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Till I, who heard the deep tambour
Beat thy Divan's approaching hour, To thee, and to my duty true, Warned by the sound, to greet thee flew: But there Zuleika wanders yet-- Nay, Father, rage not--nor forget That none can pierce that secret bower But those who watch the women's tower." 80
"Son of a slave"--the Pacha said-- "From unbelieving mother bred, Vain were a father's hope to see Aught that beseems a man in thee.
Thou, when thine arm should bend the bow, And hurl the dart, and curb the steed, Thou, Greek in soul if not in creed, Must pore where babbling waters flow,[fe]
And watch unfolding roses blow.
Would that yon Orb, whose matin glow 90 Thy listless eyes so much admire, Would lend thee something of his fire!
Thou, who woulds't see this battlement By Christian cannon piecemeal rent; Nay, tamely view old Stambol's wall Before the dogs of Moscow fall, Nor strike one stroke for life and death Against the curs of Nazareth!
Go--let thy less than woman's hand a.s.sume the distaff--not the brand. 100 But, Haroun!--to my daughter speed: And hark--of thine own head take heed-- If thus Zuleika oft takes wing-- Thou see'st yon bow--it hath a string!"
No sound from Selim's lip was heard, At least that met old Giaffir's ear, But every frown and every word Pierced keener than a Christian's sword.
"Son of a slave!--reproached with fear!
Those gibes had cost another dear. 110 Son of a slave!--and _who_ my Sire?"
Thus held his thoughts their dark career; And glances ev'n of more than ire[ff]
Flash forth, then faintly disappear.
Old Giaffir gazed upon his son And started; for within his eye He read how much his wrath had done; He saw rebellion there begun: "Come hither, boy--what, no reply?
I mark thee--and I know thee too; 120 But there be deeds thou dar'st not do: But if thy beard had manlier length, And if thy hand had skill and strength, I'd joy to see thee break a lance, Albeit against my own perchance."
As sneeringly these accents fell, On Selim's eye he fiercely gazed: That eye returned him glance for glance, And proudly to his Sire's was raised[fg], Till Giaffir's quailed and shrunk askance-- 130 And why--he felt, but durst not tell.
"Much I mis...o...b.. this wayward boy Will one day work me more annoy: I never loved him from his birth, And--but his arm is little worth, And scarcely in the chase could cope With timid fawn or antelope, Far less would venture into strife Where man contends for fame and life-- I would not trust that look or tone: 140 No--nor the blood so near my own.[fh]
That blood--he hath not heard--no more-- I'll watch him closer than before.
He is an Arab to my sight, Or Christian crouching in the fight--[fi]
But hark!--I hear Zuleika's voice; Like Houris' hymn it meets mine ear: She is the offspring of my choice; Oh! more than ev'n her mother dear, With all to hope, and nought to fear-- 150 My Peri! ever welcome here![fj]
Sweet, as the desert fountain's wave To lips just cooled in time to save-- Such to my longing sight art thou; Nor can they waft to Mecca's shrine More thanks for life, than I for thine, Who blest thy birth and bless thee now."[fk]
Fair, as the first that fell of womankind, When on that dread yet lovely serpent smiling, Whose Image then was stamped upon her mind-- 160 But once beguiled--and ever more beguiling; Dazzling, as that, oh! too transcendent vision To Sorrow's phantom-peopled slumber given, When heart meets heart again in dreams Elysian, And paints the lost on Earth revived in Heaven; Soft, as the memory of buried love; Pure, as the prayer which Childhood wafts above; Was she--the daughter of that rude old Chief, Who met the maid with tears--but not of grief.
Who hath not proved how feebly words essay 170 To fix one spark of Beauty's heavenly ray?
Who doth not feel, until his failing sight[fl]
Faints into dimness with its own delight, His changing cheek, his sinking heart confess The might--the majesty of Loveliness?
Such was Zuleika--such around her shone The nameless charms unmarked by her alone-- The light of Love, the purity of Grace,[fm]
The mind, the Music breathing from her face, The heart whose softness harmonized the whole, 180 And oh! that eye was in itself a Soul!
Her graceful arms in meekness bending Across her gently-budding breast; At one kind word those arms extending To clasp the neck of him who blest His child caressing and carest, Zuleika came--and Giaffir felt His purpose half within him melt: Not that against her fancied weal His heart though stern could ever feel; 190 Affection chained her to that heart; Ambition tore the links apart.
"Zuleika! child of Gentleness!
How dear this very day must tell, When I forget my own distress, In losing what I love so well, To bid thee with another dwell: Another! and a braver man Was never seen in battle's van.
