Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1832/Delhi

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67


1832-44-Delhi.png


DELHI.

Artist: W. Purser - Engraved by: W. Miller


THE CITY OF DELHI.


Thou glorious city of the East, of old enchanted times,
When the fierce Genii swayed all Oriental climes,
I do not ask from history a record of thy fame,
A fairy page has stamped for me thy consecrated name.

I read it when the crimson sky came reddening thro' the trees,
The twilight is the only time to read such tales as these;
Like mosque, and minaret, and tower, the clouds were heaped on high,
I almost deemed fair Delhi rose, a city in the sky.

What sympathy I then bestowed upon her youthful king!
I fear I now should be less moved by actual suffering;
All sorrow has its selfishness; tears harden as they flow,
And in our own we half forget to share in others' wo.

I can recall how well I seemed to know the princely tent,
Where painted silk, and painted plume, their gorgeous colours blent,
The conquests blazoned on the walls, the roof of carved stone,
And the rich light, that at midnight, over the dark woods shone.

The lovely princess, she who slept in that black marble tomb,
Her only pall, her raven hair, that swept in midnight gloom;
The depths of that enchanted sleep, had seemed the sleep of death
Save that her cheek retained its rose, her lip its rose-like breath.

Gone! gone! I think of them no more, unless when they are brought
As by this pictured city here, in some recalling thought;
Far other dreams are with me now, and yet, amid their pain,
I wish I were content to dream of fairy tales again.


Perhaps Sir Charles Morell, the real author of "The Tales of the Genii," may be but an Oriental Ossian; I only know, when reading them I was truly "under the wand of the enchanter." The story of the Sultan Misnar and the Enchanters is the one to which the above verses allude. The youthful monarch had enough to do; he had to rescue his throne from the usurpation of his brother, aided by the evil genii, and his mistress from an enchanted sleep, in a tomb of black marble. If an author could choose his destiny, he would only implore fortune to grant him youthful readers. The vivid feeling and the rich imagination of the young, lend their own freshness to the page; and then we look back with such delight to half-forgotten volumes read beneath the old beech-tree, or in the oaken window-seat. What an Arabian poet says of those he loved in early days, I say, too, of all childhood's books, hopes, and feelings. The Arabian line runs thus—

"We never meet with friends like the friends of our
Youth—when we have lost them."