Copyright
Robert Southey.

The poetical works of Robert Southey online

. (page 61 of 180)
Online LibraryRobert SoutheyThe poetical works of Robert Southey → online text (page 61 of 180)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown-
royal which is set upon his head.

And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of
one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the
man withaJ whom the king delighteth to honor, and bring
him on horseback through the sUeet of the city, and proclaim
before him. Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king
deligfatath to honor. — Esther, vi. 8, 9.



Take nu then to Mecca /~S9, p. S285.

The Sheik Kotbeddio discusses the question, whether it be,
opoo the whole, an advantage or disadvanUge to live at
Mecca ; for all doctors agree, that good works performed there
have doable the merit which they would have any where else.
He therefore inquires, whether the guilt of sins must not be
augmented in a like proportion. — JMices des MSS. de la
AM. AU. L 4. 541.



THE EIGHTH BOOK.



f^jMMs fstms deadt nostra U inferre sepuUkre

PeCrvmtio, tibi spar gimus has laerimas.
apargimas has laerimas mastinumumeiUa parentis^ —

Ettihipro thalamo stendmus kunc tnmulum.
^perabam genitor ttsdas pntferre jugaleSf

Et titMlo patris juagere nomen avi ;
Hea! gener est Oreus ; qtdqtu, dmldssima! per U

8$ sptrahat ovum, dcsimt esse paUr.

JoACR. Bbixaios.



Go not among the Tombs, Old Man !
There is a madman there.

OLD MAlf.

Will he harm me if I go ?

WOMAN.

Not he, poor miserable man !
Bat 'tis a wretched sight to see



His utter wretchedness.

For all day long he lies on a grave,

And never is he seen to weep,

And never is he heard to groan.

Nor even at the hour of prayer

Bends his knee nor moves his lips.

I have taken him food for charity.

And never a word he spake ;

But yet so ghastly he look'd.

That I have awakened at night

With the dream of his ghastly eyes.

Now, go not among the Tombs, Old Man !

OLD MAN.

Wherefore has the wrath of God
So sorely stricken him ?

WOMAN.

He came a stranger to the land.

And did good service to the Sultan,

And well his service was rewarded.

The Sultan named him next himself.

And gave a palace for his dwelling.

And dower'd his bride with rich domains.

But on his wedding night

There came the Angel of Death.

Since that hour, a man distracted

Among the sepulchres he wanders.

The Sultan, when he heard the tale,

Said that for some untold crime.

Judgment thus had stricken him.

And asking Heaven forgiveness

That he had shown him favor.

Abandoned him to want.

OLD MAN.

A Stranger did you say !

WOMAN.

An Arab bom, like you.

But go not among the Tombs,

For the sight of his wretchedness

Might make a hard heart ache !

OLD MAN.

Nay, nay, I never yet have shunn'd

A countryman in distress ;

And the soimd of his dear native tongue

May be like the voice of a friend.

2.

Then to the Sepulchre

Whereto she pointed him.

Old Moath bent his way.

By the tomb lay Thalaba,

In the light of the setting eve ;

The sun, and the wind, and the rain.

Had rusted his raven locks ;

His cheeks were fallen in.

His face-bones prominent ;

Reclined against the tomb he lay.

And his lean fingers play'd.

Unwitting, with the grass that grew beside.



Digitized byL^OOQlC



THALABA THE DESTROYER.



BOOK Tm.



3.

The Old Man knew him not.

But drawing near him, said,

" Countryman, peace be with thee ! "

The sound of his dear natiye tongue

Awaken'd Thalaba;

He raised his countenance,

And saw the good Old Man,

And he arose and fell upon his neck.

And groan 'd in bitterness.

Then Moath knew the youth.

And fear*d that he was childless ; and he tum'd

His asking eyes, and pointed to the tomb.

" Old Man ! " cried Thalaba,

" Thy search is ended here ! "



The father's cheek grew white.

And his lip quiver'd with the misery ;

Howbeit, collectedly, with painful voice

He answer'd, " God is good ! His will be done ! "

5.

The woe in which he spake,

The resignation that inspired his speech,

They soften'd Thalaba.