We Moslem reck not much of blood: 200 But yet the line of Carasman
Unchanged, unchangeable hath stood First of the bold Timariot bands That won and well can keep their lands.[fn]
Enough that he who comes to woo[fo]
Is kinsman of the Bey Oglou:
His years need scarce a thought employ; I would not have thee wed a boy.
And thou shalt have a n.o.ble dower: And his and my united power 210 Will laugh to scorn the death-firman, Which others tremble but to scan, And teach the messenger what fate The bearer of such boon may wait.
And now thou know'st thy father's will; All that thy s.e.x hath need to know: 'Twas mine to teach obedience still-- The way to love, thy Lord may show."
In silence bowed the virgin's head; And if her eye was filled with tears 220 That stifled feeling dare not shed, And changed her cheek from pale to red, And red to pale, as through her ears Those winged words like arrows sped, What could such be but maiden fears?
So bright the tear in Beauty's eye, Love half regrets to kiss it dry; So sweet the blush of Bashfulness, Even Pity scarce can wish it less!
Whate'er it was the sire forgot: 230 Or if remembered, marked it not; Thrice clapped his hands, and called his steed,
Resigned his gem-adorned chibouque,
And mounting featly for the mead, With Maugrabeel and Mamaluke, His way amid his Delis took,
To witness many an active deed With sabre keen, or blunt jerreed.
The Kislar only and his Moors
Watch well the Haram's ma.s.sy doors. 240
His head was leant upon his hand, His eye looked o'er the dark blue water That swiftly glides and gently swells Between the winding Dardanelles; But yet he saw nor sea nor strand, Nor even his Pacha's turbaned band Mix in the game of mimic slaughter, Careering cleave the folded felt
With sabre stroke right sharply dealt; Nor marked the javelin-darting crowd, 250 Nor heard their Ollahs wild and loud-- He thought but of old Giaffir's daughter!
No word from Selim's bosom broke; One sigh Zuleika's thought bespoke: Still gazed he through the lattice grate, Pale, mute, and mournfully sedate.
To him Zuleika's eye was turned, But little from his aspect learned: Equal her grief, yet not the same; Her heart confessed a gentler flame:[fp] 260 But yet that heart, alarmed or weak, She knew not why, forbade to speak.
Yet speak she must--but when essay?
"How strange he thus should turn away!
Not thus we e'er before have met; Not thus shall be our parting yet."
Thrice paced she slowly through the room, And watched his eye--it still was fixed: She s.n.a.t.c.hed the urn wherein was mixed The Persian Atar-gul's perfume, 270 And sprinkled all its odours o'er The pictured roof and marble floor: The drops, that through his glittering vest[fq]
The playful girl's appeal addressed, Unheeded o'er his bosom flew, As if that breast were marble too.
"What, sullen yet? it must not be-- Oh! gentle Selim, this from thee!"
She saw in curious order set The fairest flowers of Eastern land-- 280 "He loved them once; may touch them yet, If offered by Zuleika's hand."
The childish thought was hardly breathed Before the rose was plucked and wreathed; The next fond moment saw her seat Her fairy form at Selim's feet: "This rose to calm my brother's cares A message from the Bulbul bears; It says to-night he will prolong For Selim's ear his sweetest song; 290 And though his note is somewhat sad, He'll try for once a strain more glad, With some faint hope his altered lay May sing these gloomy thoughts away.
"What! not receive my foolish flower?
Nay then I am indeed unblest: On me can thus thy forehead lower?
And know'st thou not who loves thee best?[fr]
Oh, Selim dear! oh, more than dearest!
Say, is it me thou hat'st or fearest? 300 Come, lay thy head upon my breast, And I will kiss thee into rest, Since words of mine, and songs must fail, Ev'n from my fabled nightingale.
I knew our sire at times was stern, But this from thee had yet to learn: Too well I know he loves thee not; But is Zuleika's love forgot?
Ah! deem I right? the Pacha's plan-- This kinsman Bey of Carasman 310 Perhaps may prove some foe of thine.
If so, I swear by Mecca's shrine,--[fs]
If shrines that ne'er approach allow To woman's step admit her vow,-- Without thy free consent--command-- The Sultan should not have my hand!
Think'st thou that I could bear to part With thee, and learn to halve my heart?
Ah! were I severed from thy side, Where were thy friend--and who my guide? 320 Years have not seen, Time shall not see, The hour that tears my soul from thee:[ft]
Ev'n Azrael, from his deadly quiver When flies that shaft, and fly it must,[fu]
That parts all else, shall doom for ever Our hearts to undivided dust!"