An eastern tale composed in 1813 and published anonymously in 1816: Ilderim was the first published of a series of three Eastern Sketches that treat the subject of revenge. Henry Gally Knight's Ilderim and Alashtar are in Spenserians; Phrosyne, the Greek tale, is in couplets. The palpable imitations of his Turkish tales did little to endear Knight to Lord Byron, though his letter to Murray of 4 December 1813, if it refers to Knight's tales, indicates that he admired them better when reading them in manuscript. Ilderim achieved the honor of an American pirate edition, published in Philadelphia.
Advertisement: "The following Poem forms part of a Work, the plan of which was first conceived, and partly executed, in the Countries which it attempts to describe; during the course of a journey, which was performed in the years 1810-11."
Monthly Review: "In the first place, we approve Mr. Knight's choice of the stanza of Spenser; because we think that the artificial construction of this measure, when successfully attained, conveys of itself a species of pleasure to the ear of the critical reader; and we are also of the opinion that it serves to give force and effect to descriptions and to sentiments which would appear insipid in the simpler vehicle of the heroic couplet. No greater proof can be adduced of the truth of this last observation, than the manifest inferiority of this same writer when, in the succeeding tale of Phrosyne, he attempts the narrative-manner of Dryden, and risques the plain decasyllabic verse with a rhyme at the end of it" NS 83 (August 1817) 374.
The Champion: "The opening of the poem is the best part of it: and if Time should but discover the following stanza, which we very much doubt, in such a monstrous disproportion of very sterling currency, he may probably reject it: — 'The branching walnut, prodigal of green, | The feather'd palm, the cypress dark and old, | Tower'd on high' [....] Not that we intend accusing the author of having written like Spencer, though he has chosen the Spencerian measure" (8 September 1816) 286.
Quarterly Review: "Mr. Gally Knight is a traveller as well as a poet; and seeking to combine utility with pleasure, he has employed his poetry as a vehicle for imparting to his readers whatever is most striking in the customs and manners of the countries which he has visited. His 'stories,' he says, 'are not merely fables; they are intended to be portraits faithfully representing the features of the respective countries in which the scene of each is laid'" 22 (1820) 149.
British Lady's Magazine: "Ilderim, like many other recent productions, is evidently a spark from the fire of Byron, but wants the soul-breathing energy of that gifted genius in the delineation of marked character. The fierce Abdallagh, and the fiercer Ilderim, are of the general contour of Turkish tyranny and virtue; that is to say, another version of Barbarossa and Selim. The purely descriptive powers of this author are more his own, and, as our previous extract will prove, are of a superior order" British Lady's Magazine 4 (October 1816) 314.
The Portico [Baltimore]: "The story is not novel: but the poet has had the art to manage his scenes in such a way, as to awaken the interest of the reader, and make him regret that it ends so abruptly" 2 (November 1816) 341.
Analectic Magazine [Philadelphia]: "We certainly think that some of his poetry is polished into more smoothness that that of his lordship; but neither in his language nor in his thoughts is he so rich or so copious as the author of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. Both have chosen the same stanza: — the poem of the latter contains about twice as many lines as that of the former; and we might observe that a work like The Pilgrimage ought to be twice as short, while one like Ilderim should be twice as long as it is. This difference does not result from any intrinsic superiority in the poetry of the latter, — but from the advantage of containing an eventful story which is calculated to keep the attention constantly awake. For a poem, indeed, the adventures of the dramatis personae of Ilderim compose too great a proportion of its stanzas" NS 8 (September 1816) 268.
Augustan Review: "The poem is in the Spenserian measure: and if good versification can make a good poem, Ilderim may certainly rank as one. There does not seem to be a defective line or incorrect rhyme in the whole performance. This, however, is not its chief recommendation; it possesses excellencies of a higher order, and is entitled to a conspicuous place among the effusions of our best living poets. The story, indeed, is far from being new. It bears a resemblance to the story of Dr. [John] Brown's tragedy of Barbarossa, and to that of several of our popular romantic tales.... Azza ... is the daughter of Abdallagh, the usurper of the throne of Balbec.... Elmyra, is the niece of the deposed sovereign. She loves Azza, though the daughter of him who had murdered her uncle, and his son, who was also her lover. They are interrupted in their conversation by the approach of Abdallagh, upon which Elmyra retires. Abdallagh complains to his daughter, that, though he has firmly seated himself on the throne, he is molested by a base-born robber, Ilderim.... He resolves on the destruction of this depredator, observing that 'the robber's den is pervious to gold;' and accordingly, in the second canto, we find Ilderim and his associates, through the treachery of one of their number, surprised by Abdallagh at the head of his troops. A great number of them are slain, and Mirza, Ilderim's favourite, is made prisoner. Ilderim, by a secret passage, enters the garden of Abdallagh's palace, and carries off his daughter; whom he refuses to give up but upon condition of Mirza's being set at liberty — to which Abdallagh consents. Azza, on her return to the palace, describes to her companion Elmyra the person of the robber who had carried her off.... From this description Elmyra discovers, that the robber, who goes by the name of Ilderim, is no other than Caled, her lover, whom she had long numbered with the dead.... The robbers, by some treachery, which is not explained, enter the town, and a dreadful slaughter ensues. Ilderim encounters Abdallagh, who is surprised to behold in him Caled, whom he had long supposed to be dead. Abdallagh falls, and Caled is told that Abdallagh had given orders that, in the event of his death, all the females in the harem should be put to the sword. Thither he bends his steps; and arrives just in time to prevent the slaughter" 3 (October 1816) 397-98.
Lord Byron to John Murray: "I have redde through your Persian Tales, and have taken the liberty of making some remarks on the blank pages. There are many beautiful passages, and an interesting story; and I cannot give you a stronger proof that such is my opiion, than by the date and the hour — two o'clock, — till which it has kept me awake without a yawn. The conclusion is not quite correct in 'costume': there is no Mussulman suicide on record — at least for love. But this matters not. The tale must have been written by some one who has been on the spot, and I wish him, and he deserves, success. Will you apologise to the author for the liberties I have taken with his MS.? Had I been less interested in his theme, I had been less obtrusive; but you know I always take this in good part, and I hope he will. It is difficult to say what will succeed, and still more to pronounce what will not. I am at this moment in that uncertainty (on your own score); and it is no small proof of the author's powers to be able to charm and fix a mind's attention on similar subjects and climates in such a predicament. That he may have the same effect upon all his readers is very sincerely the wish, and hardly the doubt, of Yours truly, B." 4 December 1813; Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 2:299-300.
