FROM whence?—what art thou?—ghastly SPECTRE! say.
Why glooms that visage on my twilight view?
Does FATE presageful hither guide thy way,
And bid dark VENGEANCE here my soul pursue?
That SHEMSHERE gleaming by the moon’s pale light?
Those faltering steps that would my cave explore?
That groan deep wounding the repose of night?
And why appear those limbs distain’d with gore?
Does magic art by demon power constrain
Thine airy image to some dire intent?
Or, fever’d FANCY form within my brain
Distemper’d phantoms only to torment?
The tyger, the hyæna, here might rove,
As darkling o’er the wilds for prey they prowl,
For oft along th’ impending rocks above,
The echoes tremble with their midnight howl.
But thus remote from all the haunts of men,
And where no motives can induce to stray,
What mortal being would approach this den,
Freely and dreadless in the face of day?
Scarce at the noon-tide hour could FATE’s decree
Here lead me by the guidance of DESPAIR,
When these sequester’d glooms first shelter’d me,
The child of SORROW, and MISFORTUNE’s heir.
A LION’s headlong fury to elude,
Drove me to scale the rugged rocks beneath;
And plunged amid this darkling solitude,
I sought a refuge from the jaws of death.
But DANGER dwelt here.—With tremendous roar,
And sullen step, advanced the savage foe:
Wildly impell’d, a ponderous stone I bore,
Heaven gave me fortitude, and sped the blow.
Tho’ down yon broken steep the LION fell,
Torn in his fall, blood-wet with many a wound,
With wilder rage and agonizing yell,
Recovering soon, he climb’d the craggy mound:
This sword received him, and the monster died.
Now say, if MAN thou art—what leads thee here?
‘A MAN I am,’—the DREARY FORM replied,
‘Long lost to HOPE, and now estranged to FEAR.
‘Know, bold possessor of this lonely cave,
No base designs induce me here to roam:
Wounded in fight the hand of help I crave,
Far from my friends and from my native home.
‘But why of friends or native home to thee,
Who mournst, perchance, thine own as dearly loved,
As long, as sadly lost, as mine to me,
As much regretted, and as far removed?
‘In sympathy I share thy bosom’s grief,
Ah! could I feel resign’d, such comforts too,
For know, thy prayers, ere thus I sought relief,
I heard with wonder, as to Heaven they flew.
‘And sure, who seeks for MERCY from on high,
And craves with pious prayer the aid of HEAVEN,
Will not a hapless wand’rer’s suit deny,
Deep wounded—famish’d—o’er the desert driven.’
Enough, afflicted stranger! ACHMED said.
Tho’ rooted from the garden of mankind,
I yet can hear the voice of NATURE plead,
And speak soft comfort to the wounded mind.
Approach then, fearless SOLDIER, and partake
Of such refreshments as these wilds bestow,
Herbs from the glen, and berries from the brake,
With purest water from the spring below.
This forest too shall yield a kindly balm
Of power to sooth thy wound’s afflictive smart;
And haply here RETIREMENT’s genial calm
May shed it’s influence o’er a troubled heart.
The MOON all lovely, from her clouded veil
Soft-gliding, lifts her silvery lamp on high,
The little STARS their twinkling rays conceal,
And to their dens the powers of darkness fly.
So, when the beams of heavenly comfort shine,
Life’s fairy visions faintly glide away;
The train of ANGUISH fly her light divine,
That yields the faithful soul eternal day.
Now NATURE claims (each sorrowing sigh supprest)
Her due refreshment and the hour of rest.
To-morrow’s morn shall ampler time bestow,
To speak those truths we each desire to know.