« ПретходнаНастави »
Farewell, sweet spirits ! not in vain ye die,
If Eblis loves you half so well as I. -
Ha, my young bride !—'tis well-take thou thy seat;
Nay come--no shuddering—didst thou never meet
The Dead before ?—they graced our wedding, sweet ;
And these, my guests to-night, have brimmed so true
Their parting cups, that thou shalt pledge one too.
But-how is this?-all empty? all drunk-up?
Hot lips have been before thee in the cup,
Young bride-yet stay--one precious drop remains,
Enough to warm a gentle Priestess' veins ;-
Here, drink and should thy lover's conquering arms
Speed hither, ere thy lip lose all its charms,
Give him but half this venom in thy kiss,
And I'll forgive my haughty rival's bliss !
“For me, I too must die- but not like these
Vile rankling things, to fester in the breeze ;
To have this brow in ruffian triumph shown,
With all death's grimness added to its own,
And rot to dust beneath the taunting eyes
Of slaves, exclaiming, “There his Godship lies!'
No-cursed race—since first my soul drew breath,
They've been my dupes, and shall be even in death,
Thou seest yon cistern in the shade—'tis filled
With burning drugs, for this last hour distilled :*
There will I plunge me in that liquid flame-
Fit bath to lave a dying Prophet's frame !
There perish, all-ere pulse of thine shall fail-
Nor leave one limb to tell mankind the tale.
So shall my votaries, wheresoe'er they rave,
Proclaim that Heaven took back the Saint it gave ;
That I've but vanished from this earth awhile,
To come again, with bright, unshrouded smile !
So shall they build me altars in their zeal,
Where knaves shall minister, and fools shall kneel;
Where Faith may mutter o'er her mystic spell,
Written in blood-and Bigotry may swell
The sail he spreads for Heaven with blasts from hell !
So shall my banner, through long ages, be
The rallying sign of fraud and anarchy ;-
Kings yet unborn shall rue Mokanna's name,
And, though I die, my spirit, still the same,
Shall walk abroad in all the stormy strife,
And guilt, and blood, that were its bliss in life.
But, hark! their battering engine shakes the wall-
Why, let it shake-thus I can brave them all.
* "Il donna du poison dans le vin à tous ses gens, et se jeta luimême ensuite
dans une cuve pleine de drogues brûlantes et consumantes, afin qu'il ne restât
rien de tous les membres de son corps, et que ceux qui restoient de sa secte
pussent croire qu'il étoit monté au ciel, ce qui ne manqua pas d'arriver.”—
No trace of me shall greet them, when they come,
And I can trust thy faith, for—thou'lt be dumb.
Now mark how readily a wretch like me
In one bold plunge commences Deity!"
He sprung and sunk, as the last words were said
Quick closed the burning waters o'er his head,
And Zelica was left-within the ring
Of those wide walls the only living thing;
The only wretched one, still cursed with breath,
In all that frightful wilderness of death !
More like some bloodless ghost-such as, they tell,
In the Lone Cities of the Silent * dwell,
And there, unseen of all but Alla, sit
Each by its own pale carcass, watching it.
But morn is up, and a fresh warfare stirs
Throughout the camp of the beleaguerers.
Their globes of fire (the dread artillery lent
By Greece to conquering Mahadi) are spent ;
And now the scorpion's
shaft, the quarry sent
From high balistas, and the shielded throng
Of soldiers swinging the huge ram along,
All speak the impatient Islamite's intent
To try, at length, if tower and battlement
And bastioned wall be not less hard to win,
Less tough to break down, than the hearts within.
First in impatience and in toil is he,
The burning Azim-oh! could he but see
The Impostor once alive within his grasp,
Not the gaunt lion's hug, nor boa's clasp,
Could match that gripe of vengeance, or keep pace
With the fell heartiness of Hate's embrace !
Loud rings the ponderous ram against the walls;
Now shake the ramparts, now a buttress falls,
But still no breach “Once more, one mighty swing
Of all your beams, together thundering!”
