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Basking in heav'n's serenest light;—
Those groups of lovely date-trees bending
Languidly their leaf-crown'd heads,
Like youthful maids, when sleep descending
Warns them to their silken beds ;-
Those virgin lilies, all the night
Bathing their beauties in the lake,
That they may rise more fresh and bright,
When their beloved Sun's awake;
Those ruin'd shrines and towers that seem
The relics of a splendid dream;
Amid whose fairy loneliness
Nought but the lap-wing's cry is heard,
Nought seen but (when the shadows, flitting
Fast from the moon, unsheath its gleam)
Some purple-wing'd Sultana sitting
Upon a column, motionless
And glittering, like an idol bird!
Who could have thought, that there, ev'n there,
Amid those scenes so still and fair,
The Demon of the Plague hath cast
From his hot wing a deadlier blast,
More mortal far than ever came
From the red desert's sands of flame!
So quick, that every living thing
Of human shape, touch'd by his wing,
Like plants, where the Simoom hath past,
At once falls black and withering!
The sun went down on many a brow,
Which, full of bloom and freshness then,
Is rankling in the pest-house now,
And ne'er will feel that sun again!
And oh to see th' unburied heaps
On which the lonely moonlight sleeps→→→→
The very vultures turn away,
And sicken at so foul a prey!
Only the fierce hyæna stalks
Throughout the city's desolate walks
At midnight, and his carnage plies
Woe to the half-dead wretch, who meets
The glaring of those large blue eyes
Amid the darkness of the streets!
"Poor race of Men!" said the pitying Spirit, "Dearly ye pay for your primal Fall
"Some flow'ret of Eden ye still inherit,
"But the trail of the Serpent is over them all!"'
She wept-the air grew pure and clear Around her, as the bright drops ran; For there's a magic in each tear,
Such kindly Spirits weep for man!
Just then beneath some orange trees,
Whose fruit and blossoms in the breeze
Were wantoning together, free,
Like age at play with infancy-
Beneath that fresh and springing bower,
Close by the Lake, she heard the moan
Of one who, at this silent hour,
Had thither stol'n to die alone.
One who in life, where'er he mov'd,
Drew after him the hearts of many;
Yet now, as though he ne'er were lov'd,
Dies here, unseen, unwept by any!
None to watch near him-none to slake
The fire that in his bosom lies,
With ev'n a sprinkle from that lake,
Which shines so cool before his eyes.
No voice, well-known through many a day,
To speak the last, the parting word,
Which, when all other sounds decay,
Is still like distant music heard.
That tender farewell on the shore
Of this rude world, when all is o'er,
Which cheers the spirit, ere its bark
Puts off into the unknown Dark.
Deserted youth one thought alone
Shed joy around his soul in death—
That she, whom he for years had known,
And lov'd, and might have call'd his own,
Was safe from this foul midnight's breath;
Safe in her father's princely halls,
Where the cool airs from fountain falls,
Freshly perfum'd by any a brand
Of the sweet wood from India's land,
Were pure as she whose brow they fann'd.
But see, who yonder comes by stealth,
This melancholy bower to seek,
Like a young envoy, sent by Health,
With rosy gifts upon her cheek?
'Tis she-far off, through moonlight dim,
He knew his own betrothed bride,
She, who would rather die with him,
Than live to gain the world beside!
Her arms are round her lover now,
His livid cheek to hers she presses,
And dips, to bind his burning brow,
In the cool lake her loosen'd tresses.
Ah! once, how little did he think
An hour would come, when he should shrink
With horror from that dear embrace,
Those gentle arms, that were to him
Holy as is the cradling place
Of Eden's infant cherubim !
And now he yields-now turns away,
Shuddering as if the venom lay
All in those proffer'd lips alone-
Those lips that, then so fearless grown,
Never until that instant came
Near him unask'd or without shame.
"Oh! let me only breathe the air,
"The blessed air, that's breath'd by thee,
"And, whether on its wings it bear
Healing or death, 'tis sweet to me!
