Lailî in beauty, softness, grace,
Surpass'd the loveliest of her race;
She was a fresh and odorous flower,
Pluck'd by a fairy from her bower;
With heart-delighting rosebuds blooming,
The welcome breeze of spring perfuming.
The killing witchery that lies
In her soft, black, delicious eyes,
When gather'd in one amorous glance,
Pierces the heart, like sword or lance;
The prey that falls into her snare,
For life must mourn and struggle there;
Her eyelash speaks a thousand blisses,
Her lips of ruby ask for kisses;
Soft lips where sugar-sweetness dwells,
Sweet as the bee-hive's honey-cells;
Her cheeks, so beautiful and bright,
Had stole the moon's refulgent light;
Her form the cypress-tree expresses,
And full and ripe invites caresses;
With all these charms the heart to win,
There was a careless grief within—
Yet none beheld her grief, or heard;
She droop'd like broken-winged bird*.
Her secret thoughts her love concealing,
But, softly to the terrace stealing,
From morn to eve she gazed around,
In hopes her Majnûn might be found,
Wandering in sight. For she had none
To sympathise with her—not one!
None to compassionate her woes—
In dread of rivals, friends, and foes;
And though she smiled, her mind's distress
Fill'd all her thoughts with bitterness;
The fire of absence on them prey'd,
But light nor smoke that fire betray'd;
Shut up within herself, she sate,
Absorb'd in grief, disconsolate;
Yet true love has resources still,
Its soothing arts, and ever will!
Voices in guarded softness rose
Upon her ever-listening ear;
She heard her constant lover's woes,
In melting strains, repeated near;
The sky, with gloomy clouds o'erspread,
At length soft showers began to shed;
And what, before, destruction seem'd,
With rays of better promise gleam'd.
Voices of young and old she heard
Beneath the harem-walls reciting
Her Majnûn's songs; each thrilling word
Her almost broken heart delighting.
Lailî, with matchless charms of face,
Was bless'd with equal mental grace;
With eloquence and taste refined;
And from the treasures of her mind
She pour'd her fondest love's confession
With faithful love's most warm expression;
Told all her hopes and sorrows o'er,
Though told a thousand times before:
The life-blood circling through her veins
Recorded her affecting strains;
And, as she wrote, with passion flush'd,
The glowing words with crimson blush'd.
And now the terrace she ascends
In secret, o'er the rampart bends,
And flings the record, with a sigh,
To one that moment passing by:
Unmark'd the stranger gains the prize,
And from the spot like lightning flies
To where the lingering lover weeps unseen.
—Starting upon his feet, with cheerful mien,
He gazes, reads, devours the pleasing tale,
And joy again illumes his features pale.
Thus was resumed the soft exchange of thought;
Thus the return of tenderest feeling wrought:
Each the same secret intercourse pursued,
And mutual vows more ardently renew'd;
And many a time between them went and came
The fondest tokens of their deathless flame;
Now in hope's heaven, now in despair's abyss,
And now enrapt in visionary bliss.