LALLA ROOKH could think of nothing all day but the misery of those two young lovers. Her gayety was gone, and she looked pensively even upon FADLAPEEN. She felt, too, without knowing why, a sort of uneasy pleasure in imagining that AZIM must have been just such a youth as FERAMORZ; just as worthy to enjoy all the blessings, without any of the pangs, of that illusive passion, which too often like the sunny apples of Istkahar[88] is all sweetness on one side and all bitterness on the other.

As they passed along a sequestered river after sunset they saw a young Hindoo girl upon the bank, whose employment seemed to them so strange that they stopped their palankeens to observe her. She had lighted a small lamp filled with oil of cocoa, and placing it in an earthen dish adorned with a wreath of flowers, had committed it with a trembling hand to the stream; and was now anxiously watching its progress down the current, heedless of the gay cavalcade which had drawn up beside her. LALLA ROOKH was all curiosity;--when one of her attendants, who had lived upon the banks of the Ganges, (where this ceremony is so frequent that often in the dusk of the evening the river is seen glittering all over with lights, like the Oton-tala or Sea of Stars,)[89] informed the princess that it was the usual way in which the friends of those who had gone on dangerous voyages offered up vows for their safe return. If the lamp sunk immediately the omen was disastrous; but if it went shining down the stream and continued to burn till entirely out of sight, the return of the beloved object was considered as certain.

LALLA ROOKH as they moved on more than once looked back to observe how the young Hindoo's lamp proceeded; and while she saw with pleasure that it was still unextinguished she could not help fearing that all the hopes of this life were no better than that feeble light upon the river. The remainder of the journey was passed in silence. She now for the first time felt that shade of melancholy which comes over the youthful maiden's heart as sweet and transient as her own breath upon a mirror; nor was it till she heard the lute of FERAMORZ, touched lightly at the door of her pavilion that she waked from the revery in which she had been wandering. Instantly her eyes were lighted up with pleasure; and after a few unheard remarks from FADLADEEN upon the indecorum of a poet seating himself in presence of a Princess everything was arranged as on the preceding evening and all listened with eagerness while the story was thus continued:--

Whose are the gilded tents that crowd the way,
Where all was waste and silent yesterday?
This City of War which, in a few short hours,
Hath sprung up here, as if the magic powers[90]
Of Him who, in the twinkling of a star,
Built the high pillared halls of CHILMINAR,[91]
Had conjur'd up, far as the eye can see,
This world of tents and domes and sunbright armory:--
Princely pavilions screened by many a fold
Of crimson cloth and topt with balls of gold:--
Steeds with their housings of rich silver spun,
Their chains and poitrels glittering in the sun;
And camels tufted o'er with Yemen's shells[92]
Shaking in every breeze their light-toned bells!

But yester-eve, so motionless around,
So mute was this wide plain that not a sound
But the far torrent or the locust bird[93]
Hunting among thickets could be heard;--
Yet hark! what discords now of every kind,
Shouts, laughs, and screams are revelling in the wind;
The neigh of cavalry; --the tinkling throngs
Of laden camels and their drivers' songs;--
Ringing of arms, and flapping in the breeze
Of streamers from ten thousand canopies;--[94]
War-music bursting out from time to time
With gong and tymbalon's tremendous chime;--
Or in the pause when harsher sounds are mute,
The mellow breathings of some horn or flute,
That far off, broken by the eagle note
Of the Abyssinian trumpet, swell and float.[95]

Who leads this mighty army? --ask ye "who?"
And mark ye not those banners of dark hue,
The Night and Shadow, over yonder tent?--[96]
It is the CALIPH'S glorious armament.
Roused in his Palace by the dread alarms,
That hourly came, of the false Prophet's arms,
And of his host of infidels who hurled
Defiance fierce at Islam and the world,[97]
Tho' worn with Grecian warfare, and behind
The veils of his bright Palace calm reclined,
Yet brooked he not such blasphemy should stain,
Thus unrevenged, the evening of his reign;
But having sworn upon the Holy Grave[98]
To conquer or to perish, once more gave
His shadowy banners proudly to the breeze,
And with an army nurst in victories,
Here stands to crush the rebels that o'errun
His blest and beauteous Province of the Sun.

