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The Poet came to the Land of the East,
When Spring was in the air : The Earth was dressed for a wedding feast,
So young she seemed, and fair ; And the Poet knew the Land of the East
His soul was native there.
All things to him were the visible forms
Of early and precious dreamsFamiliar visions that mocked his quest
Beside the Western streams, Or gleamed in the gold of the clouds, unrolled
In the sunset's dying beams.
He looked above in the cloudless calm,
And the Sun sat on his throne ;
The breath of gardens, deep in balm,
Was all about him blown, And a brother to him was the princely Palm,
For he cannot live alone.
His feet went forth on the myrtled hills,
And the flowers their welcome shed;
The meads of milk-white asphodel
They knew the Poet's tread,
And far and wide, in a scarlet tide,
The poppy's bonfire spread.
And, half in shade and half in sun,
The Rose sat in her bower, With a passionate thrill in her crimson heart
She had waited for the hour! And, like a bride's, the Poet kissed
The lips of the glorious flower.
Then the Nightingale, who sat above
In the boughs of the citron tree,
Sang: We are no rivals, brother mine,
Except in minstrelsy;
For the rose you kissed with the kiss of love
Is faithful still to me.
And further sang the Nightingale :
Your bower not distant lies.
I heard the sound of a Persian lute
From the jasmined window rise,
And like two stars, through the lattice-bars,
I saw the Sultana's eyes.
The Poet said : I will here abide,
In the Sun's unclouded door; Here are the wells of all delight
On the lost Arcadian shore : Here is the light on sea and land,
And the dream deceives no more.
THE TEMPTATION OF HASSAN BEN
HASSAN Ben KHALED, singing in the streets
Of Cairo, sang these verses at my door :
“Blessed is he, who God and Prophet greets
Each morn with prayer ; but he is blest much more
Whose conduct is his prayer's interpreter.
Sweeter than musk, and pleasanter than myrrh,
Richer than rubies, shall his portion be,
When God bids Azrael : “bring him unto me!'
But woe to him whose life casts dirt upon
The Prophet's word! When all his days are done,
Him shall the Evil Angel trample down
Out of the sight of God.” Thus, with a frown
Of the severest virtue, Hassan sang
Unto the people, till the markets rang.
But two days after this, he came again
And sang, and I remarked an altered strain.
Before my shop he stood, with forehead bent
Like one whose sin hath made him penitent -
In whom the pride, that like a stately reed
Lifted his head, is broken. “Blest, indeed,"
(These were his words, " is he who never fell,
But blest much more, who from the verge of Hell
Climbs up to Paradise : for Sin is sweet ;
Strong is Temptation; willing are the feet
That follow Pleasure, manifold her snares,
And pitfalls lurk beneath our very prayers :
Yet God, the Clement, the Compassionate,
In pity of our weakness keeps the gate
Of Pardon open, scorning not to wait
Till the last moment, when His mercy flings
A splendor from the shade of Azrael's wings."
“ Wherefore, O Poet!” I to Hassan said,
“ This altered measure? Wherefore hang your head,
O Hassan! whom the pride of virtue gives
The right to face the holiest man that lives?
Enter, I pray thee : this poor house will be
Honored henceforth, if it may shelter thee.”