Editor’s Notepg 96Editor’s NoteXXXIVTHE ARMENIAN LADY'S LOVE
[Composed 1830.—Published 1835.]
[The subject of the following poem is from the Orlandus of the author's friend, Kenelm Henry Digby: and the liberty is taken of inscribing it to him as an acknowledgment, however unworthy, of pleasure and instruction derived from his numerous and valuable writings, illustrative of the piety and chivalry of the olden time.]
- 1You have heard "a Spanish Lady
- 2 How she wooed an English man;"1
- 3Hear now of a fair Armenian,
- 4 Daughter of the proud Soldàn;
- 5How she loved a Christian Slave, and told her pain
- 6By word, look, deed, with hope that he might love again.
- 7 "Pluck that rose, it moves my liking,"
- 8 Said she, lifting up her veil;
- 9 "Pluck it for me, gentle gardener,
- 10 Ere it wither and grow pale."
- 11"Princess fair, I till the ground, but may not take
- Critical Apparatus12From twig or bed an humbler flower, even for your sake!"
- 13 "Grieved am I, submissive Christian!
- 14 To behold thy captive state;
- 15Women, in your land, may pity
- 16 (May they not?) the unfortunate."
- 17"Yes, kind Lady! otherwise man could not bear
- 18Life, which to every one that breathes is full of care."
- 19"Worse than idle is compassion
- 20 If it ends in tears and sighs;
- 21Thee from bondage would I rescue
- 22 And from vile indignities;
- 23Nurtured, as thy mien bespeaks, in high degree,
- 24Look up—and help a hand that longs to set thee free."
- 25 "Lady! dread the wish, nor venture
- 26 In such peril to engage;
- 27 Think how it would stir against you
- 28 Your most loving father's rage:
- 29Sad deliverance would it be, and yoked with shame,
- 30Should troubles overflow on her from whom it came."
- 43 "Feeling tunes your voice, fair Princess!
- 44 And your brow is free from scorn,
- 45 Else these words would come like mockery,
- 46 Sharper than the pointed thorn."
- 47 "Whence the undeserved mistrust? Too wide apart
- Critical Apparatus48Our faith hath been,—O would that eyes could see the heart!"
- 49 "Tempt me not, I pray; my doom is
- 50 These base implements to wield;
- 51 Rusty lance, I ne'er shall grasp thee,
- 52 Ne'er assoil my cobwebb'd shield!
- 53Never see my native land, nor castle towers,
- 54Nor Her who thinking of me there counts widowed hours."
- 55 "Prisoner! pardon youthful fancies,
- 56 Wedded? If you can, say no!
- 57 Blessed is and be your consort;
- 58 Hopes I cherished—let them go!
- 59Handmaid's privilege would leave my purpose free,
- 60Without another link to my felicity."
- 61 "Wedded love with loyal Christians,
- 62 Lady, is a mystery rare;
- 63Body, heart, and soul in union,
- 64 Make one being of a pair."
- 65"Humble love in me would look for no return,
- 66Soft as a guiding star that cheers, but cannot burn."
- 67 "Gracious Allah! by such title
- 68 Do I dare to thank the God,
- 69Him who thus exalts thy spirit,
- 70 Flower of an unchristian sod!
- 71Or hast thou put off wings which thou in heaven dost wear!
- 72What have I seen, and heard, or dreamt? where am I? where?"
- 73Here broke off the dangerous converse:
- 74 Less impassioned words might tell
- 75How the pair escaped together,
- 76 Tears not wanting, nor a knell
- Critical Apparatus77Of sorrow in her heart while through her father's door,
- 78And from her narrow world, she passed for evermore.
- 85 Judge both Fugitives with knowledge:
- Critical Apparatus86 In those old romantic days
- 87 Mighty were the soul's commandments
- Critical Apparatus88 To support, restrain, or raise.
- Critical Apparatus89Foes might hang upon their path, snakes rustle near,
- 90But nothing from their inward selves had they to fear.
