(Written in her sixteenth year)
BRIGHTLY o’er spire, and dome, and tower,
The pale moon shone at midnight hour,
While all beneath her smile of light
Was resting there in calm delight;
Evening with robe of stars appears,
Bright as repentant Peri’s tears,
And o’er her turban’s fleecy fold
Night’s crescent stream’d with rays of gold,
While every crystal cloud of Heaven
Bowed as it passed the queen of even.
Beneath – calm Cashmere’s lovely vale
Breathed perfumes to the sighing gale;
The amaranth and tuberose,
Convolvulus in deep repose,
Bent to each breeze which swept their bed,
Or scarcely kissed the dew, and fled
The bulbul, with his lay of love;
Sang, ‘mid the stillness of the grove;
The gulnare blushed a deeper hue,
And trembling shed a shower of dew,
Which perfumed ere it kiss’d the ground,
Each zephyr’s pinion hovering round.
The lofty plane-tree’s haughty brow
Glitter’d beneath the moon’s pale glow;
And wide the plantain’s arms were spread,
The guardian of its native bed.
Where was Amreta at this hour?
Say! was she slumb’ring in her bower?
Or gazing on this scene of rest,
Less calm, less peaceful than her breast?
Or was she resting in the dream
Of brighter days, on Fortune’s stream?
Or was she weeping Friendship broken,
Or sighing o’er Love’s wither’d token?
No! – she was calmly resting there,
Her eye ne’er spoke of hope nor fear,
But ‘mid the blaze of splendour round,
For ever bent upon the ground,
Their long, dark lashes hid from view,
The brilliant glances which they threw.
Her cheek was neither pale nor red;
The rose, upon its summer bed,
Could never boast so faint a hue;
So faint, and yet so brilliant too!
Though round her, Cashmere’s incense streamed;
Though Persia’s gems around her beamed;
Though diamonds of Golconda shed
Their warmest lustre o’er her head
Though music lulled each fear to sleep,
Or like the night-wind o’er the deep;
Just waking love and calm delight,
Kindling Hope’s watch-fire clear and bright;
For her, though Cashmere’s roses twine
Together round the parent vine;
And though to her, as Cashmere’s star,
Knelt the once haughty Subahdar;
Still, still, Amreta gazed unmoved,
Nor sighed, nor smiled, nor owned she loved!
But, like the Parian marble there,
So bright, so exquisitely fair,
She seemed by Nature famed to bless,
Rich in surpassing loveliness.
But never from those lips of red
A single syllable had fled,
Since Amir Khan first blessed the hour
That placed Amreta in his bower;
Within that bower, ‘mid twining roses,
Upon whose leaves the breeze reposes,
She sits unmoved, while round her flow,
Strains of sweet music, sad and low;
Or now, in softer numbers breathing,
A song of love and sorrow wreathing,
Such strains as in wild sweetness ran
Through the sad breast of Amir Khan!
He loved, – and oh! – he loved so well
That sorrow scarce dared break the spell;
Though oft Suspicion whispered near
One vague, one sadly boding fear,
A fear that Heaven in wrath had made
That face with seraph-charms array’d,
And then denied in mockery there,
To breathe upon a face so fair!
Without that spark of heav’nly flame,
Which burns unchanging, still the same,
Without that bright ethereal charm,
Oh! what were beauty’s angel form?
The breeze as it sweeps o’er the poisonous flow’r,
Dripping with night’s damp blistering show’r,
Laden with woe, disease, and death,
Fading youth’s bloom with its passing breath,
Blighting each flower of various hue,
Ne’er o’er its fated victim threw
So dark a shade, a cloud so drear,
As hovered o’er the Subahdar.
Cool and refreshing sighs the breeze
Through the long walk of tzinnar-trees,
And cool upon the water’s breast
The pale moon rocks herself to rest,-
Yes! calmer, brighter, cooler far
Than the fever’d brow of the Subahdar!
Amreta was fair as the morning beam,
As it glides o’er the wave of the Wuller’s stream,
But oh! she was cold as the marble floor
That glitters beneath the nightly shower.
Where was that eye which none could scan,
Which once belonged to Amir Khan?
Where was that voice that mocked the storm?
Where was that tall, majestic form?
That eye was turn’d in love and woe
Upon Amreta’s changeless brow,
That haughty form was bending low,
That voice was utt’ring vow on vow,
Beneath the lofty plane-tree’s shade,
Before that cold Circassian maid!
“Oh speak, Amreta! – but one word!
Let one soft sigh confess I’m heard!
Those eyes (than those of yon gazelle
More bright) a tale of love might tell!