William Blackwood to John Murray: "I have not seen Waterloo [by Knight] advertised yet. It is a misfortune that it is very much in Mr. Scott's manner. As Mr. S. said to me himself the other day, when talking of Ilderim, 'It does not do, Sir; every man should have a trump of his own" 1816; Smiles, in A Publisher and his Friends: Memoir of John Murray (1891) 2:2.
Lord Byron to John Murray: "You say that Margaret of Anjou [by Margaret Holford] and Ilderim do not keep pace with your other saleables. I should have thought the Assyrian tale very succeedable" 9 March 1817; Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 4:71.
Rowland E. Prothero: "Henry Gally Knight (1786-1846), who was with Byron at Trinity, Cambridge, and afterwards distinguished himself by his architectural writings (e.g. The Normans in Sicity, 1838), began his literary career with Ilderim, a Syrian Tale (1816). Phrosyne, a Grecian Tale; Alashtar, an Arabian Tale (1817) was followed, after a considerable interval, by Eastern Sketches (about 1829-30). If the manuscript of the first-mentioned volume is that to which Byron refers, he seems to have changed his mind as to its merits (March 25, 1817) — 'I tried at Ilderim; Ahem!'" Byron, Letters and Journals (1898-1901) 2:299n.
The pale beam, stealing through the matted trees,
Kist Balbec's walls and stern Abdallagh's tower;
Cool through Abdallagh's garden stream'd the breeze,
Wak'ning each folded leaf and sleeping flower:
Bright was the scene, and calm the soothing hour:
Heav'n still its blessings shed on earth beneath,
In silent dews that gemm'd the verdant bower;
Earth pour'd her thanks in sweets from ev'ry wreath,
Freshness was in the air, and life in every breath.
There, in that garden, eastern art display'd
All that enchants beneath the burning sky;
All that belongs to coolness or to shade;
Hues that enliven, or relieve the eye
Dazzled with light: rich odours that supply
The native sweets that loaded zephyrs bear;
Sounds that refresh with cooling melody.
Yet, matchless Nature, in that scene so fair,
Thine were the choicest gifts, though art arrang'd them there.
The Ruler's palace on the North arose:
Long pointed arches, (for, to Arab lore
Its splendors imitative Europe owes,)
There, with high-gadding jasmine mantled o'er,
Shadow'd the halls, and stretch'd a skreen before:
Whilst, at the western end, an arch'd alcove
(With roof of fretted gold and varied floor)
Invited: thence the wandering eye might rove
O'er all the glittering scene — the buildings and the grove.
Fronting that arch a marble pavement spread
Its snowy surface, border'd on each side
With streams, that water'd an enamell'd bed:
A fountain in the midst; the spiral tide,
Aloft, each many-colour'd gem belyed;
And, falling, waken'd music's liquid sound.
The rest was verdure, stretching far and wide;
Groves that o'erarch'd, or scatter'd sweets around;
Flowers that enrich'd the air, or deck'd the painted ground.
The branching walnut, prodigal of green,
The feather'd palm, the cypress dark and old,
Tower'd on high, with myrtle woods between;
Or bowers of citron, that at once unfold
Their flowers of silver and their fruit of gold:
Aloft its giant leaf banana spread,
Waving in air, like Mecca's flag unroll'd,
Or purple clusters woo'd from overhead,
Or yellow cassia bloom'd, and heav'nly incense shed.
Sweet choice was there of shaded walk or bower:
And all amongst, in mazy error, ran
Clear sparkling rills, that freshen'd ev'ry flower.
Bright, magic scenes, unlike the haunts of man!
The Moslem well might think he then began
Th' eternal round who enter'd that domain;
For all describ'd in Heav'n's celestial plan
Stood blooming within reach, and not in vain
He might appear to wish for all he hopes to gain.
Nor were there wanting, to complete the heav'n,
Fair houri forms; for through the leafy shade
Two peerless maids, like those to men forgiven,
Promis'd in Koran verse, together stray'd;
The one, all gladness, radiant, bright array'd,
Rivall'd the opening rose, the garden's queen;
Splendid of hue, and gorgeously display'd:
The other, lovely, but of pensive mien,
More like the lily show'd, of beauty more serene.
The last appear'd to have convers'd with grief;
For as the bright-ey'd maiden frolick'd by,
Plucking the dewy bud or scented leaf,
The other traced her path with thoughtful eye,
But often stopt, and mus'd, and seem'd to sigh.
The garb she wore implied an humble state,
But modest charms and native dignity
Burst through that envious veil, accusing fate,
That overlooks the good, and makes th' aspiring great.
The twain past on, and soon repos'd beneath
The near alcove. The bright-ey'd Azza there,
(Azza, Abdallagh's daughter,) formed a wreath
For her, the chosen of her heart, to wear;
And, as she crown'd Elmyra's flowing hair,
"Ah! canst thou love me?" cried the gentle maid;
"Me, sprung from him who did not know to spare;
Me, mistress here, where others should have sway'd,
Deck'd in the glittering spoils of those a sire betray'd?"
"Oh, daughter! little kindred with thy kind!"
Return'd the slave, and brush'd a tear away.
"Was thine the fault if stern Abdallagh's mind
Contemn'd the right; if, victor in the fray,
He seiz'd this city, made the realm his prey,
And laid the gray-hair'd rightful Emir low?
Or thine the fault of that succeeding day,
When savage caution gave the sudden blow,
And not a male escap'd thy father deem'd his foe?"
"Child of his brother, who was ruler here,
Of him who fell when carnage gave the sign,"
(Said Azza, sadden'd by that falling tear,)
"Poor, ruin'd remnant of a princely line,
Whose injur'd race was trod to earth by mine!
Born to the station which-thou see'st me fill:
No, thou canst ne'er forgive—" "What words are thine?"
Elmyra cried; — my unconsenting will
"Disowns the show of grief — for I am grateful still.
"Oh! on the day that stamp'd an orphan's doom,
Then, when the harem was rever'd no more,
When we, sad mourners o'er the glutted tomb,
Seiz'd by the hands that in our kindred gore
Were reeking yet: we, but an hour before,
The great, the happy, to th' assassin train
Consign'd as stipend, and deliver'd o'er,
What brought Elmyra then to life again?
Oh! what but Azza's prayer, that did not plead in vain?
"Didst thou not see me from thy lattic'd hall
Unveil'd, and fainting at the palace gate;
Dragg'd there, with those the partners of my fall,
The newly widow'd and the desolate,
Torn from our proud abodes and high estate?
Yes! Azza saw me, and dispatch'd a slave;
Obtain'd and snatch'd me from impending fate.
Alas! for ye, whom Azza could not save;
Oh! are ye wretched still, or have ye won the grave?"
