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He lived--he breathed--he moved--he felt; He raised the maid from where she knelt; His trance was gone, his keen eye shone With thoughts that long in darkness dwelt; 330 With thoughts that burn--in rays that melt.
As the stream late concealed By the fringe of its willows, When it rushes reveal'd In the light of its billows; As the bolt bursts on high From the black cloud that bound it, Flashed the soul of that eye Through the long lashes round it.
A war-horse at the trumpet's sound, 340 A lion roused by heedless hound, A tyrant waked to sudden strife By graze of ill-directed knife,[fv]
Starts not to more convulsive life Than he, who heard that vow, displayed, And all, before repressed, betrayed: "Now thou art mine, for ever mine, With life to keep, and scarce with life resign;[fw]
Now thou art mine, that sacred oath, Though sworn by one, hath bound us both. 350 Yes, fondly, wisely hast thou done; That vow hath saved more heads than one: But blench not thou--thy simplest tress Claims more from me than tenderness; I would not wrong the slenderest hair That cl.u.s.ters round thy forehead fair,[fx]
For all the treasures buried far Within the caves of Istakar.
This morning clouds upon me lowered, Reproaches on my head were showered, 360 And Giaffir almost called me coward!
Now I have motive to be brave; The son of his neglected slave, Nay, start not,'twas the term he gave, May show, though little apt to vaunt, A heart his words nor deeds can daunt.
_His_ son, indeed!--yet, thanks to thee, Perchance I am, at least shall be; But let our plighted secret vow Be only known to us as now. 370 I know the wretch who dares demand From Giaffir thy reluctant hand; More ill-got wealth, a meaner soul Holds not a Musselim's control; Was he not bred in Egripo?
A viler race let Israel show!
But let that pa.s.s--to none be told Our oath; the rest shall time unfold.
To me and mine leave Osman Bey!
I've partisans for Peril's day: 380 Think not I am what I appear; I've arms--and friends--and vengeance near."
"Think not thou art what thou appearest!
My Selim, thou art sadly changed: This morn I saw thee gentlest--dearest-- But now thou'rt from thyself estranged.
My love thou surely knew'st before, It ne'er was less--nor can be more.
To see thee--hear thee--near thee stay-- And hate the night--I know not why, 390 Save that we meet not but by day; With thee to live, with thee to die, I dare not to my hope deny: Thy cheek--thine eyes--thy lips to kiss-- Like this--and this--no more than this;[fy]
For, Allah! sure thy lips are flame: What fever in thy veins is flushing?
My own have nearly caught the same, At least I feel my cheek, too, blushing.
To soothe thy sickness, watch thy health, 400 Partake, but never waste thy wealth, Or stand with smiles unmurmuring by, And lighten half thy poverty; Do all but close thy dying eye, For that I could not live to try; To these alone my thoughts aspire: More can I do? or thou require?
But, Selim, thou must answer why[fz]
We need so much of mystery?
The cause I cannot dream nor tell, 410 But be it, since thou say'st 'tis well; Yet what thou mean'st by 'arms' and 'friends,'
Beyond my weaker sense extends.
I meant that Giaffir should have heard The very vow I plighted thee; His wrath would not revoke my word: But surely he would leave me free.
Can this fond wish seem strange in me, To be what I have ever been?
What other hath Zuleika seen 420 From simple childhood's earliest hour?
What other can she seek to see Than thee, companion of her bower, The partner of her infancy?
These cherished thoughts with life begun, Say, why must I no more avow?
What change is wrought to make me shun The truth--my pride, and thine till now?
To meet the gaze of stranger's eyes Our law--our creed--our G.o.d denies; 430 Nor shall one wandering thought of mine At such, our Prophet's will, repine: No! happier made by that decree, He left me all in leaving thee.
Deep were my anguish, thus compelled[ga]
To wed with one I ne'er beheld: This wherefore should I not reveal?
Why wilt thou urge me to conceal?[gb]
I know the Pacha's haughty mood To thee hath never boded good; 440 And he so often storms at nought, Allah! forbid that e'er he ought!
And why I know not, but within My heart concealment weighs like sin.[gc]
If then such secrecy be crime, And such it feels while lurking here; Oh, Selim! tell me yet in time, Nor leave me thus to thoughts of fear.
Ah! yonder see the Tchocadar,
My father leaves the mimic war; 450 I tremble now to meet his eye-- Say, Selim, canst thou tell me why?"
"Zuleika--to thy tower's retreat Betake thee--Giaffir I can greet: And now with him I fain must prate Of firmans, imposts, levies, state.
