Laylah and Majnun – Part 4 Saturday, Apr 17 2010 


As morning broke, the sun, with golden light,

Eclipsed the twinkling stars of silvery white;

And Majuun, rising, eagerly pursued

The path which wound to Laili’s solitude,

Grieved to the heart; and, as he went along,

His lips breathed softly some impassion’d song ; 260

Some favorite lay, which tenderly express’d

The present feeling of his anxious breast.

In fancy soon her image he beheld ;

No shadowy cloud her lucid beauty veil’d;

He saw her fresh as morning’s scented air—

Himself exhausted by incessant care :

He saw her blooming as the blushing rose—

Himself dejected by unnumber’d woes :

He saw her like an angel soft and bland—

Himself consuming like a lighted brand : 270

Her ringlets flowing loosely to the ground,

His ringlets, fetters by affection bound ;

And still, all faint with grief, he pass’d his days,

Pouring his soul out in melodious lays.

His friends, to whom his griefs are known,
His alter’d aspect now bemoan ;
Alarm’d to hear the sufferer still
In frantic mood unceasing fill

The night-breeze with his plaintive woes ;

For sorrow with indulgence grows. 280

They try to soothe his wilder’d mind,

Where reason once was seen enshrined ;

His father, with a father’s love,

Sought his sad sorrows to remove,

And gave him maxims full and clear,

And counsel meet for youth to hear.

But, though good counsel and advice

May often lead to Paradise,

When love has once the heart engross’d,

All counsel, all advice is lost; 290

And weeping Majnun not a word

Of his poor father’s counsel heard.

Ah ! when did prudence e’er control

The frenzy of a love-lorn soul ?

Disconsolate the father now

Behind the Harem-screen appears,

Inquiring of his females how

He best might dry the maniac’s tears ;
And what had drawn the sparkling moon
Of intellect from him so soon. 300

The answer of the old and young
Was ready, quivering on the tongue—
” His fate is fix’d—his eyes have seen
The charms of his affection’s queen

In all their winning power display’d ;

His heart a captive to that Arab maid.

Then what relief canst thou supply ?

What to the bleeding lover, doom’d to die ?

What but fulfilling his desires ?

And this a father’s generous aid requires. 310

See them united in the bands of love ;

And that alone his frenzy will remove.”

These words (for woman’s words convey
A spell, converting night to day,
Diffuse o’er troubled life a balm,
And passion’s fiercest fever calm)—
These words relieve the father’s heart,
And comfort to his thoughts impart.
Resolved at once, he now with speed
Marshals his followers, man and steed ; 320

And, all assembled, bends his way
To the damsel’s home, without delay.

Approaching, quick the enquiry rose—
—” Come ye hither as friends or foes ?
Whatever may your errand be,
That errand must be told to me ;
For none, unless a sanction’d friend,
Can pass the boundary I defend.”

This challenge touch’d Syd Omri’s pride;
And yet he calmly thus replied,— 330

” I come in friendship, and propose
All future chance of feud to close.”
Then to the maiden’s father said,—
” The nuptial feast may now be spread :
My son with thirsty heart has seen
Thy fountain pure with margin green ;
And every fountain, clear and bright,
Gives to the thirsty heart delight.
That fountain he demands. With shame,
Possess’d of power, and wealth, and fame, 340

I to his silly humour bend,
And humbly seek his fate to blend
With one inferior. Need I tell
My own high lineage, known so well ?
If sympathy my heart incline,
Or vengeance, still the means are mine.
Treasure and arms can amply bear
Me through the toils of desert-war;
But thou ‘rt the merchant, pedlar-chief,
And I the buyer; come, sell,—t-be brief! 350

If thou art wise, accept advice ;
Sell, and receive a princely price! ”

The sire of Laili mark’d his haughty tone,

But smoothly answer’d,—” Not on us alone

Depends the nuptial union—but on Heaven,

By which all power, and right, and truth are given.

However just our reasoning may appear,

We ‘re still beset by endless error here ;

And proffer’d friendship may perchance become

The harbinger of strife and of the tomb ; 360

Madness is neither sin nor crime, we know,

But who ‘d be link’d to madness or a foe ?

