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From the extracts and observations which we have hitherto presented to our readers, it will be natural for them to conclude, that our opinion of this poem is very decidedly unfavourable; and that we are not disposed to allow it any sort of merit. This, however, is by no means the case. We think it written, indeed, in a very vicious taste, and liable, upon the whole, to very formidable objections: But it would not be doing justice to the genius of the author, if we were not to add, that, it contains passages of very singular beauty and force, and displays a richness of poetical conception, that would do honour to more faultless compositions. There is little of human character in the poem, indeed; because Thalaba is a solitary wanderer from the solitary tent of his protector: But the home group, in which his infancy was spent, is pleasingly delineated; and there is something irresistibly interesting in the innocent love, and misfortunes, and fate of his Oneiza. The catastrophe of her story is given, it appears to us, with great spirit and effect, though the beauties are of that questionable kind, that trespass on the border of impropriety, and partake more of the character of dramatic, than of narrative poetry. After delivering her from the polluted paradise of Aloadin, he prevails on her to marry him before his mission is accomplished. She consents with great reluctance; and the marriage feast, with its processions, songs, and ceremonies, is described in some joyous stanzas. The book ends with these verses—
And now the marriage feast is spread,
And from the finished banquet now
The wedding guests are gone.
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Who comes from the bridal chamber?
It is Azrael, the Angel of Death.
The next book opens with Thalaba lying distracted upon her grave, in the neighbourhood of which he had wandered, till “the sun, and the wind, and the rain, had rusted his raven locks”; and there he is found by the father of his bride, and visited by her ghost, and soothed and encouraged to proceed upon his holy enterprise. He sets out on his lonely way, and is entertained the first night by a venerable dervise: As they are sitting at meal, a bridal procession passes by, with dance, and song, and merriment. The old dervise blessed them as they passed; but Thalaba looked on, “and breathed a low deep groan, and hid his face.” These incidents are skilfully imagined, and are narrated in a very impressive manner.
Though the witchery scenes are in general but poorly executed, and possess little novelty to those who have read the Arabian Nights Entertainments, there is, occasionally, some fine description, and striking combination. We do not remember any poem, indeed, that presents, throughout, a greater number of lively images, or could afford so many subjects for the pencil.
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