"Thou hast a solace in thy grief," he cried,

" A comforter within !

Moath ! thou seest me here,

Deliver'd to the Evil Powers,

A God-abandon'd wretch."

6.

The Old Man look'd at him incredulous.

" Nightly,** the youth pursued,

" Thy daughter comes to drive me to despair.

Moath, thou thinkest me mad ;

But when the Crier fVom the Minaret

Proclaims the midnight hour.

Hast thou a heart to see her .' '*

7.

In the Meidan now

The clang of clarions and of drums

Accompanied the Sun's descent.

•* Dost thou not pray, my son ? "

Said Moath, as he saw

The white flag waving on tlie neighboring Mosque :

Then Thalaba's eye grew wild,

" Pray ! " echoed he, " I must not pray ! '*

And the hollow groan he gave

Went to the Old Man's heart.

And bowing down his face to earth.

In fervent agony he call'd on God.

8.

A night of darkness and of storms !

Into the Chamber of the Tomb,

Thalaba led the Old Man,

To roof him from the rain.

A night of storms ! the wind

Swept through the moonless sky.

And moan'd among the pillar'd sepulchres ;

And in the pauses of its sweep

They heard the heavy rain



Beat on the monument above.

In silence on Oneiza's grave

Her Father and her husband sat.

9.

The Crier firom the Minaret

Proclaim* d the midnight hour.

" Now, now ! *' cried Thalaba ;

And o'er the chamber of the tomb

There spread a lurid gleam.

Like the reflection of a sulphur fire ;

And in that hideous light

Oneiza stood before them. It was She, —

Her very lineaments, — and such as death

Had changed them, livid cheeks, and lips of blue;

But in her eyes there dwelt

Brightness more terrible

Than all the loathsomeness of death.

" Still art thou living, wretch ? "

In hollow tones she cried to Thalaba ;

** And must I nightly leave my grave

To tell thee, still in vain,

God hath abandon'd thee ? "

10.

»( This is not she ! " the Old Man exclaim'd ;

'' A Fiend ; a manifest Fiend ! "

And to the youth he held his lance ;

" Strike and deliver thyself! *'

«* Strike her ! " cried Thalaba,

And, palsied of all power.

Gazed fixedly upon the dreadful form.

" Yea, strike her ! ** cried a voice, whoee tones

Flow'd with such sudden healing through his

soul,

As when the desert shower

From death deliver'd him ;

But, unobedient to that well-known voice,

His eye was seeking it,

When Moath, firm of heart,

Perform'd the bidding : through the vampire corpse

He thrust his lance ; it fell.

And, howling with the wound.

Its fiendish tenant fled.

A sapphire light fell on them,

And garmented with glory, in their sight

Oneiza's Spirit stood.

11.

" O Thalaba ! " she cried,

" Abandon not thyself!

Wouldst thou forever lose me ? — O my husband.

Go and fulfil thy quest.

That in the Bowers of Paradise

I may not look for thee

In vain, nor wait thee long."

12.

To Moath then the Spirit

Tum'd the dark lustre of her heavenly eyes :

" Short is thy destined path,

O my dear Father ! to the abode of bliss.

Return to Araby ;

There with the thought of death

Comfort thy lonely age,



Digitized by LjOOQIC



BOOK VIU.



THALABA THE DESTROYER.



989



And Airaelf the Deliverer, 0oon
Will yiait thee in peace."

13.

They stood with earnest eyee,

And anna outreaching, when again

The darkness closed around them.

The soul of Thalaba revived ;

He from the floor his quiver took,

And as he bent the bow, exclaim'd,

" Was it the overruling Providence

That in the hour of firenzy led my hands

Instinctively to this ?

To-morrow, and the sun shall brace anew

The slacken'd cord, that now sounds loose and

damp;

To-morrow, and its livelier tone will sing

In tort vibration to the arrow's flight.

I — but I also, with recovered health

Of heart, shall do my duty.

My Father ! here I leave thee then ! " he cried,

^ And not to meet again,

Till, at the gate of Paradise,

The eternal union of our joys commence.

