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XW. To Zcinab turning then, he cried, « O mortal, who art thou, Whose gifted eyes have pierced The shadow of concealment that hath wrapt These bowers, so many an age, From eye of mortal man? For countless years have past, And never foot of man The bowers of Irem trod, .. Save only I, a miserable wretch From Heaven and Earth shut out!»
XVI. Fearless, and scarce surpris'd For grief in Zeinab's soul All other feelings overpower'd, She answerd, a Yesterday I was a wife belov'd, The fruitful mother of a numerous race. I am a widow now, Of all my offspring this alone is left. Praise to the Lord our God, He gave, he takes away!"
xWii. Then said the stranger, “ Not by Heaven unseen, Nor in unguided wanderings, hast thou reach d This secret place, he sure Nor for light purpose is the Weil, That from the Universe hath long shut out These ancient bowers, withdrawn. Hear thou my words, 0 mortal, in thy heart Treasure what I shall tell; And when amid the world Thou shalt emerge again, Repeat the warning tale. Why have the Fathers suffer'd, but to make The Children wisely safe?
XVIII. * The Paradise of Irem's this, And that the palace pile Which Shedad built, the King. Alas! in the days of my youth, The hum of the populous world Was heard in you wilderness waste! O'er all the winding sands* The tents of Ad were pitch'd' Happy Al-Ahkaf then, For many and brave were her sons, Her daughters were many and fair.
XIX. • My name was Aswad then.. Alas! alas ! how strange The sound so long unheard! Of noble race I came, one of the wealthy of the earth my sire. An hundred horses in my father's stalls Stood ready for his will . Numerous his robes of silk, The number of his camels was not known. These were iny heritance, O God! thy gifts were these; But better had it been for Aswad's soul
Had he ask'd alms on eartli, And begg'd the crumbs which from his table fell, So he had known thy word.
XX. • Boy, who hast reach'd my solitude, Fear the Lord in the days of thy youth! My knee was never taught To bend before my God; My voice was never taught To shape one holy prayer. We worshipp'd Idols, wood and stone, The work of our own foolish hands; We worshipp'd in our foolishness. Vainly the Prophet's voice Its frequent warning rais'd, ‘REPEN r A N p be forgive N . . . We mock'd the messenger of God, We mock'd the Lord, long-suffering, slow to wrath.
XXI. “A mighty work the pride of Shcdad plann'd, Here in the wilderness to form A garden more surpassing fair Than that before whose gate The lightning of the Cherub's fiery sword Waves wide to bar access, Since Adam, the transgressor, thence was driven. Here, too, would Sliedad build A kingly pile sublime, The palace of his pride. For this exhausted mines Supplied their golden store, For this the central caverns gave their gems; For this the woodman's axe Open'd the cedar forest to the sun; The silkworm of the East Spun her sepulchral egg; The hunter African Provok'd the danger of the elephant's wrath; The Ethiop, keen of scent, Detects the cbony,9 That deep-incarth'd, and hating light, A leafless tree and barren of all fruit, with darkness feeds her boughs of raven grain. Such were the treasures lavished in yon pile; Ages have past away, And never mortal eye Gazed on their vanity.
XXII. « The garden,_copious springs Blest that delightful spot, And every flower was planted there That makes the tale of evening sweet. He spake, and bade the full-grown forest rise, His own creation ; should the King Wait for slow Nature's work? All trees that bend with luscious fruit, Or wave with feathery boughs, Or point their spiring heads to heaven, Or spreading wide their shadowy arms, Invite the traveller to repose at noon, Hitler, uprooted with their native soil, The labour and the pain of multitudes, Mature in beauty, bore them.
Here, frequent in the walks, The marble statue stood Of heroes and of chiefs. The trees and flowers remain, By Nature's care perpetuate and self-sown. The marble statues long have lost all trace Of heroes and of chiefs; Huge shapeless stones they lie, O'ergrown with many a flower.
