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Oh! fair as the sea-flower close to thee growing, How light was thy heart till love's witchery came, Like the wind of the south o'er a summer lute
And hush'd all its music and wither'd its frame!
But long, upon Araby's green sunny highlands,
Shall maids and their lovers remember the doom Of her who lies sleeping among the Pearl Islands, With nought but the sea-star to light up her tomb.
And still, when the merry date-season is burning, And calls to the palm-groves the young and the old,
The happiest there, from their pastime returning,
The young village maid, when with flowers she dresses
Her dark flowing hair for some festival day, Will think of thy fate till, neglecting her tresses, She mournfully turns from the mirror away.
Nor shall Iran, beloved of her hero! forget thee,Though tyrants watch over her tears as they start, Close, close by the side of that hero she'll set thee, Embalm'd in the innermost shrine of her heart.
Farewell-be it ours to embellish thy pillow
With everything beauteous that grows in the deep; Each flower of the rock and each gem of the billow Shall sweeten thy bed and illumine thy sleep.
Around thee shall glisten the loveliest amber
We, Peris of Ocean, by moonlight have slept.
We'll dive where the gardens of coral lie darkling,
And gather their gold to strew over thy bed.
Farewell-farewell-until pity's sweet fountain
They'll weep for the Maiden who sleeps in this
THE singular placidity with which Fadladeen had listened during the latter part of this obnoxious story, surprised the Princess and Feramorz exceedingly; and even inclined towards him the hearts of these unsuspicious young persons, who little knew the source of a complacency so marvellous. The truth was, he had been organizing, for the last few days, a most notable plan of persecution against the Poet, in consequence of some passages that had fallen from him on the second evening of recital,-which appeared to this worthy Chamberlain to contain language and principles, for which nothing short of the summary criticism of the chabuk would be advisable. It was his intention, therefore, immediately on their arrival at Cashmere, to give information to the King of Bucharia of the very dangerous sentiments of his minstrel; and if, unfortunately, that monarch did not act with suitable vigour on the occasion (that is, if he did not give the chabuk to Feramorz, and a place to Fadladeen), there would be an end, he feared, of all legitimate government in Bucharia. He could not help, however, auguring better both for himself and the cause of potentates in general; and it was the
pleasure arising from these mingled anticipations that diffused such unusual satisfaction through his features, and made his eyes shine out, like poppies of the desert, over the wide and lifeless wilderness of that countenance.
Having decided upon the Poet's chastisement in this manner, he thought it but humanity to spare him the minor tortures of criticism. Accordingly, when they assembled next evening in the pavilion, and Lalla Rookh expected to see all the beauties of her bard melt away, one by one, in the acidity of criticism, like pearls in the cup of the Egyptian Queen-he agreeably disappointed her by merely saying, with an ironical smile, that the merits of such a poem deserved to be tried at a much higher tribunal; and then suddenly passing off into a panegyric upon all Mussulman sovereigns, more particularly his august and imperial master, Aurungzebe-the wisest and best of the descendants of Timur-who, among other great things he had done for mankind, had given to him, Fadladeen, the very profitable posts of Betel-carrier and Taster of Sherbets to the Emperor, Chief Holder of the Girdle of Beautiful Forms, and Grand Nazir, or Chamberlain of the Haram.
They were now not far from that forbidden river, beyond which no pure Hindoo can pass; and were reposing for a time in the rich valley of Hussun Abdaul, which had always been a favourite restingplace of the emperors in their annual migrations to Cashmere. Here often had the Light of the Faith, Jehan-Guire, wandered with his beloved and beautiful Nourmahal; and here would Lalla Rookh have been happy to remain for ever, giving up the throne of Bucharia and the world, for Feramorz and love in this sweet lonely valley. The time was now fast approaching when she must see him no longer or see him with eyes whose every look belonged to another; and there was a melancholy preciousness in these last
moments, which made her heart cling to them as it would to life. During the latter part of the journey, indeed, she had sunk into a deep sadness, from which nothing but the presence of the young minstrel could awake her. Like those lamps in tombs, which only light up when the air is admitted, it was only at his approach that her eyes became smiling and animated. But here, in this dear valley, every moment was an age of pleasure; she saw him all day, and was, therefore, all day happy-resembling, she often thought, that people of Zinge, who attribute the unfading cheerfulness they enjoy to one genial star that rises nightly over their heads.
The whole party, indeed, seemed in their liveliest mood during the few days they passed in this delightful solitude. The young attendants of the Princess, who were here allowed a freer range than they could safely be indulged with in a less sequestered place, ran wild among the gardens and bounded through the meadows, lightly as young roes over the aromatic plains of Tibet. While Fadladeen, beside the spiritual comfort he derived from a pilgrimage to the tomb of the saint from whom the valley is named, had opportunities of gratifying, in a small way, his taste for victims, by putting to death some hundreds of those unfortunate little lizards, which all pious Mussulmans make it a point to kill ;-taken for granted that the manner in which the creature hangs its head is meant as a mimicry of the attitude in which the faithful say their prayers!
About two miles from Hussun Abdaul were those Royal Gardens which had grown beautiful under the care of so many lovely eyes, and were beautiful still, though those eyes could see them no longer. This place, with its flowers and its holy silence, interrupted only by the dipping of the wings of birds in its marble basins filled with the pure water of those hills, was to Lalla Rookh all that her heart could fancy of
fragrance, coolness, and almost heavenly tranquillity. As the Prophet said of Damascus, "It was too de licious;" and here in listening to the sweet voice of Feramorz, or reading in his eyes what yet he never dared to tell her, the most exquisite moments of her whole life were passed. One evening, when they had been talking of the Sultana Nourmahal-the Light of the Haram, who had so often wandered among these flowers, and fed with her own hands, in those marble basins, the small shining fishes of which she was so fond-the youth, in order to delay the moment of separation, proposed to recite a short story, or rather rhapsody, of which this adored Sultana was the heroine. It related, he said, to the reconcilement of a sort of lovers' quarrel, which took place between her and the Emperor during a Feast of Roses at Cashmere ; and would remind the Princess of that difference between Haroun-al-Raschid and his fair Mistress Marida, which was so happily made up by the soft strains of the musician, Moussali. As the story was chiefly to be told in song, and Feramorz had unluckily forgotten his own lute in the valley, he borrowed the vina of Lalla Rookh's little Persian slave, and thus began :—
WHO has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere,
With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave, Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?
Oh! to see it at sunset,-when warm o'er the Lake,
And each hallows the hour by some rites of its own.