[Byron]  [Author List]   [Home]


The Bride of Abydos
Lord Byron


Canto the Second.


The winds are high on Helle's wave,

As on that night of stormy water

When Love, who sent, forgot to save

The young, the beautiful,, the brave,

The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter,

Oh! when alone along the sky

Her turret-torch was blazing high,

Though rising gale, and breaking foam,

And shrieking sea-birds warn'd him home;

And clouds aloft and tides below,

With signs and sounds, forbade to go,

He could not see, he would not hear,

Or sound or sign foreboding fear;

His eye but saw that light of love,

The only star it hail'd above;

His ear but rang with Hero's song,

"Ye waves, divide not lovers long ! " ---

That tale is old, but love anew

May nerve young hearts to prove as true.


The winds are high, and Helle's tide

Rolls darkly heaving to the main;

And Night's descending shadows hide

That field with blood bedew'd in vain,

The desert of old Priam's pride;

The tombs, sole relics of his reign,

All --- save immortal dreams that could beguile

The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle !


Oh !   yet --- for there my steps have been;

These feet have press'd the sacred shore,

These limbs that buoyant wave hath borne ---

Minstel !   with thee to muse, to mourn,

To trace again those fields of yore,

Believing every hillock green

Contains no fabled hero's ashes,

And that around the undoubted scene

Thine own "broad Hellespont" still dashes,

Be long my lot! and cold were he

Who there could gaze denying thee !


The night hath closed on Helle's stream,

Nor yet hath risen on Ida's hill

That moon, which shone on his high theme:

No warrior chides her peaceful beam,

But conscious shepherds bless it still.

Their flocks are grazing on the mound

Of him who felt the Dardan's arrow:

That mighty heap of gather'd ground

Which Ammon's son ran proudly round,

By nations raised, by monarchs crown'd,

Is now a lone and nameless barrow !

Within --- thy dwelling place how narrow !

Without --- can only strangers breathe

The name of him that was beneath:

Dust long outlasts the storied stone;

But Thou --- thy very dust is gone !


Late, late to-night will Dian cheer

The swain, and chase the boatman's fear;

Till then --- no beacon on the cliff

May shape the course of struggling skiff;

The scatter'd lights that skirt the bay,

All, one by one, have died away;

The only lamp of this lone hour

Is glimmering in Zuleika's tower.

Yes! there is light in that lone chamber,

And o'er er silken ottoman

Are thrown the fragrant beads of amber,

O'er which her fairy fingers ran;

Near these, with emerald rays beset,

( How could she thus that gem forget? )

Her mother's sainted amulet,

Whereon engraved the Koorsee text,

Could smooth this life, and win the next;

And by her comboloio lies

A Koran of illumined dyes;

And many a bright emblazon'd rhyme

By Persian scribes redeem'd from time;

And o'er those scrolls, not oft so mute,

Reclines her now neglected lute;

And round her lamp of fretted gold

Bloom flowers in urns of China's mould;

The richest work of Iran's loom,

And Sheeraz' tribute of perfume;

All that can eye or sense delight

Are gather'd in that gorgeous room:

But yet it hath an air of gloom.

She, of this Peri cell the sprite,

What doth she hence, and on so rude a night?


Wrapt in the darkest sable vest,

Which none says noblest Moslem wear,

To guard from winds of heaven the breast

As heaven itself to Selim dear,

With cautious steps the thicket threading,

And starting oft, as through the glade

The gust its hollow moanings made,

Till on the smoother pathway treading,

More free her timid bosom beat,

The maid pursued her silent guide;

And though her terror urged retreat,

How could she quit her Selim's side?

How teach her tender lips to chide?


They reach'd at length a grotto, hewn

By nature, but enlarged by art,

Where oft her lute she wont to tune,

And oft her Koran conn'd apart;

And oft in youthful reverie

She dream'd what Paradise might be;

Where woman's parted soul shall go

Her Prophet had disdain'd to show;

But Selim's mansion was secure,

Nor deem'd she, could he long endure

His bower in other worlds of bliss

Without her, most beloved in this !

