At Dawn and Dusk

The Rajah’s Sapphires

Victor James Daley

IN my garden, O Beloved!
Many pleasant trees are growing,
Peach, and apricot, and apple,
Myrtle, lilac, and laburnum.

Fair are they, but midst them lonely,
Like an exiled Eastern Princess
In a strange land far from kindred,
Stands a lonely fair Pomegranate.

Dreaming of its native Orient
Always is the fair Pomegranate,
And beneath it I lie dreaming
Of thine eyes and thee, Beloved!

Overhead its red globes, gleaming
Like red moons, old tales recall of
Eastern moons and songs of Hafiz—
Nightingales, and wine, and roses.

And at times it seems a mystic
Tree Circéan, whose red fruit is
Broken hearts of old-time lovers,
Thus their secrets sad revealing.

And within each red sun-cloven
Glossy globe, like little rosy
Hearts within a great heart glowing,
Glow translucent seeds of crimson.

Like the fruit of the Pomegranate
Full of little hearts my heart is,
And the little hearts so glowing
They are thoughts of thee, Beloved!

Haply these at times are woven
In with dreams of the Pomegranate;
Thus, perchance, I dreamt the wondrous
Dream within a dream here written.

In his palace-hall, methought, I
Saw a splendid Indian Rajah;
Fame and Fortune were his vassals,
But his heart was sad within him.

Round him stood his chiefs and captains.
“Great art thou,” they cried, “O Rajah!
And thy hand is strong in battle.”
But he smiled not at their speeches.

Silently through his Zenana
Passed he, glanced with cold and careless
Eyes at women, fair as houris
Seen in visions bred of hasheesh.

Like to dawn, and noon, and starry
Night—like all the moods of passion—
Were they, rose-and-white Circassians,
Amber Hindoos, dark-eyed Persians.

Dancing girls with golden armlets,
Golden rings around their ankles—
Making music clear, melodious
As the plash of crystal fountains

Heard in still, hot nights of summer—
Danced the Lovers’ Dance before him;
But he heeded not their dancing,
For his heart was sad within him.

Thence unto his treasure-chamber
Strode he—there to gaze on gems that
Rajahs dead had won and hoarded;
Tragic-storied, splendid jewels—

Flashing diamonds, like fallen
Stars, for whose bright evil beauty
Blood in old days had been spilt that
Should have made them burn like rubies;

Emeralds greener than Spring’s garments,
Pearls like unto tears of Peris
Weeping by the gates of Eden;
Opals with their fateful lustre.

Long on these, and countless other
Many-coloured gems, the Rajah
Gazed, but found no more delight in
Their sun-flashing brilliant beauty.

He had dreamt a dream enchanting
Of twin-sapphires, blue as Heaven,
And his heart was filled with hunger
And with yearning to possess them.

Therefore unto his Vizier he
Told his dream, and gave command that
He should seek the wide world over,
Till he found the wondrous sapphires.

Doth that sad Vizier still wander
O’er the earth the sapphires seeking?
Sooth, I know not—but I know that
He will never find them, never.

For they were no cold, bright sapphires
That the Rajah in his dream saw. . . .
Waking from my dream I knew that
They were thy blue eyes, Beloved!

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