Lalla Rookh

Lalla Rookh:
The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan
by Thomas Moore


young man playing a stringed instrument to audience of young women and one disapproving man

In the eleventh year of the reign of Aurungzebe, Abdalla, King of the Lesser Bucharia, a lineal descendant from the Great Zingis, having abdicated the throne in favour of his son, set out on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Prophet; and, passing into India through the delightful valley of Cashmere, rested for a short time at 2 Delhi on his way. He was entertained by Aurungzebe in a style of magnificent hospitality, worthy alike of the visitor and the host, and was afterwards escorted with the same splendour to Surat, where he embarked for Arabia.1 During the stay of the Royal Pilgrim at Delhi, a marriage was agreed upon between the Prince, his son, and the youngest daughter of the emperor, Lalla Rookh;2 a Princess described by the Poets of her time as more beautiful than Leila,3 Shirine,4 Dewildé,5 or any of those heroines whose names and loves embellish the songs of Persia and Hindostan. It was intended that the nuptials should be celebrated at Cashmere; where the young King, as soon as the cares of empire would permit, was to meet, for the first time, his lovely bride, and, after a few months’ repose in that enchanting valley, conduct her over the snowy hills into Bucharia.

The day of Lalla Rookh’s departure from Delhi was as splendid as sunshine and pageantry could make it. The bazaars and baths were all covered with the richest tapestry; hundreds of gilded barges upon the Jumna floated with their banners shining in the water; while through the streets groups of beautiful children went strewing the most delicious flowers around, as in that Persian festival called the Scattering of the Roses;6 till every part of the city was as fragrant as if a caravan 3 of musk from Khoten Lad passed through it. The Princess, having taken leave of her kind father, who at parting hung a cornelian of Yemen round her neck, on which was inscribed a verse from the Koran, and having sent a considerable present to the Fakirs, who kept up the Perpetual Lamp in her sister’s tomb, meekly ascended the palankeen prepared for her; and, while Aurungzebe stood to take a last look from his balcony, the procession moved slowly on the road to Lahore.

Seldom had the Eastern world seen a cavalcade so superb. From the gardens in the suburbs to the Imperial palace, it was one unbroken line of splendour. The gallant appearance of the Rajahs and Mogul Lords, distinguished by those insignia of the Emperor’s favour,7 the feathers of the egret of Cashmere in their turbans, and the small silver-rimmed kettledrums at the bows of their saddles;—the costly armour of their cavaliers, who vied, on this occasion, with the guards of the great Keder Khan,8 in the brightness of their silver battle-axes and the massiness of their maces of gold;—the glittering of the gilt pine-apples9 on the tops of the palankeens;—the embroidered trappings of the elephants, bearing on their backs small turrets, in the shape of little antique temples, within which the Ladies of Lalla Rookh lay as it were enshrined;—the rose-coloured veils of the 4 Princess’s own sumptuous litter,10 at the front of which a fair young female slave sat fanning her through the curtains, with feathers of the Argus pheasant’s wing;11—and the lovely troop of Tartarian and Cashmerian maids of honour, whom the young King had sent to accompany his bride, and who rode on each side of the litter, upon small Arabian horses:—all was brilliant, tasteful, and magnificent, and pleased even the critical and fastidious Fadladeen, Great Nazir or Chamberlain of the Haram, who was borne in his palankeen immediately after the Princess, and considered himself not the least important personage of the pageant.

Fadladeen was a judge of everything,—from the pencilling of a Circassian’s eyelids to the deepest questions of science and literature; from the mixture of a conserve of rose-leaves to the composition of an epic poem: and such influence had his opinion upon the various tastes of the day, that all the cooks and poets of Delhi stood in awe of him. His political conduct and opinions were founded upon that line of Sadi,—“Should the Prince at noon-day say, It is night, declare that you behold the moon and stars.”—And his zeal for religion, of which Aurungzebe was a munificent protector,12 was about as disinterested as that of the goldsmith who fell in love with the diamond eyes of the Idol of Jaghernaut.13


During the first days of their journey, Lalla Rookh, who had passed all her life within the shadow of the Royal Gardens of Delhi,14 found enough in the beauty of the scenery through which they passed to interest her mind, and delight her imagination; and when at evening, or in the heat of the day, they turned off from the high road to those retired and romantic places which had been selected for her encampments, sometimes on the banks of a small rivulet, as clear as the waters of the Lake of Pearl;15 sometimes under the sacred shade of a Banyan tree, from which the view opened upon a glade covered with antelopes; and often in those hidden, embowered spots, described by one from the Isles of the West,16 as “places of melancholy, delight, and safety, where all the company around was wild peacocks and turtle-doves;”—she felt a charm in these scenes, so lovely and so new to her, which, for a time, made her indifferent to every other amusement. But Lalla Rookh was young, and the young love variety; nor could the conversation of her Ladies and the great Chamberlain, Fadladeen, (the only persons, of course, admitted to her pavilion,) sufficiently enliven those many vacant hours, which were devoted neither to the pillow nor the palankeen. There was a little Persian slave who sung sweetly to the Vina, and who, now and then, lulled the Princess to sleep with the ancient ditties of her country, about the loves of Wamak and 6 Ezra,17 the fair-haired Zal and his mistress Rodahver;18 not forgetting the combat of Rustam with the terrible White Demon.19 At other times she was amused by those graceful dancing-girls of Delhi, who had been permitted by the Bramins of the Great Pagoda to attend her, much to the horror of the good Mussulman Fadladeen, who could see nothing graceful or agreeable in idolaters, and to whom the very tinkling of their golden anklets20 was an abomination.

But these and many other diversions were repeated till they lost all their charm, and the nights and noondays were beginning to move heavily, when, at length, it was recollected that, among the attendants sent by the bridegroom was a young poet of Cashmere, much celebrated throughout the valley for his manner of reciting the Stories of the East, on whom his Royal Master had conferred the privilege of being admitted to the pavilion of the Princess, that he might help to beguile the tediousness of the journey by some of his most agreeable recitals. At the mention of a poet, Fadladeen elevated his critical eyebrows, and, having refreshed his faculties with a dose of that delicious opium21 which is distilled from the black poppy of the Thebais, gave orders for the minstrel to be forthwith introduced into the presence.


The Princess, who had once in her life seen a poet from behind the screens of gauze in her Father’s hall, and had conceived from that specimen no very favourable ideas of the Caste, expected but little in this new exhibition to interest her;—she felt inclined, however, to alter her opinion on the very first appearance of Feramorz. He was a youth about Lalla Rookh’s own age, and graceful as that idol of women, Crishna,22—such as he appears to their young imaginations, heroic, beautiful, breathing music from his very eyes, and exalting the religion of his worshippers into love. His dress was simple, yet not without some marks of costliness; and the ladies of the Princess were not long in discovering that the cloth, which encircled his high Tartarian cap, was of the most delicate kind that the shawl-goats of Tibet supply.23 Here and there, too, over his vest, which was confined by a flowered girdle of Kashan, hung strings of fine pearl, disposed with an air of studied negligence:—nor did the exquisite embroidery of his sandals escape the observation of these fair critics; who, however they might give way to Fadladeen upon the unimportant topics of religion and government, had the spirit of martyrs in every thing relating to such momentous matters as jewels and embroidery.

For the purpose of relieving the pauses of recitation by music, the young Cashmerian held in his hand a kitar;—such 8 as, in old times, the Arab maids of the West used to listen to by moonlight in the gardens of the Alhambra—and, having premised, with much humility, that the story he was about to relate was founded on the adventures of that Veiled Prophet of Khorassan,24 who, in the year of the Hegira 163, created such alarm throughout the Eastern Empire, made an obeisance to the Princess, and thus began:—

coiled snake with veil over its head


decorative title page: The VEILED PROPHET of KHORASSAN


sun shining on group of worshippers in mosque

In that delightful Province of the Sun,

The first of Persian lands he shines upon,

Where all the loveliest children of his beam,

Flow’rets and fruits, blush over every stream,26


And, fairest of all streams, the Murga roves

Among Merou’s27 bright palaces and groves;—

There on that throne, to which the blind belief

Of millions rais’d him, sat the Prophet-Chief,

The Great Mokanna. O’er his features hung

The Veil, the Silver Veil, which he had flung

In mercy there, to hide from mortal sight

His dazzling brow, till man could bear its light.

For, far less luminous, his votaries said,

Were ev’n the gleams, miraculously shed

O’er Moussa’s28 cheek,29 when down the Mount he trod,

All glowing from the presence of his God!

On either side, with ready hearts and hands,

His chosen guard of bold Believers stands;

Young fire-eyed disputants, who deem their swords,

On points of faith, more eloquent than words;

And such their zeal, there’s not a youth with brand

Uplifted there, but, at the Chief’s command,

Would make his own devoted heart its sheath,

And bless the lips that doom’d so dear a death!

In hatred to the Caliph’s hue of night,30

Their vesture, helms and all, is snowy white;

Their weapons various—some equipp’d for speed,

With javelins of the light Kathaian reed;31

Or bows of buffalo horn and shining quivers


Fill’d with the stems32 that bloom on Iran’s rivers;33

While some, for war’s more terrible attacks,

Wield the huge mace and ponderous battle-axe;

And as they wave aloft in morning’s beam

The milk-white plumage of their helms, they seem

Like a chenar-tree grove,34 when winter throws

O’er all its tufted heads his feathering snows.

Between the porphyry pillars, that uphold

The rich moresque-work of the roof of gold,

Aloft the Haram’s curtain’d galleries rise,

Where, through the silken net-work, glancing eyes,

From time to time, like sudden gleams that glow

Through autumn clouds, shine o’er the pomp below.—

What impious tongue, ye blushing saints, would dare

To hint that aught but Heaven hath plac’d you there?

Or that the loves of this light world could bind,

In their gross chain, your Prophet’s soaring mind?

No—wrongful thought!—commission’d from above

To people Eden’s bowers with shapes of love,

(Creatures so bright, that the same lips and eyes

They wear on earth will serve in Paradise,)

There to recline among Heaven’s native maids,

And crown the’ Elect with bliss that never fades—

Well hath the Prophet-Chief his bidding done;

And every beauteous race beneath the sun,


From those who kneel at Brahma’s burning founts,35

To the fresh nymphs bounding o’er Yemen’s mounts;

From Persia’s eyes of full and fawn-like ray

To the small, half-shut glances of Kathay;36

And Georgia’s bloom, and Azab’s darker smiles,

And the gold ringlets of the Western Isles;

All, all are there;—each Land its flower hath given,

To form that fair young Nursery for Heaven!

grop of young women in Oriental attire

But why this pageant now? this arm’d array?

What triumph crowds the rich Divan to-day

With turban’d heads, of every hue and race,


Bowing before that veil’d and awful face,

Like tulip-beds,37 of different shape and dyes,

Bending beneath the’ invisible West-wind’s sighs!

What new-made mystery now, for Faith to sign,

And blood to seal, as genuine and divine,

What dazzling mimickry of God’s own power

Hath the bold Prophet plann’d to grace this hour?

Not such the pageant now, though not less proud;

Yon warrior youth, advancing from the crowd,

With silver bow, with belt of broider’d crape,

And fur-bound bonnet of Bucharian shape,38

So fiercely beautiful in form and eye,

Like war’s wild planet in a summer sky;

That youth to-day,—a proselyte, worth hordes

Of cooler spirits and less practis’d swords,—

Is come to join, all bravery and belief,

The creed and standard of the heaven-sent Chief.

Though few his years, the West already knows

Young Azim’s fame;—beyond the’ Olympian snows,

Ere manhood darken’d o’er his downy cheek,

O’erwhelmed in fight and captive to the Greek,39

He linger’d there, till peace dissolv’d his chains;—

Oh, who could, even in bondage, tread the plains

Of glorious Greece, nor feel his spirit rise

Kindling within him? who, with heart and eyes,


Could walk where Liberty had been, nor see

The shining footprints of her Deity,

Nor feel those godlike breathings in the air,

Which mutely told her spirit had been there?

Not he, that youthful warrior,—no, too well

For his soul’s quiet work’d the’ awakening spell;

And now, returning to his own dear land,

Full of those dreams of good that, vainly grand,

Haunt the young heart,—proud views of human-kind,

Of men to Gods exalted and refin’d,—

False views, like that horizon’s fair deceit,

Where earth and heaven but seem, alas, to meet!—

Soon as he heard an Arm Divine was rais’d

To right the nations, and beheld, emblaz’d

On the white flag Mokanna’s host unfurl’d,

Those words of sunshine, “Freedom to the World,”

At once his faith, his sword, his soul obey’d

The’ inspiring summons; every chosen blade

That fought beneath that banner’s sacred text

Seem’d doubly edg’d, for this world and the next;

And ne’er did Faith with her smooth bandage bind

Eyes more devoutly willing to be blind,

In virtue’s cause;—never was soul inspir’d

With livelier trust in what it most desir’d,

Than his, the’ enthusiast there, who kneeling, pale

With pious awe, before that Silver Veil,


Believes the form, to which he bends his knee,

Some pure, redeeming angel, sent to free

This fetter’d world from every bond and stain,

And bring its primal glories back again!

man kneeling before veiled man on throne, surrounded by soldiers

Low as young Azim knelt, that motley crowd

Of all earth’s nations sunk the knee and bow’d,

With shouts of “Alla!” echoing long and loud;

While high in air, above the Prophet’s head,


Hundreds of banners, to the sunbeam spread,

Wav’d, like the wings of the white birds that fan

The flying throne of star-taught Soliman.40

Then thus he spoke:—“Stranger, though new the frame

“Thy soul inhabits now, I’ve track’d its flame

“For many an age,41 in every chance and change

“Of that existence, through whose varied range,—

“As through a torch-race, where, from hand to hand,

“The flying youths transmit their shining brand,—

“From frame to frame the unextinguish’d soul

“Rapidly passes, till it reach the goal!

“Nor think ’tis only the gross Spirits, warm’d

“With duskier fire and for earth’s medium form’d,

“That run this course;—Beings, the most divine,

“Thus deign through dark mortality to shine.

“Such was the Essence that in Adam dwelt,

“To which all Heaven, except the Proud One, knelt:42

“Such the refin’d Intelligence that glow’d

“In Moussa’s43 frame, and, thence descending, flow’d

“Through many a Prophet’s breast;44—in Issa45 shone,

“And in Mohammed burn’d; till, hastening on,

“(As a bright river that, from fall to fall

“In many a maze descending, bright through all,

“Finds some fair region where, each labyrinth past,

“In one full lake of light it rests at last!)


“That Holy Spirit, settling calm and free

“From lapse or shadow, centres all in me!”

Again, throughout the’ assembly, at these words,

Thousands of voices rung: the warriors’ swords

Were pointed up to heaven; a sudden wind

In the’ open banners played, and from behind

Those Persian hangings, that but ill could screen

The Haram’s loveliness, white hands were seen

Waving embroider’d scarves, whose motion gave

A perfume forth;—like those the Houris wave

When beck’ning to their bowers the’ immortal Brave.

“But these,” pursued the Chief, “are truths sublime,

“That claim a holier mood and calmer time

“Than earth allows us now;—this sword must first

“The darkling prison-house of Mankind burst

“Ere Peace can visit them, or Truth let in

“Her wakening daylight on a world of sin.

“But then, celestial warriors, then, when all

“Earth’s shrines and thrones before our banner fall;

“When the glad Slave shall at these feet lay down

“His broken chain, the tyrant Lord his crown,

“The Priest his book, the Conqueror his wreath,

“And from the lips of Truth one mighty breath

“Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze


“That whole dark pile of human mockeries;—

“Then shall the reign of mind commence on earth,

“And starting fresh, as from a second birth,

“Man, in the sunshine of the world’s new spring,

“Shall walk transparent, like some holy thing!

“Then, too, your Prophet from his angel brow

“Shall cast the Veil that hides its splendours now,

“And gladden’d Earth shall, through her wide expanse,

“Bask in the glories of this countenance!—

“For thee, young warrior, welcome!—thou hast yet

“Some tasks to learn, some frailties to forget,

“Ere the white war-plume o’er thy brow can wave;—

“But, once my own, mine all till in the grave!”

The pomp is at an end—the crowds are gone—

Each ear and heart still haunted by the tone

Of that deep voice, which thrilled like Alla’s own!

The Young all dazzled by the plumes and lances,

The glittering throne, and Haram’s half-caught glances;

The Old deep pondering on the promis’d reign

Of peace and truth; and all the female train

Ready to risk their eyes, could they but gaze

A moment on that brow’s miraculous blaze!

But there was one, among the chosen maids,

Who blush’d behind the gallery’s silken shades,

One, to whose soul the pageant of to-day


Has been like death:—you saw her pale dismay,

Ye wondering sisterhood, and heard the burst

Of exclamation from her lips, when first

She saw that youth, too well, too dearly known,

Silently kneeling at the Prophet’s throne.

young women looking out from curtained balcony

Ah Zelica! there was a time, when bliss

Shone o’er thy heart from every look of his;

When but to see him, hear him, breathe the air

In which he dwelt, was thy soul’s fondest prayer;

When round him hung such a perpetual spell

Whate’er he did, none ever did so well.


Too happy days! when, if he touch’d a flower

Or gem of thine, ’twas sacred from that hour;

When thou didst study him till every tone

And gesture and dear look became thy own,—

Thy voice like his, the changes of his face

In thine reflected with still lovelier grace.

Like echo, sending back sweet music, fraught

With twice the’ aërial sweetness it had brought!

Yet now he comes,—brighter than even he

E’er beam’d before,—but, ah! not bright for thee;

No—dread, unlook’d for, like a visitant

From the’ other world, he comes as if to haunt

Thy guilty soul with dreams of lost delight,

Long lost to all but memory’s aching sight:—

Sad dreams! as when the Spirit of our Youth

Returns in sleep, sparkling with all the truth

And innocence once ours, and leads us back,

In mournful mockery, o’er the shining track

Of our young life, and points out every ray

Of hope and peace we’ve lost upon the way!

Once happy pair!—In proud Bokhara’s groves,

Who had not heard of their first youthful loves?

Born by that ancient flood,46 which from its spring

In the dark Mountains swiftly wandering,

Enrich’d by every pilgrim brook that shines


With relics from Bucharia’s ruby mines,

And, lending to the Caspian half its strength,

In the cold Lake of Eagles sinks at length;—

There, on the banks of that bright river born,

The flowers, that hung above its wave at morn,

Bless’d not the waters, as they murmur’d by,

With holier scent and lustre, than the sigh

And virgin-glance of first affection cast

Upon their youth’s smooth current, as it pass’d!

But war disturb’d this vision,—far away

From her fond eyes summon’d to join the’ array

Of Persia’s warriors on the hills of Thrace,

The youth exchang’d his sylvan dwelling-place

For the rude tent and war-field’s deathful clash;

His Zelica’s sweet glances for the flash

Of Grecian wild-fire, and Love’s gentle chains

For bleeding bondage on Byzantium’s plains.

Month after month, in widowhood of soul

Drooping, the maiden saw two summers roll

Their suns away—but ah! how cold and dim

Even summer suns, when not beheld with him!

From time to time ill-omen’d rumours came,

Like spirit-tongues mutt’ring the sick man’s name,

Just ere he dies:—at length those sounds of dread

Fell with’ring on her soul, “Azim is dead!”


Oh Grief, beyond all other griefs, when fate

First leaves the young heart lone and desolate

In the wide world, without that only tie

For which it lov’d to live or fear’d to die;—

Lorn as the hung-up lute, that ne’er hath spoken

Since the sad day its master-chord was broken!

Fond maid, the sorrow of her soul was such,

Even reason sunk,—blighted beneath its touch:

And though, ere long, her sanguine spirit rose

Above the first dead pressure of its woes,

Though health and bloom return’d, the delicate chain

Of thought, once tangled, never clear’d again.

Warm, lively, soft as in youth’s happiest day,

The mind was still all there, but turned astray;—

A wand’ring bark, upon whose pathway shone

All stars of heaven, except the guiding one!

