The lads for her beauty are burning,
The elders hold forth on old age,
But the maiden flies merrily spurning
Youth, lover, and matron and sage.
* * * * *
ONE OF A THOUSAND
Sweet lady, whence the sadness in your
What heart’s desire is still unsatisfied?
Your face and form are fair and full of grace,
And silk and velvet lend you all their pride.
A nod, a glance, and straight your maidens fly
To execute your hest with loving zeal.
By night and day you have your minstrelsy,
Your feet soft carpets kiss and half conceal;
While fragrant blooms adorn your scented bower,
Fruits fresh and rare lie in abundance near.
The costly narghile exerts its power
To soothe vain longing and dispel all fear:
Envy not angels; you have paradise.
No lowly consort you. A favored wife,
Whose mighty husband can her wants suffice;
Why mar with grieving such a fortunate life?
So to Haripsime, the Armenian maid,
On whom the cruel fortune of her lot had laid
Rejection of her faith, spake with a sigh
The wrinkled, ugly, haggard slave near by.
Haripsime replied not to the words,
But, silent, turned her face away. With scorn
And sorrow mingled were the swelling chords
Of passionate lament, and then forlorn,
Hopeless, she raised her tearful orbs to heaven.
Silent her lips, her grief too deep for
Her fixed gaze sought the heavy banks of cloud
Surcharged with lightning bolts that played around
The gloomy spires and minarets; then bowed
Her head upon her hands; the unwilling eyes
Shed tears as heavy as the thunder-shower
That trails the bolt to where destruction lies.
There was a time when she, a happy girl,
Had home and parents and a numerous kin;
But on an Eastertide, amid a whirl
Of pillage, murder, and the savage din
Of plundering Kavasses, the Pacha saw
Her budding beauty, and his will was law.
Her vengeful sire fell ’neath a
Her mother, broken-hearted, gave to God
The life in which no joys could now evoke
The wonted happiness. The harem of the Turk
Enfolds Haripsime’s fresh maidenhood,
And there where danger and corruption lurk,
Where Shitan’s nameless and befouling brood
Surround each Georgian and Armenian pearl,
She weeps and weeps, shunning the shallow joys
Of trinkets, robes, of music, or the whirl
Of joyous dance, of singing girls and boys,
And murmurs always in a sobbing prayer,
“Shall never help be sent? Is this despair?”
* * * * *