There's fearful news from Danube's banks, Our Vizier n.o.bly thins his ranks For which the Giaour may give him thanks!
Our Sultan hath a shorter way 460 Such costly triumph to repay.
But, mark me, when the twilight drum Hath warned the troops to food and sleep, Unto thy cell with Selim come; Then softly from the Haram creep Where we may wander by the deep: Our garden battlements are steep; Nor these will rash intruder climb To list our words, or stint our time; And if he doth, I want not steel 470 Which some have felt, and more may feel.
Then shalt thou learn of Selim more Than thou hast heard or thought before: Trust me, Zuleika--fear not me!
Thou know'st I hold a Haram key."
"Fear thee, my Selim! ne'er till now Did words like this----"
"Delay not thou;[gd]
I keep the key--and Haroun's guard Have _some_, and hope of _more_ reward.
To-night, Zuleika, thou shalt hear 480 My tale, my purpose, and my fear: I am not, love! what I appear."
CANTO THE SECOND.[ge]
The winds are high on h.e.l.le's wave, As on that night of stormy water When Love, who sent, forgot to save The young--the beautiful--the brave-- The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter.
Oh! when alone along the sky Her turret-torch was blazing high, Though rising gale, and breaking foam, 490 And shrieking sea-birds warned him home; And clouds aloft and tides below, With signs and sounds, forbade to go, He could not see, he would not hear, Or sound or sign foreboding fear; His eye but saw that light of Love, The only star it hailed above; His ear but rang with Hero's song, "Ye waves, divide not lovers long!"-- That tale is old, but Love anew 500 May nerve young hearts to prove as true.
The winds are high and h.e.l.le's tide Rolls darkly heaving to the main; And Night's descending shadows hide That field with blood bedewed in vain, The desert of old Priam's pride; The tombs, sole relics of his reign, All--save immortal dreams that could beguile The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle!
Oh! yet--for there my steps have been; 510 These feet have pressed the sacred sh.o.r.e, These limbs that buoyant wave hath borne-- Minstrel! with thee to muse, to mourn, To trace again those fields of yore, Believing every hillock green Contains no fabled hero's ashes, And that around the undoubted scene Thine own "broad h.e.l.lespont" still dashes, Be long my lot! and cold were he Who there could gaze denying thee! 520
The Night hath closed on h.e.l.le's stream, Nor yet hath risen on Ida's hill That Moon, which shone on his high theme: No warrior chides her peaceful beam, But conscious shepherds bless it still.
Their flocks are grazing on the Mound Of him who felt the Dardan's arrow: That mighty heap of gathered ground Which Ammon's son ran proudly round,
By nations raised, by monarchs crowned, 530 Is now a lone and nameless barrow!
Within--thy dwelling-place how narrow!
Without--can only strangers breathe The name of him that _was_ beneath: Dust long outlasts the storied stone; But Thou--thy very dust is gone!
Late, late to-night will Dian cheer The swain, and chase the boatman's fear; Till then--no beacon on the cliff May shape the course of struggling skiff; 540 The scattered lights that skirt the bay, All, one by one, have died away; The only lamp of this lone hour Is glimmering in Zuleika's tower.
Yes! there is light in that lone chamber, And o'er her silken ottoman Are thrown the fragrant beads of amber, O'er which her fairy fingers ran;
Near these, with emerald rays beset,
(How could she thus that gem forget?) 550 Her mother's sainted amulet,
Whereon engraved the Koorsee text, Could smooth this life, and win the next; And by her Comboloio lies A Koran of illumined dyes; And many a bright emblazoned rhyme By Persian scribes redeemed from Time; And o'er those scrolls, not oft so mute, Reclines her now neglected lute; And round her lamp of fretted gold 560 Bloom flowers in urns of China's mould; The richest work of Iran's loom, And Sheeraz tribute of perfume;
All that can eye or sense delight Are gathered in that gorgeous room: But yet it hath an air of gloom.
She, of this Peri cell the sprite, What doth she hence, and on so rude a night?
Wrapt in the darkest sable vest, Which none save n.o.blest Moslem wear, 570 To guard from winds of Heaven the breast As Heaven itself to Selim dear, With cautious steps the thicket threading, And starting oft, as through the glade The gust its hollow moanings made, Till on the smoother pathway treading, More free her timid bosom beat, The maid pursued her silent guide; And though her terror urged retreat, How could she quit her Selim's side? 580 How teach her tender lips to chide?