Again she smil’d, nay, much and brightly smil’d,

But ’twas a lustre, strange, unreal, wild;

And when she sung to her lute’s touching strain,

’Twas like the notes, half ecstasy, half pain,

The bulbul47 utters, ere her soul depart,

When, vanquished by some minstrel’s powerful art,

She dies upon the lute whose sweetness broke her heart!

men kneel before young woman with upraised arms

Such was the mood in which that mission found

Young Zelica,—that mission, which around


The Eastern world, in every region blest

With woman’s smile, sought out its loveliest,

To grace that galaxy of lips and eyes

Which the Veil’d Prophet destined for the skies:—

And such quick welcome as a spark receives

Dropp’d on a bed of Autumn’s withered leaves,

Did every tale of these enthusiasts find

In the wild maiden’s sorrow-blighted mind.

All fire at once the madd’ning zeal she caught;—

Elect of Paradise! blest, rapturous thought!

Predestin’d bride, in heaven’s eternal dome,

Of some brave youth—ha! durst they say “of some?


No—of the one, one only object trac’d

In her heart’s core too deep to be effac’d;

The one whose memory, fresh as life, is twin’d

With every broken link of her lost mind;

Whose image lives, though Season’s self be wreck’d,

Safe ’mid the ruins of her intellect!

Alas, poor Zelica! it needed all

The fantasy, which held thy mind in thrall,

To see in that gay Haram’s glowing maids

A sainted colony for Eden’s shades;

Or dream that he,—of whose unholy flame

Thou wert too soon the victim,—shining came

From Paradise, to people its pure sphere

With souls like thine, which he hath ruin’d here!

No—had not Reason’s light totally set,

And left thee dark, thou hadst an amulet

In the lov’d image, graven on thy heart,

Which would have sav’d thee from the tempter’s art,

And kept alive, in all its bloom of breath,

That purity, whose fading is love’s death!—

But lost, inflamed,—a restless zeal took place

Of the mild virgin’s still and feminine grace;

First of the Prophet’s favourites, proudly first

In zeal and charms,—too well the’ Impostor nurs’d

Her soul’s delirium, in whose active flame,


Thus lighting up a young, luxuriant frame,

He saw more potent sorceries to bind

To his dark yoke the spirits of mankind,

More subtle chains than hell itself e’er twin’d.

No art was spar’d, no witchery;—all the skill

His demons taught him was employ’d to fill

Her mind with gloom and ecstasy by turns—

That gloom, through which Frenzy but fiercer burns;

That ecstasy, which from the depth of sadness

Glares like the maniac’s moon, whose light is madness.

’Twas from a brilliant banquet, where the sound

Of poesy and music breath’d around,

Together picturing to her mind and ear

The glories of that heaven, her destin’d sphere,

Where all was pure, where every stain that lay

Upon the spirit’s light should pass away,

And, realizing more than youthful love

E’er wish’d or dream’d, she should for ever rove

Through fields of fragrance by her Azim’s side,

His own bless’d, purified, eternal bride!—

’Twas from a scene, a witching trance like this,

He hurried her away, yet breathing bliss,

To the dim charnel-house;—through all its steams

Of damp and death, led only by those gleams

Which foul Corruption lights, as with design


To show the gay and proud she too can shine!—

And, passing on through upright ranks of Dead,

Which to the maiden, doubly craz’d by dread,

Seem’d, through the bluish death-light round them cast,

To move their lips in mutterings as she pass’d—

There, in that awful place, when each had quaff’d

And pledg’d in silence such a fearful draught,

Such—oh! the look and taste of that red bowl

Will haunt her till she dies—he bound her soul

By a dark oath, in hell’s own language fram’d,

Never, while earth his mystic presence claim’d,

While the blue arch of day hung o’er them both,


Never, by that all-imprecating oath,

In joy or sorrow from his side to sever.—

She swore, and the wide charnel echoed, “Never, never!”

veiled man grasps young woman who tries to turn away

From that dread hour, entirely, wildly given

To him and—she believ’d, lost maid!—to Heaven;

Her brain, her heart, her passions all inflam’d,

How proud she stood, when in full Haram nam’d

The Priestess of the Faith!—how flash’d her eyes

With light, alas! that was not of the skies,

When round, in trances, only less than hers,

She saw the Haram kneel, her prostrate worshippers!

Well might Mokanna think that form alone

Had spells enough to make the world his own:—

Light, lovely limbs, to which the spirit’s play

Gave motion, airy as the dancing spray,

When from its stem the small bird wings away:

Lips in whose rosy labyrinth, when she smil’d,

The soul was lost; and blushes, swift and wild

As are the momentary meteors sent

Across the’ uncalm, but beauteous firmament.

And then her look—oh! where’s the heart so wise

Could unbewilder’d meet those matchless eyes?

Quick, restless, strange, but exquisite withal,

Like those of angels, just before their fall;

Now shadow’d with the shames of earth—now crost


By glimpses of the Heaven her heart had lost;

In ev’ry glance there broke, without control,

The flashes of a bright, but troubled soul,

Where sensibility still wildly play’d,

Like lightning, round the ruins it had made!

And such was now young Zelica—so chang’d

From her who, some years since, delighted rang’d

The almond groves that shade Bokhara’s tide,

All life and bliss, with Azim by her side!

So alter’d was she now, this festal day,

When, ’mid the proud Divan’s dazzling array,

The vision of that Youth whom she had lov’d,

Had wept as dead, before her breath’d and mov’d;—

When—bright, she thought, as if from Eden’s track

But half-way trodden, he had wander’d back

Again to earth, glistening with Eden’s light—

Her beauteous Azim shone before her sight.

O Reason! who shall say what spells renew,

When least we look for it, thy broken clew!

Through what small vistas o’er the darken’d brain

Thy intellectual day-beam bursts again;

And how, like forts, to which beleaguerers win

Unhop’d-for entrance through some friend within,

One clear idea, waken’d in the breast


By memory’s magic, lets in all the rest!

Would it were thus, unhappy girl, with thee!

But though light came, it came but partially;

Enough to show the maze, in which thy sense

Wander’d about,—but not to guide it thence;

Enough to glimmer o’er the yawning wave,

But not to point the harbour which might save.

Hours of delight and peace, long left behind,

With that dear form came rushing o’er her mind;

But, oh! to think how deep her soul had gone

In shame and falsehood since those moments shone;

And, then, her oath—there madness lay again,

And, shuddering, back she sunk into her chain

Of mental darkness, as if blest to flee

From light, whose every glimpse was agony!

Yet, one relief this glance of former years

Brought, mingled with its pain,—tears, floods of tears,

Long frozen at her heart, but now like rills

Let loose in spring-time from the snowy hills,

And gushing warm, after a sleep of frost,

Through valleys where their flow had long been lost.

Sad and subdued, for the first time her frame

Trembled with horror, when the summons came

(A summons proud and rare, which all but she,

And she, till now, had heard with ecstasy,)


To meet Mokanna at his place of prayer,

A garden oratory, cool and fair,

By the stream’s side, where still at close of day

The Prophet of the Veil retir’d to pray;

Sometimes alone—but, oftener far, with one,

One chosen nymph to share his orison.

Of late none found such favour in his sight

As the young Priestess; and though, since that night

When the death-caverns echoed every tone

Of the dire oath that made her all his own,

The’ Impostor, sure of his infatuate prize,

Had, more than once, thrown off his soul’s disguise,

And utter’d such unheavenly, monstrous things,

As even across the desp’rate wanderings

Of a weak intellect, whose lamp was out,

Threw startling shadows of dismay and doubt;—

Yet zeal, ambition, her tremendous vow,

The thought, still haunting her, of that bright brow,

Whose blaze, as yet from mortal eye conceal’d,

Would soon, proud triumph! be to her reveal’d,

To her alone;—and then the hope, most dear,

Most wild of all, that her transgression here

Was but a passage through earth’s grosser fire,

From which the spirit would at last aspire,

Even purer than before,—as perfumes rise


Through flame and smoke, most welcome to the skies—

And that when Azim’s fond, divine embrace

Should circle her in heaven, no dark’ning trace

Would on that bosom he once lov’d remain,

But all be bright, be pure, be his again!—

These were the wildering dreams, whose curst deceit

Had chain’d her soul beneath the tempter’s feet,

And made her think even damning falsehood sweet.

But now that Shape, which had appall’d her view,

That Semblance—oh, how terrible, if true!—

Which came across her frenzy’s full career

With shock of consciousness, cold, deep, severe,

As when, in northern seas, at midnight dark,

An isle of ice encounters some swift bark,

And, startling all its wretches from their sleep,

By one cold impulse hurls them to the deep;—

So came that shock not frenzy’s self could bear,

And waking up each long-lull’d image there,

But check’d her headlong soul, to sink it in despair!

Wan and dejected, through the evening dusk,

She now went slowly to that small kiosk,

Where, pond’ring alone his impious schemes,

Mokanna waited her—too wrapt in dreams

Of the fair-rip’ning future’s rich success,

To heed the sorrow, pale and spiritless,


That sat upon his victim’s downcast brow,

Or mark how slow her step, how alter’d now

From the quick, ardent Priestess, whose light bound

Came like a spirit’s o’er the’ unechoing ground,—

From that wild Zelica, whose every glance

Was thrilling fire, whose every thought a trance!

Upon his couch the Veil’d Mokanna lay,

While lamps around—not such as lend their ray,

Glimmering and cold, to those who nightly pray

In holy Koom,48 or Mecca’s dim arcades,—

But brilliant, soft, such lights as lovely maids

Look loveliest in, shed their luxurious glow

Upon his mystic Veil’s white glittering flow.

Beside him, ’stead of beads and books of prayer,

Which the world fondly thought he mus’d on there,

Stood vases, fill’d with Kishmee’s49 golden wine,

And the red weepings of the Shiraz vine;

Of which his curtain’d lips full many a draught

Took zealously, as if each drop they quaff’d,

Like Zemzem’s Spring of Holiness,50 had power

To freshen the soul’s virtues into flower!

And still he drank and ponder’d—nor could see

The’ approaching maid, so deep his reverie;

At length, with fiendish laugh, like that which broke

From Eblis at the Fall of Man, he spoke:—


“Yes, ye vile race, for hell’s amusement given,

“Too mean for earth, yet claiming kin with heaven;

“God’s images, forsooth!—such gods as he

“Whom India serves, the monkey deity;—51

“Ye creatures of a breath, proud things of clay,

“To whom if Lucifer, as grandams say,

“Refus’d, though at the forfeit of heaven’s light,

“To bend in worship, Lucifer was right!—52

“Soon shall I plant this foot upon the neck

“Of your foul race, and without fear or check,

“Luxuriating in hate, avenge my shame,

“My deep-felt, long-nurst loathing of man’s name!


“Soon at the head of myriads, blind and fierce

“As hooded falcons, through the universe

“I’ll sweep my dark’ning, desolating way,

“Weak man my instrument, curst man my prey!

youg woman looks uneasily at veiled man reclining on couch

“Ye wise, ye learn’d, who grope your dull way on

“By the dim twinkling gleams of ages gone,

“Like superstitious thieves, who think the light

From dead men’s marrow guides them best at night—53

“Ye shall have honours—wealth,—yes, Sages, yes—

“I know, grave fools, your wisdom’s nothingness;

“Undazzled it can track yon starry sphere,

“But a gilt stick, a bawble blinds it here.

“How I shall laugh, when trumpeted along,

“In lying speech, and still more lying song,

“By these learn’d slaves, the meanest of the throng;

“Their wits bought up, their wisdom shrunk so small,

“A sceptre’s puny point can wield it all!

“Ye too, believers of incredible creeds,

“Whose faith enshrines the monsters which it breeds;

“Who, bolder even than Nemrod, think to rise,

“By nonsense heap’d on nonsense, to the skies;

“Ye shall have miracles, ay, sound ones too,

“Seen, heard, attested, ev’ry thing—but true.

“Your preaching zealots, too inspir’d to seek

“One grace of meaning for the things they speak;


“Your martyrs, ready to shed out their blood,

“For truths too heavenly to be understood;

“And your State Priests, sole vendors of the lore

“That works salvation;—as, on Ava’s shore,

“Where none but priests are privileg’d to trade

“In that best marble of which Gods are made;54

“They shall have mysteries—ay, precious stuff

“For knaves to thrive by—mysteries enough;

“Dark, tangled doctrines, dark as fraud can weave,

“Which simple votaries shall on trust receive,

“While craftier feign belief, till they believe.

“A Heaven too ye must have, ye lords of dust,—

“A splendid Paradise,—pure souls, ye must:

“That Prophet ill sustains his holy call,

“Who finds not heavens to suit the tastes of all;

“Houris for boys, omniscience for sages,

“And wings and glories for all ranks and ages.

“Vain things!—as lust or vanity inspires,

“The Heaven of each is but what each desires,

“And, soul or sense, whate’er the object be,

“Man would be man to all eternity!

“So let him—Eblis! grant this crowning curse,

“But keep him what he is, no Hell were worse.”

“Oh my lost soul!” exclaim’d the shuddering maid,

Whose ears had drunk like poison all he said:—


Mokanna started—not abash’d, afraid—

He knew no more of fear than one who dwells

Beneath the tropics knows of icicles!

But in those dismal words that reach’d his ear,

“Oh my lost soul!” there was a sound so drear,

So like that voice, among the sinful dead,

In which the legend o’er Hell’s Gate is read,

That, new as ’twas from her, whom nought could dim

Or sink till now, it startled even him.

“Ha, my fair Priestess!”—thus, with ready wile,

The’ impostor turn’d to greet her—“thou, whose smile

“Hath inspiration in its rosy beam

“Beyond the’ Enthusiast’s hope or Prophet’s dream!

“Light of the faith! who twin’st religion’s zeal

“So close with love’s, men know not which they feel,

“Nor which to sigh for, in their trance of heart,

“The heaven thou preachest or the heaven thou art!

“What should I be without thee? without thee

“How dull were power, how joyless victory!

“Though borne by angels, if that smile of thine

“Bless’d not my banner, ’twere but half divine.

“But—why so mournful, child? those eyes, that shone

“All life last night—what!—is their glory gone?

“Come, come—this morn’s fatigue hath made them pale,

“They want rekindling—suns themselves would fail,


“Did not their comets bring, as I to thee,

“From light’s own fount supplies of brilliancy.

“Thou seest this cup—no juice of earth is here,

“But the pure waters of that upper sphere,

“Whose rills o’er ruby beds and topaz flow,

“Catching the gem’s bright colour as they go.

“Nightly my Genii come and fill these urns—

“Nay, drink—in every drop life’s essence burns;

“’Twill make that soul all fire, those eyes all light—

“Come, come, I want thy loveliest smiles to-night:—

“There is a youth—why start?—thou saw’st him then;

“Look’d he not nobly? such the godlike men

“Thou’lt have to woo thee in the bowers above;—

“Though he, I fear, hath thoughts too stern for love,

“Too rul’d by that cold enemy of bliss

“The world calls virtue—we must conquer this;—

“Nay, shrink not, pretty sage! ’tis not for thee

“To scan the mazes of Heaven’s mystery:

“The steel must pass through fire, ere it can yield

“Fit instruments for mighty hands to wield.

“This very night I mean to try the art

“Of powerful beauty on that warrior’s heart.

“All that my Haram boasts of bloom and wit,

“Of skill and charms, most rare and exquisite,

“Shall tempt the boy;—young Mirzala’s blue eyes,

Whose sleepy lid like snow on violets lies;


Arouya’s cheeks, warm as a spring-day sun,

“And lips that, like the seal of Solomon,

“Have magic in their pressure; Zeba’s lute,

“And Lilla’s dancing feet, that gleam and shoot

“Rapid and white as sea-birds o’er the deep—

“All shall combine their witching powers to steep

“My convert’s spirit in that soft’ning trance,

“From which to heaven is but the next advance;

“That glowing, yielding fusion of the breast,

“On which Religion stamps her image best.

“But hear me, Priestess!—though each nymph of these

“Hath some peculiar, practis’d power to please,

“Some glance or step which, at the mirror tried,

“First charms herself, then all the world beside;

“There still wants one, to make the victory sure,

“One who in every look joins every lure;

“Through whom all beauty’s beams concentred pass,

“Dazzling and warm, as through love’s burning glass;

“Whose gentle lips persuade without a word,

“Whose words, ev’n when unmeaning, are ador’d,

“Like inarticulate breathings from a shrine,

“Which our faith takes for granted are divine!

“Such is the nymph we want, all warmth and light,

“To crown the rich temptations of to-night;

“Such the refin’d enchantress that must be

“This hero’s vanquisher,—and thou art she!”


young woman kneels with upraised arms before couch of veiled man

With her hands clasp’d, her lips apart and pale,

The maid had stood, gazing upon the Veil

From which these words, like south winds through a fence

Of Kerzrah flowers, came fill’d with pestilence;55

So boldly utter’d too! as if all dread

Of frowns from her, of virtuous frowns, were fled,

And the wretch felt assur’d that, once plung’d in,

Her woman’s soul would know no pause in sin!

At first, though mute she listen’d, like a dream

Seem’d all he said: nor could her mind, whose beam


As yet was weak, penetrate half his scheme,

But when, at length, he utter’d, “Thou art she!”

All flash’d at once, and shrieking piteously,

“Oh not for worlds!” she cried—“Great God! to whom

“I once knelt innocent, is this my doom?

“Are all my dreams, my hopes of heavenly bliss,

“My purity, my pride, then come to this,—

“To live, the wanton of a fiend! to be

“The pander of his guilt—oh infamy!

“And sunk, myself, as low as hell can steep

“In its hot flood, drag others down as deep!

“Others—ha! yes—that youth who came to-day—

Not him I lov’d—not him—oh! do but say,

“But swear to me this moment ’tis not he,

“And I will serve, dark fiend, will worship even thee!”

“Beware, young raving thing!—in time beware,

“Nor utter what I cannot, must not bear,

“Even from thy lips. Go—try thy lute, thy voice,

“The boy must feel their magic;—I rejoice

“To see those fires, no matter whence they rise,

“Once more illuming my fair Priestess’ eyes;

“And should the youth, whom soon those eyes shall warm,

Indeed resemble thy dead lover’s form,

“So much the happier wilt thou find thy doom,

“As one warm lover, full of life and bloom,


“Excels ten thousand cold ones in the tomb.

“Nay, nay, no frowning, sweet!—those eyes were made

“For love, not anger—I must be obey’d.”

“Obey’d!—’tis well—yes, I deserve it all—

“On me, on me Heaven’s vengeance cannot fall

“Too heavily—but Azim, brave and true

“And beautiful—must he be ruin’d too?

“Must he too, glorious as he is, be driven

“A renegade like me from Love and Heaven?

“Like me?—weak wretch, I wrong him—not like me;

“No—he’s all truth and strength and purity!

“Fill up your madd’ning hell-cup to the brim,

“Its witch’ry, fiends, will have no charm for him.

“Let loose your glowing wantons from their bowers,

“He loves, he loves, and can defy their powers!

“Wretch as I am, in his heart still I reign

“Pure as when first we met, without a stain!

“Though ruin’d—lost—my memory, like a charm

“Left by the dead, still keeps his soul from harm.

“Oh! never let him know how deep the brow

“He kiss’d at parting is dishonour’d now;—

“Ne’er tell him how debas’d, how sunk is she,

“Whom once he lov’d—once!—still loves dotingly.

“Thou laugh’st, tormentor,—what!—thou’lt brand my name?


“Do, do—in vain—he’ll not believe my shame—

“He thinks me true, that nought beneath God’s sky

“Could tempt or change me, and—so once thought I.

“But this is past—though worse than death my lot,

“Than hell—’tis nothing while he knows it not.

“Far off to some benighted land I’ll fly,

“Where sunbeam ne’er shall enter till I die;

“Where none will ask the lost one whence she came,

“But I may fade and fall without a name.

“And thou—curst man or fiend, whate’er thou art,

“Who found’st this burning plague-spot in my heart,

“And spread’st it—oh, so quick!—through soul and frame,

“With more than demon’s art, till I became

“A loathsome thing, all pestilence, all flame!—

“If when I’m gone——”

“Hold, fearless maniac, hold,

“Nor tempt my rage—by Heaven, not half so bold

“The puny bird, that dares with teasing hum

“Within the crocodile’s stretch’d jaws to come!56

“And so thou’lt fly, forsooth?—what!—give up all

“Thy chaste dominion in the Haram Hall,

“Where now to Love and now to Alla given,

“Half mistress and half saint, thou hang’st as even

“As doth Medina’s tomb, ’twixt hell and heaven!

“Thou’lt fly!—as easily may reptiles run,


“The gaunt snake once hath fix’d his eyes upon;

“As easily, when caught, the prey may be

“Pluck’d from his loving folds, as thou from me.

