The Arab poets who rehearse
Their legends in imperishable verse,
Say, when Majnûn these tidings knew,
More wild, more moody wild, he grew;
Raving through wood and mountain glen;
Flying still more the haunts of men.
Sudden a perfume, grateful to the soul,
O'er his awaken'd senses stole.
He thought from Lailî's fragrant couch it came,
And fill'd with joy his wearied frame.
Ecstatic with the unexpected pleasure,
The fond memorial of his dearest treasure,
He sank upon the ground, beneath the shade
Of a broad palm, in senseless torpor laid.
A stranger, quickly passing by,
Observed the love-lorn wanderer lie
Sleeping, or dead, and check'd his camel's pace
To mark the features of his face.
Loud roaring, like a demon, he awoke
The maniac from his trance, and gaily spoke:—
“Up, up, thou sluggard! up and see,
What thy heart's-ease has done for thee!
Better drive feeling from thy mind,
Since there's no faith in womankind:
Better be idle, than employ'd
In fruitless toil; better avoid
A mistress, though of form divine,
If she be fair and false as thine!
They've given her charms to one as young—
The bird-veil o'er her brow is flung:
Close, side by side, from morn till night,
Kissing and dalliance their delight;*
Whilst thou from human solace flying,
With unrequited love art dying.
—Distant from her adorer's view,
One in a thousand may be true:
The pen which writes, as if it knew
A woman's promise, splits in two.
While in another's warm embrace,
No witness to thy own disgrace,
Faithless, she wastes no thought on thee,
Wrapp'd in her own felicity.
Woman's desire is more intense
Than man's–more exquisite her sense;
But, never blinded by her flame,
Gain and fruition are her aim.
A woman's love is selfish all;
Possessions, wealth, secure her fall.
How many false and cruel prove,
And not one faithful in her love!
A contradiction is her life;
Without, all peace; within, all strife;
A dangerous friend, a fatal foe,
Prime breeder of a world of woe.*
When we are joyous, she is sad;
When deep in sorrow, she is glad.
Such is the life a woman leads,
And in her sorcery still succeeds.”
These words confused the lover's brain;
Fire ran through every swelling vein:
Frantic he dash'd his forehead on the ground,
And blood flow'd trickling from the ghastly wound.
“What added curse is this?” he groaning said,—
“Another tempest, roaring round my head!”
When ever did a bleeding heart
Betray no sign of blighted reason?
Can the most skilful gardener's art
Still keep his flowers or fruit in season?
No; hearts dissolved in grief give birth
To madness, as the teeming earth
Yields herbs; and yet bewilder'd mind,
To all but one bright object blind,
Suffers no censure from the seer
Who guides the faithful Moslem here.
Love sanctifies the erring thought,
And Heaven forgives the deed by frenzy wrought.
“A rose, a lovely rose, I found,
With thorns and briers encompass'd round;
And, struggling to possess that prize,
The gardener in his wrath denies,
Behold my heart, all torn and bleeding,
Its pangs all other pangs exceeding:
I see the leaves expand and bloom,
I smell its exquisite perfume;
Its colour, blushing in the light,
Gives to my raptured soul delight:
I weep beneath the cypress-tree,
And still the rose is not for me.
Alas! none hear, nor mark my moan;
Pride of my soul, my rose, is gone!
Another has, in open day,
Borne the heart-winning prize away.
Though wrapp'd in sweetest innocence,
The fell oppressor snatch'd her thence.
But who deserves the curse that's sped
Upon the foul betrayer's head?
The gardener, in his lust for gold,
That rose—the boast of Irem–sold.
“Poor wretch! if worlds of wealth were mine,
“Full willingly I'd make them thine;
But not a dirhem for that rose,
The fatal cause of all my woes.
I would not play a villian's part,
And buy with gold a woman's heart;
'Tis not gold to purchase love,
Above all wealth, all price above;
For I would rather die than see
A smile on lips that are not free.
Give me the boundless swell of bliss,
The heart upspringing to the kiss,
When life, and soul, and breath combine
To tell me, she is only mine;
The flood of joy o'erwhelming quite
My glowing senses with delight.
–Base wretch! and thou that rose hast sold:
A demon's curse upon thy gold.”
The traveller witness'd with surprise
How he the maniac's heart had wrung—
What remedy could he devise?
He from his camel sprung;
And when the sufferer seem'd to be restored,
Forgiveness anxiously implored:–
“'Twas wrong, and I deserve the blame;
I mark'd with infamy her name:
My fault is of the darkest hue,–
My crime—for Lailî still is true!
What! though in nuptial band united,
Her faith, to thee so often plighted,
Spotless remains, still firm, unbroken,
As proved by many a mournful token.
For every moment's space can claim
A thousand recollections of thy name:
Thus ever present to her memory,
She lives, and only lives for thee.
One year has pass'd since she was made a bride;
But what of years? whatever may betide,
Were it a thousand, still her heart's the same,
Unchanged, unchangeable her earliest cherish'd flame.”
Now Majnûn, desolate, his fate perceived,
As in a glass, the misery of his lot,
And, from the first impression scarce relieved,
Felt his abandonment, and only not forgot.
Wasted and wan, he flutter'd where he lay;
And, turning to that magic point which led
To where his angel-face was wont to stay,
Thus, in a melancholy tone, he said:–
“Alas! my passion glow'd in every part;
Thine in thy tongue, but never in thy heart;
With thy new love hast thou so amorous grown?
And am I worthless as a desert-stone?
What is a word, a promise, oath, or pledge?
Mockery, which never can the heart engage.
What was my garden's wealth but fruit and flowers?
And all that wealth a raven now devours;
And what has been my constant care and toil,
But for another to prepare the spoil?
When first my soul was destined to be thine,
I little thought that treasure to resign;
Think of thy broken vows, to what they tend;
Think of thy falsehood, and lament its end.
My doom is fix'd; my choice no longer free;
My martyr-life devoted still to thee!”