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If in that soul thou’st ever felt
, Half what thy lips impassion'd swore,
Here, on my knees, that never knelt
To any but their God before,
I pray thee, as thou lovest me, fly—
Now, now—ere yet their blades are nigh.
Oh haste—the bark that bore me hither
Can waft us o'er yon darkening sea
East–west—alas, I care not whither,
So thou art safe, and I with thee!
Go where we will, this hand in thine,
Those eyes before me smiling thus,
Through good and ill, through storm and shine.
The world's a world of love for us!
On some calm, blessed shore we'll dwell,
Where 'tis no crime to love too well;-
Where thus to worship tenderly
An erring child of light like thee,
Will not be sin–or, if it be,
Where we may weep our faults away,
Together kneeling, night and day,
Thou, for my sake, at Alla's shrine,
And I—at any God's for thine !”
Wildly those passionate words she spoke—
Then hung her head, and wept for shame,
Sobbing, as if a heart-string broke
With every deep-heaved sob that came.
While he, young, warm—oh wonder not
If for a moment, pride and fame,
His oath—his cause—that shrine of flame,
And Iran's self are all forgot
For her whom at his feet he sees,
Kneeling in speechless agonies.
No, blame him not, if hope awhile
Dawn'd in his soul, and threw her smile
O'er hours to come—o'er days and nights,
Wing'd with those precious, pure delights
Which she, who bends all beauteous there,
Was born to kindle and to share :
A tear or two, which, as he bow'd
To raise the suppliant, trembling stole,
First warn'd him of this dangerous cloud
Of softness passing o'er his soul.
Starting, he brush'd the drops away,
Unworthy o'er that cheek to stray :—
Like one who, on the morn of fight,
Shakes from his sword the dews of night,
That had but dimm'd, not stain'd its light.
Yet, though subdued the unnerving thrill,
Its warmth, its weakness linger'd still
So touching in each look and tone,
That the fond, fearing, hoping maid -
Half counted on the flight she pray'd,
Half thought the hero's soul was grown
As soft, as yielding as her own ;
And smiled and bless'd him, while he said, `
“Yes—if there be some happier sphere,
Where fadeless truth like ours is dear—
If there he any land of rest
For those who love and ne'er forget,
Oli " consort thee—for safe and blest
We'll meet in that calm region yet!”
Scarce had she time to ask her heart
If good or ill these words impart,
When the roused youth impatient flew
To the tower-wall, where, high in view,
A ponderous sea-horn hung, and blew
A signal, deep and dread as those
The storm-fiend at his rising blows:-
Full well his chieftains, sworn and true
Through life and death, that signal knew ;
For 't was the appointed warning blast,
The alarm to tell when hope was past,
And the tremendous death-die cast !
And there, upon the mouldering tower,
Hath hung this sea-horn many an hour,
Ready to sound o'er land and sea
That dirge-note of the brave and free.
They came—his chieftains at the call
Came slowly round, and with them all-
Alas, how few the worn remains
Of those who late o'er Kerman's plains
Went gayly prancing to the clash
Of Moorish zel and tymbalon,
Catching new hope from every flash
Of their long lances in the sun–
And, as their coursers charged the wind,
And the wide ox-tails stream'd behind,
Looking, as if the steeds they rode
Were wing'd, and every chief a god!
How fallen, how alter'd now ! how wan
Each scarr'd and faded visage shone,
As round the burning shrine they came;—
How deadly was the glare it cast,
As mute they paused before the flame
To light their torches as they pass'd'
'Twas silence all—the youth had plann'd
The duties of his soldier-band ;
And each determined brow declares
His faithful chieftains well know theirs.
But minutes speed—night gems the skies—
And oh how soon, ye blessed eyes,
That look from heaven, ye may behold
Sights that will turn your star-fires cold !
Breathless with awe, impatience, hope,
The maiden sees the veteran group
Her litter silently prepare,
And lay it at her trembling feet:-
And now the youth, with gentle care,
Hath placed her in the shelter'd seat,
And press'd her hand—that lingering press
Of hands, that for the last time sever;
Of hearts, whose pulse of happiness,
When that hold breaks, is dead for ever.
And yet to her this sad caress
Gives hope—so fondly hope can err'
'Twas joy, she thought, joy's mute excess—
Their happy flight's dear harbinger;
'Twas any thing but leaving her.
And thou ” but ah!—he answers not—
Good Heav'n '—and does she go alone?