We parted last in darkness ! " — and the youth

Thought with what other hopes ;

But now his heart was calm.

For on his soul a heavenly hope had dawn'd.

14.

The Old Man answered nothing, but he held

His garment, and to the door

Of the Tomb Chamber followed him.

The rain had ceased ; the sky was wild.

Its black clouds broken by the storm.
And, lo ! it chanced, that in the chasm

Of Heaven between, a star,

Leaving along its path continuous light.

Shot eastward. " See my guide ! " quoth Thalaba ;

And turning, he received

Old Moath's last embrace.

And the last blessing of the good Old Man.

15.

Evening was drawing nigh.

When an old Dervise, sitting in the sun

At the cell door, invited for the night

The traveller ; in the sun

He spread the plain repast,

Rice and &esh grapes ; and at their feet there flow'd

The brook of which they drank.

16.

So as they sat at meal,

With song, with music, and with dance,

A wedding train went by ;

The deep-veil'd bride, the female slaves.

The torches of festivity,

Aiid trump and timbrel merriment

Accompanied their way.

The good old Dervise gave

A blessing as they pasf ;

But Thalaba look'd on.

And breathed a low, deep groan, and hid his face.

The Dervise had known sorrow, and he felt

37



Compassion ; and his words

Of pity and of piety

Open'd the young man's heart,

And he told ail his tale.

17.

<^ Repint not, O my Son t " the Old Man replied,

'< That Heaven hath chasten'd thee. Behold this

vine:

I found it a wild tree, whose wanton strength

Had swollen into irregular twigs

And bold excrescences,

And spent itself in leaves and little rings,

So, in the flouriah of its outwardness.

Wasting the sap and strength

That should have given forth fruit.

But when I pruned the plant.

Then it grew temperate in its vain expense

Of useless leaves, and knotted, as thou seest.

Into these full, clear clusters, to repay

The hand that wisely wounded it.

Repine not, O my Son !

In wisdom and in mercy Heaven inflicts

Its painful remedies."

18.

Then pausing, — " Whither goest thou now ? " he

ask'd.

" I know not," answered Thalaba;

** My purpose is to hold

Straight on, secure of this.

That, travel where I will, I cannot stray.

For Destiny will lead my course aright."

19.

** Far be fVom me," the Old Man replied,

** To shake that pious confidence ;

And jret, if knowledge may be gain'd, methinks

Thy course should be to seek it painfully.

In ^af the Simorg hath his dwelling-place.

The all-knowing Bird of Ages, who hath seen

The World, with all its children, thrice destroy'd.

Long is the path.

And difficult the way, of danger f\ill ;

But that unerring Bird

Could to a certain end

Direct thy weary search."

20.

Easy assent the youth

Gave to the words of wisdom ; and behold.

At dawn, the adventurer on his way to Kaf.

And he hath travelled many a day

And many a river swum over.

And many a mountun ridge hath oroet'd,

And many a measureless plain ;

And now, amid the wilds advanced,

Long is it since his eyes

Have seen the trace of man.

21.

Cold ! cold ! 'tis a chilly dime

That the youth in his journey hath reaeh'd,

And he is aweary now,

And faint for lack of food.



Digitized by



L^oogle



290



THALABA THE DESTROYER.



BOOK Tin.



Cold ! cold ! there is no Sun in heayen ;

A heavy and uniform cloud

Orerspreada the face of the ikj,

And the snows are beginning to fall.

Doat thou wish for thy deserts, O Son of Hodeirah ?

Dost thou long for the gales of Arabia ?

Cold ! cold ! his blood flows languidly,

His hands are red, his lips are blue,

His feet are sore with the frost

Cheer thee ! cheer thee ! Thalaba !

A little yet bear up !

22.

All waste ! no sign of life

But the track of the wolf and the bear !

No sound but the wild, wild wind, «
And the snow crunching under his feet !
Night is come ; neither moon, nor stars.

Only the light of the snow !
But behold a fire in a cave of the hiU,

A heart-reviving fire ;

And thither, with strength renew'd,

Thalaba presses on.

