It is this, it is this.

The Georgian's song was scarcely mute,
  When the same measure, sound for sound,
Was caught up by another lute
  And so divinely breathed around
That all stood husht and wondering,
  And turned and lookt into the air,
As if they thought to see the wing
  Of ISRAFIL[70] the Angel there;--
So powerfully on every soul
That new, enchanted measure stole.
While now a voice sweet as the note
Of the charmed lute was heard to float
Along its chords and so entwine
  Its sounds with theirs that none knew whether
The voice or lute was most divine,
  So wondrously they went together:--

There's a bliss beyond all that the minstrel has told,
  When two that are linkt in one heavenly tie,
With heart never changing and brow never cold,
  Love on thro' all ills and love on till they die!
One hour of a passion so sacred is worth
  Whole ages of heartless and wandering bliss;
And, oh! if there be an Elysium on earth,
      It is this, it is this.

'Twas not the air, 'twas not the words,
But that deep magic in the chords
And in the lips that gave such power
As music knew not till that hour.
At once a hundred voices said,
"It is the maskt Arabian maid!"
While SELIM who had felt the strain
Deepest of any and had lain
Some minutes rapt as in a trance
  After the fairy sounds were o'er.
Too inly touched for utterance,
  Now motioned with his hand for more:--

Fly to the desert, fly with me,
Our Arab's tents are rude for thee;
But oh! the choice what heart can doubt,
Of tents with love or thrones without?
Our rocks are rough, but smiling there
The acacia waves her yellow hair,
Lonely and sweet nor loved the less
For flowering in a wilderness.

Our sands are bare, but down their slope
The silvery-footed antelope
As gracefully and gayly springs
As o'er the marble courts of kings.

Then come--thy Arab maid will be
The loved and lone acacia-tree.
The antelope whose feet shall bless
With their light sound thy loneliness.

Oh! there are looks and tones that dart
An instant sunshine thro' the heart,--
As if the soul that minute caught
Some treasure it thro' life had sought;

As if the very lips and eyes,
Predestined to have all our sighs
And never be forgot again,
Sparkled and spoke before us then!

So came thy every glance and tone,
When first on me they breathed and shone,
New as if brought from other spheres
Yet welcome as if loved for years.

Then fly with me,--if thou hast known
No other flame nor falsely thrown
A gem away, that thou hadst sworn
Should ever in thy heart be worn.

Come if the love thou hast for me
Is pure and fresh as mine for thee,--
Fresh as the fountain under ground,
When first 'tis by the lapwing found.[71]

But if for me thou dost forsake
Some other maid and rudely break
Her worshipt image from its base,
To give to me the ruined place;--

Then fare thee well--I'd rather make
My bower upon some icy lake
When thawing suns begin to shine
Than trust to love so false as thine.

There was a pathos in this lay,
  That, even without enchantment's art,
Would instantly have found its way
  Deep in to SELIM'S burning heart;
But breathing as it did a tone
To earthly lutes and lips unknown;
With every chord fresh from the touch
Of Music's Spirit,--'twas too much!
Starting he dasht away the cup,--
Which all the time of this sweet air
His hand had held, untasted, up,
As if 'twere fixt by magic there--
And naming her, so long unnamed,
So long unseen, wildly exclaimed,
  "Hadst thou but sung this witching strain,
"I could forget--forgive thee all
"And never leave those eyes again."

The mask is off--the charm is wrought--
And SELIM to his heart has caught,
In blushes, more than ever bright,
His NOURMAHAL, his Haram's Light!
And well do vanisht frowns enhance
The charm of every brightened glance;
And dearer seems each dawning smile
For having lost its light awhile:
And happier now for all her sighs
As on his arm her head reposes
She whispers him, with laughing eyes,
  "Remember, love, the Feast of Roses!"

