LALLA ROOKH had the night before been visited by a dream which in spite of the impending fate of poor HAFED made her heart more than usually cheerful during the morning, and gave her cheeks all the freshened animation of a flower that the Bidmusk had just passed over.[240] She fancied that she was sailing on that Eastern Ocean where the sea-gypsies who live for ever on the water[241] enjoy a perpetual summer in wandering from isle to isle, when she saw a small gilded bark approaching her. It was like one of those boats which the Maldivian islanders send adrift, at the mercy of winds and waves, loaded with perfumes, flowers, and odoriferous wood, as an offering to the Spirit whom they call King of the Sea. At first, this little bark appeared to be empty, but on coming nearer--

She had proceeded thus far in relating the dream to her Ladies, when FERAMORZ appeared at the door of the pavilion. In his presence of course everything else was forgotten and the continuance of the story was instantly requested by all. Fresh wood of aloes was set to burn in the cassolets; --the violet sherbets[242] were hastily handed round, and after a short prelude on his lute in the pathetic measure of Nava,[243] which is always used to express the lamentations of absent lovers, the Poet thus continued:--

The day is lowering-- stilly black
Sleeps the grim wave, while heaven's rack,
Disperst and wild, 'twixt earth and sky
Hangs like a shattered canopy.
There's not a cloud in that blue plain
But tells of storm to come or past;--
Here flying loosely as the mane
Of a young war-horse in the blast;--
There rolled in masses dark and swelling,
As proud to be the thunder's dwelling!
While some already burst and riven
Seen melting down the verge of heaven;
As tho' the infant storm had rent
The mighty womb that gave him birth,
And having swept the firmament
Was now in fierce career for earth.

On earth 'twas yet all calm around,
A pulseless silence, dread, profound,
More awful than the tempest's sound.
The diver steered for ORMUS' bowers,
And moored his skiff till calmer hours;
The sea-birds with portentous screech
Flew fast to land; --upon the beach
The pilot oft had paused, with glance
Turned upward to that wild expanse;--
And all was boding, drear and dark
As her own soul when HINDA'S bark
Went slowly from the Persian shore.--
No music timed her parting oar,[244]
Nor friends upon the lessening strand
Lingering to wave the unseen hand
Or speak the farewell, heard no more;--
But lone, unheeded, from the bay
The vessel takes its mournful way,
Like some ill-destined bark that steers
In silence thro' the Gate of Tears.[245]
And where was stern AL HASSAN then?
Could not that saintly scourge of men
From bloodshed and devotion spare
One minute for a farewell there?
No-- close within in changeful fits
Of cursing and of prayer he sits
In savage loneliness to brood
Upon the coming night of blood,--
With that keen, second-scent of death,
By which the vulture sniffs his food
In the still warm and living breath![246]
While o'er the wave his weeping daughter
Is wafted from these scenes of slaughter,--
As a young bird of BABYLON,[247]
Let loose to tell of victory won,
Flies home, with wing, ah! not unstained
By the red hands that held her chained.