Ne'er did the march of MAHADI display
Such pomp before; --not even when on his way
To MECCA'S Temple, when both land and sea
Were spoiled to feed the Pilgrim's luxury;[99]
When round him mid the burning sands he saw
Fruits of the North in icy freshness thaw,
And cooled his thirsty lip beneath the glow
Of MECCA'S sun with urns of Persian snow:--
Nor e'er did armament more grand than that
Pour from the kingdoms of the Caliphat.
First, in the van, the People of the Rock[100]
On their light mountain steeds of royal stock:[101]
Then chieftains of DAMASCUS proud to see
The flashing of their swords' rich marquetry;--[102]
Men from the regions near the VOLGA'S mouth
Mixt with the rude, black archers of the South;
And Indian lancers in white-turbaned ranks
From the far SINDE or ATTOCK'S sacred banks,
With dusky legions from the Land of Myrrh,[103]
And many a mace-armed Moor and Midsea islander.

Nor less in number tho' more new and rude
In warfare's school was the vast multitude
That, fired by zeal or by oppression wronged,
Round the white standard of the impostor thronged.
Beside his thousands of Believers-- blind,
Burning and headlong as the Samiel wind--
Many who felt and more who feared to feel
The bloody Islamite's converting steel,
Flockt to his banner; --Chiefs of the UZBEK race,
Waving their heron crests with martial grace;[104]
TURKOMANS, countless as their flocks, led forth
From the aromatic pastures of the North;
Wild warriors of the turquoise hills, --and those[105]
Who dwell beyond the everlasting snows
Of HINDOO KOSH, in stormy freedom bred,
Their fort the rock, their camp the torrent's bed.
But none of all who owned the Chief's command
Rushed to that battle-field with bolder hand
Or sterner hate than IRAN'S outlawed men,
Her Worshippers of Fire-- all panting then[106]
For vengeance on the accursed Saracen;
Vengeance at last for their dear country spurned,
Her throne usurpt, and her bright shrines o'erturned.

From YEZD'S eternal Mansion of the Fire[107]
Where aged saints in dreams of Heaven expire:
From BADKU and those fountains of blue flame
That burn into the CASPIAN, fierce they came,[108]
Careless for what or whom the blow was sped,
So vengeance triumpht and their tyrants bled.

Such was the wild and miscellaneous host
That high in air their motley banners tost
Around the Prophet-Chief-- all eyes still bent
Upon that glittering Veil, where'er it went,
That beacon thro' the battle's stormy flood,
That rainbow of the field whose showers were blood!

Twice hath the sun upon their conflict set
And risen again and found them grappling yet;
While streams of carnage in his noontide blaze,
Smoke up to Heaven-- hot as that crimson haze
By which the prostrate Caravan is awed[109]
In the red Desert when the wind's abroad.
"Oh, Swords of God!" the panting CALIPH calls,--
"Thrones for the living-- Heaven for him who falls!"--
"On, brave avengers, on," MOKANNA cries,
"And EBLIS blast the recreant slave that flies!"
Now comes the brunt, the crisis of the day--
They clash-- they strive-- the CALIPH'S troops give way!
MOKANNA'S self plucks the black Banner down,
And now the Orient World's Imperial crown
Is just within his grasp-- when, hark, that shout!
Some hand hath checkt the flying Moslems' rout;
And now they turn, they rally-- at their head
A warrior, (like those angel youths who led,
In glorious panoply of Heaven's own mail,
The Champions of the Faith thro BEDER'S vale,)[110]
Bold as if gifted with ten thousand lives,
Turns on the fierce pursuers' blades, and drives
At once the multitudinous torrent back--
While hope and courage kindle in his track;
And at each step his bloody falchion makes
Terrible vistas thro' which victory breaks!
In vain MOKANNA, midst the general flight,
Stands like the red moon on some stormy night
Among the fugitive clouds that hurrying by
Leave only her unshaken in the sky--
In vain he yells his desperate curses out,
Deals death promiscuously to all about,
To foes that charge and coward friends that fly,
And seems of all the Great Archenemy.
The panic spreads-- "A miracle!" throughout
The Moslem ranks, "a miracle!" they shout,
All gazing on that youth whose coming seems
A light, a glory, such as breaks in dreams;
And every sword, true as o'er billows dim
The needle tracks the lode-star, following him!

Right towards MOKANNA now he cleaves his path,
Impatient cleaves as tho' the bolt of wrath
He bears from Heaven withheld its awful burst
From weaker heads and souls but half way curst,
To break o'er Him, the mightiest and the worst!
But vain his speed-- tho', in that hour of blood,
Had all God's seraphs round MOKANNA stood
With swords o'fire ready like fate to fall,
MOKANNA'S soul would have defied them all;
Yet now, the rush of fugitives, too strong
For human force, hurries even him along;
In vain he struggles mid the wedged array
Of flying thousands-- he is borne away;
And the sole joy his baffled spirit knows,
In this forced flight, is-- murdering as he goes!
As a grim tiger whom the torrent's might
Surprises in some parched ravine at night,
Turns even in drowning on the wretched flocks
Swept with him in that snow-flood from the rocks,
And, to the last, devouring on his way,
Bloodies the stream lie hath not power to stay.

