Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

Though bent on earth thine evil eye,
As meteor-like thou glidest by,
Right well I view and deem thee one
Whom Othman's sons should slay or shun.

On-on he hasten'd, and he drew
My gaze of wonder as he flew :
Though like a demon of the night
He pass'd, and vanish'd from my sight,
His aspect and his air impress'd

A troubled memory on my breast,
And long upon my startled ear
Rung his dark courser's hoofs of fear.
He spurs his steed; he nears the steep,
That, jutting, shadows o'er the deep;
He winds around; he hurries by ;
The rock relieves him from mine eye;
For well I ween unwelcome he
Whose glance is fix'd on those that flee;
And not a star but shines too bright
On him who takes such timeless flight.
He wound along; but ere he pass'd
One glance he snatch'd, as if his last,
A moment check'd his wheeling steed,
A moment breathed him from his speed,
A moment on his stirrup stood-
Why looks he o'er the olive wood?
The crescent glimmers on the hill,
The Mosque's high lamps are quivering still :
Though too remote for sound to wake
In echoes of the far tophaike, 1

The flashes of each joyous peal
Are seen to prove the Moslem's zeal,
To-night, set Rhamazani's sun;
To-night, the Bairam feast's begun ;
To-night-but who and what art thou
Of foreign garb and fearful brow?
And what are these to thine or thee,
That thou should'st either pause or flee?

[blocks in formation]

✦ Jerreed, or Djerrid, a blunted Turkish javelin, which is darted from horseback with great force and precision. It is a favourite exercise of the Mussulmans; but I know not if it can be called a manly one, since the most pert in the art are the Black Eunuchs of Constantinople. I think, next to these, a Mamlouk at Smyrna was the most skilful that came within my observation.

[Every gesture of the impetuous horseman is full of anxiety and passion. In the midst of his career, whilst in full view of the astonished spectator, he suddenly checks his steed, and rising on his stirrup, surveys, with a look of agonis. ing impatience, the distant city illuminated for the feast of Bairam; then pale with anger, raises his arm as if in menace of an invisible enemy; but awakened from his trance of passion by the neighing of his charger, again hurries forward, and disappears. GEORGE ELLIS.]

His brow was bent, his eye was glazed;
He raised his arm, and fiercely raised,
And sternly shook his hand on high,
As doubting to return or fly;

Impatient of his flight delay'd,
Here loud his raven charger neigh'd-

Down glanced that hand, and grasp'd his blade; 3
That sound had burst his waking dream,
As Slumber starts at owlet's scream.

The spur hath lanced his courser's sides;
Away, away, for life he rides :
Swift as the hurl'd on high jerreed +
Springs to the touch his startled steed;
The rock is doubled, and the shore
Shakes with the clattering tramp no more;
The crag is won, no more is seen
His Christian crest and haughty mien.
"T was but an instant he restrain'd
That fiery barb so sternly rein'd; 6
"T was but a moment that he stood,
Then sped as if by death pursued:
But in that instant o'er his soul
Winters of Memory seem'd to roll,
And gather in that drop of time
A life of pain, an age of crime.
O'er him who loves, or hates, or fears,
Such moment pours the grief of years:
What felt he then, at once opprest
By all that most distracts the breast?
That pause, which ponder'd o'er his fate,
Oh, who its dreary length shall date!
Though in Time's record nearly nought,
It was Eternity to Thought!
For infinite as boundless space

The thought that Conscience must embrace,
Which in itself can comprehend
Woe without name, or hope, or end.

The hour is past, the Giaour is gone; And did he fly or fall alone? 7 Woe to that hour he came or went! The curse for Hassan's sin was sent To turn a palace to a tomb: He came, he went, like the Simoom, 8 That harbinger of fate and gloom,

6 ["'T was but an instant, though so long When thus dilated in my song.' ." -MS.]

7 ["But neither fled nor fell alone.".

- MS.] 8 The blast of the desert, fatal to every thing living, and often alluded to in eastern poetry. [Abyssinian Bruce gives, perhaps, the liveliest account of the appearance and effects of the suffocating blast of the Desert:" At eleven o'clock," he says, "while we contemplated with great pleasure the rugged top of Chiggre, to which we were fast approaching, and where we were to solace ourselves with plenty of good water, Idris, our guide, cried out with a loud voice, Fall upon your faces; for here is the simoom.' I saw from the south-east a haze come, in colour like the purple part of the rainbow, but not so compressed or thick. It did not occupy twenty yards in breadth, and was about twelve feet high from the ground. It was a kind of blush upon the air, and it moved very rapidly; for I scarce could turn to fall upon the ground, with my head to the northward, when I felt the heat of its current plainly upon my face. We all lay flat on the ground as if dead, till Idris told us it was blown over. The meteor, or purple haze, which I saw was, indeed, passed, but the light air, which still blew, was of a heat to threaten suffocation. For my part, I found distinctly in my breast that I had imbibed a part of it; nor was 1 free of an asthmatic sensation till I had been some months in Italy, at the baths of Poretta, near two years afterwards.". -See Bruce's Life and Travels, p. 470. edit. 1830.]