23.
He found a Woman in the cave,

A solitary Woman,

Who by the fire was spinning.

And singing as she spun.

The pine boughs were cheerfully blazing.

And her face was bright with the flame ;

Her face was as a Damsel's face.

And yet her hair was gray.

She bade him welcome with a smile,

And still continued spinning.

And singing as she spun.

The thread the woman drew

Was finer than the silkworm's.

Was finer than the gossamer ;

The song she simg was low and sweet,

But Thalaba knew not the words.

24.
He laid his bow before the hearth,

For the string was frozen stiff;

He took the quiver from his neck.

For the arrow-plumes were iced.

Then, as the cheerful fire

Revived his languid limbs,

The adventurer ask'd for food.

The Woman answer'd him,

And still her speech was song :

** The She Bear she dwells near to me.

And she hath cubs, one, two, and three ;

She hunts the deer, and brings him here,

And then with her I make good cheer ;

And now to the chase the She Bear is gone,

And she with her prey will be here anon.*'

25.

She ceased her spinning while she spake ;

And when she had answer'd him.

Again her fingers twirl'd the thread.

And again the Woman began.



in low, sweet tones to sing,
The unintelligible song.

26.

The thread she spun it gleam'd like gold

In the light of the odorous fire ;

Yet was it so wondrously thin.

That, save when it shone in the light,

You might look for it closely in vain.

The youth sat watching it.

And she observed his wonder.

And then again she spake.

And still her speech was song :

*'*' Now twine it round thy hands, I say,

Now twine it round thy hands, I pray ;

My thread is small, my thread is fine,

But he must be

A stronger than thee.

Who can break this thread of mine ! "

27.

And up she raised her bright blue eyes.

And sweetly she smiled on him.

And he conceived no ill ;

And round and round his right hand.

And round and round his left,

He wound the thread so fine.

And then again the Woman spake,

And still her speech was song :

" Now thy strength, O Stranger, strain !

Now then break the slender chain."



Thalaba strove ; but the thread

By magic hands was spun.

And in his cheek the flush of shame

Arose, commiz'd with fear.

She beheld, and laugh'd at him,

And then again she sung :

*« My thread is small, my thread is fine.

But he must be

A stronger than thee.

Who can break this thread of mine ! "

29.

And up she raised her bright blue eyes.

And fiercely she smiled on him :

«« I thank thee, I thank thee, Hodeirah's son !

I thank thee for doing what can't be undone,

For binding thyself in the chain I have spun ! "

Then from his head she wrench'd

A lock of his raven hair.

And cast it in the fire.

And cried aloud as it burnt,

" Sister ! Sister I hear my voice !

Sister ! Sister ! come and rejoice !

The thread is spun,

The prize is won.

The work is done.

For I have made captive Hodeirah's Son."

30.

Borne in her magic car

The Sister Sorceress came,



Digitized by



Google



BOOK VIII.



NOTES TO THALABA THE DESTROYER.



291



Khawla, the fiercest of the Sorcerer brood.

She gazed upon the youth ;

She bade him break the slender thread ;

She laugh'd aloud for scorn ;

She clapp'd her hands for joy.

31.
The She Bear from the chase came in ;
She bore the prey in her bloody mouth ',

She laid it at Maimuna's feet;
And then look'd up with wistful eyes,

As if to ask her share.

'' There ! There ! " quoth Maimuna,

And pointing to the prisoner-youth,

She spum'd him with her foot,

And bade her make her meal.

But then their mockery fail'd them,

And anger and shame arose ;

For the She Bear fawn'd on Thalaba,

And quietly lick'd his hand.

32.

The gray-hair'd Sorceress stamp'd the ground,

And call'd a Spirit up ;

** Shall we bear the £lnemy

To the dungeon dens below .' "

SPIRIT.

Woe ! woe ! to our Empire woe !
If ever he tread the caverns below.

MAIMUNA.

Shall we leave him fetter'd here
With hunger and cold to die ?

SPIRIT.

Away from thy lonely dwelling fly !

Here I see a danger nigh,

That he should live, and thou shouldst die.