"Alla illa Alla!"-- the glad shout renew--
"Alla Akbar"-- the Caliph's in MEROU.[111]
Hang out your gilded tapestry in the streets,
And light your shrines and chant your ziraleets.[112]
The swords of God have triumpht-- on his throne
Your Caliph sits and the veiled Chief hath flown.
Who does not envy that young warrior now
To whom the Lord of Islam bends his brow,
In all the graceful gratitude of power,
For his throne's safety in that perilous hour?
Who doth not wonder, when, amidst the acclaim
Of thousands heralding to heaven his name--
Mid all those holier harmonies of fame
Which sound along the path of virtuous souls,
Like music round a planet as it rolls,--
He turns away-- coldly, as if some gloom
Hung o'er his heart no triumphs can illume;--
Some sightless grief upon whose blasted gaze
Tho' glory's light may play, in vain it plays.
Yes, wretched AZIM! thine is such a grief,
Beyond all hope, all terror, all relief!
A dark, cold calm, which nothing now can break.
Or warm or brighten, --Like that Syrian Lake[113]
Upon whose surface morn and summer shed
Their smiles in vain, for all beneath is dead!--
Hearts there have been o'er which this weight of woe
Came by long use of suffering, tame and slow;
But thine, lost youth! was sudden-- over thee
It broke at once, when all seemed ecstasy;
When Hope lookt up and saw the gloomy Past
Melt into splendor and Bliss dawn at last--
'Twas then, even then, o'er joys so freshly blown
This mortal blight of misery came down;
Even then, the full, warm gushings of thy heart
Were checkt-- like fount-drops, frozen as they start--
And there like them cold, sunless relics hang,
Each fixt and chilled into a lasting pang.

One sole desire, one passion now remains
To keep life's fever still within his veins,
Vengeance! --dire vengeance on the wretch who cast
O'er him and all he loved that ruinous blast.
For this, when rumors reached him in his flight
Far, far away, after that fatal night,--
Rumors of armies thronging to the attack
Of the Veiled Chief, --for this he winged him back,
Fleet as the Vulture speeds to flags unfurled,
And when all hope seemed desperate, wildly hurled
Himself into the scale and saved a world.
For this he still lives on, careless of all
The wreaths that Glory on his path lets fall;
For this alone exists-- like lightning-fire,
To speed one bolt of vengeance and expire!

But safe as yet that Spirit of Evil lives;
With a small band of desperate fugitives,
The last sole stubborn fragment left unriven
Of the proud host that late stood fronting Heaven,
He gained MEROU-- breathed a short curse of blood
O'er his lost throne-- then past the JIHON'S flood,[114]
And gathering all whose madness of belief
Still saw a Saviour in their down-fallen Chief,
Raised the white banner within NEKSHEB'S gates,[115]
And there, untamed, the approaching conqueror waits.

Of all his Haram, all that busy hive,
With music and with sweets sparkling alive,
He took but one, the partner of his flight,
One-- not for love-- not for her beauty's light--
No, ZELICA stood withering midst the gay.
Wan as the blossom that fell yesterday
From the Alma tree and dies, while overhead
To-day's young flower is springing in its stead.[116]
Oh, not for love-- the deepest Damned must be
Touched with Heaven's glory ere such fiends as he
Can feel one glimpse of Love's divinity.
But no, she is his victim; there lie all
Her charms for him-- charms that can never pall,
As long as hell within his heart can stir,
Or one faint trace of Heaven is left in her.
To work an angel's ruin, --to behold
As white a page as Virtue e'er unrolled
Blacken beneath his touch into a scroll
Of damning sins, sealed with a burning soul--
This is his triumph; this the joy accurst,
That ranks him among demons all but first:
This gives the victim that before him lies
Blighted and lost, a glory in his eyes,
A light like that with which hellfire illumes
The ghastly, writhing wretch whom it consumes!