F

Beneath whose widely-wasting breath
The very cypress droops to death
Dark tree, still sad when others' grief is fled,
The only constant mourner o'er the dead!

The steed is vanish'd from the stall; No serf is seen in Hassan's hall; The lonely Spider's thin gray pall Waves slowly widening o'er the wall; 1 The Bat builds in his Haram bower, And in the fortress of his power

The Owl usurps the beacon-tower;

The wild-dog howls o'er the fountain's brim,
With baffled thirst, and famine, grim;
For the stream has shrunk from its marble bed,
Where the weeds and the desolate dust are spread.
"T was sweet of yore to see it play
And chase the sultriness of day,
As springing high the silver dew
In whirls fantastically flew,

And flung luxurious coolness round

The air, and verdure o'er the ground.
'T was sweet, when cloudless stars were bright,

To view the wave of watery light,

And hear its melody by night.

And oft had Hassan's Childhood play'd
Around the verge of that cascade;
And oft upon his mother's breast

That sound had harmonized his rest;
And oft had Hassan's Youth along
Its bank been soothed by Beauty's song;
And softer seem'd each melting tone
Of Music mingled with its own.
But ne'er shall Hassan's Age repose
Along the brink at twilight's close:
The stream that fill'd that font is filed-
The blood that warm'd his heart is shed!$
And here no more shall human voice
Be heard to rage, regret, rejoice.
The last sad note that swell'd the gale
Was woman's wildest funeral wail:
That quench'd in silence, all is still,
But the lattice that flaps when the wind is shrill:
Though raves the gust, and floods the rain,
No hand shall close its clasp again. 4
On desert sands 't were joy to scan
The rudest steps of fellow man,

["The lonely spider's thin gray pall

Is curtained on the splendid wall."— MS.]

2 ["The wild-dog howis o'er the fountain's brink, But vainly tells his tongue to drink."- MS. 3 [For thirsty fox and jackal gaunt

May vainly for its waters pant."-MS.]

4 [This part of the narrative not only contains much brilliant and just description, but is managed with unusual taste. The fisherman has, hitherto, related nothing more than the extraordinary phenomenon which had excited his curiosity, and of which it is his immediate object to explain the cause to his hearers; but instead of proceeding to do so, he stops to vent his execrations on the Giaour, to describe the solitude of Hassan's once luxurious haram, and to lament the untimely death of the owner, and of Leila, together with the cessation of that hospitality which they had uniformly experienced. He reveals, as if unintentionally and unconsciously, the catastrophe of his story; but he thus prepares his appeal to the sympathy of his audience, without much diminishing their suspense. GEORGE ELLIS.]

5 ["I have just recollected an alteration you may make in the proof. Among the lines on Hassan's Serai, is this • Unmeet for solitude to share.' Now, to share implies more than one, and Solitude is a single gentleman; it must be thus ——

So here the very voice of Grief
Might wake an Echo like relief-
At least 't would say, "All are not gone;
There lingers Life, though but in one"
For many a gilded chamber's there,
Which Solitude might well forbear; 5
Within that dome as yet Decay
Hath slowly work'd her cankering way—
But gloom is gather'd o'er the gate,
Nor there the Fakir's self will wait;
Nor there will wandering Dervise stay,
For bounty cheers not his delay;
Nor there will weary stranger halt
To bless the sacred" bread and salt."6
Alike must Wealth and Poverty
Pass heedless and unheeded by,
For Courtesy and Pity died

With Hassan on the mountain side.
His roof, that refuge unto men,

Is Desolation's hungry den.

The guest flies the hall, and the vassal from labour, Since his turban was cleft by the infidel's sabre 17

[blocks in formation]

9 Green is the privileged colour of the prophet's numerous pretended descendants; with them, as here, faith (the family inheritance) is supposed to supersede the necessity of good works: they are the worst of a very indifferent brood.

