Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

CVIII.
When he was gone, there was a sudden change:

I know not what might be the lady's thought,
But o'er her bright brow flash'd a tumult strange,

And into her clear cheek the blood was brought, Blood-red as sunset summer clouds which range

The verge of Heaven ; and in her large eyes wrought
A mixture of sensations might be scann'd,
Of half voluptuousness and half command.

CIX.
Her form had all the softness of her sex,

Her features all the sweetness of the devil,
When he put on the cherub to perplex

Eve, and paved (God knows how) the road to evil; The sun himself was scarce more free from specks

Than she from aught at which the eye could cavil; Yet somehow there was something somewhere wanting, As if she rather ordered than was granting,

CX.
Something imperial, or imperious, threw

A chain o'er all she did; that is, a chain
Was thrown as 'twere about the neck of you,

And rapture's self will seem almost a pain
With aught which looks like despotism in view:

Our souls at least are free, and 'tis in vain We would against them make the flesh obeyThe spirit in the end will have its way.

CXI.
Her very smile was haughty, though so sweet;

Her very nod was not an inclination;
There was a self-will even in her small feet,

As though they were quite conscious of her stationThey trod as upon necks; and to complete

Her state, (it is the custom of her nation)
A poniard deck'd her girdle, as the sign
She was a sultan's bride (tkank Heaven not mine),

CXII.
“ To hear and to obey” had been from birth

The law of all around her; to fulfil
All phantasies which yielded joy or mirth,

Had been her slaves' chief pleasure, as her will ;
Her blood was high, her beauty scarce of earth :

Judge, then, if her caprices e'er stood still;
Had she but been a Christian, I've a notion
We should have found out the “perpetual motion.”

CXIII.
Whate'er she saw and coveted was brought;

Whate'er she did not see, if she supposed
It might be seen, with diligence was sought,

And when 'twas found straightway the bargain closed : There was no end unto the things she bought,

Nor to the trouble which her fancies caused;
Yet even her tyranny had such a grace,
The women pardon'd all except her face.

CXIV.
Juan, the latest of her whims, had caught

Her eye in passing on his way to sale;
She order'd him directly to be bought,

And Baba, who had ne'er been known to fail In any kind of mischief to be wrought,

Had his instructions where and how to deal : She had no prudence, but he had; and this Explains the garb which Juan took amiss.

CXV.
His youth and features favour'd the disguise,

And should you ask how she, a sultan's bride,
Could risk or compass such strange phantasies,

This I must leave sultanas to decide : Emperors are only husbands in wives' eyes,

And kings and consorts oft are mystified, As we may ascertain with due precision, Some by experience, others by tradition.

CXVI. But to the main point where we have been tending ;

She now conceived all difficulties past, And deem'd herself extremely condescending

When, being made her property at last, Without more preface, in her blue eyes blending

Passion and power, a glance on him she cast, And merely saying, “ Christian, canst thou love?" Conceived that phrase was quite enough to move.

CXVII.
And so it was, in proper time and place;

But Juan, who had still his mind o’erflowing
With Haidee's isle and soft Ionian face,

Felt the warm blood which in his face was glowing Rush back upon his heart, which fill'd apace,

And left his cheeks as pale as snow-drops blowing: These words went through his soul like Arab-spears, So that he spoke not, but burst into tears.

CXVIII. She was a good deal shock'd; not shock'd at tears,

For women shed and use them at their liking;
But there is something when man's eye appears

Wet, still more disagreeable and striking :
A woman's tear-drop melts, a man's half sears,

Like molten lead, as if you thrust a pike in
His heart to force it out, for (to be shorter)
To them 'tis a relief, to us a torture.

CXIX.
And she would have consoled, but knew not how;

Having no equals, nothing which had e'er
Infected her with sympathy till now,

And never having dreamt what 'twas to bear Aught of a serious sorrowing kind, although

There might arise some pouting petty care To cross her brow, she wonder'd how so near Her eyes another's eye could shed a tear.

CXX.

But nature teaches more than power can spoil,

And when a strong although a strange sensation, Moves-female hearts are such a genial soil

For kinder feelings, whatsoe'er their nation,
They naturally pour the “wine and oil,”

Samaritans in every situation;
And thus Gulleyaz, though she knew not why,
Felt an odd glistening moisture in her eye.

CXXI. But tears must stop like all things else; and soon

Juan, who for an instant had been moved To such a sorrow by the intrusive tone

Of one who dared to ask if “ he had loved,"
Call’d back the stoic to his eyes, which shone

Bright with the very weakness he reproved ;
And although sensitive to beauty, he
Felt most indignant still at not being free.

CXXII. Gulleyaz, for the first time in her days,

Was much embarrassid, never having met
In all her life with aught save prayers and praise :

And as she also risk'd her life to get
Him whom she meant to tutor in love's ways

Into a comfortable tête-à-tête,
To lose the hour would make her quite a martyr,
And they had wasted now alınost a quarter.

CXXIII.
I also would suggest the fitting time,

To gentlemen in any such-like case,
That is to say—in a meridian clime,

With us there is more law given to the case,
But here a small delay forms a great crime:

So recollect that the extremest grace
Is just two minutes for your declaration-
A moment more would hurt your reputation.

CXXIV.
Juan's was good; and might have been still better,

But he had got Haidee into his head:
However strange, he could not yet forget her,

Which made him seem exceedingly ill-bred.
Gulleyaz, who look'd on him as her debtor

For having had him to her palace led,
Began to blush up to the eyes, and then
Grow deadly pale, and then blush back again.

CXXV.
At length, in an imperial way, she laid

Her hand on his, and bending on his eyes,
Which needed not an empire to persuade,

Look'd into his for love, where none replies: Her brow grew black, but she would not upbraid,

That being the last thing a proud woman tries; She rose and pausing one chaste moment, threw Herself upon his breast, and there she grew.

CXXVI.
This was an awkward test, as Juan found,

But he was steel’d by sorrow, wrath, and pride :
With gentle force her white arms he unwound,

And seated her all drooping by his side. Then rising haughtily he glanced around,

And looking coldly in her face, he cried, " The prison'd eagle will not pair, nor I “ Serve a sultana's sensual phantasy.

CXXVII. “ Thou ask'st if I can love? be this the proof

“ How much I have loved that I love not thee! “ In this vile garb, the distaff's web and woof

Were fitter for me: Love is for the free! I am not dazzled by this splendid roof.

“Whate'er thy power, and great it seems to be,

Heads bow, knees bend, eyes watch around a throne, " And hands obey, our hearts are still our own.”

[ocr errors]

60

« ZurückWeiter »