Then speak, Amreta! raise thine eye,
Blush, smile, or answer with a sigh.”
But’twas in vain – no sigh – no word
Told that his humble suit was heard;
Veiled ‘neath their silken lashes there,
Her dark eyes glanc’d no answered pray’r,
Upon her cheek no blush was straying,
Around her lip no smile was playing,
And calm despair reigned darkly now,
O’er Amir Khan’s deep-clouded brow.
What pity that so fair a form
Should want a heart with feeling warm
What pity that an eye so bright
Should beam o’er Reason’s clouded night!
And like a star on Mahmoud’s wave,
Should glitter o’er a dreary grave:
A dark abyss – a sunless day,
An endless night without one ray.
‘T was at that day, that silent hour,
When the tall poppy sheds its show’r,
When all on earth, and all on high
Seemed breathing slumber’s sweetest sigh;
At that calm hour when Peris love
To gaze upon the Heaven above,
Whose portals, bright with many a gem,
Are closed – for ever closed on them;
‘T was at this silent, solemn hour,
That, gliding from his summer bower,
The Subahdar with noiseless step
Steals like the night-breeze o’er the deep.
Where glides the haughty Subahdar?
Onward he glides to where afar
Proud Hirney-Purvet rears his head
High above Cashmere’s blooming bed,
And twines his turban’s fleecy fold
With many a brilliant ray of gold,
Or places on his brow of blue
The crescent with its silver hue;
There ‘neath a plantain’s sacred shade,
Which deep, and dark, and widely spread,
Al Shinar’s high prophetic form
Held secret counsel with the storm;
His hand had grasped, with fearless might,
The mantle of descending night;
Such matchless skill the prophet knew,
Such wond’rous feats his hand could do,
That Persia’s realm astonished saw,
And Cashmere’s valley gazed with awe!
Low bowed the lofty Amir Khan,
Before the high and mighty man,
And bending o’er the Naptha’s stream,
Which onward rolled its fiery gleam,
The Subahdar in murmurs told
Of beauteous form, of bosom cold,
Of rayless eye, of changeless cheek,
Of tongue which could or would not speak.
At length the mourner’s tale had ceased,
He crossed his hands upon his breast,
He spoke no word, he breathed no sigh,
But keenly fixed his piercing eye
Upon AI Shinar’s gloomy brow,
In all the deep despair of woe;
The Prophet paused; – his eye he raised,
And stern and earnestly he gazed,
As if to pierce the sable veil
Which would conceal the mournful tale; –
When, starting with a sudden blow,
He op’d a portal dark and low,
Which shrouded from each mortal eye
Al Shinar’s cavern broad and high;
‘T was bright, ‘t was exquisitely bright,
For founts of rich and living light
There poured their burning treasures forth,
Which sought again their parent earth.
Rich vases, with sweet incense streaming,
Mirrors a flood of brilliance beaming,
Fountain, and bath, and curling stream,
At every turn before them beam;
And marble pillars, pure and cold,
And glitt’ring roof, inlaid with gold,
And gems, and diamonds met his view
In wild and rich profusion too;
And had Amreta’s smiles been given,
This place had been the Moslem heaven!
The Prophet paused; – while Amir Khan
Gazed, awe-struck, on the wond’rous man;
Al Shinar plucked a pale blue flow’r,
Which bent beneath the fountain’s show’r,
Then slowly turned towards Amir Khan,
And placed the treasure in his hand.
“Mark me!” he cried; – ” this pensive flower,
Gathered at midnight’s magic hour,
Will charm each passion of the breast,
And calm each throbbing nerve to rest;
‘T will leave thy hounding bosom warm,
Yet set death’s seal upon thy form;
‘T will leave thee stiff, and cold, and pale,
A slumberer ‘neath an icy veil,
But still shall Reason’s conscious reign
Unbroken, undisturbed remain,
And thou shalt hear, and feel, and know
Each sigh, each touch, each throb of woe!”
Go, thou! and if Amreta be
Worthy of love, and worthy thee,
When she beholds thee pale and cold,
Wrapped in the damp sepulchral fold; –
When her eye wanders for that glow
Once burning on thy marble brow;
Then, if her bosom’s icy frame
Hath ever warmed ‘neath passion’s flame,
‘T will heave tumultuous as it glows
Like Baikal’s everlasting throes;
And it, to-morrow eve, you press
This pale cold flow’ret to your breast,
Ere morning smiles, its spell will prove
If that cold heart BE WORTH thy love! –
(Lucretia Maria Davidson)
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Based on Keywords: watch-fire, convolvulus, golconda, peri, night-breeze, glanc, plane-tree, shinar, peris, tuberose, hounding