  1. "The application of whips or rods."--Dubois.
  2. Kempfer mentions such an officer among the attendants of the King of Persia, and calls him "formae corporis estimator." His business was, at stated periods, to measure the ladies of the Haram by a sort of regulation-girdle whose limits it was not thought graceful to exceed. If any of them outgrew this standard of shape, they were reduced by abstinence till they came within proper bounds.
  3. "Akbar on his way ordered a fort to be built upon the Nilab, which he called Attock, which means in the Indian language Forbidden; for, by the superstition of the Hindoos, it was held unlawful to cross that river."--Dow's Hindostan.
  4. "The inhabitants of this country (Zinge) are never afflicted with sadness or melancholy; on this subject the Sheikh Abu-al-Kheir-Azhari has the following distich:-- "'Who is the man without care or sorrow, (tell) that I may rub my hand to him. "'(Behold) the Zingians, without care and sorrow, frolicsome with tipsiness and mirth.'"
  5. The star Soheil, or Canopus.
  6. "The lizard Stellio. The Arabs call it Hardun. The Turks kill it, for they imagine that by declining the head it mimics them when they say their prayers."--Hasselquist.
  7. "As you enter at that Bazar, without the gate of Damascus, you see the Green Mosque, so called because it hath a steeple faced with green glazed bricks, which render it very resplendent: It is covered at top with a pavilion of the same stuff. The Turks say this mosque was made in that place, because Mahomet being come so far, would not enter the town, saying it was too delicious."--Thevenot.
  8. Nourmahal signifies Light of the Haram. She was afterwards called Nourjehan, or the Light of the World.
  9. "The rose of Kashmire for its brilliancy and delicacy of odor has long been proverbial in the East."--Foster.
  10. "Tied round her waist the zone of bells, that sounded with ravishing melody."--Song of Jayadeva.
  11. "The little isles in the Lake of Cachemire are set with arbors and large-leaved aspen-trees, slender and tall."--Bernier.
  12. "The Tuckt Suliman, the name bestowed by the Mahommetans on this hill, forms one side of a grand portal to the Lake."--Forster.
  13. "The Feast of Roses continues the whole time of their remaining in bloom."--See Pietro de la Valle.
  14. "Gul sad berk, the Rose of a hundred leaves. I believe a particular species."--Ouseley.
  15. A place mentioned in the Toozek Jehangeery, or Memoirs of Jehan-Guire, where there is an account of the beds of saffron-flowers about Cashmere.
  16. "It is the custom among the women to employ the Maazeen to chant from the gallery of the nearest minaret, which on that occasion is illuminated, and the women assembled at the house respond at intervals with a ziraleet or joyous chorus."--Russel.
  17. "The swing is a favorite pastime in the East, as promoting a circulation of air, extremely refreshing in those sultry climates."--Richardson.
  18. At the keeping of the Feast of Roses we beheld an infinite number of tents pitched, with such a crowd of men, women, boys, and girls, with music, dances, etc."--Herbert.
  19. "An old commentator of the Chou-King says, the ancients having remarked that a current of water made some of the stones near its banks send forth a sound, they detached some of them, and being charmed with the delightful sound they emitted, constructed King or musical instruments of them,"--Grosier.
  20. In the wars of the Divs with the Peris, whenever the former took the latter prisoners, "they shut them up in iron cages, and hung them on the highest trees. Here they were visited by their companions, who brought them the choicest odors."--Richardson.
  21. In the Malay language the same word signifies women and flowers.
  22. The capital of Shadukiam.
  23. "Among the birds of Tonquin is a species of goldfinch, which sings so melodiously that it is called the Celestial Bird. Its wings, when it is perched, appear variegated with beautiful colors, but when it flies they lose all their splendor."--Grosier.
  24. "As these birds on the Bosphorus are never known to rest, they are called by the French 'les âmes damnées.'"--Dalloway.
  25. "You may place a hundred handfuls of fragrant herbs and flowers before the nightingale, yet he wishes not in his constant heart for more than the sweet breath of his beloved rose."--Jami.
  26. "He is said to have found the great Mantra, spell or talisman, through which he ruled over the elements and spirits of all denominations."--Wilford.
  27. "The gold jewels of Jinnie, which are called by the Arabs El Herrez, from the supposed charm they contain."--Jackson.
  28. "A demon, supposed to haunt woods, etc., in a human shape."--Richardson.
  29. The name of Jehan-Guire before his accession to the throne.
  30. "Hemasagara, or the Sea of Gold, with flowers of the brightest gold color."--Sir W. Jones.
  31. "This tree (the Nagacesara) is one of the most delightful on earth, and the delicious odor of its blossoms justly gives them a place in the quiver of Camadeva, or the God of Love."--Id.
  32. "The Malayans style the tuberose (polianthes tuberosa) Sandal Malam, or the Mistress of the Night."--Pennant.
  33. The people of the Batta country in Sumatra (of which Zamara is one of the ancient names), "when not engaged in war, lead an idle, inactive life, passing the day in playing on a kind of flute, crowned with garlands of flowers, among which the globe-amaranthus, a native of the country, mostly prevails,"--Marsden.
  34. "The largest and richest sort (of the Jambu or rose-apple) is called Amrita, or immortal, and the mythologists of Tibet apply the same word to a celestial tree, bearing ambrosial fruit."--Sir W. Jones.
