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In the fierce eyes that flash'd around;
And saw those towers, all desolate,
That o'er her head terrific frown'd,
As if defying e'en the smile
Of that soft heaven to gild their pile.
In vain, with mingled hope and fear,
She looks for him whose voice so dear
Had come, like music, to her ear-
Strange, mocking dream! again 't is fled.
And oh! the shoots, the pangs of dread
That through her inmost bosom run,
When voices from without proclaim “ Hafed, the chief!"-and, one by one,
The warriors shout that fearful name ! He comes-the rock resounds his treadHow shall she dare to lift her head, Or meet those eyes, whose scorching glare Not Yemen's boldest sons can bear? In whose red beam, the Moslem tells, Such rank and deadly lustre dwells, As in those hellish fires that light The mındrake's charnel leaves at night! How shall she bear that voice's tone, At whose loud battle-cry alone Whole squadrons oft in panic ran, Scatter'd, like some vast caravan, When, stretch'd at evening, round the well, They hear the thirsting tiger's yell ?
Breathless she stands, with eyes cast down,
Shrinking beneath the fiery frown,
Which, fancy tells her, from that brow
Is flashing o'er her fiercely now;
And shuddering, as she hears the tread
Of his retiring warrior band. -
Never was pause so full of dread;
Till Hafed, with a trembling hand,
Took hers, and, leaning o'er her, said,
** Hinda!”--that word was all he spoke,
And 't was enough-the shriek that broke
From her full bosom told the rest.-
Panting with terror, joy, surprise,
The maid but lifts her wondering eyes
To hide them on her Gheber's breast !
"Tis he, 't is he—the man of blood,
The fellest of the fire-fiend's brood,
Hafed, the demon of the fight,
Whose voice unnerves, whose glances blight,-
Is her own loved Gheber, mild
And glorious as when first he smiled
In her lone tower, and left such beams
Of his pure eye to light her dreams,
That she believed her bower had given
Rest to some wanderer from heaven!
E’en he, this youth-though dimm’d and gone
Each star of hope that cheer'd him on-
His glories lost—his cause betray'd
Iran, his dear-loved country, made
A land of carcasses and slaves,
One dreary waste of chains and graves !
Himself but lingering, dead at heart,
To see the last, long-struggling breath
Of liberty's great soul depart,
Then lay him down, and share her deathE'en he, so sunk in wretchedness,
With doom still darker guthering o'er him, Yet, in this moment's pure caress,
In the mild eyes that shone before him,
Beaming that blest assurance, worth
All other transports known on earth,
That he was loved-well, warmly loved
Oh! in this precious hour he proved
How deep, how thorough-felt the glow
Of rapture, kindling out of wo;-
How exquisite one single drop
Of bliss, thus sparkling to the top
Of misery's cup—how keenly quaff'd,
Though death must follow on the draught!
She too, while gazing on those eyes
That sink into her soul so deep,
Forgets all fears, all miseries,
Or feels them like the wretch in sleep,
Whom fancy cheats into a smile,
Who dreams of joy, and sobs the while !
The mighty ruins where they stood,
Upon the mount's high, rocky verge,
Lay open towards the ocean food,
Where lightly o'er the illumined surge
Many a fair bark, that, all the day,
Had lurk'd in sheltering creek or bay,
Now bounded on and gave their sails,
Yet dripping, to the evening gales;
Like eagles, when the storm is done,
Spreading their wet wings in the sun.
The beauteous clouds, though daylight's star
Had sunk behind the hills of Lar,
Were still with lingering glories bright,
As if to grace the gorgeous west,
The spirit of departing light
That eve had left its sunny vest
Behind him, ere he wing’d his flight.
Never was scene so form'd for love!
Beneath them waves of crystal move
In silent swell-heaven glows above,
And their pure hearts, to transport given,
Swell like the wave, and glow like heaven.
But ah ! too soon that dream is past-
Again, again her fear returns;
Night, dreadful night, is gathering fast,
More faintly the horizon burns,
And every rosy tint that lay
On the smooth sea hath died away.
Hastily to the darkening skies
A glance she casts—then wildly cries,
“ At night, he said—and, look, 't is near-
Fly, fly-if yet thou lovest me, fly-
Soon will his murderous band be here,
And I shall see thee bleed and die.
Moments there are, and this was one,
Snatch'd like a minute's gleam of sun
Amid the black simoom's eclipse-
Or like those verdant spots that bloom Around the crater's burning lips,
Sweetening the very edge of doom ! The past—the future-all that fate Can bring of dark or desperate Around such hours, but makes them cast Intenser radiance while they last !
