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Up ran the rapid flames; on every side They find their fuel wheresoe'er they spread, Thin hangings, fragrant gums, and odorous wood, That pild like sacrificial altars stood. Around they run, and upward they aspire, And, lo! the huge Pagoda lin'd with fire.
The wicked Soul, who had assum'd again A form of sensible flesh, for his foul will, Still bent on base revenge, and baffled still, Felt that corporeal shape alike to pain Obnoxious as to pleasure : forth he flew, Howling and scorch'd by the devouring flame; Accursed Spirit ! still condemn'd to rue, The act of sin and punishment the same. Freed from his loathsome touch, a natural dread Came on the self-devoted, and she drew Back from the flames, which now toward her spread, And, like a living monster, seem'd to dart Their hungry tongues toward their shrinking prey. Soon she subdued her heart; O Father! she exclaim'd, there was no way But this! and thou, Ereenia, who for me Sufferest, my soul shall bear thee company.
And the immortal Deities, who see And suffer all things for their own wise end, Have made them blessings to us!
r All YAL. Then thou knowest Where they have borne him?
LAD URLAD. To the Sepulchres Of the Ancient Kings, which Baly, in his power, Made in primeval times; and built above them A City, like the Cities of the Gods, Being like a God himself. For many an age Hath Ocean warr'd against his Palaces, Till overwhelm'd, they lie beneath the waves, Not overthrown, so well the Mighty One Had laid their deep foundations. Rightly said The Accursed, that no way for Man was there, But not like Man am I?
Up from the ground the Maid exultant sprung,
Long time they travell'd on; at dawn of day, Still setting forward with the earliest light, Nor ceasing from their way Till darkness clos'd the might. Short refuge from the noontide heat, Reluctantly compell'd, the Maiden took; And ill her indefatigable feet Could that brief respite brook. Hope kept her up, and her intense desire Supports that heart which ne'er at danger quails, Those feet which never tire, That frame which never fails.
Their talk was of the City of the days Of old, Earth's wonder once; and of the fame Of Baly its great founder, he whose name In ancient story, and in poets' praise, Liveth and flourisheth for endless glory, Because lais might Put down the wrong, and aye upheld the right. Till for ambition, as old sages tell, The mighty Monarch fell ; For he too, having made the World his own, Then, in his pride, had driven The Devetas from Heaven, And seiz'd triumphantly the Swerga throne. The Incarnate came before the Mighty One, In dwarfish stature, and in mien obscure; The sacred cord 7" he bore, And ask'd, for Brama's sake, a little boon, Three steps of Baly's ample reign, no more. Poor was the boon requird, and poor was he Who bett;d,—a little wretch it seem'd to be; But Baly ne'er refus'd a suppliant's prayer. A glance of pity, in contemptuous mood, He on the Dwarf cast down,
And bade him take the boon, And measure where he would.
Lo, Son of giant birth, I take my grant! the Incarnate power replies. With his first step he measur'd o'er the Earth, The second spann'd the skies. Three paces thou hast granted, Twice have I set my footstep, Veeshnoo cries, Where shall the third be planted
Then Baly knew the God, and at his feet, In homage due, he laid his humbled head. Mighty art thou, O Lord of Earth and Heaven, Mighty art thou! he said, Be merciful, and let me be forgiven. He ask'd for mercy of the merciful, And mercy for his virtue's sake was shown. For though he was cast down to Padalon, Yet there, by Yamen's throne, Doth Baly sit in majesty and might, To judge the dead, and sentence them aright. And forasmuch as he was still the fricnd Of righteousness, it is permitted him, Yearly, from those drear regions to ascend And walk the Earth, that he may hear his name Still hymn’d and honour'd, by the grateful voice Of humankind, and in his fame rejoice.
Such was the talk they held upon their way, Of him to whose old City they were bound; And now, upon their journey, many a day Had risen and clos'd, and many a week gone round, And many a realm and region had they past, When now the Ancient Towers appear'd at last. 7” Their golden summits, in the noon-day light, Shone o'er the dark green deep that rolld between; For domes, and pinnacles, and spires were seen Peering above the sea, a mournful sight! Well might the sad beholder ween from thence What works of wonder the devouring wave Had swallowed there, when monuments so brave Bore record of their old magnificence. And on the sandy shore, beside the verge Of Ocean, here and there, a rock-hewn fame Resisted in its strength the surf and surge That on their deep foundations beat in vain. In solitude the Ancient temples stood, Once resonant with instrument and song, And solemn dance of festive multitude; Now as the weary ages pass along, Hearing no voice save of the Ocean flood, Which roars for ever on the restless ores; Or, visiting their solitary caves, The lonely sound of Winds, that moan around Accordant to the melancholy waves.
