Yusuf and Zuleikha (Excerpt 2)

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O joy too great!---O hour too blest!
He comes---they hail him---now, more near,
His eager courser's feet I hear.
Oh heart! be hushed within my breast,
Burst not with rapture! Can it be?
The idol of my life---divine,
All radiant, clothed in mystery,
And loving me as I adore,
As none dared ever love before,
Shall be---nay, is---even now, is mine!

I will be patient, but his breath
Seems stealing o'er my senses---death
Were better than suspense like this---
One draught---though 'twere the last---of bliss!
One glance, though in that glance I die,
To prove the glorious certainty!

Not he! not he! on whom for years
My soul has dwelt with sacred truth;
For whom my life has passed in tears,
And wasted was my bloom of youth;
For whom I breathed, and thought, and moved,
My own, my worshiped, my beloved!
I hailed the night, that I might gaze
Upon his star's unconquered blaze:
The morn but rose that I might pray,
Hope, wish, expect from day to day,
My sole existence was that thought,
And I do wake to know 'tis naught?
Vain tears, vain madness, vain endeavor,
Another blasts my sight forever !

Dawn upon the wide world broke,
And the sun's warm rays awoke;
Scattering o'er the cloudy sky
Hues of rich variety:
Such bright tinting as illumes
With its rays the peacock's plumes,
And the parrot's feathers bright,
Touches with a starry light.
The Asis rides in kingly guise;
Yon curtained litter holds the prize
More precious than all wealth beside---
His own, his young, his peerless bride.

Around, afar, of homage proud,
In countless ranks his warriors crowd,
Well may the lordly Asis boast
The glories of his gorgeous host.
Rich are the veils, profusely spread,
That canopy the "fair one's" head;
Like some delicious tree that throws
Its shade, inviting to repose:
And, like soft turf, the carpets lie,
Bedecked with gay embroidery.

The temple moves, all-glorious, on---
Throned in the midst the "happy one."
All heaven resounds with shout and song,
As the bright pageant sweeps along.
The camel-drivers' cries succeed,
Urging their stately beasts to speed.
Whose hoofs, with swift and frequent tread,
The sands with moonlike forms have spread:
The earth is plowed with coursers' feet
And still fresh hosts the wounds repeat.
Many a fair and blushing maid
Exulted in the gay parade:
And all who called the Asis lord
Hailed the fair idol he adored.
But she--- "the beautiful," "the blest"---
What pangs, what tumults shook her breast!
She sat, concealed from every eye---
Alone---in hopeless misery.

"O Fate!" she cried; "O ruthless Fate!
Why am I made thy mark of hate?
Why must my heart thy victim be?
Thus lost, abandoned---crushed by thee!
Thou camest, in troubled dreams, and stole
The peace, the pleasure of my soul,
In visions that the blest might share,
Whose only fruit has been despair.
I see each glittering fabric fall;
But vain reproach, vain trust, vain all!
For help, for rest, where can I fly?
My heart is riven---let me die!

Have I then lingered long in pain,
In sad suspense, in musings vain,
To be---O crowning grief! betrayed,
In foreign lands a victim made?
Relentless destiny! accurst
Were all the joys thy visions nurst.
Is there no drop of hope left yet?
Must I all promises forget?
Dash not my cup to earth: say, Power benign,
I may be blest---even yet he may be mine!"

"Why hast thou thus cruelly
Robbed me of my peace?
What have I done to thee to be thus treated;
it is folly indeed that I seek help from thee.
When souls melt, thou art called upon for aid;
What is the melting of thy soul?"

Thus raved Zuleika, when without
Arose the sudden deafening shout
That hailed the close of all their toil---

"Lo!---Memphis! and the banks of Nile!"

Then, far and ide, the glittering ranks
Rush to the fiowery river's banks.
The Asis' sign his slaves obey,
Gold, silver, flowers, bestrew the way:
And o'er the litter gems are thrown,
Whose countless rays like meteors shone;
As thick they fall as on the rose
Hang the rich dews at evening's close;
The courser's feet on rubies trod,
O'er mounds of gold the camel strode.

On swept the train---one gorgeous mile,
Planting with gems the banks of Nile;
The proud stream rolled its waters deep
O'er pearls in many a shining heap:
Each shell was filled with pearls; each scale
That clothed the crocodile in mail
Was changed to silver, as he lay
And basked amidst the fervid ray.

And onward to the palace-gate
The train poured on, in sumptuous state;
The glowing portals opened wide---
In flowed the overwhelming tide,
Ushering the Asis and his bride.

A throne the Peris might have framed,
The sun and moon's pale luster shamed:
And she, whose radiance all effaced---
Zuleika---on the throne was placed.
Sparkling with jewels, red with gold,
Her heart shrunk, withered, crushed, and cold;

Although a feverish sense of pain
Frenzied her mind and seared her brain:
As on a flaming hearth she sat---
Amidst rejoicing---desolate!
Laden with many a priceless gem,
Crowned with a gorgeous diadem.
Each pearl a poisonous drop appears:
And from her eyes fall scalding tears.

And thus a crown is gained---for this,
We leave all thoughts of present bliss!
We toil, we strive, we live in care,
And in the end possess---despair!
Our sun of youth, of hope, is set,
And all our guerdon is---regret!

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