Hush !-heard'st thou not the tramp of men Sounding from yonder fearful glen ?Perhaps e'en now they climb the wood
Fly, fly—though still the west is bright, He'll come-oh! yes—he wants thy blood
I know him-he'll not wait for night!" In terrors e'en to agony
She clings around the wondering chief; “ Alas, poor wilder'd maid ! to me
Thou owest this raving trance of grief.
Lost as I am, nought ever grew
Beneath my shade but perish'd too-
My doom is like the Dead Sea air,
And nothing lives that enters there!
Why were our barks together driven
Beneath this morning's furious heaven ?
Why, when I saw the prize that chance
Had thrown into my desperate arms,
When, casting but a single glance
Upon thy pale and prostrate charms, I vow'd (though watching viewless o'er
Thy safety through that hour's alarms) To meet the unmanning sight no moreWhy have I broke that heart-wrung vow ? Why weakly, madly met thee now ?Start not—that noise is but the shock
Of torrents through yon valley hurld-
Dread nothing here-upon this rock
We stand above the jarring world,
Alike beyond its hope—its dread-
In gloomy safety, like the dead !
Or, could e'en earth and hell unite
In league to storm this sacred height,
Fear nothing thou—myself, to-night,
And each o'erlooking stars that dwells
Near God, will be thy sentinels ;
And, ere to-morrow's dawn shall glow,
Back to thy sire-
« To-morrow !--no"
The maiden scream'd thou 'lt never see
To-morrow's sun-death, death will be
The night-cry through each reeking tower,
Unless we fly, ay, fly this hour!
Thou art betray'd_some wretch who knew
That dreadful glen's mysterious clew-
Nay, doubt not-hy yon stars 't is true-
Hath sold thee to my vengeful sire ;
This morning, with that smile so dire
He wears in joy, he told me all,
And stamp'd in triumph through our hall,
As though thy heart already beat
Its last life-throb beneath his feet !
Good heaven, how little dream'd I then
His victim was my own loved youth !Fly--send-let some one watch the glen
By all my hopes of heaven 't is truth!” Oh! colder than the wind that freezes
Founts, that but now in sunshine play'd, Is that congealing pang which seizes
The trusting bosom, when betray'd.
He felt it-deeply felt—and stood,
As if the tale had frozen his blood,
So amazed and motionless was he ;-
Like one whom sudden spells enchant,
Or some mute, marble habitant
Of the still halls of Ishmonie !
But soon the painful chill was o'er,
And his great soul, herself once more,
Look'd from his brow in all the rays
Of her best, happiest, grandest days!
Never, in moment most elate,
Did that high spirit loftier rise ;-
While bright, serene, determinate,
His looks are lifted to the skies,
As if the signal lights of fate
Were shining in those awful eyes !
'Tis come-his hour of martyrdom
In Iran's sacred cause is come ;
And though his life hath pass'd away
Like lightning on a stormy day,
Yet shall his death-hour leave a track
Of glory, permanent and bright,
To which the brave of aftertimes,
The suffering brave shall long look back
With proud regret, -and by its light,
Watch through the hours of slavery's night For vengeance on the oppressor's crimes! This rock, his monument aloft,
Shall speak the tale to many an age;
And hither bards and heroes oft
Shall come in secret pilgrimage,
And bring their warrior sons, and tell
The wondering boys where Hafed fell,
And swear them on those lone remains
Of their lost country's ancient fanes,
Never-while breath of life shall live
Within them-never to forgive
The accursed race, whose ruthless chain
Hath left on Iran's neck a stain,
Blood, blood alone can cleanse again!
Such are the swelling thoughts that now
Enthrone themselves on Hafed's brow :
And ne'er did Saint of Issa gaze
On the red wreath, for martyrs twined,
More proudly than the youth surveys
That pile, which through the gloom behind, Half-lighted by the altar's fire, Glimmers,—his destined funeral pyre! Heap'd by his own, his comrade's hands,
Of every wood of odorous breath, There, by the Fire-god's shrine it stands,
Ready to fold in radiant death The few still left of those who swore To perish there, when hope was o'erThe few, to whom that couch of flame, Which rescues them from bonds and shame, Is sweet and welcome as the bed For their own infant Prophet spread, When pitying Heaven to roses turn'd The death-tlames that beneath him burn'd! With watchfulness the maid attends His rapid glance, where'er it bendsWhy shoots his eyes such awful beams? What plans he now? what thinks or dreams? Alas! why stands he musing here, When every moment teems with fear? “ Hafed, my own beloved lord,” She kneeling cries—« first, last adored !