But other tasks now wait him--  tasks that need
All the deep daringness of thought and deed
With which the Divs have gifted him--  for mark,[117]
Over yon plains which night had else made dark,
Those lanterns countless as the winged lights
That spangle INDIA'S field on showery nights,--[118]
Far as their formidable gleams they shed,
The mighty tents of the beleaguerer spread,
Glimmering along the horizon's dusky line
And thence in nearer circles till they shine
Among the founts and groves o'er which the town
In all its armed magnificence looks down.
Yet, fearless, from his lofty battlements
MOKANNA views that multitude of tents;
Nay, smiles to think that, tho' entoiled, beset,
Not less than myriads dare to front him yet;--
That friendless, throneless, he thus stands at bay,
Even thus a match for myriads such as they.
"Oh, for a sweep of that dark Angel's wing,
"Who brushed the thousands of the Assyrian King[119]
"To darkness in a moment that I might
"People Hell's chambers with yon host to-night!
"But come what may, let who will grasp the throne,
"Caliph or Prophet, Man alike shall groan;
"Let who will torture him, Priest --Caliph-- King--
"Alike this loathsome world of his shall ring
"With victims' shrieks and howlings of the slave,--
"Sounds that shall glad me even within my grave!"
Thus, to himself-- but to the scanty train
Still left around him, a far different strain:--
"Glorious Defenders of the sacred Crown
"I bear from Heaven whose light nor blood shall drown
"Nor shadow of earth eclipse; --before whose gems
"The paly pomp of this world's diadems,
"The crown of GERASHID. the pillared throne
"Of PARVIZ[120] and the heron crest that shone[121]
"Magnificent o'er ALI'S beauteous eyes.[122]
"Fade like the stars when morn is in the skies:
"Warriors, rejoice-- the port to which we've past
"O'er Destiny's dark wave beams out at last!
"Victory's our own-- 'tis written in that Book
"Upon whose leaves none but the angels look,
"That ISLAM'S sceptre shall beneath the power
"Of her great foe fall broken in that hour
"When the moon's mighty orb before all eyes
"From NEKSHEB'S Holy Well portentously shall rise!
"Now turn and see!" --They turned, and, as he spoke,
A sudden splendor all around them broke,
And they beheld an orb, ample and bright,
Rise from the Holy Well and cast its light[123]
Round the rich city and the plain for miles,--
Flinging such radiance o'er the gilded tiles
Of many a dome and fair-roofed imaret
As autumn suns shed round them when they set.
Instant from all who saw the illusive sign
A murmur broke-- "Miraculous! divine!"
The Gheber bowed, thinking his idol star
Had waked, and burst impatient thro' the bar
Of midnight to inflame him to the war;
While he of MOUSSA'S creed saw in that ray
The glorious Light which in his freedom's day
Had rested on the Ark, and now again[124]
Shone out to bless the breaking of his chain.

"To victory!" is at once the cry of all--
Nor stands MOKANNA loitering at that call;
But instant the huge gates are flung aside,
And forth like a diminutive mountain-tide
Into the boundless sea they speed their course
Right on into the MOSLEM'S mighty force.
The watchmen of the camp, --who in their rounds
Had paused and even forgot the punctual sounds
Of the small drum with which they count the night,[125]
To gaze upon that supernatural light,--
Now sink beneath an unexpected arm,
And in a death-groan give their last alarm.
"On for the lamps that light yon lofty screen[126]
"Nor blunt your blades with massacre so mean;
"There rests the CALIPH-- speed-- one lucky lance
"May now achieve mankind's deliverance."
Desperate the die-- such as they only cast
Who venture for a world and stake their last.
But Fate's no longer with him-- blade for blade
Springs up to meet them thro' the glimmering shade,
And as the clash is heard new legions soon
Pour to the spot, like bees of KAUZEROON[127]
To the shrill timbrel's summons, --till at length
The mighty camp swarms out in all its strength.
And back to NEKSHEB'S gates covering the plain
With random slaughter drives the adventurous train;
Among the last of whom the Silver Veil
Is seen glittering at times, like the white sail
Of some tost vessel on a stormy night
Catching the tempest's momentary light!

And hath not this brought the proud spirit low!
Nor dashed his brow nor checkt his daring? No.
Tho' half the wretches whom at night he led
To thrones and victory lie disgraced and dead,
Yet morning hears him with unshrinking crest.
Still vaunt of thrones and victory to the rest;--
And they believe him! --oh, the lover may
Distrust that look which steals his soul away;--
The babe may cease to think that it can play
With Heaven's rainbow; --alchymists may doubt
The shining gold their crucible gives out;
But Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast
To some dear falsehood hugs it to the last.