Thy son is mad—his senses first restore ;

In constant prayer the aid of Heaven implore;

But while portentous gloom pervades his brain,

Disturb me not with this vain suit again.

The jewel, sense, no purchaser can buy,

Nor treachery the place of sense supply.

Thou hast my reasons—and this parley o’er,

Keep them in mind, and trouble me no more ! ” 370

Abash’d, his very heartstrings torn,

Thus to be met with scoff and scorn,

Syd Omri to his followers turn’d,

His cheek with kindled anger burn’d ;

But, scorning more to do or say,

Indignant homeward urged his way.

And now for a disorder’d mind,

What med’cine can affection find ?

What magic power, what human skill,

To rectify the erring will ? 380

—The necromancer’s art they tried—

Charms, philtres used, to win a bride,

And make a father’s heart relent,

As if by Heaven in pity sent.—

Vain efforts all. They now address

Kind words, his mind to soothe and bless,

And urge in his unwilling ear

(Treason and death for him to hear)

” Another love, of nobler race,

Unmatch’d in form, unmatch’d in grace ; 390

All blandishments and fairy wiles ;

Her every glance the heart beguiles ;

An idol of transcendent worth,

With charms eclipsing royal birth ;

Whose balmy lips like rubies glow;

Sugar and milk their sweetness show;

And her words like softest music flow :

Adorn’d in all the pride of spring,

Her robes around rich odours fling;

Sparkling with gold and gems, she seems 400

The bright perfection of a lover’s dreams ;

Then why, with such a prize at home,

For charms inferior amid strangers roam ?

Bid all unduteous thoughts depart,

And wisely banish Laili from thy heart.”

When Majnun saw his hopes decay,

Their fairest blossoms fade away ;

And friends and sire, who might have been

Kind intercessors, rush between

Him and the only wish that shed 410

One ray of comfort round his head,
(His fondly cherish’d Arab maid),
He beat his hands, his garments tore,
He cast his fetters on the floor
In broken fragments, and in wrath
Sought the dark wilderness’s path ;
And there he wept and sobb’d aloud,
Unwitness’d by the gazing crowd ;
His eyes all tears, his soul all flame,
Repeating still his Laili’s name. 420

And Laili! Laili! echoed round,
Still dwelling on that rapturous sound.
—In pilgrim-garb he reckless stray’d,
No covering on his feet or head ;
And still, as memory touch’d his brain,
He murmur’d some love-wilder’d strain :
But still her name was ever on his tongue,
And Laili! Laili! still through grove and forest rung.

Sad inmate of the desert wild,

His form and face with dust defiled ; 430

Exhausted with his grief’s excess,

He sat him down in weariness.

” Estranged from friends,” he weeping cried,

” My homeward course is dark to me ;

But, Laili, were I at thy side,

How bless’d would thy poor lover be !

My kindred think of me with shame ;
My friends they shudder at my name.

That cup of wine I held, alas !

Dropp’d from my hand, is dash’d in pieces ; 440
And thus it is that, like the glass,

Life’s hope in one dark moment ceases.
O ye who never felt distress,

Never gay scenes of joy forsaking,
Whose minds, at peace, no cares oppress,
What know ye of a heart that’s breaking ! ”

Worn out at length, he sank upon the ground,
And there in tears the mournful youth is found
By those who traced his wanderings : gently they
Now to Syd Omri’s home the faded form convey : 450
His sire and kinsmen round him moan,
And, weeping, make his griefs their own;
And, garrulous, recall to memory’s eye
‘ The progress of his life from infancy—
The flattering promise of his boyish days—
And find the wreck of hope on which they gaze.
They deem’d that Mecca’s sacred fane
His reason would restore again;
That blessed boon to mortals given,
The arc of earth, the arc of heaven ; 460

The holy Kaba where the Prophet pray’d,
Where Zam-Zam’s waters yield their saving aid.