When the roused youth impatient flew
To the tower-wall, where, high in view,
A ponderous sea-horn hung, and blew
A signal, deep and dread as those
The storm-fiend at his rising blows.
Full well his chieftains, sworn and true
Through life and death, that signal knew;
For 't was the appointed warning blast,
The alarm to tell when hope was past,
And the tremendous death-vie cast!
And there, upon the mouldering tower,
Hath hung this sea-horn many an hour,
Ready to sound o'er land and sea
That dirge-note of the brave and free.
If in that soul thou'st ever felt
Half what thy lips impassion'd swore,
Here, on my knees, that never knelt
To any but their God before,
I pray thee, as thou lovest me, fy-
Now, now-ere yet their blades are nigh.
Oh haste-the bark that bore me hither
Can waft us o'er yon darkening sea
East-West—alas, I care not whither,
So thou art safe, and I with thee!
Go where we will, this hand in thine,
Those eyes before me smiling thus,
Through good and ill, through storm and shine.
The world's a world of love for us!
On some calm, blessed shore we'll dwell,
Where 't is no crime to love too well ;-
Where thus to worship tenderly
An erring child of light like thee,
Will not be sin-or, if it be,
Where we may weep our faults away,
Together kneeling, night and day,
Thou, for my sake, at Alla's shrine,
And I—at any God's for thine !"
Wildly those passionate words she spoke-
Then hung her head, and wept for shame,
Sobbing, as if a heart-string broke
With every deep-heaved sob that came.
While he, young, warm-oh! wonder not
If, for a moment, pride and fame,
His oath—his cause—that shrine of fame,
And Iran's self are all forgot
For her whom at his feet he sees,
Kneeling in speechless agonies.
No, blame him not, if hope awhile
Dawn'd in his soul, and threw her smile
O'er hours to come-o'er days and nights,
Wing'd with those precious, pure delights
Which she, who bends all beauteous there,
Was born to kindle and to share!
A tear or two, which, as he bow'd
To raise the suppliant, trembling stole,
First warn'd him of this dangerous cloud
Of softness passing o'er his soul.
Starting, he brush'd the drops away,
Unworthy o'er that cheek to stray ;-
Like one who, on the morn of fight,
Shakes from his sword the dews of night,
That had but dimm'd, not stain'd its light.
Yet, though subdued the unnerving thrill,
Its warmth, its weakness linger'd still
So touching in each look and tone,
That the fond, fearing, hoping maid
Half counted on the flight she pray'd,
Half thought the hero's soul was grown
As soft, as yielding as her own;
And smiled and bless'd him, while he said, -
* Yes—if there be some happier sphere,
Where fadeless truth like ours is dear-
If there he any land of rest
For those who love and ne'er forget,
Ol! comfort thee—for safe and blest
We'll meet in that calm region yet!"
Scarce had she time to ask her heart
If good or ill these words impart,
They came-his chieftains at the call
Came slowly round, and with them all
Alas, how few! the worn remains
Of those who late o'er Kerman's plains
Went gayly prancing to the clash
of Moorish zel and ty mbalon, Catching new hope from every flash
of their long lances in the sun And, as their coursers charged the wind, And the wide ox-tails stream'd behind, Looking, as if the steeds they rode Were wing’d, and every chief a god ! How fallen, how alter'd now! how wan Each scarr'd and faded visage shone, As round the burning shrine they came ;
How deadly was the glare it cast, As mute they paused before the flame
To light their torches as they pass'd ! 'T was silence all--the youth had plann'd The duties of his soldier-band ; And each determined brow declares His faithful chieftains well know theirs.
But minutes speed—night gems the skies“
And oh how soon, ye blessed eyes,
That look from heaven, ye may behold
Sights that will turn your star-fires cold !
Breathless with awe, impatience, hope,
The maiden sees the veteran group
Her litter silently prepare,
And lay it at her trembling feet ;-
And now the youth, with gentle care,
Hath placed her in the shelter'd seat, And press'd her hand—that lingering press
Of hands, that for the last time sever; Of hearts, whose pulse of happiness,
When that hold breaks, is dead for ever. And yet to her this sad caress
Gives hope-so fondly hope can err! 'T was joy, she thought, joy's mute excess-
Their happy flight's dear harbinger; 'Twas warinth--assurance--tenderness
'Twas any thing but leaving her.
“ Haste, haste!" she cried, " the clouds grow dark, But still, ere night, we'll reach the bark ; And, by to-morrow's dawn--oh bliss !
With thec upon the sun-bright deep, Far off, I'll but remember this,
As some dark vanish'd dream of sleep !