MAIMDNA.

Whither then must we bear the foe ?

SPIRIT.

To Mohareb's island go ;
There shalt thou secure the foe.
There prevent thy future woe.

33.
Then in the Car they threw

The fetter'd Thalaba,

And took their seats, and set

Their feet upon his neck ;

Maimuna held the reins.

And Elhawla shook the scourge,

And away ! away ! away !

34.

They were no steeds of mortal race

That drew the magic car

With the swiftness of feet and of wings*.

The snow-dust rises behind them ;

The ice-rock's splinters fly ;

And hark, in the valley below

The iQimd of their chariot wheels, —

And thej are ftr over the mountains!



Away! away! away!

The Demons of the air

Shout their joy as the Sisters pass ;

The Ghosts of the Wicked that wander by night

Flit over the magic car.

35.

Away! away! away!

Over the hills and the plains,

Over the rivers and rocks.

Over the sands of the shore

The waves of ocean heave

Under the magic steeds ;

With unwet hoofs they trample the deep.

And now they reach the Island coast.

And away to the city the Monarch's abode.

Open fly the city gates,

Open fly the iron doors.

The doors of the palace-court.

Then stopp'd the charmed car.

36.

The Monarch heard the chariot wheels.

And forth he came to greet

The mistress whom he served.

He knew the captive youth.

And Thalaba beheld

Mohareb in the robes of royalty.

Whom erst his arm had thrust

Down the bitumen pit.



NOTES TO BOOK VIII.

<* But when the Crier from UU Minaret^" &c. — 6, p. 988.

A* the celoMtial Apostle, at hia retreat from Medina^ did not
perform always the five canonical prayen at the precise time,
his disciples, who often neglected to join with him in the JVb-
max, assembled one day to fix upon some method of annoon-
cing to the public those moments of the day and night when
their master discharged this first of religious duties. Flags,
bells, trumpets, and fire, were successively proposed as sig^
nals. None of these, however, were admitted. The flags
were rejected as unsuited to the sanctity of the object ; the
bells, on account of their being used by Christians ; the troin-
pots, as appropriated to the Hebrew worship ; the fires, as
having too near an analogy to the religion of the pyrolators.
From this contrariety of opinions, the disciples separated
without any determination. But one of them, AhdMUak iftii
Zeul Jtbdeq/ij saw, the night following, in a dream, a celestial
being, clothed in green : he immediately requested his advice,
with the most zealous earnestness, respecting the object in
dispute. 1 am come to inform you, replied the heavenly vis-
itor, how to discharge this important duty of your religion.
He then ascended to the roof of the house, and declared ths
Etamn with a loud voice, and in the same words which have
been ever since used to declare the canonical periods. When
fie awoke, JihduUah ran to declare his vision to the prophet,
who loaded him with blessings, and authorized that moment
Biial Habetekiff another of his disciples, to discharge, on the
top of his house, that august office, by the title of Jfi(«xttii]i.

These are the words of the Ezaon : Most high Oodl most
high Ood! irmC high Chd ! Tachunoledge that there is no other
eteept Chd; I aeJtnovledge that there is no other except Ood!
laeknovlodge that Mohammed is the Prophet of Ood! come to
pra^! eame to prater! come to the tempU of salvatifin. Great
Ood! Great Ood! there is no Ood except God.

This declaration most be the same for each of the five
canonical periods, oxoept that of the nMiniing, whoa the



Digitized byLjOOQlC



292



NOTES TO THALABA THE DESTROYER.



BOOK THI.



Munzinn ought to add, after tbo words, come to the tempU of
taltxtdon, the foUcwinf : fragtr iff to 6« frtfermi ia rie^f
prof/er is to be yrtftmd to sleep.

This addition was produced by the seal and piety of BiUl
HeAeaehi : at he annooneed, one day, the £zaini of the dawn
in the prophet'a antechamber, Aische, in a whisper, informed
him, that the celestial envoy was still asleep ; this first of
Mueithuu then added these words, /r^fr it to be fnf erred to
aiesp ; when he awoke, the prophet applauded him, Kod com-
manded Bilal to insert them in all the morning Ezaau.