‘Tis now the season of the pilgrimage,

And now assemble merchant, chieftain, sage,

With vows and offerings, on that spot divine :

Thousands and thousands throng the splendid shrine.

And now, on that high purpose bent, await

Syd Omri’s camels, ready at his gate ;

Around their necks the tinkling bells are hung,

Rich tassell’d housings on their backs are flung; 470

And Majnun, faint, and reckless what may be,

Is on a litter placed—sad sight to see!—

And tenderly caress’d, whilst born along

By the rough moving camel, fleet and strong.

The desert soon is pass’d, and Mecca’s bright

And glittering minarets rise upon the sight;

Where golden gifts, and sacrifice, and prayer,

Secure the absolution sought for there.

The father, entering that all-powerful shrine,

Thus prays—” Have mercy, Heaven, on me and mine ! 480

O from my son this frenzied mood remove,

And save him, save him from the bane of love ! ”

Majnun at this, poor wayward child,

Look’d in his father’s face and smiled ;

And frankly said his life should prove

The truth and holiness of love.

” My heart is bound by beauty’s spell,

My love is indestructible.

Am I to separate from my own,

From her for whom I breathe alone ? 490

What friend could wish me to resign
A love so pure, so true as mine ?
What, though I like a taper burn,
And almost to a shadow turn,
I envy not the heart that’s free—
Love’s soul-encircling chains for me ! ”

The love that springs from Heaven is bless’d ;
Unholy passions stain the rest;
That is not love : wild fancy’s birth,

Which lives on change, is constant never : 500

But Majnun’s love was not of earth,

Glowing with heavenly truth for ever ;
An earthly object raised the flame,
But ’twas from Heaven the inspiration came.

In silent sorrow the aged sire

Found all his cares were vain ;
And back to his expecting tribe

Address’d his steps again;
For Mecca had no power to cool

The lover’s burning brain; 510

No consolation, no relief
For the old man’s heart-consuming grief.


Laylah and Majnun – Part Three Friday, Apr 16 2010 


The lover from his mistress parted,

Lingering, oppress’d, and broken-hearted,

Sank, like the sun all rayless, down—

Khosru, without his throne or crown. 180

With matted locks and bosom bare,

Unshielded from the scorching air,

This hapless youth, absorb’d in grief,

Hoped with his friends to find relief;

The few, by strong affection bound,

And, ‘midst his woes, still faithful found.

But vain the refuge—friendship’s smile

Could not his love-lorn heart beguile :

Again he hasten’d to that place remote,

Where all he loved in life had gone : 190

He call’d her magic name, but she was not,

Nor of her kindred, one, not one,

In that sequester’d lonely spot:

He call’d a thousand times, but call’d in vain ;

None heeded, for none heard the strain ;

And thence no fond reply that hapless youth could gain.

Laili had, with her kindred, been removed

Among the Nijid mountains, where

She cherish’d still the thoughts of him she loved,

And her affection thus more deeply proved ‘200

Amid that wild retreat. Kais sought her there ;

Sought her in rosy bower and silent glade,

Where the tall palm-trees flung refreshing shade.

He call’d upon her name again ;

Again he call’d, alas ! in vain ;

His voice unheard, though raised on every side ;

Echo alone to his lament replied ;

And Laili! Laili! rang around,

As if enamour’d of that magic sound.

Dejected and forlorn, fast-falling dew 210

Glisten’d upon his cheeks of pallid hue ;

Through grove and frowning glen he lonely stray’d,

And with his griefs the rocks were vocal made.

Beautiful Laili! had she gone for ever ?—

Could he that thought support ? oh, never, never !

Whilst deep emotion agonised his breast,

He to the morning-breeze these words address’d :—

” Breeze of the morn ! so fresh and sweet,

Wilt thou my blooming mistress greet;

And, nestling in her glossy hair, 220

My tenderest thoughts, my love, declare ?

Wilt thou, while ‘mid her tresses sporting,

Their odorous balm, their perfume courting,

Say to that soul-seducing maid,

In grief how prostrate I am laid !