And thou but ah !-he answers not
Good Heav'n !_and does she go alone ? She now has reach'd that dismal spot,
Where, some hours since, his voice's tone Had come to soothe her fears and ills, Sweet as the Angel Isratil's, When every leaf on Eden's tree Is trembling to his minstrelsyYet now-oh now, he is not nigh
“ Hafed ! my Hafed !-if it be
Thy will, thy doom this night to die,
Let me but stay to die with thee,
And I will bless thy loved name,
Till the last life-breath leave this frame.
Oh! let our lips, our cheeks be laid
But near each other while they fade :
Let us but mix our parting breaths,
And I can die ten thousand deaths !
You too, who hurry me away
So cruelly, one moment stay-
Oh! stay-one moment is not much ;
He yet may come-for him I pray-
Hafed! dear Hafed !"— All the way
In wild lamentings, that would touch A heart of stone, she shriek'd his name To the dark woods-no Hafed came;No-hapless pair---you've look'd your last ;
Your hearts should both have broken then: The dream is o'er-your doom is cast,
You'll never meet on earth again!
Alas for him, who hears her cries!
Still half-way down the steep he stands, Watching with fix'd and feverish eyes
The glimmer of those burning brands, That down the rocks, with mournful ray, Light all he loves on earth away! Hopeless as they who, far at sea,
By the cold moon have just consign'd
The corse of one, loved tenderly,
To the bleak food they leave behind ;
And on the deck still lingering stay,
And long look back, with sad delay,
To watch the moonlight on the wave,
That ripples o'er that cheerless grave.
But see---he starts--what heard he then ?
That dreadful shout! across the glen
From the land side it comes, and loud
Rings through the chasm; as if the crowd
Of fearful things, that haunt that Jell,
Its Gholes and Dives and shapes of hell
Had all in one dread howl broke out,
So loud, so terrible that shout!
They come—the Moslems come!” he cries,
Ilis proud soul mounting to his eyes-
“ Now, spirits of the brave, who roam
Enfranchised through yon starry dome,
Rejoice—for souls of kindred fire
Are on the wing to join your choir !"
He said-and, light as bridegrooms bound
To their young loves, reclimb'd the stecp
And gain'd the shrine-his chiefs stood round-
Their swords, as with instinctive leap,
Together, at that cry accurst,
Had from their sheaths, like sunbeams, burst.
And hark! again—again it rings;
Near and more near its echoings
Peal through the chasm-oh! who that then
Had seen those listening warrior-men,
With their swords grasp'd, their eyes of flame
Turn'd on their chief-could doubt the shame,
The indignant shame with which they thrill.
He read their thoughts—they were his own-
“What! while our arms can wield these blades, Shall we die tamely ? die alone ?
Without one victim to our shades,
One Moslem heart where, buried deep,
The sabre from its toil may sleep?
No-God of Iran's burning skies !
Thou scorn'st the inglorious sacrifice.
No-though of all earth's hope bereft,
Life, swords, and vengeance still are left.
We'll make yon valley's reeking caves
Live in the awe-struck minds of men,
Till tyrants shudder, when their slaves
Tell of the Gheber's bloody glen.
Follow, brave hearts !-this pile remains
Our refuge still from life and chains,
But his the best, the holiest bed,
Who sinks entomb'd in Moslem dead !"
Down the precipitous rocks they sprung,
While vigour, more than human, strung
Each arm and heart. The exulting foe
Still through the dark defiles below,
Track'd by his torches' lurid fire,
Wound slow, as through Golconda's vale
The mighty serpent, in his ire,
Glides on with glittering, deadly trail.
No torch the Ghebers need—so well
They know each mystery of the dell,
So oft have, in their wanderings,
Cross'd the wild race that round them dwell,
The very tigers from their delves
Look out, and let them pass, as things
Untamed and fearless as themselves !
There was a deep ravine, that lay
Yet darkling in the Moslem's way,-
Fit spot to make invaders rue
The many fall’n before the few.
The torrents from that morning's sky
Had fill'd the narrow chasm breast-high,
And, on each side, aloft and wild,
Huge cliffs and topplings crags were piled,
The guards, with which young freedom lines
The pathways to her mountain shrines.
Here, at this pass, the scanty band
Of Iran's last avengers stand-
Here wait, in silence like the dead,
And listen for the Moslem's tread
So anxiously, the carrion-bird
Above them flaps his wings unheard !
They come—that plunge into the water
Gives signal for the work of slaughter.
Now, Ghebers, now-if ere your blades
Had point or prowess, prove them now-
Wo to the file that foremost wades !
