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Whose lonely columns stand sublime,
Flinging their shadows from on high
Like dials, which the wizard, Time,
Had raised to count his ages by!
Yet haply there may lie concealed
Beneath those chambers of the sun,
Some amulet of gems, annealed
In upper fires, some tablet sealed
With the great name of Solomon,
Which, spelled by her illumined eyes,
May teach her where, beneath the moon,
In earth or ocean lies the boon,
The charm that can restore so soon,
An erring spirit to the skies!
Cheered by this hope she bends her thither;
Still laughs the radiant eye of heaven,
Nor have the golden bowers of even
In the rich west begun to wither ;—
WThen, o'er the vale of Balbec winging
Slowly, she sees a child at play,
Among the rosy wild-flowers singing,
As rosy and as wild as thsy;
Chasing, with eager hands and eyes,
The beautiful blue damsel-flies
That fluttered round the jasmine stems,
Like winged flowers or flying gems :—
And, near the boy, who tired with play,
Now nestling 'mid the roses lav,
She saw a wearied man dismount
From his hot steed, and on the brink Of a small imaret's rustic fount,
Impatient fling him down to drink. Then swift his haggard brow he turned
To the fair child, who fearless sat, Though never yet hath day-beam burned
Upon a brow more fierce than that,—
Sullenly fierce—a mixture dire,
Like thunder-clouds, of gloom and fire!
In which the Peri's eye could read
Dark tales of many a ruthless deed;
The ruined maid-—the shrine profaned—
Oaths broken—and the threshold stained
With blood of guests !—there written, all,
Black as the damning drops that fall
From the denouncing angel's pen,
Ere mercy weeps them out again!
Yet tranquil now that man of crime
(As if the balmy evening time
Softened his spirit), looked and lay,
Watching the rosy infant's play :—
Though still, whene'er his eye by chance
Fell on the boy's, its lurid glance
Met that unclouded, joyous gaze,
As torches, that have burnt all night
Through some impure and godless rite,
Encounter morning's glorious rays.
But hark! the vesper-call to prayer,
As slow the orb of day-light sets.
Is rising sweetly on the air,
From Syria's thousand minarets!
The boy has started from the bed
Of flowers, where he had laid his head,
And down upon the fragrant sod
Kneels, with his forehead to the south, Lisping the eternal name of God
From purity's own cherub mouth, And looking, while his hands and eyes Are lifted to the glowing skies, Like a stray babe of paradise, Just lighted on that flowery plain, And seeking for its home again! Oh 'twas a sight—that heaven—that childA scene, which might have well beguiled Even haughty Eblis of a sigh, For glories lost and peace gone by!
And how felt he, the wretched man
Reclining there—while memory ran
O'er many a year of guilt and strife,
Flew o'er the .dark flood of his life,
Nor found one sunny resting-place,
Nor brought him' back one branch of grace!
* There was a time,' he said in mild
Heart-humbled tones—' thou blessed child I
When young and happy, pure as thou,
I looked and prayed like thee—but now'—
He hung his head—each nobler aim
And hope and feeling, which had slept
From boyhood hour, that instant came
Fresh O'ct him, and he wept-f-he wept!
Blest tears of soul-felt penitence,
In whose benign, redeeming flow Is felt the first, the only sense
Of guiltless joy that guilt can know.
'There is a drop,' said the Peri, ' that down from
Falls through the withering airs of June
Upon Egypt's land, of so healing a power,
So balmy a virtue, that even in the hour
VOL. I. F
That drop descends, contagion dies,
And health reanimates earth and skies !—
Oh! is it not thus, thou man of sin,
The precious tears of repentance fall! Though foul thy fiery plagues within,
One heavenly drop hath dispelled them all 1'
And now behold him kneeling there,
By the child's side in humble prayer,
While the same sun-beam shines upon
The guilty and the guiltless one,
And hymns of joy proclaim through heaven,
The triumph of a soul forgiven!
Twas when the golden orb had set,
While on their knees they lingered yet,
There fell a light, more lovely far •
Than ever came from sun or star,
Upon the tear that warm and meek,
Dewed that repentant sinner's cheek:
To mortal eye this light might seem
A northern flash or meteor beam—
But well the enraptured Peri knew
'Twas a bright smile the Angel threw
From heaven's gate, to hail that tear
Her harbinger of glory near!