And gently whisper in her ear

This message, with an accent clear :—

‘ Thy form is ever in my sight,

In thought by day, in dreams by night;

For one, in spirits sad and broken, 230

That mole would be the happiest token ;

That mole which adds to every look

A magic spell I cannot brook ;

For he who sees thy melting charms,

And does not feel his soul in arms,

Bursting with passion, rapture, all

That speak love’s deepest, wildest thrall,

Must be, as Kaf ‘s ice-summit, cold,

And, haply, scarce of human mould.

Let him, unmoved by charms like thine, 240

His worthless life at once resign—

Those lips are sugar, heavenly sweet;

O let but mine their pouting meet!

The balsam of delight they shed ;

Their radiant colour ruby-red.

The Evil eye has struck my heart,

But thine in beauty sped the dart :

Thus many a flower, of richest hue,

Hath fall’n and perish’d where it grew;

Thy beauty is the sun in brightness, 250

Thy form a Peri’s self in lightness ;

A treasure thou, which, poets say,

The heavens would gladly steal away—

Too good, too pure, on earth to stay !’ ”

Laylah and Majnun – Part Two Friday, Apr 16 2010 


Mark, where instruction pours upon the mind

The light of knowledge, simple or refined ;

Shaikhs of each tribe have children there, and each

Studies whate’er the bearded sage can teach 80

Thence his attainments Kais assiduous drew,

And scatter’d pearls from lips of ruby hue ;

And there, of different tribe and gentle mien,

A lovely maid of tender years was seen :

Her mental powers an early bloom display’d ;

Her peaceful form in simple garb array’d :

Bright as the morn, her cypress shape, and eyes

Dark as the stag’s, were view’d with fond surprise ;

And when her cheek this Arab moon reveal’d,

A thousand hearts were won ; no pride, no shield, 90

Could check her beauty’s power, resistless grown,

Given to enthral and charm—but chiefly one.

Her richly flowing locks were black as night,

And Laili’ she was call’d—that heart’s delight:

One single glance the nerves to frenzy wrought,

One single glance bewilder’d every thought;

And, when o’er Kais affection’s blushing .rose

Diffused its sweetness, from him fled repose :

Tumultuous passion danced upon his brow ;

He sought to woo her, but he knew not how : 100

He gazed upon her cheek, and, as he gazed,

Love’s flaming taper more intensely blazed.

Soon mutual pleasure warm’d each other’s heart;

Love conquer’d both—they never dreamt to part;

And, while the rest were poring o’er their books,

They pensive mused, and read each other’s looks :

While other schoolmates for distinction strove,

And thought of fame, they only thought of love :

While others various climes in books explored,

Both idly sat—adorer and adored : 110

Science for them had now no charms to boast;

Learning for them had all its virtue lost:

Their only taste was love, and love’s sweet ties,

And writing ghazels to each other’s eyes.

Yes, love triumphant came, engrossing all

The fond luxuriant thoughts of youth and maid ;

And, whilst subdued in that delicious thrall,

Smiles and bright tears upon their features play’d.

Then in soft converse did they pass the hours,—

Their passion, like the season, fresh and fair; 120

Their opening path seem’d deck’d with balmiest flowers,

Their melting words as soft as summer air.

Immersed in love so deep,

They hoped suspicion would be lull’d asleep,

And none be conscious of their amorous state ;

They hoped that none with prying eye,

And gossip tongue invidiously,

Might to the busy world its truth relate:

And, thus possess’d, they anxious thought

Their passion would be kept unknown; 130

Wishing to seem what they were not,

Though all observed their hearts were one.

By worldly prudence uncontroll’d,

Their every glance their feelings told ;

For true love never yet had skill

To veil impassion’d looks at will.

When ringlets of a thousand curls,

And ruby lips, and teeth of pearls,

And dark eyes flashing quick and bright,

Like lightning on the brow of night— 140

When charms like these their power display,

And steal the wilder’d heart away—

Can man, dissembling, coldly seem

Unmoved as by an idle dream ?

