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To whose far climes the spirit, vainly turning,
Would pierce the secrets of infinity-
To you the heart, bereft of other light,
Its first deep homage paid, on Eastern plains,
Where Day hath terrors, but majestic Night,
Calm in her pomp, magnificently reigns,
Cloudless and silent, circled with the race
Of some unnumber'd orbs, that light the depths of space.
Shine on! and brightly plead for erring thought,
Whose wing, unaided in its course, explored
The wide creation, and beholding nought
Like your eternal beauty, then adored
Its living splendors ; deeming them inform’d
By natures temperd with a holier fire-
Pure beings, with ethereal effluence warm’d,
Who to the source of spirit might aspire,
And mortal prayers benignantly convey
To some presiding Power, more awful far than they.
Guides o'er the desert and the deep! to you
The seaman turn d, rejoicing at the helm,
When from the regions of empyreal blue
Ye pour'd soft radiance o'er the ocean-realm;
To you the dweller of the plains address'd
Vain prayers, that called the clouds and dews your own;
To you the shepherd, on the mountain's crest,
Kindled the fires that far through midnight shone,
As earth would light up all her hills, to vie
With your immortal höst, and image back the sky.
Hail to the queen of heaven! her silvery crown
Serenely wearing, o'er her high domain
She walks in brightness, looking cloudless down,
As if to smile on her terrestrial reign.
Earth should be hush'd in slumber-but the night
Calls forth her worshippers ; the feast is spread,
On hoary Lebanon's umbrageous height
The shrine is raised, the rich libation shed
To her, whose beams illume those cedar shades
Faintly as Nature's light the 'wildered soul pervades.
But when thine orb, all earth's rich hues restoring,
Came forth, 0 sun! in majesty supieme,
Still, from thy pure exhaustless fountain, pouring
Beauty and life in each triumphant beam,
Through thine own east what joyous rites prevail'd !
What choral songs re-echo'd! while thy fire
Shone o'er its thousand altars, and exhaled
The precious incense of each odorous pyre,
Heap'd with the richest balms of spicy vales,
And aromatic woods that scent the Arabian gales.
Yet not with Saba's fragrant wealth alone,
Balsam and myrrh, the votive pile was strewed;
For the dark children of the burning zone
Drew frenzy from thy fervors, and bedew'd
With their own blood thy shrine ; while that wild scene,
Haply with pitying eye, thine angel view'd,
And, though with glory mantled,
In his own fulness of beatitude,
Yet mourn'd for those whose spirits from thy ray
Caught not one transient spark of intellectual day.
But earth had deeper stains: ethereal powers!
Benignant seraphs! wont to leave the skies,
And hold high converse, ʼmidst his native bowers,
With the once-glorious son of Paradise,
Looked ye from heaven in sadness ? were your strains
Of choral praise suspended in dismay,
When the polluted shrine of Syria's plains,
With clouds of incense dimm’d the blaze of day?
Or did ye veil indignantly your eyes,
While demons hail'd the pomp of human sacrifice ?
And well the powers of evil might rejoice,
When rose from Tophet's vale the exulting cry,
And, deaf to Nature's supplicating voice,
The frantic mother bore her child to die?
Around her vainly clung his feeble hands
With sacred instinct: love hath lost its sway,
While ruthless zeal the sacrifice demands,
And the fires blaze, impatient for their prey.
Let not his shrieks reveal the dreadful tale!
Well may the drum's loud peal o'erpower an infant's wail !
A voice of sorrow! not from thence it rose;
'Twas not the childless mother-Syrian maids,
Where with red wave the mountain streamlet flows,
Keep tearful vigil in their native shades.
With dirge and plaint the cedar-groves resound,
Each rock's deep echo for Adonis mourns :
Weep for the dead !-awav! the lost is found,
To life and love the buried god returns!
Then wakes the timbrel-then the forests ring,
And shouts of frenzied joy are on each breeze's wing!
But fillid with holier joy the Persian stood,
In silent reverence on the mountain's brow
At early dayspring, while the expanding flood
Of radiance hurst around above, below
Bright, boundless as eternity: he gazed
Till his full soul, imbibing heaven, o'erflow'd
In worship of th' Invisible, and praised
In thee, O Sun! the symbol and abode
Of life, and power, and excellence; the throne
Where dwelt the Unapproach'd, resplendently alone.*
What if his thoughts, with erring fondness, gave
Mysterious sanctity to things which wear
Th Eternal's impress ?—if the living wave,
The circling heavens, the free and boundless air-
If the pure founts of everlasting flame,
Deep in his country's hallow'd vales enshrined,
And the bright stars maintain'd a silent claim
To love and homage from his awestruck mind ?
