Fair was the evening and brightly the sun Was shining on desert and grove, Sweet were the breezes and balmy the flowers And cloudless the heavens above. It was Arabia's distant land And peaceful was the hour; Two youthful figures lay reclined Deep in a shady bower.
One was a boy of just fourteen Bold beautiful and bright; Soft raven curls hung clustering round A brow of marble white.
The fair brow and ruddy cheek Spoke of less burning skies; Words cannot paint the look that beamed In his dark lustrous eyes.
The other was a slender girl, Blooming and young and fair. The snowy neck was shaded with The long bright sunny hair.
And those deep eyes of watery blue, So sweetly sad they seemed. And every feature in her face With pensive sorrow teemed.
The youth beheld her saddened air And smiling cheerfully He said, 'How pleasant is the land Of sunny Araby!
'Zenobia, I never saw A lovelier eve than this; I never felt my spirit raised With more unbroken bliss!
'So deep the shades, so calm the hour, So soft the breezes sigh, So sweetly Philomel begins Her heavenly melody.
'So pleasant are the scents that rise From flowers of loveliest hue, And more than all -- Zenobia, I am alone with you!
Are we not happy here alone In such a healthy spot?' He looked to her with joyful smile But she returned it not.
'Why are you sorrowful?' he asked And heaved a bitter sigh, 'O tell me why those drops of woe Are gathering in your eye.'
'Gladly would I rejoice,' she said, 'But grief weighs down my heart. 'Can I be happy when I know Tomorrow we must part?
'Yes, Alexander, I must see This happy land no more. At break of day I must return To distant Gondal's shore.
'At morning we must bid farewell, And at the close of day You will be wandering alone And I shall be away.
'I shall be sorrowing for you On the wide weltering sea, And you will perhaps have wandered here To sit and think of me.'
'And shall we part so soon?' he cried, 'Must we be torn away? Shall I be left to mourn alone? Will you no longer stay?
'And shall we never meet again, Hearts that have grown together? Must they at once be rent away And kept apart for ever?'
'Yes, Alexander, we must part, But we may meet again, For when I left my native land I wept in anguish then.
'Never shall I forget the day I left its rocky shore. We thought that we had bid adieu To meet on earth no more.
'When we had parted how I wept To see the mountains blue Grow dimmer and more distant -- till They faded from my view.
'And you too wept -- we little thought After so long a time, To meet again so suddenly In such a distant clime.
'We met on Grecia's classic plain, We part in Araby. And let us hope to meet again Beneath our Gondal's sky.'
'Zenobia, do you remember A little lonely spring Among Exina's woody hills Where blackbirds used to sing,
'And when they ceased as daylight faded From the dusky sky The pensive nightingale began Her matchless melody?
'Sweet bluebells used to flourish there And tall trees waved on high, And through their ever sounding leaves The soft wind used to sigh.
'At morning we have often played Beside that lonely well; At evening we have lingered there Till dewy twilight fell.
'And when your fifteenth birthday comes, Remember me, my love, And think of what I said to you In this sweet spicy grove.
'At evening wander to that spring And sit and wait for me; And 'ere the sun has ceased to shine I will return to thee.
'Two years is a weary time But it will soon be fled. And if you do not meet me -- know I am not false but dead.'
* * *
Sweetly the summer day declines On forest, plain, and hill And in that spacious palace hall So lonely, wide and still.
Beside a window's open arch, In the calm evening air All lonely sits a stately girl, Graceful and young and fair.
The snowy lid and lashes long Conceal her downcast eye, She's reading and till now I have Passed unnoticed by.
But see she cannot fix her thoughts, They are wandering away; She looks towards a distant dell Where sunny waters play.
And yet her spirit is not with The scene she looks upon; She muses with a mournful smile On pleasures that are gone.
She looks upon the book again That chained her thoughts before, And for a moment strives in vain To fix her mind once more.
Then gently drops it on her knee And looks into the sky, While trembling drops are shining in Her dark celestial eye. And thus alone and still she sits Musing on years gone by.
Till with a sad and sudden smile She rises up to go; And from the open window springs On to the grass below.
Why does she fly so swiftly now Adown the meadow green, And o'er the gently swelling hills And the vale that lies between?
She passes under giant trees That lift their arms on high And slowly wave their mighty boughs In the clear evening sky,
And now she threads a path that winds Through deeply shaded groves Where nought is heard but sighing gales And murmuring turtle doves.
She hastens on through sunless gloom To a vista opening wide; A marble fountain sparkles there With sweet flowers by its side.
At intervals in the velvet grass A few old elm trees rise, While a warm flood of yellow light Streams from the western skies.
Is this her resting place? Ah, no, She hastens onward still, The startled deer before her fly As she ascends the hill.
She does not rest till she has gained A lonely purling spring, Where zephyrs wave the verdant trees And birds in concert sing.
And there she stands and gazes round With bright and searching eye, Then sadly sighing turns away And looks upon the sky.
She sits down on the flowery turf Her head drooped on her hand; Her soft luxuriant golden curls Are by the breezes fanned.
A sweet sad smile plays on her lips; Her heart is far away, And thus she sits till twilight comes To take the place of day.
But when she looks towards the west And sees the sun is gone And hears that every bird but one To its nightly rest is flown,
And sees that over nature's face A sombre veil is cast With mournful voice and tearful eye She says, 'The time is past!
'He will not come! I might have known It was a foolish hope; But it was so sweet to cherish I could not yield it up.
'It may be foolish thus to weep But I cannot check my tears To see in one short hour destroyed The darling hope of years.
'He is not false, but he was young And time rolls fast away. Has he forgotten the vow he made To meet me here today?
'No. If he lives he loves me still And still remembers me. If he is dead -- my joys are sunk In utter misery.
'We parted in the spicy groves Beneath Arabia's sky. How could I hope to meet him now Where Gondal's breezes sigh?
'He was a shining meteor light That faded from the skies, But I mistook him for a star That only set to rise.
'And with a firm yet trembling hand I've clung to this false hope; I dared not surely trust in it Yet would not yield it up.
'And day and night I've thought of him And loved him constantly, And prayed that Heaven would prosper him Wherever he might be.
'He will not come; he's wandering now On some far distant shore, Or else he sleeps the sleep of death And cannot see me more!
'O, Alexander, is it thus? Did we but meet to part? Long as I live thy name will be Engraven on my heart.
'I shall not cease to think of thee While life and thought remain, For well I know that I can never See thy like again!'
She ceases now and dries her tears But still she lingers there In silent thought till night is come And silver stars appear.
But lo! a tall and stately youth Ascends the grassy slope; His bright dark eyes are glancing round, His heart beats high with hope.
He has journyed on unweariedly From dawn of day till now, The warm blood kindles in his cheek, The sweat is on his brow.
But he has gained the green hill top Where lies that lonely spring, And lo! he pauses when he hears Its gentle murmuring.
He dares not enter through the trees That veil it from his eye; He listens for some other sound In deep anxiety.
But vainly -- all is calm and still; Are his bright day dreams o'er? Has he thus hoped and longed in vain, And must they meet no more?
One moment more of sad suspense And those dark trees are past; The lonely well bursts on his sight And they are met at last!