"There,-drink my tears, while yet they fall,—
"Would that my bosom's blood were balm,
"And, well thou know'st, I'd shed it all,
"To give thy brow one minute's calm.
"Nay, turn not from me that dear face-
"Am I not thine-thy own lov'd bride—
the chosen one, whose place
"In life or death is by thy side!
"Think'st thou that she, whose only light,
In this dim world, from thee hath shone,
"Could bear the long, the cheerless night,
"That must be hers, when thou art gone?
"That I can live, and let thee go,
"Who art my life itself?—No, no-
"When the stem dies, the leaf that grew
"Out of its heart must perish too!
"Then turn to me, my own love, turn,
"Before like thee I fade and burn;
Cling to these yet cool lips, and share
"The last pure life that lingers there!"
She fails she sinks-as dies the lamp
In charnel airs or cavern-damp,
So quickly do his baleful sighs
Quench all the sweet light of her eyes!
One struggle-and his pain is past-
Her lover is no longer living!
One kiss the maiden gives, one last,
Long kiss, which she expires in giving!
," said the PERI, as softly she stole
The farewell sigh of that vanishing soul,
As true as e'er warm'd a woman's breast-
"Sleep on, in visions of odour rest,
"In balmier airs than ever yet stirr'd
"Th' enchanted pile of that holy bird,
"Who sings at the last his own death lay,
"And in music and perfume dies away!"
Thus saying, from her lips she spread
Unearthly breathings through the place,
And shook her sparkling wreath, and shed
Such lustre o'er each paly face,
That like two lovely saints they seem'd
Upon the eve of dooms-day taken
From their dim graves, in odour sleeping;-
While that benevolent PERI beam'd
Like their good angel, calmy keeping
Watch o'er them, till their souls would waken!
But morn is blushing in the sky;
Again the PERI soars above,
Bearing to Heav'n that precious sigh
Of pure, self-sacrificing love.
High throbb'd her heart, with hope elate,
The Elysian palm she soon shall win,
For the bright Spirit at the gate
Smil'd as she gave that offering in;
And she already hears the trees
Of Eden, with their crystal bells
Ringing in that ambrosial breeze
That from the Throne of ALLA Swells;
And she can see the starry bowls
That lie around that lucid lake,
Upon whose banks admitted Souls
Their first sweet draught of glory take!
"But, PERI, see-the crystal bar
"Of Eden moves not-holier far
"Than ev'n this sigh the boon must be
"That opes the Gates of Heav'n for thee."
Now, upon SYRIA's land of roses
Softly the light of Eve reposes,
And, like a glory, the broad sun
Hangs over sainted LEBANON ;
Whose head in wintry grandeur towers,
And whitens with eternal sleet,
While summer in a vale of flowers,
Is sleeping rosy at his feet.
To one, who look'd from upper air
O'er all th' enchanted regions there,
How beauteous must, have been the glow,
The life, the sparkling from below!
Fair gardens, shining streams, with ranks
Of golden melons on their banks,
More golden where the sun-light falls ;-
Gay lizards, glittering on the walls
Of ruin'd shrines, busy and bright
As they were all alive with light;-
And, yet more splendid, numerous flocks
Of pigeons, settling on the rocks,
With their rich restless wings, that gleam
Variously in the crimson beam
Of the warm west,-as if inlaid
With brilliants from the mine, or made
Of tearless rainbows, such as span
Th' unclouded skies of PERISTAN!
And then, the mingling sounds that come,
Of shepherd's ancient reed, with hum
Of the wild bees of PALESTINE,
Banquetting through the flowery vales ;-
And, JORDAN, those sweet banks of thine,
And woods, so full of nightingales!
But nought can charm the luckless PERI;
Her soul is sad-her wings are weary-
Joyless she sees the sun look down
On that great Temple, once his own,
Whose lonely columns stand sublime,
Flinging their shadows from on high,
Like dials, which the wizard, Time,
Has rais'd to count his ages by!