"I pray'd for death, the helpmate of despair,
But Azza struggled with Elmyra's woe
Till she was taught to live — and Azza's care
Has since so hovered round me where I go,
That I have learnt to bear my path below.
For Azza's sake I must not wish to die,
The poor return Elmyra can bestow;
Thou art my sole support beneath the sky.
Oh! if I lov'd thee not, the spring of joy were dry."
"Enough, kind maid! I read thy gen'rous breast,
Where all is noble, as becomes thy race;
Oh! could the seal of peace be there imprest!
But what can brighten that unalter'd face!
Here, next to Azza's is Elmyra's place:
Two years are past that should have brought repose;
Yet time beguiles thee not from grief's embrace,
And in thy cap affection vainly throws
A sweet, a balmy drop; the bitter still o'erflows.
"Gentle art thou, and gentleness is won
Youthful, and grief is foiled by youth alone;
Ah! wherefore then all comfort wilt thou shun,
And why does Azza hear thy deepen'd moan?
Some secret woe, to Azza still unknown."—
She stopt — for motionless before her stood
Elmyra, pale, and stiffen'd into stone:
A sudden chilness seemed to freeze her blood,
The brimful eyes refus'd to pour their kindly flood.
She seized that passive hand with trembling haste,
Silent, and waited with beseeching eyes
Till grief relax'd in tears — "Oh! yield at last
"The serpent thought that in thy bosom lies—
Share it with me — dismiss the vain disguise."—
Tow'rds Heaven her snowy arms Elmyra tost,
And fix'd a look of wildness on the skies,
Then murmur'd forth — "Oh! hopes for ever crost!
Azza! Elmyra lov'd — and he she lov'd, is lost!
"Azza! thou ne'er hast lov'd, and dost not know"—
She stopt — a voice resounded on her ear
That closed at once the story of her woe:
"Not now, we must not meet:" with speed of fear
Elmyra fled, Abdallagh's self was near.
Oft as they met, she could not now sustain,
She could not now repress the falling tear,
Forget the recent scene, be calm again,
Behold the man of blood, and all her soul restrain.
He came, but mark'd not or Elmyra's flight,
Or Azza's pallid look and troubled air,
Nor smiling met his child, his sole delight;
Nor in that garden seem'd releas'd from care
The toils to which dominion still is heir.
Silent he mov'd, and on his forehead wore
A scowl of anger, such as demons wear;
His very face reveal'd his deeds of yore,
He look'd inur'd to crime, and seem'd to purpose more.
How troubled, then, was gentle Azza's mind,
That, newly waken'd, was careering fast:
O'er crimes by that approaching sire design'd:
Her soul was turn'd upon the guilty past;
Nor with the present promise less aghast,
She felt the streams of Nature's current freeze:
Around his neck her arms she long'd to cast,
But horror check'd; she long'd to clasp his knees,
But only stood and shook, like myrtle in the breeze.
"Thou tremblest, Azza! what hast thou to fear?
Dear as thou art, and ever must remain:
But there are those who can molest me here.
What profits it that undisturb'd I reign,
That, with the conquer'd sire, the son was slain,
That none survive to clamour forth their right?
What profits this, if o'er the ravag'd plain
A base-born robber, aided by the night,
Can spread destruction round, and set at nought my might?"
"What means my father?" — "For a circling year
I scorn'd the young marauder's petty band,
Nor deem'd him worthy of Abdallagh's spear;
And now, by Heav'n! his unresisted hand,
His name of Ilderim, appalls the land!
Strange that he seems audacious war to wage
Chiefly with me: the outlaw gives command
To spare the peasant's humble heritage,
But sweeps Abdallagh's wealth, and mocks Abdallagh's rage.
"Last night the band descended from the wood;
They came where, guarded, in the city's view,
My choicest coursers cropt the grassy food;
They smote, they seiz'd; and, as away they flew,
Their leader thus address the recreant crew
Who lost, yet liv'd; 'Of us who wrought the deed,
Go tell your lawless chief, and tell him too,
The time may come when Ilderim shall lead
Back to his proper stall Abdallagh's favourite steed.'
"By Allagh! he shall rue the word he said!
The robber's den is pervious to gold;
Against this eve a pit-fall shall be laid
To catch these wolves that break into my fold:
They think the tenure slight by which I hold;
A stranger lord, with but a victor's claim:
They think me weak, and this has made them bold:
But ere to-morrow tinge the vault with flame,
They shall be better taught — howe'er my title came."
The plain was lost in shade — a moment yet,
Oh Libanus! on steeps of giant size,
The sun delay'd — a moment, ere he set,
Crimson'd the snow-clad heights, and ting'd the skies
With streaks of roseate light and purple dyes,
(Such tints as western eyes in vain desire,)
Then plung'd and disappear'd — at once arise
Heav'n's myriad lamps, and gem the vault with fire,
So bright, that scarcely mourn'd the beams of day retire.
On a tall cliff, the mountain's rugged crest,
That overhung the vale and crown'd the height,
Stood one who watch'd that sun withdraw to rest;
No pleasure took he in the glorious sight,
But sternly gaz'd, and only wanted night.
His dark eye follow'd the receding ray,
Then dimly sparkled with a fierce delight;
Despair, I ween, must o'er that bosom sway,
Which own'd not Nature's charms, and chid the light of day.
Sternly he smil'd, and o'er the darken'd land,
Where shadowy forms the distant town betray'd,
One glance he cast, high-rais'd his threat'ning hand,
And half unsheath'd his desolating blade:
'Twas Ilderim, for deeds of death array'd.
Beside him Mirza stood, his comrade true;
Apart from men they wailed for the shade,
That from their hold the nightly rovers drew:
Full well the ravag'd plain those bold assailants knew.
"The fell Usurper — does he bend his brow,"
Cried Mirza, "grieving for his fav'rite steed?
He little deems what fate is working now,
What future storms these upper regions breed;
The mountain band has friends prepar'd at need;
This secret promise of our great ally"—
"Yes, he is sworn who never will recede;
Yes, Mirza, now this troubled heart beats high,
Now Ilderim may hope to ruin, and to die."
Again he look'd: — "Dear city! art thou then
So changed, so desolate, and brought so low,
The tyrant's fortress and the dragon's den?
But we will reach him still; — the hidden foe
He feels already; — time perchance may show
What arm — false tyrant, reckless of thy doom,
In vain thou bad'st the purple torrent flow,
Vengeance is still alive — through shade and gloom
The fiery bolt shall strike, the loos'd destroyer come.