There-the wall shakes, the shouting troops exult,
“Quick, quick discharge your weightiest catapult
Right on that spot, and Neksheb is our own !"
'Tis done-the battlements come crashing down,
And the huge wall, by that stroke riven in two,
Yawning, like some old crater rent anew,
Shows the dim, desolate city smoking through.
But strange! no signs of life-nought living seen
Above, below—what can this stillness mean?
A minute's pause suspends all hearts and eyes,
“In through the breach,” impetuous Azim cries ; • "They have all a great reverence for burial-grounds, which they sometimes call' by the poetical name of Cities of the Silent, and which they people with the ghosts of the departed, who sit each at the head of his own grave. invisible to mortal eyes."- Elphinstone.
But the cool Caliph, fearful of some wile
In this blank stillness, checks the troops awhile.
Just then, a figure, with slow step, advanced
Forth from the ruined walls, and, as there glanced
A sunbeam over it, all eyes could see
The well-known Silver Veil !—“'Tis He, 'tis He,
Mokanna, and alone !” they shout around;
Young Azim from his steed springs to the ground-
“Mine, Holy Caliph! mine," he cries, “the task
To crush yon daring wretch— tis all I ask.”
Eager he darts to meet the demon foe,
Who still across wide heaps of ruin slow
And falteringly comes, till they are near;
Then, with a bound, rushes on Azim's spear,
And, casting off the Veil in falling, shows,
Oh!'tis his Zelica's life-blood that flows!
“I meant not, Azim,” soothingly she said,
As on his trembling arm she leaned her head,
And, looking in his face, saw anguish there
Beyond all wounds the quivering flesh can bear-
“I meant not thou shouldst have the pain of this :-
Though death, with thee thus tasted, is a bliss
Thou wouldst not rob me of, didst thou but know
How oft I've prayed to God I might die so!
But the Fiend's venom was too scant and slow ;-
To linger on were maddening—and I thought
If once that Veil-nay, look not on it-caught
The eyes of your fierce soldiery, I should be
Struck by a thousand death-darts instantly.
But this is sweeter-oh! believe me, yes-
I would not change this sad but dear caress,
This death within
thy arms I would not give,
For the most smiling life the happiest live!
All that stood dark and drear before the eye
Of my strayed soul is passing swiftly by;
A light comes o'er me from those looks of love,
Like the first dawn of mercy from above;
And if thy lips but tell me I'm forgiven,
Angels will echo the blest words in Heaven!
But live, my Azim ;-oh! to call thee mine
Thus once again ! my Azim-dream divine !
Live, if thou ever lov’dst me, if to meet
Thy Zelica hereafter would be sweet,
Oh, live to pray for her to bend the knee
Morning and night before that Deity,
To whom pure lips and hearts without a stain,
As thine are, Azim, never breathed in vain,-
And pray that He may pardon her,-may take
Compassion on her soul for thy dear sake,
And, nought remembering but her love to thee,
Make her all thine, all His, eternally!
Go to those happy fields where first we twined
Our youthful hearts together-every wind
That meets thee there, fresh from the well-known flowers,
Will bring the sweetness of those innocent hours
Back to thy soul, and thou mayst feel again
For thy poor Zelica as thou didst then.
So shall thy orisons, like dew that fies
To Heaven upon the morning's sunshine, rise
With all love's earliest ardour to the skies !
And should they—but, alas, my senses fail-
Oh for one minute !-should thy prayers prevail.
If pardoned souls may, from that World of Bliss,
Reveal their joy to those they love in this-
I'll come to thee-in some sweet dream--and tell —
Oh Heaven-I die-dear love! farewell, farewell,”
Time fleeted-years on years had passed away,
And few of those who, on that mournful day,
Had stood, with pity in their eyes, to see
The maiden's death, and the youth's agony,
Were living still-when, by a rustic grave,
Beside the swift Amoo's transparent wave,
An aged man, who had grown aged there
By that lone grave, morning and night in prayer,
For the last time knelt down-and, though the shade
Of death hung darkening over him, there played
A gleam of rapture on his eye and cheek,
That brightened even Death-like the last streak
Of intense glory on the horizon's brim,
When night o'er all the rest hangs chill and dim.