  35. Sweet Basil, called Rayhan in Persia, and generally found in churchyards.
  36. "In the Great Desert are found many stalks of lavender and rosemary."--Asiat. Res.
  37. "The almond-tree, with white flowers, blossoms on the bare branches."--Hasselquist.
  38. An herb on Mount Libanus, which is said to communicate a yellow golden hue to the teeth of the goat and other animals that graze upon it.
  39. The myrrh country.
  40. "This idea (of deities living in shells) was not unknown to the Greeks, who represent the young Nerites, one of the Cupids, as living in shells on the shores of the Red Sea."--Wilford.
  41. "A fabulous fountain, where instruments are said to be constantly playing."--Richardson.
  42. "The Pompadour pigeon is the species, which, by carrying the fruit of the cinnamon to different places, is a great disseminator of this valuable tree."--See Brown's Illustr. Tab. 19.
  43. "The Persians have two mornings, the Soobhi Kazim and the Soobhi Sadig, the false and the real daybreak. They account for this phenomenon in a most whimsical manner. They say that as the sun rises from behind the Kohi Qaf (Mount Caucasus), it passes a hole perforated through that mountain, and that darting its rays through it, it is the cause of the Soobhi Kazim, or this temporary appearance of daybreak. As it ascends, the earth is again veiled in darkness, until the sun rises above the mountain, and brings with it the Soobhi Sadig, or real morning."--Scott Waring.
  44. "In the centre of the plain, as it approaches the Lake, one of the Delhi Emperors, I believe Shan Jehan, constructed a spacious garden called the Shalimar, which is abundantly stored with fruit-trees and flowering shrubs. Some of the rivulets which intersect the plain are led into a canal at the back of the garden, and flowing through its centre, or occasionally thrown into a variety of water-works, compose the chief beauty of the Shalimar."--Forster.
  45. "The waters of Cachemir are the more renowned from its being supposed that the Cachemirians are indebted for their beauty to them."--Ali Yezdi.
  46. "From him I received the following little Gazzel, or Love Song, the notes of which he committed to paper from the voice of one of those singing girls of Cashmere, who wander from that delightful valley over the various parts of India."--Persian Miscellanies.
  47. "The roses of the Jinan Nile, or Garden of the Nile (attached to the Emperor of Morocco's palace) are unequalled, and mattresses are made of their leaves for the men of rank to recline upon."--Jackson.
  48. "On the side of a mountain near Paphos there is a cavern which produces the most beautiful rock-crystal. On account of its brilliancy it has been called the Paphian diamond."--Mariti.
  49. "These is a part of Candahar, called Peria, or Fairy Land."--Thevenot. In some of those countries to the north of India vegetable gold is supposed to be produced.
  50. "These are the butterflies which are called in the Chinese language Flying Leaves. Some of them have such shining colors, and are so variegated, that they may be called flying flowers; and indeed they are always produced in the finest flower-gardens."--Dunn.
  51. "The Arabian women wear black masks with little clasps prettily ordered."--Carreri. Niebuhr mentions their showing but one eye in conversation.
  52. "The golden grapes of Casbin."--Description of Persia.
  53. The fruits exported from Caubul are apples, pears, pomegranates," etc.--Elphinstone.
  54. "We sat down under a tree, listened to the birds, and talked with the son of our Mehmaundar about our country and Caubul, of which he gave an enchanting account; that city and its 100,000 gardens," etc.--Ib.
  55. "The mangusteen, the most delicate fruit in the world; the pride of the Malay islands."--Marsden.
  56. "A delicious kind of apricot, called by the Persians tokmekshems, signifying sun's seed."--Description of Persia.
  57. "Sweetmeats, in a crystal cup, consisting of rose-leaves in conserve, with Iemon of Visna cherry, orange flowers," etc.--Russel.
  58. "Antelopes cropping the fresh berries of Erac."--The Moallakat, Poem of Tarafa.
  59. "Mauri-ga-Sima, an island near Formosa, supposed to have been sunk in the sea for the crimes of its inhabitants. The vessels which the fishermen and divers bring up from it are sold at an immense price in China and Japan."--See Kempfer.
  60. Persian Tales.
  61. The white wine of Kishma.
  62. "The King of Zeilan is said to have the very finest ruby that was ever seen. Kublai-Khan sent and offered the value of a city for It, but the king answered he would not give it for the treasure of the world."--Marco Polo.
  63. The Indians feign that Cupid was first seen floating down the Ganges on the Nymphaea Nelumbo.--See Pennant.
  64. Teflis is celebrated for its natural warm baths.--See Ebn Haukal.
  65. "The Indian Syrinda, or guitar."--Symez.
  66. "Around the exterior of the Dewan Khafs (a building of Shah Allum's) in the cornice are the following lines in letters of gold upon a ground of white marble--'If there be a paradise upon earth, it is this, it is this.'"--Franklin.
  67. "Delightful are the flowers of the Amra trees on the mountain tops while the murmuring bees pursue their voluptuous toil."--Song of Jayadera.
  68. "The Nison or drops of spring rain, which they believe to produce pearls if they fall into shells."--Richardson.
  69. For an account of the share which wine had in the fall of the angels, see Mariti.
  70. The Angel of Music.
  71. The Hudhud, or Lapwing, is supposed to have the power of discovering water under ground.