·

10"Salam aleikoum! aleikoum salam!" peace be with you; be with you peace-the salutation reserved for the faithful: to a Christian, "Urlarula," a good journey; or "saban hiresem, saban serula;" good morn, good even; and sometimes," may your end be happy;" are the usual salutes.

Sullen it plunged, and slowly sank, The calm wave rippled to the bank; I watch'd it as it sank, methought Some motion from the current caught Bestirr'd it more, —'t was but the beam That checker'd o'er the living stream: I gazed, till vanishing from view, Like lessening pebble it withdrew; Still less and less, a speck of white That gemm'd the tide, then mock'd the sight; And all its hidden secrets sleep, Known but to Genii of the deep, Which, trembling in their coral caves, They dare not whisper to the waves.

As rising on its purple wing
The insect-queen of eastern spring,
O'er emerald meadows of Kashmeer
Invites the young pursuer near,
And leads him on from flower to flower
A weary chase and wasted hour,
Then leaves him, as it soars on high,
With panting heart and tearful eye :
So Beauty lures the full-grown child,
With hue as bright, and wing as wild;
A chase of idle hopes and fears,
Begun in folly, closed in tears.
If won, to equal ills betray'd, 2

Woe waits the insect and the maid;
A life of pain, the loss of peace,
From infant's play, and man's caprice :
The lovely toy so fiercely sought
Hath lost its charm by being caught,
For every touch that woo'd its stay
Hath brush'd its brightest hues away,
Till charm, and hue, and beauty gone,
"Tis left to fly or fall alone.

With wounded wing, or bleeding breast,
Ah! where shall either victim rest?
Can this with faded pinion soar
From rose to tulip as before?

Or Beauty, blighted in an hour,
Find joy within her broken bower?
No gayer insects fluttering by
Ne'er droop the wing o'er those that die,
And lovelier things have mercy shown
To every failing but their own,
And every woe a tear can claim
Except an erring sister's shame.

The Mind, that broods o'er guilty woes,
Is like the Scorpion girt by fire,3

In circle narrowing as it glows, 4
The flames around their captive close,

The blue-winged butterfly of Kashmeer, the most rare and beautiful of the species.

[If caught, to fate alike betrayed.” — MS.]

Mr. Dallas says, that Lord Byron assured him that the paragraph containing the simile of the scorpion was imagined in his sleep. It forms, therefore, a pendant to the " psychological curiosity," beginning with those exquisitely musical

lines:

"A damsel with a dulcimer In a vision once I saw ;

It was an Abyssinian maid," &c.

The whole of which, Mr. Coleridge says, was composed by him during a siesta.]

Till inly search'd by thousand throes,

And maddening in her ire,
One sad and sole relief she knows,

The sting she nourish'd for her foes,
Whose venom never yet was vain,
Gives but one pang, and cures all pain,
And darts into her desperate brain:
So do the dark in soul expire,

Or live like Scorpion girt by fire; 5
So writhes the mind Remorse hath riven, 6
Unfit for earth, undoom'd for heaven,
Darkness above, despair beneath,
Around it flame, within it death!

Black Hassan from the Haram flies, Nor bends on woman's form his eyes; The unwonted chase each hour employs, Yet shares he not the hunter's joys. Not thus was Hassan wont to fly When Leila dwelt in his Serai. Doth Leila there no longer dwell? That tale can only Hassan tell : Strange rumours in our city say Upon that eve she fled away When Rhamazan's 7 last sun was set, And flashing from each minaret Millions of lamps proclaim'd the feast Of Bairam through the boundless East. "T was then she went as to the bath, Which Hassan vainly search'd in wrath; For she was flown her master's rage In likeness of a Georgian page, And far beyond the Moslem's power Had wrong'd him with the faithless Giaour. Somewhat of this had Hassan deem'd; But still so fond, so fair she seem'd, Too well he trusted to the slave Whose treachery deserved a grave: And on that eve had gone to mosque, And thence to feast in his kiosk.

Such is the tale his Nubians tell,
Who did not watch their charge too well;

But others say, that on that night,

By pale Phingari's 8 trembling light,
The Giaour upon his jet black steed
Was seen, but seen alone to speed
With bloody spur along the shore,
Nor maid nor page behind him bore.

Her eye's dark charm 't were vain to tell, But gaze on that of the Gazelle,. It will assist thy fancy well;

As large, as languishingly dark,
But Soul beam'd forth in every spark

["The gathering flames around her close."- MS.]