And well the Impostor knew all lures and arts,
That LUCIFER e'er taught to tangle hearts;
Nor, mid these last bold workings of his plot
Against men's souls, is ZELICA forgot.
Ill-fated ZELICA! had reason been
Awake, thro' half the horrors thou hast seen,
Thou never couldst have borne it-- Death had come
At once and taken thy wrung spirit home.
But 'twas not so-- a torpor, a suspense
Of thought, almost of life, came o'er the intense
And passionate struggles of that fearful night,
When her last hope of peace and heaven took flight:
And tho' at times a gleam of frenzy broke,--
As thro' some dull volcano's veil of smoke
Ominous flashings now and then will start,
Which show the fire's still busy at its heart;
Yet was she mostly wrapt in solemn gloom,--
Not such as AZIM'S, brooding o'er its doom
And calm without as is the brow of death
While busy worms are gnawing underneath--
But in a blank and pulseless torpor free
From thought or pain, a sealed-up apathy
Which left her oft with scarce one living thrill
The cold, pale victim of her torturer's will.

Again, as in MEROU, he had her deckt
Gorgeously out, the Priestess of the sect;
And led her glittering forth before the eyes
Of his rude train as to a sacrifice,--
Pallid as she, the young, devoted Bride
Of the fierce NILE, when, deckt in all the pride
Of nuptial pomp, she sinks into his tide.[128]
And while the wretched maid hung down her head,
And stood as one just risen from the dead
Amid that gazing crowd, the fiend would tell
His credulous slaves it was some charm or spell
Possest her now, --and from that darkened trance
Should dawn ere long their Faith's deliverance.
Or if at times goaded by guilty shame,
Her soul was roused and words of wildness came,
Instant the bold blasphemer would translate
Her ravings into oracles of fate,
Would hail Heaven's signals in her flashing eyes
And call her shrieks the language of the skies!

But vain at length his arts-- despair is seen
Gathering around; and famine comes to glean
All that the sword had left unreaped; --in vain
At morn and eve across the northern plain
He looks impatient for the promised spears
Of the wild Hordes and TARTAR mountaineers;
They come not-- while his fierce beleaguerers pour
Engines of havoc in, unknown before,[129]
And horrible as new; --javelins, that fly[130]
Enwreathed with smoky flames thro' the dark sky,
And red-hot globes that opening as they mount
Discharge as from a kindled Naphtha fount[131]
Showers of consuming fire o'er all below;
Looking as thro' the illumined night they go
Like those wild birds that by the Magians oft[132]
At festivals of fire were sent aloft
Into the air with blazing fagots tied
To their huge wings, scattering combustion wide.
All night the groans of wretches who expire
In agony beneath these darts of fire
Ring thro' the city-- while descending o'er
Its shrines and domes and streets of sycamore,--
Its lone bazars, with their bright cloths of gold,
Since the last peaceful pageant left unrolled,--
Its beauteous marble baths whose idle jets.
Now gush with blood, --and its tall minarets
That late have stood up in the evening glare
Of the red sun, unhallowed by a prayer;--
O'er each in turn the dreadful flame-bolts fall,
And death and conflagration throughout all
The desolate city hold high festival!

MOKANNA sees the world is his no more;--
One sting at parting and his grasp is o'er,
"What! drooping now?" --thus, with unblushing cheek,
He hails the few who yet can hear him speak,
Of all those famished slaves around him lying,
And by the light of blazing temples dying;
"What! --drooping now! --now, when at length we press
"Home o'er the very threshold of success;
"When ALLA from our ranks hath thinned away
"Those grosser branches that kept out his ray
"Of favor from us and we stand at length
"Heirs of his light and children of his strength,
"The chosen few who shall survive the fall
"Of Kings and Thrones, triumphant over all!
"Have you then lost, weak murmurers as you are,
"All faith in him who was your Light, your Star?
"Have you forgot the eye of glory hid
"Beneath this Veil, the flashing of whose lid
"Could like a sun-stroke of the desert wither
"Millions of such as yonder Chief brings hither?
"Long have its lightnings slept-- too long-- but now
"All earth shall feel the unveiling of this brow!
"To-night-- yes, sainted men! this very night,
"I bid you all to a fair festal rite,
"Where-- having deep refreshed each weary limb
"With viands such as feast Heaven's cherubim
"And kindled up your souls now sunk and dim
"With that pure wine the Dark-eyed Maids above
"Keep, sealed with precious musk, for those they love,--[133]
"I will myself uncurtain in your sight
"The wonders of this brow's ineffable light;
"Then lead you forth and with a wink disperse
"Yon myriads howling thro' the universe!"

