Page images
PDF
EPUB

And sweetly the founts of that valley fall; Though bright are the waters of Sing-Su-Hay, And the golden floods that thitherward stray, Yet—oh 'tis only the blest can say

How the waters of heaven outshine them all!

'Go wing thy flight from star to star, From world to luminous world, as far

As the universe spreads its flaming wall; Take all the pleasures of all the spheres, And multiply each through endless years—

One minute of heaven is worth them all!'

The glorious angel, who was keeping
The gates of light, beheld her weeping;
And as he nearer drew, and listened
To her sad song, a tear-drop glistened
Within his eyelids, like the spray

From Eden's fountain when it lies
On the blue flower which—Bramins say—

Blooms no where but in Paradise! 'Nymph of a fair, but erring line!' Gently he said—' One hope is thine. ''Tis written in the book of fate, ,,

The Peri yet may be forgiven Who brings to this eternal gate

The gift that is most dear to heaven!

[graphic]

Go, seek it, and redeem thy sin;—
Tis sweet to let the pardoned in!'

Rapidly as comets ran

To the embraces of the sun;—

Fleeter than the starry brands,

Flung at night from angel hands

At those dark and daring spirits

Who would climb the empyreal heights,

Down the blue vault the Peri flies,

And lighted earthward by a glance

That just then broke from morning's eyes,

Hung hovering o'er our world's expanse.

But whither shall the spirit go

To find this gift for heaven ?—' I know

'The wealth,' she cries, ' of every urn,

In which unnumbered rubies burn,

Beneath the pillars of Chilminar;

I know where the isles of perfume are,

Many a fathom down in the sea,

To the south of sun-bright Araby;

I know too where the Genii hid

The jewelled cup of their King Jamshid

With life's elixir sparkling high—

But gifts like these are not for the sky.

Where was there ever a gem that shone
Like the steps of Alias wonderful throne!
And the drops of life—oh what would they be
In the boundless deep of eternity?'

While thus she mused, her pinions fanned
The air of that sweet Indian land,
Whose air is balm; whose ocean spreads
O'er coral rocks and amber beds;
Whose mountains, pregnant by the beam
Of the warm sun, with diamonds teem;
Whose rivulets are like rich brides,
Lovely, with gold beneath their tides,
Whose sandal groves and bowers of spice
Might be a Peri'6 Paradise!
But crimson now her rivers ran

With human blood—the smell of death
Came reeking from those spicy bowers,
And man, the sacrifice of man,

Mingled his taint with every breath
Upwafted from the innocent flowers!
Land of the sun! what foot invades
Thy Pagods and thy pillared shades,—
Thy cavern shrines and idol stones,
Thy monarchs and their thousand thrones?

Tis he of Gazna,—fierce in wrath
He comes, and India's diadems

Lie scattered in his ruinous path.—
His blood.hounds he adorns with gems,

Torn from the violated necks

Of many a young and loved Sultana ;—
Maidens within their pure Zenana,
Priests in the very fane he slaughters,

And choaks up with the glittering wrecks
Of golden shrines the sacred waters!

Downward the Peri turns her gaze;
And, through the war-field's bloody haze,
Beholds a youthful warrior stand

Alone, beside his native river,—
The red blade broken in his hand,

And the last arrow in his quiver. 'Live,' said the conqueror,' Live to share The trophies and the crowns I bear!' Silent that youthful warrior stood— Silent he pointed to the flood All crimson with his country's blood, Then sent his last remaining dart For answer to the invader's heart.

False flew the shaft, though pointed well;
The tyrant lived, the hero fell 1—
Yet marked the Peri where he lay;

And when the rush of war was past,
Swiftly descending on a ray

Of morning light, she caught the last— Last glorious drop his heart had shed, Before its free-horn spirit fled!

'Be this,' she cried, as she winged her flight,

'My welcome gift at the gates of light;

Though foul are the drops that oft distil

On the field of warfare, blood like this,

For liberty shed, so holy is, :. .' . . .. .

It would not stain the purest rill,

That sparkles among the bowers of bliss!

Oh I if there be, on this earthly sphere,'

A boon, an offering heaven holds dear,

'Tis the last libation liberty draws

From the heart that bleeds and breaks in her cause!'

'Sweet,' said the angel, as she gave

The gift into his radiant hand, 'Sweet is our welcome of the brave,

Who die thus for their native land.—

« PreviousContinue »