Still with his spirit dwelt a lofty dream
Of uncreated Power, far, far o'er these supreme.
And with that faith was conquest. He whose name
To Judah's harp of prophecy had rung;
He, of whose yet unborn and distant fame
The mighty voice of Inspiration sung,
He came, the victor Cyrus !-as he pass'd,
Thrones to his footstep rock’d, and monarch's lay
Suppliant and clothed with dust; while nations cast
Their ancient idols down before his way,
Who, in majestic march, from shore to shore,
The quenchless flame revered by Persia's children bore
* At an earlier stage in the composition of this poem, the following stanza was here inserted :
Nor rose the Magian's hymn, sublimely swelling
In full-toned homage to the source of flame,
From fabric rear'd by man-the gorgeous dwelling
Of such bright idol-forms as art could frame;
He rear'd no temple, bade no walls contain
The breath of incense, or the voice of prayer.
But made the boundless universe his fane,
The rocks his altar-stone, adoring there
The Being whose Omnipotence pervades
All deserts and all depths, and hallows loneliest shades.
THE CARAVAN IN THE DESERTA
Call it not loneliness, to dwell
In woodland shade or hermit dell,
Or the deep forest to explore,
Or wander Alpine regions o'er ;
For Nature there all joyous reigns,
And fills with life her wild domains:
A bird's light wing may break the air,
A wave, a leaf, may murmur there ;.
A bee the mountain flowers may seek,
A chamois bound from peak to peak ;
An eagle, rushing to the sky,
Wake the deep echoes with his cry;
And still some sound, thy heart to cheer,
Some voice, though not of man is near.
But he, whose weary step hath traced
Mysterious Afric's awful waste-
Whose eye Arabia's wilds hath view'd,
Can tell thee what is solitude !
It is, to traverse lifeless plains,
Where everlasting stillness reigns,
And billowy sands and dazzling sky,
Seem boundless as infinity!
It is to sink, with speechless dread,
In scenes unmeet for mortal tread,
Seyer'd from earthly being's trace,
Alone, amidst eternal space!
'Tis noon-and fearfully profound,
Silence is on the desert round;
Alone she reigns, above, beneath
With all the attributes of death!
No bird the blazing heaven may dare,
No insect bide the scorching air :
The ostrich, though of sun-born race,
Seeks a more shelter'd dwelling-place
The lion slumbers in his lair,
The serpent shuns the noontide glare;
But slowly wind the patient train
Of camels o'er the blasted plain,
Where they and man may brave alone
The terrors of the burning zone.
Faint not, 0 pilgrims! though on high,
As a volcano, flame the sky;
Shrink not, though as a furnace glow
The dark-red seas of sand below;
Though not a shadow save your own,
Across the dread expanse is thrown;
Mark! where your feverish lips to lave,
Wide spreads the fresh transparent wave,
Urge your tired camels on, and take
Your rest beside yon glistening lake:
Thence, haply, cooler gales may spring,
And fan your brows with lighter wing.
Lo! nearer now, its glassy tide,
Reflects the date-tree on its side
Speed on! pure draughts and genial air,
And verdant shade, await you there.
Oh glimpse of Heaven! to him unknown,
That hath not trod the burning zone!
Forward they press—they gaze dismay'd-
The waters of the desert fade!
Melting to vapors that elude
The eye, the lip, they vainly woo’d.*
What meteor comes ?-a purple haze
Hath half obscured the noontide rays: +
Onward it moves in swift career,
A blush upon the atmosphere;
Haste, haste ! avert th' impending doom,
Fall prostrate! 'tis the dread Simoom !
Bow down your faces—till the blast
On its red wing of flame hath pass'd,
Far bearing o'er the sandy wave,
The viewless Angel of the Grave.
It came—'tis vanish’d--but hath left
The wanderers e'en of hope bereft;
The ardent heart, the vigorous frame,
Pride, courage, strength, its power could tame
Faint with despondence, worn with toil,
They sink upon the burning soil,
Resign’d, amist those realms of gloom,
To find their death-bed and their tomb. I
But onward still yon distant spot
Of verdure can deceive you not ;
Yon palms, which tremulously seem'd
Reflected as the waters gleam'd,
* The inirage, or vapor assuming the appearance of water.
See the description of the Simoom in Bruce's Travels # The extreme languor and despondence produced by the Simoom, even when its effects are not fatal, have been described by many travellers