They come-a falchion greets each brow, And, as they tumble, trunk on trunk, Beneath the gory waters sunk,
Their footing, mazed and lost, they miss,
And down the darkling precipice
Are dash'd into the deep abyss :
Or midway hang, impaled on rocks,
A banquet, yet alive, for flocks
Of ravening vultures-while the dell
Re-echoes with each horrid yell.
Those sounds—the last, to vengeance dear, That e'er shall ring in Hafed's ear,Now reach him, as aloft, alone, Upon the steep way breathless thrown, He lay beside his reeking blade,
Resign'd, as if life's task were o'er,
Its last blood-offering amply paid,
And Iran's self could claim no more.
One only thought, one lingering beam
Now broke across his dizzy dream
of pain and weariness—'t was she,
His heart's pure planet, shining yet
Above the waste of memory,
When all life's other lights were set.
And never to his mind before,
Her image such enchantment wore.
It seem'd as if each thought that stain'd,
Each fear that chill'd their loves was past, And not one cloud of earth remain'd
Between bim and her glory cast; As if to charms, before so bright,
New grace from other worlds was given, And his soul saw her by the light
Now breaking o'er itself from heaven!
Still o'er their drowning bodies press
New victims quick and numberless ;
Till scarce an arm in Hafed's band,
So fierce their toil, hath power to stir,
But listless from each crimson hand
The sword hangs, clogg'd with massacre.
Never was horde of tyrants met
With bloodier welcome-never yet
To patriot vengeance hath the sword
More terrible libations pour'd!
All up the dreary, long ravine,
By the red, murky glimmer seen
of half-quench'd brands, that o'er the food
Lie scatter'd round and burn in blood,
What ruin glares ! what carnage swims!
Heads, blazing turbans, quivering limbs,
Lost swords that, dropp'd from many a hand,
In that thick pool of slaughter stand ;-
Wretches who wading, half on fire
From the toss'd brands that round them fly, "Twixt food and flame in shrieks expire:
And some who, grasp'd by those that die,
Sink woundless with them, smother'd o'er
In their dead brethren's gushing gore !
But vainly hundreds, thousands bleed,
Still hundreds, thousands more succeed ;-
Countless as towards some flame at night
The north's dark insects wing their flight,
And quench or perish in its light,
To this terrific spot they pour-
Till, bridged with Moslem bodies o'er,
It bears aloft their slippery tread,
And o'er the dying and the dead,
Tremendous causeway! on they pass.
Then, hapless Ghebers, then, alas,
What hope was left for you ? for you,
Whose vet warm pile of sacrifice
Is smoking in their vengeful eyes-
Whose swordls how keen, how fierce they knew,
And burn with shame to find how few. Crush'd down by that vast multitude, Some found their graves where first they stood; While some with hardier struggle died, And still fought on by Hafed's side, Who, fronting to the foe, trod back Towards the high towers his gory track ; And, as a lion, swept away
By sudden swell of Jordan's pride
From the wild covert where he lay,
Long battles with the o'erwhelming tide,
So fought he back with fierce delay,
And kept both foes and fate at bay.
But whither now! their track is lost,
Their prey escaped-guide, torches gone-
By torrent-beds and labyrinths crost,
The scatter'd crowd rush blindly on-
“Curse on those tardy lights that wind,”
They panting cry, “so far behind
Oh for a bloodhound's precious scent
To track the way the Gheber went !"
Vain wish-confusedly along
They rush, more desperate as more wrong:
Till, wilder'd by the far-off lights,
Yet glittering up those gloomy heights,
A voice spoke near him—'t was the tone
Of a loved friend, the only one
Of all his warriors left with life
From that short night's tremendous strife.-
“ And must we then, my chief, die here ?-
Foes round us, and the shrine so near ?”
These words have roused the last remains
Of life within him— what! not yet
Beyond the reach of Moslem chains ?”—
The thought could make e'en death forget His icy bondage-with a bound He springs, all bleeding, from the ground, And grasps his comrade's arm, now grown E'en feebler, heavier than his own, And faintly up the pathway leads, Death gaining on each step he treads. Speed them, thou God, who heard'st their vow ? They mount—they bleed—oh save them nowThe crags are red they've clamber'd o'er, The rock-weeds dripping with their goreThy blade too, Hafed, false at length, Now breaks beneath thy tottering strength Haste, haste—the voices of the foe Come near and nearer from belowOne effort more-thank Heaven ! 'tis past, They've gain’d the topmost steep at last. And now they touch the temple's walls,
Now Hafed sees the Fire divineWhen, lo! his weak, worn comrade falls
Dead on the threshold of the shrine. “ Alas, brave soul, too quickly fled !
And must I leave thee withering here,