“No, no, ’tis fix’d—let good or ill betide,

“Thou’rt mine till death, till death Mokanna’s bride!

“Hast thou forgot thy oath?”—

At this dread word,

The Maid, whose spirit his rude taunts had stirr’d

Through all its depth, and rous’d an anger there,

That burst and lighten’d ev’n through her despair—

Shrank back, as if a blight were in the breath

That spoke that word, and stagger’d, pale as death.

“Yes, my sworn bride, let others seek in bowers

“Their bridal place—the charnel vault was ours!

“Instead of scents and balms, for thee and me

“Rose the rich steams of sweet mortality;

“Gay, flickering death-lights shone while we were wed,

“And, for our guests, a row of goodly Dead

“(Immortal spirits in their time, no doubt,)

“From reeking shrouds upon the rite look’d out!

“That oath thou heard’st more lips than thine repeat—

“That cup—thou shudd’rest, Lady,—was it sweet?

“That cup we pledg’d, the charnel’s choicest wine,

“Hath bound thee—ay—body and soul all mine;


“Bound thee by chains that, whether blest or curst

“No matter now, not hell itself shall burst:

“Hence, woman, to the Haram, and look gay,

“Look wild, look—any thing but sad; yet stay—

“One moment more—from what this night hath pass’d,

“I see thou know’st me, know’st me well at last.

“Ha! ha! and so, fond thing, thou thought’st all true,

“And that I love mankind?—I do, I do—

“As victims, love them; as the sea-dog doats

“Upon the small, sweet fry that round him floats;

“Or, as the Nile-bird loves the slime that gives

“That rank and venomous food on which she lives!57

“And, now thou seest my soul’s angelic hue,

“’Tis time these features were uncurtain’d too;—

“This brow, whose light—oh rare celestial light!

“Hath been resrve’d to bless thy favour’d sight;

“These dazzling eyes, before whose shrouded might

“Thou’st seen immortal Man kneel down and quake—

“Would that they were heaven’s lightnings for his sake!

“But turn and look—then wonder, if thou wilt,

“That I should hate, should take revenge, by guilt,

“Upon the hand, whose mischief or whose mirth

“Sent me thus maim’d and monstrous upon earth;

“And on that race who, though more vile they be

“Than mowing apes, are demi-gods to me!


“Here—judge if hell, with all its power to damn,

“Can add one curse to the foul thing I am!”

He raised his veil—the Maid turn’d slowly round,

Look’d at him—shriek’d—and sunk upon the ground!

young woman collapses before man lifting his veil


On their arrival, next night, at the place of encampment, they were surprised and delighted to find the groves all around illuminated; some artists of Yamtcheou58 having been sent on previously for the purpose. On each side of the green alley, which led to the Royal Pavilion, artificial sceneries of bamboo-work59 were erected, representing arches, minarets, and towers, from which hung thousands of silken lanterns, painted by the most delicate pencils of Canton.—Nothing could be more beautiful than the leaves of the mango-trees and acacias, shining in the light of the bamboo-scenery, which shed a lustre round as soft as that of the nights of Peristan.

Lalla Rookh, however, who was too much occupied by the sad story of Zelica and her lover, to give a thought to anything else, except, perhaps, him who related it, hurried on through this scene of splendour to her pavilion,—greatly to the mortification of the poor artists of Yamtcheou,—and was followed with equal rapidity by the Great Chamberlain, cursing, as he went, that ancient Mandarin, whose parental anxiety in lighting 49 up the shores of the lake, where his beloved daughter had wandered and been lost, was the origin of these fantastic Chinese illuminations.60

Without a moment’s delay, young Feramorz was introduced, and Fadladeen, who could never make up his mind as to the merits of a poet till he knew the religious sect to which he belonged, was about to ask him whether he was a Shia or a Sooni, when Lalla Rookh impatiently clapped her hands for silence, and the youth, being seated upon the musnud near her, proceeded:—


group of women in Oriental attire waiting on a young woman

Prepare thy soul, young Azim!—thou hast brav’d

The bands of Greece, still mighty though enslav’d;

Hast fac’d her phalanx, arm’d with all its fame,

Her Macedonian pikes and globes of flame;

All this hast fronted, with firm heart and brow,

But a more perilous trial waits thee now,—

Woman’s bright eyes, a dazzling host of eyes

From every land where woman smiles or sighs;

Of every hue, as Love may chance to raise

His black or azure banner in their blaze;

And each sweet mode of warfare, from the flash

That lightens boldly through the shadowy lash,


To the sly, stealing splendours, almost hid,

Like swords half-sheath’d, beneath the downcast lid:

Such, Azim, is the lovely, luminous host

Now led against thee; and, let conquerors boast

Their fields of fame, he who in virtue arms

A young, warm spirit against beauty’s charms,

Who feels her brightness, yet defies her thrall,

Is the best, bravest conqueror of them all.

Now, through the Haram chambers, moving lights

And busy shapes proclaim the toilet’s rites;—

From room to room the ready handmaids hie,

Some skill’d to wreath the turban tastefully,

Or hang the veil, in negligence of shade,

O’er the warm blushes of the youthful maid,

Who, if between the folds but one eye shone,

Like Seba’s Queen could vanquish with that one:—61

While some bring leaves of Henna, to imbue

The fingers’ ends with a bright roseate hue,62

So bright, that in the mirror’s depth they seem

Like tips of coral branches in the stream;

And others mix the Kohol’s jetty dye,

To give that long, dark languish to the eye,63

Which makes the maids, whom kings are proud to cull

From fair Circassia’s vales, so beautiful.

All is in motion; rings and plumes and pearls


Are shining every where:—some younger girls

Are gone by moonlight to the garden beds,

To gather fresh, cool chaplets for their heads;

Gay creatures! sweet, though mournful, ’tis to see

How each prefers a garland from that tree

Which brings to mind her childhood’s innocent day,

And the dear fields and friendships far away.

The maid of India, blest again to hold

In her full lap the Champac’s leaves of gold,64

Thinks of the time when, by the Ganges’ flood,

Her little playmates scatter’d many a bud

Upon her long black hair, with glossy gleam

Just dripping from the consecrated stream;

While the young Arab, haunted by the smell

Of her own mountain flowers, as by a spell,—

The sweet Elcaya,65 and that courteous tree

Which bows to all who seek its canopy,66

Sees, call’d up round her by these magic scents,

The well, the camels, and her father’s tents;

Sighs for the home she left with little pain,

And wishes even its sorrows back again!

young man in turban pauses in thought

Meanwhile, through vast illuminated halls,

Silent and bright, where nothing but the falls

Of fragrant waters, gushing with cool sound

From many a jasper fount, is heard around,


Young Azim roams bewilder’d,—nor can guess

What means this maze of light and loneliness.

Here, the way leads, o’er tessellated floors

Or mats of Cairo, through long corridors,

Where, rang’d in cassolets and silver urns,

Sweet wood of aloe or of sandal burns;

And spicy rods, such as illume at night

The bowers of Tibet,67 send forth odorous light,

Like Peris’ wands, when pointing out the road

For some pure Spirit to its blest abode:—

And here, at once, the glittering saloon

Bursts on his sight, boundless and bright as noon;


Where, in the midst, reflecting back the rays

In broken rainbows, a fresh fountain plays

High as the’ enamell’d cupola, which towers

All rich with Arabesques of gold and flowers

And the mosaic floor beneath shines through

The sprinkling of that fountain’s silv’ry dew,

Like the wet, glistening shells, of every dye,

That on the margin of the Red Sea lie.

Here too he traces the kind visitings

Of woman’s love in those fair, living things

Of land and wave, whose fate—in bondage thrown

For their weak loveliness—is like her own!

On one side gleaming with a sudden grace

Through water, brilliant as the crystal vase

In which it undulates, small fishes shine,

Like golden ingots from a fairy mine;—

While, on the other, latticed lightly in

With odoriferous woods of Comorin,68

Each brilliant bird that wings the air is seen;—

Gay, sparkling loories, such as gleam between

The crimson blossoms of the coral tree69

In the warm Isles of India’s sunny sea:

Mecca’s blue sacred pigeon,70 and the thrush

Of Hindostan,71 whose holy warblings gush,

At evening, from the tall pagoda’s top;—


Those golden birds that, in the spice-time, drop

About the gardens, drunk with that sweet food72

Whose scent hath lur’d them o’er the summer flood;73

And those that under Araby’s soft sun

Build their high nests of budding cinnamon:74

In short, all rare and beauteous things, that fly

Through the pure element, here calmly lie

Sleeping in light, like the green birds75 that dwell

In Eden’s radiant fields of asphodel!

So on, through scenes past all imagining,

More like the luxuries of that impious King,76

Whom Death’s dark angel, with his lightning torch,

Struck down and blasted even in Pleasure’s porch,

Than the pure dwelling of a Prophet sent,

Arm’d with Heaven’s sword, for man’s enfranchisement—

Young Azim wander’d, looking sternly round,

His simple garb and war-boots’ clanking sound

But ill according with the pomp and grace

And silent lull of that voluptuous place.

“Is this, then,” thought the youth, “is this the way

“To free man’s spirit from the dead’ning sway

“Of worldly sloth, to teach him while he lives,

“To know no bliss but that which virtue gives,

“And when he dies, to leave his lofty name


“A light, a landmark on the cliffs of fame?

“It was not so, Land of the generous thought

“And daring deed, thy godlike sages taught;

“It was not thus, in bowers of wanton ease,

“Thy Freedom nurs’d her sacred energies;

“Oh! not beneath the’ enfeebling, withering glow

“Of such dull luxury did those myrtles grow,

“With which she wreath’d her sword, when she would dare

“Immortal deeds; but in the bracing air

“Of toil,—of temperance,—of that high, rare,

“Ethereal virtue, which alone can breathe

“Life, health, and lustre into Freedom’s wreath.

“Who, that surveys this span of earth we press,—

“This speck of life in time’s great wilderness,

“This narrow isthmus ’twixt two boundless seas,

“The past, the future, two eternities!—

“Would sully the bright spot, or leave it bare,

“When he might build him a proud temple there,

“A name, that long shall hallow all its space,

“And be each purer soul’s high resting-place?

“But no—it cannot be, that one, whom God

“Hath sent to break the wizard Falsehood’s rod,—

“A Prophet of the Truth, whose mission draws

“Its rights from Heaven, should thus profane its cause

“With the world’s vulgar pomps;—no, no,—I see—

“He thinks me weak—this glare of luxury


“Is but to tempt, to try the eaglet gaze

“Of my young soul—shine on, ’twill stand the blaze!”

So thought the youth;—but, ev’n while he defied

This witching scene, he felt its witchery glide

Through ev’ry sense. The perfume breathing round,

Like a pervading spirit;—the still sound

Of falling waters, lulling as the song

Of Indian bees at sunset, when they throng

Around the fragrant Nilica, and deep

In its blue blossoms hum themselves to sleep;77

And music, too—dear music! that can touch

Beyond all else the soul that loves it much—

Now heard far off, so far as but to seem

Like the faint, exquisite music of a dream;

All was too much for him, too full of bliss,

The heart could nothing feel, that felt not this;

Soften’d he sunk upon a couch, and gave

His soul up to sweet thoughts, like wave on wave

Succeeding to smooth seas, when storms are laid;

He thought of Zelica, his own dear maid,

And of the time, when, full of blissful sighs,

They sat and look’d into each other’s eyes,

Silent and happy—as if God had given

Nought else worth looking at on this side heaven.


“Oh, my lov’d mistress, thou, whose spirit still

“Is with me, round me, wander where I will—

“It is for thee, for thee alone I seek

“The paths of glory; to light up thy cheek

“With warm approval—in that gentle look

“To read my praise, as in an angel’s book,

“And think all toils rewarded, when from thee

“I gain a smile worth immortality!

“How shall I bear the moment when restor’d

“To that young heart where I alone am Lord,

“Though of such bliss unworthy,—since the best

“Alone deserve to be the happiest;—

“When from those lips, unbreath’d upon for years,

“I shall again kiss off the soul-felt tears,

“And find those tears warm as when last they started,

“Those sacred kisses pure as when we parted?

“O my own life!—why should a single day,

“A moment keep me from those arms away?”

group of dancing women in Oriental trousers

While thus he thinks, still nearer on the breeze

Come those delicious, dream-like harmonies,

Each note of which but adds new, downy links

To the soft chain in which his spirit sinks.

He turns him tow’rd the sound, and far away

Through a long vista, sparkling with the play

Of countless lamps,—like the rich track which Day


Leaves on the waters, when he sinks from us,

So long the path, its light so tremulous;—

He sees a group of female forms advance,

Some chain’d together in the mazy dance

By fetters, forg’d in the green sunny bowers,

As they were captives to the King of Flowers;78


And some disporting round, unlink’d and free,

Who seem’d to mock their sisters’ slavery;

And round and round them still, in wheeling flight,

Went, like gay moths about a lamp at night;

While others walk’d, as gracefully along

Their feet kept time, the very soul of song,

From psaltery, pipe, and lutes of heavenly thrill,

Or their own youthful voices, heavenlier still.

And now they come, now pass before his eye,

Forms such as Nature moulds, when she would vie

With Fancy’s pencil, and give birth to things

Lovely beyond its fairest picturings.

Awhile they dance before him, then divide,

Breaking, like rosy clouds at even-tide

Around the rich pavilion of the sun,—

Till silently dispersing, one by one

Through many a path, that from the chamber leads

To gardens, terraces, and moonlight meads,

Their distant laughter comes upon the wind,

And but one trembling nymph remains behind,—

Beck’ning them back in vain, for they are gone,

And she is left in all that light alone;

No veil to curtain o’er her beauteous brow,

In its young bashfulness more beauteous now;

But a light golden chain-work round her hair,79

Such as the maids of Yezd80 and Shiras wear,


From which, on either side, gracefully hung

A golden amulet, in the Arab tongue,

Engraven o’er with some immortal line

From Holy Writ, or bard scarce less divine;

While her left hand, as shrinkingly she stood,

Held a small lute of gold and sandal-wood,

Which, once or twice, she touch’d with hurried strain,

Then took her trembling fingers off again.

But when at length a timid glance she stole

At Azim, the sweet gravity of soul

She saw through all his features calm’d her fear,

And, like a half-tam’d antelope, more near,

Though shrinking still, she came;—then sat her down

Upon a musnud’s81 edge, and, bolder grown,

In the pathetic mode of Isfahan82

Touch’d a preluding strain, and thus began:—

There’s a bower of roses by Bendemeer’s83 stream,

And the nightingale sings round it all the day long;

In the time of my childhood ’twas like a sweet dream,

To sit in the roses and hear the bird’s song.

That bower and its music I never forget,

But oft when alone in the bloom of the year,

I think—is the nightingale singing there yet?

Are the roses still bright by the calm Bendemeer?


No, the roses soon wither’d that hung o’er the wave,

But some blossoms were gather’d, while freshly they shone,

And a dew was distill’d from their flowers, that gave

All the fragrance of summer, when summer was gone.

Thus memory draws from delight, ere it dies,

An essence that breathes of it many a year;

Thus bright to my soul, as ’twas then to my eyes,

Is that bower on the banks of the calm Bendemeer.

young woman plays a stringed instrument while young man in turban listens


“Poor maiden!” thought the youth, “if thou wert sent,

“With thy soft lute and beauty’s blandishment,

“To wake unholy wishes in this heart,

“Or tempt its truth, thou little know’st the art.

“For though thy lip should sweetly counsel wrong,

“Those vestal eyes would disavow its song.

“But thou hast breath’d such purity, thy lay

“Returns so fondly to youth’s virtuous day,

“And leads thy soul—if e’er it wander’d thence—

“So gently back to its first innocence,

“That I would sooner stop the unchained dove,

“When swift returning to its home of love,

“And round its snowy wing new fetters twine,

“Than turn from virtue one pure wish of thine!”

Scarce had this feeling pass’d, when, sparkling through

The gently open’d curtains of light blue

That veil’d the breezy casement, countless eyes,

Peeping like stars through the blue evening skies,

Look’d laughing in, as if to mock the pair

That sat so still and melancholy there:—

And now the curtains fly apart, and in

From the cool air, ’mid showers of jessamine

Which those without fling after them in play,

Two lightsome maidens spring,—lightsome as they

Who live in the’ air on odours,—and around


The bright saloon, scarce conscious of the ground,

Chase one another, in a varying dance

Of mirth and languor, coyness and advance,

Too eloquently like love’s warm pursuit:—

While she, who sung so gently to the lute

Her dream of home, steals timidly away,

Shrinking as violets do in summer’s ray,—

But takes with her from Azim’s heart that sigh

We sometimes give to forms that pass us by

In the world’s crowd, too lovely to remain,

Creatures of light we never see again!

Around the white necks of the nymphs who danc’d

Hung carcanets of orient gems, that glanc’d

More brilliant than the sea-glass glittering o’er

The hills of crystal on the Caspian shore;84

While from their long, dark tresses, in a fall

Of curls descending, bells as musical

As those that, on the golden-shafted trees

Of Eden, shake in the eternal breeze,85

Rung round their steps, at every bound more sweet,

As ’twere the’ extatic language of their feet.

At length the chase was o’er, and they stood wreath’d

Within each other’s arms; while soft there breath’d

Through the cool casement, mingled with the sighs

Of moonlight flowers, music that seem’d to rise


From some still lake, so liquidly it rose;

And, as it swell’d again at each faint close,

The ear could track, through all that maze of chords

And young sweet voices, these impassion’d words:—

A Spirit there is, whose fragrant sigh

Is burning now through earth and air:

Where cheeks are blushing, the Spirit is nigh;

Where lips are meeting, the Spirit is there!

His breath is the soul of flowers like these,

And his floating eyes—oh! they resemble86

Blue water-lilies,87 when the breeze

Is making the stream around them tremble.

Hail to thee, hail to thee, kindling power!

Spirit of Love, Spirit of Bliss!

Thy holiest time is the moonlight hour,

And there never was moonlight so sweet as this,

By the fair and brave

Who blushing unite,

Like the sun and wave,

When they meet at night;


By the tear that shows

When passion is nigh,

As the rain-drop flows

From the heat of the sky;

By the first love-beat

Of the youthful heart,

By the bliss to meet,

And the pain to part;

By all that thou hast

To mortals given,

Which—oh, could it last,

This earth were heaven!

We call thee hither, entrancing Power!

Spirit of Love! Spirit of Bliss!

Thy holiest time is the moonlight hour,

And there never was moonlight so sweet as this.

Impatient of a scene, whose luxuries stole,

Spite of himself, too deep into his soul,

And where, midst all that the young heart loves most,

Flowers, music, smiles, to yield was to be lost,


The youth had started up, and turn’d away

From the light nymphs, and their luxurious lay,

To muse upon the pictures that hung round,—88

Bright images, that spoke without a sound,

And views, like vistas into fairy ground.

But here again new spells came o’er his sense:—

All that the pencil’s mute omnipotence

Could call up into life, of soft and fair,

Of fond and passionate, was glowing there;

Nor yet too warm, but touched with that fine art

Which paints of pleasure but the purer part;

Which knows even Beauty when half-veil’d is best,—

Like her own radiant planet of the west,

Whose orb when half retir’d looks loveliest.89

There hung the history of the Genii-King,

Traced through each gay, voluptuous wandering

With her from Saba’s bowers, in whose bright eyes

He read that to be blest is to be wise;—90

Here fond Zuleika91 woos with open arms

The Hebrew boy, who flies from her young charms,

Yet, flying, turns to gaze, and, half undone,

Wishes that Heaven and she could both be won;

And here Mohammed, born for love and guile,

Forgets the Koran in his Mary’s smile;—

Then beckons some kind angel from above

With a new text to consecrate their love.92


young man in turban leaning on windowsill

With rapid step, yet pleas’d and ling’ring eye,

Did the youth pass these pictur’d stories by,

And hasten’d to a casement, where the light

Of the calm moon came in, and freshly bright

The fields without were seen, sleeping as still

As if no life remain’d in breeze or rill.

Here paus’d he, while the music, now less near,

Breath’d with a holier language on his ear,

As though the distance, and that heavenly ray

Through which the sounds came floating, took away

All that had been too earthly in the lay.


Oh! could he listen to such sounds unmov’d,

And by that light—nor dream of her he lov’d?

