The Bride of Abydos

"Had we never loved so kindly,
Had we never loved so blindly,
Never met or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted." — Burns
 

  TO
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD HOLLAND,
THIS TALE IS INSCRIBED,
WITH EVERY SENTIMENT OF REGARD AND RESPECT,
BY HIS GRATEFULLY OBLIGED AND SINCERE FRIEND,

  BYRON.
 
 

  THE BRIDE OF ABYDOS

 

  CANTO THE FIRST.

  I.

Know ye the land where cypress and myrtle
 Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime,
Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle,
 Now melt into sorrow, now madden to crime?
Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,
Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine;
Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppress'd with perfume,
Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gúl in her bloom; [1]
Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit,
And the voice of the nightingale never is mute;
Where the tints of the earth, and the hues of the sky,
In colour though varied, in beauty may vie,
And the purple of Ocean is deepest in dye;
Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine,
And all, save the spirit of man, is divine?
'Tis the clime of the East; 'tis the land of the Sun —
Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done? [2]
Oh! wild as the accents of lovers' farewell
Are the hearts which they bear, and the tales which they tell.

  II.

Begirt with many a gallant slave,
Apparell'd as becomes the brave,
Awaiting each his lord's behest
To guide his steps, or guard his rest,
Old Giaffir sate in his Divan:
 Deep thought was in his aged eye;
And though the face of Mussulman
 Not oft betrays to standers by
The mind within, well skill'd to hide
All but unconquerable pride,
His pensive cheek and pondering brow
Did more than he wont avow.

  III.

"Let the chamber be clear'd." — The train disappear'd —
 "Now call me the chief of the Haram guard."
With Giaffir is none but his only son,
 And the Nubian awaiting the sire's award.
  "Haroun — when all the crowd that wait
  Are pass'd beyond the outer gate,
  (Woe to the head whose eye beheld
  My child Zuleika's face unveil'd!)
  Hence, lead my daughter from her tower:
  Her fate is fix'd this very hour:
  Yet not to her repeat my thought;
  By me alone be duty taught!"
  "Pacha! to hear is to obey."
  No more must slave to despot say —
  Then to the tower had ta'en his way,
  But here young Selim silence brake,
  First lowly rendering reverence meet!
  And downcast look'd, and gently spake,
  Still standing at the Pacha's feet:
  For son of Moslem must expire,
  Ere dare to sit before his sire!

  "Father! for fear that thou shouldst chide
  My sister, or her sable guide,
  Know — for the fault, if fault there be,
  Was mine — then fall thy frowns on me —
  So lovelily the morning shone,
  That — let the old and weary sleep —
  I could not; and to view alone
  The fairest scenes of land and deep,
  With none to listen and reply
  To thoughts with which my heart beat high
  Were irksome — for whate'er my mood,
  In sooth I love not solitude;
  I on Zuleika's slumber broke,
  And as thou knowest that for me
  Soon turns the Haram's grating key,
  Before the guardian slaves awoke
  We to the cypress groves had flown,
  And made earth, main, and heaven our own!
  There linger'd we, beguil'd too long
  With Mejnoun's tale, or Sadi's song, [3]
  Till I, who heard the deep tambour [4]
  Beat thy Divan's approaching hour,
  To thee, and to my duty true,
  Warn'd by the sound, to greet thee flew:
  But there Zuleika wanders yet —
  Nay, father, rage not — nor forget
  That none can pierce that secret bower
  But those who watch the women's tower."

  IV.

"Son of a slave" — the Pacha said —
"From unbelieving mother bred,
Vain were a father's hope to see
Aught that beseems a man in thee.
Thou, when thine arm should bend the bow,
 And hurl the dart, and curb the steed,
 Thou, Greek in soul if not in creed,
Must pore where babbling waters flow,
And watch unfolding roses blow.
Would that yon orb, whose matin glow
Thy listles
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"The Bride of Abydos" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 15 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/15217/the-bride-of-abydos>.

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