Eager they listen-- while each accent darts
New life into their chilled and hope-sick hearts;
Such treacherous life as the cool draught supplies
To him upon the stake who drinks and dies!
Wildly they point their lances to the light
Of the fast sinking sun, and shout "To-night!"--
"To-night," their Chief re-echoes in a voice
Of fiend-like mockery that bids hell rejoice.
Deluded victims! --never hath this earth
Seen mourning half so mournful as their mirth.
Here, to the few whose iron frames had stood
This racking waste of famine and of blood,
Faint, dying wretches clung, from whom the shout
Of triumph like a maniac's laugh broke out:--
There, others, lighted by the smouldering fire,
Danced like wan ghosts about a funeral pyre
Among the dead and dying strewed around;--
While some pale wretch lookt on and from his wound
Plucking the fiery dart by which he bled,
In ghastly transport waved it o'er his head!

'Twas more than midnight now-- a fearful pause
Had followed the long shouts, the wild applause,
That lately from those Royal Gardens burst,
Where the veiled demon held his feast accurst,
When ZELICA, alas, poor ruined heart,
In every horror doomed to bear its part!--
Was bidden to the banquet by a slave,
Who, while his quivering lip the summons gave,
Grew black, as tho' the shadows of the grave
Compast him round and ere he could repeat
His message thro', fell lifeless at her feet!
Shuddering she went-- a soul-felt pang of fear
A presage that her own dark doom was near,
Roused every feeling and brought Reason back
Once more to writhe her last upon the rack.
All round seemed tranquil even the foe had ceased
As if aware of that demoniac feast
His fiery bolts; and tho' the heavens looked red,
'Twas but some distant conflagration's spread.
But hark-- she stops-- she listens-- dreadful tone!
'Tis her Tormentor's laugh-- and now, a groan,
A long death-groan comes with it-- can this be
The place of mirth, the bower of revelry?

She enters-- Holy ALLA, what a sight
Was there before her! By the glimmering light
Of the pale dawn, mixt with the flare of brands
That round lay burning dropt from lifeless hands,
She saw the board in splendid mockery spread,
Rich censers breathing-- garlands overhead--
The urns, the cups, from which they late had quaft
All gold and gems, but-- what had been the draught?
Oh! who need ask that saw those livid guests,
With their swollen heads sunk blackening on their breasts,
Or looking pale to Heaven with glassy glare,
As if they sought but saw no mercy there;
As if they felt, tho' poison racked them thro',
Remorse the deadlier torment of the two!
While some, the bravest, hardiest in the train
Of their false Chief, who on the battle-plain
Would have met death with transport by his side,
Here mute and helpless gasped; --but as they died
Lookt horrible vengeance with their eyes' last strain,
And clenched the slackening hand at him in vain.

Dreadful it was to see the ghastly stare,
The stony look of horror and despair,
Which some of these expiring victims cast
Upon their souls' tormentor to the last;
Upon that mocking Fiend whose Veil now raised,
Showed them as in death's agony they gazed,
Not the long promised light, the brow whose beaming
Was to come forth, all conquering, all redeeming,
But features horribler than Hell e'er traced
On its own brood; --no Demon of the Waste,[134]
No church-yard Ghoul caught lingering in the light
Of the blest sun, e'er blasted human sight
With lineaments so foul, so fierce as those
The Impostor now in grinning mockery shows:--
"There, ye wise Saints, behold your Light, your Star--
"Ye would be dupes and victims and ye are.
"Is it enough? or must I, while a thrill
"Lives in your sapient bosoms, cheat you still?
"Swear that the burning death ye feel within
"Is but the trance with which Heaven's joys begin:
"That this foul visage, foul as e'er disgraced
"Even monstrous men, is-- after God's own taste;
"And that-- but see! --ere I have half-way said
"My greetings thro', the uncourteous souls are fled.
"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 thro' long ages be
"The rallying sign of fraud and anarchy;--
"Kings yet unborn shall rue MOKANNA'S name,
"And tho' 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.
"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 curst 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,[135]
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 he, in impatience and in toil is
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 thy 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 thro'.
But strange! no sign of life-- naught living seen
Above, below-- what can this stillness mean?
A minute's pause suspends all hearts and eyes--
"In thro' the breach," impetuous AZIM cries;
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:--
"Tho' 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 lovedst 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 naught 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 flies
"To Heaven upon the morning's sunshine rise
"With all love's earliest ardor 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--a nd tell--
"Oh Heaven-- I die-- dear love! farewell, farewell."

Time fleeted-- years on years had past 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 tho' 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.


