IN long and painful silence, have my thoughts,
My pensive thoughts, revolved from day to day,
From year to year. Ev’n now, by MEMORY led,
An ever-active circling course they run
Around the central point of human life,
Where sad EXPERIENCE, laden with the gleanings,
Abundant gleanings, of that various harvest
Mown by the hand of TIME, deems herself rich
In wisdom and in knowledge: thence presumes,
With countenance austere, to cast a gloom
Athwart the smile of HOPE; or, with a voice
Formed to the trembling accents of distrust,
Recals, with harsh rebuke’s sententious lore,
The lovely wand’rer from that fair expanse
Thro’ which she wont to roam on vagrant wing,
Catching far-distant views of FAIRY LAND,
Romantically beauteous; or, from meads
Of more than vernal loveliness, where blooms
A mimic EDEN; and the roving eye
Along the smooth but swiftly-gliding stream,
Expatiates unwearied:—many a form
Of magical illusion, from the surface
Apparently reflected, but from objects
As unsubstantial as the forms that float
Upon the wat’ry mirror.—Here awhile,
’Mid the gay bow’rs of youth, I fondly stray’d,
And cull’d the flowers of FANCY, for they grew
In fair luxuriance.—HOPE with airy step
Still led me on thro’ mazes of DELIGHT;
And as the zephyr gently-sportive play’d
Amid the quivering foliage, that o’erhung
Our devious path, sequester’d from the eye
Of prying CURIOSITY, and all
The sick’ning tribe of ENVY, or the sons
Of soul-corroding CARE. Along the grove
Acrial notes of harmony divine
Dwelt on the ear enraptured, for awhile
In low vibration, then, with gentlest swell
Flow’d on the breeze, or on its bosom died
Amid the fragrance of a thousand balms,
Stol’n from SHEBAVAN’s vale, from groves of LAR,
From OBOLA’s jasmine borders, and the meads
That skirt MOSELLA’s stream;* or, where amid
SHIRAZIAN gardens* prodigal of blooms
The lonely minstrel that awakes the morn,
Bends o’er the new-blown rose, inebriate
With beauty and with love.—A trembling light
That seem’d as if the lucid powers that mourn
Confined within the caves of VIZAPORE,*
Had burst their fated bonds, and beam’d at once
The mingled radiance of JAURABAD’s* gems—
Now tinged with changeful gleam the light of heaven.
All was enchantment! yet the wizard power
So artfully conceal’d, that still the whole
Seem’d a fair region of reality,
Nor did the mind, assimilated softly
To the CHARM, once dare to deem it FICTION.
Here in fond admiration, as I gazed
On NATURE’s fairest FLOWER, whose lovely form,
Soft tinted hues, and odoriferous scent,
Might rival all the blooms of PARADISE,
My heedless foot press’d on a sleeping SNAKE
That sudden turn’d, and writhing round the limb,
Oped wide his venom’d jaws that threaten’d death,
And hissing, darted forth his forky tongue.
Aghast, I started back—HOPE hurrying fled
With more than arrowy speed. A phantom train
Of shapes infernal, dreadful as the band
Raised by infuriate FANCY to torment
Some wretched MANIAC in his wildest hours,
When ghastly DEMONS burst upon his eye,
When nought assail his ear but shrieks of woe,
And HORROR’s deadly fiend with iron hand
Grasps his convulsive heart:—’mid dusky clouds
That wildly roll’d around, the SPECTRES flew,
Now half obscured, now starting from the gloom,
Then vanishing again. A chilling blast
That rose in whirlwind eddies, now involved
The visionary throng in one dire mass
Of horrible confusion. Thro’ the midst
Led by a hand unseen,—with trembling step
And heart subdued by dread, beyond the power
Of utterance to express, o’er broken ground
Bestrew’d with thorns and over rugged rocks
I pass’d despondent, ’till by slow degrees
The cloudy veil dissolving into air,
Open’d my prospect to a scene more wild
Than e’er imagination yet could paint,
From many a rude romantic form combined,
Of mountain, forest, rock, and narrow’d vale,
Thro’ which the roaring waters wend their way,
Impatient of the day-beam that ne’er pierced
The gloomy Asghaubs, whence they burst to freedom,
Thro’ deep enchannell’d banks, rudely o’erhung
By half-fall’n aged trees, whose distant YOUTH
Enjoy’d its vigour, when proud AYRAN’s realm
Was blest and vigorous too.—AGE steals on ALL—
And happy they who meet it well prepared—
That meet it, like the heaven-devoted bard
Sheikh Mosla-eddin SAADI,* whose pure song
Shall live whilst heart-felt harmony endures—
Long as divine benignity shall bless
BEN-ATHA’s* pious strains, that sung of joy
Amid the desert waste.—These aiding oft
The sweet effusions of congenial minds—
KHACANI* — virtuous KEMALEDDIN* thine—
And thine sublime KERMANI,* humbly great—
Who, leaving courtly grandeur, and the snares
Of soul-enfeebling luxury, didst retire
To temperance and a cottage—science fraught;
And, midst the plane-tree-shaded valley sing
Which pure intention of the heart alone
Yields the poor HADJY thro’ life’s pilgrimage.
These oft in faithful recollection dwell,
And charm my lonely hours—and grateful raise
To heavenly ardors this enkindling heart.
But lo! the torrent dashing down the steep,
Thro’ pendent woods, and over many a mass
Of jutting rock, and huge disjointed stone,
Rifted by lightnings from the cliffs above.
A broken pathway winding up the glen
Here lay before me:—whilst on either side
The high-embow’ring branches overspread
Fair slopes of liveliest verdure,—such as rise
Where PERI spirits join in festive dance
Beneath the myrtle shade, and hymn the hour
When NEURUZE* first unfolds the blossom’d bud
Thro’ sweet MOURDESTAN’s* forest, ever-green—
And almost ever-blooming:—lov’lier far,
Delightful SHIRAZ, than thy cypress groves,
That wave their spiring branches o’er the nest
Of the complacent turtle, who restrains
Her murmuring love-note, whilst the nightingale
Listens attentively to ZSHOOLEH’s lay.*
So Angels hear the GOOD MAN’s song of praise
Flow from a humble heart. My friendly guide
Unseen, and scarcely felt, withdrew his hand,
While on mine ear a more than mortal voice
Thus broke divinely sweet.—‘ACHMED, forbear
To doubt that PROVIDENCE which hitherto
Has been thy guide, thy guard. O let thy soul
Resign’d in all to Heaven’s ETERNAL LORD,
Seek WISDOM from on high, and from the source
Of boundless LOVE receive th’ inspiring gift
Of fair BENEVOLENCE, that bids thee meet
The wide creation with expanded heart.
Do good to every creature that exists
Within thy field of action: for the world
Alike display the wonders of his power,
Alike partake the bounties of his hand,
Alike obey the mandates of his will,
Alike advance the universal good,
With MAN’s more lordly race, or ANGEL powers,
That rise sublime above thy sphere, as man
Above the lowest reptile.—Yonder path,
Tho’ devious it appear, will lead thee on
Thro’ NATURE’s fair domain. At every step
New wonders will present, and every hour
The grateful heart new tribute will bestow
Of love and admiration.—If the forms
Or hues of BEAUTY can attract thine eye,
If sweet SIMPLICITY can charm thy heart,
Or TRUTH—eternal TRUTH, can e’er extend
Her empire o’er thy soul, there shalt thou find
A bliss, a heavenly bliss, that wayward MAN
Spurns from his crowded haunts, his camps, his courts,
And leaves the EXILED ACHMED to enjoy.