« הקודםהמשך »
The mighty object of that raging fire In which unpitied Abra must expire, * Had he been born some simple shepherd's heir,
The lowing herd or fleecy sheep his care,
At morn with him I o'er the hills had run,
Scornful of winter's frost and summer's sun,
Still asking where he made his flock to rest at
For him at night, the dear expected guest,
I had with hasty joy prepar'd the feast,
And from the cottage, o’er the distant plain,
Sent forth my longing eye to meet the swain,
Waving, impatient, toss'd by hope and fear,
Till he and joy together should appear,
And the lov'd dog declare his master near.
On my declining neck and open breast
I should have lull'd the lovely youth to rest,
And from beneath his head at dawning day,
With softest care, have stol’n my arm away,
To rise and from the fold release the sheep,
Fond of his flock, indulgent to his sleep.
Or if kind Heaven, propitious to my flame,
(For sure from Heaven the faithful ardour came)
Had bless'd my life, and deck'd my natal hour
With height of title and extent of pow'r,
Without a crime my passion had aspir'd,
Found the lov'd prince, and told what I desir'd.
“Then I had come, preventing Sheba's queen, To see the comeliest of the sons of men; To hear the charming poet's amorous song, And gather honey, falling from his tongue; To take the fragrant kisses of his mouth, Sweeter than breezes of her native south,
Likening his grace, his person, and his mien,
To all that great or beauteous I had seen.
Serene and bright his eyes, as solar beams
Reflecting temper'd light from crystal streams;
Ruddy as gold his cheek; his bosom fair
As silver; the curl'd ringlets of his hair
Black as the raven's wing; his lip more red
Than eastern coral or the scarlet thread;
Even his teeth, and white like a young flock,
Coëval, newly shorn, from the clear brook
Recent, and blanching on the sunny rock.
Ivory with sapphires intersper'd, explains
How white his hands, how blue the manly veins;
Columns of polish'd marble, firmly set
On golden bases are his legs and feet;
His stature all majestic, all divine,
Straight as the palm-tree, strong as is the pine;
Saffron and myrrh are on his garments shed,
And everlasting sweets bloom round his head.
What utter I? where am I? wretched maid!
Die, Abra, die ; too plainly hast thou said
Thy soul's desire to meet his high embrace,
And blessing stamp'd upon thy future race;
To bid attentive nations bless thy womb,
With unborn monarchs charg'd, and Solomons to
come.' Here o'er her speech her flowing eyes prevail : .O foolish maid! and, o unhappy tale! My suffering heart for ever shall defy New wounds and danger from a future eye. 0! yet my tortur'd senses deep retain The wretched memory of my former pain, The dire affront, and my Egyptian chain.'
*As time, I said, may happily efface
That cruel image of the King's disgrace,
Imperial reason shall resume her seat,
And Solomon, once fall'n, again be great.
Betray'd by passion, as subdued in war,
We wisely should exert a double care,
Nor ever ought a second time to err.'
This Abra then
I saw her; 'twas humanity; it gave
Some respite to the sorrows of my slave.
Her fond excess proclaim'd her passion true,
And generous pity to that truth was due.
Well I entreated her who well deserv'd ;
I call'd ber often, for she always serv'd :
Use made her person easy to my sight,
And ease insensibly produc'd delight.
Whene'er I revell’d in the women's bow'rs,
(For first I sought her but at looser hours)
The apples she had gather'd smelt most sweet,
The cake she kneaded was the savoury meat;
But fruits their odour lost, and meats their taşte,
If gentle Abra bad not deck'd the feast:
Dishonour'd did the sparkling goblet stand,
Unless receiv'd from gentle Abra's hand;
And when the virgins form'd the evening choir,
Raising their voices to the master-lyre,
Too fat I thought this voice, and that too shrill;
One show'd too much, and one too little skill ;
Nor could my soul approve the music's tone,
Till all was hush'd, and Abra sung alone.
Fairer she seem'd distinguish'd from the rest,
And better mein disclos’d, as better dress'd;
A bright tiara round her forehead tied,
To juster bounds confin'd its rising pride ;
The blushing ruby on her snowy breast
Render'd its panting whiteness more confess'd;
Bracelets of pearl gave roundness to her arm,
And every gem augmented every charm :
Her senses pleas'd, her beauty still improv'd,
And she more lovely grew as more belov’d.
And now I could behold, avow, and blame,
The several follies of my former flame,
Willing my heart for recompense to prove
The certain joys that lie in prosperous love.
• For what, (said I) from Abra can I fear,
Too humble to insult, too soft to be severe?
The damsel's sole ambition is to please;
With freedom I may like, and quit with ease :
She soothes, but never can enthral my mind:
Why may not peace and love for once be join'd?"
Great Heav'n! how frail thy creature man is made! How by himself insensibly betray'd! In our own strength unhappily secure, Too little cautious of the adverse pow'r, And by the blast of self-opinion mov’d, We wish to charm, and seek to be belov'd. On pleasure's flowing brink we idly stray, Masters as yet of our returning way; Seeing no danger, we disarm our mind, And give our conduct to the waves and wind; Then in the flowery mead or verdant shade To wanton dalliance negligently laid, We weave the chaplet and we crown the bowl, And smiling see the nearer waters roll, Till the strong gusts of raging passion rise, Till the dire tempest mingles earth and skies, And swift into the boundless ocean borne, Our foolish confidence too late we mourn ;
Round cur devoted heads the billows beat, streat.
And from our troubled view the lessen'd lands re-
O mighty Lore! from thy unbounded pow'r
How shall the human bosom rest secure?
How shall our thought avoid the various snare,
Or wisdom to our caution'd soul declare
The different shapes thou pleasest to employ,
When bent to hurt, and certain to destroy?
The haughty nymph, in open beauty dress'd,
To-day encounters our unguarded breast;
She looks with majesty, and moves with state : )
Unbent her soul, and in misfortune great,
She scorns the world, and dares the rage of Fate. S
Here whilst we take stern manhood for our guide, And guard our conduct with becoming pride, Charm'd with the courage in her action shown, We praise her mind, the image of our own. She that can please is certain to persuade; To-day belov’d, to-morrow is obey’d. We think we see through reason's optics right, Nor find how beauty's rays elude our sight: Struck with her eye whilst we applaud her mind, And when we speak her great, we wish her kind. To-morrow, cruel pow'r! thou arm'st the fair With flowing sorrow and dishevell’d hair: Sad her complaint, and humble is her tale, Her sighs explaining where her accents fail: Here generous softness warms the honest breast; We raise the sad, and succour the distress'd: And whilst our wish prepares the kind relief, Whilst pity mitigates her rising grief, We sicken soon from her contagious care, Grieve for her sorrows, groan for her despair, And against love, too late, those bosoms arm, Which tears can soften, and which sighs can warm.