Dream on, unconscious boy! while yet thou may’st;

’Tis the last bliss thy soul shall ever taste.

Clasp yet awhile her image to thy heart,

Ere all the light, that made it dear, depart.

Think of her smiles as when thou saw’st them last,

Clear, beautiful, by nought of earth o’ercast;

Recall her tears, to thee at parting given,

Pure as they weep, if angels weep, in Heaven.

Think, in her own still bower she waits thee now,

With the same glow of heart and bloom of brow,

Yet shrin’d in solitude—thine all, thine only,

Like the one star above thee, bright and lonely

Oh! that a dream so sweet, so long enjoy’d,

Should be so sadly, cruelly destroy’d!

The song is hush’d, the laughing nymphs are flown,

And he is left, musing of bliss, alone;—

Alone?—no, not alone—that heavy sigh,

That sob of grief, which broke from some one nigh—

Whose could it be?—alas! is misery found

Here, even here, on this enchanted ground?

He turns, and sees a female form, close veil’d,

Leaning, as if both heart and strength had fail’d,

Against a pillar near;—not glittering o’er


With gems and wreaths, such as the others wore,

But in that deep-blue, melancholy dress,93

Bokhara’s maidens wear in mindfulness

Of friends or kindred, dead or far away;—

And such as Zelica had on that day

He left her—when, with heart too full to speak,

He took away her last warm tears upon his cheek.

A strange emotion stirs within him,—more

Than mere compassion ever wak’d before;

Unconsciously he opes his arms, while she

Springs forward, as with life’s last energy,

But, swooning in that one convulsive bound,

Sinks, ere she reach his arms, upon the ground;—

Her veil falls off—her faint hands clasp his knees—

’Tis she herself!—’tis Zelica he sees!

But, ah, so pale, so chang’d—none but a lover

Could in that wreck of beauty’s shrine discover

The once ador’d divinity—even he

Stood for some moments mute, and doubtingly

Put back the ringlets from her brow, and gaz’d

Upon those lids, where once such lustre blaz’d,

Ere he could think she was indeed his own,

Own darling maid, whom he so long had known

In joy and sorrow, beautiful in both;

Who, even when grief was heaviest—when loth


He left her for the wars—in that worst hour

Sat in her sorrow like the sweet night-flower,94

When darkness brings its weeping glories out,

And spreads its sighs like frankincense about.

young man in turban embraces fainting woman

“Look up, my Zelica—one moment show

“Those gentle eyes to me, that I may know


“Thy life, thy loveliness is not all gone,

“But there, at least, shines as it ever shone.

“Come, look upon thy Azim—one dear glance,

“Like those of old, were heaven! whatever chance

“Hath brought thee here, oh, ’twas a blessed one!

“There—my lov’d lips—they move—that kiss hath run

“Like the first shoot of life through every vein,

“And now I clasp her, mine, all mine again.

“Oh the delight—now, in this very hour,

“When had the whole rich world been in my power,

“I should have singled out thee, only thee,

“From the whole world’s collected treasury—

“To have thee here—to hang thus fondly o’er

“My own, best, purest Zelica once more!”

It was indeed the touch of those fond lips

Upon her eyes that chas’d their short eclipse,

And, gradual as the snow, at Heaven’s breath,

Melts off and shows the azure flowers beneath,

Her lids unclos’d, and the bright eyes were seen

Gazing on his—not, as they late had been,

Quick, restless, wild, but mournfully serene;

As if to lie, even for that tranced minute,

So near his heart, had consolation in it;

And thus to wake in his belov’d caress

Took from her soul one half its wretchedness.


But, when she heard him call her good and pure,

Oh, ’twas too much—too dreadful to endure!

Shudd’ring she broke away from his embrace,

And, hiding with both hands her guilty face,

Said, in a tone whose anguish would have riven

A heart of very marble, “Pure!—oh Heaven!”—

That tone—those looks so chang’d—the withering blight,

That sin and sorrow leave where’er they light;

The dead despondency of those sunk eyes,

Where once, had he thus met her by surprise,

He would have seen himself, too happy boy,

Reflected in a thousand lights of joy;

And then the place,—that bright, unholy place,

Where vice lay hid beneath each winning grace

And charm of luxury, as the viper weaves

Its wily covering of sweet balsam leaves,—95

All struck upon his heart, sudden and cold

As death itself;—it needs not to be told—

No, no—he sees it all, plain as the brand

Of burning shame can mark—whate’er the hand,

That could from Heaven and him such brightness sever,

’Tis done—to Heaven and him she’s lost for ever!

It was a dreadful moment; not the tears,

The lingering, lasting misery of years


Could match that minute’s anguish—all the worst

Of sorrow’s elements in that dark burst

Broke o’er his soul, and, with one crash of fate,

Laid the whole hopes of his life desolate.

young woman kneels before anguished young man in turban

“Oh! curse me not,” she cried, as wild he toss’d

His desperate hand tow’rds Heaven—“though I am lost,

“Think not that guilt, that falsehood made me fall,

“No, no—’twas grief, ’twas madness did it all!

“Nay, doubt me not—though all thy love hath ceas’d—

“I know it hath—yet, yet believe, at least,

“That every spark of reason’s light must be

“Quench’d in this brain, ere I could stray from thee.

“They told me thou wert dead—why, Azim, why

“Did we not, both of us, that instant die

“When we were parted? oh! could’st thou but know

“With what a deep devotedness of woe

“I wept thy absence—o’er and o’er again

“Thinking of thee, still thee, till thought grew pain,

“And memory, like a drop that, night and day,

“Falls cold and ceaseless, wore my heart away.

“Didst thou but know how pale I sat at home,

“My eyes still turn’d the way thou wert to come,

“And, all the long, long night of hope and fear,

“Thy voice and step still sounding in my ear—

“Oh God! thou would’st not wonder that, at last,


“When every hope was all at once o’ercast,

“When I heard frightful voices round me say

Azim is dead!—this wretched brain gave way,

“And I became a wreck, at random driven,

“Without one glimpse of reason or of Heaven—

“All wild—and even this quenchless love within


“Turn’d to foul fires to light me into sin!—

“Thou pitiest me—I knew thou would’st—that sky

“Hath nought beneath it half so lorn as I.

“The fiend, who lur’d me hither—hist! come near,

“Or thou too, thou art lost, if he should hear—

“Told me such things—oh! with such devilish art

“As would have ruin’d even a holier heart—

“Of thee, and of that ever-radiant sphere,

“Where bless’d at length, if I but served him here,

“I should for ever live in thy dear sight,

“And drink from those pure eyes eternal light.

“Think, think how lost, how madden’d I must be,

“To hope that guilt could lead to God or thee!

“Thou weep’st for me—do weep—oh, that I durst

“Kiss off that tear! but, no—these lips are curst,

“They must not touch thee;—one divine caress,

“One blessed moment of forgetfulness

“I’ve had within those arms, and that shall lie,

“Shrin’d in my soul’s deep memory till I die;

“The last of joy’s last relics here below,

“The one sweet drop, in all this waste of woe,

“My heart has treasur’d from affection’s spring,

“To soothe and cool its deadly withering!

“But thou—yes, thou must go—for ever go;

“This place is not for thee—for thee! oh no,

“Did I but tell thee half, thy tortur’d brain


“Would burn like mine, and mine grow wild again!

“Enough, that Guilt reigns here—that hearts, once good,

“Now tainted, chill’d, and broken, are his food.—

“Enough, that we are parted—that there rolls

“A flood of headlong fate between our souls,

“Whose darkness severs me as wide from thee

“As hell from heaven, to all eternity!”

Zelica, Zelica!” the youth exclaim’d,

In all the tortures of a mind inflam’d

Almost to madness—“by that sacred Heaven,

“Where yet, if prayers can move, thou’lt be forgiven,

“As thou art here—here, in this writhing heart,

“All sinful, wild, and ruin’d as thou art!

“By the remembrance of our once pure love,

“Which, like a church-yard light, still burns above

“The grave of our lost souls—which guilt in thee

“Cannot extinguish, nor despair in me!

“I do conjure, implore thee to fly hence—

“If thou hast yet one spark of innocence,

“Fly with me from this place—”

“With thee! oh bliss!

“’Tis worth whole years of torment to hear this.

“What! take the lost one with thee?—let her rove

“By thy dear side, as in those days of love,

“When we were both so happy, both so pure—


“Too heavenly dream! if there’s on earth a cure

“For the sunk heart, ’tis this—day after day

“To be the blest companion of thy way;

“To hear thy angel eloquence—to see

“Those virtuous eyes for ever turn’d on me;

“And, in their light re-chasten’d silently,

“Like the stain’d web that whitens in the sun,

“Grow pure by being purely shone upon!

“And thou wilt pray for me—I know thou wilt—

“At the dim vesper hour, when thoughts of guilt

“Come heaviest o’er the heart, thou’lt lift thine eyes,

“Full of sweet tears, unto the dark’ning skies,

“And plead for me with Heaven, till I can dare

“To fix my own weak, sinful glances there;

“Till the good angels, when they see me cling

“For ever near thee, pale and sorrowing,

“Shall for thy sake pronounce my soul forgiven,

“And bid thee take thy weeping slave to Heaven!

“Oh yes, I’ll fly with thee——”

man in heavy robes and turban lurking in palms

Scarce had she said

These breathless words, when a voice deep and dread

As that of Monker, waking up the dead

From their first sleep—so startling ’twas to both—

Rung through the casement near, “Thy oath! thy oath!”

Oh Heaven, the ghastliness of that Maid’s look!—


“’Tis he,” faintly she cried, while terror shook

Her inmost core, nor durst she lift her eyes,

Though through the casement, now, nought but the skies

And moonlight fields were seen, calm as before—

“’Tis he, and I am his—all, all is o’er—

“Go—fly this instant, or thou’rt ruin’d too—

“My oath, my oath, oh God! ’tis all too true,

“True as the worm in this cold heart it is—

“I am Mokanna’s bride—his, Azim, his—

“The Dead stood round us, while I spoke that vow,

“Their blue lips echo’d it—I hear them now!

“Their eyes glar’d on me, while I pledg’d that bowl,


“’Twas burning blood—I feel it in my soul!

“And the Veil’d Bridegroom—hist! I’ve seen to-night

“What angels know not of—so foul a sight,

“So horrible—oh! never may’st thou see

“What there lies hid from all but hell and me!

“But I must hence—off, off—I am not thine,

“Nor Heaven’s, nor Love’s, nor aught that is divine—

“Hold me not—ha! think’st thou the fiends that sever

“Hearts, cannot sunder hands?—thus, then—for ever!”

With all that strength, which madness lends the weak,

She flung away his arm; and, with a shriek,

Whose sound, though he should linger out more years

Than wretch e’er told, can never leave his ears—

Flew up through that long avenue of light,

Fleetly as some dark, ominous bird of night

Across the sun, and soon was out of sight!


dark woman kneeling before still waters, looking at approaching light

Lalla Rookh could think of nothing all day but the misery of these two young lovers. Her gaiety was gone, and she looked pensively even upon Fadladeen. She felt, too, without knowing why, a sort of uneasy pleasure in imagining that Azim must have been just such a youth as Feramorz; just as worthy to enjoy all the blessings, without any of the pangs, of that illusive passion which too often, like the sunny apples of Istkahar,96 is all sweetness on one side, and all bitterness on the other.


As they passed along a sequestered river after sunset, they saw a young Hindoo girl upon the bank,97 whose employment seemed to them so strange, that they stopped their palankeens to observe her. She had lighted a small lamp, filled with oil of cocoa, and placing it in an earthen dish, adorned with a wreath of flowers, had committed it with a trembling hand to the stream; and was now anxiously watching its progress down the current, heedless of the gay cavalcade which had drawn up beside her. Lalla Rookh was all curiosity;—when one of her attendants, who had lived upon the banks of the Ganges (where this ceremony is so frequent, that often, in the dusk of the evening, the river is seen glittering all over with lights, like the Oton-tala, or Sea of Stars),98 informed the Princess that it was the usual way, in which the friends of those who had gone on dangerous voyages offered up vows for their safe return. If the lamp sunk immediately, the omen was disastrous; but if it went shining down the stream, and continued to burn until entirely out of sight, the return of the beloved object was considered as certain.

Lalla Rookh, as they moved on, more than once looked back, to observe how the young Hindoo’s lamp proceeded; and, while she saw with pleasure that it was still unextinguished, she could not help fearing that all 83 the hopes of this life were no better than that feeble light upon the river. The remainder of the journey was passed in silence. She now, for the first time, felt that shade of melancholy, which comes over the youthful maiden’s heart, as sweet and transient as her own breath upon a mirror; nor was it till she heard the lute of Feramorz, touched lightly at the door of her pavilion, that she waked from the reverie in which she had been wandering. Instantly her eyes were lighted up with pleasure; and after a few unheard remarks from Fadladeen, upon the indecorum of a poet seating himself in presence of a Princess, every thing was arranged as on the preceding evening, and all listened with eagerness, while the story was thus continued:—


men and horses in encampment of tents

Whose are the gilded tents that crowd the way,

Where all was waste and silent yesterday?

This City of War, which, in a few short hours,

Hath sprung up here,99 as if the magic powers

Of Him who, in the twinkling of a star,

Built the high pillar’d halls of Chilminar,100

Had conjur’d up, far as the eye can see,

This world of tents, and domes, and sun-bright armory:—

Princely pavilions, screen’d by many a fold

Of crimson cloth, and topp’d with balls of gold:—

Steeds, with their housings of rich silver spun,

Their chains and poitrels, glittering in the sun;


And camels, tufted o’er with Yemen’s shells,101

Shaking in every breeze their light-ton’d bells!

But yester-eve, so motionless around,

So mute was this wide plain, that not a sound

But the far torrent, or the locust bird102

Hunting among the thickets, could be heard;—

Yet hark! what discords now, of every kind,

Shouts, laughs, and screams are revelling in the wind;

The neigh of cavalry;—the tinkling throngs

Of laden camels and their drivers’ songs;—103

Ringing of arms, and flapping in the breeze

Of streamers from ten thousand canopies;—

War-music, bursting out from time to time,

With gong and tymbalon’s tremendous chime;—

Or, in the pause, when harsher sounds are mute,

The mellow breathings of some horn or flute,

That far off, broken by the eagle note

Of the’ Abyssinian trumpet,104 swell and float.

Who leads this mighty army?—ask ye “who?”

And mark ye not those banners of dark hue,

The Night and Shadow,105 over yonder tent?—

It is the Caliph’s glorious armament.

Roused in his Palace by the dread alarms,

That hourly came, of the false Prophet’s arms,


And of his host of infidels, who hurl’d

Defiance fierce at Islam106 and the world,—

Though worn with Grecian warfare, and behind

The veils of his bright Palace calm reclin’d,

Yet brook’d he not such blasphemy should stain,

Thus unreveng’d, the evening of his reign;

But, having sworn upon the Holy Grave107

To conquer or to perish, once more gave

His shadowy banners proudly to the breeze,

And with an army, nurs’d in victories,

Here stands to crush the rebels that o’er-run

His blest and beauteous Province of the Sun.

Ne’er did the march of Mahadi display

Such pomp before;—not even when on his way

To Mecca’s Temple, when both land and sea

Were spoil’d to feed the Pilgrim’s luxury;108

When round him, ’mid the burning sands, he saw

Fruits of the North in icy freshness thaw,

And cool’d his thirsty lip, beneath the glow

Of Mecca’s sun, with urns of Persian snow:109

Nor e’er did armament more grand than that

Pour from the kingdoms of the Caliphat.

First, in the van, the People of the Rock,110

On their light mountain steeds, of royal stock:111

Then, chieftains of Damascus, proud to see


The flashing of their swords’ rich marquetry;112

Men, from the regions near the Volga’s mouth,

Mix’d with the rude, black archers of the South;

And Indian lancers, in white turban’d ranks,

From the far Sinde, or Attock’s sacred banks,

With dusky legions from the land of Myrrh,113

And many a mace-arm’d Moor and Mid-sea islander.

Nor less in number, though more new and rude

In warfare’s school, was the vast multitude

That, fir’d by zeal, or by oppression wrong’d,

Round the white standard of the’ impostor throng’d.

Beside his thousands of Believers—blind,

Burning and headlong as the Samiel wind—

Many who felt, and more who fear’d to feel

The bloody Islamite’s converting steel,

Flock’d to his banner;—Chiefs of the’ Uzbek race,

Waving their heron crests with martial grace;114

Turkomans, countless as their flocks, led forth

From the’ aromatic pastures of the North;

Wild warriors of the turquoise hills,115—and those

Who dwell beyond the everlasting snows

Of Hindoo Kosh,116 in stormy freedom bred,

Their fort the rock, their camp the torrent’s bed.

But none, of all who own’d the Chief’s command,

Rush’d to that battle-field with bolder hand,


Or sterner hate, than Iran’s outlaw’d men,

Her Worshippers of Fire117—all panting then

For vengeance on the’ accursed Saracen;

Vengeance at last for their dear country spurn’d,

Her throne usurp’d, and her bright shrines o’erturned.

From Yezd’s118 eternal Mansion of the Fire,

Where aged saints in dreams of Heaven expire:

From Badku, and those fountains of blue flame

That burn into the Caspian,119 fierce they came,

Careless for what or whom the blow was sped,

So vengeance triumph’d, and their tyrants bled.

Such was the wild and miscellaneous host,

That high in air their motley banners tost

Around the Prophet-Chief—all eyes still bent

Upon that glittering Veil, where’er it went,

That beacon through the battle’s stormy flood,

That rainbow of the field, whose showers were blood!

Twice hath the sun upon their conflict set,

And risen again, and found them grappling yet;

While streams of carnage, in his noontide blaze,

Smoke up to Heaven—hot as that crimson haze,

By which the prostrate Caravan is aw’d,120

In the red Desert, when the wind’s abroad.

“On, Swords of God!” the panting Caliph calls,—


“Thrones for the living—Heaven for him who falls!”

“On, brave avengers, on,” Mokanna cries,

“And Eblis blast the recreant slave that flies!”

Now comes the brunt, the crisis of the day—

They clash—they strive—the Caliph’s troops give way!

Mokanna’s self plucks the black Banner down,

And now the Orient World’s Imperial crown

Is just within his grasp—when, hark, that shout!

Some hand hath check’d the flying Moslem’s rout;

And now they turn, they rally—at their head

A warrior, (like those angel youths who led,

In glorious panoply of Heaven’s own mail,

The Champions of the Faith through Beder’s vale,121)

Bold as if gifted with ten thousand lives,

Turns on the fierce pursuers’ blades, and drives

At once the multitudinous torrent back—

While hope and courage kindle in his track;

And, at each step, his bloody falchion makes

Terrible vistas through which victory breaks!

In vain Mokanna, midst the general flight,

Stands, like the red moon, on some stormy night,

Among the fugitive clouds that, hurrying by,

Leave only her unshaken in the sky—

In vain he yells his desperate curses out,

Deals death promiscuously to all about,

To foes that charge and coward friends that fly,


And seems of all the Great Arch-enemy.

The panic spreads—“A miracle!” throughout

The Moslem ranks, “a miracle!” they shout,

All gazing on that youth, whose coming seems


A light, a glory, such as breaks in dreams;

And every sword, true as o’er billows dim

The needle tracks the load-star, following him!

man on horseback rallying soldiers

Right tow’rds Mokanna now he cleaves his path,

Impatient cleaves, as though the bolt of wrath

He bears from Heaven withheld its awful burst

From weaker heads, and souls but half way curst,

To break o’er Him, the mightiest and the worst!

But vain his speed—though, in that hour of blood,

Had all God’s seraphs round Mokanna stood,

With swords of fire, ready like fate to fall,

Mokanna’s soul would have defied them all;

Yet now, the rush of fugitives, too strong

For human force, hurries even him along;

In vain he struggles ’mid the wedg’d array

Of flying thousands—he is borne away;

And the sole joy his baffled spirit knows,

In this forc’d flight, is—murdering as he goes!

As a grim tiger, whom the torrent’s might

Surprises in some parch’d ravine at night,

Turns, even in drowning, on the wretched flocks,

Swept with him in that snow-flood from the rocks,

And, to the last, devouring on his way,

Bloodies the stream he hath not power to stay.


“Alla illa Alla!”—the glad shout renew—

“Alla Akbar!”122—the Caliph’s in Merou.