And does the long-left home she seeks
Light up no gladness on her cheeks?
The flowers she nurst-- the well-known groves,
Where oft in dreams her spirit roves--
Once more to see her dear gazelles
Come bounding with their silver bells;
Her birds' new plumage to behold
And the gay, gleaming fishes count,
She left all filleted with gold
Shooting around their jasper fount;[248]
Her little garden mosque to see,
And once again, at evening hour,
To tell her ruby rosary
In her own sweet acacia bower.--
Can these delights that wait her now
Call up no sunshine on her brow?
No, --silent, from her train apart,--
As if even now she felt at heart
The chill of her approaching doom,--
She sits, all lovely in her gloom
As a pale Angel of the Grave;
And o'er the wide, tempestuous wave
Looks with a shudder to those towers
Where in a few short awful hours
Blood, blood, in streaming tides shall run,
Foul incense for to-morrow's sun!
"Where art thou, glorious stranger! thou,
"So loved, so lost, where art thou now?
"Foe-- Gheber-- infidel-- whate'er
"The unhallowed name thou'rt doomed to bear,
"Still glorious-- still to this fond heart
"Dear as its blood, whate'er thou art!
"Yes-- ALLA, dreadful ALLA! yes--
"If there be wrong, be crime in this,
"Let the black waves that round us roll,
"Whelm me this instant ere my soul
"Forgetting faith-- home-- father-- all
"Before its earthly idol fall,
"Nor worship even Thyself above him--
"For, oh, so wildly do I love him,
"Thy Paradise itself were dim
"And joyless, if not shared with him!"
Her hands were claspt-- her eyes upturned,
Dropping their tears like moonlight rain;
And, tho' her lip, fond raver! burned
With words of passion, bold, profane.
Yet was there light around her brow,
A holiness in those dark eyes,
Which showed,-- tho' wandering earthward now,--
Her spirit's home was in the skies.
Yes-- for a spirit pure as hers
Is always pure, even while it errs;
As sunshine broken in the rill
Tho' turned astray is sunshine still!

So wholly had her mind forgot
All thoughts but one she heeded not
The rising storm-- the wave that cast
A moment's midnight as it past--
Nor heard the frequent shout, the tread
Of gathering tumult o'er her head--
Clasht swords and tongues that seemed to vie
With the rude riot of the sky.--
But, hark! --that war-whoop on the deck--
That crash as if each engine there,
Mast, sails and all, were gone to wreck,
Mid yells and stampings of despair!
Merciful Heaven! what can it be?
'Tis not the storm, tho' fearfully
The ship has shuddered as she rode
O'er mountain-waves-- "Forgive me, God!
"Forgive me" --shrieked the maid and knelt,
Trembling all over-- for she felt
As if her judgment hour was near;
While crouching round half dead with fear,
Her handmaids clung, nor breathed nor stirred--
When, hark! --a second crash-- a third--
And now as if a bolt of thunder
Had riven the laboring planks asunder,
The deck falls in-- what horrors then!
Blood, waves and tackle, swords and men
Come mixt together thro' the chasm,--
Some wretches in their dying spasm
Still fighting on-- and some that call
"For GOD and IRAN!" as they fall!
Whose was the hand that turned away
The perils of the infuriate fray,
And snatcht her breathless from beneath
This wilderment of wreck and death?
She knew not-- for a faintness came
Chill o'er her and her sinking frame
Amid the ruins of that hour
Lay like a pale and scorched flower
Beneath the red volcano's shower.
But, oh! the sights and sounds of dread
That shockt her ere her senses fled!
The yawning deck-- the crowd that strove
Upon the tottering planks above--
The sail whose fragments, shivering o'er
The stragglers' heads all dasht with gore
Fluttered like bloody flags-- the clash
Of sabres and the lightning's flash
Upon their blades, high tost about
Like meteor brands[249]-- as if throughout
The elements one fury ran,
One general rage that left a doubt
Which was the fiercer, Heaven or Man!
Once too-- but no-- it could not be--
'Twas fancy all-- yet once she thought,
While yet her fading eyes could see
High on the ruined deck she caught
A glimpse of that unearthly form,
That glory of her soul, --even then,
Amid the whirl of wreck and storm,
Shining above his fellow-men,
As on some black and troublous night
The Star of EGYPT,[250] whose proud light
Never hath beamed on those who rest
In the White Islands of the West,
Burns thro' the storm with looks of flame
That put Heaven's cloudier eyes to shame.
But no-- 'twas but the minute's dream--
A fantasy-- and ere the scream
Had half-way past her pallid lips,
A death-like swoon, a chill eclipse
Of soul and sense its darkness spread
Around her and she sunk as dead.
How calm, how beautiful comes on
The stilly hour when storms are gone,
When warring winds have died away,
And clouds beneath the glancing ray
Melt off and leave the land and sea
Sleeping in bright tranquillity,--
Fresh as if Day again were born,
Again upon the lap of Morn!--
When the light blossoms rudely torn
And scattered at the whirlwind's will,
Hang floating in the pure air still,
Filling it all with precious balm,
In gratitude for this sweet calm;--
And every drop the thundershowers
Have left upon the grass and flowers
Sparkles, as 'twere that lightning-gem[251]
Whose liquid flame is born of them!
When, 'stead of one unchanging breeze,
There blow a thousand gentle airs
And each a different perfume bears,--
As if the loveliest plants and trees
Had vassal breezes of their own
To watch and wait on them alone,
And waft no other breath than theirs:
When the blue waters rise and fall,
In sleepy sunshine mantling all;
And even that swell the tempest leaves
Is like the full and silent heaves
Of lovers' hearts when newly blest,
Too newly to be quite at rest.

