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Anna Jane Vardill

The Festival of Nauruz *

The moon of Nauruz silvers yet
Spahaun’s high tow’r and minaret;
Eight times the golden bowl has pour’d
Red nectar on the banquet board,
And nymphs with purple feet have wav’d
Their locks in myrrh and amber lav’d.
Aah Illah!… thrice the holy song
Has rung Shah Sephi’s bow’rs among;—
He sleeps on woven down reclin’d,
 While bath’d in balm, the sacred rose
 Around his perfum’d pillow glows,
With Shirauz silver clusters twin’d:

Soft sounds her slumb’ring ear surprise
 A form in youthful beauty bright,
 Comes like the dream of rich delight,
Seen by the love-warm’d poet’s eyes.
 Such forms their gracious vigil keep,
 When rose lipp’d Houris whisper sleep.

“Whence, and what are thou, form divine?”—
 “I was, I am, and shall have been!
A vague unearthly form is mine,
 Dimly thro’ painted shadows seen.

“I was the Future!—I have slept
 Unknown since Time himself was born,
When on the sun’s first glorious morn,
 Prophetic Allah paus’d and wept.

He saw me in the depths afar
 Of dark and drear Eternity;
And ere he shap’d the earliest star,
 His changeless mission gave to me.

No longer veil’d, no longer dumb,
 I visit thy desiring eyes,
From the wide throng of things to come,
 Where Happiness for ever lies!

Her shape, her presence, and her place,
 Men doubt, yet her existence feel;
Thought cannot fix, nor Reason trace,
 The glances which her throne reveal.

In one pure beam of seeming white,
 The rainbow’s richest tints they find:
And Peace, the soul’s unsullied light,
 In ev’ry ray from heav’n combin’d:

But when and where!…. I come to bring
 New treasures from the lap of Fate;
Yet thou wilt ask another spring
 To open Joy’s still distant gate.

I am the Present!—Now I lift
 The veil which hid my shining brow:
That holy veil was Wisdom’s gift,
 Tho’ cluster’d roses crown me now.

Though hears’t not while on flow’rs I tread,
 How swift my down-shod feet are gone;
Thou se’est my silver pinions spread,
 Forgetful how they waft me on!
To-morrow, silent, sad, and cold,
 I join the throng of ages past;
And none shall find the threads of gold
 Wove in the veil by Fancy cast
O’er dim unshap’d Futurity,
When Youth and Pleasure smil’d for thee!
Age, weeping Age, shall strive in vain
To weave that precious veil again.

I go, and those who watch my track
 Thy bounties and thy pomp shall praise;
But thou unheard shalt call me back
 Again on vanish’d joys to gaze.
Thy scimitar may stamp my name
 On earth in adamant or brass
In vain!—thy tow’rs of wealth and fame
 To darkness with thyself shall pass:
Alike thy sceptre and thy tomb
Shall moulder in oblivion’s gloom.

But in a tablet never trac’d
 By mortal eye or mortal hand,
Thy deeds are graven undefac’d,
 Till by rewarding Allah scann’d:
He in the fading rainbow writes
The record of man’s brief delights;
But in the blest eternal Sun
Preserves the fame by Virtue won.

Farewell:—the fated hour is near
 When I and all the past shall rise
 Before assembled myriads’ eyes,
The fiat of our Judge to hear:
Truth shall unveil his throne, and men
Who fear him now, shall know him then!


* On the eve of this festival, the Persian sovereign was visited by a beautiful stranger, who replied, when questioned, “I was the Future, I am the Present, and shall be the Past.”.

The European Magazine, Vol. 70, December 1816, pp. 543-544