With reverence did the travellers see The works of ancient days, and silently Approach the shore. Now on the yellow sand, Where round their feet the rising surges part, They stand. Ladurlad's heart Exulted in his wonderous destiny. To Heaven he rais'd his hand In attitude of stern heroic pride; Oh what a power, he cried,
Thou dreadful Rajah, doth thy Curse impart! I thank thee now!—Then turning to the Maid, Thou see'st how far and wide Yon Towers extend, he said, My search must needs be long. Will cast thee up thy food, And in the Chambers of the Rock by night, Take thou thy safe abode. No prowling beast to harm thee, or affright, Can enter there; but wrap thyself with care From the foul Bird obscene that thirsts for blood; For in such caverns doth the Bat delight To have its haunts. Do thou with stone and shout, Ere thou liest down at evening, scare them out, And in this robe of mine involve thy feet. Duly commend us both to Heaven in prayer, Be of good heart, and let thy sleep be sweet.
So saying, he put back his arm, and gave The cloth which girt his loins, and prest her hand With fervent love, then from the sand Advanced into the sea; the coming Wave, Which knew Kehama's Curse, before his way Started, and on he went as on dry land. And still around his path the waters parted. She stands upon the shore, where sea-weeds play Lashing her polish'd ankles, and the spray Which off her Father, like a rainbow, fled, Falls on her like a shower; there Kailyal stands, And sees the billows rise above his head. She, at the startling sight, forgot the power The Curse had given him, and held forth her hands Imploringly,–her voice was on the wind, And the deaf Ocean o'er Ladurlad clos'd. Soon she recall'd his destiny to mind, And shaking off that natural fear, compos'd Her soul with prayer, to wait the event resign'd.
Alone, upon the solitary strand, The lovely one is left; behold her go, Pacing with patient footsteps, to and fro, Along the bending sand. Save her, ye Gods! from Evil Powers, and here From Man she need not fear : For never Traveller comes near These awful ruins of the days of yore, Nor fisher's bark, nor venturous mariner, Approach the sacred shore. All day she walk'd the beach, at night she sought The Chamber of the Rock; with stone and shout Assail'd the Bats obscene, and scard them out; Then in her Father's robe involv'd her feet, And wrapt her mantle round to guard her head, And laid her down: the rock was Kailyal's bed, Her chamber-lamps were in the starry sky, The winds and waters were her lullaby. *
Be of good heart, and let thy sleep be sweet, Ladurlad said, -Alas! that cannot be To one whose days are days of misery. How often did she stretch her hands to greet Ereenia, rescued in the dreams of night! How oft amid the vision of delight Fear in her heart all is not as it seems; Then from unsettled slumber start, and hear The Winds that moan above, the Waves below!
Meantime the flood
Another day, another night are gone, A second passes, and a third wanes on. So long she paced the shore, So often on the beach she took her stand, That the wild Sea-Birds knew her, and no more Fled, when she past beside them on the strand. Bright shine the golden summits in the light Of the noon-sun, and lovelier far by night Their moonlight glories o'er the sea they shed: Fair is the dark-green deep : by night and day Unvex'd with storms, the peaceful billows play, As when they clos'd upon Ladurlad's head: The firmament above is bright and clear; The sea-fowl, lords of water, air, and land, Joyous alike upon the wing appear, Or when they ride the waves, or walk the sand; Beauty and light and joy are every-where; There is no sadness and no sorrow here, Save what that single human breast contains, But oh! what hopes, and fears, and pains are there!
Seven miserable days the expectant Maid, From earliest dawn till evening, watch'd the shore; Hope left her then; and in her heart she said, Never should she behold her Father more.
THE ANCIENT SEPULCHRES.
When the broad Ocean on Ladurlad's head
Wondering, he stood awhile to gaze Upon the works of elder days. The brazen portals open stood, Even as the fearful multitude Had left them, when they fled Before the rising flood. High over-head, sublime, The mighty gateway's storied roof was spread, Dwarfing the puny piles of younger time. With the deeds of days of yore That ample roof was sculptur'd o'er; And many a godlike form there met his eye, And many an emblem dark of mystery. Through these wide portals oft had Daly rode
Triumphant from his proud abode, When, in his greatness, he bestrode The Aullay,74 hugest of four-footed kind, The Aullay-Horse, that in his force, With elephantine trunk, could bind And lift the elephant, and on the wind Whirl him away, with sway and swing, Even like a pebble from the practis'd sling.
