A Persian Legend
The moon of Nauruz silvers yet
Spahaun’s high tow’r and minaret;
Eight times the golden bowl has pour’d
Red nectar on the banquet’s board
And nymphs with purple feet have wav’d
Their locks in myrrh and amber lav’d.
Lah Illah! — thrice the holy song
Has rung Shah Sephi’s bow’rs among —
He sleeps on woven down reclin’d,
While bathed in balm, the saffron rose
Beneath his perfum’d pillow glows
With Shirauz’ silver clusters twin’d.
Soft sounds his slumb’ring ear surprise!
A form in youthful beauty bright
Comes like the dream of new delight
Seen by the love-warm’d poet’s eyes.
Such forms their gracious vigils keep
When rose-lipp’d Houris whisper sleep.
“Whence and what art thou, form divine?”
“I was, I am, and shall have been!
A dim unearthly shape is mine
Falsely thro’ painted shadows seen!
I was the Future! — I have slept
Unknown since Time himself was born
When on the Sun’s first glorious morn
Prophetic Allah paus’d and wept;
He saw me in the depths afar
Of dark and drear Eternity;
And ere he shap’d the earliest star
His changeless mission gave to me.
No longer veil’d, no longer dumb,
I visit thy desiring eyes
From the wide throng of things to come
Where Happiness for ever lies!
Sought but unseen! I haste to bring
New treasures from the lap of Fate,
Yet thou wilt ask another spring
To open Joy’s still distant gate!
I am the Present! now I lift
The veil, which hid my shining brow:
That precious veil was Wisdom’s gift
Tho’ cluster’d roses crown me now.
Thou hear’st not while on flow’rs I tread
How swift my down-shod feet are gone!
Thou sees my silver pinions spread
Forgetful how they waft me on!
Tomorrow, silent, sad, and cold
I join the throng of ages past;
And none shall find the threads of gold
Wove in the veil by Fancy cast
O’er dim unshap’d Futurity
When Youth and Pleasure smil’d for thee!
Age, weeping Age shall strive in vain
To weave that precious veil again!
I go, and those who watch my track
Thy glories and they pomp shall praise;
But thou unheard shall call me back
Again on vanished joys to gaze:
Thy scimitar may ’grave my name
On earth on adamant or brass
In vain! thy tow’rs of wealth and fame
To darkness with thyself shall pass:
Alike thy sceptre and thy tomb
Shall moulder in oblivion’s gloom.
But on a tablet never traced
By mortal eye or mortal hand,
Thy deeds are graven undefaced
Till by rewarding Allah scann’d:
He in the fading rainbow writes
The record of Man’s brief delights
But in the blest eternal Sun
Preserves the fame by Virtue won.
Farewell! the fated hour is near
When I and all the Past shall rise
Before assembled myriads eyes,
The fiat of our Judge to hear:
Truth shall unveil his throne, and Men
Who fear Him now, shall know him then!