She now has reach'd that dismal spot,
Where, some hours since, his voice's tone
Had come to soothe her fears and ills,
Sweet as the Angel Israfil’s,
When every leaf on Eden's tree
Is trembling to his minstrelsy—
Yet now—oh now, he is not nigh—
“Hafed my Hafed 1–if it be
Thy will, thy doom this night to die,
Let me but stay to die with thee,
And I will bless thy loved name,
Till the last life-breath leave this frame.
Oh! let our lips, our cheeks be laid
But near each other while they fade:
Let us but mix our parting breaths,
And I can die ten thousand deaths
You too, who hurry me away
So cruelly, one moment stay—
Oh! stay—one moment is not much ;
He yet may come—for him I pray—
Hafed dear Hafed "–All the way
In wild lamentings, that would touch
A heart of stone, she shriek’d his name
To the dark woods—no Hafed came;—
No—hapless pair—you've look'd your last;
Your hearts should both have broken then:
The dream is o'er—your doom is cast—
You'll never meet on earth again!
Alas for him, who hears her cries'
Still half-way down the steep he stands,
Watching with fix’d and severish eyes
The glimmer of those burning brands,
That down the rocks, with mournful ray,
Light all he loves on earth away !
Hopeless as they who, far at sea,
By the cold moon have just consign'd
The corse of one, loved tenderly,
To the bleak flood they leave behind;
And on the deck still lingering stay,
And long look back, with sad delay,
To watch the moonlight on the wave,
That ripples o'er that cheerless grave.
But see--he starts—what heard he then
That dreadful shout ! across the glen
From the land side it comes, and loud
Rings through the chasm ; as if the crowd
Of fearful things, that haunt that dell,
Its Gholes and Dives and shapes of hell
Had all in one dread howl broke out,
So loud, so terrible that shout !
They come—the Moslems come!” he cries,
His proud soul mounting to his eyes—
“Now, spirits of the brave, who roam
Enfranchised through yon starry dome,
Rejoice—for souls of kindred fire
Are on the wing to join your choir”
He said—and, light as bridegrooms bound
To their young loves, reclimb'd the steep
And gain'd the shrine—his chiefs stood round—
Their swords, as with instinctive leap,
Together, at that cry accurst,
Had from their sheaths, like sunbeams, burst.
And hark! again—again it rings;
Near and more near its echoings
Peal through the chasm—oh who that then
Had seen those listening warrior-men,
With their swords grasp'd, their eyes of flame
Turn'd on their chief—could doubt the shame,
The indignant shame with which they thrill.
He read their thoughts—they were his own—
“What! while our arms can wield these blades,
Shall we die tamely 1 die alone?
Without one victim to our shades,
One Moslem heart where, buried deep,
The sabre from its toil may sleep?
No—God of Iran's burning skies!
Thou scorn'st the inglorious sacrifice.
No—though of all earth's hope bereft,
Life, swords, and vengeance still are left.
We'll make yon valley's reeking caves
Live in the awe-struck minds of men,
Till tyrants shudder, when their slaves
Tell of the Gheber's bloody glen.
Follow, brave hearts —this pile remains
Our refuge still from life and chains,
But his the best, the holiest bed,
Who sinks entomb'd in Moslem dead!”
Down the precipitous rocks they sprung,
While vigour, more than human, strung
Each arm and heart. The exulting foe
Still through the dark defiles below,
Track'd by his torches' lurid fire,
Wound slow, as through Golconda's vale
The mighty serpent, in his ire,
Glides on with glittering, deadly trail.
No torch the Ghebers need—so well
They know each mystery of the dell,
So oft have, in their wanderings,
Cross'd the wild race that round them dwell,
The very tigers from their delves
I,ook out, and let them pass, as things
Untamed and fearless as themselves :
There was a deep ravine, that lay
Yet darkling in the Moslem's way,+
Fit spot to make invaders rue
The many fall'n before the few.
The torrents from that morning's sky
Had fill'd the narrow chasm breast-high,
And, on each side, aloft and wild,
Huge cliffs and topplings crags were piled,
The guards, with which young freedom lines
The pathways to her mountain shrines.
Here, at this pass, the scanty band
Of Iran's last avengers stand—
Here wait, in silence like the dead,
And listen for the Moslem's tread
So anxiously, the carrion-bird
Above them flaps his wings unheard'
They come—that plunge into the water
Gives signal for the work of slaughter.
Now, Ghebers, now—if ere your blades
Had point or prowess, prove them now—
Wo to the file that foremost wades '
They come—a falchion greets each brow,
And, as they tumble, trunk on trunk,
Beneath the gory waters sunk,
Still o'er their drowning bodies press
New victims quick and numberless;
Till scarce an arm in Hafed's band,
So fierce their toil, hath power to stir,
But listless from each crimson hand
The sword hangs, clogg'd with massacre.
