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Here the music of prayer from a minaret swells,
Here the Magian his urn full of perfume is
And here, at the altar, a zone of sweet bells
Round the waist of some fair Indian dancer is
Or to see it by moonlight,-when mellowly shines
The light o'er its palaces, gardens, and shrines;
When the waterfalls gleam like a quick fall of stars,
And the nightingale's hymn from the Isle of Chenars
Is broken by laughs and light echoes of feet
From the cool, shining walks where the young people
Or at morn, when the magic of daylight awakes
A new wonder each minute, as slowly it breaks,
Hills, cupolas, fountains, call'd forth every one
Out of darkness, as they were just born of the sun.
When the Spirit of Fragrance is up with the day,
From his haram of night-flowers stealing away;
And the wind, full of wantonness, woos like a lover
The young aspen-trees till they tremble all over.
When the East is as warm as the light of first hopes,
And Day, with his banner of radiance unfurl'd,
Shines in through the mountainous portal that opes,
Sublime, from that Valley of bliss to the world!
But, never yet, by night or day,
In dew of spring or summer's ray,
Did the sweet Valley shine so gay
As now it shines-all love and light,
Visions by day and feasts by night!
A happier smile illumes each brow,
With quicker spread each heart uncloses,
And all is ecstasy, -for now
The Valley holds its Feast of Roses.
That joyous time, when pleasures pour
Profusely round, and in their shower
Hearts open, like the season's rose,-
The floweret of a hundred leaves,
Expanding while the dew fall flows,
And every leaf its balm receives!
'Twas when the hour of evening came
Upon the Lake, serene and cool,
When Day had hid his sultry flame
Behind the palms of Baramoule.
When maids began to lift their heads,
Refresh'd, from their embroider'd beds,
Where they had slept the sun away,
And waked to moonlight and to play.
All were abroad-the busiest hive
On Bela's hills is less alive
When saffron beds are full in flower,
Than look'd the Valley in that hour.
A thousand restless torches play'd
Through every grove and island shade;
A thousand sparkling lamps were set
On every dome and minaret;
And fields and pathways, far and near,
Were lighted by a blaze so clear,
That you could see, in wandering round,
The smallest rose-leaf on the ground.
Yet did the maids and matrons leave
Their veils at home, that brilliant eve;
And there were glancing eyes about,
And cheeks, that would not dare shine out
In open day, but thought they might,
Look lovely then, because 'twas night!
And all were free and wandering.
And all exclaim'd to all they met
That never did the summer bring
So gay a Feast of Roses yet ;The moon had never shed a light
So clear as that which bless'd them there; The roses ne'er shone half so bright,
Nor they themselves look'd half so fair.
And what a wilderness of flowers!
It seem'd as though from all the bowers
And fairest fields of all the year,
The mingled spoil were scatter'd here.
The Lake, too, like a garden breathes,
With the rich buds that o'er it lie,--
As if a shower of fairy wreaths
Had fallen upon it from the sky!
And then the sounds of joy,-the beat
Of tabors and of dancing feet ;-
The minaret-crier's chant of glee
Sung from his lighted gallery,
And answer'd by a ziraleet
From neighbouring haram, wild and sweet,—
The merry laughter, echoing
From gardens, where the silken swing
Wafts some delighted girl above
The top-leaves of the orange grove;
Or, from those infant groups at play
Among the tents that line the way,
Flinging, unawed by slave or mother,
Handfuls of roses at each other!
And the sounds from the Lake, -the low whisp'ring in boats,
As they shoot through the moonlight ;—the dipping of oars,
And the wild, airy warbling that everywhere floats, Through the groves, round the islands, as if all the shores
Like those of Kathay utter'd music, and gave
An answer in song to the kiss of each wave!
But the gentlest of all are those sounds, full of feeling,
That soft from the lute of some lover are stealing,-
Some lover who knows all the heart-touching power
Of a lute and a sigh in this magical hour.
Oh! best of delights as it everywhere is
To be near the loved One,-what a rapture is his,
Who in moonlight and music thus sweetly may glide
O'er the Lake of Cashmere, with that One by his side!
If woman can make the worst wilderness dear,
Think, think what a heaven she must make of Cash
So felt the magnificent Son of Acbar,
When from power and pomp and the trophies of war
He flew to that Valley, forgetting them all
With the Light of the Haram, his young Nourmahal
When free and uncrown'd as the conqueror roved
By the banks of that Lake, with his only beloved,
He saw, in the wreaths she would playfully snatch
From the hedges, a glory his crown could not match,
And preferr'd in his heart the least ringlet that curl'd
Down her exquisite neck to the throne of the world!
There's a beauty, for ever unchangingly bright,
Like the long, sunny lapse of a summer day's light,
Shining on, shining on, by no shadow made tender,
Till Love falls asleep in its sameness of splendour.
This was not the beauty-oh! nothing like this,
That to young Nourmahal gave such magic of bliss ;
But that loveliness, ever in motion, which plays
Like the light upon autumn's soft shadowy days,
Now here and now there, giving warmth as it flies
From the lips to the cheek, from the cheek to the eyes,
Now melting in mist and now breaking in gleams,
Like the glimpses a saint has of heaven in his dreams!
When pensive, it seem'd as if that very grace,
That charm of all others, was born with her face;
And when angry,—for e'en in the tranquillest climes
Light breezes will ruffle the flowers sometimes—
The short, passing anger but seem'd to awaken
New beauty, like flowers that are sweetest when
If tenderness touch'd her, the dark of her eye
At once took a darker, a heavenlier dye,
From the depth of whose shadow, like holy reveal
From innermost shrines, came the light of her feelings!
Then her mirth-oh! 'twas sportive as ever took wing
From the heart with a burst, like the wild-bird in
Illumed by a wit that would fascinate sages,
Yet playful as Peris just loosed from their cages.
While her laugh, full of life, without any control
But the sweet one of gracefulness, rung from her soul;
And where it most sparkled no glance could discover,
In lip, cheek or eyes, for she brighten'd all over,—
Like any fair lake that the breeze is upon,
When it breaks into dimples and laughs in the sun.
Such, such were the peerless enchantments, that gave
Nourmahal the proud Lord of the East for her slave;
And though bright was his haram,-
‚—a living parterre
Of the flowers of this planet-though treasures were
For which Soliman's self might have given all the
That the navy from Ophir e'er wing'd to his shore,
Yet dim before her were the smiles of them all,
And the Light of his Haram was young Nourmahal!
But where is she now, this night of joy,
When bliss is every heart's employ?
When all around her is so bright,
So like the visions of a trance,
That one might think, who came by chance
Into the vale this happy night,
He saw that City of Delight
In Fairy-land, whose streets and towers
Are made of gems and light and flowers!—
Where is the loved sultana? where,
When mirth brings out the young and fair,
Does she, the fairest, hide her brow,
In melancholy stillness now?