Hang out your gilded tapestry in the streets,

And light your shrines and chaunt your ziraleets.123

The Swords of God have triumph’d—on his throne

Your Caliph sits, and the veil’d Chief hath flown.

Who does not envy that young warrior now,

To whom the Lord of Islam bends his brow,

In all the graceful gratitude of power,

For his throne’s safety in that perilous hour?

Who doth not wonder, when, amidst the’ acclaim

Of thousands, heralding to heaven his name—

Mid all those holier harmonies of fame,

Which sound along the path of virtuous souls,

Like music round a planet as it rolls,—

He turns away—coldly, as if some gloom

Hung o’er his heart no triumphs can illume;—

Some sightless grief, upon whose blasted gaze

Though glory’s light may play, in vain it plays?

Yes, wretched Azim! thine is such a grief,

Beyond all hope, all terror, all relief;

A dark, cold calm, which nothing now can break,

Or warm or brighten,—like that Syrian Lake,124

Upon whose surface morn and summer shed

Their smiles in vain, for all beneath is dead!—

Hearts there have been, o’er which this weight of woe


Came by long use of suffering, tame and slow;

But thine, lost youth! was sudden—over thee

It broke at once, when all seemed ecstacy;

When Hope look’d up, and saw the gloomy Past

Melt into splendour, and Bliss dawn at last—

’Twas then, even then, o’er joys so freshly blown,

This mortal blight of misery came down;

Even then, the full, warm gushings of thy heart

Were check’d—like fount-drops, frozen as they start—

And there, like them, cold, sunless relics hang,

Each fix’d and chill’d into a lasting pang.

One sole desire, one passion now remains

To keep life’s fever still within his veins,

Vengeance!—dire vengeance on the wretch who cast

O’er him and all he lov’d that ruinous blast.

For this, when rumours reach’d him in his flight

Far, far away, after that fatal night,—

Rumours of armies, thronging to the’ attack

Of the Veil’d Chief,—for this he wing’d him back,

Fleet as the vulture speeds to flags unfurl’d,

And, when all hope seem’d desperate, wildly hurl’d

Himself into the scale, and sav’d a world.

For this he still lives on, careless of all

The wreaths that Glory on his path lets fall;


For this alone exists like lightning-fire,

To speed one bolt of vengeance, and expire!

man in heavy Oriental armor, with sword and shield

But safe as yet that Spirit of Evil lives;

With a small band of desperate fugitives,

The last sole stubborn fragment, left unriven,

Of the proud host that late stood fronting Heaven,

He gain’d Merou—breath’d a short curse of blood


O’er his lost throne—then pass’d the Jihon’s flood,125

And gathering all, whose madness of belief

Still saw a Saviour in their down-fall’n Chief,

Rais’d the white banner within Neksheb’s gates,126

And there, untam’d, the’ approaching conqu’ror waits.

Of all his Haram, all that busy hive,

With music and with sweets sparkling alive,

He took but one, the partner of his flight,

One—not for love—not for her beauty’s light—

No, Zelica stood withering midst the gay,

Wan as the blossom that fell yesterday

From the’ Alma tree and dies, while overhead

To-day’s young flower is springing in its stead.127

Oh, not for love—the deepest Damn’d must be

Touch’d with Heaven’s glory, ere such fiends as he

Can feel one glimpse of Love’s divinity.

But no, she is his victim; there lie all

Her charms for him—charms that can never pall,

As long as hell within his heart can stir,

Or one faint trace of Heaven is left in her.

To work an angel’s ruin,—to behold

As white a page as Virtue e’er unroll’d

Blacken, beneath his touch, into a scroll

Of damning sins, seal’d with a burning soul—

This is his triumph; this the joy accurst.


That ranks him among demons all but first:

This gives the victim, that before him lies

Blighted and lost, a glory in his eyes,

A light like that with which hell-fire illumes

The ghastly, writhing wretch whom it consumes!

But other tasks now wait him—tasks that need

All the deep daringness of thought and deed

With which the Dives128 have gifted him—for mark,

Over yon plains, which night had else made dark,

Those lanterns, countless as the winged lights

That spangle India’s fields on showery nights,129

Far as their formidable gleams they shed,

The mighty tents of the beleaguerer spread,

Glimmering along the’ horizon’s dusky line,

And thence in nearer circles, till they shine

Among the founts and groves, o’er which the town

In all its arm’d magnificence looks down.

Yet, fearless, from his lofty battlements

Mokanna views that multitude of tents;

Nay, smiles to think that, though entoil’d, beset,

Not less than myriads dare to front him yet;—

That friendless, throneless, he thus stands at bay,

Even thus a match for myriads such as they.

“Oh, for a sweep of that dark Angel’s wing,

“Who brush’d the thousands of the’ Assyrian King130


“To darkness in a moment, that I might

“People Hell’s chambers with yon host to-night!

“But, come what may, let who will grasp the throne,

“Caliph or Prophet, Man alike shall groan

“Let who will torture him, Priest—Caliph—King—

“Alike this loathsome world of his shall ring

“With victims’ shrieks, and howlings of the slave,—

“Sounds, that shall glad me even within my grave!”

Thus, to himself—but to the scanty train

Still left around him, a far different strain:—

“Glorious Defenders of the sacred Crown

“I bear from Heaven, whose light nor blood shall drown,

“Nor shadow of earth eclipse;—before whose gems

“The paly pomp of this world’s diadems,

“The crown of Gerashid, the pillar’d throne

“Of Parviz,131 and the heron crest that shone,132

“Magnificent, o’er Ali’s beauteous eyes,133

“Fade like the stars when morn is in the skies:

“Warriors, rejoice—the port to which we’ve pass’d

“O’er Destiny’s dark wave, beams out at last!

“Victory’s our own—’tis written in that Book

“Upon whose leaves none but the angels look,

“That Islam’s sceptre shall beneath the power

“Of her great foe fall broken in that hour,

“When the moon’s mighty orb, before all eyes,

“From Neksheb’s Holy Well portentously shall rise!


“Now turn and see!”——

They turn’d, and, as he spoke,

A sudden splendour all around them broke,

And they beheld an orb, ample and bright,

Rise from the Holy Well,134 and cast its light

Round the rich city and the plain for miles,135


Flinging such radiance o’er the gilded tiles

Of many a dome and fair-roof’d minaret

As autumn suns shed round them when they set.

Instant from all who saw the’ illusive sign

A murmur broke—“Miraculous! divine!”

The Gheber bow’d, thinking his idol star

Had wak’d, and burst impatient through the bar

Of midnight, to inflame him to the war;

While he of Moussa’s creed saw, in that ray,

The glorious Light which, in his freedom’s day,

Had rested on the Ark,136 and now again

Shone out to bless the breaking of his chain.

veiled man addresses his soldiers

“To victory!” is at once the cry of all—

Nor stands Mokanna loitering at that call;

But instant the huge gates are flung aside,

And forth, like a diminutive mountain-tide

Into the boundless sea, they speed their course

Right on into the Moslem’s mighty force.

The watchmen of the camp,—who, in their rounds,

Had paus’d, and even forgot the punctual sounds

Of the small drum with which they count the night,137

To gaze upon that supernatural light,—

Now sink beneath an unexpected arm,

And in a death-groan give their last alarm.

“On for the lamps, that light yon lofty screen,138


“Nor blunt your blades with massacre so mean;

There rests the Caliph—speed—one lucky lance

“May now achieve mankind’s deliverance.”

Desperate the die—such as they only cast,

Who venture for a world, and stake their last.

But Fate’s no longer with him—blade for blade

Springs up to meet them through the glimmering shade,

And, as the clash is heard, new legions soon

Pour to the spot, like bees of Kauzeroon139

To the shrill timbrel’s summons,—till, at length,

The mighty camp swarms out in all its strength,

And back to Neksheb’s gates, covering the plain

With random slaughter, drives the adventurous train;

Among the last of whom the Silver Veil

Is seen glittering at times, like the white sail

Of some toss’d vessel, on a stormy night,

Catching the tempest’s momentary light!

And hath not this brought the proud spirit low?

Nor dash’d his brow, nor check’d his daring? No.

Though half the wretches, whom at night he led

To thrones and victory, lie disgrac’d and dead,

Yet morning hears him, with unshrinking crest,

Still vaunt of thrones, and victory to the rest;—

And they believe him!—oh, the lover may

Distrust that look which steals his soul away;—


The babe may cease to think that it can play

With Heaven’s rainbow;—alchymists may doubt

The shining gold their crucible gives out;

But Faith, fanatic Faith, once wedded fast

To some dear falsehood, hugs it to the last.

And well the’ Impostor knew all lures and arts,

That Lucifer e’er taught to tangle hearts;

Nor, ’mid these last bold workings of his plot

Against men’s souls, is Zelica forgot.

Ill-fated Zelica! had reason been

Awake, through half the horrors thou hast seen,

Thou never couldst have borne it—Death had come

At once, and taken thy wrung spirit home.

But ’twas not so—a torpor, a suspense

Of thought, almost of life, came o’er the’ intense

And passionate struggles of that fearful night,

When her last hope of peace and heaven took flight:

And though, at times, a gleam of frenzy broke,—

As through some dull volcano’s veil of smoke

Ominous flashings now and then will start,

Which show the fire’s still busy at its heart;

Yet was she mostly wrapp’d in solemn gloom,—

Not such as Azim’s, brooding o’er its doom,

And calm without, as is the brow of death,

While busy worms are gnawing underneath,—


But in a blank and pulseless torpor, free

From thought or pain, a seal’d-up apathy,

Which left her oft, with scarce one living thrill,

The cold, pale victim of her torturer’s will.

young woman with downcast eyes walking alongside veiled man, with dark servants following

Again, as in Merou, he had her deck’d

Gorgeously out, the Priestess of the sect;

And led her glittering forth before the eyes

Of his rude train, as to a sacrifice,—

Pallid as she, the young, devoted Bride

Of the fierce Nile, when, deck’d in all the pride

Of nuptial pomp, she sinks into his tide.140

And while the wretched maid hung down her head,


And stood, as one just risen from the dead,

Amid that gazing crowd, the fiend would tell

His credulous slaves it was some charm or spell

Possess’d her now,—and from that darken’d trance

Should dawn ere long their Faith’s deliverance.

Or if, at times, goaded by guilty shame,

Her soul was rous’d, and words of wildness came,

Instant the bold blasphemer would translate

Her ravings into oracles of fate,

Would hail heaven’s signals in her flashing eyes,

And call her shrieks the language of the skies!

But vain at length his arts—despair is seen

Gathering around; and famine comes to glean

All that the sword had left uureap’d:—in vain

At morn and eve across the northern plain

He looks impatient for the promis’d spears

Of the wild Hordes and Tartar mountaineers;

They come not—while his fierce beleaguerers pour

Engines of havoc in, unknown before,141

And horrible as new;142—javelins, that fly

Enwreath’d with smoky flames through the dark sky,

And red-hot globes, that, opening as they mount,

Discharge, as from a kindled Naphtha fount,143

Showers of consuming fire o’er all below;

Looking, as through the’ illumin’d night they go,


Like those wild birds144 that by the Magians oft,

At festivals of fire, were sent aloft

Into the air, with blazing faggots tied

To their huge wings, scattering combustion wide.

All night the groans of wretches who expire

In agony, beneath these darts of fire,

Ring through the city—while, descending o’er

Its shrines and domes and streets of sycamore,—

Its lone bazaars, with their bright cloths of gold,

Since the last peaceful pageant left unroll’d,—

Its beauteous marble baths, whose idle jets

Now gush with blood,—and its tall minarets,


That late have stood up in the evening glare

Of the red sun, unhallow’d by a prayer;—

O’er each, in turn, the dreadful flame-bolts fall,

And death and conflagration throughout all

The desolate city hold high festival!

jumbled pile of dead and dying men

Mokanna sees the world is his no more;—

One sting at parting, and his grasp is o’er.

“What! drooping now?”—thus, with unblushing cheek,

He hails the few, who yet can hear him speak,

Of all those famish’d slaves around him lying,

And by the light of blazing temples dying;—

“What!—drooping now?—now, when at length we press

“Home o’er the very threshold of success;

“When Alla from our ranks hath thinn’d away

“Those grosser branches, that kept out his ray

“Of favour from us, and we stand at length

“Heirs of his light and children of his strength,

“The chosen few, who shall survive the fall

“Of Kings and Thrones, triumphant over all!

“Have you then lost, weak murmurers as you are,

“All faith in him, who was your Light, your Star?

“Have you forgot the eye of glory, hid

“Beneath this Veil, the flashing of whose lid

“Could, like a sun-stroke of the desert, wither

“Millions of such as yonder Chief brings hither?


“Long have its lightnings slept—too long—but now

“All earth shall feel the’ unveiling of this brow!

“To-night—yes, sainted men! this very night,

“I bid you all to a fair festal rite,

“Where—having deep refresh’d each weary limb

“With viands, such as feast Heaven’s cherubim,

“And kindled up your souls, now sunk and dim,

“With that pure wine the Dark-ey’d Maids above

“Keep, seal’d with precious musk, for those they love,145

“I will myself uncurtain in your sight

“The wonders of this brow’s ineffable light;

“Then lead you forth, and with a wink disperse

“Yon myriads, howling through the universe!”

Eager they listen—while each accent darts

New life into their chill’d and hope-sick hearts;

Such treacherous life as the cool draught supplies

To him upon the stake, who drinks and dies!

Wildly they point their lances to the light

Of the fast sinking sun, and shout “To-night!”—

“To-night,” their Chief re-echoes in a voice

Of fiend-like mockery that bids hell rejoice.

Deluded victims!—never hath this earth

Seen mourning half so mournful as their mirth.

Here, to the few, whose iron frames had stood

This racking waste of famine and of blood,


Faint, dying wretches clung, from whom the shout

Of triumph like a maniac’s laugh broke out:—

There, others, lighted by the smould’ring fire,

Danc’d like wan ghosts about a funeral pyre,

Among the dead and dying, strew’d around;—

While some pale wretch look’d on, and from his wound

Plucking the fiery dart by which he bled,

In ghastly transport wav’d it o’er his head!

’Twas more than midnight now—a fearful pause

Had follow’d the long shouts, the wild applause,

That lately from those Royal Gardens burst,

Where the Veil’d demon held his feast accurst,

When Zelica—alas, poor ruin’d heart,

In every horror doom’d to bear its part!—

Was bidden to the banquet by a slave,

Who, while his quivering lip the summons gave,

Grew black, as though the shadows of the grave

Compass’d him round, and, ere he could repeat

His message through, fell lifeless at her feet!

Shuddering she went—a soul-felt pang of fear,

A presage that her own dark doom was near,

Rous’d every feeling, and brought Reason back

Once more, to writhe her last upon the rack.

All round seem’d tranquil—even the foe had ceas’d,

As if aware of that demoniac feast,


His fiery bolts; and though the heavens look’d red,

’Twas but some distant conflagration’s spread.

But hark—she stops—she listens—dreadful tone,

’Tis her Tormentor’s laugh—and now, a groan,

A long death-groan comes with it:—can this be

The place of mirth, the bower of revelry?

She enters—Holy Alla, what a sight

Was there before her! By the glimmering light

Of the pale dawn, mix’d with the flare of brands

That round lay burning, dropp’d from lifeless hands,

She saw the board, in splendid mockery spread,

Rich censers breathing—garlands overhead—

The urns, the cups, from which they late had quaff’d,

All gold and gems, but—what had been the draught?

Oh! who need ask, that saw those livid guests,

With their swoll’n heads sunk black’ning on their breasts,

Or looking pale to Heaven with glassy glare,

As if they sought but saw no mercy there;

As if they felt, though poison rack’d them through,

Remorse the deadlier torment of the two!

While some, the bravest, hardiest in the train

Of their false Chief, who on the battle-plain

Would have met death with transport by his side,

Here mute and helpless gasp’d;—but, as they died,

Look’d horrible vengeance with their eyes’ last strain,

And clench’d the slack’ning hand at him in vain.


skeletal man throws off his veil as viewers recoil

Dreadful it was to see the ghastly stare,

The stony look of horror and despair,

Which some of these expiring victims cast

Upon their souls’ tormentor to the last;—

Upon that mocking Fiend, whose Veil, now rais’d,

Show’d them, as in death’s agony they gazed,


Not the long promis’d light, the brow, whose beaming

Was to come forth, all conquering, all redeeming,

But features horribler than Hell e’er trac’d

On its own brood;—no Demon of the Waste,146

No church-yard Ghole, caught lingering in the light

Of the blest sun, e’er blasted human sight

With lineaments so foul, so fierce as those

The’ Impostor, now in grinning mockery, shows:—

“There, ye wise Saints, behold your Light, your Star—

“Ye would be dupes and victims, and ye are.

“Is it enough? or must I, while a thrill

“Lives in your sapient bosoms, cheat you still?

“Swear that the burning death ye feel within

“Is but the trance with which Heaven’s joys begin;

“That this foul visage, foul as e’er disgrac’d

“Even monstrous man, is—after God’s own taste;

“And that—but see!—ere I have half-way said

“My greetings through, the’ uncourteous souls are fled.

“Farewell, sweet spirits! not in vain ye die,

“If Eblis loves you half so well as I.—

“Ha, my young bride!—’tis well—take thou thy seat;

“Nay come—no shuddering—didst thou never meet

“The dead before?—they grac’d our wedding, sweet;

“And these, my guests to-night, have brimm’d so true

“Their parting cups, that thou shalt pledge one too.

“But—how is this?—all empty? all drunk up?


“Hot lips have been before thee in the cup,

“Young bride,—yet stay—one precious drop remains,

“Enough to warm a gentle Priestess’ veins;—

“Here, drink—and should thy lover’s conquering arms

“Speed hither, ere thy lip lose all its charms,

“Give him but half this venom in thy kiss,

“And I’ll forgive my haughty rival’s bliss!

“For me—I too must die—but not like these

“Vile, rankling things, to fester in the breeze;

“To have this brow in ruffian triumph shown,

“With all death’s grimness added to its own,

“And rot to dust beneath the taunting eyes

“Of slaves, exclaiming, ‘There his Godship lies!

“No—cursed race—since first my soul drew breath,

“They’ve been my dupes, and shall be even in death.

“Thou see’st yon cistern in the shade—’tis fill’d

“With burning drugs, for this last hour distill’d:147

“There will I plunge me, in that liquid flame—

“Fit bath to lave a dying Prophet’s frame!—

“There perish, all—ere pulse of thine shall fail—

“Nor leave one limb to tell mankind the tale.

“So shall my votaries, wheresoe’er they rave,

“Proclaim that Heaven took back the Saint it gave;—

“That I’ve but vanish’d from this earth awhile,

“To come again, with bright, unshrouded smile!


“So shall they build me altars in their zeal,

“Where knaves shall minister, and fools shall kneel;

“Where Faith may mutter o’er her mystic spell,

“Written in blood—and Bigotry may swell

“The sail he spreads for Heaven with blasts from hell!

“So shall my banner, through long ages, be

“The rallying sign of fraud and anarchy:—

“Kings yet unborn shall rue Mokanna’s name,

“And, though I die, my spirit, still the same,

“Shall walk abroad in all the stormy strife,

“And guilt, and blood, that were its bliss in life.

“But, hark! their battering engine shakes the wall—

“Why, let it shake—thus I can brave them all.

“No trace of me shall greet them, when they come,

“And I can trust thy faith, for—thou’lt be dumb.

“Now mark how readily a wretch like me,

“In one bold plunge, commences Deity!”

He sprung and sunk, as the last words were said—

Quick clos’d the burning waters o’er his head,

And Zelica was left—within the ring

Of those wide walls the only living thing;

The only wretched one, still curs’d with breath,

In all that frightful wilderness of death!

More like some bloodless ghost—such as, they tell,

In the lone Cities of the Silent148 dwell,


And there, unseen of all but Alla, sit

Each by its own pale carcass, watching it.

clenched fists of man sinking beneath the waves, as woman sits by weeping

But morn is up, and a fresh warfare stirs

Throughout the camp of the beleaguerers.

Their globes of fire (the dread artillery lent

By Greece to conquering Mahadi) are spent;

And now the scorpion’s shaft, the quarry sent


From high balistas, and the shielding throng

Of soldiers swinging the huge ram along,

All speak the’ impatient Islamite’s intent

To try, at length, if tower and battlement

And bastion’d wall be not less hard to win,

Less tough to break down than the hearts within.