Oh! who so dear with him could dwell?

What Houri soothe him half so well?


Since last she visited the spot

Some change seem'd wrought within the grot:

It might be only that the night

Disguised things seen by better light:

That brazen lamp but dimly threw

A ray of no celestial hue;

But in a nook within the cell

Her eye on stranger objects fell.

There arms were piled, not such as wield

The turban's Delis in the field;

But brands of foreign blade and hilt,

And one was red --- perchance with guilt !

Ah! how without can blood be spilt?

A cup too on the board was set

That did not seem to hold sherbet.

What may this mean?  She turn'd to see

Her Selim --- "Oh !   can this be he?"


His robe of pride was thrown aside,

His brow no high-crown'd turban bore,

But in its stead a shawl of red,

Wreathed lightly round, his temples wore:

That dagger, on whose hilt the gem

Were worthy of a diadem,

No longer glitter'd at his waist,

Where pistols unadorn'd were braced;

And from his belt a sabre swung,

And from his shoulder loosely hung

The cloak of white, the thin capote

That decks the wantering Candiote;

Beneath --- his golden plated vest

Clung like a cuirass to his breast;

The greaves below his knee that wound

With silvery scales were sheathed and bound.

But were it not that high command

Spake in his eye, and tone, and hand,

All that a careless eye could see

In him was some young Galiongée.


"I said I was not what I seem'd;

And now thou see'st my words were true:

I have a tale thou hast not dream'd,

If sooth --- its truth must others rue.

My story now 't were vain to hide,

I must not see thee Osman's bride:

But had not thine own lips declared

How much of that young heart I shared,

I could not, must not, yet have shown

The darker secret of my own.

In this I speak not now of love;

That, let time, truth, and peril prove:

But first -- Oh !   never wed another ---

Zuleika!   I am not thy brother ! "


"Oh !   not my brother ---  yet unsay ---

God !  am I left alone on earth

To mourn --- I dare not curse --- the day

That saw my solitary birth?

Oh! thou wilt love me now no more !

My sinking heart forboded ill;

But know me all I was before,

Thy sister --- friend --- Zuleika still.

Thou led'st me here perchance to kill;

If thou hast cause for vengeance, see !

My breast is offer'd --- take thy fill !

Far better with the dead to be

Than live thus nothing now to thee !

Perhaps far worse, for now I know

Why Giaffir always seem'd thy foe;

And I, alas !   am Giaffir's child,

For whom thou were contemm'd, reviled.

If not thy sister --- wouldst thou save

My life, oh !   bid me be thy slave ! "


"My slave, Zuleika ---  nay, I'm thine:

But, gentle love, this transport calm.

Thy lot shall yet be link'd with mine;

I swear it by our Prophet's shrine,

And be that thought thy sorrow's balm.

So may the Koran verse display'd

Upon its steel direct my blade,

In danger's hour to guard us both,

As I preserve that awful oath !

The name in which thy heart had prided

Must change; but, my Zuleika, know,

That tie is widen'd, not divided,

Although thy Sire's my deadiest foe.

My father was to Giaffir all

That Selim late was deem'd to thee:

That brother wrought a brother's fall,

But spared, as least, my infancy;

And lull'd me with a vain deceit

That yet a like return may meet.

He rear'd me, not with tender help,

But like the nephew of a Cain;

He watch'd me like a lion's whelp,

That gnaws and yet may break his chain.

My father's blood in every vein

Is boiling; but for thy dear sake

No present vengeance will I take;

Though here I must no more remain.

But first, beloved Zuleika! hear

How Giaffir wrought this deed of fear.


"How first their strife to rancour grew,

If love or envy made them foes,

It matters little if I knew;

In fiery spirits, slights, though few

And thoughtless, will disturb repose.