"He widow'd them — he made them fatherless:—
Oh! where is—? Allagh grant that she be dead,
Cold in the grave, and rescued from distress;
But this avenging steel shall yet be red;
His life-blood pay for every tear she shed;
His dying groan" — again he fix'd his eyes
Long on the vale with mute expression, dread.
"Mirza, away! these dark and friendly skies
Dismiss us to our post — away — to enterprise!"
They left the cliff, and sought th' expecting band.
Beneath, amongst the rocks, where darkly frown'd
The cavern'd granite, scoop'd by Nature's hand,
Where pine and cedar stretch'd a skreen around,
And mountain stream and mountain turf was found,
The band await: the watch-fires bickering light,
That ting'd with red the figures and the ground,
Reveal'd th' obscurely moving troop to sight,
But left the craggy piles in shades of deeper night.
The spear-bound steeds that ready harness'd fed,
Neigh'd at strange feet within their forage-space:
'Tis Ilderim — he came with stately tread,
And brow severe, unstain'd by sign or trace
Of grief or softness, such as erst had place
When only Mirza saw — but valour high,
And stern resolve, was stamp'd upon his face.
Rule and dominion threaten'd from his eye,
That aw'd the subject band, they knew not how or why.
"What! are ye arm'd? — our last essay was good:
How likes Abdallagh's stud the mountain air?
To night, ye know, his herds become our food."
"Chieftain!" said Hassan — of the troopers there,
One vers'd in wiles — "As with observant care
I watch'd at eve, those herds I chanc'd to view,
And saw the shepherds to new ground repair;
The spot I mark'd." — "Then, Hassan, be our clue.
He has inform'd us oft, and ever has been true."
They mounted, and were gone — their steep descent,
(The sole access to that secure retreat,)
Beside an yawning gulf, unguarded, went:
The road, a path that tried the coursers' feet,
With stony steps; and oft, with rain or sleet
More fearful, seem'd the nearest way to death.
Firm hearts had they who nightly could repeat
That threat'ning course, and hear the floods beneath
Thunder amidst the gloom, nor, fear-struck, hold their breath.
That pass o'ercome, they rode on smoother ground,
'Mid groves of pine, or copse of scented bay;
The fire-fly, darting through the shades around,
Spangled the dark; from bush or verdant spray,
The Bulbul sung, and, oft, a silver ray
Gleam'd o'er their path, and checquer'd half the wood;
Soft on the leaves the light wind died away;
Mild was the air, and gentle, Nature's mood;
A time for lovers fit — ah! more than men of blood.
Oh! this is not a Western poet's dream,
Whose fancy toils, that night may have a charm;
His land ne'er show'd a subject for his theme.
Those only climes that suns of splendour warm,
Secure from icy blight, and storm's alarm;
Where not a star but sheds peculiar light,
And dews descend, nor bring the shepherd harm;
Where nature freshens in the moon-beam's sight,
These only climes behold the loveliness of night.
Nought reck'd the robbers of that loveliness;
At length they trod the plain, and Hassan led:—
"Beyond yon rocks, within a deep recess,
The herds are there;" with eager hearts they sped;
Each man prepar'd, the Chieftain at their head,
They past the scatter'd trees that intervene.
The rocks now echoed to the coursers' tread;
When sudden, from behind that craggy skreen,
A cloud of horsemen rush'd, and all the plot was seen.
Hassan had darted on to join the foe:
"Traitor!" cried Ilderim; and, with a bound,
Swift as the arrow from the twanging bow,
Pursues the wretch — in vain the host surround;
In vain the baffled sabres seek to wound;
What power withholds the lion from his prey?
He kept his aim, o'ertook, and, as to ground
The trembling craven leapt, at one essay
Smote off that recreant head, and fiercely turn'd away.
Fatal pursuit! the Chieftain turn'd to find
A mass of foes, that farther path denied;
A wall, that parted from his troop behind:
Alone he charg'd, and scatter'd terror wide,
But fail'd those crowding squadrons to divide;
The night confus'd his search, but lent a shield:
Madd'ning with rage, he rush'd from side to side;
No single arm that falchion seem'd to wield,
Which vainly scatter'd death, and lighten'd o'er the field.
Meanwhile the robbers wag'd unequal strife,
But firmly stood, and kept the host at bay;
Each held his ground, and Mirza gave them life.
They felt the shock, nor yet they yielded way,
But where was he, their leader and their stay?
His absence lost, whom danger could not tame:
Wild and disorder'd grew the mingled fray;
Fiercer on weaken'd ranks the numbers came,
In vain the band invok'd their absent Chieftain's name.
Then Mirza knew the ruin of the brave,
Searching around with unrewarded eye;
"He still may live, and Mirza still may save!"
Nor more, but spurr'd his steed, and, thund'ring by,
Rush'd where he saw the Chief, Abdallagh, nigh.
"Tyrant! from Ilderim receive thy fate!"
He said, resolved that one or both should die;
Resolv'd, at least, to glut the tyrant's hate
With that fictitious prey, and make the storm abate.
Headlong he struck — Abdallagh's ready brand
So well to that descending steel replies,
That Mirza's weapon, shiver'd from his hand,
Left him unarm'd, a naked, helpless prize.
Deceiv'd, Abdallagh seiz'd the sacrifice;
Seiz'd with tumultuous joy, "The dreaded; thou,
Thou, Ilderim, the valiant and the wise?
Th' event has little answer'd to thy vow.
Traitor! whate'er thou wert, Abdallagh's captive now!
"Didst thou come here for death, because thy train
Destroy'd, or scatter'd, own Abdallagh's might?
Death thou shalt have, but not on battle-plain:
Within the city, justice shall requite
The felon Ilderim — break off the fight!—
Enough is done." The mountain's broken band
Behold their foes retiring through the night,
And, unoppos'd, in mute amazement stand,
Nor know the deed that brought a shipwreck'd crew to land.
But what was passing then in Mirza's breast?
The brave can dauntless rush upon the sword;
But death deferr'd is valor's sternness test;
Failure in part, and scorn, (the meed abhorr'd
Of baffled worth, where tyranny is lord;)
These, too, were his — and busy mem'ry's pain,
The thoughts of ruin'd hopes, and friends deplor'd;
The fear lest all his anguish might be vain;
Lest he, for whom he died, might on the field remain.
All this he felt, content to suffer all,
So he the saviour of his friend had been;
Nor wish'd he then he could the past recall.
Amidst his foes, where flash'd from every mien
Impatience for the morrow's bloody scene,
Steadfast the victim mov'd, and seem'd at rest:
Abdallagh, as he mark'd that brow serene,
Awe-struck, the value of his prize confest:
How perilous the soul that was not then opprest!