Those streets which never, since the days of yore,
Through many a solitary street, And silent market-place, and lonely square, Arm'd with the mighty Curse, behold him fare. And now his feet attain that royal fame Where Baly held of old his awful reign. What once had been the Garden spread around, Fair Garden, once which wore perpetual green, Where all sweet flowers through all the year were found, And all fair fruits were through all seasons seen; A place of Paradise, where each device Of emulous Art with Nature strove to vie; And Nature, on her part, Call'd forth new powers where with to vanquish Art. The Swerga-God himself, with envious eye, Survey'd those peerless gardens in their prime; Nor ever did the Lord of Light, Who circles Earth and Heaven upon his way, Behold from eldest time a goodlier sight Than were the groves which Baly, in his might, Made for his chosen place of solace and delight.
It was a Garden still beyond all price, Even yet it was a place of Paradise; For where the mighty Ocean could not spare, There had he, with his own creation, Sought to repair his work of devastation. And here were coral bowers,
And grots of madrepores, And banks of spunge, as soft and fair to eye As e'er was mossy bed Whereon the Wood Nymphs lie Their languid limbs in summer's sultry hours. Here, too, were living flowers Which, like a bud compacted, Their purple cups contracted, And now in open blossom spread, Stretch'd like green anthers many a seeking head. And arborets of jointed stone were there, And plants of fibres fine, as silkworm's thread; Yea, beautiful as Mermaid's golden hair Upon the waves dispread: Others that, like the broad banana growing, Rais'd their long wrinkled leaves of purple hue, Like streamers wide out-flowing. And whatsoe'er the depths of Ocean hide From human eyes, Ladurlad there espied, Trees of the deep, and shrubs and fruits and flowers, As fair as ours, Wherewith the Sea-Nymphs love their locks to braid, When to their father's hall, at festival Repairing, they in emulous array, Their charms display, To grace the banquet, and the solemn day.
The golden fountains had not ceas'd to flow, And, where they mingled with the briny Sea, There was a sight of wonder and delight, To see the fish, like birds in air, Above Ladurlad flying. Round those strange waters they repair,76 Their scarlet sins outspread and plying, They float with gentle hovering there; And now upon those little wings, As if to dare forbidden things, With wilful purpose bent, Swift as an arrow from a bow They dash across, and to and fro, In rapid glance, like lightning go Through that unwonted element. Almost in scenes so wonderous fair, Ladurlad had forgot The mighty cause which led him there; Ilis busy eye was every where, His mind had lost all thought; His heart, surrendered to the joys Of sight, was happy as a boy's. But soon the awakening thought recurs Of him who, in the Sepulchres, Hopeless of human aid, in chains is laid; And her who, on the solitary shore, By night and day her weary watch will keep, Till she shall see them issuing from the deep.
Now hath Ladurlad reach'd the Court Of the great Palace of the King; its floor Was of the marble rock; and there before The imperial door, A mighty Image on the steps was seen, Of stature huge, of countenance serene. A crown and sceptre at his feet were laid; One hand a scroll display'd, The other pointed there, that all might see; My name is Death, it said,
In mercy have the Gods appointed me. Two brazen gates beneath him, night and day Stood open; and within them you behold Descending steps, which in the living stone Were hewn, a spacious way Down to the Chambers of the Kings of old. | | Trembling with hope, the adventurous man descended. The sea-green light of day Not far along the vault extended: But where the slant reflection ended, Another light was seen Of red and fiery hue, That with the water blended, And gave the secrets of the Tombs to view.
Deep in the marble rock, the Hall Of Death was hollowed out, a chamber wide, Low-roofd, and long; on either side,
Each in his own alcove, and on his throne, The Kings of old were seated: in his hand
Each held the sceptre of command,
From whence, across that scene of endless night,
A carbuncle diffused its everlasting light.