In war Adallah's arm was strong,

Remember'd yet in Bosniac song,

And Paswan's rebel hords attest

How little love they bore such guest:

His death is all I need relate,

The stern effect of Giaffir's hate;

And how my birth disclosed to me,

Whate'er beside it makes, hath made me free.


"When Paswan, after years of strife,

At last for power, but first for life,

In Widdin's walls too proudly sate,

Our Pachas rallied round the state;

Nor last nor least in high command,

Each brother led a separate band;

They gave their horse-tails to the wind,

And mustering in Sophia's plain

Their tents were pitch'd, their post assign'd;

To one, alas !   assign'd in vain !

What need of words !   the deadly bowl,

By Giaffir's order drugged and given,

With venom subtle as his soul,

Dismiss'd Abdallah's hence to heaven.

Reclined and feverish in the bath,

he, when the hunter's sport was up,

But little deem'd a brother's wrath

To quench his thirst had such a cup;

The bowl a brided attendant bore;

He drank one draught, nor needed more !

If thou my tale, Zuleika, doubt,

Call Haroun --- he can tell it out.


"The deed once done, and Paswan's feud

In part suppress'd, though ne'er subdued,

Abdallah's Pachalick was gain'd: ---

Thou know'st not what in our Divan

Can wealth procure for worse than man ---

Abdallah's honours were obtain'd

By him a brother's murder stain'd;

'Tis true, the purchase nearly drain'd

His ill got treasure, soon replaced.

Wouldst question whence?  Survey the waste,

And ask the squalid peasant how

His gains repay his broiling brow !  ---

Why me the stern usurper spared,

Why thus with me his palace shared,

I know not. Shame, regret, remorse,

And little fear from infant's force;

Besides, adoption as a son

By him whom heaven accorded none,

Or some unknown cabal, caprice,

Preserved me thus; --- but not in peace:

He cannot curb his haughty mood,

Nor I forgive a father's blood.


"Within thy father's house are foes;

Not all who break his bread are true:

To these should I my birth disclose,

His days, his very hours were few:

They only want a heart to lead,

A hand to point them to the deed.

But Haroun only knows, or knew,

This tale, whose close is almost nigh:

He in Abdallah's palace grew,

And held that post in his Serai

Which holds he here --- he saw him die:

But what could single slavery do?

Avenge his lord?  Alas !   too late;

Or save his son from such a fate?

He chose the last, and when elate

With foes subdued, or friends betray'd,

Proud Giaffir in high triumph sate,

He led me helpless to his gate,

And not in vain it seems essay'd

To save the life for which he pray'd.

The knowledge of my birth secured

From all and each, but most from me;

Thus Giaffir's safety was insured.

Removed he too from Roumelie

To this our Asiatic side,

Far from our seats by Danube's tide,

With none but Haroun, who retains

Such knowledge --- and that Nubian feels

A tyrant's secrets are but chains,

From which the captive gladly steals,

And this and more to me reveals:

Such still to guilt just Alla sends ---

Slaves, tools, accomplices --- no friends !


"All this, Zuleika, harshly sounds;

But harsher still my tale must be:

Howe'er my tongue thy softness wounds,

Yet I must prove all truth to thee

I saw thee start this garb to see,

Yet is it one I oft have worn,

And long must wear: this Galiongée,

To whom thy plighted vow is sworn,

Is leader of those pirate hordes,

Whose laws and lives are on their swords;

To hear whose desolating tale

Would make thy waning cheek more pale:

Those arms thou see'st my band have brought,

The hands that wield are not remote;

This cup too for the rugged knaves

Is fill'd --- once guaff'd, they ne'er repine:

Our Prophet might forgive the slaves;

They're only infidels in wine.