Ere long the victors reach'd the city's gate,
Onward the sleep-disturbing triumph roll'd;
The Chief, dismounting, spoke the captive's fate:
"Secure this robber in the deepest hold,
And let the town at break of dawn be told
Their eyes shall gaze upon the man they dread;
To-morrow's golden sun shall not be old
Or ere the caitiff pays his forfeit head,
And Ilderim become — as this vile dust I tread."
The morning broke — and all the city heard
That night's dark robe had won a crimson stain;
But sign of joy or triumph scarce appear'd.
Weigh'd down to earth by fierce oppression's chain,
Bewailing him, their ancient Emir, slain.
That town was reckless of the mountain horde:
What if the storm no longer swept the plain,
When tyranny's arm'd servants, and their lord,
Remain'd to plunder still, and fleece them with the sword.
The morn advanc'd — within his hall of state
Scheming the bloody business of the day,
Girt with his glitt'ring train, Abdallagh sate:
Sudden, his looks bespeaking wild dismay,
Amidst that train a Nubian forc'd his way;
And, trembling, cast himself before the throne.
"Speak, loit'ring fool! or dearly shalt thou pay!"
"Alas! our mistress!" — "What of Azza?" — " Gone.
The harem holds her not, and this we know alone."
Fierce from his couch th' astonish'd father leapt:—
"Liar and slave! — or, if the tale be true,
Thou and the rest" — "The guard has never slept.
Last night we saw her safe — nor other knew,
Till morn's return; nor in the printless dew
One step we trace — all search is unrepaid."
"Ourselves will search:" — but, as the Chief withdrew,
His rapid course a breathless peasant stay'd:
"Dread Chief! I bring thee news of her, the captive maid."
"Captive! and whose?" — "As early morning broke
I watch'd abroad the flocks that are my care:
A horseman met me, check'd his steed, and spoke:
'Abdallagh's hind is in the hunter's snare,
His milk-white hind is in the robber's lair.
These from our master to thy lord proclaim:
He holds in chains the bribe that may repair
His loss — and, would he know our master's name,
Tell him 'twas Ilderim, from whom the message came.'"
"What tale is this? when coop'd in yonder tower—
Go, bring the robber here my daughter ta'en?
Snatch'd from the safeguard of her midnight bower?
The thief unseen, unheard! return'd again
By dawn from yonder fastness to the plain?
Was I deceiv'd? These slaves — they durst not tell
For truth the idle coinage of their brain!
What fiend is this, let loose from deepest hell,
To blast my wasted realm and beard me where I dwell?
Down Balbec's vale a train of horsemen ride,
Amongst them one who seems on air to move:
He darts along, excites his courser's pride,
And eyes the groves around, the skies above,
With rapture, such as souls enamour'd prove.
'Tis the freed captive, snatch'd from dungeon gloom,
Light, his enjoyment; liberty, his love;
At once revers'd the terrors of his doom,
For him each passing breeze from Eden seems to come.
Unsolv'd, the manner of the mystic deed
Confirm'd the tale that sunder'd Mirza's chain;
Abdallagh pays the price of Mirza freed:
In vain averse — yet led he not the train
That went to win his daughter back again;
Him sullen rage within his palace bound;
Rage, and the ferment of a fever'd brain,
That heard a viewless weapon smite around,
And, doubtful, sought a shield to raise against the wound.
The train advanc'd; — the open plain they crost,
So flatly spread its level surface wide,
It seem'd a lake, with wooded isles embost;
Mountains its shores, that rose on every side
Abrupt, as rocks o'er Ocean's flowing tide:
Majestic coast! that, mixing with the light
Its snow-clad summits, tames the soul of pride
What child of dust beholds that awful sight,
Nor bows to Nature there, and sinks before her might?
The train advanc'd — and soon, at distance yet,
Perceiv'd the progress of a mountain band,
With whom the lovely prey — ere long they met,
And front to front the silent squadrons stand;
Compact restrain'd each ready lance and brand;
But motion swift, and haughty look, betray'd
How ill the warriors could their ire command.
Anon we meet — each threat'ning eye convey'd,
And when we meet again, the sword shall not be stay'd.
They paus'd not long. — But, ah! that short delay
Suffic'd the calm of Azza's breast to break:
Of Mirza's act she knew — his bold essay,
His life adventur'd for another's sake;
Virtues that woman's fondest praise awake.
Him now she saw, on whom she thought before,
Beheld that force a graceful form could take,
And felt that fate might home and sire restore,
But own'd an object now that she could value more.
And Mirza, with enchained attention, ey'd
That maid for whom Abdallagh show'd him grace.
The light breeze came, and gently drew aside
The veil she wore; and, ere she could replace,
His watchful eye had caught her blushing face.
Then to himself: — "By Mecca's holy shrine,
Behold an angel come of demon's race!
Oh! how could he, who won that maid divine,
So heavenly fair a prize, for e'en his friend, resign?"
Brief, unobserved, the thought of either breast,
And now they part — each troop receives its own.
The joyful robbers scale the mountain's crest
Along the vale Abdallagh's child is gone.
Much had that silent maid to muse upon:
But the last moment more engag'd her mind
Than all the chances she had lately known:
The robbers' cave scarce left a trace behind,
And e'en the night's alarm was given to the wind.
Anon before the rescued maiden's eyes,
Beneath the steeps, the city's eastern skreen,
Rais'd on their rocky pedestal, arise
The domes and turrets of the valley's queen,
Balbec appears, amidst her groves of green.
The maiden heeded not, nor heeded more,
Though now she East the glory of the scene,
That ruin'd pile by genii rais'd of yore,
Obedient to the seal their earthly master wore.
They reach'd the city at the evening hour:
Abdallagh met his daughter at the gate,
And silent led her to her rifled bower:
A robber's will had rul'd his daughter's fate;
And joy was crush'd beneath the burning weight
Of wrath and shame, that o'er his bosom reign'd.
Eager to learn what Azza could relate,
Long in her bower the troubled sire remain'd,
And stood, with anxious heart, to hear the past explain'd.
The tale, it seem'd, had yielded small relief:
For from that chamber as the Chief withdrew.
A darker cloud o'erhung his brow of grief,
And eyes of flame and lips of ashen hue,
And mutter'd threats against the mountain crew,
Reveal'd a soul on fiery vengeance bent.
His passing form had met Elmyra's view;
Who, on the sight of Azza all intent,
Had watch'd with anxious eyes, and mark'd the Chief's descent.
A moment, and the tender twain had met:
Once more enlock'd in fond but mute embrace;
For joy, too near dismay, was trembling yet.
