Page images

Who falls from all he knows of bliss,
Cares little into what abyss.
Fierce as the gloomy vulture's now

To thee, old man, my deeds appear: I read abhorrence on thy brow,

And this too was I born to bear!
"T is true, that, like that bird of prey,
With havock have I mark'd my way:
But this was taught me by the dove,
To die-and know no second love.
This lesson yet hath man to learn,
Taught by the thing he dares to spurn:
The bird that sings within the brake,
The swan that swims upon the lake,
One mate, and one alone, will take.
And let the fool still prone to range,1
And sneer on all who cannot change,
Partake his jest with boasting boys;
I envy not his varied joys,

But deem such feeble, heartless man,
Less than yon solitary swan;
Far, far beneath the shallow maid
He left believing and betray'd.
Such shame at least was never mine-
Leila! each thought was only thine!
My good, my guilt, my weal, my woe,
My hope on high-my all below.
Earth holds no other like to thee,
Or, if it doth, in vain for me:

For worlds I dare not view the dame
Resembling thee, yet not the same.
The very crimes that mar my youth,
This bed of death-attest my truth!
'Tis all too late-thou wert, thou art
The cherish'd madness of my heart!

"And she was lost-and yet I breathed,
But not the breath of human life :
A serpent round my heart was wreathed,
And stung my every thought to strife.
Alike all time, abhorred all place,
Shuddering I shrunk from Nature's face,
Where every hue that charm'd before
The blackness of my bosom wore.
The rest thou dost already know,
And all my sins, and half my woe.
But talk no more of penitence;
Thou see'st I soon shall part from hence :
And if thy holy tale were true,

The deed that's done canst thou undo?
Think me not thankless-but this grief
Looks not to priesthood for relief. 2
My soul's estate in secret guess : 3
But wouldst thou pity more, say less.
When thou canst bid my Leila live,
Then will I sue thee to forgive;
Then plead my cause in that high place
Where purchased masses proffer grace.
Go, when the hunter's hand hath wrung
From forest-cave her shrieking young,

[blocks in formation]

And calm the lonely lioness:
But soothe not mock not my distress!
In earlier days, and calmer hours,
When heart with heart delights to blend,
Where bloom my native valley's bowers +

I had-Ah! have I now ?-a friend!
To him this pledge I charge thee send,
Memorial of a youthful vow;

I would remind him of my end: 5

Though souls absorb'd like mine allow
Brief thought to distant friendship's claim,
Yet dear to him my blighted name.
'Tis strange-he prophesied my doom,

And I have smiled-I then could smileWhen Prudence would his voice assume,

And warn-I reck'd not what-the while : But now remembrance whispers o'er Those accents scarcely mark'd before. Say that his bodings came to pass,

And he will start to hear their truth,
And wish his words had not been sooth:
Tell him, unheeding as I was,

Through many a busy bitter scene
Of all our golden youth had been,
In pain, my faltering tongue had tried
To bless his memory ere I died;
But Heaven in wrath would turn away,
If Guilt should for the guiltless pray.
I do not ask him not to blame,
Too gentle he to wound my name;
And what have I to do with fame?
I do not ask him not to mourn,

Such cold request might sound like scorn;
And what than friendship's manly tear
May better grace a brother's bier ?
But bear this ring, his own of old,
And tell him- what thou dost behold!
The wither'd frame, the ruin'd mind,
The wrack by passion left behind,
A shrivelled scroll, a scatter'd leaf,
Sear'd by the autumn blast of grief!



"Tell me no more of fancy's gleam,
No, father, no, 't was not a dream;
Alas! the dreamer first must sleep,
I only watch'd, and wish'd to weep;
But could not, for my burning brow
Throbb'd to the very brain as now:
I wish'd but for a single tear,

As something welcome, new, and dear;
I wish'd it then, I wish it still;
Despair is stronger than my will.
Waste not thine orison, despair 6
Is mightier than thy pious prayer:
I would not, if I might, be blest;
I want no paradise, but rest.
'T was then, I tell thee, father! then
I saw her; yes, she lived again;
And shining in her white symar, 7
As through yon pale gray cloud the star

[blocks in formation]

Which now I gaze on, as on her,
Who look'd and looks far lovelier;
Dimly I view its trembling spark ; 1
To-morrow's night shall be more dark;
And I, before its rays appear,