"What could I be?  Proscribed at home,

And taunted to a wish to roam;

And listless left --- for Giaffir's fear

Denied the courser and the spear --

Though oft --- Oh, Mahomet! how oft !  ---

In full Divan the despot scoff'd,

As if my weak unwilling hand

Refused the bridle or the brand:

He ever went to war alone,

And pent me here untried --- unknown;

To Haroun's care with women left,

By hope unblest, of fame bereft,

While thou- -- whose softness long endear'd,

Though it unmann'd me, still had cheer'd ---

To Brusa's walls for safety sent,

Awaited'st there the field's event.

Haroun, who saw my spirit pining

Beneath inactions sluggish yoke,

His captive, though with dread resigning,

My thraldom for a season broke,

On promise to return before

The day when Giaffir's charge was o'er.

'Tis vain --- my tongue cannot impart

My almost drunkenness of heart,

When first this liberated eye

Survey'd Earth, Ocean, Sun, and Sky,

As if my spirit pierced them through,

And all their inmost wonders knew!

One word alone can paint to thee

That more than feeling --- I was Free !

E'en for thy presence ceased to pine;

The World --- nay, Heaven itself was mine !


"The shallop of a trusty Moor

Convey'd me from this idle shore;

I long'd to see the isles that gem

Old Ocean's purple diadem:

I sought by turns, and saw them all;

But when and where I join'd the crew,

With whom I'm pledged to rise or fall,

When all that we design to do

Is done, 't will then be time more meet

To tell thee, when the tale's complete.


" 'Tis true, they are a lawless brood,

But rough in form, nor mild in mood;

And every creed, and every race,

With them hath found --- may find a place;

But open speech, and ready hand,

Obedience to their chief's command;

A soul for every enterprise,

That never sees with terror's eyes;

Friendship for each, and faith to all,

And vengeance vow'd for those who fall,

Have made them fitting instruments

For more than ev'n my own intents.

And some --- and I have studied all

Distinguish'd fromt he vulgar rank,

But chiefly to my council call

The wisdom of the cautious Frank ---

And some to higher thoughts aspire,

The last of Lambro's patriots there

Anditcipated freedom share;

And oft around the cavern fire

On visionary schemes debate,

To snatch the Rayahs from their fate.

So let them ease their hearts with prate

Of equal rights, which man ne'er knew;

I have a love for freedom too.

Ay!   let me like the ocean-Patriarch roam,

Or only know on land the Tartar's home !

My tent on shore, my galley on the sea,

Are more than cities and Serais to me:

Borne by my steed, or wafted by my sail,

Across the desert, or before the gale,

Bound where thou wilt, my barb !   Or glide, my prow !

But be the star that guides the wanderer, Thou !

Thou, my Zuleika, share and bless my bark;

The Dove of peace and promise to mine ark !

Or, since that hope denied in worlds of strife,

Be thou the rainbow to the storms of life!

The evening beam that smiles the clouds away,

And tints to-morrow with proheptic ray !

Blest --- as the Muezzin's strain from Mecca's wall

To pilgrims pure and prostrate at his call;

Soft --- as the melody of youthful days,

That steals the trembling tear of speechless praise;

Dear --- as his native song to Exile's ears,

Shall sound each tone thy long-loved voice endears.

For thee in those bright isles is built a bower

Blooming as Aden in its earliest hour.

A thousand swords, with Selim's heart and hand,

Wait --- wave --- defend --- destroy --- at thy command !

Girt by my band, Zuleika at my side,

The spoil of nations shall bedeck my bride.

The Haram's languid years of listless ease

Are well resign'd for cares --- for joys like these:

Not blind to fate, I see, where'er I rove,

Unnumber'd perils --- but one only love !

Yet well my toils shall that fond breast repay,

Though fortune frown, or falser friends betray.

How dear the dream in darkest hours of ill,

Should all be changed, to find thee faithful still!

Be but thy soul like Selim's, firmly shown;

To thee be Selim's tender as thine own;

To soothe each sorrow, share in each delight,

Blend every thought, do all --- but disunite !