Each cheek was dew'd with sorrow's seeming trace,
The present could not yet the past efface,
All seem'd a dream, unreal, insecure:
At length the touch, the certain sight, the place,
Confirm'd their minds, and made the doubtful sure,
Till friendship ceas'd to fear, and felt the pleasure pure.
There was a feeling now in Azza's breast
She wish'd to hide within its inmost cell;
A tender, doubtful image, unexprest,
That check'd her words, and taught her mind to dwell,
(For all must suffer first to pity well,)
Absorb'd, on lone Elmyra's blighted love;
Such force, when first the sad confession fell,
Compassion had not, Azza's heart to move,
As now, when only bliss she might be deem'd to prove.
"Oh! let us strive to feel this meeting less."
(Elmyra saw the tears of pity flow,
And thought them only pleasure's keen excess.)
"Oh! heav'nly contrast to a morn of woe,
Around thee thus for ever let me grow,
Nor loose my hold — lest thou be lost again.
But tell me all — and let Elmyra know
What art, what magic — we have sought in vain,
Nor learn how force or fraud its end could here attain."
From some deep dream of self-concenter'd thought,
As the voice ended Azza seem'd to start;
Then (inly pleas'd to hold discourse on ought,
Save that the subject nearest to her heart:)
"How little is 't that Azza can impart!
Thou may'st remember when we parted last,
All reckless then of ambush'd force or art,
Parch'd by the heat that sultry summer cast,
I stood to catch the breeze, that fann'd me as it past.
"Long time I stood, regardless of the hour,
And trac'd the gaudy meteors as they flew,
And heard the crane's shrill clatter from the tower.
At length on yonder couch, that caught my view,
Rob'd as I was, my wearied limbs I threw.
Unknown to grief, and unsuspecting harms,
Full soon I drank the sweet oblivious dew:
A sudden motion gave my first alarms,
I wak'd — and wak'd within — a man's — a robber's arms.
"I know no more — for, overcome with dread,
I swoon'd — and when again I liv'd to fear,
Without the walls I prest a grassy bed,
The robber watching o'er: — with words of cheer
He tried to soothe — and from the fountain near
Sprinkled my brow — then hastily unbound
A ready courser from the fasten'd spear,
And vaulted up, and rais'd me from the ground:
The plain was overpast — the mountains clos'd around."
Mysterious deed! Gain entrance here unseen!
Unseen escape — nor gate, nor bar o'erthrown!
Our lynx-ey'd guardians still have watchful been;
Nought 'scapes their eyes — one method, one alone—
Some passage, to thy father's self unknown,
These ancient walls may hide within their breast;
Yet, who to him? — there were — but they are gone—
The grave is silent — Azza! speak the rest—
The dreaded Chief was this who snatch'd thee from thy nest?"
"I knew not who, till on the robbers' height—
There, when at last by giddy paths we came,
Numbers pour'd forth, and made the startled night
Resound with Ilderim — 'twas he — the same,
The terror of the vale — the dreaded name."—
What man is this that darts his sudden blows,
Rapid and fatal as the lightning's flame?
That, like a midnight spirit, comes and goes—
For whom a secret way the rocks and walls disclose—
"Dreaded — unfathom'd — yet, it seems, to thee
His mood was gentle." — "Kind as morning's tear;
Gentle as that the stamp of high degree.
He school'd his troop, who lent attentive ear,
To do me homage, more than waits me here:
Still at my side he took his guardian stand;
Yet was his look, that overaw'd my fear,
The look of one so gifted to command,
That all subdued I felt — the humblest of his band.
"His eye was cold for all it look'd upon;
So cold, that from its glance I sunk aside:
He seem'd to gaze on woman as on stone.
Some secret grief, he struggles still to hide,
And partly hid beneath the mask of pride,
Weighs on his soul; for, as he stood, my shield,
At times he watch'd me silently, and sigh'd;
Then paler looks and quivering lips reveal'd
A troubled storm within that scarce would be conceal'd."
"Mysterious still! but wears he on his face
The blazon of his savage trade defin'd?"—
Ah! no — he beams with each severer grace;
Nature has fix'd the stamp of noble mind
On his majestic brow — he looks design'd
To rule, extending blessings with his sway:
But grief has class'd him with the sterner kind:
E'en thus the sun, obscur'd his cloudy way,
Less than himself appears, and half dispenses day.
"O'er his left brow he bears an ancient scar."—
A scar! and on his brow?" — "Does this surprise?
Warriors who fight must show the marks of war.
One thing there was may bid thy wonder rise;
From forth his breast, before my watchful eyes,
He drew a rosary, how richly fair!
Each bead, a flawless pearl of rarest size;
Strange to behold a robber use at prayer
Such beads as are esteem'd the Sultan's single share.
"And from the string, all glitt'ring, hung below
An amulet, with rubies studded o'er;—
He gaz'd upon it — and a groan of woe—"
"Or from the bleeding dead that pledge he tore,
Or it is he — that being I deplore—
Himself — and death was cheated of his prey.
Azza! those pearls — that amulet he wore—
To him might well be known each secret way;
All-righteous Allagh! hear! nor let this hope betray."
Silence, the force of Azza's wonder prov'd:
At length — "What, he! — the mountain's fearful guest?"—
"Thy words have pictured him Elmyra lov'd;
Each mark, each mystic circumstance exprest,
Agrees, betokens him — within this breast
Hope glows again — nor will I quench the flame—
I'll tell thee all — but grant a little rest."
Breathless and pale, th' exhausted maid became,
The shock that rais'd her soul had all unhing'd her frame.
"Forbear awhile — hereafter shalt thou speak,
Let Azza guide thee to the myrtle bower,
Where the cool breeze may rest upon thy cheek—
New mysteries — the fruit of every hour—
O'erwhelm this mind, and half confound its power."
Slowly they went, enwrapt in shades of night:
But, as they past the portal of the tower,
A boding vision burst upon their sight,—
Far Lebanon — all flames — a blaze on every height.
War's lurid sign — arrested by surprise,
Trembling they stood — and mark'd, with silent fear,
That dread illumination meet the skies,
Seeming — extension of the starry sphere.
Unknown for whom the coming storm was near,
Each tender mind, by kindred spirit led,
Flew to the object which it held most dear:
"Allagh! if once thy favour stood his stead,
Shall fate o'ertake him now?" Elmyra faintly said.
"His friend, Oh! favour too!" Elmyra heard,
And started back; but, sinking on her breast,
Blushing, reveal'd, the love-lorn maid appear'd,
"I thought to hide — but terror has confest;
That friend I saw — Elmyra guess the rest,
Nor chide a heart too kindred with thine own."—
Oh! dearer now, because like me opprest,
Our bosoms are in tune, though sad their tone;
Be those each other's stay, who number groan for groan.