Kais saw her beauty, saw her grace,

The soft expression of her face;

And as he gazed, and gazed again,

Distraction stung his burning brain:

No rest he found by day or night—

Laili for ever in his sight. 150

But, oh ! when separation came,

More brightly glow’d his ardent flame ;

And she, with equal sorrow fraught,

Bewail’d the fate upon them brought.

—He wander’d wild through lane and street,

With frantic step, as if to meet

Something which still his search defied,

Reckless of all that might betide.

His bosom heaved with groans and sighs,

Tears ever gushing from his eyes ; 160

And still he struggled to conceal

The anguish he was doom’d to feel;

And, madden’d with excessive grief,

In the lone desert sought relief.

Thither, as morning dawn’d, he flew ;

His head and feet no covering knew ;

And every night, with growing pain,

The woes of absence mark’d his strain.

The secret path he eager chose

Where Laili’s distant mansion rose ; .170

And kiss’d the door, and in that kiss

Fancied he quaff’d the cup of bliss.

How fleet his steps to that sweet place !

A thousand wings increased his pace ;

But thence, his fond devotions paid,

A thousand thorns his course delay ‘d.

Laylah and Majnun – Part One Thursday, Apr 15 2010 

Saki, thou know’st I worship wine ;

Let that delicious cup be mine.

Wine ! pure and limpid as my tears,

Dispeller of a lover’s fears ;

With thee inspired, with thee made bold,

‘Midst combat fierce my post I hold ;

With thee inspired, I touch the string,

And, rapt, of love and pleasure sing.

Thou art a lion, seeking prey,

Along the glades where wild deer stray ; 10

And like a lion I would roam,

To bring the joys I seek for home ;

With wine, life’s dearest, sweetest treasure,

I feel the thrill of every pleasure :

— Bring, Saki, bring the ruby now;

Its lustre sparkles on thy brow,

And, flashing with a tremulous light,

Has made thy laughing eyes more bright:

Bring, bring the liquid gem, and see

Its power, its wond’rous power, in me. 20

—No ancestors have I to boast;

The trace of my descent is lost.

From Adam what do I inherit ?

What but a sad and troubled spirit ?

For human life, from oldest time,

Is ever mark’d with guilt and crime ;

And man, betrayer and betray’d,

Lurks like a spider in the shade;

But wine still plays a magic part,

Exalting high the drooping heart. 30

Then, Saki, linger not, but give

The blissful balm on which I live.

Come, bring the juice of the purple vine,

Bring, bring the rnusky-scented wine ;

A draught of wine the memory clears,

And wakens thoughts of other years.—

When blushing dawn illumes the sky,

Fill up a bumper, fill it high !

That wine, which to the fever’d lip,

With anguish parch’d, when given to sip, 40

Imparts a rapturous smile, and throws

A veil o’er all distracting woes :

That wine, the lamp which, night and day,

Lights us along our weary way ;

Which strews the path with fruits and flowers,

And gilds with joy our fleeting hours;

And lifts the mind, now grown elate,

To Jamshid’s glory, Jamshid’s state.—

But of the kingly race beware ;

‘Tis not for thee their smiles to share : 50

Smiles are deceitful, fire looks bright,

And sheds a lucid dazzling light;

But, though attractive, it is known

That safety dwells in flight alone.

The moth the taper’s radiance tries,

But ‘midst the flame in torment, dies:

And none lament that foolish pride

Which seeks to be with kings allied.—

Bring, bring the musky-scented wine !

Tis the key of mirth, and must be mine ; 60

The key which opens wide the door

Of rapture’s rich and varied store ;

Which makes the mounting spirits glad,

And feel the pomp of Kai-Kobad.

Wine o’er the temper casts a spell

Of kindness indescribable:

Then, since I ‘m in the drinking vein,

Bring, bring the luscious wine again !

From the vintner another fresh supply,

And let not the reveller’s lips be dry.— 70

Come, Saki, thou’rt not old, nor lame ;

Thou ‘dst not incur from a minstrel blame;

Let him wash from his heart the dust of sorrow;

Let him riot in social bliss till the morrow ;

Let the sound of the goblet delight his ear,

Like the music that breathes from Heaven’s own sphere.