That ifeless thing the living fear.
I wan ler, father! for my soul

Is fleeting towards the final goal.
I saw her, friar! and I rose
Forgetful of our former woes;
And rushing from my couch, I dart,
And clasp her to my desperate heart;
I clasp-what is it that I clasp ?
No breathing form within my grasp,
No heart that beats reply to mine,
Yet, Leila! yet the form is thine!
And art thou, dearest, changed so much,
As meet my eye, yet mock my touch?
Ah! were thy beauties e'er so cold,
I care not; so my arms enfold

The all they ever wish'd to hold.
Alas! around a shadow prest,
They shrink upon my lonely breast;
Yet still 'tis there! In silence stands,
And beckons with beseeching hands!
With braided hair, and bright-black eye-
I knew 'twas false-she could not die !
But he is dead! within the dell
I saw him buried where he fell;
He comes not, for he cannot break
From earth; why then art thou awake?

1 [" Which now I view with trembling spark."- MS.]

2 The circumstance to which the above story relates was not very uncommon in Turkey. A few years ago the wife of Muchtar Pacha complained to his father of his son's supposed infidelity; he asked with whom, and she had the barbarity to give in a list of the twelve handsomest women in Yanina They were seized, fastened up in sacks, and drowned in the lake the same night! One of the guards who was present informed me, that not one of the victims uttered a cry, or showed a symptom of terror at so sudden a "wrench from all we know, from all we love." The fate of Phrosine, the fairest of this sacrifice, is the subject of many a Romaic and Arnaout ditty. The story in the text is one told of a young Venetian many years ago, and now nearly forgotten. I heard it by accident recited by one of the coffee-house story-tellers who abound in the Levant, and sing or recite their narratives. The additions and interpolations by the translator will be easily distinguished from the rest, by the want of Eastern imagery; and I regret that my memory has retained so few fragments of the original. For the contents of some of the notes I am indebted partly to D'Herbelot, and partly to that most Eastern, and, as Mr. Weber justly entitles it, "sublime tale," the "Caliph Vathek." I do not know from what source the author of that singular volume may have drawn his materials; some of his incidents are to be found in the "Biblio

'They told me wild waves roll'd above
The face I view, the form I love ;
They told me-' 't was a hideous tale!
I'd tell it, but my tongue would fail :
If true, and from thine ocean-cave
Thou com'st to claim a calmer grave;
Oh! pass thy dewy fingers o'er
This brow that then will burn no more;
Or place them on my hopeless heart:
But, shape or shade! whate'er thou art,
In mercy ne'er again depart !

Or farther with thee bear my soul

Than winds can waft or waters roll!

[ocr errors]

"Such is my name, and such my tale. Confessor to thy secret ear

I breathe the sorrows I bewail,

And thank thee for the generous tear This glazing eye could never shed. Then lay me with the humblest dead, And, save the cross above my head, Be neither name nor emblem spread, By prying stranger to be read, Or stay the passing pilgrim's tread. "2

He pass'd-nor of his name and race Hath left a token or a trace,

Save what the father must not say
Who shrived him on his dying day:
This broken tale was all we knew 3
Of her he loved, or him he slew. 4

thèque Orientale;" but for correctness of costume, beauty of description, and power of imagination, it far surpasses all European imitations; and bears such marks of originality, that those who have visited the East will find some difficulty in believing it to be more than a translation. As an Eastern tale, even Rasselas must bow before it; his "Happy Valley " will not bear a comparison with the" Hall of Eblís."

3 ["Nor whether most he mourn'd none knew,

For her he loved, or him he slew."- MS.]

[In this poem, which was published after the two first cantos of Childe Harold, Lord Byron began to show his powers. He had now received encouragement which set free his daring hands, and gave his strokes their natural force. Here, then, we first find passages of a tone peculiar to Lord Byron; but still this appearance was not uniform: he often returned to his trammels, and reminds us of the manner of some favourite predecessor: among these, I think we sometimes catch the notes of Sir Walter Scott. But the internal tempest - the deep passion, sometimes buried, and sometimes blazing from some incidental touch the intensity of agonising reflection, which will always distinguish Lord Byron from other writers - now began to display themselves. — SIR EGERTON BRYDGES.]

[blocks in formation]


KNOW ye the land where the cypress and myrtle 3

Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime, Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle, Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime? Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,

Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine: Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppress'd with perfume,

Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gúl4 in her bloom;
Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit,
And the voice of the nightingale never is mute :
Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky,
In colour though varied, in beauty may vie,
And the purple of ocean is deepest in dye;
Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine,
And all, save the spirit of man, is divine?