"Oh! had serener skies — but hand in hand
We'll meet whatever storms yon clouds prepare,
And sink together, or together stand."—
She spoke — and fiercer grew the fiery glare,
And tumult rose upon the darken'd air:
Shouts from the city — larum drums resound—
Nor long ere echoes from the vale declare
No common host advancing o'er the ground;
The voice of battle swells — the death-shot peals around.
Forth from the harem rush'd affrighten'd Moors—
"Lady! retreat, as a safer harbour win—
We come to bar the harem's massive doors;
War is without, and treason is within,
All Balbec maddens with seditious din:
One they proclaim, awaken'd from the dead."
Trembling, the conscious maidens hurried in:
The pangs of hope, by that new fuel fed,
More tried Elmyra's soul, than danger's 'whelming dread.
Dread sign, when Lebanon is crown'd with flame!
Then Syria knows that, arming for the fight,
The warrior Druses point their levell'd aim:—
Intrepid race! who seiz'd that fortress height,
Resolv'd on liberty, in power's despight:—
Oppression's foes! protectors of th' opprest!
To you the wrong'd, the helpless, bend their flight,
And find a home, or have their cause redrest:
Ye taste of joy yourselves, and would have others blest.
Scheming swift vengeance on the mountain band
Abdallagh sate, awaken'd from his dream
By that bright warning to a threaten'd land.—
Him did it threaten? little did he deem
Foes had already crost the valley's stream;
For art and night had cast a veil o'er all.
Weak hands were left to bid the war-fire beam,
That warn'd confederate ranks within the wall,
And fires the secret mine, and works a tyrant's fall.
A moment, and the people's shout began;
Tumult and strife that pierc'd the ear of sleep;
And from the walls affrighten'd soldiers ran—
"On us — on us — the demons of the steep,
Close at our gates; — and through the city sweep
Mad crowds, who cry their Emir's race survives."
"Bring me my steed — a faithful watch ye keep—
Ye drones, who slumber whilst they storm our hives—
Back to the southern gate — defend it with your lives.
"Their Emir's race — a lie conceiv'd in hell!—
My steed! I say. — A plot in darkness plann'd!—
Another fool — and what hast thou to tell?"—
All Lebanon — with them the mountain band,
Led on by Ilderim." — "Base slave! unmann'd
By the vain terror of an empty sound!
Let Hell's own legions at our portals stand,
We'll drive them back! — Away — destroy — confound!"
He vaulted on his steed, and thunder'd o'er the ground.
Uproar and gloom prevail'd — within — without—
"Your Emir's race — ye men of Balbec rise!"
Such was the cry. — Abdallagh heard the shout
With rage that had not leisure to chastise—
Fierce as the bolt that flames along the skies,
Threat'ning, he past through that tempestuous roar;
He reach'd the gate — 'twas clos'd — the hostile cries
Clamour'd without — th' assailant numbers pour,
Like tempest-anger'd waves, that dash against the shore.
"What, are they foil'd? — These gates are faithful still—
Treason has fail'd, and shall not long appall,
Shout forth yon rebel Rayas as they will:—
Pour down your murd'rous volleys, one and all,
Ye, from above — where's Omar? — On the wall?"
"Chieftain! the postern was the charge he chose."—
"Send for him here:" — but, as they turn'd to call,
A sudden outcry from the city rose;
Shouts of a rushing crowd that tow'rd the portal blows.
"Betray'd! — betray'd!" the clamour onward came;
Murmurs; and hostile shouts resounding wide;
Ringing of steel, and torches' waving flame;
Trampling of coursers. — "From the postern side—
Treason — 'tis Omar's — dotard! to confide
In aught but you — sons of a kindred land—
On with your Chief, and turn this coming tide,
If aught of faithful" — and a desperate band
Rush'd with their desperate Chief against the flood at hand.
The shock of rushing waves! they meet — they close—
Fierce was the shock — and fearful was the sound:
This way and that, as battle ebbs and flows,
The crimson billow rolls — the darkness round
Disjointed rule — but each his leader found
In unrelenting fury, or despair.
Scarce lost or won a single inch of ground,
Fate seem'd to waver for a moment there,
While carnage stain'd the earth, and clamour rent the air.
'Twas but a while — engag'd for life and crown,
The frantic tyrant made his last essay:
But there were sword, that bore resistance down:
How rush'd the torrent, when before its sway
Crumbled the mound that interpos'd delay!
O'er the red pavement rush'd the broken train—
The gates they once defended clos'd their way—
Fear burst the bars — through portals, chok'd with slain,
Pursued, pursuers, past, and mingled on the plain.
Loos'd from the mass, emerging from the gate,
Rush'd Ilderim — amid that scatter'd flight
He sought for only one — revenge and hate,
Yet unappeas'd, were craving for their right.
"Tyrant! where art thou? tumult, nor the night,
Shall hide, or save — Abdallagh, dost thou live?
The mountain robber dares thee to the fight.
Fail me not, Fate — nor let my foe receive
From other hands the wound that only these should give."
No fruitless search — Abdallagh, borne along,
Had vainly tried to check the course of fear:
But now, discumber'd from th' o'erwhelming throng,
Back tow'rds the host he spurr'd his fierce career,
Bereft of hope, but dauntless; on his ear
Fell that defiance, echoed far and wide.
"Here, at thy beck, behold Abdallagh here!
Mortal, or fiend, to earth or hell allied,
Abdallagh shuns thee not — whate'er befriends thy side!"
A moment, and they join'd — "I thank thee, Fate!
Yet, tyrant! ere my ready steel I bare,
Thou shalt confess the justice of my hate:
Who drove me, frantic, to my mountain lair?
Who scath'd this wither'd bosom with despair?
Thou, curst destroyer of my sire and race!"—
The moon-beam, piercing through the clouded air,
Cast its full radiance on that hidden face—
Abdallagh started back, and, speechless, gaz'd a space.
"The graves are open'd! — Spirit of the night,
What power has burst the tomb's relentless chain?
Thy looks are princely Caled's to my sight,—
Son of the Emir — near his father slain—
Hence to thy narrow prison-house again!"—
"Yes — it is Caled — but with life endued—
He cur'd my wounds who bore me from the plain.—
Tyrant! in unavailing blood embrued,
Art thou by Caled's hate unrighteously pursued?"
Unnerv'd, Abdallagh shrunk — he turn'd his steed,
And fled before his foe — but angry shame
And haughty courage, in extremest need,
Fast, fast renew'd that bosom's native flame—
Sudden he wheel'd — and, with a desperate aim,
Met his pursuer — "Fortune is thy slave—
Yet shalt thou find Abdallagh's steel the same
As when it sent thy father to his grave,
And won the conquer'd realm that Caled could not save."
