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As exhalations, when they burst
From the warm earth, if chill'd at first,
If check'd in soaring from the plain,
Darken to fogs and sink again;
But if they once triumphant spread
Their wings above the mountain-head,
Become enthroned in upper air,
And turn to sun-bright glories there!
And who is he that wields the might
Of freedom on the Green Sea brink, Before whose sabre's dazzling light
The eyes of Yemen's warriors wink? Who comes embower'd in the spears Of Kirman's hardy mountaineers? Those mountaineers, that truest, last,
Cling to their country's ancient rites, As if that God, whose eyelids cast.
Their closing gleam on Iran's heights, Among her snowy mountains threw The last light of his worship too!
'Tis Hafed-name of fear, whose sound
Chills like the muttering of a charm; Shout but that awful name around,
And palsy shakes the manliest arm. 'Tis Hafed, most accurst and dire (So rank'd by Moslem hate and ire) Of all the rebel Sons of Fire! Of whose malign, tremendous power The Arabs, at their mid-watch hour, Such tales of fearful wonder tell, That each affrighted sentinel Pulls down his cowl upon his eyes, Lest Hafed in the midst should rise! A man, they say, of monstrous birth, A mingled race of flame and earth,
Sprung from those old, enchanted kings
Who in their fairy helms, of yore,
A feather from the mystic wings
Of the Simoorgh resistless wore;
And gifted by the Fiends of Fire,
Who groaned to see their shrines expire,
With charms that, all in vain withstood,
Would drown the Koran's light in blood!
Such were the tales that won belief,
And such the colouring fancy gave
To a young, warm, and dauntless Chief,—
One who, no more than mortal brave,
Fought for the land his soul adored,
For happy homes, and altars free,—
His only talisman, the sword,
His only spell-word, Liberty!
One of that ancient hero line,
Along whose glorious current shine
Names that have sanctified their blood;
As Lebanon's small mountain-flood
Is render'd holy by the ranks
Of sainted cedars on its banks !
'Twas not for him to crouch the knee
Tamely to Moslem tyranny ;-
'Twas not for him, whose soul was cast
In the bright mould of ages past,
Whose melancholy spirit, fed
With all the glories of the dead,
Though framed for Iran's happiest years,
Was born among her chains and tears!-
'Twas not for him to swell the crowd
Of slavish heads, that shrinking bow'd
Before the Moslem, as he pass'd,
Like shrubs beneath the poison-blast—
No-far he fled-indignant fled
The pageant of his country's shame!
While every tear her children shed
Fell on his soul, like drops of flame;
And, as a lover hails the dawn
Of a first smile, so welcomed he
The sparkle of the first sword drawn
For vengeance and for liberty!
But vain was valour-vain the flower
Of Kerman, in that deathful hour,
Against Al Hassan's whelming power.―
In vain they met him, helm to helm,
Upon the threshold of that realm
He came in bigot pomp to sway,
And with their corpses block'd his way-
In vain-for every lance they raised,
Thousands around the conqueror blazed;
For every arm that lined their shore,
Myriads of slaves were wafted o'er,—
A bloody, bold, and countless crowd,
Before whose swarm as fast they bow'd
As dates beneath the locust-cloud !
There stood-but one short league away
From old Harmozia's sultry bay—
A rocky mountain, o'er the Sea
Of Oman beetling awfully.
A last and solitary link
Of those stupendous chains that reach From the broad Caspian's reedy brink
Down winding to the Green Sea beach, Around its base the bare rocks stood, Like naked giants, in the flood,
As if to guard the gulf across; While, on its peak, that braved the sky, A ruin'd temple tower'd, so high
That oft the sleeping albatross Struck the wild ruins with her wing, And from her cloud-rock'd slumbering Started-to find man's dwelling there In her own silent fields of air!
Beneath, terrific caverns gave
Dark welcome to each stormy wave
That dash'd, like midnight revellers, in :—
And such the strange, mysterious din
At times throughout those caverns roll'd,—
And such the fearful wonders told
Of restless sprites imprison'd there,
That bold were Moslem, who would dare,
At twilight hour, to steer his skiff
Beneath the Gheber's lonely cliff.
On the land side, those towers sublime,
That seem'd above the grasp of Time,
Were sever'd from the haunts of men
By a wide, deep, and wizard glen,
So fathomless, so full of gloom,
No eye could pierce the void between ;
It seemed a place where Gholes might come,
With their foul banquets from the tomb,
And in its caverns feed unseen.
Like distant thunder, from below,
The sound of many torrents came;
Too deep for eye or ear to know
If 'twere the sea's imprison'd flow
Or floods of ever-restless flame.
For each ravine, each rocky spire,
Of that vast mountain stood on fire;
And, though for ever past the days,
When God was worshipp'd in the blaze
That from its lofty altar shone,—
Though fled the priests, the votaries gone,
Still did the mighty flame burn on
Through chance and change, through good and ill,
Like its own God's eternal will,
Deep, constant, bright, unquenchable !
Thither the vanquish'd Hafed led
His little army's last remains ;—
Welcome, terrific glen!" he said,
"Thy gloom, that Eblis' self might dread,
Is heaven to him who flies from chains!"
O'er a dark, narrow bridgeway, known
To him and to his chiefs alone,
They cross'd the chasm and gain'd the
"This home," he cried, "at least is ours—
Here we may bleed, unmock'd by hymns
Of Moslem triumph o'er our head;
Here we may fall, nor leave our limbs
To quiver to the Moslem's tread.
Stretch'd on this rock, while vultures' beaks
Are whetted on our yet warm cheeks,
Here,-happy that no tyrant's eye
Gloats on our torments-we may die!"
'Twas night when to those towers they came,
And gloomily the fitful flame,
That from the ruin'd altar broke,
Glared on his features, as he spoke :
"'Tis o'er-what men could do, we've doneIf Iran will look tamely on,
And see her priests, her warriors, driven
Before a sensual bigot's nod,
A wretch, who takes his lusts to heaven,
And makes a pander of his God!
If her proud sons, her high-born souls,
Men, in whose veins-O last disgrace!
The blood of Zal and Rustam rolls,
If they will court this upstart race,
And turn from Mithra's ancient ray,
To kneel at shrines of yesterday!-
If they will crouch to Iran's foes,
Why, let them-till the land's despair
Cries out to heaven, and bondage grows
Too vile for e'en the vile to bear!
Till shame at last, long hidden, burns
Their inmost core, and conscience turns