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Maidens within their pure Zenana,
Priests in the very fane he slaughters,
Of golden shrines the sacred waters.
Alone beside his native river,
And the last arrow in his quiver.
False flew the shaft, though pointed well ;
And, when the rush of war was past,
Of morning light, she caught the last, Last glorious drop his heart had shed Before its free-born spirit fled.
“Be this," she cried, as she winged her flight, “My welcome gift at the Gates of Light. Though foul are the drops that oft distil
On the field of warfare, blood like this,
For liberty shed, so holy is,
That sparkles among the Bowers of Bliss.
“Sweet,” said the Angel, as she gave
The gift into his radiant hand,
“ Sweet is our welcome of the brave
Who die thus for their native land;
Her first fond hope of Eden blighted,
Now among Afric's lunar mountains,
Her grots, and sepulchres of kings,
To watch the moonlight on the wings
Never did mortal eye behold.
Those valleys and their fruits of gold Basking in heaven's serenest light; Those groups of lovely date trees, bending
Languidly their leaf-crowned heads, Like youthful maids, when sleep descending
Warns them to their silken beds;
Bathing their beauties in the lake,
When their belovéd sun's awake ;
Amid whose fairy loneliness
Nought but the lapwing's cry is heard,
Nought seen but (when the shadows, flitting Fast from the moon, unsheathe its gleam)
Some purple-winged sultana' sitting
Upon a column, motionless And glittering like an idol bird ! Who could have thought, that there, even there, Amid those scenes so still and fair, The Demon of the Plague hath cast From his hot wing a deadlier blast, More mortal far than ever came From the red Desert's sands of flame ! So quick, that every living thing Of human shape, touched by his wing, Like plants, where the Simoom hath past, At once falls black and withering ! The sun went down on many a brow,
Which, full of bloom and freshness then,
And ne'er will feel that sun again.
Woe to the half-dead wretch who meets
Amid the darkness of the streets !
“Poor race of men !" said the pitying Spirit,
“Dearly ye pay for your primal Fall — Some flowerets of Eden ye still inherit,
But the trail of the Serpent is over them all!” She wept — the air grew pure and clear
Around her, as the bright drops ran ; For there's a magic in each tear,
Such kindly spirits weep for man! Just then beneath some orange trees,
1 A bird of brilliant plumage.
Whose fruit and blossoms in the breeze
Close by the lake, she heard the moan
Had thither stolen to die alone. One who in life where'er he moved,
Drew after him the hearts of many; Yet now, as though he ne'er were loved,
Dies here unseen, unwept by any ! None to watch near him - none to slake
The fire that in his bosom lies, With even a sprinkle from that lake,
Which shines so cool before his eyes. No voice, well known through many a day,
To speak the last, the parting word,
Is still like distant music heard -
Deserted youth ! one thought alone
Shed joy around his soul in death — That she, whom he for years had known, And loved, and might have called his own,
Was safe from this foul midnight's breath — Safe in her father's princely halls, Where the cool airs from fountain-falls, Freshly perfumed by many a brand Of the sweet wood from India's land, Were pure as she whose brow they fanned.
But see — who yonder comes by stealth,
This melancholy bower to seek, Like a young envoy, sent by Health,
With rosy gifts upon her cheek? 'Tis she — far off, through moonlight dim
He knew his own betrothéd bride,
She, who would rather die with him,
Than live to gain the world beside! Her arms are round her lover now,
His livid cheek to hers she presses, And dips, to bind his burning brow,
In the cool lake her loosened tresses. Ah! once, how little did he think An hour would come, when he should shrink With horror from that dear embrace,
Those gentle arms, that were to him
Of Eden's infant cherubim !
The blesséd air, that's breathed by thee,
Healing or death, 'tis sweet to me! There, — drink my tears, while yet they fall,
Would that my bosom's blood were balm, And, well thou know'st, I'd shed it all
To give thy brow one minute's calm. Nay, turn not from me that dear face
Am I not thine, - thy own loved bride, The one, the chosen one, whose place
In life or death is by thy side ? Think'st thou that she, whose only light,
In this dim world, from thee hath shone,
That must be hers when thou art gone ?