Alluding to the dubious suicide of the scorpion, so placed for experiment by gentle philosophers. Some maintain that the position of the sting, when turned towards the head, is merely a convulsive movement; but others have actually brought in the verdict "Felo de se." The scorpions are surely interested in a speedy decision of the question; as, if once fairly established as insect Catos, they will probably be allowed to live as long as they think proper, without being martyred for the sake of an hypothesis.

["So writhes the mind by Conscience riven."- MS.]

7 The cannon at sunset close the Rhamazan. See antè, p. 65. note. 8 Phingari, the moon.

That darted from beneath the lid,
Bright as the jewel of Giamschid. '
Yea, Soul, and should our prophet say
That form was nought but breathing clay,
By Alla! I would answer nay;
Though on Al-Sirat's arch I stood,
Which totters o'er the fiery flood,
With Paradise within my view,
And all his Houris 3 beckoning through.
Oh! who young Leila's glance could read
And keep that portion of his creed,
Which saith that woman is but dust,
A soulless toy for tyrant's lust? 4
On her might Muftis gaze, and own
That through her eye the Immortal shone ;
On her fair cheek's unfading hue

5

The young pomegranate's blossoms strew
Their bloom in blushes ever new;
Her hair in hyacinthine 6 flow,

When left to roll its folds below,
As midst her handmaids in the hall
She stood superior to them all,
Hath swept the marble where her feet
Gleam'd whiter than the mountain sleet
Ere from the cloud that gave it birth
It fell, and caught one stain of earth.
The cygnet nobly walks the water;
So moved on earth Circassia's daughter,
The loveliest bird of Franguestan! 7
As rears her crest the ruffled Swan,

And spurns the wave with wings of pride, When pass the steps of stranger man

Along the banks that bound her tide; Thus rose fair Leila's whiter neck: Thus arm'd with beauty would she check Intrusion's glance, till Folly's gaze Shrunk from the charms it meant to praise : Thus high and graceful was her gait; Her heart as tender to her mate; Her mate-stern Hassan, who was he? Alas! that name was not for thee!

Stern Hassan hath a journey ta'en With twenty vassals in his train, Each arm'd, as best becomes a man, With arquebuss and ataghan; The chief before, as deck'd for war, Bears in his belt the scimitar

1 The celebrated fabulous ruby of Sultan Giamschid, the embellisher of Istakhar; from its splendour, named Schebgerag," the torch of night;" also "the cup of the sun," &c. In the first edition. "Giamschid " was written as a word of three syllables; so D'Herbelot has it; but I am told Richardson reduces it to a dissyllable, and writes "Jamshid." I have left in the text the orthography of the one with the pronunciation of the other.[In the first edition, Lord Byron had used this word as a trisyllable, -" Bright as the gem of Giamschid," but, on my remarking to him, upon the authority of Richardson's Persian Dictionary, that this was incorrect, he altered it to "Bright as the ruby of Giamschid." On seeing this, however, I wrote to him, "that, as the comparison of his heroine's eye to a ruby might unluckily call up the idea of its being bloodshot, he had better change the line to" Bright as the jewel of Giamschid, "which he accordingly did, in the following edition. - MOORE.]

2 Al-Sirat, the bridge of breadth, narrower than the thread of a famished spider, and sharper than the edge of a sword, over which the Mussulmans must skate into Paradise, to which it is the only entrance; but this is not the worst, the river beneath being hell itself, into which, as may be expected, the unskilful and tender of foot contrive to tumble with a "facilis descensus Averni," not very pleasing in prospect to

Stain'd with the best of Arnaut blood,
When in the pass the rebels stood,
And few return'd to tell the tale
Of what befell in Parne's vale.
The pistols which his girdle bore
Were those that once a pasha wore,

Which still, though gemm'd and boss'd with goid,

Even robbers tremble to behold.

"Tis said he goes to woo a bride
More true than her who left his side;

The faithless slave that broke her bower,
And, worse than faithless, for a Giaour!

The sun's last rays are on the hill, And sparkle in the fountain rill, Whose welcome waters, cool and clear, Draw blessings from the mountaineer: Here may the loitering merchant Greek Find that repose 't were vain to seek In cities lodged too near his lord, And trembling for his secret hoardHere may he rest where none can see, In crowds a slave, in deserts free; And with forbidden wine may stain The bowl a Moslem must not drain.