Once free, 'tis mine our horde again to guide;

Friends to each other, foes to aught beside:

Yet there we follow but the bent assign'd

By fatal Nature to man's warring kind:

Mark! where his carnage and his conquest cease !

He makes a solitude, and calls it --- peace !

I, like the rest, must use my skill or strength,

But ask no land beyond my sabre's length:

Power sways but by division --- her resource

The blest alternative of fraud or force!

Ours be the last; in time deceit may come

When cities cage us in a social home:

There ev'n thy soul might err --- how oft the heart

Corruption shakes which peril could not part !

And woman, more than man, when death or woe,

Or even Disgrace, would lay her lover low,

Sunk in the lap of Luxury will shame ---

Away suspicion !  ---  not Zuleika's name !

But life is hazard at the best; and here

No more remains to win, and much to fear:

Yes, fear! the doubt, the dread of losing thee,

By Osman's power, and Giaffir's stern decree.

That dread shall vanish with the favouring gale,

Which Love to-night hath promised to my sail:

No danger daunts the pair his smile hath blest,

Their steps still roving, but their hearts at rest.

With thee all toils are sweet, each clime hath charms;

Earth --- sea alike --- our world within our arms !

Ay --- let the loud winds whistle o'er the deck,

So that those arms cling closer round my neck:

The deepest murmur of this lip shall be,

No sigh for safety, but a prayer for thee !

The war of elements no fears impart

To Love, whose deadliest bane is human Art:

There lie the only rocks our course can check;

Here moments menace --- there are years of wreck !

But hence ye thoughts that rise in Horrors shape !

This hour bestows, or ever bars escape.

Few words remain of mine my tale to close;

Of thine but one to waft us from our foes;

Yes --- foes --- to me will Giaffir's hate decline?

And is not Osman, who would part us, thine?


"His head and faith from doubt and death

Return'd in time my guard to save;

Few heard, none told, that o'er the wave

From isle to isle I roved the while;

And since, though parted from my band

Too seldom now I leave the land,

No deed they've done, nor deed shall do,

Ere I have heard and doom'd it too:

I form the plan, decree the spoil,

"Tis fit I oftener share the toil.

But now too long I've held thine ear;

Time presses, floats my bark, and here

We leave behind but hate and fear.

To-morrow Osman with his train

Arrives --- to-night must break thy chain:

And wouldst thou save that haughty Bey, ---

Perchance his life who gave thee thine, ---

With me this hour away --- away !

But yet, though thou art plighted mine,

Wouldst thou recall thy willing vow,

Appall'd by truths imparted now,

Here rest I --- not to see thee wed:

But be that peril on my head ! "


Zuleika, mute and motionless,

Stood like that statue of distress,

When, her last hope for ever gone,

The mother harden'd into stone:

All in the maid that eye could see

Was but a younger Niobé.

But ere her lip, or even her eye,

Essay'd to speak, or look reply,

Beneath the garden's wicket porch

Far flash'd on high a blazing torch !

Another --- and another --- and another ---

"Oh !   fly --- no more --- yet now my more than brother ! "

Far, wide, through every thicket spread

The fearful lights are gleaming red;

Nor these alone --- for each right hand

Is ready with a sheathless brand.

They part, pursue, return, and wheel

With searching flambeau, shining steel;

And last of all, his sabre waving,

Stern Giaffir in his fury raving:

And now almost they touch the cave ---

Oh!   must that grot be Selim's grave?


Dauntless he stood ---" 'Tis come --- soon past ---

One kiss, Zuleika --- 'tis my last:

But yet my band not far from shore

May hear this signal, see the flash;

Yet now too few --- the attempt were rash:

No matter --- yet one effort more."

Forth to the cavern mouth he stept;

His pistol's echo rang on high,

Zuleika started not, nor wept,

Despair benumb'd her breast and eye ! ---

"They hear me not, or if they ply

Their oars, 'tis but to see me die;

That sound hath drawn my foes more nigh.

