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William Collins (Уильям Коллинз)

Hassan; or, The Camel Driver


  SCENE, The desert.
  TIME, Midday.

  In silent horror o'er the boundless waste
  The driver Hassan with his camels past:
  One cruise of water on his back he bore,
  And his light scrip contain'd a scanty store;
  A fan of painted feathers in his hand, 
  To guard his shaded face from scorching sand.
  The sultry sun had gain'd the middle sky,
  And not a tree, and not an herb was nigh;
  The beasts with pain their dusty way pursue;
  Shrill roar'd the winds, and dreary was the view! 
  With desperate sorrow wild, the affrighted man
  Thrice sigh'd, thrice struck his breast, and thus began:
    'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
    'When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!'

    'Ah! little thought I of the blasting wind,
  The thirst, or pinching hunger, that I find!
  Bethink thee, Hassan, where shall thirst assuage,
  When fails this cruise, his unrelenting rage?
  Soon shall this scrip its precious load resign;
  Then what but tears and hunger shall be thine?  

    'Ye mute companions of my toils, that bear
  In all my griefs a more than equal share!
  Here, where no springs in murmurs break away,
  Or moss-crown'd fountains mitigate the day,
  In vain ye hope the green delights to know,  
  Which plains more blest, or verdant vales bestow:
  Here rocks alone, and tasteless sands, are found,
  And faint and sickly winds for ever howl around.
    'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
    'When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!' 

    'Curst be the gold and silver which persuade
  Weak men to follow far fatiguing trade!
  The lily peace outshines the silver store,
  And life is dearer than the golden ore:
  Yet money tempts us o'er the desert brown,   
  To every distant mart and wealthy town.
  Full oft we tempt the land, and oft the sea;
  And are we only yet repaid by thee?
  Ah! why was ruin so attractive made?
  Or why fond man so easily betray'd?   
  Why heed we not, whilst mad we haste along,
  The gentle voice of peace, or pleasure's song?
  Or wherefore think the flowery mountain's side,
  The fountain's murmurs, and the valley's pride,
  Why think we these less pleasing to behold  
  Than dreary deserts, if they lead to gold?
    'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
    'When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!'

    'O cease, my fears!--all frantic as I go,
  When thought creates unnumber'd scenes of woe, 
  What if the lion in his rage I meet!--
  Oft in the dust I view his printed feet:
  And, fearful! oft, when day's declining light
  Yields her pale empire to the mourner night,
  By hunger roused, he scours the groaning plain, 
  Gaunt wolves and sullen tigers in his train:
  Before them Death with shrieks directs their way,
  Fills the wild yell, and leads them to their prey.
    'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
    'When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!' 

    'At that dead hour the silent asp shall creep,
  If aught of rest I find, upon my sleep:
  Or some swoln serpent twist his scales around,
  And wake to anguish with a burning wound.
  Thrice happy they, the wise contented poor,  
  From lust of wealth, and dread of death secure!
  They tempt no deserts, and no griefs they find;
  Peace rules the day, where reason rules the mind.
    'Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day,
    'When first from Schiraz' walls I bent my way!' 

    'O hapless youth!--for she thy love hath won,
  The tender Zara will be most undone!
  Big swell'd my heart, and own'd the powerful maid,
  When fast she dropt her tears, as thus she said:
  "Farewell the youth whom sighs could not detain; 
  Whom Zara's breaking heart implored in vain!
  Yet, as thou go'st, may every blast arise
  Weak and unfelt, as these rejected sighs!
  Safe o'er the wild, no perils mayst thou see,
  No griefs endure, nor weep, false youth, like me."  
  O let me safely to the fair return,
  Say, with a kiss, she must not, shall not mourn;
  O! let me teach my heart to lose its fears,
  Recall'd by Wisdom's voice, and Zara's tears.'

    He said, and call'd on heaven to bless the day, 
  When back to Schiraz' walls he bent his way.

William Collins's other poems:
  1. Abra; or, The Georgian Sultana
  2. Selim; or, The Shepherd's Moral
  3. Ode to Simplicity
  4. Agib and Secander; or, The Fugitives
  5. Ode on the Grave of Thomson

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