So well had the embalmers done their part With spice and precious unguents, to imbue The perfect corpse, that each had still the hue Of living man, and every limb was still Supple and firm and full, as when of yore Its motion answered to the moving will. The robes of royalty which once they wore, Long since had mouldered off and left them bare: Naked upon their thrones behold them there, Statues of actual flesh,_a fearful sight! Their large and rayless eyes Dimly reflecting to that gem-born light, Glaz'd, fix'd, and meaningless, yet, open wide, Their ghastly balls belied The mockery of life in all beside. |
But if, amid these Chambers drear, Death were a sight of shuddering and of fear, Life was a thing of stranger horror here. For at the farther end, in yon alcove, Where Baly should have lain, had he obey'd Man's common lot, behold Ereenia laid. Strong fetters link him to the rock; his eye Now rolls and widens, as with effort vain He strives to break the chain, Now seems to brood upon his misery. Before him couch'd there lay One of the mighty monsters of the deep, | Whom Lorrinite encountering on the way, There station'd, his perpetual guard to keep; In the sport of wanton power, she charm'd him there, As if to mock the Glendoveer's despair. Upward his form was human, save that here The skin was cover'd o'er with scale on scale
Compact, a panoply of natural mail. His mouth, from ear to ear, Weapon'd with triple teeth, extended wide, | And tusks on either side ; A double snake below, he roll'd His supple length behind in many a sinuous fold.
With red and kindling eye, the Beast beholds A living man draw migh, And, rising on his folds, In hungry joy awaits the expected feast, His mouth half-open, and his teeth unsheath'd. Then on he sprung, and in his scaly arms Seiz'd him, and fastem'd on his neck, to suck, With greedy lips, the warm life-blood : and sure But for the mighty power of magic charms, As easily as, in the blithesome hour Of spring, a child doth crop the meadow-flower, Piecemeal those claws Had rent their victim, and those armed jaws Snapt him in twain. Naked Ladurlad stood, Yet fearless and unharm'd in this dread strife, So well Kehama's Curse had charm'd his fated life.
He too, for anger, rising at the sight Of him he sought, in such strange thrall confin'd, With desperate courage fir’d Ladurlad's mind,He, too, unto the fight himself addrest, And, grappling breast to breast, With foot firm-planted stands, And seiz'd the monster's throat with both his hands. Wainly, with throttling grasp, he prest The impenetrable scales; And lo! the Guard rose up, and round his foe, With gliding motion, wreath'd his lengthening coils, Then tighten’d all their folds with stress and strain. Nought would the raging Tiger's strength avail If once involv'd within those mighty toils; The arm'd Rhinoceros, so clasp'd, in vain Had trusted to his hide of rugbed mail, His bones all broken, and the breath of life Crush'd from the lungs, in that unequal strife. Again, and yet again, he sought to break The impassive limbs; but when the Monster found IIis utmost power was vain, A moment he relax'd in every round, Then knit his coils again with closer strain, And, bearing forward, forced him to the ground.
Ereenia groan'd in anguish at the sight Of this dread fight: once more the Glendoveer Essayd to break his bonds, and fear For that brave spirit who had sought him here, Stung him to wilder strugglings. From the rock He rais d himself half up, with might and main Pluck'd at the adamantine chain; And now, with long and unrelaxing strain, In obstinate effort of indignant strength, Labour'd and strove in vain ; Till his immortal sinews fail'd at length; And yielding, with an inward groan, to fate, Despairingly, he let himself again Fall prostrate on his prison-bed of stone, Body and chain alike with lifeless weight.
Struggling they lay in mortal fray
All day, while day was in our upper sphere,
The third came on, the fourth is gone;
Sometimes the Beast sprung up to bear His foe aloft; and, trusting there To shake him from his hold, Relax'd the rings that wreath'd him round; But on his throat Ladurlad hung And weigh’d him to the Ground; And if they sink, or if they float, Alike with stubborn clasp he clung, Tenacious of his grasp ; For well he knew with what a power, Exempt from Nature's laws, The Curse had arm'd him for this hour; And in the monster's gasping jaws, And in his hollow eye, Well could Ladurlad now descry The certain signs of victory.
And now the Guard no more can keep His painful watch; his eyes, opprest, Are fainting for their natural sleep; His living flesh and blood must rest, The Beast must sleep or die. Then he, full faint and languidly, Unwreathes his rings and strives to ty, And still retreating, slowly trails His stiff and heavy length of scales. But that unweariable foe, With will relentless, follows still; No breathing-time, no pause of fight He gives, but presses on his slight; Along the vaulted chambers, and the ascent Up to the emerald-tinted light of day, He harasses his way, Till lifeless, underneath his grasp, The huge Sea-Monster lay.
That obstinate work is done! Ladurlad cried, One labour yet remains! And thoughtfully he eyed Ereenia's ponderous chains; And with faint effort, half-despairing, tried The rivets deep in-driven. Instinctively, As if in search of aid, he look'd around: Oh, then, how gladly, in the near alcove, Fallen on the ground its lifeless Lord beside, The crescent scymitar he spied, Whose cloudy blade, with potent spells imbued, Had Iain so many an age unhurt in solitude.