They clos'd — but Caled darted on his prey
As from on high the pouncing eagle flies;
Abdallagh blindly check'd the weapon's way;
Caled has struck; and, never more to rise,
Stretch'd on a bloody bed th' usurper lies:—
Furious in death he bites the reckless plain,
And with faint menace of his hand defies;
Then sullen parts — whilst on his brow remain
Fierce pride, and fiercer hate, triumphant over pain.
"'Tis done! Ye victims of ambition's rage
Ye are reveng'd, and Caled's part is o'er.
I came not here to seize my heritage,
For only this — if life would charm me more
Thou must arise, fell tyrant, and restore
That tender flow'ret crush'd to earth by thee.
Vain thought! and now that thou art laid in gore,
Where is the friend shall do as much for me?
Oh! for a kindly sword, to set the victor free!"
He scowl'd upon the dead, and turn'd away,
Searching where yet the battle might be found,
Resolv'd on death — the dawn of early day,
Pale-breaking o'er the corse-encumber'd ground,
Reveal'd his path, and strow'd to those around:
They hail'd him rightful Prince, and Balbec's heir,
Victorious Lord, with wreaths of honour crown'd,
Lift up your gates — thou city of his care—
Receive your long-lost Prince — his father's throne prepare.
He heeded not — for now that all was won.
That fierce revenge the crimson cup had drain'd,
The troubled victor felt the more undone;
For him no further object now remain'd.
The wish was dead that had before sustain'd;
His mind now fasten'd on his bosom's woe.
Yes — she was gone that had his heart enchain'd;
He was alone — and what had life to show,
Might school his soul to bear such solitude below?
A feeble skirmish linger'd in the van:
Thither he bent; but, as he hurried by,
Stopt short, arrested by a wounded man,
Who from the ground, where he was left to die,
Rais'd the appeal of his resistless cry—
"A moment pause — there weighs upon my breast
A fatal secret, and my end is nigh.
Lives are at stake." — "Thou soul, o'ermuch opprest,
Relieve thee of thy load, and Allagh grant thee rest."
"Whoe'er thou art — seek the victorious Chief—
Abdallagh's palace — thither bid him lead
His conq'ring troops to woman's prompt relief—
Abdallagh's lovely child is doom'd to bleed,
All, all the harem — so himself decreed,
If fortune to the robber's vow replied—
I bore the message — death rewards the deed,
And angry Azrael, threat'ning — at my side—
Oh! save me from his frown!" — the miscreant groan'd, and died.
"They must be sav'd. — Oh! monster to the last!
I must not rest till thou art foil'd again—
Yet how? for, ere the palace gate be past,
The guard within, beholding Caled's train—
What means or art? — it flashes on my brain:
Once more the secret of the rock shall aid.
Mirza, where art thou?" Rapid, o'er the plain
He sought his friends; who, for their Chief dismay'd,
Rejoic'd at his return, and at his call obey'd.
The palace, on the city's strongest side,
Stood near the walls, remote from either gate;
A deep ravine such outer trench supplied
As art might vainly seek to emulate.
Aloft, austere in solitary state,
Thron'd on the rock, the princely building rose:
Where nature watch'd, man needed not to wait:
Those craggy ramparts mock assailant foes—
Nor eyes are gazing there to mark who comes or goes.
To that ravine th' acquainted leader bent—
Dismounting there, by rugged paths of stone
The toiling band o'ercame the steep descent—
Fronting, they found a cave, with brake o'ergrown,
That seem'd or long neglected or unknown;
"Behold your road, and dare without delay;
Short time ago I trod the path alone."—
Through bush and brake the party forc'd their way,
The craggy portal gain'd, and left the light of day.
Their Chieftain held the torch; long aisles of gloom,
Cautious, yet swift, they pierc'd; where reign'd around
The silence and the chilness of the tomb—
The cavern ends — but spiral steps they found,
That, flank'd by massive walls, ascending wound:
"Are ye prepar'd? — The destin'd scene is near."
Nor long ere, from above, a distant sound
Confirm'd his words — with shrinking hearts they hear
Faint cries of distant woe, and shrieks of female fear.
"On — or too late," — from hapless Azza's bower
Arose the piercing clamour of distress—
Assembled there, but in no festive hour,
Throng'd all the harem's pride and loveliness—
Victims forewarn'd, that round their mistress press:—
Calm in despair the sister maids were seen,
Doom'd like the others, but bewilder'd less—
In prayer they knelt — with pale but constant mien,
Majestic in their woe, and in their fears serene.
The doors are burst — the dark assassin train,
Who scarcely gave the promis'd time for prayer,
Advanc'd to strike! — An instant — and in vain
The near assistance that the victors bear.
Round the first victim's wildly streaming hair
That savage hand its dusky grasp has twin'd:
The lifted steel — Oh! moment of despair—
When, bursting through the yawning wall behind,
Rush'd in with furious shout the aid by Heav'n design'd.
Amazement, panic, stay'd the lifted steel;
Short time had those to work their lord's command,
Who now themselves the stroke of carnage feel,
Subdued, or ere they fought — the saviour band
Let loose the furies of each armed hand,
Hew'd those who fled, and slaughter'd those who stood.
Remorseless rag'd the just, unsparing, brand—
Death had his feast — but tasted other food
Than stern Abdallagh meant, and drank of other blood.
Echoed the marble halls to groans and cries—
Uncertain yet what fortune had in store
The rescued victims scarcely rais'd their eyes,
Perhaps severely sav'd, to suffer more.
Back from pursuit, the act of vengeance o'er,
Caled return'd, and sought Abdallagh's child;
Distain'd his vest, his sabre dropping gore,
Fire darting from his eyes, and features wild,
Some lion loos'd he seem'd, with recent prey defil'd.
That sight might well the trembling heart confound;
Terror beheld the master-savage near:
The females shriek'd, encircling Azza round,
In all the anxious helplessness of fear.—
"We come to save — as woman's guardians, here—
Azza, thy shield:" — but onward as he came,
A voice, a murmur burst upon his ear,
That thrill'd through ev'ry fibre of his frame:
A well-known voice it was, and breath'd his rightful name.
Forwards he sprung. — Why starts the victor now?
Now motionless, as if by magic stay'd?
Why sits a deathlike paleness on his brow?
Why thund'ring falls his all-ungovern'd blade?
Her, her he sees, his own, his long lost maid!
It was herself, that living form of light,
Her drooping head on Azza's bosom laid;
Nature had sunk beneath the keen delight
That tried Elmyra's heart when Caled blest her sight.