Never was horde of tyrants met
With bloodier welcome—never yet
To patriot vengeance hath the sword
More terrible libations pour'd :
All up the dreary, long ravine,
By the red, murky glimmer seen
Of half-quench'd brands, that o'er the flood
Lie scatter'd round and burn in blood,
What ruin glares' what carnage swims?
Heads, blazing turbans, quivering limbs,
Lost swords that, dropp'd from many a hand,
In that thick pool of slaughter stand;—
Wretches who wading, half on fire
From the toss'd brands that round them fly,
"Twixt flood and flame in shrieks expire:
And some who, grasp'd by those that die,
Sink woundless with them, smother'd o'er
In their dead brethren's gushing gore
But vainly hundreds, thousands bleed,
Still hundreds, thousands more succeed:—
Countless as towards some flame at night
The north's dark insects wing their flight,
And quench or perish in its light,
To this terrific spot they pour—
Till, bridged with Moslem bodies o'er,
It bears aloft their slippery tread,
And o'er the dying and the dead,
Tremendous causeway ! on they pass.-
Then, hapless Ghebers, then, alas,
What hope was left for you ! for you,
Whose yet warm pile of sacrifice
Is smoking in their vengeful eyes—
Whose swords how keen, how fierce they knew,
And burn with shame to find how few.
Crush'd down by that vast multitude,
Some found their graves where first they stood;
While some with hardier struggle died,
And still fought on by Hafed's side,
Who, fronting to the foe, trod back
Towards the high towers his gory track;
And, as a lion, swept away
By sudden swell of Jordan's pride
From the wild covert where he lay,
Long battles with the o'erwhelming tide,
So fought he back with fierce delay,
And kept both foes and fate at bay.
But whither now ! their track is lost,
Their prey escaped—guide, torches gone—
By torrent-beds and labyrinths crost,
The scatter'd crowd rush blindly on—
* Curse on those tardy lights that wind,”
They panting cry, “so far behind—
Oh for a bloodhound's precious scent
To track the way the Gheber went "
Vain wish—confusedly along
They rush, more desperate as more wrong :
Till, wilder'd by the far-off lights,
Yet glittering up those gloomy heights,
Their footing, mazed and lost, they miss,
And down the darkling precipice
Are dash'd into the deep abyss:
Or midway hang, impaled on rocks,
A banquet, yet alive, for flocks
Of ravening vultures—while the dell
Re-echoes with each horrid yell.
Those sounds—the last, to vengeance dear, That e'er shall ring in Hafed's ear, Now reach him, as aloft, alone, Upon the steep way breathless thrown, He lay beside his reeking blade, Resign'd, as if life's task were o'er, Its last blood-offering amply paid, And Iran's self could claim no more. " One only thought, one lingering beam Now broke across his dizzy dream Of pain and weariness—'t was she, His heart's pure planet, shining yet Above the waste of memory, When all life's other lights were set. And never to his mind before, Her image such enchantment wore. It seem'd as if each thought that stain'd, Each fear that chill'd their loves was past, And not one cloud of earth remain'd Between him and her glory cast;As if to charms, before so bright, New grace from other worlds was given, And his soul saw her by the light Now breaking o'er itself from heaven'
A voice spoke near him—'t was the tone
Of a loved friend, the only one
Of all his warriors left with life
From that short night's tremendous strife.—
“And must we then, my chief, die here?—
Foes round us, and the shrine so near !”
These words have roused the last remains
Of life within him—“what " not yet
Beyond the reach of Moslem chains?”—
The thought could make e'en death forget
His icy bondage—with a bound
He springs, all bleeding, from the ground,
And grasps his comrade's arm, now grown
E’en feebler, heavier than his own,
And faintly up the pathway leads,
Death gaining on each step he treads.
Speed them, thou God, who heard'st their vow 4
They mount—they bleed—oh save them now—
The crags are red they've clamber'd o'er,
The rock-weeds dripping with their gore—
Thy blade too, Hafed, false at length,
Now breaks beneath thy tottering strength—
Haste, haste—the voices of the foe
Come near and nearer from below—
One effort more—thank Heaven 'tis past,
They've gain'd the topmost steep at last.
And now they touch the temple's walls,
Now Hafed sees the Fire divine—
When, lo! his weak, worn comrade falls
Dead on the threshold of the shrine.
“Alas, brave soul, too quickly fled !
And must I leave thee withering here,
The sport of every ruffian's tread,
The mark for every coward's spear !