Such was the golden hour that broke
Upon the world when HINDA woke
From her long trance and heard around
No motion but the water's sound
Rippling against the vessel's side,
As slow it mounted o'er the tide.--
But where is she? --her eyes are dark,
Are wilder still-- is this the bark,
The same, that from HARMOZIA'S bay
Bore her at morn-- whose bloody way
The sea-dog trackt? --no-- strange and new
Is all that meets her wondering view.
Upon a galliot's deck she lies,
Beneath no rich pavilion's shade,--
No plumes to fan her sleeping eyes,
Nor jasmine on her pillow laid.
But the rude litter roughly spread
With war-cloaks is her homely bed,
And shawl and sash on javelins hung
For awning o'er her head are flung.
Shuddering she lookt around-- there lay
A group of warriors in the sun,
Resting their limbs, as for that day
Their ministry of death were done.
Some gazing on the drowsy sea
Lost in unconscious revery;
And some who seemed but ill to brook
That sluggish calm with many a look
To the slack sail impatient cast,
As loose it bagged around the mast.

Blest ALLA! who shall save her now?
There's not in all that warrior band
One Arab sword, one turbaned brow
From her own Faithful Moslem land.
Their garb-- the leathern belt that wraps
Each yellow vest[252]-- that rebel hue--
The Tartar fleece upon their caps[253]--
Yes-- yes-- her fears are all too true,
And Heaven hath in this dreadful hour
Abandoned her to HAFED'S power;--
HAFED, the Gheber! --at the thought
Her very heart's blood chills within;
He whom her soul was hourly taught
To loathe as some foul fiend of sin,
Some minister whom Hell had sent
To spread its blast where'er he went
And fling as o'er our earth he trod
His shadow betwixt man and God!
And she is now his captive, --thrown
In his fierce hands, alive, alone;
His the infuriate band she sees,
All infidels-- all enemies!
What was the daring hope that then
Crost her like lightning, as again
With boldness that despair had lent
She darted tho' that armed crowd
A look so searching, so intent,
That even the sternest warrior bowed
Abasht, when he her glances caught,
As if he guessed whose form they sought.
But no-- she sees him not-- 'tis gone,
The vision that before her shone
Thro' all the maze of blood and storm,
Is fled-- 'twas but a phantom form--
One of those passing, rainbow dreams,
Half light, half shade, which Fancy's beams
Paint on the fleeting mists that roll
In trance or slumber round the soul.

But now the bark with livelier bound
Scales the blue wave-- the crew's in motion.
The oars are out and with light sound
Break the bright mirror of the ocean,
Scattering its brilliant fragments round.
And now she sees-- with horror sees,
Their course is toward that mountain-hold,--
Those towers that make her life-blood freeze,
Where MECCA'S godless enemies
Lie like beleaguered scorpions rolled
In their last deadly, venomous fold!
Amid the illumined land and flood
Sunless that mighty mountain stood;
Save where above its awful head,
There shone a flaming cloud, blood-red,
As 'twere the flag of destiny
Hung out to mark where death would be!

