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.