No, by yon altar's sacred beams!”
He cries, and with a strength that seems
Not of this world, uplifts the frame
Of the fallen chief, and towards the flame
Bears him along;-with death-damp hand
The corpse upon the pyre he lays,
Then lights the consecrated brand,
And fires the pile, whose sudden blaze,
Like lightning bursts o'er Oman's sea.—
“Now, freedom's God! I come to Thee,”
The youth exclaims, and with a sunile
Of triumph vaulting on the pile,
In that last effort, ere the fires
Have harm'd one glorious limb, expires!
What shriek was that on Oman's tide 1
It came from yonder drifting bark,
That just has caught upon her side
The death-light—and again is dark.
It is the boat—ah, why delay'd 1–
That bears the wretched Moslem maid
Confided to the watchful care
Of a small veteran band, with whom
Their generous chieftain would not share
The secret of his final doom ;
But hoped when Hinda, safe and free,
Was render'd to her father's eyes,
Their pardon, full and prompt, would be
The ransom of so dear a prize.
Unconscious, thus, of Hafed's fate,
And proud to guard their beauteous freight,
Scarce had they clear'd the surfy waves
That foam around those frightful caves,
When the curst war-whoops, known so well,
Come echoing from the distant dell—
Sudden each oar, upheld and still,
Hung dripping o'er the vessel's side,
And, driving at the current's will,
They rock'd along the whispering tide,
While every eye, in mute dismay,
Was toward that fatal mountain turn'd,
Where the dim altar's quivering ray
As yet all lone and tranquil burn'd,
Oh! 'tis not, Hinda, in the power
Of fancy's most terrific touch,
To paint thy pangs in that dread hour—
Thy silent agony—’t was such
As those who feel could paint too well,
But none e'er felt and lived to tell !
"Twas not alone the dreary state
Of a lorn spirit, crush'd by fate,
When, though no more remains to dread,
The panic chill will not depart:-
When, though the inmate hope be dead,
Her ghost still haunts the mouldering heart.
No—pleasures, hopes, affections gone,
The wretch may bear, and yet live on,
Like things within the cold rock found
Alive, when all's congeal’d around.
But there's a blank repose in this,
A calm stagnation, that were bliss
To the keen, burning, harrowing pain,
Now felt through all thy breast and brain–
That spasm of terror, mute, intense,
That breathless, agonized suspense,
From whose hot throb, whose deadly aching
The heart hath no relief but breaking !
Calm is the wave—heaven's brilliant lights,
Reflected dance beneath the prow:—
Time was when, on such lovely nights,
She who is there, so desolate now,
Could sit all cheerful, though alone,
And ask no happier joy than seeing
That star-light o'er the waters thrown—
No joy but that to make her blest,
And the fresh, buoyant sense of being
That bounds in youth's yet careless breast—
Itself a star, not borrowing light,
But in its own glad essence bright.
How different now !—but, hark, again
The yell of havoc rings—brave men
In vain, with beating hearts, ye stand
On the bark's edge—in vain each hand
Half draws the falchion from its sheath;
All's o'er—in rust your blades may lie:
He, at whose word they've scatter'd death,
E’en now, this night, himself must die!
Well may ye look to yon dim tower,
And ask, and wondering guess what means
The battle-cry at this dead hour—
Ah! she could tell you—she, who leans
Unheeded there, pale, sunk, aghast,
With brow against the dew-cold mast—
Too well she knows—her more than life,
Her soul's first idol and its last,
, Lies bleeding in that murderous strife.
But see—what moves upon the height !
Some signal –'tis a torch's light.
What bodes its solitary glare :
In gasping silence toward the shrine
All eyes are turn’d—thine, Hinda, thine
Fix their last failing life-beam there.
"T was but a moment—fierce and high
The death-pile blazed into the sky,
And far away o'er rock and flood
Its melancholy radiance sent;
While Hafed, like a vision, stood
Reveal’d before the burning pyre,
Tall, shadowy, like a Spirit of Fire,
Shrined in its own grand element!
“'Tis he ”—the shuddering maid exclaims,
But, while she speaks, he's seen no more;
High burst in air the funeral flames,
And Iran's hopes and hers are o'er'
One wild, heart-broken shriek she gave— Then sprung, as if to reach the blaze, Where still she fix’d her dying gaze, And, gazing, sunk into the wave, Deep, deep, where never care or pain Shall reach her innocent heart again
FAn Ew ELL–farewell to thee, Araby's daughter? (Thus warbled a Peri beneath the dark sea:)
No pearl ever lay, under Oman's green water, More pure in its shell than thy spirit in thee.