Lewti; or the Circassian Love Chant

L E W T I;



At midnight, by the stream I rov’d
To forget the form I lov’d.
Image of LEWTI! from my mind
Depart; for LEWTI is not kind.
The moon was high, the moonlight gleam, 5
And the shadow of a star
Heav’d upon Tamaha’s stream;
But the rock shone brighter far.
The rock half-sheltered from my view,
By pendant boughs of tressy yew.— 10
So shines my LEWTI’S forehead fair,
Gleaning thro’ her sable hair.
Image of LEWTI! from my mind
Depart; for LEWTI is not kind.
I saw a cloud of palest hue, 15
Onward to the moon it pass’d.
Still brighter and more bright it grew,
With floating colours not a few,
Till it reach’d the moon at last.
Then the cloud was wholly bright, 20
With a rich and amber light;
And so with many a hope I seek,
And with such joy I find my LEWTI;
And even so my pale wan cheek
Drinks in as deep a flush of beauty! 25
Nay, treach’rous image! leave my mind,
If LEWTI never will be kind.
The little cloud—it floats away,
Away it goes—away so soon!
Alas! it has no pow’r to stay: 30
Its hues are dim, its hues are grey—
Away it passes from the moon.
How mournfully it seems to fly,
Ever fading more and more,
To joyless regions of the sky— 35
And now ’tis whiter than before,
As white as my poor cheek will be,
When, LEWTI! on my couch I lie,
A dying man, for love of thee.
Nay, treach’rous image! leave my mind—40
And yet thou didst not look unkind!
I saw a vapour in the sky,
Thin and white and very high.
I ne’er beheld so thin a cloud—
Perhaps the breezes that can fly 45
Now below, and now above,
Have snatch’d aloft the lawny shroud
Of lady fair, that died for love:
For Maids, as well as Youths, have perish’d
From fruitless love, too fondly cherish’d! 50
Nay, treach’rous image! leave my mind—
For LEWTI never will be kind.
Hush! my heedless feet from under
Slip the crumbling banks for ever;
Like echoes to a distant thunder, 55
They plunge into the gentle river:
The river-swans have heard my tread,
And startle from their reedy bed.
O beauteous birds! methinks ye measure
Your movements to some heav’nly tune! 60
O beauteous birds! ’tis such a pleasure
To see you move beneath the moon;
I would, it were your true delight
To sleep by day and wake all night.
I know the place where LEWTI lies, 65
When silent night has clos’d her eyes—
It is a breezy jasmin bow’r,
The Nightingale sings o’er her head;
Had I the enviable pow’r
To creep unseen with noiseless tread, 70
Then should I view her bosom white,
Heaving lovely to the sight,
As those two swans together heave
On the gently swelling wave.
O that she saw me in a dream, 75
And dreamt that I had died for care!
All pale and wasted I would seem,
Yet fair withal, as spirits are.
I’d die indeed, if I might see
Her bosom heave, and heave for me! 80
Soothe, gentle image! soothe my mind!
To-morrow LEWTI may be kind.