First in impatience and in toil is he,

The burning Azim—oh! could he but see

The’ Impostor once alive within his grasp,

Not the gaunt lion’s hug, nor boa’s clasp,

Could match that gripe of vengeance, or keep pace

With the fell heartiness of Hate’s embrace!

Loud rings the ponderous ram against the walls;

Now shake the ramparts, now a buttress falls,

But still no breach—“Once more, one mighty swing

“Of all your beams, together thundering!”

There—the wall shakes—the shouting troops exult,

“Quick, quick discharge your weightiest catapult

“Right on that spot, and Neksheb is our own!”

’Tis done—the battlements come crashing down,

And the huge wall, by that stroke riven in two,

Yawning, like some old crater, rent anew,

Shows the dim, desolate city smoking through.

But strange! no signs of life—nought living seen

Above, below—what can this stillness mean?


A minute’s pause suspends all hearts and eyes—

“In through the breach,” impetuous Azim cries;

But the cool Caliph, fearful of some wile

In this blank stillness, checks the troops awhile.—

Just then, a figure, with slow step, advanc’d

Forth from the ruin’d walls, and, as there glanc’d

A sunbeam over it, all eyes could see

The well-known Silver Veil!—“’Tis He, ’tis He,

Mokanna, and alone!” they shout around;

Young Azim from his steed springs to the ground—

“Mine, Holy Caliph! mine,” he cries, “the task

“To crush yon daring wretch—’tis all I ask.”

Eager he darts to meet the demon foe,

Who still across wide heaps of ruin slow

And falteringly comes, till they are near;

Then, with a bound, rushes on Azim’s spear,

And, casting off the Veil in falling, shows—

Oh!—’tis his Zelica’s life-blood that flows!

“I meant not, Azim,” soothingly she said,

As on his trembling arm she lean’d her head,

And, looking in his face, saw anguish there

Beyond all wounds the quivering flesh can bear—

“I meant not thou shouldst have the pain of this:—

“Though death, with thee thus tasted, is a bliss

“Thou wouldst not rob me of, didst thou but know


“How oft I’ve pray’d to God I might die so!

“But the Fiend’s venom was too scant and slow;—

“To linger on were maddening—and I thought

“If once that Veil—nay, look not on it—caught

“The eyes of your fierce soldiery, I should be

“Struck by a thousand death-darts instantly.

“But this is sweeter—oh! believe me, yes—

“I would not change this sad, but dear caress,

“This death within thy arms I would not give

“For the most smiling life the happiest live!

“All, that stood dark and drear before the eye

“Of my stray’d soul, is passing swiftly by;

“A light comes o’er me from those looks of love,

“Like the first dawn of mercy from above;

“And if thy lips but tell me I’m forgiven,

“Angels will echo the blest words in Heaven!

“But live, my Azim;—oh! to call thee mine

“Thus once again! my Azim—dream divine!

“Live, if thou ever lov’dst me, if to meet

“Thy Zelica hereafter would be sweet,

“Oh, live to pray for her—to bend the knee

“Morning and night before that Deity,

“To whom pure lips and hearts without a stain,

“As thine are, Azim, never breath’d in vain,—

“And pray that He may pardon her,—may take

“Compassion on her soul for thy dear sake,


“And, nought remembering but her love to thee,

“Make her all thine, all His, eternally!

“Go to those happy fields where first we twin’d

“Our youthful hearts together—every wind

“That meets thee there, fresh from the well-known flowers,

“Will bring the sweetness of those innocent hours

“Back to thy soul, and mayst thou feel again

“For thy poor Zelica as thou didst then.


“So shall thy orisons, like dew that flies

“To Heaven upon the morning’s sunshine, rise

“With all love’s earliest ardour to the skies!

“And should they—but, alas, my senses fail—

“Oh for one minute!—should thy prayers prevail

“If pardon’d souls may, from that World of Bliss,

“Reveal their joy to those they love in this—

“I’ll come to thee—in some sweet dream—and tell—

“Oh Heaven—I die—dear love! farewell, farewell.”

young man in armor clasps dying woman, as soldiers and horses look on

Time fleeted—years on years had pass’d away,

And few of those who, on that mournful day,

Had stood, with pity in their eyes, to see

The maiden’s death and the youth’s agony,

Were living still—when, by a rustic grave,

Beside the swift Amoo’s transparent wave,

An aged man, who had grown aged there

By that lone grave, morning and night in prayer,

For the last time knelt down—and, though the shade

Of death hung darkening over him, there play’d

A gleam of rapture on his eye and cheek,

That brighten’d even Death—like the last streak

Of intense glory on the’ horizon’s brim,

When night o’er all the rest hangs chill and dim.

His soul had seen a Vision, while he slept;

She, for whose spirit he had pray’d and wept


So many years, had come to him, all drest

In angel smiles, and told him she was blest!

For this the old man breath’d his thanks and died.—

And there, upon the banks of that lov’d tide,

He and his Zelica sleep side by side.

spirit of woman rises above fallen man


The story of the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan being ended, they were now doomed to hear Fadladeen’s criticisms upon it. A series of disappointments and accidents had occurred to this learned Chamberlain during the journey. In the first place, those couriers stationed, as in the reign of Shah Jehan, between Delhi and the Western coast of India, to secure a constant supply of mangoes for the Royal Table, had, by some cruel irregularity, failed in their duty, and to eat any mangoes but those of Mazagong was, of course, impossible.149 In the next place, the elephant, laden with his fine antique porcelain,150 had, in an unusual fit of liveliness, shattered the whole set to pieces:—an irreparable loss, as many of the vessels were so exquisitely old, as to have been used under the Emperors Yan and Chun, who reigned many ages before the dynasty of Tang. His Koran, too, supposed to be the identical copy between the leaves of which Mahomet’s favourite pigeon used to nestle, had been mislaid by his Koran-bearer three whole days; not without much spiritual alarm to Fadladeen, who, though professing to hold with other loyal and orthodox Mussulmans, that salvation could only be found in the Koran, was strongly suspected of believing in his heart, that it could only be found in his own particular copy of it. When to all these grievances 121 is added the obstinacy of the cooks, in putting the pepper of Canara into his dishes instead of the cinnamon of Serendib, we may easily suppose that he came to the task of criticism with, at least, a sufficient degree of irritability for the purpose.

“In order,” said he, importantly swinging about his chaplet of pearls, “to convey with clearness my opinion of the story this young man has related, it is necessary to take a review of all the stories that have ever——”—“My good Fadladeen!” exclaimed the Princess, interrupting him, “we really do not deserve that you should give yourself so much trouble. Your opinion of the poem we have just heard will, I have no doubt, be abundantly edifying, without any further waste of your valuable erudition.”—“If that be all,” replied the critic,—evidently mortified at not being allowed to show how much he knew about every thing but the subject immediately before him—“if that be all that is required, the matter is easily despatched.” He then proceeded to analyse the poem, in that strain (so well known to the unfortunate bards of Delhi), whose censures were an infliction from which few recovered, and whose very praises were like the honey extracted from the bitter flowers of the aloe. The chief personages of the story were, if he rightly understood them, an ill-favoured gentleman, with 122 a veil over his face;—a young lady, whose reason went and came, according as it suited the poet’s convenience to be sensible or otherwise;—and a youth in one of those hideous Bucharian bonnets, who took the aforesaid gentleman in a veil for a Divinity. “From such materials,” said he, “what can be expected?—after rivalling each other in long speeches and absurdities, through some thousands of lines as indigestible as the filberts of Berdaa, our friend in the veil jumps into a tub of aquafortis; the young lady dies in a set speech, whose only recommendation is that it is her last; and the lover lives on to a good old age for the laudable purpose of seeing her ghost, which he at last happily accomplishes, and expires. This, you will allow, is a fair summary of the story; and if Nasser, the Arabian merchant, told no better,151 our Holy Prophet (to whom be all honour and glory!) had no need to be jealous of his abilities for story-telling.”

With respect to the style, it was worthy of the matter;—it had not even those politic contrivances of structure, which make up for the commonness of the thoughts by the peculiarity of the manner, nor that stately poetical phraseology by which sentiments mean in themselves, like the blacksmith’s152 apron converted into a banner, are so easily gilt and embroidered into consequence. Then, as to the versification, it was, to 123 say no worse of it, execrable: it had neither the copious flow of Ferdosi, the sweetness of Hafez, nor the sententious march of Sadi; but appeared to him, in the uneasy heaviness of its movements, to have been modelled upon the gait of a very tired dromedary. The licences, too, in which it indulged, were unpardonable;—for instance, this line, and the poem abounded with such:—

Like the faint, exquisite music of a dream.

“What critic that can count,” said Fadladeen, “and has his full complement of fingers to count withal, would tolerate for an instant such syllabic superfluities?” He here looked round, and discovered that most of his audience were asleep; while the glimmering lamps seemed inclined to follow their example. It became necessary, therefore, however painful to himself, to put an end to his valuable animad­versions for the present, and he accordingly concluded, with an air of dignified candour, thus:—“Notwithstanding the observations which I have thought it my duty to make, it is by no means my wish to discourage the young man:—so far from it, indeed, that if he will but totally alter his style of writing and thinking, I have very little doubt that I shall be vastly pleased with him.”

grayscale portrait of young woman in Oriental setting

Crowell 1884: frontispiece



Note 1, p. 2.—He embarked for Arabia. These particulars of the visit of the King of Bucharia to Aurungzebe are found in Dow’s History of Hindostan, vol. iii. p. 392.

Note 2, p. 2.—Lalla Rookh.—Tulip cheek.

Note 3, p. 2.—Leila.—The mistress of Mejnoun, upon whose story so many Romances in all the languages of the East are founded.

Note 4, p. 2.—Shirine.—For the loves of this celebrated beauty with Khosrou and with Ferhad, see D’Herbelot, Gibbon, Oriental Collections, &c.

Note 5, p. 2.—Dewildé. “The history of the loves of Dewildé and Chizer, the son of the Emperor Alla, is written in an elegant poem, by the noble Chusero.”—Ferishta.

Note 6, p. 2.—Scattering of the Roses.—Gul Reazee.

Note 7, p. 3.—Emperor’s favour.—“One mark of honour or knighthood bestowed by the Emperor is the permission to wear a small kettledrum at the bows of their saddles, which at first was invented for the training of hawks, and to call them to the lure, and is worn in the field by all sportsmen to that end.”—Fryer’s Travels.

“Those on whom the King has conferred the privilege must wear an ornament of jewels on the right side of the turban, surmounted by a high plume of the feathers of a kind of egret. This bird is found only in Cashmere, and the feathers are carefully collected for the King, who bestows them on his nobles.”—Elphinstone’s Account of Caubul.

Note 8, p. 3.—Keder Khan.—“Khedar Khan, the Khakan, or King of Turquestan beyond the Gihon (at the end of the eleventh century), whenever he appeared abroad, was preceded by seven hundred horsemen with silver battle-axes, and was followed by an equal number bearing maces of gold. He was a great patron of poetry, and it was he who used to preside at public exercises of genius, with four basins of gold and silver by him to distribute among the poets who excelled.”—Richardson’s Dissertation prefixed to his Dictionary.


Note 9, p. 3.—Gilt pine-apples.—“The kubdeh, a large golden knob, generally in the shape of a pine-apple, on the top of the canopy over the litter or palanquin.”—Scott’s Notes on the Bahardanush.

Note 10, p. 4.—Sumptuous litter.—In the Poem of Zohair, in the Moallakat, there is the following lively description of “a company of maidens seated on camels.”

“They are mounted in carriages covered with costly awnings, and with rose-coloured veils, the linings of which have the hue of crimson Andem-wood.

“When they ascend from the bosom of the vale, they sit forward on the saddle-cloth, with every mark of a voluptuous gaiety.

“Now, when they have reached the brink of yon blue-gushing rivulet, they fix the poles of their tents like the Arab with a settled mansion.”

Note 11, p. 4.—Argus pheasant’s wing.—See Bernier’s description of the attendants on Rancha-nara-Begum, in her progress to Cashmere.

Note 12, p. 4.—Munificent protector.—This hypocritical Emperor would have made a worthy associate of certain Holy Leagues.—“He held the cloak of religion (says Dow) between his actions and the vulgar; and impiously thanked the Divinity for a success which he owed to his own wickedness. When he was murdering and persecuting his brothers and their families, he was building a magnificent mosque at Delhi, as an offering to God for his assistance to him in the civil wars. He acted as high priest at the consecration of this temple; and made a practice of attending divine service there, in the humble dress of a Fakeer. But when he lifted one hand to the Divinity, he, with the other, signed warrants for the assassination of his relations.”—History of Hindostan, vol. iii. p. 335. See also the curious letter of Aurungzebe, given in the Oriental Collections, vol. i. p. 320.

Note 13, p. 4.—The idol of Jaghernaut.—“The idol at Jaghernat has two fine diamonds for eyes. No goldsmith is suffered to enter the Pagoda, one having stole one of these eyes, being locked up all night with the Idol.”—Tavernier.

Note 14, p. 5.—Royal Gardens of Delhi.—See a description of these Royal Gardens in “An Account of the present State of Delhi, by Lieut. W. Franklin.”—Asiat. Research. vol. iv. p. 417.

Note 15, p. 5.—Lake of Pearl.—“In the neighbourhood is Notte Gill, or the Lake of Pearl, which receives this name from its pellucid water.”—Pennant’s Hindostan.

“Nasir Jung encamped in the vicinity of the Lake of Tonoor, amused himself with sailing on that clear and beautiful water, and gave it the fanciful name of Motee Talah, ‘the Lake of Pearls,’ which it still retains.”—Wilks’s South of India.


Note 16, p. 5.—Isles of the West.—Sir Thomas Roe, Ambassador from James I. to Jehan-Guire.

Note 17, p. 6.—Ezra.—“The romance Wemakweazra, written in Persian verse, which contains the loves of Wamak and Ezra, two celebrated lovers who lived before the time of Mahomet.”—Note on the Oriental Tales.

Note 18, p. 6.—Rodahver.—Their amour is recounted in the Shah-Namêh of Ferdousi; and there is much beauty in the passage which describes the slaves of Rodahver sitting on the bank of the river and throwing flowers into the stream, in order to draw the attention of the young Hero who is encamped on the opposite side.—See Champion’s translation.

Note 19, p. 6.—White Demon.—Rustam is the Hercules of the Persians. For the particulars of his victory over the Sepeed Deeve, or White Demon, see Oriental Collections, vol. ii. p. 45.—“Near the city of Shirauz is an immense quadrangular monument, in commemoration of this combat, called the Kelaat-i-Deev Sepeed, or castle of the White Giant, which Father Angelo, in his Gazophilacium Persicum, p. 127, declares to have been the most memorable monument of antiquity which he had seen in Persia.”—See Ouseley’s Persian Miscellanies.

Note 20, p. 6.—Golden anklets.—“The women of the Idol, or dancing girls of the Pagoda, have little golden bells, fastened to their feet, the soft harmonious tinkling of which vibrates in unison with the exquisite melody of their voices.”—Maurice’s Indian Antiquities.

“The Arabian courtesans, like the Indian women, have little golden bells fastened round their legs, neck and elbows, to the sound of which they dance before the King. The Arabian princesses wear golden rings on their fingers, to which little bells are suspended, as well as in the flowing tresses of their hair, that their superior rank may be known, and they themselves receive in passing the homage due to them.”—See Calmet’s Dictionary, art. Bells.

Note 21, p. 6.—Delicious opium.—“Abou-Tige, ville de la Thebaïde, où il croît beaucoup de pavot noir, dont se fait le meilleur opium.”—D’Herbelot.

Note 22, p. 7.—Crishna.—The Indian Apollo. “He and the three Rámas are described as youths of perfect beauty; and the princesses of Hindustan were all passionately in love with Chrishna, who continues to this hour the darling God of the Indian women.”—Sir W. Jones, on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India.

Note 23, p. 7.—Shawl-goats of Tibet.—See Turner’s Embassy for a description of this animal, “the most beautiful among the whole tribe of goats.” The material for the shawls (which is carried to Cashmere) is found next the skin.


Note 24, p. 8.—Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.—For the real history of this Impostor, whose original name was Hakem ben Haschem, and who was called Mocanna from the veil of silver gauze (or, as others say, golden) which he always wore, see D’Herbelot.

Note 25, p. 9.—Khorassan.—Khorassan signifies, in the old Persian language, Province or Region of the Sun.—Sir W. Jones.

Note 26, p. 11.—Flow’rets and fruits, blush over ev’ry stream.

“The fruits of Meru are finer than those of any other place; and one cannot see in any other city such palaces with groves, and streams, and gardens.”—Ebn Haukal’s Geography.

Note 27, p. 12.—Among Merou’s bright palaces and groves.

One of the royal cities of Khorassan.

Note 28, p. 12.—Moussa’s.—Moses.

Note 29, p. 12.—O’er Moussa’s cheek, when down the Mount he trod.

“Ses disciples assuroient qu’il se couvroit le visage, pour ne pas éblouir ceux qui l’approchoient par l’éclat de son visage comme Moyse.”—D’Herbelot.

Note 30, p. 12.—In hatred to the Caliph’s hue of night.

Black was the colour adopted by the Caliphs of the House of Abbas, in their garments, turbans, and standards. “Il faut remarquer ici touchant les habits blancs des disciples de Hakem, que la couleur des habits, des coëffures et des étendards des Khalifes Abassides étant la noire, ce chef de Rebelles ne pouvoit pas choisir une qui lui fut plus opposée.”—D’Herbelot.

Note 31, p. 12.—With javelins of the light Kathaian reed.

“Our dark javelins, exquisitely wrought of Khathaian reeds, slender and delicate.”—Poem of Amru.

Note 32, p. 13.—Fill’d with the stems.

Pichula, used anciently for arrows by the Persians.

Note 33, p. 13.—That bloom on Iran’s rivers.

The Persians call this plant Gaz. The celebrated shaft of Isfendiar, one of their ancient heroes, was made of it.—“Nothing can be more beautiful than the appearance of this plant in flower during the rains on the banks of rivers, where it is usually interwoven with a lovely twining asclepias.”—Sir W. Jones, Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants.


Note 34, p. 13.—Like a chenar-tree grove, when winter throws.

The oriental plane. “The chenar is a delightful tree; its bole is of a fine white and smooth bark; and its foliage, which grows in a tuft at the summit, is of a bright green.”—Morier’s Travels.

Note 35, p. 14.—From those who kneel at Brahma’s burning founts.

The burning fountains of Brahma near Chittogong, esteemed as holy.Turner.

Note 36, p. 14.—To the small, half-shut glances of Kathay.


Note 37, p. 15.—Like tulip-beds, of different shape and dyes.

“The name of tulip is said to be of Turkish extraction, and given to the flower on account of its resembling a turban.”—Beckmann’s History of Inventions.

Note 38, p. 15.—And fur-bound bonnet of Bucharian shape.

“The inhabitants of Bucharia wear a round cloth bonnet, shaped much after the Polish fashion, having a large fur border. They tie their kaftans about the middle with a girdle of a kind of silk crape, several times round the body.”—Account of Independent Tartary, in Pinkerton’s Collection.

Note 39, p. 15.—O’erwhelm’d in fight and captive to the Greek.

In the war of the Caliph Mahadi against the Empress Irene, for an account of which vide Gibbon, vol. x.

young man kneeling before veiled man on throne

Crowell 1884

“Low as young Azim knelt.”

Note 40, p. 18.—The flying throne of star-taught Soliman.

This wonderful Throne was called The Star of the Genii. For a full description of it, see the Fragment, translated by Captain Franklin, from a Persian MS. entitled “The History of Jerusalem,” Oriental Collections, vol. i. p. 235.—When Soliman travelled, the eastern writers say, “He had a carpet of green silk on which his throne was placed, being of a prodigious length and breadth, and sufficient for all his forces to stand upon, the men placing themselves on his right hand, and the spirits on his left; and that when all were in order, the wind, at his command, took up the carpet, and transported it, with all that were upon it, wherever he pleased; the army of birds at the same time flying over their heads, and forming a kind of canopy to shade them from the sun.”—Sale’s Koran, vol. ii. p. 214, note.

Note 41, p. 18.—For many an age, in every chance and change.

The transmigration of souls was one of his doctrines.—Vide D’Herbelot.

Note 42, p. 18.—To which all Heaven, except the Proud One, knelt.