'Tis the clime of the East; 't is the land of the SunCan he smile on such deeds as his children have done? 5

[The " Bride of Abydos" was published in the beginning of December, 1813. The mood of mind in which it was struck off is thus stated by Lord Byron, in a letter to Mr. Gifford : -You have been good enough to look at a thing of mine in MS. a Turkish story- and I should feel gratified if you would do it the same favour in its probationary state of printing. It was written, I cannot say for amusement, nor obliged by hunger and request of friends,' but in a state of mind, from circumstances which occasionally occur to us youth,' that rendered it necessary for me to apply my mind to something, any thing, but reality; and under this not very brilliant inspiration it was composed. Send it either to the flames, or


— ' A hundred hawkers' load, On wings of winds to fly or fall abroad.'


It deserves no better than the first, as the work of a week, and scribbled stans pede in uno' (by the bye, the only foot I have to stand on); and I promise never to trouble you again under forty cantos, and a voyage between each."]


Oh! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell Are the hearts which they bear, and the tales which they tell.


Regirt with many a gallant slave,
Apparell'd as becomes the brave,
Awaiting each his lord's behest
To guide his steps, or guard his rest,
Old Giaffir sate in his Divan:

Deep thought was in his aged eye; And though the face of Mussulman

Not oft betrays to standers by The mind within, well skill'd to hide All but unconquerable pride,

His pensive cheek and pondering brow Did more than he was wont avow.


"Let the chamber be clear'd."- The train dis

"Now call me the chief of the Haram guard."
With Giaffir is none but his only son,

And the Nubian awaiting the sire's award.
"Haroun —when all the crowd that wait
Are pass'd beyond the outer gate,
(Woe to the head whose eye beheld
My child Zuleika's face unveil'd!)

2" Murray tells me that Croker asked him why the thing is called the Bride of Abydos? It is an awkward question, being unanswerable: she is not a bride; only about to be one. I don't wonder at his finding out the Bull but the detection is too late to do any good. I was a great fool to have made it, and am ashamed of not being an Irishman." — - Byron Diary, Dec. 1813.]

3 [To the Bride of Abydos, Lord Byron made many additions during its progress through the press, amounting to about two hundred lines; and, as in the case of the Giaour, the passages so added will be seen to be some of the most splendid in the whole poem. These opening lines, which are among the new insertions, are supposed to have been suggested by a song of Goethe's

"Kennst du das Land wo die citronen blühn."] 4" Gúl," the rose.

5 "Souls made of fire, and children of the Sun,

With whom revenge is virtue."-YOUNG's Revenge.

[blocks in formation]

I on Zuleika's slumber broke,

And, as thou knowest that for me Soon turns the haram's grating key, Before the guardian slaves awoke We to the cypress groves had flown, And made earth, main, and heaven our own! There linger'd we, beguiled too long With Mejnoun's tale, or Sadi's song; Till I, who heard the deep tambour 2 Beat thy Divan's approaching hour, To thee, and to my duty true, Warn'd 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."


"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,
And watch unfolding roses blow.
Would that yon orb, whose matin glow
Thy listless eyes so much admire,
Would lend thee something of his fire!
Thou, who would'st see this battlement
By Christian cannon piecemeal rcnt;
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
Assume the distaff not the brand.

1 Mejnoun and Leila, the Romeo and Juliet of the East. Sadi, the moral poet of Persia.

* Turkish drum, which sounds at sunrise, noon, and twilight.

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 ! — reproach'd with fear! Those gibes had cost another dear. Son of a slave !-and who my sire?" Thus held his thoughts their dark career; And glances ev'n of more than ire

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;
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."

[ocr errors]

As sneeringly these accents fell,
On Selim's eye he fiercely gazed:
That eye return'd him glance for glance,
And proudly to his sire's was raised,

Till Giafer's quail'd and shrunk askance
And why he felt, but durst not tell.
"Much I misdoubt 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:
Nonor the blood so near my own.

That blood he hath not heard - no more-
I'll watch him closer than before.
He is an Arab 3 to my sight,

Or Christian crouching in the fight-
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-
My Peri! ever welcome here !
Sweet, as the desert fountain's wave,
To lips just cool'd 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."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Fair, as the first that fell of womankind,
When on that dread yet lovely serpent smiling,

3 The Turks abhor the Arabs (who return the compliment a hundred-fold) even more than they hate the Christians.


[blocks in formation]

Who hath not proved how feebly words essay 1
To fix one spark of Beauty's heavenly ray?
Who doth not feel, until his failing sight
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 unmark'd by her alone;
The light of love, the purity of grace,
The mind, the Music breathing from her face,3
The heart whose softness harmonized the whole-
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; Affection chain'd her to that heart; Ambition tore the links apart.