The words most be chanted, but with deliberation and
gravity, those particularly which constitute tlie profession of
the faith. The Mueiamn must pronounce them distinctly ;
he must pay more attention to the articulation of the words
than to the melody of his voice ; he must make proper inter-
vals and pauses, and not precipitate his words, but let them be
clearly understood by the people. Ho mast be interrupted
by no other object whatever. Daring the whole JCtoim, he
must stand with a finger in each ear, and his foce turned, as
in prayer, towards the JTaete of Mecca, As he utters these
words, come to proffer^ eowu to the temple iff ealvatiom, he must
turn his face to the right and left, because he is supposed to
address all the nations of the world, the whole expended uni-
verse. At this time, the auditors must recite, with a low
voice, the TVAAit/, — There is no strength, there is no power,
but what is in God, in that Supreme Being, in that powerful
Being lyOkeeon.



Ik tke Meidtn omd, &o. — 7, p. 388.
In the Meidan, or great place of the city of Tauris, there
are people appointed every evening when the sun sets, and
every morning when he rises, to make during half an hour a
terrible concert of trumpets and drams. They are placed on
one side of the square, in a gallery somewhat elevated ; and
the same practice is established in every city in Persia. —
Tmernitr,



hUo tko Chamber f^ftke Tomb, &c. —8, p. 968.

If we except a few persons, who are buried within the pre-
cincts of some sanctuary, the rest are carried out at a distance
from their cities and villages, where a great extent of ground
is allotted for that purpose. Each family hath a particular
portion of it, walled in like a garden, where the bones of their
ancestors have remained undisturbed for many generations.
For in these enclosures • the graves are all distinct and sep-
arate ; having each of them a stone, placed upright, bopi at
the head and feet, inscribed with the name of the person who
lieth there interred ; whilst the intermediate space is either
planted with flowers, bordered round with stone, or paved all
over with tiles. The graves of the principal citizens are
further distinguished by some square chambers or cupolas f
that are built over them.

Now, as all these different sorts of tombs and sepulchres,
with the very walls likewise of the enclosures, are constantly
kept clean, whitewashed, and beautified, they conUnue, to
this day, to be an excellent comment upon that expression of
onr Savior's, where he mentions the garmsking of tke sepml-
ekrea, and again, where he compares the scribes, pharisees,
and hypocrites, to vtkited eepuUkrea, lekiek irndeed appear beati-
tifid outward, bat are witkiMfuU of dead ««'# bones aad aU
nadeamaass. For the space of two or three months after any
person is interred, the female relations go once a week to
weep over the grave, and perform their parentolia upon it. —

About a quarter of a mile from the town of Mylasa is a
sepulchre of the species called, by the ancients, DisUga, or
Dvubte^ro^ed, It eonsbted of two square rooms. In the
lower, which has a door-way, wer* deposited the urns, with
the ashes of the deceased. In the ujiper, the relations and
friends solemnised the anniversary of the funeral, and per-

• Tbey sssm to bs tke ssms witk tke nspt$oXot oTths Andsats.
Tkas EuripUss. Trowl. 1181 >

AAA' avri Ktipoif wtptioXtMf rt XaXwtav
Ey riiis ^axpai xaiia.
t Boeh piMss probslily ss dMse srs t» bs
Bkakb said to have



formed staled rites. A bole made throogh the floor woa da-
signed for pouring libations of hooey, milk, or wine, with
which it was usual to gratify the manes or spirits. — CShaa-
dUr*s TVavel* m Jtsia Mmot.

St. Anthony the Great once retired to the sepulchres ; a
brother shut him in, in one of the tombs, and regularly
brought him food. One day he found the doors of the tomb
broken, and Anthony lying upon the ground as dead, the
devil had so mauled him. Once a whole army of devils at-
tacked him } the place was shaken from its foundation, th«
walb were thrown down, and the crowd of multiform fiends
rashed in. They filled the place with the shapes of liooa,



Online LibraryRobert SoutheyThe poetical works of Robert Southey → online text (page 61 of 180)