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.