Had her bewildered mind the power
Of thought in this terrific hour,
She well might marvel where or how
Man's foot could scale that mountain's brow,
Since ne'er had Arab heard or known
Of path but thro' the glen alone.--
But every thought was lost in fear,
When, as their bounding bark drew near
The craggy base, she felt the waves
Hurry them toward those dismal caves
That from the Deep in windings pass
Beneath that Mount's volcanic mass;--
And loud a voice on deck commands
To lower the mast and light the brands!--
Instantly o'er the dashing tide
Within a cavern's mouth they glide,
Gloomy as that eternal Porch
Thro' which departed spirits go:--
Not even the flare of brand and torch
Its flickering light could further throw
Than the thick flood that boiled below.
Silent they floated-- as if each
Sat breathless, and too awed for speech
In that dark chasm where even sound
Seemed dark, --so sullenly around
The goblin echoes of the cave
Muttered it o'er the long black wave
As 'twere some secret of the grave!

But soft-- they pause-- the current turns
Beneath them from its onward track;--
Some mighty, unseen barrier spurns
The vexed tide all foaming back,
And scarce the oar's redoubled force
Can stem the eddy's whirling course;
When, hark! --some desperate foot has sprung
Among the rocks-- the chain is flung--
The oars are up-- the grapple clings,
And the tost bark in moorings swings.
Just then, a day-beam thro' the shade
Broke tremulous-- but ere the maid
Can see from whence the brightness steals,
Upon her brow she shuddering feels
A viewless hand that promptly ties
A bandage round her burning eyes;
While the rude litter where she lies,
Uplifted by the warrior throng,
O'er the steep rocks is borne along.

Blest power of sunshine! --genial Day,
What balm, what life is in thy ray!
To feel thee is such real bliss,
That had the world no joy but this
To sit in sunshine calm and sweet.--
It were a world too exquisite
For man to leave it for the gloom,
The deep, cold shadow of the tomb.
Even HINDA, tho' she saw not where
Or whither wound the perilous road,
Yet knew by that awakening air,
Which suddenly around her glowed,
That they had risen from the darkness there,
And breathed the sunny world again!

But soon this balmy freshness fled--
For now the steepy labyrinth led
Thro' damp and gloom-- mid crash of boughs,
And fall of loosened crags that rouse
The leopard from his hungry sleep,
Who starting thinks each crag a prey,
And long is heard from steep to steep
Chasing them down their thundering way!
The jackal's cry-- the distant moan
Of the hyena, fierce and lone--
And that eternal saddening sound
Of torrents in the glen beneath,
As 'twere the ever-dark Profound
That rolls beneath the Bridge of Death!
All, all is fearful-- even to see,
To gaze on those terrific things
She now but blindly hears, would be
Relief to her imaginings;
Since never yet was shape so dread,
But Fancy thus in darkness thrown
And by such sounds of horror fed
Could frame more dreadful of her own.

But does she dream? has Fear again
Perplext the workings of her brain,
Or did a voice, all music, then
Come from the gloom, low whispering near--
"Tremble not, love, thy Gheber's here?"
She does not dream-- all sense, all ear,
She drinks the words, "Thy Gheber's here."
'Twas his own voice-- she could not err--
Throughout the breathing world's extent
There was but one such voice for her,
So kind, so soft, so eloquent!
Oh, sooner shall the rose of May
Mistake her own sweet nightingale,
And to some meaner minstrel's lay
Open her bosom's glowing veil,[254]
Than Love shall ever doubt a tone,
A breath of the beloved one!

Though blest mid all her ills to think
She has that one beloved near,
Whose smile tho' met on ruin's brink
Hath power to make even ruin dear,--
Yet soon this gleam of rapture crost
By fears for him is chilled and lost.
How shall the ruthless HAFED brook
That one of Gheber blood should look,
With aught but curses in his eye,
On her--  a maid of ARABY--
A Moslem maid-- the child of him,
Whose bloody banners' dire success
Hath left their altars cold and dim,
And their fair land a wilderness!
And worse than all that night of blood
Which comes so fast-- Oh! who shall stay
The sword, that once hath tasted food
Of Persian hearts or turn its way?
What arm shall then the victim cover,
Or from her father shield her lover?