- 91 Thought infirm ne'er came between them,
- 92 Whether printing desert sands
- 93 With accordant steps, or gathering
- Critical Apparatus94 Forest-fruit with social hands;
- 95Or whispering like two reeds that in the cold moonbeam
- 96Bend with the breeze their heads, beside a crystal stream.
- Critical Apparatus97 On a friendly deck reposing
- 98 They at length for Venice steer;
- 99 There, when they had closed their voyage,
- 100 One, who daily on the pier
- 101Watched for tidings from the East, beheld his Lord,
- 102Fell down and clasped his knees for joy, not uttering word.
- 103 Mutual was the sudden transport;
- 104 Breathless questions followed fast,
- 105 Years contracting to a moment,
- 106 Each word greedier than the last;
- 107"Hie thee to the Countess, friend! return with speed,
- 108And of this Stranger speak by whom her lord was freed.
- 109 "Say that I, who might have languished,
- 110 Drooped and pined till life was spent,
- 111 Now before the gates of Stolberg
- 112 My Deliverer would present
- 113For a crowning recompense, the precious grace
- 114Of her who in my heart still holds her ancient place.
- 115 "Make it known that my Companion
- 116 Is of royal eastern blood,
- 117 Thirsting after all perfection,
- 118 Innocent, and meek, and good,
- 119Though with misbelievers bred; but that dark night
- 120Will holy Church disperse by beams of gospel-light."
- 121 Swiftly went that grey-haired Servant,
- 122 Soon returned a trusty Page
- 123 Charged with greetings, benedictions,
- 124 Thanks and praises, each a gage
- 125For a sunny thought to cheer the Stranger's way,
- 126Her virtuous scruples to remove, her fears allay.
- Critical Apparatus127 And how blest the Reunited,
- 128 While beneath their castle-walls
- 129 Runs a deafening noise of welcome!—
- 130 Blest, though every tear that falls
- 131Doth in its silence of past sorrow tell,
- 132And makes a meeting seem most like a dear farewell.
- 133 Through a haze of human nature,
- 134 Glorified by heavenly light,
- 135 Looked the beautiful Deliverer
- 136 On that overpowering sight,
- 137While across her virgin cheek pure blushes strayed,
- 138For every tender sacrifice her heart had made.
- 139 On the ground the weeping Countess
- Critical Apparatus140 Knelt, and kissed the Stranger's hand;
- 141 Act of soul-devoted homage,
- 142 Pledge of an eternal band:
- 143Nor did aught of future days that kiss belie,
- 144Which, with a generous shout, the crowd did ratify.
- 145 Constant to the fair Armenian,
- 146 Gentle pleasures round her moved,
- 147 Like a tutelary spirit
- 148 Reverenced, like a sister, loved.
- Critical Apparatus149Christian meekness smoothed for all the path of life,
- 150Who, loving most, should wiseliest love, their only strife.
1 See in Percy's Reliques that fine old ballad, "The Spanish Lady's Love"; from which Poem the form of stanza, as suitable to dialogue, is adopted.
added to MS., but del.
- "Weak I am and inexperienc'd
- Yet my reason shrinks from trust
- In a law to Man remorseless
- And to womanhood unjust;
- Shape for me a fairer course, which thou canst do
- How readily if to thyself, thyself be true."
- "Embryo of celestial promise
- Heaven that opened out this rose
- By his breath will in due season
- Gently thy sweet bud unclose
- Or by miracle will work." "And is it none
a Princess thus should please [?] be won?"such boldness have put on, nor thou be won?"
- In a creed to man remorseless
- And to woman hard, unjust MS.
- Hills they crossed—then broad seas measured
- Steadily as ship could steer,
- And while in the port of Venice
- They were landing on the pier,
- One, who there for tidings watched, etc. MS.
- Fancy (while, to banners floating
- High on Stolberg's Castle walls,
- Deafening noise of welcome mounted,
- Trumpets, Drums, and Atabals,)
- The devout embraces still, while such tears fell
- As made etc. MS., 1835
- Blest by God above all liv'd—a happy life
- Whose rule of heart should wisest be etc. MS., corr. on proof sheet