Then forth my father's scrimtar,

Thou ne'er hast seen less equal war !

Farewell, Zuleika !  ---  sweet !   retire:

Yet stay within -- here linger safe,

At thee his rage will only chafe.

Stir not --- lest even to thee perchance

Some erring blade or ball should glance.

Fear'st thou for him? --- may I expire

If in this strife I seek thy sire !

No --- though by him that poison pour'd;

No --- though again he call me coward !

But tamely shall I meet their steel?

No --- as each crest save his may feel !"


One bound he made, and gain'd the sand:

Already at his feet hath sunk

The foremost of the prying band,

A gasping head, a quivering trunk:

Another falls --- but round him close

A swarming circle of his foes;

From right to left his path he cleft,

And almost met the meeting wave:

His boat appears --- not five oars' length ---

His comrades strain with desperate strength ---

Oh !   are they yet in time to save?

His feet the foremost breakers lave;

His band are plunging in the bay,

Their sabres glitter through the spray;

Wet --- wild --- unwearied to the strand

They struggle --- now they touch the land !

They come --- 'tis but to add to slaughter ---

His heart's best blood is on the water.


Escaped from shot, unharm'd by steel,

Or scarcely grazed its force to feel,

Had Selim won, betray'd, beset,

To where the strand and billows met;

There as his last step left the land ---

Ah !   wherefore did he turn to look

For her his eye but sought in vain?

That pause, that fatal gaze he took,

Hath doom'd his death, or fix'd his chain.

Sad proof, in peril and in pain,

How late will Lover's hope remain !

His back was to the dashing spray;

Behind, but close, his comrades lay,

When, at the instant, hiss'd the ball ---

"So may the foes of Giaffir fall ! "

Whose voice is heard?  Whose carbine rang?

Whose bullet through the night-air sang,

Too nearly, deadly aim'd to err?

'Tis thine --- Abdallah's Murderer!

The father slowly rued thy hate,

The son hath found a quicker fate:

Fast from his breast the blood is bubbling,

The whiteness of the sea-foam troubling ---

If aught his lips essay'd to groan,

The rushing billows choked the tone !


Morn slowly rolls the clouds away;

Few trophies of the fight are there:

The shouts that shook the midnight-bay

Are silent; but some signs of fray

That strand of strife may bear,

And fragments of each shiver'd brand;

Steps stamp'd; and dash'd into the sand

The print of many a struggling hand

May there be mark'd; nor far remote

A broken torch, an oarless boat;

And tangled on the weeds that heap

The beach where shelving to the deep

There lies a white capote !

'Tis rent in twain --- one dark-red stain

The wave yet ripples o'er in vain;

But where is he who wore?

Ye!   who would o'er his relics weep,

Go, seek them where the surges sweep

Their burthen round Sigæum's steep

And cast on Lemnos' shore:

The sea-birds shriek above the prey,

O'er which their hungry beaks delay,

As shaken on his restless pillow,

His head heaves with the heaving billow;

That hand, whose motion is not life,

Yet feebly seems to menace strife,

Flung by the tossing tide on high,

Then levell'd with the wave ---

What recks it, though that corse shall lie

Within a living grave?

The bird that tears that prostrate form

Hath only robb'd the meaner worm;

The only heart, the only eye

Had bled or wept to see him die,

Had seen those scatter'd limbs composed,

And mourn'd above his turban-stone,

That heart hath burst -- that eye was closed ---

Yea --- closed before his own !


By Helle's stream there is a voice of wail !

And woman's eye is wet --- man's cheek is pale:

Zuleika !    last of Giaffir's race,

Thy destined lord is come too late:

He sees not --- ne'er shall see thy face !

Can he not hear

The loud Wul-wulleh warn his distant ear?

Thy handmaids weeping at the gate,

The Koran-chanters of the hymn of fate,

The silent slaves with folded arms that wait,

Sighs in the hall, and shrieks upon the gale,

Tell him thy tale !