VII. "Zuleika! child of gentleness!

How dear this very day must tell, When I forget my own distress,

[These twelve fine lines were added in the course of printing.]

2 This expression has met with objections. I will not refer to Him who hath not Music in his soul," but merely request the reader to recollect, for ten seconds, the features of the woman whom he believes to be the most beautiful; and, if he then does not comprehend fully what is feebly expressed in the above line, I shall be sorry for us both. For an elo. quent passage in the latest work of the first female writer of this, perhaps of any, age, on the analogy (and the immediate coinparison excited by that analogy) between "painting and music," see vol. iii. cap. 10. DE L'ALLEMAGNE. And is not this connection still stronger with the original than the copy? with the colouring of Nature than of Art? After all, this is rather to be felt than described; still I think there are some who will understand it, at least they would have done had they beheld the countenance whose speaking harmony suggested the idea; for this passage is not drawn from imagination but memory, that mirror which Affliction dashes to the earth, and looking down upon the fragments, only beholds the redection multiplied!-["This morning, a very pretty bulet from the Stael. She has been pleased to be pleased with my slight eulogy in the note annexed to the Bride.' This is to be accounted for in several ways: firstly, all women like all, or any praise; secondly, this was unexpected, because I have never courted her; and, thirdly, as Scrub says, those who have been all their lives regularly praised by regular critics, like a little variety, and are glad when any one goes out of his way to say a civil thing; and, fourthly, she is a very good-natured creature, which is the best reason, after all, and, perhaps, the only one."-B. Diary, Dec. 7. 1813.]

3 [Among the imputed plagiarisms so industriously hunted out in his writings, this line has been, with somewhat more plausibility than is frequent in such charges, included; the lyric poet Lovelace having, it seems, written "The melody and music of her face." Sir Thomas Browne, too, in his Religio Medici, says, “There is music even in beauty." The

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; But yet the line of Carasman + Unchanged, unchangeable hath stood First of the bold Timariot bands That won and well can keep their lands. Enough that he who comes to woo 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 noble dower: And his and my united power 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 sex hath need to know: 'Twas mine to teach obedience stillThe way to love, thy lord may show." VIII.

In silence bow'd the virgin's head;

And if her eye was fill'd with tears 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;

Or if remember'd, mark'd it not;

Thrice clapp'd his hands, and call'd his steed, 6 Resign'd his gem-adorn'd chibouque, 7

coincidence, no doubt, is worth observing, and the task of "tracking thus a favourite writer in the snow (as Dryden expresses it) of others," is sometimes not unamusing; but to those who found upon such resemblances a general charge of plagiarism, we may apply what Sir Walter Scott says: "It is a favourite theme of laborious dulness to trace such coincidences, because they appear to reduce genius of the higher order to the usual standard of humanity, and of course to bring the author nearer to a level with his critics." It is not only curious, but instructive, to trace the progress of this passage to its present state of finish. Having at first written"Mind on her lip and music in her face." he afterwards altered it to

"The mind of music breathing in her face"but this not satisfying him, the next step of correction brought the line to what it is at present. MOORE.]

4 Carasman Oglou, or Kara Osman Oglou, is the principal landowner in Turkey; he governs Magnesia: those who, by a kind of feudal tenure, possess land on condition of service, are called Timariots: they serve as Spahis, according to the extent of territory, and bring a certain number into the field, generally cavalry.

5 When a Pacha is sufficiently strong to resist, the single messenger, who is always the first bearer of the order for his death, is strangled instead, and sometimes five or six, one after the other, on the same errand, by command of the refractory patient; if, on the contrary, he is weak or loyal, he bows, kisses the Sultan's respectable signature, and is bow. strung with great complacency. In 1810, several of these presents were exhibited in the niche of the Seraglio gate; among others, the head of the Pacha of Bagdat, a brave young man, cut off by treachery, after a desperate resistance.

6 Clapping of the hands calls the servants. The Turks hate a superfluous expenditure of voice, and they have no bells.

7 "Chibouque," the Turkish pipe, of which the amber

« PreviousContinue »