"Save him, my God!" she inly cries--
"Save him this night-- and if thine eyes
"Have ever welcomed with delight
"The sinner's tears, the sacrifice
"Of sinners' hearts-- guard him this night,
"And here before thy throne I swear
"From my heart's inmost core to tear
"Love, hope, remembrance, tho' they be
"Linkt with each quivering life-string there,
"And give it bleeding all to Thee!
"Let him but live, --the burning tear,
"The sighs, so sinful, yet so dear,
"Which have been all too much his own,
"Shall from this hour be Heaven's alone.
"Youth past in penitence and age
"In long and painful pilgrimage
"Shall leave no traces of the flame
"That wastes me now-- nor shall his name
"E'er bless my lips but when I pray
"For his dear spirit, that away
"Casting from its angelic ray
"The eclipse of earth, he too may shine
"Redeemed, all glorious and all Thine!
"Think-- think what victory to win
"One radiant soul like his from sin,
"One wandering star of virtue back
"To its own native, heavenward track!
"Let him but live, and both are Thine,
"Together Thine-- for blest or crost,
"Living or dead, his doom is mine,
"And if he perish, both are lost!"

-- on to Part Eight --

[240] "A wind which prevails in February, called Bidmusk, from a small and odoriferous flower of that name." --"The wind which blows these flowers commonly lasts till the end of the month." --Le Bruyn.

[241] "The Biajús are of two races: the one is settled on Borneo, and are a rude but warlike and industrious nation, who reckon themselves the original possessors of the island of Borneo. The other is a species of sea-gypsies or itinerant fishermen, who live in small covered boats, and enjoy a perpetual summer on the eastern ocean, shifting to leeward from island to island, with the variations of the monsoon." @@SOURCE??

[242] "The sweet-scented violet is one of the plants most esteemed, particularly for its great use in Sorbet, which they make of violet sugar." --Hassequist.

[243] "Last of all she took a guitar, and sang a pathetic air in the measure called Nava, which is always used to express the lamentations of absent lovers." --Persian Tales.

[244] "The Easterns used to set out on their longer voyages with music." --Harmer.

[245] "The Gate of Tears, the straits or passage into the Red Sea, commonly called Babelmandel. It received this name from the old Arabians, on account of the danger of the navigation and the number of shipwrecks by which it was distinguished; which induced them to consider as dead, and to wear mourning for all who had the boldness to hazard the passage through it into the Ethiopic ocean." --Richardson.

[246] "I have been told that whensoever an animal falls down dead, one or more vultures, unseen before, instantly appears." --Pennant.

[247] "They fasten some writing to the wings of a Bagdat, or Babylonian pigeon." --Travels of certain Englishmen.

[248] "The Empress of Jehan-Guire used to divert herself with feeding tame fish in her canals, some of which were many years afterwards known by fillets of gold, which she caused to be put round them." --Harris.

[249] The meteors that Pliny calls "faces."

[250] "The brilliant Canopus, unseen in European climates." --Brown.

[251] A precious stone of the Indies, called by the ancients, Ceraunium, because it was supposed to be found in places where thunder had fallen. Tertullian says it has a glittering appearance, as if there had fire in it; and the author of the Dissertation of Harris's Voyages, supposes it to be the opal.

[252] "The Guebres are known by a dark yellow color, which the men affect in their clothes." --Thevenot.

[253] "The Kolah, or cap, worn by the Persians, is made of the skin of the sheep of Tartary." --Waring.

[254] A frequent image among the oriental poets. "The nightingales warbled their enchanting notes, and rent the thin veils of the rose-bud, and the rose." --Jami.


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