Thou didst not view thy Selim fall ! "

That fearful moment when he left the cave

Thy heart grew chill:

He was thy hope --- thy joy --- thy love --- thine all,

And that last thought on him thou couldst not save

Sufficed to kill:

Burst forth in one wild cry --- and all was still.

Peace to thy broken heart, and virgin grave !

Ah !   happy !   but of life to lose the worst !

That grief --- though deep --- though fatal --- was thy first !

Thrice happy ne'er to feel nor fear the force

Of absence, shame, pride, hate, revenge, remorse !

And, oh !   that pang where more than madness lies !

The worm that will not sleep --- and never dies;

Thought of the gloomy day and ghastly night,

That dreads the darkness, and yet loathes the light,

That winds around, and tears the quivering heart !

Ah! wherefore not consume it --- and depart !

Woe to thee, rash and unrelenting chief !

Vainly thou heap'st the dust upon thy head,

Vainly the sackcloth o'er thy limbs dost spread:

By that same hand Abdallah --- Selim bled.

Now let it tear thy beard in idle grief:

Thy pride of heart, thy bride for Osman's bed,

She, whom thy sultan had but seen to wed,

Thy Daughter's dead !

Hope of thine age, thy twilight's lonely beam,

The Star hath set that shone on Helle's stream.

What quench'd its ray? --- the blood that thou hast shed !

Hark !   to the hurried question of Despair:

"Where is my child?" --- an Echo answers --- "Where?"


Within the place of thousand tombs

That shine beneath, while dark above

The sad but living cypress glooms

And withers not, though branch and leaf

Are stamp'd with an eternal grief,

Like early unrequited Love,

One spot exits, which ever blooms,

Ev'n in that deady grove ---

A single rose is shedding there

Its lonely lustre, meek and pale:

It looks as planted by Despair ---

So white --- so faint --- the slightest gale

Might whirl the leaves on high;

And yet, though storms and blight assail,

And hands more rude than wintry sky

May wring it from the stem --- in vain ---

To-morrow sees it bloom again:

The stalk some spirit gently rears,

And waters with celestial tears;

For well may maids of Helle deem

That this can be no earthly flower,

Which mocks the tempest's withering hour,

And buds unshelter'd by a bower;

Nor droops though Spring refuse her shower,

Nor woos the summer beam:

To it the livelong night there sings

A bird unseen --- but not remote:

Invisible his airy wings,

But soft as harp that Houri strings

His long entrancing note !

It were the Bulbul; but his throat,

Though mournful, pours not such a strain:

For they who listen cannot leave

The spot, but linger there and grieve,

As if they loved in vain !

And yet so sweet the tears they shed,

'Tis sorrow so unmix'd with dread,

They scarce can bear the morn to break

That melancholy spell,

And longer yet would weep and wake,

He sings so wild and well!

But when the day-blush bursts from high

Expires that magic melody,

And some have been who could believe,

( So fondly youthful dreams deceive,

Yet harsh be they that blame )

That note so piercing and profound

Will shape and syllable its sound

Into Zuleika's name.

'Tis from her cypress summit heard,

That melts in air the liquid word:

'Tis from her lowly virgin earth

That white rose takes its tender birth.

There late was laid a marble stone;

Eve saw it placed --- the Morrow gone !

It was no mortal arm that bore

That deep-fix'd pillar to the shore;

For there, as Helle's legends tell,

Next morn 't was found where Selim fell;

Lash'd by the tumbling tide whose wave

Denied his bones a holier grave;

And there by night, reclined, 'tis said,

Is seen a ghastly turban'd head:

And hence extended by the billow,

'Tis named the  "Pirate-phantom's pillow ! "

Where first it lay that mourning flower

Hath floursh'd; floursheth this hour,

Alone and dewy, coldly pure and pale;

As weeping Beauty's cheek at Sorrow's tale !


    [Back]    [Byron]  [Author List]   [Home]