Xxill. “The work of pride went on— Often the Prophet's voice Denounced impending woe— We mock'd at the words of the Seer. We mock'd at the wrath of the Lord. A long-continued drought first troubled us; Three years no cloud had form'd, Three years no rain had fallen; The wholesome herb was dry, The corn matur'd not for the food of man, The wells and fountains fail'd. O hard of heart, in whom the punishment Awoke no sense of guilt Headstrong to ruin, obstinately blind, We to our Idols still applied for aid; " Sakia we invok'd for rain, We called on Razeka for food— They did not hear our prayers, they could not hear! No cloud appeard in Heaven, No nightly dews came down.
xxiv. * Then to the place of concourse “messengers Were sent, to Mecca, where the nations came, Round the Red Hillock kneeling, to implore God in his favour’d place. We sent to call on God; Ah fools! unthinking that from all the earth The heart ascends to him. We sent to call on God; Ah fools to think the Lord Would hear their prayers abroad, Who made no prayers at home !
XXV. • Meantime the work of pride went on, Aud still before our Idols, wood and stone, We bow'd the impious knee. “Turn, men of Ad, and call upon the Lord,' The Prophet Houd exclaim'd; “Turn men of Ad, and look to Heaven, And fly the wrath to come." — We mock'd the Prophet's words;– ‘Now dost thou dream, old man, Or art thou drunk with wine ! Future woe and wrath to come, Still thy prudent voice forebodes; When it comes will we believe, Till it comes will we go on In the way our fathers went. Now are thy words from God? Or dost thou dream, old man, Or art thou drunk with wine?'
XXV1. “So spake the stubborn race, The unbelieving ones. I too, of stubborn unbelieving heart, Heard him, and heeded not. It chanced my father went the way of man, He perish'd in his sins. The funeral rites were duly paid, We bound a camel to his grave, And left it there to die, So if the resurrection came ** Together they might rise. I past my father's grave, I heard the Camel moan. She was his favourite beast, One who had carried me in infancy, The first that by myself learnt to mount. Her limbs were lean with famine, and her eyes Look'd ghastily with want. She knew me as I past, She stared me in the face. 13 My heart was touch'd, had it been human else? I thought no eye was near, and broke her bonds, And drove her forth to liberty and life. The Prophet Houd beheld, Ile lifted up his voice, Blessed art thou, young man, Blessed art thou, O Aswad, for the deed! In the day of visitation, In the fearful hour of judgement, God will remember thee!
XXVII. “The day of visitation was at hand, The fearful hour of judgment hastened on. Lo Shedad's mighty pile complete, The palace of his pride. Would ye behold its wonders, enter in : I have no heart to visit it. Time hath not harm'd the eternal monument; Time is not here, nor days, nor months, nor years, An everlasting Now of misery!— Ye must have heard their fame, Or likely ye have seen The mighty Pyramids,For sure those mighty piles have overlived The feeble generations of mankind. What, though unmov'd they bore the deluge weight,” Survivors of the ruined world : What though their founder fill'd with miracles And wealth miraculous their ample vaults? Compar'd with yonder fabric, and they shrink The baby wonders of a woman's work! Here emerald columns o'er the marble courts Fling their green rays, as when amid a shower The sun shines loveliest on the vernal corn. IIere Shedad bade the sapphire floor be laid, As though with feet divine To trample azure light, Like the blue pavement of the firmament. Here self-suspended hangs in air, As its pure substance loath'd material touch, The living carbuncle; ** Sun of the lofty dome, Darkness hath no dominion o'er its beams; Intense it glows, an ever-flowing tide
Of glory, like the day-flood in its source. Impious! the Trees of vegetable gold Such as in Eden's groves Yet innocent it grew;16 Impious! he made his boast, though heaven had hid So deep the baneful ore, That they should branch and bud for him, That art should force their blossoms and their fruit, And re-create for him whate'er Was lost in Paradise. Therefore at Shedad's voice Here towered the palm, a silver trunk, The fine gold net-work 17 growing out Loose from its rugged boughs. Tall as the Cedar of the mountain, here Rose the gold branches, hung with emerald leaves, Blossom'd with pearls, and rich with ruby fruit. o Ad my country' evil was the day That thy unhappy sons Crouch'd at this Nimrod's throne, 18 And placed on him the pedestal of power, And laid their liberties beneath his feet, Robbing their children of the heritance Their fathers handed down. What was to him the squander'd wealth What was to him the burthen of the land The lavish'd misery? He did but speak his will, And, like the blasting Siroc of the East, The ruin of the royal voice Found its way every-where. I marvel not that he, whose power No earthly law, no human feeling curb'd, Mock'd at the living God!