“And when we said unto the angels, Worship Adam, they all worshipped except Eblis (Lucifer), who refused.”—The Koran, chap. ii.

Note 43, p. 18.—In Moussa’s frame—and, thence descending, flow’d.



Note 44, p. 18.—Through many a Prophet’s breast.

This is according to D’Herbelot’s account of the doctrines of Mokanna:—“Sa doctrine étoit, que Dieu avoit pris une forme et figure humaine, depuis qu’il eut commandé aux Anges d’adorer Adam, le premier des hommes. Qu’après la mort d’Adam, Dieu étoit apparu sous la figure de plusieurs Prophètes, et autres grands hommes qu’il avoit choisis, jusqu’à ce qu’il prit celle d’Abu Moslem, Prince de Khorassan, lequel professoit l’erreur de la Tenassukhiah ou Metem­pschychose; et qu’après la mort de ce Prince, la Divinité étoit passée, et descendue en sa personne.”

Note 45, p. 18.—In Issa shone.—Jesus.

young woman in ornate clothing looks out window

Leavitt & Allen 1866


you saw her pale dismay,

Ye wondering sisterhood, and heard the burst

Of exclamation from her lips, when first

She saw that youth, too well, too dearly known,

Silently kneeling at the Prophet’s throne.

Note 46, p. 22.—Born by that ancient flood, which from its spring.

The Amoo, which rises in the Belur Tag, or Dark Mountains, and running nearly from east to west, splits into two branches; one of which falls into the Caspian sea, and the other into Aral Nahr, or the Lake of Eagles.

Note 47, p. 24.—The bulbul utters, ere her soul depart.

The nightingale.

Note 48, p. 34.—In holy Koom, or Mecca’s dim arcades.

The cities of Com (or Koom) and Cashan are full of mosques, mausoleums, and sepulchres of the descendants of Ali, the Saints of Persia.—Chardin.

grayscale portrait of young woman in ornate clothes, with lute lying nearby

Phillips, Sampson Co.: frontispiece


Note 49, p. 34.—Stood vases, fill’d with Kishmee’s golden wine.

An island in the Persian Gulf, celebrated for its white wine.

Note 50, p. 34.—Like Zemzem’s Spring of Holiness, had power.

The miraculous well at Mecca; so called, says Sale, from the murmuring of its waters.

Note 51, p. 35.—Whom India serves, the monkey deity.

The God Hannaman.—“Apes are in many parts of India highly venerated out of respect to the God Hannaman, a deity partaking of the form of that race.”—Pennant’s Hindoostan.

See a curious account, in Stephen’s Persia, of a solemn embassy from some part of the Indies to Goa, when the Portuguese were there, offering vast treasures for the recovery of a monkey’s tooth, which they held in great veneration, and which had been taken away upon the conquest of the kingdom of Jafanapatan.

cover of 1866 Leavitt edition

Cover of 1866 Leavitt edition

Note 52, p. 35.—To bend in worship, Lucifer was right.

This resolution of Eblis not to acknowledge the new creature, man, was, according to Mahometan tradition, thus adopted:—“The earth (which God 339 had selected for the materials of his work) was carried into Arabia to a place between Mecca and Tayef, where, being first kneaded by the angels, it was afterwards fashioned by God himself into a human form, and left to dry for the space of forty days, or, as others say, as many years; the angels, in the mean time, often visiting it, and Eblis (then one of the angels nearest to God’s presence, afterwards the devil) among the rest; but he, not contented with looking at it, kicked it with his foot till it rung; and knowing God designed that creature to be his superior, took a secret resolution never to acknowledge him as such.”—Sale on the Koran.

Note 53, p. 36.—From dead men’s marrow guides them best at night.

A kind of lantern formerly used by robbers, called the Hand of Glory, the candle for which was made of the fat of a dead malefactor. This, however, was rather a western than an eastern superstition.

Note 54, p. 37.—In that best marble of which Gods are made.

The material of which images of Gaudma (the Birman Deity) are made, is held sacred.—“Birmans may not purchase the marble in mass, but are suffered, and indeed encouraged, to buy figures of the Deity ready made.”—Symes’s Ava, vol. ii. p. 376.

Note 55, p. 41.—Of Kerzrah flowers, came fill’d with pestilence.

“It is commonly said in Persia, that if a man breathe in the hot south wind, which in June or July passes over that flower (the Kerzereh), it will kill him.”—Thevenot.

Note 56, p. 44.—Within the crocodile’s stretch’d jaws to come.

The humming-bird is said to run this risk for the purpose of picking the crocodile’s teeth. The same circumstance is related of the lapwing, as a fact to which he was witness, by Paul Lucas, Voyage fait en 1714.

The ancient story concerning the Trochilus, or humming-bird, entering with impunity into the mouth of the crocodile, is firmly believed at Java.—Barrow’s Cochin-China.

Note 57, p. 46.—That rank and venomous food on which she lives.

“Circum easdem ripas (Nili, viz.) ales est Ibis. Ea serpentium populatur ova, gratissimamque ex his escam nidis suis refert.”—Solinus.

Note 58, p. 48.—Yamtcheou.—“The feast of Lanterns is celebrated at Yamtcheou with more magnificence than anywhere else: and the report goes, that the illuminations there are so splendid, that an Emperor once, not daring openly to leave his Court to go thither, committed himself with the Queen and several Princesses of his family into the hands of a magician, 340 who promised to transport them thither in a trice. He made them in the night to ascend magnificent thrones that were borne up by swans, which in a moment arrived at Yamtcheou. The Emperor saw at his leisure all the solemnity, being carried upon a cloud that hovered over the city and descended by degrees; and came back again with the same speed and equipage, nobody at court perceiving his absence.”—The present State of China, p. 156.

Note 59, p. 48.—Sceneries of bamboo-work.—See a description of the nuptials of Vizier Alee in the Asiatic Annual Register of 1804.

Note 60, p. 49.—Chinese illuminations.—“The vulgar ascribe it to an accident that happened in the family of a famous mandarin, whose daughter walking one evening upon the shore of a lake, fell in and was drowned; this afflicted father, with his family, ran thither, and, the better to find her, he caused a great company of lanterns to be lighted. All the inhabitants of the place thronged after him with torches. The year ensuing they made fires upon the shores the same day; they continued the ceremony every year, every one lighted his lantern, and by degrees it commenced into a custom.”—Present State of China.

Note 61, p. 51.—Like Seba’s Queen could vanquish with that one.

“Thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.”—Sol. Song.

Note 62, p. 51.—The fingers’ ends with a bright roseate hue.

“They tinged the ends of her fingers scarlet with Henna, so that they resembled branches of coral.”—Story of Prince Futtun in Bahardanush.

Note 63, p. 51.—To give that long, dark languish to the eye.

“The women blacken the inside of their eyelids with a powder named the black Kohol.”—Russel.

“None of these ladies,” says Shaw, “take themselves to be completely dressed, till they have tinged the hair and edges of their eyelids with the powder of lead ore. Now, as this operation is performed by dipping first into the powder a small wooden bodkin of the thickness of a quill, and then drawing it afterwards through the eyelids over the ball of the eye, we shall have a lively image of what the Prophet (Jer. iv. 30) may be supposed to mean by rending the eyes with painting. This practice is no doubt of great antiquity; for besides the instance already taken notice of, we find that where Jezebel is said (2 Kings, ix. 30) to have painted her face, the original words are, she adjusted her eyes with the powder of lead ore.”—Shaw’s Travels.

Note 64, p. 52.—In her full lap the Champac’s leaves of gold.

The appearance of the blossoms of the gold-coloured Campac on the black hair of the Indian women has supplied the Sanscrit Poets with many elegant allusions.—See Asiatic Researches, vol. iv.


Note 65, p. 52.—The sweet Elcaya, and that courteous tree.

A tree famous for its perfume, and common on the hills of Yemen.—Niebuhr.

Note 66, p. 52.—Which bows to all who seek its canopy.

Of the genus mimosa, “which droops its branches whenever any person approaches it, seeming as if it saluted those who retire under its shade.”—Ibid.

young man in turban walks through corridor of Oriental arches

Crowell 1884

“Meanwhile, through vast illuminated halls”

Note 67, p. 53.—The bowers of Tibet, send forth odorous light.

“Cloves are a principal ingredient in the composition of the perfumed rods, which men of rank keep constantly burning in their presence.”—Turner’s Tibet.

Note 68, p. 54.—With odoriferous woods of Comorin.

“C’est d’où vient le bois d’ aloès que les Arabes appellent Oud Comari, et celui du sandal, qui s’y trouve en grande quantité.”—D’Herbelot.

Note 69, p. 54.—The crimson blossoms of the coral tree.

“Thousands of variegated loories visit the coral-trees.”—Harrow.

Note 70, p. 54.—Mecca’s blue sacred pigeon.

“In Mecca there are quantities of blue pigeons, which none will affright or abuse, much less kill.”—Pitt’s Account of the Mahometans.

Note 71, p. 54.—The thrush of Hindostan.

“The Pagoda Thrush is esteemed among the first choristers of India. It sits perched on the sacred pagodas, and from thence delivers its melodious song.”—Pennant’s Hindostan.

Note 72, p. 55.—About the gardens, drunk with that sweet food.

Tavernier adds, that while the birds of Paradise lie in this intoxicated state, the emmets come and eat off their legs; and that hence it is they are said to have no feet.

Note 73, p. 55.—Whose scent hath lur’d them o’er the summer flood.

Birds of Paradise, which, at the nutmeg season, come in flights from the southern isles to India; and “the strength of the nutmeg,” says Tavernier, “so intoxicates them, that they fall dead drunk to the earth.”

Note 74, p. 55.—Build their high nests of budding cinnamon.

“That bird which liveth in Arabia, and buildeth its nest with cinnamon.”—Brown’s Vulgar Errors.


Note 75, p. 55.—Sleeping in light, like the green birds that dwell.

“The spirits of the martyrs will be lodged in the crops of green birds.”—Gibbon, vol. ix. p. 421.

Note 76, p. 55.—More like the luxuries of that impious King.

Shedad, who made the delicious gardens of Irim, in imitation of Paradise, and was destroyed by lightning the first time he attempted to enter them.

Note 77, p. 57.—In its blue blossoms hum themselves to sleep.

“My Pandits assure me that the plant before us (the Nilica) is their Sephalica, thus named because the bees are supposed to sleep on its blossoms.”—Sir W. Jones.

Note 78, p. 59.—As they were captives to the King of Flowers.

“They deferred it till the King of Flowers should ascend his throne of enamelled foliage.”—The Bahardanush.

Note 79, p. 60.—But a light golden chain-work round her hair.

“One of the head-dresses of the Persian women is composed of a light golden chain-work, set with small pearls, with a thin gold plate pendant, about the bigness of a crown-piece, on which is impressed an Arabian prayer, and which hangs upon the cheek below the ear.”—Hanway’s Travels.

Note 80, p. 60.—Such as the maids of Yezd and Shiras wear.

“Certainly the women of Yezd are the handsomest women in Persia. The proverb is, that to live happy a man must have a wife of Yezd, eat the bread of Yezdecas, and drink the wine of Shiraz.”—Tavernier.

Note 81, p. 61.—Upon a musnud’s edge.

Musnuds are cushioned seats, usually reserved for persons of distinction.

Note 82, p. 61.—In the pathetic mode of Isfahan.

The Persians, like the ancient Greeks, call their musical modes or Perdas by the names of different countries or cities, as the mode of Isfahan, the mode of Irak, &c.

Note 83, p. 61.—There’s a lower of roses by Bendemeer’s stream.

A river which flows near the ruins of Chilminar.

Note 84, p. 64.—The hills of crystal on the Caspian shore.

“To the north of us (on the coast of the Caspian, near Badku) was a mountain, which sparkled like diamonds, arising from the sea-glass and crystals with which it abounds.”—Journey of the Russian Ambassador to Persia, 1746.


Note 85, p. 64.—Of Eden, shake in the eternal breeze.

“To which will be added the sound of the bells, hanging on the trees, which will be put in motion by the wind proceeding from the throne of God, as often as the blessed wish for music.”—Sale.

Note 86, p. 65.—And his floating eyes—oh! they resemble.

“Whose wanton eyes resemble blue water-lilies, agitated by the breeze.”—Jayadeva.

Note 87, p. 65.—Blue water-lilies.

The blue lotus, which grows in Cashmere and in Persia.

Note 88, p. 67.—To muse upon the pictures that hung round.

It has been generally supposed that the Mahometans prohibit all pictures of animals; but Toderini shows that, though the practice is forbidden by the Koran, they are not more averse to painted figures and images than other people. From Mr. Murphy’s work, too, we find that the Arabs of Spain had no objection to the introduction of figures into painting.

Note 89, p. 67.—Whose orb when half retired looks loveliest.

This is not quite astronomically true. “Dr. Hadley (says Keil) has shown that Venus is brightest when she is about forty degrees removed from the sun; and that then but only a fourth part of her lucid disk is to be seen from the earth.”

Note 90, p. 67.—He read that to be blest is to be wise.

For the loves of King Solomon (who was supposed to preside over the whole race of Genii) with Balkis, the Queen of Sheba or Saba, see D’Herbelot, and the Notes on the Koran, chap. 2.

“In the palace which Solomon ordered to be built against the arrival of the Queen of Saba, the floor or pavement was of transparent glass, laid over running water, in which fish were swimming.” This led the Queen into a very natural mistake, which the Koran has not thought beneath its dignity to commemorate. “It was said unto her, ‘Enter the palace.’ And when she saw it she imagined it to be a great water; and she discovered her legs, by lifting up her robe to pass through it. Whereupon Solomon said to her, ‘Verily, this is the place evenly floored with glass.’”—Chap. 27.

Note 91, p. 67.—Here fond Zuleika woos with open arms.

The wife of Potiphar, thus named by the Orientals.

“The passion which this frail beauty of antiquity conceived for her young Hebrew slave has given rise to a much-esteemed poem in the Persian language, entitled Yusef vau Zelikha, by Noureddin Jami; the manuscript copy of which, in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is supposed to be the finest in the whole world.”—Note upon Nott’s Translation of Hafez.


Note 92, p. 67.—With a new text to consecrate their love.

The particulars of Mahomet’s amour with Mary, the Coptic girl, in justification of which he added a new chapter to the Koran, may be found in Gagnier’s Notes upon Abulfeda, p. 151.

Note 93, p. 70.—But in that deep-blue, melancholy dress.

“Deep blue is their mourning colour.”—Hanway.

Note 94, p. 71.—Sat in her sorrow like the sweet night-flower.

The sorrowful nyctanthes, which begins to spread its rich odour after sunset.

Note 95, p. 73.—As the viper weaves its wily covering.

“Concerning the vipers, which Pliny says were frequent among the balsam-trees, I made very particular inquiry: several were brought me alive both to Yambo and Jidda.”—Bruce.

man holding up distressed woman

Leavitt & Allen 1866

Scarce had she said

These breathless words, when a voice deep and dread

As that of Monker, waking up the dead

From their first sleep—so startling ’twas to both—

Rung through the casement near, “Thy oath! thy oath!”

Note 96, p. 81.—The sunny apples of Istkahar.—“In the territory of Istkahar there is a kind of apple, half of which is sweet and half sour.”—Ebn Haukal.

Note 97, p. 82.—They saw a young Hindoo girl upon the bank.—For an account of this ceremony, see Grandpré’s Voyage in the Indian Ocean.

Note 98, p. 82.—The Oton-tala, or Sea of Stars.—“The place where the Whangho, a river of Tibet, rises, and where there are more than a hundred springs, which sparkle like stars; whence it is called Hotun-nor, that is, the Sea of Stars.”—Description of Tibet in Pinkerton.

Note 99, p. 84.—Hath sprung up here.

“The Lescar or Imperial Camp is divided, like a regular town, into squares, alleys, and streets, and from a rising ground furnishes one of the most agreeable prospects in the world. Starting up in a few hours in an uninhabited plain, it raises the idea of a city built by enchantment. Even those who leave their houses in cities to follow the prince in his progress are frequently so charmed by the Lescar, when situated in a beautiful and convenient place, that they cannot prevail with themselves to remove. To prevent this inconvenience to the court, the Emperor, after sufficient time is allowed to the tradesmen to follow, orders them to be burnt out of their tents.”—Dow’s Hindostan.

Colonel Wilks gives a lively picture of an Eastern encampment:—“His camp, like that of most Indian armies, exhibited a motley collection of covers from the scorching sun and dews of the night, variegated according to the taste or means of each individual, by extensive inclosures of coloured 345 calico surrounding superb suites of tents; by ragged cloths or blankets stretched over sticks or branches; palm leaves hastily spread over similar supports; handsome tents and splendid canopies; horses, oxen, elephants, and camels; all intermixed without any exterior mark of order or design, except the flags of the chiefs, which usually mark the centres of a congeries of these masses; the only regular part of the encampment being the streets of shops, each of which is constructed nearly in the manner of a booth at an English fair.”—Historical Sketches of the South of India.

Note 100, p. 84.—Built the high pillar’d halls of Chilminar.

The edifices of Chilminar and Balbec are supposed to have been built by the Genii, acting under the orders of Jan ben Jan, who governed the world long before the time of Adam.

Note 101, p. 85.—And camels, tufted o’er with Yemen’s shells.

“A superb camel, ornamented with strings and tufts of small shells.”—Ali Bey.

Note 102, p. 85.—But the far torrent, or the locust bird.

A native of Khorassan, and allured southward by means of the water of a fountain between Shiraz and Ispahan, called the Fountain of Birds, of which it is so fond that it will follow wherever that water is carried.

Note 103, p. 85.—Of laden camels and their drivers’ songs.

“Some of the camels have bells about their necks, and some about their legs, like those which our carriers put about their forehorses’ necks, which together with the servants (who belong to the camels, and travel on foot), singing all night, make a pleasant noise, and the journey passes away delightfully.”—Pitt’s Account of the Mahometans.

“The camel-driver follows the camels singing, and sometimes playing upon his pipe; the louder he sings and pipes, the faster the camels go. Nay, they will stand still when he gives over his music.”—Tavernier.

Note 104, p. 85.—Of the’ Abyssinian trumpet, swell and float.

“This trumpet is often called, in Abyssinia, nesser cano, which signifies the Note of the Eagle.”—Note of Bruce’s Editor.

Note 105, p. 85.—The Night and Shadow, over yonder tent.

The two black standards borne before the Caliphs of the House of Abbas were called, allegorically, The Night and The Shadow.—See Gibbon.

Note 106, p. 86.—Defiance fierce at Islam.

The Mahometan religion.

Note 107, p. 86.—But, having sworn upon the Holy Grave.

“The Persians swear by the tomb of Shah Besade, who is buried at Casbin; and when one desires another to asseverate a matter, he will ask him, if he dare swear by the Holy Grave.”—Struy.


Note 108, p. 86.—Were spoil’d to feed the Pilgrim’s luxury.

Mahadi, in a single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six millions of dinars of gold.

Note 109, p. 86.—Of Mecca’s sun, with urns of Persian snow.

“Nivem Meccam apportavit, rem ibi aut nunquam aut raro visam.”—Abulfeda.

Note 110, p. 86.—First, in the van, the People of the Rock.

The inhabitants of Hejaz or Arabia Petræa, called by an Eastern writer “The People of the Rock.”—See Ebn Haukal.

Note 111, p. 86.—On their light mountain steeds, of royal stock.

“Those horses, called by the Arabians Kochlani, of whom a written genealogy has been kept for 2,000 years. They are said to derive their origin from King Solomon’s steeds.”—Niebuhr.

Note 112, p. 87.—The flashing of their swords’ rich marquetry.

“Many of the figures on the blades of their swords are wrought in gold or silver, or in marquetry with small gems.”—Asiat. Misc. v. i.

Note 113, p. 87.—With dusky legions from the land of Myrrh.

Azab or Saba.

Note 114, p. 87.—Waving their heron crests with martial grace.

“The chiefs of the Uzbek Tartars wear a plume of white heron’s feathers in their turbans.”—Account of Independent Tartary.

Note 115, p. 87.—Wild warriors of the turquoise hills.

“In the mountains of Nishapour and Tous (in Khorassan) they find turquoises.”—Ebn Haukal.

Note 116, p. 87.—Of Hindoo Kosh, in stormy freedom bred.

For a description of these stupendous ranges of mountains, see Elphinstone’s Caubul.