-- on to Part Four --

[88] In the territory of Istkahar there is a kind of apple, half of which is sweet and half sour. --Ebn Haukal.

[89] "The place where the Whangho, a river of Tibet, rises, and where there are more than a hundred springs, which sparkle like stars; whence it is called Hotun-nor, that is, the Sea of Stars." --Description of Tibet, in Pinkerton.

[90] "The Lescar or Imperial Camp is divided, like a regular town, into squares, alleys, and streets, and from a rising ground furnishes one of the most agreeable prospects in the world. Starting up in a few hours in an uninhabited plain, it raises the idea of a city built by enchantment. Even those who leave their houses in cities to follow the prince in his progress are frequently so charmed with the Lescar, when situated in a beautiful and convenient place, that they cannot prevail with themselves to remove. To prevent this inconvenience to the court, the Emperor, after sufficient time is allowed to the tradesmen to follow, orders them to be burnt out of their tents." --Dow's Hindostan.

[91] The edifices of Chilminar and Balbec are supposed to have been built by the Genii, acting under the orders of Jan ben Jan, who governed the world long before the time of Adam.

[92] "A superb camel, ornamented with strings and tufts of small shells." --Ali Bey.

[93] A native of Khorassan, and allured southward by means of the water of a fountain between Shiraz and Ispahan, called the Fountain of Birds, of which it is so fond that it will follow wherever that water is carried.

[94] "Some of the camels have bells about their necks, and some about their legs, like those which our carriers put about their fore-horses' necks, which together with the servants (who belong to the camels, and travel on foot), singing all night, make a pleasant noise, and the journey passes away delightfully." --Pitt's Account of the Mahometans.

"The camel-driver follows the camels singing, and sometimes playing upon his pipe; the louder he sings and pipes, the faster the camels go. Nay, they will stand still when he gives over his music." --Tavernier.

[95] "This trumpet is often called, in Abyssinia, nesser cano, which signifies the Note of the Eagle." --Note of Bruce's Editor.

[96] The two black standards borne before the Caliphs of the House of Abbas were called, allegorically, The Night and The Shadow. --See Gibbon.

[97] The Mahometan religion.

[98] "The Persians swear by the Tomb of Shad Besade, who is buried at Casbin; and when one desires another to asseverate a matter he will ask him, if he dare swear by the Holy Grave." --Struy.

[99] Mahadi, in a single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six millions of dinars of gold.

[100] The inhabitants of Hejaz or Arabia Petraea, called by an Eastern writer "The People of the Rock." --Ebn Haukal.

[101] "Those horses, called by the Arabians Kochlani, of whom a written genealogy has been kept for 2000 years. They are said to derive their origin from King Solomon's steeds." --Niebuhr.

[102] "Many of the figures on the blades of their swords are wrought in gold or silver, or in marquetry with small gems." --Asiat. Misc. v. i.

[103] Azab or Saba.

[104] "The chiefs of the Uzbek Tartars wear a plume of white heron's feathers in their turbans." --Account of Independent Tartary.

[105] In the mountains of Nishapour and Tous in (Khorassan) they find turquoises. --Ebn Huukal.

[106] The Ghebers or Guebres, those original natives of Persia, who adhered to their ancient faith, the religion of Zoroaster, and who, after the conquest of their country by the Arabs, were either persecuted at home, or forced to become wanderers abroad.

[107] "Yezd, the chief residence of those ancient natives who worship the Sun and the Fire, which latter they have carefully kept lighted, without being once extinguished for a moment, about 3000 years, on a mountain near Yezd, called Ater Quedah, signifying the House or Mansion of the Fire. He is reckoned very unfortunate who dies off that mountain." --Stephen's Persia.

[108] When the weather is hazy, the springs of Naphtha (on an island near Baku) boil up the higher, and the Naphtha often takes fire on the surface of the earth, and runs in a flame into the sea to a distance almost incredible." --Hanway on the Everlasting Fire at Baku.

[109] Savary says of the south wind, which blows in Egypt from February to May, "Sometimes it appears only in the shape of an impetuous whirlwind, which passes rapidly, and is fatal to the traveller, surprised in the middle of the deserts. Torrents of burning sand roll before it, the firmament is enveloped in a thick veil, and the sun appears of the color of blood. Sometimes whole caravans are buried in it."

[110] In the great victory gained by Mahomed at Beder, he was assisted, say the Mussulmans, by three thousand angels led by Gabriel mounted on his horse Hiazum. --See The Koran and its Commentators.