XXVIII. • And now the King's command went forth Among the people, bidding old and young, Husband and wife, the master and the slave, All the collected multitudes of Ad, Here to repair, and hold high festival, That he might see his people, they behold Their King's magnificence and power. The day of festival arriv'd; Hither they came, the old man and the boy, Husband and wife, the master and the slave, Ilither they came. From yonder high tower top, The loftiest of the Palace, Shedad look'd Down on his tribe : their tents on yonder sands Rose like the countless billows of the sca; Their tread and voices like the ocean roar, One deep confusion of tumultuous sounds. They saw their King's magnificence; beheld Ilis palace sparkling like the Angel domes Of Paradise; his garden like the bowers Of early Eden, and they shouted out, “Great is the King! a God upon the earth !
• Intoxicate with joy and pride,
He heard their blasphemies;
And in his wantonness of heart he bade
And o'er the gorgeous rooms
Glittering with gems and gold,
XXXII. • I was beside the Monarch when he spake— Gentle the Prophet spake, But in his eye there dwelt A sorrow that disturb'd me while I gaz'd. The countenance of Shedad fell, And anger sat upon his paler lips. He to the high tower-top the Prophet led, And pointed to the multitude; And as again they shouted out, “Great is the King! a God upon the Earth" With dark and threatful smile to Houd he turn'd, – “Say they aright, O Prophet is the King Great upon earth, a God among mankind?' The Prophet answer'd not; Over that infinite multitude He roll'd his ominous eyes, And tears which could not be supprest gush'd forth.
And called on God for rain. My prayer ascended, and was heard; Three clouds appeard in heaven. | One white, and like the flying cloud of noon, | One red, as it had drunk the evening beams, One black and heavy with its load of rain. A voice went forth from heaven, “Chuse, Kail, of the three!' I thank'd the gracious Power, And chose the black cloud, heavy with its wealth.' “Right! right!' a thousand tongues exclaim’d, And all was merriment and joy.
XXXVI. “Then stood the Prophet up, and cried aloud, “Woe, woe to Irem' woe to Ad! Death is gone up into her palaces ! Woe! woe! a day of guilt and punishment, A day of desolation "-As he spake, His large eye roll'd in horror, and so deep Histone, it seem'd some Spirit from within Breath'd through his moveless lips” the unearthly voice. All looks were turn'd to him. “O Ad" he cried, ‘Dear native land, by all remembrances Of childhood, by all joys of manhood dear; O Vale of many Waters; morn and night My age must groan for you, and to the grave Go down in sorrow. Thou wilt give thy fruits, But who shall gather them? thy grapes will ripen, But who shall tread the wine-press? Fly the wrath, Ye who would live and save your souls alive! For strong is his right band that bends the Bow, The arrows that he shoots are sharp, And err not from their aim : **
XL. • When from an agony of prayer I rose, And from the scene of death Attempted to go forth, The way was opcu. I belield No barrier to my steps. But round these bowers the Arm of God Had drawn a mighty chain, A barrier that no human force might break. Twice I essay'd to pass. With that a voice was heard, “O Aswad, be content, and bless the Lord! One righteous deed hath sav'd Thy soul from utter death. O Aswad, sinful man! When by long penitence Thou feel'st thy soul prepard, Breathe up the wish to die, And Azrael comes, obedient to the prayer.'
XLI. * A miserable man, From Earth and Heaven shut out, I heard the dreadful voice, I look'd around my prison place; The bodies of the dead were there, Where’er I look'd they lay. They moulderd, moulder'd here.Their very bones have crumbled into dust, So many years have past! So many weary ages have gone by! And still I linger here! Still groaning with the burtheu of my sins, Have never dar'd to breathe The prayer to be releas'd.
XLII. a 01 who can tell the unspeakable misery Of solitude like this! No sound hath ever reach'd my ear Save of the passing windThe fountain's everlasting flow, The forcst in the gale, The pattering of the shower, Sounds dead and mournful all. No bird hath ever clos'd her wing Upon these solitary bowers; No insect sweetly buzz'd amid these groves, From all things that have life, Save only me, conceal’d. This Tree alone, that o'er my head Hangs down its hospitable boughs, And bends its whispering leaves As though to welcome me, Seems to partake of life; ” I love it as my friend, my only friend!
XLIII. • I know not for what ages I have dragod This miserable life; IIow often I have seen
These ancient trees renew'd, What countless generations of inankind
Have risen and fallen asleep,
And I remain the same!