Note 117, p. 88.—Her Worshippers of Fire.

The Ghebers or Guebres, those original natives of Persia, who adhered to their ancient faith, the religion of Zoroaster, and who, after the conquest of their country by the Arabs, were either persecuted at home, or forced to become wanderers abroad.

Note 118, p. 88.—From Yezd’s eternal Mansion of the Fire.

“Yezd, the chief residence of those ancient natives, who worship the Sun and the Fire, which latter they have carefully kept lighted, without 347 being once extinguished for a moment, about 3,000 years, on a mountain near Yezd, called Ater Quedah, signifying the House or Mansion of the Fire. He is reckoned very unfortunate who dies off that mountain.”—Stephen’s Persia.

Note 119, p. 88.—That burn into the Caspian, fierce they came.

“When the weather is hazy, the springs of Naphtha (on an island near Baku) boil up the higher, and the Naphtha often takes fire on the surface of the earth, and runs in a flame into the sea to a distance almost incredible.”—Hanway on the Everlasting Fire at Baku.

Note 120, p. 88.—By which the prostrate Caravan is aw’d.

Savary says of the south wind, which blows in Egypt from February to May, “Sometimes it appears only in the shape of an impetuous whirlwind, which passes rapidly, and is fatal to the traveller surprised in the middle of the deserts. Torrents of burning sand roll before it, the firmament is enveloped in a thick veil, and the sun appears of the colour of blood. Sometimes whole caravans are buried in it”

cover of 1867 Hurd & Houghton edition

Cover of 1867 Hurd & Houghton edition

Note 121, p. 89.—The Champions of the Faith through Beder’s vale.

In the great victory gained by Mahomed at Beder, he was assisted, say the Mussulmans, by three thousand angels, led by Gabriel, mounted on his horse Hiazum.—See The Koran and its Commentators.

Note 122, p. 92.—“Alla Akbar!

The Tecbir, or cry of the Arabs. “Alla Acbar!” says Ockley, means “God is most mighty.”

Note 123, p. 92.—And light your shrines and chaunt your ziraleets.

The ziraleet is a kind of chorus, which the women of the East sing upon joyful occasions.—Russel.

Note 124, p. 92.—Or warm or brighten,—like that Syrian Lake.

The Dead Sea, which contains neither animal nor vegetable life.

Note 125, p. 95.—O’er his lost throne—then pass’d the Jihon’s flood.

The ancient Oxus.

Note 126, p. 95.—Rais’d the white banner within Neksheb’s gates.

A city of Transoxiana.

Note 127, p. 95.—To-day’s young flower is springing in its stead.

“You never can cast your eyes on this tree, but you meet there either blossoms or fruit; and as the blossom drops underneath on the ground (which is frequently covered with these purple-coloured flowers), others come forth in their stead,” &c. &c.—Nieuhoff.


Note 128, p. 96.—With which the Dives have gifted him.

The Demons of the Persian mythology.

Note 129, p. 96.—That spangle India’s fields on showery nights.

Carreri mentions the fire-flies in India during the rainy season. See his Travels.

Note 130, p. 96.—Who brush’d the thousands of the’ Assyrian King.

Sennacherib, called by the Orientals King of Moussal.—D’Herbelot.

Note 131, p. 97.—Of Parviz.

Chosroes. For the description of his Throne or Palace, see Gibbon and D’Herbelot.

There were said to be under this Throne or Palace of Khosrou Parviz a hundred vaults filled with “treasures so immense that some Mahometan writers tell us, their Prophet, to encourage his disciples, carried them to a rock, which at his command opened, and gave them a prospect through it of the treasures of Khosrou.”—Universal History.

Note 132, p. 97.—And the heron crest that shone.

“The crown of Gerashid is cloudy and tarnished before the heron tuft of thy turban.”—From one of the elegies or songs in praise of Ali, written in characters of gold round the gallery of Abbas’s tomb.—See Chardin.

Note 133, p. 97.—Magnificent, o’er Ali’s beauteous eyes.

The beauty of Ali’s eyes was so remarkable, that whenever the Persians would describe any thing as very lovely, they say it is Ayn Hali, or the Eyes of Ali.—Chardin.

Note 134, p. 98.—Rise from the Holy Well, and cast its light.

We are not told more of this trick of the Impostor, than that it was “une machine, qu’il disoit être la Lune.” According to Richardson, the miracle is perpetuated in Nekscheb.—“Nakshab, the name of a city in Transoxiana, where they say there is a well, in which the appearance of the moon is to be seen night and day.”

Note 135, p. 98.—Round the rich city and the plain for miles.

“Il amusa pendant deux mois le peuple de la ville de Nekhscheb, en faisant sortir toutes les nuits du fond d’un puits un corps lumineux semblable à la Lune, qui portoit sa lumière jusqu’à la distance de plusieurs milles.”—D’Herbelot. Hence he was called Sazendéhmah, or the Moon-maker.

Note 136, p. 99.—Had rested on the Ark.

The Shechinah, called Sakînat in the Koran.—See Sale’s Note, chap. ii.


Note 137, p. 99.—Of the small drum with which they count the night.

The parts of the night are made known as well by instruments of music, as by the rounds of the watchmen with cries and small drums.—See Burder’s Oriental Customs, vol. i. p. 119.

Note 138, p. 99.—On for the lamps, that light yon lofty screen.

The Serrapurda, high screens of red cloth, stiffened with cane, used to enclose a considerable space round the royal tents.—Notes on the Bahardanush.

The tents of Princes were generally illuminated. Norden tells us that the tent of the Bey of Girge was distinguished from the other tents by forty lanterns being suspended before it. See Harmer’s Observations on Job.

Note 139, p. 100.—Pour to the spot, like bees of Kauzeroon.

“From the groves of orange trees at Kauzeroon the bees cull a celebrated honey.”—Morier’s Travels.

Note 140, p. 102.—Of nuptial pomp, she sinks into his tide.

“A custom still subsisting at this day, seems to me to prove that the Egyptians formerly sacrificed a young virgin to the God of the Nile; for they now make a statue of earth in shape of a girl, to which they give the name of the Betrothed Bride, and throw it into the river.”—Savary.

Note 141, p. 103.—Engines of havoc in, unknown before.

That they knew the secret of the Greek fire among the Mussulmans early in the eleventh century, appears from Dow’s Account of Mamood I. “When he arrived at Moultan, finding that the country of the Jits was defended by great rivers, he ordered fifteen hundred boats to be built, each of which he armed with six iron spikes, projecting from their prows and sides, to prevent their being boarded by the enemy, who were very expert in that kind of war. When he had launched this fleet, he ordered twenty archers into each boat, and five others with fire-balls, to burn the craft of the Jits, and naphtha to set the whole river on fire.”

The agnee aster, too, in Indian poems the Instrument of fire, whose flame cannot be extinguished, is supposed to signify the Greek Fire.—See Wilks’s South of India, vol. i. p. 471.—And in the curious Javan Poem, the Brata Yudha, given by Sir Stamford Raffles in his History of Java, we find, “He aimed at the heart of Soéta with the sharp-pointed Weapon of Fire.”

The mention of gunpowder as in use among the Arabians, long before its supposed discovery in Europe, is introduced by Ebn Fadhl, the Egyptian geographer, who lived in the thirteenth century. “Bodies,” he says, “in the form of scorpions, bound round and filled with nitrous powder, glide along, making a gentle noise; then, exploding, they lighten, as it were, and burn. But there are others which, cast into the air, stretch along like 350 a cloud, roaring horribly, as thunder roars, and on all sides vomiting out flames, burst, burn, and reduce to cinders whatever comes in their way.” The historian Ben Abdalla, in speaking of the sieges of Abulualid in the year of the Hegira 712, says, “A fiery globe, by means of combustible matter, with a mighty noise suddenly emitted, strikes with the force of lightning, and shakes the citadel.”—See the Extracts from Casiri’s Biblioth. Arab. Hispan. in the Appendix to Berington’s Literary History of the Middle Ages.

Note 142, p. 103.—And horrible as new;—javelins that fly.

The Greek fire, which was occasionally lent by the emperors to their allies. “It was,” says Gibbon, “either launched in red hot balls of stone and iron, or darted in arrows or javelins, twisted round with flax and tow, which had deeply imbibed the inflammable oil.”

Note 143, p. 103.—Discharge, as from a kindled Naphtha fount.

See Hanway’s Account of the Springs of Naphtha at Baku (which is called by Lieutenant Pottinger Joala Mokee, or, the Flaming Mouth) taking fire and running into the sea. Dr. Cooke, in his Journal, mentions some wells in Circassia, strongly impregnated with this inflammable oil, from which issues boiling water. “Though the weather,” he adds, “was now very cold, the warmth of these wells of hot water produced near them the verdure and flowers of spring.”

Major Scott Waring says, that naphtha is used by the Persians, as we are told it was in hell, for lamps.

. . . . . . . many a row

Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed

With naphtha and asphaltus, yielding light

As from a sky.

Note 144, p. 104.—Like those wild birds that by the Magians oft.

“At the great festival of fire, called the Sheb Sezê, they used to set fire to large bunches of dry combustibles, fastened round wild beasts and birds, which being then let loose, the air and earth appeared one great illumination; and as these terrified creatures naturally fled to the woods for shelter, it is easy to conceive the conflagrations they produced.”—Richardson’s Dissertation.

young woman hiding behind pillar, surrounded by dead and dying men

Leavitt & Allen 1866

But hark—she stops—she listens—dreadful tone,

’Tis her Tormentor’s laugh—and now, a groan,

Note 145, p. 106.—Keep, seal’d with precious musk, for those they love.

“The righteous shall be given to drink of pure wine, sealed; the seal whereof shall be musk.”—Koran, chap. lxxxiii.

Note 146, p. 110.—On its own brood; no Demon of the Waste.

“The Afghauns believe each of the numerous solitudes and deserts of their country to be inhabited by a lonely demon, whom they call the 351 Ghoolee Beeabau, or Spirit of the Waste. They often illustrate the wildness of any sequestered tribe, by saying, they are wild as the Demon of the Waste.”—Elphinstone’s Caubul.

Note 147, p. 111.—With burning drugs, for this last hour distill’d.

“Il donna du poison dans le vin à tous ses gens, et se jetta lui-même ensuite dans une cuve pleine de drogues brûlantes et consumantes, afin qu’il ne restât rien de tous les membres de son corps, et que ceux qui restoient de sa secte puissent croire qu’il étoit monté au ciel, ce qui ne manqua pas d’arriver.”—D’Herbelot.

young man falls dead before young woman in Oriental setting

Crowell 1884

“Fell lifeless at her feet.”

Note 148, p. 113.—In the lone Cities of the Silent dwell.

“They have all a great reverence for burial-grounds, which they sometimes call by the poetical name of Cities of the Silent, and which they people with the ghosts of the departed, who sit each at the head of his own grave, invisible to mortal eyes.”—Elphinstone.

Note 149, p. 120.—And to eat any mangoes but those of Mazagong was, of course, impossible.—“The celebrity of Mazagong is owing to its mangoes, which are certainly the best fruit I ever tasted. The parent-tree, from which all those of this species have been grafted, is honoured during the fruit-season by a guard of sepoys; and, in the reign of Shah Jehan, couriers were stationed between Delhi and the Mahratta coast to secure an abundant and fresh supply of mangoes for the royal table.”—Mrs. Graham’s Journal of a Residence in India.

Note 150, p. 120.—Laden with his fine antique porcelain.—This old porcelain is found in digging, and “if it is esteemed, it is not because it has acquired any new degree of beauty in the earth, but because it has retained its ancient beauty; and this alone is of great importance in China, where they give large sums for the smallest vessels which were used under the Emperors Yan and Chun, who reigned many ages before the dynasty of Tang, at which time porcelain began to be used by the Emperors” (about the year 442).—Dunn’s Collection of curious Observations, &c.;—a bad translation of some parts of the Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses of the Missionary Jesuits.

Note 151, p. 122.—And if Nasser, the Arabian merchant, told no better.—“La lecture de ces Fables plaisoit si fort aux Arabes, que, quand Mahomet les entretenoit de l’Histoire de l’Ancien Testament, ils les méprisoient, lui disant que celles que Nasser leur racontoit étoient beaucoup plus belles. Cette préférence attira à Nasser la malediction de Mahomet et de tous ses disciples.”—D’Herbelot.

Note 152, p. 122.—Like the blacksmith’s apron converted into a banner.—The blacksmith Gao, who successfully resisted the tyrant Zohak, and whose apron became the Royal Standard of Persia.

grayscale portrait of young woman in vaguely Oriental dress

Leavitt & Allen 1866: frontispiece


Notes and Corrections: The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan

Mokanna—properly al-Muqanna‘, “the veiled one”—was a real person. But I do not perfectly understand what the Greeks and Mace­donians had to do with it.

Lalla Rookh (frame story)

In the eleventh year of the reign of Aurungzebe
[Everyone else spells it Aurangzeb (1618–1707). If we date his reign from 1659, when he deposed his father (Shah Jahan, who gave us the Taj Mahal) and beheaded his last rival, the dramatic date is 1669-70 or so. That puts us pretty exactly a century and a half before the book’s publication: comfortably Long Ago, but not in the immea­surably distant past.]

a lineal descendant from the Great Zingis
[With 387 numbered footnotes, couldn’t he have explained this one? Maybe he means Chingiz Khan—the name conventionally spelled “Genghis”, and hence universally mispronounced with hard “G”—and maybe he doesn’t. If yes, it would be hard to find someone who was not his lineal descendant.]

the critical and fastidious Fadladeen, Great Nazir or Chamber­lain of the Haram, who was borne in his palankeen immedi­ately after the Princess
[Let us stipulate that he is a eunuch, although the text doesn’t say so outright.]

religion; of which Aurungzebe was a munificent protector
[Seriously, Thomas? (He may really mean it. If it isn’t exclusive and monotheistic, it isn’t a religion worthy of protection.)]

a young poet of Cashmere . . . on whom his Royal Master had conferred the privilege of being admitted to the pavilion of the Princess
[This detail ought to provoke extreme suspicion in every attentive reader. Fadladeen, sure, OK—but an attractive young man? (In other words, it took me the better part of 300 pages to figure it out.)]

Day One

[33] And made her think even damning falsehood sweet.
[It scans better if you spell it “ev’n”, as the 1817 edition did.]

She now went slowly to that small kiosk
[By now it should go without saying that it is not many days since I looked up fill-in-the-blank in connection with title-of-unrelated-book. The word “kiosk” is not, as I’d always thought, Scandinavian; instead it comes from Persian by way of Turkish.]

Where, pond’ring alone his impious schemes . . .
[And, conversely, this would have scanned better if the editor had stuck with “pondering”.]

Day Two

[48] some artists of Yamtcheou . . . . the poor artists of Yamtcheou
text has Yamtcheon both times
[The Notes and the 1817 edition both spell it “Yamtcheou” throughout.]

[49] the youth, being seated upon the musnud near her
[The author may have overlooked this line. He doesn’t get around to glossing musnud until Note 81, a dozen pages further along.]

[63] “Poor maiden!” thought the youth, “if thou wert sent
[If the implication is that Azim doesn’t recognize Zelica’s voice, I do not think much of his undying love.]

Day Three

[82] a small lamp, filled with oil of cocoa
[I hope he means coconut, since the geography would otherwise be very confused.]

[91] The needle tracks the load-star, following him!
spelling unchanged
[He spelled it the same way in 1817.]

As a grim tiger . . . Turns, even in drowning
[Hate to break it to you, Thomas, but tigers are excellent swimmers.]

[96] With which the Dives have gifted him
[A quirk of Indo-Iranian linguistics: In the Indic languages, gods are deva—from the same root as “deity”, “divine” and so on—while demons are asura. On the Iranian side, the words are reversed, so gods are ahura while demons are div. But couldn’t our author have said “Deevs”? Spelling it “dives” simply ensures that every reader, regardless of native language, will mispronounce it.]

[100] With random slaughter, drives the adventurous train;
[But why isn’t it “the’ adventurous”?]

[118] Beside the swift Amoo’s transparent wave
[See Note 46 (page 22).]


[121] the cinnamon of Serendib
[Was this name so well known in 1817 that it didn’t require a footnote? Before Sri Lanka was Ceylon it was Serendip, inspiring Horace Walpole to coin the word “serendipity”. Although dictionaries are coy on the subject, the Encyclopædia Britannica confirms my dim recol­lection that the name is an Arabized form of Sanskrit Siṃhala­dvīpa (सिंहलद्वीप or equivalent in the script of your choice), island of lions.]

[122] a young lady, whose reason went and came, according as it suited the poet’s convenience
[Couldn’t have said it better myself.]


[Note 8] whenever he appeared abroad, was preceded by seven hundred horsemen with silver battle-axes, and was followed by an equal number bearing maces of gold
[I believe I said at the outset that the content of Moore’s Notes may or may not be factually accurate.]

[Note 25]
[You may look in vain for a footnote anchor. In the 1817 original, the title “The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan” was printed in plain text, so there was no problem putting an asterisk at the end.]

[Note 35] The burning fountains of Brahma near Chittogong, esteemed as holy.—Turner.
. after “holy” missing

[Note 37] The name of tulip is said to be of Turkish extraction, and given to the flower on account of its resembling a turban.
[This may really be true; the late-20th-century dictionary on my shelf gives the same etymology.]

[Note 39] O’erwhelm’d in fight and captive to the Greek.
[The OCR, which thinks it’s so smart, read the first word as “Overwhelmed”.]

[Note 40] Sale’s Koran, vol. ii. p. 214, note.
. in “vol.” missing

[Note 44] lequel professoit l’erreur de la Tenassukhiah ou Metem­pschychose
text unchanged: expected Metempsychose

[Note 46] and the other into Aral Nahr, or the Lake of Eagles
[That would be the Aral Sea, which is now perilously close to being glossed as “former body of water”.]

[Note 51] to Goa, when the Portuguese were there, offering vast treasures for the recovery of a monkey’s tooth
[It is not many weeks since I looked up the Goan Inquisition in connection with a very different book. Somehow I don’t think they got the tooth back.]

[Note 56] The humming-bird . . . picking the crocodile’s teeth.
[This ornithological head-scratcher was resolved by Messrs. Liddell and Scott, who tell me a τρόχιλος (trochilos) is “a small bird of the wagtail kind found in Egypt, said by Herodotus to pick βδέλλαι [bdellai, leeches] out of the crocodile’s throat”. The bird’s Greek name gave us Trochilus, Linnaeus’s hummingbird genus.]

[Note 58] The present State of China
[In full: Memoirs and observations typographical, physical, mathematical, mechanical, natural, civil, and ecclesiastical, made in a late journey through the empire of China, and published in several letters particularly upon the Chinese pottery and varnishing, the silk and other manufactures, the pearl fishing, the history of plants and animals, description of their cities and publick works, number of people, their language, manners and commerce, their habits, oeconomy, and government, the philosophy of Confucius, the state of Christianity: with many other curious and useful remarks by Louis LeComte.
   Or, at least, that’s the title of the 1697 English translation. I had to look it up to confirm that the intended spelling is “Yamtcheou” as in the Notes, rather than “Yamtcheon” as in the body text of this edition. LeComte seems to have made up the spelling; I don’t find it anywhere outside Lalla Rookh and one or two other specimens of orientalism. He may have been aiming for what is now spelled Yuan Xiao. If so, the whole story becomes highly suspect, since Yuan Xiao is not a place but the name of the festival itself.]

[Note 72] while the birds of Paradise lie in this intoxicated state, the emmets come and eat off their legs; and that hence it is they are said to have no feet
[The greater bird of paradise is formally Paradisea apoda (“footless bird of paradise”), apparently because Linnaeus’s first prepared specimen arrived without feet. Also without wings, which you would think should have raised his suspicions.]

[Note 99] To prevent this inconvenience to the court, the Emperor . . . orders them to be burnt out of their tents.
[Insert editorial comment to taste.]

[Note 143] naphtha is used by the Persians, as we are told it was in hell
[This is a very odd use of the past tense. Do we have a traveler’s description of Hell as it existed at some time in the past, alongside one describing its present state?]

[Note 149] Mrs. Graham’s Journal of a Residence in India
[Thank you, don’t mind if I do. Mrs. Graham is listed in library catalogs as “Lady Callcott” because her second husband, artist Augustus Callcott, was knighted about ten years into their marriage.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.