The foremost Tartar's in the gap, Conspicuous by his yellow cap; The rest in lengthening line the while Wind slowly through the long defile: Above, the mountain rears a peak, Where vultures whet the thirsty beak, And theirs may be a feast to-night, Shall tempt them down ere morrow's light; Beneath, a river's wintry stream Has shrunk before the summer beam, And left a channel bleak and bare, Save shrubs that spring to perish there: Each side the midway path there lay Small broken crags of granite gray, By time, or mountain lightning, riven From summits clad in mists of heaven; For where is he that hath beheld The peak of Liakura unveil'd?

[blocks in formation]

They reach the grove of pine et last: "Bismillah! now the peril's past; For yonder view the opening plain, And there we'll prick our steeds amain: " The Chiaus spake, and as he said, A bullet whistled o'er his head;

The foremost Tartar bites the ground!?
Scarce had they time to check the rein,
Swift from their steeds the riders bound;
But three shall never mount again :
Unseen the foes that gave the wound,
The dying ask revenge in vain.
With steel unsheath'd, and carbine bent,
Some o'er their courser's harness leant,

Half shelter'd by the steed; Some fly behind the nearest rock, And there await the coming shock,

Nor tamely stand to bleed Beneath the shaft of foes unseen, Who dare not quit their craggy screen. Stern Hassan only from his horse Disdains to light, and keeps his course, Till fiery flashes in the van Proclaim too sure the robber-clan Have well secured the only way Could now avail the promised prey; Then curl'd his very beard with ire, And glared his eye with fiercer fire: "Though far and near the bullets hiss, I've 'scaped a bloodier hour than this." And now the foe their covert quit, And call his vassals to submit; But Hassan's frown and furious word Are dreaded more than hostile sword, Nor of his little band a man Resign'd carbine or ataghan, Nor raised the craven cry, Amaun! 4 In fuller sight, more near and near, The lately ambush'd foes appear, And, issuing from the grove, advance Some who on battle-charger prance. Who leads them on with foreign brand, Far flashing in his red right hand? "Tis he! 'tis he! I know him now; I know him by his pallid brow; I know him by the evil eye 5 That aids his envious treachery; I know him by his jet-black barb: Though now array'd in Arnaut garb, Apostate from his own vile faith, It shall not save him from the death: "Tis he! well met in any hour, Lost Leila's love, accursed Giaour!"

[blocks in formation]

While eddying whirl, and breaking wave,
Roused by the blast of winter. rave;
Through sparkling spray, in thundering clash,
The lightnings of the waters flash
In awful whiteness o'er the shore,
That shines and shakes beneath the roar;
Thus as the stream and ocean greet,
With waves that madden as they meet-
Thus join the bands, whom mutual wrong,
And fate, and fury, drive along.
The bickering sabres' shivering jar;

And pealing wide or ringing near
Its echoes on the throbbing ear,
The deathshot hissing from afar ;
The shock, the shout, the groan of war,

Reverberate along that vale,

More suited to the shepherd's tale: Though few the numbers. - theirs the strife, That neither spares nor speaks for life!6 Ah! fondly youthful hearts can press, To seize and share the dear caress; But Love itself could never pant For all that Beauty sighs to grant With half the fervour Hate bestows Upon the last embrace of foes, When grappling in the fight they fold Those arms that ne'er shall lose their hold: Friends meet to part; Love laughs at faith; True foes, once met, are join'd till death!

With sabre shiver'd to the hilt,
Yet dripping with the blood he spilt;
Yet strain'd within the sever'd hand
Which quivers round that faithless brand;
His turban far behind him roll'd,
And cleft in twain its firmest fold;
His flowing robe by falchion torn,
And crimson as those clouds of morn
That, streak'd with dusky red, portend
The day shall have a stormy end;
A stain on every bush that bore
A fragment of his palampore, 7

His breast with wounds unnumber'd riven,
His back to earth, his face to heaven,
Fall'n Hassan lies-his unclosed eye
Yet lowering on his enemy,

As if the hour that seal'd his fate
Surviving left his quenchless hate;
And o'er him bends that foe with brow
As dark as his that bled below.

"Yes, Leila sleeps beneath the wave, But his shall be a redder grave; Her spirit pointed well the steel Which taught that felon heart to feel. He call'd the Prophet, but his power Was vain against the vengeful Giaour:

were expected every moment to change their colour, but at last condescended to subside, which, probably, saved more heads than they contained hairs.

4" Amaun," quarter, pardon.

The "evil eye," a common superstition in the Levant, and of which the imaginary effects are yet very singular on those who conceive themselves affected.

5 ["That neither gives nor asks for life."- - MS.]

? The flowered shawls generally worn by persons of rank.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »