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    I.   Table of Contents     A TALE OF ITALY.

Bibb, Eloise
Poems

- THE HERMIT.
- II.

II.


The sun has sunk behind the hills,
The day has gone to rest,
A sweet repose has settled now
On nature's placid breast.
A palace 'mong the Syrian plains,
Is all ablaze with light;
The king of Ansarey's divan,
With splendor shines to-night.

Before this august presence now,
There bows a stately knight,
The hermit of the wilderness
Is welcomed to his sight.
His form is wasted now no more,
And lustrous is his eye,
A strong conceit replaced the look
That once was calm and shy.

"Thy majesty will hear me now?"
He asks with rising fear,
"I've loved the princess Fakredeen,
This many, many a year.
Full twenty years ago, O king,
Her shadow then was I,
And if you say me nay, to-day,
O Sovereign, I will die!"
raster
56

"Most noble Englishman, Sir Luke,
I've ne'er disclosed to thee;
A sacred Pantheon I hold,
That is beloved by me;
Within its walls, the god of light,
To Syria's heart most dear,
For centuries revealed to us
Our future dangers here.

"Come thou, and Fakredeen, my love,
We'll to the fane repair,
An answer to thy lover's quest,
We will elicit there.
And if the gods approve the match,
My blessing follows thee,
If not, then thou, O noble knight,
I must refuse to see."

He rose; and straightway followed him,
The princess Fakredeen,
The hermit of the wilderness,
And subjects clothed in green,
Who carried with them garlands fair,
They lifted to the sky.
As solemnly they chanted low,
A hymn to Gods on high.
raster
57

And silently, through portico,
They neared the sacred fane,
Where sculptured forms of ideal grace,
Serene and calm remain.
This noble hierarchy fair,
The god, the nymph, the faun,
New beauties rise and greet the view,
As does the sky at dawn.

They paused before a statue made
Of ivory and gold,
The color pure and polished high,
Displaced a matchless mold.
"The god of Ansarey, O knight,"
The sovereign whispered now,
"My father's god, look thou on him,
Thy knee before him bow."

"Before this figure, them, O king,"
The hermit calmly said,
"Libations flowed from golden cups,
And scores of steers were bled.
O god of light, if power thou hast,
Give Fakredeen to me,
And with my pen I will proclaim
Thy glorious deity."
raster
58

" I must the gold invoke, Sir Like,--
O god of Ansarey,
Shall Fakredeen be given away?
Give heed, O god, I pray.
This knight from northern shores came he,
My daughter fair to woo,
He is a Christian, sacred god,
Will he always prove true?"

"Hold thou! O Syrian ruler, brave,"
The god was heard to say,
"Unless the vows to worship me ,
Thou sure must say him, nay.
The God to whom he knelt in prayer,
Who died at Calvary,
He must denounce, and live to prove
A dangerous enemy."

"Oh, heaven forbid!" the hermit cries
With heartfelt agony.
"An enemy to God, the Son?--
Oh, that can never be.
My God! I have abandoned thee,
Alas! 'tis now too late
To ask forgiveness, yet I know,
Thee, I can never hate."
raster
59

"O Luke, my own, remember thou,"
The princess whispered low,
Those years of dark estrangement, love,
And all my bitter woe.
Admirers came, and suitors yearned,
My heart for thee did pine,
O Luke, forsake thy foolish creed,
And let my god be thine.

"Ah, Fakredeen! my promised bride,"
The hermit then replied,
"For twenty years a moment's sight
Of thee I was denied.
O sovereign, king of Ansarey,
Say to the god of light,
That I denounce the Christian's God,
And bow to him to-night!"

"Hold thou! O Syrian Ruler brave,"
The god began a new,
The man who to his god is false,
To thee can ne'er be true.
Give not the princess, Fakredeen
To traitor false and vain,
Lest he to thee, as to his God,
Bring agony and pain."
raster
60

"Almighty Father, wise and great,"
With sobs the hermit cried,
"I see Thy hand beneath this cloud,
That deadens all my pride.
That faithful heart, so brave and true,
Was never meant for me;
Farewell, my love, I go to die
A hermit cheerfully."
raster
61

    I.   Table of Contents     A TALE OF ITALY.