Imágenes de páginas


(being wholly unknown in that Paradise of the Indies, Cashmere), felt the shock as it is generally felt at first, till use has made it more tolerable to the patient ;the ladies began to suspect that they ought not to be pleased, and seemed to conclude that there must have been much good sense in what Fadladeen said, from its having set them all so soundly to sleep; while the self-complacent Chamberlain was left to triumph in the idea of having, for the hundred and fiftieth time in his life, extinguished a Poet. Lalla Rookh alone, -and Love knew why-persisted in being delighted with all she had heard, and in resolving to hear more as speedily as possible. Her manner, however, of first returning to the subject was unlucky. It was while they rested during the heat of noon near a fountain, on which some hand had rudely traced those wellknown words from the Garden of Sadi,- Many, like me, have viewed this fountain, but they are gone, and their eyes are closed for ever!"-that she took occasion, from the melancholy beauty of this passage, to dwell upon the charms of poetry in general. "It is true," she said, "few poets can imitate that sublime bird, which flies always in the air, and never touches the earth it is only once in many ages a Genius appears, whose words, like those on the Written Mountain, last for ever :-but still there are some, as delightful perhaps, though not so wonderful, who, if not stars over our head, are at least flowers along our path, and whose sweetness of the moment we ought gratefully to inhale, without calling upon them for a brightness and a durability beyond their nature. In short," continued she, blushing, as if conscious of being caught in an oration, “it is quite cruel that a poet cannot wander through his regions of enchantment without having a critic for ever, like the old Man of the Sea, upon his back!"-Fadladeen, it was plain, took this last luckless allusion to himself, and would treasure it up in his mind as a whetstone for

his next criticism. A sudden silence ensued; and the Princess, glancing a look at Feramorz, saw plainly she must wait for a more courageous moment.

But the glories of Nature and her wild, fragrant airs, playing freshly over the current of youthful spirits, will soon heal even deeper wounds than the dull Fadladeens of this world can inflict. In an evening or two after, they came to the small Valley of Gardens, which had been planted by order of the Emperor for his favourite sister Rochinara, during their progress to Cashmere, some years before; and never was there a more sparkling assemblage of sweets, since the Gulzar-e-Irem, or Rose-bower of Irem. Every precious flower was there to be found, that poetry, or love, or religion has ever consecrated; from the dark hyacinth, to which Hafez compares his mistress's hair, to the Cámalatá, by whose rosy blossoms the heaven of Indra is scented. As they sat in the cool fragrance of this delicious spot, and Lalla Rookh remarked that she could fancy it the abode of that Flower-loving Nymph whom they worship in the temples of Kathay, or of one of those Peris, those beautiful creatures of the air, who live upon perfumes, and to whom a place like this might make some amends for the Paradise they have lost, -the young Poet, in whose eyes she appeared, while she spoke, to be one of the bright spiritual creatures she was describing, said hesitatingly that he remembered a Story of a Peri, which, if the Princess had no objection, he would venture to relate. "It is," said he, with an appealing look to Fadladeen, "in a lighter and humbler strain than the other;" then, striking a few careless but melancholy chords on his kitar, he thus began :


ONE morn a Peri at the gate
Of Eden stood, disconsolate:

And as she listen'd to the Springs
Of Life within, like music flowing,
And caught the light upon her wings

Through the half-open portal glowing,
She wept to think her recreant race
Should e'er have lost that glorious place!

"How happy!" exclaim'd this child of air, "Are the holy spirits who wander there,

'Mid flowers that never shall fade or fall; Though mine are the gardens of earth and sea, And the stars themselves have flowers for me,

One blossom of heaven out-blooms them all! Though sunny the Lake of cool Cashmere, With its plane-tree isle reflected clear,

And sweetly the founts of that valley fall : Though bright are the waters of Sing-su hay, And the golden floods, that thitherward stray, Yet-oh, 'tis only the blest can say

How the waters of heaven outshine them all!

"Go, wing thy flight from star to star, From world to luminous world, as far

As the universe spreads its flaming wall; Take all the pleasures of all the spheres, And multiply each through endless years,

One minute of heaven is worth them all!"

The glorious Angel, who was keeping
The gates of Light, beheld her weeping;
And, as he nearer drew and listen'd
To her sad song, a tear-drop glisten'd
Within his eyelids, like the spray

From Eden's fountain, when it lies
On the blue flower, which-Bramins say—
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise!
"Nymph of a fair, but erring line!"
Gently he said-"One hope is thine.

'Tis written in the Book of Fate,
The Peri yet may be forgiven
Who brings to this Eternal Gate
The Gift that is most dear to Heaven!
Go, seek it, and redeem thy sin ;-
'Tis sweet to let the Pardon'd in !"

[ocr errors]

Rapidly as comets run

To th' embraces of the sun :-
Fleeter than the starry brands,
Flung at night from angel hands
At those dark and daring sprites,
Who would climb th' empyreal heights,
Down the blue vault the Peri flies,

And, lighted eastward by a glance
That just then broke from morning's eyes,
Hung hovering o'er our world's expanse.

But whither shall the Spirit go To find this gift for heaven?—“I know The wealth," she cries, "of every urn, In which unnumber'd rubies burn. Beneath the pillars of Chilminar ;I know where the Isles of Perfume are Many a fathom down in the sea, To the south of sun-bright Araby ;I know too where the Genii hid The jewell'd cup of their kin Jamshid, With life's elixir sparkling highBut gifts like these are not for the sky. Where was there ever a gem that shone Like the steps of Allah's wonderful throne? And the Drops of Life-oh! what would they be In the boundless Deep of Eternity?"

While thus she mused, her pinions fann'd
The air of that sweet Indian land,
Whose air is balm; whose ocean spreads
O'er coral rocks and amber beds;

[ocr errors]

Whose mountains, pregnant by the beam
Or the warm sun, with diamonds teem;
Whose rivulets are like rich brides,
Lovely, with gold beneath their tides;
Whose sandal groves and bowers of spice
Might be a Peri's Paradise!

But crimson now her rivers ran

With human blood-the smell of death
Came reeking from those spicy bowers,
And man, the sacrifice of man,

Mingled his taint with every breath
Upwafted from the innocent flowers !
Land of the Sun! what foot invades
Thy pagods and thy pillar'd shades—
Thy cavern shrines, and idol stones,
Thy monarchs and their thousand thrones ?

'Tis he of Gazna-fierce in wrath

He comes, and India's diadems
Lie scatter'd in his ruinous path.-

His bloodhounds he adorns with gems, Torn from the violated necks

Of many a young and loved Sultana ;— Maidens, within their pure Zenana, Priests in the very fane he slaughters, And chokes up with the glittering wrecks Of golden shrines the sacred waters !

Downward the Peri turns her gaze,
And, through the war-field's bloody haze
Beholds a youthful warrior stand,

Alone, beside his native river,-
The red blade broken in his hand

And the last arrow in his quiver.
"Live," said the conqueror, "live to share
The trophies and the crowns I bear! "
Silent that youthful warrior stood-

« AnteriorContinuar »