[111] The Tecbir, or cry of the Arabs. "Alla Acbar!" says Ockley, means, "God is most mighty."

[112] The ziraleet is a kind of chorus, which the women of the East sing upon joyful occasions.

[113] The Dead Sea, which contains neither animal nor vegetable life.

[114] The ancient Oxus.

[115] A city of Transoxiana.

[116] "You never can cast your eyes on this tree, but you meet there either blossoms or fruit; and as the blossom drops underneath on the ground (which is frequently covered with these purple-colored flowers), others come forth in their stead," etc. --Nieuhoff.

[117] The Demons of the Persian mythology.

[118] Carreri mentions the fire-flies in India during the rainy season. --See his Travels.

[119] Sennacherib, called by the Orientals King of Moussal. --D'Herbelot.

[120] Chosroes. For the description of his Throne or Palace, see Gibbon and D'Herbelot.

There were said to be under this Throne or Palace of Khosrou Parviz a hundred vaults filled with "treasures so immense that some Mahometan writers tell us, their Prophet to encourage his disciples carried them to a rock which at his command opened and gave them a prospect through it of the treasures of Khosrou." --Universal History.

[121] "The crown of Gerashid is cloudy and tarnished before the heron tuft of thy turban." --From one of the elegies or songs in praise of Ali, written in characters of gold round the gallery of Abbas's tomb. --See Chardin.

[122] The beauty of Ali's eyes was so remarkable, that whenever the Persians would describe anything as very lovely, they say it is Ayn Hali, or the Eyes of Ali. --Chardin.

[123] "Nakshab, the name of a city in Transoxiana, where they say there is a well, in which the appearance of the moon is to be seen night and day."

[124] The Shechinah, called Sakinat in the Koran.--See Sale's Note, chap. ii.

[125] The parts of the night are made known as well by instruments of music, as by the rounds of the watchmen with cries and small drums. --See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. p. 119.

[126] The Serrapurda, high screens of red cloth, stiffened with cane, used to enclose a considerable space round the royal tents. --Notes on the Bahardanush.

The tents of Princes were generally illuminated. Norden tells us that the tent of the Bey of Girge was distinguished from the other tents by forty lanterns being suspended before it. --See Harmer's Observations on Job.

[127] "From the groves of orange trees at Kauzeroon the bees cull a celebrated honey. --Morier's Travels.

[128] "A custom still subsisting at this day, seems to me to prove that the Egyptians formerly sacrificed a young virgin to the God of the Nile; for they now make a statue of earth in shape of a girl, to which they give the name of the Betrothed Bride, and throw it into the river." --Savary.

[129] That they knew the secret of the Greek fire among the Mussulmans early in the eleventh century, appears from Dow's account of Mamood I: "When he at Moultan, finding that the country of the Jits was defended by great rivers, he ordered fifteen hundred boats to be built, each of which he armed with six iron spikes, projecting from their prows and sides, to prevent their being boarded by the enemy, who were very expert in that kind of war. When he had launched this fleet, he ordered twenty archers into each boat, and five others with fire-balls, to burn the craft of the Jits, and naphtha to set the whole river on fire."

[130] The Greek fire, which was occasionally lent by the emperors to their allies. "It was," says Gibbon, "either launched in red-hot balls of stone and iron, or darted in arrows and javelins, twisted round with flax and tow, which had deeply imbibed the inflammable oil."

[131] See Hanway's Account of the Springs of Naphtha at Baku (which is called by Lieutenant Pottinger Joala Mookee, or, the Flaming Mouth), taking fire and running into the sea. Dr. Cooke, in his Journal, mentions some wells in Circassia, strongly impregnated with this inflammable oil, from which issues boiling water. "Though the weather," he adds, "was now very cold, the warmth of these wells of hot water produced near them the verdure and flowers of spring.'

[132] "At the great festival of fire, called the Sheb Seze, they used to set fire to large bunches of dry combustibles, fastened round wild beasts and birds, which being then let loose, the air and earth appeared one great illumination; and as these terrified creatures naturally fled to the woods for shelter, it is easy to conceive the conflagrations they produced." --Richardson's Dissertation.

[133] "The righteous shall be given to drink of pure wine, sealed: the seal whereof shall be musk." --Koran, chap lxxxiii.

[134] The Afghans believe each of the numerous solitudes and deserts of their country to be inhabited by a lonely demon, whom they call The Ghoolee Beeaban, or Spirit of the Waste. They often illustrate the wildness of any sequestered tribe, by saying they are wild as the Demon of the Waste." --Elphinstone's Caubul.

[135] "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.


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