His soul had seen a Vision, while he slept ;
She, for whose spirit he had prayed and wept
So many years, had come to him, all drest
In angel smiles, and told him she was blest!
For this the old man breathed his thanks, and died.-
And there, upon the banks of that loved tide,
He and his Zelica sleep side by side.
The story of the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan being ended, they were now doomed to hear Fadladeen's criticisms upon it. A series of disappointments and accidents had occurred to this learned Chamberlain during the journey. In the first place, those couriers stationed, as in the reign of Shah Jehan, between Delhi and the Western coast of India, to secure a constant supply of mangoes for the Royal Table, had, by some cruel irregularity, failed in their duty; and to eat any mangoes but those of Mazagong was, of course, impossible. In the next place, the elephant, laden with his fine antique porcelain, had, in an unusual fit of liveliness, shattered the whole set to pieces :
:-an irreparable loss, as many of the vessels were so exquisitely old as to have been used under the Emperors Yan and Chun, who reigned many ages before the dynasty of Tang. His Koran, too, supposed to be the identical copy between
the leaves of which Mahomet's favourite pigeon used to nestle, had been mislaid by his Koran-bearer three whole days; not without much spiritual alarm to Fadladeen, who, though professing to hold, with other loyal and orthodox Mussulmans, that salvation could only be found in the Koran, was strongly suspected of believing in his heart that it could only be found in his own particular copy of it. When to all these grievances is added the obstinacy of the cooks in putting the pepper of Canara into his dishes instead of the cinnamon of Serendib, we may easily suppose that he came to the task of criticism with, at least, a sufficient degree of irritability for the purpose.
“In order,” said he, importantly swinging about his chaplet of pearls, “to convey with clearness my opinion of the story this young man has related, it is necessary to take a review of all the stories that have ever- _"—“My good Fadladeen !” exclaimed the Princess, interrupting him, “we really do not deserve that you should give yourself so much trouble. Your opinion of the poem we have just heard will, I have no doubt, be abundantly edifying, without any further waste of your valuable erudition."_" If that be all,” replied the critic, -evidently mortified at not being allowed to show how much he knew about everything but the subject immediately before him-“if that be all that is required, the matter is easily despatched.”. He then proceeded to analyse the poem, in that strain (so well known to the unfortunate bards of Delhi) whose censures were an infliction from which few recovered, and whose very praises were like the honey extracted from the bitter flowers of the aloe. The chief personages of the story were, if he rightly understood them, an ill-favoured gentleman, with a veil over his face;-a young lady, whose reason went and came, according as it suited the poet's convenience to be sensible or otherwise ;—and a youth in one of those hideous Bucharian bonnets, who took the aforesaid gentleman in a veil for a Divinity. “From such materials," said he, "what can be expected ?--after rivalling each other in long speeches and absurdities, through some thousands of lines as indigestible as the filberts of Berdaa, our friend in the veil jumps into a tub of aquafortis; the young lady dies in a set speech, whose only recommendation is that it is her last; and the lover lives on to a good old age, for the laudable purpose of seeing her ghost, which he at last happily accomplishes, and expires. This, you will allow, is a fair summary of the story; and if Nasser, the Arabian merchant, told no better, our Holy Prophet (to whom be all honour and glory!) had no need to be jealous of his abilities for story-telling."
With respect to the style, it was worthy of the matter ;—it had not even those politic contrivances of structure which make up for the commonness of the thoughts by the peculiarity of the manner, nor that stately poetical phraseology by which sentiments mean in
* " La lecture de ces Fables plaisoit si fort aux Arabes que quand Mahomet les entretenoit de l'Histoire de l'Ancien Testament ils les méprisoient, lui disant que celles que Nasser leur racontoient étoient beaucoup plus belles. Cette préférence attira à Nasser la malédiction de Mahomet et de tous ses disciples." -D'Herbelot.