Queen Moo's Talisman; the Fall of the Maya Empire/IV

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4095807Queen Moo's Talisman; the Fall of the Maya EmpireQueen Móo's Talisman—IV.Alice Dixon Le Plongeon


Sun-scorched, for tears athirst was Chicħen's square;
The funeral bed 'mid wailing crowds rose there.
Here many noble structures had a place,
With carvings red and gold upon their face.
The lofty stronghold in their midst, appeared
Like pyramid of human beings reared;
From base to summit on each side were seen
Brave men who for tljeir chief felt sorrow keen.
On temple's mound crowds flocked to view the square,
And hum of million voices filled the air.
Each road that led within the city wall
Was packed with mourning populace; and all
Betrayed the grief they felt. The flowers fair
In well-kept beds, the burden seemed to share
Of nation's woe; all drooped their dainty heads,
Entreating those sweet tears that heaven sheds.
With Priestess Nicté, Móo was near the pyre,
To light the cedar logs with sacred fire.
Piled high were these, with odorous plants between;
And many lovely garlands too were seen.
The priests in flowing robes were stationed round:
By solemn rite the rank of each was bound.
First those in yellow clad, the sun-god's sheen;
Then soothing wisdom-ray, fair nature's green;
The next in line of blue robes made display,
Grief sanctified—the mourners sad array,
Beyond stood many others all in white;
And last, full armed as ready for the fight,
The orators of war, in gowns of red,—
Their ardent words to victory oft had led.
Long lance they bore, as on the battle field
Where glowed their eloquence—nor would one yield,
Except to Yum Cimil, but onward pressed
And dauntless to the last urged on the rest.
These now restrained the crowd that thronged the ground:
In that vast square no tearless eye was found.

Móo's sister Nicté, priestess of the Light,
Sustained the hapless Queen thro' funeral rite.
Coh's heart, concealed within a close shut urn,
Was near the corpse, to char while that should burn.
That flames might higher leap and quick consume,
Fine scented oils, the hot air to perfume,
By priestly hand were lavishly out-poured
Upon the shroud of him whom all deplored.

Around the pyre, with measured step and slow,
His comrades, arms reversed, must three times go
Unto the left, anear the funeral bed,
That evil spirits might not reach the dead.
Thrice round they went, their object to attain,
All chanting as they marched, a solemn strain.

At signal given by trumpets' ringing sound,
Hushed was the wailing of the crowd around.
Móo grasped the torch that would, from body dead,
Release the soul yet linked to funeral bed.
Alone she set ablaze the corners four—
A sacred right none could dispute, nay more!—
Her duty 'twas as true and loving wife,
To light the wood, speeding the soul to life
Or dreamless sleep, the Will Supreme to bide.
The multitude, when Móo the torch applied,
Upon their knees, their brows to earth, were bowed
Until the priests, "Arise! All's well!" cried loud.

The priests and mourners now, each one in place,
Around the pyre, with sad and measured pace,
Unto the right, three times the way must tread;
To honor thus the memory of their dead.
And when the hero's form was wrapped in fire,
Two mated doves, pure white, loosed near the pyre,
Up soared—of liberated soul the sign,
From prison freed, no fetter to confine;
Yet more, fair symbols of creative force,
Of life and death and all that is, the Source.

The grace divine was fervently implored
While hissed the leaping flame and loudly roared.
Transparent burned the wood with ruddy glare;
Melodious voices rose o'er trumpet blare:

Thro' earth-life our footsteps lead,
Guide us into peace eternal,
Till from all desire we're freed,
And perceive Thy Light Supernal.

Down sank the pile; priests chanting nearer drew
And on expiring flames sweet incense threw.

Speed thee now to realm of bliss,
Cast aside the thought of strife,
Tho' each eye thy face will miss
And we mourn thee all our life!

Intoned the priests and slow their bodies swayed,
The dying embers fanned, and singing stayed
While these by murm'ring winds were borne away—
List where they might, they would life's law obey.

Prince Coh's portrait. His statue.

Afar they floated on the zephyr's wing:
No triumph now would Coh to Mayas bring.
Disconsolate, the Queen in anguish cried:
"Would that I had with my beloved died!
Why tarry here? My soul entreats release!
I too will sleep on Death's soft couch of peace."
From thought so weak, by Nicté she was freed
And tottering reason saved from foolish deed.

Then came the date of Mu, the thirteenth day,
When hearts of noble men were laid away.
Where sacred fire had liberated Coh,
The people once again were lost in woe.

Beneath the earth, shut close in virgin urn,
Wherein it safe would bide the soul's return,
The heart of hero slain was put to rest
By those who in its love were more than blest.
Before the marble lid closed o'er the urn,
Upon that heart for which she'd ever yearn
The widowed Queen with loving homage laid
Her Talisman, at Cay's order made;
By his strong will invested for her sake
With qualities she ever might partake.

Thus from the day this gift became her own,
When she'd been warned its loss might her dethrone,
The gem had nestled close about her heart.
But now, most eager she with this to part;
For Cay had affirmed its force could bind
Two souls thro' time, if she the way would find.
Coh gone, could Móo rejoice on sovereign throne?
Ah no! far rather than a Queen alone,
A fugitive she'd be in boundless space,
Assured she would at last behold his face.

When talisman touched heart, a great calm fell
O'er Móo; to think they would together dwell
Once more, they two, within her mind distilled
A solace sweet that all her being filled.
Should earth recall them, as in time it must,
Each would the other seek in perfect trust;
From spheres of bliss, if parted, they would strive
To meet again and keep love's pain alive.

Close by the urn a counterpart of Coh
Was set; as long as that endured below,
Desiring thus, he could to earth return
If e'er his soul for mortal life should yearn.
Walled close around, cut from a solid block,
That statue could the fleeting ages mock.
Secure from tempest and from mortal eyes,
This form Coh's will alone might bid arise.
The pose it had been given showed regal state,
The boundary lines of Maya Empire great;
Where Cans, for justice famed, long ruled; rich land
Of men renowned for actions brave and grand.

Prince Coh's Memorial Hall at Chicħen.

Now on the spot a monument was reared,
On four sides marble steps; and there appeared
The emblems royal carved in fine white stone;
A leopard crowning all, Coh's name made known.

The tomb complete, Móo likewise built a shrine
In honor of the Prince now hailed divine.
Of grand proportions stood that edifice;
No charm that art could lend would one there miss.
Here faithful hearts might manes sometimes greet,
And on the altar lay an offering meet.
On walls within the artist toiled amain,
Portraying there the life of chieftain slain.
On outer wall was graved a loving thought—
Her Consort's mem'ry thus the Queen besought:
"Cay witness beareth—earnestly doth Móo
Hereby invoke her warrior-prince, great Coh!"